Top Ten Tuesday – April 23rd, 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 the first ten books you reviewed. I absolutely love this topic since it has been a long time since I reflected on my blog and how I started out. I’d never reviewed the novels I read before beginning this blog, so these reviews are the first ever that I worked on. I can’t wait to look back on these and also see some of the earliest reviews that you guys wrote!

9/10/15

theadventuresofsherlockholmes

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

9/12/15

theunfinishedlifeofaddisonstone

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

9/18/15

gonegirl

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

9/20/15

redqueen

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

10/13/15

jackaby

Jackaby by William Ritter

11/6/15

thebloodcell

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss

11/8/15

thememoirsofsherlockholmes

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

11/15/15

cinder

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

11/20/15

themarvels

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

12/19/15

thewaythroughthewoods

Doctor Who: The Way Through the Woods by Una McCormack

What are some of the first books you guys reviewed? I would absolutely love to read them, so definitely let me know in the comments!

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Reviews: The Day Is Ready For You and This is the Journey by Alison Malee

thedayisreadyforyouThe Day Is Ready For You by Alison Malee

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Series

Date Published: May 15th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 144 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository 

Synopsis: I will tell you
again and again:
in some small way,
everything matters.

The Day Is Ready for You is a prose and poetry collection weaving together the fractured, gritty pieces of the past, and the light that can break through an open window if you let it.

This is the first book of a two-book series about grace, heartbreak, and breathing freely.

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

This is the first collection of poetry by Malee that I have read and I really enjoyed it a lot. It was such an inspiring and enlightening work, and I found myself completely captivated by her words. There tends to be a lot of repetition in modern poetry in terms of subject matter, and I believe it takes a special writer to truly distinguish their writing from the rest. Malee does this with such ease—she has a remarkable talent for expressing her thoughts and feelings both on her own experience and on society as whole. Her poems tackle very important subjects, such as feminism, that are especially topical right now.

Malee’s writing and imagery is beautiful and vivid, and the messages she wishes to convey shine through clearly. Her depiction of raw human emotion—happiness, love, grief, pain, strength—is incredibly relatable and will pull the reader into her words. Personally, I felt a deep connection with every theme within this collection. She puts into words that which feels so complex and challenging to grasp. She spells these feelings out in a creative way that makes every thought even more powerful.

4.0 TARDISes

thisisthejourneyThis Is The Journey by Alison Malee

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Series

Date Published: April 2nd, 2019

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 144 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: This Is The Journey is a stillness. A clean slate. A step back. An open window. 

The counterpart to The Day Is Ready For YouThis Is The Journey is a collection of poetry and prose to help bridge the space between wanting, waiting, and possibility.

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

This is the Journey is a follow-up to her previous collection, The Day is Ready For You. As the title would imply, she takes the reader on a journey throughout the work. This is both about her own personal journey as well as the reader’s. Not only does she write on very relatable emotions in general, the inclusion of actual events in her life adds that extra bit of humanity and realism into them. One of the main messages to take away from this collection is that we are not alone on our journey—we are bound together by similar feelings as we travel through life’s ups and downs.

Like the last collection, I found her writing to be equally as beautiful and powerful. She has a talent for really engaging a reader in each poem and pulling them into her words.  I was completely hook just on the gorgeous writing alone, but there are so many other ways that Malee’s words moved me. I felt a deep connection with the vivid emotions and imagery she uses to convey the meaning of each piece. In my opinion, her poems are complex and sometimes abstract and it works perfectly for the equally complex emotional journey she is writing about. I would highly recommend giving her work a try and I definitely plan to read more of it in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: DROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker and Planting Gardens in Graves II by r.h. Sin

dropkickromanceDROPKICKromance by Cyrus Parker

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: March 6th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 176 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: “dropkick this broken heart and make it feel again.”

From pro-wrestler-turned-poet Cyrus Parker comes a poetic memoir that tells the tale of two relationships. The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on Parker’s current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace, who penned a beautiful foreword for the book. This collection takes you by hand and brings you on a journey through first love, heartbreak, and learning to love again.

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

This collection ended up being a really lovely read. It is split into two parts. The first part deals with a relationship Parker had that was quite harmful and toxic. The second part focuses on his current relationship with fellow poet Amanda Lovelace—a much healthier and loving relationship. His story is a fascinating one to hear and this format works very well to convey the deepest emotions he experiences during these events. His words are raw and powerful as he gives his readers a very personal look at his life.

It is incredibly brave when a poet delves this deeply into such personal matters and I commend the fact that he went and put himself out there like this. I believe his words will inspire and benefit many readers. The messages within each poem are not solely autobiographical—they serve to remind us that we are all human and that, thought we may feel alone in our journey through life, we are not. I am definitely a fan of Cyrus Parker’s work and I look forward to reading plenty more of it in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

plantinggardensingravesIIPlanting Gardens in Graves II by r.h. Sin

My Rating: 1/5 TARDISes

Series: Planting Gardens in Graves #2

Date Published: July 10th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 224 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: From the beloved author of Whiskey, Words, and a Shovel comes the second volume in his newest series.

r.h. Sin continues his bestselling series with Planting Gardens in Graves IIanother powerful collection of poetry that hones in on the themes dearest to his readers. This series celebrates connection, mourns heartbreak, and above all, empowers its readers to seek the love they deserve.

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

I think this is going to be the end of my journey through r.h. Sin’s work. It really is just not for me. I enjoyed the first few collections I read by him and was quite hopeful, but as I read the others, things went downhill. To be honest, I feel as though I am reading the exact same collection of poetry over and over again when it comes to his books. Not only are the topics repetitive, I swear there are some poems that are the same but worded slightly differently. That is the overall feeling that this collection gives.

It is very clear that Sin definitely has a talent for writing as his words tend to be quite beautiful. But the style he writes in pulls one’s attention away from that. His poetry can be hard to get into because they are quite choppy. It is not entirely clear why he cuts off lines where he does as there is no real powerful, emotional effect that comes from it. This causes me to become disconnected from the words and meaning, therefore taking away a lot of the desired impact.

As I have said in the past, it is nice to see a man writing poetry that speaks on the strength and beauty of women and does make an attempt at promoting equality. However, what bothers me is that there is still this feeling I get with some of his poems that he is portraying us more as an object or possession rather than as a human. That slight arrogance also remains, as he writes about how terrible all other men are and implies he is the only one worthy of being with a woman. I apologize if this review sounds like I am ranting in any way—it is absolutely not intended to offend or to criticize the author as a person. Both his writing and his treatment of subject matter just really rub me the wrong way.

1.0 TARDIS

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Reviews: Whispers From the Moon by Lee Broda and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

Whispers From the Moon by Lee Broda

My Rating: 2/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 22nd, 2018

Publisher: LB Entertainment LLC

Pages: 128 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Whispers From The Moon is a collection of poetry about
love
loss
grief
heartache
and the empowering of oneself, triumphing over all to celebrate the beauty of life.

It is divided into four chapters corresponding to the phases of the moon: full, waning, eclipse, waxing.

Lee Broda’s poetry is raw and evoking, sometimes dark and painful, while always searching to understand.

With her poetry having already touched thousands, Lee wishes for the reader to know she is never alone in her suffering or in joy. Her wish for him is that he explores the deep, hidden edges of his heart between the wandering words of her soul.

Whispers From The Moon is a companion to all of us in our life’s journeys, encouraging us to live authentically with passion, acceptance, forgiveness, and ultimately, love. 

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

Broda’s collection of poetry displays a wide range of very relatable emotions centering around both the joy and pain that makes up the fabric of love. The collection is broken up into four different phases of the moon: full, waning, eclipse, and waxing. It is very obvious that she delved quite deeply into her own heart and life experience in order to produce these poems. Unfortunately, this collection just did not appeal to me. One of the main issues I had with it was the fact that I completely failed to connect to much of it. There were many times where I was unable to understand her imagery and what she was going for with a poem’s meaning.

Another issue was that I could not understand why certain poems were connected with the name of the section they fell under, or how they related to any of the other poems within that section. Though she made a big point of breaking the collection up into four phases of the moon, I personally could not find any correlation among the poems within each section. I came away not knowing why exactly she had done this, due to the fact that there did not seem to be a specific theme that linked the poems together.

To me, things felt jumbled and unorganized so it was challenging to follow along. This pulled me out of the reading experience and tore away any connection to the words for me. Overall, it is not a poorly written collection by any means. It was just simply not for me and I’m sure many other readers will take away much more than I did. I applaud Broda for writing down such personal details and emotions and putting them out there for others to read.

2.0 TARDISes

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisoneThe Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Women Are Some Kind of Magic #3

Date Published: March 5th, 2019

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 208 pages

Source: Publisher

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet and USA TODAY bestselling author Amanda Lovelace presents the mermaid’s voice returns in this one — the third and final installment in her “women are some kind of magic” series, featuring a foreword from Lang Leav and 13 guest poems from leading voices in poetry such as Nikita Gill, KY Robinson, and Orion Carloto.

The mermaid is known for her siren song, luring bedroom-eyed sailors to their demise. However, beneath these misguided myths are tales of escapism and healing, which Lovelace weaves throughout this empowering collection of poetry, taking you on a journey from the sea to the stars. They tried to silence her once and for all, but the mermaid’s voice returns in this one.

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

This collection is the third and final installment in a series of poetry collections. Each one tells a story of the strength and resilience of women in a world that does not allow them the equality they deserve. Lovelace uses her own life experience and her personal story throughout the course of the collection. She truly weaves her words and themes together into a tale that is captivating and threaded with raw emotion. Out of the three collections, this one fell in the middle for me in terms of my enjoyment of it.

I absolutely adored the first one and felt such a deep connection to it. She primarily focused on her own life journey, which I found fascinating to read. In the second one, she strayed away from this and, while she did include personal stories, is felt much more general. It was a bit more difficult to connect to on a personal level. This one is a great blend of the two, mixing poems about her experiences with poems that give a broader look at women’s rights and their strength. In all three, she does a beautiful job of demonstrating these themes in a passionate and inspiring way. I really enjoy her work and I cannot wait to read more in the future.

4.0 TARDISes

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Review: Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

beneaththesugarskyBeneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Wayward Children #3

Date Published: January 9th, 2018

Publisher: Tor

Pages: 174 pages

Source: Purchased

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Beneath the Sugar Sky returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

Sumi died years before her prophesied daughter Rini could be born. Rini was born anyway, and now she’s trying to bring her mother back from a world without magic.

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This is a spoiler-free review, but may contain some spoilers for Every Heart a Doorway.

Beneath the Sugar Sky is yet another novel that is pure magic and further cements this series into my all-time favorites list. McGuire presents readers with an exquisitely crafted tale that dabbles in friendship, darkness, and nonsense and takes us on a captivating and powerful journey. Though the worlds are as fantastical as always, the multi-dimensional characters and relatable themes make this story incredibly easy to become absorbed in. McGuire expertly creates something that readers can easily relate to and builds up the world around them so that one is fully immersed in the enchantment of this fractured fairytale.

While this novel does return to the setting of the first, the story is structured in a much different way. We are taken from Eleanor West’s School for Wayward Children and travel through a variety of portal worlds that we have only heard of thus far. It is an adventure unlike any other with a beautiful and diverse cast of characters—both old and new. It is a wholly unique tale that combines fantasy with reality and celebrates our differences and the qualities that make us human. And, above all, it is about love, belonging, and the camaraderie that can form between an unlikely group of young heroes.

In this novel, we follow four kids from the School for Wayward Children—Cora, Nadya, Christopher, and Kade—and their unexpected guest, Rini. Every single character in this novel is absolutely brilliant and the friendship that binds them together, even more so. They fully accept each other for who they are and treat each other with equal amounts of respect. McGuire’s characters are always so lovable and I adore every second I get to spend with them. Time and time again, she is able to create fully fleshed out characters very quickly and fluidly, as these stories are quite short.

All of the novels in this series feature a huge amount of diversity and this one, in particular, demonstrates this extremely well. McGuire takes things such as sexuality, race, disabilities, gender identity, and size and folds them into the story. She does not highlight these qualities in a way where they clearly stand out compared to the rest of the plot. Instead, she treats them as pure, natural facts about her characters—it is just a part of who they are and that is all that matters. She does not make a big deal out of it, instead, showing how important it is to see people for who they are. We are all exactly who we were meant to be and nothing that makes us who we are is abnormal or should be a cause for discrimination. We are all equal. That is how she treats her characters and this is one of the many reasons why I love this series.

Through all the magic and nonsense and impossibilities, the humanity radiates from behind it all. It ties us so closely to the characters—the struggles and environments—despite the fantastical nature of the storyline. Adding in issues that run rampant in our society and take a toll on people—particularly younger people—allows readers to relate to each character and the obstacles they face. This also provides insight into the many problems that plague us and how everyone’s story is different. Every moment, this novel reminds us how important it is to be open-minded and, above all, that even though life carries each and everyone one of us through a unique journey, we all share one similarity that links us. We are still human.

The worlds that McGuire creates are utterly enchanting and easy to become a part of. They are so vividly described and I could always form a clear picture in my mind. For the first time, we are taken into multiple worlds, which was absolutely fascinating. In such a short period of time, she meticulously constructs them and seamlessly fits them into the adventure of the characters. These glimpses have left me dying to see more of each character’s individual world and hear their full backstories.

As always, McGuire’s writing is skillful and beautiful. The emotions that she evokes throughout the novel are palpable and her worlds are painstakingly created to the point of absolute solidity. She has the perfect voice for telling these types of narratives that are styled very much like modern fairytales. This voice of hers breathes life into every page, every element of the narrative itself.

The novel is imaginative—sugary sweet as the cover of the book with an undercurrent of sadness and longing. She fills it with adventure and magic while also weaving in the struggles people face in reality. Insecurities, fears, desire for acceptance—these and many more topics can be seen as the base for this story. This is what makes her stories feel so real—like we as readers could simply step through a door and instantly find ourselves exploring these breathtakingly beautiful worlds. They are each built up around us in such a detailed, multi-dimensional way that it is almost impossible for them and the characters to not take up residence in one’s mind. McGuire truly is an artist. If you have not begun this series yet, I highly urge you to give it a try.

5.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye by Kurt Luchs and The Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

itsfunnyuntilsomeonelosesaneyeIt’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) by Kurt Luchs

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 1st, 2017

Publisher: Sagging Meniscus Press

Pages: 210 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Fiction. This collection of stories by Kurt Luchs pursues its comedic quarry with the ruthlessness of a pussycat trying to get out of a cardboard box. Luchs, who has written for august literary organs such as The Onion, The New Yorker, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and even been published by some of them, is an inspired comic writer in the tradition of P.J. Wodehouse, S.J. Perelman, and Woody Allen, for whom not only the world but language itself is a source of constant delight. Even the hilarity he generates is not an end in itself; the convulsing diaphragms of his laughing readers are in his hands a remotely operated musical instrument bridging the woodwind and percussion sections.

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

This book is a collection of standalone outrageous and comical essays and stories. I love reading, watching, and listening to anything humorous. Comedy is important these days—we all need to be able to laugh with all the insanity going on around us! And I have an extremely random, sarcastic, and silly sense of humor. However, this collection actually ended up being a bit too random and bizarre even for me, which was a huge surprise. Don’t get me wrong, there were a number of funny stories in this compilation, but there were also plenty that I just didn’t find much humor in. Even the stories that did crack me up were not “laugh-out-loud” funny—they were just okay.

Unfortunately, I ended up feeling rather unsatisfied overall with this collection. I was eager to read it, and maybe I went in with higher expectations than I should have—this was my first experience with Luchs’ writing. Though it did get some laughs out of me, none of the stories really stood out to me, and even now, I can’t remember much of them. There were some parts that did connect with me and my cynical and silly style of humor, but I wish it had been a little bit more consistent all the way through. In the end, it was a bit slow to get through and not as memorable as I had hoped, but it still provided me with a bit of comedy.

3.0 TARDISes

thelasttimeillwriteaboutyouThe Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

My Rating: 3/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: January 30th, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 176 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: The Last Time I’ll Write About You is popular Filipino YA and romance writer Dawn Lanuza’s debut collection of poetry. Featuring beautiful, relatable poems about first love, this book is the perfect companion for anyone who has loved, lost, and emerged anew.

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

The main focus of this particular collection is love, relationships ending, and the power every human has to process the grief and recover from it. Lanuza’s words truly show the strength and skill we all have inside that allows us to build ourselves back up again after we break apart. She writes short and simple poems that she injects with more depth despite their size—and she has quite a beautiful style of writing.

However, there were only a handful of poems that really stood out among the rest for me. Other than that—while well written—many seemed too reminiscent of the typical poems written in this newly popular style of very short but powerful poetry. That style didn’t always work out in her favor.

I also feel as though I might not have gotten everything out of these poems that I should have. While I could recognize the emotion and power in Lanuza’s words, I couldn’t quite connect properly to many of the topics and themes that spoke on romantic love. I have very limited personal experience in that area, so it was hard to relate on that front.

However, the message of strength through grief is something that I can apply to other parts of my life—such as a loved one passing away—and with that in mind, I felt the impact of her words slightly more. Though this particular collection did not blow me away, it still made for a fairly interesting read. I would recommend giving it a try and seeing if and how these poems speak to you.

3.0 TARDISes

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Reviews: Through the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Edward Bonner and Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

throughtheeyesofalostboyThrough the Eyes of a Lost Boy by Ed Bonner

My Rating: 3.5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: August 29th, 2017

Publisher: eTreasures Publishing LLC

Pages: 165 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: Dedicated to all who believe and imagine.

Collection of poetry about:

Love

Loss

Trauma and Pain

Healing

A journey through the eyes of a young boy to adulthood

The book introduces a new look of being exposed

Someone willing not to hide behind a tree

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

This was a decent collection of poetry. Edward Bonner has compiled poems that encompass every aspect of his life so far, from childhood up until his current age. Recently, I’ve been extremely interested in more personal poetry that chronicles various events in the writer’s life, and this was a fairly enjoyable one. It was intriguing to see Bonner reflect on all the aspects of his life that shaped him into who he is today. As the collection progresses, he picks apart and comes to term with many of his most intense emotions and the pain of a rough childhood.

You get the sense that Bonner is conveying an understanding that he has gathered through the years—he is finally able to properly comprehend and express the feelings he could not as a child. The collection as a whole truly makes you feel the incredible mental and emotional journey Bonner has gone through since he was a young boy, and that makes his words very poignant. Each poem flows into the next, giving it a very story-like quality. With a kind and intelligent voice, Bonner takes his readers on a ride that is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

3.5 TARDISes

quietgirlinanoisyworldQuiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: November 7th, 2017

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Pages: 177 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Sweet, funny, and quietly poignant, Debbie Tung’s comics reveal the ups and downs of coming of age as an introvert.

This illustrated gift book of short comics illuminates author Debbie Tung’s experience as an introvert in an extrovert’s world. Presented in a loose narrative style that can be read front to back or dipped into at one’s leisure, the book spans three years of Debbie’s life, from the end of college to the present day. In these early years of adulthood, Debbie slowly but finally discovers there is a name for her lifelong need to be alone: she’s an introvert. 

The first half of the book traces Debbie’s final year in college: socializing with peers, dating, falling in love (with an extrovert!), moving in, getting married, meeting new people, and simply trying to fit in. The second half looks at her life after graduation: finding a job, learning to live with her new husband, trying to understand social obligations when it comes to the in-laws, and navigating office life. Ultimately, Quiet Girl sends a positive, pro-introvert message: our heroine learns to embrace her introversion and finds ways to thrive in the world while fulfilling her need for quiet.

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

This was a very humorous, adorably drawn, and highly relatable collections of vignettes on the struggles of growing up as an introvert in an extroverted world. The overall concepts and feelings are not anything new to comics and graphic novels, and in this way, it might come off as a little repetitive. At the same time, however, everything in this collection is made much more unique due to the focus on Tung’s own personal experiences as well as by her wonderful art style. Through each individual comic, we follow Tung in the years after college as she learns to navigate being an adult while also accommodating her introverted nature.

As a majorly introverted young adult myself, I had absolutely no trouble identifying with many of these situations and emotions. Tung portrays everything perfectly to the point where you feel like this book is written for and about you. The art is magnificent and enhances the reading experience and the message Tung is conveying. Overall, this is a very warm and touching book that sends a great message—it’s all right to be an introvert! This is a very heartwarming and funny read that I believe will be extremely easy for a lot of readers to connect with.

4.0 TARDISes

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