Mini Review #15: Ophiuchus

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Ophiuchus by Alexis Leriger de la PlanteNatasha Tara Petrovic (144 pages)

I dig the art style, the mechas, and the elaborate, beautiful flat coloring. I even like the idea of a robot underclass, “builder bots,” rebelling against the higher caste robots, and the basic premise of the story.

But I think the execution was confusing. There was the evil Serpent, then the gods who gifted a weapon to Pyx(?), robots getting corrupted, and so on… The trio got close too fast. The MC was amazed that a character was being nice to her, and I was like you just met them. You don’t know her enough to know if she’s always surly or not. Maybe time was passing quickly, but I didn’t see that distinction.

Overall, I was a little lost with the story, and it was difficult, at times, to decipher whether Sagitta or Pyx was talking. The lore seemed interesting, and it may have worked with better pacing. Like, over two volumes? The artwork was endearing though. Just visually-appealing.

Book review #72: Blackout

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Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton (256 pages)

I like how some of the characters are reoccurring in other short stories, really makes the New York setting feel real. Some stories may not blow you away, but I acknowledge it’s very hard to set up a romance with convincing characters and chemistry in only a few pages. Overall, not a bad collection.

Looking forward to the Netflix series for this!

The Long Walk (3.5 stars)
I liked this one. It’s one of those “lack of communication ruins everything” stories … but fun. Tammi and Kareem were interesting, and I wanted to know what caused their fallout so badly. Ms. Jackson has this tendency to slowly feed you the plot in her stories (Monday’s Not Coming, Grown, etc). It’s annoying lol but certainly one of her author trademarks.

Mask Off (2 stars)
This one was okay, but JJ’s narrative and dialogue felt so unrealistic at times. Maybe he’s got the range for it, I guess but I just don’t believe the average, 16ish boy is going to care about how women should be able to breastfeed in public without scrutiny. Some of the teenaged boys I’ve known would’ve been straining their necks to see a titty pop out.

Made to Fit (4 stars)
As always, I love Woodfolk’s ability to make us care about characters in few words. And her character descriptions? Stellar. The conversations between Nella and Joss flow so easily, even the flirting. Loved how soft Nella was.

All the Great Love Stories … And Dust (2 stars)
This one felt a little dry even though it takes places in a library and involves books. I didn’t care for Tristán. He wasn’t much beyond a ladies’ man. Lana’s insecurities about finding love and worries about growing apart from her friend were relatable.

No Sleep Till Brooklyn (4 stars)
I enjoyed this one. The dialogue/narrative was strong and entertaining, and I definitely understood Kayla’s FOMO (fear of missing out). Love triangle vibes.

Seymour and Grace (3 stars)
Surprisingly gets philosophical. It ends fitting, but I think it could’ve been extended. Not sure if the ladies had word counts for this project.

Have you read this collection? What was your favorite?

Book Review #71: She Memes Well

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She Memes Well: Essays by Quinta Brunson (256 pages)

“Telling [tragic] stories that do not result in action turns those stories into entertainment” (235).

It’s always difficult to rate memoirs (technically, an essay collection) because it’s literally someone’s life, but learning about Quinta’s was very fun and engaging. I really felt that chapter about seeing your parents as humans who make mistakes and don’t have it all together (they have their own insecurities, traumas, life experiences, etc) though you don’t always need to listen to them.

I loved the insight into Quinta’s life and mind. Some chapters are super funny like when a high-school-Quinta and her friends went to a store to buy some razors for a fight or very sobering like the chapter on a family member of hers being murdered and how isolating it felt to experience that. The collection ends with some 2020-centric essays discussing the pandemic, George Floyd, Americans panic-buying, etc. Overall, a very fitting collection!

Book Review #70: Kick the Moon

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Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan (320 pages)

Ehh, this book wasn’t for me. I didn’t like one character, not even the main one, Illyas or his narrative. He wasn’t bad, but I didn’t care about him too much.

Illyas was a bit of a sad sack, being bullied by his “friends, disappointing his dad, and trying to follow his dreams. But he’s soft-hearted and creative. His sister, Shaista, seemed so mean and vapid. I guess from a younger brother’s perspective that might be how he would sum her up, but she felt very flat. Kelly wasn’t that interesting, but I like how she and Illyas got along. In this type of story, usually both parents are unreasonable, but the mother was fine and understanding. I think what I liked most was the struggling friendship between Illyas and Daevon. Daevon had changed for the worse but his remnants of kindness were always there.

This book shows how insidious toxic masculinity can be, and I think it’s relatable with the “decent kid following behind the popular, troublemaker who makes his friend group feel like dirt” storyline. Kick the Moon is full of pop-culture references and slang to season the narrative. Overall, this was not a bad read, but it was not personally enjoyable for me. Once I started it, I wanted to see where it ended though.

SN: Imran didn’t get this gross overnight. He’s compensating for something, trying to fit in, or internalizing the nastiest ills of society for sure. I wanted someone to pop him in the mouth so badly. His head nearly splitting open didn’t humble him.

Book Review #69: A Sign of Affection Vol 1 and 2

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A Sign of Affection Volume 1 by suu Morishita (192 pages)

Oh, wow. Everything about this manga is so adorably cute. I loved the artwork, the sign language, and the international club. It’s also nice to get a story centered around college students.

Itsuomi (love-interest dude) is so tall and a lover of languages. Right now, Yuki, the main character, is just a girl who’s like “why my heart beating like this!?!” lol. But I’m interested in learning more about her. She has such a hyper-focus on the smoothness, elegance, and size of Itsuomi’s hands. Of course, she has to look at them when he’s trying to sign to her, but you can tell when it stops being from necessity to more of a peaked interest.

I didn’t know sign language users could’ve their own distinct styles. In the story, Yuki comments how some characters sign very sharply or strongly. That makes sense. People when they talk have their own distinct styles, so, of course, that applies in all types of communication.

Overall, I’m super excited to read more. ❤ At the end is an interview from the author team, and I’m pleased at the time, research, and care they’ve put into this story thus far.

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A Sign of Affection Volume 2 by suu Morishita (160 pages)

My heart! This series is so cute, and I love how Yuki and Itsuomi’s relationship is blossoming. Love-interest #2 dude, either do something or get out the doggone way lol (though I think Yuki and he would be cute too)! Itsuomi’s probably an easy guy to fall for or whatever, but he makes an EFFORT with Yuki. He’s nice to everyone, but he’s extra special nice to her. Because you know he’s feeling her (at least I think so).

In this volume, Yuki has lunch/dinner at Itsu’s house and it’s so intimate. Itsuomi’s interest is purely speculated at this point, but he’s very good with communicating his feeling or making sure Yuki’s not uncomfortable. I know, the bar is in hell for some male leads, but he’s looking alright for now.

Although I cannot speak to the deaf representation, I’m enjoying what I’m seeing.

Even though this series doesn’t aim to educate, it was an interesting tidbit that Yuki commented families with a deaf member/child don’t always use sign language. In her own family, she relied more so on texting or writing things down or vocalizing.

I’m so here for volume 3!

Book Review #68: The Spy Who Raised Me

The Spy Who Raised Me by Ted Anderson, Gianna Meola (176 pages)

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The premise isn’t a bad idea, but the execution is like using Hello Kitty stickers instead of duct tape. I don’t mind silly or ridiculous stories, but I just didn’t get this one.

Josie’s been drugged and programmed all throughout her life, and the truth comes out after a fateful trip to Paris. But it’s so matter-of-factly. Her mom just owns up to it. While Josie is happy to be in control of her life again, I thought she didn’t have a strong enough reaction to basically being a robot, test dummy.

Also, Josie’s high school friend Zoe is prominently in the story. She doesn’t add much besides a joke or two, but I liked her.

The artwork is very simple and flat-colored. It can feel unfinished, at times, and there are few in-between shots of movement. But I liked the reddish-peach color scheme.

If you just want something fast-paced, action-packed, and nonsensical, then this isn’t a bad option. Just don’t expect to understand anything or connect with the characters on a deep level.

Book Review #67: Your Corner Dark

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall (384 pages)

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This was a bit of a rollercoaster emotionally, at least for me, because I was so upset to see Frankie pulled into some gangster-mess. It’s frustrating but also sad with Frankie dealing with his father, his wanting to study in the US, and keeping an eye on his friend Winston.

There are some sparks of romance, but ultimately, it’s in the background until the latter half. The love interest is an artist, but she’s no manic-pixie girl. She does political art and social commentary in her work and is very focused. I also loved that Frankie wanted to be an engineer. The few moments we see Frankie’s analytical mind work is well-done.

In this story, the familial relationships drew me in. I loved learning about Frankie’s Uncle Joe (who I want to stomp out!) and his Aunt Jenny. The relationship between Frankie and Samson, his father, was so interesting to me. I just wanted to know more about their strained interactions and how things were before Frankie’s mom passed.

Overall, I have had my fill of street-life and/or drug culture media, but I read this because it was set in Jamaica. A lot of mainstream books are in the US or UK, so it’s a welcome change of pace. I wasn’t aware that political parties got gangs to back them. I thought this was a good page-turner because you know everything’s going to go off the rails, it’s just a matter of when. I couldn’t put this down, so I had to finish this with sleepy, tired eyes in one night.

4.5/5 stars

SN: at times, Frankie seems overly hard on Jamaica, but I understand, when you’re a native of somewhere, you judge it harsher because you live there and understand the nuances.

Book Review #66: Patron Saints of Nothing

“Truth is a hungry thing.” (pg 29)

“There are moments when sharing silence can be more meaningful than filling a space with empty chatter.” (pg 123)

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Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (323 pages)

A thrilling story with a crisp narrative that makes you think and demand change. Patron Saints of Nothing masterfully tackles the bystander who looks at injustice and says nothing. Of course, there are many gut punches and some of the best family moments/dynamics I have seen.

Click to View Spoiler this also acknowledges not to idolize a person/have unrealistic expectations. Jun was basically a good Samaritan/arguably a truly Christlike person, yet he was still human. Every character felt so realistic because people aren’t just black and white. A part of me wishes Jun would’ve died the upstanding radical activist, but him succumbing to drugs is also an interesting angle

Also, best love story that never was!

Click for Spoiler: Pfft… Not Mia and Jay *rolls eyes* I’m talking about Jun and Reyna. ;___; 

5 stars

Book Review #65: Wicked Fox

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This cover! *heart eyes*

Wicked Fox by Kat Cho (429 pages)

Well, this story was emotionally draining. You gotta know that upfront.

Good chemistry/banter between the two leads (2 months tho!?!) and morality, friendship/loneliness, and abandonment issues are baked into a loaf of delicious bread. However, toward the 300-mark the story began to feel so long, and the bread got stale.

I honestly enjoyed reading this before getting burnt out toward the end.

I think Jihoon brought up a good point with not pinning all your love and hope into one person because when they are gone, where does that leave you?

I would read a spin-off about Juun/the dokkaebi, but I’m not sure if I want to continue Miyoung’s journey.

SN: Gorgeous cover. Heads up! There is a Korean glossary at the end of the book, not that you’ll really need it. I wish books would highlight that at the beginning of the book.

Book Review #64: The Meet-Cute Project and The Firekeeper’s Daughter


The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson (384 pages)

I liked this. It was fairly cute and lighthearted. I understand Sam, Mia’s older sister, felt slighted with how lackadaisical their parents got when Mia was born, but she seemed a little too fixated/clingy with her sister, at times. I’m super close with my older brother, but I can’t imagine monitoring his involvement with my wedding that much. As long as you show up, that’s all I need. Maybe it’s different from an older sibling’s perspective? Also, Black families are not a monolith, of course, but, sometimes, the way Grace be talking to her parents. Like??? Is it the Bridezilla effect?

Anyway, the meet-cutes, while predictable were nice. You can see where the story’s heading early on, but I didn’t mind reading it. Mia is fine; she’s a nervous rambler. Mia’s friends weren’t that interesting, but, at least, they could stand up for themselves. I’m glad that friends of the MC are standing up for themselves more often now in YA novels than being mistreated. I also really liked Gavin. 

Click for spoiler sometimes, I thought he got too mad too fast. He didn’t always communicate well, but I think that’s realistic for teens

Overall, I would definitely be on board for this to become a Netflix series. We need some cute YA movies with black leads. ❤

3 stars


Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (496 pages)

This was a good page-turner! Sometimes, I didn’t like Daunis. She seemed a little stuck up toward the hockey girlfriends though she matures over the course of the story. YA protagonists may seem irrational at times, but it’s more realistic for teen/young adults to not have it all together. I really enjoyed the tidbits about grief, forgiveness, and family.  I wondered why the story was set from 2004 – 2005. It was easily forgettable until a Blackberry of Superbowl 2004 halftime performance mention, you know.

Click for spoiler I LOVED the healthy ending conversation between Daunis and Jamie.

While the final reveal was fun, the “villians” seemed a little cartoony/too good to be true. Still, this is worth a read.

CW: Sexual assault (not detailed), of course, references to drugs

4 stars

Have you read either or both of these books? What did you think?