Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

BOOK ALERT: Series finale ARCs on NetGalley from Wednesday Books!

Hey y’all! I got a very exciting email this morning, and wanted to spread the news for anyone else who would be pumped to hear it! Until 10/17/20 (EST) three series finale books are available to read immediately on NetGalley — no request needed! Wednesday Books is spreading the love for all us readers. 🥰

If you’re not familiar with NetGalley, it’s a site used by publishers to give advanced digital copies of books to readers of all kinds for early reviews and promotion. You can sign up for free at netgalley.com, and click on the links below to read the books once you’re all set up! The site is only available in some countries, and not all books are available in all places, so if any below are not available for you I’m terribly sorry for getting your hopes up, but you can still find other great reads on NetGalley! 😓😭

If you loved FABLE

I know I personally saw this book cover ALL OVER for a few months before release, because dang is it stunning! This female-led pirate adventure that began with Fable is concluding in Spring of 2021 with Namesake by Adrienne Young, but you can read a digital copy early below!

Continue reading “BOOK ALERT: Series finale ARCs on NetGalley from Wednesday Books!”
Posted in Book Talk, Chatty

In Progress with WHITE IVY

Progress: page 118/368 (32%)

Why did I start reading it?

I saw this on NetGalley and fell in love with the premise immediately. I mean, yes, I also loved it for the cover — that dark balance with the splashes of color was promptly intiruging — but the synopsis meant I just couldn’t resist it. And happily, I was approved for an advanced copy! So here’s your little sneak peek as well! 🙂

Where have I gone?

In a word: anticipation

An ominous undertone: nothing particularly sinister has happened, but I feel like there’s a very big yet tacked on to the end of that statement. Ivy has a delightful dark side to her, tempered by a strange innocence as she is driven to be accepted by those around her

Anticipation is my word for this one so far, because the slow build of Ivy and the way life has pushed her along feels like the perfect setup for her to be teetering on a brink, hopefully soon. I can’t wait to see where she heads!!

Lines that linger

…it occurred to Ivy that paying for something in the open with money that wasn’t hers was even better than taking something for free in secret — a lesson not even Meifeng would have had the audacity to teach her.

Men always think they take the initiative but it’s women who make the first, often imperceptible move.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Not Your Idol, Vol. 2 by Aoi Makino

Not Your Idol, Vol. 2 by Aoi Makino – ⭐⭐⭐
Expected Release: September 1, 2020

Recommended: sure
For a continuation from part 1, for more exploration into side characters

Summary:
A psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan. After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

“This is exactly why she got herself stabbed by a fan.” Heartbroken Nina Kamiyama is a former idol. She’s decided to live her life by keeping her past identity a secret, but her situation intensifies when another discovers who she really is. Who can she trust?

Thoughts:
This followup installment was more thoughtful than the first installment, with less action. This section of chapters focuses more on the people and investigating their motivation. As is expected from a second set, we get a look into the people around Kamiyama and dig deeper into her own emotions and motivation.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The Fox & the Little Tanuki, Volume 2 by Mi Tagawa

The Fox & the Little Tanuki, Volume 2 by Mi Tagawa – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Expected Publication: August 18, 2020

Recommended: yes!!
For more heartwarming moments, for a volume looking at some of the other characters in depth, for an interesting addition in the world we see them all in

Summary:
After 300 years, the gods that imprisoned Senzou the Fox Spirit for his arrogance finally set him free. There is only one condition — he can’t have any of his supernatural abilities back until he successfully helps a tanuki cub named Manpachi become one of their magical assistants. Unfortunately for Senzou, there’s no cheating when it comes to completing his task! The magic beads around his neck make sure he can’t wander too far from his charge or shirk his duties, and so… Senzou the once-great Fox Spirit must now figure out how to be an actually-great babysitter to a mischievous little tanuki or risk being stuck without his powers forever!

Thoughts:
Well, the cliffhanger from Volume 1 is no longer hanging over my head, thank goodness! I was so excited to come back to this story in Volume 2. As ever, the art perfectly complements the story style, in how it’s able to carry so many different kinds of meaning effortlessly. Everything from the funny moments, to the painful moments, to the crying-because-it’s-beautiful moments: the art style is adaptable to all of them.

And yes, no worries: this volume is just as hilarious and cute as the previous, despite it’s darker tones as well. What I loved most about this one was being able to learn more about the characters besides the Senzou and Manpachi. Though we do still have stories with them, we also get to see more about some of the wolves and even about our frenemy the badger. Personally I loved this, in part because the relationship between the wolves are so delightful in their contrasting personality that it was enlightening to see how they each got that way.

We also get to see them in their human forms a bit more, which was a shocker but also a fantastic addition. Their interactions in the human world were still perfectly in character and added a twist element to the plot moving forward. I expect we’ll see a bit more of this weaving between worlds in future volumes as well.

One extra bonus at the end that I loved was the inclusion of some short one-off comics with the characters that were translated into English. Some of these comics have been posted on the author’s social media pages in Japanese, so here I finally got the English versions! And let me tell you, they did not disappoint. It’s always hard to end one of these volumes because I adore the characters so much and want to see more, so it made it a little easier to accept. 😁 Can’t wait for the next volume!

Thanks to NetGalley and Diamond Book Distributors for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen

The Invincible Summer of Juniper Jones by Daven McQueen – 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Expected Release: June 16, 2020

Recommended: yes
For a fantastic story, for a fictional story about real issues, for a way to reinforce lessons on or teach about racism and the Black experience that would work well for younger students in particular (but definitely adults, too)

Summary:
It’s the summer of 1955. For Ethan Harper, a biracial kid raised mostly by his white father, race has always been a distant conversation. When he’s sent to spend the summer with his aunt and uncle in small-town Alabama, his Blackness is suddenly front and center, and no one is shy about making it known he’s not welcome there. Except for Juniper Jones. The town’s resident oddball and free spirit, she’s everything the townspeople aren’t―open, kind, and full of acceptance. Armed with two bikes and an unlimited supply of root beer floats, Ethan and Juniper set out to find their place in a town that’s bent on rejecting them. As Ethan is confronted for the first time by what it means to be Black in America, Juniper tries to help him see the beauty in even the ugliest reality, and that even the darkest days can give rise to an invincible summer.

Thoughts:
Honestly, I thought it was weird at first that the white girl’s name was on the cover of the black boy’s story. I worried about what message that gave before even beginning the book. I’m still not sure about that, but Juniper brought light and honesty and bravery to Ethan’s life — so maybe it makes sense that she was featured so prominently on his cover. I never quite understood why the other town kids made fun of her and said she was crazy, so either I missed something or it was simply because she wasn’t as racist as the rest of them.

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Review: The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso – ⭐⭐⭐

Recommended: yes
For an introduction to a promising new fantasy series, for political scheming and world-threatening dangers to your heart’s content, for elaborate growth of the main character built steadily throughout

I adore the cover. Clever title design, fits the name, just so good.

Summary:
The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers. Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle. Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.

Thoughts:
Points for unexpected plot twists, that felt believable and acceptable. None of this plot twist where it’s too outrageous or feels like an excuse (“It was all a dream!”). I’m a little bloodthirsty so maybe I wanted something different in some cases, but I still enjoyed it. All the elements I had hoped for re: the world of darkness were satisfied and more is promised. Now the challenge is waiting for the next book to release next year.

This is a fairly hefty book, in length and content. It has a pretty slow start, with a lot of setup for the kingdoms in the world, the cultures and clashes between them, and a whole lot of political negotiation complicated by mysterious deadly artifacts. Most of the action happens in the latter half of the book. Don’t expect to rush through this; it’s best to sit down ready to learn about the world.

She just knows that sometimes you have to destroy in order to protect.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: I Left The House Today! by Cassandra Calin

I Left The House Today!: Comics by Cassandra Calin by Cassandra Calin – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Expected release date: June 2, 2020

Recommended: yes
for people who have enjoyed her comics on social, for women who enjoy short comics that are #relatable, for anyone looking for a little smile

Summary:
Cassandra Calin’s ability to document the hilarity of relatable everyday events in a series of webcomics has generated a huge following on social media. This beautifully illustrated compendium of first-person comics about the trials of the single life, school, stress, junk food, shaving, and maintaining a healthy self-image. Cassandra Calin’s comics frequently highlight the humorous gap between expectations and reality, especially when it comes to appearance and how much she can accomplish in one day. This book is funny, lighthearted, introspective, and artistically stunning—the perfect gift for young women, recent graduates, and anyone who might need a little comedic incentive to leave the house today.

Thoughts:
If you follow her on Instagram or have otherwise seen her comics, then you can expect more of the same art style and humour. For those new to Cassandra Calin, YOU’RE IN FOR A FUN TIME! Mostly short 4-panel comics or expectations vs reality side by side comparisons, these are everyday issues most people run into. Her comics probably do appeal to women more since she writes about her experiences like menstruating, trying to find comfortable clothes, and attempts at hair styling. Men will probably get a laugh too, but honestly I could also see a lot of them scratching their heads or cringing in horror as they learn things they never knew about the female mind and body. 😂

For new content, there are definitely comics from her social sharings in here that I recognized. I’m not sure if any are exclusive to the book, but it was about half ones I’d seen and half ones that were new to me. The arc follows roughly a year in her life, with some seasonal and school based comics.

Thanks to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel for a free ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Posted in Reviews

Review: Daisy Does it Herself by Gracie Player

Daisy Does it Herself by Gracie Player – ⭐⭐⭐
This was a lovely romance with woman-power of a tech savvy heroine, and I’m be damned if I don’t already want more 😍

Recommended: sure!
For a book that makes you cheer for the main character, for a love interest who’s clear but respectful, for a female character who is defined by more than the men around her, for a generally feel-good and silly story

Daisy Does it Herself by Gracie Player
Definitely an eyecatching cover!

Summary:
When 26-year-old Daisy’s life in London comes crashing down around her, the only thing she can think of is getting away – far away. That’s how she found herself stumbling off a train in England’s picturesque Peak District – 150 miles from home, with no idea why she’d gone there and even less idea how she intended to get home. But as Daisy explores the gorgeous village of Upper Finlay, she glimpses the possibility of a different life. The Derbyshire Dales offer up new friends, new opportunities, and a distractingly dishy object of attraction in the form of local bookstore owner Alex (and his bumbling Great Dane.) When Daisy discovers Alex’s business is in trouble she steps in to save the day. But London’s calling – literally. The life Daisy ran away from is calling her back. Why then, is she so reluctant to heed its call? Daisy’s got a decision to make: Will she play it safe, and return to what she knew? Or is she brave enough to take a leap of faith and create a bold, new life for herself in the last place she’d ever expected?

Thoughts:
I totally judged this book by it’s cover, and the cover suits it very well. I love the bright cheery colors, and the poised and cool woman suits Daisy’s growth throughout the book. The title is also perfect, and Daisy does indeed take control even when her whole life seems absolutely out of control.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: RWBY The Official Manga 1 by Bunta Kinami

RWBY THE OFFICIAL MANGA 1 by Bunta Kinami – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Great to read, but some visuals that were difficult to parse out into elements and movement.
Expected Release: July 21, 2020

Recommended: yes!
For those who like the supernatural-hunter kind of manga, for very clearly defined character personalities, for some intriguing lore and monsters, and of course for anyone who’s seen the Rooster Teeth production it’s based on

Summary:
In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby is a ferociously talented young girl who comes to Beacon Academy to hone her skills and serve as a Huntress herself. Alongside her sister Yang Xiao Long, rival Weiss Schnee and newfound friend Blake Belladonna, Ruby leads Team RWBY, the coolest new group at Beacon! Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?

Thoughts:
I’m in an unusual position I think, as I have been aware of this series since it started with Rooster Teeth. However at that time I didn’t enjoy the animation style they used, and wasn’t able to watch more than a few episodes before being turned off despite what seemed like a promising plot. So when I heard there was a manga version of it… WELL. That sounded perfect – I could finally get the story without the animation!

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Review: The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo

The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo – ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Was this what I expected? No. Not even close. It was so much more.

This was a short read packed with so much. This is a great example of what can be done in ~100 pages. This is something you have to think about, and savor, and should not read passively.

Recommended: yes
For a short read that packs a punch, for beautifully lyrical writing, for a story that emerges through clues and fog and whispers, for a surprisingly gorgeous depiction of a life through objects


Summary:
With the heart of an Atwood tale and the visuals of a classic Asian period drama The Empress of Salt and Fortune is a tightly and lushly written narrative about empire, storytelling, and the anger of women. A young royal from the far north is sent south for a political marriage. Alone and sometimes reviled, she has only her servants on her side. This evocative debut chronicles her rise to power through the eyes of her handmaiden, at once feminist high fantasy and a thrilling indictment of monarchy.

Thoughts:
Do not make the mistake of thinking that since this is just over 100 pages that it is sparse in detail or not much happens or you would not have time to learn the characters. We get all of that and more, and in such an elegant way, that it’s stunning to think how few times you actually need to turn the page.

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