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!

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Book Review: The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Max: Chill. Sports. Video games. Gay and not a big deal, not to him, not to his mom, not to his buddies. And a secret: An encounter with an older kid that makes it hard to breathe, one that he doesn’t want to think about, ever.

Jordan: The opposite of chill. Poetry. His “wives” and the Chandler Mall. Never been kissed and searching for Mr. Right, who probably won’t like him anyway. And a secret: A spiraling out of control mother, and the knowledge that he’s the only one who can keep the family from falling apart.

Throw in a rickety, 1980s-era food truck called Coq Au Vinny. Add in prickly pears, cloud eggs, and a murky idea of what’s considered locally sourced and organic. Place it all in Mesa, Arizona, in June, where the temp regularly hits 114. And top it off with a touch of undeniable chemistry between utter opposites.

Over the course of one summer, two boys will have to face their biggest fears and decide what they’re willing to risk — to get the thing they want the most.

Sometimes I come across a book that I just need to read, and The Music of What Happens was one of those books. I mean… two teenage boys running a food truck by themselves during the middle of an Arizona summer? Complete opposites with a ton of chemistry? Contemporary YA touching on serious issues without being over-the-top about it? SIGN ME UP.

I’ll start off by saying that I loved everything about the food truck. I mean, as it is, I love food trucks. But the idea of two teenage boys with absolutely no idea of how to run a food truck actually doing it — and doing well at it, at that — was a lot of fun. I’m not entirely sold on their food menu, but the drinks? Goodness. Can I have a frozen mango habanero lemonade right now?

And let me just say that I loved Max and Jordan. Or maybe I should say that I finished this book loving both Max and Jordan, because while I liked Max from the beginning, it took a while for Jordan to grow on me. Because Jordan is, above all else, extremely dramatic. One of those people that responds to a tiny criticism by screaming and crying and thinking that everybody on the entire planet must hate him. But as the book goes on, he mellows a lot and we also come to understand why he acts the way he does. And Jordan’s not the only character with good development. As the book goes on, Max learns to open up and talk about his feelings and not keep everything bottled up inside.

Now, this book does touch on several really heavy issues. This can be hit or miss for me in a book, but I think Konigsberg handled it really well. The issues are there. They’re almost always present, at least in the background, but they’re not present to the point that they feel suffocating. I guess this is the point in the review where I mention the content warnings for rape, racism, parental neglect, and addiction.

I was really torn between giving this book four and five stars. In the end, I had a little bit of a problem with the ending so I went with four. The problem, for me, was that Konigsberg brought up all of these big issues and, although some of them were dealt with, one of them was really just sort of left hanging. It’s so hard to talk about this without spoiling the ending, but I just felt that one of the issues wasn’t really given the attention it deserved at the end.

All in all, though, I really enjoyed this book and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

#mm19: diversify your reading


Have you read The Music of What Happens? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh
Rating: ★★★★☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: April 1, 2010
Source: Borrowed

Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.

Way back when I blogged over on Tumblr, a movie called Blue is the Warmest Color came out. Everyone talked about it. You couldn’t escape it. I always planned to watch it and never did, but when I saw the graphic novel that the movie is based on at my library, I decided I had to read it.

It was heartbreaking.

This is the story of a teenage girl discovering and coming to terms with her sexuality. It’s the story of the ups and downs of her relationship with a somewhat older artist. It’s incredibly emotional and very well-written. The illustrations complement the writing perfectly.

The only criticism I have, and the only thing keeping it from a full five stars, is that the ending felt very rushed in comparison with the rest of the story. We got this really detailed history of a relationship and then a surprise plot twist and it was done. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it just made the ending feel a little off.

The only other thing I want to mention is that this graphic novel is definitely not YA. It includes both nudity and sex scenes, and although they’re not particularly explicit, they’re definitely something to be aware of.

#mm19: diversify your reading
#mmd19: a book in translation
#romanceopoly: freedom friars


Have you read Blue is the Warmest Color? Is it on your TBR?
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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DNF review: A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare

A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare
Rating: N/A (DNF)
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 27, 2012
Source: Borrowed

When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin… time is not on their side. 

Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland. 

Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be… anywhere but Spindle Cove.

These unlikely partners have one week to

• fake an elopement
• convince family and friends they’re in “love”
• outrun armed robbers
• survive their worst nightmares
• travel four hundred miles without killing each other

All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night.

What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls.

Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe… just maybe… love.

There are some mild spoilers in this review, but nothing too serious since I didn’t even finish the book.

When the second mystery prompt for romanceopoly (read a historical romance where the heroine is either a wallflower or a courtesan) was released, I didn’t quite know what to do, so I turned to their list of recommendations. I found that A Week to Be Wicked was currently available at my library and had a pretty high Goodreads average (4.12 stars!), but though I spent several days trying to read it (and even got up to page 200), I found that this style of romance just isn’t for me.

The biggest problem I had was that I didn’t care for either Minerva or Colin. Colin is pretty much just a womanizer who decides to change his ways after meeting the right woman, and I might have liked that more if I hadn’t already read it ten thousand other times. I appreciated the idea of Minerva’s character, a smart woman who cares more for science than men and has no time for a womanizer who barely deigns to throw attention her way. However, in practice, Minerva basically stops caring about her research as soon as Colin tosses her the tiniest bit of attention. She’s concerned enough about her research to put her own life in danger… at least until she experiences her first orgasm, and then she really couldn’t care less about it.

There were parts of this book that made me smile, parts that made me laugh, and a whole ton of parts that made me cringe. I can see why this kind of lighthearted romance is a favorite for so many people, but it just wasn’t what I look for in a romance novel. I feel like, having read more than half of it, I gave it a decent enough shot that it can count toward the reading challenge. I’m not, however, going to waste any more of my time on it.

#romanceopoly: mystery #2


Have you read A Week to Be Wicked? Do you know of any good historical romances?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Purchased

Tessa Hart’s world feels very small. Confined to her bedroom with agoraphobia, her one escape is the online fandom for pop sensation Eric Thorn. When he tweets to his fans, it’s like his speaking directly to her…

Eric Thorn is frightened by his obsessive fans. They take their devotion way too far. It doesn’t help that his PR team keeps posting to encourage their fantasies.

When a fellow pop star is murdered at the hands of a fan, Eric knows he has to do something to shatter his online image fast—like take down one of his top Twitter followers. But Eric’s plan to troll @TessaHeartsEric unexpectedly evolves into an online relationship deeper than either could have imagined. And when the two arrange to meet IRL, what should have made for the world’s best episode of Catfish takes a deadly turn…

Told through tweets, direct messages, and police transcripts. 

I had seen a lot of hype for this book when it first came out and when I saw the author signing at a book festival I went to last year, I figured I might as well buy it. It was probably the most awkward encounter I’ve ever had in my life, which I don’t fault the author for since it just illustrates what happens when you throw two introverts who’ve never met before together and expect them to interact. Anyway, it took me a while to finally pick it up, and… I have some thoughts.

First of all, Tessa is not like other girls and Eric is always taking off his shirt to show off his six pack, so it’s basically the same two characters as every other YA book that’s come out over the last decade. Sure, there are some differences. Tessa is agoraphobic and Eric is famous. They mostly converse through Twitter, and Tessa doesn’t know that the person she’s been talking to is actually her celebrity crush.

I didn’t think that I’d have a problem with the premise, but I kind of do. I don’t necessarily mind that a celebrity is hiding his identity when he talks with a fan for the first time. I get that. But Eric lets it go on for so long and he doesn’t seem to understand that it’s not okay to lie about who he is when he and Tessa become close enough to consider meeting in person. Eric also had such an attitude about his fans that I found it surprising that he would even entertain the idea of befriending one of them, especially a superfan like Tessa.

The side characters in the book are absolutely ridiculous. Tessa’s mother is a blatantly horrible person. (Like most YA parents, I guess.) Her therapist is awful. The person from her past that she’s so scared of? Something was definitely missing because that whole story didn’t make a bit of sense.

The “cliffhanger” at the end is actually painfully obvious if you’ve paid attention at all to what’s happened throughout the book. I even went ahead and read some spoiler-filled reviews of the sequel to confirm that this story ends exactly as I expected it to.

I can’t think of anyone I’d recommend this book to. I’m glad it’s off my shelf, but it’s already in my donate pile.

#killingthetbr: ten months on shelf


Have you read Follow Me Back? What about the sequel?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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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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