Romance

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Days of Sugar and Spice

Days of Sugar and Spice by Loïc Clément and Anne Montel – Published November 20th 2019 by Europe Comics

I thought this looked like a sweet, warming tale to read this festive season, and I was right! The art style was gorgeous, and it was such an easy read. It was a nice length, too, I felt; It wasn’t too long, but it was still long enough to develop the characters and story.
Rose Lemon lives in Paris but is summoned back to her childhood hometown at the news of her father’s death. She hasn’t seen or heard from her father in years – since she and her mother were kicked out of their home twenty years ago. Rose discovers that her father has left her his bakery, which she intends to sell immediately. But she finds herself slowly falling in love with the bakery, the village, and the people.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Of course, it isn’t easy. At first, Rose is extremely bitter, irritable and, quite frankly, rude. And then, later, she leaves her loved ones behind after a shocking discovery, before realising where her heart truly lies. But things eventually do work out: the ending was so sweet!
The art really was gorgeous, and I absolutely loved the little intervals with the cats! My only real issue was that Rose was rather horrible at first, and I feel like the others forgave her a little too easily. Still, at least she eventually changed her ways. 4.5 stars overall!

Book Review: Read Me Like A Book

Read Me Like A Book by Liz Kessler – Published May 14th 2015 by Indigo

Another short review. (Sorry; I promise there will be some proper ones coming along soon!)
This book is about a teenager called Ash. We follow her through the start and end of a relationship with Dylan, the separation of her parents, and a huge falling-out with her best friend, Cat. Alongside all of this, Ash fears she is pregnant, and also begins to question her sexuality – brought on by her odd feelings towards a new substitute teacher. Basically, she is having a really hard time.
All of these issues are important ones to bring awareness to. I’m not sure if all the themes were discussed to as much depth as they could have been, though; I guess having so much going on means you can’t go into as much detail. Still, I think they were all represented pretty well, though I don’t have much personal experience with most of these things.
It was a really easy book to read; I saw several people mention how they read it all in one sitting. LGBTQ+ books are always important, and the combination of topics addressed was really quite unique. 3.5 stars overall.

Book Review: Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Published February 4th 2010 by Penguin Books (first published December 1st 2009)

So I finally got round to reading this a little while back. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the movie on TV, but never really knew what it was about. It is quite a romance-based story, but I enjoyed it more than I anticipated.
Again, I read this quite a while ago, so my review is only going to be short.
Ethan has nightmares where he loses someone – someone he’s never met before. And then one day she appears. She turns up at school, the niece of the creepy guy who lives in the creepy mansion. She’s not exactly normal herself, either. The other kids at school pick up on this immediately, and she becomes the centre of attention. And not the good kind.
I’m not going to tell you the whole plot, but it’s full of mystery and magic and a fair bit of romance. There’s even loss; there is one particular moment toward the end that I found particularly poetic. (If you read it, here’s a hint: it’s to do with Macon and rain.)
The ending in particular left me wanting to read on. I’m actually putting this series on my Christmas wish list! 4.5 stars.

Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall – Paperback, 272 pages – Published July 7th 2016 by Chicken House

I picked this book up at my local library because I liked the cover. Then I read the quote on the front and knew I’d love it.

Agoraphobia is a horrific disorder. I’ve not found a single book about it before this one. While I myself don’t suffer from it, I do have anxiety and can relate to the main character, Norah, in so many ways.

The first thing I’m going to say about this is that it doesn’t overly romanticise the illness, which is so important. Yes, there are maybe a few aspects that aren’t incredibly accurate, but that’s always going to happen with works of fiction. Overall, I think this is a fantastic representation of Norah’s illnesses and how her life has been flipped upside down since her becoming ill.

I would have liked this to be less romantically-focused, though. Don’t get me wrong, the romance was lovely and I felt so happy for Norah. But I am a bit fed up of stories that portray romantic relationships as the ‘cure’ for mental illnesses.

As I mentioned above, I believe this depicts Norah’s behaviours and thoughts fantastically. I really related to her in a lot of ways, such as regarding her anxiety and panic attacks. Plus, her beliefs and emotions regarding her illness were very relatable; the guilt and shame of being a burden on others.

It was incredibly heart-warming to see Norah finally begin to make progress towards the end of the book. It was slow – which is how it is in real life. There is no magic, instant cure. It takes time and effort and a lot of pain.

I thoroughly enjoyed this. If it was less romantic, I may have given it a full 5 stars. As it is, I’m giving it 4.5 stars, and would definitely recommend it to others.

Book Review: As Far as the Stars

As Far as the Stars by Virginia Macgregor – Kindle Edition, 384 pages – Published April 18th 2019 by HQ Young Adult

This was another one of those books I read without knowing anything about. I knew the genre, and I’d seen the cover, but that was it. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it this way, and so I’ll try not to spoil anything for potential readers.

The book is narrated by a teenage girl called Air, who is on her way to pick her brother Jude up from the airport. Their sister is about to get married, but Jude tends to mess things up so Air is trying to figure out where exactly he is. Their mother is getting worried about them turning up late, but Air is sure that it will work out – Jude always fixes things just in time.

When at the airport, Air meets Christopher. He’s waiting for his dad, who’s flight has been delayed. But then news comes in of the plane being missing, so Air decides to drive Christopher to his mum’s. The problem is, he hasn’t seen her for years.

Amongst all the confusion and stress and grief, Air and Christopher (and Jude’s dog) begin to enjoy each other’s company. They take several pit-stops along the road, despite the urgency of the situation, and actually find themselves having fun.

The end of the novel was fantastic, full of emotion. It was resolved beautifully with the epilogue. However, I did have a few issues throughout the majority of the book. Firstly, I found it to be a bit repetitious. Air went over the same thoughts several times, which made sense in some cases as she was anxious and scared, but happened a little too much for my liking. I also found her to be a little too dramatic; for example, when Christopher finally told her about his dad, she got incredibly upset. I don’t really understand why. It wasn’t Christopher’s fault. It didn’t change anything. If anything, she should have felt more sympathetic for him.

Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I also noticed quite a few typos and missing words, but that may just have been because I have a review copy and not the final publication.
Overall, I’m giving this 4 stars. The ending really made the book for me.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Open Earth

This is only a short book, and my review is also only going to be short.

Basically, this focuses on members of a human colony who have left Earth. The teens in this colony are the first generation of Earthlings not born on Earth. The main character – who’s name was rarely mentioned – strongly wants to create new customs and culture, as she believes the Earth culture is what led to the planet’s ultimate demise. Her parents are more interested in preserving old cultures, though, and find her ideas of ‘normal’ to be quite extraordinary.

There wasn’t much of an overarcing plot really, only the story of the girl and her many lovers. Basically, her and her whole friendship group are all in a polyamorous relationship. There are a lot (and I really do mean a lot) of sexual scenes, but they are written in a way that normalises the behaviour.

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

The girl realises she has a different connection to one boy in particular, and wants to move into his home after his sister moves out. But this makes the others fear that they’re going to ‘couple off’ and cut them out of their lives.

It was a pretty strange book, honestly. It’s good to be normalising different relationships such as this, but I didn’t see any other plots really going on. 3 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Death of Love

Another Edelweiss+ copy I downloaded. (There was a deadline on the files, hence the mass of Edelweiss+ reviews posted these past few days. It’s over now!)

Philo Harris really can’t get any girls, so he signs up for some class on being the ‘alpha’ that women biologically desire. He hangs out at a bar after with some other guys who had attended the class, giving the whole alpha thing a go. It doesn’t go particularly well for any of them… Then a stranger turns up offering pills. (Yeah. That’s never good.) Of course, the guys say no. But then Philo gets really, really, drunk, and decides to swallow one.

Bad. Decision.

After that, he can see cupids. Or cupidae. (Whatever.) And… He kills one.

BAD. DECISION.

Now they all want revenge. Philo turns to his friends for help, but they just assume he’s tripping on some dodgy drugs. Or gone crazy. They definitely don’t believe the cupids are real.

Until Philo doses their drinks and they are subjected to the angry little winged men in diapers, too.

Of course, they’re angry. But they don’t have time to argue; they have a HELL of a lot of cupids attacking them. And this ‘boss’ they keep talking about…? Yeah, he is not happy about all the cupids being killed.

This was a really funny novel! It was superbly written, fantastically drawn, and just great fun to read. There was clearly a lot of knowledge on the gods and ancient mythology, which really helped create depth and authenticity to the story. The characters were great, and Philo actually showed remarkable growth as a character. It contained a fair amount of language and some dirty humour, but I think it all fit really well. 4 stars.

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Twisted Romance Volume #1

I would like to thank Edelweiss+ again for providing me with this book.

This is actually a collection of short stories as well as comics, all of which are separate from one another. I won’t go through every story, but I will talk about a few.

The art of each comic is very different from the last, as is each plot. As the title suggests, every story is a romance of sorts – but not the conventional, boy-meets-girl kind. A majority of the relationships in this are same-sex, and there is even a polyamorous relationship in one. Bondage is discussed – and described – and my favourite story involved a young princess being held prisoner by a dragon, only to be freed by a spider.

Most of the stories had some sort of fantasy or paranormal element, but not all. There were tragic stories, happy stories; all sorts. As can be expected, there were some I liked more than others. Because of this, it is hard to review the book as a whole. For the most part the writing was really good, and most graphics were lovely. (There were a few I wasn’t so partial to, but that’s just personal preference.) Romances are generally not my favourite genre of stories so I wasn’t that enthralled by this, but I do appreciate the uniqueness of this collection and the quality of the stories. Some were really fantastic, and I really enjoyed having so many different things included. 3.5 stars.

Book Review: Carry On

Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic author, and when I heard she would be writing Carry On I was really pleased. Fangirl was a great book, and actually writing the novel frequently mentioned in that book sounded like such a unique idea to me. It is a romance, so it’s not my favourite book ever, but I still loved it.

Carry On is pretty much the Harry Potter of Rowell’s Fangirl universe. This did make this novel a bit of a rip off, honestly, but that was bound to happen. It actually kind of embraced it.

The plot was really interesting, and I really did find myself excited to see what happened next. I wanted to understand the Humdrum and discover how he would be defeated. It was also rather interesting to see how the Mage played a part in everything. And the use of magic was fantastic; I really liked how Rowell explained the basis of spells and how they got their power.

The writing – as always – was fantastic. So easy to read, but very hard to put down! Even though it was cheesy (I mean, the hero falls in love with his best enemy. Who’s a vampire. Seriously.) I just enjoyed reading it so much. I even kind of shipped Baz and Simon.

The ending was… not disappointing, but I wasn’t overly pleased with it. I thought it was a bit too simple of a solution – surely they would’ve considered something along those lines? It’s not like it was particularly hard to see the connection. (I’d go into more detail, but I don’t want to include any spoilers.) I did like the bittersweetness of it, though. I liked how realistic it was, despite being a fantasy novel.

It was definitely a bit of a cheesy novel, but I kind of loved it. Rowell writes so well. It was a long novel, but I could’ve just sat down and read it from cover to cover without even realising. A strong 4 stars.

 

Book Review: A Song for Ella Grey

Sorry I waited so long before writing this. My life is a bit hectic at the moment.

I found this book really quite strange – but then everything I’ve read by David Almond has been a bit different. It really teeters on the line between the real world and fantasy, and I honestly couldn’t be sure whether some of the story was metaphorical or actually literal. It was a really interesting read.

Claire is the narrator of this book, telling us the events of the past. The story isn’t told entirely chronologically but more like a person would speak, with tangents and relevant contextual events thrown in.

Ella Grey is Claire’s best friend and possibly the protagonist of this book. Claire tells the story of how she met a strange boy called Orpheus on a beach one day, and how he turned up outside their school for Ella. The couple had a marriage ceremony soon after, but the day ends in tragedy.

Claire’s affections for Ella seem to blur the line between friendship and romance, which was definitely an interesting aspect. Her opinions of Orpheus seem a little mixed, and she is clearly looking out for her friend’s welfare.

Orpheus’s ‘journey’ at the end of the novel was especially strange; as was the way it was told through Claire. The entire book – especially when describing Orpheus and Ella – was extremely lyrical. The language was all very romantic and poetic, which I guess was to emphasise the musical quality that surrounds Orpheus’s character. It also really added to the sense of fantasy and mystery, giving the whole tale a strong ethereal quality.

This book was fantastically written, and definitely unique. I must say it was a little too romantic and poetic for my personal tastes, so I’m giving it 3 stars out of 5. I can definitely appreciate the beauty of Almond’s writing, though.