ARC review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

As soon as I saw this cover at BookCon, I knew that I needed to read this book. I made a beeline for the Lion Forge booth on day two of BookCon and was lucky enough to get a ticket for the ARC drop and signing.

This review is going to be very short because I feel like there’s very little that I can say about this one that doesn’t spoil at least something.

I loved the art style. I loved the characters. I loved the representation. The romance was adorable. There are some more fantastical aspects as well (one of the main characters being a werewolf, for example) that I felt were done really well. The family dynamics were also really great! I loved Nova’s grandmothers and how supportive they were.

I would absolutely recommend this graphic novel. It was just as amazing as I thought it would be. ❤

#mm19: diversify your reading


Have you read Mooncakes? What’s the last book you really loved? Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Advertisements

ARC review: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting, story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower about three friends coming-of-age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate. 

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.

I’ll be honest and admit the the only reason I really requested an ARC of We Are Lost and Found was its cover. I was also pretty intrigued by the setting (New York City in the early 1980s) and the fact that this basically sounded like a YA version of Rent. Well, after reading it, I can say that it definitely isn’t YA Rent, although it was an interesting and well-written book.

So… we’ll start with the good. I loved Becky and James. They felt like they could really be my friends. I liked Michael’s complicated relationship with his brother. I pretty much love anything set in the 80s, so that was a definite plus for me too. I also thought that the book was really well-written.

Things I liked less were the lack of quotation marks throughout the book — it made it very difficult to determine who was talking, if anyone, and really pulled me out of the story — and what felt like a lack of plot. I mean, sure, it’s about a gay boy in 1980s NYC amid the AIDS crisis, but nothing huge happens.

The synopsis of this book compares it to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which, for once, is a pretty accurate comparison. I had the same problem with that book, so it might just be an issue of me not really connecting with this type of story.


Have you read We Are Lost and Found? Can you recommend any good books on this topic? Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

ARC Review: No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant

No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

When 17-year-old Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forest in her home town of Portland, Oregon, her only expectation is to earn a little money. Homeschooled, affluent, and sheltered, Hazel soon finds her job working side by side with at-risk teens to be an initiation into a new world that she has no skill in navigating. This uncomfortable and compelling memoir is an important story of a girl’s awakening to the racial insularity of her life, the power of white privilege, and the hidden story of segregation in Portland.

If you’d pitched this book to me anywhere other than BookCon, I probably would have passed. But the Lion Forge booth was doing an ARC signing and I got a ticket and this book sounded interesting, so I decided to go for it. All things considered, I think it was a good decision.

I think the first thing I want to say is that I loved the art style. The majority of the ARC is in black and white and I can easily imagine the pages being stunning in full color. I think that the graphic novel format helped this book a lot. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much as a standard memoir.

The next thing I want to say is that there’s a lot going on in this book. Hazel is homeschooled, sheltered, and privileged. When they take a summer job pulling ivy, they encounter the first real diversity of their life and have to come to terms with their parents’ prejudice and the realization that racism still exists in our daily lives. Hazel also in a relationship with a younger guy, which causes some conflict with their new coworkers, and flirts with a guy who’s fifteen years older, which makes for some really uncomfortable scenes.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I think I would have liked it more if it had taken a deeper look at the themes of white privilege and the inherent racism in homeschooling that’s just briefly addressed. I understand that this is a graphic memoir and what happens is what happened, but I felt like something was missing to make this a complete story. Still, I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good starting point when it comes to white privilege.


Have you read No Ivy League? Do you like to read graphic memoirs?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Book Review: Little Birds by Anaïs Nin

Little Birds by Anaïs Nin
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: 1979
Source: Purchased

Evocative and superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality. From the beach towns of Normandy to the streets of New Orleans, these thirteen vignettes introduce us to a covetous French painter, a sleepless wanderer of the night, a guitar-playing gypsy, and a host of others who yearn for and dive into the turbulent depths of romantic experience. 

Oh dear. When I found this book in the “old and unusual” section of my library’s used bookstore, I thought it would be something at least moderately entertaining. I guess it was, but more in an infuriating way than anything else. I think this is the least sexy erotica I’ve ever read in my life.

What follows is a brief summary of all thirteen short stories in this collection.

Click at your own risk. 1. Little Birds, a.k.a. “I take the food money my wife leaves me and spend it on pretty birds so I can lure underage girls to my apartment and then flash them.”
Probably the most disturbing of all the stories, this one features a “loving husband” who takes the money his wife earns working at the circus to buy colorful birds. Keep in mind that he’s supposed to be buying food with this money. He creates a whole menagerie in his apartment and eventually lures in some underage girls from the school across the street. Unsurprisingly, he exposes himself to them and they run away, traumatized. In what universe is this sexy?

2. The Woman on the Dunes, a.k.a. “One time I had sex on the beach and then this woman told me about how she got raped at a hanging.”
This one started off well enough, and then we had to get into this really detailed account of the woman attending a hanging and getting raped in the crowd, simultaneously aroused and horrified. It was just very, very odd.

3. Lina, a.k.a. “So boring that I literally forgot what it was about.”
Like… I read this yesterday and I don’t even remember what it was about.

4. Two Sisters, a.k.a. “My sister and I were molested by our brothers while growing up and now I just want to have sex with her husband.”
One of the bigger “yikes” stories in this collection, this one features everyone cheating on everyone with some molestation thrown in for no real reason. I really fail to see the point of this one.

5. Sirocco, a.k.a. “The first of multiple stories where the woman has to listen to her husband having sex with someone else in the next room.”
Not sure what’s supposed to be sexy about this, but at least it’s short.

6. The Maja, a.k.a. “I don’t want to have sex with my wife but I do want to have sex with a painting of her.”
I don’t even know what else to say.

7. A Model, a.k.a. “Everybody wants to have sex with a model, the longest and also most boring story in this collection.”
There’s a whole lot going on in this one — a woman who wants to model but doesn’t want to have random sex with men calling themselves artists (this is somehow a problem), a very misplaced aside about having sex with women in the jungle, and then another misplaced aside about a horseback riding injury possibly breaking her clitoris.

8. The Queen, a.k.a. “Let’s talk about a prostitute dripping semen at a ball.”
This is another one that’s just… not possibly sexy in any possible way.

9. Hilda and Rango, a.k.a. “He’s so manly that even his penis is strong.”
If you enjoy hearing about “charcoal eyes” and “wild hair” while a “strong penis” pounds into someone, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

10. The Chanchiquito, a.k.a. “Fantasies about bestiality.”
Just disturbing, honestly.

11. Saffron, a.k.a. “The super, extremely, no-doubt-about-it racist one.”
A woman wonders why her husband wants to have sex with the servants instead of her and then learns that it’s because he likes the way their skin smells like saffron. This whole story is one cringe after another, but the worst is possibly when the bride’s body is described as several different racial stereotypes.

12. Mandra, a.k.a. “Sex with my married friends.”
Basically, this woman goes around having sex with all of her married friends or just staring at them naked while the husbands are in the other room.

13. Runaway, a.k.a. “Taking advantage of a homeless underage girl.”
Why yes, I would love to read about this innocent underage girl being taken in by two older men who take advantage of her. Thank you.


I expected at least a smidgen more sexiness from these erotic short stories. What little sexiness it actually had was killed by the pedophilia and racism. Definitely not recommended.

#mmd19: a book published before you were born


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

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Mini Review: Soppy by Philippa Rice

Soppy by Philippa Rice
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Borrowed

True love isn’t always about the big romantic gestures. 

Sometimes it’s about sympathizing with someone whose tea has gone cold or reading together and sharing a quilt. When two people move in together, it soon becomes apparent that the little things mean an awful lot. The throwaway moments in life become meaningful when you spend them in the company of someone you love. 

SOPPY is Philippa Rice’s collection of comics and illustrations based on real-life moments with her boyfriend. From grocery shopping to silly arguments and snuggling in front of the television, SOPPY captures the universal experience of sharing a life together, and celebrates the beauty of finding romance all around us.

So fun, fact, I actually didn’t check this graphic novel out from the library, my boyfriend did! And it was just sitting there, so, because I’m me, I just went ahead and read it. I think it took all of maybe thirty minutes to finish and it was absolutely adorable.

I guess the first thing to mention is that this isn’t so much a book as it is a collection of moments from the author’s life with her boyfriend. It’s the little things in life that she illustrates here — napping on the couch, doing the dishes together, deciding whether to cook or go out to eat — and it made me smile so much. But that’s not all! Rice also illustrates the little arguments (and subsequent apologies) that are so common in relationships.

If you need a graphic novel to cheer you up and give you faith in love, this is it. If you’re already happily in a relationship, it’ll probably put a big smile on your face. But if you’re not into romance, you should probably avoid it, because all the couple-y happiness will probably make you roll your eyes.


Have you read Soppy? Can you recommend any cute graphic novels?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

ARC Review: The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz

The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Feeling cornered at a wedding reception by gossipy guests? Stuck at a holiday party that lasts forever? This beautifully illustrated book is the ultimate funny, sometimes absurd guide to escaping those painfully awkward situations. 

Trapped in an airplane seated next to a chatterbox? Are you hosting a dinner party with people who just won’t leave? Katie Vaz has the key to your escape. The Escape Manual for Introverts guides readers through different scenarios with themed chapters (“Friends,” “Relatives,” “Strangers,” etc.). Each chapter covers a range of situations, from an invitation to karaoke night to group lunchtime. And she offers a number of escapes for each scenario: bringing odoriferous foods to lunch for a while, having a pet (real or imagined) that “requires” frequent check-ins, and even investing in a jet pack. This book features Vaz’s full-page illustrated spreads, hand-lettering, and spot illustrations. From the silly to the sincere, Vaz’s clever, hilarious escape plans and bizarre excuses speak to the introvert in all of us.

As an introvert and someone who likes to escape from uncomfortable situations whenever possible, I couldn’t not read this book when I found it on Netgalley. I read it in one sitting over maybe a half hour or so, and it was just as cute as I thought it would be.

I guess that the first thing I want to say is that I don’t think this is necessarily the kind of book that you just sit down and read. I think it would do a lot better as a coffee table book, one that you pick up, flip through a few pages, chuckle to yourself, and put back down. I think that my rating of three stars has a lot to do with the fact that I read all of the scenarios and all of the escapes back to back, which probably made them less entertaining and less helpful.

As you might expect, some of the escapes are reasonable, some are obvious, and some are just funny. The book is clearly meant to be cute, and at that, it definitely succeeds. It has a very lighthearted vibe, which I liked, but it didn’t leave me with any long-lasting positive (or negative) feelings.

#ps19: a book with an item of clothing or accessory on the cover


Have you read The Escape Manual for Introverts? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’

Book Review: Slam, The Next Jam by Pamela Ribon

Slam, The Next Jam by Pamela Ribon
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Source: Borrowed

In the fast-paced, hard-hitting, super cheeky, all-female world of banked track roller derby, two young women will need to balance the pull of budding relationships and family obligations with the demands and excitement of roller derby. 

After breaking one of the biggest rules in derby (not to mention an actual collarbone) Knockout and Can-Can are back on the track! But they have a lot of rehab to do, both on their battered bodies and their reputations in the league…will their friendship survive the dreaded derby drama?

From bestselling novelist, screenwriter, and Los Angeles Derby Doll Pamela Ribon (Going In Circles, Why Girls Are Weird) and artist Marina Julia (Lumberjanes: Faire and Square) comes the next chapter in SLAM!.

After being so pleasantly surprised by volume one of Slam, I was really excited to jump into what I thought was volume two. It turns out that while Slam: The Next Jam is technically volume two in the series, it’s also considered a new series and the numbering resets at one. As if that isn’t confusing enough, we’ve also got a new artist, so while the characters are sort of identifiable, they also look surprisingly different.

While the pacing in the first volume was fast, I didn’t feel as though the actual work was rushed. I can’t say the same for The Next Jam. Everything in this volume, from the artwork to the storyline to the character development (or lack thereof) feels like it was assembled in about five minutes.

I might have finished volume one of this graphic novel feeling impressed, but I just finished volume two feeling disappointed. I think it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t be continuing on with this one.

#mm19: diversify your reading


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

Find me all over the internet: Goodreads | Twitter | Bloglovin’