Heroine Complex // Asian Female Superheroes Kicking Ass

Author: Sarah Kuhn
Genre: Adult // Urban fantasy // SUPERHEROES
Series: Heroine Complex #1
Goodreads rating: 3.69
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

Being a superheroine is hard. Working for one is even harder.

Evie Tanaka is the put-upon personal assistant to Aveda Jupiter, her childhood best friend and San Francisco’s most beloved superheroine. She’s great at her job—blending into the background, handling her boss’s epic diva tantrums, and getting demon blood out of leather pants.

Unfortunately, she’s not nearly as together when it comes to running her own life, standing up for herself, or raising her tempestuous teenage sister, Bea.

But everything changes when Evie’s forced to pose as her glamorous boss for one night, and her darkest comes out: she has powers, too. Now it’s up to her to contend with murderous cupcakes, nosy gossip bloggers, and supernatural karaoke battles—all while juggling unexpected romance and Aveda’s increasingly outrageous demands. And when a larger threat emerges, Evie must finally take charge and become a superheroine in her own right… or see her city fall to a full-on demonic invasion.

Heroine Complex is as far as I know very unknown and very, very underrated. I hadn’t heard of it and was very lucky to see it at the bookstore. The bright colours obviously captured my eyes, then I read ‘Heroine’ and then I noticed that the two girls on the cover looked East-Asian?? Then I read the summary and the name was Japanese?? So Asian female superheroes, how could I not take this home with me? (also I had two book vouchers and had worked a lot that week so I could afford it)

I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. I was a bit wary when I realised it was an adult book, as I’m usually not very fond of those because well, I’m not fond of sex scenes. There is some sex in this book, but I easily skipped the scene when I realised it was going into details and other than that it was all just mentioned or talked about, nothing too bad.

But let’s start from the beginning. While this is a superhero story and there’s also a romance, what I really liked is that the relationship between Evie and Aveda is at the core of the story. Evie and Aveda have been best friends since they were little and Aveda always had Evie’s back. The memories of what Aveda has done for Evie throughout the years are heartwarming to read and also helps you understand why Evie goes through such lenghts for Aveda, though it also makes you wonder if their relationship isn’t a little bit toxic. Other characters point this out as well, but what’s great is that at some point Evie stands up for herself, points it out to Aveda, and Aveda listens, apologises, and their friendship only becomes stronger for it. There’s an adorable scene where they go out, where it feels like they’re just two best friends instead of boss and employee and two superheroes with the fate of San Francisco at the weight of their shoulders. It really made me fall in love with their friendship and I can’t wait to see more of these two in the sequel. 

Both women went through some amazing growth: Evie becoming more sure of herself, coming to terms with her powers, being able to stand up for herself, and Aveda realising she’s been way too caught up in her reputation and that she hadn’t been treating her best friend very well.

While Aveda obviously had her flaws, I couldn’t help but love her. I definitely didn’t approve of the way she manipulated Evie, the moment I read Evie’s memories of Aveda standing up to their racist classmates and eating all the food Evie’s parents made, or jumping up the stage and grabbing the mic from the band because Evie wanted to hear a particular song at a school dance, I just couldn’t help but fall in love with her. She’s incredibly hardworking and knows what she wants, but she still has her insecurities and just wants to be approved and loved.

The romance between Evie and her love interest (while it’s pretty obvious who it is I don’t want to give it away in case you don’t want to know going in) is really good. I didn’t expect to fall in love with them as much as I did, but boy did I. It builds up throughout the novel, they get to know each other better, communicate, support each other, tease each other and it’s just?? So pure?? They also admit their mistakes to each other and apologise.

Besides Aveda and her love interest, Evie also has a great friendship with Aveda’s body guard Luisa  (who is a lesbian!) and her other childhood friend Scott, and is also struggling with her relationship with her teenage sister. Speaking of her sister, towards the end of the book she made a decision that I felt was kinda… random? I thought it was a bit much, but maybe she just didn’t think it through. I loved that she was really smart and finding her place among the group, and even though she and Evie didn’t always see eye to eye, they definitely loved each other.

While I absolutely loved the fun, comic book vibes the book had going on, I did wish that the villain didn‘t feel cartoonish. I couldn’t really take them seriously, which meant the stakes didn’t feel that high to me, which wasn’t the case at all! San Francisco and it’s citizens were at stake after all, and thus the main characters as well, but it was just hard for me to really take it seriously.

Another thing that I had a bit of a problem with, was the lack of character descriptions. Evie and Aveda were described (and on the cover) but either I missed it, or I have no idea what the other characters looked like. I went back several times to see if I missed it, so I could’ve overlooked it, but I think they just weren’t described, which was really annoying because I didn’t know how to imagine the characters besides Evie and Aveda. It’s a small thing though and didn’t ruin the book at all for me.

I definitely fell in love with this book. It had a bit of a slow beginning, but once I got into it I couldn’t stop reading. If you haven’t yet, I urge you to pick this book up.

Have you read Heroine Complex yet? What did you think of it? Who’s your favourite superhero? Let me know in the comments!

The Upside of The Upside of Unrequited

No that title is not a typo, I didn’t accidentally write The Upside of twice – no it’s me trying to be witty and making a pun *finger guns*

Author: Becky Albertali
Genre: YA | contemporary
Goodreads rating: 4.08
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right? (Goodreads)

Becky Albertali has done it again. How does she manage to write such cute, fluffy, fun books, that are also important? I mean, I’m trying to do it myself with my current WIP, so I definitely look up to her.

Seriously though, The Upside of Unrequited is such a joy to read. My favourite thing about it is probably how diverse it is. Molly and her twin Cassie have two moms, of which one is black. They also have a little brother who’s also black (their white mom is their biological mom, while their black mom is their little brother’s biological mom), the family is Jewish, so is one of the love interests, Cassie is queer and of course so is her girlfriend Mina (to be specific she is pan), who is also Korean-American, Molly of course is fat and she also has anxiety (something I didn’t know going in) and there is so much diversity in the background too. Like one of Molly’s ex-crushes makes an appearance and he has a boyfriend. Also it basically starts on the day same-sex marriage is legalised which I absolutely loved.

Since I have anxiety myself, I was really thrilled to find out Molly has it too. Like I said in my Queens of Geek review anxiety is different for everyone, so of course there are differences between me and Molly, but I definitely related to her. Guys I’m so happy how many books are coming out lately with a protagonist who has anxiety (and they’re not necessarily about anxiety) – this is definitely a trend I don’t want to end (can we celebrate the end of abusive male love interests though)

Speaking of the end of abusive male love interests – I’ve noticed that this trend is dying out, especially because we’re getting such great male love interests lately. Of course they’ve always been there, but abusive male love interests are really popular in fiction (not just talking about books, tv and movies too) so I’m really happy to see less and less of them in books. Reid is such a cutie and he and Molly have great chemistry. I really hope this is the start of a new trend (as Jamie in Queens of Geek was a sweetheart too) and that abusive male love interests will be a rarity soon.

Another thing I loved was the focus on family. Molly and Cassie are very close, but throughout the novel they face some problems and Molly fears they’re growing apart. This was just as important to the plot as the love story and I feel like this is something a lot of people can relate to, though maybe with friends instead of family members.

The characters were all so much fun to read about. I loved all the little, quiet moments Molly had with her moms, where she confided in them and they were just there for her. My favourite moment is when one of them tells her that her getting a boyfriend at seventeen isn’t ‘late’, as Molly thinks and that it’s completely okay to not date in high school at all. I found this super important, since there’s a lot of focus on romance in fiction and media geared towards teens and a lot of them (me included, though I’m no longer a teen and I no longer feel that way) feel like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t date during this time. 

I also loved that Molly is basically a Pinterest Queen™ and loves crafting. I feel like there aren’t many YA protagonists with that hobby? Or at least that I’ve read about so it was a joy to read.

Basically: lots of diversity, focus on family, healthy relationship(s) (while there’s mostly a focus on Molly and Reid, the relationship between Cassie and Mina and Molly and Cassie’s moms are healthy too), positive messages, cute and fun oh and a big gay wedding

Have you read The Upside of Unrequited yet? What did you think? Any more books with great male love interests that you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Queens of Geek More Like Queens of My Heart

Author: Jen Wilde
Genre: YA // Contemporary // LGBTQIAP+
Goodreads rating: 4.07
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

 

 

 

When BFFs Charlie, Taylor and Jamie go to SupaCon, they know it’s going to be a blast. What they don’t expect is for it to change their lives forever.

Charlie likes to stand out. SupaCon is her chance to eow fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star, Reese Ryan. When Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

While Charlie dodges questions about her personal life, Taylor starts asking questions about her own.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about the Queen Firestone SupaFan Contest, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe (Goodreads).

Favourite book of the year along with The Hate U Give, hands down. I honestly don’t see any other book this year being able to surpass these two. But let’s save The Hate U Give for its separate review, shall we?

The biggest thing I loved about this book (besides everything else), is how relatable it is. Firstly I can of course relate to the fact that they’re at a con and geeking out about pretty much everything. I think pretty much all of us bookworms can relate to the fandom aspect of this book. I didn’t expect to relate this much to Queens of Geek though.

Firstly there’s Taylor and her anxiety. While everyone experiences anxiety differently (and mine has a lot to do with my PTSD too) and there were thus some differences between me and Taylor, I still related to her a lot. I am absolutely in love with the way Jen Wilde wrote Taylor’s anxiety. While sometimes reading about it sometimes made me feel really anxious as well, it mostly felt really nice to read about because I felt so understood. I really wish that I had had this book when I was younger.

I also loved how understanding Charlie and Jamie were of Taylor’s anxiety and how much they helped her. It’s hard to find friends like that, so I’m happy that those with anxiety who sadly don’t have people like that around them, can see that there are definitely people like that out there (and of course this is fiction, but as someone who found a great friend like that I can assure you there really are people like that out there and I hope they’ll come into your life soon <3)

Then there’s Charlie, who I didn’t relate too as much as Taylor, but there was one line that really, really got to me:

The moment I first realized I’m into more than one gender was a quiet one. It was sudden and almost anticlimatic, so it’s not a particularly exciting story. I was fourteen, and by that time I’d had more than one crush on a girl, mostly movie stars. But I never interpreted my feelings as a crush; I just thought I admired them a whole lot. It didn’t occur to me that those feelings were similar to the way I felt about guys I liked.

So I guess this is were I come out on my blog? I didn’t want to do a whole post dedicated to it, since I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it and new followers would most likely not come across that post anyway, but if you’ve been following my blog for a while and didn’t know, I guess this may come out of nowhere so I didn’t want to not address it.

Anyway, I had never thought about it that way, but when I read that sentence, I realised that I had thought the same thing. The way bisexuality is written is so positive and while there’s some biphobia, it’s addressed and it’s coming from an antagonist.

There are two romances in this book, an f/f and a m/f one, and both were so adorable and healthy. I think I died from cuteness overload multiple times. And while I absolutely love Alyssa, I want to give a special shout out to Jamie. For a long time abusive male love interests were a trend in YA, and I’m glad to see that’s dying out. Jamie is an absolute sweetheart, who’s soft and nice and caring and nothing like the male love interests that were so popular not that long ago.

I also loved that Charlie’s ex was clearly abusive towards her and that it was addressed. It’s made clear that the way he treated her was not okay. As someone who’s very passionate about portraying abusive right and not romanticising it in fiction I absolutely loved that this was added. There are so many positive messages in this book. There’s also a part about bodyshaming and the way that was handled was so beautiful it almost made me cry.

Another thing I loved was how supportive Charlie’s manager was. When she was first introduced I feared that she wouldn’t sympathise with Charlie and be mean towards her, but I was pleasantly surprised. She was like a friend/big sister/aunt/manager in one and I loved her relationship with Charlie.

There’s so much more that I loved about this book, but these really are the main things (at least the ones I remember) besides the fact that it’s simply fun. And just a positive read. Sure, it touches some heavy topics, but it doesn’t feel heavy. To summarise: a light, fun but important read, with lots of positive rep and messages.

Have you read Queens of Geek yet? What did you think? What’s your favourite book of the year so far? Let me know in the comments!

Rock and Riot – It’s Like Grease but Queer

I’m back to talk about more comics! Before I talked about Shoot Around and Lumberjanes, today it’s Rock and Riot’s turn (and believe me there are a lot more coming).

So what is Rock and Riot about? Taken from the comic’s tumblr:

Rock and Riot follows the tales of opposing teenage gangs in the 1950s with an LGBTQ theme! Will the teams set aside their differences to fight for what they have in common?

Doesn’t that sound great?! If that hasn’t convinced you yet, here are some reasons to read it:

‘LGBTQ THEME’ IS NOT AN EXAGGERATION

No one’s straight?? There are so many different gender identities and sexual orientations in this comic it’s amazing! There are lesbians, bisexuals, panromantics, pansexuals, demisexuals, asexuals, trans characters, an agender character, aromantics, a genderfluid character, a demiboy, a bigender… And I think I haven’t even mentioned all of them at this point. IT’S GREAT.

NOT JUST LGBTQ+ DIVERSITY 

Not everyone is white yay! And so many different body types!! That no one gets shamed for!!

CHARACTERS ARE UNIQUE AND RELATABLE AND JUST GREAT

Sometimes I hate myself for adding titles because honestly what can I add to that. THEY’RE JUST GREAT OKAY. They’re all so cute and funny and relatable sfnsghd I love them. Also they’re so much more than their gender identity and/or sexual orientation, though they are topics that are dealt with

THEY ARE IN GANGS

Which is so much fun! Like not the killing kind of gangs but the ‘I am cooler than thou’ kind of gang with amazing friendships. There’s a girl gang (with a trans girl in it!), a boy gang and an entire gang of teens who don’t stick to the gender binary and they’re definitely the coolest gang.

SUPER CUTE RELATIONSHIPS THAT WILL BE THE DEATH OF YOU

I’m not joking you will die

BEST COMING OUTS EVER

I don’t want to spoil anything, but… IT WAS GREAT. I need to see more of these

CUTE ART STYLE

Just look at it! It’s so cute and colourful

IT TAKES PLACE IN THE FIFTIES

Honestly I love the fifties but… Not good times. So it’s great to see a story take place in the fifties and be so diverse and positive (though there are obstacles as well of course, especially a big one going on right now but it looks like the characters will fight it yay!)

It’s just super fun and cute and relatable and so diverse!!! It’s great trust me. I already linked to the tumblr where you can read it, but I’ll do it again. So if you want to read this amazing comic (YAY) click here.

Are you reading Rock and Riot? What do you think? Are you reading any similar comics that you’d recommend to me? Let me know in the comments (fun fact I wrote comics instead of comments at first woops)!