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.


*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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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:



Trauma and Pain


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


*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.


*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


Review: Camp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein

campmidnightCamp Midnight by Steven T. Seagle and Jason Katzenstein

My Rating: 4/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 3rd, 2016

Publisher: Image Comics

Pages: 248 pages

Source: Netgalley

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Ben 10 and Big Hero 6 creator Steven T. Seagle returns to comics with New Yorker Magazine cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein for a new graphic novel! Reluctant Skye is accidentally sent to the wrong summer camp. Not wanting to please her step monster, Skye is dead-set on not fitting in. That won’t be a problem, as everyone at Camp Midnight-with the exception of fellow camper and fast-friend Mia-is a full-fledged monster! The perfect book for fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, but wish it had more bowls of gooey eyeballs.


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

This is a spoiler-free review.

I’ve been in the mood to read some new graphic novels lately, so when I saw this one, I figured I would give it a go—and I am incredibly glad that I did. Camp Midnight is a fast, wacky, and highly enjoyable read for both the young and young at heart. Bizarre creatures and humorous dialogue fill the pages, creating a story about the power of friendship and the importance of acceptance, with a clever supernatural twist. It is truly one of those simple, feel-good novels, perfect if you are in the mood for something light and positive.

The story begins as the protagonist, Skye, is very reluctantly heading to spend the summer with her distant father and obnoxious stepmother while her mother is away. She is not at all excited about the prospect of staying there, but finds out that they have concocted an even worse plan behind her back—summer camp! Wanting to punish her family for this shocking betrayal, she is determined to have as horrible a time as possible. But fate has other plans. Turns out, they have put her on the wrong bus, and Skye is in for an unusual and far more monstrous summer than she originally expected.


I thought the writing itself was fantastic—everything about it was absolutely spot on. The dialogue was often quite hilarious and the humor was right up my alley. It was clever and witty, and had me smiling to myself many times throughout my reading of it. In addition to the humor and silliness, however, there was also a much deeper message underneath it all that I was not expecting to get out of this novel.

The plot deals with some themes that everyone will be able to easily relate to. This is a story that makes you think about what the true definition of a monster really is, and does it in the most literal way possible. As Skye finds out, sometimes humans can be far more monstrous on the inside than those who are on the outside. This less than realistic story focuses on the very real topic of tolerance and acceptance of others based on what’s on the inside, not on outer appearances.

Seagle and Katzenstein have worked together to create a cast of wonderfully quirky and memorable characters. Sassy, sarcastic, and hilarious, Skye makes a solid protagonist. Though certain aspects of all the characters were a bit exaggerated for the purpose of the story, she was exceedingly relatable—we have all been through similar experiences and realizations in some form or another.


Mia is lovely and absolutely adorable, playing an extremely important role in both Skye’s life and in the plot as a whole. The parents and the stepmother are all written to be ridiculously horrible, either in their behavior toward Skye or in terms of taking care of her. After all, they didn’t even notice that she had gotten on the wrong bus for camp. They are all a bit of a caricature, but the over-the-top way they act fits with the atmosphere of the comic. It is supposed to be exaggerated and amusing, and their personalities serve as a means to convey this feeling.


The art in this novel is absolutely phenomenal and works brilliantly well with the text of the story. The design of it is very reminiscent of what I normally think of as classic comic style. It is simple and cartoon-like, very much like sketches, with various marks and patterns used as accent details. Certain features of both the setting and characters are amplified in order to exhibit what Seagle wants the reader to see as most important, furthering that caricature-like feel. This type of drawing matched perfectly with the comedy and quirkiness of the story, while still portraying the creepier, monstrous aspect of the setting and supporting characters.

The multihued color palette varied from vibrant shades to darker or more muted shades, corresponding flawlessly with changes in mood, setting, and time of day. On numerous occasions, Katzenstein juxtaposes the vibrant and muted tones to further bring out the atmosphere of each panel and current emotions of the characters. As a whole, the art was incredibly effective when it came to breathing life into every aspect of the story.


The only real complaint that I had was that I felt the ending came rather abruptly. I would have liked to see a little more regarding how Skye’s experiences at camp changed her ways of thinking about and acting toward others. I would have even liked to see just a tiny bit more of her final days at the camp. Everything finished rather suddenly following the climax, and it felt like I had missed out on some important events in the plot. Though there was an adequate wrap up to the story, it was lacking a bit when it came to tying in the main message.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading this graphic novel, and I think I would have loved it even more had I been reading it back in elementary or middle school. Camp Midnight was a charming story, brought to life with colorful art and equally colorful characters. Seagle puts a wacky spin on a common theme, conveying the message in a unique and intriguing way. This ended up being a quick, satisfying read that hooked me from page one and kept a smile on my face until the very end.

4.0 TARDISes


Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

nimonaNimona by Noelle Stevenson

My Rating: 5/5 TARDISes

Series: Standalone

Date Published: May 12th, 2015

Publisher: HarperTeen

Pages: 266 pages

Source: Library

Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Synopsis: Nemeses! Dragons! Science! Symbolism! All these and more await in this brilliantly subversive, sharply irreverent epic from Noelle Stevenson. Featuring an exclusive epilogue not seen in the web comic, along with bonus conceptual sketches and revised pages throughout, this gorgeous full-color graphic novel is perfect for the legions of fans of the web comic and is sure to win Noelle many new ones. 

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. Their mission: prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and his buddies at the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren’t the heroes everyone thinks they are. 

But as small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona’s powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.


This is a spoiler-free review.

This was my first experience with Noelle Stevenson’s work and I was completely blown away by her talent. Nimona started out as an award-winning, serialized web comic that was published as a full graphic novel; Stevenson does both the artwork and the writing for it. Given the theme of super villains, I knew right away that I was probably going to enjoy this story. I did not, however, expect to love it nearly as much as I did. The plot, the characters, the art—everything met and exceeded all of my expectations.

I first discovered Noelle Stevenson and Nimona a few months ago through watching Booktube, and I am extremely glad that I did. Finding out that she writes and illustrates her own graphic novels was something that instantly intrigued me. I have always loved the idea of an author being able to do the artwork that corresponds with their text. That personal touch not only allows the illustrations to flow more seamlessly with the words, but it gives the most accurate possible depiction of what is going on in the author’s mind. This can be particularly captivating when it comes to this medium, as it relies so heavily on the visual aspect, and this was definitely true of this novel.


The story itself has a perfect mixture of hilarious and heartwarming moments, and it is completely packed with witty humor. There was also a deepness and complexity to the plot that I was not originally expecting to get out of it. To me, this felt like a sort of caricature of the types of stories where the villains are not entirely evil and the supposed “good guys” are not truly the heroes.

It stars the notorious, not so villainous super villain, Ballister Blackheart, and his reckless new shape-shifting sidekick, Nimona. Nimona’s main mission is to make Ballister into a better super villain so they can cause as much general destruction as possible. On the other hand, Ballister’s main goal is to prove that his friend turned nemesis, Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics are far more corrupt than people realize. Ballister is, in fact, quite against creating havoc, and steadfastly refuses to hurt or kill anyone. Obviously, delightfully hysterical shenanigans ensue.


All of the characters in this story are extremely interesting and wonderfully endearing. The relationship between Ballister and Nimona is lovely. She has sort of forced herself into the position of sidekick, and she does a lot of things that he does not always approve of. But they take care of one another, and you can see very clearly just how much they care about each other. Together, they make a great—and only moderately destructive—team. Ballister and Ambrosius’s relationship is beautiful and done to perfection. I really appreciated how Stevenson fluidly works their romance into the plot without making a huge fuss about it; it feels perfectly normal and accepted, as it should.


The best part to me about reviewing a graphic novel is that I get to talk about the artwork, which, in this novel, was absolutely fantastic. The style was colorful and comical, fitting absolutely flawlessly with the themes in and tone of the plot. I loved the fact that she designed her work more like sketches, focusing less on having thorough detailing. The composition of the text itself had a very handwritten feel to it, and matched the overall style nicely. The entire graphic novel was solidly constructed as a whole, and made for an incredibly entertaining reading experience.


I cannot recommend this highly enough, particularly if you are new to graphic novels. I am relatively new to them myself, as I have only begun reading them in the last year or so and have only read a handful. Nimona was one of my first real experiences with them, and an absolutely magnificent one at that. This story has the perfect mix of comedic and heartfelt moments, and beautiful artwork on top of that. It is a hilarious, fun, and captivating read that will put a smile on your face and leave you feeling good long after you have turned the final page. I am really looking forward to reading more of Noelle Stevenson’s work in the future.

5.0 TARDISes