The Tea Dragon Tapestry | Book Review

I fell in love with The Tea Dragon series overnight (thanks to Hoopla) and then needed to catch up on sleep for 18 hours, like Chamomile. After my power nap, I immediately ordered the physical copies to experience it again. Once I found out that the third and (sadly) final instalment was coming out I knew it had to go on my TBR.

By: Julia Agris

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to NetGalley for giving us an eARC of this graphic novel, for free, to review.

I fell in love with The Tea Dragon series overnight (thanks to Hoopla) and then needed to catch up on sleep for 18 hours, like Chamomile. After my power nap, I immediately ordered the physical copies to experience it again. Once I found out that the third and (sadly) final instalment was coming out I knew it had to go on my TBR.

51323376

The Tea Dragon Tapestry

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. (Read more on goodreads)

Throughout the series, we were introduced to a multitude of different (and diverse) characters – it is in this book that we finally get to see them meet. Additionally, we get to see Greta and Minette’s friendship grow deeper as they both struggle with personal problems. Greta is unsure what to make for her blacksmith apprenticeship test AND trying to make Ginseng happy after the death of her previous owner. Meanwhile, Minette is dealing with a lost sense of guidance.

The themes of loss (of a person, passion, identify, path), longing and even belonging are all relatable. Although simple, they are basic human emotions seeing these characters handling it while they support each other makes you root for them all the way.

Not only do the cast make you want to keep reading but, just a glance at the art should be enough of a reason for you to pick this up.

O’Neill’s art style the perfect mix of adorable and whimsical. Everything feels organic, all doodles are in the right place, all Tea Dragons looking cute as heck… it makes me want to rip out every page and poster them around my house. In Chapter Two, there is a beautiful full-page spread of Minette’s dream sequence and WOW can I live there forever?

One might say that there is no giant plot twists or action-packed scenes. That is because the story is very character driven, which is what I enjoyed the most besides the art. The characters feel genuine and help each other grow – they want to see their friends/ family succeed. This is what moves the story forward. Their care for one another is like a warm hug.

“Everything that happens is part of your wholeness. The sadness, the loss, the hurt, as well as the joy, the love, the friendship — it is all part of your tapestry […] remember, that you are already whole.”

katie o’neill, the tea dragon tapestry

The age group for this book is: children, middle grade, and young adult. I recommend it to everyone no matter the age. It’s filled with diversity and very real human problems. It has supportive characters! It has beautiful messages about growth and relationships! It has ADORABLE TEA DRAGONS (need I say more) and if that’s not enough O’Neill has provided supplemental lore into the world of Tea Dragons at the back of the book again.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry will be released on September 1st, 2020 and you know I will be picking it up, alongside the card game.

My Riot | Book Review

If you know me by now, then you know that I love graphic novels. So when I saw My Riot was on NetGalley I knew that I had to immediately read it.

By: Julia Agris

DISCLAIMER: Thanks to NetGalley for giving us an eARC of this graphic novel, for free, to review.

If you know me by now, then you know that I love graphic novels. So when I saw My Riot was on NetGalley I knew that I had to immediately read it.

My Riot by Rick Spears

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Set in the early ’90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society’s expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.

1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.

Trigger warnings: body image shaming, eating disorders, sexism, slut-shaming

Chapter 1, “A Riot of Our Own” opens with Val at her first job interview, revealing (too much about herself) what most teenagers feel at that age. After being told by her ballet instructor that she should start smoking to shed five pounds, she mets Kat. She seems to be the badass type, who I honestly wish we got to know more about.

Kat introduces her to Rudie and her first punk rock show. Together, the three of them end up forming an all-girl punk band named The Proper Ladies.

In Chapter 2, “A Romantic ‘Pas de Deux'”, they nailed the feeling of a mosh pit and that’s when I knew I’d really like this graphic novel. You can tell that Val is falling hard for this scene. Later on, she even mentions, “Confusing things are somehow made clear in the chaos of clashing guitars.”

This is such coming of age story where the girls get to find their own voices, writing music about body image and even birth control. The Proper Ladies ring true to the the Riot Grrrl movement – a wave of underground feminist punk music. It’s a story of female friendship, support and empowerment.

The artwork is quite simple colour-wise but I feel like this adds to the feel of 90’s zine culture.

As I said, I wish we got to learn a bit more about the other girls (Kat and Rudie) however Val’s growth had me rooting for her the entire time. I grew up as a scen/emo kid and I related to this so hard.

My Riot‘s public release date is: September 8th, 2020 and you bet you can catch me picking up a physical copy.

Once Upon a River | Book Review

I’m super late on reviewing this book but here it’s finally here!

I’m super late on reviewing this book but here it’s finally here! I read this book earlier this year when there was a lot of hype around it. It seemed like everyone on my Instagram absolutely LOVED this book and the intertwining stories of the characters.

I definitely didn’t feel that way – I thought the story dragged, the characters were unemotional and it was honestly difficult for me to tell them apart. But before we get into it, here’s the background (from Goodreads):

On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life. Is it a miracle? Is it magic? Or can science provide an explanation? These questions have many answers, some of them quite dark indeed.

Those who dwell on the river bank apply all their ingenuity to solving the puzzle of the girl who died and lived again, yet as the days pass the mystery only deepens. The child herself is mute and unable to answer the essential questions: Who is she? Where did she come from? And to whom does she belong? But answers proliferate nonetheless.

Three families are keen to claim her. A wealthy young mother knows the girl is her kidnapped daughter, missing for two years. A farming family reeling from the discovery of their son’s secret liaison, stand ready to welcome their granddaughter. The parson’s housekeeper, humble and isolated, sees in the child the image of her younger sister. But the return of a lost child is not without complications and no matter how heartbreaking the past losses, no matter how precious the child herself, this girl cannot be everyone’s. Each family has mysteries of its own, and many secrets must be revealed before the girl’s identity can be known.

When I read that I was immediately hooked. My initial impression was that this book would be some sort of supernatural mystery that would keep me turning page after page. I’d say there are two main reasons why I didn’t enjoy the books:

It Dragged.

This book took me almost three weeks to read because I just couldn’t read it beyond a couple of chapters at a time. There were so many characters and everybody got their “screen time” at the expense of a plot moving forward. A quarter of the book is a giant lead up to a disappointing “reveal”.

By the time you read the end, where interesting events actually transpire, you don’t even have the energy to feel excitement. You just want to get it over with.

I wasn’t interested in the characters.

There were a wide array of characters in this story. I just didn’t feel like I related to any of them, nor was I interested in their personal story arcs. The few that I was interested in, I felt like the book took too long to give a “reveal”. Some of them don’t even get a resolution, or you don’t really understand their background story at all. I also felt like many of the characters were indistinguishable from each other. They are all very different but when you’re reading, the content could be for any one of them.

I think part of this is due to the writing style. It doesn’t particularly lend itself to getting emotionally invested in the characters. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is beautiful but in such a way that you’re always aware that this is just a story. There’s a sort of detachment involved as if someone is telling you a story they heard from someone else. Which, given the contents of the book might have been the point but it just didn’t work for me.

This book reminds me of novels you are assigned to read in English class. I almost felt like there should have been study questions at the back, asking students to discuss overall themes and foreshadowing. It is very “literary” with that classic-y feel to it.

In the end, I rated it 1/5 stars. Better luck next time!