Cruella – Disney Manga Review

I bought this manga for my niece (she’s 9), because I wanted to find an age appropriate manga for her to read and she is a HUGE Disney fan.

Cruella: Black, White, and Red by Hachi Ishie has lovely illustrations, which gave off a mix of the 80s and 90s manga styles. I liked the way the panels were laid out, and how the characters were introduced. I also loved the artwork for each chapter.

I’d like to start off by saying the manga is not an adaptation of the film.

The manga has 3 chapters in total, each covering a part of Cruella’s life, mainly focusing on her between ages 18-21. I actually liked that the book didn’t age her down because it was directed at a middle grade audience.

Horace and Jasper were well developed throughout, but I thought the one character in the leather jacket, who is mentioned by Jasper in a later chapter would be more prominent than they were. It seemed as though this character was being built up to be a major player and then he kind of just disappeared, and then Emilia was introduced. This leads me to the pacing, which in the first chapter I felt was fairly well done, however because the book is set at different points during Estella/Cruella’s years before she becomes a designer, I felt like too much was being crammed into these short scenes.

It almost felt like a manga short story collection instead. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a one off, or a short series, but regardless I enjoyed reading it and I know my niece will love it. I just felt like it needed a little more story wise, so I gave it a rating of 4 stars on Goodreads. I also took into consideration that this is meant for young readers, so it’s possible some of what I felt was lacking is because this is a reimagining of a reimagined character…and I had expected it to cover pieces of the movie.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Overall I thought the book was fun, and I would definitely recommend it to young Disney fans who are also looking into reading manga.

One other thing I will note is that this book reads the same as Western graphic novels, versus a Japanese manga, like the Maximum Ride series and most Western made manga.

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.

Book Talk Episode 19: It’s YA Week!

It’s YA week on Goodreads, so I thought I would do a blog post (possibly 2?) about my favourite young adult reads and talk about how the genre has evolved since I first became a YA reader to what it is like now.

As Goodreads mentions in their article, the tropes and characters we see in YA today are vastly different from the ones we saw 10 years ago. I remember when Dystopian fiction was huge, with series like The Hunger Game and Divergent. Not only was I reading the YA in this genre, I was also writing it. Vampires and angels were also popular, at least among YA fantasy. Some examples that I can think of are The Vampire Diaries, Twilight and Fallen…and there are many, many, many more from this period.

What I’m seeing now is more of a mix of both high and urban fantasy being written not only for young adult readers, but for middle grade and adult readers as well. Personally, this is something I absolutely love. There is so much variety within the fantasy books that are out right now, and I often go to friends for recommendations.

I also noticed that, well at least when I was a teenager, a lot of the books weren’t spooky enough. Now, not everyone likes spooky, but now there are so many YA books that border along the lines of horror, mystery and thriller. I’m curious to know whether television created this initial shift, or if it happened naturally within the media. I know when my mom was a teenager, that a lot of the YA books at the time fell in line with gothic literature. I’d say, at least the ones that I can recall her mentioning, were American Gothics. As for the thrillers, the ones I read as a teenager were all about spies, and I beginning to think that those prep-school spy books may have also contributed to the ever popular dark academia vibe we’re seeing today.

Another very obvious shift in teen fiction is the variety of voices, not only are the characters from all different backgrounds, but the are authors come from all walks of life as well! Literature is beautiful like that. Although, I feel the process was slow, books have become a space where people feel seen, and I hope that it translates across all media as we move into 2022. I’m really looking forward to this period of growth.

One thing that I have noticed is that there’ve been a lot of complaints about the lack of YA fiction geared toward a male audience. I’ve also noticed that the market seems to be more favourable towards female readers at this current time, however, there are plenty of YA books and series out there for everyone! I know plenty of guys who read Twilight when it was first released, and enjoyed it. I also know plenty of guys who were (and still are) obsessed with The Hunger Games, any and every book by John Green, and who are extremely invested in all the books by Leigh Bardugo. To quote one of my friends from high school, “A good book is a good book. I don’t care if Katniss is a girl. She’s cool.”

One other thing I’ve noticed is that YA fiction has brought back illustrated covers, which I have missed an incredible amount! I hope this carries over into other genres, because it gives the books such a personal feel to them. I’ve also noticed this with romance as well, but I’m still waiting for the illustrated covers to be the norm in horror again. I don’t read a lot of horror, but the old illustrated covers in that genre were incredible! If you haven’t gone through and looked at old horror covers, I highly recommend it…unless of course you don’t like horror, then please don’t. I don’t want you to get scared. Some are really freaky!

Lastly, I want to talk about the insane amount of fairytale retellings. I don’t mean insane as in it’s a bad thing. It’s not bad at all! I used to adore retellings when I was a kid, but they didn’t make very many for teens at the time I was getting into YA. There are so many cool ones out right now and it’s not just fairytales, it’s myths and legends and all kinds of lore being retold and reimagined for new audiences! I like this idea of taking something familiar and flipping it on its head. It’s just so much fun, revisiting a story but having it be completely new to you.

What’s your favourite shift in YA? Is there anything that you miss about older YA books that makes you feel nostalgic?

Mint Chocolate Vol. 1 – Manga Review

Plot

When Nanami finally gets a chance to meet her mom’s new husband and his son, the last person she expects to see is one of her classmates, Kyouhei Suzumura. Not only is her new stepbrother cool and completely unapproachable, but even worse—he’s the crazy-hot guy Nanami’s been crushing on for months…! Only time will tell how Nanami’s unexpectedly forbidden romance will play out… –Goodreads.

Thoughts

I’m hoping the story picks up more in the second volume. Although I liked certain elements of the story thus far, the pacing felt a bit off and I couldn’t help but think back to the series Marmalade Boy, which uses the same trope and setup but executes it flawlessly in the opening of the first volume.
I did like getting insight into Nanami’s thoughts throughout this volume, as it helps to build her personality and gives the reader a better idea of how things might play out.
Hoping the next volume will be stronger.

Based on other reviews I read after finishing this manga, it seemed that those who had already been exposed to Marmalade Boy, weren’t fans of Mint Chocolate. I do agree that it very much feels like a rip off…only in this first volume I find the characters lack chemistry off the bat. I think I would have liked to see more romantic-comedy elements thrown in and less recycled material. Those who hadn’t heard of Marmalade Boy gave this manga 4-5 stars.

I will be reading the 2nd volume, as I already own it. I’m hoping that my stance will change by then, and that the series will add something new versus being Marmalade Boy for a new generation of manga readers.

Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I decided to give this first volume 3 stars because, despite the awkward pacing and similarities to Marmalade Boy, I did like the characters. The illustrations weren’t as expressive as I would have liked, but aside from that, they were charming in their own way. I do hope the next volume is better, since I bought the first two books at the same time…if not I’ll pass them onto a friend and see what they think.

Vermin Gets a 4 Star Rating on Goodreads

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I’m so happy that readers are enjoying Vermin! I’ve been hearing lots of positive feedback so far, and was absolutely thrilled to find out Vermin received it’s first rating!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review my novel!

If you’re looking to get a copy, you can click the links below which will lead you to the paperback or eBook.

Author Copies Have Arrived!

My author copies of Vermin arrived! I was so excited to cut open the box and pull them out. They’re so pretty. I love unboxing new books. I kept flipping through the pages of the one I pulled from the box…it was so satisfying. My brain is still processing the fact that the first book of the series is now in print.

I’m also blown away by the support of my friends and family! I’ve gotten so much feedback, and currently Dianna’s a very popular character. One thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m constantly having to remind myself that I’m the only person who knows the events that follow after book one and have to be very careful what I say when readers discuss the book with me because I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

Signed copies will be available to purchase soon. I will be making an announcement of when that will be, and will also be working on scheduling in person events once it is possible.

If you’re currently reading Vermin, and would like to see your review displayed on my main website, leave a review of the book on either Goodreads or Amazon, and we will add them from there.

The Vermin Series now has an official Facebook page!

The Vermin Series now has an official Facebook page!

In other news, thank you for everyone who played This and That with us on instagram. I loved viewing the results, it was also fun to make. We’ll definitely do another one in the future.

If you’re not already following, you can find me @ardinpatterson.

Don’t forget to add Vermin to your TBR and follow me on Goodreads! I’ll be opening up questions for ask the author once the book has been released, and I’m very excited about it. I have answered a handful of the Goodreads author questions, so feel free to check those out.

Recently I’ve been writing by hand. I’m not sure if its because I got a new pen or because I’ve missed having the ability to write on the go. Sometimes, typing is faster but there’s just something about the page that gets me… Perhaps it’s less distracting?

I’m in the middle of wrapping up a scene, but I thought I’d also give a quick update before going back to work!

ARCs, Planning and Press Kits

A few months back I recorded a show for a huge toy brand and I’ve been eager to share the details with everyone. I had so much fun recording for them, they were kind, encouraging and have written such an awesome series. I’m praying it’ll be picked up for a second season.

As for novel updates, there are currently 20 ARCs left for reviewers to check out. I’ve reached out to several bloggers, booktubers and bookstagramers who review the genre, mainly those whose content I enjoy. I’ve actually been compiling a list of potential reviewers since 2019, but unfortunately there were some people on that list who are no longer active on their accounts or who aren’t currently accepting ARCs. Still, I did find that the list was very helpful and I would encourage other authors to create one in advance so that you’re more organized when the time comes.

One thing that I’ve found is that your schedule becomes very busy, very quickly as your book is goes from the final editing stages to release. There is so much planning involved, decisions to finalize, events to organize…and I’m glad that I was given the advice from my publisher and editor to think about these things long in advance.

Another thing that I recommend, is to create a media/press kit. It was a lot easier than I anticipated. Truthfully it seemed intimidating at first but once I understood exactly what companies and reviewers were looking for it all came together smoothly. Press kits are like a business card for your book (or content) and they allow for information about the author, publisher and the book to be compiled into one, nearly organized space for others to glance over when deciding whether they would like to…say, participate in an event with the author, such as a signing or do an interview on a podcast.

Having this type of preparation has allowed me to concentrate on the present, focus on upcoming events, have time to update my blog and other social media accounts and to work on my other projects once I complete what’s on the daily agenda.

It is something that I would highly recommend doing whether you’re traditionally publishing or going the indie route. Being organized early on, will allow you to enjoy the process and your release without added stress. It’ll give you a place to pull from when certain events or subjects arise. You may not go with your initial plan or idea, but it’ll give you time to really look it over and so that you have an easier time making those big decisions before the launch of your book.

You can learn more about Vermin on Goodreads.

Vermin is Listed on Goodreads!

It’s official…

My novel is now listed on Goodreads! This is so cool. Now I’m even more excited for the author copies to arrive.

This also means that I’ll be doing the cover reveal later today!

ARCs are also being sent out this morning to those who signed up to do early reviews. For those who requested a copy, thank you so much for taking the time to read my book. Your enthusiasm and support is greatly appreciated and I hope you’ll enjoy reading and spending time with my characters.

If you would like to add the book to your TBR you can find it here on Goodreads.