Partial Book Review: Nils: The Tree of Life by Jerome Hamon

Nils: The Tree of Life

Hardcover, 184 pages
Expected publication: February 11th 2020 by Magnetic Press

I enjoyed this graphic novel but think I need to read it again with a physical copy. I gave up about half way through this digital download due to being unable to read the small text while also enjoying the two-page spreads that are included and occasionally very important to the visual storytelling. I am looking forward to reading this one in its entirety as I liked the art and color choices. It seems to be based on Norse mythology, and I have just enough knowledge to follow those references.

I like the introduction of technology and how that affects the land. The author put a lot of thought into carefully crafting characters who care and who make me care about them. This should already be on your list to read! What are you waiting for?  I’m also interested in seeing what other titles this publisher has.

Summary:

A dystopic Nordic fantasy world, where spirits of light are the key to life, but seemingly have abandoned the world. Young Nils and his father set out to discover why the ground has grown infertile, heading north where the drought seems worse to find the cause. Far along the way, they find signs of fresh and vibrant life, caretaken by these little light spirits. But before they know it, a large metal creature arrives and attacks the creatures, apparently hunting and gathering them. From out of the woods, a woman attacks the creature, bringing it to its knees… apparently the plant was bait for the spirits, which in turn were bait for the metal creature, which serves the high-tech Cyan Nation.

This huntress, named Alba, takes Nils and his father into their tribe, where the battle between the shamanistic people and the Cyan Nation is paramount, a battle over the protection vs exploitation of the light spirits power… Meanwhile, three goddesses watch these events, lamenting the fact that man had abandoned all belief in their power long ago. They watch but do not intervene, despite the fact that the spirits are being harvested en masse by the Cyan Nation, wreaking ruin on the world outside their city. Realizing that this conflict will in one way or another change the very fabric of this world, they slowly begin to intervene…

As they continue their travels, Nils has a dream (seeded by one of the goddesses) about the World Tree, Yggdrasil, which is being consumed by a metal plague. He knows he must now find and save the tree, and in the process, save the world. But the high council of the Cyan Nation would have otherwise… Having been separated in their quest, Nils’s father finds himself a guest of the Cyan Prince, where he learns that they do indeed understand the power of the spirits, which they call Ethernum, serving as the power source for their technological advancement.

High fantasy adventure combining science-fiction with pseudo-spiritual magic, posing dramatic examinations of man vs nature, life vs death, fact vs faith, and man’s desire to play god.

Book Review: Field Trip by Molly Brooks

Field Trip (Sanity & Tallulah, Book 2)

Hardcover, 240 pages
Published October 22nd 2019 by Disney-Hyperion

I’m going to start by saying that I didn’t love this one quite as much as the first volume.  I think it was the distinct lack of three-headed kitten though.  The replacement “bees” were absolutely amazing though.  The friendship and characterization of Sanity and Tallulah were just as fun as the previous and shows a bit more the difference between the not-quite-evil genius and the spacy creative one.  It works and I love it!

The science in this one was spectacular.  I don’t know how true the science was, but it made logical sense within the story, and that’s all that matters to me.  It introduced some concepts that made you think about the consequences.  And what might happen if it were a reality.

I’m hoping that this series continues because it is adorable and presents several wonderful things that I think are lacking in the middle grade graphic novel category (POC main character, smart/science engaged girls, etc.).  I look forward to seeing what else the author comes up with after this.

PS It kinda reminds me of the DCOM Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.

Summary:

Sanity and Tallulah are going on a field trip-to a real live planet! Some of their classmates are nervous (none of them have been on a planet before, and they’ve heard terrible things), but Tallulah is beside herself with excitement. Sanity would be more excited if her grumpy older sister, Prudence, wasn’t coming along to supervise the trip. Things get off to a rocky start (asteroid-y start, to be specific) and Sanity and Tallulah find themselves separated from their school group, pursued by a pirate, and stranded on a planet that’s about to explode, with nothing but the wreckage of a crashed space shuttle and the contents of Tallulah’s overloaded backpack to work with. These best friends will have to stretch their problem-solving skills to the limit in order to get everyone home safe, and it’s going to take their whole class-plus an accountant, a math hermit, a group of mysterious beekeepers, and even the murderous pirate-to make it happen.
This second adventure in the Sanity & Tallulah series by Molly Brooks is out of this world!

Waiting on Wednesday: The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (Review)

The Tea Dragon Festival

Hardcover, 136 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Oni Press

You may remember my gushing from the original The Tea Dragon Society and if not please go check it out!  I fell in love with the art style and concept immediately, was overjoyed when a card game was released, and hollered when I found out that there are 2 sets of enamel pins of these adorable critters (on Oni Press’ website)!  *Here’s hoping I get some for Christmas!*

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Quick Reviews: Graphic Novel Stack #1

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Lately, I’ve been trying to focus on working my way through a huge stack of graphic novels that I’ve collected and either read and forgot or just haven’t read yet.  Today, I want to share my thoughts on the first ten that I made it through last week.  This may turn into a series of posts if I can continue to work diligently on this project.

For now, I leave a comment or two about the art, the story, and whether I plan to keep reading the series (if available).

Mera: Tidebreaker

This one wasn’t from my personal collection but from the library.  I loved how the art was a blend of muted blues and greens to convey the water aspect while Mera’s bright red hair stood out brilliantly.  The story was interesting in that it showed how Mera found Arthur/Aquaman and why and was well done.  Overall, this one was great, and I would definitely recommend it.

Charmed: Season 9, Volume 1

I actually read this one shortly after its release in 2011, which was around the time that Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 was released as a graphic novel.  I didn’t remember it well at all, and on reread I understood that this was because it wasn’t particularly memorable.  The art stayed true to the original actresses, which was nice.  But the story didn’t cover any new ground.  I probably won’t go looking for any more of this series.

Night's Dominion, Vol. 1 (Night's Dominion, #1-6)

It felt like reading a complex Dungeons & Dragons campaign with classic character classes, a cult to defeat, undead running rampant, and other iconic bits.  However, it managed to feel original, and the characters were fun to see develop.  Sometimes the art style wasn’t my favorite with angles that felt too sharp and muted colors, but overall, it worked for the story.  I think I will look into volume 2!

reMIND: Volume 1

OK.  This one… This one was a little weird.  But in a good way.  The story was compelling and I couldn’t put it down until I’d finished.  The art was less complex, but that just emphasized the story rather than detracting from it.  It looks like there is a second volume, but I’m on the fence about trying to track it down.  Certainly, it is worth reading.

Valiant High

Perhaps I would have liked this one better if I was more familiar with these characters.  The premise of favorite superheroes being put back into high school and following their antics is pretty ubiquitous now, so the story itself was fine.  I do like the art style and the diversity of the characters.  I don’t know that I will follow this title at the moment, but I’m tempted to go find the regular series for some of these characters.

Athena Voltaire & the Volcano Goddess

With this one, I was expecting more of a fantasy theme to go with the volcano goddess in the title.  That wasn’t what I got.  The detailed art was rather nice, but the story didn’t work for me at all.  I won’t be pursuing this one.

Shadow of the Queen (Once Upon a Time, #2)

As a big fan of Once Upon a Time, I was thrilled that a graphic novel was being released.  I remember reading it, and not caring?  So I did a reread.  And was disappointed.  My biggest complaint is that for the four “issues” they used a different artist for each, which didn’t help convey that the story was supposed to be cohesive and not an anthology.  Secondly, the Hunter wasn’t one of my favorite characters to begin with, but this backstory only reinforced what we knew from the show.  I don’t think it added any new characterization.

Eclipse, Vol. 1

I’m always looking for new post-apocalyptic concepts, and this one was definitely interesting.  The art did a good job of showing us the stark horror that these humans face while world building without the need for a lot of exposition.  I could have used a bit more explanation for what had actually happened to Earth, but I enjoyed this one.

The Breadwinner: A Graphic Novel

Having not read the book that this is based on, I can’t comment on whether it’s a faithful adaptation.  But the art added a youthful edge to this harsh story depicting the trials of another culture.  This isn’t the type of story that I like to read in my downtime, but I would recommend it to people wanting a glimpse into the life of a Middle Eastern family.

Courtney Crumrin 1: The Night Things

This one didn’t grab me like I thought it would.  The premise was intriguing, and I liked the mystery.  Sometimes the art was more angular than rounded, which through me off.  Maybe the pacing it was killed it for me, but I won’t be following up on this one either.

 

What do you think?  Have you read any of these?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or disagreements with my assessments.

#ALAAC18 Book Haul Part 1

For the three nights that I stayed in a hotel room, I was able to spread my books out and take pictures.  I was not able to do that with the fun books I picked up on Monday, so today I just have pictures of what I picked up.  Tomorrow’s post will go more in depth for the various titles and who I picked them up for.  I would like to point out the signed Buffy the Vampire Slayer board game that I won during the raffle at ALA Gaming, which is one of my favorite additions to the conference.  Can’t wait to test out this game!

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Waiting on Wednesday: The Ghost, The Owl by Franco

Image result for c2e2 ghost the owl

Hardcover, 53 pages
Expected publication: May 8th 2018 by Diamond Book Distributors
I was ridiculously happy to learn that one of my favorite artists, Sara Richard, had a comic/graphic novel coming out this year!  After hearing this exciting news, I found that NetGalley had digital arcs for people to review.  When I downloaded it the first time, I honestly just went through and looked at all the gorgeous art without “reading” the story.  Owls are a favorite for Sara Richard to make into art, and she’s gotten really good at them.  Ghosts also lend themselves well to her art nouveau styling, and the match makes this book absolutely fabulous!

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Book Review: Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks

Sanity & Tallulah

Hardcover, 240 pages
Expected publication: October 23rd 2018 by Disney-Hyperion

This is a really fun graphic novel that uses a lot of science. It may not all be correct science as we know it (taffimatter seems a bit farfetched), but I enjoyed that the author didn’t dumb done the science even though this is marketed toward middle grade readers. In fact, I would argue that the science jargon might make the reader inclined to ask questions and do some research if it sparks their interest. For those readers less interested in the science aspect, there are plenty of things to latch unto in this story. Thing one is a three-headed kitten! Initially what caught my attention. LOL Also, this story takes place on a space station that’s deep in space and nowhere near Earth. It reminded me a lot of the Disney Channel Original movie, Zenon Girl of the 21st Century. Down to the white and colored female leads, although here the WOC takes center stage, which I enjoyed greatly. I’m looking forward to reading more about their misadventures in future books and will be recommending it highly to anyone interested in graphic novels, animals, space, or a good romp.

Summary:

Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn’t long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it’s too late?

Readers will be over the moon for this rollicking space adventure by debut author Molly Brooks.

Surprising Reads: Lighter Than My Shadow, Thornhill, and The Witch Boy

Here’s three new books this year that I didn’t know I would be reading.  On a whim, I picked these up and ended up reading each in a single day.  While they aren’t the best books I’ve read this year, I wanted to share them with you because of their content and the questions they ask and answer.  Read on for brief summaries and my thoughts and opinions on each.

Lighter Than My ShadowLighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green

Summary:

Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast.

But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly.

Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness.

My Thoughts:

This is a painfully frank and graphic description of what it feels like to live with an eating disorder.  As someone who has not lived through this but loves to eat and frequently stress eats, I’ve often wondered what it feels like.  Since this is a memoir, I can only assume that the author has the authority to speak on this subject as I have no point of reference.  Even without color, I found myself drawn into this powerful story of pain, suffering, asking for help, and following through again and again.  If you want to see inside the head of someone battling a variety of eating disorders and the kind of help you can seek.  I’m looking forward to reading this story again in color when it releases to see what impact that provides.

-Reviewed from an advance copy through work, trigger warnings for sexual abuse, nudity, and slicing off body fat

Thornhill

Thornhill by Pam Smy

Summary:

Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

My Thoughts:

Here’s two stories that parallel each other, told through differing mediums.  The past is told through journal entries belonging to Mary while Ella’s present story is told through wordless illustrations.  The story flowed really well and I devoured the whole book in one sitting.  My main issue with the story is that <SPOILER> it appears that Ella commits suicide at the end to be friends with Mary, who had also committed suicide due to bullying.  And a third girl is introduced at the end, mirroring the beginning of the book and suggesting that the cycle will probably continue.  So I’m conflicted about whether I’d be comfortable recommending this book to middle schoolers, who I believe are the intended target audience.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, trigger warnings for suicide, bullying, and possible off screen rape

The Witch Boy

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Summary:

In thirteen-year-old Aster’s family, all the girls are raised to be witches, while boys grow up to be shapeshifters. Anyone who dares cross those lines is exiled. Unfortunately for Aster, he still hasn’t shifted . . . and he’s still fascinated by witchery, no matter how forbidden it might be.

When a mysterious danger threatens the other boys, Aster knows he can help — as a witch. It will take the encouragement of a new friend, the non-magical and non-conforming Charlie, to convince Aster to try practicing his skills. And it will require even more courage to save his family . . . and be truly himself.

My Thoughts:

This story did not go the way I thought.  From the description and the beginning of the story, I thought this might be about transgender expectations.  Instead, the story tackled gender a little differently.  I’m not sure that the characters did much for me, but I like that this graphic novel is something that can be given to middle schoolers as part of the ongoing discussion of why we separate genders in so many areas.  It may not be my favorite, but I already know a few people I’ll be sharing this.

-Reviewed from an advanced copy through work, no overt trigger warnings