Sorceline book review

Sorceline by Sylvia Douye and Paola Antista
144 pages
published May 17th, 2022

Welcome to the Island of Vorn, where mythical creatures roam free and only the brightest students are invited to study them. In Book 1 of this riveting new middle grade graphic novel series, a gifted young cryptozoologist-in-training must learn to tame powerful beasts–including her own inner demons.

For as long as she can remember, Sorceline has had a knack for the study of mythical creatures. Now a student at Professor Archibald Balzar’s prestigious school of cryptozoology, she’s eager to test her skills and earn a spot as one of Balzar’s apprentices.

But for all her knowledge of gorgons, vampires, and griffins, Sorceline is mystified by her fellow humans. While she excels in her studies, she quickly clashes with her classmates, revealing her fiery temper.

When one of her rivals suddenly disappears, Sorceline must set aside her anger and join the quest to find her. But the mystery only deepens, leading Sorceline on a journey far darker and more personal than she expected . . .

This is definitely a great readalike for someone who has just finished reading Coraline. It’s also a great introduction for readers who are reluctant to start graphic novels. Fantastic character dynamics, cryptozoology, interesting mystery. I really enjoyed the color palette of this book. There’s also promise for a future sequel! Four stars. Bookshop link here.

Tin Man book review

Tin man
Tin Man by Justin Madson
224 pages
publishes April 19th, 2022

A YA graphic novel about unlikely friends—a tin man seeking a heart and a high schooler trying to come to terms with the death of her grandmotherIn Justin Madson’s debut graphic novel, Tin Man, a girl and her brother befriend the titular Tin Man with unexpected results. Solar is in her last year of high school and is reeling from the recent death of her grandmother. She has abandoned her plans for the future and fallen in with a bad crowd. Her little brother, Fenn, doesn’t understand why she’s changed—she doesn’t even want to help him build their rocket in the garage anymore. Campbell is a tin woodsman—a clunky metal man whose sole purpose in life is to chop down trees. He longs for more, however, and decides to seek out a heart, believing that, with one, he will be able to feel things he has never felt before and, therefore, change his life.

Equal parts The Iron Giant, The Wizard of Oz, Edward Scissorhands, and Freaks and Geeks, Tin Man is a story about finding friendship in the unlikeliest of places.

It’s a retelling of the Wizard of Oz with special emphasis placed on the Tin Man, which I think is very nice. I didn’t feel super attached to any of the characters, though, and I really did not enjoy the art style (which I assume is personal preference and not anything to do with the actual art style). Regrettably I’m going to give this three stars, and recommend that you just flip through this in a bookstore to see if it grabs you.

Bookshop link.

Across a Field of Starlight

I received this at no cost from NetGalley!

Across a Field of Starlight, Blue Delliquanti
Came out February 8th, 2022

This book is a nonstop SPACE ADVENTURE featuring A REAL ACTUAL NONBINARY PERSON and it’s effortlessly queer. The art is fantastic, IT’S SET IN SPACE, it’s a concept that’s like, “what if Star Wars was actually good and featured regular people rather than Just Luke Skywalker And His Dad Constantly?” Is there some weird worldbuilding? Also yes. Could this be a toss-up between me being An Idiot and also Not Caring That Much? Yes. You might have better luck. Also there are some politics and I love some SPACE POLITICS. 

This was incredible. Yes, I did cry. Four and a half stars, rounded up for NetGalley. It came out February 8th, 2022. Bookshop link. Storygraph link.

There’s a note from the editor in my early copy of this book, which reads:

Dear Reader,

Have you ever picked up a book and felt like you were finding a missing piece? Something that you had wanted, had hoped for, and then finally came across it? That is what I felt when I first saw Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti.

To explain that feeling a bit and to give you a little personal history, I have a sibling who is non-binary. One thing that we talk about constantly is the need for stories that portray different gender identities without being about those identities. Why does a book about a trans character have to be about them being trans? Why not have a book featuring non-binary characters who get to go on epic quests just like every other hero we read about?

Blue is a non-binary creator writing a story with non-binary characters, but the best part is, this story isn’t about them being non-binary — this is about space, war, and falling in love. This story is about how decisions can affect those around you, about social inequalities, and about how our environments change the way we interact in relationships. 

I cried the first time I read the full script for this book. And again when I saw the art. And I’ve probably teared up on every reread since then because this book is special. Blue creates this heartfelt journey that explores how human connection can stand the test of distance and time. Featuring a cast of all shapes and sizes, this beautifully illustrated book brings the stars to life in a new and refreshing way that readers of all walks of life and all genders will be able to connect with. 

I’m beyond thrilled to share this early copy with you, and I know this story will resonate with you the same way it did with me.

Happy reading,

Whitney Leopard

Thank you, Whitney. You’re right, it did. Thank you for sharing it with me.

Four bite-sized Reviews: Chef’s Kiss, Live, Local & Dead, Every Variable of Us, and Real Easy (again!)

Hello! These are coming out really fast because I have to write reviews for class (as a writing exercise) and I keep writing another review and then being like “I can’t possibly show this to my professor, this is the worst thing I’ve ever written”. I might write a couple more today, depending on how I’m feeling. Stay tuned! Also I’m trying to rebrand my mini-reviews as bite-sized. I’ll keep you posted on that front. I received all of these books at no cost to me through NetGalley.

Live, Local, and Dead (Vermont Radio Mystery #1), audiobook

This is a cozy mystery book that takes place around a radio station. It avoids the standard cozy mystery trope of not having any animal companions for the main character, unless you count the snowman that hides a dead body at the requisite murder of the novel. No? Well, I thought I’d give that a try. It stars a Jewish (by conversion) radio jockey, an ex-husband who had cancer (big overarching trauma), and a hot new guy who I think is a guest radio host. There’s a lot of narration in this book that bogs down the plot, including just some random harassment by a frat boy republican, and that’s all well and good in a print novel, but in an audiobook cozy mystery where I hate the narrator? It’s not happening. Look, this is how it shook out: I absolutely could not finish this book because listening to this narrator is like listening to your least favorite aunt speak. Is it just me? Maybe! Maybe you have a better relationship with your aunts than I do! But I am not on good terms with either of mine. This audiobook receives one star for narrator, three stars for being a book. No comment on any copaganda because I only got to chapter seven before I gave up. Releases February 15th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Chef’s Kiss (graphic novel)

Chef’s Kiss is a little graphic novel about roommates in a very classic comic book style. There are speech bubbles and clean lines throughout the book. Now, I don’t know much about comic books, but this looks like a superhero book from my dad’s collection. It’s not a style for me! It’s also very old-style comic book in the fact that it censors all swears? And this book is meant to be adult or at least new adult, so it doesn’t make sense why swears would be censored. The main character also only reads books that are available in the public domain, or so old that they aren’t copyrightable, which sure is weird! (His favorite books are 1984, Brave New World, and another that I forget. Come on, dude! Haven’t you heard of the Hunger Games? There are people using laptops and tablets in this book so I know it’s not set in the 90s!) Despite this, there is a vibrant cast of characters and the portrayal of working in a kitchen is both incredibly idealized and exactly right. Honestly? This is like a comic-book adaption of a gay romance light novel, and it’s kind of exactly right. Five stars. You didn’t see that one coming, did you? Neither did I. Publishes March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Every Variable of Us

This is a voice-driven YA novel with intense characters and really self-aware writing: “And can I just point some messed up shit out? Two high school girls stealing a frozen pizza and hair extensions, and this guy feels it’s necessary to draw his weapon. And they wonder why there’s a new hashtag against the police every week.” (Copaganda rating? Zero. Excellent job.) One of the things I hate most about YA novels is their frequent refusal to name specifics or make pop culture references, and this book absolutely does not have that problem. However — and I realize this book was probably drafted before 2020 — there are a lot of Harry Potter references and it is now generally considered bad form to include Harry Potter references in queer novels, so I do wish that that had been edited before this book hit ARC metaphorical shelves. Love the casual queers-in-STEM rep. Four stars. Publishes on March 1st, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Real Easy (ebook review)

I got approved for this ebook unexpectedly after reviewing the audiobook back in January! My main problem with the audiobook was that all the characters are voiced by the same (excellent!) narrator and there are many many different perspectives. I… unfortunately had the same problem with the ebook. Also I found myself uninterested in some characters’ perspectives and started skipping their chapters. It reminded me of reading My Sister’s Keeper as a Youth and I always skipped the dad’s chapters because I thought he was annoying. (And I was right!) Unfortunately, this brought down the review to three stars. But also an intersex perspective! I just think there should have been more intersex perspective and less everything else. I’m not biased at all. Published on January 18th, 2022. Bookshop link here.

Mini Review Round-up!

I started school again this week, so here are some mini reviews to tide you over!

I received all of these books at no cost from NetGalley.

The Temperature of Me and You

The Temperature of Me and You, Brian Zepka
416 pages, science fiction, m/m, YA
publishes on January 25, 2022

This is a contemporary light science fiction novel, and when I say “light” I mean really light – it feels like it has barely any substance. The pacing of this book is exhausting; it feels at various points like it’s going too slow or too fast, but you know what? The gay scene deserves some mediocre mildly sci-fi YA romances too. Also, the characters in this book are 16, but I would recommend the age range as being 13+ — perfectly acceptable for middle-graders as well as young adults. It’s fine! I wouldn’t write home about it! Three stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Manywhere

Manywhere: Stories, Morgan Thomas
208 pages, magical realism, surrealism, Gender
publishes January 25, 2022

This is a book of surrealist short stories, and they are all unusual and very Gender. I poked through a couple other reviews, and many misgender the protagonists — from my perspective, as a trans person frequently around other trans people, both online and off, I think I correctly gendered the protagonists. But it’s not explicitly explained to the reader What Exactly is going on, which is something I really like but might not be your cup of tea. This book gets five stars from me — the first short story, The Lightning Man, is my favorite. I think I’d like to actually buy this to keep on my shelf. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Wash Day Diaries

Wash Day Diaries, Jamila Rowser and Robyn Smith
192 pages, graphic novel, slice of life
publishes June 14th, 2022

This is a slice of life graphic novel about four different best friends! The theme connecting theme of the stories, hair care, is woven into each story. The art style is both cozy and expressive, with each woman having her own color scheme. These stories take place mostly during the summer, and it really feels like a summery story! Unfortunately over the course of the story, one friend tells another that she shouldn’t get antidepressants and gives her a crystal instead, and we see the depressed friend simply crawl back into bed afterwards. While this story is slice of life and we don’t really follow up on any of their individual stories, this was the least cozy story that I wish had a better ending, and knocks the rating down a quarter star. 4.75 stars. Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Love and Other Disasters

Love & Other Disasters, Anita Kelly
384 pages, contemporary, nb/f
publishes January 25th, 2022

If I knew that romance novels could be just as cozy as cozy mysteries, I would have picked this one up a lot sooner! This story involves a nonbinary POV character dating a girl (also POV) at a cooking competition! Their romance is hot and heady and there are some sex scenes, which I wasn’t expecting at all but was very pleased by (they’re all good!). Something that I didn’t like about this book is that I was really worried about the cooking competition and the main characters kind of ignored that for a while, and then it was suddenly a problem! Also there is a transphobic character which was :/ but the book dealt with it really well. 5 stars! Storygraph link. Bookshop link.

Icebreaker

Icebreaker, A.L Graziadei
320 pages, contemporary, sports romance, m/m
publishes January 18th, 2022

I got approved for this really close to publish date so here is my lightning-fast review!

  • The enemies to lovers seemed REALLY fast and also kind of tame!
  • I arbitrarily wanted this book to be more like The Foxhole Court and it was not, but also that’s the only other sports romance I have ever read!
  • The voice in this was super strong!
    I barely have any thoughts because I read it so quickly! It comes out this Tuesday! I’ll probably check this out of the library and read it again then! Four stars!
  • Storygraph link! Bookshop link!