Beast boy Loves Raven: Graphic novel review

Let me start off by saying that it felt like an eternity while I waited for this issue to come out. I was so excited when it was released! Outside of the Robin’s (mainly Grayson), Beast Boy and Raven are my absolute favourites.

The series by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo is fantastic. I think it’s a good entry story for those who are new to DC comics because they take the time to introduce each of these characters throughout. As a DC fan I personally love this series and really want to see it continue. One of the other DC series I’d been into was dropped, which followed Damien Wayne and Johnathan Kent, so I’m really glad to see that the next issue in this series is titled Robin!

I don’t want to give away any major spoilers, but one of my favourite things about the artwork in this issue was how the panels slowly became more colourful whenever Beast Boy and Raven were together. Gar’s panels all have hints of green, and Raven’s purple, so the artist made it so that when the two of them are together these colours begin to show up in the same panels. It’s such a small detail but I absolutely loved it.


Also, Max and Damien are in this issue! I was so happy to see Max again. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s powers, relationships and journey’s develop in the next issue! It was also nice to see Damien again after the other series was dropped. He’s definitely grown on me as the newest Robin, and I find his interactions with the other characters in the DC universe hilarious, mainly because he comes across as such a serious kid.

October book haul

A bunch of the books I ordered arrived this week, on top of the ones I’d purchased in store. I am so excited to read them! Most of what I got was manga, but I also got the new Green Lantern thanks to my fantastic co-worker Scott! Thanks Scott! Oh, and I got two middle grade books that looked absolutely amazing.

My sister and I were freaking out over We Were There, which we read as kids. She loved the series, and Sand Chronicles. I also showed her the cover of Honey and Clover, which she thought looked super cute. I have to agree, I’ve always loved the art style of that series but I didn’t get a chance to read it when I was younger.

I’ll be sure to review all of these books once I’ve finished reading them, and I’ll try my best to keep these reviews spoiler free! I think I’ll have to put myself on a book buying ban until after Christmas, because I’ve already got two books that I’m going to be gifting myself, and I’m hoping that I’ll get gift cards from my family like I usually do…so that I can…buy more books.

What I really need is another bookshelf. I’ve been secretly thinking of how I can turn my brothers old bedroom into a library. I’ll of course keep his bed in there so he has somewhere to sleep when he visits, but like…perhaps I could just add two…or four shelves?

If I don’t convert his room into a library I might need to convince my sister that our game room could also double as a cute little library. It won’t be the Beauty and the Beast library of my dreams, but I think with the right décor and a little rearranging of the furniture, that it’ll look really cool.

If you’ve read my novel Vermin, you’ll know that there is a library on the top floor of the Crispin’s house. The library isn’t as pretty as the one in Beauty and the Beast, since they don’t live in a castle…but it’s cozy. I should try building it on the Sims4. I will if I have time. I’m mostly reserving my free time for reading and catching up on Netflix. I finally watched the final two episodes of Tokyo Revengers this week and cried. I wish there was an English translation of the manga because my French isn’t that great…and I don’t think my 9 year old niece should be translating that for me. I do have a French-English dictionary but the only books I can read in French well enough to understand are children’s picture books and middle grade graphic novels. Without pictures, I get stumped.

Well, I best finish my chicken nuggets. My sister was kind enough to share them with me. Also, if you liked the song in my reel it’s by Mitski. It’s called Working for the Knife. It’s really awesome. I’ve been listening to it while drafting some scenes this week.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

Summary

Jen is used to not getting what she wants. So suddenly moving to the country and getting new stepsisters shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.

Jen did not want to leave the city. She did not want to move to a farm with her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend, Walter. She did not want to leave her friends and her dad.

Most of all, Jen did not want to get new “sisters,” Andy and Reese.

If learning new chores on Peapod Farm wasn’t hard enough, then having to deal with perfect-at-everything Andy might be the last straw for Jen. Besides cleaning the chicken coop, trying to keep up with the customers at the local farmers’ market, and missing her old life, Jen has to deal with her own insecurities about this new family . . . and where she fits in. –Goodreads

Thoughts

Stepping Stones was such a wonderful book! The illustrations by Lucy Knisley were lovely and the story was paced perfectly. I loved the development of each of the characters and how Jen navigated and adjusted to life on Peapod Farm.
From the moment I started reading I was already recommending this book to friends. It was excellent. Definitely one my top 10 middle grade graphic novels I’ve read this year.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Blackbird Vol. 1 – Graphic Novel Review

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. – Goodreads

Let me start off by saying that the artwork for this graphic novel is absolutely stunning. That’s actually what drew me to it initially.

The colours, the line work, the character design, the detail…it’s so beautiful. I was blown away by how nice it looked and on top of that the story was good too!

I’d been meaning to buy this graphic novel for a while, but kept forgetting about it during the lockdown. I’d been given a gift card and decided to use it towards this book, and I am stoked to read the next volume.

There was also a Sailor Moon reference in here, which was too cute, especially since Nina has a talking black cat named Sharpie.

I think the only thing about this first volume, that I wish was done a little differently would be the hinted romance with Clint. Clint is a very compelling character, but I felt that in certain scenes his chemistry with Nina seemed forced, whereas in others it was perfectly. I know first books can be awkward at times, since the writers are still getting a feel for the characters, setting and plot, so I can understand why the balance was off in one or two places.

Other than that, I can’t wait to find out what happens next! I really enjoyed it.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This to me is definitely worth 5 stars. The artwork was phenomenal, and the storyline was really cool. Honestly, I hope this gets picked up to be a television series because I would binge that so fast!

I loved Nina’s character, and liked how she narrated the story, and her outfits were incredibly cute. Everyone’s were! The colours and lighting were also perfect. It suited the overall atmosphere of the book, which for me personally when it comes to graphic novels is super important.

Disney’s Real Life Book Review

I purchased this book the same day I met my editor. She was having a book signing at a Chapter’s in the area and at the time I had no idea she would become my editor! I just thought she was really nice and her books sounded fantastic.

That day I was also lucky enough to be shopping with my Nana, who like me buys a lot of books and had about three or four gift cards on her. Basically, Nana gave me the go ahead to go nuts and buy as many books as I wanted (within reason), so I decided I’d try some new series. Her store was massive and carried a lot more of the graphic novels and manga’s than the location near me at the time. The new locations near me are…gorgeous! We have so many books in those sections now.

Anyway, one of the book I grabbed my Real Life, which I thought looked kind of cute. I liked the art style and the fact that there was a diverse cast of character’s. I also thought the synopsis sounded really good. As you know my TBR continues to grow daily…so it took me until 2021 to actually read this book that’s been glaring at me from the shelf for these past few years.

Now, I want to start off by saying that yes, I liked the idea but I have some critiques because I was disappointed by how certain things were implemented. My main critique is is with the diversity, the same thing that I was excited about.

The book follows three girls, Amber, Alice and Andrea, who all have a crush on Thomas, a guy who seems to have popped out of thin air who looks exactly like the fake profile they made on Real Life, an app that’s almost like a combination of facebook and instagram. Amber is black or mixed race with black. I was never really sure as she has red hair and green eyes and the reader’s only see her mom. Alice is white, blonde hair and blue eyes and then Andrea is Asian, specifically Japanese as her last name is Tanaka.

Left to Right: Amber, Alice and Andrea

As I mentioned when I first saw the cover of this book, I was excited because it gives the illusion that these three girls are a close knit group of friends. They’re all happy and smiling together doing this really cute group pose. However, when I started reading it quickly became clear that these three girls were merely playing into negative racial stereotypes, mainly Amber and Andrea.

I’ll start by discussing Amber. Amber falls into the mean black hottie trope, which is used so often in television that it gets on my nerves. I have yet to watch a show where the black or mixed girl is portrayed as shy or gentle or clumsy. I wanted to like Amber but every time I thought “she’s not that bad” she did or said something that seriously rubbed me the wrong way. All I kept thinking was how it sucked that this rude, bratty girl was the only representation of a black female character in this entire book. If she was contrasted by another character who was well…to put it plainly nice, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much. Another thing that continued to happen with her character, is that her complexion changed constantly. I don’t know about anyone else, but my skin colour definitely doesn’t magically switch between races because I’m mixed race? If I suddenly went all pale, I’d definitely go check in with a doctor or something. The inconsistency with her skin tone was extremely frustrating. In the first chapter alone, there are several instances where her and Alice are the exact same colour.

Next Andrea, who was equally messy. Of course, the Asian girl is the honour student, grades driven, super smart, nerd. Like I haven’t seen that a million times. At least she has a secret love for art. I preferred her character a little more than Amber’s and it was only because there were other Asian female character’s that she could be contrasted with. If those other girls weren’t there I would have went, “Oh look the Asian Nerd Trope.” Sadly, there were points where Andrea, like Amber was just…mean.

Lastly Alice, who ends up being the most likeable character. She’s the one that I found myself rooting for, why? Because she was nice. She’s the target of bullies at her school. Mainly cyber-bullying and her brother who attends the same school, doesn’t do anything to stop it. He’s actually annoyed by her and treats her like a burden. Her parents want her to play volleyball for her dad’s team. She’s good at it, it’s about the only thing she’s good at, however she has a love for theatre and wants to act in the school play. Alice is portrayed as a hopeless romantic, hopeless klutz and a hopeless dork…and yet, you like her character because you HOPE things will turn out well for her in the end.

Alice is also contrasted by other female character’s who look like her, and males too. Contrast is important when you have a diverse cast. Why, because not all people are the same. Not all jocks are the same. Not all nerds are the same. Not all theatre kids are the same. The. Contrast. Is. Important.

This story is in England and from what I’ve heard (and have seen on BBC) it’s very multicultural, so for two out of three leading ladies to fall into these typical racial book/film tropes is ridiculous. There’s no excuse for it. It’s no wonder that the book received 3.5 stars on Goodread’s. Like, this story could be really good but it’s hard to ignore how these girls were basically created by using a checklist. Not only that but there was also racist imagery in the book of one of the girls with buck teeth and slanted eyes, dressed as an “Eskimo” in Alaska. That’s a huge nope. How did that get the green light in 2018?

There’s no excuse for how Amber and Andrea are portrayed, nor for that imagery. It’s frustrating seeing these negative, racial stereotypes used constantly. It’s as tired as using the Dumb Jock or the Mean Cheerleader. I knew a few cheerleader’s back in high school and, I’d say 80% of them were the sweetest people I have ever met. I only have good things to say about them! They were down to earth, cared about their friends and stood up for their classmates when they saw something wrong.

I’m not saying that I think Alice should have been portrayed differently, I’m just saying that it would have been nice if the writer’s actually give Amber and Andrea a chance! I really tried to like them. I did…but by having these two girls just act as stereotypes, it really took away from the story. I don’t even know if I want to read the rest of this series. I’m so disappointed.

As for the rating…I’m stuck between 2.5 and 3…mainly because there were elements of the plot that were interesting but the thing that drew me to this book in the first place felt like a huge slap in the face once I started reading.

I’m going with 2.5

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I don’t care if it was 2018, this book fell into the category of diversity baiting…and I can’t even express how much I hate that. Proper diversity is showing a variety of character’s of different backgrounds who compliment and contrast one another. They don’t play into racist stereotypes, they are 3 dimensional. These character’s actually get backstories, have families and hobbies…like, why is Amber so mean? There was no reason other than “She’s the Queen Bee.” Really? That’s it? It’ not a defence mechanism? She just bosses people around and acts like a spoiled brat because she can? Andrea, likes to study and everyone’s always talking about how she’s going to get the Nobel Prize some day. She’s so smart! People call her a nerd. Like at least they gave her the whole bit about her mom trying to set her up with all these random guys but still…”I don’t have time for boys. I have to study.” Seriously?

I’m glad other reviewers felt the same way about these character’s. When I started I really thought “give it a chance maybe it’ll invert the tropes or something” but no. Nope. Not at all.

Anyway, that’s my rant. Looking forward to seeing REAL diversity in YA books going forward.

Teen Titans Raven & Beastboy: Comic Review

Fun fact, I am a big Teen Titan’s fan…or should I just say DC? Most of the character arc’s I follow are either in the Batman universe (the Robin’s, Nightwing, Joker, Harley, etc) and outside of that I love the Titan’s, Justice League, Young Justice…etc. I like teamwork.

Anyway, I’ve been following Picolo for a while on Instagram. Actually, I think I found his work on pinterest first because I have a board dedicated to DC comics and fanart, and I’m pretty sure his work featuring the Teen Titan’s is what lead me to his other work (Icarus and the Sun).

When I learned that Gabriel Picolo had been hired by DC to share his versions of the Teen Titan’s I was ecstatic! I knew it was something he was passionate about and I couldn’t wait to see him bring the character’s to life.

On the other hand, I was unfamiliar with author Kami Garcia but I could tell upon reading Raven that she had a love for these character’s. When I went on to read Beastboy it was clear that these two were a destined duo! The artwork and writing style complimented each other perfectly.

When I first saw Picolo’s designs of Raven, I was pleased with the fact that he captured her overall aesthetic so well. Much like how Raven’s style and personality were captured in Titan’s on Netflix. There was care put into how she dresses herself, how she walks, the actions she takes to guard herself (and her heart). It was so clear to me that the designers (in the case of Picolo, the artist), not only understood who Raven was but cared about her character and how she blossoms as a person during her time with the Titan’s.

Similarly, Beastboy was portrayed in this comic series with just as much care. Out of the two books, I actually think Beastboy was my favourite. Everything about him was true to his character, even the little add-ons. His friends were likeable, and it is clear from the beginning that Garfield aka Beastboy had been “monkeying around” long before he was bit by that weird green monkey.

Now, if you’ve read my other comic and manga reviews then you’ll know that I love comics with superheros and cute love stories. So, it’s probably no surprise that I cannot wait until Beastboy Loves Raven is released!

Aren’t they adorable? These two are my favourite ship across all the DC comics (aside from Bruce Wayne and Selena Kyle). I love how Beastboy is so colourful, warm and bighearted. This is shown a lot through his comic. He truly cares for other people, which is why at times he puts up a front as a tough guy to protect himself.

Raven on the other hand wants nothing more than to love and be loved, but her origins…and mere existence, put those around her at risk. Despite wanting to be close to other people, she isolates herself out of fear. It’s only when she’s with an incredibly strong group of friends that don’t fall victim to her cold exterior, that she opens up and is truly herself.

My rating for Raven:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Raven was almost there. I want to give it the full 5 but there were parts of the story that just didn’t do it for me. I honestly think it was because it was the first time these two had worked together on a project, along with trying to introduce these new character’s into the story. I much preferred the side character’s in Beastboy as they felt more integrated than they did in Raven. Raven/Rachel’s foster sister and love interest were alright, but honestly her foster sister stood out a lot more than the others in the story.

My rating for Beastboy:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Beastboy hit all the marks. It was clear from the beginning who Gar was, and what the people in his life meant to him. He was a strong character supported by a cast of other strong character’s, which made for a fun story. I liked reading about him discovering his powers, and the consequences that followed because of it. I also liked that Deathstroke is lurking in the shadows throughout the story. The team (Garcia and Picolo) also did a good job at integrating Beastboy into a modern day setting. They gave me the, average teen just trying to navigate life vibe while still being true to this character which meant a lot to me as a fan.

I wonder what I should read next? My list keeps growing!

Book Review: Why Scott Pilgrim is Brilliant

It’s rare that I give a series such a compliment but after rereading Scott Pilgrim after all these years, I think that the compliment is well deserved.

I loved the series as a teenager and of course watched the film, like most of my friends (back when we could still rent videos in person) and most importantly we felt apart of something. Scott Pilgrim was a Canadian story. We knew the places it referenced. We could hear them, smell them, taste them…and that longing for representation in a country that is constantly bombarded with outside influences in media was such a wonderful thing to have.

Reading it again (in three days!) I was drawn in more than before. Captivated even. To be a twenty-something figuring out life and love and jobs and navigating dreams versus expectations. It was too real. Way too real…and yet comforting. Watching Scott and his friends struggle was sadly comforting.

I loved that there was comic book an video game elements put into a graphic novel series that was in the end a love story. A love story that didn’t always feel like a love story (especially when Scott had to fight all those evil exes) but somehow managed to be one. I suppose it also acted as a coming of age story…a story about a boy and his band and his girlfriend and his roommate Wallace who will forever be my favourite character. I cannot believe I forgot how much I loved his commentary.

I think most of this series still holds up well today. It’s definitely 5 stars. It deserves it. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a comic book series with that amount of character development…and that is wild because I read a lot of them.

“Hey it’s that one guy!”

“Sweet coins!”

Black Canary Ignite Review

Title: Black Canary Ignite.

Author: Meg Cabot

Age Group: Middle Grade, 9-12 years old.

When I heard that the author of The Princess Diaries was writing a comic book, and said comic book was about Black Canary, I knew I had to read it!

This book was definitely a fun read. I instantly recommended it to my niece once I was finished. It’s age appropriate, the characters are fun and Dinah is in a rock band. How cool is that?

The artwork, done by Cara McGee, who creates these charming images of Dinah and her friends. I loved the movement in the images as well. Plus everything was super warm and colourful (aside from the villains of course).

The story itself was fun. Honestly, I wish it had been a little longer…or perhaps split up into a series. I did however appreciate that the comic remained age appropriate as say…for example shows like Young Justice which were originally rated Y7 are now very clearly PG 13. In cases like this show I don’t mind as much, simply because the original target audience has grown up along with the characters. However when it comes to comic books I think it’s important to be very clear who the target age group is for. Which is why I always read books before giving them to my niece.

My niece really, really liked the comic. She found Dinah and her friends hilarious. She also wanted to help Dinah kick some Joker butt (who doesn’t wanna be a superhero right?).

We had so much fun reading it together and because of that it’s getting 4.5 stars!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Who is your favourite superhero and if you could have one super power, what would it be?

Fake Blood Book Review

Summary:

“It’s the beginning of the new school year and AJ feels like everyone is changing but him. He hasn’t grown nor had any exciting summer adventures like his best friends have. He even has the same crush he’s harboured for years. So AJ decides to take matters into his own hands. But how could a girl like Nia Winters ever like plain-vanilla AJ when she only has eyes for vampires?” – Whitney Gardner, Fake Blood.

Rating: 5 Stars!

Review:

This is the first Middle Grade graphic novel that I have read in a long time, and it did not disappoint.

Fake Blood had me howling (pun intended) with laughter. Each and every character was likeable and fun in their own way. Plus it had a fantastic twist that I’m still thinking about 24 hours after finishing the book. It almost made me wish it was longer. I would have loved to see more of these characters.

My favourite character overall was Aj’s older sister, who is a 15 year old vlogger and great advice giver. She was hilarious and very sweet (in a big sister kind of way). I love reading books where the siblings have a good, healthy relationship. Even when she suspected her brother of stealing her things to give to his crush, both her and AJ retained that loving sibling relationship throughout. It was obvious how much their cared and looked out for one another, even when they argued.

AJ was extremely relatable as well. I can definitely remember a time when I too was the smallest amongst my friends, and a bookworm who preferred to read during recess versus run around…oh…wait a second I’m still a short bookworm. I miss recess.

Anyway, haha, AJ was such a great character to follow. I think many of us, especially when we were 12, had crushes that we never spoke to and prayed for some way to get them to take notice of us.

AJ takes that longing to the next level, despite is friends and sister telling him to “Just talk to Nia!” and decides that since she loves Vampire’s so much, he’ll learn everything he can about them.

AJ goes so far that he even begin watching and reading Fake Bloods versions of Twilight and Vampire Diaries. There are even references to Buffy and Teen Wolf.

Unfortunately this doesn’t go as planned. Nia takes everything related to vampires very seriously. Like, very, very seriously. In fact, she plans on becoming a vampire slayer!

This little twist creates a ton of problems for AJ, as Nia and other character’s, like their mysterious new teacher Mr. Niles, start believing that he really is a vampire.

I have to say, this twist had me turning the pages faster and faster. I was scared for AJ. Who knew the sixth grade could be so dangerous?

Nia was also a really fun character. I loved her hair (mainly because I wore mine like that in the sixth grade). She was really sweet…to bad about the whole killing vampires thing. But hey, if Buffy is your hero I mean…can you blame her?

I also love how in AJ vision, when Nia drinks from the water fountain, rainbows spill out and it’s all sparkly. That was a cute touch.

Amidst all the confusion with Nia, AJ is also dealing with other problems. He feels left out constantly by his friends Ivy and Hunter, and is starting to grow impatient with their constant betting. AJ ends up even emulating the cold attitude of the vampires in the books he’s been reading and as a result ends up hurting his friends and family. It isn’t until after this that he realizes how much he needs them by his side…especially with all the craziness going on.

Overall, this book was a fun read! I finished it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. I would definitely recommend it to Middle Grader readers (and up) and am exciting to see what this author comes up with next.