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.

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Manga Classics Highlight: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer

Related imageGenre: Classic American Literature/Adventure/ Manga

Rating: 4/5

Book description (Goodreads): Chafed by the “sivilized” restrictions of his foster home, and weary of his drunkard father’s brutality, 14 year-old Huck Finn fakes his own death and sets off on a raft down the Mississippi River. He is soon joined by Jim, an escaped slave. Together, they experience a series of rollicking adventures that have amused readers, young and old, for over a century. Their peaceful existence ends abruptly, however, with the appearance of the King and the Duke, an incorrigible pair of con artists who take over the raft. After many difficulties, Huck and Jim escape their tormentors, and with the help of an imaginative rescue by Huck’s old friend Tom Sawyer, Jim gains his freedom. Manga Classics breathes new life into this American Classic with a faithful adaptation of Mark Twain’s masterpiece.

I am a pretty big advocate for the Manga Classics editions of timeless literature because they are effective for teaching and learning on a number of levels. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an American Classic by Mark Twain, and the manga edition helps readers visualize what the complex language is trying to portray in this tale. The art is exquisite, and this edition has an excellent forward that introduces the novel and some of the adaptations from the original text to the manga version and how some language may have been moved around a bit, but the aim is to keep it as authentic as possible to the original book to keep it as a core text that can be aligned to the Common Core State Standards. This book also talks about the different southern dialects that some of the characters express sin their language, which helps when trying to read some of the dialogue and to put the words with a voice that belongs to the early American South. The explanation of the adaptation from text to manga is interesting as it goes to explain the aim to try and keep the book as a single volume to fit with the other Manga Classics. It also has a map to follow as a visual string of events in the story as Huck makes his way down the Mississippi River.

There was only one thing I did not like about this book and it honestly has nothing to do with the book itself. It has to do with its publication. The Manga Classics edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is scheduled AFTER the release of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was annoying because a reader can read Tom Sawyer first and then go into the events of Huckleberry Finn almost as a sequel, even though the two novels do not have to necessarily be read in that order. It just makes more sense to do it that way in that at the beginning of Huck Finn, he is talking about his fortune that he acquired, a fortune gained through the events in Tom Sawyer. Other than that, a flawless and beautiful adaptation of the original novel by Mark Twain. DISCLAIMER: The book advertises lesson plans and goodies for teaching the Manga Classics edition through their website, but they only have lesson plans for their original three publications–Manga Classics, when will you update the lessons for us educators waiting to see what you do with it?! On another note, it should be easy for any educator to develop their own lesson plans around these editions as well–just be creative and know the CCSS!

 

Image result for manga classics huck finnGenre: Classic American Literature/Adventure/ Manga

Rating: 4/5

Book description (Goodreads): The rascal Tom Sawyer can’t stay out of trouble for a single minute! In this tale full of childhood mischief, adventure, and trouble, Tom turns the Mississippi town of St. Petersburg on its ear nearly every day – but there’s a darker side to this town as well. When his childish adventures take a deadly turn, Tom and his outcast friend, Huckleberry Finn, must find a way to rise to the challenge, or else…!

I read Tom Sawyer when I was in 8th grade and don’t remember it all that well. I remember the movie more (I have it but haven’t watched it in years), and I remember being extremely frightened of Injun Joe! This Manga Classics edition keeps that fear from the villain in a way that holds true to the original writing of the novel at well as using gorgeous art to show some of the frightening thing that Tom and Huck witness. Tom is just a boy who wants to do whatever, but he generally conforms to society like a good boy, even finding interest in a pretty girl. When he spends time with Huck Finn, people look down on him, especially because of Huck’s upbringing. The way in which this manga is written is much easier to access than its counterpart, Huckleberry Finn, and deals with a whole different slew of global issues such as honesty, helping others, and doing the right thing. One of the things I didn’t quite understand was why Huck Finn was published first, but it is irrelevant now that both are out. Even though Tom Sawyer chronologically comes first, Huck Finn appears to be a larger project to tackle when recreating these beautiful Manga Classics editions. Once again, a volume I can definitely see myself using in the classroom!

These two volumes are no disappointment and as always, I am looking forward to the next Manga Classics publications. This duo set is nice in that hey go together as a story, and if you place the covers together, they make a single image. I hope Manga Classics does more combos like this!

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!

Dragon’s Epitaph: Slayer–Sneak Peek!

syreniaCheck out Mullin Publishing’s Dragon’s Epitaph page to see a first look at upcoming YA fantasy novel Dragon’s Epitaph: Slayer! Learn about one of the perspective characters, Syrenia.

You can also read the prologue of the book as an available PDF excerpt, and look forward to another excerpt from chapter one coming later in the summer! More art coming throughout the summer.

Let us know what you think so far in the comments! Enjoy!

~Mullin Publishing~

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 20

Seconds by Bryan Lee O’malley

Genre: Graphic Novel/New Adult

Rating: 4/5

Image result for seconds o'malley

Done by the same author/artist as Scott Pilgrim, Seconds follows Katie, one of the founders of the restaurant Seconds. Now that she’s an established cook with her own brilliant recipes, she wants to open a second restaurant and call it Katie’s. When a co-worker talks about the house spirit, Katie is skeptical about how often said co-worker cleans the fire place  or leaves out clothes and bread. Katie comes face-to-face with this spirit and recognizes her from her co-worker’s drawings. But Katie is the only one who can see her! Then Katie finds some mushrooms that the house spirit claims as hers. With special instructions, Katie learns she can use the mushrooms to rewind time, changing her mistakes for the batter, but when she tries to change too many things and abuses the power, a creature of shadow appears and Katie must figure out the right think to do to fix her mistakes once and for all.

At first I didn’t like the art in this one as much as Scott Pilgrim, but it’s in color and it definitely grew on me. Katie is a girl in her early 20’s who is learning what it means to be a responsible adult, it just takes some extra tries to learn and get things right. It was a cute new adult journey that sends the message to think before we act, because you don’t always get a second chance.

 

your name. (Light Novel) by Makoto Shinkai

Genre: Young Adult/Japanese Light Novel/Anime

Rating: 4/5

Written as a novel before the final version of the animated film came out, your name. follows two young people, Mitsuha and Taki. Mitsuha live in the countryside by a lake in the mountains where her family still practices traditional shrine ceremonies. All she dreams of is living in Tokyo and being a boy instead of a girl. After screaming this out loud, Mitsuha dreams that she is a boy named Taki living in Tokyo. When things feel too real and gaps appear in her memory and her friends note all the strange things she did, Mitsuha learns that she and Taki are actually switching places and living each others lives for three or four days a week. At first, it’s annoying and they make a bunch of rules for each other to follow to keep their lives in line when they are themselves again, but when a beautiful comet passes over Earth, the two never switch again, and Taki aims to find out why.

Makoto Shinkai is an amazing storyteller, and out of his many films and books, this one is the best by far. It’s a coming of age story with romance and a quest to save hundreds of people. It’s heartwarming and full of mystery and allure from start to finish, the ending bringing me chills every time I read or watch it. This is a great read whether you have seen the film or not. I actually liked reading this first because it’s not only absolutely amazing, but having read it made the film easier to follow as well, considering it was a bit convoluted at first as to what was happening. An all-around amazing read that I recommend for any Shinkai fan as well as anyone looking for a well-written story. Not familiar with Shinkai’s works? This is definitely the one to read.

 

Behind the Scenes!! Vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori

Genre: Manga/Shoujo

Rating: 4/5

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New to college, Ranmaru is trying to find his place in things. When he is accidentally caught up in a zombie film shoot, Ryuji draws him in to become a part of the Art Squad. Ryuji recognizes Ranmaru’s craft, a great do-it-yourself type with a creative minds, and that’s just what the Art Squad needs. The Art Squad caters to the various film departments on campus, making costumes and sets that look amazing and can be shot well, but are actually cheap and don’t look like quality pieces off camera. Now Ranmaru must find out if this is what is right for him.

Plot-wise, much better than Bisco Hatori’s other work, Ouran High School Host Club, although I do love that series too. This has a new adult feel to it and features two male leads. Of course, some people don’t like certain members of the Art Squad and are trying to sabotage their sets. It turns out that even in college you sometimes can’t escape the high school drama! Bisco Hatori has a great, iconic art style and it’s neat to see another series by her that has potential. She also wrote Millennium Snow, a vampire series of three volumes, which the third was on hiatus for years, so we’ll see what happens with this series. I actually don’t know who I would recommend this manga to, though, because it doesn’t have a specific feel to it. It feels very generic, but open-ended enough to become something more unique. Also, it is in Viz’s Shojo category, which is more geared toward girls, and the recommended age group is teen.

 

That Time I Got Reincarnated As A Slime Vol. 1 by Fuse, Taiki Kawakami, Mitz Vah

Genre: Manga/Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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This book begins instantly with a business man names Satoru Mikami who dies defending a coworker. He is then reincarnated on another world as a slime monster, hence the title. As he beginning to learn more and more about his new body and its abilities, he learns that he can be quite the powerful creature. After befriending a dragon and ultimately absorbing the dragon, balance in the world shifts. With goblins, wolves, dwarves, and humans, Satoru–now Rimuru Tempest–helps those he can and is seen as a god through the abilities he gains that help others. But ultimately, he just wants to find the girl of his dreams. Would a human girl ever date a slime?

My friend ordered this by mistake, thinking it was the light novel, and gifted it to me instead of returning it since I tend to like monster fantasy types of manga. This was a funny read. I would recommend it to whose who enjoy both comedy and fantasy. It has some dark humor to it, but the humor is well-placed and it is overall a pretty silly and fun story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I dove in and I’m not sure I will continue it, but this is something I would recommend to older teens, especially if they just need a bit of a pick-me-up in their day.

 

Le Chevalier d’Eon Vol. 1 by Tou Ubukata and Kiriko Yumeji

Genre: Historical Horror/Action

Rating: 4/5

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d’Eon de Beaumont appears to be a slacker to the regular police force, but he secretly works for the king of France himself. Why is d’Eon so viable to the king? Murder seems to be happening across France, and it has to do with poets using the blood of virgins, because virgin blood brings out true poetry. d’Eon’s sister was one of the victims, and now whenever one of these “poets” appears, his sister emerges through his body, a physical transformation, to take vengeance for her own murder as well as to save or redeem the next victims.

I used to have the anime and after reading the manga, the anime is very bland. The manga is set up ell and the story is also nicely written. The art is nice and there are good action scenes and gore. It also has its moments of humor to ease the tensions of the seriousness of events in the story. While I read the first three volumes and liked them, I don’t think it was good enough to be invested for the rest of the story. Maybe if I find a good deal in price somewhere, I will continue, but this particular series doesn’t fit in well with my “quality” collection.

Star Wars Highlight: The Legends of Luke Skywalker

Image result for the legends of luke skywalkerGenre: Young Adult Science Fiction

Rating: 3/5

The Legends of Luke Skywalker features six short stories that follow some of the legends of Luke Skywalker. Whether they are true stories or not depends on both who is telling the story and who is listening, changing the perspective of truth.

The different stories are told from various crew members (and stowaways) of the Wayward Current, a ship on its way to Canto Bight with shipments of goods and livestock.

The first story, “The Myth Buster,” sort of sets up the feel of this book. Dwoogan, a cook aboard the ship, tells about the time that she was at a bar and overheard some various tales about Luke Skywalker. A man with a hood occasionally chuckles and listens (assumed that this man is Luke) and brushes of the silly stories that are definitely not from his own experiences. He doesn’t get mad about the misinformation, just allows people to believe what they want to believe.

The second story, “The Starship Graveyard,” shows some of the aftermath of the Battle of Jakku. An injured Imperial is saved by a man, presumably Luke Skywalker, and questions the motives of the Rebel. While the Imperial worries over being taken as a war prisoner, all Luke aims to do is be a good person and save a life.

The third story, “Fishing in the Deluge,” is by far my favorite. Luke finds himself on a planet with people who call the Force the Tide, and practice similar use to the Jedi, but are very cautious in their sharing of knowledge when it comes to the Tide. Seeking information, the elder will not tell Luke a thing about the Tide unless he can pass a number of tests. Luke uses the Force to his advantage, but this is not what the planet natives want to see, because it leads to corruption of power. Luke respects their wish to keep the knowledge, but still takes his experiences with him when he leaves. Image result for star wars luke skywalker the myth buster

The fourth story, “I, Droid,” is told from the perspective of a droid that gets taken as a slave for the Empire. Since droids can last much longer than humans in extreme heat, they are used for mining certain hard to obtain resources. This droid observes R2-D2 and C-3PO as they hope to be saved by Luke. Eventually, Luke makes his way to the planet where the droids are all being kept and not only saves his own droids, but is able to liberate numerous other droids taken by the Empire as well.

The fifth story was cute, but felt a bit over-done with some of what we get from Tales From Jabba’s Palace. “The Tale of Lugubrious Mote” features a tiny creature that is able to manipulate other lifeforms, a parasite if you will. His previous hose was Salacious Crumb, an easily controllable creature with very little thoughts of his own to begin with. When he finds his way onto Luke Skywalker’s scalp, he aims to control Luke for his own benefit. Luke, hearing the thoughts/intentions of the creature, believes he is hearing the Force speaking directly to him–except Obi-wan’s teachings never made his scalp itch so much! Taking place in Jabba’s palace, this was a silly story that adds depth to both Luke’s and Crumb’s actions during that time.

The sixth and final tale, “Big Inside,” Luke ends up inside of an exogorth (basically a giant space slug). G’kolu, an Anlari, is on an expedition with Luke. Inside the exogorth, the two find a whole ecosystem of its own, as if the inside of the space slug were its own planet. While Luke believes in the Force, G’kolu thinks scientifically, with no room for “magic.” Science or the Force will iwin out, when the two try to find an escape.

Overall, the stories in this collection are a bit bland, and some can be seen at possibly being true, while others may not have actually happened. But that’s a legend, I suppose, a story passed down from one person to the next, potentially changing over time. the stories don’t add much to Luke’s story and feel rather unnecessary. It would have been a better investment to make a novel that delved into Luke’s childhood or even what he did, story-wise, after the fall of the Empire. Perhaps something about his Jedi Academy? The one that Kylo Ren destroyed? That would have been a better lead-up to The Last Jedi. A novel that shows Kylo’s training and Luke’s teaching, as well as their relationship, would be vastly more interesting. While this book had a fun quality to it, it’s not really worth the read as being a part of the “Journey to The Last Jedi” series of books.