Top 10 Tuesday – October 1st, 2019

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Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is your top ten book titles with numbers in them. I have decided to pick the top ten books with numbers in the titles that I have on my TBR. I expected it was going to be really difficult to fine ten of these on my TBR but it turns out I have a lot more books with numbers in the titles than I thought. And a lot of them also happen to be really high priority-wise on my list! So here are my top ten TBR books with numbers in the titles.

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Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Eight Will Fall by Sarah Harian

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Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall

One by One by D.W. Gillespie

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Between Two Skies by Joanne O’Sullivan

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

What books have you read or do you want to read that have numbers in the titles? Let me know in the comments!

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Top 10 Tuesday – September 24th, 2019

toptentuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It’s time for another Top 10 Tuesday list. This is an original weekly blog meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish, and it is now hosted by Jana from That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week, there is a new bookish topic for bloggers to create a list about. If you want to know more about Top 10 Tuesday, click here!

This week’s Top 10 Tuesday topic is the top ten books on your Fall 2019 TBR. Right now, I’m on a mission to finally read a bunch of books that have been on my TBR for way too long. These are all books/series that I always hear fantastic things about and most of these have huge fanbases that I’m hoping to join! I’m incredibly excited to pick these up and I can’t wait to see what everyone has been raving about! Of course, I will most likely be continuing on with the series listed here during the fall and winter months as well.

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Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Alice by Christina Henry

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

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Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

What books you are planning to read over the next few months? What are you most looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

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Mini Review: Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

yourheartistheseaYour Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: January 22nd, 2019

Publisher: Thought Catalog Books

Pages: 196 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Let poetry help you examine the depths of your wounds. Let it remind you that no matter how deep it goes, you will be able to heal it because you have been able to heal every single wound inflicted on your heart and soul before. Let these words show you that you will be able to find the light at the end of the wound because you have always found your way before.

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

This is the first poetry collection by Nikita Gill that I have read and I really enjoyed it. I read so many contemporary poetry collections these days and I have to admit, a lot of them start to run together. Many poets write on the same topics—that’s to be expected—but a select few really put forth work that stands out among the rest. This collection is definitely one of those. She touches on common and timely topics in a way that does not feel unoriginal or repetitive and uses a mixture of both poetry and short essays. Between her writing style, the way she sets up each section of the book, and her own unique way she approaches every topic she covers, Gill’s work makes for a very refreshing read.

This collection is broken up into eight different sections: The Anguish, The Descent, The Acceptance, The Defiance, The Survival, The Worship, The Wonder, and The Beginning. Each one deals with themes that portray the process of going from breaking all the way through to healing. I found this to be a really powerful way to form a sort of narrative that unfolded over the course of the book. Gill achieves a very accurate depiction of the healing process, as we all begin at the point of breaking before we become whole again. Her poems and essays fit each of the categories well, demonstrated progress, and brought the entire collection full circle in the end.

The topic of each section comes together to show the journey we take as we deal with individual aspects of our grief. Her work shows the importance of taking things a step at a time, letting ourselves feel every emotion and not shy away from them, and finally, picking up each piece and putting ourselves back together. One of the biggest messages found here is how we must find the courage to fight through our pain and heal while also allowing those experiences and our flaws to remain part of us. She reminds us that all of those things inside us—whole, flawed, broken, mending—make us who we are and we should never be ashamed of any of it.

Gill’s writing style is quite beautiful and her poems are very impactful. She writes in a way that flows very fluidly and is easy to become swept up in. She uses an even mix of her thoughts and personal experiences, making this work very relatable. I connected well with all of it, even when the topics were not similar to any experience I have dealt with in my life. Every subject is addressed in a way that is universally understandable. There is much value to be found and many things to be learned throughout this entire collection.

She brought out the emotion in every single poem and essay very vividly and made every moment memorable. Her writing is lyrical without becoming too flowery, which strengthens the depth and meaningfulness of each piece. The efficacy of Gill’s words is heightened through their frankness. She is poetic but very raw and honest—her writing is candid, focused, and doesn’t mess about. That kind of fearless writing makes a collection like this powerful and relatable. This is definitely something I can see myself returning to read many times in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

ziggystardustandmeZiggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon

My Rating: 4.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 6th, 2019

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Pages: 368 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: The year is 1973. The Watergate hearings are in full swing. The Vietnam War is still raging. And homosexuality is still officially considered a mental illness. In the midst of these trying times is sixteen-year-old Jonathan Collins, a bullied, anxious, asthmatic kid, who aside from an alcoholic father and his sympathetic neighbor and friend Starla, is completely alone. To cope, Jonathan escapes to the safe haven of his imagination, where his hero David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and dead relatives, including his mother, guide him through the rough terrain of his life. In his alternate reality, Jonathan can be anything: a superhero, an astronaut, Ziggy Stardust, himself, or completely “normal” and not a boy who likes other boys. When he completes his treatments, he will be normal—at least he hopes. But before that can happen, Web stumbles into his life. Web is everything Jonathan wishes he could be: fearless, fearsome and, most importantly, not ashamed of being gay.

Jonathan doesn’t want to like brooding Web, who has secrets all his own. Jonathan wants nothing more than to be “fixed” once and for all. But he’s drawn to Web anyway. Web is the first person in the real world to see Jonathan completely and think he’s perfect. Web is a kind of escape Jonathan has never known. For the first time in his life, he may finally feel free enough to love and accept himself as he is.

A poignant coming-of-age tale, Ziggy, Stardust and Me heralds the arrival of a stunning and important new voice in YA. 

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

This is a spoiler-free review.

This is an incredibly beautiful and powerful novel. It is quite a heavy and emotional story and an absolutely stellar debut. I learned so much more about the 1970s and the LGBT community at the time. We get insight into society’s atrocious treatment of same-sex couples and the brave individuals who stood up for themselves and championed the freedom to love. This is such an important novel, particularly for young adult readers that did not grow up in this time period. It is a raw and moving snapshot of a time of great injustice but also of strength and the courage of standing up for what you believe in.

In this novel, we follow a teenage boy named Jonathan who is going through the process of discovering his true self and sexuality. He is facing the intolerance and attempted suppression of homosexuality that plagued society in the 1970s. These feelings are treated as a mental illness and Jonathan has come to believe that he is sick and needs to be cured. He copes with life by entering the safety of his imagination, getting advice and guidance from his hero, David Bowe’s Ziggy Stardust, as well as his mother who passed away after his birth.

Due to pressures from a variety of sources—his very close-minded father included—Jonathan has been undergoing painful and, quite frankly, inhumane treatments that he hopes will “cure” him. However, before he finishes he meets a new classmate named Web—someone who is fearless, strong-willed and, most importantly, not ashamed to be gay.  Before he knows it, Web is completely changing his world and taking him on an adventure through love that he never dared to consider.

Jonathan’s story had my heart from the very beginning. Hearing his thoughts through all the events of this novel is equal parts hilarious, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Watching him grow so much and gradually accept himself over the course of the narrative is wonderful and I found myself feeling extremely proud of him. Every up and every down touches your core and makes you become increasingly invested in his story. This gripped me and held me until the final page and even well after finishing.

Every single character, both good and bad, in this novel is crafted incredibly well. Jonathan and Web are definitely two of my new favorite literary characters. They are two truly beautiful human beings—inside and out—and their relationship is done to absolute perfection. I adored every moment they spent together and there was one scene in particular toward the end of the novel that has genuinely become one of my favorite scenes from any novel I’ve ever read. I have been constantly replaying so many of their interactions in my mind since I finished reading this book and I love that.

Brandon does an amazing job of capturing the mind of a teenage boy going through this rough and confusing time in his life. It is so easy to connect with and feel for Jonathan, as he is so clearly and vividly portrayed. Each scene in the story is packed with so much detail and sentiment they are almost tangible. It is as if you are right there beside Jonathan, watching him grow and transform and always cheering him on. Brandon’s writing transports the reader back in time and right into the middle of things, making for a wholly unique and sweeping narrative.

The only minor issue that I faced was my personal connection to the writing style. Since we are in first person following Jonathan’s point of view, we get to hear all his thoughts as they happen. For me, it felt like it had a sort of stream of consciousness quality to it. I didn’t entirely click with it and it took some getting used to each time I picked the book up. But this was completely a personal thing, not a problem with the actual writing itself. As I’ve said, it is very beautifully written and that stream of thoughts that bounces quickly from one thing to another fits Jonathan perfectly.

Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an absolutely essential read in my opinion. It is a raw and unflinching look at the horrors of intolerance and the length people believed one should go to in order to rid themselves of these feelings they could not—or would not try to—understand. It is a book that will have a great impact on all of its’ readers and on the young adult literary world in general. We get a picture of what it was like for gay people living in this time and the painful and damaging emotional turmoil inflicted on them just for being themselves.

The importance of looking back on our history and learning from the mistakes in order to improve society is particularly important for this generation of readers. Love is love and that will always be true. Here we can find a message of the significance of being open-minded and helping continue the fight for equality. This is a story that will stick with me for a very long time. I look forward to reading future novels by James Brandon.

4.5 TARDISes

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N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon 2019 Wrap-Up

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Wow, August was an absolutely insane month! Between my Hogwarts studies and my real life university studies, I can’t believe I’m still standing at this point. But, I successfully completed my first-ever readathon! And for it to be a Harry Potter-themed readathon makes it even more awesome. I had so much fun taking (and passing!) my N.E.W.T.s. I’m so happy I gave this a try. In total, I ended up reading twelve books which is more than I’ve read in a month in a while. So, without further ado, here is a look at my readathon results. I’m planning on having full reviews up for all of these at some point this month, so keep an eye out!

Profession:

Mind Medic

Grades Required:

O in Charms
O in Defense Against the Dark Arts
E in Muggle Studies
E in Potions
E in Transfiguration

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A: Read a book that you think has a gorgeous cover

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House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig (Full Review Coming 10/16)

5.0 TARDISes

E: Read a comic/graphic novel/manga (or book under 150 pages)

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Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

O: Spongeify (softening charm) – Read a paperback book

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Your Heart Is The Sea by Nikita Gill (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

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A: Book that’s black under the dust jacket

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Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young (Full Review Coming 10/23)

3.5 TARDISes

E: Gilderoy’s memory charm – first book that you remembered just now from your TBR

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His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler (Full Review)

4.0 TARDISes

O: Cornish Pixie! Swat it away with a book written by an English author or set in England

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The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal (Full Review Coming 10/19)

2.5 TARDISes

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A: Cover that includes an actual photo element (person, item, place, etc.)

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The Perfect Wife by J.P. Delaney (Full Review)

4.5 TARDISes

E: Book set in our real world

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The Escape Room by Megan Goldin (Full Review Coming 10/21)

3.0 TARDISes

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A: Polyjuice Potion – Read your friend’s favorite book

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Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

4.0 TARDISes

E: House ingredient – book with a cover in your Hogwarts house color (Ravenclaw)

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Doctor Who: Myths and Legends by Richard Dinnick

3.0 TARDISes

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A: Read a book with LGBTQA+ representation

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Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon (Full Review)

4.5 TARDISes

E: Read a book that’s not a first in the series

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Restricted Section Swap: Spellslinger by Sebastien de Castell

4.0 TARDISes

And now I’m a Mind Medic! I’m so pleased with how this readathon went and it’s made me really eager to do another one soon. I’m thinking of maybe doing the O.W.L.s readathon before the end of the year since I missed it, just so I can feel my studies are complete! How about you guys? Did any of you do the N.E.W.T.s Magical Readathon this past month? If so, let me know how you did, or if not, let me know what your favorite books of the month were!

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Book of the Month YA – September 2019

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I’m so excited to officially be a Book of the Month YA affiliate! I’ve been subscribed to the adult BOTM box for around a year and have absolutely loved it, so I’m incredibly happy that I get this chance to help spread the word about the YA boxes!

Every month you get to pick one book from a selection of five newly released YA novels to receive in your box for the month (spoiler alert: their book choices are always fantastic!). You can also add on up to two extra choices from the selections for the current month and any of the previous months. In my time using Book of the Month, I’ve always found it to be a really fun, budget-friendly subscription box. And the deals we get on the add-on books are music to my wallet! ❤

Here’s what you get with your membership:

  • A book of your choice for $14.99 / month
  • Add up to two extra books to your shipment for $9.99 each
  • Skip any month you want, and you won’t be charged
  • Free shipping, always
  • This month, get your first book for just $9.99 by using the code GROW.

If you’re interested in signing up (and supporting my blog in the process), check them out by using my affiliate link. I do get a small commission from every new sign-up using this link that will always be put toward further building my blog. So if you do use it, thank you so much! You can also use the regular link to sign up!

Now, let’s get into a bit more of the specifics!

How It Works:

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Book of the Month YA gives you one book of your choice (from a selection of five) for $14.99 per month and always with free shipping! You can add up to two extra books to your shipment for only $9.99 each. These extra books can be selected from the current and any of the previous months selections. If there’s a month where none of the selections appeal to you, you can skip any month you want, and you won’t be charged. I wholeheartedly love this subscription box and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

This month they are featuring one of the biggest new YA releases of fall, Frankly in Love! You can get your copy TODAY from BOTM YA (@yasofthemonth) for just $9.99 with code GROW.

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Here’s a look at all the selections for this month!

September 2019 Book Selections:

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The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

After a year of college, Pablo is working at his local twenty-four-hour deli, selling overpriced snacks to brownstone yuppies. He’s dodging calls from the student loan office and he has no idea what his next move is.

Leanna Smart’s life so far has been nothing but success. Age eight: Disney Mouseketeer; Age fifteen: first #1 single on the US pop chart; Age seventeen, *tenth* #1 single; and now, at Age nineteen…life is a queasy blur of private planes, weird hotel rooms, and strangers asking for selfies on the street.

When Leanna and Pab randomly meet at 4:00 a.m. in the middle of a snowstorm in Brooklyn, they both know they can’t be together forever. So, they keep things on the down-low and off Instagram for as long as they can. But it takes about three seconds before the world finds out…

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus

Told in two distinct and irresistible voices, Junauda Petrus’s bold and lyrical debut is the story of two black girls from very different backgrounds finding love and happiness in a world that seems determined to deny them both.

Trinidad. Sixteen-year-old Audre is despondent, having just found out she’s going to be sent to live in America with her father because her strictly religious mother caught her with her secret girlfriend, the pastor’s daughter. Audre’s grandmother Queenie (a former dancer who drives a white convertible Cadillac and who has a few secrets of her own) tries to reassure her granddaughter that she won’t lose her roots, not even in some place called Minneapolis. “America have dey spirits too, believe me,” she tells Audre.

Minneapolis. Sixteen-year-old Mabel is lying on her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to figure out why she feels the way she feels–about her ex Terrell, about her girl Jada and that moment they had in the woods, and about the vague feeling of illness that’s plagued her all summer. Mabel’s reverie is cut short when her father announces that his best friend and his just-arrived-from-Trinidad daughter are coming for dinner.

Mabel quickly falls hard for Audre and is determined to take care of her as she tries to navigate an American high school. But their romance takes a turn when test results reveal exactly why Mabel has been feeling low-key sick all summer and suddenly it’s Audre who is caring for Mabel as she faces a deeply uncertain future.

Junauda Petrus’s debut brilliantly captures the distinctly lush and lyrical voices of Mabel and Audre as they conjure a love that is stronger than hatred, prison, and death and as vast as the blackness between the stars.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

To give you even more of an idea of what the options typically look like each month, here are the August 2019 selections! And you guys will be finding out my picks for both August and September (as well as my thoughts on them) very soon, so keep an eye out! 😀

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If you do sign up or are already a Book of the Month YA member, make sure to let me know what your book choice for September is in the comments!

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Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

mooncakesMooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: October 15th, 2019

Publisher: Lion Forge

Pages: 256 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

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

This is a spoiler-free review.

This was such an adorable and heartwarming graphic novel. It’s packed with witchy vibes, a sweet young romance, werewolf magic, and the strength and pure love that a family—both biological and found—can give. Between the art and the story itself, it really captures the feeling of Fall—cooler weather, cozy nights, spooky feels, changing leaves. I found myself easily transported into this world, the atmosphere almost tangible. It is an absolutely beautiful read on so many levels.

In this story, we follow two best friends. Nova Huang is a brilliant, Chinese-American teenage witch who works with her two grandmothers in their bookshop. She helps them loan out books on spells while also going out and investigating any odd, supernatural happenings around their town in New England. Tam Lang, Nova’s childhood best friend, is a Chinese-American, nonbinary werewolf…and also Nova’s long-time crush.

The pair have lived apart for a few years with Tam having to constantly wander to escape those who wish to harness her power for evil. Then, one night, Nova stumbles across Tam battling a horse demon in the woods outside town. Soon, Tam, Nova, and the grandmothers team up to fight the forces pursuing Tam and defend the magic of the wolves. And something even more powerful is being rekindled between Nova and Tam.

My favorite part of this novel is the illustrations. They are absolutely perfect for the story and portray the tone of it incredibly well. Just the color scheme alone—deep, rich tones with a somewhat muted look—immediately sets the atmosphere of the novel. The colors Xu uses capture the mysterious and dangerous undertones of the text while also creating a feeling of warmth and welcoming to match the themes of family and love. And the style of the illustrations themselves is one of my favorites out of all the graphic novels I’ve ever read.

The story is also written so well and it is fantastic to see so much diversity being put into this novel. It is a perfect addition to the ever-growing library of LGBT+ young adult books. The characters are brought to life and developed extremely well in such a short amount of time. Walker does a great job forming the relationships between the characters and the close ties they share. Nova is a strong, intelligent, and brave young witch who will drop everything to help her loved ones and community. And Tam, equally strong but lost and hurting, finds love, comfort, and a sense of belonging that, as a whole, help her fight for herself and those she cares about.

The only thing I wish is that the novel was longer. There were a few parts of the story that I felt were just a bit underdeveloped. I would have loved to see more back story for both of the main characters, particularly Nova and her family. I would also have loved to see more of Nova and Tam’s relationship progress as well as learn in more depth about the magical aspects of the story—both good and evil. Also…I just need more of this!

Mooncakes is a beautifully-crafted and magical graphic novel. I can’t think of any better way to describe my experience with this novel than by saying that it made my heart happy. It has everything I love—queer romance, the unconditional love of found family, witches, werewolves, magical animals, and libraries of spells. What more could you want?! I very highly recommend picking it up this fall to read during a cozy night in with a warm drink (and maybe a snack cause, oh boy, was I craving mooncakes after this). This is truly an enchanting story that readers of any age will love.

4.0 TARDISes

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