Scarlet: Vol. 1 by Brian Michael Bendis

25 Oct

 

Scarlet

Volume One

by : Brian Michael Bendis, illustrations by Alex Maleeve

pages [hardcover] 176

favorite character : scarlet

summary :

THE AWARD WINNING, BEST SELLING POWERHOUSE CREATIVE TEAM BEHIND DAREDEVIL, HALO, AND THE AVENGERS UNLEASH THEIR BOLDEST PROJECT YET! SCARLET! This is the comic experience of the year! The first creator-owned series by one of the most successful teams in all of modern comics. Scarlet is the story of a woman pushed to the edge by all that is wrong with the world…A woman who will not back down…A woman who discovers within herself the power to start a modern American revolution!!

review :

I recently read this along with a lot of other graphic novels and out of the stack this was one of my favorites. I was looking for an awesome female character and got more than I could have hoped for. I loved everything about Scarlet, especially the fact that she directly addresses the reader. I also liked the flaws that she had. Maybe one thing that I didn’t like about this volume was how desperate it made me to get my hands on another.

I hadn’t heard of this book before I spotted it in the library and wish that more people knew about it. I don’t typically reach for comics or graphic novels but I feel like this in particular would be a great bridge between novel and comic. You get the great story you’re looking for paired with visuals that wouldn’t have heightened the impact if the writers had decided on a different form to publish. I really loved being able to see Scarlet and her different expresses: While she was ready to kick ass, while she was vulnerable, while she was indecisive.

She’s a girl who’s had a terrible, unjustified thing done to her that changes her life forever. Honestly, I feel like this generalization of her experience is something that most people can relate to. What makes Scarlet different is her push for justice. She isn’t going to get beaten down and silenced simply because things get tough. That’s simply when she starts fighting harder.

I really think she’s an awesome character and the others supporting her are great as well. I can’t wait to read more and this is one that I’ll be recommending to people for a while!

4/5 stars

 

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

18 Oct

 

Friends with Boys

author : faith erin hicks

pages : [paperback] 220

favorite character : maggie

summary :

After years of homeschooling, Maggie is starting high school. It’s pretty terrifying.

Maggie’s big brothers are there to watch her back, but ever since Mom left it just hasn’t been the same.

Besides her brothers, Maggie’s never had any real friends before. Lucy and Alistair don’t have lots of friends either. But they eat lunch with her at school and bring her along on their small-town adventures.

Missing mothers…distant brothers…high school…new friends… It’s a lot to deal with. But there’s just one more thing.

MAGGIE IS HAUNTED.

review :

This book was so much fun to read! There was a lot going on with it and none of it seemed to be directly connected but I’m hoping that there’ll be another book that explains all of the elements in this one a little further!

Maggie is such a fun character to read. She’s always been homeschooled so she has anxiety about leaving home and trying to meet new people for the first time in her life. Because I struggle with social anxiety myself, it was interesting to see how Maggie handled this new situation and gradually became more comfortable in her school.

Her brothers were so fun! I only have one brother myself but I can imagine how much worse things would be if I had to have three of them . . . and how wonderful if could be to have all of those siblings, too. Their family dynamic was beautiful and I want to see more of it! They act like a normal, realistic family, which grounds some of the more fantastical parts of the book. Like the fact that Maggie can see ghosts. More specifically one ghost who likes to hang around the graveyard and never says anything. I think that the only thing really lacking about this book is that there’s no progress with the mystery about the book. It’s the only supernatural thing in the novel . . . Will there be more? Hopefully we’ll find out.

I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read or who really enjoys graphic novels! The style of art in this is right up my alley and my library has another book by this author that I’m going to pick up ASAP so I can enjoy more of this!

4/5 stars

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

15 Oct

 

The Mark of Athena

The Heroes of Olympus #3
Book 1: The Lost Hero
Book 2: The Son of Neptune

author : rick riordan

pages : [hardcover] 608

favorite characters : percy & annabeth

memorable quote “We’re staying together,” he promised. “You’re not getting away from me. Never again.”

IF YOU HAVE NOT READ BOOKS ONE AND TWO, THIS SUMMARY AND REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS! But it will definitely not spoil The Mark of Athena.

summary :

Annabeth is terrified. Just when she’s about to be reunited with Percy—after six months of being apart, thanks to Hera—it looks like Camp Jupiter is preparing for war. As Annabeth and her friends Jason, Piper, and Leo fly in on the Argo II, she can’t blame the Roman demigods for thinking the ship is a Greek weapon. With its steaming bronze dragon masthead, Leo’s fantastical creation doesn’t appear friendly. Annabeth hopes that the sight of their praetor Jason on deck will reassure the Romans that the visitors from Camp Half-Blood are coming in peace.

And that’s only one of her worries. In her pocket Annabeth carries a gift from her mother that came with an unnerving demand: Follow the Mark of Athena. Avenge me. Annabeth already feels weighed down by the prophecy that will send seven demigods on a quest to find—and close—the Doors of Death. What more does Athena want from her?

Annabeth’s biggest fear, though, is that Percy might have changed. What if he’s now attached to Roman ways? Does he still need his old friends? As the daughter of the goddess of war and wisdom, Annabeth knows she was born to be a leader, but never again does she want to be without Seaweed Brain by her side.

Narrated by four different demigods, The Mark of Athena is an unforgettable journey across land and sea to Rome, where important discoveries, surprising sacrifices, and unspeakable horrors await. Climb aboard the Argo II, if you dare….

review :

Ahhhhhhh! Rick Riordan is amazing! I seriously cannot get enough of these books!

It took me a while to get to the third book in this series. Why? I had the ending spoiled for me, so that devastated me for a while. But now that the entire series is out, I’m terrified that the fourth and fifth books will be spoiled, so I decided to finally press on with these great books. I know that this will be something that, like the original Percy Jackson books, I’ll come back to read again and again. These awesome adventures are just so much fun and are filled with great characters that I’ve come to know and love.

I really like the way that the characters new to this series have been interacting with old favorites like Annabeth and Percy. Not to mention that Percy and Annabeth are FINALLY getting to unite!!! This is the moment that fans have been waiting for! And it’s just done so perfectly. I laughed, I maybe cried a little . . . and most of all I remembered why I love these heroes so much!

Riordan loves to take old myths and do a modern spin with them and I can’t say that I complain. I love learning about new portions of mythology that I either never heard of or had forgotten about! I think that this is a great series to spark anyone’s imagination and get them interested in myth and legend. Because while everyone has heard of fantastical figures like Hercules, they may not be familiar with all of the characters thrown into this book.

I’d recommend this book for everyone. Seriously. I can’t get enough of these books! I really need to get to the next book because like the rest of this series The Mark of Athena leaves you needing to know what’s going to happen next. I have no idea what could happen in these adventures but can’t wait to find out!

5/5 stars

The Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks

13 Oct

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

author : Faith Erin Hicks

pages : [hardcover] 212

summary :

What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores, and have a weakness for kittens, and a snarky comment from Skeptical Guy can ruin a whole afternoon? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings her skills in character design and sharp, charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, superhero battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world.

review :

This book was a really fun collection of comics about Superhero Girl that pokes fun at the idea of superheroes while also making us readers believe in how completely awesome Superhero Girl is. Despite the fact that, as she says, she can leap over tall buildings but can’t fly, something that most people think makes her a lame hero!

I loved the humor in these adventures. Her quest for an arch-nemesis, problems with her completely ordinary roommate, family drama . . . As soon as I finished, I wanted more from her, and I’m tempted to read this again because I feel like I went through it too quickly! It was too addictive to put down and because it’s in comic format, it’s easy to flip through it quickly. I think that originally portions were published online in a serialized form. Most of the pages tell little stories within themselves, that build into a bigger understanding of Superhero Girl and the world she lives in.

This is a collection that I think could be enjoyed by men and women, boys and girls. Not only is it great to have another female superhero to look up to, it pokes fun at the conventional superhero stories, thus making fun of itself as it goes along. How many comics do you think do that?

I’d recommend this book to anyone! I think that there’s something enjoyable in it for everybody and that it’ll be a quick favorite to those who take an hour to read through it.

5/5 stars

Wandering Son Volume 1 by Shimura Takako

12 Oct

Wandering Son

Volume One

author : shimura takako

pages : [hardcover] 208

summary :

The fifth grade. The threshold to puberty, and the beginning of the end of childhood innocence. Shuichi Nitori and his new friend Yoshino Takatsuki have happy homes, loving families, and are well-liked by their classmates. But they share a secret that further complicates a time of life that is awkward for anyone: Shuichi is a boy who wants to be a girl, and Yoshino is a girl who wants to be a boy.
Written and drawn by one of today’s most critically acclaimed creators of manga, Shimura portrays Shuishi and Yoshino’s very private journey with affection, sensitivity, gentle humor, and unmistakable flair and grace. Book One introduces our two protagonists and the friends and family whose lives intersect with their own. Yoshino is rudely reminded of her sex by immature boys whose budding interest in girls takes clumsily cruel forms. Shuichi’s secret is discovered by Saori, a perceptive and eccentric classmate. And it is Saori who suggests that the fifth graders put on a production of The Rose of Versailles for the farewell ceremony for the sixth graders, with boys playing the roles of women, and girls playing the roles of men. Wandering Son is a sophisticated work of literary manga translated with rare skill and sensitivity by veteran translator and comics scholar Matt Thorn.

review :

I recently read a whole stack of graphic novels to try to get me into the genre. While I feel like Wandering Son had some interesting concepts, it certainly wasn’t the best book for me.

I liked the characters but felt like they were a little unrealistic. I feel like they were always pushing for these situations that kids would typically treat in a cruel way, not how they’re dealt with in this manga. While I know that there’s still a lot more of this story to go, I’m not sure that much actually progressed in this book, even with those situations present. I do think that I’ll pick up the next installment because I’ve seen that it’s considered one of the best of the series.

I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m new to this genre that the characters felt flat to me. No one was fully fleshed out and I couldn’t predict how anyone would react to anything because they had dull personalities. I was interested to see where the plot was going to go with this, though, so that kept me pushing through. Perhaps future volumes take the bare bones laid out here and capitalize on them in a way that’s even better than I could imagine.

I’d recommend this book as an unconventional read. The style was interesting and while the art wasn’t something that I’d rave about, it was cute and fit with the narrative. I think there are others out there who’ll enjoy this more than I did!

3/5 stars

Blog Tour! The Spiritglass Charade

11 Oct

The Spiritglass Charade

Stoker & Holmes #2
Book 1: The Clockwork Scarab

author : colleen gleason

pages : [hardcover] 360

favorite characters : mina & evaline

summary :

After the Affair of the Clockwork Scarab, Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes are eager to help Princess Alix with a new case. Seventeen-year-old Willa Aston is obsessed with spiritual mediums, convinced she is speaking with her mother from beyond the grave. What seems like a case of spiritualist fraud quickly devolves into something far more menacing: someone is trying to make Willa “appear lunatic,” using an innocent-looking spiritglass to control her. The list of clues piles up: an unexpected murder, a gang of pickpockets, and the return of vampires to London. But are these events connected? As Uncle Sherlock would say, “there are no coincidences.” It will take all of Mina’s wit and Evaline’s muscle to keep London’s sinister underground at bay.

review:

If you haven’t already started this series, now is the perfect time to begin! You’ll have not one but two amazing mysteries to devour.

I loved The Clockwork Scarab and was infinitely excited when I learned it was going to be part of a series! I felt like there was so much more that could be done with the characters and The Spiritglass Charade really captured not only our leading ladies but the secondary characters as well. Mina and Evaline are truly a force to be reckoned with! I absolutely love seeing such strong women in this setting. As a steampunk book set in the Victorian Era, obviously there’s some sexism going on. Whenever Evaline and Mina need to face this, they kick butt and take no names. Honestly, throughout the entire book I was trying to decide which was my favorite. Maybe Evaline because I wish that I could be more like her, physically overpowering anyone who thought I was too weak to handle them. Or maybe Mina because she’s smart enough to outwit anyone, especially the men who think a woman can’t be an investigative spy.

And all of this is embedded in a wonderful, mysterious plot! I love how these stories are anything but predictable because of the way they unfold. While the ladies investigate, I’m trying to gauge what clue might lead them to their next step, but I only figure it out when they do. Which is wonderful, really, even though I’d like to think that I’d be better at solving mysteries! Sadly, it doesn’t seem like that’ll be my calling.

Another thing that I absolutely love about these books is the writing style. For me, the way an author writes is definitely a make or break situation and Gleason blew me away. Her writing is just the right mixture of cool, detached mystery combined with fantastical, complex imagery. Whatever she writes, I’ll be willing to pick up!

I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s a fairly quick read. While it’s the kind of series that focuses on a different problem within each novel, you’ll only get the full effect (and love the characters even more!) if you pick up both books . . . and book three, whenever that’s released!

AUTHOR INTERVIEW :

 

 Did something inspire you to write the Stoker & Holmes series?

When I was writing my series about a female vampire hunter who lives in Regency-era England, my editor at the time said I should consider writing a steampunk novel one day.

I had no idea what steampunk was at the time (this was in 2006, when hardly anyone seemed to know what steampunk was!), but I looked it up and was fascinated by the idea of melding a historical setting with technology, literary characters, and an alternate history. So I let the idea perk for several years until I realized I wanted to write a steampunk novel for teens.

Then I began to think about how I would approach something like that, and what cast of characters I’d pull together. I wanted a “girl-power” team—a group of characters that appreciated the strengths and weaknesses of young women (whether they be male or female), because I thought it would be fascinating to juxtapose that sort of power over a time period where the female gender was very repressed—ie, Victorian England.

Add to that the fact that I am a big Sherlock Holmes geek, and wanted to write a female version of that amazing detective—plus my love for vampire hunters—et voilá! The Stoker and Holmes series was born.

What did you find most challenging about writing The Spiritglass Charade?

I would say that the most challenging—but yet most important part—of writing this second book in the series was to make sure both main characters showed some sort of character growth. They have to change somehow between the beginning and the end of the novel, and they will have to continue to change throughout the rest of the series (a planned five books). So not only am I working on significant character development for one character, as in most books, I really have to focus on two of them. So it’s twice the fun!

Have you been influenced by any particular writer’s style?

Yes indeed. When writing the Stoker & Holmes books in particular, I find myself heavily influenced by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself (for obvious reasons), as well as Elizabeth Peters, who wrote with such a wry, pedantic, witty style—particularly in her Amelia Peabody books.

Who do you think you’re more like, Evaline or Mina?

Ha! Trick question…with a trick answer. I have elements of both young women in my makeup. I can be controlling, particular, and pedantic like Mina, and I am also socially capable, friendly, and sometimes impetuous like Evaline!

If you could meet any fictional character, who would you pick?

Hermione Granger.

Have you ever had the chance to solve a mystery?

Not in real life, though I’ve written several of them. Probably doesn’t count, though, does it?

What is the last book you read?

I just finished reading Someone in the House (a modern gothic/ghost story) by Barbara Michaels.

So, is anyone else incredibly excited to hear that there will be at least five books in this series! Because I’m so happy.

Follow the  rest of the tour!

 

Day Post Date

Blog

URL
Tuesday 10/7/2014 Esther’s Ever After http://everafteresther.blogspot.com
Wednesday 10/8/2014 Chronicle Books Blog http://www.chroniclebooks.com/blog/
Thursday 10/9/2014 Anna’s Book Blog http://annavivian.blogspot.com/
Friday 10/10/2014 Kid Lit Frenzy www.kidlitfrenzy.com
Saturday 10/11/2014 Caught Between the Pages http://caughtbetweenthepages.wordpress.com
Sunday 10/12/2014 Mother Daughter Book Club http://motherdaughterbookclub.com
Monday 10/13/2014 Cracking the Cover www.crackingthecover.com
Tuesday 10/14/2014 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia http://hauntedorchid.blogspot.com
Wednesday 10/15/2014 Forever Young Adult www.foreveryoungadult.com
Thursday 10/16/2014 SciFiChick.com Http://SciFiChick.com
Friday 10/17/2014 On Emily’s Bookshelf www.onemilysbookshelf.com

 If you’re into Steampunk things, like the world Mina and Evaline live in, think about throwing an awesome Steampunk party!

The Stoker & Holmes Guide to Throwing a Steampunk Party

//www.scribd.com/embeds/235972297/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true

Of course, for a party like that, you’ll need a great costume!

 

7 Tips for Making a Steampunk Costume (A Stoker and Holmes Guide)

//www.scribd.com/embeds/235971517/content?start_page=1&view_mode=scroll&show_recommendations=true

 

 Start Reading the First Book!!

Clockwork Scarab Excerpt Scribd

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached

11 Oct

 

A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return

author : zeina abirached

pages : [hardcover] 188

summary :

When Zeina was born, the civil war in Lebanon had been going on for six years, so it’s just a normal part of life for her and her parents and her little brother. The city of Beirut is cut in two, separated by bricks and sandbags and threatened by snipers and shelling. East Beirut is for Christians, and West Beirut is for Muslims. When Zeina’s parents don’t return one afternoon from a visit to the other half of the city, and the bombing grows ever closer, the neighbors in her apartment house create a world indoors for Zeina and her brother where it’s comfy and safe, where they can share cooking lessons and games and gossip. Together they try to make it through a dramatic day in the one place they hoped they would always be safehome. Zeina Abirached, born into a Lebanese Christian family in 1981, has collected her childhood recollections of Beirut in a warm story about the strength of family and community.

review :

This graphic novel was very interesting! It taught me about a point of history that I’ve honestly never heard of before and need to learn more about. It isn’t like history classes are fixating on places like Lebanon, even if those conflicts could certainly be learned from. I’m glad that there are writers out there telling these stories so that people  like me can learn a little and then be intrigued enough to research it further.

I think what’s most interesting and confusing about the novel is that Zeina and her brother are presented as the main characters but they’re hardly in the book. They’re simply observers as the adults talk politics, worry about the coming bombs, and wonder why Zeina’s parents haven’t arrived home yet. While I really liked how most of the book was situated in the space of one day, giving a snapshot of life underneath this oppressive war, I think knowing more about the family dynamics would have been an improvement. It would have also been nice to see, perhaps in flashback, more about Zeina and her past as it relates to her perception of the terrible present.

The art was a little unconventional but I think that it worked for the book. It wasn’t my favorite style but I could certainly appreciate its presence in the narrative as it added a lot to the story.

I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy graphic memoir or are interested in historical accounts. It’s a quick read so even if you’re wanting to read something out of your typical genre, you could pick it up and sample it quickly.

3/5 stars

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