Graphic Novels: dark fairytale, dystopian & fluffy gay romance | Short Reviews

I’m having a bit of a hard time reading as I’m busy with studying (2nd year physics student) as well as ill at the moment (no worries, thankfully not corona, I’ve been tested twice). So it’s the perfect time to again read as many graphic novels that I could get my hands on! Here’s some of my other graphic novels reviews.

Through the Woods by Emily Carrol

As I begun reading I was sceptical because the illustrations were breath-taking from the start, giving all the dark fairytale vibes, but I didn’t know how much of a substance the plots would have. A few pages in it truly got much better, as the fairytale twists got mysterious, exciting and dark. It’s made up from several different “short stories”, some more red riding hood inspired and some that reminded me some of Coraline and some of the podcast The Magnus Archive. Reading this felt like playing a game where you know every decision is a bad one. I also immediately ordered the author’s other graphic novel «When I arrived at the castle»! 5/5 stars.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1

Plus points for being dark, but that’s the only positive in my eyes. I was excited for this as I truly liked the new TV series made from Sabrina the teenage witch. But this graphic novel drains any personality Sabrina is known for out of the character. I get that setting up somewhat the same plot as the TV series does in multiple episodes is difficult in one volume, but it just isn’t done with any charm at all. I won’t be reading the rest of the series as I felt it has little potential. 2/5 stars.

Paper Girls vol. 1 & 2

First impression of volume 1 was that I liked the retro apocalyptic stranger things vibe featuring a teen girl squad. It didn’t really get further into the plot or explanation than unexplained aliens, but it was also a lot to set up. It’s about a group of girls out delivering newspapers when they get caught up in this mystery of disappearing people and frightening strangers hunting after them. 3/5 stars.

Volume 2 had a higher chance of keeping the suspense up without as much of the confusion, which made the time-travel, sci-fi aspects much more enjoyable as well as delving into an interesting cast. Not to forget how monster tardigrades was a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life before now. I yelped out loud from surprise and happiness – I can’t explain it either. It’s just a good mix of chaos & the unexpected. Like the looming, flying ships that came into the picture suddenly. The color scheme is also truly lovely.

If I would criticize something it’s the ‘feminism’ branding push that seems a bit ‘off’, not that I’ve looked further into reasons behind it. It’s a similar feeling that lingers as from the casual homophobia that makes an appearance in volume 1, as if that was something that just belongs with the retro vibes. It was called out by other characters, so I just mentally noted it down as strange for now and makes me second-guess the future dynamic of the friendgroup somewhat. 4/5 stars.

Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman

Review of vol. 1! To sum up I really like the author’s writing in general and that it was a truly cute, important gay coming of age story. And I love the illustration style. And this is true for the second and third volume as well. My only critique is a somewhat big one; a lot doesn’t happen in each volume. It feels like the story told could’ve been cut down in some ways, but at the same time I realize it’s aimed at a younger audience for the most part and I’m so happy it just exists. 3/5 stars for both.

Procrastination Book Tag

I’ve done this tag over two periods of time; taking two exams some time ago and trying to catch up a week’s work in a couple days. Since it was the perfect time for this procrastination this book tag that was too good to pass on. I can vouch on how I procrastinated on finishing the tag as well, love/hate that 90% done feeling. Also the graphics of the questions were so cute.

The Rules …

  1. Thank the person who nominated you. 
  2. Give credit to the original creator of the tag (Kate @ Cover to Cover Book Blog). 
  3. Link back to the original post.
  4. Nominate other bloggers whose procrastination preferences you’d like to know! 
  5. You DO NOT have to wait for a nomination to do this tag! Nominations are optional.

Cue me searching up what epistolary means. (It’s a novel written as a series of documents according to wiki). Truth is I rarely like romances and I rarely like epistolary novels so I don’t have a favourite epistolary romance book. (One of the reasons I really disliked Illuminae tbh).

I have read a small part of the great & strange House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, which I think of as more of a horror novel, but has surprisingly also been categorized as a love story by the author – I didn’t get to that part. Definitely would like to continue it someday.

Red White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston (full review) is the cutest enemies to lovers story ever feautyring one gay royal and one bisexual son of the US president.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (full review) is about the fabolous, dramatic life of a fictional movie star that feels so real I was constantly wanting to google details on her. Also has f/f romance and queer characters.

The Selection by Kiera Cass (full review) is just a classical YA story with a prince looking for a future princess through a reality show of sorts, but it has enough essence to it to be interesting and a quick & fun read.

My twitter (@esoffee); mostly book-related stuff and cute animals, I think.

Do any of us truly like twitter? I thought I did and then corona happened and the answer was no. Follow Hank Green, I guess?? He’s a good one. And read his new book A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor, it’s worth it.

Before book blog there was book tumblr and it’s still up & going. I would take so many more book photos if I didn’t get physical book so much more rarely now (all these photos are old).

Zero Sum Game by S. L. Huang (full review) truly surprised me as I knew it was about an anti-heroine going in, but didn’t anticipate the high level of action plot and bloodbath mixed with math references and unique superpowers. How can you both like and dislike a main character that much at the same time??

I mean – most of them? If we want to add a part of “but also sucked”; I started reading the twilight series very young as they came out, like definitely younger than nine years old, because I remember it was before the last book was published. I truly enjoyed reading the first books, but by the last one me & my friends was just reading it together and laughing at it. It’s dear memories even so.

Of the ones I truly enjoyed that still has too much brainspace even though I read them a long time ago is “The foxhole court” and the rest of the series by Nora Sakavic.

I have a list of Mermaid & Siren Book Recommendations, where I found out I truly enjoyed the process of focusing more on reading about a specific fantasy/mythology creature and should make more different ones, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. Auto-Buy Authors was a good one that represents me & my fav authors.

Because the theme is bullet journaling this list of The Eleven Books I Never Seem to Finish (Part One) (and Part Two) fits perfectly as well. I think it’s awesome when people talk more about the books they struggle with going through as well, we’re not perfect and lose interest or concentration.

In the non-book-related sphere I really liked how to (not) do your first year at uni (physics major) turned out, even if it was truly a pain to write because the things I added here was things I was telling the new students arriving in real life as well, at the same time, and I wanted to get it as right and helpful as I could, while trying not to be preachy.

Any fantasy series by Brandon Sanderson, but especially “The Way of Kings”. I want to make a post of ‘here’s where to start with reading brandon sanderson’ included (not that you can’t find it online), but Mistborn is a good first book to start with as well. It got the epic-ness of multiple POV’s that Game of Thrones have, but in a more (not-medieval) sci-fi/fantasy and magical world and with a completely other feelings, but truly still brilliant.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green is a sequel so I won’t say much about it, but the way multiple POV’s was used here really warmed my heart and soul, it was so good.

I truly love this trope of enemies to lovers, but I’ve only now started its own goodreads shelf so I can answer just this question quicker. The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic and Red, White & Royal Blue (review here) is to great ones.

I truly love great books with great friends, a strong focus on platonic relationships gets me over romantic ones every time. Books like that is I Think I Am in Friend Love with You by Yumi Sakugawa (my review), Wilder Girls by Rory Power (my review), The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic (yes again, but it’s the best complicated friendgroup), Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (my review). And not to forget The Secret History by Donna Tartt, the ultimate dark academia classic-loving friendgroup that goes too far and does bad shit together. Did make me look at manipulation in friendgroups in a different light afterwards, which is fun and terrifying.

Anyone who wants to is happily welcome to refer back to me and claim I tagged them, because I’ve procrastinated getting this done too long to take the extra step there. I think that fits (too much) with the theme.

Exciting New Book Releases Summer/Autumn 2020

So I made a exciting book releases for spring and summer and also a short one with queer summer books, but then I forgot all the July book releases, so that’s included in this as well I guess? Mostly fantasy, young adult, queer, sci-fi, but also some poetry and a graphic novel.

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: I’ve already bought it, I just forgot to add it to my latest list. It’s the sequel to Hank Green’s first amazing novel and here’s a review all trying to explain how much I loved that one.

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: a fairytale vibe story based on Persian mythology about a princess who’s poisonous to the touch. I’m looking forward to demons and a great character development, let’s see this girl own her powers.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Loved Wilder Girls by Power, and looking forward to more horror involving young adult-age girls, without it really being YA. And w/ all the sapphic vibes! It’s about a girl trying to find her past & old hometowns, which is pretty vague.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Release date: July 7th

Why I want to read it: Any m/m romance being compared to “Red, white and royal blue” piques my interest, mostly for the enemies-to-lovers trope & slight political setting that hopefully promises. Here we also get fake-dating for publicity.

The Year of the Witchling by Alexis Henderson

Release date: July 21st

Why I want to read it: a promise of feminist fantasy & discovering dark powers. Also witch / church conflict. I mean, I’m always looking for good witch books.

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Release date: September 1st

Why I want to read it: a trans guy summons a ghost, which then creates a lot of trouble for the hell of it. Also ownvoices for trans & latinx elements of the book.

To Sleep In a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: the first sci-fi book by Paolini since his Eragon series – that seems like both a hard thing to write & something I’m very curious about

Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Release date: September 15th

Why I want to read it: grieving her dead mother, witnessing a magical attack on campus, a mage by the name of Merlin that tries and fails to vipe her memory, investigating mother’s murder, learning that there exists a group of ‘Legenborn’ magicians that are descendants of King Arthur & magical war – this young main character is getting put through a lot. Also has a bi mc and lesbian and nonbinary characters, secret societies and demons.

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

Release date: September 22nd

Why I want to read it: Hyberbole and a half by Allie Brosh is one of my all time favourite humor comics/graphic novels.

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

Release date: September 29th

Why I want to read it: magical school!! but this time by an author that I truly adore, so hopefully done right or in an interesting way. A YA fantasy where monsters lurks everywhere and frienships are hard to come by as everyone is struggling for survival. And a main character who’s got powerful dark magic.

Sweetdark by Savannah Brown

Release date: October 8th

Why I want to read it: I’ve enjoyed Savannah’s poetry & writing in general for a long time. Pleasure, chaos, apocalyptic vibes, vulnerability – it all sounds very exciting.

Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater & Morgan Beem

Release date: October 13th

Why I want to read it: It’s by Stiefvater. But also I’m a sucker for the completely opposite, but inseparable duo. Very interesting to see how the illustrations turns out in this graphical novel as well as just how alive those swamps they discover are.

Tv series w/ flowers, bookclubs & bloodshed| Bi-Weekly Update

New book posts:

Other books I’ve been reading:

  • A lot of graphic novels! Post coming up.

Added to TBR:

  • The music and the mirror by Lola Keeley (lesbian ballerinas)
  • First position by Melissa Brayden (more lesbian ballerinas)
  • The lady’s guide to celestial mechanics by Olivia Waite (historical lesbians)
  • Almost home by Madison Kuhn (poetry)
  • Please don’t go before I get better by Madisen Kuhn (poetry)
  • Shame is an ocean I swim across by Mary Lambert (poetry, queer, tw for suicide and rape and probably more)
  • Her royal highness by Rachel Hawking (f/f romance, ya, enemies to lovers trope)
  • A matter of disagreement by E. E. Ottoman (m/m romance, trans mc, fantasy)
  • Wolfsong by T. J. Klune (fantasy, m/m romance)
  • Aphrodite made me do it by Trista Mateer (queer poetry)
  • Valkyrie by Sophia Elaine Hanson (poetry)
  • Damage control by Jae (lesbians)

Three things on my mind:

  • I’ve fallen in love with aesthetics like dark academia, light academia and cottagecore all over again. Mainly because I miss my homes, both the one in the valley village I left for university (cottagecore all the way), and the new one I created at university studying physics (where academia longing sets in).
  • In the same mindset I recently found two TV series and then the inspirations behind those, and didn’t realize before later how polar opposites they are. For the first time in a while I’ve been posting on my tumblr (same name) again, mostly about these.

Deadly Class” is extremely violent and (kind of) dark academia, just with assassins and found-family trope. What got me hooked on this series is how much the main character reminds me of Neil Josten when arriving to the team in The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic. They’re equally lost, traumatized & untrusting of everyone. The comics are simply multiple bloodbaths (truly, be warned!) as they continue where the cancelled-after-one-season TV series left it. Definitely search up trigger warnings before getting into it. It’s as far from young adult things you can come while also taking place in a boarding school.

“Anne with an E” is the polar opposite, just pure periodic drama, which isn’t usually my thing, but this has enough queer rich aunts and a girl who can’t stop creating stories, along with flowers and cottagecore aesthetics ft. a lovely bookclub hut built in the forest. It certainly has its darker hardships as well as a farming community tries to survive, but I have one season left and I’m going to savour it. Newly added to my favourite TV series.

  • I wrote about platonic love in my review of the graphic novel I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You by Yumi Sakugawa and since it’s been roaming around my head. I really think we need more platonic love things and reminders. Like I love the found-family trope, but it doesn’t really dive deep enough into that special bond that exists usually. There’s a reason many love the “I would die for you” friendships of the Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo.

Let me know how your quarantine is going! Link a post talking about it if you want to.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuinston | Book Review

It’s the cutest enemies to lovers story ever!! With royals! Or gay royal and bisexual son of president! American & british culture intertwined at its very best.

Genre: contemporary, lgbt: m/m romance

Pages: 420 pages

Synopsis

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?

My thoughts

Rating out of five: five stars!

I’m just going to gush about how much I liked this book, tbh. I read it so fast and felt like I overdosed on cuteness.

The characters really bring this story, with its political intrigue, making out in the white house and private security trying to catch up with these stupid college-age and not very discreet adults. The sneaking around, the enemies to lovers trope forced on by pretending to be friends after making quite the scandal by their feud, it’s just all great. There’s romantic correspondence in the form of emails, talking about everything from popculture (so well-done as well) to the prince talking about his probably gay princes and king relatives of the past and how they didn’t have cameras following them around.

I didn’t think the main character being bisexual instead of gay would mean this much to me, but it really showed me how it isn’t a thing in most queer books I read, or at least not done in such a good way. There is something different to the questioning of someone who is bisexual, and how Alex briefly has to consider whether he could fall in love with a girl and not have this thing hanging over his very promising political career that he’s worked so hard for. It showcases how his and Henry’s experiences is similar, but also so very different. And then we also get such good and too relatable quotes like (I’ve definitely come to this conclusion more than once myself): “Straight people, he thinks, probably don’t spend this much time convincing themselves that they’re straight”.

My only problem with this book was how I really wanted them to go deeper on the politics game, but I realize that’s not what this book was and would’ve made it less mainstream. So *shrug*.

Feelings while reading this book: i might’ve cried a bit, but i felt all the feelings, and love it so so much. the writing was so satisfying. such a feel-good queer novel while also having so much conflict.

I need more cute enemies to lovers books right now, with all the political intrigue I can get, preferably queer ones. Please send all your recommendations.

Bad bad-boy romance & good queer fantasy | Short Reviews

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

It’s a young adult fantasy about an orphan Nirrim that has magical abilities (takes a while to realize), something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. Going through constant discrimination and trying to help those around her makes it important for her to keep her head down. But it also keeps her from developing or learning about the world around her, making it easy to be taken advantage of. Her fierce spirit lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a queer romance. It’s a very character-driven novel and I really enjoyed it, while it was far from perfect. The magic system reminded me of a much less complex version of Warbreaker by Sanderson. A dubious 4/5 stars, for the f/f romance.

Vicious by L. J. Shen

You ever just pick up a book because it promises enemies to lovers romance and that’s what you’re craving. But while the writing isn’t bad, the dialogue is so cringy and you hope it gets better, but it doesn’t, but you’re too far in to quit, but it never ever gets better. Yeah, this is one of those types of books. I regretted even picking it up. It just has every element of a “rich bad boy poor good girl” thing, but never puts them together in a fresh or interesting way. The murders from the backstory that are never discussed much was the most interesting part, huh. I still give it 2/5 stars, for the good parts in between. I did like Emilia and her sister. The romance is not worth it, neither is the cringe. It’s almost my fault for starting to read it, almost.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Far far back I wrote a five star predictions post. It’s a lot of fun until you have one book left that you never get to reading. This was that book and I bought it, I tried to read it once. Gave up because I wasn’t in the mood. Tried to give it a real try the second time, but the writing just didn’t click with me, and that’s the one thing that makes it nearly impossible for me to care about a book. There was nothing luring me in. So I’m considering this a DNF, even though it has such good ratings and I can remember nothing from it already.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson | Book Review

Genre: YA fantasy romance, fae creatures

Pages: 300

Synopsis

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: two stars

I’ve got mixed feelings on this book, but mostly it felt like fanfiction or a draft nowhere near ready for publishing. I continued reading it to the end because I was waiting for some twist or new creative direction of the book and plot without that ever happening. My biggest problem was bad writing. The last sentence sums it up, because it could’ve been funny, I guess, if it wasn’t how the whole book was written:

And we wouldn’t live happily ever after, because I don’t believe in such nonsense, but we both had a long, bold adventure ahead of us, and a great deal to look forward to at last.

Isobel is interesting as a character that has value to the fae because she’s a great painter, and able to do something they can not, so it starts from a great concept. Especially when she so clearly from the beginning has her boundraries set and keeps a certain distance to her intriguing and dangerous clients. Not that that lasts long. It would’ve been fair to take inspiration from A Court of Mist and Fury, but this book is just nowhere near as good in its execution. Unfortunately, as lovely as the cover is, the story itself became unoriginal and uninteresting pretty quickly.

I found the worst book as I tried to purge my TBR

Back in June I took a look at my too long list of books I wanted to read, with 432 books, and then I took a look at the single last postponed exam I had that held me back from doing anything other productive – and I decided that time was short and I would pick up books I wasn’t sure about and quickly stop reading them with no guilt if they weren’t working. As to make it both unfair and fair way – my goal was to read one to three chapters of a book and make a decision if it’s worth investing the time in it for me. It went better than expected, as I found the worst and best book of this year. Probably.

And the worst book is Sweet Evil. Just – christian paranormal with extremely bad writing and damaging viewpoints and morals. Why – how – why does this have to be a thing I now have to worry about is infecting my TBR now? Any YA demon-angel book I’m giving suspicious glares, like a bloodhound trying to sniff out hidden unfeministic christian propaganda.

Books I DNF’ed

Defiance by C. J. Redwine

Remove. Been on my TBR for four years. Part of trilogy. YA dystopia.

Why: I’m not often in the mood for dystopias anymore, the writing was just ok and all reviews by people I follow says it’s more YA romance than action, despite its dark cover. The main turn-off was the protagonist starts off in the book being handed over to another guardian, obviously with little rights and not allowed to say much on her own. With the context it all didn’t seem like it would be for me.

Fighting for Flight by J.B. Salsbury

Remove. NA romance. Part of a seven book series. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: I was 48% in before I gave up, it just didn’t get better at all. Why was this even on my TBR? Probably because I read a similar fighter tense romance that I liked around that time. I can’t bring myself to care for these characters & when *slight spoiler* the mechanic girl protagonist is again taken interest in by her famous pimp dad the story became annoyingly surreal. Also there’s A TON of putting other girls down for being “too slutty” and I want to write a whole post on this because that’s something that just makes me go “ohh fuck you” and that I’ve seen too much of.

He motions to the dark- haired girl with gigantic breasts shoved into a tiny top. Won’t have to worry about her sinking in the pool. 

Fighting for Flight by J. B. Salsbury
*facepalm*

Outrun the wind by Elizabeth Tammi

Remove. YA standalone. Been on my TBR for a year.

Why: Chapter three and I’m not feeling it. We started out the book with a fight scene no one was invested in, then switched pov for a scene to create some mystery with a cousin/kidnapper. The writing isn’t for me.

Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Remove. Stopped reading after I felt my eyes burning at the virgin talk. Been on my TBR for four years. I got to chapter eight.

Why: HOW does this get so good reviews? This book is SO VERY christian paranormal where the virgin «not-like-other-girls» girl finds out she’s nephilim, meets a demon and SO MUCH cringy dialogue. Her own thoughts are so weird to follow. It’s so much worse than Twilight and the parts I’ve read of Fifty Shades of Gray. THE PROTAGONIST IS KILLED IF SHE CONTINUES TO BE A VIRGIN? WHAT KIND OF AWFUL DAMAGING SHIT IS THIS? Find your propaganda to not stray from the lord’s path and not do drugs or hook up with handsome biker-demon/nephilim-boys elsewhere.

A sixteen-year-old Neph virgin! How do you expect to be a bad influence to humans if you aren’t behaving badly yourself? I assume you at least partake in substances with your peers?

The Demon Dad of Handsome-Nephilim-Crush to the Protagonist

The Summoning by Kelly Armstrong

Remove. YA Paranormal. Been on my TBR for four years. Got to chapter five.

Why: I’m just not interested in this one, not that it necessarily seem like a bad book. Maybe I’ve read enough books with girls who can see ghosts and are claimed to be insane? The writing isn’t luring me in and also books or anything set in a psychiatric ward isn’t usually for me.

Wicked lovely by Melissa Marr

Remove. Been on my TBR half a year. I got 20% into the book.

Why: Nothing is happening. Nothing. How slow can a book be, especially at the beginning? That’s all I have to say, really, which makes it better than some of the others here, haha.

Books I Continued

(Don’t You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn

KEEP! This is what I’m talking about! Standalone YA fantasy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why I’m continuing reading it: the moment I read a couple pages I was so drawn in and intrigued by where the story was going. Halfway the mystery is still kept up, the writing allows for just the right amount of confusion, secrets and tension. I’ve never seen amnesia, self-made through drugs or not, written in a better way! So excited for this!

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Continue reading. YA paranormal. Part of trilogy. Been on my TBR for four years.

Why: a mysterious professor that needs help, the protagonist a misfit among her witch family as she has no powers and they keep reminding her. I was sold after the 2nd chapter, ending with the protagonist hitting a child with a teddybear as he used his powers to keep it from a toddler, which seemed like a regular occurence in this strange family. The writing is good with a lot of feeling shown in between the lines.

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

Continue reading. YA Fantasy. Been on my TBR for maybe a couple months (I don’t really know how long). Currently eight chapters into it.

Why: It started out a bit original and hopeful, but then again nothing happened as we fell down the hole of human and elf is travelling to a elven court and just talking with each other. Aside from that, the author definitely got talent and while the book feels very unfinished, it also have a few interesting parts so far.

Conclusion

I really enjoyed this, besides the really bad books I ran into. I think (Don’t you) Forget About Me is going to be a favourite read this year! In general the concept just felt so effective and brought less guilt than usual of DNF’ing books or saying they’re just not for me anymore. Hopefully I’ll do this again, even though it required more than the usual review. It felt good to be more ruthless about my “maybe” reads if it also meant giving them a chance I wouldn’t otherwise have.

The Cybernetic Tea Shop | Book Review

Genre: sci-fi short story, romance, asexual main character

Pages: 65

Synopsis

Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular ‘Raise’ AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.

Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master’s dream for the shop.

When Clara stops by Sal’s shop for lunch, she doesn’t expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on… 

My thoughts

Rating: five out of five stars

A short & cute sci-fi love story, set in an old tea shop, between a highly-skilled technician working on AI and a fully autonomous asexual robot! Which I really didn’t think would work, but when the sci-fi world was first explained it made complete sense. There’s what we would define as robots, which have been programmed by a human to do tasks or act a certain way, and then there’s these high-tech beings that should be considered as intelligent, aware and (probably) given the same rights as humans – to the point where they stopped creating them because they were too full of free will. And that’s the type of “robot” in this love story, called Sal.

I really liked the writing and the focus on routines and daily life of Sal the robot, as well as the technician Clara having her quirks, with wanting to travel and keep her distance from people. It was all so perfectly put together; the emotion, the plot, the romance building up and showing how these two people fit together so perfectly. It succeeded in telling the story of someone at the edge of society, being considered different and harassed for it.

What really made this story work is seeing scenes from the robot’s perspective as well. The writing and thoughts were clearly different, but at the same time human enough. It became a journey of trying to figure out what was memories and “human” emotional connection to the tea shop for Sal and what was their ancient programming tying them to the place they were tasked to upkeep.

I would whole-heartedly recommend this story, even if you’re like me and is usually so much more interested in the sci-fi aspects than the romantic story. I love tea and rituals and robots and skilled introverted technicians. I’m looking forward to reading more short stories by the author!

Fav quotes *minor spoilers*

Her wanderlust was hard to explain to anyone who didn’t feel likewise. Too many people were rooted to a concept of home, wanted to have the same place to return to every day, to walk the same paths between home and work and back, to see the same faces every day. Nobody would just nod to the idea that she could decide to leave before she’d picked somewhere to go. 

They lay together in a tangle of skirt and blankets and discarded cords and chips.

She couldn’t cry, and despite that, she heard herself make the sound, a shaky breath, a sob, and she flung her arms around Clara and just held on as she tried to find her own center, tried to find a way to understand herself that wasn’t defined in contrast to anyone else.

Sweet Cover | Friday Face Off

This is a weekly thing created by Books by Proxy, but currently run by Lynn’s Book Blog.

This week’s theme: “Coraline opened the box of chocolates. The dog looked at them longingly.” – A cover featuring something sweet

My pick: Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Paperback (1992) by Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Paperback (2007) by Commemorative Edition | Kindle (2017) by Open Road Media Teen & Tween 

Hardcover (1982) | Paperback by Farrar Straus Giroux (1998) | Spanish (2019) by Kakao Books

My favourite

First published in 1982, this book got a lot of varied covers through the years! I found several sources where the author talks about how much she hated the first cover arts, presumably the 1982 one because they talk about how masculine the characters were made to seem. It’s a YA with two girls falling in love, and until recently I regularly heard the misconception of two ‘feminine’ or ‘girly’ girls wouldn’t choose to be together, the whole ‘one guy and one girl’ thing. I’ve not yet read this book, but based on what I know of it the retro, but wholesome romantic vibes of the 1992 cover is my fav. The spanish one is like taken out of Frozen animators (aka too much), and the 1998 one is cute, but doesn’t make it explicit that they’re more than friends.