Fence (Issues #1-12) by C.S. Pacat – Graphic Novel Review

Goodreads: Fence
Genre: LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Sports, Manga
Panda Rating:

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

I stumbled upon this graphic novel as I was looking up what other LGBTQ books I could read for pride month. I’m so glad that I listened to my instinct to snatch up a copy on ComiXology because I really enjoyed this series! The characters are probably the most diverse group that I can remember coming across; like, actually. From everyone’s sexuality, their race/ethnicity, and their socio-economic backgrounds. I think this might be the most queer book I have read and I loved reading it!

In the first issue, we’re introduced to Nicholas and Seiji at the national fencing championships, where they face-off against each other in the first round. You learn a little about Nicholas’ backstory, why he wants to get into fencing, and why it’s important to him. In the next issue we’re introduced to the all boys boarding school where the subsequent episodes take place. We’re also introduced to many new faces who are part of the Kings Row fencing team, and others who trying out for it; everyone in the school seems to be low-key obsessed with fencing! The majority of the episodes focus on the try out rounds for the fencing team, where we get to know a bit more about the characters, with the main focus being on Nicholas’ struggle to succeed in the tryouts, make the team and ultimately, to beat Seiji. Of course there had to be a cliffhanger at the end of Issue #12, and I’m not sure when the next issue will be released, so here I am, not so patiently waiting for it!

I honestly loved so many of the characters; even the ones who are highly neurotic and have zero chill have somehow managed to grow on me (cough*tanner*cough). I only wished that there was more backstory shared about the characters. Everyone is *really* cute, have seemingly intriguing personalities, and we do get to see glimpses of a different side to them (families, softer sides) but I still wanted to know more about them. I especially love Bobby so I’d love to know more about him and also Seiji and Nicholas–although these are the characters we obviously know the most about so far. On that note, here are some cool graphic stats about the characters from the author’s Twitter.

Overall, I’m really excited for the next issue to come out. I want to know what happens after that cliffhanger! Who knew I’d ever be so interested in a comic about fencing? Also, why is everyone so good looking?! I’m so glad that I picked up this graphic novel 🙂

Have you read Fence? Do you have recs for other LGBTQ graphic novels for pride month? Or just any graphic novel recs in general?

Book Review: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

Goodreads: What If It’s Us
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance
Panda Rating:

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.
Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.
But what if they can’t quite nail a first date… or a second first date… or a third?
What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work… and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?
What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?
But what if it is?

You know that happy bubbling feeling you get inside your chest after you finish reading a great book? How it feels like you could just burst with all the satisfying emotions that are trying to clamber its way up your throat and out your chest? No? Yes? Well, this book had me feeling this way when I finished it yesterday. Y’all, this book made me so happy! Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera have delivered a wonderful contemporary YA romance about firsts, friendships and believing in yourself. This was a fast and fun read that had me constantly barking out with laughter throughout (this garnered me much unwanted attention from the public and I absolutely could not care)! Tbh, I think this is the first Silvera book I read that I didn’t cry over? It left me with all the great feels without any of the sadness! Basically, if you like Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Broadway (Dear Evan Hansen etc.), Harry Potter, and Barack Obama, then you will like this book!

“I believe in love at first sight. Fate, the universe, all of it. But not how you’re thinking. I don’t mean it in the our souls were split and you’re my other half forever and ever sort of way. I just think you’re meant to meet some people. I think the universe nudges them into your path.” 

When Arthur and Ben have a random moment of connection outside the post office one day, Ben is mailing a box of his ex’s belongings to him and Arthur is captivated by his beauty, so obviously, he follows him inside. Their meet-cute is slightly awkward (Arthur has no chill) and geekily adorable, and they’re getting along just fine, until a flash mob in the post-office pulls them apart without having exchanged names or numbers. Arthur is a big believer of the universe, so would it throw him and this beautiful boy together for no reason at all? He doesn’t believe it. So begins the story of one boy trying to find that boy from the post office in a city of over eight million inhabitants. No big deal when you think the universe is on your side, right?

Maybe their connection was improbable, slightly corny or a little cliché, but this story was just all kinds of awkward, and adorable and was an absolute delight to read! There were so many things I loved about it: the characters, their stories, the friendships, the NYC setting, and Arthur’s fantastic obsession about Hamilton, the greatest musical to have ever been written (don’t @ me). Also, all the mentions about Lin-Manuel Miranda. The last two made me love this book even more because when it comes to Hamilton and LMM, I am 1000% Arthur serious, and that’s serious.

“God, Arthur.” He kisses me. “Te quiero. Estoy enamorado. You don’t even know.” And I don’t speak a word of Spanish, but when I look at his face, I get it.”

Ben and Arthur were such great characters and I honestly loved how their relationship grew. Although things moved pretty quickly between them once the ball got rolling, especially considering that they only had the summer, it didn’t feel contrived to me. There were lots of awkward firsts and do-overs, but their connection, banter, and love felt completely natural and perfect in its imperfections. Arthur’s experience of being in a relationship for the first time was so relatable and I couldn’t help but recall my own first relationship experience! Albertalli and Silvera did a really great job in describing the rush of having a crush and the high of discovering first love, but also about the importance of having people in your life who you can trust, be yourself around, and be supported by. Although this was a romance, I really enjoyed the friendships between Arthur, Ben and their best friends, as it reminded me so much of my own high school friendships with my own ‘crew’. Even the drama that erupted between the friends seemed so typically high school, and it really had me chuckling when thinking back on my own experiences.

I liked how the authors also highlighted the struggles and vulnerabilities that teenagers can go through and/or feel during this period (with friends/peers, school etc.); where it feels like you have to know what you’ll be doing once HS ends, what college you want to attend, what major you want to do. Ben’s struggles with school, and his overall insecurity of not being good enough and not believing in himself were so real, and I felt his struggle on such a personal level. Figuring himself out and finding his worth and confidence in himself was a key aspect of his character’s growth.

“I just need more time with me, I think. To really believe in my worth without anyone’s help.”


I’m giving this book 4.5 stars because the hopeless romantic was crushed with that ending. Open-ended endings always leave me feeling a little dissatisfied, and this was definitely one of them… I mean, I can acknowledge that the ending was sensible… but I didn’t want sensible, I wanted ALL THE THINGS for all the characters, damnit!

I’m so glad that I picked this book up yesterday. I really enjoyed reading it, how much it made me feel and how far down memory lane it let me stroll! I’m so glad that this was my first LGBTQ+ read for pride month!

Have you read What If It’s Us or is it on your TBR? What did you think of Albertalli’s & Silvera’s collaboration?

Pride Month Possibility Pile!

How gorgeous is this Literary Pride Month Flag?! Credit: Bookish

We’re well into our first week of June so this post is a little late, but I still thought I’d take the time to post my possibility pile for June, which is Pride month! As with many others in the book community, I’m hoping to read a lot more LGBTQIA+ reads this month in celebration. I actually had more diverse books about and written by LGBTQIA+ authors on my shelves (both physical and Kindle) than I initially thought. I’ve seen a lot of hype and heard a lot of praise for the majority of these books so I’m quite excited to dive in and finally tick them off my TBR list this month!

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Birthday by Meredith Russo // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver // GoodreadsBook DepositoryAmazon UK

Running with Lions by Julian Winters // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta & Cori McCarthy // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda (Creekwood #1) by Becky Albertalli // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

We Set the Dark on Fire (We Set the Dark on Fire #1) by Tehlor Kay Mejia // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour // GoodreadsBook DepositoryAmazon UK

Fence (Fence #1) by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad // GoodreadsBook DepositoryKindle & ComiXology

OK, is this list of 15 books entirely too ambitious?! Yes. Maybe. Ha! This isn’t even including the other non LGBTQIA+ books I want to read this month! But y’all, there are just SO MANY BOOKS and I’m not one to cut down any list, rather I’m known to add to them. Who knows, maybe I will be able to power through all of these books or a majority of them by the end of the month. Maybe I’ll retreat into my shell of complete introversion and embrace the increasingly dominant book-cave-dweller spirit in me to recover from all the work stress this month. It’s honestly looking more possible by the minute! But I digress, this list merely scratches the surface of the many amazing diverse books out there, many of which I know aren’t even on my radar yet. So I’m hoping you can give me some recommendations for more LGBTQIA+ books to read–your favorites, your most anticipated, even the ones you thought were just a bit of alright, but you think others might like more than you!

Have you read any of these? What are you reading for Pride month? Share your recommendations in the comments below and let’s chat 🙂