Book Review: The Language of Thorns

Details:

Title: The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Illustrator: Sara Kipin

Publisher: Imprint

Release Date: September 26th, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Short Stories,

Pages: 281 (hardcover)

Synopsis:

Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid’s voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy’s bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times–bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange—to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

My First Thoughts:

I found this book before going a movie with my boyfriend and his family. We needed to kill some time, because we showed up way too early, so we went into the Barnes & Noble near the theater even though they all knew how dangerous of an idea that is for my wallet. That’s where I found this beautiful book on one of their display stands, and when I flipped through it and saw all the illustrations I knew there was no turning back. I love fairytales and folk lore and when authors try to reimagine them for themselves, even though it’s normally a hit or miss with most stories. I had never read the Grisha novels, though I own the first one, so I was unfamiliar with the author, but I just prayed that her wordsmithing would live up to the beauty of the illustrations.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

There’s so much to say for these stories and each one was so different that I feel like I can’t make a lot of generalizing comments about them, so I’ll talk about each one separately.

Ayama and the Thorn Wood

There are not too many stories out there that focuses on the classically ugly or monstrous as main characters. In fact, in young adult fiction especially, the main characters are normally portrayed with unrealistic beauty or overly mentioned mundane features that get too much attention. The first unique thing about this story is not the monster prince that must be reasoned with or killed, but that the one sent to meet him is a young woman who had spent her life on her hands and knees, overlooked, ugly, and not allowed to speak her mind. Ayama is a girl that has all the features that society would deem undesirable, with a voice that made people cringe, and that no one even dare look at, but a sharp mind that could tell when something didn’t seem quite right. She had a self-sacrificing personality because of the love she had for her sister, but she found a line she could not cross and instead leaped to a different line.

Another unique thing about this story is that it’s not your normal romance. Most stories with even a hint of romance spend a lot of time commenting on appearance and whether the characters find others attractive. In this case, there may have been a few passing comments but they almost all went unnoticed. Instead, this romance was built not on appearance but on understanding. The characters grew to understand and appreciate each other for who they were, but it was so carefully done that it almost escaped my notice until the end and it was a very happy surprise.

I loved the transformation of Ayama as her story progressed and how the beastly prince played a subtle role in her transformation. At first it was quiet, the author distracted with beautiful imagery and the stories that Ayama told, but the louder Ayama got the more apparent that her character was changing until the very end. And all it took was for one person to listen to her and showed that they actually cared about what she said, which sends a very powerful message. Just by listening to the ideas of a person you give them the power to fully realize themselves, especially if it is an individual who has spent most of their time being ignored. So next time someone is spilling to you their ideas and inner most thoughts just give them your undivided attention and see where they go.

The Too-Cleaver Fox

Again, I liked that this story focused on a character that was ugly and treated poorly for it, but also cleaver and helpful towards others. This one was vastly different than its predecessor in both tone and direction. There’s not a whole lot I can say about this story without giving anything away, but it was still very interesting though not as moving as the last one. Instead, this was a simple tale about an ugly fox trying to save the forest, even though most poked at his appearance, from a silent and impossibly deadly hunter.

This one almost fooled me, but I saw the plot twist before it was revealed in the end. That’s not saying that the author did a poor job with the twist, it was just something that I picked up as I read the fox’s reasons, thoughts, and interpretations. If I hadn’t noticed the smaller details then I might have been surprised, but even though I wasn’t the reveal was still pretty intense and had been gripping the pages as I read.

I really enjoyed the fox’s character. He was a bit of a trickster, but he always followed through on his word and he had a good heart. It was different because too often people write tricksters that either resemble Puck or Loki, but the fox while very cunning also did things for the greater good even at the expense of himself.

The Witch of Duva

Out of all the short stories, this one surprised me the most and for the first time in a while I was truly shocked by the outcome of a story.

This one felt like it drew some from the Hansel and Gretel story but only just barely. There were two children and their wood-carving father, a witch in the woods, and tasty treats but that was about it. The rest of the story either drew from other versions of the folktale that I’m unfamiliar with or came straight from the author herself. All the details that author added to the story made it come to life in a way that distracted me from all the little details pointing to the climax of the tale.

Sometimes there are just clear cut antagonists in a story, but here the antagonist was not actually the villain which also made this story unique. Let me explain, an antagonist is a character that antagonizes the protagonist and pushes them in a specific direction. However, not all antagonists are villains. For instance, in Ponyo, Ponyo’s father is her antagonist because through his actions he pushes her to rebel and try to become human, he isn’t the villain, thought, because all of his actions were meant to protect her and not harm her. And in The Witch of Duva, there is a case of a clear antagonist character and an unclear villain, which led to my surprise and love for this story.

Little Knife

This was truly an interesting story that had an ending that, while not surprising, took me a while to realize. It was unique because it ended with two characters that you might not expect at first glance and it ended in a rather quiet affair compared to the rest of the story.

It always bothered me to read stories in which the hero/heroine has to win the hand of their partner. Most of the time the partner does not like the idea or the hero/heroine at first, but they grow to love the other as the challenges go on. That just always annoyed me because I would never want my partner to go through the trials of Heracles to prove their love for me, because there are simpler things that have such a greater impact and mean more to me. Which is why I liked Little Knife, because through the whole ordeal Yeva keeps questioning the logic behind her father’s trials to find her a husband. I also enjoyed this story because the winner is someone you least expect, but someone Yeva chooses.

What I liked most about this story is something that I can’t actually talk a lot about without giving anything away. But I will say that I enjoyed the quiet ending because it was different but not unexpected due to the nature of the story. Pay close attention and you’ll see why this is one of my most favorite endings in all of my reading experience.

The Soldier Prince:

This one took me a little longer to read than the others, not because it was boring or because the pacing was too slow. No, I think the pacing was quite fine and I enjoyed the build-up for The Soldier Prince, but there was a lot more backstory to process for this one that I decided to take my time on it (also didn’t help that a new game that I had been waiting for a year for came out right when I started this story). This story also had a lot of imagery that I wanted to take my time in imagining for myself. Normally, the level of imagery in this story would’ve been too much for me but the author handled it rather well because she was describing the imaginings of a child, which tend to be rather grand for one of the character’s upbringing. Some people may have issues with the pacing in this one, but it does pick up once the story moves to the present setting.

While reading The Soldier Prince, I couldn’t help but think back to The Nutcracker which I’m quite sure is where the author drew some of her inspirations for this story. I always ran hot and cold on The Nutcracker, it never quite felt right to me. But I enjoyed The Soldier Prince because I felt like it had a more natural ending than the story of its inspiration. There are romantic elements in this tale but that is not the focus, the focus in the need and want for freedom, something that is different from what you’ve always known. For some people, it’s to travel the world and go where the wind blows. For others it’s to get lost in their imaginings and create something they think is better than their own reality. For others still, it’s to find out who they really are without the words of others telling them.

The best part of this story is how different it ended and the message that it spoke. It was profound and thought-provoking. And at the end I had to simple sit back and let it all sink in.

When Water Sang Fire

This one I believe will be a hit or miss to a lot of people. It’s much longer than all the others and is written a bit differently as well. When Water Sang Fire is a story that had a lot of build-up, like the previous story but a bit more, before it got to the main point. The world building here is a bit different because it is heavily seeped in magic and a type of magic most readers may not be familiar with, so the author had to build this magical part of her world quickly but steadily as to not lose anyone along the way. This process of creating led to a slow start that may make some readers fell a bit dragged. Personally, I really enjoyed the world building in this story because it is much different than any of the mermaids I’ve run across in fiction. However, for those who want to get to the chase, it’ll read like a long incline up the hill, but once you get to the top the pacing really picks up and by the end you’ll be tripping over yourself to finish.

Everybody is familiar with The Little Mermaid and there are plenty of retellings of that tale, but most of them never explain how the sea witch becomes this villainous figure we all know her as. When Water Sang Fire is a story that finally gives readers a wonderful journey of how the sea witch came to be, and it’s one that is so sad and lonely that it may make you pity the sea witch. I know that by the end, I felt terrible for Ulla and the life that was thrust upon her but she willingly chose.

Of all of the stories this is the longest but most beautifully written. The author did a wonderful job creating this magical setting and the characters that lived there while also moving the story along. Some of the magic may be confusing to some readers, but if you pay attention and take your time it should make itself clear. Also, some of the characterizations of the main characters seemed to be a little forced to make Ulla the more sympathetic character. I’m not saying that she doesn’t deserve sympathy, but some of the actions of the other characters don’t quite make sense to me based on their behavior leading up to that point. Otherwise it’s a beautifully told story that brings more personality to a two dimensional character a lot of us have known since we were kids.

Final Thoughts:

Overall I loved how beautifully these stories were woven together. None of them overlap with each other and each tale has a new set of characters to follow, but the author does a wonderful job bringing these characters to life and make you care for each of them within so few pages. Each place and character is a bit different from the other, but the one thing that remained the same was the theme of each story being that not everything is as it seems. Some of the stories show this theme very clearly, in some of the others you have to sift through to the very end to see it. Overall I think this is the best book that I’ve read in a while, not saying that the previous ones were bad, but the craft of this book was amazing. From the characters to the places, it read as if there was actual magic in each word and picture. I’m not sure how the author normally writes, but her stories here read like actual folktales told around a fire, they were lyrical with a smooth flow that took you straight to the end.

Also, the illustrations were phenomenal. Sara Kipin did a wonderful job bringing the stories to life through her illustrations. If you pay close enough attention, you can see how the illustrated outlines told the story as they went, adding little details from the story on every page. And the final pictures at the end of each story made me stare at them in wonder for minutes at a time before I went to the next one. If I could, I would totally by the illustrations loose so that I could get them framed and on my walls. The style, the colors, the details were just all so breathtaking and I want to show them to everyone.

Rating:

Overall, this was a wonderful collection of beautifully told stories with illustrations to match! Most of them are quick reads that you can finish in a single sitting without losing any of the magic or feeling too rushed. Each story is different and the book offers a diverse cast of characters that you can connect with. I would recommend this story to anyone who finds themselves in a reading slump or loves fairytale retellings!

Ayama and the Thorn Woods: 5

Ayama and the beastly prince stole my heart. A tale of two outcasts, hated and ignored for what they were born as, come together in the most spectacular way and help the other out unknowingly. This was romance I didn’t know I needed until I found it. It’s definitely a story about embracing who you are and the importance of listening to the inner thoughts and ideas of others. You never know how much such listening can transform a person.

The Too-Cleaver Fox: 4

While simple and not quite like the stories it’s sandwiched between, it’s still an interesting tale about a trickster trying to do what was best for the greater good. This story was unique for its portrayal of its fox character. Normally trickster characters, and especially foxes, are handled like Puck or Loki. However, here the fox while cunning and sly, never goes back on his word and does what he can to help others.

The Witch of Duva: 5

My favorite of all the short stories here. This is a haunting tale that will send shivers down your spine and make you sit at the edge of your seat. Beautifully written and wonderfully unexpected ending. This is definitely the Hansel and Gretel story I needed as a child.

Little Knife: 4

Of all of the stories in this book, I would have to say that this one is my least favorite. There is nothing wrong with this story. In fact, it is a quick and quaint read that I would recommend to everyone. But when compared to all the other stories here this one just doesn’t hold the same magic and beautiful story telling like the others did. It’s still a good story that I feel a lot of people will like, it just has superior company.

The Soldier Prince: 4.5

This one is definitely one to take your time one because it spans a vast amount of time and jumps around between a few of the characters. The build-up is slow, but the imagery and the life the author breaths into this story are fantastic. Like The Witch of Duva this is a creepy and eerie tale that’ll give you goosebumps!

When Water Sang Fire: 4.5

This one is the longest of all of the short stories and it has the longest build-up too. There’s a lot of world building and time spent understanding the magic of this story that might lose some of the readers. I believed that the pacing was just right, but others may not agree and think it’s too slow before you get to the ‘good’ stuff. Overall, it’s an interesting story full of magic and heartbreak.

Advertisements

Manga Review: Yona of the Dawn (vol.1)

Details:

Title: Yona of the Dawn  (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-5

Written by: Mizuho Kusanagi

Artist:  Mizuho Kusanagi

Translation/Adaptation: JN Produtions / Ysabet Reinhardt MacFarlane

Publisher:  VIZ Media LLC

Published:  August 2nd, 2016

Pages: 200

Genre: Manga, Shojo, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Romance

Synopsis:

Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Soo-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when she witnesses her father’s murder! Yona reels from the shock of losing her father and having to fight for her life. With Hak’s help, she flees the castle and struggles to survive while evading her enemy’s forces. But where will this displaced princess go with such an uncertain path before her?

What I First Thought:

I honestly can’t remember where I first saw this story or how it caught my interest. I haven’t seen the anime yet, though I’ve seen the overpriced dvds in FYE a few times. All I remember is that I first read it on my phone when I should have been studying for my finals. I really enjoyed it, from what I can remember, and I vowed that I would buy all the volumes once they started hitting the US market.

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

One of the problems that I have with this first volume is that the art on the front and back covers is a little misleading. The front cover is more accurate to the state of Yona’s character in this volume than the back cover. In the beginning of this story Yona is very much a princess who had been doted on all her life, except she’s a little more likeable than other manga princesses. A few chapters in and she becomes the lost, vacant character that she appears as on the front cover. Don’t get me wrong, her reaction is completely realistic for the situation, it’s the back cover that really gives me issue because that’s the one you focus on because the synopsis is right there. The back cover depicts her as this determined, hardened woman that doesn’t actually appear for a little while, if memory serves me right. You definitely don’t see Yona break from her stupor by the end of this volume, which may make it hard for people to like her, especially since her more likable traits won’t appear until a little later.

Anyways, this volume is pretty straight forward and doesn’t really deviate or expand on the synopsis much, which was the other problem I had. I tend to like the overviews to give enough detail to draw you in, but vague enough to allow the story to fully capture and surprise its readers. In this volume all but the biggest reveals are left out of the synopsis, which honestly isn’t that terrible but it almost allows you to skip to the next volume.

Honestly, I would still read this volume just so that you can be introduced to the characters and the world of the story. It sets up the relationships of the main characters and gives you some insight into what drives them. Also, it’s still a pretty entertaining read. The humor is very light and it isn’t very complicated, just gag jokes and funny situations, but still giggle inducing. The romance element is there but barely, it’s more mostly a lot of action in this volume which may be a plus for some readers. The action and violence are detailed, but not as much as other mangas and definitely not cringe worthy. For instance, there’s definitely a lot of blood but not intestines hanging out of bodies and other guts.

By the end, I wanted to read more immediately! It was a good thing that I make a habit of buying the first three volumes because I went straight to the second volume before writing this review!

Graphic Novel Review: Monstress (volume 1)

Synopsis:

Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, MONSTRESS tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivor of a cataclysmic war between humans and heir hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind…and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken…

First Thought:

I first found this volume when I started getting into comics, and it was actually one of the first that I picked and bought on my own. Before then, I just read whatever my boyfriend and his family suggested. I think what drew me the most to Montress was the art; it was vastly different than the other things I had been reading at the time and I wanted to know the story that went with it.

Overall Opinions:

I absolutely loved Monstress! It was beautiful, magical, and slightly terrifying. There’s so much I can say and I’m not quite sure where to begin! Maybe I’ll start with the few things I liked the least about the story? Yea, that sounds good enough.

I’ve never been much for gore, at times it necessary in a story, but I prefer to hear it and the reactions of others and allow my own mind to come up with the image. It’s part of the reason I stay away from most horror films because they seem to use gore for the sake of gore, not to add any real favoring to the story. Anyways, while this story doesn’t quite use gore for the sake of gore, there’s still a lot of it. In fact, I believe it’s a little muted compared to some of the other comics I’ve read, which have made my stomach sour at the detailing.

I do really enjoy fantasies, but my least favorite thing about them is all the backstory related to the tale. Don’t get me wrong, I love backstory as much as the next person, but at the beginning of a fantasy a lot of the needed information is missing because it’s nestled in the backstory that won’t be revealed until later. Fortunately for this story, most of the major plot points don’t reference or involve past events from the backstory. Sure, there’s a ton of mystery behind Maika that might make parts of the story make a little bit more sense, but she’s a mystery to herself so that’s okay. It’s not like the backstory isn’t being revealed. In fact, it’s slowly coming together at breaks in the story in an interesting way. Instead of relying on awkward dialogue between main characters to talk about past events, you read the information from another character separate from the story as they teach their class about history. Some people might find that annoying and will skip over it, since it has no effect on the immediate story, but I found those segments clever and fascinating. The one bit of backstory that really irked me though was this battle that greatly affected the world. So many characters make reference to it, but not all their information is the same and anything said is only in bits and pieces. Even towards the end the battle is assumed to begin to be explained, but only in mixed up fragments. I get it’s part of the story to figure out what happened at that battle, and normally it wouldn’t frustrate me so, but it’s referenced so much that while I know it should be important, the magnitude is lost on me.

Other than those two things, the gore and constipated backstory, the rest of the story is fantastic! The characters are fantastic, even the villains are interesting follow. Maika is a strong female lead that starts her monumental journey not because someone told her she was destined for greatness, that she’ll save the world, etc. but because she wants to find herself and let the world be damned! She’s so hard, but not quite in a bitchy sort of way, she’s a survivor that still has some softness to her that rarely shows. Then there’s Kippa who is probably my favorite because she plays the important roles of grounding Maika and comic relief. She’s a complicated character in her own right and I can’t wait to see how she develops!

The world is absolutely breathtaking, it’s so complicated and intricate, like something from the mind of Guillermo del Toro but with an art deco Asian twist. Dead gods, humanoid-animal ancient beings, half-breeds, witches, talking cats, and demons there’s so much this fantasy world has to offer. There’s a mixture of old and new that’s so fascinating. Great steampunk themed labs and facilities built on ancient ruins. Swords and steampunk inspired muskets and pistols. Winged warriors and airships. Everything just clashes in a beautiful chaotic masterpiece!

Ratings:

Art: 5

The art is phenomenal, a combination of simple and intricate details that added depth to this fantasy world. A lot of the more detailed work went into the designs in the backgrounds, clothing, and weaponry, but only when needed. The extremely comprehensive designs on the clothing allowed more important characters to stand out from others, or show their power (physically, monetarily, magically, etc.). But most of the characters are rather basic in design, excluding their clothing and coloring. Any character that had a lot of detailing, specifically in the face, where to reveal their harsh ugly personality or utter terror in death. The detailing in the background depended on the importance or power of the scenery as well, adding unspoken information to the story for readers to choose to glean. The coloring in the story is wonderful as well, giving it an old feel like someone retelling an old tale. The colors match the mood of the story well, bright when calm or happy, dark when terrifying, and muted when recalling. Overall, the art is darker than I normally like, but it matches with the story so well that I wouldn’t want it any other way!

Story: 4

For the most part, I really enjoyed the story and had a time putting it down. It’s a beautifully written fantasy with a concept I haven’t read in a long time, which was refreshing. The characters are different than I expected, but extremely enjoyable to read about. The backstory is still a little lacking, making some scenes a little hard to follow due to the information gaps, but that’ll clear up with each installment. Though I feel like some of the bigger wholes from the backstory weakened the magnitude of parts of the story. The story is full of action and intrigue, pulling at readers’ curiosity as the mysteries start to unfold! The horror isn’t too much, at least not yet, and it chilled me in a delightful sort of way. The gore wasn’t too terrible, but I wouldn’t suggest showing it to children. The dialogue is rather witty, and it fits each character well, allowing their personalities to show through.

Overall: 4.5

Altogether, this was a fantastic first installment to what I believe will be a thrilling adventure! I would recommend it to any horror or fantasy fan, or anyone who loves the work of Neil Gaiman or Guillermo del Toro. I wouldn’t recommend this to any young readers for it contains beheading, gore, mutilation, and explicate death scenes. If any of the before listed things frighten or disturb you please don’t read Monstress or do so at your own risk.

Details:

Title:  Monstress: Awakening

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-6

Publisher: Image Comics

Writer(s): Majorie Liu

Illustrator: Sana Takeda

Colors: Rus Wooton

Letters: Rus Wooton

Released Date: July 19th 2016

Pages: 202

Genre(s): Young Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Steampunk

Graphic Novel Review: Giant Days vol.1

Synopsis:

Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of handwringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.

First Thought:

I found Giant Days in a hole in the wall comic book store near Asheville North Carolina. I enjoy supporting small businesses and this brightly colored book grabbed my attention. So I decided to pick it up because it was about normal girls going to college, no superheroes or monsters, just the normal stressors of life and school. Some say it sounds boring, but I wanted to give it a try!

Overall Opinions:

It took me a little while to figure out that this story isn’t set in the US. I had a sneaking suspicion that this story took place somewhere in Europe, my leading guess being England, until it was confirmed by the mention of currency (£). Once I realized that the story was set in England, then the humor started to make more sense.

This story tries to explore the friendship between unlikely friends their freshman year of college by using humor. To a portion of Americans the humor in this story might go completely over their heads or they might not think it so funny if they’re unfamiliar with British comedy. As for myself, I thought the humor was very light hearted, nothing to cynical. However, there were some jokes that revolved around references that I wasn’t aware of and therefore didn’t understand the joke or what was going on. For the most part though, the humor was very light and fun to read. Nothing that busted my gut due to uncontrollable laughter, but good humor that made my day better.

I enjoyed exploring the friendship between Susan, Esther, and Daisy. These girls were an unlikely trio (a sheltered girl, a goth, and a tomboy) of loyal friends and their relationship was shown very well within the story. I would have preferred to see how they became friends, I think that would have been wonderful character development and background, but I understand that the story had to start somewhere more exciting first. There is a little background of the girls, but it’s so brief for Daisy and Esther that you don’t get much of their story. Instead, you get more into the background of Susan, and specifically her relationship with McGraw, which is full of tension.

Romanced is also explored in this volume. Esther is oblivious to the guy that likes her, they’re great friends but she doesn’t know his true feelings for her. I wanted to see more between Esther and Ed, he’s a cute dork of a guy and it would’ve been interesting to see where their friendship went. However, Ed plays a bit of a background role in this volume and helps to move the plot forward, but not toward Esther. The relationship that is more explored is between Daisy and Nadia. Daisy is a bit new to love, she doesn’t know what her preferences are and she’s never tried to figure it out until she meets her more adventurous new friend Nadia. The new girl is into partying and taking drugs to have a good time, nothing too hardcore (yet), and she takes Daisy on some of her adventures. Susan and Esther are cautious about Nadia, but they give Daisy advice when asked and they try to watch out for her. The relationship between Nadia and Daisy isn’t heavily explored, but I’m sure there will be more to them in a later volume.

Last thing, I really enjoyed how Giant Days portrays college. College is such a cluster of different personalities and youths trying to explore who they are. It’s also full of nasty people and terrible obstacles that no one should have to jump over anymore. Giant Days explores the insensitivity of some guys who use the internet for their own gain at the expense of others. It also shows how archaic some of the higher-ups are when it comes to sexual harassment and the internet, while illustrating more creative ways at getting revenge without breaking the law or making things worse. I also enjoyed how feminism can suddenly become a rabid beast and hurt those who actually want to stand behind and empower women. I’m all for feminism, but current feminism makes me sick and I see it attack the men in my life who have been my biggest supports (some even bigger supporters than the women in my life). In Giant Days a joke is taken too far and a real gentleman is attacked and hated because young girls target him under the name of feminism; he wasn’t even aware of the joke played on him and the girl who played it didn’t think it would get that out of hand. Anyways, I saw that little bit of the story as a way of showing that feminism, while a good thing, can be turned against those who don’t actually oppose it and want to support it instead.

Ratings:

Art: 4

The art style reminds me of other stories by BOOM!, like Steven Universe and Lumberjanes. Overall, I really enjoyed the art but there were some things that just didn’t thrill me. For one, there were a lot of extra lines in various places. For whatever reason extra lines would appear below the characters’ eyes when they were surprised, embarrassed, angry, tired, sick, etc. I could understand the latter two, because it gave the characters a very badgered look that fit their mood. But what happened to showing a character blushing when they’re embarrassed? All the extra lines made the art look a little sloppy and rushed, drawing me out of the story at times. The background also wasn’t very consistent, sure the general idea stayed the same but the texturing changed from barely there to hyper detailed between single pictures. Other than that, I really enjoyed the character designs of main, secondary and background characters; it really reminded me of college and the wild people I see there. The colors were pretty good too, mostly bright but subdued colors that looked very natural.

Story: 4

The story was well written and the characters were interesting to follow. Allison did a good job of introducing the characters quickly. Within the first few pages you got a good feeling of who each of the girls were and their friendship. I would’ve liked to have had more background into each character and how the girls met and became friends, but this was a pretty good start as well! Some of the comedy either went over my head or just didn’t sound all that funny to me, but that’s something everyone will determine for themselves. Overall the story had a nice flow and made for a nice relaxing read after a rough day.

Overall: 4

I would highly recommend this story to anyone in college or entering college soon. There are some mature subjects mentioned in this story, but honestly it’s probably nothing an average American high school student wouldn’t know. But for those a little squeamish talking about sex and sexuality, this book might not be for you just yet. Honestly, I wish I was able to read this my first year of college!

Details:

Title: Giant Days

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-4

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Writer(s): John Allison

Illustrator: Lissa Treiman

Colors: Whiteny Cogar

Letters: Jim Campbell

Released Date: November 24th 2015

Pages: 128

Genre(s): Slice of Life, New Adult

Comic Book Review: Steven Universe (2017-) #3

Synopsis:

When the local business owners in Beach City start to feel the economic pinch during the tourist off-season, Mayor Dewey and Buck come up with a solution: food trucks!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

Story: 5/5

Overall: 5

This issue was centered more on Mayor Dewey and his son, Buck, rather than Steven and the Gems. I really liked that the story was more on the town itself; don’t get me wrong, I love Steven and the Gems, but I also like the towns folk and I want to see more of them too!

In this story the town is trying to solve a problem of many beach towns during the off-season, drawing in customers. Buck comes up with the idea of bringing in food trucks on the weekends to help bring in more people for the local businesses. Things go off without a hitch…except the local businesses suffer. However, together Mayor Dewey and Buck find a way to both draw in people and help their local businesses, also highlighting the importance of local shops and how just bringing in new people won’t always help.

The story was really simple and you see some sweet moments between Mayor Dewey and his son. While they’re not main or major characters, I thought it was still nice to see more of their relationship together. It was also nice to see that while yes, Dewey is a politician, but he also really cares about the city he watches over.

I think that the artwork has improved a lot since the first issue. The first issue of this run had great art, don’t get me wrong, but it still didn’t feel quite like Steven Universe. However, I feel like the artist has really captured that in this volume while still having their own style. I also loved some of the sight gags in this issue, one that I was not expecting but won’t ruin for anyone else!

Why do I have to wait so long between releases?!? Until next time!

Details:

Title: Steven Universe (2017- )

Issue: 3

Publisher: kaboom!

Creator: Rebecca Sugar

Writer: Melanie Gillman

Illustrator: Katy Farina

Colors: Whitney Cogar

Letters: Mike Fiorentino

Released Date: April 24, 2017

Pages: 26

Genre: Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Manga Review: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 2)

Details:28118570

Title: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 2)

Chapters: 13-24

Written by: Natsuki Takaya

Artist: Natsuki Takaya

Translation/Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka

Lettering: Lys Blakeslee

Publisher: Yen Press

Published: June 2016

Pages: 384

Genre: Manga, Romance, Young Adult, Shojo Manga

Synopsis:

When she was living in a tent pitched on the Sohma family’s land, Tohru Honda’s primary concerns were dirt and slugs. But now that she’s living with the Sohmas, magical powers and ancient curses are the order of the day! With Yuki and Kyo at each other’s throats like cats and… rats, life at the Sohmas’ is lively enough, but it all heats up as Hatsuharu joins the fray, spoiling for a fight! And even before the new school year can get underway, the mystery surrounding the family escalates when Akito, head of the Sohma clan, confronts Tohru without warning…

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

Once again, this volume of Furuba is very introductory. We’re introduced to several more characters, including two of my favorites, Hatsuharu and Ayame, and the hijinks only seem to escalate. This volume also includes our first encounter with the head of the Sohma family, Akito, who all the members of the Sohma family seem to fear. We start to dive into the troubled pasts of the Sohma family members, as well as the complicated relationships that bind them all together. We also see Tohru’s relationship with Kyo and Yuki get stronger, and we see more examples of just how devoted Tohru’s best friends, Arisa Uotani and Saki Hanajima, are to her.

I honestly love every volume of Furuba that I have read, but this volume is one where we start getting into why I find this series so good. While we’re still being introduced to characters and crazy, hilarious things are still happening to them, we are also starting to see the more dramatic, more serious turn that this series is going to take. I find this series is so reflective of life and real relationships. It starts out very superficial and steadily gets deeper, just like any friendship (normally) works.

This is also the only volume that I feel qualified to truly judge the new translation, since volume 4 of the original release is included in this volume of the collector’s edition, and it is the only one of the original release I ever actually owned. I really like the new translation! I feel everything that was changed was changed to make more sense, but all of the changes are really minor. According to a review I read online, “the inaccuracies from the Japanese still haven’t been fixed,” but since I don’t read Japanese and never knew that the translations were inaccurate to begin with, I really couldn’t care less. Translations are never truly accurate, anyway. They just follow the gist of the story, and this one is still telling the story that I loved long ago.

Blogger Note: Please don’t forget that we are also involved with Inkitt’s Novel Writing Contest! It was announced recently by Jessica in this post. If you’re interested in entering the contest or want to read more about it, you can do so here!

banner3

 

Manga Review: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 1)

28219400Details:

Title: Fruits Basket: Collector’s Edition (Vol. 1)

Chapters: 1-12

Written by: Natsuki Takaya

Artist: Natsuki Takaya

Translation/Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka

Lettering: Lys Blakeslee

Publisher: Yen Press

Published: June 2016

Pages: 400

Genre: Manga, Romance, Young Adult, Graphic Novel

Synopsis:

After a family tragedy turns her life upside down, plucky high schooler Tohru Honda takes matters into her own hands and moves out…into a tent! Unfortunately for her, she pitches her new home on private land belonging to the mysterious Sohma clan, and it isn’t long before the owners discover her secret. But, as Tohru quickly finds out when the family offers to take her in, the Sohmas have a secret of their own–when embraced by the opposite sex, they turn into the animals of the Chinese Zodiac!

A perennial favorite of fans and librarians alike, Natsuki Takaya’s beloved bestselling Fruits Basket series returns to print in gorgeous deluxe English-language omnibus editions with beautiful full-color illustrations that are not to be missed!

Overall Thoughts/Opinions:

4/5

I started reading the Fruits Basket (from now on referred to as Furuba) when I was in middle school. It was one of my very first manga (the actual first was Tokyo Mew Mew, I believe), and it was the first one I became obsessed with. I only ever owned a couple of them, I would borrow them from a friend as they came out and she completed them. When that friend went on to high school without me, I would check them out from the library. It’s a series I don’t think I ever managed to complete because there were 23 volumes and I think I may have skipped a couple. I never managed to own more than a couple of the original series because TOKYOPOP went under and stopped printing them before I had any source of reliable income that would allow me to buy them all.

So, imagine my delight when I found out that Yen Press was re-releasing the entire series in 12 volumes with new (more accurate) translations this year. I believe I squealed. I have officially preordered the remaining books in the series and am eagerly awaiting the final two release dates for the manga that introduced me to an entire genre I would never have thought about approaching if not for my friends back in middle school.

This volume is the introductory volume of the series. Most of this volume is introductions. We meet our lead, Tohru Honda, and journey with her as she becomes entangled in the lives of the cursed Sohma family. She learns of the Zodiac curse and is introduced to the key players of the series. By the end of this volume, even though we haven’t met all of the Zodiac members, we have met most of the key players in the series, and we are seeing the relationships of the characters’ form. There’s never a calm day in the Sohma household, and we are set up for a story full of fun, drama, and growth in this first volume. 

Blogger Note: Please don’t forget that we are also involved with Inkitt’s Novel Writing Contest! It was announced recently by Jessica in this post. If you’re interested in entering the contest or want to read more about it, you can do so here!

banner3