Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo by Stacy King, Crystal S. Chan – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Manga Classics: The Count of Monte Cristo
Publish date: 11 April 2017
Publisher: UDON Entertainment
Genre: Graphic Novel, Classic Literature
Panda Rating:

A Conspiracy and a miscarriage of justice turn the gentle Edmond Dantès into an implacable agent of fate: The Count of Monte Cristo . Obsessed by vengeance and empowered by providence, the Count avenges himself on whose who have wronged him – but is this justice, or is this hubris? In the end, does even the Count know? Alexandre Dumas’ skillful narrative combines intrigue, betrayal, and triumphant revenge into a powerful conflict between good and evil. Now this exciting saga, rich and diverse, takes on an entirely new life in this Manga Classics adaptation!

The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic that I’ve been meaning to read but have always been too intimidated to actually pick up, so when I saw this manga I immediately jumped on it! Surprisingly I realised I knew very little of the story when I started reading it and since I haven’t read the novel I also can’t attest to how well the manga actually adopts the classic. I do however know that it’s a fairly chunky text and I have no doubt that it has some very complex plot lines and in-depth character studies. Based on that, I think that the adaptors did an amazing job in condensing everything into a more simplified text. It took me a couple of hours to read this 400 page manga while I’m sure it’d probably take me one month+ to finish the original!

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Doctor Mirage (2019) by Magdalene Visaggio, Nick Robles – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Doctor Mirage (2019)
Publish date: 18 February 2020
Publisher: Diamond Books Distributor/Valiant Entertainment
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Superhero
Panda Rating:

How do you solve the case of your own death?

Paranormal expert Doctor Shan Fong Mirage was born with the ability to see and speak to the dead—an ability that has mysteriously stopped working. Have her powers failed or is something far more sinister at work? Will she figure out her fate and the fate of the one she loves the most? Valiant’s gripping supernatural mystery starts here!

A brand-new DOCTOR MIRAGE series conjured by Eisner Award-nominated writer Magdalene “Mags” Visaggio (Eternity Girl), artist Nick Robles (Euthanauts), Eisner Award-nominated colorist Jordie Bellaire (The Vision), and letterer Dave Sharpe (Harley Quinn)!

I admit to requesting this book based solely on the cover alone. The name “Doctor Mirage” rang a small bell but I actually haven’t read superhero comics, so I can’t speak to how differently or how well her character is portrayed in this new comic compared to previous ones. I will say that I really enjoyed it though!

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Magical Realism
Panda Rating:

Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly’s wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark. 

Ever since picking up Neverwhere two years ago, Gaiman quickly climbed to the top of my favorite authors list. So when I picked this up and really struggled to get into it, I felt just a little bit disappointed. But then I saw it on Audible as narrated by Gaiman himself, and with a credit to spare, decided to try it out—after all, who wouldn’t love to have him read to them? His voice is so soothing! If you tried or try to read this and can’t seem to get into it, I’d highly recommend giving the audiobook a chance. But with that said, this was truly one of the stranger and more horrifying tales that I’ve read and while it was…an interesting journey, it’s safe to say that it’s not my favourite book by Gaiman.

“Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. Truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

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Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Under the Cottonwood Tree: El Susto de la Curandera
Publish date: 15 December 2019
Publisher: North Fourth Publishing
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Middle Grade
Panda Rating:

In the deep confines of the beautiful and majestic Rio Grande bosque, a fable is told of a simpler time concerning the rich tri-cultural communities of New Mexico. Join brothers Amadeo and Carlos Lucero in this enchanting story of magic and adventure. Discover how the power of love and family triumphs and turns an old witch back into a healer.

This was an absolutely delightful tale of family, friendship, grief and love that is richly infused with Mexican folklore and culture. I knew I would love this graphic novel the minute I started reading it! This was a very fast-paced read and I easily read it one sitting (mostly because I didn’t want to put it down). The personal touches in both the foreword and afterword made me enjoy this more, as reading the history of how this story came to be and the authors’ personal connections with their own curanderas showed how much the story meant to them.

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Human by Diego Agrimbau, Lucas Varela – #eARC #GraphicNovelReview

Goodreads: Human
Publish date: 16 October 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Graphic Novel, Post-Apocalytpic, Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

Planet Earth: 500,000 years in the future. Humans have been extinct for millennia. Two scientists, Robert and June, have been orbiting the Earth, waiting for the planet to become habitable once more. With the help of a team of robots, they plan to start over from scratch: a new Adam and Eve who won’t make the same mistakes as their ancestors. But first Robert has to find June, who seems to have landed somewhere else in this vast jungle—their Eden—full of grotesque creatures and strange primates…

This was a pretty bizarre graphic novel that I’m not quite sure I loved. I was immediately drawn in by the cover and the synopsis, which presented a pretty interesting post apocalyptic tale about returning to earth 500,000 years post death (both humanity’s and Earth’s). The story was well illustrated, however, the illustration style wasn’t what I expected when I picked this up. I thought the color palette of reds, greys, black and white was an interesting choice though; in a way it made earth seem a little bit leached of life, although that clearly wasn’t the case as there was plenty of animals living in the jungle. While I wasn’t a big fan of the illustrations, I thought the overall message of the story was very thought-provoking and made reflect on our relationship with our surroundings.

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#UltimateBlogTour: The Devil's Apprentice by Kenneth B. Andersen – #BookReview

I’m back with another #UltimateBlogTour post with the @WriteReads gang and this time it’s for the fast-paced YA fantasy: The Devil’s Apprentice written by Danish author Kenneth B. Andersen. The blog tour runs until 15 December so don’t forget to check out the other reviews for the first book in this exciting series!

Goodreads: The Devil’s Apprentice
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Panda Rating:

Philip is a good boy, a really good boy, who accidentally gets sent to Hell to become the Devil’s heir. The Devil, Lucifer, is dying and desperately in need of a successor, but there’s been a mistake and Philip is the wrong boy. Philip is terrible at being bad, but Lucifer has no other choice than to begin the difficult task of training him in the ways of evil. Philip gets both friends and enemies in this odd, gloomy underworld—but who can he trust, when he discovers an evil-minded plot against the dark throne?

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Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob – #BookReview

Goodreads: Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
Genre: Non Fiction, Memoir
Panda Rating:

“Who taught Michael Jackson to dance?”
“Is that how people really walk on the moon?”
“Is it bad to be brown?”
“Are white people afraid of brown people?”

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love.

“How brown is too brown?”
“Can Indians be racist?”
“What does real love between really different people look like?”

Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.

This is such an important and relevant read for everything that’s happening in today’s society. Perhaps despite the more globalised world we live in, society has become even more fractured and I think one of the greatest examples can be seen with what’s happened and is happening in America (or at least, it’s what I’m constantly bombarded with on my social platforms. I thought Mira Jacob did a great job exploring the experience of immigrants and what it means to be a POC in America in this wonderfully told memoir through (often) tough but heartfelt conversations with her son, friends, and family. Although I’m not a POC living in America, I was still able to relate to some of the experiences that she shared because I did live in the Western hemisphere for several years and I think these experiences are something all POC go through, even if not to the same extreme. That said, I found it a very educational and eye-opening read.

Continue reading “Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob – #BookReview”

Bury the Lede by Gaby Dunn, Claire Roe – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Bury the Lede
Publish date: 08 October 2019
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+
Panda Rating:

Twenty-one-year-old Madison T. Jackson is already the star of the Emerson College student newspaper when she nabs a coveted night internship at Boston’s premiere newspaper, The Boston Lede. The job’s simple: do whatever the senior reporters tell you to do, from fetching coffee to getting a quote from a grieving parent. It’s gruelling work, so when the murder of a prominent Boston businessman comes up on the police scanner, Madison races to the scene of the grisly crime. There, Madison meets the woman who will change her life forever: prominent socialite Dahlia Kennedy, who is covered in gore and being arrested for the murder of her family. The newspapers put everyone they can in front of her with no results until, with nothing to lose, Madison gets a chance – and unexpectedly barrels headfirst into danger she never anticipated.

I love discovering new graphic novels and I requested this because the cover hooked my interest, plus I don’t think never read a crime noir graphic novel/comic before! Bury the Lede was mostly what I anticipated it to be, although there were some elements that really grated on my nerves and that’s what made me only give it three stars.

Continue reading “Bury the Lede by Gaby Dunn, Claire Roe – #eARC #BookReview”

The Black Mage by Daniel Barnes & DJ Kirkland – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: The Black Mage
Publish date: 29 October 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult
Rating: ★★★.5☆☆

When St. Ivory Academy, a historically white wizarding school, opens its doors to its first-ever black student, everyone believes that the wizarding community is finally taking its first crucial steps toward inclusivity. Or is it? When Tom Token, the beneficiary of the school’s “Magical Minority Initiative,” begins uncovering weird clues and receiving creepy texts on his phone, he and his friend, Lindsay, stumble into a conspiracy that dates all the way back to the American Civil War, and could cost Tom his very soul.

Wow, this was a cool concept for a story: Harry Potter meets American Civil War history and the KKK. I don’t think I’ve ever read a fantasy novel that incorporates deep elements of racism in it! This artwork isn’t the type that I usually like, but I think it suited the story and I especially liked the use of all the colors. I really enjoyed the HP setting of the school! Honestly, it was a little terrifying to see all the KKK outfits being worn by children in school (even if it’s just fiction) and the thought of them having ‘magical powers’ in a fantasy world where they are still the oppressors, was also a terrifying thought.

One aspect that I didn’t enjoy so much at the start was that there’s a lot of text in the speech bubbles and I felt like I had to really zoom in to be able to read it all properly (so that broke up the panels a bit weirdly). As the story progressed there was still a lot of text in certain speech bubbles but for the most part it lessened. Since this is a standalone(?) the story progressed very quickly and it also wrapped up very quickly and neatly, which was kind of “eh”. I honestly would’ve liked to have the story be longer so that we get to learn more about the characters, and to get some character development in the story as well. The ending while “happy” not only felt too abrupt but also a little unresolved — I mean, how does the school still exist? I want to know more. Overall though, I’m glad that I decided to pick this up. It was an interesting read!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the free copy in exchange for an honest review! This graphic novel is out 29 October 2019.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Mooncakes
Publish date: 15 October 2019
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Fantasy
Rating:

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town. One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods.

As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home. Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

How cute can a graphic novel be?! I’ve seen Mooncakes making the rounds on a few blogs and it sounded so cute I just had to pick it up asap. It’s a very quick and enjoyable read that is full of representation and diversity. We have queer grandmas, a queer young witch that wears hearing-aids, and a nonbinary young werewolf. We also have lots of magic, books and cute little forest creatures! Not to mention a demon and a cult… This fantasy graphic novel really has it all! The artwork was rich and full of vibrant autumn colors that leant a cozy but also a darker mood to the story. The art style reminded me of the late 90s-early 00s comics that I’d always read.

Tam and Nova are lovely main characters and the relationship that blossomed between them was sweet. The grandmas were also great and extremely supportive–I loved the little grandma jokes and banter! I do wish that we got more backstory to the characters. Nova and Tam got together pretty early on and while they were ‘picking up where they left off’ as the reader, I found their chemistry lacking at that point and I would’ve liked to know more about their history together as kids and how their friendship grew, and had the potential for romance. I still enjoyed their relationship and how they learned to grow together and as individuals. Everyone was heartwarmingly supportive in this comic!

Another issue I had was that it initially felt like we were jumping into the middle of a story that was already almost finished because there was very little backstory and world building. I wanted to know more about the place and the history! I also found it a little unbelievable that they could get away with carting a demon in a floating magical cage and there were still zero people around? Where were the townspeople that they’d occasionally mention? Unless they actually live in seclusion but that wasn’t the impression I got!

Overall, a quick, witchy and heartwarming read. I can’t wait to see the finished product and the bonus material that will be included. I would definitely recommend it to those who love cute, magical, and queer comics!

Thanks to NetGalley and publishers for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. Have you read Mooncakes or is it on your TBR?
This is out in October 2019 so be on the look out!