Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass by Mariko Tamaki Review


Title: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Authors: Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: DC Ink
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Everyone who knows me knows I love comics and graphic novels, and Harleen Quinzel is one of my favorite characters in the entire DC universe. So, when I went to book club last month and saw the gorgeous cover of this graphic novel sitting on a display, I knew I had to take it home with me. Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh, and DC Ink has hit another home run; this one just might be my favorite of the series so far. This book, colorful and vivid and distinct, was amazing: the art was gorgeous, and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. This book revisits Harley as a teenager, fighting with Ivy to save the neighborhood from corrupt businessmen and gentrification. She lives with a group of kind, hilarious drag queens who entertain Gotham City after dark. When Harley realizes that a corporation is doing its best to take over her city, she gets mad. Teaming up with Poison Ivy, Harley realizes that sometimes, the choices you make can define or destroy you…

                I really, really enjoyed this book! Harley Quinn is one of my favorite characters, so as soon as I got an opportunity to read it, I dove in. The art was gorgeous, colorful and compelling; I loved the way that Pugh used a muted color palette for everything in the book except for Harley herself; it provided great contrast. I was captivated by Harley’s hilarious, honest voice; the pacing was breakneck. I also loved the cameos from other, familiar DC characters: Poison Ivy and the Kane family, even Batman himself! But baby Harley is the star of this beautiful graphic novel, still destructive, fierce, and protective of her city, even its ugly underbelly. I was laughing, crying, and cheering by the time that I finished this book, and I absolutely loved it! Colorful, heartfelt, hilarious and honest, I loved this rendition on one of my favorite antiheroes. DC Ink, Mariko Tamaki, and Steve Pugh have done a fantastic job of fleshing out the younger years of one of Gotham City’s most memorable characters! The bottom line: Funny, beautifully drawn, surprising and honest, I loved Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass! Next on deck: Kingdom of Souls by Rena Barron!

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater Review


Title: Call Down the Hawk
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Series: The Dreamer Trilogy, book one
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Okay, so I just finished this book last night and I’m still so emotional. This is going to sound crazy fangirly, but whatever, here we go. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe just how much I love and have missed Maggie Stiefvater’s writing. The Raven Cycle is one of my all-time favorite series, and once I found out that one of my favorite Raven Boys, Ronan Lynch and his family, got the spotlight in Call Down the Hawk, I was so excited! I was lucky enough to receive my library’s first copy, and as soon as I was finished with Supernova, I dove in. This book is dark, weird, lyrical and surprising; I loved it so much. It might be one of my favorites of Stiefvater’s entire body of work. I loved this weird, strange book, but most of all, this book made me realize just how much I love the brothers Lynch. This is the second book of 2020 for me, and I loved every crazy, insane moment of it. One of my favorites of the year, and I can’t wait for the next two books!

                Ronan Lynch has always known that he and his family have been different. Left alone at the Barns after his boyfriend, Adam Parrish, goes to start college at Harvard, Ronan soon discovers that the world his late, also dreaming father inhabited hides dark, dangerous secrets, some of them about Ronan himself and his brothers. But when he meets another dreamer, the mysterious Hennessey, Ronan begins to realize that there is a war raging, dreams and destiny are crashing together, and unknown forces are working behind the scenes to make sure that the Dreamers stay hidden. But Ronan must decide if he will become the hero everyone wants him to be, or turn his back on his loved ones…

                I loved, loved, loved this book. The Raven Cycle is one of my die-hard, deserted island series; I wish I had it in my own collection, and reading this book felt like nothing less than coming home. It made me so emotional that there were several times where I had to put the book down to cry. I’ve missed these characters so much; it felt like I was being welcomed back into an old group of dear, loving friends. The pacing was breakneck, and I immediately felt at home with Ronan and his brothers. The prose was dark, lyrical, and per Maggie’s signature, confusing; there were times when I had to go back and reread to make sure I really understood it. But she puts her signature magic into this new trilogy, and one of my favorite parts of the novel was the way that the Lynches’ dreaming was explained. I also adored the characters, old and new, but especially Hennessey and the girls, Bryde, and the Visionaries and Zeds. I don’t want to say too much about the plot; it’s confusing, tangled, but best experienced blind; the better to keep the surprises under wraps! The bottom line: Weird, dark, surprising and funny, I loved Call Down the Hawk! I can’t wait for more from this new trilogy! Next on deck: Cursed by Frank Miller and Thomas Wheeler!

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Supernova by Marissa Meyer Review


Title: Supernova
Author: Marissa Meyer
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Renegades, book three
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.
                Supernova was the first book I finished in 2020, but due to the holidays, I wasn’t able to finish it until a few days ago. If I’m being totally honest, I didn’t want to finish it, because I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Gatlon City, or any of the Renegades or Anarchists just yet. But I finished it, and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. This book was so bittersweet. I was eager to see what would happen, but I was also dreading the end, because it meant that it was really, truly over! Supernova picks up where Archenemies left off, with a traitor in the midst of The Renegades. Nova and Adrian are both left scrambling to hide their identities, and must withstand even more lies and betrayal as they do their best to protect their loved ones. Their greatest fears are about to come to life, and unless they can mend the rift between villains and heroes, they stand to lose everything, including each other. But secrets don’t stay buried, and Nova and Adrian must do everything to save their broken world…
                I really, really liked this book! I got it a few weeks ago, and it’s been sitting on the top of the library stack ever since; I finished it right as the new year started, but due to the holidays, I’ve been sitting on my review. Sequels always make me anxious, especially when I don’t have the previous books to refer back to, but I had nothing to fear like that from Supernova. I was instantly thrown back into the action, and it didn’t take long to remember everything that was going on. The pacing was breakneck, and I have to say that I had to walk away from the book sometimes, both to get a hold of myself emotionally and to make it last longer. I cried through a lot of it, and the fight scenes were some of the most nail-biting I’ve ever read. But even more than that, I loved the resolution that was presented in this book, even with all of the pain involved. All of my questions were answered, all loose ends were tied. But my favorite thing about this series is how it took one of our culture’s most prominent myths and turned it on its head, forming a brand-new classic. I love Heartless, but for now, Renegades and its sequels hold the place in my heart for this author’s best series. Marissa Meyer has done an outstanding job, and I will never forget this series! The bottom line: Dark, emotional, and surprising, I loved Supernova! Definitely a great choice for the first novel of 2020! Next on deck: Call Down the Hawk by Maggie Stiefvater!

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn Review


Title: Runaways: The Complete Edition
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn, Adrian Alphona, et. Al
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Runaways, books 1-18
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Okay, so, the reason I was curious about the comics was because of the TV show on Hulu; I started watching it a while ago, and I wanted to read the source material. I just finished it this morning upon waking up, and let me just say, whoa. The adaptation was definitely different, but I enjoyed the first set of comics nonetheless! This darkly funny and surprising series asks a serious question: Every group of teenagers thinks that their parents are evil incarnate. But what if your parents actually were? When a group of children discovers that their parents are murdering supervillains, they run away, furious that they’ve been lied to all their lives. I’m a sucker for good characterization, especially with young adults. The art is gorgeous, sharp, and colorful; I’m looking forward to more from this series! Next on deck: Supernova by Marissa Meyer!

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys Review


Title: The Fountains of Silence
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                Ruta Sepetys is one of my favorite authors, and has been for a long time now. Salt to the Sea, her third book, was my first by her. So, when I found out that she was writing a new book, I put it on hold as soon as I could. It’s been sitting in my library stack for a while now. I couldn’t renew it, so as soon as I was finished with Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, I began to read it. Historical fiction ie one of my favorite genres, because it gives me perspective into times of upheaval and change that I wouldn’t otherwise have. The Fountains of Silence opens not long after the end of the Spanish civil war, with several young people struggling to find their dreams in the aftermath. Daniel Matheson is a young Texan, come to Spain with his wealthy parents for a business meeting with Spain’s dictator, Francisco Franco. A passionate photographer, his eyes are opened to Spain’s dark secrets, some in places long before he was even born. But Spain also holds hope, promise, unexpected allies and perhaps, true love?

                I’ll be honest: This was a time period in American and Spanish history that I didn’t know much about. I knew the basics, of course, but even then, they were bare. I love how Ruta Sepetys takes so much care and meticulous research when she tells a story; I was immediately spellbound by her prose, but even more than that, the characters. I laughed, I wept, I raged, especially at my own ignorance. The thing about studying history, at least, for me, is that you have to study its nuances so the situations don’t repeat. And The Fountains of Silence was like a front-row seat to the conflict, but also to the many triumphs and flaws of humanity itself. The characters were beautifully drawn, especially Ana, Daniel, his parents, and Ana’s family members. As with all of Sepetys’s books, it was written with empathy and heart, and I loved the ending! It wasn’t quite perfect, but I loved the way that it was so true to life. This book may be my favorite in her entire body of work. It was just so good. I loved the characters, the lush, gorgeous Spanish setting, the attention to detail, and just about everything else. This is a great book to read if you want a behind the scenes look at a more obscure time in history, and I very much enjoyed it. The bottom line: Rich with detail, heartbreakingly sad and empathetic, I loved The Fountains of Silence! Next on deck: Runaways: Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughn!

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki Review


Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Author: Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero O’Connell
Age Group: Teen/Young Adult
Genre: Graphic Novel
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                I went to my book club last month and saw this book sitting on the new book display; I was immediately intrigued by the color palette and the fluid, emotional way that the pictures were drawn. I took it home with me that night and it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack ever since. I finished Monster, She Wrote and tried to read Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, and ended up not finishing it. So, I moved on to Laura Dean and devoured it in less than a day. This graphic novel was beautifully drawn, and the story broke my heart. I loved it so much; Laura Dean is one of my favorite books of 2019, and I can’t wait to see more from this dynamic duo! A fantastic, fresh graphic novel that won my heart completely! Highly recommended to all!

                Laura Dean, the most popular girl at school, was Frederica ‘Freddy’ Riley’s dream girl. She’s funny, sweet, beautiful, and sexy. The only problem is she’s fickle and mean, and is not the greatest girlfriend. Reeling from their latest breakup, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, takes her to a psychic, mysteriously called The Seek-Her. Seek-Her leaves Freddy with advice, even though Freddy doesn’t want to hear it: break up with Laura Dean. But when LD spins back into her life with all the force of a hurricane, Freddy begins to wonder if she is the problem. Maybe Laura Dean is only part of it, Freddy wonders as she loses friends left and right. Luckily, though, there are new friends, which she desperately needs, and the insight of an advice columnist to get her through the throes of teenage love. With Laura Dean, Tamaki and Valero-O’Connell asks us to consider what happens when we quit the toxic relationships we crave and embrace the healthy ones we need instead.

                I loved, loved, loved this graphic novel! The art style was what grabbed me initially, but it was the perfect antidote to the nasty feelings I had after the disappointment of Ninth House. The color palette was gorgeous, and I loved the way that the pictures were drawn. But I was instantly captivated by Freddy’s honest, sweet voice. The pacing was breakneck; I finished this book in a few short hours. I loved all of the characters, especially Freddy, her friends, and Laura. But I think my favorite part of this graphic novel was the way that it dealt with real issues, especially toxic relationships. The relationship between Freddy and Laura felt really familiar, with all of its ups and downs. I related to this because when I was younger, I had a lot of friends who weren’t really friends, and it brought back a lot of mixed, bittersweet feelings. I absolutely adored this graphic novel, even though there were several times when I had to put it down to cry. The bottom line: Rich, realistic, and honest, I loved Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me! Next on deck: Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys!

Monster, She Wrote by Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson Review


Title: Monster: She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction
Authors: Lisa Kroger and Melanie R. Anderson
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction
Series: Standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

                I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

                I heard about this book from the free magazine, Bookpage, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to order it. I’ve had it for a while now, and it’s been sitting at the top of my library stack ever since. I realized I couldn’t renew it any more, so, when I finished The Never Tilting World, I plunged in, not certain what to expect. Simply put, this book shines a spotlight on the many women who have helped forge the modern horror and speculative fiction genres, complete with illustrations and reading lists. This book is one of my favorite books of 2019, because it was funny, informative, and surprising. This book begins with women from the 16th century and goes all the way to the present day, with a wealth of information about them all.

                Everyone knows Mary Shelley, the young woman who wrote Frankenstein when she was just a teenager. But did you know that she wrote that novel in response to the grief she was feeling over the child she lost? (She was also rumored to have her late husband’s heart tucked into a desk drawer!) There is also Margaret ‘Mad Madge’ Cavendish, who wrote a science fiction epic 150 years earlier, and liked to wear risqué dresses to the theater and opera. Shirley Jackson, one of my personal favorites, also gets an honorable mention; despite her career as a wife and mother, she used al of that as inspiration for her writing; she came into the public eye again when Netflix adapted her book, The Haunting of Hill House. This book contained profiles for authors I knew and some I’d never heard of. Containing information about so many women who had a hand in developing the horror and speculative fiction genres, this book was funny, informative, and interesting, and it might be one of my favorites for the nonfiction genre of this year. If I had one little quibble, I wish there had been more authors of color discussed. Nonetheless, this book was wonderful: meticulously researched, beautifully illustrated, and informative, I loved it so much! The bottom line: Hilarious, informative, and surprising, I loved Monster, She Wrote! Next on deck: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell!