Book review: Lost At Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Lost At Sea by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 22, 2003
Source: Borrowed

Raleigh doesn’t have a soul. A cat stole it – at least that’s what she tells people – at least that’s what she would tell people if she told people anything. But that would mean talking to people, and the mere thought of social interaction is terrifying. How did such a shy teenage girl end up in a car with three of her hooligan classmates on a cross-country road trip? Being forced to interact with kids her own age is a new and alarming proposition for Raleigh, but maybe it’s just what she needs – or maybe it can help her find what she needs – or maybe it can help her to realize that what she needs has been with her all along. 

A couple years ago, I read the first volume of Scott Pilgrim by Bryan Lee O’Malley. I enjoyed it, just as I’d enjoyed its movie adaptation, but I kind of ignored everything else he’d written. Fast forward a few years and Lost At Sea showed up at my library. I walked by it a few times before finally deciding to take the jump to read it.

At the beginning, my feelings toward this graphic novel were something like, “Hmm, this is fine.” As it went on, though, I began to love it so much. I’m not even sure how to describe what I loved about this book because it kind of snuck up on me. It’s like I was reading it, enjoying it but not feeling any strong feelings, and then all of a sudden my heart was exploding with love.

This isn’t a cute graphic novel. It’s sad and emotional and it deals a lot with the struggles of growing up. Emotionally, Raleigh has a lot going on, which is revealed piece by piece as the book continues. I appreciated that none of what’s going on was terribly dramatic — it was relatable, coming across like a story that could be about almost any teenager.

I loved the writing, I loved the art, and I loved all of the cats. I loved Raleigh and her new friends, and I think this book single-handedly pulled me out of my post-BookCon slump.

Highly recommended if you’re looking for a good graphic novel.

#romanceopoly: library


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

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Book review: The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez

The Love Bunglers by Jaime Hernandez
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 17, 2014
Source: Borrowed

Featuring Hernandez’s longtime Love and Rockets heroine Maggie, The Love Bunglers is tied together by the initial thread of the suppression of family history. Because these secrets can’t be dealt with openly, their lingering effect is even more powerful. But Maggie’s ability to navigate and find meaning in her life — despite losing her culture, her brother, her profession, and her friends — is what’s made her a compelling character. After a lifetime of losses, Maggie finds, in the second half, her longtime off and on lover, Ray Dominguez. In taking us through lives, deaths, and near-fatalities, The Love Bunglers encapsulates Maggie’s emotional history as it moves from resignation to memories of loss, to sudden violence (a theme in this story) and eventually to love and contentment. Much like what John Updike created in his four Rabbit novels, Jaime Hernandez has been following his longtime character, Maggie, around for several decades, all of which has seemed to be building towards this book in particular.

Alright, so there I was in my library’s graphic novel section when this spine (and then cover) jumped out at me. I should really learn to look books up on Goodreads before checking them out, or at least before reading them, because it turns out that this is NUMBER TWENTY-EIGHT IN A SERIES. Oddly enough, I just checked my library’s online catalog (just in case I was completely oblivious to the other twenty-seven volumes of this series) and I did not just miss an entire row of books — this is the only one they have. This also isn’t mentioned anywhere on the copy I checked out, which I find a bit odd.

Because of the very minimalistic art style, the various time jumps, and the whole “number 28 in a series” thing, I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and remembering what was happening to who and how everybody was connected. Overall, the book was very confusing, which was, again, at least partially my fault. That said, I feel like, after 110 pages, who was who and what was going on should have been at least somewhat clear to me.

As for the plot, or what little of it I understood, it was just so sad. And why, I’m not sure. I mean, I figured that a book called “The Love Bunglers” would be at least a little sad, but I didn’t expect something like the repeated rape of a child to be something that would be a throwaway plot line. I suppose I can’t speak to what happened in the 27 volumes that came before this one or anything that comes after it, but in The Love Bunglers, it’s just something that happens, is a thing for a few pages, and then disappears.

With a Goodreads average of 4.25 stars, this is clearly a very well-loved book, but it wasn’t for me. I nearly DNFed it around page 25 (that’s when the rape starts happening) but I wanted to push through to the end to see how everything was resolved. Turns out it wasn’t and I’m mad that I wasted my time.


Have you read The Love Bunglers? What about the rest of the Love and Rockets series?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • I don’t think I’ve acquired anything this week!

1 thing this week:

  • This has been a weird week (at least in terms of work) but this afternoon I’m headed to a baby shower and tonight I’ll be in NYC, so things are definitely looking up.

Song of the week:

I’ve been thinking a lot about twenty one pilots’ cover of Mad World recently, so here it is. This live version is my favorite.


How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC Review: Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson

Technically, You Started It by Lana Wood Johnson
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

When a guy named Martin Nathaniel Munroe II texts you, it should be obvious who you’re talking to. Except there’s two of them (it’s a long story), and Haley thinks she’s talking to the one she doesn’t hate.

A question about a class project rapidly evolves into an all-consuming conversation. Haley finds that Martin is actually willing to listen to her weird facts and unusual obsessions, and Martin feels like Haley is the first person to really see who he is. Haley and Martin might be too awkward to hang out in real life, but over text, they’re becoming addicted to each other.

There’s just one problem: Haley doesn’t know who Martin is. And Martin doesn’t know that Haley doesn’t know. But they better figure it out fast before their meet-cute becomes an epic meet-disaster . . .

As soon as I heard that Technically, You Started It was going to be a text message-based romance, it shot up to the top of my most anticipated list for 2019. I never got any response to my request for this ARC on Edelweiss (not that I’m surprised) but I did find it at BookCon and almost immediately sat down to read it.

I wanted to love this book so much. As I was reading, I kept telling myself (and saying out loud) that I’m a sucker for books with relationships that develop via text message. But this book didn’t meet my expectations. As much as I wanted to love it, I just didn’t.

Let’s start with the good — I love that this book is told solely using texts. There is not even a single line of description in this book — it’s entirely written in text message dialogue. Surprisingly, I didn’t really feel like I was missing anything from the plot. What was happening came across pretty clearly despite only seeing texts between two characters.

That said, the uniqueness of this book and my love of text-based romances wasn’t enough to save this book.

I think that the first problem I had with this book is that nobody, not even someone like me, a former Linguistics major, texts like that. These kids text in full, complete sentences. No emojis. 100% correct punctuation. No typos. It’s weird. I guess they do address it very briefly at the beginning of the book, but it’s still weird. Maybe they started out talking formally, but as time goes on, I would have thought they’d get more comfortable with each other and that would show in the texts. At least throw in some crying laughing faces or sobbing emojis or something.

The other thing that really bothered me was the constant miscommunication. The whole premise of this book is that Haley is talking to Martin Nathaniel Munroe II, a boy in one of her classes who wants to talk about the class project. The interesting thing here is that there are two boys in her class with that name, one of which Haley is okay with and one of which she hates. It’s painfully obvious from the first few pages that Haley is not talking to the Martin that she thinks she’s talking to. It’s even in the synopsis! This is the main conflict of the book, and it’s both frustrating and boring.

I think that this book would have been better if the entire plot weren’t in the synopsis! That said, I do have to give the author credit for writing an entire book in texts and very casually featuring bisexual and demisexual leads.

#mm19: diversify your reading

Have you read Technically, You Started It? Can you recommend any similar books?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Ultimate 2019 TBR: Mid-year check in!

It’s been six months since I shared my Ultimate 2019 TBR (100 books), so it’s time to do the first check-in. I don’t think I’ve done the best job at sticking to this TBR, but I didn’t do quite as terribly as I thought I would.

ALREADY OWNED: READ 7/60 (yikes)

Well, I do openly admit that I’m pretty bad about reading things that I actually own. I hated a lot of the seven books that I read, but I did really enjoy The Rest of Us Just Live Here and Practical Magic.

UPCOMING RELEASES: READ 3/20

I have a lot to say about this section! Let’s see…

  • I’ve removed We Contain Multitudes from my TBR since it just doesn’t sound like the kind of book I’d like
  • I have an ARC of The Last Hope that I’ll be reading soon
  • I’ve preordered both Rainbow Rowell books
  • I got On the Come Up as a Book of the Month, so hopefully I’ll get around to it soon enough
  • I’m currently reading The Music of What Happens, so I figure it counts as a book read, even though I haven’t finished it yet

BOOKS TO GET FROM THE LIBRARY: READ 6/40

The goal of this section was to check books out from the library, but it turns out that I’ve since bought more than one of these…

TOTAL: READ 16/100 (so far!)

I honestly thought that I would have read about three of the books from this list, so I’m not too disappointed to find out that I’m at least in the double digits. I checked out a few of these books from the library this week, so hopefully I’ll be crossing off a few more of these soon!


Did you make a TBR list for the year? If so, how are you doing? Have you read any of these books? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Let’s Talk About: How I write my book reviews

Once upon a time, Gerry wrote about writing book reviews. I left a little summary of how I write my reviews, Bibi commented on it saying she’d like me to expand, and I thought… hey, why not. So here I am today, telling you all about how I write my book reviews.

This is not a post about what you should or shouldn’t do in your own book reviews. I always get a little annoyed when I see a post talking about what you should always or never do in a book review. However you personally want to get your thoughts and opinions out is fine, whether it’s one sentence, five thousand words, or anything in between. You can choose not to review books you didn’t like or you can rant forever about why you hated a book. Your blog is your own.

I’m going to talk about my three main types of reviews in this post:

  • my standard review
  • my “number of thoughts” review
  • my mini-review

the standard review

I’d guess that at least 90% of my reviews fall into this category. In this kind of review, I give my general thoughts without going into (too many) spoilers. I’ve tried a bunch of methods for writing this kind of review over the years, from taking meticulous notes while reading (too time-consuming) to typing my thoughts in a draft of the review every night before bed (I kept forgetting) to just winging it when I finished (the usual). What I’ve found the most helpful is talking about the book while I’m reading it.

You see, I have a pretty great boyfriend and he almost always asks me what I’m thinking of the books that I’m reading. He’ll ask me how many stars the book has so far, what’s keeping it from being a five-star read, or what I’m loving about it. This helps me start a review in my mind while I’m reading because I know I’ll more than likely be answering those questions. When I sit down to write my review, I already have a pretty basic idea of what I’m going to say. Then it’s just expanding on those thoughts (or, sometimes, cutting them down to a more reasonable length).

In my standard review, I try to include, at the very least, what I liked and disliked about the book. I don’t have any set formula for my reviews, but I do try to talk about anything that I think could be controversial or surprising (without giving away too many spoilers, that is). Aside from that, sometimes I include quotes and sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do bullet points and sometimes I don’t. Most of the time, I really just do whatever I feel like and hope for the best.

Examples of this type of review:


the “number of thoughts” review

This is, by far, the most time-consuming type of review to write. It usually takes at least a couple hours, so if you see one of these reviews, you know that I either really loved or really hated the book. (Really hated is more common.) That said, it’s actually my favorite type of review since I feel so much better after ranting about a book for so long. These reviews are all FULL OF SPOILERS.

So, how do I write this kind of review? If it’s an ebook, I make a lot of notes and highlights on my Kindle. If it’s a physical book, I fill it up with sticky notes so that I’ll remember quotes I want to use. I’ll usually write at least a word or two on the sticky note to remind myself of my thoughts. That’s time-consuming on its own, but then I have to transcribe all of those thoughts into my review! 😅

These “number of thoughts” reviews usually get a ton of interaction, which I love! If it wasn’t so time-consuming, I’d do it for every book I read.

Examples of this type of review:


the mini-reviews

When I don’t have a lot to say about a book, or when it doesn’t really fit into my usual reading tastes, I tend to do a mini-review. These are usually just a couple of sentences touching on what I liked or disliked about the book. I did these a lot more when I first moved to WordPress than I do now, but they’re nice because they’re quick and easy.

Examples of this type of review:


So, there you have it — three ways that I write my reviews. I hope that this was at least a little bit helpful. If you want me to expand on anything, please feel free to leave a comment! ❤


What style of review do you usually write? What’s your favorite to read? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: The Mid-Year Freak Out

I am very, very behind on doing tags, but I’m hoping to get caught up soon! Today I’m doing the mid-year freak out tag. Thanks to both Paige and Consu for tagging me!

Best book you’ve read so far in 2019?

Definitely Kiss Number 8! I was so surprised by how much I ended up loving this book, especially after having kind of mixed feelings at the beginning.

Best sequel of 2019 so far?

I’ve read a few good sequels this year (mostly graphic novels), but I think the best would have to be Saga, Vol. 9!

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to?

I have probably about five hundred books that could fit this prompt, but I’ll go with If I’m Being Honest because I love the cover so much! It also reminds me of the dodie song, so that’s a plus.

Most anticipated release of the second half of 2019?

DARKDAWN!!!

Biggest disappointment?

Probably Follow Me Back! I had really been looking forward to this one and ended up so disappointed! It had a really intriguing plot but the execution was all wrong.

Biggest surprise?

I already mentioned how surprised I was about how much I loved Kiss Number 8, so I’ll go with a different one for this prompt. Lost At Sea was one of those books that I thought I might like (after all, I enjoyed Scott Pilgrim) but I ended up LOVING it.

Favorite new (to me) author?

In the interest of not repeating books, I’ll go with something else I rated five stars. Bloom was adorable and I loved it. I’ll definitely be reading more from Kevin Panetta.

Newest fictional crush?

I’m sorry, but I don’t think I have one! I’ve read mostly YA this year and I just can’t have a fictional crush on someone that’s a decade younger than me!

Newest favorite character?

I’ve liked a lot of characters so far this year, but I think I’m pretty partial to Max from The Music of What Happens.

Book that made you cry?

I don’t think any books this year have made me all-out cry, but I felt so many things while I was reading Lost At Sea!

Book that made you happy?

Christina Lauren’s books tend to make me pretty happy. The Unhoneymooners was no exception.

Favorite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I think the only book to movie adaptation I’ve seen this year is Carrie!

Favorite review you’ve written this year?

Possibly Smart Tass? I like writing sassy reviews, and this was one of the sassiest.

Most beautiful book you bought or received so far this year?

I think I’ve acquired at least 100 books so far this year (oops) but one that has a cover I love that’s also within my line of sight right now is The Wicked Deep.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

A ton. Like… so many. Take a look at my Ultimate TBR post, most of which I haven’t read yet.


I’ve seen a ton of people do this tag so far, but if you haven’t, please consider yourself tagged! What are some books you hope to read by the end of the year? What’s the best book you’ve read so far? Let’s talk in the comments!

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