Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Crime-Thriller-Mystery, General Books, Graphic Novel

The Magicians: Alice’s Story by Lilah Sturges and Lev Grossman – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: The Magicians: Alice’s Story
Publish date: 16 July 2019
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Alice Quinn is manifestly brilliant, and she’s always known that magic is real. During her years at Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, she rises to the top of her class, falls in love with Quentin Coldwater, and witnesses a horrifically magical creature invade their dimension. It’s not soon after graduation when Alice, Quentin, and their friends set their sights on the idyllic setting of Fillory: a place thought to only live in the pages of their favorite children’s books. A land where magic flows like rivers . . . But in this magical realm nothing is what it seems to be, and something darker lies behind the spellbinding facade. It is in the darkness where Alice will discover her true calling and her life, and those friends, forever changed. 

Having read the first book in The Magicians series, I was able to follow along with the story pretty well. It’s very much to the book, which I appreciated. I thought the artwork was well done, a little dark coloring, with darker and imperfect lines to fit the tone of the story. One of the things I liked most was that the characters in the graphic novel were true to the descriptions in the book (unlike in the TV show). I liked them better this way.

I always found myself having a love/hate relationship with Alice so I thought it’d be interesting to learn more about her and to experience things through her eyes. That said I wish that the story covered more than just following along with exactly what happened in the novel. I thought this would cover more of her at home life, her odd relationship with her parents (which was really a sticking point for her in the book) and how the loss of her brother affected her. That loss really turned her life upside down and I wish that more of the effect it had on her was explored. I also felt the ending was a little rushed. While the graphic novel does stay true to the original book, I thought it really lagged at times. It honestly gave me the same feeling I had when reading the original novel, which I admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of because it felt a bit dull. I thought reading it in graphic novel form would make it better, and it was but only slightly.

I’m glad that I read this though. I am curious to know what happened to Alice after the ending. She does make a reappearance in the TV series but I’m not sure about the book (because I stopped reading it). That said, it would be interesting to know if there’s anything sentient left. This was not a quick graphic novel read, but it was still enjoyable.

Thanks to NetGalley for sending me the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read Alice’s story? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Crime-Thriller-Mystery, General Books, Graphic Novel

Double Vie (Rose #1) by Denis Lapière and Émilie Alibert – #ARC #GraphicNovel #Review

Goodreads: Double Vie (Rose #1)
Publish date: 19 June 2019
Publisher: Europe Comics
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Comic

Ever since she was a little girl, Rose has had a special and troubling power: the ability to “double” herself and travel outside her body. She always saw it as something wrong with her… until now. When her father is murdered, Rose’s strange ability gives her a chance to find her father’s killer, solve a series of mysterious cold cases, and untangle a centuries-old curse. But maybe some secrets should stay buried…

I want more! What an interesting and peculiar story! It has ghosts, witches, demons, and it’s all wrapped up in the big mystery of her father’s murder and her father’s house.

And okay, honestly? I wasn’t thinking about inconsistencies or things that didn’t sit right in the story when I was reading this one; I was just enjoying the story that was playing out in front of me. In this first issue/volume, we learn about Rose and her ability to leave her body at any time. It seems a little bit like her soul was leaving her body. We see her leaving her body quite a few times throughout the story but I wished that we learned more about why it happened and how she manages to leave her body (especially when it happened the first time when she was a child). There was some narration at the start (which I assume is her father) that explained it a little, but I wanted to know more. I want to say more but I also don’t want to give anything away!

Although it was a bit of a slow start, I liked how the process of Rose’s thinking and discoveries unfolded. It wasn’t rushed and not totally implausible. Looking at ‘inconsistencies’ I guess it was odd that the house, its history, and the history of that history was recorded in the archives. Was the detailed history of the house, including the ancient witches curse, in the regional archives because the house had burned down so many times? It seems a lot of people are keeping secrets in this mystery and I’m very curious to know more!

I thought the artwork was well done. This is going to sound weird and I don’t know how to explain it but there was something very European about it. Perhaps it was the setting and the way the characters acted and dressed. It’s not my typical favorite style, but I found I really liked it. It’s a bit dark, and always a little gloomy, but I thought the style suited the story. The story might not be completely original and it isn’t one that you won’t be able to get out of your head, but it was an enjoyable fast mysterious read. I’m looking forward to finding out more.

Thanks to NetGalley for the e-ARC for an honest review. This graphic novel was published on 19 June 2019. Have you read about Rose? Loved it? Hated it? Meh about it? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in ARC, Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Middle Grade

The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2) by Katie O’Neill – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: The Tea Dragon Festival (Tea Dragon #2)
Publish date: 17 September 2019
Publisher: Oni Press
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Comic

Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

The Tea Dragon Festival is another beautiful graphic novel by Katie O’Neill. The style and use of color in the artwork is gorgeous and really brings to life this wonderful world of dragons, tea dragons, magical forest creatures and village life. The story takes places before The Tea Dragon Society, and I really enjoyed meeting the younger versions of Hesekiel and Erik, two loveable characters from that book.

In this comic, we follow the story of Rinn, a young village girl who’s an aspiring cook and talented forager, who stumbles upon Aedhan, a young dragon who has been asleep for 80-years. Aedhan is plagued by guilt for having not done his duty of taking care of the village residents, but he was put under a sleeping spell by a magical forest creature. Rinn brings Aedhan to the village and the two quickly form a strong, sweet bond as Aedhan picks up his dragon duties and reintegrates to village life. I loved how this story was even more diverse and inclusive than the first book. We have characters who use sign language, different ethnicities, and diverse sexualities, and none of these elements in the story feels contrived.

The tea dragons were just as freaking adorable as in the first book. I want to live in this world and I want to take care of those tea dragons, no matter how pesky they’re claimed to be! At the end, O’Neill also included additional information about the tea dragon varieties, and more wonderful history about dragons like Aedhan.

This was a very quick read full of sweet and fluffy things! And I mean, super cute good looking dragons. Come on, isn’t that all you really need to know? Recommended to everyone who wants to experience all the good and happy feels!

Thanks to NetGalley for providing the e-ARC for an honest review.
Have you read any of the Tea Dragon graphic novels? Love em? Hate em? Meh about them? Come let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy, General Books, Graphic Novel

Blackbird, Vol 1. by Sam Humphries & Jen Bartel – Graphic Novel Review

Goodreads: Blackbird (Issues #1-6)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy

Nina Rodriguez knows a hidden magical world run by ruthless cabals is hiding in Los Angeles. When a giant magic beast kidnaps her sister, Nina must confront her past (and her demons) to get her sister back and reclaim her life. Don’t miss the first collection of the smash-hit neo-noir fantasy series!

I’m very on the fence about this one! If I could rate this graphic novel based on the color palette and artwork alone it would’ve been a solid 5 stars. This is the type of artwork that I’m an absolute sucker for. Everyone and everything is simply gorgeous–the setting, the character expressions and personalities physically expressed. Jen Bartel’s work is seriously impressive.

That said, the storyline and characters didn’t work for me. I didn’t enjoy a single one of the characters and I was especially frustrated with Nina. I understand she went through a terrible thing in her childhood from the night of the earthquake to losing her mum at such a young age, and that those events basically spiralled until young adulthood to where she is now. But her character was incredibly annoying and weak. Trying to follow her thoughts and mood was like trying to catch a swing that’s going in the opposite direction as me all the time. The flow felt a little stilted and didn’t really connect. And her moods! Oh my goodness. For example, MINOR spoiler: one minute she’s hating on Clint hardcore and then the next minute, they’re holding hands and almost kissing? I’m sorry but what and why? I think Clint’s character might have been the only one who was half-decent, but we also don’t really know that much about him yet. Other than that he has great fashion sense lol

The story was also very reminiscent of The Wicked + The Divine. While I thought the powers of the paragons and the use of gems was a unique aspect of the story, I continued to feel confused throughout this whole volume. We didn’t really get any answers about anything, and I know that this is only the first six issues, so hopefully in the coming issues things will become more clear. 

That said, as much as I enjoyed the artwork, I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this graphic novel. I’ll just continue to enjoy the artwork 🙂

Have you read Blackbird? Love it? Hate it? Meh about it?
Let me know in the comments and let’s have a little chat!

Posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Fantasy, General Books, Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Romance, Young Adult

Mini-Reviews: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Field Notes on Love, and I Hate Fairyland – #BookReview

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Creekwood #1) by Becky Albertalli
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

Simon was a heartwarming, LGBT romance and I feel like the whole book was the epitome of the high school experience. This story was full of great friendships, hilarious and very quirky family relationships, as well as awkward and sometimes cruel high school experiences. I think Albertalli did a really great job of capturing the mind of a closeted gay teen and his struggles with coming out. Simon’s character was so endearing. He was sweet, caring, a bit of an oddball and actually pretty wholesome. I loved that everyone was so supportive of him! His exchanges with Blue were adorable and I really enjoyed how their relationship transformed from flirty friends to love as they opened up to each other. They were so pure and I wanted to give them all the hugs! That said, parts of this story really bothered me, and it specifically related to the friendship between Simon and Leah, who was his supposed ‘best friend’, but was almost wholly absent in his story. Having already read Leah’s book, I have my issues with her character as well, but for claiming that they’re so close, they’re not really? For some reason this really bothered me a lot 🙂 In the end, everything (obviously) sorted itself out and it was an uplifting story that left me feeling happy and content.

“I try not to change, but I keep changing, in all these tiny ways… And every freaking time, I have to reintroduce myself to the universe all over again.”

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Romance

Field Notes on Love is everything I thought it would be and then some. I loved the idea of a book being set on a train, two strangers coming together, and with ‘love’ in the title of the book, you know romance plays a big part of this story. Surprisingly, this was more than just a fluffy love story; it was about family, friendship, vulnerability and ultimately finding out who you are, what you want and what you’re willing to do to get it. The story was told in alternating perspectives. I liked that both Hugo and Mae were such down-to-earth characters, who were enjoyable as individuals as much as together. The almost instant connection between Hugo and Mae, which I would normally find cheesy and annoying, didn’t feel at all contrived. The family relationships were proper #familygoals. All their interactions were full of kindness, understanding, support and encouragement, plus I found Hugo being one of sextuplets very interesting. The siblings only make minor appearances throughout, but you can feel the love and connection between them, and their individual personalities shone. The banter within both families made me laugh out loud multiple times! Although the plot was fairly predictable, sometimes you just need a happy and fluffy read that leaves you feeling good after you finish the last page. The characters really won this book for me. If you’re looking for a good quick summer read, I’d highly recommend it!

“They could be anywhere and nowhere, but they’ve somehow found themselves here, and she’s suddenly grateful for it, all of it, for the extra ticket and the way it brought them together despite everything, the bigness of the world and the unlikeliness of a moment like this.”

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After (I Hate Fairyland #1) by Skottie Young
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Humor

The thing that drew me to this graphic novel was the artwork. The level of detail, the vibrant rainbow colors, and the cute characters that inhabit fairyland all made me want to pick up this comic! I loved how the bright colorful artwork juxtaposed with the very gore-filled story as we followed Gertrude’s bitter journey through fairyland to find the key to take her home. I guess I’d be bitter too after so long. Her tirades and deft “dispatching” of basically every character she crosses in fairyland, while admirable if you like that sort of thing, does get old after a while though. The storyline didn’t reveal anything new about why she’s still there after all these years, and I kind of wish we got to see more of the start to her journey, before she completely lost her mind, and became a bitter young woman trapped in a child’s body. I also wished we learned more about how and why children get abducted to fairyland in the first place! But maybe that’s too logical and serious for a graphic novel such as this? While I did enjoy it, Gertrude’s trajectory was basically the same through all scenes, so I’m not sure if I’d continue on with the series. I will say I’m curious to see what happens next, although considering it’s Gertrude fairyland may end up looking like a killing field sooner rather than later!, I just don’t know if I’m curious enough. The art work is definitely amazing though—I’m always attracted to bright splashy colors and the various inhabitants of fairyland!

Have you read any of these? Would love to know your thoughts on them if you have! Leave a comment below and let’s chat books 🙂

Posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Graphic Novel, Young Adult

The Woods (Vol. 1-9) by James Tynion IV – Graphic Novel Review

Goodreads: The Woods (Vol. 1-9)
Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Sports, Manga

On October 16, 2013, 437 students, 52 teachers, and 24 additional staff from Bay Point Preparatory High School in suburban Milwaukee, WI vanished without a trace. Countless light years away, far outside the bounds of the charted universe, 513 people find themselves in the middle of an ancient, primordial wilderness. Where are they? Why are they there? The answers will prove stranger than anyone could possibly imagine.

I was feeling a little unwell on Monday and so I took a sick day and spent the whole day in bed reading. While I “should’ve” been reading the ARC for Mrs. Everything, I found myself looking at the graphic novels in my collection and randomly started The Woods, unsure of what I’d encounter but I was intrigued enough by the premise and the artwork. Next thing I know, it was late evening, I hadn’t left my bed all day, and I had come to the final episodes of the series. This graphic novel sucked me right in. It’s extremely weird, a lot more graphic than I thought, but really enjoyable sci-fi/fantasy/horror that I just couldn’t put it down. I’m not a big fan of horror but this one wasn’t so bad. Although the art work definitely accentuated the horrifying and gruesome aspects of the story. The art work wasn’t the type that I’m normally attracted to in graphic novels (i.e. modern, clean and sharp lines) but this rough style and coloring really suited the story. The colors and the drawing style really leant the comic a rough, dark air which was fitting with the plot, and it reminded me a lot of the work in earlier comics, especially the superhero ones. **Not that I’m an expert or anything**

The Woods begins 25 minutes after Bay Point has been transported to this alien moon thick with dense woodland, and we go back in time a bit to learn about the main characters in the story, and to find out what was happening prior to the school’s vanishing. From then on a lot happens right away and also the whole storyline moves very quickly. There is a mysterious alien triangle that captivates one of the students, terrifying bloodthirsty monsters start coming out of the woods, and a group of five students band together to journey into the woods and to find out where they are, how they got there and how they can get home.

The characters in this story were so diverse; there were many queer characters, from such a wide mix of race and socioeconomic backgrounds. I grew attached to so many of them along the way! I loved how well we got to know the main characters in the story. We get an insight into defining moments in their lives, including parts of their childhood, and because of that their character arcs were really rich. Although quite a few characters irritated me at the start of the story, Karen especially, I thought their character growth throughout the story was really well done and my perspectives on them really changed by the end. No doubt though, my favorites were Ben and (surprisingly) Calder! I love it when we see softer sides to seemingly indifferent or tough characters and these two wormed their way into my heart!

The worldbuilding of this highly bizarre alien planet was truly spectacular and I loved how there ended up being different towns that we discover along the way that were all so full of history–of the people who inhabited the towns and how long they’d been there–and it’s slowly revealed that pockets of people throughout the history of civilization have been magicked to this moon. I won’t lie–there is a lot that happens in this story that leaves you questioning what you’re reading and wondering whether it’s possible for a story to get even more bizarre than it already was in the beginning (spoiler: it’s possible). I also really can’t get into the specifics about what happens without giving the story away, but I was so invested in the characters and their story. While a part of me would’ve also been satisfied for them to just build new lives and stay on this moon, I was really happy with how the author brought everything together for a satisfying conclusion. But I kid you not when I say it’s really bizarre. 😂

Overall, I was really satisfied with this series and was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I won’t say I recommend it to everyone because it definitely won’t be to (probably) the majority’s tastes, but if you’re up for highly weird, sci-fi/horror stories with lots of action, then I’d suggest giving it a try!

Have you read The Woods? Does it sound like something you’d be interested in? Also, do you have graphic novel recs? Let’s chat 🙂

Posted in Book Reviews, Contemporary, Graphic Novel, Young Adult

Fence (Issues #1-12) by C.S. Pacat – Graphic Novel Review

Goodreads: Fence
Genre: Graphic Novel, LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Sports, Manga

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

I stumbled upon this graphic novel as I was looking up what other LGBTQ books I could read for pride month. I’m so glad that I listened to my instinct to snatch up a copy on ComiXology because I really enjoyed this series! The characters are probably the most diverse group that I can remember coming across; like, actually. From everyone’s sexuality, their race/ethnicity, and their socio-economic backgrounds. I think this might be the most queer book I have read and I loved reading it!

In the first issue, we’re introduced to Nicholas and Seiji at the national fencing championships, where they face-off against each other in the first round. You learn a little about Nicholas’ backstory, why he wants to get into fencing, and why it’s important to him. In the next issue we’re introduced to the all boys boarding school where the subsequent episodes take place. We’re also introduced to many new faces who are part of the Kings Row fencing team, and others who trying out for it; everyone in the school seems to be low-key obsessed with fencing! The majority of the episodes focus on the try out rounds for the fencing team, where we get to know a bit more about the characters, with the main focus being on Nicholas’ struggle to succeed in the tryouts, make the team and ultimately, to beat Seiji. Of course there had to be a cliffhanger at the end of Issue #12, and I’m not sure when the next issue will be released, so here I am, not so patiently waiting for it!

I honestly loved so many of the characters; even the ones who are highly neurotic and have zero chill have somehow managed to grow on me (cough*tanner*cough). I only wished that there was more backstory shared about the characters. Everyone is *really* cute, have seemingly intriguing personalities, and we do get to see glimpses of a different side to them (families, softer sides) but I still wanted to know more about them. I especially love Bobby so I’d love to know more about him and also Seiji and Nicholas–although these are the characters we obviously know the most about so far. On that note, here are some cool graphic stats about the characters from the author’s Twitter.

Overall, I’m really excited for the next issue to come out. I want to know what happens after that cliffhanger! Who knew I’d ever be so interested in a comic about fencing? Also, why is everyone so good looking?! I’m so glad that I picked up this graphic novel 🙂

Have you read Fence? Do you have recs for other LGBTQ graphic novels for pride month? Or just any graphic novel recs in general?