The Layaway Dragon
4 Stars
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine - Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV
Of Two Minds

Part of me really loves or wants to loves *itch Planet.

Part of me is uneasy with *itch Planet.

It's feminism is intersectional but that doesn't mean it's not bull. Intersections and depictions are tricky, especially when you don't reside in the specific crosshairs.

I've seen white women mess up time and again. Sometimes things just feel iffy & I can't articulate it. This is one of those times.

If I saw more positive reviews from black women and a black woman at the helm of this production, my mind would be more at ease.

As it is, my fellow white women, stay vigilant.

As a comic reader: I loved the 80s art and style. The fake ads were clever and well used.

It's satire of the Juvenal pursuation. Taking the oppressive sexism to extreme futuristic dystopian levels.

I like the discussion guide in the back, how it names intersectional feminism directly taking the bull by its horns.

There is nudity but it's tied to the story & I don't think perpetuates the male gaze. BUT given it's majority POC and black women bodies, it's entirely possible I'm missing it as I've been inundated with media's problematic usage my whole life.

There is violence, institutional devised violence. I again don't think it's gratuitous but grain of salt.

As far as comparing it to Orange is the New Black: I've never seen it though I've heard all the high praise for it so I don't get the problem?
0 Stars
Sad Girls
Sad Girls - Lang Leav
See this thread & other reviews. As someone who had attempted suicide, recovering cutter, diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I just can't and won't do this.
5 Stars
Saints (Boxers & Saints)
Saints (Boxers & Saints) - Gene Luen Yang
I love Gene Luen Yang's work. It always hooks me right away, keeps me wondering, and sticks with me long after finishing. Saints is no different.

I felt so bad for Four-Girl! And I was really hoping for a different end, even though I knew better. I honestly wasn't expecting the prologue at all though.

Like I said for Boxers, this is a much better way to learn about history, IMHO.

No matter what's next for Luen Yang, I can't wait to read it!
4 Stars
Boxers (Boxers & Saints)
Boxers (Boxers & Saints) - Gene Luen Yang
Reading Saints Now!

I read American Born Chinese first and loved it so when I saw Boxers & Saints, I knew I had to read them. This comic confirms Yang as a must read author.

My library has them in two installments instead of a single volume which is sad because Boxers ends on such a cliff hanger! If you can make sure to have both on hand or go with the combined edition.

History is fascinating but often bogged down in tedious details, dates, and memorization requirements. If history in schools were taught like stories, brought to life in different formats like this, then it wouldn't be so dull and difficult..
3 Stars
Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper
Amulet #1: The Stonekeeper - Kazu Kibuishi
Classic fantasy in comic form

The Stonekeeper is a throwback to the old school fantasy that pulled no punches and left kids traumatized like The Never-ending Story. (Gods, I love that movie.)

This prologue is brutal! The action is very well done, especially when using Kindles comic view. Helps give it motion.

I'm not a bit fan of the art but it's not bad. Lends to the classic feel.

The archetypes and plot points are predictable for the vast majority of this installment because it's so old school. The new novelty is the robots and machines. I hope once its set up the world and the elves are flushed out.

While it feeds my nostalgia and keeps me reading, my 10 year old found it boring. *sigh* Guess she's not going to be a fantasy nerd with me 😢

4 Stars
Under Parr
Under Parr - Andrea Bramhall
Blog Tour Post Link

Content Warning: PTSD, Abusive Relationships, Bullying, Assisted Living and Death,

I was so impressed with how Under Parr hit the ground running and included so much background it felt like the team had been working together forever. I didn’t realize this was the second book in a series until I went to add the book information to this post. Oops. Well, at least you know you can read it as a standalone for sure!

While they discuss the previous case and its consequences are far-reaching for Kate, Gina, and Sammy, I didn’t have any problem keeping up or understanding.

Under Parr opens with a prologue of the murder taking place, and starts with Kate on the way to the scene some 3 years later. I was immediately hooked by it and found the dementia patient’s POV heartbreaking.

Kate is a standard seasoned detective, with a close set of co-workers that insult each other as a way of communicating. Coffee addiction? Betting pools? Sexual jokes? Of course, the more the merrier! Her family history is sad and lends her insight on this particular case. Work, her dog, and her budding relationship with Gina is all she has going on, TBH.

There’s two rookies they’re training up and joke about being pretty boys that take forever to get ready. I’m quite certain how one of them is going to end up…

Gina is an endearing struggling single mom. Her and Sammy’s trauma, recovery, and relationship evolving because of it is heartbreaking. I understand a quite a bit since my daughter and I have gone through something similar with escaping abusive family. It’s handled and portrayed very well.

Gina’s relationship with her mother comes into play as well as the camp Gina’s running after her predecessor’s death in the first book. With dating Kate, the PTSD, and the case, there’s a lot going on in Under Parr. However, it never felt overwhelming or confusing. I think the pieces were weaved together well.

But Sammy seemed far too young for her age. At 9, she’s saying “fink” instead of think, with her mom and teachers having to correct her all the time. Maybe I’m missing something from the first book, but that’s unusual and kept throwing me every time it happened.

All the little realist bits and pieces of what they couldn’t and couldn’t do as compared to CSI was cool. How it works over the pond in general is fascinating. Like making the forensics department civilians? And the people forced into service that were sent to mines and kept after the war? Holy fuck!

FYI: They’re call Belvin Boys.

I am very interested in reading the first book, Collide-O-Scope, and continuing the series as it’s published.

Recommended for: Fans of crime mysteries, English countryside, and lesbians just being lesbians without it being a big deal.

Other Ylva Books I recommend:

~~Defensive Mindset
~~Here’s the Thing
~~Points of Departure

0 Stars
An Ember in the Ashes
An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir
WOW!!! I cannot wait to read the next one, though I'm going to have to for my library hold to come through. :(

I'll be back with a review as soon as I can.
0 Stars
Girl on the Verge
Girl on the Verge - Pintip Dunn
Review to Come!
5 Stars
Lumberjanes #5 (Lumberjanes: 5)
Lumberjanes Vol. 5 - Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis,  Noelle Stevenson
And the plot thickens!

Love this installment like I've loved all that came before it. I wish I could just finish the series in one sitting. But alas, life gets in the way. I'm excited to continue but don't want it to end!

It's cute and funny and silly and sweet and things keep happening. This issue teaches how to make a friendship bracelet and has Jo's Playlist at the end. The play lists are always fantastic 😊
4 Stars
Defensive Mindset
Defensive Mindset - Wendy Temple
Trigger Warning: Rape, Grief, Addiction

--Hate to Love trope
--“Exoctic” sexy, brown skinned women as background characters
--The word “lover” is used and I know some people hate the word
--A+ Punk Rock History & Music.
--Yes, Sex Pistols Credit Cards are a real thing.
--It starts with a groping on the soccer/football park during a game
--I seriously love how well the title works on different levels
--Yes, I knew from the cover going in it was about soccer/football. Do I know anything about soccer? No. Do I care about soccer? While reading Defensive Mindset I did. It was rocky getting into it given how foreign sports are to me, but I love how it doesn’t try to define the terms and dumb it down. Context clues and paying attention is enough to get it, and once you’ve got it, you’re golden.

The games were exciting, the strategy fascinating, and the pep talks got me pumped.

Jessie is the Good Girl. I understand her inhibitions and always cheer for characters scoping out exits with a social clock ticking down. What I’m about to say next is probably backwards for most people but…She was so frustrating! She’s naive, sheltered and wholesome. I mean, her childhood and her success is what every parent asks for yet I kept thinking how fucking dull and judgmental she is and hating it.

“Seriously, that white shirt of yours saw more action in the thirty minutes Fran wore it than in a lifetime with you.”

The best moment of realization isn’t acknowledged verbally and I hope most people pick up on it. Jessie complained and whined how it wasn’t fair that Fran was treated differently. In the beginning. Once she got over herself, her prejudices, and knew more about Fran, Jessie was defending her. Pointing how hard she had to work just to be functional like most people.

“Life was shocking. The truth was shocking. And Jessie needed to hear it in all its gutter glory.”

Fran’s destructive thoughts and the relief from smoking is so spot on. I know smoking is terrible, I’ve smoked for 8 years and have gone 72 days without a cig. Everyone asked why I smoked but none of them understood when I tried to explain. I have anxiety, depression, and an abusive past to deal with. I’ve been on medication for the past year and couldn’t have even considered quitting smoking without that and the other progress I’ve made.

“The first drag burned the back of her throat before leaving a soothing sensation that radiated from her lungs throughout her body as she exhaled.”

While Jessie is uncomfortable with Fran’s smoking and how she describes her addiction to drugs, everything is truthful and the overall picture is one of caution.

“She fucking left me with a lifetime of chasing shadows and highs.”

I was pleasantly surprised to find there was still a third of the book left at the point most romance novels would’ve wrapped it up.

I find it frustrating when authors build up so much and finish with a shallow hollow ending. If you convince me for SO many pages how they’re relationship will never work, why the hell would I change my mind quickly?

Thankfully, Defensive Mindset portrays Fran as a whole person with real issues that cannot be shaken off with a good fuck. Only gimmicks and games work like that. When faced with the future and commitment and being open, Fran’s reaction is realistic. Making her accept that escalation after the Big Moment between would be fake.

Instead, Fran and Jessie are allowed to maneuver freely and make further progress. At the end, I KNOW how much I love them and can root for them, how assured their relationship is. I can’t describe it better without major spoilers but Wendy Temple has gained a huge fan with this turn of events.

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know jack about soccer, or that you call it soccer. Want a grown-ass romance between two adult women from different sides of the field and want Hate to Love? Get Defensive Mindset.

Another win for Ylva Publishing! You can check out more of their books here. I’ve read and loved all the books by Emily O’Beirne, which are YA Contemporary in Australia.

Don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, the 30th for my review of Under Parr by Andrea Bramhall, another W/W romance published by Ylva.
5 Stars
Lumberjanes #3 (Lumberjanes: 3)
Lumberjanes Vol. 3 - Brooke Allen, Grace Ellis,  Noelle Stevenson
Another awesome installment

I love being back with my girls! This picks up right where #2 left off. This one completes the tunnel journey but the quest is ongoing. Every girl brings something to the table as they traverse their challenges. It's funny and sweet and cute. Amber made me laugh out loud and Molly and Mal are adorbs. Thank goodness there's more to read so I'm off to the next issue!
4 Stars
Page by Paige
Page by Paige - Laura Lee Gulledge
Can't wait to share this with my daughter

I love the art, characters, and story.
Causes The Feels. Adorable innocent dating.
Love and respect how Jules's private issue was handled.
Beware the use of "exotic" to describe people. Thankfully only once.
Touching mother-daughter moments. The metaphor about the dots and the lines was brilliant.

As a quiet introvert who moved in my teen years, this spoke to me. As the mother of a shy artist, I hope this inspires her to step out of her shell and listen when we compliment her work.

As I'll be telling my daughter though, somethings that sound or look like typical teenage angst is deeper than that. Paige meantions her social anxiety and the worrying issues. Some have minor instances they can overcome. Some will struggle with it their whole lives in therapy and on medication. You are not a failure if you can't improve yourself on your own like Paige. And as Paige discovers, asking for help isn't a weakness or failure.
4 Stars
Danced Close (Portland Heat Book 6)
Danced Close (Portland Heat Book 6) - Annabeth Albert
This is my first Portland Heat book and I’m sold! This is another series that follows individual couples, and each reads as a standalone.

~I quickly fell in love with Kendall and Todd, together and apart.
~Love switching perspectives between them.
~The dealing with addiction and meetings rings true as someone who’s been around recovering addicts.
~Love how it deals with pronouns, gender roles, misogyny, and discrimination within the rainbow community.
~Love how Todd starts catching himself with gendered thinking and speech.
~Love how Kendall has to catch himself about assumptions with food and money.
~There is no dramatic meet-cute for them because they meet through work, which I appreciate as more realistic and endearing.
~They start slowly physically, before ramping up to hot, perfect, explicit sex scenes. Don’t worry, they don’t forget the sweet, the cuddling, and the fun along the way.
~There is the commutative failure to sow drama and discontent between them, so they can come together stronger in the end.
~Things do go predictably, but that’s a feature rather than a bug.

Absolutely perfect for contemporary romance fans looking for m/m couple and progressiveness.

See the full blog tour post on my blog The Layaway Dragon.
5 Stars
Every Heart a Doorway
Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire

Okay, so a few moments I had to backtrack and wonder who's perspective I was reading. But beyond those rare incidents where it could be me that's the problem, everything was perfect.

I'll be back with a full review shortly.
5 Stars
Lumberjanes #2
Lumberjanes Vol. 2 - Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters,  Noelle Stevenson
Adorabl & LOL

I love this series. I love the art style, the characters, their stories and jokes. There's a cutie romance *squeee*. It makes me so happy and just brightens up any day. These girls are amazing!

Also, I need earn my Punmaster badge.

I love the guided reading for comics on Kindle. It makes me want to never use another reader for comics. Of course,PDFs are terrible so that's not hard but the guided reading is awesome.
3 Stars
Magick & Mayhem
Magick & Mayhem - Sharon Pape
While the cover is gorgeous and I seriously want a poster of it, it's a tad misleading if you take it literally. There's no flying broomsticks as that's a real thing in this setting, apparently.

↣I love how the magic is understated and simplistic, that intent and belief play such a large role.
↣Drawn in quickly.
↣Easy to read.
↣Ow: The Treatment of Aunt Tilly.
She's a stereotype of fat women, even includes her running and causing a scene over seeing a mouse. She's comic relief. She's a burden and a godsend depending on what Kailyn and the scene needs.
She puts on the typical fortune teller show, including g*psy garb, because "that's what people want and pay for". Why does every fucking book insist on using this reason to be lazy about their characters and perpetuate harmful crap?! Ugh.
↣Love the herd of kitties!
↣But the familiar magic and purpose isn't explained. Do familiars live longer than normal pets? What's so special about them? Do they really get to pick their kind of familiar?
↣Why the detective doesn't like Kailyn isn't explained or explored. It just is.
↣During the showdown I lost track of a major player. Went back to check and couldn't figure it out. Did they disappear into a plot hole?
↣Did not expect the last revelation about the town. I think that's very clever, ties things together and makes me wonder about the sequel.

There's a lot going on in Magic & Mayhem, so it's aptly named, but I don't think it was all executed well. I want to read the sequel to find out more and enjoy Kailyn, but Aunt Tilly is an annoying cardboard cutout which makes me hesitant to go further. Considering this was just published on the 2nd, I'll see what the next blurb is about and make my decision from there.

I hope that was helpful! I know this book would be perfect for some, but it's only mildly worthwhile for me.