Book Reviews

ALL THE GRAPHIC NOVELS I’VE READ THIS YEAR SO FAR // i’ve been on a high ft. heartstopper, pumpkinheads, paper girls & more

I have no idea what this post is but we’re just going to go with it.

I’ve read quite the few graphic novels this year and I really wanted to talk about them but because these books are so short I wouldn’t have enough to say to give each of them a full-length review. So here we are.

As I said, this post may be a mess but let’s see how it turns out.


Title: Heartstopper Volume One
Series: Heartstopper Book #1
Author: Alice Oseman
Illustrator: Alice Oseman
Page count: 278
Date published: 7 February 2019 (originally October 2018)
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance


Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

STAR RATING (5 out of 5 stars):

A huge thanks to Pan Macmillan SA for sending a copy of this book my way! All opinions are my own.

Alice Oseman had such fantastic reviews and I had been hearing nothing but the cutest things about this graphic novel. I read it the day it arrived at my door and I was smiling from ear to ear. I’ve been reading (and loving) all the gay books this year and it has been GRAND!! The artwork was really lovely and the story itself is just so pure.

Nick is bisexual and Charlie is gay and they just,,, kill me. I know there’s a short story and that they’re together in her full-length novels, this is sort of a prequel story. It ended on a cliffhanger, and even though I can read it online, I’ve been DYING for the second volume to come out here in South Africa because I miss these boys.

It’s just so cute and adorable and literally everything. Can I please live in the Oseman-verse forever and ever and ever because I legitimately feel like the characters are my FRIENDS. Is there alarming? Definitely not, I’m not lonely…


Title: The Steel Prince
Series: Shades of Magic Volume #1
Author: V.E. Schwab
Illustrator: Andrea Olimpieri
Page count: 112
Date published: 6 March 2019
Genre: Fantasy


Delve into the thrilling, epic tale of the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic!

The youthful Maresh is sent to a violent and unmanageable port city on the Blood Coast of Verse, on strict orders from his father, King Nokil Maresh, to cut his military teeth in this lawless landscape.

There, he encounters an unruly band of soldiers, a lawless landscape, and the intoxicatingly deadly presence of the newly returned pirate queen, Arisa…

STAR RATING (4 out of 5 stars):

A huge thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending a copy of this book my way! All opinions are my own.


I have really loved the Shades of Magic trilogy, that third book BLEW me away and it’s one of my favourite books of the year and the series as a whole is also a favourite.

Victoria just has such a way with words and describing magic. So I of course really enjoyed this graphic novel. It has a very comic-book art style which I’m not too familiar with but really enjoyed. I loved learning about Rhy’s father and sort of connecting the dots as to his history. The book was a bit confusing at first and I felt it could’ve been a bit longer.

But I really loved the ending and am desperate to know what happens next because CLIFFHANGER. I can tell they’re going to get better and more intense with each volume and I’m super excited!


Title: Skyward: The Story of Female Pilots in WWII
Author: Sally Deng
Illustrator: Sally Deng
Page count: 88
Date published: 4 September 2018
Genre: Middle-grade WWI historical non-fiction


The year is 1927, and in America, England and Russia, three young girls share the dream of becoming pilots. Against the odds, these ambitious young trailblazers follow their hearts, enrolling in pilot school (some in secret) and eventually flying for their countries in World War II.

Follow the adventures of these young female pioneers as they battle not only enemies in the skies but sexism and inequality in their own teams, and encounter legends like Jackie “Speed Queen” Cochran. Risking their lives countless times in feats of incredible bravery, the female air pilots–WASPS–of the Second World War are honoured in this beautiful story based on actual events, illustrated in Sally Deng’s raw, dynamic style.

STAR RATING (4 out of 5 stars):

A huge thanks to Jonathan Ball Publishers for sending a copy of this book my way! All opinions are my own.

I had never heard about this book but the lovely people at JB suggested it when we were discussing another book so I was like why the heck not. So is this really a graphic novel? I don’t know. It’s more a picture book but it’s fine. This book was just super fun and informative and truly perfect for young kids learning more about World War 2.

It had a really lovely writing style and was super diverse. I just had a great time. It’s feminist and empowering. I just really enjoyed how well put-together it is. It’s a fast read, and I also feel it could’ve been longer but that’s just me because it is a kid’s book. And being not the targeted audience I wish there was more. But overall so great and super happy that I read it.


Title: Paper Girls Volume 1
Series: Paper Girls #1
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrators: Cliff Chiang, Matthew Wilson, Jared K. Fletcher
Page count: 144
Date published: 5 April 2016
Genre: Young Adult sci-fi


In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time.

STAR RATING (4.5 out of 5 stars):

People, I bought this book because I know people love Brian K. Vaughan and also it was compared to Stranger Things. Which um hi, did you know it’s my favourite show of all time? You must be living under a rock.

This book definitely delivered on the Stranger Things vibes. We’ve got an 80s setting (aka my kryptonite) and 12-year-old kids with walkie-talkies, solving the mysterious happenings in their small town. And I loved this book. I really loved the colour palette and art style, which was lots of purples, blues, pinks and blues. The characters were so much fun. It took a weird turn toward the end and I was confused for a second, hence the half-star, but the ending was so good!

I cannot wait to get my hands on the second volume because I really want to know what happens next ahhh. This graphic novel was really great, I need to get to Saga now too, and I highly recommend. Especially if you’re into Stranger Things!


Title: Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Page count: 256
Date published: 15 October 2019
Genre: Young Adult fantasy


A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

STAR RATING (4 out of 5 stars):

I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley. All opinions are my own.

I’d never heard of this book before it started getting buzz early this year and it sounded so cute. And one day I just jumped onto Netgalley (which I never use because I’m impatient) and saw it was available for download. So ya girl jumped on that asap

I read this book so quickly, as soon as I got it, and got sucked into this lovely little world. This book is full of witches and magic, and the perfect autumn and Halloween read. It’s also PACKED with diversity: we’ve got a main character with a hearing aid, another main character who is non-binary and also lesbian grandmas. The art style is super cute and colourful, I really liked it. My only complaint is that was that the story was a tad under-developed which is why I didn’t love it as much as I wanted to.

But overall, it was super cute and really different from what I usually read. I had a really lovely time reading it and I definitely recommend you pick this one up once it comes out!


Title: Pumpkinheads
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Illustrator: Faith Erin Hicks
Page count: 224
Date published: 27 August 2019
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance


Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.
But this Halloween is different? Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if instead of moping they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?

STAR RATING (5 out of 5 stars):

A huge thanks to Pan Macmillan SA for sending a copy of this book my way! All opinions are my own.

Oh, my golly gosh this is the cutest thing and I LOVED IT SO MUCH! This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year. I love Rainbow Rowell and this book just sounded amazing the moment I found out about it. And it did not disappoint.

This graphic novel is also SO PERFECT for autumn and Halloween. We’ve also got a black, plus-size and bisexual (I think she is, I may be wrong) main character. YES YES YES. The art style was stunning. The story is adventurous and silly and so glorious. There’s lots of food (and descriptions) which made my mouth water. The romance is adorable and the best friends-to-lovers. SO SO SO SO GOOD!

I just cannot praise this book enough. I had THE BEST time reading it and gahh loved it so much. I of course highly highly HIGHLY recommend you pick it up for all the smiles and cuteness! It’s maybe my favourite graphic novel I’ve read so far. It was just GLORIOUS

And whew we are done. This post was way longer than I expected and I hope you’re still awake at this point. If you made it this far, go you, here’s a bar of imaginary chocolate as your prize/thank you gift (yes you probably are craving that now #sorrynotsorry).

I’ve had the best luck with graphic novels this year and I’m so glad that I’m reading more.



















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