Monday, February 18, 2019

Graphic Novel Review: Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau

Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau
Release: January 19, 2019
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Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band―if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

You know those books that not many people you know talk about and they kind of sneak up on you? This was that kind of book for me. I hadn't really heard about it until its release day when my best friend found it in Barnes & Noble and brought a copy home. As big fans of the webcomic/graphic novel Check, Please!, a graphic novel about two boys baking and falling in love was something that checked all of our boxes.

I will admit while I had a couple of little problems with the story this really was a cute graphic novel. But honestly, I fell in love with the art style first and enjoyed the story second. The monochromatic blue color scheme worked so well with the story as did the adorable cartoonishness of the characters. The baking montage pages that were absolutely beautiful and complex and added so much depth to the story. The art is seriously great and I have an overwhelming urge to check out the artist's webcomic because of it.

My biggest criticism for this book was that the story was pretty slow to start and rushed the ending. It also had a few time jumps that overall worked but I think the story would have flowed better if they had added in a few more scenes to explain things. My second criticism really isn't a criticism as much as something that annoyed me. The protagonist, Ari, is the definition of a moody teenager who doesn't know what he wants. I actually didn't mind that but I hated that he was kind of dick to everyone but it really bothered me how he treated Hector who was SUCH a sweetheart from the very first page. There's a part of me that feels like Hector deserves better and was a bit too forgiving about the thing that happens. 

The things I loved about this graphic novel far outweighs my two problems with it. I adored the family aspect of this book and seeing the relationship between Ari and his parents change and seeing how much Hector was an influence for that. I also loved that this is a story about not knowing what you want and that it is okay not to know. It explored different kind of friendships and that is so needed with both the good and the toxic. And even though he's kind of a dick, I found Ari and his struggles relatable. If you substitute out the music stuff with nerdy stuff, you pretty much have me at 18. I have never related to a scene so hard as I did the scene where Ari is sitting alone in a corner listening to music at his sister's wedding until he is forcibly thrown into being social and ends up having a great time.

One thing I really appreciated in this story was how being into someone of the same gender wasn't stigmatized at all. In the story it wasn't something that was focused on but everyone was so chill and supportive about it that it was one of those small things that are really big things. I need more queer stories like this in my life. Also, more stories that take place in family owned bakeries. I've discovered over the last couple of years that this is a setting I love in romances. The downside is that I end up craving all the baked goods and, in the case of this story, spanakopita.

If you're looking for a quick and cute read with lots of pictures, Bloom is definitely a graphic novel you need to look into. I'm going to just be over here with my fingers crossed that we'll get more books about Ari and Hector in the future. Now, if you'll excuse me, I really need to go find some sourdough bread to fill this empty hole in my stomach.

Recommended for fans of: Check, Please! by Ngozi Ukazu

  4 / 5 Stars

Book 3: Subway Uptown- Chef/Foodie Romance

Friday, February 15, 2019

Weres Wanna Know: Do You Book Club?

I recently started a book club with some of my dearest internet and IRL friends and we just made it through our first meeting. So it has had me thinking a lot about what makes book clubs work and what makes them not. For the record, I love book clubs! But my experiences with book clubs have not always been the best. And I think I've figured out a couple of the reasons why.

So some background. I have been trying in vain the last few years to find a book club like the one I used to attend while I lived in Baltimore for grad school. It was seriously the best! We had a good mix of both men, women, and nonbinary folks so the discussions were amazing! We had such a diverse crowd each month that we touched on and discussed things about each book I never would have thought about on my own. It made me look at some of my favorite tropes in a new light. I always came back from book club feeling invigorated and ready to read ALL THE THINGS! And most of that was because of the people that I was so privileged to interact with each month. In my opinion, I think the people are the make all or break all of a book club. If you don't like the people you're trying to discuss a book with, you're probably not going to last long in that book club. But when the group is right, it makes everything so much more.

The next thing that will make or break a book club for me is the book selection. One of my biggest complaints about all the book clubs I've tried since then has almost always been about the book selection. I have nothing against nonfiction books, memoirs, and literary fiction personally and I'll read them on my own every once in a while. But I hate how a lot of book clubs revolve around these genres and only these genres. What made me love my Baltimore book club so much was that they made sure to have a diverse reading list and they actively tried to pick books and genres that appealed to everyone. We read sci-fi books and romances and epic fantasies along with a couple literary fiction books and things easily switched back and forth between adult and YA. It was amazing! I never felt bored with the reading and switching genres every month kept my inner mood reader at bay.

I've been trying to emulate that with this book club but it's hard when we have a group that differs so much in reading tastes. The solution we found was a simple one. We've assigned a month out to each individual to pick that month's book to read. And we now have a gloriously diverse reading list! There's a little sci-fi, some romance, and fantasy picks so far and I'm intrigued to see what else comes our way this year.

We're doing our discussions online via a video chat which is great because it makes it super easy to meet together. I never would have expected book clubs to go virtual but I'm thankful that it is a thing the internet has brought into our lives. Sometimes it was hard to get to the library or book store the book club was being held at it. Being able to do book club from my couch is awesome. So what about you?

Do you book club? 
What is your favorite thing about it? 
Or what makes you never want to go to book club again?

We’re participating in the 2019 Discussion Challenge hosted by It Starts at Midnight and Feed Your Fiction Addiction. Check out all the February discussions!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

We Love Lists: How do you find your fated mate?

 Happy Valentine's Day! We've been thinking a lot lately about Fated Mates thanks to the first Romanceopoly Mystery Challenge. So we got to wondering... How exactly do you know when you've found your Fated Mate? Maybe we can learn something from paranormal romance.

If you're a telepathic vampire in Lynsay Sands's Argeneau series and you meet the one person whose thoughts you can't hear, you'll know you've found your mate. Which is probably a good thing - can you imagine hearing every thought in someone's head for all eternity?

If you're a werewolf in the world of Paige Tyler's SWAT series, you'll smell the greatest thing you've ever smelled. No one else can smell it, but if you follow that scent it will lead you to The One.

If you're a vampire in Kate Baxter's Last True Vampire series, your soul returns when you find your mate.

If you're a draegan in M.L. Rhode's Draegon Lords series, you know you have found your true mate if you experience The Joining during intimate relations.

If you're the King of the GIM in Kristen Callihan's Darkest London series, you know you've found your mate when you see a person whose soul has the same exact gold-silver light as yours.

If you're a Berserker Viking or Valkyrie Warrior from Asa Maria Bradley's Viking Warriors series, your tattoo informs you that they're your själsfrände when you kiss them.

If you're a vampire in Kresley Cole's Immortals After Dark series, you become blooded and your heart starts beating for the first time since you were turned.

But how do those of us who aren't supernatural creatures know when we've found our perfect match? We'll let you know when we figure it out.


For other books that use the same or similar fated mate recognition methods to those listed above, you can check out:

Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs
Daring Fate by Megan Erickson
 A Hunger Like No Other by Kreseley Cole
Desire Unchained by Larissa Ione

Friday, February 1, 2019

Month in Review: January 2019

It's 2019 and that means the Year of the Reading Slump has officially ended. Woohoo! And look how much we've read already! The fact that it's too cold to leave the house may have something to do with that too.

Here's what else we've been up to this month along with our February shopping list.

Check out our January book hauls:


Rose Red



Kindle Unlimited

Rose Red

 Kindle Unlimited



How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper
Badlands by Morgan Brice
Witchbane by Morgan Brice
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger

Read This F-ing Book
RFTB: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

We Love Lists
Our Romanceopoly Recs
Ten 2018 Releases We Meant to Read Last Year
Books I'm Planning on Rereading in 2019

Weres Wanna Know
Is The First Book You Read Each Year Important?
Why Aren't We Done With This Trope Yet?

Other Stuff
2018 Challenge Wrap Up
More 2019 Challenges: Romanceopoly and Discussion Challenge
TBR Bingo: End of 2018 TBR Recap

Feb 4

Feb 5

Feb 12

Feb 19

Feb 25

Feb 26

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