Book review: Bloom by Kevin Panetta

Bloom by Kevin Panetta
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

As soon as I saw this book pop up in my library’s Overdrive, I knew I had to read it. That cover! I love it. Now, I might be a little biased because (1) I’m on a graphic novel kick right now, and (2) I read this while on an airplane headed to see my boyfriend (so I was already in a pretty great mood), but I thought this was the most adorable book. It’s possibly one of the best things I’ve read so far this year.

This graphic novel had everything I look for in a book: relatable characters, a slow (but not too slow) burn romance, some aspiring musicians, a guy who loves baking, and family relationships that actually make sense. I mean, I could hardly believe it. Not only were Ari’s parents actually present throughout the book, he actually had a good relationship with them!

Add to that the amazing art (and its very soothing color palette) and it’s really no wonder that I loved this so much. So much, in fact, that I don’t even really know what to say about it, other than I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

#mm19: one sitting reads

Have you read Bloom? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Let’s Talk About: Books I loved with low ratings on Goodreads

A few weeks ago, Kristin @ Kristin Kraves Books shared a list of books she’s loved with low ratings on Goodreads. I thought this was such a fun and interesting idea that I had to check my own shelves to see which books I’d loved that had low overall ratings.

I decided to only share books I’ve read in the last five years, because I will openly admit that I had questionable taste in books before that. I also tried to exclude books that have low ratings because of bad author behavior, since, while I may have enjoyed the book, I don’t want to condone their problematic actions.

So, that said, here are four books that I really enjoyed with average ratings below 3.5 stars.

My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris

Goodreads average: 3.36 stars
My rating: 4 stars

If you like sarcastic humor and books that make fun of their genre, you’ll probably love this interactive romance novel. Yes, it’s full of cliches, but that’s because it’s making fun of the cliches. The love interests are laughable because it’s making fun of the characteristics of classic romance love interests. If you’re looking for a serious, historically accurate romance, this isn’t it. If you’re looking to have fun and laugh, this might be a book for you.

We All Fall Down by Natalie D. Richards

Goodreads average: 3.41 stars
My rating: 4 stars

I just scrolled through the negative reviews on Goodreads and they all seem to be along the lines of “this was clearly written for teenagers.” To be fair, it is YA. It’s not meant to scare the pants off of you or anything. I liked this book because it had a spooky vibe without actually being scary.

Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

Goodreads average: 3.44 stars
My rating: 4 stars

I understand the problematic behavior in this book that a lot of reviewers have brought up, but… that was kind of the point? In this book, a cupid-in-training accidentally messes up his arrows and hits only half of his target. The result is a girl who’s head-over-heels for a boy who couldn’t care less about her, and that boy definitely takes advantage. His behavior is despicable, but what would this book have been if it wasn’t? (Boring, probably.)

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

Goodreads average: 3.46 stars
My rating: 4 stars

One of the things that I liked most about The Last Boy and Girl in the World is how realistic the characters were. Keeley was an incredibly realistic teenage girl who has no idea how to handle her whole town going underwater. She’s not always likable. In fact, a lot of the time, she says or does the wrong thing. I guess I can understand why a lot of reviewers couldn’t connect with her, but I think this book would have been incredibly boring if everyone in this book had known what to do in this very strange situation.

What are some books you’ve loved with low ratings on Goodreads? Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think of them? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Amanda can’t figure out what’s so exciting about kissing. It’s just a lot of teeth clanking, germ swapping, closing of eyes so you can’t see that godzilla-sized zit just inches from your own hormonal monstrosity. All of her seven kisses had been horrible in different ways, but nothing compared to the awfulness that followed Kiss Number Eight. An exploration of sexuality, family, and faith, Kiss Number Eight is a coming-of-age tale filled with humor and hope.

Before I write this review, let me get one thing out of the way. When I first started reading this, I was pretty sure I’d give it one star. Given the serious homophobia and transphobia at the beginning of this book, I couldn’t believe that I’d seen it advertised as a great LGBT graphic novel. In addition to that, Amanda was incredibly rude to her mother, constantly referring to her as a bitch and flat-out refusing to listen to her or spend any time with her at all.

Let me tell you, books like this are the reason I rarely DNF. The character development in this was amazing.

It’s hard to talk about what happens in this book without spoiling the whole thing, so here are some kind of vague bullet points:

  • This book deals with family secrets while also making the point that the way we remember things (or were taught things) from childhood might not necessarily be what actually happened.
  • I absolutely loved that Amanda’s religion played a fairly big role in the story. While I’m not particularly religious, I did attend 13 years of Catholic school (and was in Catholic high school during the time that this book takes place) and can absolutely see these things happening.
  • The friendships in this book were heartbreaking but realistic. Just like Amanda doesn’t always say or do the right thing, neither do her friends.
  • I loved the character development in this book. Both Amanda and many other characters start the book off by thinking that homosexuality is unnatural, that being transgender is a disease, but they gradually learn and grow and question what they’ve been taught and it just made me so happy.
  • I thought that the ending was perfect. When I first finished, I was kind of annoyed that some things were left hanging, but then I realized that it was more realistic that way.

I think that the only other thing I want to say about this book is that the art was amazing. I absolutely loved the art style, and the facial expressions and body language of the characters was some of the best I’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author (and the artist).

Highly recommended as long as you think you’ll be okay with the homophobia and transphobia at the beginning.

#mm19: one sitting reads

Have you read Kiss Number 8? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite books released in the last ten years

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is favorite books released in the last ten years (one book for each year). What an interesting topic. Thank goodness for Goodreads and its ability to list publication dates next to my five-star reads.


It probably won’t come as any surprise that my favorite book of last year was Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett. After all, I have a little drawing of me holding it at the bottom of every post and I shout about it whenever I can.


It’s been a couple years now since I read The Hate U Give, but it has really stuck with me. I had a lot of five-star books in 2017, but this one has to be my favorite.


Is it any surprise to anybody on the planet that my favorite book released in 2016 is The Hating Game? It shouldn’t be, because if there’s any book I shout about even more than I shout about Starry Eyes, it’s THG. (Coming in at a close second is Nevernight by Jay Kristoff.)


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the only books I’ve re-read in the last ten years, so it must be good. I love Simon, I love Blue, and I love all of the side characters. This book just makes me happy.


I think Morgan Matson is one of the only YA authors who can write a nearly 500-page contemporary and not have it seem ridiculously overdone. Since You’ve Been Gone is possibly my favorite thing she’s written, but even that’s difficult to say with any certainty.


What is there to say about Fangirl that hasn’t already been said? It’s one of the first books I ever read where I felt like the author understood what I was living with every day (in terms of anxiety, at least). It includes a whole fantasy world and fanfiction about it. It’s great.


If you’re looking for some serious satire of the beauty industry and reality television, you can’t go wrong with Beauty Queens. I may be biased since I love Libba Bray, but this is one of the greatest books I’ve ever read. Not only is the satire excellent, but it has great representation and an overall great message.


I don’t have a lot to say about Ready Player One other than it was a lot of fun and I loved the pop culture references.


Another book that I loved but I don’t have a ton to say about is Room. I read this pre-blog while sitting in the Newark airport, waiting to fly back home to Wisconsin after a spring break trip. I think that the fact that I remember exactly when and where I read this book must mean something.


The Help is one of those books that I never really intended to read until one of my friends handed it to me and told me to read it. I ended up loving it so much.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What are some of your favorite books from recent years? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Gothic Tales of Haunted Love by Hope Nicholson & S.M. Beiko

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love by Hope Nicholson & S.M. Beiko
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Source: Sent by publisher

Gothic Tales of Haunted Love is a new comics anthology curated by Hope Nicholson (The Secret Loves of Geek Girls) and S.M. Beiko (Scion of the Fox).

In 1950s Vietnam, a lost soul comes to the aid of his lover’s field under attack by American troops.

In Victorian Boston, a new governess comes to care for the rogueish widower of a stately manor and his charming brood of children.

A fashion journalist lands the interview of her dreams – but it unearths the deadly secrets of Taiwan’s most popular fashion designer.

A Sioux elder revives a recently deceased woman who sets out to recover her lost love.

A Jamaican slave faces the horrors of her hateful mistress, on the eve of her liberation.

A Brazilian writer-in-exile discovers the dark history of an abandoned mansion inhabited by a charming and sensual ghost.

And a young bride spins a story of murder and deceit that paints her husband as a killer . . . but is there any truth to her tale?

Featuring 19 original stories from some of modern comics’ finest talent, Gothic Tales of Haunted Love collects fragments of lovers torn apart, romantic liasons with the unliving, ghostly revenge, and horrific deeds, in the vein of the short-lived 1970s gothic romance comics.

A foreword on gothic romance comics is provided by historian Jacque Nodell, and the collection also features a reprint of the 1970s Korean horror-romance comic “The Promise” by Sanho Kim.

I generally have mixed feelings about anthologies, but when I got an email offering me a free copy of Gothic Tales of Haunted Love, I couldn’t resist. After all, I’m on a huge graphic novel kick. Reading something that was at least a little out of my comfort zone didn’t sound so bad, either.

As usual, I had wildly varying thoughts about the stories in this anthology.

Crush by Janet Hetherington, Ronn Sutton, Becka Kinzie & Zakk Saam: ★★★★☆

I was getting some Sound of Music vibes from this one, and even half-expected some clothes made out of curtains, until the end. I did not see that ending coming!

Rose’s Heart by Colleen Coover: ★★★★☆

I wasn’t loving this one at the beginning. I thought it would go the very cliche way of Jim ending up as the villain, and I’m glad he didn’t. That ending, though, totally saved this story. My goodness!!!

Secrets in the Silk by Nika: ★★★★☆

This one was so much fun! Or, at least, as fun as murderous mayhem can be…

L’Heure Verte by Femi Sobowale, Caroline Dougherty & Zakk Saam: ★★★☆☆

I thought this story was cute, but the twist was (1) much less exciting than the previous three stories and (2) honestly kind of obvious.

Goldblind by Hope Nicholson & Scott Chantler: ★☆☆☆☆

I feel kind of bad, but I did not understand the point of this one. Like, at all.

Minefield by Hien Pham: ★★★☆☆

This is primarily written in Vietnamese, so I’m not 100% sure that I fully understand what was going on, but it made me very, very sad and I’m calling that a success.

The Return by David A. Robertson & Scott B. Henderson: ★★★☆☆

An interesting enough premise, but the execution was pretty cliche. It basically just followed every fable ever.

Green, Gold, and Black by Cherelle Higgins & Rina Rozsas: ★★☆☆☆

The art was great and the story was heartbreaking, but what exactly was the point? I feel like this was too big of a story to tell in this short amount of pages and it would have been improved a lot if it were at least twice as long.

Ladies of the Lake by Sarah Winifred Searle: ★★★★☆

I love twists on Arthurian legends, so this one was right up my alley. I fully expected that final twist, but still appreciated it. This one was a great story.

Fazenda do Sangue Azul by H. Pueyo & Dante L.: ★★★☆☆

There are some definite plot holes here when it comes to the ghost’s appearance (and actions), but I still enjoyed this one. Surprisingly, even with the torture and war and everything, it was pretty cute.

A Heritage of Woods by S.M. Beiko & Maia Kobabe: ★☆☆☆☆

Oh dear. This one was too much.I could have happily lived my life without seeing someone have sex with a tree.

Lovers’ Moon by Chris Stone & Dani Bee: ★★★☆☆

So, first of all, I’m not a doctor but I don’t think you get Graves disease from walking around at night. That said, this one had an interesting twist, and I loved the conversation between Andrew and John.

Mistress Fox by Megan Kearney: ★★★★☆

Another twist I didn’t see coming! I was already on board with the idea of the main character recounting her dream, but that twist really took it to another level.

My Heart Still Beats for You by Amber Noelle & Allison Paige: ★☆☆☆☆

I’m sorry, but is this the novelization of every text post from 2009 Tumblr?

One More Cup by Barbara Guttman: ★☆☆☆☆

I was 100% on board with this until the end. These tragic, supernatural love stories are just not my thing.

Ouroboros by Svetla Nikolova & LAB: ★☆☆☆☆

Not sure what’s up with all of these dramatically emo stories all of a sudden. This honestly reminded me of something that one of my more dramatic friends would have tried to convince me was amazing back in like… 2004. It’s everything she used to find on Xanga and covertly print out in the school’s computer lab. It wasn’t my thing then and it’s still not my thing now.

I Am the Song by Cecil Castellucci, Willow Dawson, Becka Kinzie & Zakk Saam: ★☆☆☆☆

What… in tarnation. There was no point.

What’s Best by Katie West, Ray Fawkes & Zakk Saam: ★★★☆☆

Interesting art style. Odd storyline. But above all else, this was entertaining.

The Promise by Sanho Kim: ★★★☆☆

I can’t really say that this is my favorite story that I’ve ever read, but I have to say that the soldier really got what was coming to him.

Grave Misfortune by Kitty Curran & Larissa Zageris: ★★★★★

I have never not loved something by these authors.

Overall: 2.65 stars, rounded up to 3

#mm19: one sitting reads
#romanceopoly: creature crescent

Have you read Gothic Tales of Haunted Love? Have you read any other graphic novel anthologies? Let’s talk in the comments!

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