Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume Three by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Amazon.com: Heartstopper Volume Three (9781444952773): Oseman ...

I was nervous about reading this volume because my teenage niece read it first, and she warned me about the cliffhanger ending. I’ve already reviewed Heartstopper: Volume One and Heartstopper: Volume Two, so check those out if you’re interested.

Despite my hesitancy, I decided it was finally time to read this volume. I’ve always felt so comforted by this series. It’s soft and sweet and fluffy. The artwork is beautiful, and the relationship between Nick and Charlie only gets better and stronger. I was surprised when I realized that this volume was delving into a lot of serious topics, such as self harm and eating disorders. I had not been expecting that, but I think they were dealt really well. I’m glad I didn’t pick this up a few weeks ago during one of my most severe depressive episodes because it probably would have only made it worse. I care so deeply about Charlie and Nick. They’re 15 and 16 years old, so I see them as practically babies. I don’t like it when they hurt.

There was a good balance between those serious topics and the fluff that we’re used to, which I thought was great. I liked that these issues were addressed and not brushed aside. I really love the growth that Nick has had in this series. He’s been on a journey of self discovery, which is to be expected as a bisexual teenager. Charlie’s journey seems to be a much harder one, and I just want the best for him. I’m eager to read the Fourth Volume. I just discovered that this is actually a webcomic, so the chapters are available online for free. I will be catching up on those from now on. I can’t wait an entire year for the next one!

I wanted to add that one of my favorite things about this volume was a very small subplot involving the two teachers who are assigned to look after the students on their Paris trip. They were the trope of a smiley one, and a grumpy one, and it worked so well. I loved the small glimpses into their relationship.

This series has wonderful rep, and a realistic insight into LGBT+ experiences on top of having genuinely loving relationships. I will always recommend it!

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

I don’t have a plan, I’m afraid, but then, no one really does, no matter what they say.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is an adult literary novel that follows the Richardson family and their new tenants, the Warren family. The kids become fast friends, but the mothers are completely different and soon but heads.

The story of the novel is so simply that I don’t know how to really say the plot without spoilers, but I feel like it doesn’t matter. The magic of this novel is not about the plot, but with the characters. Each one is devastatingly complex and real. They move the story forward with their every breath, and I feel like at some point I loved and hated every one of them.

The writing is so beautiful. I immediately fell into the world, and I wanted to stay there, even after the novel ended. Usually I don’t like when authors jump from POV to POV in the same chapter, but Ng made it work. It definitely wouldn’t be the same story if she had written it any differently.

Representation: Chinese rep. F/F relationship.

Trigger Warnings: Miscarriages. Abortion. Racism.

I gave this book five star. I think I will definitely pick up Everything I Never Told You, Ng’s debut, soon because I can see her becoming a favorite author of mine.

Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume Two by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Amazon.com: Heartstopper Volume Two (9781444951400): Oseman, Alice ...

After finishing the first volume of Heartstopper, I was eager to continue with this series. I wrote a review about that one, so if you want to know what the series is about, check that out. This review will have some spoilers.

Before I start with the review, I wanted to say that I keep mixing up the names of the two main characters: Charlie and Nick. This is because the art style, to me, doesn’t fit their names. Charlie looks like a Nick, and Nick looks like a Charlie. This is obviously not the fault of the author/artist in any way. But it has become a problem in me trying to follow the story. I still get them mixed up!

Anyway, in this sequel, we start right where we left off. Charlie and Nick kissed for the first time, and then Nick ran off, and Charlie felt terrible about it. However, the next morning, Nick goes to talk to Charlie about what happened, and they fix their misunderstanding and decide to be with each other. When I say I squealed, I squealed. This book was full of the sweetest moments between Charlie and Nick. They’re so sappy with each other, and I absolutely loved it. I loved the way their relationship developed so naturally. I loved the awkwardness at the beginning of their relationship as well because it felt so realistic.

Most of all, I loved the way Nick took his time learning about his sexuality, and figuring out whether or not he was ready to come out. I thought it was amazing how supportive and patient Charlie was with Nick through this process.

I’m eager to read the third volume, but a little hesitant because I’ll have to wait until next year to read the fourth one. Definitely recommend this series. The art is also stunning!

Book Reviews

Heartstopper: Volume One by Alice Oseman – Book Review

Heartstopper: Volume One (Heartstopper, #1) by Alice Oseman

You can’t tell whether people are gay by what they look like. And gay or straight aren’t the only two options.

I’ve known of Alice Oseman for quite a while. But I’ve never picked up one of her books. I know that she writes a lot of LGBT+ stories, so naturally, I was bound to read her work eventually. I’m so glad I started with this beautiful graphic novel.

Heartstopper follows Charlie and Nick, who apparently first appeared in Oseman’s debut novel Solitaire. However, I don’t think that book focuses on their love story, so I think it’s nice that she went back to not only write, but draw, their love story. Charlie is in high school in the UK, and he has a secret relationship that he’s not too happy about with a boy named Ben, who also has a girlfriend. It’s kind of a mess. It seems that Charlie is the only openly gay boy at this all boys school. One day Charlie and Nick get assigned to sit together in class, and so their friendship begins. Nick is a rugby player—I read the book and I still don’t understand the sport—and he’s straight. But as we gays know, falling for straight people is probably our biggest flaw as a community.

Anyway, I devoured this lovely story in about an hour or so. The dialogue is minimal, but it’s so good. The artwork often speaks louder than the words in this story. I loved all of the small details all throughout. It’s not in full color, only in these green shades, but it works so well. I was such a sucker for how sweet the friendship develops between Charlie and Nick. It was so pure and honest. I thought both characters were excellent, and I ended up loving them equally. The only downside of this first volume is that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. It’s not too terrible, but it did make me groan.

Of course, I’ve already ordered the next two volumes which are out now. And I’ve also bought Radio Silence and Loveless by the author. So, as you can see, she made a big impression on me. I will probably read Solitaire as well to see how it all started, but not until I read the other volumes. I think Alice Oseman knows how to craft a great story, and I love her art.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney

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She’d protected this world, but would anyone protect her?

A Blade So Black L.L. McKinney is typically described as Buffy meets Alice in Wonderland. This Young Adult trilogy follows Alice, a Black, queer teenager, as she becomes a protector of Wonderland. When her mentor is poisoned, Alice has to go on a dangerous journey while dealing with her overprotective mother.

In between the first three chapters there are two big time jumps that caused me to have a bit of trouble getting into the story. I wondered why there wasn’t a simple training montage or even flashbacks if the author didn’t want to write through that amount of time However, as I got into the story it didn’t matter at all. The word building probably was better for it in all honesty.

Alice is a wonderful main character. She’s very passionate about everything in her life. She loves her mom, her friends, cosplay, fighting Nightmares (the monsters from Wonderland), has so many crushes, and grieves deeply from losing her dad. She’s emotional but brave, and is a good fighter.

I loved the world of Wonderland. It’s so magical. The descriptions were everything. I also like the dark side to it with having Nightmares that grow out human’s fear. All of the Alice in Wonderland references were great, and made me very happy every time they were included.

Alice’s mom was great. As I’ve said she is very protective and strict, and added a great element to the novel with Alice needing to sneak around her. Even though I know she would be 110% against it, I find myself wanting the mom is find out about Alice’s side job in the next book.

Representation: Alice is Black and the book is ownvoices for that. She is also queer. There is an f/f side relationship. The people of Wonderland aren’t human, but the whole land is influenced by the human world. So Maddi is described to look Latina, and the Princess is Indian, but not really.

Trigger Warnings: Loss of a parent, violence, and mentions of police brutality.

I am looking forward to reading the second book of this series. The ending was unreal, and I feel so bad for the people who had to wait between releases.

Book Reviews

Storm Front by Jim Butcher

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HARRY DRESDEN—WIZARD Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, Parties, or Other Entertainment

Storm Front by Jim Butcher is the first book in a seventeen book series, and that isn’t counting the various novellas/short stories that are also out there. It follows Harry Dresden, a wizard PI who sometimes helps the police. Like in this book where he helps them solve a double murder that was done through magic.

Trigger Warnings for sexism, some sexual content, violence, and animal death.

The concept of a wizard PI is one I love, but unfortunately, I feel like this book did everything wrong. And I feel really bad saying that, but it is just how I feel and I don’t want to lie.

The book starts off basically saying “Hi, my name is Harry Dresden. I’m a wizard and I’m poor.” And it the writing does not get better. I felt like it was sloppily done, and I wondered repeatedly how some sentences made it passed an editor.

The world building did not keep the same rules throughout. I felt like the magic system changed halfway through to suit Dresden’s needs. Every time he said he exhausted all his magic and he had nothing left, suddenly it was the opposite, and he had all this power conveniently at his disposal.

Actually, convenience has a lot to do with the story. Harry would conveniently forget or remember something at specific time to either up the ante or save himself. Characters would conveniently show up or make decisions to help move along the plot. Nobody felt real. Detective Murphy and the police did absolutely nothing for the story. They were all chess pieces in the game of the plot. Which, honestly was so easy to figure out.

I’ve seen some people call Harry charmingly sexist, and no. That doesn’t exist. Harry says in the text that people, mainly Murphy, call him a chauvinistic pig because he doesn’t treat women as “weaker men with breasts.” He likes to pull open doors for women, and doesn’t understand why that is such a bad thing. He doesn’t realize that he is sexist for also judging women by how attractive he finds them, calling them “weaker men with breasts,” having to comment on even dead women’s breasts, and claiming that the murderer is obviously a woman because only women can be so hateful.

I do not know how people think Harry is a good protagonist. I didn’t think he was funny or smart. He stumbled around until the clues for the mystery hit him upside the head. So it should be no surprise that I gave this book a one star rating, and that I am not going to continue with the series.

Book Reviews

Imagine Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Imagine me

master of my own universe

I am everything I ever dreamed of

Well, after six novels and four novellas the Shatter Me series has finally, hopefully, finished. Officially this time. Since it is technically the tenth book, I can’t say much about the plot. But basically it is a Young Adult, Dystopian Romance series about rebels with different powers. Here is the three books and two novellas being reviewed, and here is the fourth book’s review. I mention the third novella in this post, and then the fifth book and fourth novella never got a review for some reason. And I feel like it has been too long that I wouldn’t review them properly because honestly I don’t know what happened in them at all.

I didn’t mind the pacing in this book at all which was a surprising change for the previous books. I could tell that Mafi was really trying to make sure that she was tying up all the plot threads, but I still feel like she fell short. I still have some questions, and I felt like the information she was giving me, she kept repeating. The characters would go around in circles simply saying the same thing over and over.

Mafi is a big lover of metaphors and flowery writing. It is what the Shatter Me series is known for. Imagine Me has the same, but I think what I don’t like about it is she uses the flowery language for pain or sex which can make the writing confusing. She will go on and on about a mental fight, but then write Warner looks cold. Castle is annoyed. Sam is done with us all. I feel like that beautiful writing could be used there instead and it would benefit the story more.

I didn’t like Juliette’s plot line at all. Manipulation squicks me out, so I couldn’t wait until her chapters were over. She also didn’t grow in this book at all. I think her character growth stopped in the last book.

Kenji, as always, was great. While I didn’t like his romance story line, and honestly the way the other characters acted toward him confused and frustrated me, he made the book for me.

I feel like the side characters were still underdeveloped and unused which is a shame because when they did have their little spots I loved them a lot. Warner didn’t have a POV which I think was a good thing because he was a mess for pretty much all the book. He actually regressed as a character, and it wasn’t until the epilogue that he went back.

Overall, I do think that this book was better ending than Ignite Me was. I know a lot of people think that this second series was a waste of time, but I do appreciate the answers we did get from it. I did give this book only two stars while Isis gave it four, but I’m still happy I read it all.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

Phaethon by Rachel Sharp

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The more people thought they knew everything, the less open they were to new explanations.

Phaethon by Rachel Sharp is an adult urban fantasy following established couple Jack and Rosie as they get the new phone on the market and subsequently discover that fairies are real and that there is a plot to basically end the world.

Phaethon’s blending of technology and the modern world with fairy mythology was ingenious, and something I haven’t seen in a story that includes fairies. It was seamlessly done and gave fairies a fresh feel to it.

I liked Jack’s and Rosie’s dynamic as well. I don’t often see an established relationship in books, and I liked that it wasn’t a source of drama. They were a solid team, and it was them and against the world. They were funny and cute, and I really enjoyed reading them.

The rep in this book is iffy. Not that it is bad, though I wouldn’t know if it was. But basically, Sharp doesn’t specify the rep. I got the feeling that Rosie is Latinx, and Jack is transgender, but it was never outright stated. I looked through reviews, and I think I saw one person mention it and that is all. I do think it portrayed poverty well though, and that was nice to read as I don’t think it’s talked about as much because its simply easier to make characters have money.

Nonetheless, I really liked this story a lot. I didn’t want to stop reading, and I laughed multiple times. I think this is the third book in a row that I plan on looking into the author’s other works because the book, and their writing, is just that good.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope

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The only crime she’d ever commited thus far was being born.

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope is listed on Goodreads as Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult so it seems a little confused. My copy I got from the library was shelved in the Adult section. I guess it’s because Jasminda, the main character, is 19 that confuses people. I don’t know. But it is a fantasy series that so far has two books and two novellas out, with two more books, at least, on the way.

So in this novel there is basically two races: Elsiran and Lagrimari. Basically Elsirans are white and don’t have magic and Lagrimari and Black and supposed to have magic. Their separate kingdoms are kept apart by a magic Mantle that sometimes cracks and crumbles. Then people slip through and there is war until the Mantle is sealed again.

Jasminda’s mom was Elsiran and her dad, Lagrimari, which is basically unheard of. And since she lives in Elsira, but looks Lagrimari and has magic as well, she has a very tough life. She just wants to live peacefully on the farm her father built, but with the government suddenly demanding back taxes that she can’t afford, she might lose her last connection to her family.

Until, she saves Jack, a handsome Elsiran soldier that stumbles upon her path. He’s on a mission to save the kingdom from an impending war, and Jasminda finds herself wrapped up in it.

Trigger Warnings: Racism, violence, attempted rape, and explicit sex scenes.

I love Jasminda so much. She is my favorite kind of female protagonist. Brave and smart, she fights and sticks up for herself and also solves the mysteries presented instead of not understanding even if it’s obvious. But she isn’t one dimensional. She cries when she is hurt, and is insecure, and feels guilty over her magic not being strong enough.

The romance is very sweet and lovely. It falls under the forbidden romance trope so kind of angsty too, but it doesn’t stop the book. I hate when characters spend pages upon pages mooning over each over even if the world is falling apart, but this doesn’t happen here.

Not only is this a book about Black characters written by a Black person, but there is also queer characters as well.

Normally, if someone says a book has a lot of political intrigue or whatever, I tend to shy away from it. I never thought it was something I liked, but I liked it in this book. I don’t know if that means I do like it or if this book is an exception. It’s something I will have to look into.

The world is immaculately created. I loved the little excerpts at the beginning of each chapter, and the history that always effected the main plot. The magic was simple but not everything needs to be complicated, you know.

Anyway, I gave this book five stars, and I’m very frustrated my library doesn’t have the novellas because I would read it right now if I could. I kind of feel like I didn’t do this book the justice it deserves, but it is hard to find the words when all I want to say is go read this book.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

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They said I was one thing. But I have changed my mind.

Robert Jackson Bennett might be a new favorite author of mine and that’s something I never say after reading one novel. But Foundryside was that good. It’s an adult high fantasy with steampunk vibes that involves ancient magic, humor, and amazing characters.

It follows former slave and current thief Sancia as she takes the highest paying and most dangerous job of her life. And this job completely changes not only her life, but everyone’s in this world. She teams up with the most unlikely people (including a talking key), and it is non stop action.

The world building is immaculate. The magic in this world is called scriving which is sigils embedded into whatever object (wheels, wood, weapons etc.). They basically convince they are something or should be doing something they aren’t. Like wood is steel so buildings are cheaper or wheels are moving so no need for horses to pull the carriages. This plays such a big role in the world (reference the talking key again), and there is a detailed history that plays a very important part of the novel.

The only problem with the world building, this is why I knocked off a star, is because of this magic system being so detailed and important the characters kept talking about it. And then things would be revealed that was completely confuse them because that isn’t how the magic is supposed to work. It would be a very big deal for the characters, but I felt nothing because I’m just learning about the magic as a whole. So I felt like I wasn’t connecting during these scenes. Does that make sense? I hope so because I don’t know how else to explain how I felt.

But the characters were amazing. I loved all of them. They were all multifaceted, and I miss them already. There is good rep as well with a gay male character and a female/female romance. I did try to find a review commenting on how the slavery was dealt with, but I couldn’t. I felt like it was dealt with well because Sancia doesn’t simply brush off her past. I would tentatively say she has some PTSD, but keep in mind I am white and don’t have PTSD so I could be completely off base.

This is the first book in a trilogy that I am definitely going to continue. Trigger Warnings though for graphic violence, a lot of blood, and death.