Review: Blue Flag Volume 1 by KAITO

cover183248-medium An unexpected love quadrangle with a dash of unrequited love as two classmates, a boy and a girl, begin to fall for each other when each of their best friends have already fallen for them.

It’s the last year of high school, and love is in the air. Romantic feelings that have been building up over years of friendship come to light. When Taichi’s classmate Futaba asks him to help her confess to his best friend, Toma, it sparks the catalyst that begins the sweet and heart-wrenching journey of their third and final year of high school.

For some reason, Taichi Ichinose just can’t tolerate Futaba Kuze. But at the start of his third year in high school, he finds himself in the same homeroom as her, along with his childhood friend and school sports star Toma Mita. But one day Futaba opens up to Taichi, admitting she has a crush on Toma and asking for his help in confessing to him! There’s just one problem—Toma seems to already have a secret crush on someone else…

Continue reading “Review: Blue Flag Volume 1 by KAITO”

Review: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh

18871918 Blue is the Warmest Color is a graphic novel about growing up, falling in love, and coming out. Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.

I’m going to start this out by saying I was not prepared for this graphic novel.  Not because of the content, or even the few, brief adult moments depicted inside.  No, what I wasn’t prepared for were all the tears that I eventually shed throughout it.

Continue reading “Review: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh”

Review: Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda

cover185303-medium Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!

As someone with some serious social anxiety, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this manga.  I thought it’d be cute and fun and maybe a little reflective of what I go through now, even as an adult.

Granted, my anxiety isn’t nearly as debilitating as Komi’s is, but I could still relate in a lot of ways.  That moment when the teacher calls on you and, even though you know the answer, you’re paralyzed by the fear of saying something in front of the class.  That I totally related to. Continue reading “Review: Komi Can’t Communicate by Tomohito Oda”

Review: A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn

cover171432-mediumSnowcapped pines and glittery dusted sidewalks adorn tranquil Heartsford, Wisconsin, while residents cuddle beneath heirloom quilts in front of cozy wood fires. But come the next day, the below-zero temperatures won’t keep the locals away from Heartsford’s annual Fire & Ice event. To boost customer traffic at Community Craft’s one-night-only sale, Samantha “Sammy” Kane persuades a few of the craftspeople who sell their wares at the store to participate in a live mannequin window display contest.

Local quilter Wanda Wadsworth emerges as a favorite to win the contest, as she manages to not move a muscle for an unusual amount of time. Onlookers outside the window try everything to get her to crack–tapping on the glass and making funny faces–but nothing disrupts Wanda’s stillness. When the eagle-eyed spectators realize Wanda isn’t breathing, a blanket of grief and fear descends upon the wintry town. Continue reading “Review: A Crafter Quilts a Crime by Holly Quinn”

Review: In Cold Chamomile by Joy Avon

cover174045-medium Tea party organizer Callie Aspen learns that Cupid’s arrows can be deadly when a Valentine’s Day soiree ends in murder.

Callie Aspen can’t think of a more appropriate place to spend Valentine’s Day than her adopted hometown of Heart’s Harbor, Maine. When she’s not helping out at Book Tea, her great-aunt Iphy’s vintage tearoom, Callie’s adorning Haywood Hall with hearts and roses for the big Valentine’s event, where townspeople will fall in love with sweet treats, heartwarming music, and delightful books. But tension is brewing: The librarian argues with the expert who is on hand to appraise precious volumes. And Iphy is shocked to recognize the baritone who’s slated to sing at the event as an old acquaintance–one she’d hoped she’d never meet again. And then, when a dead body is discovered, the stirring spoon of suspicion points at the many people who had reasons to want the victim dead.

When Iphy’s old acquaintance draws the attention of Deputy Ace Falk, Callie finds herself in a spot. Ace, as usual, doesn’t want Callie involved, but how can she ignore Iphy’s anguish over the fate of a man she cares for more than she will admit? Bringing the killer to justice may endanger Callie’s budding relationship with Ace–and, quite possibly, her own life.

Callie and the Book Tea crew may think they have this case in the bag, but un-kettling truths are yet to be decanted. 

I randomly requested the first book in this series, In Peppermint Peril, from Netgalley back in 2018. I immediately fell in love with the series.  The Book Tea coffee shop is a place I’d frequent if it were in my area and I love the characters with a fierce passion.  So, I was excited to get into this latest installment.

While I really enjoyed the story – there were a few twists I hadn’t seen coming – the characters were all off their games.  Callie, who is usually pretty self-assured is second guessing everything.  Iphy, who is always a solid bastion of dependability and propriety, is nowhere near any of that.  Deputy Falk, too, is avoiding Callie and acting like a stranger.  It made for an awkward story in an otherwise solid series.

That said, I still enjoyed In Cold Chamomile quite a lot.  There were several suspects and I was kept guessing as to who was the actual culprit.  I love the setting of Haywood Hall, too, because it’s like a mini-city all of its own.  I’m hoping that Callie and Ace are able to resolve whatever is going on between them in the next book because I think they’re a great pair.  Even when she’s annoying him by sleuthing when he’s asked her not, they have incredible chemistry.  Despite the issues I had with the characters not being themselves, this was still a highly enjoyable cozy mystery.

4/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an advanced copy of the novel in exchange for a fair review.