Review- Zodiac Starforce #1

Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kavin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau

Processed with VSCO with t1 presetGenre: Superhero graphic novel
Format: Hardcover library binding
Publication date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Page count: 136
Star rating: 2.5/5

Zodiac Starforce is a group of girls who fight monsters and evil, in general. They each have a different zodiac sign and come with their own, unique powers. In this episode, Diana, the popular girl at school, tries to get the Zodiac Starforce leader to join her team of evil. The other girls must try and save their friend before she is too far gone. There is also a bit of romance on the side too, because what’s a superhero girl gang without a bit of queer girl love?

I have been on the hunt for graphic novels about groups of female superheroes for a while. I found a few, but Zodiac Starforce was the only one that my university library already had on its shelves. The rest are on their way to me! One of my favorite things about this book is the color scheme. Often, women superheroes are assigned blue and red colors. This is great, but I wish pink were also depicted as a strong, powerful color. Primary colors are not the only colors allowed to stand for superheroes! Pink is brave! The artwork in Zodiac Starforce was so bubbly, colorful, and pink. I absolutely loved looking at it.

I, unfortunately, wasn’t as impressed with the storyline. I felt like there were a lot of jumps in plot that made the book hard to follow. Sometimes, I thought a scene hadn’t been completed, but then it cut to a new location or something 2 weeks later. I understand that this first installment in Zodiac Starforce is short, but I wish there had been more continuity. I hate feeling confused while I’m reading. I had to try very hard not to get parts mixed up while reading this and I still ended up feeling like I was missing something a few times.

I noticed that one of the girls has bigger thighs than the others, but she’s still pretty slim. I would like to see more diversity in body size and shape in a feminist comic like this. Unfortunately, many books and companies that are beginning to incorporate women with thicker bodies are only using women with flat stomachs. It think Zodiac Starforce should incorporate more curvy women and body types readers may not normally see in graphic novels. I see the attempt that the creators made, but they could have taken it further.

I loved the artwork for this book, but it wasn’t the feminist, girl gang graphic novel I was searching for. I feel like I didn’t see much in this comic that I hadn’t seen before. For that reason, I will continue my search for a graphic novel featuring empowered women of color fighting evil. I hope future graphic novels I pick up feature pink and purple like Zodiac Starforce did.

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Review- M.F.K.

M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder

Hey, everyone! I’m so excited to post this review! I’m finally getting back into graphic novels after a few months of primarily reading novels. Insight Comics (whose booth I visited at Bookcon this June) was very generous to send me an advanced copy of M.F.K., which I ended up totally loving. The book was published at the end of September, so you can get your hands on it now!

51TiGCMgCVL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Genre: Graphic novel/fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Publication date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Insight Comics
Page count: 128
Star rating: 5/5

Abbie is alone, traveling through the lands, in hopes of reaching a mountain range to scatter her mother’s ashes. Abbie reaches the village of Little Marigold, where a boy named Jaime finds her in pretty poor condition, and his family takes her in to address her wounds. Abbie and Jaime are quick to become friends as they learn more about each other. Rogues, who bully the residents and demand gifts from them, frequently visit Little Marigold. Abbie must decide if she wants to release her hidden power to help the people who kindly healed her in a time of need, or sit back and watch them get hurt. If Abbie shows her true strength, she risks being ostracized by Jaime, his family, and their entire village. Abbie and Jaime, in their newly discovered friendship, aren’t ready to say goodbye to each other just yet.

I absolutely loved the idea behind this story. Abbie is deaf and requires a hearing aid to communicate with Jaime and the rest of Little Marigold. Before M.F.K., I hadn’t read a graphic novel that focused on a character with a hearing impairment. Abbie truly is someone very unique and I’m so glad I got to know her. Books featuring strong, deaf characters are so important for representation and education about deafness. The frustration that comes with realizing literature lacks characters like myself is something I know all too well, and I’m sure readers who have hearing impairments are familiar with this struggle, too. I’m so pumped about this graphic novel, which has an interesting story, amazing art, and an empowered female, deaf character. My hope is that books like M.F.K. inspire other authors to start writing about deaf characters, as the best seller list could certainly use more diversity.

Another thing I liked about M.F.K.’s story was that it’s very sweet. Putting down this book after turning the last page, I felt happy and excited for the next installment in the series. Sometimes, diverse books are very depressing and just…sad. M.F.K. is certainly not like that. It’s kind of like the joke that the entire lesbian section on Netflix either features a couple that ends up splitting up or a character that dies at the end. I’m not sure why this is the case, but often, diverse characters are given unhappy storylines. M.F.K.’s ending made me want to call Nilah Magruder and tell her to hurry up with the sequel because I NEED to know where Abbie’s journey takes her next. The book left me with such a positive feeling, for which I’m grateful.

I’m so honored that Insight Comics sent me this beautiful work. It was such a pleasure reading it and planning out this review. I would recommend M.F.K. to anyone in search of a graphic novel, whether they’re specifically looking for a diverse read or not. I truly think anyone will enjoy this book. Thank you so much to the publisher for this gorgeous title and I look forward to reading more Insight Comics works in the future!

Unboxing: Paper Street Books April/May 2017 Box

Paper Street Books April/May 2017 Box

I’m so excited to feature my first review of Paper Street Books’ subscription box on my blog. They’re a bimonthly book and graphic novel subscription box with a focus on science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I’ve been receiving their boxes for a while now, and this is my 4th box. There are 3 options: Book Addict (you receive a book and bookish goodies), Comic Addict (you receive a graphic novel and bookish goodies), and Book Warrior (you receive a science fiction book, graphic novel, and bookish goodies). I have the Book Warrior option selected and every box has had an amazing theme with books and graphic novels that are the perfect fit for me. This month’s theme was “Terra and Luna”. Here’s the unboxing:

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The books!

Avengers of the Moon, by Allen Steele, was the book for this month! This book is homage to the Caption Future stories from the 40’s. One thing that I love about Paper Street Books is that they pick publications from lesser-known authors. This means that I receive books that I don’t already own and that indie authors are put into the spotlight. I can already tell that this is a retro science fiction novel that I’m going to LOVE. I’m so glad that something fresh and new was added to my shelves!

Wires and Nerve, by Marissa Meyer, was the graphic novel for this month! This was the first YA graphic novel and the first work from a well-known author that I’ve received in their boxes. Marissa Meyer is the best selling author of the Lunar Chronicles, a YA fantasy series. I’ve never heard of Wires and Nerve and I’m so excited to read it! It’s about the android from the Lunar Chronicles, but knowledge about the series is not mandatory. I love robot adventures with a little bit of romance, so I know I’ll really like this.

The goodies!

– This box included a single issue of American Gods, which I have yet to read. Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite fantasy writers and I’ve been meaning to get my hands on some of his graphic novels. I know American Gods is a very popular book, so I’m sure the comics are just as great. Also, I love single issues because almost no one sells them anymore! Bookstores (mostly) only carry the large, paperback book editions of comics now. This was a really nice surprise.

– I also received a crystal growing cherry tree by Copernicus Toys. This is a paper tree cut out that grows crystals, which “bloom” to make it look like a cherry tree. This is a perfect little toy that fits the theme. I’m excited to try this out, but I’ll have to store it somewhere where my cat can’t knock it down, haha!

– A ‘Moon Prism Power!’ scented candle, from Paper Street themselves, was another one of the goodies in this box. This is the second candle I’ve received from them, and they both smell so good! This one is orange blossom, grapefruit, mangosteen, Egyptian amber, and peach. I thought the science fiction reference was really clever and I’m excited to get it burning soon!

– A Sailor Moon magnet was next in this box! Although I don’t know much about Sailor Moon, this magnet includes two things that I love: outer space and cats. It’s perfect for me! I have this stuck on my refrigerator right now and I’m so, so happy with it.

– A galaxy sucker (or lollipop, depending on where you’re from), from Sparko Sweets, was the candy portion of the box. I know they don’t technically have an edible part every month, but the last few boxes have included sweets. I have a lot of food allergies, so many candies are a no for me, but I can have this sucker! Sidenote: I always try to get my cat to pose with the box, but this month he wouldn’t stop chewing on the sucker. Photo for proof—

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– Lastly, the box contained a teaser for Beautiful Nightmare, by AM Nestler. This book has no reviews on Goodreads yet, so I’m intrigued to give it my opinion. It’s dystopian novel about a girl with narcolepsy. It sounds really interesting and I think I’m going to read more into it and maybe purchase it!

That’s all for the “Terra and Luna” box of April/May. This was one of my favorite boxes (behind the “Ladies of Sci-Fi” box). I want to thank Jennifer and Marty for working so hard and always putting together amazing boxes. Your subscribers really appreciate it and CONGRATULATIONS on selling out of this box. I can’t wait to see what the summer holds for Paper Street Books!

February 2017 Wrap-Up!

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January was a really big poetry month for me and February ended up being my graphic novel month. I think I poetry’d myself out…I can’t seem to find any more poetry books that grab my attention! Nevertheless, I found another genre that I love. This month, I read a lot of series that lead me to buying the 2nd and 3rd issues because I liked them all so much. A big theme for February was science fiction and women in science fiction. Cheers to new indie authors that graced my reading list this month! Here’s the 8-book breakdown:

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher (memoir) 5/5 stars- I meant to pick up this book for the longest time and then, as you probably know, Carrie Fisher died, so it got bumped to the top of my To Be Read. I am SO glad I finally read this. It was super informative and real, which is something I love to read about, especially when it has to do with mental health. Carrie Fisher had a lot on her plate– substance abuse, a mood disorder, and growing up in the spotlight. It was very interesting to hear what she had to say about these issues.

Where the words end and my body begins by Amber Dawn (poetry/LGBT) 2.5/5 stars- I didn’t like this poetry collection very much. I thought I would, because of the LGBTQ themes, but it just didn’t do it for me. I skipped a lot of lines and even full poems at some points. It’s possible that I just didn’t have a deep enough understanding of the topics at hand, but I did NOT get it.

Saga Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan (sci fi/graphic novel) 5/5 stars- This is the second issue in the Saga comic series that I grew to love in January! I’m trying to pace myself with these because they’re just that good. If you appreciate female narrated sci fi with kick-ass characters and a little bit of romance, Saga is the series for you. It’s no wonder that this series is so popular, because it’s absolutely amazing.

Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli (graphic novel) 5/5 stars- I read this book during my 2nd year of college in 2014 and loved it. I had a feeling, though, that I didn’t quite understand it. So, I re-read it. That was a great choice because I definitely got more out of it this time around. In addition, it was a lot of references to The Odyssey which is fantastic (for me, at least).

Love is Love  by Marc Adreyko (graphic novel/LGBT) 2/5 stars- Wow. I really did not like this book. I had such high hopes for it, since the sales benefit the Orlando shooting victims. I mean, what an amazing cause to donate to. This book is catered for cisgender, heterosexual people FOR SURE. Most of the comics were about straight people trying to explain queerness to their kids or accepting LGBT people themselves. Less than half of the stories had a queer main character and only one comic featured a bisexual person. And, get this, bisexuality was explained as being straight, then gay, then straight again. Buy this book for the cause, please, not for the content

Husks: The First Book by Randall P. Fitzgerald (sci fi) 4/5 stars- YAY for the bimonthly bookbox I receive in the mail! It’s called Paper Street Books and you get a graphic novel, a sci fi book, and bookish goodies in each box. Most of the books are by indie authors, too. It’s AMAZING. So, this book was in a past box of theirs and I finally got around to starting it. The main character is totally a kick-ass female protagonist, something I live for. Ultimately, this was a great book by an indie author and I’m so glad it found its way to me.

Dept. H, Volume One by Matt Kindt (graphic novel/mystery) 4/5 stars- This was another book that I received from Paper Street Books. It was from the most recent box of theirs. As soon as I opened it, I knew I had to read this book. I ended up finishing it in a few hours! It is the perfect mystery…but under water!

Astrid: Cult of the Volcanic Moon by Kim W. Andersson (graphic novel/sci fi)- This was the third book from Paper Street Books that I read this month. It was from the same book box as Husks: The First Book. The theme was all about women in science fiction so, as you can probably guess, this graphic novel features a strong, independent female protagonist. What’s not to love? This is easily one of my favorite graphic novels I’ve ever read.

There you have it! I didn’t realize that 5 of the 8 books were graphic novels until just now and I’m pretty impressed with myself. I just started reading graphic novels a few months ago and I’m really happy with the style preference I’ve developed over that period of time. As of right now, March has been more of a fiction month for me. Maybe I comic’d myself out in February! If anyone is interested in the book box I mentioned, here is the website link: x. Thanks for tuning in and I’ll be sure to have another formal review up in a few days.

Review- Graveyard Quest

Graveyard Quest by KC Green

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5/5 stars

I received my copy of Graveyard Quest through the Paper Street Books monthly subscription box! I highly recommend it, as my October/November box had so many awesome spooky gifts.

The protagonist of this graphic novel is a gravedigger—he’s the owner of a family business that his late father passed down to him. Unfortunately, the gravedigger’s father will not leave him alone, even in spirit form, and subjects him to frequent visits and negative speeches. The gravedigger’s only solace is his mother’s bones. He talks to her skeleton every day and finds comfort in telling her all about his thoughts and mishaps. One day, the bones are gone and the gravedigger knows he must journey into Hell to get them back from his father, a man who seemingly gets all of his pleasure from making his life miserable. The gravedigger meets a lot of interesting creatures in the underworld, some who want to stop him and some who depend on him. Those bones are the only things that the gravedigger truly cherishes in his gloomy life, so he knows he must retrieve them.

WOW, I loved this graphic novel. It was easy to get through, but full of hidden treasures. The gravedigger meets many different types of people, animals, demons (?) and many of them were really cute.The illustrations were so fun and made the story even more enjoyable. I especially loved the mole, who helps the gravedigger along the way with his extraordinary sense of smell. Now that I think about it, I actually would like a retelling of the story in the mole’s POV…

My favorite part of the graphic novel is a section that shows the gravedigger on a boat with a hooded tour guide. I have a condition where anytime someone is going across a body of water with another person giving directions, I HAVE to point out the Dante reference. This time, finally, I wasn’t being unrealistic. The Dante reference is clear, as the gravedigger is literally being lead across a river to Hell. If you can’t tell, I really, really like Dante’s Inferno.

The entire storyline of this graphic novel was amazing. The beginning was just enough information to create a mysterious journey and KC Green reveals a little bit more about the gravedigger with each page. I thought the plot was wholesome and the ending made me very happy. I’m a huge fan of the gravedigger and the mole (he’s so cute, I can’t get over it)! I wish there were more volumes of their adventures.

This was a perfect Halloween read. I’m so glad that this book found its way into my hands and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a cute but spooky themed adventure!

Review- How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

26372 Rating: 5/5 stars

 Let me start off by saying this is the best book I’ve read in September 2016 and the best graphic novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on. I already knew that Gaiman was a genius, but this still blew me away. I am making this my October staff pick at the book store I work at, as I want to share it with everyone who will possibly listen.

Enn is a teenage boy still learning what life is like after puberty. His friend, Vic, is the same age as him, but does not struggle with this awkward stage nearly as badly as Enn. The duo decides to attend a party (that they weren’t really invited to) and Vic is immediately away from Enn’s side and talking to the prettiest girl in the room. Enn envies Vic, but doesn’t have the same courage to really say anything of substance to a girl—he can barely get a few words out. As Enn wanders from room to room in this giant house, he discovers that not everyone at the party is very…normal.

This graphic novel is very short, but in my opinion it was the perfect length to get the story across without over explaining anything. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the illustration is breathtaking. There are a lot of otherworldly girls in this novel, and the illustrators depicted them as true goddesses. I wish these feminine creatures were real solely so I could see actual photographs of them. I think that means this is truly well done artwork.

Neil Gaiman certainly has a creative mind. I have read 5 of his books and each one is brilliant in its own way. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything quite like How to Talk to Girl at Parties and I don’t think I want to read anything like it ever again; it wouldn’t measure up. I wish I could follow Enn on more adventures, but perhaps being left wanting more is better.

I would recommend this book to any adult looking for shorter read. You don’t need to be a graphic novel enthusiast to fall in love with this book. It definitely is a cover grab too, as the illustrations on the hard cover will make anyone want to get their hands on it. I can’t wait to read more Gaiman graphic novels (I’m looking at Sandman Vol. 1 next).