Posted in Cover Roulette

Cover Roulette: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

At some point recently, I was looking for an alternate edition on Goodreads to match the one I had actually read. Simple enough. But then I noticed that some of the other editions of the book had some seriously dope covers! Got me to thinking…

What other books have covers I’ve never seen?

If you have no idea what the illustrated editions of Harry Potter are, THEY ARE INCREDIBLE. Huge, beautiful illustrations. Hardbound book. Built-in bookmark ribbon. Definitely check them out, because it 100% brings the stories to life in a really wonderful way. You can see some of the artwork by Jim Kay on his website, and trust me, they look even better on the big printed pages.

So in honor of my excitement over Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Illustrated Edition by Jim Kay coming out on October 8th (less than a month!!!) here are some of my favorite covers for it, from around the world and through the years.

The Cover I Know

Published 2000. So this is the cover I’m familiar with. You’ve got the signature font for his name, Harry front and center with his fellow champions of the Goblet behind him, a spiny dragon tail in front of him, egg and wand in hand, and in the back there, a shadowy hooded figure…

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Posted in Reviews

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn

I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn – ⭐⭐⭐

Enhanced by my own memories of Japan that really made this come to life. So cute! I knew from the moment I saw that perfect pink inside the cover 😊

“Say what you want out loud and to the right person.”

Recommended: sure!
For a fun lighthearted read, for those looking to get hyped about their own trip to Japan

I can never resist cherry blossoms

Kimi Nakamura loves translating life into clothing, but her mother is pressuring her to focus on painting for the fancy college Kimi’s accepted to. So when Kimi gets an invite to visit grandparents in Japan who her mother never speaks to, she escapes in a hurry. She loses herself in Kyoto’s atmosphere and explorations–and meets Akira, a cute med student who moonlights as a costumed mochi mascot. What begins as a trip to escape her problems quickly becomes a way for Kimi to learn more about the mother she left behind, and to figure out where her own heart lies.

Awwww! So I put my request for this book in like mid-July hoping to get it to read over my birthday vacation. That didn’t happen. I only just got it in September!! I knew the second I saw that lovely pink in the front cover that this would have exactly the tone I was looking forward to: light and optimistic and sweet.

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Posted in Reviews

One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in December by Josie Silver – 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

This may be my first five stars to a romance novel ever. And I may have had an emotional week, but ending this book with tears streaming down my face sealed the fifth star. Now that my keyboard won’t be in danger of being flooded… #AGoodCry #TooBeautiful

Recommended: YES
For those who love the long play, a complex development of relationships between all characters, the pain of reality and trying to follow your heart, and for anyone who just wants to read something beautiful and is willing to get a bit weepy

The battered library copy, in all it’s glory. Yes, it WAS my lucky day!

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic… and then her bus drives away. Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be. What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. 

You know that trope in romance stories, where two people hate each other and then come to realize they love each other madly? That’s not at all how the characters in this book feel about each other but it is how I felt about this book.

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Posted in Reviews

Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning

Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning – ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: For the curious and the open-minded who are ready for something new
For those who will pay attention to detail, appreciate each person for who they are, and hold tight through the supremely bizarre/amusing/revolting moments

GORGEOUS, and now all the items make so much sense!!

Are you allowed to be mad that someone leaves you to die, if they did so just before you were about to kill yourself? Jim is left with that question, even as he’s thrown into the secret game Cryptofauna. Ambiguous rules, yet strenuous training. Randomly plucked allies are there to help him not-die, but there are plenty of monstrosities trying to help Jim complete his original suicide attempt. Sticking to his socks and his bag of smiling ash, Jim rolls through his initiation as an Operator. If he can just get that out of the way, maybe he can stop his Rival from bringing about the apocalypse. You know, if there’s time.

If you’ve read a lot of science fiction, you might be bored of the tropes that come up fairly often. This book will be a refreshing break from the safety and familiarity of cliche, by throwing you details, characters, and situations that baffle the mind — in the best way! I was a little nervous this would be the kind of story that’s forcibly odd, where details and twists are thrown in deliberately just to be weird, even if they don’t add to the story or really make sense. Amazingly, that was not it at all, and I was beyond delighted to see what I had instead!

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Posted in Reviews

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart

Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Release Date: October 1, 2019
Whew. Would Ava hate it if I called this story “inspirational?” 😉

“Don’t you get it? It’s never going to be okay.”
“I never said it’s going to be okay. I said I’m not leaving.

Recommended: definitely
For anyone willing to gain some empathy and insight into what it’s like for your body to be more burned than not, who has ever fought to find their identity, who has ever felt hopeless, for anyone who wants to be torn apart only to heal shine brighter than before. It would also be a great read around Thanksgiving, because you’ll find a lot to be grateful for, like “my skin is all one piece” and “my toe is not being used as my thumb.”

I hate the cover, but I get it

The doctors say she’s more burn than girl. Her aunt and uncle say they love her and they’ll make things work, with pain in their eyes. Strangers say she’s an inspiration. Classmates say she’s a freak. The mirror says she’s a monster.
But Piper says she’s a badass.
And Ava is the only one who can decide if she’ll listen to what everyone else is telling her, or if she can find the strength to define herself after the fire that left her alive, but still took her life.

One of the things I liked best was the obvious research and detail given to making sure the treatments and expectations that Ava has to deal with post-burn are accurate. Both in the technical aspects, of how and why, but also in the emotional aspects, with the “finding her new normal.” That seems like something a lot of people might need at some point, even if not because they, like Ava, became a literal butthead due to where skin grafts were needed and where skin was available.

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Posted in Reviews

Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Saints by Gene Luen Yang – ⭐⭐⭐
Definitely more of a foil to Bao in Boxers, full review to come.

Recommended: only if you particularly liked Boxers
This one is less impactful, I think, and serves as more of a foil to Little Bao’s story. It was also far less exciting (for me) and more focused on building the cultural feeling at the time

Would YOU guess that both characters are female?

China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn’t even given a proper name by her family when she’s born. She finds friendship–and a name, Vibiana–in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie…and whether she is willing to die for her faith. 

My expectations for this one were wrong. I didn’t realize the narrator, our MC, was a girl, from the cover. I also didn’t realize the golden knight on the cover was ALSO a girl. Furthermore, I didn’t see the connection between Four Girl and Joan as much as I did with Little Bao and his god counterpart. Joan’s whole line sort of baffled me, and I must admit, I’m not super sure what I was intended to take away from that. Perhaps the peace and salvation faith brings, and that being what Vibiana ended up not understanding and missing in the end? Like she totally misinterpreted what Joan was supposed to be teaching her.

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Posted in Reviews

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales – ⭐⭐⭐
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Needs work on some side characters who were undeveloped and pointless, as well as some of their main hobbies as characteristics for the MCs. But still, decent. Thanks to NetGalley & Wednesday Books for a free arc in exchange for an honest review! Since this one is still pretty far out for publishing, it’s very possible the story will have some changes between now and then, so I’ll try to revisit it once it’s out for any updates!

Recommended: Sure
For an easy romance read, with some fun parallels to a classic story before developing into it’s own

And I love the name, too

Ollie has the perfect summer romance with the perfect guy during a vacation to the other side of the country. Unfortunately, Mr. Perfect (aka Will) ghosts Ollie – hard – once it’s time for Ollie to head home. So when Ollie shows up, very much at the same school as Will, things get… tense. Especially since Ollie starts his first day by accidentally outing Will to three of his classmates. Will denies his name by being unwilling to own the truth of who he is to his family and friends, inevitably trampling Ollie’s heart in the process. And frankly, Ollie is sick of it. Unfortunately, he’s not sick of Will. And so he makes the best life he can with what he’s given.

This was being touted as an LGBTQ+ version of Grease, and while I love that story, I wanted to read this story, and worried it wouldn’t develop it’s own identity for leaning too heavily on being a recreation with a twist. Happily, that was not the case! There were enough similarities, mostly towards the beginning, that it was a fun parallel to unravel. As the story continued, it branched onto it’s own path and away from being merely an imitation.

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Posted in Reviews

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi – ⭐
Personally, that was a baffling waste of time with a few nicely written lines. This one star is more “I didn’t like it” than “it was bad.” Definitely people who will enjoy this, just… Not me.

Recommended: Not really, but some people would def like it
Stay away if: you like to understand what the characters are (human? fairy? are they even ALIVE?), or what they are doing, or what they are talking about, or what is happening at any point in the story

Go for it if you know you like magical realism that is very ambiguous and leaves almost everything up to interpretation. This might also be good for book groups or buddy reads, so long as you have people who are willing to talk about every chapter as you go to try to figure out wtf you’re reading about

The cover almost made sense at one point, but I’ve lost it again by the end of the book

Perdita decides to finally find out what the deal is with her mother and grandmother’s homeland, which they never talk about and accordingly to the rest of the world, doesn’t exist. Cue mom-Harriet’s baffling narration about growing up on a farm where all they could afford to eat was gingerbread, her encounter with a strange girl named Gretel, and suddenly being whisked away to the city to capitalize on her youth to make some money (not quite prostitution, no worries). If Perdita was looking for answers, she didn’t really get any.

My face the entire way through reading this:

I don’t have a lot of thoughts that are coherent, because so much of this story was a muddled “what is happening” for me. I can’t even identify who was technically the narrator of most of the story, because it clearly WASN’T Harriet, despite it being shaded that way. Anyway… this was a struggle for me. I kept going, because by the time I realized it wasn’t going to get any clearer, I was like 75% done and figured I’d just wrap it up.

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Posted in Reviews

Unearthed by Cecy Robson

Unearthed by Cecy Robson – ⭐⭐
Release Date: September 24, 2019

A nice surprise in some ways, but kind of underwhelming in others.

Recommended: For plane rides and beach days
Because you won’t care to re-read it, or to hold on to it once you finish it. Fairly generic paranormal fae-based story, with a few unique twists.

It gets the idea across, but just feels like it’s missing a bit of polish and subtlety

Olivia is an orphan fae, endlessly hunted by the incarnations of Death in the human world after all of Fae crossed over to escape Death. She’s got no powers, except for when she and her crew realize she is actually Life incarnate, and the only one who can possibly stop the incarnations of Death. With a little help from a rude attorney, aka the Benevolent Grim Reaper, she’ll try to avenge her whole world by killing all the Death in the world.

The first chapter was nearly enough to make me put it down, when Bill the Secret Gargoyle loses his human facade because a woman in the office forces her tongue down his throat. 1. ew, and 2. THAT’S how this is going to work? I like sex and all, but having the key to their secrecy be undone by sexy stuff is… underwhelming at best. By the end, what really sunk it for me was the third time that Olivia is about to die or in some other kind of peril and then it just cuts to a new chapter where she’s waking up, sans peril, because someone else dealt with it for her. Very frustrating and breaks immersion to just skip over the tough parts of how to escape when escape is impossible. Just black out and deal with it later! Nah.

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Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience by Patrice Vecchione

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience by Patrice Vecchione – 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟 🌟

Recommended: Yes, especially right now
For anyone who lives on Earth. For those who could learn some empathy. For classrooms all over. For anyone in need of some feelz.

With authenticity, integrity, and insight, this collection of poems from some of today’s most compelling voices addresses the many issues confronting first- and second- generation young adult immigrants and refugees, such as cultural and language differences, homesickness, social exclusion, human rights, racism, stereotyping, and questions of identity. Poems encourage readers to honor their roots as well as explore new paths, and offers empathy and hope for those who are struggling to overcome discrimination. Many of the struggles immigrant and refugee teens face head-on are also experienced by young people everywhere as they contend with isolation, self-doubt, confusion, and emotional dislocation.

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