Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Paul's TOP FOUR Books Read in 2019

2019 was a reading slump for me when it came to reading non-graphic books. This has been a trend the past few years. I used to read a lot at my past job because there were long breaks, but though I am way more happy at my current job and with my life overall, I still haven't quite gotten into a reading rhythm. When do you read?

I read 87 books in 2019, but most of them were comics, graphic novels, and picture books. I had set my 2018 Goodreads Reading Challenge to 50, which I accomplished and more. I'm going to set my 2020 Reading Challenge at 50 again, knowing I'll probably be reading a lot of graphic novels again. In this post, I'll list my top (non-graphic) books I read in 2019. I've made a separate post for my favorite of the many comics and graphic novels I read: TOP COMICS OF 2019. 

All of my top books this year are sequels or companion novels. I'm hoping to read more new novels in 2020. And I'm already starting that out by reading Reverie by Ryan La Sala. 

Below you will find the TOP FOUR books that I read in 2019. Click on the titles or cover pictures for links to my reviews! 



 MY TOP 4 BOOKS OF 2019











What were your favorite books of 2019? What books are you looking forward to in 2020?




--PAUL

Paul's TOP COMIC BOOKS/GRAPHIC NOVELS Read in 2019

I read a lot of books in 2019, specifically comics and graphic novels. I read 87 of my 50 books for my 2019 Goodreads Reading Challenge. And only 4 of them didn't have pictures and text. Out of those 83 books, I've selected my favorites. Below you will find the TOP comic books and graphic novels that I read in 2018. Click on the titles or cover pictures for links to my reviews!  




 MY TOP COMIC BOOKS/GRAPHIC NOVELS OF 2019













  



  

  




What were your favorite books of 2019? What books are you looking forward to in 2020?




--PAUL

Monday, January 13, 2020

Red Skies Falling (Skybound #2) by Alex London - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group via NetGalleyI voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
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Title: 
Red Skies Falling (Skybound #2)
Author: Alex London
Release Date: September 3, 2019

Black Wings Beating REVIEW

Synopsis: In this thrilling sequel to Black Wings Beating, twins Kylee and Brysen are separated by the expanse of Uztar, but are preparing for the same war – or so they think.

Kylee is ensconsed in the Sky Castle, training with Mem Uku to master the Hollow Tongue and the Ghost Eagle. But political intrigue abounds and court drama seems to seep through the castle's stones like blood from a broken feather. Meanwhile, Brysen is still in the Six Villages, preparing for an attack by the Kartami. The Villages have become Uztar's first line of defense, and refugees are flooding in from the plains. But their arrival lays bare the villagers darkest instincts. As Brysen navigates the growing turmoil, he must also grapple with a newfound gift, a burgeoning crush on a mysterious boy, and a shocking betrayal.

The two will meet again on the battlefield, fighting the same war from different sides―or so they think. The Ghost Eagle has its own plans.



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Review: I absolutely LOVED Black Wings Beating! This sequel takes those characters into darker places. War is even closer to both Kylee and Brysen. I feel like this book really takes the complexity of war times and expands on them. Moral grayness is abound. Conflicting priorities and viewpoints drive the action in this book. The amazing world Alex London created is expanded on even more. Everything in this culture is related to birds and I love it. The tiny avian allusions made me smile every single time.


This book took a lot longer for me to read. 2019 was a reading slump for me when it comes to prose (non-graphic) books. I think this book has middle-of-a-trilogy difficulties. Everything has been established and we just get to learn more about the details of things. Kylee and Brysen's stories feel more separate in this book, but they do have connections. It felt like more big action things happened, but there still were some huge thrilling moments. I think my views of this are due mostly to me reading it slowly over a long period of time.

I give this book a 5/5. If you liked Black Wings Beating then you MUST read this book! And if you haven't read Black Wings Beating, you are completely missing out. Just the fact that a YA Fantasy trilogy with queer leads like this exists is so exciting for me!


--PAUL

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Mooncakes (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Lion Forge/Oni Press via NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*


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Title: 
Mooncakes
Author: Suzanne Walker
Illustrator: Wendy Xu
Release Date: October 22, 2019


Synopsis: A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers' bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery. 



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Review:
 I had heard great things about this book so I was really looking forward to reading it. And I LOVED it! This graphic novel is magically diverse! It's queer and witchy! It's so much fun!

Nova is a witch who's hard of hearing. Tam is both is a non-binary werewolf. The queerness is handled so seamlessly, naturally addressing pronouns used early on. There are so many parallels between queer stories and magic/werewolf stories that this combination just makes sense. The sense of community and finding your own people. The coming out. It's all there.

Every character in this graphic novel is fully realized and fleshed out completely. Not only does the world feel real and lived in, but the characters seem like real people as well. 

This is a great story about two childhood friends reconnecting as adults and figuring out things out. Oh, and there's also awesome magic battles. The pacing is also excellent. Honestly, I read the whole book in one sitting. I definitely give this graphic novel a 5/5. Highly recommend!!! 


--PAUL

Friday, December 27, 2019

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 5 (comic) - Paul's REVIEW


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Title: 
Saban's Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 5
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Eleonora Carlini & Raul Angulo
Recent Release Date: December 10, 2019

Go Go Power Rangers Vol.1
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.2
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.3
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.4

Synopsis: With the Green Power Coin in her possession. Rita Repulsa will turn to an unlikely ally to activate it! Meanwhile, the Power Rangers discover Zordon’s history has come back to haunt them!

With the Green Power Coin finally in her possession, Rita Repulsa must go into the darkest corners of her past to unlock its power. Meanwhile, the Power Rangers work to discover what exactly Rita will do next, but face an unlikely foe who has his origins in Zordon’s past. 

Written by Ryan Parrott (Star Trek: Manifest Destiny) and illustrated by Eleonora Carlini (Batgirl), discover the secret history the Power Rangers revealed for the first time!

Contains issues #17-20 of Saban's Go Go Power Rangers. 



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Review: I continue to adore both of the ongoing Power Rangers series from BOOM! Studios. The Go Go series focuses more on the non-actiony things like teenage drama and backstories to iconic characters. Rita's past is a big part of this volume. We meet Rita's mother and learn that she knew Zordon. Rita reminisces about her past as she tries to get the Dragon coin to work. 


The rangers are being affected by living a double life Zach's not doing well with his classes. The Jason and Trini relationship gets a little bumpy. Kim has to deal with her parents' divorce. 

Alpha-1 makes his debut in this volume. I'm looking forward to where he takes the main story. He has a complicated past and relationship with Zordon. I think we're going to get into the ethics of superhero-ing.

There are so many great references. Master Vile might be on his way. Tenga warriors are featured in a flashback. 

Not only the teenagers get drama to deal with this volume. Rita did not get along with her mother. And we learn more about Ernie's past and why he decided to open up a youth center. 

The artwork is excellent. The colors really capture the brightness of Power Rangers. That was one thing the 2017 film tried to get away from. I hope the upcoming film embraces the bright colors. This comic goes above and beyond the original series feel with the crispness of the colors and especially the zords. The zords get to do things in comics they would never have been able to do in 1990s live-action. 

This volume packs so much. I love it. This volume is a great setup for whatever Alpha-1 decides to do next volume. I give this volume a 5/5


--PAUL

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Zéropédia (illustrated encyclopedia) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Europe Comics via NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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Title: 
Zéropédia
Author: Fabcaro 
Illustrator: Julien Solé
Release Date: September 18, 2019


Synopsis: What was the Roswell incident? Why did people in the Stone Age paint pictures on cave walls? What is the Larsen effect? What was the "Wow!" signal? How do carnivorous plants catch their prey? What is absolute zero? Author Fabcaro, smitten by science, tackles countless scientific subjects alongside artist Julien/CDM in this illustrated "encyclopedia." Through humor and irony, they manage to make even the trickiest topics accessible to all—in just one page!



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Review: This is an illustrated encyclopedia. It's all you need to know about all you need to know. The format is simple. A question is asked, then a page of comics about some facts and some funnies to answer.There are some pretty science-y terms in this book.


I would have absolutely loved this book as a kid. There's a lot of scientific terms, but they are presented in a way that anyone can get at least the basic understanding of with added humor. And pretty pictures. I give this book a 4/5


--PAUL

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Natty (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Europe Comics via NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Amazon | Goodreads

Title: 
Natty
Author: Éric Corbeyran, 
Illustrator: Melvil 
Release Date: June 2017


Synopsis: Princess Natty of Orchidhali is a member of the floral caste and lives in a luxurious, sunshine-filled palace covered. Had she not neglected her studies of sacred texts and tradition, she'd have learned that refusing all of candidates presented to her for marriage would result in her death! She is forced to flee her palace and ends up in the dark realm of the Untouchables, the very lowest caste of society, where a strange form of leprosy reigns. One of the Untouchables, Sami, doesn't seem to suffer as badly as the others. As Natty develops a friendship with Sami, she discovers that he owes his relative beauty to his activity as a mushroom trafficker. In exchange for the valuable fungi, Sami obtains time exposed to the sun: in fact, it is the complete absence of sun from the Untouchables' realm that leads to their deformed bodies and skin. Together, Sami and Natty make a plan to leave the shadows of the underworld and return to the light. But just as they are about to make their escape, a battalion of soldiers arrives... 



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Review: A fantasy princess coming-of-age story set in a fantasy world? That checks all my boxes. Unfortunately, this graphic novel was not what I wanted. The fantasy setting is mostly appropriative. The tropes and cliches often present in this genre aren't diverged from enough, in my opinion. This book feels like it was written in the 80s or 90s. It is not very modern. 


My biggest problem with this book is the Untouchables. A caste system exists in this world, very reminiscent of that in India. My husband grew up in India so I have heard many stories involving caste dynamics. It's still an issue today for many people.There are even people today who still follow this idea, not touching those beneath them. In this book, the Untouchables are physically grotesque. There's some backstory that leads to why they are that way, but having the caste system being a physical representation rubbed me the wrong way.

There is so much emphasis on physical beauty in this book. It seems to want to breakdown fairy tale tropes, but it does not succeed. The first volume ends in the middle of a scene. I would read the second volume, but it just isn't modern enough for me. I wanted to see more respect for the cultures that inspired the fantasy world this French author created. I give this book a 2/5.  


--PAUL