ARC Review: Snug by Catana Chetwynd

Snug by Catana Chetwynd
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Source: ARC via Netgalley

Why bother getting out of bed when you could stay bundled up with that special someone and a book of cozy, cute comics. From the author of the bestselling Little Moments of Love comes Snug, a collection of comics that perfectly captures the honest, playful, and relatable snapshots of romantic life.

Chetwynd’s second book has the same charming and inviting style as her first and includes 50 percent new, never-before-shared comics. Snug is a celebration of the quirks and peculiarities of every one of us—and the magic that happens when we find our matching puzzle piece

I love Catana’s comics, so I was really excited to see Snug pop up on Netgalley. I even broke my self-imposed ARC ban for it, just because I knew I’d finish it in one sitting.

The thing about Catana’s comics is that they’re really cute and they’re really relatable.

Catana and her fiance remind me a lot of me and my boyfriend, which never fails to make me smile. In fact, this comic below is us on a daily basis.

As I was reading, I kept calling my boyfriend over to look at the comics. This is such a great collection. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was that I’d seen a ton of the comics on Instagram already, and I’m sure by the time the book comes out, even more will have been shared there.

Overall, this was an adorable collection of comics and I don’t think a day will come when Catana’s comics don’t make me smile.


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Book Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 4, 2011
Source: Borrowed

“Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing.”

Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously… I’m Kidding, Degeneres’ first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn’t want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

I want to start off by saying that while I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of Ellen, I don’t really go seeking her out. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of clips from her show and I think she does a great job. She’s funny and she seems like she’s a really nice person, but I don’t go out of my way to catch her show. And yet I decided to listen to Seriously… I’m Kidding.

I’m not really sure what I expected with this one. A memoir, I guess? This is more a collection of funny thoughts that Ellen had and decided to compile into book form, but I’m fine with that. The book is literally called “Seriously… I’m Kidding,” so it’s not like I was expecting a serious piece of literature.

This book is very short (the audiobook is only like three hours long), which means that I don’t have a lot to say about it. I stand by my original point that Ellen is funny and seems like a nice person. I enjoyed her rant about showing up on time for parties, but I think my favorite was the casino chapter. As someone who was recently in a casino for the first time and yelled at for doing something I didn’t even know wasn’t allowed, I could totally relate.

I might check out Ellen’s other books at some point, but mostly, I’m just pleasantly surprised at what a fun book this was to listen to while working.


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Book Review: The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson

The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Sixteen-year-old Elena Mendoza is the product of a virgin birth.

This can be scientifically explained (it’s called parthenogenesis), but what can’t be explained is how Elena is able to heal Freddie, the girl she’s had a crush on for years, from a gunshot wound in a Starbucks parking lot. Or why the boy who shot Freddie, David Combs, disappeared from the same parking lot minutes later after getting sucked up into the clouds. What also can’t be explained are the talking girl on the front of a tampon box, or the reasons that David Combs shot Freddie in the first place.

As more unbelievable things occur, and Elena continues to perform miracles, the only remaining explanation is the least logical of all—that the world is actually coming to an end, and Elena is possibly the only one who can do something about it.

I have previously read three of Shaun David Hutchinson’s novels with varying results. We Are the Ants was an easy five stars for me. I could have cried while reading it. The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley? Four stars. The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried? One of my most anticipated books of 2019 and, really, kind of a disappointment.

If I’m being honest, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza. I’d seen really mixed reviews when it first came out, I remember seeing people yelling (in a bad way) about the trans rep, and then there were all of the reviews that screamed “BUT NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENS.” Well, I’ll tell you what. I enjoyed this. I enjoyed it a lot.

There’s some definite social commentary here. Elena makes frequent (negative) references to the current president of the United States. There are discussions about the right to choose, not necessarily with regard to abortion, but just in general. When Elena learns that she has the ability to heal people, she has a bit of a crisis about whether she should really be playing god. This is exactly what I expect when I read one of Hutchinson’s books, and I was so happy to find it here.

As for the story, I thought it was really interesting. Elena doesn’t have a father, and she doesn’t mean that in the usual “my dad is a deadbeat and left when I was little” way. As the product of a virgin conception, scientifically known as parthenogenesis, she literally has no father. This has had little bearing on her life, aside from a lot of teasing from her classmates, until she suddenly learns that she’s capable of performing miracles.

I’m not going to get into all of that for fear of spoilers, so instead, I want to talk about the subtle diversity of this book. Elena is a bisexual Cuban girl. Her main love interest is Freddie, a girl she’s had a crush on forever. Elena’s ex-boyfriend, Javi, is a fairly main character, and nobody makes any sort of deal over her having an ex-boyfriend and now pursuing a girl. Elena’s best friend, Fadil, is Muslim and in the process of figuring out his own sexuality. Since none of the characters made a big deal out of this and all of this diversity was woven very seamlessly into the story, it never felt like flashing lights and ringing alarms screaming, “HEY, GUYS, DID YOU NOTICE SHE’S BI?!?” It just existed.

And also, that thing about bad trans rep? There’s like one sentence in this entire book and it’s one character saying something like, “Hey, how is [male name]?” And another character being like, “Actually, she goes by [female name] now.” How anybody found anything to hate in that is beyond me.

So, yes, this book is basically about Elena deciding what to do once she finds out that she can heal people. I suppose I can see how some people might consider that “not much of a plot.” I really enjoyed it, though, and I hope to read At the Edge of the Universe after I take a little SDH break.


Have you read The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: American Panda by Gloria Chao

American Panda by Gloria Chao
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies.

With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese.

But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

American Panda is one of those books that I was curious about from the beginning but waited on because of the hype. It seemed like everyone who read ARCs of this or read it shortly after its release absolutely loved it, and that’s too much pressure for me. I hate being the lone dissenter. So I gave it about a year and a half and then jumped in, and guess what? The hype was real. This book was so good!

First, I loved that this was YA set in college. Mei is seventeen years old, so while she should be experiencing the end of high school, she’s actually venturing out on her own to start college. Her mom worries about her a lot, understandable, I think, for a seventeen-year-old living on their own, and her frequent voicemails that are interspersed throughout the book only make it better.

Second, I loved that while Mei’s hopes and dreams didn’t match up with those of her parents, she was so respectful of them. Mei is willing to do just about anything to make her parents proud and this was so nice to see. I mean, she definitely takes it too far sometimes, but that’s one of the main points of this book — how far should you go for the people who have sacrificed everything for you?

Another thing I really loved was that Mei’s main problem with being a doctor is her phobia of germs. She’s always carrying around her little bottle of hand sanitizer (I can relate) and there’s just nothing appealing to her about dealing with sick people. I worked in a hospital for seven years in an administrative position and I was asked countless times why I didn’t want to go back to school to be a nurse or doctor. I feel like Mei would understand me. The only sick people I can handle are the ones I love, and even then it’s a stretch.

The only thing I didn’t love about this book was that Mei’s actual hopes and dreams seemed to get lost between the main conflict and the (very cute) romance. But other than that, this was a great, feel-good contemporary that I would highly recommend!


Have you read American Panda? Is it on your TBR?
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Book Review: The Backstagers 2018 Halloween Intermission #1 by James Tynion IV

The Backstagers 2018 Halloween Intermission #1 by James Tynion IV
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 24, 2018
Source: Borrowed

With the days getting shorter and the nights getting SPOOKIER, the Backstagers are back for the Halloween season with all-new tales of terrors and creepy creatures. When Sasha accidentally falls asleep backstage, he ends up locked in the theater overnight! What lurks in the shadows, what terrors will he discover, and what the heck are the stage managers chanting?

From writers James Tynion IV (Detective Comics, The Woods) and Sam Johns (The Backstagers: Valentines Intermission), and artist Rian Sygh (Adventure Time Fionna and Cake Card Wars, Regular Show), this haunted oversized one-act is a night at the theater you won’t want to miss!

With back-up stories from artists Shan Murphy, Abby Howard, and Savanna Ganucheau this spine-tingling tale of the stage will leave you with goosebumps you can see from the back row!

I really enjoy the world of The Backstagers, so I was excited to find this little intermission on Hoopla! This is a single issue set in the magical Backstagers world over Halloween.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous about this one. Of all the characters, Sasha really isn’t one of my favorites, so I was a little apprehensive about this story that primarily features him. I didn’t need to worry, though, because this was super cute. I may even love Sasha now.

I really liked that we got to see more of the stage managers and I wouldn’t mind getting to know them even better. I also really liked the positive message in this issue! I said it already but I’m going to say it again — this was just so cute.

I haven’t checked out the Valentine’s intermission yet, but I really think I should.


#mm19: tricks and trades


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Book Review: Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson

Proof of Collusion by Seth Abramson
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 13, 2018
Source: Borrowed

For the first time, the full, explosive record of the unthinkable: how a US president compromised American foreign policy in exchange for financial gain and covert election assistance.

Looking back at this moment, historians will ask if Americans knew they were living through the first case of criminal conspiracy between an American presidential candidate turned commander in chief and a geopolitical enemy. The answer might be: it was hard to see the whole picture. The stories coming in from across the globe have often seemed fantastical: clandestine meetings in foreign capitals, secret recordings in a Moscow hotel, Kremlin agents infiltrating the Trump inner circle…

Seth Abramson has tracked every one of these far-flung reports, and now in, Proof of Collusion, he finally gives us a record of the unthinkable—a president compromising American foreign policy in exchange for financial gain and covert election assistance. The attorney, professor, and former criminal investigator has used his exacting legal mind and forensic acumen to compile, organize, and analyze every piece of the Trump-Russia story. His conclusion is clear: the case for collusion is staring us in the face. Drawing from American and European news outlets, he takes readers through the Trump-Russia scandal chronologically, putting the developments in context and showing how they connect. His extraordinary march through all the public evidence includes:

-How Trump worked for thirty years to expand his real estate empire into Russia even as he was rescued from bankruptcy by Putin’s oligarchs, Kremlin agents, and the Russian mafia.

-How Russian intelligence gathered compromising material on him over multiple trips.

-How Trump recruited Russian allies and business partners while running for president.

-How he surrounded himself with advisers who engaged in clandestine negotiations with Russia.

-How Trump aides and family members held secret meetings with foreign agents and lied about them.

By pulling every last thread of this complicated story together, Abramson argues that—even in the absence of a report from Special Counsel Mueller or a thorough Congressional investigation—the public record already confirms a quid pro quo between Trump and the Kremlin. The most extraordinary part of the case for collusion is that so much of it unfolded in plain sight.

Proof of Collusion is one of those books that I put on my Overdrive wishlist right after it came out and then just… didn’t read. Fast forward almost an entire year and I’m working at a job where I can just listen to audiobooks all day, so I decided to check it out.

This is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read about Trump. Forget Fear, forget Fire and Fury, Proof of Collusion is far above them. This is finally the well-written, well-researched, cohesive book I’ve been wanting to read about Trump’s campaign and presidency.

I’m not going to comment on the politics of this book. What I will say is that there is a lot of information here from a lot of sources. Sometimes Abramson would address a certain topic and I’d think, “Oh, wow, it’s hard to argue against him on that one.” Other times, I’d think, “Well… that’s a bit of a stretch.” A small nitpick is that the book can get pretty repetitive, but I’ve found that’s the case with a lot of nonfiction that I’ve read recently.

Overall, though, this is a very good book on the topic of Trump’s election and presidency and if that’s something that interests you, I’d highly recommend it.


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Book Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
Source: Borrowed

Lois Clary, a software engineer at a San Francisco robotics company, codes all day and collapses at night. When her favourite sandwich shop closes up, the owners leave her with the starter for their mouthwatering sourdough bread.

Lois becomes the unlikely hero tasked to care for it, bake with it and keep this needy colony of microorganisms alive.  Soon she is baking loaves daily and taking them to the farmer’s market, where an exclusive close-knit club runs the show.

When Lois discovers another, more secret market, aiming to fuse food and technology, a whole other world opens up. But who are these people, exactly?

One of the things that I really love about being able to listen to audiobooks at work is that I have the opportunity to listen to things that I probably wouldn’t get around to reading otherwise. Sourdough is one of those books.

I didn’t really know what this book was about, just that I’d seen a few good reviews of it and it was available at the library. This ended up being a really fun, light read and a classic kind of feel-good book. I loved the Lois Club and originally I thought that the author made it up, but it turns out that it’s a real thing!

The underground world of the farmer’s market was so much fun to read about! More than anything, though, this book made me want to bake some sourdough bread. Even writing this review is making me hungry. I’m headed over to my library’s website now to see if they have Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.


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