Tag Archives: graphic novels

Book Chat – Falling Back In Love With Manga

Growing up I used to be a huge anime and manga fan. I used to consume it like it was candy. Then somewhere in the land of getting older and crustier, I stopped enjoying and perusing both mediums. My husband still religiously (and to this day) follows anime and manga, but somehow I fell super out of love with it.

In 2016 when I got my new job at the library, I gained a work!wife who reintroduced me back in manga. She constantly recommends new titles to me stuff she’s enjoyed, as well as stuff the teens at our local branch have been devouring as well. We also bonded over old anime classics like Saiyuki, and newer  shows like Yuri On Ice!!! My friend and co-worker did this amazing job of accidentally rekindling my love for manga and anime. Now, I struggle to stop.

Admittedly, I borrow a lot of manga from my work and that’s just because there is so much of it out there that it’s hard to keep up. It also gets insanely expensive as well. But I am finding that I am getting more and more into it. Especially when I see the kinds of manga that I am trapping for holds, or just what the teens come and talk to me about. It’s AWESOME. I now find myself completely down the rabbit hole for Haikyu, which is my friend’s favourite at the moment. I recently devoured Steins;Gate, which made me so happy considering I got a different ending in the video game than the one the manga implies is canon. I feel like anime and manga is back to those golden years where I was super in love with it. She also recommended Food Wars, and I am currently keeping up with Danganronpa as it releases in English.

I am just so happy with the amount of diversity in manga now. I was starting to worry for the longest time that it was mainly going to be moe and nothing but, and yet it’s so great to see the variety of titles that exist in English, as well as the popularity a lot of these series, old and new, still have. I admit, Haikyu for example is bringing me back to that dangerous fangirl territory I was in back when I loved Prince of Tennis. Reading Danganronpa reminds me how much I love the video games, and reading JUDGE instilled fear in me in a way which I didn’t think was entirely possible.

So dear readers of this blog who are manga fans: what are some manga out there that you can recommend for someone who is slowly getting back into the hobby? I’d be curious to know what some of the favourites are!

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 – The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

29102807Title: The Stone Heart

Author: Faith Erin Hicks

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: Kaidu and Rat have only just recovered from the assassination attempt on the General of All Blades when more chaos breaks loose in the Nameless City: deep conflicts within the Dao nation are making it impossible to find a political solution for the disputed territory of the City itself.

To complicate things further, Kaidu is fairly certain he’s stumbled on a formula for the lost weapon of the mysterious founders of the City. . . . But sharing it with the Dao military would be a complete betrayal of his friendship with Rat. Can Kai find the right solution before the Dao find themselves at war?

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

Sam’s Review:

The Nameless City was one of my favourite graphic novels that I read last year when I received it as a galley. Faith Erin Hicks has created a fantastic group of characters for the reader to follow and such an enchanting world to inhabit. It has been an insanely hard wait to read The Stone Heart, and while it didn’t wow me the same way the first book did, it is still worth the read. Too bad it isn’t out until April 2017. You definitely need to check out the first book in this series because this sequel very much picks up right after the first book.

Rat and Kaidu are fantastic characters, and I could sing their praises that is how much I love them. This story feels more like Kaidu’s tale, and it focuses on him finding an ancient lost weapon that is somehow connected to The Nameless City. There’s a lot of good suspense and build up in this sequel, but it definitely suffers at times for being the middle book considering this is a trilogy. Still Rat and Kaidu definitely have some antics in this installment, and that alone made it golden in my books. I just wish Rat was in the book more. She is still my favourite.

I also REALLY adored the ending of this sequel, but it’s kinda cliffhanger-y and when I finished the book I was so sad that now I have to wait another year and a bit until I get to read the third book in this series. I really do hate when I do this to myself. But yes, check out The Nameless City, then definitely get in on The Stone Heart. This series should not be missing by graphic novel fans who love a sweeping adventure!

ARC Review – Mighty Jack (Mighty Jack #1) by Ben Hatke

25648247Title: Mighty Jack (Mighty Jack #1)

Author: Ben Hatke

Rating: ★★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: Jack might be the only kid in the world who’s dreading summer. But he’s got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s boring, too, because Maddy doesn’t talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk—to tell Jack to trade their mom’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It’s the best mistake Jack has ever made.

What starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this book!

Sam’s Review:

I am mad at myself for putting this book off. Why? Because it was one I was crazy excited to get my hands on and then life took over and it fell by the wayside. I say this given that in a lot of ways this is how Mighty Jack begins. Jack wants to sleep in, he wants to be able to get a job to help support his mother who is already working two jobs to support the family, and he has an autistic sister, Maddy, who doesn’t speak. This beginning proves my point about life trying to escape past you.

However, in true Ben Hatke form, this is a wonderful friendship oriented story, retelling the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk. I’ll admit, as a child I never really liked that story, and often found it to be a frustrating narrative for one thing. However, there is something so fresh about Hatke’s take on the story that it makes up for my distaste of the original tale. It is so easy to love the characters in this story: Jack, Lilly, Maddy, their mother, and they are characters that Hatke does a great job providing empathy towards. I really, in particular, loved Maddy’s portrayal, and after the cliffhanger of an ending at this book, I NEED to see what will happen next.

This is a great start to a series, and Ben Hatke’s artwork continues to be so vibrant and delightful that I always enjoy my time with his books. There is a lot of great commentary and ideas in Mighty Jack and I can’t wait to see where the next book goes. There’s so much to love in Ben Hatke’s stories, and he does a good job of showing us how strong humans can be when they are faced with crisis. I really loved this story, and definitely check out if you love fairy tale retellings or just awesome comics.

Ten Comics & Graphic Novels, and Manga You Should Check Out! October 2016 Edition

Hi! I haven’t forgotten about you beautiful people. Life is… life. However, I have been reading a crapton of graphic novels and comics and I have another ten that I definitely want to share with you all. If you have a favourite retailer, or your library is great at keeping a good stock, then you need to check some of these guys out.

Previous Lists:

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Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra
by Kevin Panetta, Paulina Ganucheau

This is a comic series that I discovered through Elena @ Elena Reads Books Youtube Channel and it sounded like a fantastic twist on the magical girl storyline. Yes these girls have magic powers but they also have real problems that don’t consist of the male variety. I love the way in which the friendships are written, I love how they combat their monster problems with real life ones, and the humour is just so delightful. Definitely great for fans of Giant Days, Sailor Moon or Lumberjanes.

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The Tiny Titans series & The Superman Family Adventures series by Art Baltazar & Franco

I have recently gone on a huge binge read of Art Baltazar & Franco’s Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures. Both series are written for younger comic audiences, but I love the way in which the authors play with a lot of the DC characters and focus more on the quirky bits of theirs personalities. These comics are charming, funny, and my goodness Aqualad never gets a real break — but it’s part of the fun. These books are so well loved at my work place that I find myself both enjoying them and repairing them so kids can also be entertained by them. We need more Tiny Titans, darn it!

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Danganronpa by Spike Chunsoft & Takashi Tsukimi

I am a huge gamer, and one of my more recent obsessions is the Danganronpa series. If you aren’t a gamer, but love anime and manga, then you can still check this series out. It’s not for the faint of heart, however, as it’s about a mutual killing game and a creepy bear with a lust for murder. But it is such a fascinating series at the same time, especially for those who love psychological thrillers or love a strong mystery series. There’s only two of these graphic novels out at the moment, and a new game is coming next year. Seriously, if you loved messed up storylines, then Danganronpa will have you covered. Then go watch the new TV series, because oh my stars I keep crying, I can’t even.

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Long Walk to Valhalla by Long Walk to Valhalla
by Adam Smith & Matthew Fox 

Long Walk to Valhalla is weird as all hell, but it’s part of its charm. It has a similar vibe that I Kill Giants provided, providing a larger metaphor for something that is hard to definite or be made tangible. It also does an amazing job twisting Norse mythology on its head, which I am always a fan of. It has a really lovely, sketchy art style that also gives it a real beautiful visual appeal as well. If you can find this one, it’s worth a read

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The Legend of Bold Riley
by Leia Weathington

This graphic novel was a beautiful and wonderful surprise. Featuring a lesbian heroine, it focuses on one woman’s desire to be a heroine and move beyond boundaries. There’s a lot of sword, sorcery, romance, swashbuckling, and lady love, and it just warmed my heart. Riley was also so easy to love and Leia Weathington’s storylines were just fantastic. I just found this book to be such a fun read.

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Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Vol. 1: Baby Talk 
by Dennis Hopeless & Javier Rodriguez

Of all the Spider-ladies, Jessica Drew was the one I knew the least about and from the comics I read that she starred in, I didn’t entirely enjoy her character either. However, this installment by Dennis Hopeless caught my attention because pregnant super heroines are… pretty non-existent. Outside of Jessica Jones, super heroines who are still fighting crime while pregnant is just unheard of, and I love how Jessica Drew doesn’t allow her pregnancy to feel like a hindrance when she’s out on the job. There was something crazy empowering about this run, and I really began to enjoy Drew as a character more through Hopeless’ writing. I don’t have any children, but I loved the way in which the trials and tribulations of being pregnant were shown here. Fun stuff!

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Paper Girls series 
by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang & Matthew Wilson

Paper Girls is messed up. It’s crazy strange, and reading it makes you feel like you’ve entered bizzaro-world. The first volume is really weird, very unsettling, and if anything, doesn’t feel like it gives you a full picture of the story until you hit the cliffhanger. Brian K. Vaughan is one of those storytellers who is very good at giving you bits and pieces, but never the full picture, which is so true of Paper Girls. I can’t wait to dive into volume two at some point because shit has hit the fan hard.

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We Stand On Guard (We Stand On Guard #1-6)
by Brian K. Vaughan & Steve Skroce

I realize this is getting a bit Brian K. Vaughan heavy, but I can’t neglect this series. We Stand On Guard is an amazing alternative history story where Canada has been taken over by the U.S and it’s now an insane dystopia. This comic stirred a lot of emotion in me — it made me angry, it made me feel very patriotic to my home nation, and it is just violent and crazypants. The characters are really interesting, the hook is great, and it keeps you guessing how Canada will survive this totalitarianism.

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Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka

SO SO GOOD YOU GUYS. This is the kind of Wonder Woman I’ve been wanting to read about for ages, and I am so glad that she is in the hands of Greg Rucka. This is an amazing omnibus collection, and it does an amazing job of reminding the reader about who Diana is and her sense of justice and duty. Plus her encounters with Batman are easily some of the highlights in this collection (especially boot to the head — so classic!). I have always loved Diana, but I admit I have always been picky about how she is portrayed, but this has restored my faith in comics humanity. Definitely check this out if you want to read Woman Wonder but disliked the old sexist portrayals that other authors have ruined her with.

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Awkward
by Svetlana Chmakova

The last item I want to recommend is the middle grade comic, Awkward. This is a fantastic story for younger audiences that focuses on friendship when you get to the age where “boys and girls can’t be friends.” There is something so delightful and innocent in this story that really drew me in. The characters were clever, and I loved that they never fall into the trappings of peer pressure. There’s a fantastic message in this story that reminds us that friendship with the opposite sex doesn’t always have to lead into romance. If you have a middle grader in your life or love middle grade, this is definitely worth looking into. Plus the artwork is adorable.

As always, I hope you enjoy these recommendations. I also hope that you share with me some of your recent findings, as I am always looking for more comics, graphic novels and manga to check out. Let me know in the comments what youve been loving lately!

Five Must-Have Books from #TeensReadFeed

Raincoast invited me and a bunch of other bloggers to an event in Toronto to showcase their upcoming line-up of titles for Winter/Spring 2017. The list of titles that they narrowed it to was completely insane, and if I am being frank, I need to say how impressed I was given the plethora of titles releasing in Winter alone. However, what I love about the #TeensReadFeed events is that they are a chance to talk to other bloggers and publishing staff to learn what folks think are going to be the it titles. It also helps that the event is run by some of the best and most delightful people in the publishing business.

There was also a special guest via Google Hangout for the Toronto Crowd, which was Mary E. Pearson! I am a shame to admit I have only read one book by her. After her discussion about writing and the writing process, I am super excited to check out some of her other books and perhaps continue the Remanent Chronicles. Those lucky ducks in B.C had her in person! SO COOL!

It was hard for me to narrow down the five titles from the event that I believe will be must haves for me personally, but I am going to give this a try. Let’s be honest, I kinda wanted to read all the darn books on the list.

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Caraval by Stephanie Barber (Release Date: January 31st 2017 by Flatiron Books)

Oh all the books showcased at the event, this was the one everyone repeatedly stated they wanted to read. I was lucky enough to trade for a copy of it at the event, so I am pretty darn excited to read this one (and keep finding myself tempted to pick it up and fly through it). I am a large sucker for “circus”-style books, or books where it is about performances or games, and this book seems like it’s just a little bit of everything, pixie-dust and more. I’ve heard the writing is beautiful, and that apparently it is a favourite in the Raincoast offices at the moment. Colour me super excited to get to this one. 🙂

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Under Rose-Tainted Skies
by Louise Gornall (January 3rd 2017 by Clarion Books)

Those who have been around the blog long enough know I am a lover and advocate of tough!teen literature, and I love books that focus on much more difficult subject matters. This book is about mental illness, and even more specifically about a girl with agoraphobia and OCD. The author is a mental health advocate, and I am a sucker for books like this which discuss illnesses that I am less familiar with. Sometimes their are topics you just want to have more perspectives on, and I admit that agoraphobia is not a topic I have read a lot about. I am excited to see how Norah’s journey will unfold when the book releases!

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Get it Together, Delilah! by Erin Gough (April 4th 2017 by Chronicle Books)

I have been wanting to read this novel since it released in Australia, and I never bothered to import it (or ask my favourite Aussie about it). I looooooove contemporary fiction sent in Australia, and there’s something about their YA authors that gets authentic teen voices just right. Not only is this an LGBT+ novel, but it looks like the story is going to have a lot of heart, humour and personal calamity. My kind of book!

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The Pants Project by Cat Clarke (March 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire)

Hot on the heels of Alex Gino’s George (a book I adored in 2015) comes The Pants Project by Cat Clarke, a book about a transgendered middle grader who is forced to be someone else because of a school dress code. I always love stories where boundaries must be addressed and broken and I think this book has such the potential to be the kind of story that can punch you in the gut and potentially provide all the feels. I am definitely looking forward to this one!

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The Stone Heart (Nameless City #2) by Faith Erin Hicks (April 4th 2017 by First Second)

And this wouldn’t be a Sam blog post if it didn’t include a graphic novel. I finished The Nameless City back in 2014, and I was clamoring for this sequel the moment I finished it. This book has been a very hard wait for me, even after talking with Faith Erin Hicks back at TCAF 2016 and some of the elements of the story that she said would ramp up in this installment. April is going to be a hard wait for me, but I loved the first book so much that I think I can stick it out (maybe, no, no probably not). I ended up recommending this book for the public library I work at and it has been a hit with a lot of the readers who have been checking it out. If you haven’t read the first book, get on that STAT!


It was so hard to narrow down five picks, but these are the five I am super jazzed about. If I am being honest, almost all of them sound like wonderful reads and I am sure I will likely get to most of them throughout the year.

Huge thank you again to Raincoast for the invite, the food, the swag and the hospitality. I love going to these events and seeing what kind of new gems are going to be releasing. I hope all of these books rock my blogger socks off when they release!

ARC Review – Paths & Portals (Secret Coders #2) by Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

25688979Title: Paths & Portals (Secret Coders #2)

Author:  Gene Luen Yang & Mike Holmes

Rating:  ★★★ 1/2

Synopsis: There’s something lurking beneath the surface of Stately Academy—literally. In a secret underground classroom Hopper, Eni, and Josh discover that the campus was once home to the Bee School, an institute where teachers, students, and robots worked together to unravel the mysteries of coding. Hopper and her friends are eager to follow in this tradition and become top-rate coders. But why are Principal Dean and the rugby team suddenly so interested in their extracurricular activities?

From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes the second volume of Secret Coders, a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot!

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

Sam’s Review:

I read the first installment of Secret Coders back in January and thought it was pretty cute. I’m not a fan of math, and I find programming to be both fascinating and terrifying at the same time. The first volume ends on quite the cliffhanger, but I’d argue the cliffhanger in Paths & Portals is much difficult to endure — I need to know what happens!

One aspect I loved about this second installment is how much more character development we get for Hopper, Eni, and Josh. They unfortunately get bullied by the school principal and rugby team due to their love of coding, programming and math. There’s a lot of mayhem and shenanigans in this second volume, and my goodness are they funny to boot. I also love the illustrations in Secret Coders, and I love the simplified approach to try and make coding and math a much more accessible and interesting subject matter. Still, while these comics are very fun and cute, it still feels a little heavy handed and dense at times, which I think could be a turn off for some readers.

Still, I’m eager to read the next installment of Secret Coders because I have to know what happens next. There’s definitely a ton of fun to be had here, even if you may not be a fan of math.