Review | What Does Consent Really Mean? | Pete Wallis, Thalia Wallis, & Joseph Wilkins


What Does Consent Really Mean?

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“Consent is not the absence of ‘NO’, it is an enthusiastic YES!!”

While seemingly straightforward, Tia and Bryony hadn’t considered this subject too seriously until it comes up in conversation with their friends and they realise just how important it is.

Following the sexual assault of a classmate, a group of teenage girls find themselves discussing the term consent, what it actually means for them in their current relationships, and how they act and make decisions with peer influence. Joined by their male friends who offer another perspective, this rich graphic novel uncovers the need for more informed conversations with young people around consent and healthy relationships. Accompanying the graphics are sexual health resources for students and teachers, which make this a perfect tool for broaching the subject with teens.

My feelings for this book are complicated. On the one hand, I love that this conversation has been made so accessible and in such a cool way (graphic novel format). I also appreciate how straight-forward the message is, rather than hiding it within subtext. At the same time, I was taken aback by just how straightforward the message is; if, like me, you thought there would be an actual narrative here, with the message explaining consent, then you’ll be disappointed. It’s my feeling that this novel lacks a narrative entirely. It’s very much like those “moral lesson” books you were given in elementary school where the characters are basically having a dialogue explaining the concept you were meant to learn. There isn’t really a storyline, a plot, a climax, etc. The book is solely argumentative.

I see the merits in this for sure, especially for school age kids. However, this was another point on which I struggled; the subject matter is at times appropriate for all ages (and I definitely think it should be made to be—let’s teach our kids what consent means as soon as they learn to talk!) but there were other times where the content was definitely more mature, with swearing and semi-explicit discussions of sexual relationships, that I would never feel comfortable giving to, say, an eleven-year-old to read. On the flip side, the artwork definitely depicts the characters as younger. Even while they were swearing and talking about their sex lives, I was looking at the drawings of the flat-chested girls with baby faces thinking, There’s no way these girls are older than twelve. Yet the actual verbal content of the book suggests that they are much older than twelve.

Overall, I really appreciate that a book with such a straight-forward approach to the topic of consent has been made available, but I think there is some confusion as to the age group of the audience. I also think the author and publishers will see less success than they hope because of the lack of a narrative; it feels very much like a lesson book, and I foresee this only being read by kids if it’s mandatory.


I received a free digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect my professional associations or affiliates in any way.


house between

3 out of 5

In Sarah Maine’s The House Between Tides, a deceased painter’s Scottish summer house is inherited by Hetty. Her attention is immediately brought to the bones discovered under the centuries-old manor, and the story of the manor’s previous owners is slowly woven together. Theo Blake and his young wife Beatrice had a happy start, but their relationship soon grew troubled as the house and its memories haunted the artist. What happened that led to the body under the floorboards?

Like Theo Blake, Maine is a painter in her own right, sucking the reader in through the picturesque Scottish landscape. Beatrice’s storyline throbs with intensity and keeps the story alive. In contrast, Hetty and company are far from fully formed characters; it is clear that Maine cared more for the characters of the past and neglected to bring the same interest and tension into the present storyline. Additionally, the plot does little to build suspense in the reader until the end. Not that the novel is boring, but rather Maine carries the reader along a horizontal path that suddenly spikes with fifty pages left to go. A slow read that would have worked better had Maine focused on the stronger storyline and done away with the other all together.

Book Love: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Theme Party

December is all about the holidays. One of my favourite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I’ve already watched the Disney animated adaptation twice, and plan on watching it many more times before the holidays are over. It’s inspired in me visions of the perfect Victorian Christmas tree. So for Dickens aficionados like me, today’s Book Love post is all about how to throw the perfect A Christmas Carol theme party, from the cutlery to the music, all the while hoping that the ghost of Jacob Marley doesn’t decide to crash-land in your dinner table.

1. Candles.
A Christmas Carol takes place in the Victorian time period, well before electric lighting. If you want your party to have the right mood, tone down the lighting with some romantic, non-scented candles (scented candles can be too overwhelming for some guests). These will really take you back in time and give the party a cozy feel.


2. Decorate your tree accordingly.
Back in the day, they didn’t have electric lights to string about their trees. They also didn’t have plastic figurines boasting #1 DAD hanging from their Christmas tree branches, either. For your party, put away the corny ornaments and go for a natural, simplistic look. Wooden or glass ornaments (or ones that look like them), ribbons, a string of popcorn, and pinecones are what you’ll want for this special night.
victorian tree


3. Centrepieces and other décor.
I love stuffing hurricane vases, and you can absolutely do that for this party, but if you want to really replicate the period, perhaps consider filling a bowl or wicker basket with oranges. Oranges were very popular during this period to give out at Christmas. If you want to tone down the orange scent, consider making packets of ginger, cinnamon, and allspice to set amongst the oranges in order to fill the air with holiday scents.


4. Music.
I would recommend finding a friend who can play the piano (or, even better, the harpsichord), but if your friends lack skills you can always find a CD or iTunes station that plays classic, instrumental Christmas carols. You’ll want to stick with the classics—it’s doubtful that Scrooge would be caught jamming to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” To really get a feel for the times, consider gathering your guests in the living room after dinner for a round of caroling.


5. Cutlery and dishware.
A Christmas Carol takes place in the Victorian period. If you can find Victorian-style cutlery and dishware, that’s great, but your best bet is finding cutlery with rounded handles, usually carved, and simple china dishes. A little gold embellishment wouldn’t hurt, either.
victorian table


6. Food.
Turkeys were expensive back then, and if you relate more to Tim Cratchit than Ebenezer Scrooge, perhaps mixing things up a little by buying a Christmas goose. Try avoiding chocolate for desert and have a guest bring a fruitcake. Remember to give out oranges to the children, and roasting chestnuts or popcorn over the fire can be a fun and social activity.
christmas goose


I hope these tips have given you all some inspiration for your A Christmas Carol themed party. I want to emphasize lighting and scent as the main aspects that will really transport you and your guests back in time. A few other holiday tips: put a cap of vanilla extract in the oven at 350 degrees F for a few minutes to make your house smell like baked goods; if you don’t have a real tree, consider buying a candle or spray that smells like pine; avoid using the television for entertainment—break out a pack of cards or play some charades to get the party going instead.

Feel free to share your own tips and suggestions in the comments below.

Happy Holidays!

-Ember Book Reviews



4 out of 5

Marquette takes the reader on a journey through a modern interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with a spunky, lesbian twist. Working towards being a CEO at Frost Enterprises, Robin, in her own words, has turned into a bit of an asshole in her climb up the corporate ladder. The Bureau of Holiday Affairs decides to pay her a visit, and Robin’s journeys into Christmas Past, Present, and Future—with a butch surfer girl, a drag queen, and none other than Mr. K. Rampus himself as guides for each—give her the chance to make things right. Her biggest opportunity presents itself in a meeting with her former lover Jill, and it is this very mature and well thought-out relationship that becomes central to the plot. With a badass and endearing narrative voice, and a surprising touch of relatability to the characters and storyline, the adventure that Marquette takes us on is exciting and full of holiday warmth. While the novel drags on a bit (I strongly believe that this should have been a novella), Marquette exudes writing savvy. The Bureau of Holiday Affairs will make you crave more of her work, and will perhaps leave a little less of the Scrooge in us all.

-Ember Book Reviews

[ARC provided by Netgalley and Book Enthusiast Promotions in exchange for an honest review.]

Check out this book on Goodreads.


Stay Tuned…

Hey everybody. Tomorrow I will be posting another book review. For the first time ever, I have given a book 1.5 stars out of 5. Check back in if you’re interested to see which book it is (it’s an ARC, by the way) and why I gave it such a low score.

-Ember Book Reviews

OF THINGS GONE ASTRAY by Janina Matthewson

of things gone astray4 out of 5

“You are the reason I’m glad there are words.” -pg. 66-67

Mrs. Featherby loses the front wall of her house. Robert heads to work one morning to find that the building has gone, as if never there at all. Cassie has lost her lover and, determined to wait forever for her if she has to, begins to turn into a willow tree. These are just three of the whimsical cast of characters that Matthewson throws at you on your journey through Of Things Gone Astray. All of them have lost integral pieces of their lives and must decide whether or not they will carve new paths for themselves. The result is a lovely, engaging novel that redefines life, loss, and personhood.

Of Things Gone Astray is positively delightful. Matthewson’s writing is liltingly musical and fraught with mesmerizing tension throughout. Additionally, the book’s cover is captivating; the aesthetics alone were enough to reel me in.

On the other hand, I am not sure how I feel about the ending. A lot was left unresolved, to the point where it is not clear exactly what happened with certain characters. The whimsy is fantastic but in this instance it served as a weak point, where explanation was needed and not provided. In addition, we could have done without a select few characters, such as Marcus and Jake. Their storylines were blurry throughout the course of the novel and, specifically in Marcus’s case, were simply abandoned towards the end.

The true gems of the novel are Delia and Robert. They never interact, but Delia is a darling eccentricity, while Robert and his wife Mara are bright sparks of life that were greatly appreciated.

-Ember Book Reviews

Check out this book on Goodreads.

Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag

ice cream

Hey everybody! Last week I was tagged by Mosquiteo to do the “My Life in Books Tag” but I found that I had already answered those questions under a different tag name. So instead I will be doing the Ben & Jerry’s Book Tag.

1. Vanilla Caramel Fudge: Pick a light, fluffy contemporary.
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill was an easy read and incredibly enjoyable.

meant to bevanilla caramel fudge

2. Mint Chocolate Cookie: A new release that you wish everybody would read.
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman is fairly new (review here). I was lucky enough to read the ARC in the summertime and absolutely adored the complexity of the interwoven fictional and factual plot lines.
legacy of kingsmint choco cookie

3. Karamel Sutra Core: A final book in a series that you were completely satisfied with.
Is it terribly cliché of me to say Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling?
hp deathlykaramel

4. Cherry Garcia: An ending that was bittersweet.
Definitely Of Things Gone Astray by Janina Matthewson (review to come). Not everything wrapped up in the way I would have wanted, but I was still strangely satisfied with the storyline in the end.
of things gone astraycherry garcia

5. Strawberry Shortcake: A book containing your OTP of OTPs.
I don’t want to include any spoilers, but I will just say The Shadow Cabinet by Maureen Johnson (review here).
the shadow cabinetstrawberry

6. Milk and Cookies: The ideal author collaboration.
A really unique and interesting one for me would be Jennifer Worth (who wrote the Call the Midwife memoirs) and Janina Matthewson. Unfortunately Jennifer Worth has passed away, but it would have been really interesting to say the stories that would unfold from these two.
call the midwife 1of things gone astraymilk and cookies

7. Boston Cream Pie: A book that had you turning the pages late into the night.
Definitely The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison (review here). I still miss reading that book.
the goblin emperorboston cream pie

8. Chocolate Therapy: A book that makes you feel better after a long day.
Once again, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth (review here). My boyfriend caught me reading it with a huge grin plastered on my face at least twice a day and didn’t understand how a single book could make me so blissfully happy.
call the midwife 1choco ther

9. Coffee, Coffee, BuzzBuzzBuzz!: A book not yet released that you can’t wait to get your hands on.
I will have to go with Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan for two reasons: 1. She is an excellent storyteller and 2. I hear it’s a retelling of A Tale of Two Cities, and I am interested to see what she does with it.
tell the windcoffee coffee

I tag:


Books and Lesser Evils


And P.S.: I’m lactose intolerant.


-Ember Book Reviews