Comic Book Review: FCBD Lady Mechanika

Synopsis:

Introduce new readers to this steampunk bestseller, which has been remarkably successful with female readers as well as fans of the popular steampunk genre, with this FCBD special that includes the original 14-page one-shot introducing Lady Mechanika, a young woman in Victorian England with mechanical limbs and no memory of how she got them, searching desperately for the secrets to her past, plus excerpts from the Lady Mechanika trades and comics!

What I First Thought:

I got this comic from the local store during Free Comic Book Day 2017. I’ve seen Lady Mechanika floating around at the various comic book stores that I’ve been into and I’ve been interested in reading about her for a while. So when I saw this edition I decided to finally take the plunge and see if this dark, steampunk lady would suit my fancy!

Ratings:

Art: 4/5

I really liked the art. Everything was well drawn and detailed. You could see the detailing in her outfit real well, specifically on her vest. The patterns on the vest were faint so that it didn’t distract from the overall scene, but you could see it well enough to give her clothing a distinctive and authentic feel. The action scenes weren’t too congested with unnecessary lines, sounds, etc. that would draw you away from what was happening. Some of the facial expressions were a bit too dramatic but overall the people looked decently designed. My one complaint it that Lady Mechanika looks to have Barbie’s proportions. I understand how corsets work, they make the wait look thinner and the boobs stand out more, but her body just doesn’t look right. Overall the designs, detailing, and the colors are fantastic.

Story: 4/5

I really enjoyed the intro to the character, it was enough to a good glimpse at her personality and what drives but still leaves you wanting more. And boy do I want to read more about this dark, mysterious heroine! The other two previews to the later volumes were interesting, they were shorter than the excerpt from the prologue. I think I would have enjoyed the other two more if I knew more about the story and they were just too short. I’m really curious as to what happens in those volumes now, but I wish there was a little more to let me know what to expect. Either way, I’m interested in reading more from this series!

Overall: 4/5

Details:

Title: Lady Mechanika

Issue: Free Comic Book Day edition

Publisher: Benitez Productions

Writer: Joe Benitez

Art: Joe Benitez

Colors: Peter Steigerwald

Lettering: Josh Reed

Released Date: May 5th, 2016

Pages: 28

Genre: Mystery, Science-fiction, Teen, Action, Steampunk

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

Comic Book Review: Empress #1

Synopsis:

Imagine you’re married to the worst bad guy from your favorite sci-fi movie. An alien dictator feared throughout the universe, who will kill you if you leave — but you need to escape for the sake of your three children. All you have are your wits, your bodyguard, and three guns.

What I First Thought:

I found this comic one day when I went with my boyfriend and his family to their local comic book store. They had the first four issues and it looked interesting enough, so I grabbed it. I’m still new to comic books, I still haven’t quite figured out how to judge whether or not I’ll like it before buying it. This time I went with my gut, so hopefully that was enough!

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

I loved Stuart Immonen’s art! Not going to lie, but at first I was a little leery about the heroine’s character design because from the cover it looked like she would be an unrealistic “space babe”. After seeing the artwork, time and again Emporia was portrayed with realistic body proportions that weren’t too over the top. I think what I liked most about the artwork is that it already appears pretty smooth, some of the past comics I’ve read were a little rough in the beginning. Every line has a purpose, the scenes aren’t cluttered with too much detail, there’s just enough to give the readers all the information they need. The action sequences weren’t overcrowded or overpowered, just enough explosions when needed.

Story: 4/5

This was a pretty good beginning to the series. I’m really intrigued with the setting of this story. The story is set 65 million years ago with dinosaurs, aliens, and space travel; to date I don’t think I’ve ever read a story (outside of watching those few episodes of Doctor Who) in which those three are combined. I’m excited to see where Millar will do with this setting. Already I’ve seen a T-Rex fighting in an arena and a ship having to avoid a flock (?) of pterodactyls, but will there be more to it and will the dinosaurs actually play some sort of role in the story.

This story had just enough information to keep me from getting lost, but still left me with questions. I would’ve liked for a little more background, but I think that’s more my speed. I’m still curious to see what happens next!

Overall: 4.5

Details:

Title: Empress

Issue: 1

Publisher: Icon

Writer: Mark Millar

Illustrator: Stuart Immonen

Colors: Ive Svorcina

Letters: Peter Doherty

Released Date: April 6, 2016

Pages: 32

Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera

Book Review: The Senator’s Youngest Daughter

32073917**The views of this book do not reflect our political views or ideals. This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: The Senator’s Youngest Daughter

Author: Kelley Rose Waller

Publisher: Versive Press

Release Date: October 1, 2016

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Pages: 313

Synopsis:

Senator A.C. McFerren has been missing for more than six months. The obvious prime suspect in his disappearance is the homegrown terrorist group known as the Army of Social Justice.

Searching for her kidnapped father leads Brenna McFerren Jefferson to the terrorists’ elusive “Death of Government” headquarters, known as The Doghouse. But nosing around where the federal government won’t investigate puts a target on her family and sets in motion a rebellion she isn’t prepared to lead.

Dreams of liberty cause the Senator’s daughter to disguise herself for undercover recon, recruit a high-ranking defector, and partner with a subversive news agency that combats government propaganda. As Brenna’s strength and family ties are tested, she unites a political party that commands the power to transform the United States.

My First Thoughts:

I was so excited to read this book. Dystopia is probably my favorite genre, and I especially love really political, espionage-y ones. From the synopsis, this book sounded like it was right up my alley.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

It’s taken me a long time to write this review; I couldn’t figure out what to write about it. I don’t really know if I enjoyed it or not. I found that the writing was fine. It was easy to follow and clear. The characters were developed, if a little lacking in dimension.

This story is narrated by the main character, Brenna, and I found that the narration did match her dialogue, which I appreciated. However, as a fellow teacher, I did find her hard to connect with at times. She mentions often how all she wanted was to be a kindergarten or first grade teacher, but she left because of how government restrictions were affecting the education system. Now, there are many teachers who are frustrated and feel restricted by what we currently deal with in education and there are many teachers who leave because of it. However, the teachers that talk like Brenna talks throughout the story are never the ones who do, because they know they need to be there for the students. They work with and around restrictions; they don’t normally just give up. As someone who had to fight tooth and nail to get where I am in my career, Brenna’s thoughts about teaching are almost infuriating.

Here’s the part that has been killing me about writing this review: This book reads like a republican’s nightmare about socialism. That’s not to say that I am in favor of socialism, because I’m not. When I took my “What is your political alignment” test in my government class, I was almost in the exact center. While I can see how aspects of socialism have had positive impacts in several countries, I believe there are fundamental differences between the US and those countries that make it so it probably wouldn’t work here. However, this book seems to ignore the fact that it has worked other places and that there are positive ideas in this. It also runs off of several misconceptions about socialism, portraying a more communist society than a socialist society. Politics and society are difficult and complex, but the viewpoint of this book is very simplistic and fear based, rather than a critique based on research.

Final Thoughts:

In conclusion, my feelings about this book are mixed. I was ok with the writing, characters, and overall story; this is a genre I really enjoy. However, the political situation and climate is so one sided and filled with the fearful ideas I hear constantly in the conservative place I live I found it jarring. It was hard to read, not because it was bad, but because it hit close to home.

Rating(s):

2/5

I would recommend this book to people who don’t understand why some people cannot see “How socialism would be a benefit to society.” I think it is a very good perspective into the thought processes of people who are fearful of socialism. It is also a fine political drama, but one that I did find was so extreme it would pull me out of the story and turn me off reading it for a while.

Related Reviews/Books:

COMING SOON!!!

Comic Book Review: Steven Universe (2017-) #1

steven-universe-1Details:

Title: Steven Universe (2017- )

Issue: 1

Publisher: kaboom!

Creator: Rebecca Sugar

Writer: Melanie Gillman

Illustrator: Katy Farina

Colors: Whitney Cogar

Letters: Mike Fiorentino

Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Slice of Life

Released Date: February 8, 2016

kaboom_stevenuniverse2017_001_b_subscriptionSynopsis:

(As read on Goodreads)

Writer Melanie Gillman (As the Crow Flies) and artist Katy Farina (The Amazing World of Gumball) are teaming up for the start of a new series of adventures for the entire gang. Based on Cartoon Network’s Emmy Award-nominated animated series created by Rebecca Sugar about a boy with magical powers who goes on adventures with The Crystal Gems, a team of beings who safeguard the universe. The show is approaching its fourth season and has earned millions of fans of all ages worldwide. In this kickoff issue, Steven, Lapis, and Peridot rescue a baby songbird on the ground outside the barn and work together to reunite it with its mother.

First Thought:

I was brought onto the Steven Universe ban wagon by my best friend our freshman year of college. While our roommates were out partying we watched Steven Universe while indulging ourselves on campus pizzas and smoothies. Since then, I have also dragged my boyfriend into the fray and he was the one to tell me about the new comic coming out, saying that it looked pretty good. I was a little cautious because I have seen the other comics and they just didn’t grab me, and their art bothered me. However, when we went to the local comic book store to find this issue I was instantly attracted to the beautiful covers and I knew I wanted to read this series! I ended up buying both of the covers that the store had on hand because I honestly couldn’t just pick one…

Ratings:

Art: 4/5

Story: 5/5

Overall: 5

I really liked the art in this issue. I believe that Katy Farina did a fantastic job with the characters and the world around them. The art wasn’t 100% like the show, which is totally fine with me, but it felt enough like the Steven Universe I got used to to not distract me from the story. This issue just felt like another episode of Steven Universe with a cute little story and message to go with. Melanie Gillman did a wonderful job with writing such a short story, like many of the episodes within the show, and creating a simple one issue plot. There’s nothing bigger, nothing grand, just Steven spending time with Lapis and Peridot building their characters and their friendship.

This first issue really is just a cute little read, one that will help cheer you up when you’re down and a nice little fix for the pauses between new episodes. If you like Steven Universe, want to try out comics (or new comics), or need some cheering up, then go to your local comic bookstore and pick up this issue. Do it, I promise you won’t regret it when you get wrapped up in the cuteness of Steven and the baby songbird!

Book Review: The Golden Spider

the-golden-spider

Details:

Title: The Golden Spider (The Elemental Web Chronicles)

Author: Ann Renwick

Publisher: self-published

Release Date: August 8th 2016

Genre: Steampunk, Romance, Mystery

Pages: 482

Synopsis:

London papers scream of dirigible attacks, kraken swarms, and lung-clogging, sulfurous fogs. But a rash of gypsy murders barely rates mention.

Lady Amanda is tired of having both her intelligence and her work dismissed.

After blackmailing her way into medical school, she catches the eye of her anatomy professor from the moment she walks into his lecture hall. Is he interested in her? Or only her invention–a clockwork spider that can spin artificial nerves?

Lord Thornton, a prominent neurobiologist, has been betrayed.

Secret government technology has been stolen from his laboratory, and a foreign spy is attempting to perfect it via a grisly procedure… using gypsies as test subjects. The last thing he needs is the distraction of a beautiful–and brilliant–new student, even if her spider could heal a deteriorating personal injury.

Until her device is stolen and used in the latest murder.

Lord Thornton has no option but to bring her into his laboratory as well as the investigation where they must fight their growing, yet forbidden, attraction. Bodies accumulate and fragile bonds are tested as they race across London, trying to catch the spy before it’s too late.

My First Thoughts:

I always love to find good steampunk books and there are never enough of them! So when I was presented with story I immediately said yes.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

This story was absolutely fantastic! While this book is a romance, that single element doesn’t drive the story like other books. The Golden Spider is very much a mystery novel with a side of romance and a touch and steampunk.

The mystery of this story was quite interesting to follow, and it had me guessing for most of the book. The murders weren’t too gruesome to read about, the author didn’t go into a lot of detail describing the look of the body and such. When she did go into detail, she used very scientific words, which made sense because both of the main characters are in the medical field, to describe what had happened to the body and thus allowing the reader to be slightly removed and less repulsed by the image in their mind. By the end of the novel none of the big twists shocked me. This isn’t a slight against the story telling, most books fail to shock me with their big twists because I’ve guessed them early on. The mystery did stump me for most of this book and there were some minor twists that I didn’t see coming.

The characters were likeable enough. I really enjoyed Thorton more than Amanda. Lady Amanda was fine, however she seemed rather basic. It’s not uncommon for the heroine of a romance novel to be extraordinary in some way, normally there super smart compared to their peers. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that her character was cliché, because the author took great strides in proving how intelligent her female lead was by showing her thought process and even including the right terminology when necessary. However, Lady Amanda fails to stand out in my mind, which isn’t a point against the author, unlike her male counterpart. Thorton was different. I’ve never read a story before, especially a romance, where the male lead is handicapped in some way and is a bit self-conscious about it, afraid of receiving help from others but needing it in the end. Normally, a male character with his kind of personality would turn me off, but his injury and all the related baggage helped round out his character, making him rather likeable.

For the most part, the minor characters were interesting as well. There were a few that were quite forgettable, but the others had unique characteristics or actions that helped them stick in the mind, the gypsies were my favorite.

With any steampunk, I’m curious about how the author weaves the normal elements of the genre into their story. For many stories, the steampunk elements are mostly in the detailing of the environment, the fashion, etc. Not many stories that I have read actually do much with steampunk ideas beyond ‘oh look I added gears and steam to everything’. The Golden Spider actually weaves the elements into the plot, especially with Amanda’s device and the work that it does. I was absolutely fascinated with the world that the author created with steampunk, and I enjoyed the detailing and the functionality of her creations.

For the most part, this book is fantastic. My only complaints are the ending and some of the random sections with our killer. A few times the author chose to write from the killer’s perspective, as a way of giving the readers some clues as to who they might be. However, they were random and very far from each other. I would have preferred if we saw more from the villain’s side, not much, but a few more times to make those sections appear less disjointed with the rest of the story. As for the end, it was a fine ending but with how the rest of the story read I was expecting more. Everything seemed to wrap up so nicely with most of the loose ends getting tied in the last couple of pages. I wanted to know more about the killer’s motives and some answers to some of the backstory that was presented earlier in the story. I guess I’ll just have to wait for the next installment, which I will definitely be looking for.

Final Thoughts:

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves steampunk, romance, or mystery, or all of the above. No one genre dominates the story, which I appreciated because sometimes romance driven mysteries are rather dry and cliché. This mystery is well balanced, not very gory, and fun to follow. There are some pretty heavy scientific and medical terms in this book, they are scientists so it makes sense, however, there’s enough context to make it easier to get a general idea of what’s being said without relying on Google. Also, there is sex in this book, just to warn you in case it turns you off like some of the other reviewers I’ve read.

Rating(s):

4/5

Overall this book is fantastic. The world the author creates is detailed and well imagined while leaving the reader with enough questions to want to keep exploring in later books. The romance, while a little cliché, is realistic and enjoyable without stealing the spotlight. Some people might not enjoy the technical jargon or medical terminology, but they’re easy enough to understand. What keeps this story from getting 5/5 for me is the ending and the few sections told about our killer. There were 2-3 times in which the story followed the villain, which is fine, but they seemed so random and jarring that it took me out of the story a little. Just a few more sections with the killer, and it would have been fine. As for the ending, it was too short and clean for me. Most of the loose ends were taken care of, but they were all told to us and not shown. The rest of the book goes through great lengths to show and not tell, and I feel like the ending falls short of the standard the rest of the book set up. I understand if the author didn’t want to  go into too much detail, however, I think the readers deserved more than two or three pages. All in all, I’mm looking forward to the next book!

Related Reviews/Books:

A Curse of Ash and Iron

Book Review: Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe

kyle-evans-is-shitNOTICE: I was given a free copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Kyle Evans and the Key to the Universe

Author: Rob H Hunt

Illustrator: James Chapman

Publisher: self-published

Release Date:  March 2nd 2016 

Genre: Action/Adventure,  Science fiction, Middle Reader

Pages: 166

Synopsis:

Some kids love adventure, and dream of being a hero. Ten-year-old Kyle Evans is not one of those kids, but when a giant hole appears in his bedroom and swallows his mom, a hero is what Kyle must become. Kyle sets out on the journey of a lifetime, and discovers along the way that Battle Droids are scarier than Search Droids, Kranken are more terrifying than either of these, and you should never stand still near a Burgly Bug. But more important than any of this, Kyle learns that sometimes a cat is not just a cat. Kyle Evans and The Key to The Universe is the first book in an exciting adventure trilogy that takes a boy, his cat and his friend Sofia across the universe, gradually revealing their amazing destiny

My First Thoughts:

I’m always looking for a good science fiction book, especially one that is geared toward children, so I was rather excited to read and review another children’s book.

Overall Thoughts/Opinion:

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. The story held promise, and I really did want to see how everything panned out. However, it took me more time than I want to admit to finish this book. After almost every chapter I put the book down to briefly do something else, and the chapters weren’t very long. The writing couldn’t hold my interest long, I wanted to read more of the story, but I felt like the writing was constantly pulling me out.

The dialogue was stiff. I felt no chemistry between the characters, and even less so when they were speaking to each other. None of the conversations flowed naturally and it was a bit painful to read sometimes. Now, I understand that most children in upper elementary school or lower middle school won’t care about the dialogue, but that shouldn’t stop an author from writing good, or even decent, conversations between characters.

I found the main character Kyle to be rather annoying by the end of the story. At first he was interesting because he was a young kid how didn’t like adventures, like a less proper and very young Bilbo Baggins. However, you don’t really see a clear transition out of that phase for his character. Instead, he is constantly being thrown into these actin roles with very little thought except for helping his cat. Cool, that’s great. I love cats and characters who protect their cats are awesome in my book, but the author missed some great opportunities for good character development for Kyle. Again, how many kids are looking very closely at character development? Not very many, but kids do pick up on the subtle messages in what they hear and read, so things like good character development that makes sense is always needed, no matter what the age group is. He annoyed me because no matter how many times he encountered something strange or out-of-this-world he always had a major freak out about it or had a hard time grasping the issue at hand.

Sophia was a little better. She is his supposed best friend that shows up early in the book but doesn’t actually have a real role until about three quarter of the way through. But she’s on the cover, right? Yes, she’s the girl on the cover but most of the story is over with by the time she’s really apart of the action. She  handled the weirdness a lot better than Kyle, unfortunately, she handled it a little too well for a 10 year old. My one big complaint was that you don’t find out a lot about Sophia, you just pick up that she speaks Spanish and are told that she’s Kyle’s best friend, but I don’t really see it.

The one character that I enjoyed the most was Bootles. To me, he read like the cat version of David Tennant’s Doctor Who. He was highly intelligent, spoke a lot and went of on odd tangents that somehow made it back to the main idea. However, he still bothered me because he spoke of things that no average 10 year old would have a real concept of and constantly confused Kyle, which got real old real fast. One example is that he spoke of endothermic and exothermic reactions and how metals react to acetic acid. Not very many children would know about acetic acid, let alone it’s reactions to metal. He is an interesting character, but I feel like this isn’t the book for this character. In fact, I believe that Bootles would be better suited for a Young Adult novel instead of a Middle Reader.

My main problems were the about the dialogue and the chemistry between the characters. I enjoyed the concept of the story and the action was entertaining and flowed rather smoothly for the most part.  Honestly, I believe that this story is fine for young readers but it isn’t the best. The greatest kids books are able to capture and hold the attention of adults, and this book had a hard time holding my attention.

Ratings:

2/5

Overall I believe that this book would be an interesting read for young readers. There’s a lot of action and fun illustrations to go along with the story that would entertain them for a while. This may prove to be a good gift to any child, though probably those ten or younger. It would be especially good for any young reader that may be interested in Sci-fi literature, because I believe that it serves as a great gateway book to other science fiction novels. There’s no overall message with this story, not even a minor lesson. This is just basically a way to keep kids quiet for a few hours or more.

For anyone older than ten, this may prove to be a difficult read. The dialogue is unnatural and the characters don’t really fit together as well as they should. There are other story elements that are a bit subpar that older readers would pick up on rather quickly. For people with experience with page layout and design, don’t pick this book up because it will drive you insane just looking at it.