Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

RAPID REVIEW: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker

*No Major Spoilers*

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mooncakes has been making it’s way around social media, and I have finally gotten the appetite for some desserts. So let’s dine on this review of Mooncakes.

This graphic novel reminds me a lot of These Witches Don’t Burn. They both have cute witches, and magic, but Mooncakes doesn’t have any relationship drama. I like that the romance between Nova and Tam feels natural and it’s of the popular trope, friends to lovers.

One thing I loved about the story was how Nova is deaf and wears a hearing aid. It was nice seeing disability being represented here in a positive way. Also, for Nova and her family treating Tam like she’s family even though she’s a werewolf.

One small gripe I have is how jarring some of the panels progress. One of the grandmas would tell Nova that her friend is coming over soon, and in the next panel she’s next to Nova talking like she didn’t teleport. Maybe it’s just my imagination though.

Overall, I enjoyed Mooncakes. It was cute and colorful, and even when the story gets dark, it’s still bright and colorful. I would recommend this novel for people who are undecided on whether to read it or not. As well as fans of witches, werewolves, and magic potions.

Posted in Book Reviews, Graphic Novels

RAPID REVIEW: Squad by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

*No Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: brief sexual assault, swearing, and brief mentions about weight and peer pressure, moderate blood and gore

When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.

Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.

But things get complicated when Arianna’s predatory boyfriend is killed, and the cops begin searching for a serial killer. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure—and their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.


Rating: 3 out of 5.

This graphic novel has been floating around TikTok and overall the reviews have been mixed. So I went into this story not expecting much, most high school tropes get on my nerves. So let’s sniff out this review for Squad.

This is another one of those novels that is obviously not for my demographic. I was never the new kid at school, and I never really joined a Mean Girls type friend group. Since those are huge aspects of this story that I don’t match then yeah, but I read it because I was curious. You don’t see female werewolves outside of the romance section.

One thing I didn’t like was that there’s pressure amongst the main group for Becca to fit a size 2 or 3 so they can easily share clothes. I want this toxic idea out of YA fiction. You should love your body no matter whether your a 0 or a 42+. If anyone disagrees then you don’t need that kind of toxicity in your life.

Overall, this was a mediocre story to the point where I really don’t have many thoughts or opinions about it. I liked the diversity amongst the main group of girls, but other than that this is just a petty story filled with melodrama and flimsy motives. I’d say pass on this unless your curious like I was.

Posted in Audiobooks, Book Reviews, Novels

REVIEW: These Witches Don’t Burn (These Witches Don’t Burn #1) by Isabel Sterling

*No Major Spoilers*

Trigger Warnings: Toxic Relationship/Emotional Abuse

Hannah’s a witch, but not the kind you’re thinking of. She’s the real deal, an Elemental with the power to control fire, earth, water, and air. But even though she lives in Salem, Massachusetts, her magic is a secret she has to keep to herself. If she’s ever caught using it in front of a Reg (read: non-witch), she could lose it. For good. So, Hannah spends most of her time avoiding her ex-girlfriend (and fellow Elemental Witch) Veronica, hanging out with her best friend, and working at the Fly by Night Cauldron selling candles and crystals to tourists, goths, and local Wiccans.

But dealing with her ex is the least of Hannah’s concerns when a terrifying blood ritual interrupts the end-of-school-year bonfire. Evidence of dark magic begins to appear all over Salem, and Hannah’s sure it’s the work of a deadly Blood Witch. The issue is, her coven is less than convinced, forcing Hannah to team up with the last person she wants to see: Veronica.

While the pair attempt to smoke out the Blood Witch at a house party, Hannah meets Morgan, a cute new ballerina in town. But trying to date amid a supernatural crisis is easier said than done, and Hannah will have to test the limits of her power if she’s going to save her coven and get the girl, especially when the attacks on Salem’s witches become deadlier by the day.


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I saw this book on TikTok, and it caught my eye because it reminded me of a book I read in the past, Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. The cover also caught my eye having each of the girl characters as Tarot cards gives off a good vibe for what’s to come! So let’s summon the energies for my review of These Witches Don’t Burn.

First off, I have to say 3/4s of this book focuses on the breakup between Hannah and Veronica. Veronica is a toxic partner and she keeps trying to beg for Hannah’s forgiveness and tries to coerce her into them getting back together. I hated these parts of the story because Hannah is trying to stay strong against the things Veronica is saying, but having been raised together doesn’t make this an easy task. I almost gave up on this book because of the toxicity and remembering the event that caused this breakup.

However, after a major turning point in the story, the toxicity goes away and we go back to focusing on the mystery at hand. The mysterious person stalking Hannah and Veronica was somewhat predictable, however I felt like the clues were misleading a bit and the villain was in my pool of suspects, but after process of elimination, you’re only left with one option. So the mystery element of this novel overall is okay.

However, certain points in the book was powerful emotionally with negative and positive ones. I felt like I was Hannah in those moments and not just someone observing her story. Even though this story is told in first person, I often feel like more of an observer of the events in the story rather than living through the character. Not sure if that’s a quirk of mine or just not being able to relate to characters sometimes.

Overall, this book was alright, I remember Undead Girl Gang more fondly even with all of it’s moments of melodrama, but These Witches Don’t Burn is saturated with melodrama and it makes so much of the story suffer in my opinion. So if you’re a fan of melodrama with a dash of mystery then this book is for you. If not then I’d check out Undead Girl Gang.

Posted in Author Q&A

Q&A with E.L. Croucher

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About E.L. Croucher:

E.L. Croucher is a young author, living in London. She started writing over two years,
with her first novel The Butterfly on Fire, which she published on Amazon. Alongside
her career as a writer, she works as a Japanese translator and interpreter for a well-
known Japanese gaming company, after studying Japanese at university and living
in Tokyo, Japan.

Her latest novel, Horned Winged Blessed is an ironic look into a world in which
gender roles are swapped, and minorities are forced into labels that they did not
choose. With a mix of feminist views and a pro-LGBTQ+ stance, E.L. Croucher writes
to further her dream of a world free from prejudice, hate crimes, and bullying.

 

  1. How has the LGBT+ community affected your life?

I would put this down to two stages. Stage one was when I tried to live as a gay man in the world, so we can call that the “G” phase. It was never right for me though. Everyone, including myself, worked that out over time. My heart was never happy. Still, I learned a lot about minorities and what it means to fit in whilst in the “G” phase – so I don’t regret a single second of it. I made some wonderful friends along the way.

Then eventually, at around 21 years old, I admitted to myself that I wanted to change my body to match my mind. I entered the “T” phase and embraced my life as a woman. Wow, what can I say? It was like living in monochrome all my life until suddenly waking up to color. I’d never felt so happy. Today, I am happier and happier with every new tick that I cross off my transition-goals-list.

And the LGBT+ community has been there to support me in its different forms the entire way. I’m so grateful and feel so blessed to be as lucky as I am.

 

  1. Do you think LGBT+ will no longer be a niche subgenre in the next 5-10 years?

It looks to me that the sub-minorities within what was already a minority are started to come out of the closet, now that people are finally learning more about the world and questioning themselves. Next, I would like to see the normalization and acceptance of straight cis men that find transwoman attractive and visa-versa. In general, the movement of sexual orientation exploration, non-binary people and their different genders is only just starting.

Unfortunately, I fear that the entire group won’t always fall within the giant LGBTQ+ bubble. I hope it does. In a world like ours, we should try and stick together! Ls should love Ts. Gs should love Ls. That is what love and acceptance are all about, right?

So to answer the question, I think that there is every chance that LGBT+ will no longer fall under the term “niche subgenre” as it grows and expands. But I hope that with whatever form it takes, we can still stick together. Power in numbers.

 

  1. What inspired you to write this novel?

I wanted to make a social commentary about how gender plays an important role in our lives, and how we cannot assume to label or group together people that do not want that. The main theme of Horned Winged Blessed is that the government in the novel has attempted to make it fairer for all genders by classing them as a ‘third’ one. This, however, is flawed because when forcing it upon the subcategories within the LGBTQ+ community those minorities are in fact having their freedom stolen from them.

My main motive was to give non-binary and transgender people a voice without making the story a huge trope about the journey we go on. (That was perhaps the mistake I made with my first book…)

 

  1. What do you wish people outside of the LGBT+ community knew about the movement?

It’s not our choice. And it has nothing to do with anyone else other than us what we do.
What I mean by that is that my identity and gender has nothing to do with the men that catcall me whilst I walk to work in the morning. When I get chatted-up in a bar, I’m not attempting to “trap” anyone. How self-centered of them to assume that! I’m simply just living my life as I want to and as I always should have. The lines that this blurs between gender and sexual orientation are a secondary issue that modern society has to awaken to and solve in itself.

That is literally what paving the way means to me.

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  1. Who inspires you? LGBT+ figure? Author? Someone close to you?

I can’t chisel this down to a single person, but I am truly inspired by allies to the LGBTQ+ movement that have no direct link to it. So for example, a perfectly happy straight cis person who in no way relates to the LGBTQ+ minorities that are 100% supportive and understanding of our cause. That’s an ally. That kind of pure acceptance and benevolence is inspiring. I think that the voice of an ally will resound a thousand times louder than any LGBTQ+ member. When I see or meet someone like that, it makes me want to fight even harder for equality.

 

  1. How has the writing community supported/helped you with your writing(s)?

There is a great pool of resources out there for any indie writer. I often asked opinions of my cover art, of which editor to go for and whether or not I was making the right decisions. It was always so fantastic to gain such proactive and honest support when those close to me were often too blind with love to tell me the truth.

 

  1. What advice would you give to other writers in the LGBT+ community?

I honestly mean this when I say that: if I can do it, so can you. My English is a native level, but it’s not perfect. My story had plot holes until my editor tore it apart and rebuilt it back up. It’s a long process, but anyone can write a book if they put their minds to it and are motivated enough.

 

  1. What is your favorite childhood book/series?

As a kid, it was, of course, Harry Potter. I always aspired to be as hardworking and focused as Hermione, and wished that my muggle parents would eventually tell me that I was off to Hogwarts next year at school.

I’m still waiting on my owl… should be here any day now!

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Thanks, Ms. Croucher for taking the time to answer my questions! I had a lot of fun learning more about the LGBT+ community!

Learn More about E.L. Croucher’s Works

E.L. Croucher’s Website

Follow her on Instagram @emi13230