Friday, April 2, 2021

The Orville Season 2.5: Launch Day (graphic novel) - 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.*



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Title: 
The Orville Season 2.5: Launch Day
Author:  David A. Goodman
Illustrators:  David Cabeza & Michael Atiyeh
Upcoming Release Date: April 6, 2021

Orville 1.5: New Beginnings REVIEW


Synopsis: Board the starship Orville and adventure through space on these new missions set between seasons two and three of Seth MacFarlane's hit sci-fi TV show!

Executive Producer David A. Goodman writes a double feature that has Captain Ed Mercer and crew investigating an enigmatic alien device and contemplating the consequences of intervention when a primitive civilization faces an off-world threat.

In Launch Day, when seemingly hostile Krill ships cross into Union space, the Orville intercepts. Ed learns they are en route to a planet that left the Planetary Union decades ago under mysterious circumstances. Scans have discovered a moon-sized construct above the planet, and the Krill intend a preemptive strike against the presumed weapon. But is it?

In Heroes, Lieutenant Talla Keyali returns to a planet she surveyed as an Ensign when a quantum signature on the surface suggests significant technological advances since her last visit. Instead, she discovers a spacefaring species has subjugated the locals, transforming their once idyllic society into a grim mining operation. Stymied by the Union's hesitance to provoke hostilities, Talla must consider how far she's willing to go to help these people and the repercussions of doing so.

Collects The Orville #1: Launch Day Part 1 of 2, The Orville #2: Launch Day Part 2 of 2, The Orville #3: Heroes Part 1 of 2, The Orville #4: Heroes Part 2 of 2.



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Review: I really enjoyed the graphic novel taking place between the first two seasons and this book delivers the same thing except between season two and the upcoming season. This book collects two different stories that each feel like an episode of the series on their own.

The first story is Launch Day. There's good pacing, funny dialogue, and modern themes showcased in an interesting way. A lot of fun. The society in this story takes isolationism to a whole new level.

The second story is Heroes. It features a world being taken advantage of. A folk hero inspires change with the help of some of the Orville crew. There are some fun vigilante and superhero themes.

I give this book a 4.5/5. Both stories feel just like fully fledged episodes. This book really gets me excited for the next season of this show.


--PAUL

Thursday, April 1, 2021

My Shadow is Pink (picture book) - Paul's REVIEW

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



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Title: My Shadow is Pink

Author & Illustrator: Scott Stuart
Release Date: April 1, 2020


Synopsis: My Shadow is Pink is a beautifully written rhyming story that touches on the subjects of gender identity, self acceptance, equality and diversity.

Inspired by the author’s own little boy, ‘Shadow’s’ main character likes princesses, fairies and things ‘not for boys’...he soon learns (through the support of his dad) that everyone has a shadow that they sometimes feel they need to hide. This is an important book for a new generation of children (and adults alike) which exemplifies the concepts of unconditional love, respect and positive parenting.



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Review: This picture book has great art with a wonderful rhyming story all done with great intention and with a heartfelt message. Every person has shadows that match their inner desires and things that society often shames people for doing/liking based on preconceived ideas and norms. The protagonist has a pink shadow that likes to dance. By the end of the book, we get to see the protagonist's father join his child in wearing a tutu.

I love the idea behind this book, but I had a few hesitations with how the story was portrayed. It still is very binary. I was confused by the color of the shadows. At one point men are shown to have blue shadows and women pink, but at another point the protagonist is the only child with a pink shadow in a class that seems to have girls in it as well. I wish the traditionally feminine interests weren't gendered with the pink shadow. Dancing can be enjoyed by all genders. I wanted this book to defy stereotypes even more. 

I also wanted to see more inequality addressed. This book portrays every person having interests they are shamed for, but society does not shame everyone equally. There are people whose interests align with what society says they should enjoy. Those people are not discriminated against for those interests, while those with interests seen as nontraditional are discriminated against.

These grievances are small, though. I understand that books like this are more of a way to open up a dialogue with both children and caregivers. I love that there are more books like this filling up the picture book shelves! I give this book a 4/5


--PAUL

Monday, March 15, 2021

Waluk: The Great Journey (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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



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Title: 
Waluk: The Great Journey
Author: Ana Mirallès
Artists: Emilio Ruiz
Upcoming Release Date: March 16, 2021


Synopsis: Wáluk and Eskimo are two inseparable bears. Wáluk is very young and Eskimo is very old. Between the two they've found a way to survive in an extremely hostile environment, combining the agility of the younger with the experience of the older. When Eskimo decides they should go further north in search of better hunting, they set off on a great journey neither are truly prepared for...

A heartwarming, fun and funny adventure that spotlights the impact of global warming and mankind moving into wildlands, forcing nature to find new ground to thrive.


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Review: This book seems to have the intention of telling a story about how human impact and climate change have changed the natural world. But, I don't think it tells that story too well. This story also seems to use elements of First Nations and Indigenous culture and names in a way that I'm unsure whether it is done appropriately. This book seems to be created by two Europeans. 

The animals in this  book are portrayed in a fantastical way. And there's also an A.I. drone with a conscious?!? I was very confused by the world in which this book takes place. 

I'm excited about more books for children that focus on the very present problem that is Climate Change. I do not recommend this book for that.

I give this book a 2/5. The art is beautiful and there's some fun interactions between the animals, but this book just did not land for me. 


--PAUL

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dead Day (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW bureaucracy

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


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Title: Dead Day

Author: Ryan Parrott 
Artist: Evgeniy Bornyakov
Upcoming Release Date: March 16, 2021


Synopsis: YOU JUST CAN’T KEEP A GOOD CORPSE DOWN

If the dead could come back for just one night, would we want them to?

Meet the Haskins, a seemingly normal suburban family, as they prepare for the annual macabre holiday known as “Dead Day" – when the deceased rise from the grave from sunset to sunrise. Some come back to reunite with family and friends, others for one last night of debauchery, still others with only one thing on their decomposing minds: revenge.

From writer Ryan Parrott (OBERON, VOLITION, Power Rangers) and artist Evgeniy Bornyakov (DESCENDENT, YOU ARE OBSOLETE) comes an unnerving tale of existential horror with grave consequences.



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Review: I've really enjoyed Ryan Parrott's Power Rangers comic series so when I saw he wrote a zombie-focused book, I had to check it out. As this book makes clear in the forward, this book is not solely about zombies being zombies. It's about the relationships between people, both dead and alive. 

There's a special day when some of those dead and buried rise from the grave. Obviously, such an unusual change in the norm of life has led to extremists. Cults! There's the gun-toting mock militia bent on re-killing the dead. There's the veiled cult who guide the dead and have a spiritual connection.

Then there's the family we focus on. What appears to be a traditional family with a mother, father, son, and daughter is a little bit more complex. I definitely wanted it to be more divergent from the assumed American family, though. This book is very White-centric and hetero-normative. I'm always looking for queer representation in everything I read. There's one mention of the Day of the Dead, but it's just a one-off comment. With a concept so close to a Latinx cultural day, I was surprised there wasn't more of a connection. There's definitely room for more worldbuilding reveals in this world, though.

I liked seeing the bureaucracy of America dealing with this concept. This book is very much about revenge. There's a lot of violence in this book. And violence is often used as a way for a character to solve a problem. 

I didn't connect too much with the characters in this book. I really dig the concept, but the family members and their priorities aren't things I directly relate to. I give this book a 3/5


--PAUL

Monday, March 8, 2021

Secrets of the Sea : The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist (picture book) - Paul's REVIEW

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



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Title: 
Secrets of the Sea : The Story of Jeanne Power, Revolutionary Marine Scientist
Author: Evan Griffith
Illustrator: Joanie Stone
Upcoming Release Date: March 9, 2021


Synopsis: The curiosity, drive, and perseverance of the nineteenth-century woman scientist who pioneered the use of aquariums to study ocean life are celebrated in this gorgeous, empowering picture book.

How did a nineteenth-century dressmaker revolutionize science? Jeanne Power was creative: she wanted to learn about the creatures that swim beneath the ocean waves, so she built glass tanks and changed the way we study underwater life forever. Jeanne Power was groundbreaking: she solved mysteries of sea animals and published her findings at a time when few of women’s contributions to science were acknowledged. Jeanne Power was persistent: when records of her research were lost, she set to work repeating her studies. And when men tried to take credit for her achievements, she stood firm and insisted on the recognition due to her.

Jeanne Power was inspiring, and the legacy of this pioneering marine scientist lives on in every aquarium.



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Review: As someone who teaches the marine sciences to children, I absolutely LOVED this book. This nonfiction picture book recounts the story of Jeanne Power, inventor and scientist. She built the first aquariums for scientific study. From her life as a seamstress in Paris to becoming a naturalist and contributing so much to science. She learned so much about the paper nautilus. Male scholars didn't believe her results and then later tried to take credit for her work. This is a story that needs to be told to children. This book can inspire kids to pursue their passions and to fight for recognition. She paved the way for modern scientists. There are also more details after the main story about her life and her studies.

I give this book a 5/5. This book would be perfect in any Science classroom as well as on any children's bookshelves.


--PAUL

Friday, March 5, 2021

The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series--Book One: Air (Second Edition) - 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.*




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Title: The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book 1: Air SECOND EDITION
Authors: Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko
Upcoming Release: March 9, 2021

Review of 1st Edition (2013)

Synopsis: Reprinted just in time for the anniversary of the series that stole our hearts, this handsome hardcover contains hundreds of art pieces created during the development of the show's first season. Featuring creator commentary from DiMartino and Konietzko, this is an intimate look inside the creative process that brought the mystical world of bending and a new generation of heroes to life!

Go behind the scenes of the animated series Legend of Korra Book One - Air--created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko--the smash-hit sequel to their blockbuster show Avatar: The Last Airbender!


Review: I reviewed this book back in 2013 while the show was still airing. I've included that review below. To be honest, I don't think there's been any changes or additions to this edition. I really enjoyed the forward from Janet Varney. The book is filled with excellent looks into the design process for the characters, the locations, the pro bending, and more. I also really enjoy the ending with the fun ancillary artwork. I give this book a 4.5/5.




Review from 1st Edition (2013): I absolutely loved Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was such a unique show. We won't mention the movie. The Legend of Korra has continued that uniqueness. It takes place in the same world, but so much has changed. I love seeing actual progression in a fantasy world. Usually a fantasy world is stable for decades or even sometimes centuries. Progress has come to the world of the Avatar. Mechanical contraptions begin to appear for a not quite steampunk kind of feel.

This book shows the art progression for the whole first season or Book One of Legend of Korra. So if you haven't finished the first season, be warned that this book contains spoilers.

This book has everything when it comes to artwork. There are small sketches of the initial ideas for characters. There are full spreads of a beautiful landscape or action scene. There are even some diagrams of the technology. All of the artwork is beautiful. It's all so detailed.

In addition to the art, there is a foreword and comments throughout the book from the creators. There are nice little tidbits describing a characters evolution or inspiration.

This book would be a perfect gift for a fan of the television series. I could just flip through these pages and admire the artwork for hours.


-PAUL

Thursday, March 4, 2021

The Banks by Roxane Gay (graphic novel) - Paul's REVIEW

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



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Title: The Banks

Author: Roxane Gay
Artists: Ming Doyle
Release Date: December 1, 2019


Synopsis: The Banks is a heist thriller about the most successful thieves in Chicago: The women of the Banks family. 

For fifty years the women of the Banks family have been the most successful thieves in Chicago by following one simple rule: never get greedy. But when the youngest Banks stumbles upon the heist of a lifetime, the potential windfall may be enough to bring three generations of thieves together for one incredible score and the chance to avenge a loved one taken too soon.



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Review: This is the first book of Roxane Gay's that I've read. I've followed her on Twitter for years and have seen many interviews of hers, but when I saw this book I decided I should really read some of her fiction.

This book is about three generations of thieves. This book jumps between different decades, but primarily stays in the modern times with Celia. Her grandparents were excellent burglars who stole only from those who could afford to be stolen from back in the 1960s. Celia's moms have also been in the family business. Celia diverted from that path, but due to some things happening at work decides to connect with her family in that way for the first time. 

Seeing three generations of Black women doing a heist is epic. The story is a classic heist story full of rick, old white men, but having Black women combatting them was great. 

I give this book a 3.5/5. There were some details that didn't feel right to me about the heist specifics and some tropes that felt a little overplayed, but I really enjoyed the book. I also did find it a little slow. 


--PAUL