Ownership: Copy provided for review upon request by the publisher
Series: 44 tiny…
Disclaimer that even though I got gifted a copy of the book but the publisher, I would’ve still reviewed it because I enjoy the series and it is on my radar all the time.
Look, I’ve been a fan of the tiny pygmy mice and Betsy and her family since the first book, 44 Tiny Secrets, and every time there’s a new one I am just utterly excited to read it. So far we learned about the pygmy mice and that they can play the piano, but then we also learned they can be marvellous acrobats since they were trained by someone that was in the circus, Betsy’s grandma.
44 Tiny Chefs now looks at Betsy’s dad and his new hobby, baking! So when the opportunity to open a bakery presents itself, the family is super happy as they have been filled too much with all the baking that has been trialled and done. And then, some interesting parts happen and they get invited to host a royal gala, but can they actually cook for so many people successfully and not fail for the Queen?
Honestly, the whole book was funny, I could imagine the distress, the confusion and all the over the sweetness of it and of course, I love the family Betsy has and the adventures they get into, and the cute little mice.
I can recommend this if you want cute musical, baking and animal shenanigans, and a family that isn’t absent for most of the book.
Goodbye, my Rose Garden by Dr. Pepperco (Full Series)
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought for my personal collection
Series: Goodbye, my Rose Garden, 3 volumes total.
I have been reading a lot of series, particularly graphic novels and manga, and sometimes it is hard to review a single book without adding spoilers, so now I will be adding some Full Series reviews.
Today I will talk about Goodbye, my Rose Garden. It is a female to female (F/F) series set in semi Victorian era England and focuses on Hanako, who dreams of becoming a novelist. Of course, this is not an easy path so she finds a job as a personal maid to a young noblewoman/lady. This seems to be a wonderful job since the lady, Alice Douglas, likes reading and encourages Hanako’s dream until she makes a very unusual request. Hanako has to kill Alice and end her suffering as she doesn’t deserve to be alive.
Initially, Hanako refuses but agrees to consider it if necessary. And so the story develops into a slow burn romance where Hanako feels it is not suitable to fall for her employer and therefore should tread lightly, but also, she is her personal maid and as such should do her best to help her lady. Alongside this, she has to figure out if she can convince Alice to bail out of the request to kill her, or why she thinks she should be killed. Add to that the path of attempting to become a novelist, Alice’s jealous fiance, and Hanako’s own past, and it is a soft romance with some high stakes.
I usually try the first volume of a series and decide, and wasn’t sure what to expect, but honestly, as I read I knew I had to get the rest. Goodbye, my Rose Garden packs a lot in very little space and it also does a good job of keeping all the plot lines and subplots going rather than abandoning them or half forgetting they are there, which was part fo what made it much dearer for me.
If you want a soft F/F manga set in early twentieth-century England, that focuses on the love of reading and on roses and just being dedicated to living life, this is the one for you.
There is No Big Bad Wolf in this Story by Lou Carter and Deborah Allwright
Ownership: Preordered one but also got a copy from publisher
Series: There is no… in this story
So, when I found this book existed, I preordered it, but then Bloomsbury contacted me to see if I would like a review copy which I did. I was excited to read it, since I enjoyed a lot There Is no Dragon in this Story which I have reviewed previously. So basically, as much as I had a copy from the publisher it doesn’t define my review or influence it.
Finn was a fan as you can see, and it is a delightful cute story on a take about how the poor wolf is always the big bad wolf in things like The Three Little Pigs and Red Riding Hood amongst others. And our poor “big bad wolf” in the story is tired of having to be chased around and be the baddie, and not being appreciated for his hard work in being the bad guy, so he stops doing his job and ends up just chilling with the dragon.
The story characters try to make do without the wolf, and things get interesting to say the least.
It was a cute story, with a fun kudos to other fairy tales and stories for children and I liked the artwork a lot, it is quite vibrant and fun and full of expression, and it works well as a second book to go with the Dragon one.
If you want a fresh take on the big bad wolf, and a new read aloud or starting to read book for children, this is a great one for sure and obviously do recommend the first too!
Ownership: Bought the first one to try, enjoyed it a lot, and bought the rest of the series.
Total volumes: 16
Series: Yes, it is complete.
This is a series review, which means I won’t review just one of the books but rather the series as a whole, mostly because it is hard to not spoil a review when you do it by volume, but doing the whole set is probably a better way to bring others to read it.
The Demon Prince of Momochi House follows the story of Himari Momochi as she inherits a house at 16. When she comes to it, she finds there’s already a young boy and his companions living there as “squatters”. But in truth, they are there because it is their duty to protect the gate between the Ayakashi and the humans.
Himari decides to stay as she owns the house and she is the “landlady”. The manga follows the story of Himari and Aoi, who is the appointed Nue, or keeper of the House and the powers that keep Ayakashi at bay from entering the human world. There are several plots going through the volumes and several subplots that may last for a volume of two.
The central plot points are around Aoi and his past, and what made him come to Momochi house. We also explore a little of Himari and her past, but mostly we explore her own feelings, how she is managing with moving and what she wants to do in the future. She’s a cheerful and loving person so this whole thing is interesting. Then we have the Shikigami of Aoi, who are Ayakashi bound to him, and we follow their stories and why they came to be with Aoi. There is also a plotline about the human world and Himari being in school, and the friendships she makes there.
Overall, it is a fun book to read, it does have some slightly cringy moments, but in general, it does a good job at developing each of the plots and giving the characters life. As I got closer and closer to the final volumes I kept wanting more and by volume 14 I couldn’t believe there were only two more to go before the story ended. But by the end of it, initially, I was surprised by how it was meant to end, or at least how the volume was setting it up to end, but actually was satisfied with the true ending of it.
I like the fact it is a closed story, and complete, the magic and spiritual elements kept it fun and the characters that appear and become regulars become quite dear to you. Overall it is a silly cosy story about a house that has personality and the people in it trying to keep everyone safe in their own way.
Agent Zaiba Investigates The Haunted House by Annabelle Sami. Illustrated by Daniela Sosa
Read before: No
Ownership: Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Spoiler free review: Yes
Series: Agent Zaiba Investigates
The third book in the Agent Zaiba Investigates series, and this time the copy I have came from the publisher, but if you have read my reviews for The Missing Diamonds and The Poison Plot you know I am already sold on this story and would’ve bought my own copy anyway.
As I had predicted on my first review, this series has all the thigns to make it a modern classic for children along the lines of Fantastic Five and Baby Sitters Club. There is intrigued and drama, there is friendship and fun adventures, and on top of that a diverse set of main characters which makes it even better!
Our third detective adventure with Zaiba is when we meet a new family that moved into an old “mansion” kind of house that seems to give all the vibes that it is haunted. Zaiba has an open mind on the possibility of ghosts, but Ali and Poppy arent so sure, and when a housewarming party makes things go bump in the dark, the Snow Leopard Agency UK branch is ready to find out if it is a supernatural cause or not.
Of course the key in the books is the foreshadowing that is done subtly but effectively and therefore when Zaiba starts gathering more clues or finding new ones, piecing together things becomes easier for the reader if they recall what was discussed before the incident. And on this third book the foreshadowing is subtle and there is less of the “Zaiba took notes” kind of vibe that was seen more on the two previous ones. You can see she is starting to get more and more confident but also implementing the detective ways shes learned form her aunt and the Eden Lockett books.
What actually happens with the supernatural haunting mystery is something I wont spoil but I liked the way they get along with it and how there is a lot of building a good community alongside the finding the cause of the issue and who dunnit.
Highly recommended for young readers and middle grade and also adults because it is fun to read, the illustrations are cute and fitting and it is just a nice book to read. Your modern diverse Nancy Drew!
Read before: No I have read some of the single comics before
Ownership: Bought for myself to cheer me up
Spoiler free review: No
Series: Sarah’s Scribbles
Ok, I have read some of Sarah’s comics before on and off from instagram and blogs and the ones people share. I used to follow her on tubmlr and then stopped being so into tumblr, so probably why. But I still like them and I found a copy of the book really cheap second hand so thought you know what? Let’s find some funny good things in life and buy the book and read it and enjoy and giggle.
Of course, being part of the Sarah’s Scribbles series, this is hilarious, has a lot of “relatable” comics, I think I spent most of the time take screenshots and either sending them to my husband or sending them to my friends to what matched our relationships or anecdotes or stories and have a giggle with them.
Which is to say that probably the best review I can give for this book isn’t a very long one but can be summarised into the fact that this book will probably contain at least one strip or comic that will resonate with one or many friends and family members so you will want to share it around and make other smile or laugh or go “do you remember?” or maybe do a “this is us/me/you” to someone as you share and maybe you will also want to make others read it after you have finished because it made you smile and feel like the world wasn’t just you against it but others struggle too and we all try to make fun or it and make the most out of it, and just get on by.
Ownership: A free review copy was provided by the author. I have read two of her series previously so I knew I wanted to read this book regardless. This doesn’t change the review of influence it at all.
Spoiler free review: Yes
Series: Deluge #1
Content warnings: There is a variety of abuse and violence, murder, poisoning, ableism and a few other -isms, basically this is not a cosy book but rather brutal.
It took me a while to get to this book because Josie usually builds this incredibly intricate world so I knew I had to have the brain space for it and last year was not the right time. However, I started reading before work and waking up earlier and this was one of those books read in the early hours of the day at my leisure.
I struggled to get into it a little bit because there is a lot going on and it basically starts with finding Kala’s dad dead in the library, and knowing that it means her mother will have to remarry and that due to her limp and deformity of her leg, she may be cast out.
But it looks like her father was murdered and as Kala tries her best to adjust to a very fast remarriage, a new family to share the tribe with and a “brother” that is kind and actually treats her like a “normal” person (the people in the world think she is deformed and bad luck and a variety of bad things and therefore consider Kala lesser than even if she is of nobility)., things start getting very complicated fast.
What starts in a way fast paced, slows down just a little bit to give you a panorama of what Kala’s life is like and then it picks right up coming to a festival and Kala’s life becoming more and more in danger in a bad way. Maybe the person who murdered her father is also out for her? And what about the secrets that caused her father to die, can she unravel them and leverage them for her safety before someone ensures her silence?
Overall this is like amurder mystery in a brutal society from the point of view of someone slightly in the privileged nobility but still not considered one of them because she is too different and “not right”. I liked the interesting contrasts between characters, their situations and what causes them to make certain decisions.
As you get to the last third of the book there is a lot of new reveals happening so there is a lot to keep up with but it means you will not want to let go of the book and just finish. I ended up reading the last few pages through a couple of dead “inbetween meetings” kinda five minutes or so and I was glad to do so as it was worth getting to that ending.
Theme/Month: Special Edition for Daughter of Smoke and Bone
Ownership: Preordered the special edition box when it was available in the presale. If you are interested in purchasing an Illumicrate subscription, you can do it on their website.
I enjoyed Daughter of Smoke and Bone a long time ago and the whole trilogy was fun to read so when they announced a special edition box I decided to buy it and also the rest of the trilogy. But what was in the box? Starting on the bottom right and going clockwise:
A gorgeous booksleeve with a scene on one side and a quote on the other.
A gold foiled print with all the characters of the series.
A wishbone enamel pin (I am unsure about this trend of two part/chained enamel pins, why?)
The hardcover edition with blue sprayed edges, special reversible jacket (another thing I genuinely do not understand the hype for, I am not going to flip the cover around to see the reversible one, plus it’ll just damage it if I keep flipping one way or the other and it’s not like you can see the full picture if you have the book facing anyway unless you had it on a rotating platform) and signed.
A gorgeous book tin (also it is huge, you can almost fit the book inside it, I haven’t tried, an experiment for another time) with a “stained glass” feel to the artwork which is cool.
A soul thurible replica from the book, which is cool but sadly for me it is a dust catcher and nothing more? (I do like the idea of making a replica, it is cool but it just sits there, I can’t do much with it and I don’t think it is safe to burn incense in it anyway…)
My favourite item which was the mug, the artwork is stunning!
Angel and Demon bookends. I get the concept behind them the cool idea but they feel a bit flimsy (not due to material more on the design being so cut out and delicate, makes them easy to catch on things and not as durable as one would wish). 100% to the concpet, not so keen on final product.
Sadly, I was kinda expecting more and didn’t really click with the box as much as I have clicked with previous ones, which is sad because the items where awesome, just not for me. I am not one to go crazy about prints (I am bad at seeing the characters unless I am making fanart myself, and I struggle to remember names so it is a bit like “cool art but means very little to me unless I make a massive effort to remember everything”), however the book is cool and I like it is a tin, unsure about the size of it but otherwise really cool and I am always happy for a good mug.
My takeaway is that I need to be more conscious of the special editions I chose as in the end the items may not be my cup of tea and I have to make sure it is worth it for me. If I displayed prints and decorative items on my shelves I probably would’ve totally loved this box.
The Art Of Bioshock Infinite by Ken Levine and Nate Wells
Read before: No, but I have played the game several times before.
Ownership: Ordered through Abe Books as you can only get the German version here for some reason
Spoiler free review: No, art of books are all about the game the art is of, so spoilers may be included.
Bioshock as a series of games is one of my favourite comfort games (yes, I know it is not actually a sweet fun game) and the pushing the boundaries and asking but what if this was taken to the extreme with DNA modification and in this particular period of time, what would happen?
Which is part of the interesting part because the Art of Bioshock Infinite explores what could have happened if America had gone more religiously extreme and designated themselves and whiteness as better than others. On top of that it adds the theory of multiple universes and it was great to have a good AI character to help you through your journey.
The book has a lot of the “we knew we wanted to explore this topic, so we tried so many iterations of this and then figure we liked some parts of it and not others or had to redo some other parts”. For example, the concpet of Songbird was initially too close to another Big Daddy and you get sketches of it or way too far away mythical mechanical feel creatures that when you look at the game did not fit as well.
I always enjoy seeing some of the things that didn’t make it into the game and how they coloured the final product, for example the scene below of Elizabeth’s room gives that idea of her being a dreamer and wanting more, and how that ties to her innocence and loss of it throughout the game.
Overall, it was worth trying to get the book from the US as a version here is too expensive or only in German unsure why), but realising it was hard to get meant I ahve started prioritising Art Of books more now.
Recommended for fans of Bioshock, and for those that like Art Of books or if the topic suits your drawing isnpiration style.
Spoiler free review: For the most part, key plot points may be touched on.
Content warnings: Violence in many ways, murder, gore, etc; several character deaths (it is a school that is trying to kill the students, it is part of the plot, if this is an issue, this is definitely NOT the book for you); black magic and use of others life force; suicide mentioned; parental deaths mentioned.
Starting this review with a few disclaimers: I am aware of the whole drama about the dreadlocks mentioned and as much as yes, probably not the best choice, context is absolutely key here and in the context it fits the character, the world and the story. Which brings me to my second point that this is a book that is probably not going to be one for everyone, it is particular in how it presents a twist on magical schools and it is all about the contradictions held within, so it requires in a way a critical view to enjoy it at its fullest.
Now on to the proper review. I really enjoyed A Deadly Education. As mcuh as Harry Potter was formative to my teenage years, I was happier in my alternative universe based on it than with the actual original story, it felt too removed from my reality and too white and British, so it was a fun “hey how would life be in the UK with magic but still class and all that stuff?” [the fact that I ended up living in the UK is another story] but it wasn’t as special as it could have been.
Enter A Deadly Education. El is holding universes in her, and I loved her flawed conflicted being. She has planned how to survive, is desperately fighting against her “nature” and what the Scholomance wants her to become while everybody around her assumes she is exactly what the appearances say she is and should be. And yet, she doesn’t want to prove that she isnt what they think of her, because in a way it is an advantage to her.
On top of that, the “white savior” comes in to save her and she just can’t seem to get rid of him which starts ruining her plans and carefully crafted status.
And then theres the whole Scholomance, a school that is trying to kill the students and eat them up and their magic while the students learn by surviving through the school. And as much as I probably wouldnt want to have to attend it, I loved the concept of this world where magic is a complicated thing.
A Deadly Education is also a full critique of magical schools, the trope of the chosen one and villains having it in their nature to be bad, but not only that. It touches on privilege and private schools and how those with money have power and aren’t even aware of the cost of the power because it is what they know and it is so natural they don’t even consider beyond their reality. Honestly, the layers of critique and poking at tropes in this book are half of the reason I loved it and then El’s constant fight to try to be more than the expectations and contradictions she is, was the other part.
As much as there is death and violence and havoc everywhere, I also had a lot of laughter and giggles and could see the humour and takes for it, and I loved it, plus the ending leaves you wanting to read the next book immediately!
Recommended for those that were left with an itch from Harry Potter never going to classes and having everything handed to him in his heroics, this book will fill you up on the magical world and not only that but will add other countries and cultures rather than just the UK. It is also for those that like a book with lots of layers and delicious content that you can read and see one more thing and read again and get more out it each time.