Review: Venezia

Title: Venezia
Author: Lewis Trondheim, Fabrice Parme (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humour
Publisher: Europe Comics
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: November 20, 2019
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

After their first explosive encounter, Giuseppe and Sophia hate one another with a passion. As fate would have it, both have a secret identity permitting them to conduct investigations incognito. Once his false mustache and wig are removed, Giuseppe becomes “the Eagle.” And when her tights and black hood are donned, Sophia transforms into “the Black Scorpion.” The Eagle and the Scorpion feel an irresistible attraction for one another… but will they share their first kiss and track down the mysterious “Codex Bellum” before Giuseppe and Sophia tear each other into beautiful little pieces?


Two spies from two France and Spain are sent to Venice in the 16th century. The two spies are Giuseppe and Sophia, who also go by the alteregos “the Eagle” and “the Black Scorpion.” They hate each other, but they keep turning up at the same places on the same missions, so they have to figure out if they want to keep fighting or work together.

This was a funny graphic novel. It had a spy versus spy storyline, where they kept meeting each other and trying to foil each other’s plots. There was the added humour of their alter ego disguises, who didn’t know each other. They would change into their disguises at the same time, but they didn’t realize that they were still the same person.

I found the beginning of this story a little complicated because there were so many characters from different countries. I didn’t understand the politics of it at the beginning, because many characters seemed similar. The graphics were very detailed, but that meant that sometimes the jokes were subtle. There was one part where Giuseppe lost his fake mustache and it landed on another character, but I didn’t notice it at first because the illustrations were so small.

This was an entertaining graphic novel!

Thank you Europe Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

Have you read Venezia? What did you think of it?


TBR Thursday – April 30

TBR Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Kimberly Faye Reads, where you post a title from your shelf or e-reader and find out what others think about it.

My pick this week is Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe … which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl. 

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: The Sweeney Sisters

Title: The Sweeney Sisters
Author: Lian Dolan
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

An accomplished storyteller returns with her biggest, boldest, most entertaining novel yet—a hilarious, heartfelt story about books, love, sisterhood, and the surprises we discover in our DNA that combines the wit of Jonathan Tropper with the heart of Susan Wiggs.

Maggie, Eliza, and Tricia Sweeney grew up as a happy threesome in the idyllic seaside town of Southport, Connecticut. But their mother’s death from cancer fifteen years ago tarnished their golden-hued memories, and the sisters drifted apart. Their one touchstone is their father, Bill Sweeney, an internationally famous literary lion and college professor universally adored by critics, publishers, and book lovers. When Bill dies unexpectedly one cool June night, his shell-shocked daughters return to their childhood home. They aren’t quite sure what the future holds without their larger-than-life father, but they do know how to throw an Irish wake to honor a man of his stature.

But as guests pay their respects and reminisce, one stranger, emboldened by whiskey, has crashed the party. It turns out that she too is a Sweeney sister.

When Washington, DC based journalist Serena Tucker had her DNA tested on a whim a few weeks earlier, she learned she had a 50% genetic match with a childhood neighbor—Maggie Sweeney of Southport, Connecticut. It seems Serena’s chilly WASP mother, Birdie, had a history with Bill Sweeney—one that has remained totally secret until now.

Once the shock wears off, questions abound. What does this mean for William’s literary legacy? Where is the unfinished memoir he’s stashed away, and what will it reveal? And how will a fourth Sweeney sister—a blond among redheads—fit into their story?

By turns revealing, insightful, and uproarious, The Sweeney Sisters is equal parts cautionary tale and celebration—a festive and heartfelt look at what truly makes a family. 


Bill Sweeney was a famous literary author. When he dies suddenly of a heart attack in his sleep, he leaves many secrets for his three daughters to discover. When his will is read, they learn that he had another daughter, who is older than them and was their next door neighbour while they were growing up. He also left a mysterious memoir that is to be published after his death. The sisters have to unravel their father’s secrets, while also dealing with personal problems.

Serena, the half-sister of the Sweeney girls, found out about her relation to Bill Sweeney through an online DNA test. She ended up being a match for one of the Sweeney girls, so she knew she must be his daughter. That also uncovered her mother’s affair with Bill, which was strange since they didn’t have a relationship after that affair even though they lived next door to each other for years. I’ve read many articles about the popular online DNA tests that have revealed that family members aren’t actually related. It’s creepy that this is a common occurrence, but that makes this story timely.

This story had a third person omniscient narrator. That means that everyone’s thoughts were told in the narrative. This was a unique way to tell the story because none of the characters could have secrets from the reader, including the minor characters. The story was still suspenseful, because Bill had secrets, and he wasn’t present in the narrative since he had already died.

This is a great story!

Thank you HarperCollins for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

Truths I Never Told You by Kelly Rimmer

About the Author:

Lian Dolan is a writer and talker. She’s the author of two Los Angeles Times best-selling novels, Helen of Pasadena and Elizabeth the First Wife published by Prospect Park Books. Her next novel, The Sweeney Sisters, will be published in 2020 by William Morrow. She’s a regular humor columnist for Pasadena Magazine and has previously written monthly columns for O, The Oprah Magazine and Working Mother Magazine. She’s also written for TV, radio and websites.

Lian is the producer and host of Satellite Sisters, the award-winning talk show she created with her four real sisters. On Satellite Sisters, she’s interviewed everyone from Nora Ephron to Madeleine Albright to Big Bird. Satellite Sisters began life as a syndicated radio show and is now a top-rated podcast for women. The recent book by the Satellite Sisters, You’re the Best: A Celebration of Friendship, is popular with book clubs.

Lian graduated from Pomona College with a degree in Classics. She lives in Pasadena, California with her husband, two sons and a big German shepherd.

Have you read The Sweeney Sisters? What did you think of it?

‘Waiting on’ Wednesday – April 29

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. In this post we highlight a book that’s highly anticipated.

The book that I’m waiting on this Wednesday is The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda. The expected publication date is June 23, 2020.

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A suspense novel about a young woman plagued by night terrors after a childhood trauma who wakes one evening to find a corpse at her feet.

Everyone knows the story of “the girl from Widow Hills.”

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

Now a young woman living hundreds of miles away, Arden goes by Olivia. She’s managed to stay off the radar for the last few years. But with the twentieth anniversary of her rescue approaching, the media will inevitably renew its interest in Arden. Where is she now? Soon Olivia feels like she’s being watched and begins sleepwalking again, like she did long ago, even waking outside her home. Until late one night she jolts awake in her yard. At her feet is the corpse of a man she knows—from her previous life, as Arden Maynor.

And now, the girl from Widow Hills is about to become the center of the story, once again. 

What books are you waiting on this week?

Review: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story

Title: That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story
Author: Huda Fahmy
Genre: Memoir, Humour, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Chaperones, suitors, and arranged marriages aren’t only reserved for the heroines of a Jane Austen novel. They’re just another walk in the park for this leading lady, who is on a mission to find her leading lad. From the brilliant comics Yes, I’m Hot in This, Huda Fahmy tells the hilarious story of how she met and married her husband. Navigating mismatched suitors, gossiping aunties, and societal expectations for Muslim women, That Can Be Arranged deftly and hilariously reveals to readers what it can be like to find a husband as an observant Muslim woman in the twenty-first century.

So relevant in today’s evolving cultural climate, Fahmy’s story offers a perceptive and personal glimpse into the sometimes sticky but ultimately rewarding balance of independent choice and tradition.


This is a hilarious graphic novel memoir about Huda’s experience with an arranged marriage.

It starts with a disclaimer about her wearing a hijab in the illustrations. The character in the graphic novel is an extension of herself, so she is always drawn wearing a hijab. However, in real life, she doesn’t wear it to bed, to shower, or to get her hair done, even though her character in the book does. She made this disclaimer funny, because she said anyone who skipped that disclaimer would wonder why she was wearing it to bed. She drew the character with a hijab every time for consistency in the book, not because that is what she actually does.

I loved the way she compared the courtship of an arranged marriage to a Jane Austen novel. They both have nosy, older women poking their noses into the lives of young people. There were suitors who came to meet her parents, like in an Austen novel. She also had to be chaperoned on any dates, like Austen’s heroines. This was a great way to compare her situation to older novels. It shows how universal these ideas of courtship are, because Jane Austen’s characters were doing the same things hundreds of years ago as what Huda did today.

This is a great graphic novel!

Thank you Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Yes, I’m Hot in This: The Hilarious Truth about Life in a Hijab by Huda Fahmy

Snug: A Collection of Comics About Dating Your Best Friend by Catana Chetwynd

Have you read That Can Be Arranged? What did you think of it?

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Wish Were Around When I Was a Child

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and it is now hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is Books I Wish I Read as a Child. These are books that I wish were around when I was a child. Here’s my list:

1. Fairest of All (Whatever After #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

2. Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School #1) by Jen Calonita

3. The Wishing Spell (The Land of Stories #1) by Chris Colfer

4. The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

5. The School of Good and Evil (The School of Good and Evil #1) by Soman Chainani

6. Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1) by Mike Maihack

7. Jinxed (Jinxed #1) by Amy McCulloch

8. Guts by Raina Telgemeier

9. DC Super Hero Girls: At Metropolis High by Amy Wolfram, Yancey Labat (illustrator)

10. Sunny Side Up (Sunny #1) by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm

(All photos taken from Goodreads)

What’s your list of books on your Top Ten Tuesday?

Happy Pub Day – April 28

Happy Pub day to all of these new books!

The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman

The Summer Villa by Melissa Hill

The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan

The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick

Seven Endless Forests by April Genevieve Tucholke

Don’t Call the Wolf by Aleksandra Ross

Incendiary by Zoraida Córdova

What books are you most excited for this week?

Blog Tour Review: The Heirloom Garden

Title: The Heirloom Garden
Author: Viola Shipman
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

In her inimitable style, Viola Shipman explores the unlikely relationship between two very different women brought together by the pain of war, but bonded by hope, purpose…and flowers.

Iris Maynard lost her husband in World War II, her daughter to illness and, finally, her reason to live. Walled off from the world for decades behind the towering fence surrounding her home, Iris has built a new family…of flowers. Iris propagates her own daylilies and roses while tending to a garden filled with the heirloom starts that keep the memories of her loved ones alive.

When Abby Peterson moves next door with her family—a husband traumatized by his service in the Iraq War and a young daughter searching for stability—Iris is reluctantly yet inevitably drawn into her boisterous neighbor’s life, where, united by loss and a love of flowers, she and Abby tentatively unearth their secrets, and help each other discover how much life they have yet to live.

With delightful illustrations and fascinating detail, Viola Shipman’s heartwarming story will charm readers while resonating with issues that are so relevant today. 


This book tells the story of two women from different generations who are brought together by their experiences of war. Iris’s husband was killed in WWII, and her daughter passed away a few years later. She now finds peace in her garden, but she hasn’t left her house in years, closing herself off from the world with tall fences. In 2003, Abby’s family moves into the house next to Iris’s, which Iris rents to them. Abby’s husband has just returned from the Iraq war, but he is a shell of his former self. Abby’s kind daughter, Lily, is curious about the old lady who lives next door, which leads to an unlikely friendship.

This book was a tearjerker. Iris is mourning her husband and daughter decades after their deaths. She still talks to them. It was heartbreaking to see show her life was standing still, for the most part, since they died. Even though Abby’s husband returned from his war, he was so traumatized that he wasn’t himself anymore. Abby and Iris had similar experiences with being left behind in the aftermath of a war.

I loved the dual narratives of Abby and Iris. They had different perspectives, being from two generations, yet there were similarities in their lives. Both of them had their husbands go to war. They were both working in scientific jobs, where they weren’t given opportunities they deserved because they were women. Though they were working in these fields fifty years apart, not much had changed in the way women were treated in the workplace.

I found the gardening aspect of this book fascinating. I don’t know much about gardening, but it was amazing how it brought people together in this book. There was also a scientific side of it, which was described by Iris. She created her own unique flowers. I also didn’t know about the process for saving plants through the winter. Iris would pack them away in her basement to save them for the spring. It made sense, but I had never thought about that process before.

This is a beautiful story!

Thank you Graydon House for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman

Author Info:

Viola Shipman is the pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire his writing. Rouse is the author of The Summer Cottage, as well as The Charm Bracelet and The Hope Chest which have been translated into more than a dozen languages and become international bestsellers. He lives in Saugatuck, Michigan and Palm Springs, California, and has written for People, Coastal Living, Good Housekeeping, and Taste of Home, along with other publications, and is a contributor to All Things Considered.

Have you read The Heirloom Garden? What did you think of it?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? – April 27

This blog meme is hosted by Book Date. It is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile!

What I just finished:

This weekend I finished The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman.

What I’m currently reading:

I’m currently reading The Sweeney Sisters by Lian Dolan.

What I’m reading next:

Next I will be reading The Secrets of Love Story Bridge by Phaedra Patrick.

What are you guys reading this week? Have you read any of these books?

Jill’s Weekly Wrap-Up – April 26

Here are my reviews for the week with my ratings:

I did 8 weekly blogging memes:

How was your week? What did you guys read?