Should You Read It–Honorable Mentions Part 23

Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel’s Wolverine by Suzana E. Flores

Genre: Marvel Comics/Psychology

Rating: 4/5

Image result for Untamed: The Psychology of Marvel's WolverineThis is a nonfiction book that takes different elements of psychology and applies them to the Marvel Comics character, Wolverine. Wolverine is very iconic in society today, and many people know him from the X-men movies, and some know him from the comics. For those that aren’t familiar with his story beyond the cinematic universe, this book summarizes various aspects of Wolverine’s origins and history as he is written in the comics, applying major psychological foundations to his behavior and analyzing why this anti hero does what he does.

Wolverine aside, this book definitely has a textbook feel to it, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Some of the topics discussed in relation to Wolverine as the subject in question are the Absent Mother (which we see in numerous  pieces of fiction), The Five Stages of Grief, The Psychology of Torture (in which various types of torture and what they do to the body are written therein), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Dissociation Identity Disorder, and a whole slew of other psychological topics that can be analyzed as they relate to Wolverine’s development as a person. I found this book interesting in that, while I knew quite a few of these things from college, I learned quite a bit more about psychology that I did not know, and applying these concepts to a character that I am familiar with and have empathy for helps focus these complex ideas. If you are a psychology major or a Wolverine fan, this book may just interest you. If I were a psychology professor, I might select this as the course textbook because it not only hits major areas of psychological study, but the subject of interest (Wolverine) may connect better with the younger generations and would make learning psychology more interesting than not having a contemporary and well-known example to draw the reader in. Overall, a bit of a heavy read, but vastly interesting!

 

Tokyo Tarareba Girls (Vol. 1) by Akiko Higashimura

Genre: Manga/Romance

Rating: 5/5

34296854First of all, thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book for free for an honest review, and thanks to Miss Akiko Higashimura, author of one of my all-time top favorite manga series, Princess Jellyfish! What an exciting honor!

Being a lover of Princess Jellyfish and its unique story line that avoid most of the tropes and cliches seen in many manga, I was excited to learn about this never series being serialized in English. After seeing some of the reviews about it, as well as getting a chance to sample it, I was a bit unsure at first if it would be quite on par with Princess Jellyfish. While the stories are both very different (and rather unique), after finishing this volume, I am definitely invested! I will be adding this one to my Higashimura collection and already have the second volume in my shopping cart!

This book is about a girl named Rinko, 33 years old, who works as a scriptwriter for various web series. Oh and she’s getting to that age where she worries about not ever getting married, and her friends are in a similar boat. When a young man begins to point out that they are “ladies” and not “girls,” and that they are just a group of “What if’s,” Rinko falls even further into her slump of aging. “Tarareba,” as defined in the novel, means “what if,” and that’s where Rinko’s problems lay. She wonders “what if I dated this guy” “What if I didn’t go out with the girls,” “What if” this, and “what if” that. She soon finds that questioning things is a lack of taking action, and not taking action is what puts her in the situation she finds herself in as a 33-year-old woman!

While the beginning was a bit off-putting (I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this manga), I was quickly immersed and some of the twists I was hoping for went in the right direction. The end of this manga has me itching for more, and also wondering if Rinko will ever find happiness in life without marriage…or perhaps one day she will find the right man!

 

Sota’s Knife (Vol. 1) by Kei Honjo and Yuichiro Sueda

Genre: Manga/Food/Cooking

Rating: 4/5

36559009

eceived from NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review—thank you!!

Sota’s Knife was a fun food-filled manga. Sota is a young man who leaves his hometown to gain experience in food practice to one day bring his family’s own small restaurant to be the best it can be. Although just a helper and dishwasher, in his spare time, Sota practices cooking at home with different forms of the same ingredients, as well as using his knife in the most intricate of ways to make the food perfect.

I thought this food manga was very interesting. It had quite a few translation notes that related to the type of cuts, food, bentos, and restaurants therein relating to both current culture and history. I get the sense of a well-researched writer and learned quite a few fact about different types of restaurants in Japan–what makes something fancy, and what doesn’t?

I thought the art was pretty good and liked Sota’s attitude towards learning new things in the kitchen. His motivation and strive to constantly be better makes the character fun to follow and root for. I definitely wouldn’t mind reading the next one!

 

The Mirror and the Mountain by Luke Aylen

Genre: Children’s Fantasy/Adventure

Rating: 3/5

38588898Thank you NetGalley, Luke Aylen, and Monarch books for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.

This book is like a mesh of Narnia and The Hobbit, with a sprinkle of Spirited Away.

Jonah and Summer are both eleven years old. When exploring in a building, Summer finds herself whisked to another world through a mirror, and Jonah soon follows. With they way back destroyed, Summer and Jonah embark on a quest to find a mirror that can take them home, making quite a few interesting friends along the way.

This is perfect for readers ages 10-12 (maybe younger or older, depending on the reader of course) and is a classic fantasy: children find themselves embarking on a quest, and there are dwarves, dragons, and elves, all classic fantasy creatures.

I thought that the story was very dialogue heavy and lacked more detail where it could have been added. It was hard to picture the world since the scenes felt low-key, but since I’ve read so many books with a similar feel, my mind was able to paint what wasn’t there. The use of mostly dialogue does help the story move faster, but I also didn’t feel much of a connection to any of the characters. They felt somewhat flat and went through very little development by the end, and what bits were obviously pointed out as a change in character felt unrealistic and rushed.

As a story to read for fun, especially for the age group, it was a fun little adventure. The dragon is my favorite character, for sure, which is what drew me into wanting to read this in the first place.

 

Karate Heat (Vol. 1) by Eiichi Kitano

Genre: Sports Manga/Middle Grade

Rating: 4.5/5

40599083

Thank you NetGalley, Kodansha Comics (one of my favorite manga publishers), and Eiichi Kitano for he opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

I never expected to adore a karate book so much! Karate Heat features two boys: Shinya, a boy who knows nothing about karate, and Takumi, a boy who is a young karate national champion who has adored the sport since childhood. On a chance meeting, Takumi finds that Shinya might just have what it take to match up to his own special strength and stamina…one day. Together, the boys enter junior high and join a karate club where they strive to be the best. As long as Shinya has a set goal, he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.

This is an excellent middle-grade novel that’s not only about karate, but friendship and self-determination as well. The art is excellent and the story is very engaging and fast-paced. The characters are interesting and likable, and I want to root for Shinya as he begins to move from the basics of karate in his own unique way as the series moves forward. Recommended for middle-grade, sports lovers, and manga lovers of all ages!

Advertisements

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions (Part 22)

Orphans Vol. 1: The Beginning by Roberto Recchioni and Emiliano Mammucari

Genre: Graphic Novel/Science-fiction

Rating: 4/5

(Recieved from NetGalley for an honest review).

First of all, the art is phenomenal! Second, this graphic novel is utterly amazing!

When the world is hit by a beam of light, the prospect of aliens becomes real. Now all the survivors are basically orphans, and these children are the best candidates to be fine-tuned into soldiers. They have nothing more to lose and some may seek revenge against the alien species that took their families from them and destroyed their planet. The aliens are mysterious lifeforms, almost spectral in they cannot bee seen on a general radar and can appear out of nowhere with no notice.

The writing (I think this is a translation from an original language–Italian?) is excellent and the story flows well. The first chapter feels a bit slow, but it’s the main setup with the orphaned characters, how the world ended, where the children end up, and what they do to become soldiers. The first chapter has a great cliffhanger ending and the second and third chapters (this volume contains chapters 1-3 at about 100 pages each) are fast-paced and exciting. The image flow is done well and time shifts between past and present are executed with clarity. The last fifty pages (the book is 353 total) feature a whole trough of extras including Q+A with the author/artist, character and technology designs, and cover reveal of the next volume. The character relationships and development are also strong, and I predict they will become even stronger as the story progresses. This is an excellent read for those who love graphic novels and sci-fi with aliens! I can’t wait to read the next one!

 

Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein by Linda Bailey and Julia Sarda

Genre: Children’s Fiction/Literary Reference/Biography

Rating: 5/5

Image result for mary who wrote frankenstein(Recieved from NetGalley for an honest review).

This book is written in a narrative format sowing some key events of Mary Shelley’s life as a child and some of her inspirations in becoming a writer and prominent female figure of her time. I really like the references to other literary thinkers/works that Mary would have interacted with, such as her own mother (Mary Wollstonecraft) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It shows some of the struggle for a young girl to be such a bright thinker during the time period, although not necessarily unheard of. The facts from Mary Shelley’s life are illustrated with unique images on every page as well as prose that makes this book feel more fictional, even though it’s definitely a biography.

My specialty of study is the British Romantic period, and some personal favorite writers of mine are Coleridge (I loved the illustration with the “Rhyme” reference), Mary Shelley, and Percy Shelley. Frankenstein is one of my favorite novels, and I thought this book was so pleasantly put together that I think it would definitely be a fun introduction to a Frankenstein or British Literature unit in high school, regardless of grade level. Seniors love the chance to have a picture book read to them in class, and this book give excellent context about the time period and the writer herself, making it the perfect unit intro. There’s also a really nice author’s note at the end that talks about the origin of the information, true information first told by Mary Shelley herself to answer questions about the writing process and how it affected her as a young woman.

Whether you are using this book as a classroom tool or reading it for fun, anyone of any age can find enjoyment in it!

 

My Real Name is Hanna by Tara Lynn Masih

Genre: Young Adult Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

39346604(Thank you to NetGalley, Mandel Vilar Press and Tara Lynn Masih for the opportunity to read this book for an honest review.)

Hanna is a fourteen-year-old Jewish girl living during the time of Hitler’s genocide of Jews. This story is told from her perspective over the couple of years that her family must flee and hide to try and survive the invasion and persecution of any Jewish people. Having to leave home with just the clothes on her back, Hanna and her family leave everything they know behind in exchange for their lives. At one point, the only safety left is to live in a cave. For nearly a year Hanna and her family live in the darkness of a cave, feeding off what little they have and avoiding the light of day so that soldiers won’t come shoot them.

This was a very intriguing read that definitely shows the amount of research effort put into the making of this novel. It highlights a crucial time in our world’s history and the fact that so few survives that major event. This novel is meant for younger readers, and I highly recommend it during a Holocaust unit alongside books like Night or The Book Thief, because this book shows the perspective that we don’t see in a lot of other books on this topic, which makes it unique. One of the only things that I want a bit more of are defining Polish (or other foreign) words more than once–maybe two or three times–to help that word stick with the reader, especially if it is being used so often. I also think more about the country Hanna is in and some of the history about the area and the time itself, as background or maybe reflection by Hanna, would also develop an understanding for a younger reader who might not know as much about or be as familiar with the time period. Overall, I find this book to be very realistic, showing an aspect of the Holocaust that we just don’t see in other books of the same topic. A recommended read not only for teens, but adults too. I learned more from this book about the history, and it took a turn I wasn’t really expecting, making the experience of the read thrilling and engaging.

 

Dragons in a Bag by Zetta Elliott

Genre: Children’s Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

33098183(I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House Children’s, and Zetta Elliot for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review).

A cute children’s urban fantasy novel about a boy named Jax who has to stay with Ma when his Mama needs to go to court for the day to try to keep their home. He learns that Ma isn’t exactly related to him (she’s not his grandma), but she has taken care of many children in the past, including his own mother. There’s something strange and…magical…about Ma. When Jax finds out that she is a witch, he seems to take the information in stride, and more and more strange magical things begin to happen around him, including the appearance of magical creatures, such as dragons.

This is a very fun and quick read. One of the only qualms I have about it is that I wish the dragons were physically discovered sooner and that more was done with the dragons, because that is one of the appeals that drew me into the book. Anything with dragons, and I’ll read it in a heartbeat! That aside, I really liked how this book features an intelligent young boy and the reader is given little mini history and geography lessons throughout the book as explained by various characters for different purposes. When the dragons do finally make their appearance, they are pretty cute and somewhat unique in themselves as well, which I liked. I do want to know more, for sure, and the book leaves a few open plot lines for a definite sequel. After you read the story, it will be pretty obvious what Jax’s next adventure is going to be. One of the other nice touches about this book was that there was at least one illustration with every chapter, something that books seem to disregard as they become geared for older readers. There’s no such thing as too old to add images to a book! Overall, I really enjoyed this book and, while it is more of a children’s book, I wouldn’t mind having this book on my classroom shelf for middle school students to access, or even some of my high school students who might struggle with reading or be at a lower reading level. This book would be very fun for those students, and anyone who wants a quick, easy, and exciting read…with dragons, of course!

 

Wings of Ice (Protected by Dragons #1by G. Bailey

Genre: Reverse Harem Fantasy (18+)

Rating: 4/5

38104406Thanks to NetGalley and G. Bailey for the opportunity to read this book for free in exchange for an honest review…and I am pretty sure G. Bailey just got a new avid fan and follower!

Isola Dragice is heir to the throne of ice and fire, not to mention one of the last ice dragons. Fire dragons and their fire rebellion aim to assassinate her and bring fire to the throne over centuries of an ice ruler. On Earth, it was assumed that she might be safe from all that, but the murder of her mate brings her back to Dragca where she has four fire dragons protecting her…and falling for her! But a curse on the ice throne prevents Isola from being able to love her dragon guard!

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and am definitely going to be reading the next one. The grammar bothered me in many instances, but the story was so fun, fast-paced, and exciting that those mechanical things were easily looked over after the first couple of chapters. The reverse harem (one girl in the interest of three or more guys) is interesting for female readers who are into love triangles…or squares…pentagon? The main male characters appeal to different interests that a woman might have (the nice guy, the bad boy, etc.) which is fun and give the reader an easy favorite depending on their preference. Advised for readers 18+. There are many sexual innuendos and references, although sex itself was not present in this novel, which was disappointing, but it’s also the first book. I am hoping, being recommended 18+, that things will become more adult in material as the series progresses. This is the first time I have read something of G. Bailey’s and I am definitely interested in not only the rest of this series, but after some research, some of the author’s other series’ as well, which definitely have an appeal for my age and gender.

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 21

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Julien Choy, and Crystal S. Chan

Genre: Manga/Classic Literature/Drama

Rating: 4.5/5

Image result for romeo and juliet manga classicsRomeo and Juliet is the tale of two teenagers who meet and fall in love instantly. The problem is, they are star-crossed lovers. Because their stars are crossed, they are not fated to be together, but continue to fight against fate’s will. Juliet’s house Capulet and Romeo’s house Montague have been warring for ages, and to be seen together would mean trouble. The day of their marriage, fate still aims to intervene in their love. When the friar comes up with a plan for the two to leave Verona forever, a miscommunication becomes the end of both youths.

Not my favorite Shakespeare play, but the art is absolutely gorgeous in this manga edition. One of the things that was a bit tedious with this edition was the fact that they keep the traditional language AND basically have the entire play therein. Therefore, I am basically still reading the whole play, just with illustrations. It’s a love hate, since I love Shakespeare so much but too much text is not what I want when aiming to sit down and read a manga. On another note, the illustrations work very will to demonstrate humor, similes, metaphors, and other literary devices that some readers may have a hard time picking out when just simply reading the play. Still a massive fan of the Manga Classics editions, I am now a bit wary of the Shakespeare, and this time I know more what to expect from the adaptation when Macbeth comes out Fall 2018!

 

Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Genre: Fiction/Romance

Rating: 4/5

Image result for call me by your nameSeventeen-year-old Elio lives with his parents in Italy. Every summer they take on a college-age write to work on their manuscript over the summer. When Oliver arrives, Elio is struck by his attraction to the twenty-four-year-old man. The summer treats Elio with the challenges of learning to accept who he is, and the astounding revelation that even Oliver might reciprocate to Elio’s desires. When the two find an intimate relationship, is it something that can last, or is it a temporary summer intimacy?

At first I had a hard time getting into the writing style. It has a bit of a stream-of-consciousness feel to it and some of the dialogue interactions are secondary, told through Elio’s memory. Once I got used to the writing style, I did find this book pretty hard to put down. Being inside Elio’s head is interesting in that we can see what he truly feels and thinks about his own desires and the actions of others. There are only two scenes that are a bit…well…intimately gross, but show the connection of intimacy that the two young men share.  Two words: peach and toilet. I was a bit disappointed by the ending. Not how it ended, per se, but rather how fast the wrap-up was, expressing time over about 20 years. Anyway, I enjoyed this book, and look forward to the movie. I highly recommend for those who are interested in LGBTQ as well as general fiction that shows how life doesn’t always turn out the way we think it will, or the way we want, not to mention how life is full of surprises!

 

Mae Vol. 1 by Gene Ha

Genre: Graphic Novel/Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

Image result for mae vol 1(Received from NetGalley for honest review).

Mae’s sister seems to enjoy running away. Between second and fifth grade, she’d run off all the time, until one day she never comes back. Seven years later Mae gets a call that her sister is being held at the Sheriff’s office. Now Mae feels like she hardly knows her sister, and she seems a bit odd to boot. Mae’s sister claims to have been away in another world, like Neverland or Oz! When a creature from this strange dimension appears, things suddenly look more real than fantasy.

The beginning seemed somewhat oddly paced, but the story picks up quickly in the first chapter, showing some potential. Access to this other dimension seemed too easy, but the concept of the locations, creatures, and the make-up of the society are interesting. The only qualms I really have with this are the names and the main plot. The names of the fantasy world are extremely unpronounceable, like the author just typed random letters and was like “that’s the name I’ll use for this!” The main plot revolves around the two sisters traversing the other world looking for their father. While that aspect in itself is rather dis-interesting, the action sequences are fun and I wonder which enemy characters will make a reappearance or what kinds of alliances will be made. The art is also rather appealing, although the transitions at times seem rough. I really like the ending. It seems that Abbie/Ani knows someone who looks very formidable, and I am curious to see who that character just might be. There is also an extra side story at the end that revolves around Ani’s adventures in the other dimension during the time her sister knows her to be missing.

All-in-all pretty interesting graphic novel with quite a bit of potential. The world is interesting and I am hoping there will be more secondary plot that overshadows the main plot to keep the action sequences tight and flowing.

 

Tales of an 8-Bit Kitten: Lost in the Nether by Cube Kid

Genre: Children’s/Video Game Tie-in/Adventure

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for tales of an 8-bit kiten(Received from NetGalley for an honest review).

Set in the world of Minecraft, this unofficial Minecraft novel starts off with Eeebs playing hide-and-seek with two other kittens. One of his friends claims to have the greatest hiding place and will never be found. Eeebs travels farther than he ever has from home in order to find his friends, only to find himself having entered the Nether against his own mother’s warnings of such a place.

The writing is very simple, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This is cute and accessible for younger readers (perhaps grades 1-4). I personally would like more vocabulary or sentence variety. Not only do children love the Minecraft, but adults too. Also using more sentence variation is a strong sample for younger readers. Writing style aside, the format is very unique. The pages are in color and feature a background of a Minecraft ground cube and various words and phrases are sometimes underlined or appear in different sizes, fonts, and colors to point out various things to the reader. I also really like how there are visuals with this novel. Almost every page (with a few exceptions) has a Minecraft-reminiscent image that shows just what is going on in the world without the author necessarily having to delve into too much imagery. I don’t think I will read other unofficial Minecraft novels, but this was cute nonetheless.

 

The Lion and the Bride Vol. 1 by Mika Sakurano

Genre: Shoujo/Romance Manga

Rating: 4.5/5

Image result for the lion and the bride vol 1(Received from NetGalley for an honest review).

Yua is a high school student who is secretly dating her teacher. After the death of her parents, she is taken in by her grandma, but her grandma gets sick, leaving Yua all alone. Her Sensei opts to marry her so that she has a place to stay, but one of her classmates is his son from a previous marriage! Awkward…

From my understanding, this book was originally published by Tokyopop, but after Tokyopop went out, another publisher picked up the series. The art is absolutely gorgeous. While there are some generic aspects to the story (taboo student and teacher relationship), it adds a new and exponentially interesting dynamic to it with having to keep their marriage a secret until Yua graduates, not to mention she now legally has a son the same age as her! This romantic drama has twists and turns around every corner. I have this feeling that Sensei’s son, Subaru, might just find some romantic feelings for his new mom as well. Uh-oh! What a fantastic first volume, and I am eager to read the coming volumes!

Star Wars Highlight: Comics (Part 20)

There are many, many comics in the world of Star Wars. The ones I have here vary in era, art, publication date, publisher, and style, but they are all interesting releases both to the old Expanded Universe as well as the new canon. They are listed in order based on the Battle of Yavin. Just remember, this is a highlight on a small fraction of a larger whole.

 

Image result for darth vader legacy's end

Darth Vader Dark Lord of the Sith: Legacy’s End (19 BBY)

Publisher: Marvel (6 Issues)

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist(s): Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, David Curiel, et. al.

Legacy’s End picks up right where Imperial Machine left off. The Inquisitor is having a bit of an issue with the way Vader chooses to teach their pupils, considering Vader teaches them loss through limb removal. On top of this, an elderly female Jedi, Jocasta Nu, has been reported as surviving Order 66, and she is a threat to Sidious because she has knowledge great enough to rebuild the Jedi Order. When Vader hunts her down, he finds that Nu had a data chip with knowledge of Force-sensitive children that she was perhaps going to seek out. Oddly enough, when Sidious asks Vader if Nu had any knowledge they could use, Vader crushes the data chip and denies knowing anything. Vader then has a bounty put on his head by an unknown source, and many do not know just what the Sith Lord is capable of. When it seems that the order comes from Sidious, it would appear that someone is trying to set the union of Sith apart from each other.

I really love the art–it’s vivid and detailed as well as smooth. I personally really enjoy this series because it is fun to get a glimpse of Vader’s training with Sidious and some of the missions he does to become stronger. It is a nice back story that falls in the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

 

Image result for the ashes of jedha

Star Wars Vol. 7: The Ashes of Jedha (0 ABY)

Publisher: Marvel (6 Issues)

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist(s): Salvador Larroca, GURU-eFX, et. al.

This 7th volume of the new line of Star Wars comics contains issues 38-43, or “The Ashes of Jedha” Parts 1-6. In this story arc, the Empire returns to Jedha aiming to collect any more kyber crystals that may have survived the test run of the Death Star blast. The Rebel Alliance aims to prevent any more harvesting of the crystal, but when Trios appears, a character you might remember from the Su-Torun War, she knows what mining is about. With her hidden agenda, she takes both sides unbeknownst to each, because ultimately she needs to protect her own people. When Luke and Leia see that some people still live on Jedha, they want to help, but some cannot leave the only place they know as home, despite there being little to no trade on the blasted moon.

Aside from the beautiful art, as usual, there was a aspect of this particular arc that I greatly enjoyed. We see references to Rogue One as Luke questions the lives of those who stole the Death Star plans to save the galaxy. He thinks of their once-trek to Jedha, as well as the live lost with a huge chunk of the moon. I was surprised that the moon was still partially intact and able to orbit and contain habitable life still, but that was also part of the appeal. We also get a bit of insight to those who once followed or still follow Saw Gererra’s ways. A very subtle, but nice way to connect the main story to Rogue One.

 

Image result for star wars destroyer down

Star Wars Adventures: Destroyer Down (Pre-The Force Awakens)

Publisher: IDW (1 Issue as TPB, 60 pages)

Writer: Scott Beatty

Artist(s): Derek Charm, Sean Parsons, Matt Herms

Long after the Battle of Jakku, a long-lost Star Destroyer appears out of the sand after being buried for years. Rey, scavenger that she is and a born survivor, aims to claim the best prizes from the ghost ship before someone else does, but she’s definitely the only one with an eye on the prize. It is a race to get the best items from the ship. An old droid makes its presence known and its logs reveal the one responsible for bringing the destroyer down on Jakku. But another active Imperial droid, among other scavengers, test Rey to the limits of her scavenging and survival skills.

This was a neat find because it is a December 2017 Loot Crate exclusive comic. While I am not a huge fan of the new Star Wars Adventures comics, they still add a bit of fun to various character’s stories. It was interesting to see Rey go on a scavenging adventure and really seeing what she had to do to survive on Jakku before finding the Falcon. The art isn’t my favorite, and it definitely feels geared more toward younger readers, but it’s still relatively fun to read and own for any Star Wars fan.

 

Image result for poe dameron legend lost

Poe Dameron Volume 3: Legend Lost (30-34 ABY)

Publisher: Marvel (7 Issues)

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist(s): Angel Unzueta, Frank D’armata, Arif Prianto, et. al.

This third volume of the Poe Dameron collection consists of issues 7 and 14-19. #7 has more of a side story feel to it where Poe is on leave and meets up with an old friend who happens to be a journalist. Of course, being a journalist, she is always fishing for information and a big story, whether the First order or the Resistance is the source. When a sneaky journalism mission ends up showing the darker side of news media, the Resistance gains a new member. While this issue doesn’t really fit with the earlier volumes, it works in this volume since Suralinda Javos becomes a highlighted secondary character in the forthcoming issues. Issues 14-19 deal with Poe and Black Squadrons quest to find Oddy Muva, a once member of Black Squadron who betrayed his men to keep his wife safe. Now Black Squadron aims to find him before the First Order does. Meanwhile, Terex has been taken by Phasma who implants a mind control device on his head to have him obey any orders and skiff through any information he has learned that he can share about the Resistance to the First Order. While half of Black Squadron aims to find Oddy, the other half, taking Suralinda the journalist along, aim to get footage on how the First Order treats the beings of new planets they aim to conquer. With such footage, the Resistance can spark a new hope (eyyy) in the citizens of the galaxy.

Once again, beautiful art, as always. I felt that the story was crafted even better than the first two volumes. The story was more centered on the needs of the Resistance, through the eyes of Poe and Black Squadron of course, which was an interesting diversion from the first two story arcs. We get to know a bit more about the individuals of Black Squadron, adding more depth to the characters, as well as being introduced to Suralinda, a prospective potential secondary character of some import in the future. Overall, an excellent edition to the Poe Dameron comics.

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 17

The Son of Neptune (Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan, Robert Venditi, Antoine Dode, Orpheus Collar

Genre: Young Adult Graphic Novel/Adaptation/Mythology/Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

Image result for son of neptune graphic

While the art is decent, but a bit sketchy, the adaptation of the novel is well done. This is the second installment in The Heroes of Olympus series, albeit the graphic novel version. While The Lost Hero introduces Piper, Jason, and Leo, Percy has mysteriously vanished. In The Son of Neptune, we learn that he has been sent to the Roman camp for dami-gods. The reader is introduced to Hazel and Frank, two more demi-gods who join Percy in stopping a giant army from assaulting the Roman camp, all while Percy aims to regain his memories–he’s not a Roman demi-god, he is Greek! In the grand scheme of things, Romans and Greeks are not friends, and Percy will have to reunite the two to fight Gaia for the greater good.

I enjoyed this adaptation and found that it grabbed my attention better than the novel version did. This series, to me, is not quite as good/interesting as the original Percy Jackson series, but the graphic novel adaptations really add to the vividity of the world.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Genre: Young Adult/Fiction/Mystery

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for miss peregrine's home for peculiar childrenJacob has heard many stories from his grandfather, and has seen many photos to accompany those tales. When his grandfather is hunted down by a strange, somewhat humanoid creature, Jacob scurries to the police, only to find that they do not believe the 16-year-old boy’s tale. Now Jacob is in search of an island with a mysterious old, abandoned orphanage that was spoken of often in his grandfather’s stories. When Jacob finds the island and Miss Peregrine’s old school, after rifting through old rooms and things, he learns the children may have been dangerous in their peculiarities. The isolation of these children might have been done for a good reason. When Jacob discovers that these peculiar children are still alive by repeating through a time loop of the same day every day. Ever hear of wights? They pose a threat to the peculiar, since feasting on a peculiar soul will restore them back to human form.

This book was interesting in that it combined photos that Riggs found at various yard sales and thing, using the photos to compose a narrative. It is fun reading about how the characters are musing over or describing a picture to then turn the page and see the actual image that was being described. While this is a unique and interesting way to share a story, I felt like there wasn’t enough drive for the reader to keep going, aside from the unique use of images. The story itself has a nostalgic feel as though I have read something very similar, or have seen this somewhere before (and I don’t mean X-men). The writing style itself feels very much like James Patterson, which isn’t necessarily a compliment. Overall, something that was enjoyable for a one-time thing, but not something I see myself rereading in the future. I have not yet decided whether or not I will read the second book.

 

Manga Shakespeare: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Richard Appignanesi, and Mustashrik

Genre: Graphic Novel/Classic Literature/Play

Rating: 3/5

Image result for manga shakespeare caesar

This adaptation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar illustrates the rise and fall of Ceasar, a Roman leader. When fear of Caesar’s misuse of power goes to the heads of Cassius, Brutus, and their following, the group of men aims to murder their new Roman leader, later claiming to the public that it was for the good of Rome. With Caesar’s nephew/adopted son Octavius now heading for Rome, a battle soon follows. Even after death, Caesar has been an imminent influence on the fate and events following in the final acts. Brutus, although he has killed Caesar, is still a noble Roman, in comparison to Cassius and the other men who claimed to have killed Caesar for Rome.

This historical rendition has some interesting facts pulled from the actual history. Of course, Shakespeare has changed many things for the sake of drama, creating dramatic irony and developing phenomenal persuasive speeches using many different forms of rhetoric in this play. In this manga rendition, the art is actually very lackluster, and the context is not as easy to place as other Manga Shakespeare editions (such as warring Japanese Yakuza in their edition of Romeo and Juliet). I think it is meant to be…some war rendition? But there are some interesting steampunk-looking elements to the art as well. While some of the drawn elements add to things like facial expressions during major speeches, the manga edition is not as good as the play itself. Compared to all the other Shakespeare I have experienced (written plays, visual versions [movies and live performance], and illustrated editions), I would have to say that the story of Julius Caesar itself is one of my least favorites (but I love the history plays!).

 

Darker Than Black by Nokia, BONES, Tensai Okamura, and Saika Hasumi (Arklight)

Genre: Manga/Supernatural

Rating: 4/5

Image result for darker than black omnibus

This omnibus features both volumes of the Darker Than Black manga series. For fans of the show, the manga is much more concise and has some characters that (I don’t remember them, anyway) are not in the show. Something called Hell’s Gate manifested in the middle of Tokyo about ten years prior to the events in this manga. New stars have emerged in the sky, a sky created by Hell’s Gate, and each star seemingly corresponds to a Contractor, a person who has been gifted (or cursed) with some kind of supernatural ability. Although these people have gained these abilities, each Contractor has a different price they must pay every single time they use their power (cutting themselves, giving up something, etc.). Most Contractors are hidden, a secret from society. When Kanna see’s her father after he was supposedly killed, she ends up mixed up in a battle of contractors: those who aim to do right by their powers and those who abuse their powers. Klang, a Contractor, seeks to save Misa, a girl he grew up with who happens to have the power to take other Contractor’s powers away. It is obvious that Misa would have great value to the right people, becoming a possible gateway between Contractors and the normalcy of being human.

Despite it being awhile since I saw the show, this manga was a nice refresher to the characters (although some are quite noticeably absent whoa re in the show). the art is spatious and beutiful, and the story was relatively intriguing. The onyl thing that bothered me, as a reader, was that it was evident that Hei was trying to find his sister, and that ends being pretty much unresolved (unless I missed some subtlety about that plotline), which made one of the major plots feel a bit wasted. Other than that, it was an enjoyable read, nice having the omnibus, not waiting for numerous more volumes to be serialized.

 

We Can Be Mended by Veronica Roth

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian Fiction

Rating: 2.5/5

Image result for ewe can be mendedSPOILERS if you have not read the Divergent series (and possibly if you have).

In this epilogue to the Divergent series, five years have passed since the final events of Allegiant. Four secretly visits the Dauntless headquarters to explore his fear landscape, not to see Tris, but to one day come to find that he has moved on from her death. Chicago is rebuilt for a fourth time in its history, and the people there are responsible for its upkeep, to avoid the failures of the past. Factions have generally been eradicated, as people come to find that more than one trait makes up a human being. With a museum showing the people the history of the Genetic War, humans are able to understand their mistakes, able to travel and learn as they wish once more. Of course, time move forward and, in essence, heals all wounds. Tobias is young and has experiences similar hardships as his fellow faction members from the past. Together, they can move forward.

While this is a predictable 22 page epilogue, the development of the relationship is rather lacking. The beginning pacing was okay, but the end feels rushed and wasted. While many people do not like this scenario, I am indifferent. Why? Allegiant was not that great. While I enjoyed the scientific bits, the plot was lacking, and I found Tris’s death, of all main character deaths that I have read about, to be anticlimactic and wasted, feeling no remorse for the characters. While this epilogue is okay, it was not executed to its most potential. Also, the writing style doesn’t feel quite as good as some of her other works…

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 16

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Romance/Mystery/Magic Realism

Rating: 4/5

Image result for wink poppy midnight

This was a cute book portrayed through the three characters Wink, Poppy, and Midnight. Wink is a girl living on a farm with her mother and many siblings with a dad who left long ago. Uniquely, Wink and her family are able to read tarot cards efficiently, giving a mystical element to the character. Midnight had sex with Poppy once and has been in love ever since, but Poppy was pretty much just bored, waiting for Wink’s brother, Leaf, to return her feelings for him. When Midnight meets Wink, he finds her different and unique and even caring in a way that Poppy could never be. When Poppy tries to convince Midnight to play a prank on Wink, Wink and Midnight turn the prank back on Poppy, scaring her mentality thereafter. The disappearance of Poppy sets Wink and Midnight on a quest to find her and make amends for what they have done, but who is the biggest prankster in the end?

I enjoyed this book as a young adult piece about finding where you fit in and knowing yourself, being who you are and not taking anyone else’s crap for it. Wink is seen as odd by many people, and Poppy and her posse do a number of mean and insulting things to the girl, but Wink doesn’t bat an eyelash because she is content with who she is, a message that should be conveyed to a young adult age reader to be who they are. The air of mystery about this book and the subtle magic realism within is a fun touch. The pacing is excellent and the character development and what the reader sees through each character’s perspectives and how the reader learns the little quirks of the characters makes for a fun read as well. I would recommend this book to a young adult audience, male or female, because they would be able to relate to some of the conflicts the characters face and maybe even learn how to solve their own problems in life by adding their own unique mysticism and being proud of who they are as a person.

 

This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for this night so darkThis very short story connects Kaufman and Spooner’s These Broken Stars and This Shattered World, two amazing novels in space. This short story is free on Amazon Kindle , which shows the authors’ devotion to their fans. The story is a conversation that takes place after the events of the first novel, but the story Tarver tells takes place six months before the crash of the spaceliner, Icarus. Throughout the first novel, the reader learns a bit about Tarver being a war hero, and this is the story that brings his heroism to light. When stationed on a planet to stop some mercenaries, Tarver learns a lot more is going on at a research facility than meets the eye. His aim is to save the scientists within. While recounting the tale to Lilac, the two discover some connections between the facility Tarver was at six months prior to the facility found on their deserted planet, which isn’t a good thing.

I liked the length of this overall, but the story itself was lacking interesting aspects in the same way the novel draws the reader in. It was a bit slow to start. The dialogue between lilac and Tarver was more interesting than Tarver’s heroism at the research facility. Only toward the very end did it start to pick up, and that is because the connections between the novel and the short are revealed nearly at the last digital page. It was an interesting connector to the second book in that it shows there is more going on with LaRoux Industries than Tarver and Lilac first discovered, and it is bridged to events in the second novel in a subtle way that makes me glad I read this. I could have not read it and have still enjoyed both novels, but it was a fun little connecting piece.

 

Olympos by Aki

Genre: Manga/Fantasy/Mythology

Rating: 3.5/5

Image result for olympos manga omnibusA relatively interesting manga featuring Apollo, the sun god, along with some others (such as Poseidon, Zeus, Hades, and Artemis). Apollo has taken a young boy from Troy and keeps him in a special garden belonging to Zeus. The boy, Ganymede, can never escape the garden, even through death. At the beginning of the manga, a young archaeologist makes an appearance, but is not in the rest of the manga, which seems like a wasted character. At some point, Apollo visits a temple where people have crafted a statue in his image (although it looks nothing like him). When conversing with a girl that is meant to be a sacrifice, Apollo learns what people really do and expect from the gods, something he was not really very aware of.

While the art in this two-volume omnibus is very stunning, the plot is rather lacking. There are characters that have the reader questioning why they are even used at all, and there’s not anything linear to the story, for the most part. There are various tangent plot lines that do not seem to match the initial story. While the art is stunning, the plot could have been developed further. The most interesting plot line is when Apollo converses with a girl who is meant to be a sacrifice to him. If the plot were more about the gods and their interactions (or lack thereof) with humans, it would have been more interesting. Overall, worth a one-time read but not something I need to keep or read again.

 

 

Deadman Wonderland (Vol. 1) by Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou

Genre: Manga/Horror

Rating: 4/5

Image result for deadman wonderland vol 1

This horror manga has some interesting fantasy elements to it. Ganta Igarashi thinks he’s going to another normal day of school, but when the “Red Man” appears and slaughters a number of students, Igarashi is accused of the crime and sent to Deadman Wonderland, a prison with deathly tasks that citizens of the city may go to watch for entertainment. If the people die during the “games,” what does it matter, since they are all inmates on death row anyway? When a strange girl in white saves Igarashi with a strange power, Igarashi finds that he might just have a special ability that will keep him alive in Deadman Wonderland.

For those who like gore, this is a pretty graphic manga when it comes to head slicing and body chopping. The story has some interesting pieces that leave intriguing questions by the end of the volume, and draws the reader to find that there is much, much more going on in Deadman Wonderland than meets the eye. Igarashi is targeted by inmates and regulators alike, and some notice something special about him, wanting to challenge this strange ability of his. The art is portrayed elegantly, especially the gore, and the pacing is quick, which works well for the novel, leaving a cliffhanger that urges the reader to continue the series. My only warning: if you do not like gore/horror, avoid this one, because some of the graphics are cringe-worthy in their vividity.

 

My Little Monster by Robico

Genre: Manga/Romance/Comedy

Rating: 3/5

Image result for my little monster vol 1Haru Yoshida gets into fights and skips out on school often. When Shizuku Mizutani is asked to bring his work to him, he attacks her like a monster, accusing her of trying to drag him to school. When he realizes that Shizuku had no intention of trying to get him to come to school, he realizes she’s a bit different than the average girl. Shizuku sees him as a monstrous, crazy person with no good qualities, but when she sees how much he cares for animals, her perception of him somewhat changes. But then Haru continues to claim that he is in love with Shizuku, reinforcing her opinion that he must be insane and there’s no way a guy like him could ever love a girl like her., not to mention it can never work.

This seemed like a manga with promise, but it was rather disappointing. The art is relatively decent, but the story is generic and lacking. There is nothing that really makes this stand out from any other shoujo manga that I have previously read and there is no driving factor for me to want to keep reading. As a first volume, it has its funny and cute moments, and ends with the heroine coming to terms with how she truly feels about her crazy pet monster boy, as well as an appearance of a new character that leaves the reader questioning just who he might be (he looks like Haru a bit…hmmm).

Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 15

The Lost Hero (Graphic Novel Adaptation) by Rick Riordan and Nate Powell, et. al.

Genre: Children’s/Young Adult/Mythology/Graphic Novel

Rating: 4/5

Image result for the lost hero graphic

This adaptation features three new characters in the world of Percy Jackson: Piper, Leo, and Jason. When Jason appears at Camp Half-blood with no memories, it is soon evident that Jason is a son of Zeus. The trio are sent on a quest by Hera to prevent Gaea from awakening, which partially involves defeating the giants who counterpart each of the gods. (For more detail on the story, see my review on the full novel using the titled link above).

Overall, this adaptation was done well. Of course, some parts need to be ordered in a slightly different way to ensure the visual version flows well, ending issues or chapters with a relatively strong cliffhanger, as that is what comics are meant to do. I enjoyed the art and the graphic novel version really added to my own reading of the original novel, giving me some elaborate visuals on the setting as well as the characters, since my own mental images are not necessarily set in stone. It was fun to compare my own visual representation to the artist rendition of all the different characters, and the graphic novel is, overall, presented in a way that is clear, flows, and adds aesthetic value to the story.

 

It by Stephen King

Genre: Horror/Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Image result for it book

Derry, Maine, 1957. Six year old Georgie goes out in the rain to play with his wax boat, only to find himself killed by a clown. It, renown for it’s clown monster, is Stephen King’s 22nd novel. The clown is actually a creature with a true form that is not known until nearly the end of the novel. It takes the forms of various fears and makes an occurrence every 27 years in the small town to feed on its victims. Bill, Georgie’s older brother, seeks to destroy the monster with the help of his friends. When they seemingly destroy it, the group of children make a pact to return to Derry if the monster ever comes back. In 1984, the monster has returned, and Mike contacts the gang to return to Derry to exact vengeance against the creature only they know know how to extract from their hometown.

This book is super popular because 1) Stephen King, and 2) both the old and new movie adaptations. Despite this, the book is long and tedious, yet it has an interesting layout. This book goes back and forth between the character’s experiences in 1957-1958 and 1984-1985 and has a number of interesting literary aspects, such as dialogue, longer prose, news articles, and other elements that bring Derry’s history to life in the novel. While this book is vastly popular, it is hard to read in that the action is lacking in many areas, with more exposition than anything. The historical elements are interesting and often add to the tale being told, but are also often a bit lengthy, making this book drag out as a slower read. It is not a book that I would want to read again (albeit it is my husband’s favorite book ever), but the new movie was done well and was presented in a more enjoyable way than the book, even though some of the elements and defeating the monster is different in the two mediums.

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy/Retelling

Rating: 3.5/5

Related image

Heartless tells the story of Cath, the young woman who is to become known as the Queen of Hearts. She wasn’t always such a menacing and terrible person, but the events in her life bring her to become the heartless queen. Cath loves baking, and her dream is to open her own bakery, even though this means she will not be among the gentle class any longer. When the King of Hearts takes interest in her, she does not want to marry or give up on her dream. Instead, she meets Jest, a court joker sent to take the heart of a queen, but alas, the two fall in love. A monster takes rise in the realm, a jabberwok (check out the original poem, “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll), Cath finds that she might be responsible for the creation of the beast. As events unfold, Cath slowly begins to change, to become a heartless person with no mercy as she takes the stand as Queen of Hearts.

What I liked about this book: It is a stand-alone, so there won’t be any waiting for a sequel (aside from reading Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventure’s in Wonderland). It was an interesting idea to make a prequel to develop Lewis’s character, The Queen of Hearts, because she has to have some back story, right? And it is a story of romance and dreams. The baking aspect was a nice character trait.

What I did not like about this book: The writing style itself did not feel like Marissa Meyer. While I haven’t read The Lunar Chronicles yet, I have heard great things about it and own them all. On the other hand, I did read Renegades, and it was well-written and the pacing was just right. The pacing of this novel was a bit slow in terms of events, but I feel like the writing itself contributed to the feeling of slowness with this book. While the setup with Cath in the beginning of the novel was interesting, the middle was bogged down with very little character development, but picks up again at the end, the most interesting part of the novel. All in all, the book was a decent read, but not something I would read again.

 

 

High School DxD (Vol. 1) by Hiro Mishima, Ichiei Ishibumi, and Zero Miyama

Genre: Manga/Harem/Occult

Rating: 3/5

Image result for High school DxD vol 1

Vastly popular, this manga is about Issei Hyoudou, his dream in high school to eventually form his own harem. When he finds out he was killed by a demon, he is claimed by another and made a demon himself. Learning about the demon hierarchy, Issei wants to climb the ladder and become a great demon who is able to take on his own slaves, but first he must do a bunch of menial tasks or he will never be able to make his dream come true. When he meets a priest that aims to kill demons, things escalate quickly, and he is surprised to find that a girl he previously met is a holy woman, their friendship an impossibility!

This was okay, and that’s it. This anime/manga is very hyped up, and I am going to assume it is from all the boobs and fan service for the male audience. I did not find the story very riveting or drawing, but the art is done very well and is aesthetically pleasing. The one hitch that might keep me going at a reader is a potential romance between the Bishop girl and Issei, a demon, for angelic and demonic are mortal enemies. Other than that, there is no draw in this series and it seems like it is trying to hard in a negative way compared to other manga that contain explicit content geared toward older readers.

 

Dreamin’ Sun by Ichigo Takano

Genre: Manga/Comedy/Romance

Rating: 4/5

Image result for dreamin' sun vol 1

Shimana Kameko has a new step-mother and a new baby brother as well. When attention falls to him, she feels unwanted and unneeded in her house. Aiming to run away, she comes across Fujiwara Taiga, who offers her a room in the house he is renting out with two other friends, but Kameko has a few conditions to meet before she is welcome to stay. First, Kameko must tell Taiga why she ran away, and it better be a good reason (although he really just wants the truth). Second, she must retrieve the missing house key from one of his roommates, and third, Kameko must have some kind of dream and fall in love, two things she has never done before! With all members having some kind of dream, they are a very goal-oriented bunch, but falling in love can be tough, especially when she falls for the pretty boy that all the other girls at school like too!

By the same artist and author that brought us Orange comes this well-drawn, cute story. The art in this manga is very cute and the facial expressions are captured extremely well to give the reader the desired tone of panic, loneliness, or humor. This manga seems like a decent start to a series that has potential. The protagonist relates to readers who may have or have had similar experiences with not feeling wanted by family, making a strong connection with the narrator from the beginning. The characters are well-balances too, with smart, serious, quirky, and average people all coming to live together in the same house. The dynamic in characters makes the manga fun to read and wanting to know more about all of the characters, rather than just the shoujo heroine.