Book Reviews

Saga volumes 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Book Review

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The first volume of this amazing story starts off with a pretty ordinary premise that turns into something extraordinary. Alana and Marko are two star-crossed lovers from two opposing worlds at war. Alana is from Landfall, and Marko from Landfall’s moon, Wreath. On top of that, the two had a baby named Hazel, and her very existence throws everyone off. They want to kill all of them, so both their home worlds call for help to stop them. The villains who go after Alana and Marko are just as interesting.

I’ve been a huge fan of these comics for a while, and I really love the direction it’s been heading. But in order to talk about that, we must start at the beginning. There will be spoilers ahead.

Prince Robot IV is among the villains, and his story was the most fascinating to me. He’s from Landfall’s ally planet The Robot Kingdom, and he’s a prince who’s been at war for years, finally returning home to his princess to build a family. Except, now he has to go after Alana and Marko, and he’s not too happy about that. There are two freelancers after them as well, The Will, and The Stalk. But as it turns out, getting to Marko and Alana ends with more disasters than victories.

Hazel’s babysitter, Izabel, is one of my favorite characters. She’s so down to earth, and so helpful to everyone, but she doesn’t get enough credit. Even though The Stalk was pretty cool, I think that if Prince Robot IV hadn’t killed her at the beginning, she would have captured Alana and Marko. So, yeah, maybe he killed her unjustly, but it worked out in the end. Also, my poor Robot doesn’t get to come home to his wife and baby. Give him a break.

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In the second volume, we learn a little bit more about Marko’s childhood. He saw war first hand as a kid, and he was taught to hate people from Landfall. Of course, things changed along the way. We also get to meet Marko’s parents, who are fierce people that are really not trustworthy of Alana. I liked Barr, despite him butting heads with Alana at first. I was really sad to hear he was dying, but I was glad he built a relationship with Alana before passing.

We finally get to meet Gwendolyn here as she finds The Will. She wants to get to Marko–her ex-fiance–to get back the translation rings that belonged to her family. The Will is too worried about saving a Slave Girl, which makes Gwendolyn jump on board. They finally get Sophie out of Sextilion and to safety. But just as they’re about to reach Alana and Marko’s rocket ship, they get shot at by this weird planet that’s an actual living thing, which nearly kills my dear Lying Cat.

I loved the way this ended with Prince Robot IV going to Quietus, the planet he knew Alana and Marko were hiding simply by reading Alana’s favorite novel. He’s truly good at his job, because they had all been there for a while. Anyway, my favorite thing to see was Sophie finally safe. That poor girl didn’t deserve what was happening to her. It was so sad to see Barr die, though. I don’t think he deserved to go so soon.

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The third volume shows Marko in a different light. He shows signs of depression as he deals with his father’s passing. The press is a big part of this volume. I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of this storyline. Sure, the tabloids want a story, but I just didn’t care about how they got it. I did like the insight into Alana’s past. The reporters go to Alana’s old house to interview her dad, but instead we find a young woman who married him and calls herself Alana’s mom. It’s obvious why Alana left to join the military.

I thought the whole meeting Mr. Heist was very realistic. The guy was drunk, in his underwear, and he threw up on Hazel. What a way to portray authors. But honestly, is that such a lie? Anyway, I was glad to see that he did live up to Alana’s expectations. And that his romance novel did really have a message hidden, which Alana and Marko understood. I think Mr. Heist was an incredible character, and I loved his relationship with Klara.

The entire exchange between Prince Robot IV and Mr. Heist made me uncomfortable. Obviously tensions were high, but I kept waited for something terrible to happen. And then what happens? Robot wants to die. Yeah, and he shoots Mr. Heist, but mostly, he just wants to die.

The whole thing with The Will hallucinating was totally trippy. For a second, I really thought The Stalk could somehow talk to him from beyond the grave. But no, apparently he was being drugged from the food on the planet. Sophie ended up stabbing The Will due to the same reason, and Gwendolyn panicked because it turns out she had feelings for him all along. In fact, Gwendolyn threw caution to the wind as she found her way to Quietus, killed Mr. Heist, all in search for Marko to save The Will. The worst thing, though, is that Robot gets hit, falls injured, and is rebooted to something he isn’t.

Marko and Alana and Hazel all survive the encounter with Gwendolyn, which is more than we can say for pretty much everyone else. And I loved that the end of the volume shows Hazel all grown up now. It kind of closes that chapter of their lives.

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Volume four is where all things go to hell. Alana starts working for the Open Circuit, and she gets into drugs. Meanwhile, Marko spends time with some girl who is totally flirting with him, and he seems oblivious to it all. To make matters worse, Prince Robot IV is totally off his rockers lost in Sextilion, until he realizes his wife is dead and his baby is missing. I mean, things just couldn’t get any worse for all of them.

I know this volume has a lot of important storylines, but it is just so depressing. I hate seeing Alana high off her mind, and Marko with that Ginny girl, and Robot mourning his wife and looking for his baby. I didn’t appreciate any of that. I loved seeing Gwendolyn and Sophie working together, trying to help The Will.

I hate that Dengo dude that kidnapped Robot’s baby. He’s completely heartless. I get that he has a sad story, but that doesn’t give him the right to kill everyone on his path. However, the ending of this volume brings a lot of hope. Robot and Marko are together, and they’re on the hunt for Dengo to save both of their families. That’s the perfect ending.

So far, the series has not disappointed. I recommend it to absolutely everyone.

RATING FOR ALL 4 VOLUMES:

5 stars

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Book Reviews

A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn – Book Review

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Maybe you’re not just one thing. Do we really have to be just one thing? Do you really have to know right now?

This was a sweet and quick read. It follows Toby, an English major living in San Francisco. He’s had a crush on his lifelong best friend’s older brother, Levi. Except, he’s always thought Levi is straight. Until the day he finds him at a gay bar and Levi tells him he’s bi. This opens up a lot of interesting situations for both Toby and Levi. They start off as friends, which is new for them, despite having known each other for over a decade. The romance that blossoms between them is sweet, and I appreciated that.

I really loved the inner struggles Toby faced throughout the book. He loved writing and reading, but he had a hard time speaking his thoughts. He didn’t want to let anyone in for fear of losing them. Toby’s mom walked out on him and his dad when he was a young boy, and his dad has battled a depression ever since. All along, Toby has been trapped in his head, in his safe space, until Levi showed up in his life. But Toby’s growth went further than his development alongside Levi. It had a lot to do with self-reflection, and his father, and realizing that not having all the answers is okay.

I would have loved to see more of Toby and Chris’s friendship. They had a strong bond, but they rarely spent time together in the book. I really wanted to see what their friendship was all about. That’s the only part that sort of let me down.

Overall, this book was a pleasure to read. I breezed through it. I felt a sort of calmness while reading it because it was lovely. The characters were interesting, and mostly all of them were kind, wholesome people. I really enjoyed that. It was refreshing.

4 stars

Book Reviews

We All Live On This Planet Together by June Rousso – Book Review

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The world is filled with such delight. It is only through our fear that we begin to lose sight.

This book is full of beautiful watercolor illustrations. It’s what first drew me to it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I was surprised to find that it was so relatable.

We All Live On This Planet Together talks about overcoming one’s fears. It’s about being strong despite the darkness that fear can bring along, in all its shapes and forms. It’s about seeing the beauty around us, and seeking help from friends when life gets to be too hard.

I loved the message it was sending. I thought it was a really nice read, and it’s perfect for children of all ages.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Oliver the Schnoodle by Marta elena Vassilakis and Maria Crowley – Book Review

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Oliver the Schnoodle is a children’s book full of incredible photographs of Oliver, a dog who is part schnauzer and part poodle. The photographs show Oliver in all sorts of adorable scenarios and costumes, which made me squeal from joy.

I decided to read this book to my seven year-old nephew, and he absolutely loved it. He kept pointing out how cute Oliver looked, and how silly some of the pictures were, but he loved every moment of it.

This is a beautiful book, and it’s obvious how much work was put into the photography. I would recommend it to any other dog lovers out there. It’s the cutest book I’ve ever read.

5 stars

Personal, Uncategorized

Things We’ve Been Loving

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Happy Valentine’s Day! To celebrate we are going to be talking about things we’ve been really loving lately. We would love to hear what everybody else has been into too!

Nicole:

Pirates- I’ve been interested in pirates for a while because I want to write a book about them. I’ve finally started my research on them, and I’ve been loving everything. I’ve talked about the Assassin’s Curse duology, but I’ve started playing the game Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Sail. It’s so much fun. I need more pirate games, specially a pirate game in the style of Mass Effect would be perfect to me.

The Saga Comics by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples- I read the first three comics four years ago, and never continued with them. Isis has been bugging me since then, but it was only recently with the release of the eighth one that I’ve picked them up again. I just finished rereading the second one, and it’s renewed how much I liked them before. I generally forget how much I like reading comics, especially in between novels.

Kaz Brekker- Isis and I are buddy reading the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo right now. I’m only about a hundred pages into it, but I’ve fallen in love with Kaz already. His dialogue is awesome, and he has the kind of grey morals I want to write into my own books.

Reading Vlogs- Booktube has this recent trend of either doing weekly reading vlogs or 24 hour read-a-thons where the booktuber simply vlogs reading for the day. I don’t know what it is about them, but I can’t get enough of them. They are so relaxing and different from the usual content that I wish more people would do them. 

Summer Storms– If you’ve been here awhile, you might remember we’ve talked a couple times about Summer Storms. It’s the book Isis and I are co-writing. Isis just finished editing her first round of edits, and I’ve started writing some back story for it before diving into my first round of edits. It’s been so long since I’ve worked on it I kind of forgot how much I love it. Our characters are my favorites I’ve ever made, and it’s been fun getting back into the world they live in.

Bullet Journaling- Every new year I start off with some type of plan to get organized that always falls through within the month. This year I’m happy to say that I found something that’s been working for me, and that is doing a bullet journal. I like that I can cater it to me specifically, and I don’t outline my day hour to hour. I like that I get to be creative with it, and make designs each month. And washi tape is the best.

Tea Talks- Isis convinced me to start a podcast with her, and I’m surprised by how much I’ve been liking it. Researching has always been fun for me, and talking into a microphone isn’t as awkward as I thought it would be.

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Isis:

Friends to lovers trope – this one never gets old. I keep falling for it every time. I read this one more recently in A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn. It was really sweet. That’s why I love this trope. There’s always a strong foundation in the relationship.

Enemies to lovers trope – Yes, I love this one as well. Similar to the friends to lovers, this one just has an extra step before becoming friends. I never knew how much I loved this trope until I read The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Now I’m such a sucker for it. I’m hoping to read Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren soon because it sounds similar.

Brighton Bello-Adler – I talked about Riding with Brighton before, but now I’m going to talk about Brighton. He was the most beautiful, cheeky character I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. My love for him knows no bounds, and yes I’m being purposely flowery. I loved that boy. He reminded me a lot of Dante Quintana, and that’s saying a lot. He was charming and kind and smart. The book was titled after him, but I still think he deserved way more recognition. Everyone should meet him.

Lucy Hutton – Again, I talked about The Hating Game and praised it a lot, but now let’s talk about Lucy. I was instantly drawn to her because she was so adorable. I’ve never read about someone who was so cute. I could totally understand why Josh fell for her because I found myself falling for her in the same way. This rarely happens with me and a narrator, but it happened here. I love Lucy so much. She deserves everything good in the world. 

Sebastian Brother – I adored Autoboyography because of Sebastian. He was a ray of sunshine. I could absolutely relate to him in many ways, but mostly I just wanted to wrap him up in a warm blanket and protect him from all evil. I thought his character was phenomenally written, too. He was so honest and wonderful. I want to love him forever.

Call Me by Your Name MOVIE DANCE SCENE – The dance scene in the movie adaptation of Call Me by Your Name was the best thing that’s ever been filmed in the history of the world. I’m exaggerating a little bit, but only a little bit. Seriously, if you have not seen it, do yourself a favor and search it up. It’s everywhere on the internet because it is incredible.

Warner and Adam’s growing relationship – The 30 page Restore Me sampler left me with a lot of emotions about these two. Sure, everyone is panicking over Warner and Juliette, but all I care about is Warner and Adam and how their brotherly bond will get stronger. I don’t even know if much will happen to change their relationship, but fingers crossed we see a lot of growth from both of them. And maybe add more James and Kenji into the mix. Gotta love my boys.

Personal, Uncategorized

We have a podcast!

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Hello, everyone! We just wanted to let you guys know that we have our very own podcast called Tea Talks. We discuss things from books, to myths and legends, to movies, and everything in between. It’s now available on the platforms below, so check it out. If you listen and like it, please leave us a review. It would help us out a lot.

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TEA TALKS

We already have three episodes in which we talk about Tahereh Mafi’s Restore Me, The Mothman, and the Black-Eyed Kids.

Thank you so much!

-Nicole & Isis

Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon #7-9

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This is my third review mentioning the Dragonbreath series. The first and second each have three books in each. Since I’ve discovered the series, I’ve been waiting to reach this book. As we have mentioned briefly before, Isis and I have been writing a book together that includes fairies. I loved actually knowing real background on the topic so I could see exactly how Vernon used the real lore and mashed it together with her imagination. 

In When Fairies Go Bad, Danny’s mother accidentally messes with a fairy ring. As revenge, the fairies kidnap her. So Danny must figure a way to get her back with his friends, Wendell and Christiana. The usual mess of funny jokes, interesting magic, and fun adventures followed. It’s easily one of my favorite Dragonbreath books I’ve read.

5 stars

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In Nightmare of the Iguana Wendell has been having nightmares. Like with anything is the Dragonbreath world, it’s not regular nightmares. Monsters are sneaking into his dreams and messing with him. Danny and Suki, from book 2, has to go into his dreams to protect him.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews, Wendell is a particular favorite of mine. So a whole book centering more on him was more than welcome to me. And Suki coming back in was exciting. There is also a new creature they become friends with that is the cutest thing ever. This is another five star book, and another favorite from the series.

5 stars

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In the ninth book of the Dragonbreath series, The Case of the Toxic Mutants,  Danny is forced to visit his grumpy Grandfather  at his senior living place. He is convinced his neighbor had stolen his dentures, and keeps calling Danny’s parents. His parent’s are convinced he is lonely and are thinking of having him move in with them. Danny can’t have that as he would be rooming with Danny.

I loved meeting a new relative in this book. Vernon always knows when the series needs something new to series to keep it a little different and interesting. This isn’t one of favorites, but it was fun. The mystery was nice, and I loved the conclusion.

4 stars