I should be clear that my star rating here is less about whether the book is good and more about my enjoyment of it… which, after three pretty light-hearted volumes, sank a bit when this book went rather darker and upsetting than the others. Volume 3 introduces Charlie’s eating disorder, but volume 4 shows that he has an eating disorder and OCD — both of which are painful topics for different personal reasons.
There’s still a lot of sweetness in it, as Nick and Charlie grow into their relationship a bit and grow up a bit. There’s also the support of their friends, and particularly of Victoria, Charlie’s older sister (who is completely awesome).
There’s also a very cute bonus comic about the two teachers who get together in volume three, which made me smile a lot. Actually, all the side characters and their relationships are lovely — not always perfect, but lovely all the same.
It’s definitely not bad, and if you’re prepared for it, I can see it being a very satisfying volume of the series. I just wasn’t expecting to feel so sad.
Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance, S.W. Searle
Patience & Esther is a cute graphic novel featuring a lady’s maid and a parlourmaid in an Edwardian house, who become friends, fall in love, and decide to make their way in a world that is beginning to talk about women’s suffrage. Esther is in fact Indian, and the comic is also very positive about Patience’s weight. It’s a sweet story, focusing on the love between them and their will to make their way instead of their setbacks. It’s worth noting that there are several very explicit sex scenes as well.
I feel like the impulse to make it a very positive love story was nice, but it made the whole thing lack bite for me. I quickly realised that in every case they’d figure things out. There’s definitely a place for that, but with only the barest edge of reality in there (when Esther has trouble getting a job) their triumphs felt easily won as well.
Overall, it’s enjoyable and I like the art style, plus the notes at the end about some of the historical details.
I don’t know anything aboutfencing, so I can’t really comment on how well this portrays fencing, and indeed, that’s kind of not what I was interested in. It kept popping up when people were talking about Heartstopper, though, which I really enjoy, so I thought I’d give it a chance. It follows two fencers: Nicholas Cox and Seiji Katayama, plus other fencers at the school they both attend. They are, of course, bitter rivals — each with their own reasons for needing to become better fencers and beat those at another school, Exton. We don’t see much of Seiji’s motivations so far, but I’m sure we will.
The art is clear and easy to follow, and I like the character designs. The story hasn’t really got very far at this point, but I’m definitely ready to keep following it up — Nicholas’ motivations aren’t super unique or anything, but it could be a fun trope-filled ride, and I’m here for it. It feels like a shounen manga with queer characters, and I’m happy with that. Let’s see where the next volumes go!
I’ve loved the Foxes in Love Twitter feed for a while, so I haaad to have this collection of the various strips once it was announced… and a friend obliged. I’ve seen them all before, but they’re still so delightful.
There’s no overarching story or anything, so you can dip in and out as you wish. Instead, it’s a collection of slice-of-life strips, showing the lives of Blue and Green, who love each other very much. You get their musings about how lucky they are to be together, how they deal with setbacks like depression and bad days, little bits of silliness… it’s always delightful, or when it’s a little sad, it’s still always sweet because the foxes have each other.
Princess Princess Ever After is a short graphic novel which features a familiar fairytale trope (a princess in a tower)… with a few additions, such as the fact that another princess comes to rescue her, and the fact that her sojourn in the tower was of her own choosing (to some degree) thanks to her sister undermining her and making her feel worthless. The prince they come across needs help from them… and in the end, the two princesses get married!
It’s really really cute, and I appreciate Sadie’s anxieties and difficulties — Amira is completely kickass, but Sadie is strong in her own sweet soft way; they’re very different people and yet both strong. The art is cute too, and I want Amira’s haiiir. (Also I don’t, because long hair is a pain in the butt, but it looks cool.)
It is a bit expensive for how slight it is, but it’s full colour and beautifully presented, and suitable for quite young readers.
I was sold on this pretty much right away by two things:
“I hope you like honey, because I have a bee in my bonnet.”
“It is I, Lord Byron. You know, from books.” “However did you find me?” “My eagle, Napoleon. He’s psychic.”
It’s a madcap ride, featuring Lucy (a girl who is rather unsure of her place in life and what her value might be), Lord Byron (from books), and Sham (“are you a boy or a girl?” “yes”). They’re not always in harmony (in fact, mostly they aren’t), but they’re hunting down vampires, each with their own motive. There are some great bits, including Lord Byron’s room full of rabbits, Sham’s bucking of gender norms (“is that Ms Sham or Mr Sham?” “no”) and fun dialogue.
However… it’s a bit too madcap, and that started to grate on me. It’s a bit “this is funny and quirky because I’m so ~*~random~*~!” I was in for a few chapters, and then my attention started to drift just because it was so scatterbrained. It sort of wraps itself up, but I found it kind of unsatisfying because it didn’t really seem to mean much. There was a bit of a power-of-friendship theme in the formation of the group, but otherwise… shrug. It sort of fizzled to a stop.
It was fun, but I’m glad it was from the library and can go back there now. If I ever gave half-stars, I might be inclined to now, to give it a 2.5.
Volume 2 of Heartstopper basically just continues the adorableness. If you’re not interested in a comic about a pair of boys — one gay, one bisexual — becoming friends, figuring out they’re into each other, and coping with things like coming out and getting along with each other’s friends, then it probably isn’t for you. The art is all in the same style on the cover, kind of doodly, and somehow that makes it more adorable to me, as well as quite distinctive (though there’s a couple of other artists with a similar sort of aesthetic).
I love the way Charlie and Nick are with each other; they have a couple of misunderstandings, and yes, one of those is at the start of this volume and is due to not actually communicating… but for the most part, they do communicate, and it’s lovely.
Look! It’s just adorbs:
They’re consistently adorable and I am so tempted to race ahead and read the whole darn thing. Buuut instead I’m being good and purchasing it volume by volume as it comes out.
(That Patreon with so many pages ahead is tempting, though…)
Heartstopper is just freaking adorable. Charlie and Nick attend an all-boys grammar school, and they really meet when they find themselves in the same form (odd, since Nick is in year 11 and Charlie is in year 10? but what do I know, grammar schools can do what they want in many ways; or mine certainly did, anyway). They quickly become friends, and Nick even coaxes Charlie to join him in playing rugby. They hang out together… a lot… and Nick quickly becomes Charlie’s defender and closest friend. And, of course, a mutual crush develops.
The art is cute, and while there is a little bit of angst and confusion, it doesn’t feel gratuitous. I’m a little mad about the cliffhanger this book ends on — and I know I could go looking for the rest online, and probably will, but aaarggghh, that so typical plotline where — well, I won’t spoil it, but suffice it to say that I want to get back to them being adorable, whether that’s as friends or boyfriends.
It’s also kind of awesome how British it is. And a grammar school, too! That’s a world I know well.
Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears – Baby Talk, Dennis Hopeless, Javier Rodriguez
It’s been a while since I read any comics, really, so I picked this one up on a whim. It’s quite a lot of fun: Jessica Drew kicks ass and takes names even when pregnant — even when she’s just had an emergency caesarian. That part isn’t realistic, but the bit about her learning to cope with giving things up, dealing with motherhood, and figuring out who she is now… that’s all probably pretty on the nose. And I loved Carol’s concern for her and how Jessica called out all the overprotective behaviour.
Does it make sense, coming right after the last Spider-Woman comic I read? Not really. It feels like they just decided to take a left turn out of nowhere for the fun of it. It’s comics, so you know it isn’t going to change much — for all I know, Jessica’s kid has been retconned out of everything already.
Still, like I said, it’s fun. And I do like the art in this TPB.
This story is just adorable. The setting is a little odd — half realistic, set in places like Belgium and Paris, but half invented (at least I don’t think it fits into our timeline), but I really enjoyed the designs and the cute relationship between Sebastian and Frances. I love the fact that Frances is never really bothered by what Sebastian wants: okay, he wants dresses, that’s her job, so she’ll do it. The best bit was maybe her telling the king that Sebastian himself was perfect, and it was the expectations and the fear of disappointing his family that ruined things.
It’s not exactly period appropriate in terms of how easily Sebastian seems to be accepted, but hey, when reality sucks, why not fix it sometimes?