Graphic Novels/Comics Review Dump #2

Kerry and the Knight of the Forest by Andi Watson

Absolutely charming. There’s a subtle message of how everyone does not deserve your kindness, but it’s worth trying to see the best in people (with common sense intact). Kerry is adorably earnest and sweet, and his dynamic with Waystone is great. The art style is blocky, colorful, and super geometric. I thoroughly enjoyed this.


Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

I enjoyed this a lot! The art style and colors are so woodsy and comforting. I liked the characters and sympathized with Jen’s frustrations. The (step) sister-relationship was so adorable. Andy and Jen weren’t perfect, but they weren’t black and white either. It was a pleasant surprise to find out this story was inspired by the author’s life! Y’know, I’ve always heard of dyslexia but never dyscalculia.

Also, I’m surprised no has choked out Walter yet. I have never seen such a condescending character. Can you imagine being a child trying to be heard with someone like him antagonizing you? Please, someone, fight him. Still, it’s entirely realistic how some people make excuses for individuals like him.

Overall, I would recommend this story!


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Gotham High by Melissa de la Cruz

Well, there was a lot going on that I didn’t particularly like, but the coloring was beautiful, especially during the nightlife/partying scene. This may have worked better as an actual novel, so we could get inside the character’s heads more. I definitely get Selina being prideful and not wanting others’ help, but the way that was portrayed came off awfully cartoonish.

ETA: Dude had a whole shrine of her, and she was flattered like that mess ain’t creepy! Just make her your phone screen and call it a day.


Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades by Mike Cavallaro

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“There are all kinds of monsters […] Don’t be one. (pg 173)”

So much fun! The world’s really imaginative with lots of lore and mythology. Nico, a normal boy, a war-veteran unicorn, Buck, and an Egyptian pyramid-cat, Lula all work in a magic-RPG-adventure quests warehouse store. I thought Buck was majorly fun.


Haven’t made a post in a while though I’m always posting reviews on my Goodreads account. I try to post the longer ones here. Anywho, have you read any good graphic novels lately?

Thanks for reading!

Book Review #44: This Train is Being Held

41074675I thought the romance (and the cover!) was really cute. I would love for a guy to write me sweet poetry too.

“Our knees kissed under the dining room table (pg 176).”

Come on, that would make my day! I enjoyed Alex and Isa together. I also liked the way Spanish is weaved into the story. I didn’t know all the modismos used (like pérate is short for espérate = (you) wait), but it’s super easy to figure them out with context. In addition, I liked the story with Merrit, Isa’s brother, and how her family was managing with (spoiler). This story was more than just Isa’s first love. It’s also about life and how real stuff happens.

Everything beyond that is kind of typical. A rich (white) girl defies the odds and falls in love with a poor or at least not rich (insert ethnicity) boy. “I don’t care what you say, Mom/Dad I love him!” *plays “Nobody Want to See Us Together” by Akon* In all seriousness, I was surprised that the whole ordeal wasn’t the constant focus.

Anyway, I thought the writing and Alex’s narrative was good. Isabelle was a little too much at times. Like, girl burst into dance one more time, I dare you. However, her impromptu bachata routine was fun and unexpected. She’s not irritating, so that’s good. Well, at least until she starts running away from her problems. That was realistic though still annoying. She put that boy on ice, didn’t she? First, Alex reacted normally and then like a total loser. (spoiler)

Also, Chrissy’s predicament about not being a virgin went on way too long. That did not need to be a side-plot. (spoiler)

Another thing, Isa acted so basic when (spoiler)

The common theme of familial relationships and trying to live up to your dreams vs parent’s expectations were grrrreat *Tony the Tiger voice*. Alex’s parents are divorced but cordial, and Alex has a good relationship with his half-brother and his dad’s girlfriend, Yaritza. I wasn’t expecting that. Alex’s love for his little bro Robi is so heartwarming. The family relationships, romance, and the mental health conversation were the strong points for me.

Overall, it wasn’t the normal, run-of-the-mill love story. The climax is exciting in a horrifying way. It’s like a car crash you see coming but you can’t look away. Maybe I’m easy to please, but I liked reading this for the most part. Also, this story gets a gold star for referencing my favorite Romeo Santos song, “Bella y Sensual.”

4/5 stars

to see review with spoilers: read here

Mini Book Review #14: Hicotea

“I … I don’t know. I guess. Sometimes it is easier to stay quiet. People get tired of questions that can’t be answered.

‘Or scared of the answers they find …'” (pg 14).

40044788Hicotea: A Nightlights Story (64 pages) by Lorena Alvarez is an excellent story for all ages! It made me think, and it promotes curiosity and the smallest bit of environmental awareness. The illustrations are bursting with color and cuteness. There is a slight edge of creepiness or, at least, some parts make you feel uncomfortable (like something’s not right). That’s a hard feeling to capture in artwork/stories.

Anyway, I recommend.

Book Review #43: Topside

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In Topside by J. N. Monk and Harry Bogosian (200 pages), basically, the mistake of a would-be techno working bee causes a big problem and shenanigans ensue. I could not get a grasp of the world-building, but it did not bother me. This is a world where engineers and technicians are everywhere, a shark and a light-bulb are in love, and a shape-shifter and a cantankerous woman make an almost-family.

The side-plot with the office guy trying to live up to his dad’s legacy was okay, but I was much more interested in Jo’s business. He reached an abrupt epiphany that’s, well, abrupt haha. [spoiler redacted]

CHARACTERS

My favorite characters were Lumi and Kevin because they were full of personality, and I had so many questions about their backstory. Every time when junk got real one of those two would surprise me.

Jo is headstrong, logical, and tough on herself. The way Jo communicates (in the narration boxes) is like a service report. Her thoughts are quick to the point and always trying to find a solution. Unique. Her earnest desire to take overtime so she could financially support her parents and baby sibling was very relatable.

Tenz was unlikeable from the get-go, but that’s the point. Toward the end, I slowly got a sense of her character motivations. [spoiler redacted]

ART

The character designs were great. It’s always nice to have a diverse cast. At the end of the book, the creators leave their thought-process and inspirations behind the character’s look. Since learning the inspirations, I think they nailed it in that department.

Also, the color direction is very colorful! In fact, after two pages, the color palette resets and resets. I weep for the colorists but applaud them too for their efforts!

OVERALL

I liked this one!

To read this review without the spoilers: here

Graphic Novel/Comics Review Dump

Truckus Maximus by Scott Peterson

I really enjoyed the storyline and Axel’s character. Surprisingly, I didn’t care about Piston at all, and I usually love the plucky underdog. Anyway, the artwork is excellent and has a personality of its own. The black shadows with the sunset-palette work well together. There are some themes of inequality and social class and being a puppet to the system that don’t get resolved but add a good layer to the story. I liked the ending a lot, but I wouldn’t mind a sequel.


The Woods Vol. 1: The Arrow by James Tynion IV 

Hmmm, I was intrigued by this. Usually, I dislike apocalyptic/survivalist stories because they just make me anxious. Still, I love how you can see how different characters react to terror/trauma, it’s fight or flight. Adrian is hardcore and callous and thinking way too fast for the others, but, even though I wouldn’t like him in real life, he’s my favorite character so far.

Also, I like how the story is trying to steer away from the obvious Adults vs Kids angle and acknowledges that no one has it all together, y’know. The pacing’s fast, and I’m always eager to turn the next page. A good first volume though I have some criticism with Ben, as of now, he’s just the generic gentle giant.


The Woods Vol. 2 by James Tynion IV 

Gosh, Adrian is such a butthole. Please, I do not need to see his eyes bleed anymore. He puts the Uchihas to shame. I loved the twist with that letter. It’s funny in a dark humor sort of way, but also very sad as well. Adrian’s mother is terrible, and, now, we see where he gets it from.

Book Review #42: Kingdom of Souls

43245862Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron (496 pages) has a very slow beginning and a lot of world-building to digest but with some very nice plot-twists and suspense as well. I really liked Rudjek and Arrah much more than I should have for some reason. When Arrah gets all flustered around him, I can’t help but go “aww.” In addition, I loved the relationship between Arrah and her father. Although I liked her mother’s maids-servants and thought they were interesting, the majority of side characters were under-used. I had no favorites here but none of the characters were really grating besides Efiya.

Now, this isn’t a very satisfying story, and I’m not talking about the writing/plot. It’s just Arrah’s life is tragedy after tragedy. As soon as something good happens, 12 worse things rear their head. This story could possibly beat you down.

In addition, the main villain is really flat. Because we see how this person becomes this way, I guess we are supposed to have sympathy. I don’t know. Unfortunately, I felt absolutely nothing for this character. The only thing they were was dusty to me. ಠ_ಠ

Overall, if you don’t mind long stories where optimism is bleak, then I recommend it.

Mini Book Review #13: Bird & Squirrel All Tangled Up

39983506Bird & Squirrel All Tangled Up by James Burks (128 pages) I absolutely love this series from beginning to end! At first, I was wary of another entry in the series because I thought the last one wrapped up things nicely. Have no fear! This book is just as fun as others and didn’t feel unnecessary.

I love this character arc Squirrel is going through, and each book develops his character a bit more. He’s no longer a scaredy-cat, but he can’t get over worrying about everything. Squirrel is facing some real-deal parental fear which is shown expertly through his paranoid dreams. Great showing and not telling!

His daughter Birdie is a cutie and not a brat. For some reason, some stories annoy the readers with obnoxious offspring who are unbearable. Thankfully, Birdie is gung-ho about adventure but still loves her daddy and is sweet. She takes after Bird but there are glimpses of Squirrel in her character too.

Overall, this had adorable artwork, engaging story, and wonderful characters. If there’s another book, I’ll read that too! *virtual thumbs up*

5 stars

Mini Book Review #12: Inventing Victoria

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Well,  Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden (272 pages) is not exciting (it’s mad dry and needs some lotion), but it is a good portrayal of some of the horrors/realities African-Americans experienced during the 1800s (blatant discrimination/racial attacks but new triumphs as well). We don’t get too much insight into Essie’s head, so this story is more plot-driven. Honestly, I don’t know too much about Essie. Besides her circumstances and the shame she feels from her mother, and her love of drawing, what does Essie like or think about? If I connected more with Essie, maybe I would’ve enjoyed the journey more.

Anyway, in the story, Essie’s mother is a prostitute in a brothel house(?) where the uncles “white men” make their nightly visits. Her mother sometimes copes with this by using alcohol to get through it. Now, the uncles pay well (most of the time), so Essie does enjoy the gifts until she learns how they were bought.

[Not a spoiler!; she dies on page 1] Jumping to the future, Essie’s mother dies which gives Essie a glimmer of a new opportunity. She gets her own room now (no more sleeping in a closet) and a renewed desire to leave the past behind. Essie is bi-racial with light-skin. Despite wishing she was as far away from white as possible, her complexion/colorism works in her favor for going up the black elite ladder. She finds her fairy godmother in the lovely Ma Clara and Dorcas Vashon. Can we give a handclap to Ma Clara? YOU THE REAL MVP!

The journey to Essie becoming the high-class Victoria should have been more interesting. I was thoroughly bored and exhausted (just like you, Essie) with the many tasks/trials she had to endure. I really like the growth Essie had from simply wanting to become elite to wanting to give back to her community.

There’s some last minute romance that actually, I promise, happens in a span of five pages. “Was this love?” I don’t know, Essie you just met him. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I thought they would tease the love interest a bit more and show us a glimpse of him earlier. It’s okay though because that’s not the primary focus.

On another note, it’s a bit awkward when the characters meet Fredrick Douglass. I like to keep fictional characters separate from real people. I don’t mind timely references, but I dislike historical figures in fiction stories. How am I supposed to know if they’re in character? Haha.

Overall:

This book is the perfect blend between Middle Grade and YA. The writing’s simple but does not shy away from implications (racial, sexual, violent, etc). I recommend for older kids because I don’t think it can keep most younger kids’ interest. I loved Essie’s mentors and the strained mother-daughter relationship. 3 stars!

Spoiler: Continue reading “Mini Book Review #12: Inventing Victoria”

Book Review #41: Famous in a Small Town

“It’s not selfish to want people in your life who care about you” (pg 261).

STORY:
Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills (320 pages) is a contemporary story with likable imperfect characters and pretty cover. There are some wonderful friendship moments like the “broken miniature greenhouse”, sweet moments like the kiss just because I want to make you feel good, and fun dialogue 75% of the time.

I really liked/disliked Brit. She felt realistic to me. I’ve seen people like her in real life, and I like each dynamic she has with the individual characters. Sophie has a big heart which is both a positive and negative thing for her. She sort of dislikes how everyone views her in this saintly-good-person light. Relatable.

I liked that the ending didn’t end in the way I expected. I didn’t really care about the August-Sophie connection. That was a little meh (he’s hot; let’s date; argument; kiss; awkward tension; kiss; fight argument repeat until conclusion) and the whole find Megan Pleasant thing ran a little long for me. I guess I just found the friendship/family interactions and characters to be the best part(s). To be honest, everything about Ciara was really confusing. But yeah …

This is exactly 3.5/5 stars for me!


Bonus:

Read my review for “On the Come Up” by Angie Thomas here!

Read my review for “Clyde” by Jim Benton here!

Read “Dreaded Dinner Partyhere!

Book Review #40: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager/Genesis Begins Again

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (372 pages) I’m always excited to read some diverse fiction and a French-Canadian boy of Haitian descent in the US sounded interesting. Unfortunately for me, a lot of this can be summed into Norris pops his gums and writes checks his butt can’t cash.

I didn’t care for any of the characters or the romance. Usually, I LOVE snarky or sarcastic/”I’m so above you, plebians” characters, but I did not like Norris. It’s sweet that he cares about his mom and loves hockey. He’s his mother’s #1 fan at her presentations, and his friendship with Maddie is sort of cute. But that’s where it ends. He’s just too snarky and mean-spirited. I definitely don’t mind characters with bad attitudes, but his mouth seems unwarranted at times.

The vast majority of the time Norris puts people in check for micro-aggressions (tho sometimes he handles Aarti with kitten gloves) and happily acknowledges his heritage. He also doesn’t put up with any homophobia and calls it out despite making a few gay jokes.

Concerning the romance, I was indifferent. I get the snow globe thing. It’s like getting a gas station charger for your birthday gift that you know the person just bought last minute. Okay. But why was this never properly voiced!? UGH, HIGHSCHOOLERS! COMMUNICATE! Also, I figured the Maddie angle was going to happen or that she was gonna hook up with Liam. 

I feel the highlights were Liam’s backstory, Norris’ mom’s fear about police brutality and his safety conversation, and the ending. Parts of the family dinner was fun too.

“Put me in the family will and grant me your daughter’s hand in marriage, b***hes” pg (255).

With context, that quote’s a lot funnier. Promise.

Although the ending was much more interesting than the first 75% of the book, it’s just too much high-school drama for me.

Overall, the book ends with a strong conclusion! I liked seeing Norris come to terms with himself and acknowledging his flaws and that everything doesn’t end happily-ever-after though it is optimistic. A good look at not pre-judging people. I didn’t love this book but so many others have, so you just gotta read it for yourself.

25753113BONUS:

See my review for Genesis Begins Again, here!

What a gorgeous cover! I really enjoyed reading this story but have some tissues nearby. ;__;