Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: Check, Please! Year One by Ngozi Ukazu

Check, Please! Year One 
by Ngozi Ukazu
Publication Date: 2015
Format: Webcomic
Genres: Graphic Novel - LGBTQIA+ - Sports 
Find it On: Webcomic - Amazon - Goodreads
My Rating: 

Synopsis:

Eric Bittle - former figure skater, vlogger extraordinaire, and amateur patissier - is starting his freshman year playing hockey at the prestigious Samwell University. And it's nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia. For one?

There's checking. 

It's a story about hockey and friendship and bros and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life.


My Review:

Looking for the cutest and most endearing coming of age/coming out/basically an American sports anime with amazing art published for free entirely through crowdfunding? This is the place!

Check, Please Year One starts the story of Eric Bittle, a former junior figure skater from Georgia who makes it onto an NCAA hockey team in college. He's quick on the ice and a good shot, but the problem is that he's terrified of checking. With his scholarship on the line, he has to get over his fear and win over the team enough for them to keep him around.

What I absolutely love about this series is how it defies expectations. You've got a very flamboyantly gay kid from the south who plays hockey and bakes pies in a frat house. And you know what? No one gives him shit for it! The way "bro culture" is portrayed is so spot on, but all the bigotry and narrow-mindedness you'd expect is sucked right out. There is obviously a greater institution of homophobia in Bitty's life, but in every phase of his coming out to the people around him, he's met with love and support.

The cast of characters is phenomenal, too. Who doesn't love ultimate frat boy Shitty, or stoic hockey robot Jack? In this first book we're just getting glimpses of all of them, but it's a great ensemble cast, and I never felt overwhelmed as they were introduced.

I have a LOT more gushing to do about this series, but so much happens in later books, so I'll save it for another review. If you've heard the hype about this series and thought if picking it up, DO IT! It's a quick read and entirely free on http://checkpleasecomic.com/


Diversity Score: Author of color (+3), Gay/bi main characters (+2), Main character with mental illness (+2), Main relationship with different sexualities (+2), Supporting characters of color (+1) = 10

Monday, February 19, 2018

Olympic Hiatus

Hello, followers! Just dropping a line to tell you that I'm taking a brief hiatus. Between school and work, I've left myself no time to read because all of my free time has been watching the Olympics. I'll spare you the incredibly un-book-like Olympic commentary, but feel free to drop by my main tumblr (http://meowboutthat.tumblr.com/) for my obsessing over this beautiful bunch of athletes.

Peace and love,

Nina @ Looseleaf Reviews


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book Review: Caroline's Heart by Austin Chant

Caroline's Heart 
by Austin Chant
Publication Date: October 25, 2017
Format: E-Book, 98 Pages
Genres: LGBTQIA+ - Fantasy - Western
Find it On: Amazon - Goodreads
My Rating: 

Synopsis:

Cecily lost her soulmate years ago, leaving her with nothing but the clockwork heart that once beat in Caroline's chest. They say it's impossible to bring back the dead, yet Cecily's resurrection spell is nearly complete and grows more powerful by the day. 

But when a cowboy she barely knows is fatally injured, the only way to save him is by sacrificing an essential piece of the resurrection spell—and all possibility of seeing her lover again.


My Review:

Austin Chant has done it again and created a badass, emotional, and captivating story in less than 100 pages! There's so much going on in this book. There's Roy, the wayward cowboy who has no real home or ambitions other than just getting my. There's Cecily, the witch both feared for her aloofness and cold attitude and respected for helping the injured in her village. Then of course there's Caroline, a lost love whose memory has lived on, probably for longer than it should...

How a novella has complete world building and a slow-burn romance in 98 pages, I don't know, but it really does. The magic of the world is cool. Cecily, a witch, can do basic spells like summoning items or teleporting across a room. But the main thing she does is create artificial limbs for injured people. There's not much explanation beyond that, but for the length of the story, the physics of the world sit perfectly and make sense for the forwarding of the plot.

Roy and Cecily were also fantastic leads. Roy, while private and closed off from others, has such a warm heart that everyone seems drawn to him. And Cecily, while extremely prickly, shows her goodness in the righteousness of her actions. 

Like all of Chant's work, this is a trans romance - this time with both MCs. This plot works so beautifully as there's so much richness to the metaphors of being at conflict with your own physical body. It's also a blended fantasy and western historical fiction, so well the word "trans" is never used, it has some great exploration about the characters' identities without being a soapbox. 

It reminds me of a sort of trans Howl's Moving Castle with a little Fullmetal Alchemist twist (don't attempt human resurrection, y'all!) Definitely dark in places, but a really beautiful story of some memorable characters.

--

"That's not how I am. It's no disguise for me. And I can't tell you how or why, but when I said I considered myself a man, that's what I meant."

"I had a very queer childhood. I was a girl and witch and I wasn't supposed to be either, according to my family."

"I sort of figured I was the only one who ever--the only one God ever made a mess of."


Diversity Score: Own Voices (+5), Trans/Bi main characters (+2), Supporting characters with physical disabilities (+1) = 8

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday!

This week's TTT is about books that have been on your TBR the longest. Since I've been participating in Down the TBR Hole, I think that base has already been covered. I'm instead going to borrow another blogger's take on this prompt:

Top Ten Classics Eternally on My TBR List




1. Dracula by Bram Stoker
2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
4. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
5. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

6. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
7. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
8. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
9. Candide by Voltaire
10. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez


Have you read any of these? What classics are on your list?

Weekly feature courtesy of That Artsy Reader Girl.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Down the TBR Hole #2

Lia at Lost in a Story created an awesome challenge: to weed out your Goodreads TBR pile one week at a time! See the full intro post and rules here.

After last week's post, I'm picking up on page 10 of my Goodreads TBR:


1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through supernatural glamours.

She’s also about to find out that she may be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.


Paranormal romance isn't really my jam. Nothing's jumping out at me about this, so I think it's GONE!

2. Mind Games by Kiersten White

Fia and Annie are as close as two sisters can be. They look out for each other. Protect each other. And most importantly, they keep each other's secrets, even the most dangerous ones: Annie is blind, but can see visions of the future; Fia was born with flawless intuition—her first impulse is always exactly right. 

When the sisters are offered a place at an elite boarding school, Fia realizes that something is wrong . . . but she doesn't grasp just how wrong. The Keane Institute is no ordinary school, and Fia is soon used for everything from picking stocks to planting bombs. If she tries to refuse, they threaten her with Annie's life.

Now Fia's falling in love with a boy who has dark secrets of his own. And with his help, she's ready to fight back. They stole her past. They control her present. But she won't let them take her future.


I keep seeing this one crop up on Goodreads, so I figure I'll give it a shot. KEEP!

3. Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend, Kevin; she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy; and her biggest worry is her paper deadline.

But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of killings that share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing. Then a beautiful yet eerie woman enters Ellie's circle of friends and develops an unhealthy fascination with Kevin, and a crazed old man grabs Ellie in a public square and shoves a tattered Bible into her hands, exclaiming, "You need it. It will save your soul." Soon, Ellie finds herself plunged into a haunting world of vengeful fairies in an epic battle for immortality.


I'm hesitant to read YA mysteries because they tend to be really watered down on the horror, but the mythology part sounds cool. KEEP!

4. A Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence
You are sixteen. You live with your father in a big Victorian house on the outskirts of London. Your mother is dead, killed in a train crash two years ago. It is snowing. The snow is falling on the house and the wide yard and the gnarled old tree that everyone calls the Family Tree. It makes you restless. You reach out your hands toward an object you've known all your life, and suddenly the walls melt away. When you open your eyes, you are still in your living room. "Who are you?" asks a girl who looks just like you but is not you. "And what are you doing in my house?"
You have stumbled into another version of your life. This girl is sixteen. She lives with your father (her father) in a big Victorian house on the outskirts of London. Your mother (her mother) is not dead. She had a close call in a train crash two years ago. Listen: your mother is calling you (her) now.
Sounds kind of cool, but reviews aren't great. I'm going to pass. GONE!
5. You by Charles Benoit

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

You’re just a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can’t be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them? Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late?

Think fast, Kyle. Time’s running out. How did this happen?


Not quite sure what this is about, but sounds interesting. KEEP!


Friday, February 2, 2018

January Wrap-Up

January, January, how I love you, with all your gung-ho reading resolutions and an idealistic glint in your eye.

I set my reading goal for 75, a new personal high, this year, and I'm actually on track! On top of that, I'm taking 3 classes toward my business admin degree, working full time, and working out 3-4 times a week. All in all I'd call January a personal success!


Overview

Books Read: 6
Pages Read: 2,225
Reviews Written: 2
Blog Posts: 9

Books Read


Timekeeper (Timekeeper #1) by Tara Sim [GR / Review]
Chainbreaker (Timekeeper #2) by Tara Sim [GR]


Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz [GR]
The Black Notebook by Isabelle Snow [GR / Review]
The Vanishing Spark of Dusk by Sara Baysinger [GR / Review]

☆☆
Gemini Keeps Capricorn (The Signs of Love #3) by Anyta Sunday [GR]

Currently Reading in February




Thursday, February 1, 2018

Down the TBR Hole: Intro and #1


Lia at Lost in a Story created an awesome challenge: to weed out your Goodreads TBR pile one week at a time! See the full intro post and rules here.

Since my oldest TBRs are a lot of classics, I jumped to page 9, which was about mid-2012, and started axing from there.

Here's my first week of trimming my TBR:




1. Dark Inside by Jeyn Roberts

Moments after several huge earthquakes shake every continent on Earth, something strange starts happening to some people. An inner rage has been released and some people cannot fight it. For those who can, life becomes an ongoing battle to survive - at any cost!

The Judgment: I literally can't fathom why this was on my TBR. GONE!

2. The Shattering by Karen Healey

Keri, Janna, and Sione have one thing in common: Their older brothers are dead. Each death was ruled a suicide, but there were no notes, no warnings, and no explanations.

So they've worked out a theory: Their brothers were murdered - and weren't the only victims.

As the search for the serial killer goes on, mysterious forces are unearthed and suspicion is cast on the those the three trust most. When secrets shatter around them, can they save the next victim? Or will they become victims themselves?


The Judgment: An LGBTQIA+ murder mystery? How the heck have I forgotten this? KEEP!

3. For the Win by Cory Doctorow

In the virtual future, you must organize to survive

At any hour of the day or night, millions of people around the globe are engrossed in multiplayer online games, questing and battling to win virtual "gold," jewels, and precious artifacts. Meanwhile, others seek to exploit this vast shadow economy, running electronic sweatshops in the world's poorest countries, where countless "gold farmers," bound to their work by abusive contracts and physical threats, harvest virtual treasure for their employers to sell to First World gamers who are willing to spend real money to skip straight to higher-level gameplay.

...

The ruthless forces arrayed against them are willing to use any means to protect their power—including blackmail, extortion, infiltration, violence, and even murder. To survive, Big Sister's people must out-think the system. This will lead them to devise a plan to crash the economy of every virtual world at once—a Ponzi scheme combined with a brilliant hack that ends up being the biggest, funnest game of all.

The Judgment: I love Cory Doctorow! KEEP!

4. Bad Kitty by Michele Jaffe

1Meet Jasmine, 2 forensic supersleuth, 3 aspiring Model Daughter, 4 and friend to animals. 5 One second she's trying to enjoy her Vegas Vacation, 6 the next she's tangled up in an outrageous adventure and has to outwit a crazed killer before he ends ten lives, one of them her own. 

The Judgment: Eew, sounds way too manic pixie dream girl. GONE!

5. Hana by Lauren Oliver

The summer before they're supposed to be cured of the ability to love, best friends Lena and Hana begin to drift apart. While Lena shies away from underground music and parties with boys, Hana jumps at her last chance to experience the forbidden. For her, the summer is full of wild music, dancing—and even her first kiss.

But on the surface, Hana must be a model of perfect behavior. She meets her approved match, Fred Hargrove, and glimpses the safe, comfortable life she’ll have with him once they marry. As the date for her cure draws ever closer, Hana desperately misses Lena, wonders how it feels to truly be in love, and is simultaneously terrified of rebelling and of falling into line.


The Judgment: Hana is like the least interesting character in a series I barely liked. No thanks, GONE!