Bloodlust & Bonnets

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Emily McGovern
Genres: Graphic Novel, LGBTQIA+
Pub. date: Sep. 2019 (read Jan. 2020)

I’m a little bit delayed with this review, but I picked up Bloodlust & Bonnets at a bookstore in New Zealand because I liked the colourful artwork and thought it looked like the story might have a Nimona-style brand of humour. I was correct on both fronts!

Bloodlust & Bonnets is set in Victorian times and tells the story of Lucy, Byron, and Sham, a bunch of “queer misfits” looking for an adventure in the form of destroying Lady Travesty, the leader of a vampire cult. Their adventures take them all over Britain, with each character struggling with their own personal hang-ups while they all try and get used to being part of a team.

It’s the kind of hilarious, feel good, nonsense that despite all its shenanigans, still has a ton of relevant social commentary buried in it about gender norms, identity, and equality. It made me laugh out loud, but I also loved it for its portrayal of kick-ass female heroines, suave male poets that also like to wear fancy dresses, and gender non-conforming vampire hunters that just need to learn to trust other people. It’s a romping good time!

Check, Please!: #Hockey, Volume 1

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Author: Ngozi Ukazu
Genres: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+
Pub date: Sep. 2018 (read Oct. 2018)

Okay, this was very sweet. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but I liked it nonetheless. Check, Please! is a graphic novel about young hockey player, Eric Bittle. “Bitty”, as he’s christened by his teammates, is just starting University. He’s a former figure skater, internet vlogger, and baker extraordinaire, who has been offered a spot on the Samwell University hockey team. Bitty quickly fits in with his teammates, buttering them up with his delicious pies, and fortunately they are all very accepting of him when he comes out to the team. But Bitty harbours a deep fear of being checked while playing hockey and seems to have started off on the wrong foot with the team captain, Jack.

I struggle to say further what this story is about. It’s not really a plot driven story, but a character driven one. The first volume is a compilation of Bitty’s first two years in University and I believe the second volume will cover his final two years. This book is about post-secondary education – the friendships and relationships you build in these formative years, the pressures to succeed, and the jealousy and insecurity that sometimes develops from that pressure. There are so few books that are set in University and those “new adult” years, so I really appreciate any literature featuring characters in their 20’s. Most of all though, I appreciated that this was a lot of fun!

A Nigerian immigrant from Texas is definitely not someone I would peg to write a book about boys and hockey, but this book never takes itself too seriously, so it just works. I feel like it could have had a little more depth. Ukazu explores the themes I discussed above, but it is fairly surface level, so I excited to see where she takes it in the next volume. But it was a very enjoyable book to read and the artwork is super cute!