The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill

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ARC acquired at Book Expo in exchange for an honest review.

“Just because something comes easily to you, does not mean it has no value. You find it effortless because you love it, and that is why it is your gift.”

Most of you know, that I fell head over heels in love with The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill last year, so when I got my hands on an ARC of this, I knew I had no option but to read it and fall in love with it immediately. And, dear reader, that is exactly what happened. This story, this art, and these messages are gifts from above, I swear to you all, and I recommend this companion novel to you all with my whole heart and soul.

At the very start of this graphic novel, we see some familiar faces prepping for the tea dragon festival. But this story stars Rinn who, while collecting things, meets a dragon named Aedhan, and invites them to the festival! Meanwhile, Erik and Hesekiel are back and are bounty hunters who are searching for something ancient that can put people to sleep for decades.

This is an incredibly diverse work of art. Rinn in nonbinary/genderfluid, Erik and Hesekiel are in a m/m relationship, there is Sign Language being used and being taught to the entire village, and the cast is full of people of color with visible brown skin. The actual blessings.

Seeing Aedhan teach Rinn about how dragons can shift between genders was something more beautiful that words to me. Also, seeing Aedhan help Rinn see that they are worthy and have so much value, and that they should never feel lesser for getting enjoyment and pride from gathering and forging… I’m still so soft. And this story really puts an emphasis on how you can cook with love, and how preparing and sharing food can be something so intimate and so filled with unconditional love and joy.

Overall, I really just think that this is a masterpiece. The art is truly on another level as well, and it fills my heart and soul with so much happiness. I also just really appreciate the reminder that you are always needed, and you are always worthy of value and love.

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

 

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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ARC provided by Oni Press in exchange for an honest review.

“But there’s no home without a future…”

I just want to say that Katie O’Neill has the most breathtaking, most gorgeous, and most adorable illustrations out there right now. Each page is literally a brand-new work of art. Never have I ever loved the illustrations in anything as much as I do in this and in The Tea Dragon Society!

Aquicorn Cove stars a young girl named Lana, and she and her father come to visit her Auntie Mae on her little island. Lana is grieving the loss of her mother, but feels happier in her hometown, before Lana was forced to move to the city with her father. And the village is rebuilding after a disaster has struck. But Lana is more than happy to help. But when she goes to the water, she finds a little seahorse-like friend, who is in need of her help!

We also get to see Auntie Mae’s journey below the water, where the Aquicorns live! And Aunt Mae and their leader, Aure, strike up the most heart-warming f/f relationship. But we also get to see firsthand how important it is to keep our waters clean and that we need to respect coral reefs and underwater ecosystems.

Every book I’ve read by Katie has also has such an important and powerful message. Aquicorn Cove is about conservation and how the actions we take on land are impacting our waters. How overfishing, climate change, and polluting is hurting these water sources, and if we don’t change our actions then the results are going to be more and more severe. This is a book that really focuses on the delicate balance we have with all living things, and how we have to respect and protect each other to keep the cycle going. We all have to be responsible for our carbon footprint, or nothing will be safe; land or sea.

“Children don’t deserve to lose their home with the sea.”

Overall, I loved this more than words. Some of these panels were able to evoke such an emotional response from me. I shed so many tears, but also grinned so many smiles. I truly think Katie O’Neill is doing so much good in the world, and I wish I could put her work in everyone’s hands. Beautiful and breathtaking illustrations, empowering and important messages, and characters that I wish I had growing up. I hope you all pick this up and fall in love, too!


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

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“Memories don’t just live inside you, Minette. They live in all the people and objects you share your life with.”

Friends, this was the literally cutest and most heartwarming book I’ve read all year. Also, the art in this book is probably my favorite art style of all time. I recommend this with my entire heart and soul.

This story is broken down into five parts; one for each season and then an epilogue. And during Spring, an apprentice blacksmith, Greta (who is getting trained by her mother), rescues a little dragon outside! Greta’s father recognizes the little dragon and knows who his owner is. And once Greta goes to return the little dragon, she gets an invite from the owner, Hesekiel, to come and learn all about the Tea Dragons!

Tea Dragons are basically just mini dragons that grow different herbs alongside their horns! And all the names of the dragons are because of their different herbs. The dragon that Greta saves is named Jasmine, but we also meet Rooibos, Chamomile, and a few others during the duration of this book.

Greta learns all about Tea Dragons, but also learns about a society that Hesekiel and his husband, Erik, are the last remaining members of. Greta also meets Minette, who is a young girl who was training to be a prophetess and is now having trouble remembering things. She left home, and is now working with Hesekiel and Erik, while also making a beautiful friendship with Greta.

But this story is truly about friendship, and how important it is to find a place in the world that will surround you with unconditional love. This is also a story about honoring the past, and traditions, and cultures, and not forgetting where you come from. And ultimately, this is a story about balancing those two aspects and living a life that you’re proud of and that makes you happy.

Overall, I loved this more than any word combination I could come up with. Friends, if you are looking for a beautiful book, with even more beautiful messages, that star people of color, and people with disabilities (someone in a wheelchair and someone living with memory loss), and LBGTQIAP+ characters, then look no further. This was nothing short of a treat to read, and I hope you all pick it up. Also, I desperately want my own Tea Dragon companion now.

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