Monday, May 27, 2019

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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

Gender Queer: A MemoirAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Gender Queer: A Memoir
Author: Maia Kobabe
Upcoming Release Date: May 28, 2019

Synopsis: In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia's intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears. Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity--what it means and how to think about it--for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.


Review: This memoir is excellent. The author takes us through eir life from childhood up to present day. The subjects of gender, sexuality, and identity are present in all parts of eir life. This could be described as a coming-out story, but a more accurate representation of coming-out. Throughout eir life, e had various identities that led to having to (or choosing to) come out. 

This memoir is so informative, but shows one person's personal experience. I learned a lot and I thought I already was pretty familiar with gender identities. I wasn't familiar with the e/em/eir pronouns.

I loved this book. The artwork and flow of the story blends so well into a story you're going to read in one sitting. I think this book would be great for anyone unsure about their own gender or are curious about non-binary and gender queer experiences. I give this book a 5/5 and will be recommending it to everyone this summer!   


Sunday, May 26, 2019

How Do You Smoke a Weed? (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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

How Do You Smoke a Weed?Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

How Do You Smoke a Weed?
Author: Lauren Keller
Artists: Lin Visel & Joseph Bergin III 
Recent Release Date: April 23, 2019

Synopsis: Sprout, a wee babe of a Weeping Giant Sequoia, is psyched to smoke marijuana for the first time. But she stumbles on her first obstacle right away: she has no idea what she's doing! A trio of helpful (and more mature) sequoias give her a dried cannabis flower and send her on a delightful journey of discovery. The forest is alive with wizened old animals who know the laws and customs, the history and science, and all the ins and outs of America's increasingly legal pastime. HOW DO YOU SMOKE A WEED? is both a fun storybook quest and a practical how-to for the novice weed smoker!

With marijuana decriminalized or legalized in 26 states and Washington, DC, dispensaries popping up everywhere, and experienced users openly rejoicing, it can be hard for the marijuana newbie, cowed by years of Just-Say-No disinformation, to find your way. Written by experienced, conscientious users and presented in an easy-to-read comic book format, HOW DO YOU SMOKE A WEED? fills that gap. Perfect for the cannabis-curious, and with new insights for the veteran smoker. 


Review: I'm a big fan of edutainment graphic novels. I've recently read quite a few on sex and gender, and now this book which gives an entertaining introduction to marijuana. Weed is becoming legal across the United States and many adults are trying it for the first time, whether it is to just get high or to help their anxiety, joint pain, or just to help them sleep. This graphic novel gives a brief run-down on marijuana.

First off, the book makes it very clear that this is for responsible, consenting adults and that you should follow the laws in whatever state you live in. The purpose of this graphic novel is to combat decades of misinformation and criminalization. 

There's a good mixture of science-y facts and step-by-step instructions. Joints and bongs are covered. Even how to properly clean out a bong. There's a great section on healthy munchies ideas. The science behind sativa, indica, & CBD is explained. All of these things are great introductions that can give you the vocabulary to be able to research yourself or be knowledgeable enough to talk to the cashiers at a local store about what may work best for you. 

I give this book a 4/5. It's full of great, responsible information. But I wanted more details. It's always difficult for edutainment material to balance the goofs and the facts. I wanted just a little less funny. This is a great beginner's guide, especially for someone who is not familiar with weed.


Friday, May 24, 2019

Middlewest Book One (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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

Middlewest Book OneAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Middlewest Book One
Author: Skottie Young 
Artists: Jorge Corona & Mike Huddleston
Upcoming Release Date: May 28, 2019

Synopsis: The lands between the coasts are vast, slow to change, and full of hidden magics. The town of Farmington has been destroyed sending an unwitting adventurer and his vulpine companion in search of answers to quell a coming storm that speaks his name. From author SKOTTIE YOUNG (I HATE FAIRYLAND, DEADPOOL) and artist JORGE CORONA (NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, FEATHERS, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA: OLD MAN JACK) comes the tale of Abel, a young boy who must navigate an old land in order to reconcile his family's history.

Collects MIDDLEWEST #1-6


Review: This book starts out with a boy and his paper route, but there's more to this world than there seems. There's differences from the expected. Weird pink tanks attached to every building. A talking fox. There is no info-dumping in this story. I have no idea what this world is, and I love it. It's definitely giving me Wizard of Oz vibes (there's even a reference to The Wiz). The back and forth dialogue between Abel and his fox companion is great. 

There's a lot of interesting dynamics in this book. Abel has some daddy issues. This story tackles topics like heritable aggression, the fear of becoming your own father. I'm excited to see where this story will go.

I give this book a 4/5. The artwork is captivating. The characters have depth. I'm looking forward to where this story is going.  


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Midas by Ryan North (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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

Midas (The Midas Flesh)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Writer: Ryan North
Artists: Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb 
Recent Release Date: May 7, 2019

Synopsis: The acclaimed team behind the Eisner Award-winning Adventure Time comic books, New York Times best-selling author Ryan North (Squirrel Girl) and beloved illustrators Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb (One Day a Dot: The Story of You, The Universe, and Everything), combine forces once again for an original sci-fi space comedy unlike the universe has ever seen! Space captain Joey, navigator Fatima, and scientist (and dinosaur) Cooper are headed to Earth—a planet completely sectioned off, abandoned, and covered in gold—and are confronted by the most powerful weapon in the universe: some ancient dead guy's body?! Now they gotta keep King Midas’ body from being dropped on planets across the universe, and figure out exactly what to do with a gross dead dude with one truly ridiculous superpower.


Review: I hadn't heard of this series before. When it was first released, it was titled Midas Flesh. This book compiles all of the issues from the series into a big, over 200 page collection. I read the whole story in just a few sittings. 

I love books that have high concepts that really play into their unique stories. The basic premise of this book is that when Midas was given the ability to make everything he touched turn to gold, the whole planet of Earth became gold and became stuck in that moment. Hundreds of years later, an interesting space crew is on a mission to defy the government and change the world using the power of Midas. 

The crew is great! There's only three crew members, but they each have such great personalities. And one of them is a dinosaur! 

There are wonderful moral quandaries brought up in this book. The morality of a super weapon. How to put the genie back in the bottle. This book, especially the ending, really made me think. And I LOVE that in sci-fi!

 At the end of the book there's a letter from the creator about the origins of the story as well as some concept art. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's such a great, complete story. It's long, but it kept my attention the whole time. The concept is great. The characters are excellent. There's excitement throughout the book. I could absolutely see a movie made from this book. I give this book a 5/5 and will be recommending it to many friends. 


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Star Wars: Age of Republic - Villains (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

Star Wars: Age of Republic - VillainsAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Star Wars: Age of Republic - Villains
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Luke Ross, Java Tartaglia, & Carlos Gomez
Recent Release Date: May 21, 2019

Synopsis: This is the Age of Star Wars - an epic series of adventures that unite your favorite characters from all three trilogies! And we're bringing on the bad guys - shining a light on the darkest figures of the Old Republic, starting with Darth Maul! A living weapon of rage and bloodthirst, Maul lurks in the shadows of Coruscant waiting for his chance to strike against the Jedi Order! But the Sith lord struggles to contain his desire for destruction, and questions the wishes of his methodically plotting master. Could Maul have had another path in life, or was he always fated to follow a dark road? Plus, delve deep into the dark side with Darth Sidious! Count Dooku! General Grievous! Jango Fett! And more! COLLECTING: STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC - COUNT DOOKU 1, STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC - DARTH MAUL 1, STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC - GENERAL GRIEVOUS 1, STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC - JANGO FETT 1, STAR WARS: AGE OF REPUBLIC SPECIAL 1


Review: I'm really excited for this new comic series putting the focus on characters from all three trilogies. The first volume centers in on the villains from the prequels. I'm always up for new canon stories set in the prequel era. 

The first story follows Darth Maul prior to Episode I. I liked seeing Maul already sneaking around the dark underworld of Coruscant already forming shady connections. There's also references to Rebels and Malachor. 4/5.

Next up is Jango Fett and his young clone of a son, Boba Fett. This short story shows a great look into their relationship. Bounty Hunter stories are always fun. 4/5

Count Dooku is on a mission for his master, creating more disorder in the galaxy. I liked seeing a little into Dooku's past as a jedi. There's also a Tiger Jedi!?! 3/5

The General Grievous story is my favorite in this volume. I really enjoyed seeing Grievous's original form. It's a really unique looking into his psyche. I also like the Jedi mysticism. 5/5

The Special included in this volume focuses on Asajj Ventress. It's a pretty quick story and shows Ventress on the lower levels of Coruscant interacting with people on the streets. 3/5

I really like collections like this. it's a great opportunity to show a glimpse into a character's life that we haven't seen before. I'm looking forward to the rest of this series, especially the sequel trilogy volumes since we know so little about the characters outside of the movies. I give this volume of prequel villains a 4/5


Monday, May 20, 2019

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Part One (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Dark Horse Books via Edelweiss. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Part One (Ruins of the Empire, #1)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, Part One
Author: Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko Illustrators: Michelle Wong & Vivian Ng 
Upcoming Release Date: May 21, 2019

Turf Wars, Part One
Turf Wars, Part Two
Turf Wars, Part Three

Synopsis: Korra must decide who to trust as the fate of the Earth Kingdom hangs in the balance!

On the eve of its first elections, the Earth Kingdom finds its future endangered by its past. Even as Kuvira stands trial for her crimes, vestiges of her imperial ambitions threaten to undermine the nation's democratic hopes. But when Korra, Asami, Mako, and Bolin don't all see eye-to-eye as to the solution, drastic measures will be taken to halt a new march to war!


Review: The second story arc post-tv series is here in Ruins of the Empire! Team Avatar is at it again. This time, it's democracy time for the Earth Kingdom! But, there are some Earth Empire Holdouts. How better to relate to them, then with Kuvira herself? President Zhu Li is such a wonderful character. I love that that is her role now.

I give this first part of Ruins of the Empire a 5/5. I really enjoy how much modernizing is happening to the world of Avatar/Korra. There are new technologies. There are democratic elections. The story has a modern element to it that i really like.  


Monday, May 13, 2019

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance, Part Two (comic) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Dark Horse Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance, Part Two (Imbalance, #2)Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance, Part One
Writers: Faith Erin Hicks, Michael Dante DiMartino, & Bryan Konietzko  
Illustrator: Peter Wartman 
Upcoming Release Date: May 14, 2019

Imbalance, Part One

Synopsis: Aang and Team Avatar race to resolve rising tensions between benders and non-benders before a town is torn apart!

There's something fishy going on in Cranefish Town, and it's up to Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph to find out what, before the simmering conflict between benders and non-benders boils over into all-out war. But danger lurks where they least expect it, and uncovering the truth will reveal a threat unlike any they've ever faced--and a fateful choice for Aang he can never unmake!


Review: This second part in the Imbalance story finds Team Avatar dealing with a conflict in Cranefish Town between the benders and non-benders. Non-bender owned businesses have been attacked and Toph has some ideas about who was involved. 

I love the dynamic of Team Avatar. That classic humor is present. It's also cool to see the designs beginning to grow up, showing the youngsters aging. Suki is back in this volume! And Toph is an awesome badass.

I give this comic volume a 4/5. I always love stories continuing Team Avatar's adventures post-tv series. The animosity in this volume parallels well with modern politics and discussions about privileges. 


Friday, May 10, 2019

Blackbird, Vol. 1 (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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

Blackbird, Vol. 1Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Blackbird, Vol. 1
Author: Sam Humphries  
Artist: Jen Bartel 
Upcoming Release Date: May 14, 2019

Synopsis: Nina Rodriguez knows a hidden magical world run by ruthless cabals is hiding in Los Angeles. When a giant magic beast kidnaps her sister, Nina must confront her past (and her demons) to get her sister back and reclaim her life. Don't miss the first collection of the smash-hit neo-noir fantasy series from fan-favorite writer SAM HUMPHRIES (Harley Quinn, Nightwing) and red-hot artist JEN BARTEL (Mighty Thor)!

Collects BLACKBIRD #1-6 


Review: This first volume of the comic series Blackbird is full of great visuals. Magic is real in this world, but it isn't known by the general populace. Nina knows it's real, but people don't believe her. She discovers her connection to this world over the course of this book. Attractive magic users known as paragons start appearing in her life. 

I absolutely loved the aesthetic of this book. The magic is portrayed in stunning colors and details. There's a giant blue monster early on that really hooked me in on the visuals. But, the story didn't grab my attention. I wasn't pulled in by the characters or the plot. I give this book a 3/5. Beautiful artwork, but I probably won't read the second volume based on the story.


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 8 (graphic novel) [SHATTERED GRID FINALE] - Paul's REVIEW

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 8Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Vol. 7
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Illustrators: Daniele Di Nicuolo, Simona Di Gianfelice, & Diego Galindo
Recent Release Date: May 7, 2019

Synopsis: The epic conclusion of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ first comic book crossover event: Shattered Grid!

As Lord Drakkon comes ever closer to conquering all of existence, Power Rangers from across all eras answer the call to join forces against his armies. As new friends and old foes come together in the Rangers’ darkest hour, the entire legacy of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hangs in the balance. Join Kyle Higgins (Nightwing) and artist Daniele DiNicuolo (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink) in the epic conclusion to the ultimate war against Lord Drakkon with the final installment of the critically acclaimed event, Shattered Grid.


Review: It's SHATTERED GRID FINALE time! I read these books as they come out in trade paperbacks, so I was somewhat familiar with what was going to go down thanks to social media. But, there were still so many wonderful surprises! The biggest smiles on my face were brought from how many times the HyperForce rangers show up in this book. I enjoyed that series so much and am still hoping for Season 2 so seeing those characters alongside classic rangers was excellent! The Beast Morphers are also in this book, but they make more of just a cameo appearance. 

One of the great things about this Shattered Grid arc was how many different rangers from different eras make appearances and are integral to the story. They aren't just cameos. Jen Scott and Lauren Shiba are two that really shine in this volume. I absolutely love the interactions between Jason and Lauren. They co-lead the teams wonderfully. Some other characters that I really enjoyed were Andros, Coinless Skull, and Commander Cruger. 

There are so many beautiful panels in this book. I had seen some revealed online before, but there were even more that I just sat and took the time to check out every detail within. The final issue in this volume really surprised me.

The ending was perfect. Kyle Higgins did an excellent job with the over thirty issues that have gone into this story. These are characters that I first met when I was 5 years old. Now, I'm 30. Higgins brought everything that I crave in storytelling to this story. A Multiverse. Good vs Evil. Friendship prevailing.

There's another short story at the end of this volume, continuing Blue Centurion and Ninjor's adventures. It's a cool team-up, but pales in comparison to the rest of the issue. But it's supposed to be just a fun story anyway. There's also a preview of Vol.9 Beyond the Grid included as well.

I obviously give this a 5/5. It's excellent storytelling. It's the culmination of over thirty issues. I'm so thankful that Boom! Studios made this happen. I obviously am looking forward to what happens Beyond the Grid!        


Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 3 (comic) [SHATTERED GRID] - Paul's REVIEW

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 3Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Saban's Go Go Power Rangers, Vol. 3
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artists: Dan Mora & Raul Angulo
Recent Release Date: April 23, 2019

Go Go Power Rangers Vol.1
Go Go Power Rangers Vol.2

Synopsis: Dealing with the fallout of Rita Repulsa’s abduction of Matthew, the Power Rangers are confronted with a dark specter from the future with a shocking connection to Lord Drakkon--ties into Shattered Grid!


The Power Rangers have just exhaled a sigh of relief after their friend Matthew narrowly escaped Rita’s clutches on the moon, but a new enemy has already emerged, one that will have the Rangers question every decision they’ve made so far. Tying into the critically acclaimed, bestselling Shattered Grid event, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers must confront the future to save the past as they face off against the mysterious Ranger Slayer.


Review: I'm FINALLY getting to read the Shattered Grid storyline! I've followed along on social media so I'm already somewhat familiar with what happens, but finally getting to see the Ranger Slayer in action with her Gravezord was epic!

This ongoing series focuses more on the teenagers with attitude's personal lives than their superhero actions. This volume keeps with that, but there's also plenty of action. Kim's parents' divorce is an ongoing story and I'm enjoying the focus it's getting compared to the few lines in the original tv series. Jason also has somethings going on at home. 

The zords in this volume are beautifully illustrated. The bright colors in this whole volume have me flipping back through the book after reading it. 

I loved getting to see more of the Coinless world. Bulk and some other known characters are featured. I really enjoyed the scenes between Coinless Bulk and Kim talking. There's also some great later cameos in the Coinless world that surprised me. 

One of my favorite things about this series is the Matthew story because I have no idea what to expect. The creative monsters and their names is also a favorite of mine. They always make me chuckle. 

I give this volume a 5/5. Both of these ongoing Power Rangers series are excellent. I'm so excited to read the conclusion of the Shattered Grid story next.  


Monday, May 6, 2019

Waves by Ingrid Chabbert (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from BOOM! Studios & Archaia via NetGalley.I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

WavesAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Author: Ingrid Chabbert
Illustrator: Carole Maurel
Upcoming Release Date: May 7, 2019

Synopsis: A young woman and her wife's attempts to have a child unfold in this poetic tale that ebbs and flows like the sea.

After years of difficulty trying to have children, a young couple finally announces their pregnancy, only to have the most joyous day of their lives replaced with one of unexpected heartbreak. Their relationship is put to the test as they forge ahead, working together to rebuild themselves amidst the churning tumult of devastating loss, and ultimately facing the soul-crushing reality that they may never conceive a child of their own.

Based on author Ingrid Chabbert’s own experience, coupled with soft, sometimes dreamlike illustrations by Carole Maurel, Waves is a deeply moving story that poignantly captures a woman’s exploration of her pain in order to rediscover hope.


Review: This graphic novel tells a woman's journey through pregnancy, the loss of her child, and the mourning and reconstruction that comes after. The artistic style portrays the mourning through the use of colors. Highlights show the colors coming back into their world after their loss. This is a very emotional story. 

I give this graphic novel a 5/5. The process of grieving and reconstruction is shown so well. I feel that anyone, whether you have any similar experiences or not, will be moved by this book. 


Friday, May 3, 2019

Sincerely, Harriet (graphic novel) by Sarah Winifred Searle - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from Lerner Publishing Group/Graphic Universe via NetGalley.I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Sincerely, HarrietAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Sincerely, Harriet
Author/Illustrator: Sarah Winifred Searle
Upcoming Release Date: May 7, 2019

Synopsis:  Harriet Flores struggles with boredom and an unrequited crush while learning to manage her chronic illness through a long, hot, 1990s summer in Chicago. She uses her imagination to cope, which sometimes gets her into trouble, as she makes up fantastical fibs and wonders if there are ghosts upstairs. One neighbor, Pearl, encourages Harriet to read and write, leading Harriet to have a breakthrough and discover the power of storytelling. 


Review: This graphic novel starts with a young girl who is not very happy about her move to Chicago. She isn't able to go to summer camp, but she tries to keep in touch with her friends from last year via postcards. In the new building, Harriet meets an elderly neighbor. Harriet fears the house may be haunted and learns about both the building and her neighbor's history. She makes up stories to imagine a life she wishes she had. 

This story is calm, but full of heart. It's a story featuring a young girl living with a chronic illness. I give this book a 4.5/5. The art matches the story so well.