#T5W: Books You’re Thankful For

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

November 22nd: Books You’re Thankful For
–For whatever reason, big or small.

In no particular order, and not only books because I couldn’t leave my favorite anime out:

Captive Prince

For its love story and all the collateral effects (all positive) that reading it had on my life.

Throne of Glass

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And more specifically Empire of Storms, for a scene that unblocked years of suppressed emotions at the time I needed it.

Harry Potter

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For being my friend in high school.

All for the Game

For telling me I’m not a monster when I was afraid I was one.

Yuri!!! On Ice

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For Yuuri, Victor, Yuri and Otabek, and for more reasons than I could ever write here.

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Comic review: Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat and Johanna the Mad

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Original cover by Johanna the Mad and variant cover by Kevin Wada (the photo doesn’t show my SIGNED COPY* because it’s not here yet but thank you Laura for getting me one ♥         *you have to read “signed copy” in a very high pitched voice

★★★★

You might or might not remember this post I wrote when this comic was first announced, and now months later I can’t believe I’m already reviewing the first issue. Most importantly for my ego, I was right on all points.

If you’ve ever read or watched any sports manga or anime, this is a comic for you. If you’re lgbt+, this is for you.

Plot:
Fence follows Nicholas Cox in his dream of making it into the fencing world. His passion is driven by more than just the love for the sport, and this is what helps the reader sympathize with him even if fencing is something completely new to them (like it is for me).

Nicholas is only sixteen but he worked hard for the chance to be taught to fence, and when he finally enters his first tournament he’s introduced to other fencers apparently for the first time. Among them is Seiji Katayama, whom everyone else seems to fear, and for a reason.

Their first encounter leaves Nicholas even more determined to finally enter a fencing school where he can be properly taught, because raw talent won’t get him anywhere. Six months later, he’s shown on his first day at Kings Row, a boys school he’s only able to attend thanks to a scholarship that depends on his making the fencing team, and a surprise is waiting for him there.

Characters:
Nicholas is a very determined character, who will do whatever it takes to achieve his dream. His struggles are relatable and real and they stick with the reader. Even in just around twenty pages it’s impossible not to care about him, also thanks to a couple of flashbacks.

Seiji is quite frankly an asshole so far and I can only love him for it. This is C.S. Pacat we’re talking about, so I’m expecting a hell of a backstory regarding the hard work that got Seiji to be where he is now.

In general:
This a very Japanese-like first issue of a comic that will (hopefully!!!) lead us on a long journey into the fencing world and the main characters’ relationships. It sets the tone for the rest of the series: tension, humor, diversity and queerness.

When it comes to diversity, it’s already very promising even just by looking at the background characters, and even though we still haven’t met them all on the page, we already know from the previews of all the main characters that they’re all diverse and unique.

The queerness isn’t strong in this one yet, but that’s perfect. Think of all your favorite sports comics/anime. I’m thinking Check, Please! and Yuri!!! On Ice. The queerness is just there and it’s just another part of the characters’ lives, just like the sport they love is. These are the kind of queer stories I love to read, and that’s why Fence will appeal to all LGBT+ readers. It promises a broad spectrum of sexualities and gender identities, paired with diversity and a story about passion that we can all identify ourselves with. Its very existence challenges a world of male white allocishetism, as a comic written by a queer and genderqueer person and drawn by a Mexican artist, who have put pieces of themselves into it.

I definitely cannot wait for the next issue to come out and I’m loving how big of a reach this already seems to have. Definitely get on it if you were hesitant because of its hype: the hype was real and it was 100% justified.

Also, make sure to check out Laura’s Q&A with CS Pacat at the launch party for a few extra infos on characters and plot!

 

Talk to me!

Have you read Fence? Will you? Are you excited for it?

#T5W: Favorite SFF Cover Art

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

May 3rd: Favorite SFF Cover Art *Booktube SFF Awards Crossover Topic*
— Show off some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy cover art!

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There are many more covers that I love but these were some of my favorite off the top of my head. It’s too bad I don’t own any of them in physical form (they’re all on my kindle and Daughter of Smoke and Bone doesn’t even have that cover but I love that edition). Although I did see The Darkest Part of the Forest in a bookstore the other day and I almost bought it even though it was in Italian and I can’t guarantee I won’t go back and actually buy it since it was one of the best surprises I’ve had this year reading-wise.

Fortunately they’re also all books I loved, except for Flame in the Mist, which was just okay and I’ll review soon.

What are some of your favorite Science Fiction or Fantasy covers? And does the actual content live up to the cover?

#T5W: Favorite Angsty Romances

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic:

March 22nd- Favorite Angsty Romances
–This topic has been much requested! Talk about your favorite ships that have a healthy side of angst. (definition: adj.: describes a situation or literary piece which contains dark, depressing, angry, and/or brooding emotions from the participating characters.)

I know for some of us seeing the names of the couples in a book/series might classify as a spoiler, so if you don’t want to know about those don’t read this post (I’m going against my interest here but hey, I’d never want to spoil anyone).

So, POTENTIAL SPOILERS BELOW!!!


If you’re still reading, I managed to round up five series where I feel like the romance plays an important role, but they’re not strictly classified as romance. I’ve just never found an actual romance book to be as angsty as some of the romances that are built in books that classify as fantasy.

Damen and Laurent (Captive Prince)

If you know me a bit, you’ll know this is my favorite series. It features a lot of political intrigue, but it’s extremely romance-heavy, and let me tell you, it’s so angsty and slow-burning it almost physically hurts.

Neil and Andrew (All for the Game)

Okay, this is the only series in this post that is not actually fantasy, but it’s not classified as romance either. And it should’t, because the romance is so slow-burning you don’t see it happen until…well, until it happens (unless you’re re-reading and then you see all the signs). As for the angst, boy, it’s there alright.

Kaz and Inej (Six of Crows)

Many of you have read this duology, so you probably know why the way the romance between Kaz and Inej develops is extremely angsty. To say more would be really spoilery for those of you who haven’t read this, so I’ll just say your heart will break a little bit every time you find out some new piece of information about both characters.

Arin and Kestrel (The Winner’s Trilogy)

One of the easiest way to achieve angst in a romance is make it a tale about forbidden love. This is exactly what happens in this series, and the romance between the MCs is constantly hindered throughout the series for different reasons (none of those are the cliched-miscommunication that often happens in contemporary romances). This is another romance that really hurts.

Karou and Akiva (Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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This is another case of forbidden love, for different reasons and on a completely different level than TWT. The romance starts out pretty heavy in the first book, but as the characters grow and worlds expand, and the series becomes so much more.


I have a question: do you prefer an angsty romance or a “smooth” one? I think for me the most memorable ones are the angsty ones, but once in a while I need something easily shippable and that doesn’t hurt me in the process of reading it.

#T5W: Favorite Science Fiction & Fantasy Books

Top Five Wednesday is a book meme that Lainey started and I discovered through the lovely Samantha‘s videos. If you’re interested you can join the goodreads group to get the topics for each week.

This week’s topic seems pretty easy, right? And yet here I am cringing because I had to leave out some of my favorites. For the purpose of this post, I only chose fantasy books where magic plays a role. There are other books I adore *coughs*CaptivePrince*coughs* that can be classified as fantasy because they take place in fictional worlds but don’t have magic in them, so I decided to leave them out. *clutches heart*

In no particular order:

Six of Crows

I’m pretty sure everybody has read this series, and it’s one I fell in love with from the first pages of Six of Crows. I not only love the story and the characters, but also I fell in love with the world it’s set in (which I was already familiar with because I read the Grisha trilogy before this).

A Darker Shade of Magic

I finished reading this series not even a week ago but I knew from book one that it was going to be one of my favorites. It has simply everything I look for in a series, and I’m still trying to collect my thoughts in order to write individual reviews on my goodreads and a series review here.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

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I talked a lot about this series, and I can’t recommend it enough. I loved the writing, the story, the characters, and the way the world(s) in it seemed to expand progressively with each book, thanks to the multiple PoV narrative.

Throne of Glass

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Admittedly, there are a lot of issues with this series. I myself am annoyed with the protagonist and think she hasn’t done nearly enough character development (especially considering that she’s had 6 books to grow), but the fact is that this series has given me so much (and in fact it’s one of the first fantasy series I read in English), and even though I don’t fully like some of the MCs anymore, there’s an amazing cast of secondary (by the 6th books they’re not even secondary anymore) characters. It’s a world I grew really attached to and it will always have a special place in my heart.

The Raven Cycle

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Reading The Raven Cycle has been one of the best things that’s happened to my last year. When I read, I care about characters much much much more than about the plot, and this series is ALL about characters and their individual development, as well as the way their relationships develop. Plus, I found the writing really resonated with me, and I’m planning to reread as soon as I can.

Thanks for reading!

Have you read these series? What are your favorite fantasy or scifi books?

Webcomic review: Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

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★★★★

Some of my favorite stories feature a good amount of angst, moral greyness and Bad Things, and I honestly don’t think I could ever give that up.
But sometimes you need to immerse yourself in a world that’s positive and that shows you that good things can exist, and not everything has to be complicated (irl and in literature) to be good.

Check, Please! is the book comic that has reminded me of this.

There is only one key word here: healthy.
This is by no means set in a fictional world where Bad Things don’t happen, but they (have) happen(ed) off-screen and the relationships portrayed are actual goals.

The story follows Bittle, ex figure skater (can you hear my heartbeat?) turned hockey player, as he joins his new university team. Everyone on the team is all kinds of ‘swawsome (that’s a word) and they make him feel welcome.
Later on, love blooms between the protagonist and one of his teammates and the way their relationship is shown could be renamed “Healthy relationship 101”. It shows all kinds of different situation that normally (in most media) would be the origin of some drama, and instead turns them into a teaching moment (without being patronizing). Because, guess what, most situations are easily dealt with through communication!

That’s basically what this whole story is, it’s obviously very character driven (I live for those) and it can fill your whole day with positivity, which is only a good thing until you’re forced to face reality again.

Other things I loved were both the art (it’s just so adorable and colorful and every drawing has a ton of tiny details – I’m sure it takes a lot of time to draw each one!) and the humor (even though sometimes it references something of American culture -I suppose?- that I’m not familiar with, so I don’t get every single joke, but it didn’t bother me).

Oh, have I mentioned the story is completely free on Tumblr?? It’s also not over yet (this review is written after the episode “Dinner at Marty’s?”) and I absolutely can’t wait to read the next update!
If this ever goes into printing I’m also definitely buying it because this artist deserves to be supported.

(Also I first found out about this comic thanks to Jess @ beaucoupbooks so I want to publicly thank her for bringing it to my attention ♥)

Review: Peter Darling by Austin Chant

I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.

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★★★★

Release date: today! (Feb. 15th, 2017)

Goodreads synopsis:

Ten years ago, Peter Pan left Neverland to grow up, leaving behind his adolescent dreams of boyhood and resigning himself to life as Wendy Darling. Growing up, however, has only made him realize how inescapable his identity as a man is.

But when he returns to Neverland, everything has changed: the Lost Boys have become men, and the war games they once played are now real and deadly. Even more shocking is the attraction Peter never knew he could feel for his old rival, Captain Hook—and the realization that he no longer knows which of them is the real villain.

TW: suicide attempt, improper use of personal pronouns (I don’t know if the latter counts as triggering but better safe than sorry?).

Let me get something out of my system first of all:
W
O
W
Okay, now that that’s out of the way: wow. I was completely blown away by this short book, which was a couple of firsts for me: mainly first trans story and first Peter Pan retelling.

Actually, I have to admit I didn’t know the first thing about Peter Pan, that is, if you don’t count the Disney cartoon, which I’m going to assume is not a very accurate representation (and even though I loved that cartoon as a kid, I kind of grew to hate it and its story over time).
Despite this, the premise of this book sounded like something right up my alley, and I’m glad to confirm that it was indeed a perfect book for me.

I just love retellings that turn the stories upside down and make them new with refreshing ideas, and the fact that in this book Peter’s assigned identity was Wendy made me click that request button on Netgalley so freaking fast.

As always when I’m feeling so hyped about a book, I’m also really scared once I do get to sit down and read it. What were my particular fears for this one?

– since it’s such a short book, I was really afraid that the romance (or the whole story) would have felt rushed (I was really dreading the much-hated insta-love);
– I thought that not knowing the original story would make me like this book less.

Well, I’m glad to say that both fears had no ground to exist.

First of all I want to address the pacing of this book: it’s only 140 pages short, so I really thought there would no room for things like subtlety and introspection, but it managed to give me both of those, together with everything I look for in both a fantasy and a romantic book.

The fantasy: while the essence of Neverland’s magic itself wasn’t explained, there was a very satisfying explanation for at least part of the things that happened there (it’s kind of a plot twist so I won’t go into detail)
I also loved how the fairies were described as having different shapes and colors and the role they played in the story (they mainly served to move the plot forward but they were also interesting enough that I was genuinely curious to find out more about them), and the other mythical creatures like the merpeople and the kraken were such good additions to this story.

Peter’s backstory: having read the blurb, one already knows who Peter used to be, but it’s something that gets gradually revealed in the first part of the book, and in a very delicate way, at least in my opinion. I know the author is trans himself so I trust him to have done a good job in this particular aspect. Not having experienced the struggle of a trans person, I still found myself crying in certain parts of the book and I felt real pain whenever Peter’s brothers or parents called him with his birth name and used the female pronouns to talk to/about him.
As per author’s decision, there is no big reveal/coming out between Peter and Hook, and I think that worked out amazingly.

Peter realized he was waiting for some kind of probing curiosity in return-some remark on what Peter sounded like, or worse on his body-but James’s only encroachment on the subject was to say, “Your shirt has seen better days. Would you like one of mine? Assuming all my clothes haven’t been eaten by moths.”
All at once it became easier to breathe. “Yes,” Peter said. “Please.”

The romance: let me demonstrate in .gif form my feelings about the romance:
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You can’t expect me to be rational about my absolute favorite romantic trope (enemies to lovers). Plus we all know I have a thing for pirates, right? Right.

“I win,” he panted, grinning. He slowely lowered his sword to aim at Hook’s heart. One thrust, and it would be over. Peter wet his lips with his tongue. “This is it. You’re mine.”
“Am I?” Hook asked, as Peter drew back his sword. “Or are you mine?”

This romance was perfect and healthy. It wasn’t too sudden or rushed, I genuinely felt like it had reason to exist and I loved everything about it.
For example, I love how Hook seems to understand Peter in that way that sometimes only your enemies tend to do.

“I find that enemies are the most satisfying people to share secrets with,” Hook said. “If you must tell someone, tell someone who’s sensitive to all your vulnerabilities, on account of trying to exploit them.”
“That doesn’t make sense.”
“I’m making excuses for you,” Hook said impatiently. “You seem like the type to bottle up without an excuse.”

Both my BR partner and I were squealing so hard and honestly I’m glad I wasn’t reading this alone because I was in serious need to vent my feels™ about these two.

“Obsession?”
“Is that not what they call it,” Hook said, “when two men can think of nothing but each other?”

Other things I enjoyed:

The pacing: it was mostly consistent throughout the book and, while I noticed that things were kept as brief and as necessary as possible, it didn’t impact my reading experience (I’m one who usually prefers a slower pace). There was even some room for exploring a little bit of a secondary character (Ernest) and I quite enjoyed that.

The (eventual) dual PoV: if we don’t count the prologue, we get some chapters from Hook’s PoV only after The Twist happens, and I think that decision was spot-on. I really think his PoV allowed us to enjoy the romance a lot more and to see Peter under a different light.

The last thing I want to say is that this was a perfect story to read on Valentine’s Day ♥

As you can see I loved loved  l o v e d  this book and I’ll make sure to keep an eye on the author’s next works.