The Graces by Laure Eve

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Goodreads Synopsis

Everyone said the Graces were witches.

They moved through the corridors like sleek fish, ripples in their wake. Stares followed their backs and their hair.

They had friends, but they were just distractions. They were waiting for someone different.

All I had to do was show them that person was me.

Like everyone else in her town, River is obsessed with the Graces, attracted by their glamour and apparent ability to weave magic. But are they really what they seem? And are they more dangerous than they let on?

This beautifully-written thriller will grip you from its very first page.

Commentary

I finally decided to pick up The Graces by Laure Eve. I had the book on my reading list for almost a year. I was in the mood to read a story with a creepy atmosphere, and I am such a big fan of stories that have witches. I saw the rating on Goodreads…it was lower than I had anticipated, but I decided to read it. I tried not letting the ratings bother my reading, and everyone has different experiences when reading. When it came to finishing the book, now I understand why The Graces has low ratings.

I’ve read some terrible books this year, but River is possibly the worst snowflake offender for 2018. River mentioned so many times that she was not like other girls…Okay, River is the definition of a “pick me” character:

Urban Dictionary:

  1. A person who begs for the attention, acceptance and approval of a certain group in different things they say. In most case, it’s to attain the attention, acceptance and approval of the opposite sex.

River is the living embodiment of a “pick me” character. River is introduced as the new girl who can’t make friends, and a bit of a loner. Though she has a hard time adjusting to her school, she is entranced by The Graces. The Graces happen to be popular siblings attending her high school, both rich and mysterious. It is rumored that the Graces are witches. River is madly in love with Fenrin, the only male sibling. River tries to be a cool girl with a non-conformist attitude, but she desperately wants to fit in with the siblings. Most importantly she wants to be like the siblings. Her life revolves on pleasing the siblings and pretending to be something she is not.

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River’s home life is not great. Her father mysteriously disappeared, and her mother ignores her daughter’s life. River is given independence, and most of her life revolves around the Graces. She cannot live without them. River gets accepted into the group, because she becomes the best friend of Summer. River tries to be different from all the other friends of the Graces. River tries to be so cool that she makes it known that she is not interested in Fenrin, though as a reader, you know that she loves him. The love is pretty much one-sided. Because all the girls love Fenrin, the Grace siblings do not have permanent friends.

River is the only person that gets accepted into the inner circle, and rises to popularity. Although River is dear to the siblings, she is not fully accepted.

“The Graces had friends, but then they didn’t. Once in a while, they would descend on someone they’d never hung out with before, making them theirs for a time, but a time was usually all it was. They changed friends like some people changed hairstyles, as if perpetually waiting for someone better to come along.”

Summer is the goth, Fenrin is the hot dreamboat, and Thalia is the manic pixie girl. All the siblings are best friends with each other. Each character had dark secrets, and the friends were not as united as I had assumed. The siblings aren’t aware of the privilege and status they have. The Graces manipulate people and cause damage to the people that get involved.

The magic of the book is never really explained. Though the Graces are considered witches, the magic system is based on the intention of words. It reminded me sort of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. The Graces never really indicate whether they are witches. Each sibling has a different belief. Summer believes in magic, Fenrin doesn’t care, and Thalia is frightened by the supposed curse on the family.

This book is messy with drama. River is accepted into the lives of the Graces. She gets involved with drinking and partying. All the characters are messy. There are ridiculous events that happen in the book. Even though I don’t like the characters, I found them to be entertaining, and the book was laughable. Like I mentioned, the romance is one-sided. Fenrin is a tease and a flirt. River sees signs of Fenrin being interested in her, but he never acts on it. Fenrin doesn’t have permanent relationships with women. I felt that Summer might have had romantic feelings for River. I would have liked to see a romance between the best friends rather than Fenrin and River. There was one character that I did not like because he was there, and his name is Wolf. I did not care for him, but he plays a crucial part in the story, which I never saw coming.

“It was easy to romanticize tragedy, like you suddenly transformed into some sort of Byronic hero, sitting in darkened rooms with crystal glasses of whisky, hair tousled and artfully lank from all those sleepless nights starting at the walls and cursing the gods.”

I couldn’t take the book seriously. It reminds me a lot of Twilight, but with witches instead of vampires. Fenrin and Edward are similar, but Fenrin is not a stalker like Edward. Neither is Wolf like Jacob. River is an unreliable narrator, and a try hard. There were a couple of twists that did make the last half of the book more enjoyable. I initially rated this book 2-stars, but I did like it more than I imagined. I do look forward to reading the sequel for this series. The second book will be in Summer’s perspective from the synopsis on Goodreads. I am looking forward to reading about this problematic siblings and their angst.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.25)

 

ARC: The Similars by Rebecca Hanover

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Goodreads Synopis:

When six clones join Emmaline’s prestigious boarding school, she must confront the heartbreak of seeing her dead best friend’s face each day in class.

The Similars are all anyone can talk about at the elite Darkwood Academy. Who are these six clones? What are the odds that all of them would be Darkwood students? Who is the madman who broke the law to create them? Emma couldn’t care less. Her best friend, Oliver, died over the summer and all she can think about is how to get through her junior year without him. Then she comes face-to-heartbreaking-face with Levi—Oliver’s exact DNA replica and one of the Similars.

Emma wants nothing to do with the Similars, but she keeps getting pulled deeper and deeper into their clique, uncovering dark truths about the clones and her prestigious school along the way. But no one can be trusted…not even the boy she is falling for who has Oliver’s face.

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Commentary

“Darkwood might be progressive, but your society on the whole has a long history of classifying people by their race or religion or sexual orientation or gender and using those classifications to subjugate particular groups. It is surprising that a bunch of small-minded government leaders think cloning is the first step onto a slippery slope of Armageddon and the demise of the human race as we know it?”

Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for The Similars for an honest review. All opinions are my own. This contains a lot of spoilers!

The main protagonist of The Similars is Emma Chance, who has a difficult time adjusting to her best friend’s suicide. Her school life changes when six clones are enrolled in her school. Though Emma does not have prejudice against the clones, there is one clone that stands out of the six. Levi is the clone of her best friend Ollie, and it shakes Emma’s world. It is clear that Emma is still processing the death of her friend, and having Levi at her school, does not allow her to heal mentally. She is reminded of Ollie, even though he is not alive. Though the physical similarities of Levi and Ollie are the same, their personalities are different. Emma goes through a wild school year with the Similars and the dark secrets in her school.

This world is an alternate future where clones barely have rights in the United States, and the rest of the world. This book reminds me of immigration due to the prejudice and discrimination that the Similars encounter. The subject of the book was the most unique aspect that I really liked, but as for the rest of the book, I didn’t like the execution.

I thought Emma Chance was an okay character. Emma is vulnerable, especially the scenes involving her getting emotional over Ollie.

“If I’ve learned anything these past few months since Oliver died, it’s that pills don’t take away your grief and pain on their own. They mask it, briefly. But it’s all worse when you emerge from the pharma haze and realize your best friend is still gone.”

Emma tries adjusting in her school year, and depends on medicine to get her by because the pain is raw. She loved Ollie, and as for Levi, she gives him a hard time. Levi’s presence makes it hard for Emma to move on because he is a reminder of what she lost. I have to admit, that Emma is lucky person given that she eavesdrops and uncovers so many secrets without getting caught. There were no high stakes in the book because Emma was able to get away without getting hurt. Emma’s curiosity leads her to ask many questions about the clones and her surroundings, but no one wants to reveal the truth.

As for Levi, he is a bookworm and treats Emma with some disdain. Emma mistreats and criticizes him, and he does not allow himself to be a pushover. It would have been great to know Ollie’s personality to compare the two. The romance of Emma and Levi was a slow burn, love hate relationship. Though I do want to categorize it into a insta-love relationship since Emma is drawn to Levi because of his similar appearance to Ollie. But, I was not amazed. I would have preferred no romance to be honest.

I felt that most of the clones had dull personalities. I hoped that the author does expand their personalities in the next book because it seemed like all of the similar were the same…just different names. Levi was the only one to have a personality, and I didn’t care for the other similars.

A lot of events of the book were highly predictable for me, and these are some of the reasons:

  • Mean girls and cliques…
  • Love triangle between Ollie, Emma, and Levi…
  • Petty drama and 20-year grudge…
  • The school using the clones for medical research…
  • Surprise…not really Ollie is alive
  • The clones were created to get revenge for this 20-year grudge…
  • It was obvious who the villain was at the halfway mark…
  • Emma is not she is…she in fact is a similar

This book tried being a lot of things…and left me unsatisfied. The twists and turn were too predictable. It was hard for me to read the book because I made a lot of guesses that came out being true. It was a bit frustrating to read, the world building could have been better, and I don’t want to pick up the next book.

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Publishing Date: January 1st 2019

Final Rating:  

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Mini Book Reviews: Graphic Novels II

the scarlet roseSynopsis: After the horrendous murder of her father, Maud discovers she has a grandfather, a noble count living in Paris, where she must now live. There she encounters The Fox, a masked Robin Hood-like rogue – a dashing figure she falls for. While her grandfather struggles to tame her wild spirit and introduce her to Society, Maud rebels by secretly becoming the masked Fox-like marauder – The Scarlet Rose!

Maud une jeune fille rêveuse et éprise de justice, vit en France au XVIIIe siècle. L’assassinat incompréhensible de son père l’oblige à rejoindre Paris où vit son grand-père, un noble dont elle ignorait jusqu’à l’existence. Elle y croise la route du Renard, un brigand des grands chemins qu’elle admire. Mais elle ne sait encore rien du secret que lui a légué son père et que convoite un mystérieux individu.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: I believe the child version of me would have loved The Scarlet Rose. It has elements that I love which are historical periods, sword fighting, and heroic antics. This book is set in France during the 18th century, and it  is a bit of a mystery. Though The Scarlet Rose has elements I love in books, the pacing of the book felt too obvious. I applaud Maud for going beyond and becoming a vigilante due to her obession with the French version of The Zorro, but that’s about it. When reading this comic, I immediately knew who The Fox’s identity was. It could have left some mystery, but that was not the case. Some of the events were a tad dramatic, but a young reader would enjoy it. And by young, I mean like a kid. Though, the costume could have been better. It’s a tad on the gaudy side. None the less, the book was entertaining, but everything was too obvious.

ghost storiesSynopsis: Ghost Stories is a graphic novel collection offering three haunting explorations. Granted the chance to meet three of her dead idols in “Ghost,” the author’s cartoon-self embarks on a journey to remote and unanticipated landscapes, in a story of self-discovery and healing. In “Wallpaper,” a child tells the story of a household move, remodel, and loss through the lens of flashbulb memory. And in “Makers,” two girls with an unorthodox friendship make a rocky transition into adulthood. Throughout each tale, ghosts exist as past selves and remnants of past relationships that are met with inquiry, resolution, and personal rebirth.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Commentary: What kind of comic was this? The stories were not connected, and it was all over the place for me. The only story that was the best written was Makers despite the anti-climatic ending. When I saw the cover, it was gorgeous and simplistic. I wanted to read the book based on the cover. I fell for a cover again. It was a weak story. Assuming that ghost stories was going to be based on ghosts, this book felt like the ideal one for me. Ghost Stories the chapter was okay. I honestly thought that Ghost Stories was going to play a major part in this book. Wallpaper was the weakest chapter. As I mentioned, Makers was a relatable story. It was about friendship and growing apart. I related to it, but the ending didn’t leave satisfaction. Sadly, this book was not my cup of tea.

Fragments of Feminity.jpgSynopsis: This is a collection of portraits of 7 women, of all different ages, backgrounds, circumstances and eras. Each one of them is facing a defining moment in her life. They are bound together by the symbol of their femininity: their breasts. We see an awkward college girl getting to grips with her womanhood; a 1960s house-wife freeing herself from the restraints of propriety; the manager of a small underwear shop fighting against corporate giants; a woman nude modeling for an unexpected reason… Love, illness, sex, liberation, sensuality: Olivier Pont draws us into the lives of these women with astounding force.

Rating: ⭐️

Commentary: This is possibly the worst comic that I have ever read. The stories were all about women obessessing over their bodies. This was not feminist. This was awful. Though each story took place during different eras, this did not add to my enjoyment level. I almost dnfed this book because my frustrations with the lack of structure and the shallowness portrayed by the characters. Truly awful. I never want to experience reading this comic again. Writing about it is giving me a headache. This is mature and not meant for younger audience.

le petiti loup rougeSynopsis: This synopsis is in French, sorry ya’ll. Soudain, une voix douce L’interpella : “Pourquoi pleures-tu ?” Le petit Loup rouge se retourna. Une petite fille blonde, étrangement vêtue, le regardait avec curiosité. Décontenancé, le petit loup se rappela ce qu’on lui avait toujours enseigné, à savoir “rester loin des humains” ! Mais cette petite humaine avait l’air si gentille, si fragile, qu’il lui fit tout de suite confiance.

Il était une fois… mère louve qui envoie son louveteau porter un lapin à sa grand-mère édentée et bien trop vieille pour chasser. Mais attention ! En chemin, il devra se méfier des méchants humains : le terrible chasseur et sa fille. Sur la route, tout désemparé d’avoir englouti par gourmandise le lapin destiné à sa grand-mère, il rencontrera et suivra bien naïvement une étrange petite fille qui lui contera l’histoire de sa famille, d’un gentil chasseur et de sa femme, qui aurait été mangée par les cruels loups… Dans ce conte sombre, relecture du Petit Chaperon rouge où les rôles s’inversent, deux visions, réminiscences d’un passé cruel, vont se confronter. Mais qui, des humains ou des loups, détient la vérité sur ce souvenir douloureux ?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: Growing up on Disney and books, my heart is a sucker for fairy tales. Though I am an adult, I’m still a huge fanatic of this genre. Reading The Little Red Wolf was refreshing. It is a retelling of the Little Red Riding Hood, but in reverse. Instead of presenting wolves as the stereotypical villians, that is not the case in this short story.  Even though humans are presented as evil, you feel sorry for both parties. This is an endearing tale with an ending to shock you all. The artwork is beautifully gorgeous, and eye catching. The Little Red Wolf presents two perspectives to the story, adding agency to the wolves. I can’t wait to read other works by the author, she is very talented.

the tea dragon society.jpg Synopsis: From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever Aftercomes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Commentary: Wow, I was blown away by this children’s book. Let’s start with what I loved and that was the diversity in race and sexuality. I applaud this book. Besides the cover and lovely artwork, this was one of my favorite books that I have read. This is a charming book, and I can see all the love the author poured into this book. I wouldn’t mind other books in the series, and I loved reading about the dragons. The book covers details about each dragon., Greta and Minette have a cute friendship, and their bond was solidfied throughout the book. This is a highly recommened children’s book. I read The Tea Dragon society when I was experincing a book slump, but this one really helped me out through tough times.

 

Manga First Impressions: Perfect World Vol. I by Rie Aruga

Perfect World.jpgNetgalley Synopsis: Perfect World is Rie Aruga’s touching drama about the romance that develops between an abled interior designer and her first love, whom she reencounters one day only to find he is wheelchair-bound.

26-year-old Tsugumi Kawana reunites with her first crush from high school, Itsuki Ayukawa, at a get-together between an architecture firm and the interior design company she works at. He sends her heart aflutter, until she realizes he’s now disabled, and in a wheelchair. At first she feels she couldn’t date a guy in a wheelchair, but then her feelings begin to change…

commentary

“Don’t just go and decide…that I wouldn’t be happy with you. Stop deciding…everything by yourself. Even though…There’s no one that could replace you…”

**Thank you Netgalley and Publisher for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

The story introduces Tsugumi Kawana meeting her first love as an adult after being separated for many years. Though the times have passed, Tsugumi feels the same emotions as she did many years ago. Itsuki  is a changed man, he is no longer the same person that Tsugumi has known physically. Itsuki is now paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury during his high school days.

Tsugumi reconnects with Itsuki because the two work together and get closer. Itsuki lets Itsuki know that he is not interested in her neither is he interested in romantic relationships. He understands that he is a burden and does not want that to happen to anyone in a relationship with him. He tries his best to adapt with his disability and pursues the same passions such as basketball and architecture when he was a young boy. Tsugumi believes she knows Itsuki, but with each encounter she learns a little about him everyday.

Itsuki is sickly, he constantly goes to the hospital. He tries to make the situation light about his condition. He reminds Tsugumi that she doesn’t have to stay by his side. Rather than leaving, Tsugumi doesn’t abandon her first love. Her feelings grow stronger each time she sees Itsuki. She learns to become more empathetic being with Itsuki though he is not interested in her romantically. She tries to help Itsuki bring closure in this first volume concerning his first love. The author shows that the stakes are high if Tsugumi continues to pursue Itsuki. She will get her heart broken because of his condition, but that doesn’t stop her.

“It was a night we felt we had connected. But the happiness felt that night…was delicate…as the snow melts, and disappears.”

I thought this first volume was sweet and ended in a cute way. I prefer Itsuki over Tsugumi. He understands his condition. He is fiercely independent, but he has flaws. He doesn’t let people in. He has emotional borders due to the event. He hasn’t completely accepted the fact that he is disabled. He still lives with his disability, but he is not a poster child of it as Tsugumi believes he is. Despite his conditions, he tries his best. The best chapter of this first volume was Itsuki’s interactions with Haruto, a teenage boy that recently became disabled.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

ARC: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

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goodreads-synopsis

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…commentary

**Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

In Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Witches series, Alex was the original protagonist. The black sheep of the family due to not having magic like her sisters. After the events of the first book, the point of view shifts to Lula Mortiz, the eldest sister of the family. In Labyrinth Lost, Lula was a confident witch with healing powers, but she undergoes a transformation in which she “loses” herself. Though this book deals with Lula, I love the maturity Alex gained from her experiences with Los Lagos. She seems more mature than the previous book. It is a shame that this book did not include a lot of Alex and Rishi moments.

As much as I loved Labyrinth Lost, I completely fell in love with Bruja Born. This book is about the process of healing for Lula because of her scars, both mentally and emotionally. Lula has found herself in a dark place, and only she can get herself. What I loved about this book is that Lula had an encouraging support system of her sisters and family that loved her even when she didn’t feel like herself. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery especially after losing her dearest boyfriend and the events of Los Lagos. Lula no longer feels joy and her connection to magic has severely changed. She is also learning to adjust to having her father back into her life after disappearing for many years. What I really loved about Lula is that she was raw, emotional, and mostly flawed. The author does not present a special snowflake, but rather someone relatable. It’s refreshing to read about realistic characters rather than Mary Sue type characters. She makes a lot of mistakes, along the way, but it serves to improve herself for the best. I could relate to Lula’s experiences of re-experiencing self love. The author portrayed Lula’s emptiness so realistically despite being a work of fiction.

One of my favorite lines in the book. This shows the sass and the protection Lula has for her sister Alex:

You really think I’m going to betray my sister for you? Boy, bye.

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Though the setting takes place in Brooklyn, magic plays a heavy element to this sequel. New lore is introduced in this urban fantasy such as casi muertos (neither living or completely dead, somewhere in between. Others would say they are similar to zombies), vampires, and witch hunters. Magic is always has a price. Lula learns this the hard way. Resurrecting the dead is not possible, even with Lula’s healing magic. She gains a new ability, but pays the ultimate price. The stakes are really high in this book. I loved the action scenes, and the magical alliance between different magical folks. This book presented a showdown and really delivered! I really hope that the author continues this series. I would love to see the Mortiz sisters once again. And I hope that Rose gets a perspective too!

Rating: 4.5

Mini Book Reviews: Graphic Novels Edition

HeathenSynopsis: Heathen Volume One collects the first four issues of the acclaimed fantasy series from creator Natasha Alterici. Aydis is a young Viking woman, who after being banished from her home, sets out on a mission to right the wrongs of a corrupt god. Her first move is to find and free the cursed Valkyrie Brynhild. Gods, demons, and creatures of lore, Heathen is packed with fun intriguing characters and lavish artwork. The trade features an oil painting cover, cover gallery, and a forward by award winning lesbian fiction author Geonn Cannon.

Commentary:

Warriors don’t fight for themselves, they fight for those who cannot fight on their own.

When I first read Heathen, I did expect myself to fall completley in love with the story. I got this book from Netgalley when I was randomly looking for comics. This is a tale about Adysis, a viking woman set on a journey. The artwork is beautiful, and it is easy to get immersed into the world. Adyis is courageous, living in a patriarchal village in which she does not follow the norms of women. Adyis is a rebel in her own right, and the storyteller of this book. I love how Adyis converses with the Gods and acts like it’s not a big deal. She is not frighten by the power they hold over the world. She remains true to herself and her beliefs, despite encountering many challenges along the way. Although Adysis is the main protagonist, the story is told in two persepctives. Brynhild was cursed and released by Adyis, and she is forced on a journey to save Adyis. You learn that the gods are not to be trusted, especially Odin. Honestly, I love the diversity of this viking lesbian comic. For only 4 chapters in this volume, it is packed with mythology and diversity. I cannot wait for the second volume of Heathen!

 taproot.jpgSynopsis: Blue is having a hard time moving on. He’s in love with his best friend. He’s also dead. Luckily, Hamal can see ghosts, leaving Blue free to haunt him to his heart’s content. But something eerie is happening in town, leaving the local afterlife unsettled, and when Blue realizes Hamal’s strange ability may be putting him in danger, Blue has to find a way to protect him, even if it means… leaving him.

Commentary: I may have been watching a lot of Voltron lately, but Blue and Hamal remind me of Hunk and Lance. I could not unsee it with the character designs.

As for the story, Taproot is about a gardener and a ghost falling in love with each other. This is a story about growth between two male protagonists who live in a divided world. I found that Blue and Hamal did balance each other out. The story was quite interesting, and there some elements of creepiness. Though, I don’t want to spoil Taproot, I felt it ended far too shortly. The second half of the book felt like an extra story rather than belonging to the plot. The artwork was definitely my favorite. A quick and easy read, though I wish the story were longer.

Joyride Synopsis: Earth sucks.
The stars have been blocked out for so long that people have forgotten there was anything else besides the World Government Alliance watching over them. Uma Akkolyte is a girl who shoots first, leaps before she looks, and is desperate for any means to leave her planet behind. And so she does. When Uma jacks an alien spaceship and punches through the stratosphere she sets forth on an adventure with an unlikely crew who are totally not ready for all the good, bad, and weird the universe will throw at them.
From writers Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly (Batman and Robin EternalGrayson) and artist Marcus To (NightwingNew Avengers), Joyride is a rebellious love letter to the sci-fi genre, exploring what happens when nothing stands between a group of teens and their freedom amongst the stars.

Commentary: Confined to Earth, Uma seeks adventure and freedom away from the strict rules enforced on Earth. Uma is the leader of this misadventure in space. Uma seeks thrill and excitement. She brings along her close friend Dewydd and Catrin is forced to tag along in this space adventure. The adventure unites the characters despite coming from different social and economical bacgrounds. Uma is the leader of the group and captain of her crew, because she is the one who planned the adventure. Overall, this comic does reveal background information of all three characters. Uma loved her life prior to the takeover, and she idolized her mother. Dewydd is the youngest in his family, and his older brother overshadows Dewydd and his accomplishments. Catrin is overall a badass, and she is not your stereoytpical princess. As I mentioned, the story is fast paced, and I would have liked to seen more explorations of different worlds for this first novel. I really liked Catrin because of her relatable grumpy mood, but makes an excellent friend. I loved how carefree and fun loving Uma is despite consequences. I like the one sided love that Dewydd has for Uma. Overall, this first volume was a fun volume and I hope the following volume allows for more character growth. It does remind me of a teen version of Guardians of the Galaxy. For the following volume, I hope that the stakes are higher. The third chapter of Joyride is my favorite because you learn the background stories of Uma and Catrin.

ladystuffSynopsis: A collection of Loryn Brantz’s vibrant and relatable Jellybean Comics about her everyday experiences as a lady 

Home manicure tips, awkward seduction techniques, scoping out the snack table, and—most important—prioritizing naps: Lady Stuff reveals these womanly secrets and more. In sections like “Grooming and Habitat Maintenance,” “Mating Habits,” and others, these brightly colored, adorable comics find the humor in the awkwardness of simply existing.

Like the work of Sarah Andersen, Gemma Correll, and Allie Brosh, Loryn Brantz’s Jellybean Comics are accessible and funny; lighthearted takes on the author’s everyday experiences and struggles being a woman.

Commentary: I’ve seen Loryn Brantz’s comics used by Buzzfeed. Most of the work included in this short book has been used by Buzzfeed. I was hoping for new material. The comics are okay for me. If I were a consumer, this comic book would not be the one for me. If it had contained new material, I would have rated this book higher. Unfortunately, this book didn’t make me laugh. It was average to say the least. This book is not about womanly secrets. It’s not relatable. For one thing, this humor is beyond awkward. I was getting second hand embarrassment from reading this. I know that I’ve mentioned Buzzfeed, but this feels like reading Buzzfeed the Book if one were to catergorize this.

ARC: Furyborn by Claire Legrand

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goodreads-synopsis

Follows two fiercely independent young women, centuries apart, who hold the power to save their world…or doom it.

When assassins ambush her best friend, the crown prince, Rielle Dardenne risks everything to save him, exposing her ability to perform all seven kinds of elemental magic. The only people who should possess this extraordinary power are a pair of prophesied queens: a queen of light and salvation and a queen of blood and destruction. To prove she is the Sun Queen, Rielle must endure seven trials to test her magic. If she fails, she will be executed…unless the trials kill her first.

A thousand years later, the legend of Queen Rielle is a mere fairy tale to bounty hunter Eliana Ferracora. When the Undying Empire conquered her kingdom, she embraced violence to keep her family alive. Now, she believes herself untouchable–until her mother vanishes without a trace, along with countless other women in their city. To find her, Eliana joins a rebel captain on a dangerous mission and discovers that the evil at the heart of the empire is more terrible than she ever imagined.

As Rielle and Eliana fight in a cosmic war that spans millennia, their stories intersect, and the shocking connections between them ultimately determine the fate of their world–and of each other.

commentaryHey guys, it has been nearly a year since I last wrote a book review. Sounds crazy? I know. I’ve been busy with my undergrad education and I occasionally read on the side, but didn’t have enough time to read as I used to. My finals are over, and I am attempting my first book review of the year. I have been reading a lot more, and felt inspired to write once again.

My good friend had an extra copy of Furyborn by Claire Legrand that she recieved in the Fairyloot Novemeber 2017 box. I traded her a couple books for it because I was highly looking forward to reading Furyborn. For my list of 2018 books, Furyborn was high on my list. I took Furyborn to the Philippines spring break vacation, but I never managed to pick it up. Returning to the States, and readjusting to my school schedule, I manange to find time to read Furyborn.

Darn it! I was hoping that Furyborn was going to have a lot of action and kickass female protagonists, but I am highly disappointed with what I read. Actually, extremely disappointed. I wanted to drop the book so badly.

What went wrong? Despite the prologue being the best written chapter in the book, it gave so many spoilers away! Especially concerning Rielle. The book is about two prophecized queens. One queen is told to bring destruction, whereas the other queen is the opposite. The prologue lets the reader know that Rielle is the Blood Queen. I wanted some buildup to this story. It sucks that as a reader, you know that Rielle becomes the queen to bring destruction to the world. In addition, the prologue gave away the connection Rielle has with Eliana despite the two characters living in two different time periods.

Which storyline was better? In Furyborn, there are two storylines to follow. One is Rielle and the past events that led to the decline of magic. She undergoes trials to prove that she is the Sun Queen, but you would already know that she becomes the Blood Queen. Reading her chapters were a bit frustrating because you know the fate of Rielle. You know that she will pass the trials and betray her people. I wanted to skip her chapters. Finally, the villain was revealed in the prologue! THERE WAS NO BUILDUP TO THIS STORY.  When it comes to Rielle, she is easily manipulated by those around her. She has the ability of all 7 powers in her kingdom. When Rielle starts hearing voices, she accepts doesn’t question it! Rielle converses with the voice in her head that happens to be a guy who she doesn’t know. Instead of worrying about her mental state, she falls in love with the voice…and converses with her new voice…and seeks advice from this voice…never having met this person….ugh. The story presents a frustrating love triangle in which Rielle is stuck between loving her childhood friend Prince Audric, and the voice in her head, Corien…I hated this love triangle so badly. 

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When it comes to Eliana’s pov, she was a frustrating character as well. She is known as The Dread of Orline. Eliana is supposed to be a badass assassin, but the story presents a character with wishy washy mentality. It was hard understanding the plot of Eliana’s chapters. I can’t take Eliana seriously. At least, I was spared from reading about a tedious love triangle. But once again, this story is filled with insta-love. The guy characters are not well developed. Prince Audric was okay. He was understanding of Rielle, and never questioned her motives. As for Simon, you find out who he is in the prologue as well. I would have placed the prologue near the end of the book to have a shocking revelation, but I guess that there is more to be told about Rielle later on in the series…

What Furyborn lack was introducing the folklore of the land. Angels are the villains of the book, and they have been locked behind a gate. But you don’t know what they did? This book hardly mentions the mythology, which would have been a great addition. I would have rated this book higher if I need more details about the angels. As for the magic system, everyone gets their power from the empirium, which is not explained. I’ll assume its an omnipresent power activator or a god that existed in the world. Where was the world buidling in this book? The stakes were high, but I did not find myself attached to the charactesrs.  Furyborn was a hot mess for me, and it is such as shame. The cover is gorgeous, the synoposis sounded amazing, but the delivery was not there. As for other books in the series, I might check out the following book to see what happens. Hopefully the author improves the story, but you can only hope.

So what has happened?

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Hello everyone,

I know that I have not posted since August. I am taking my upper division courses in University, and it’s been tough for me to update my blog. At the moment, I am committed to finishing my undergrad degree. I hope to update with information here and there. I am more active on my bookstgram/studygram account on instagram.

https://www.instagram.com/thereadingbelle/

I have missed the book community, and I miss reading for fun! Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s been almost a year since I last posted on my blog.

Anyways, I hope to update with pictures from my Philippines trip and book reviews. I haven’t created a schedule yet, but I hope on trying to balance my blog. I wan to start anew on my blog. Let’s see what will happen, but for now I can say:

I missed blogging, reading book reviews, and most of all, connecting with others fellow book worms. Have a wonderful day!

miriam-michelle

20 by Vastal Surti

20 by vastal surti

goodreads-synopsis

‘It’s really hitting me where I live. Prose poetry about what it feels like to be young and have the whole world caught inside your throat.’ – Lena Dunham

The story of a young model and an introspective writer, “20” is a novel about loneliness, love, hopes and dreams.

One night as she is driving back home from a show, she almost runs over someone. She holds her breath, and through the fog they see each other for the first time. Love begins to form in the space between them, in precognitions and thoughts, lights and intimacies. Seasons change. They come to know more things about each other. Life wraps them in its embrace like a haze, in a vacant space bigger than their eyes can see.
Fans of Haruki Murakami will enjoy this atmospheric and deeply felt debut.

commentary

I received 20 on Netgalley for an honest review, all opinions are my own.

Reading 20 by Vastal Surti was an experience. 20 is the type of book that you have to read the whole way through. The writing is beautiful and poetic. It mesmerized me. But is 20 a book that I will remember reading as time passes by? It’s hard to say for now. I can recommend this book on a rainy day with a nice cup of coffee.

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“Sometimes I was filled with such loneliness. My teenage years were so difficult. I try to please everyone, and I distance myself. Nothing seems real sometimes. I search for meaning in mundane events. I seek identity in empty relationships. All my life I have tried to find a place in this world…”

When reading 20, I was amazed that the protagonists remained unnamed. It felt that I was glimpsing into the life of a young adult who was suffering through her moments of depression. The books deals with themes of isolation and depression, and feeling alienated in the world. If I can sum it up in a phrase it would be this: the struggles of being a young adult, not really feeling complete as an adult.

“She carried a thousand lights inside her heart, and a thousand lights carried her.

The book did get repetitive for me, but I was able to connect with the characters. The book is relatable, no doubt. It’s an experience. But, I do feel it can be a bit forgettable as well. The first half of the book was stronger than the second part of the book. The second half felt a bit rushed.

I keep drinking coffee again and again. I don’t even like it that much anymore, but I can’t stop. It’s like becoming obsessed with someone you don’t even like. It gives you nothing but seems like everything.

As for the romance, it did feel one sided. The girl protagonist was more into her partner, and it felt that her love interest was not reciprocating his feelings back to her. The protagonists found each other by chance. Both characters were experiencing moments of not really feeling their lives until they found each other.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

miriam-michelle

First Impressions: Love Is Like After The Rain | 恋は雨上がりのように Vol. I by Jun Mayuzuki

Manga First Impressions

MAL Synopsis: Akira Tachibana is a soft-spoken high school student who used to be a part of the track and field club but, due to an injury, she is no longer able to run as fast as she once could. Working part-time at a family restaurant as a recourse, she finds herself inexplicably falling love with her manager, a divorced 45-year-old man with a young son.

Despite the age gap, Akira wholeheartedly embraces his mannerisms and kind nature, which is seen as spinelessness by the other employees, and little by little, the two begin to understand each other. Although unable to explain why exactly she is attracted to him, Akira believes that a concrete reason is not needed to truly love someone. On a rainy day, she decides to finally tell her manager about how she feels… But just how will he react?

*The Goodreads Synopsis is not that good compared to the MAL Synopsis*

I stumbled upon Love Is Like After The Rain while browsing for new manga to read online. I really liked the cover art and read the synopsis. Yes, I understand that the manga might be taboo. The main protagonist is Akira Tachibana who is still in high school and has fallen for a man who is old enough to be her father. I was intrigued, and was still hesitant to read it because I was worry that this was going to be a perversive love story. I still ended up reading Love is Like After The Rain and I really like it.

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Akira is not giving the time nor day for this guy.

Akira is popular among the boys, but she has no interest in them. She often tends to be alone in class and avoid any situations that will put her in awkward situations. One thing is for certain and that is that she loves working at her job. In this first volume there are glimpses of how Akira came to work for her manager. She used to be a track and field star but injured herself and quit her team because of it. I have a feeling that later on in the story it is going to be revealed what cause her injury. I even suspect that once she quit track and field that she had might have ghosted her other team members and lost friendships.

The first volume has comedy, but it focuses more on Akira observing the life around her. What I really liked is how her manager misinterprets Akira’s behavior. Akira might look cold and angry, but she is the complete opposite of that. Based on this first volume, the love is one sided. The manager does care for Akira and even goes out of his way to help her, but are the feelings there for Akira yet? Not in this volume. Am I a fan of the potential romance? At this moment, I can say no. I do believe the more Akira gets to know her manager more, feelings will develop but I honestly believe that as a couple they won’t be endgame. I feel that by the last volume they might end up with completely different people. Who knows, I might be completely wrong and they might end up together living happily ever after. As for now, I’ll continue reading the manga just to see what happens in this story.

Lastly, this manga is getting an anime adaptation!! 

 

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Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)