Six fabulous children’s books!

I’m hoping to get back to some longer fiction in the coming weeks, as my TBR is piling up and there are so many that I want to read, but it’s been so hard to have time to sit down and properly devour a long book lately that I can only consume comics, novellas and children’s books. I’m really loving the ones I’m finding! Some seriously adorable and inspiring works here!

♡ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review ♡ 

Opal the Octopus is Overwhelmed by Ashley Bartley

‘Opal Octopus says yes to everything, without taking time to think through it. Now she’s overwhelmed by too much on her plate, because she’s quick to agree’

Summing up this book in three words is easy: PRECIOUS. RELATABLE. IMPORTANT.

My mind feels squishy and scattered. I can’t focus on one thing at a time. Wanting to be perfect at everything I do really makes my anxiety climb!

Preach, Opal. As a perpetual juggler of too many things at once, I related to this lovely little book so much. Like, honestly, everyone should read this whether they’re a kid or an adult. Trying to balance everything at once is exhausting and stressful and, in the words of dear Opal, anxiety-inducing. Listen to this octopus and make time for yourself!

I Can Say No by Jenny Simmons

I can use my words
If someone looks down on me.
For the color of my skin
Or the makeup of my family.
I can say, ‘No!
There is no room here
For hate, injustice,
Unkindness, or fear.’

Why, what a wholesome, powerful little book about teaching kids to stand up for themselves and others, to show the importance of boundaries and individuality and self-care. Gotta say, for such a short and sweet book, it packs a profound punch. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous, vibrant, rich and detailed. There’s excellent diversity and representation. Definitely a fantastic book for kids!

I can say NO
to the thoughts in my head
that tell me I’m worthless
because I messed up again.

Um, yes?! Let’s be instilling this in everyone. *throws confidence confetti into the air* Say no with gumption, kids! Talk down your demons and embrace your own path!

My no is my no – there’s no need to explain.

HEAR HEAR

Of course, the author does illustrate the importance of choosing when to say no, or when you can’t – like listening to your parents about chores, haha – and thus provides a balanced approach to saying no.

How to Tap a Maple! by Stephanie Mulligan

This is a cute little informative book about the process of tapping maple syrup from trees in the winter snow. It’s a good explanatory book for children curious about how syrup is refined through boiling and straining before it can be served. It’s set in Maine, which is a lovely state, but of course now I’m missing Canada! And I also want pancakes. 😉

The Froggies Do Not Want to Sleep by Adam Gustavson

Seriously, 100%, could not stop laughing at these froggies.

This absolutely gorgeously illustrated book is light on the words, but the artwork is some of the best I’ve seen in a while. Simply splendid! The writing, honestly, reads like some exasperated, knowing parent, who simply cannot get the froggies to go to sleep and I just cracked up laughing every page.

‘They want to sing opera while firing themselves out of cannons’ but they certainly do NOT want to go to sleep.

I giggled. Hard.

The Speckled Feather by Johanna Ries

The artwork in this straight up left me like:

I think it’s hand drawn, water-colour-y and lush and lovely, and I’m absolutely enamoured. You just want to fall into the artist’s world and live inside these colours. So, so beautiful. Hats off to the artist!

The story itself is an important one about friendship, care and the downside of selfishness. Three birds live with an elephant and are protected from predators by the elephant until they start fighting with each other about who gets to keep the speckled feather that blows their way one day. Mr Elephant ain’t about that nonsense and teaches them a valuable lesson.

Definitely recommend!

Norman’s First Day at Dino Day Care by Sean Julian

Maybe together it’ll only be half as scary

Aww, this is a sweet little story about how to believe in yourself, even when you’re shy and nervous and don’t feel up to public speaking. A great message for kids! And the drawings are adorable.

Four great books for kids!

I’ve been mixing up my comic book binge and non-fiction pile and fantasy/sci-fi tomes with kid’s books. They’re just innately cheerful. Like, even at my age, I just absolutely love how whimsical and colourful these books are. Fantasy is basically a given and every book is upbeat and vibrant and boisterous.

You can’t get through these books without smiling – TRUE FACTS. And it’s really making me miss all the books I grew up with.

all arcs received from netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Busy Spring: Nature Wakes Up by Sean Taylor & Alex Morss

I wasn’t expecting this to be so educational and informative! I picked it up thinking it was just a picture book for kids, and it is, but when you finish the sweet story of the family welcoming spring, the rest of the book focuses on educating kids about plants, animals, migration, life cycles, climate change and safeguarding the natural world. How wonderful! This is a lovely little book for parents to read to their children, perhaps before starting a garden or teaching them about kindness to all creatures, large and small.

The Chicken Who Loved Books by Angela Elwell Hunt

Okay, this is cute. Like, I couldn’t stop giggling. It’s 17 pages of a chicken getting mad at a little boy for bringing his videogame to the chicken coop instead of bringing a book to read to them. It could have been a liiiiittle bit longer, I reckon, cos I felt like it stopped a wee bit abruptly, but the illustrations are super cute and I now want to go find a flock of chickens who want to be read to. The dream, honestly.

Lockdown Hair by Linda Steinbock

Pandemic books for kids is definitely going to be a thing after this last year. I mean, I grew up with environmental warning books like The Wump World, so that’s not surprising. As I’m sure you guess going off the cute cover, this one has a great message and focuses on being safe and oh my gosh, it is ADORBS.

Who doesn’t love a book about staying safe in lockdown with a quote at the end by Greta Thunberg? This is seriously so sweet. The plot follows a young girl trying to come up with inventive ways to help at a hair salon during the pandemic. The leaf blower for hair drying to stay two metres apart rather than a blow dryer was particularly cute!

So You Want To Build a Library by Lindsay Leslie

Every book – and library – is made better by dragons.

Well, obviously.

And don’t forget about TEENY TINY NOOKS for teeny tiny fairies with their teeny tiny books.

Oh my goodness gracious, be still my heart! THIS BOOK.

Who hasn’t dreamed of building their own library and filling it with floofy chairs, water slides, a bathtub, dragons, fairies and much, much more?! I, for one, am waiting for my own personal library to curl up in with my giant, dragon and fairy friends. *taps foot impatiently*

Anyways, this is super cute and a lovely book for kids!

Graphic Novel Review: White All Around (2021)

White All Around by Wilfrid Lupano & Stéphane Fert

Even in the land of the free, not all of America’s children are welcome.

Well. WELL. This is a gut wrenching graphic novel about historical racism. It’s a familiar enough story to those who know American history – white men at odds with Black women educating themselves – but the story of the Prudence Crandall School is new to me: a young white woman goes against the town of Canterbury to open a school for only Black girls in the 1800s. The white residents of the village oppose her actions and treat both Ms Crandall and the children terribly, but the ladies are determined to learn and defy the ridiculous restrictions placed upon them.

The artwork is simply stunning and vibrant and filled with warmth and colour. The women and girls that are the central focus of the story are wonderfully done. In addition to the lone lady teacher, and the girls aching to learn, you also encounter a woman living in the woods who has no love for the villagers, and a young boy who travels around regaling locals with tales of Nat Turner, a real life Black enslaved preacher who led a rebellion in 1831.

This is definitely well worth a read for everyone, although I’m sure it’ll leave you just as furious and frustrated as it left me. Equality is for everyone, and we need more girls and women like the ones herein. I really appreciate this novel for highlighting this true, heart-breaking story of injustice, racism, determination and feminism.

➵ thank you netgalley for the free arc in exchange for an honest review / review cross-posted to goodreads

Show Review: 그 남자의 기억법 (Find Me in Your Memory) [2020]

It seems that I’m chronically incapable of watching one kdrama at a time. I must watch many at a time. Every time. My Netflix recommendations become entirely Korean television every time I start a new one. So of course when I started Lovestruck in the City, I also started Find Me in Your Memory (I’m also finishing up It’s Okay to Not Be Okay, because I still haven’t finished that one yet, oops). But FMIYM is just piling on the angst and romance and I’m here for it in every way possible. Totally distracted by this fabulous show now.

The series follows Lee Jung-hoon, a news anchor with hyperthymesia, who lost his girlfriend years ago. During an interview on his show, he meets Yeo Ha-jin, a famous actress with a bad memory and a huge online following. She throws him through a loop when she quotes his dead girlfriend’s favourite saying at him on live television, not realising how she remembers it. Freaking out, Jung-hoon instantly tries to distance himself from Ha-jin, but the news – and all her social media followers – clamp on to their encounter and rumours instantly spread that the pair are dating. Ha-jin is delighted by the rumour, but Jung-hoon is anything but pleased and tells her that they can’t see each other again.

Yeah, cos that’s going to last long. They make it, like, half an episode? (/◕ヮ◕)/

Everything gets even more tense when it’s revealed that Ha-jin has a stalker who wants Jung-hoon out of the picture. (And sends lots of creepy pictures to him. Like, whoa.) Despite wanting distance between them, Jung-hoon immediately becomes protective of Ha-jin (yus) and frets about her safety as the storyline unfolds and the drama ramps up. Protective boyfriends for the win!

I’m not too familiar with Kim Dong-wook, but he’s a great actor and I’m totally sold on Jung-hoon. Moon Ga-young is absolutely stunning and steals every scene she’s in. Seriously, she’s amazing. And the chemistry between Jung-hoon and Ha-jin is off the charts! I also love the relationship between Ha-jin and Yeo Ha-kyung, her little sister/manager. They’re adorable together! And Ha-kyung is so protective of her sister. Gotta love the sisterhood in this one!

Show Review: 도시남녀의 사랑법 (Lovestruck in the City) [2021]

Ji Chang-wook has been one of my favourite actors for a while now, so I was absolutely delighted when 도시남녀의 사랑법 (Lovestruck in the City) appeared on Netflix. The K2 is one of my tippy toppy I-love-it-so-much action/bodyguard shows (seriously WATCH ITTTTTTTTTTTT) and Ji Chang-wook is honestly phenomenal in everything I’ve seen him in thus far. (Suspicious Partner gave me ALL THE FEELS, M’KAY?!) I wasn’t wholly sold on the interview/documentary style format that LITC opened with, but it grew on me after a couple of episodes and the show really picks up with every episode. The interviews are mostly at the start of the episodes, so if that’s not your thing, don’t worry. Most of the show isn’t centred on the interviews. They’re more like prompts for the flashbacks or for setting the scenes. The show goes back and forth between the present and past, with the central characters being interviewed about love, relationships, sex, etc. Some of their answers are seriously hilarious.

The main character, Park Jae-won, is a surfer and architect, who fell in love with ‘Yoon Seon-a’ years ago, but after a whirlwind romance of two months by the seaside surfing and cooking and exchanging rings, she disappears, leaving Jae-won heartbroken and bewildered. You quickly learn that ‘Seon-a’ is actually Lee Eun-oh, who was lying about her name the entire time she was with Jae-won. You find out why slowly, while their friends’ relationships are interwoven into the storyline.

I really love Jae-won’s character. He’s just such a decent bloke. He loves Seon-a/Eun-oh so much and is so endearingly earnest about it. I adore characters who are sincere and genuine. It’s impossible not to root for him throughout the series. Eun-oh’s a great character, too, but I definitely felt a bit miffed by her lies. Poor, poor Jae-won.

I don’t know how it all ends yet, as the show has a couple more episodes to go, but for anyone who likes contemporary romance, this one is definitely worth watching! It’s on Netflix, with episodes being added weekly! The soundtrack is great, too!

Show Review: Alias (2001)

Oh man, I’ve forgotten how much I love this show. It’s been years since I’ve watched it and it totally holds up. Sydney Bristow working as a double agent to avenge her fiancé and uncover the secrets that her father’s been working on unearthing for decades. Aaaaaaaaaaaaah. It’s so good!

This is the show that first introduced me to Jennifer Garner and Gina Torres and Merrin Dungey and Mía Maestro and Bradley Cooper and Michael Vartan and David Anders and just OH MY GOSH THE WHOLE CAST IS GREAT. I knew Victor Garber from Legally Blonde, but his character in this is EONS better. It’s also the show that first introduced me to J. J. Abrams’ work.

What I love about this show is how every episode takes place in a different part of the world, with Sydney getting to embody all different kinds of disguises. Sydney is really the heart and soul of this show and is such an icon, honestly. Her relationship with Vaughn is literal OTP material, too, and they were one of my first ships.

I’m only on season one of my rewatch, but I’m so excited to get to the drama that is season three and the fallout of the season two finale – if you watched it, you know what plotline I mean. I don’t think there’s been a show to fill this one’s shoes in all the years since. This one and Buffy are just enduringly fantastic.

Buffy, Willow and Comics Galore!

Oh my gosh, the new Buffyverse comics by BOOM! Studies are simply wonderful. The Willow comics take place after Hellmouth, which happens partway through the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. So I suggest starting with Buffy, Volume 1 and then going to the Willow comics when the timelines diverge. Basically, the comics reboot the original show in the modern day, with all the characters’ appearances based on the actors themselves i.e. Buffy looks like Sarah Michelle Gellar, etc. The whole thing feels like an AU (but in a great way!).

The Willow comics are such a fabulous side adventure to the new Buffy. And isn’t the artwork so lush? I’m obsessed with these covers, my word. In this storyline, Willow’s a witch from the start, not after spending ages researching alongside Giles like in the show and she’s taking a break from Sunnydale after events in the Buffy reboot. It’s only five issues long so far – not sure if it’s getting more? – so it’s a fun little fest that’s a great way to spend a couple hours. And, again, the artwork. (✿◠‿◠)

SPOILER WARNING! The Buffy reboot starts with Buffy, Willow and Xander in very different places than they started in the show. Willow has a girlfriend from the start, Xander is much less of a ‘nice guy’ and more nuanced (thank goodness), Joyce has a boyfriend who treats Buffy well, Giles and Jenny are already dating, Robin Wood is in school with the rest of the cast and has a side story with Kendra, and Spike and Drusilla arrive in season one. I haven’t reached Angel’s appearance yet in the comics, but I’m sure he’s coming as there’s also an Angel reboot comic.

In addition to all the Buffyverse comics, I also tried out Artifice and Vision #1. I also read and reviewed two great kids books: We Are All Under One Wide Sky and Theo’s Princess. All very good!

And now on to the Angel comics … (^o^)

New Indie Magazine: Indie Bites

A new indie magazine has launched and the stories are free to read online! The stories are vampire/voyage themed and all under 5000 words, so please consider giving them a chance.

(I submitted a short story to the collection, yay! I’m so happy to share this story with everyone. ^_^)

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