Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra
Book Review / September 23, 2017

Title: Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra Series: Zodiac Starforce, #1-4 Author: Keven Panetta Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Dark Horse Books Release Date: March 9th, 2016 Format: Trade Paperback Pages: 136 Source: Library Illustrator: Paulina Gancheau They’re an elite group of teenage girls with magical powers who have sworn to protect our planet against dark creatures . . . as long as they can get out of class! Known as the Zodiac Starforce, these high-school girls aren’t just combating math tests. They’re also battling monsters–not your typical afterschool activity! But when an evil force from another dimension infects team leader Emma, she must work with her team of magically powered friends to save herself–and the world–from the evil Diana and her mean-girl minions! From Kevin Panetta (Bravest Warriors) and Paulina Ganucheau (TMNT: New Animated Adventures, Bravest Warriors), this super-fun and heartfelt story of growing up and friendship–with plenty of magical-girl fighting action–delivers the most exciting new ensemble cast in comics!  Collects Zodiac Starforce #1-#4 (via Goodreads) Goodreads Amazon   One of my friends, Sarah Stern, is a comic artist. For her day job, mostly, she is a colorist and she is amazing (for real – check out her website!). Recently,…

The Best We Could Do
Book Review / August 12, 2017

Title: The Best We Could Do Author: Thi Bui Genre: Graphic Memoir Publisher: Abrams ComicArts Release Date: March 7th, 2017 Format: eBook Pages: 330 Source: NetGalley Illustrator: Thi Bui An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home. In what Pulitzer Prize–winning…

The Sleeper and the Spindle
Book Review / February 11, 2017

Title: The Sleeper and the Spindle Author: Neil Gaiman Genre: Dark Fantasy Publisher: HarperCollins Release Date: September 22nd, 2015 Format: Audiobook Pages: 72 Source: Library Illustrator: Chris Riddell First Published: May 3rd, 2014 A thrillingly reimagined fairy tale from the truly magical combination of author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Chris Riddell – weaving together a sort-of Snow White and an almost Sleeping Beauty with a thread of dark magic, which will hold readers spellbound from start to finish. On the eve of her wedding, a young queen sets out to rescue a princess from an enchantment. She casts aside her fine wedding clothes, takes her chain mail and her sword and follows her brave dwarf retainers into the tunnels under the mountain towards the sleeping kingdom. This queen will decide her own future – and the princess who needs rescuing is not quite what she seems. Twisting together the familiar and the new, this perfectly delicious, captivating and darkly funny tale shows its creators at the peak of their talents. Lavishly produced, packed with glorious Chris Riddell illustrations enhanced with metallic ink, this is a spectacular and magical gift. (via Graphic Novel Back Cover) Amazon   Recently, I needed some…

Zita the Spacegirl
Book Review / January 18, 2017

Title: Zita the Spacegirl Series: Zita the Spacegirl, #1 Author: Ben Hatke Genre: Science Fiction Publisher: First Second Release Date: February 1st, 2011 Format: Graphic Novel Pages: 192 Source: Library Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of an eye. When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest. Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at.  (via Goodreads) Amazon   The curiosity of children is what always leads them to push the big red button. We know you shouldn’t push it. Everyone knows that. But the temptation is so great… Can we really ever help ourselves?…

American Born Chinese
Book Review / December 26, 2016

Title: American Born Chinese Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: First Second Release Date: September 6th, 2006 Format: Hardback Pages: 240 Source: Library All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl… Born to rule over all the monkeys in the world, the story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables. Adored by his subjects, master of the arts of kung-fu, he is the most powerful monkey on earth. But the Monkey King doesn’t want to be a monkey. He wants to be hailed as a god… Chin-Kee is the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, and he’s ruining his cousin Danny’s life. Danny’s a popular kid at school, but every year Chin-Kee comes to visit, and every year Danny has to transfer to a new school to escape the shame. This year, though, things quickly go from bad to worse… These three apparently unrelated tales come together with an unexpected twist,…

This One Summer
Book Review / October 25, 2016

Title: This One Summer Author: Mariko Tamaki Genre: Young Adult Publisher: First Second Release Date: May 6th, 2014 Format: Hardback Pages: 320 Source: Library Illustrator: Jillian Tamaki Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other. In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation. (via Goodreads) Amazon A 2015 Caldecott Honor winner, This One Summer follows the perspective of Rose during a summer vacation at Awago Beach in Canada. Paired with her goofy friend Windy, the two of them experience life in…

5 Challenged Graphic Novels You Should Read
Between the Lines / September 23, 2016

              Between the Lines is a series of posts focused on better understanding books, trends in writing, and the labels associated with these. To prepare you for Banned Books Week, let’s address some frequently challenged books that are worth your time. Specifically: graphic novels. The popularity of graphic novels has risen significantly in the last decade. They share more than just superhero stories now. In fact, none of the graphic novels listed below are superhero stories: 1 — Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples What is it? Saga certainly falls into the epic space opera genre. But, at the same time, it’s nothing like your typical space opera. It has been described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones” and compared to The Lord of the Rings and Romeo and Juliet. The story of Alana and Marko, a husband and wife from opposing races and sides of a generations-long war. They just want to live in peace and protect their daughter Hazel who is the first interspecies child between their races. After all, now that the world knows Hazel exists, they need to kill her to prevent the war from ending. Why…

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea
Book Review / September 17, 2016

Title: Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea Author: Ben Clanton Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Tundra Books Release Date: October 4th, 2016 Format: eReader ARC Pages: 64 Source: NetGalley Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever — even though it doesn’t have any words…or pictures! Ben Clanton showcases the joys of friendship, the benefits of working together and the power of imagination in the delightful Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea. (via Goodreads) Amazon   I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for NetGalley and Tundra Books for the opportunity!   GUYS. Guys. This book. This adorable, beautiful, superbly cute book! When I picked this book up, I didn’t know what to expect. The cover…

Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 7: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger
Book Review / September 7, 2016

Title: Lone Wolf and Cub, Vol. 7: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger Series: Lone Wolf a Cub, #7 Author: Kazuo Koike Genre: Graphic Novel Publisher: Dark Horse Manga Release Date: April 10th, 2001 Format: Trade Paperback Pages: 283 Source: Library First Published: March 27th, 1999 There is more than just blood between parent and child. Itto Ogami and his son Daigoro have seen more blood flowing from more bodies than anyone in Edo, but what connects them is their spirit and path. In this collection of classic stories, Itto must protect a young girl after her family is destroyed by a cunning courtesan. Meanwhile, Itto’s arch-enemy, Yagyu Retsudo, has sent the civilian police force to round up the Lone Wolf as a common criminal, and before long, Daigoro is coincidentally tangled in a messy pair of crimes. And, most dramatically, Itto returns to the scene of one of his past executions to enter a tender and honorable sword fight against an executed lord’s former retainer. Amazon   Unlike in previous volumes, female characters come front and center in Volume 7: Cloud Dragon, Wind Tiger. Unsurprisingly and sadly, all the stories for these female characters are tragic and violent. Also, continuing the…

The Complete Persepolis
Book Review / September 3, 2016

Title: The Complete Persepolis Series: Persepolis, #1 & 2 Author: Marjane Satrapi Genre: Memoir Publisher: Pantheon Release Date: October 30th, 2007 Format: Trade Paperback Pages: 341 Source: Library Here, in one volume: Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling, internationally acclaimed memoir-in-comic-strips. Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up. Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom–Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularly talented graphic artists at work today. (via Goodreads) Amazon With The Complete Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi achieves what many before her have strived to do– but none have succeeded so…

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