Review: Bingo Love by Tee Franklin (Author), Jenn St-Onge (Artist), Joy San (Colorist), Cardinal Rae (Letterer)


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 20 February 2018

Publisher: Image Comics

Category: Graphic Novel/Romance/LGBT+ (Lesbian/Pansexual)

When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage.

From TEE FRANKLIN (NAILBITER’s “THE OUTFIT,” Love is Love) and JENN ST-ONGE (Jem & the Misfits), BINGO LOVE is a touching story of love, family, and resiliency that spans over 60 years.

Rating:  4 Stars

Hazel, or Elle, and Mari meet during a time when it’s was especially difficult to love someone of the same gender. Despite this, a relationship is kindled between the two that sets the foundation for a lasting connection that spans decades.

There’s a lot of questioning going on in the story, particularly for Elle in her later years, as she decides what to do regarding her husband and family of over fifty years when Mari reappears in her life. The situation is a difficult one: what to do, what to say, how to handle her own feelings versus those of the people around it. Some scenes are more difficult to read than others because I felt a stomach pinch, sympathizing with Elle as she debated these paths.

We don’t see too much of Mari’s side of the story, whether she struggled with questioning her sexuality or her life. There are a few lines when Elle asks her questions about her choice to leave her husband so willingly, but these are next to nothing throwaway lines and we never see him or get any real sense of Mari’s life during her and Elle’s time apart.

There’s some technology mentioned near the end of the story used to cope with what I believe is Alzheimer’s that was interesting, if potentially heartbreaking. The very beginning of the book and the very end are set about twenty years from now, so whether it’s viable or not is questionable, but for the place it had in the story, I thought it worked fine.

There’s something of a bittersweet ending awaiting, though it is well worth any tears that may be shed in the reading.






I received a copy of this book from Image Comics in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


Review: The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle, Sarah Ardizzone (Translator), Sam Gordon (Translator)


AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

Published: 6 February 2018 (first published November 2014)

Publisher: Candlewick Press

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult/Cultural (France)

In prose as magical and intricate as the tale it tells, Timothée de Fombelle delivers an unforgettable story of a first love that defines a lifetime.

Joshua Pearl comes from a world that we no longer believe in — a world of fairy tale. He knows that his great love waits for him there, but he is stuck in an unfamiliar time and place — an old-world marshmallow shop in Paris on the eve of World War II. As his memories begin to fade, Joshua seeks out strange objects: tiny fragments of tales that have already been told, trinkets that might possibly help him prove his own story before his love is lost forever. Sarah Ardizzone and Sam Gordon translate the original French into a work both luminous and layered, enabling Timothée de Fombelle’s modern fairy tale to thrum with magic. Brimming with romance and history, mystery and adventure, this ode to the power of memory, storytelling, and love will ensnare any reader’s imagination and every reader’s heart.

Rating: 4 Stars

The Book of Pearl started out a little rough for me. It opens with a fairy having given up her powers to save the life of a prince she loves. Typical fairy tale stuff, right? The writing in this prologue or whatever you want to call is felt unfinished, or perhaps translated badly, because it read like the literary version of a kaleidoscope being shaken up and you’re trying to see where the pattern is in everything.

After getting through it, however, I found that the writing was so much more enjoyable. There were some mysterious elements and people whose identities were obscured, but events and revelations began to unfold in an engaging manner.

I assumed, from the description, that a lot more time would be spent in the marshmallow shop. When that turned out not to be the case, I was a bit disappointed. Joshua’s journey does go all over the place, considering he ends up enlisting during WWII. The fairy tale elements that he finds, whether a story book or a mermaid scale, don’t initially come across as a quest for proof of his world. The two examples I mentioned he encounters by accident.

Even as the book didn’t turn out as I expected, I found myself wanting to consume it, to figure out who these characters were, to see what kind of ending was in store.

There were different points of view throughout, but only one told from the first person perspective. It was that one that was the least clear or concise for me. Everyone else ended up having a distinct identity and more than a few interconnected stories, but the man that narrated “I” and was the author of the in-story “The Book of Pearl” felt forced. His function seemed to be to insert the reader into the story, but that was accomplished without his presence. His separatness took me away from Joshua/Ilian and Olia’s story.

That aside, I think this story had a lot of interesting points and strengths regarding the power of fairy tales and what they mean to people. Stories, beliefs, their power can go so far, even so far as to break a curse and reunite lost lovers if only you’ll believe.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 13 March 2018

Publisher: Knopf

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary

Cameron’s cosplay–dressing like a fictional character–is finally starting to earn her attention–attention she hopes to use to get into the CalTech costume department for college. But when she wins a major competition, she inadvertently sets off a firestorm of angry comments from male fans.

When Cameron’s family moves the summer before her senior year, she hopes to complete her costume portfolio in peace and quiet away from the abuse. Unfortunately, the only comic shop in town–her main destination for character reference–is staffed by a dudebro owner who challenges every woman who comes into the shop.

At her twin brother’s suggestion, Cameron borrows a set of his clothes and uses her costuming expertise to waltz into the shop as Boy Cameron, where she’s shocked at how easily she’s accepted into the nerd inner sanctum. Soon, Cameron finds herself drafted into a D&D campaign alongside the jerky shop-owner Brody, friendly (almost flirtatiously so) clerk Wyatt, handsome Lincoln, and her bro Cooper, dragged along for good measure.

But as her “secret identity” gets more and more entrenched, Cameron’s portfolio falls by the wayside–and her feelings for Lincoln threaten to make a complicated situation even more precarious.

Rating:  4 Stars

CW: bullying including cyber bullying, doxing

Ever since I read Whitney Gardner’s book You’re Welcome, Universe, I’ve been a fan of her writing because the style is comforting. It’s an easy one to pick up and put down, like a well worn shirt or blanket you can pull on when you’re in need of comfort and just want to relax.

Her newest book embraces geek culture and follows main character’s journey through it, a journey that it a lot of fun, but also touches on the darker side of the Internet and the anonymity it lends to cruel people.

There are moments in the book that were uncomfortable to read, including Atomix Comix worker Brody’s anti-female rhetoric and the troll emails that Cameron receives online, including but not limited to death threats. Those emails, comments, blog notes, and moments at Atomix Comix when when no one stood up to Brody made for a tense atmosphere that had the hairs on the back of my neck up, even from the comfort of my couch.

There are also amazing times to be found. The geektastic moments range from ones that even a casual fan will get, such as Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and Final Fantasy name drops, to more subtle references such as a podcast warning townspeople not to visit the local dog park (Welcome to Night Vale fans represent!).  There was also some multi generational bonding over D&D with Cameron’s dad and his friends for a scene that I liked.

This was a fairly short book so while the writing was a style that I like and the pacing was good, it still felt like something was missing. Things happened, things were resolved, but almost a little too easily. Cameron’s difficulties with the online trolls and the information that they leaked gets moved on from with relative ease. The person who leaked her phone number initially is never revealed as far as I could tell, though I could make some guesses. There’s also the nature of Cameron’s dressing as a boy and how gender is portrayed as a strictly boy/girl. I think there’s more that could have been done with this part of the story, especially considering the feelings that Cameron goes through toward the end when the big reveals are starting to happen.

If you’re a fan of geek culture, want to get a look of interspersed pages of Whitney’s comic book style art, or want to find a new author good for a chill read, pick up Chaotic Good. You may consider picking up your own d20 by the last page.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


The Fantastic Flying Book Club Blog Tour: The Heart Forger by Rin Chupeco – A Review, Favorite Quotes, & A Giveaway!


Thank you to the Fantastic Flying Book Club and Kathryn Lynch from Sourcebooks Fire for allowing me to join the blog tour for The Heart Forger and for sending me a copy of this book to review, respectfully. Tea’s story, beginning in The Bone Witch, continues in this sequel that continues the dark path Tea began and walks ever further down as her asha powers grow.


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Kobo  –  iBooks  –  Indiebound

Published: 20 March 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Category: Fantasy/Young Adult

In The Bone Witch, Tea mastered resurrection―now she’s after revenge…

No one knows death like Tea. A bone witch who can resurrect the dead, she has the power to take life…and return it. And she is done with her self-imposed exile. Her heart is set on vengeance, and she now possesses all she needs to command the mighty daeva. With the help of these terrifying beasts, she can finally enact revenge against the royals who wronged her―and took the life of her one true love.

But there are those who plot against her, those who would use Tea’s dark power for their own nefarious ends. Because you can’t kill someone who can never die…

War is brewing among the kingdoms, and when dark magic is at play, no one is safe.

Rating: 5 Stars

As terrifying as the descriptions of Tea are, as much horror as the citizens of the world might have in regards to bone witches and her in particular, there are moments when the reader sees a softness to her personality. Whether it is through the eyes of the Bard, who is telling the story as a third party observer, or through Tea’s first person perspective, moments like leaning into a loved one or flying with her daeva (azi) juxtapose with this fearsome image that others have and that Tea herself often embraces.

The dual perspective was one of my favorite things from The Bone Witch and I was glad that it continued in The Heart Forger. It’s interesting that the Bard, the person who is ostensibly telling Tea’s story as an impartial party, lets slip their own judgement at times. You get a sense of what they think of Tea’s actions as they go; not just being kept in the dark about her plans, but about what those plans are once unveiled. Why they’re surprised anymore I’m sure I don’t know, but I was amused and intrigued because the Bard, for their flaws, was still a great perspective to read.  The flow of the words, the attempt at being the reader’s eyes into the world while still having their own opinions slipping through (as I mentioned), combined to support a style that was easy to slip into from Tea’s emotional first-person perspective and back out of again.

Emotional may not be quite the word I’m looking for her. Conflicted or troubled may be better. Tea’s powers are far stronger than expected, as anyone who has read The Bone Witch started to find out, and they keep growing. What they will allow her to do, who they allow her to be or who they allow her to control, all of the facets of this building force are both awe inspiring and frightening. It’s not just the power the Tea has to contend with, but more “mundane” aspects, such as a loved one’s death she might not be able to prevent or reverse, that develop her into a complex and still relatable character. She’s equal parts sympathetic, concerning, enviable, and more.

Rin Chupeco has a real gift and I love her Bone Witch series. The world building, the discussion points, character development, all make a series that I look forward to reading more of. There’s one book left coming out next year (The Shadowglass, 2019) and I know I’ll be sad when it happens. Will Tea find peace? Will the darkness consume her? Who the heck knows? Does Rin? What does she have planned?? **FLAILING**


Favorite Quotes


These are some of my favorite lines from throughout the book. Would any of these quotes make your own list?


“The dead do not need rest,” she told me, “only the living believe the grave can bring you peace.”


All that was left of it was the gem that gleamed brightly in my hand. It is odd, I thought,  how something so beautiful can come out of something so grotesque.


“For far too long, I have been sheltered from the realities of my own kingdom, Tea. I cannot rely on books and advisors to tell me how to rule. How can I govern wisely if I have none of my own experiences to fall back on?”


You murdered him,” I whispered.

“I saved those soldiers.” She stood, the man’s heartsglass in her hands. She watched the light from it fade, lips twisted in grim satisfaction. “It is all a matter of perspective.”


She had healed them with her blood and a touch, but she remained fractured and broken herself, the never-healing scars inside her soul bearing the names of friends long gone.


About the Author



Despite uncanny resemblances to Japanese revenants, Rin Chupeco has always maintained her sense of hummus  Raised in Manila, Philippines, she keeps four pets: a dog, two birds, and a husband. She’s been a technical writer and travel blogger, but now makes things up for a living. The Girl from the Well was her debut novel. 





  • Prize: (1) winner will win a copy of THE HEART FORGER; (1) winner will win a copy of THE BONE WITCH; and (1) winner will win the 3 crochet dolls – Tea, Fox, and Azi


  • Open International, Starts 3/20, Ends 4/3


a Rafflecopter giveaway





Tour Schedule


March 20th

Pink Polka Dot Books– Welcome Post

March 21st

Confessions of a YA Reader– 10 List
Magical Reads– Review & Creative Post
Vicky Who Reads– Guest Post

March 22nd

Jrsbookreviews– Review
A New Look on Books– Meet the Characters
Susan Heim on Writing– Review

March 23rd

That Bookshelf Bitch– Review & Interview
Here’s to Happy Endings– Style Board
Keep Reading Forward– Guest Post

March 24th

Flying Paperbacks– Interview
Storybook Slayers– Review

March 25th

Tecsielity– Meet the Characters

March 26th

The Hermit Librarian– Review & Favorite Quotes

Northern Plunder– Review
NovelKnight Book Reviews– Guest Post






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Honey by David Ezra Stein


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 27 March 2018

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Category: Children’s Picture Books/Animals

This sweet companion to David Ezra Stein’s award-winning Leaves celebrates the joy of savoring something you love.

Bear is ravenous when he wakes up from his winter sleep and has one thing on his mind: honey! Alas, it is too soon for honey, so Bear tries hard to be patient. The world around him is waking up, too, and he soon remembers all the other things he loves, like warm grass, berries, and rain. He’s almost content, until, one day, he hears a welcome buzzing sound . . . and finally it is time for Bear to delight in the thing he relishes above all others–and it is as warm, golden, sweet, and good as he remembered.

Rating: 5 Stars

The followup to David Ezra Stein’s book LeavesHoney expands upon a young bear’s life experiences. Whereas in the first book he saw autumn and leaves falling for the first time, now we get to see him looking forward to the ultimate tasty bear treat: honey!

The art style was very mellow and the colors very evocative of the time of year that Bear is waking up to. I loved the dreamy quality that the author had to each page’s picture. The smudgy quality was sweet and had me smiling.

Story wise, this book is very simple, which fits the audience that it’s marketed to. While this is a companion book, it wasn’t wholly necessary to have read the previous book to pick up on the story line of this one. The language is simple enough that a child could read this for themselves or read along at bedtime. The ending was a bit nostalgic, which I’m not sure younger readers will pick up on, though it was nicely emotional for me.

Bear’s personality and adventures in life would be great for more books and I hope to see them in the future. Until then, the rereadability is here and that’s a great quality in a book.






I received a copy of this book from Penguin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


Moonstruck, Vol. 1: Magic to Brew by Grace Ellis (Author), Shae Beagle (Illustrator), Kate Leth (Illustrator), Caitlin Quirk (Illustrator), Clayton Cowles (Illustrator)


AmazonBarnes & NobleBook DepositoryGoodreads

Published: 27 March 2018

Publisher: Image Comics

Category: Graphic Novel/Fantasy/LGBT+

Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

The first chapter of the brand new, all-ages magical coffee-laden adventure from Lumberjanes creator GRACE ELLIS and talented newcomer SHAE BEAGLE.

Collects issues 1 through 5

Rating: 4 Stars

The broader setting of the story has a lot of potential. There’s quite a pantheon going on in this town, everything from werewolves to centaurs to Medusa creatures and more. There were more that I didn’t quite recognize, some I did but couldn’t remember the name for, and none of it’s weird. There’s not much interaction with humans as far as I could tell, at least not worth mentioning except in the last few pages. It was fun seeing the different beings interacting, whether it be snakes hiding under someone’s hat or someone else spontaneously turning into a bat, almost every panel was full of life.

Something I like is that the writers thought about real world diversity (racial diversity, body types, etc.) as well as creature diversity. The lead character, for example, is a plus-size werewolf named Julie, a Latinx lesbian who’s just beginning a new relationship with fellow werewolf Selena, a black woman. Julie’s centaur co-worker, Chet, is also Latinx, I believe, though I’m not 100% sure about that.

Moving on to the story itself, aside from these aspects. I liked the energy between Julie and Selena. It was kind of a nervous, blossoming relationship kind of energy that was sweet. Counterpoint to that lightness is Julie’s anxiety about standing up for herself which is tied into her werewolf identity. There are a few times throughout the book when other characters call her “wolfy” or similar terms which seem derogatory in this world and the manner in which it’s being said. There’s not a lot of direct time spent on this, which I thought was a shame.

Chet’s questioning of their identity after the magic show and its results was heartbreaking. There were some feelings I had about the reactions to it from Julie and from Selena, either of which were slightly different, and I think show different viewpoints on what identity means to people. I think it was at this point that I realized there were some deeper storylines this book glanced over, but didn’t dig into when it could’ve. It was fun, but didn’t develop what it could have.

I mentioned diversity earlier and I also wanted to mention the detail I saw paid in the book. I loved what the writers/illustrators did, particularly such as the theater scene. Julie, Selena, and Chet go to the magic show in an old theater, where Chet is able to settle into the seats because the armrests rise up to accommodate centaur bodies; there is also space for mermaid/siren specific wheelchairs. I don’t know that these species were meant to stand in for specific disabilties or body types, so don’t take my assumptions as gospel, just an observation.

I was fairly content with the story up until the end. This volume was decently plotted, with a few slightly confusing panels, but it was the ending where I had the biggest problem. It was solved much too quickly and easily. It was, almost literally, a Scooby Doo ending and it was such a disappointment after such an enjoyable read.

I’m hoping the storytelling improves in volume 2. There were some great story elements brought up, real world touchstones that could be interesting storylines if given the attention. As it stands, Moonstruck is a fun, fluffy read with cute art that’s a nice way to spend a couple hours without worrying about a convoluted backstory or complicated world building.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Image Comics, in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card, Vol. 1 by CLAMP


Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 19 December 2017 (first published 2 December 2016)

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Category: Manga/Fantasy/Romance

At long last, CLAMP’s beloved shoujo manga series Cardcaptor Sakura is making a triumphant return with the Clear Card Arc. Sakura Kinomoto is now in middle school when Syaoran returns from China! Things have been calm, leaving the Sakura Cards unused, but she’s plagued by mysterious dreams about the cards turning clear. It seems like her adventures are beginning once again when this dream becomes true!

In volume 1, Sakura is happier than ever to find that Syaoran has returned from China but is shocked to see that the Sakura Cards have turned clear! …And why is Syaoran acting so strange? Read it to find out!

Rating: 5 Stars

I am a huge fan of anything Clamp puts out. I remember watching the original Cardcaptors series when it was on t.v., though admittedly the dub was a bit comical. *lol* Suffice it to say, when I saw that there would be a new anime (already watching it on Crunchyroll!) and then that this volume was available on NetGalley, I leaped at the chance to review it.

Since it’s been awhile since I’ve read the earlier books in the series, I was glad there was a recap of characters for the Clow Card arc and the Sakura Card arc. Visually I could identify them, but names and bios were a big help. This definitely isn’t a book you’re going to be able to get into unless you’ve read the previous arcs, even with this catch-up portion. The funniest part of the intro is that Cerberus is “narrating” and making sure you know what’s up! If you know anything about this little guy, you’ll be able to picture the scene more accurately and laugh your head off.


The personalities of the main characters are all back and very similar to their past selves, but you can see how they’ve evolved a bit. They’re still children, after all, so I don’t expect to see them all grown up. Sakura, Tomoyo, and Syaron are entering their first year of middle school, which makes them around twelve years old. Clamp’s art style, their subtle shifts of mood and more, enable the reader to see different emotions and really feel them: Sakura’s joy, Syaron’s concern, and Tomoyo’s unbridled enjoyment of life and her best friend.

The plot starts out very similar to the previous arcs, in that the cards have something happen to them (they appear, Sakura needs to change them from Clow to Sakura cards, etc.), so I knew a bit about where things would go. However, this arc seems like it might be a bit more emotional veering toward dark. By the end of volume one it’s clear that this enemy is more dangerous than before and now Sakura doesn’t even have her cards to back her up.

There’s also secret keeping going on from two of Sakura’s allies and that felt like a foreboding moment, when we realize that something is going on behind the scenes and that it will definitely impact Sakura more directly before long.

There’s such a cliffhanger at the end that I really wish, at times like this, that I could read the original language so I could pick up the currently published Japanese editions!






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Chef Cutegirl by Nicolette Dane



Published: 24 April 2016

Publisher: Self-published

Category: Romance/Lesbian Romance

I wanted to make my move but there was just that hint of nervousness bubbling in the pit of my stomach, causing me a subtle ache, as I anticipated what might happen between us. But I was a leader, a risk taker, a girl who knew what she wanted and I most certainly wanted Raina.

Emily Gold, head chef for one of Chicago’s most acclaimed French restaurants, is about to have her life turned upside down. She’s been picked to compete on the hit reality TV show Hot Chef! Everything has been falling into place for Emily in regards to her career as a budding culinary mastermind. But when you dedicate as much of your life to your work as Emily has, some things are bound to slip away from you… like your love life.

All of that is about to change for Emily, however, when she’s introduced to one of her fellow competitors. Raina appears to be introverted and sweet on the outside, but inside of her burns a flame of culinary talent that instantly draws Emily in. The two become fast friends and as the heat in the kitchen grows, so does the heat in their relationship. But reality TV is never drama free, as both Emily and Raina soon discover.

Will the desire Emily feels for her beautiful competitor overcome her desire to win Hot Chef? Or will this behind the scenes romance come out of the oven undercooked? Emily is determined to have it all, a great career and a partner to share it with, but the realities of unscripted television might just be writing a different script for this driven young chef.

Rating: 2 Stars

I haven’t read many books revolving around the food industry, especially not chefs competing on reality t.v. shows. I can’t remember where I heard about this title, but I thought it looked interesting because I do like cooking competitions and thought it sounded like a fun read.

In the end, this book was very much on the “just okay” line for me. There were some good things, but the problems I had with the book far outweighed them and resulted in a 2 star rating.

The first problem that popped up was that Emily, the voice we were hearing the entire novel through, continued to infantilize/objectify Raina through her descriptions of her physical appearance. This tapered off after a bit, but its occurrence left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

She had the cutest little excited face, such clear and fair skin. She was a doll.

She was a short girl, small and diminutive, like a cute little speck.

A relationship does develop, as expected, but even after it starts to heat up Emily still makes remarks that irked me:

Talented and cute, childlike, Raina definitely checked a lot of the boxes of the girls I often found myself into.

Sitting perched up on the counter top, swinging her legs, she was so adorably cute. Like a lost little orphan who might blow away in the wind if you didn’t nail her feet down.

The way her attraction to Raina is spelled out made me feel weird. Saying you’re attracted to childlike people, comparing them (again) later to a lost little orphan, kind of feels borderline inappropriate. She even makes an observation at bedtime one night and comments (internally) about how she’s not a creep. If you have to make that statement, you probably are.

She had her hair done in two tight braids against her head, wearing just a t- shirt and her panties. I could feel that familiar, sensual arousal building up inside of me as I watched her slip her bare feet across the carpet and toward her bed. Her panties were lime green with dark grey trim. I committed them to memory. C’mon, I’m not a creep… I was just crushing.

Shortly after their introduction on the set of Hot Chef, Emily also made some judgments about Raina, such as:

It’s just how her words would come out sometimes when she was a little nervous.

Such a short acquaintance of two hours max is not sufficient to make notes on someone’s behavior, particularly since Emily has only seen Raina under one circumstance and has nothing else to go by in her above statement. She also makes some bizarre assumptions about Raina’s personality and her hometown not reflecting in it. The following statement made no sense in context and irritated me a bit:

“New York City,” she said. “Like, originally?” “Yeah,” she said. That struck me as odd. She seemed so quiet and docile to have come from such a frenetic place as New York.

Raina herself was a bit flat. Her personality only seemed to come out when she was sabotaged about midway through the book, which felt unfair to her. The single most annoying thing, however, was how she kept “mewling” or “she mewed”. That is not how people talk in general conversation and it sounded like the author was starting to infantilize her much like Emily was. Her actions and her words didn’t hold up as cohesive, from the same person, and one particular moment is when she tells Emily about her famous chef father and how she didn’t want to tell anyone, but then almost immediately she does on camera. I threw up my hands at this point.

As this is heavily based on the show Top Chef, with a possible theme or two thrown in from other popular cooking competitions, I had to wonder at some of the things that happened in the book, such as the huge freedom the contestants had in leaving the loft where they were staying. Emily even makes a comment about this:

Lucky for me I didn’t have to bring as much as the other chefs, seeing as I could just take the Blue Line to my apartment if I happened to forget something.

I’ve never heard of a show like this allowing the people competing on it to wander around the host city during filming, much less with no cameras or chaperones. Putting aside the fact that they’re technically employed by the network and not being supervised could get the network in trouble if there’s an accident off set, Emily and Raina could easily have spilled secrets about the production before the show even began to air.

Timing was an issue too, not least in regards to the show. The whole book takes place over six weeks, but the show doesn’t air live and yet, two episodes or so before the finale, there’s a mention about the episodes starting to premiere. There’s no way that a weekly show would’ve been able to squash itself into less than a month. It was a bit jarring, trying to figure that whole mess out.

Hot Chef itself started out alright, but quickly devolved into Top Chef fanfiction. Not only is the setup nearly identical, as far as I can tell, there are several characters that are clones of the real people and not disguised very well (their initials are literally the same as their fictional counterparts, in addition to physical descriptions that match). I think that the creativity of the book suffered because it relied to heavily on established persons and scenarios.

There was an unresolved story line regarding a predatory producer on the show that bugged me. Everything else, if not to my satisfaction, was at least ended. Happily ever after romance, someone wins, etc. Dale, however, was never censured for his behavior, nor was one of his minions that also participated in sabotaging the contest. It just kind of disappeared, though Raina makes a vague comment about it near the end. Other than that, nothing. The show taped everything else, but no one catches this slimy bastard or tapes it or sees it? Raina was hooked up to a mic the whole time and that’s not nothing.

It feels like this book tried really hard to be an expose of reality cooking shows. While it might well have done that in some respects, that’s not what this novel was billed as. For a book that takes place almost wholly within a cooking competition, there was a surprising lack of actual cooking scenes in the book.

Instead of slapping a flimsy mask over real personalities and real places and shows, I wish the author was being more creative, a better story teller overall. The sex scenes were a bit over the top sentimentality wise, but decently written. If the book as a whole were fleshed out more, some editorial mistakes corrected, and Emily’s creepy remarks about Raina fixed, then I think this book could’ve been really good.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR


Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find the most current prompts here.



I’ll be honest right now, this will be wishful thinking because TBRs are, as Captain Barbossa would probably put it, more guidelines than actual rules. This year has been going by really fast and more work piles up before I know what’s what! Hopefully some good reading is coming my way with these choices because I could do with a nice story.



Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff 


I finished Illuminae last week and am working on Gemina now, a mix between the physical book and the audio because a) Marie Lu’s illustrations are not to be missed and b) the vocal cast for this series is well chosen. This series is as serious time suck and so good. I’m 99% sure I’ll both love and hate reading this because when I do, it’s over, being the final book and all.



Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli


I am, as of writing this, fresh off my second viewing of Love, Simon and I need more of the Simonverse. I still have to read The Upside of Unrequited so maybe that should be on this list too, but Leah came to mind first because she’s more in Simon’s circle than Molly is.



The Summer of Jordi Perez (And The Best Burger in Los Angeles)

by Amy Spalding


That’s a title and a half right there. I’ve actually got an arc of this one so I’ll be reading it sooner rather than later (hopefully). Food and fashion, yum! I’ve got a passing interest in fashion in as much as I like the visual appeal, but I don’t like wearing it myself. Too much work for me. Jordi loves it though, especially writing for her plus-size fashion blog.

I saw a peek at the spine for the finished copy and o.m.g., it’s beautiful. Rainbow for days. 😀



My Plain Jane (The Lady Janies #2) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton,

and Jodi Meadows


These Janies have proven that they’ve got comedy out the ears in their previous entry in this series and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store next. I have a feeling a good laugh will be just what I need.



All of This is True by Lygia Day Penaflor


A lot of people want to meet their favorite authors. What if it’s not what you expected, though? The description for this book reminded me at first of some sort of Misery situation. There’s bound to be some creepiness going on and not just from the fans, but the author character as well.



Final Draft by Riley Redgate


Similar to the previous entry, this book is centered around characters and literature, but the main character is a writer herself and that talent, that love, might be the very thing that consumes her. Laila loves writing, has an encouraging teacher, until one day he’s gone and is replaced by a new one that is cruelly critical and starts messing with Laila to the point of insanity. What’s going to happen to Laila, her writing, and the combination of her craft, her mental well being, and the stress of perfection?



The Way You Make Me Feel by Maureen Goo


I’m always up for a book with a food truck setting, so that’s one tic in the yes column for this book. Clara, the Korean-Brazilian MC, is another. She sounds so energetic and fun that I’m curious to see what she’ll be like on the page. I’m decidedly an introvert, so while I can admire those traits in other people I do not consider myself to possess them. It’s much more comfortable reading about them and I think that I’ll find a good time here.



The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo


I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book. I finally got around to ordering it recently and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s told in verse, which isn’t usually my favorite way of writing, but the audiobook is narrated by the author, so a combination of the two forms ought to make for a truly epic reading experience.



Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella


I liked the Confessions of a Shopaholic series, the earlier books more, and I want to try some more of Sophie’s books because I feel like I’m starting to fall out of love with her writing and I hope it won’t be the case with her most recent book. It sounds like the plot might be a bit contrived, but the surprises could be sweet, so we’ll see. This is a review book, so it’s got a time set on it, hence it’s place here.



The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton


I’m getting nice, strong Practical Magic vibes off this book and I love that film, so I can’t wait to start this book. It sounds very atmospheric and eerie, which might not sound like a spring like book, but…well, that’s it. There’s no reason except I really want to read this book and it happens to be spring. *lol*






All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.


Review: Fullmetal Alchemist: Fullmetal Edition, Vol. 1 by Hiromu Arakawa



Amazon  –  Barnes & Noble  –  Book Depository  –  Goodreads

Published: 8 May 2018

Publisher: Viz Media LLC

Category: Manga/Science Fiction/Fantasy

Alchemy tore the Elric brothers’ bodies apart. Can their bond make them whole again?

A hardcover, deluxe collector’s edition of one of the most beloved manga and anime of all time! Fully remastered with an updated translation and completely fresh lettering, and presented with color pages on large-trimmed archival-quality paper, this gorgeous hardcover edition presents the timeless dark adventures of the Elric brothers as they were truly meant to be seen. Includes brand-new cover art, color inserts and behind-the-scenes character sketches from author Hiromu Arakawa!

In an alchemical ritual gone wrong, Edward Elric lost his arm and his leg, and his brother Alphonse became nothing but a soul in a suit of armor. Equipped with mechanical “auto-mail” limbs, Edward becomes a state alchemist, seeking the one thing that can restore his and his brother’s bodies…the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.

Rating: 4 Stars

In this bind-up of the first few volumes of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, readers are introduced to the world of alchemy. This alternate history world includes alchemy as science appearing as magic and the complications that comes along with that from believers, skeptics, and fanatics alike.

I was familiar with the story going in, having seen the original anime and the live action movie recently released on Netflix, so I was somewhat familiar with the backstory of Edward and Alphonse Elric, the main characters, as well as the rules and limitations for alchemy within this world.

The world building is excellent. Right away in the first chapter we learn the basic rules of equivalent exchange and what happens to the alchemists that dare to test the boundaries. The Elric brothers history is introduced, including the major event that prompted Ed to become a State Alchemist and on the journey to find salvation for him and his younger brother, a boy whose spirit is now linked to a metal suit.

Characters who will become more important as the series continues debut in this collection, including State Alchemists Roy Mustang and Lieutenant Major Maes Hughes. Villains like the sadistic Shou Tucker, his tragic daughter Nina and her dog Alexander, make for upsetting yet interesting additions to the cast. It really digs deeper into the laws of alchemy, the expectations of the Central Alchemist Board and what they want from their certified members, and how far a person is willing to go in order to attain their status. It’s the single most tear jerking moment in this book and, possibly, the entire series, when you see what Tucker does.

The chapters throughout Vol. 1, aside from the world building, give the Elric brothers time to display their personalities as well as their determination to replace their missing humanity. We see their interactions with townspeople, what sets Ed off (tip: don’t reference his short stature!), how strong their bond is, and more. The cliffhanger at the end of the book leaves a first time reader in suspense as to the future of this close pair as they confront Scar, a “villain” whose intentions are alternately good and devastating.

I look forward to more of the manga series, particularly with the updated translation and the new editions including higher quality art and end papers.






I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.