Tag Archives: graphic novel

Blog Tour – Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner (Review)

I’m going to be frank: I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when I was approached by Raincoast to host this stop on the Fish Girl blog tour. If I am being even more honest, I was worried about how I would feel about the book as well. I love when a book proves my feelings wrong, and that is exactly what Fish by Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner has done.

Plus, check out this artwork:

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Looks dreamy, doesn’t, it?

Once again, huge thank you to Raincoast for allowing me to share my thoughts on this blog tour stop, and I do hope you check out Fish Girl when it releases on March 7th, 2017.


30971730Title: Fish Girl

Author: Donna Jo Napoli & David Wiesner

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: In this graphic novel, a young mermaid, called Fish Girl, living in a boardwalk aquarium has a chance encounter with an ordinary girl. Their growing friendship inspires Fish Girl’s longing for freedom, independence, and a life beyond the aquarium tank.

Sam’s Review:

I’m going to be completely honest: I wasn’t sure I was going to like Fish Girl. In fact, when I received it in the mail I did that dreaded thing you sometimes shouldn’t do: judge a book by it’s cover. I wasn’t sure I was going to like the artwork, and the story sounded merely all right. I was colourfully surprised by how much I enjoyed Fish Girl

However, I say this with an air of caution: Fish Girl is a misleading book. While it’s aimed at middle grade audiences, it does shed light on themes of abuse and abduction in a way that is creepy, and seeing it from that point of view can make it a tough read. On the other side of it, this book reads like a fairy tale as well, sharing both consequences and the potential for a positive outcome. It’s a rough read all around, and I think it definitely offers some interesting discussions that can be had with younger readers on these topics.

I actually do think Mira, our Fish Girl, is a wonderful character. She longs to not be an aquarium attraction and wishes to be like the people on the land who come to see her. She wants legs, and adventures, and yet she’s trapped in a fish bowl by a man who wants nothing more than to gain profit from her existence. It’s a solid story, and it shows that people can take destiny into their own hands. Or in this case, also escape abuse. I like the message that this book presents, and I think the ending does a great job of highlighting ways in which people need to stir a course towards what they truly want from life.

I admit, at times I did have a heart time with the artwork, but it did grow on me as I read on. There’s a lot of very realistic looking artwork, the use of pastel colours is really pretty, and there are moments where the artwork is breathe-taking. There are also moments where it doesn’t fit either, which I found somewhat disappointing. That being said, once I got over my initial feelings, I found myself really digging the art style and coming to the consensus that it actually does a great job fitting the story that is being told.

Fish Girl is definitely not for your average middle grader, and that is okay. I think it teaches a lot to the reader, and it doesn’t feel heavy handed in its approach either. I will say I don’t think the art style will be for everyone, but I do believe there is a very special story being told in this book.


Huge thank you to Raincoast for organizing and allowing me the opportunity to participate in the blog tour. Still curious about Fish Girl? Please check out the other tour stops, and consider purchasing the book when it releases this March!
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Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! January 2017 Edition

A new year means a whole lot more comics, graphic novels and manga to devour. While the year has just started, I have actually managed to check out a lot of great new stuff that I want to recommend to you all. I have some new middle grade reads, some manga, and well, let’s just say I have a bit of everything. Let’s get started!

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Hexed by by Michael Alan Nelson et al.

Hexed is a very addictive, if short series. It focuses on a heroine named Luci (short of Lucifer), a thief who dabbles in the occult, and the occult wants nothing more than to devour her. This series is only three volumes, but each volume series packs a wallop. There’s an intense amount of detail in the world building, the characters are a blast, and it’s just action-packed. Definitely for fans of Jessica Jones, especially those who love a little street with their magic. 30220713

Space Battle Lunchtime, Volume 1: Lights, Camera, Snacktion! by Natalie Riess

Can I gush for a second about Space Battle Lunctime? Because I REALLY adored Space Battle Lunchtime. I am a sucker for tournament stories, and in this case we have Iron Chef in SPAAAAAAAAACE. There is so much comedy gold in this series, and Peony will totally steal your heart… and you’ll want her to bake you cupcakes. Great for kids of all ages, and adults who happen to just be big kids.

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Snow White: A Graphic Novel
by Matt Phelan

This is a very unique retelling of Snow White, and one that I think will surprise a lot of readers. Transplanting the story to New York City, 1928, we are given a a beautifully illustrated story that feels both fresh and familiar. The artwork is breathtaking by the way, and while there is minimal text, there’s still a very vivid story being told. If you love noir and fairytale retelling, this one is definitely worth checking out.

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Mockingbird, Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain &  Kate Niemczyk

Can I explain to you all my intense love of Chelsea Cain’s version of Mockingbird, because holy crap it is amazeballz. Seriously, she breathes new life into the character of Bobbi Morse, and given how comics have treated her over the years, it’s great to see Bobbi back in action and potentially the best version of herself. I am super sad that this is going to be a very short run, because the writing in this is witty, clever, and quite dark at times. I need more Bobbi in my life.

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Another Castle by Andrew Wheeler & Paulina Ganucheau 

A super feminist comic about swords and sorcery, and my goodness is it a lot of fun to read. Wheeler’s writing is very clever and cheeky, and Ganucheau’s art is absolutely vivid and stellar. Again this short series (five issues total) has an amazingly diverse cast of characters, romance, girl-power and more. A comic for fantasy lovers, and a love letter to those who adore Dungeons and Dragons.

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Princess Princess Ever After
by Katie O’Neill

This is a beautiful LGBTQIA+ comic that features two heroines who couldn’t be more opposite of each other, but fall in love. Princess Amira and Princess Sadie are delightful, adorkable, and easy to root for. Diverse, queer friendly, and all ages appropriate, Princess Princess Ever After is just buckets of fun. Too bad it is so darn short, though!

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JUDGE by Yoshiki Tonogai

Told in six twisted volumes, JUDGE is not for the faint of heart. Much like Danganronpa, we have people thrown into a horrific game where each person is labelled a seven deadly sin that represents their personality. People die, and people die horrifically in this series. There’s some great twists and turns, and though I wasn’t huge on the ending, I found the build up to be exceptionally worthwhile. I definitely want to check out more of Yoshiki Tonogai’s work, but I need to remember to breathe while reading it!

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Adventure Time by Various

I have intense feelings for Adventure Time. The show makes me laugh, it makes me smile, it gives me all the feelings. The comics are no different, though admittedly they vary in quality. I’ve enjoyed the majority of the ones I’ve read, and I think they are great for fans of the series. Some personal favourites include President BubblegumMarceline and the Scream Queens & Marceline Adrift, Candy Capers, and any of the ones written by Ryan North because they are made of LULZ.

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Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

I have adored every one of Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels, but I think this one has got some of the best emotion in it. This book is not only about sisters, but it’s also about what it means to help others (in this case, Cat’s sister has cystic fibrosis). There are ghosts of friends, families, loved ones, and the setting in this novel is just absolutely stunning. I LOVED Maya and Cat’s relationship and it felt so authentic. If you haven’t read this gem yet, do so.

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Jessica Jones (2016-) by Brian Michael Bendis, Michael Gaydos & David W. Mack

I had a love-hate relationship with both the original Alias series, and Brian Michael Bendis. When Bendis writes street, hes fabulous, when he goes beyond that… it’s often a hot mess (see the ending of Alias). However, my bestie has been loaning me this ongoing run and right now I am super intrigued by it. Luke Cage is chasing Jessica Jones, asking about their daughter. Jessica also feels so distant in this series (to the point where she rubs it in Jessica Drew, aka Spider-Woman’s face that she is the superior detective). I like this so far, but I don’t want to jinx myself either. I do think at this point, however, it’s solid and worth the recommendation.

Have you guys been reading any new comics lately? I am always looking for recommendations! I am hoping 2017 is a solid year of more comics, graphic novels and manga. We shall see!

ARC Review – Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

22694572Title:  Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride

Author: Lucy Knisley

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A funny and whip-smart new book about the institution of marriage in America told through the lens of her recent engagement and wedding…. The graphic novel tackles the all-too-common wedding issues that go along with being a modern woman: feminism, expectations, getting knocked over the head with gender stereotypes, family drama, and overall wedding chaos and confusion.

Huge thank you to First Second for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ve read all of Lucy Knisley’s memoirs of travelogues, but this was the one I think I connected with the most. A lot of the stories she was sharing in this graphic novel about the perils of engagement and the different mentalities people have about marriage really struck a chord with me. Getting engaged is one of the weirdest experiences I think a person can have, especially because it’s something that feels so surreal at first glance.

Knisley captures a lot of the jitters, confusion and crazy that comes with being a newly engaged individual and I loved her honesty. She walks the reader through her engagement, the reactions from friends and family, the process of trying to plan a wedding on a budget, and sticking with the budget. There’s so much anxiety that comes with the planning of a wedding, and she makes no bones about it either. I remember talking with my own spouse when we were engaged about how we wanted our wedding, the dos and don’ts from other weddings we had been forced to attend, and the realities of how much we wanted to spend and what we wanted our guests to experience.

I really loved Something New, and I think it will speak to a variety of readers: singletons, newly weds, those who have been married for awhile… I think each person would get something different from the experiences that Knisley shares with her readers. Plus, as always, Knisley’s artwork is lovely to look at, and it captures such a rawness that comes with all the heavy topics she is discussing. Her latest release is definitely something to enjoy if you’ve never experienced her works!

ARC Review – The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

25332000Title:  The Nameless City

Author: Faith Erin Hicks

Rating:  ★★★★★

Release Date: April 5th 2016 by First Second

Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Real Talk: You want this book.

No seriously, you want this book. I recognize that it doesn’t realize until April 2016, but you need to start putting this book on your TBR wishlists and Goodreads shelves. I feel like this is Faith Erin Hicks’ greatest work to date, and The Nameless City is going to be one of those graphic novels that will capture the hearts and attention of many.

The Nameless City is a very layered graphic novel experience. Hicks’ looks at issues of diversity, poverty, politics, and racism in a way that is accessible to understand, but also heart-wrenching to read about. The city in this story is constantly being renamed every time a new ruler takes up the reigns, and yet the outcome of each new ruler is the same — citizens are poor to the point where they have to steal to survive, and the military continues to play oblivious for the sake of not getting involved between political conflict, be it dealing with the poor or other surrounding nations. It’s fascinating the way in which this aspect of how the story evolves.

I also LOVED the characters. I loved Rat’s tenacity, sass and courage, as much as I loved Kaidu’s kind and gentle spirit (a shame he works for the military!). Furthermore, I love the interactions between these two characters — it’s so genuinely written, and the book goes this amazing job of giving you so much understanding, but also taking that understanding away because of the political strife. It’s like being given bits and pieces, and that’s what you have to work with, but it’s okay because you know you are being promised more to the story. But seriously, I thought Rat and Kaidu were adorable and I wanted to cuddle them every few seconds.

But seriously, you need this book guys. It has stunning artwork, an amazing and detailed story, a great cast of lovable and sympathetic characters, and it just continues to offer so much to the reader. I can only hope that there is a second volume to this because the ending is very open, as if there needs to be more. Please, please, please let there be a sequel, because I don’t think I could live without knowing more about Kaidu and Rat’s adventures.

 

ARC Review – Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling by Tony Cliff

25332007Title:  Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling

Author: Tony Cliff

Rating:  ★★★★

Release Date: March 8th 2016 by First Second

Huge thank you to First Second and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

My love for the Delilah Dirk series holds absolutely no bounds. This series has an amazing sense of humour, great and captivating characters, and they simply take you on a wonderful journey. While I didn’t like this collection as much as The Turkish Lieutenant, I still enjoyed my time with The King’s Shilling.

What I loved in this particular instalment is that we finally get some huge insight into Delilah’s character and her backstory. Sadly we don’t get as much with Selim, as he seems to appear more in the background of this collection, hopefully he’ll have more of a focus next time. But seriously, I loved how gripping Delilah’s backstory was and how intricate it felt. She’s such a wonderfully layered heroine, and Cliff continues to make her feel so real at times. Her imperfections, her drive, her sass and courage, really just make her so captivating to read about.

While I won’t spoil a lot of what happens in this collection, what I will say that I do think it’s a fantastic follow up to The Turkish Lieutenant. While it doesn’t have the same fast pace, what The King’s Shilling gets dead on is it’s absolutely to suck the reader into the world and the narrative, and Cliff gives the reader so much to uncover. His artwork continues to shine, and I love how expressive his characters are — even those in the background.

While you’ll have to wait until March to get your hands on this collection, it truly is worth the wait. As long as Tony Cliff continues to publish this series, I will continue to be an avid reader because I simply adore Delilah and Selim to pieces. If you haven’t read The Turkish Lieutenant, get on that so you can join in the fun that is the Delilah Dirk series.

ARC Review – SuperMutant Magic Academy by Jillian Tamaki

22752445Title: SuperMutant Magic Academy

Author: Jillian Tamaki

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: SuperMutant Magic Academy, which she has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor and irreverence. Tamaki deftly plays superhero and high-school Hollywood tropes against what adolescence is really like: The SuperMutant Magic Academy is a prep school for mutants and witches, but their paranormal abilities take a backseat to everyday teen concerns.

Science experiments go awry, bake sales are upstaged, and the new kid at school is a cat who will determine the course of human destiny. In one strip, lizard-headed Trixie frets about her nonexistent modeling career; in another, the immortal Everlasting Boy tries to escape this mortal coil to no avail. Throughout it all, closeted Marsha obsesses about her unrequited crush, the cat-eared Wendy. Whether the magic is mundane or miraculous, Tamaki’s jokes are precise and devastating.

Huge thank you to Raincoast Books for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I’ve often found Jillian Tamaki’s works very hot or miss for my tastes. Admittedly, I had never read SuperMutant Magic Academy while it was a weekly webcomic, so I went into this pretty blind. I adored it! The humour and quirk in this graphic novel is just priceless, if sometimes wonderfully offensive, and it makes for some entertaining quotes along the way.

While the story really centres around a select few students at the academy, the one we get to know the most is Marsha — a lesbian who wants to come out to her best friend and doesn’t exactly succeed in this endeavour. She reminded me a lot of character Daria, sardonic but very perspective of the world around her. Marsha was fun to follow around, though the rest of the cast weren’t without their moments.

My favourite character hands down, and the one I had the most fun following was Frances. She reminded me of a crusty old lady who loves to smoke, be completely obnoxious and doesn’t really give a crap about what others think. As far as Frances is concerned, she has enough experiences that she’s perfectly content crafting art that only she understands, and aims to offend those who simply “don’t get it.” There’s a bit where’s she’s running around topless and is asked if it is some feminist crusade. Seriously, Frances — she kicks ass.

Although there isn’t much of a cohesive story until the very end, I absolutely loved this collection of comics, and even the additional narrative provided by Tamaki. It’s such a hilarious and wacky adventure, that I urge those who love a wick sense of humour and a little bit of vulgarity to check this out.

ARC Review – Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1 by Eric Colossal

23167725Title: Rutabaga the Adventure Chef: Book 1

Author: Eric Colossal

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: A fantasy graphic novel series follows an “adventure chef” named Rutabaga, who travels to a fantasy land to find bizarre ingredients to cook in his enchanted cauldron. The books will include pages straight out of Rutabaga’s cookbooks, with recipes that readers can make at home.

 

Huge thank you to Amulet Books and Netgalley for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

Wow! This is an adorable middle grade graphic novel. It’s about an adventuring chef, named Rutabaga and his wacky cooking adventures! I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this, but my husband also read a galley of this and basically shook me on the spot to read it.

And I’m glad I did. These characters are insanely quirky, and I adore that Rutabaga has no problem speaking his mind when food is awful. In fact, the whole cook-off against the old man chef? Kinda brilliant. Especially when you learn the secret of what is really in his food. There’s so much charm and whimsy in this book, and I found myself smiling and laughing a lot. Rutabaga’s antics are plenty, but it’s all in the name of good food!

If you have a young reader or a middle grader who loves comedic fantasy, this is a great addition to their library. If you’re an adult who just loves a charming graphic novel (like myself), then this book is right up your alley. Plus, there’s recipes!