Thursday, June 6, 2024

Manga Review: Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 2

Title: Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu Volume 2
by Natsuya Semikawa, Virginia Nitouhei
Genre: Food; Manga
Publication Date: December 11, 2018
Publisher: Udon Entertainment

Japanese-style pub “Nobu” is open for business in an odd, foreign world, and the ever-welcoming Shinobu and Chief are happy to serve up unusually tasty bar food to an array of strange customers. A little thief, an obnoxious messenger, and a pair of squabbling craftsmen are all ready to chow down! Kisu tempura, sashimi, omusoba, and shuto and more are on the menu... The delicious aromas of food and drink bring everyone together in this gourmet tale of humanity!


 *I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.*

Hello Fellow Readers, 

I loved the first volume of Otherworldly Izakaya Nobu, so it's no surprise that I also loved this one. There is just something wholesome and comforting about this manga that just lures me and makes me devour it. I love the way the food is described and I love the reactions from the characters and we get to go more in detail with this fantasy world that Semikawa has built. I think I was more excited about the world than the food, and I can't wait to read more and find out more about this world. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Book Review: You're Embarrassing Yourself: Stories of Love, Lust, and Movies


Title: You're Embarrassing Yourself
Author: Desiree Akhavan
Genre: Humor; Memoir; Short Stories
Publication Date: August 13, 2024
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Writer, actor, and director Desiree Akhavan shares the stories she was told to shut up about—hilarious, horny, heartbreaking tales of a life in pursuit of art, love, and the metabolism of Kate Moss circa 1995.

There was a time before shame. A time of POGS, Tamagotchis and the Macarena. When birthday party invites were a given, books came with charm necklaces, and whoever was in your class was automatically a friend. Then puberty hit and everything went weird.When it comes to shame, Desiree Akhavan knows what she’s talking about—whether it’s winning the title of The Ugliest Girl at her high school, acquiescing to the nose job she was lovingly forced into by her Iranian parents, or losing her virginity to a cokehead she met in a support group for cutters. 

In You're Embarrassing Yourself, Desiree goes to the rawest places—the lifelong struggle to be at peace in one’s body, the search for home as the child of immigrants, the anxious underbelly of artistic ambition—in pursuit of wisdom, catharsis, and lolz. Equal parts funny and heartfelt, these seventeen essays chart an artist’s journey from outcast to overnight indie darling, to (somewhat) self-aware adult woman. The result is a collection that captures the pathetic lows and euphoric highs of our youth—and how to survive them


*I received an advance review copy for free and I am leaving this review voluntarily.*

Hello Fellow Readers,

Have you ever felt there was someone so relatable to yourself despite just being completely different than them? That's how I felt with Desiree Akhavan's book You're Embarrassing Yourself. Once I started reading this I couldn't stop, Akhavan is funny and witty, yet so honest and emotionally raw. I couldn't imagine barring myself in such an intimate way yet it seems to have been so effortlessly done here. There are so many highlights on my Kindle with this book. I felt like I was highlighting something on every page.

I also felt very connected to Akhavan (not in a stalkerish way...) even though we led completely different lives her words just resonated with me in a way that most memoirs don't. I enjoyed the open honesty in which she writes and the way she interjects humor on even heavier topics. 

Overall, one of my favorite reads so far. 

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Book Review: A New Doctor at Orchard Cottage Hospital by Lizzie Lane


Title: A New Doctor at Orchard Cottage Hospital
Author: Lizzie Lane
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: May 23, 2024
Publisher: Boldwood Books

A country town in need of a good Doctor, but will they accept her as one of their own?

Somerset, March 1930
Born in the workhouse and adopted by a former suffragette, Frances Brakespeare was encouraged from an early age to be strong, independent and to pursue a career as a doctor. The tragic loss of the love of her life in the Great War propels Frances to commit to her one true vocation.

Rebelling against the unfair treatment of female doctors Frances is dismissed from her London post and things continue to take a turn for the worse when Izzy, her benefactress dies and Frances finds herself homeless.

With no employment or roof over her head her future seems uncertain until she’s offered a residency at the Orchard Cottage Hospital in Norton Dene, Somerset. a town where quarrying and coal mining scar the land.

It’s a far cry from London and towns narrow minds are not so welcoming of a young, female Doctor, but she’s determined to win through.

At first sight the town seems quaintly old fashioned, a place where nothing much happens but there are secrets and sins bubbling beneath the surface plus a mystery she's determined to solve.


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

I love strong female characters and Lizzie Lane's newest series is fill to the brim with them. The main character Francis will not let sexism and misogyny get in the way of her morals or keep her from being a doctor. After standing up for herself Frances loses her job at a hospital in London. To avoid homelessness and poverty she accepts residency at a small cottage hospital. Of course, not everyone is happy about her new position.

 Honestly, there were so many great characters it was hard to choose who I liked the best. They were all unique, but still strong in their own ways. I do know who I absolutely disliked with a burning hot passion, I won't spoil it but if you read the book you will know exactly whom I am talking about. I love how Lane portrays her characters, even the villains, they are all just so complex and will have you turning the page to get more. The ending did feel rushed to me, I felt like it messed with the pacing of the book.

Overall, a strong start to, hopefully, a strong series. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Book Review: Flirty Little Secrets by Jessica Lepe


Title: Flirty Little Secret
Author: Jessica Lepe
Genre: Mental Health; Romance
Publication Date: March 19, 2024
Publisher: Forever

School counselor Lucy Galindo has a secret.

To her coworkers, friends, and even family, she’s shy, sweet, and constantly struggling to hold off disaster (read: manage her anxiety and depression). But online? She’s bold, confident, and always knows what to say—it’s how she’s become the wildly popular @TheMissGuidedCounselor. It’s also why she keeps her identity anonymous. Her followers would never trust the real Lucy with their problems.

History teacher Aldrich Fletcher thought a new job would give him some relief from his drama-filled family. Instead, he’s dodging his ex-girlfriend and pining over his new co-worker—who only ever seems to see him at his worst. Thankfully, he can count on his online confidant for advice . . . until he discovers @TheMissGuidedCounselor is Lucy.

Now Fletcher has a secret too. And while Lucy can’t deny there’s something between them, she’s not sure she can trust him. Can they both find the courage to share the truth and step out from behind their screens?


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Reader,

I was afraid I wouldn't like this as Flirty Little Secret started a bit slow, but the more I read the more I fell in love with Lucy and Fletcher's relationship. Lucy is so loveable and real, that I immediately connected to her. On Instagram, @TheMissGuidedCounselor is self-assured and confident giving much-needed wisdom and advice to her followers, one of which we learn is Fletcher. We can't always trust what gets portrayed on social media because in real life @TheMissGuidedCounselor is Lucy. Lucy would hate it if her followers actually learned who she really was, she feels like a mess, struggling with anxiety and depression while also trying to manage her ADHD, Lucy feels like a lie. 

The romance was sweet and I liked how it progressed through the book, Fletcher was okay and I always love nice guy MMCs, but it was Lucy who really made things shine, and I really liked how Lepe portrayed Mental health issues, which honestly was not something I expected but appreciated. There were a couple of things that made this a little hard to read like the whole complication with Georgia felt unnecessary and not needed. Also, how high schoolers were portrayed gave Steve Buscemi's "How Do You Do, Fellow Kids' meme energy. 

Overall a good mental health representation and romance. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Graphic Novel Review: Dandelion by Sabir Pirzada


Title: Dandelion
Creator: Sabir Pirzada
Illustrators: Martin Morazzo; Vanesa Del Rey
Genre: Comic; Graphic Novel; Science Fiction
Publication Date: June 25, 2024
Publisher: Image

Nomadland meets Mad Max in this anthology featuring stunning artwork by Martin Morazzo (ICE CREAM MAN), Vanesa Del Rey (REDLANDS), and more!

When climate change and automation disrupt the lives of millions, a new civilization is formed in the skies—one that threatens the wealthy citizens who’ve been hoarding Earth’s meager resources for themselves.

From Sabir Pirzada, writer of Marvel Studios’ Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel TV series, comes a bold vision of the future!


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

To be honest with you, I am having a hard time gathering my thoughts about Dandelion. The Premise is interesting and I've always been a fan of science fiction, especially in graphic novels, but something fell flat for me. I can't pinpoint where it may have been the flow of the stories that really tripped me up. I don't need them to be linear, and I like it when stories are told in parts as it leaves me turning the page to find out more. 

The stories had me feeling disjointed as if they were randomly placed rather than done with purpose. I could have really enjoyed the message of Dandelion if it was done differently. Unfortunately, what that way is I couldn't tell you which, I think, is why I am feeling so conflicted. The art is stunning though and I really enjoyed the differences of each scene. 

Overall, I think it's okay but fell a little flat with its message. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Book Review: House on Highland Road by Melissa Peters


Title: House on Highland Road
Series: Salvation Hills Haunting #1
Author: Melissa Peters
Genre: Mystery; Paranormal; Supernatural; Young Adult
Publication Date: October 1, 2023

Lanie Gilbert, aka Riley Miller, is living a lie. She is the lie. She’s adrift, run away from home and losing her mind. Or so she thinks. Living out of her car, with winter looming, her time in Salvation Hills is almost up. But then she meets them.

Ghost hunters—Mason, Bethy, and Conrad. They draw her into their strange world where floorboards creak and spirits threaten her life. And then there’s Nat, their psychic friend who sees something in her, besides the truth.

Will a dark night in a haunted house be just what Lanie needs? Or will it be her undoing?

House on Highland Road is a YA cozy horror novel filled with bumps in the night, apparitions, and found family. This series will appeal to all ages, including fans of the paranormal and shows like Ghost Whisperer.


*I received an advanced digital copy for free and I am leaving this honest review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

Lately, I've been in a little paranormal kick and House on Highland Road did a great job at temporarily scratching that itch. I really felt for Lanie and I wanted above all else for her to be safe and happy at the end of this book (and this series). Her backstory breaks my heart and you all know I am a sucker for children with a troubled family. Add everything about Riley and Lanie immediately had my loyalty. 

I honestly didn't know what to think about MAson Conrad and Bethy, at first. I eventually warmed up to Conrad and Bethy, even going as far as enjoying their interactions with Lanie. Peters did have me worried that Mason would become Lanie's love interest and I was not going to be a fan of that, however, Peters made the right decision on the romance aspect. Nat was great and it looks like she'll be around and helping Lanie out in the future. I really can't wait to see how that relationship grows. The story was interesting and I liked the small sections that gave us a historical perspective. 

Overall, an interesting start that has caught my attention. 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Book Review: The Wolf's Curse by Alex Gates

Title: The Wolf's Curse
Series: Reapers Reborn Chronicles #1
Author: Alex Gates
Genre: Fantasy; Paranormal; Supernatural; Werewolves; Witches
Publication Date: February 19, 2024

Doryan Miller's life takes an otherworldly turn when he finds himself joining a team of supernatural misfits.

Meet Doryan, a man with the strange gift of chatting with the dearly departed. For most of his life, the dead have kept him company as he wandered across the country. But then, without warning, he's thrust into a world where werewolves roam and ancient magic exists.

He's recruited by Project Phoenix, a secret squad of individuals led by the enigmatic Erik Haller. Their mission? Hunt down things that go bump in the night and keep humanity safe from the forces of darkness… but their first gig is no simple paranormal pest control. They're tracking a werewolf, and this shapeshifter isn't your average furry friend.

As the boundaries between reality and the supernatural blur, it's a race against time for "Project Phoenix." Can they stop the beast before it sinks its claws into more victims?


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

 I was curious about this book after reading the synopsis. Doryan seems like such an interesting character and his ability to interact with spirits and the Phoenix Project had me immediately picking this up to read. I was glad that I was correct about Doryan. He seems to be a very unique character and individual and the way he handles everything makes him feel real. The other characters were okay. I liked that the 'muscle' Adria was female (although, a little too 'not like other girls' she even mentions how she doesn't get along with them). The plot was okay but I feel like there was just too much crammed into this book, at times it just felt like too much. I know that the first book is a setup for the series but it's okay to slow down and let things progress as the bigger story unfolds.

Overall, an interesting start but a little too jam-packed. 

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Book Review: Kosa by John Durgin

Title: Kosa
Author: John Durgin
Genre: Horror; Retelling; Witches
Publication Date: May 17, 2024
Publisher: DarkLit Press

In a secluded mansion hidden away from the outside world, young Kosa lives under the strict and overpowering rule of her enigmatic mother. For Kosa, the rules set by Mother are the guiding principles of her life, shaping her beliefs and actions. She has been sheltered from the truth about the world beyond the confines of their home, conditioned to fear the darkness and malevolence that supposedly lurks outside.

However, as Kosa grows older, she begins to question the reality she has been presented with. Doubts eat away at her, fueled by a deep-rooted curiosity and a burgeoning sense of independence.

But Kosa possesses a mysterious and powerful ability that Mother desperately needs to sustain her own existence. Mother, a figure shrouded in shadows and secrets, will stop at nothing to ensure that Kosa’s power remains potent and under her control. The sinister grasp that Mother has on Kosa becomes increasingly suffocating as she tightens her grip, isolating Kosa further from the truth that exists beyond their home.

In this dark and captivating tale, Kosa’s journey unravels the intricacies of control, the strength of one’s convictions, and the true nature of the world beyond the shadows. The choices she makes will not only determine her fate but also influence the fate of those around her.



*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

I may be dumb because when I first read the synopsis I didn't put together that this was a Rapunzel retelling, it was only as I was reading it, that it clicked in my brain. I love Horror fairy tale retellings, I was a big fan of the Grimm fairy tales as a child, and I am always seeking that spine-tingling, bone-chilling feeling I had with those fairy tales. 'Kosa' hits those marks, and more. From the beginning, Durgin hits you with dark tension that weaves and builds leaving you turning the page for more. 

Kosa, the character, is so tragic. There's a lot that happens to her in this book that you can't believe she goes through, so if you are sensitive to certain things like body horror or child abuse you may want to stay away from this. Durgin does an amazing job of making you care about her, and root for her to at least make it out alive. This is a Rapunzel retelling so there is a lot of magical (and horror) stuff involving hair some of which I would have never thought about. 

Overall, a great horror story and a perfect lights-off, late-night read. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Graphic Novel: An Outbreak: A Graphic Novel of the Salem Witch Trials


Title: An Outbreak of Witchcraft
Author: Deborah Noyes
Illustrator: M. Duffy
Genre: Graphic Novel; Nonfiction
Publication Date: June 4, 2024
Publisher: Little, Brown Ink

A gripping tale of paranoia at its worst, An Outbreak of Witchcraft visually imagines the haunting details of the Salem witch trials in this bewitching narrative nonfiction graphic novel.

From 1692 to 1693, fear reigned in the small village of Salem, Massachusetts. The night Abigail Williams and Betty Paris first accused their servant of witchcraft was only the beginning.

Several more accusations would follow suit, sparking a widespread panic that consumed Salem in one of the longest cases of witch trials in America, where more than twenty innocent lives were lost, and mistrust ran amok.

The community was in ruins, from the afflicted who fanned the flames of superstition to the judges who used their power unjustly and the accused who were falsely charged and hanged in consequence. In the absence of due process and with hysteria abounding, no one in Salem was safe.

Journey into how it all began in this arresting, true-to-life look at how lies became facts, friends turned to foes, and loved ones turned to enemies.


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

An Outbreak of Witchcraft was such an interesting take on the Salem witch trials, but also horrifying when you remember halfway through that this isn't a fictional tale. The dialogue in some parts may be embellished but these were real people. This was a real event that happened in our history. Noyes must be an amazing researcher because they did an amazing job at recounting incidents. I will admit that history has never been my strong suit and I don't typically search it out but Noyes made me pay attention. Duffy also did a great job bringing life to each character. I could almost feel the hysteria and fear roll off the pages.

Overall, I can't wait to see what else these two have in store. 

Monday, March 25, 2024

Graphic Novel Review: How to Baby: A No-Advice-Given Guide to Motherhood, with Drawings

Title: How to Baby
Author: Liana Finck
Genre: Graphic Novel; Humor
Publication Date: April 30, 2024
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

A wryly personal and deeply relatable graphic memoir skewering the “traditional” parenting book to chronicle the absurdities, frustrations, and soaring joys of new parenthood--from the acclaimed New Yorker cartoonist and author

How do you know if you’re ready to have a baby? How do you know if you might be pregnant? And how do you deal with peeing all the time and being hungry all the time and fielding well-meaning but kind of insulting advice and finding a doula and being dropped by your old friends and learning why it’s called mom brain and not dad brain and the tyranny of the milestones you’re not meeting and negotiating boundaries with in-laws and realizing that your heart now exists outside of your chest and in the body of this tiny little being whose entire existence depends on the quality of your care?

To tackle these questions and many others, award-winning cartoonist and memoirist Liana Finck began illustrating her early years of motherhood, giving images and language to her insecurities, frustrations, and wild joy.


*I received a copy of this book digitally for free and am leaving this review voluntarily*

Hello Fellow Readers,

Finck's book is not only extremely funny, but it's very relatable for me. In case you're wondering (Probably not) I am a mother to a toddler. That's what consumes my life right now. I didn't know that I needed to read (along with drawings) someone else to show me that they go through the same thing, it makes the loneliness of motherhood feel not so stifling. I really enjoyed the drawings in How to Baby, while not the most detailed it added to the ridiculousness and humor of it. 

Finck talks about all things baby, from conception to birth, to the insane pressure society puts on women to fit into the mom bubble while praising fathers for the bare minimum (or to simplify 'The Double Standard). It's all done in a very tongue-in-cheek way. This book will make you laugh and nod a long while constantly thinking 'That's exactly how it feels' 

Overall, a delightful book for mothers or future mothers (or people who maybe just want to laugh at motherhood?)