Disney’s Real Life Book Review

I purchased this book the same day I met my editor. She was having a book signing at a Chapter’s in the area and at the time I had no idea she would become my editor! I just thought she was really nice and her books sounded fantastic.

That day I was also lucky enough to be shopping with my Nana, who like me buys a lot of books and had about three or four gift cards on her. Basically, Nana gave me the go ahead to go nuts and buy as many books as I wanted (within reason), so I decided I’d try some new series. Her store was massive and carried a lot more of the graphic novels and manga’s than the location near me at the time. The new locations near me are…gorgeous! We have so many books in those sections now.

Anyway, one of the book I grabbed my Real Life, which I thought looked kind of cute. I liked the art style and the fact that there was a diverse cast of character’s. I also thought the synopsis sounded really good. As you know my TBR continues to grow daily…so it took me until 2021 to actually read this book that’s been glaring at me from the shelf for these past few years.

Now, I want to start off by saying that yes, I liked the idea but I have some critiques because I was disappointed by how certain things were implemented. My main critique is is with the diversity, the same thing that I was excited about.

The book follows three girls, Amber, Alice and Andrea, who all have a crush on Thomas, a guy who seems to have popped out of thin air who looks exactly like the fake profile they made on Real Life, an app that’s almost like a combination of facebook and instagram. Amber is black or mixed race with black. I was never really sure as she has red hair and green eyes and the reader’s only see her mom. Alice is white, blonde hair and blue eyes and then Andrea is Asian, specifically Japanese as her last name is Tanaka.

Left to Right: Amber, Alice and Andrea

As I mentioned when I first saw the cover of this book, I was excited because it gives the illusion that these three girls are a close knit group of friends. They’re all happy and smiling together doing this really cute group pose. However, when I started reading it quickly became clear that these three girls were merely playing into negative racial stereotypes, mainly Amber and Andrea.

I’ll start by discussing Amber. Amber falls into the mean black hottie trope, which is used so often in television that it gets on my nerves. I have yet to watch a show where the black or mixed girl is portrayed as shy or gentle or clumsy. I wanted to like Amber but every time I thought “she’s not that bad” she did or said something that seriously rubbed me the wrong way. All I kept thinking was how it sucked that this rude, bratty girl was the only representation of a black female character in this entire book. If she was contrasted by another character who was well…to put it plainly nice, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Another thing that continued to happen with her character, is that her complexion changed constantly. I don’t know about anyone else, but my skin colour definitely doesn’t magically switch between races because I’m mixed race? If I suddenly went all pale, I’d definitely go check in with a doctor or something. The inconsistency with her skin tone was extremely frustrating. In the first chapter alone, there are several instances where her and Alice are the exact same colour.

Next Andrea, who was equally messy. Of course, the Asian girl is the honour student, grades driven, super smart, nerd. Like I haven’t seen that a million times. At least she has a secret love for art. I preferred her character a little more than Amber’s and it was only because there were other Asian female character’s that she could be contrasted with. If those other girls weren’t there I would have went, “Oh look the Asian Nerd Trope.” Sadly, there were points where Andrea, like Amber was just…mean.

Lastly Alice, who ends up being the most likeable character. She’s the one that I found myself rooting for, why? Because she was nice. She’s the target of bullies at her school. Mainly cyber-bullying and her brother who attends the same school, doesn’t do anything to stop it. He’s actually annoyed by her and treats her like a burden. Her parents want her to play volleyball for her dad’s team. She’s good at it, it’s about the only thing she’s good at, however she has a love for theatre and wants to act in the school play. Alice is portrayed as a hopeless romantic, hopeless klutz and a hopeless dork…and yet, you like her character because you HOPE things will turn out well for her in the end.

Alice is also contrasted by other female character’s who look like her, and males too. Contrast is important when you have a diverse cast. Why, because not all people are the same. Not all jocks are the same. Not all nerds are the same. Not all theatre kids are the same. The. Contrast. Is. Important.

This story is in England and from what I’ve heard (and have seen on BBC) it’s very multicultural, so for two out of three leading ladies to fall into these typical racial book/film tropes is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for it. It’s no wonder that the book received 3.5 stars on Goodread’s. Like, this story could be really good but it’s hard to ignore how these girls were basically created by using a checklist. Not only that but there was also racist imagery in the book of one of the girls with buck teeth and slanted eyes, dressed as an “Eskimo” in Alaska. That’s a huge nope. How did that get the green light in 2018?

There’s no excuse for how Amber and Andrea are portrayed, nor for that imagery. It’s frustrating seeing these negative, racial stereotypes used constantly. It’s as tired as using the Dumb Jock or the Mean Cheerleader. I knew a few cheerleader’s back in high school and, I’d say 80% of them were the sweetest people I have ever met. I only have good things to say about them! They were down to earth, cared about their friends and stood up for their classmates when they saw something wrong.

I’m not saying that I think Alice should have been portrayed differently, I’m just saying that it would have been nice if the writer’s actually give Amber and Andrea a chance! I really tried to like them. I did…but by having these two girls just act as stereotypes, it really took away from the story. I don’t even know if I want to read the rest of this series. I’m so disappointed.

As for the rating…I’m stuck between 2.5 and 3…mainly because there were elements of the plot that were interesting but the thing that drew me to this book in the first place felt like a huge slap in the face once I started reading.

I’m going with 2.5

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I don’t care if it was 2018, this book fell into the category of diversity baiting…and I can’t even express how much I hate that. Proper diversity is showing a variety of character’s of different backgrounds who compliment and contrast one another. They don’t play into racist stereotypes, they are 3 dimensional. These character’s actually get backstories, have families and hobbies…like, why is Amber so mean? There was no reason other than “She’s the Queen Bee.” Really? That’s it? It’ not a defence mechanism? She just bosses people around and acts like a spoiled brat because she can? Andrea, likes to study and everyone’s always talking about how she’s going to get the Nobel Prize some day. She’s so smart! People call her a nerd. Like at least they gave her the whole bit about her mom trying to set her up with all these random guys but still…”I don’t have time for boys. I have to study.” Seriously?

I’m glad other reviewers felt the same way about these character’s. When I started I really thought “give it a chance maybe it’ll invert the tropes or something” but no. Nope. Not at all.

Anyway, that’s my rant. Looking forward to seeing REAL diversity in YA books going forward.

Upcoming Reviews

2021 is here and I am pumped about all the books on my TBR! I have high hopes. I was accepted for 2 arc reviews that I’m looking forward to reading. Along with that I’ve decided on the books and series that I’ll be starting the year off with!

Manga:

Marmalade Boy:

I’ve already read and reviewed the first volume in this series. I’m currently on volume 6 now…and yes I’ve only been reading it for a few days.

Do I sleep? Ha…not since I started reading this.

That aside, I plan on doing a full series review once I get through each and every volume of this series. I can’t wait!

I might also review the anime after I finish the series!

Ultra Maniac

I’m familiar with this series but haven’t read it, so I thought “Hey, I’m on an 90s early 00s manga binge right now. Why not go for it!”

It sounds really cute. I can’t wait to review it!

Fever

I know very little about this series. I judged it by it’s cover. I know…bad…but it’s a book, we do that sometimes.

I also read the synopsis and it sounded kind of interesting. I’m taking a risk giving this manwha a chance.

The cover art for the series is gorgeous.

Lovely Lesson

Lovely Lesson is another series that I’m not very familiar with but I thought it might be interesting to read.

This one I judged by the synopsis and the cover.

Who knows maybe it’ll be a fun read?

Perfect World (Vol 1 – 3)

This is a series I picked up on a whim. I was given the first three volumes from Book Santa. Yes, there is such thing. Book Santa is the Santa that gives you books. It’s the same as regular Santa but…you get BOOKS! Isn’t that awesome!?

Anyway the series looks really good and I’m looking forward to reading it!

Blood on the Tracks (Vol.1 and 2)

The first book of this series had me shooketh to the core. Like whoa…

Anyway no spoilers! This is the only horror on my list for as you can see the others are all shojo, romance types. This however was dubbed by one YouTuber as “the series that breaks people” and so I totally had to read it.

I actually stumbled upon it by accident. See, first I saw it at the store and was like “I wonder what that’s about” and then I went home and finished watching a YouTube video that was talking about the history of Horror and how the Horror genre’s book covers have lost their identity. Immediately after that video finished another began to auto-play, featuring Blood on the Tracks.

The following day I bought volume 1.

Then volume 2 was given to me by Book Santa!

I can’t wait to review these.

Comics

Jughead’s Time Police:

If you weren’t aware, I’m a big fan of the Archie comics. I’ve been reading them for as long as I can remember. My mom had a bunch and so did my great-uncle. In university I started adding my own books to the collection, especially after my great-uncle passed away.

My only comment about this franchise is that I wish they would watch out for spelling errors. I’ve purchased several in recent years that had at least 3 mistakes each. I’m not usually this picky about print errors and things but 3 or more mistakes becomes distracting to the reader. I also feel that with such a large company, this really shouldn’t be happening as frequently as it does. If I find any in this comic, I will comment about it in the review and it will probably taint the overall rating, because as I mentioned this wouldn’t be the first time.

That aside, the Jughead comics in these past few years have been really fun! I loved the Sabrina cross overs as well. Jughead’s Time Police covers all the variations of Jughead throughout the comic (and Riverdale’s) history. Basically I’m hoping this comic has the character poking fun at himself. It’ll be fun to see a bunch of Jugheads going head to head…get it? Head to head. Yah…it’s not that funny but I tried!

Novels

As mentioned I’ve been accepted for 2 ARC reviews! One of those is a novel. I’ll be sharing what book it is at a later date but I’m fairly excited to read it as I’d heard rumours about it circulating Bookstagram and got to see the cover reveal a little while back!

As for other novels, I’m still undecided. I’ve got some ideas in mind but because of the lock down I don’t currently have access to those books.

I may however, reread and review an old favourite of mine or even a few of the novels I was forced to read in university and high school…to see if my poor opinion of them changed.


I just want to finish off this post by saying a fly just flew into my cup and I am very sad. Just…why? It didn’t have to drown. It didn’t. But it did. In my drink. I am. So. Upset.

R.I.P Fly McGuy, Jan 4th, 2021

Book Review: Why Scott Pilgrim is Brilliant

It’s rare that I give a series such a compliment but after rereading Scott Pilgrim after all these years, I think that the compliment is well deserved.

I loved the series as a teenager and of course watched the film, like most of my friends (back when we could still rent videos in person) and most importantly we felt apart of something. Scott Pilgrim was a Canadian story. We knew the places it referenced. We could hear them, smell them, taste them…and that longing for representation in a country that is constantly bombarded with outside influences in media was such a wonderful thing to have.

Reading it again (in three days!) I was drawn in more than before. Captivated even. To be a twenty-something figuring out life and love and jobs and navigating dreams versus expectations. It was too real. Way too real…and yet comforting. Watching Scott and his friends struggle was sadly comforting.

I loved that there was comic book an video game elements put into a graphic novel series that was in the end a love story. A love story that didn’t always feel like a love story (especially when Scott had to fight all those evil exes) but somehow managed to be one. I suppose it also acted as a coming of age story…a story about a boy and his band and his girlfriend and his roommate Wallace who will forever be my favourite character. I cannot believe I forgot how much I loved his commentary.

I think most of this series still holds up well today. It’s definitely 5 stars. It deserves it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a comic book series with that amount of character development…and that is wild because I read a lot of them.

“Hey it’s that one guy!”

“Sweet coins!”

Books to Read in October

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”


― L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

As we near the end of September, we are greeted with the warm comforts of Fall: pumpkin spice, reds, yellows, oranges and purples, scarves, hats and sweaters and cozy blankets for those chilly afternoons when we want to curl up with a book in our lap.

I find that I tend to read more in the Fall. I like being wrapped up in a soft blanket with a cup of tea or sitting up late at night with a book in my lap until I nod off to sleep. I also find that the books I read during the Fall tend to be either comforting or have me on the end of my seat, especially as October comes around.

Last night I started reading Mexican Gothic, which had me hooked in the first chapter. I also found my name in the book which never happens. Of course it was a reference to Elizabeth Arden and not me, Ardin but that is who I was named after so I like to think of it as…I was meant to read this book. It’s not every day I buy a book solely based on the title and synopsis. I got three chapters in before I fell asleep and it is exactly what I was hoping for. Gothic literature at it’s finest. I don’t know what it is about the genre that I like so much but it is one that sucks me in.

A slightly less spooky book that I think would be perfect to reread in the Fall is Fake Blood. The book makes so many references to Twilight and it’s a great read for a younger audience (ages 9-12). I had so much fun reading it and I’ve never read the Twilight series or watched or read Vampire Diaries. It was the perfect mixture of funny, sweet and spooky!

Another book which is for the YA audience is Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Now don’t be confused CAOS fans, this graphic novel isn’t chilling. It’s fun, it’s full of what I call Sabrina oopsies and Salem talks and is as sassy as ever. I also recommend Jughead and Sabrina because again Sabrina is absolutely hilarious along with all of the spookiness that goes on in Greendale. No matter how bad things or how big of a mess she makes she somehow manages to find a way to fix things (or at least temporarily).

I don’t know what it is about L.M Montgomery and Fall but I’m often drawn to her work at this time of the year. I suppose her stories, because of their familiarity in Canadian culture are comforting. Despite my love for Anne however I want to recommend Emily. I adore Emily’s story just as much. Her friendship with Ilsa, her unwavering dream to write. Emily is often viewed as rebellious by those around her but it is this side of her that makes her strong and resilient. I feel like she’s seriously underrated. A lot of people don’t know she exists, and so I think it would be nice to introduce yourself to Emily this October (there’s also an anime if anyone is interested).

Lastly a book series that I continue to recommend over and over, Monster. Monster is incredibly chilling, incredibly thrilling and is a story that draws you in with its characters and plot. Not only is it a manga, it’s a historical fiction set in Germany which follows a Japanese Doctor as he tries to track down a patient that he never should have saved. Trust me, this series will have you staying up all kinds of hours reading. You won’t want to put it down!

What books are you looking forward to reading this Fall?

Book Talk Episode 17: Illustrated Covers

The other day at work, a co-worker of mine was admiring this beautifully illustrated book cover. I wish I could recall the name of the book so I could show an example, but her comment really made me think. She said, “I’m so glad that they’re going back to the illustrated version of this cover. I hate how boring a lot of covers have been these past few years.”

The two of us then went on to discuss how, since the first Twilight book came out a lot of book covers began to mimic the style and then ultimately readers were bombarded with stock images and lifeless photographs. Now, not to bash the creators of those types of covers…I believe that the covers for Twilight and their simplicity was actually well thought out. The issue that we discussed was that it seemed as though the plan was to get readers to buy a book because it had a similar cover to that of the Twilight series, versus coming up with something significant to the actual story.

I can clearly remember being a 13-15 year old wandering around my favourite bookstores and sighing at the cover art. I know that they say not to judge a book but it’s cover, but it’s the first thing a reader sees, not the review. Not the synopsis. Not the first page. The cover is what’s put on display for us.

Illustrated covers have always captured my attention. For example, the cover of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s absolutely beautiful. When I saw it, I immediately was drawn to the book! That is what a cover is supposed to do. It’s supposed to capture your attention.

The design itself isn’t too complicated, and yet it captures the eye. It stirs curiosity. It makes you wonder what’s inside.

Illustrated covers, in my personal opinion, do a better job of conveying certain types of stories. Especially within much of fiction. It makes them stand out more.

If you compare the classic horror book covers to current ones, you’ll find yourself greatly disappointed. A few of my friends who are avid horror readers lament over the lack of character given to horror books today in comparison to the ones printed in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

Look at this cover of Misery by Stephen King.

The illustrated version of this cover is eye catching, whereas the version with the snow covered cabin doesn’t peak my curiosity as much. It doesn’t pull me in as much. This however, is my personal opinion. I have however, seen some horror book reviewers (along with friends of mine who adore the genre) discuss this in more detail.

I recommend checking out the video, Horror Books Have Lost Their Identity. I’ve linked it below because I think it really summarizes what I’m discussing in this post.

As YouTuber In Praise of Shadows states in the video, book covers are supposed to give the reader some indication of the genre as well as what the story is about. However in recent years they have had to scan the covers for small clues…such as a single word in a review in fine print on the cover like, “haunting,” “shocking” or “disturbing.”

The older covers made it very clear what the books were about. Right now all of the covers, across these vast genres are blending together in a mess of bright colours and large font.

This video really grasps what my co-worker and I were discussing the other day. At some point all the books blend together.

I know many people who believe that The Hunger Games and the Divergent series are the same, simply because of how the covers were designed. People who know nothing about the plots for either series. This assumption came with how the books were marketed. I know that when I first saw the Divergent cover, I thought it was a Hunger Games spin off series. That was until I read the synopsis. I remember being almost…frustrated by how so many of the covers that came out that year, resembled The Hunger Games (and Twilight). I was so frustrated by it I missed out on reading a lot of potentially good books, and lost interest in much of what was published that year.

Now, as someone who also reads comic books and manga, I know how much work has to go into the covers for those. I’ve seen examples of some of the covers done for the more recent releases of the Jughead comics. There were several options done for the front cover, before one was selected by the team as the perfect cover. Guess what? I bought that comic solely based on the cover art.

Based on the cover you already know that Jughead and Sabrina are going to get themselves into some kind of mess (or fun!). Your eyes are draw to the different parts of it. The colours are eye catching. It makes you interested in the story.

When I look at some of the books being printed over the last few years, my curiosity isn’t peaked. A catchy title may draw me in but it’s the cover that makes me flip to the synopsis to learn more. It’s the cover that captivates me visually and draws me into this world created by the author. It’s the cover fills me with excitement.

I’m not saying that today’s covers are boring or lacking creativity. I know that design takes a long time. I just think that the genres are all blending together…to the point where each cover is more or less the same.

Even earlier this morning while I was looking at books. I was trying to guess where they went in the store, solely based on the covers. The adult romance books and the teen romance books were all clearly romance however the contrast between them was almost non-existent. I wasn’t able to tell which was YA and which wasn’t. Normally the shirtless cowboys are a dead giveaway. Not anymore. The majority of the books that I assumed were adult romances were actually YA. Some weren’t even romance books at all. They were coming of age novels. I must’ve blinked the confusion from my face at least 30 times while going through these books.

The fact that myself and many other readers are excited to see these unique, illustrated book covers just shows how much is lacking on the shelves. We want books that upon first glance make us excited, curious and capture our attention. We want to run our hands along the covers as we examine every detail, before continuing our individual book choosing rituals. Reading is an experience and for those like myself who read a lot and collect books it is extremely sad when books lack character in their design.

Sure, we shouldn’t judge books by their cover but covers convey so much. Like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Black Canary Ignite Review

Title: Black Canary Ignite.

Author: Meg Cabot

Age Group: Middle Grade, 9-12 years old.

When I heard that the author of The Princess Diaries was writing a comic book, and said comic book was about Black Canary, I knew I had to read it!

This book was definitely a fun read. I instantly recommended it to my niece once I was finished. It’s age appropriate, the characters are fun and Dinah is in a rock band. How cool is that?

The artwork, done by Cara McGee, who creates these charming images of Dinah and her friends. I loved the movement in the images as well. Plus everything was super warm and colourful (aside from the villains of course).

The story itself was fun. Honestly, I wish it had been a little longer…or perhaps split up into a series. I did however appreciate that the comic remained age appropriate as say…for example shows like Young Justice which were originally rated Y7 are now very clearly PG 13. In cases like this show I don’t mind as much, simply because the original target audience has grown up along with the characters. However when it comes to comic books I think it’s important to be very clear who the target age group is for. Which is why I always read books before giving them to my niece.

My niece really, really liked the comic. She found Dinah and her friends hilarious. She also wanted to help Dinah kick some Joker butt (who doesn’t wanna be a superhero right?).

We had so much fun reading it together and because of that it’s getting 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Who is your favourite superhero and if you could have one super power, what would it be?

I Bought Some New Books!

I picked up a couple books today that I am looking forward to reading in the very near feature.

The first was Mexican Gothic, which I also found out was by a Canadian while I was buying it today. Hello Silvia! It is a pleasure! I look forward to reading your book.

Haha…Who knows she may read this post someday. You never know?

I really am excited to read this. I read the synopsis while browsing for books online and I instantly wanted to read it.

The other’s I got were one that I ordered forever ago Chocolat, which was a series I was really into when I was 14. I only managed to get book 1 but I’ll keep my eye out for the others. I know the series was discontinued…which sucks because we got left with this big cliff hanger. I like to imagine my own endings when that sort of thing happens with a series.

Lastly I got Black Canary Ignite, which is about DC’s Black Canary (one of my faves btw) when she’s 13 years old. Bonus Meg Cabot is the author. That’s right, the author of Princess Diaries! What a stellar combo!

I’m stoked to read all three of these and if I like the Black Canary one I will definitely be passing it onto my niece. I personally prefer to read books before I give them to her. Mainly just to gauge the maturity level.

Middle Grade fiction (9-12 books) are a little tricky. I’d say YA (teen) is diffificult in the same way. I know from experience that although a book says it is meant for readers 9-12, it may be more for a 12 year old audience. 12 year old’s and 9 year old’s may seem close in age (and sometimes height…at least in my case), but the reality is that some books I got when I was 9 I absolutely hated because they were “boring.” When in reality I just wasn’t mature enough for the content. When I turned 11/12 I adored those same books I once hated.

As I mentioned YA is very similar. Books I enjoyed at 17, I might have hated at 13. Simply because I couldn’t relate to the character’s or found it “boring.”

This is why for example after reading Best Babysitters Ever, I decided to not give it to my niece until she’s about 10. I think she’ll enjoy the book but it is a bit longer than what she’s currently reading and I don’t want her to feel intimidated by all this vocabulary that she hasn’t grown accustom to yet. I think when she’s in 5th or 6th grade she will also relate to these character’s a lot more than as a 4th grader.

Another thing to note is it depends on the individual kid. Understanding their sense of humour, their level of maturity, what genres they like etc…so if you are choosing a book for a 9-12 or 13-18 year old, keep that in mind.

I’m used to recommending books as I work and spend most of my free time in bookstores…along with being an author and studying books…so uh…yah. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert or anything but I’ve come to learn what to think about when you are buying a book for someone else. It hasn’t failed me yet! So hopefully that gives me some credibility.

That aside, I’m really excited about all the books I’m reading going into September! I can’t wait. Sure my list keeps growing, but there are just so many wonderful things to be read!

Help! My TBR list keeps growing!

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the following tweets:

On top of this spontaneous haul, I’ve been trying to catch up on my TBR pile, one that has been accumulating over the span of about 3 years now. In university my sister and I would go buy new books just about every other weekend…just to get out of the house. At the time I also was blessed with many, many gift cards from my family members so that I could indulge in this ever growing obsession.

If not, it is my pleasure to announce that I went on a bit of a book binge…and the books I purchased had not initially been on my wishlist. My ever growing wishlist.

Sadly some books I purchased during my studies I never got around to because I was busy reading for school.

One thing they don’t tell you about studying literature is that it can make you hate reading. At least periodically….

What happens is you’re no loner reading for fun or being allowed to choose what you want to read…you have to read whatever is on the syllabus and some of it is the absolutely most boring, drab, dull pieces of literature in the entire existence of the written word.

Wow…that was really shady of me…but it’s honest.

My friends and I all expressed our disdain usually near midterms or examination periods for reading. Trying to force yourself to read books you absolutely hate can be just as stressful as writing essays on said books for your final.

My solution however wasn’t to stop reading altogether. I adore books. I adore reading. I used to spend hours in books stores browsing…which really annoyed my family but as I’ve gotten older I’ve become the “designated book person” where I basically buy books for them that I think they’ll enjoy or help them find ones that they’ve had their eye on.

I’m also the one who picks books to give my niece for her birthday and Christmas gifts. I always go for something I think she’ll actually get a kick out of. She likes books with a lot of crazy shenanigans so I actually have a lot of fun choosing them for her. It also gives me an excuse to randomly read children’s and MG fiction again (and honestly a lot of them are brilliant!)

Sorry I got a bit off topic there…but basically my solution was to read comics and manga for fun and read the novels I had to read for school. Thus my comic and manga collection grew immensely and in turn rekindled my love for reading.

This form of literature reads a lot faster, so I had time to read them between completing my assigned readings for class. On top of that, because of the artwork they were barely boring (even in some where the plot got a bit dry at times).

Anyway, I’ve been desperately trying to catch up on these books during quarantine and as a result I reached my 2020 reading goal very quickly…and decided to increase it. Which I’ll probably do again because I just bought a bunch of books and have a lot more I’m planning on reading.

As you saw from my Tweet I bought the first three books from the series Nana. I also bought Paradise Kiss (I got the 20th anniversary edition!) and the first book to a manwha I read in high school called Chocolat.

However on top of those I have several books on my wishlist that I’m planning on getting in the very near future:

The first being Love in Focus Books 2 and 3. As mentioned in my review of book 1 I’m really looking forward to continuing this series. I instantly felt drawn to the characters!

I’m also looking forward to reading A Song of Wraiths and Ruin. So many people have recommended this book to me and the reviews have been fantastic. I’m really excited about it.

I also have Mexican Gothic on my wishlist along with The War Widow. Some of my favourite reads in university were in the American Southern Gothic genre (I’m Canadian). So Mexican Gothic got me very excited by the synopsis. I really want to read this book. I haven’t heard any reviews on it yet either…so I’m extremely curious!

As for other manga (aside from Love in Focus) I’ve been looking forward to getting the new releases from the series Love Me, Love Me Not, and Daytime Shooting Star. I’ve also had a book from this series called Living-room Matsunaga-san that keeps popping up in my recommendations, so I’ve added book 1 to my wishlist.

I plan on reviewing all of them, which seems a bit ambitious at the moment since I’m currently reading 4 books and am planning on starting several others later this week.

What I’m Reading Right Now:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Takane and Hana Vol.2

Papillon Vol. 3

The Girl From the Other Side Vol. 2

I just finished reading Monster Vol. 3 and I plan on starting Second Best, Anna Blue off the Record and A Girl on the Shore as well. So…yah. I’m basically going to have to force myself not to binge buy anything on my wishlist else until I’ve completed my current TBR list. To have so many unread books accumulate like that…at least in my opinion is a bit silly. I try my best to be responsible when buying books, since I know I tend to buy a bunch at one time…but last month I actually managed to only get what I needed. I bought I think 3 in total back in July. August I’ve purchased 5 thus far…and have others I’d like to get, but I’m going to wait and save up for them. I try to limit my book budget to around $40 at a time…but as one of the greats said:

“Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.”

Hannah Montana

Fake Blood Book Review

Summary:

“It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown nor had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harboured for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain-vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?” – Whitney Gardner, Fake Blood.

Rating: 5 Stars!

Review:

This is the first Middle Grade graphic novel that I have read in a long time, and it did not disappoint.

Fake Blood had me howling (pun intended) with laughter. Each and every character was likeable and fun in their own way. Plus it had a fantastic twist that I’m still thinking about 24 hours after finishing the book. It almost made me wish it was longer. I would have loved to see more of these characters.

My favourite character overall was Aj’s older sister, who is a 15 year old vlogger and great advice giver. She was hilarious and very sweet (in a big sister kind of way). I love reading books where the siblings have a good, healthy relationship. Even when she suspected her brother of stealing her things to give to his crush, both her and AJ retained that loving sibling relationship throughout. It was obvious how much their cared and looked out for one another, even when they argued.

AJ was extremely relatable as well. I can definitely remember a time when I too was the smallest amongst my friends, and a bookworm who preferred to read during recess versus run around…oh…wait a second I’m still a short bookworm. I miss recess.

Anyway, haha, AJ was such a great character to follow. I think many of us, especially when we were 12, had crushes that we never spoke to and prayed for some way to get them to take notice of us.

AJ takes that longing to the next level, despite is friends and sister telling him to “Just talk to Nia!” and decides that since she loves Vampire’s so much, he’ll learn everything he can about them.

AJ goes so far that he even begin watching and reading Fake Bloods versions of Twilight and Vampire Diaries. There are even references to Buffy and Teen Wolf.

Unfortunately this doesn’t go as planned. Nia takes everything related to vampires very seriously. Like, very, very seriously. In fact, she plans on becoming a vampire slayer!

This little twist creates a ton of problems for AJ, as Nia and other character’s, like their mysterious new teacher Mr. Niles, start believing that he really is a vampire.

I have to say, this twist had me turning the pages faster and faster. I was scared for AJ. Who knew the sixth grade could be so dangerous?

Nia was also a really fun character. I loved her hair (mainly because I wore mine like that in the sixth grade). She was really sweet…to bad about the whole killing vampires thing. But hey, if Buffy is your hero I mean…can you blame her?

I also love how in AJ vision, when Nia drinks from the water fountain, rainbows spill out and it’s all sparkly. That was a cute touch.

Amidst all the confusion with Nia, AJ is also dealing with other problems. He feels left out constantly by his friends Ivy and Hunter, and is starting to grow impatient with their constant betting. AJ ends up even emulating the cold attitude of the vampires in the books he’s been reading and as a result ends up hurting his friends and family. It isn’t until after this that he realizes how much he needs them by his side…especially with all the craziness going on.

Overall, this book was a fun read! I finished it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it to Middle Grader readers (and up) and am exciting to see what this author comes up with next.