Another Kind – Graphic Novel Review

About

Tucked away in a government facility nicknamed the Playroom, six not-quite-human kids learn to control their strange and unpredictable abilities. Life is good–or safe, at least–hidden from the prying eyes of a judgmental world.

That is, until a security breach forces them out of their home and into the path of the Collector, a mysterious being with leech-like powers.

Can the group band together to thwart the Collector’s devious plan, or will they wind up the newest addition to his collection?

Thoughts

Wow! Okay, I just want to start off by saying how perfect this graphic novel was. I loved the illustrations, I loved the writing, I loved the characters. There isn’t one thing about it I didn’t love.

I would totally recommend this to an older tween-teen probably kids around like 11 (grade 6) and up, since there is a bit of mild language, and violence that I would compare to something like Pirates of the Caribbean. The violence is hinted at in certain situations, versus shown, so it is definitely a kid friendly book, but for example…and I’m trying not to spoil it because this book was amazing and super fun…it’s like the car crash at the start of the book. They don’t make it where it’s super graphic or violent. You’re worried about the characters, and people are hurt, but it’s like rated 10 and up kind of PG violent. I hope that was a clear explanation?

Maggie was so cute! Oh my goodness. I loved Maggie so much! I would give Maggie a million stuffies if I could, after all these kids went through.

Omar and Sylvie showed their affection for the younger kids so well. This is probably one of my favourite found family books that I’ve read in a long time.

Omar tried to be calm and collected, always trying to do what he felt was best, and was very patient and understanding with the little kids, despite him being a kid himself. I won’t spoil it, but I believe based off of his backstory, he was equipped to handle Maggie’s outbursts, and took the time to listen to Newt and Jaali.

Everyones backstories made me cry except Maggie’s. Her’s was epic, and colourful and I loved her imagination.

Now Sylvie on the other hand was a lot harder on the other kids. Sometimes brushing them off with sarcasm, but it becomes very clear that she adores them. They’re her family, and she just wants them to be safe and happy. Again, like Omar, the way to treats the others and interacts with people is based on her early years and upbringing. His although resulting in him ending up at the playroom was mainly positive, whereas hers was very negative from day one. She didn’t have any real exposure to love until meeting the other kids in the playroom.

Newt was so cute! I loved them so much. Sweet little Reptilian Cinnamon Roll Techy. I loved their friendship with Jaali. They bickered at times, but it was because they cared about each other. I liked how although Newt, being a Reptilian was raised to ignore things like affection or compassion, this kid has the biggest heart. Newt is so kind, and caring, and their love for homework made me laugh so much. What a precious little bean.

Jaali’s backstory made me cry. Like…I loved this kid. He was literally a big teddy bear. And again, I loved the way Jaali acted like a best friend and older brother to Newt, who clearly needed someone who just loved them for who they were. Jaali was incredible with Clarice as well, and was really only hard on the other kids when he had to be. He’d been through a lot, so it only made sense that he would be striving to get back to that positive, and loving environment he grew up with.

Clarice! Okay, so I absolutely loved that Clarice was a selki. Like yes! Clarice’s facial expressions and body language were used to effectively throughout the story. I love how over time she warms up to the other kids, being the newest one to join the playroom. Sylvie initially is pretty tough on her, but eventually is doing everything she can to protect Clarice and keep her safe. Newt and Jaali were also incredibly sweet to Clarice throughout, always encouraging her and looking out for her when she got hurt, and you could tell that she grew to adore being a part of their family.

Ooh, and there was a Romeo and Juliet reference. I loved that so much. It also gave insight into the other groups and families within the story, and heightened the importance of community.

This book was so good. Seriously. Like, I will be recommending it to everyone. It’s my new favourite. I almost wish it was a series because I just want to read it over and over again. I feel like this is my new Scott Pilgrim or Ao Haru Ride. Like there’s a charm to it, where you just never want the story to end. You want to know more about the characters, and see where life takes them…but I also wouldn’t change a thing about how Another Kind ended.

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I gave this book a full five stars. I’m so glad I decided to pick it up. I saw it on the shelf, went “Ooh this is a cool cover,” started flipping through the first few pages and went. “Oh my gosh…this is really good!”


Anne of West Philly: A Modern Graphic Retelling of Anne of Green Gables – Review

About

Anne of Green Gables with a twist: in this follow-up to Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy and The Secret Garden on 81st Street, this full-color graphic novel moves Anne Shirley to modern-day West Philadelphia, where where she finds new friends, new rivals, and a new family.

When Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert decide to foster a teenage girl for the first time, their lives are changed forever. Their redheaded foster daughter, Anne Shirley, is in search of an exciting life and has decided that West Philly is where she’s going to find it. Armed with a big personality and unstoppable creativity, Anne takes her new home by storm as she joins the robotics club, makes new friends in Diana and Gilbert, experiences first love, and turns the ordinary into the extraordinary. But as Anne starts to get comfortable, she discovers one thing she wasn’t looking for: a family.

Thoughts

I thought this was a really cute modern take of the classic Anne of Green Gables. I loved the artwork, and thought Matthew and Marilla were captured really well. I also liked some of the changes that were made to help put this story into a more modern setting, like the addition of STEM.
For me I felt that certain points of the story were a bit rushed, which didn’t really allow for Anne to feel like Anne…if that makes sense? It was those moment’s where she’s being incredibly full of energy, and imagination that I love about the original story. I felt some of this was lacking at times, and was pushed off to the side potentially in favour or being more STEM focused?
I’m also Canadian so having the setting change from PEI made my brain spin a little, but it was the difference in setting that drew me to the graphic novel. The White Way of Delight scene made me giggle, and I was intrigued by how the authors went about the puff sleeve dress bit to modernize it. That was really neat, and I thought that Marilla’s reaction during that scene was really sweet.
Honestly, Marilla was my favourite character. Usually in adaptations it’s Matthew or Anne, but for this one Marilla stole the show.

Rating

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld – Review

Summary

Amaya, princess of House Amethyst in Gemworld, is something of a troublemaker. She and her brother have great fun together until a magical prank goes much too far and her parents ground her…to Earth! They hope a whole week in the mundane world will teach her that magic is a privilege…and maybe washing dishes by hand will help her realize the palace servants should be respected.

Three years later, Amy has settled into middle school and ordinary life. She doesn’t remember any other home. So when a prince of the realm brings her home and restores her magical destiny, how will she cope? – Goodreads

Thoughts

This book was so much fun! I loved the character development, and fell in love with the story from the first panel. It was exciting, funny, and charming. All of the characters were likeable, and the friendships and dynamics between each of them was incredibly sweet.

The artwork by Asiah Fulmore is stunning, detailed and absolutely gorgeous. It immediately captured my attention, and I loved how much motion there was. The colour scheme was also beautiful, I liked the mixture of pastels, and bright warm tones in contrast to the colours on earth.

I think one of my favourite parts was whenever people from the Gem world would talk about what they believed Earth to be like. It was hilarious, and cute.

I’ve always liked the superhero/magical girl stories, and was thrilled to read this. I finished it in one sitting, and was entertained the entire time. Immediately after, I was recommending it to everyone.
This book is fantastic! I can’t wait to see what Shannon Hale puts out next!

Rating

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Five stars! This graphic novel was absolutely fantastic. I adored the story, and the artwork. Both complimented each other so well! I highly recommend this book. It’s definitely worth adding to your TBR for comic book fans young and old!

7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up: Review

To his friends at Greycliff Academy, Kirby seems to have it all: charm, brains, and a lucky streak that won’t quit. He’s also the notorious hero creating the snarky videos “7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up,” which expose just how dumb adults can be. Why would any kid want to become one of them? But there’s also a mystery about Kirby. And when his best friend, Raja, finds out his secret, Kirby, Raja, and their friends have to grow up fast and face the world head-on. – Goodreads

Thoughts

I definitely enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to older Middle Grade readers (around 12) to early teens. It was funny, and filled with charming illustrations. I also thought the characters were hilarious.
I found some parts of the story had a few plot holes, but I thought perhaps this was because there was a sequel? If this graphic novel does have a sequel I kind of wish the big reveal came then, versus in book one. Overall it was entertaining, and Kirby and the rest of the cast were really great. I’m hoping they will have more adventures.
One thing that I will note is that some of the language used in the book, might not fly with some folks, which is why I think it’d be more suitable for the older half of the 9-12 age group. For example, I wouldn’t let my niece read this right now, and she’s in grade 5. I don’t think the words were anything too major…sadly I can’t recall the ones that stood out to me, but still it did catch me off guard, since I haven’t come across “swear words” in a middle grade book for a very long time. I believe one of the words was turd, which isn’t a big deal, but there was another that I know wouldn’t fly with some parents/teachers, and I wanted to note that here just in case.
Based on the themes of the book, I think this would be a great for anyone in the 8th grade. I laughed a lot at the jokes, and had my heart strings tugged a bit here and there as well.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’m giving this book 4 stars because although I liked it, I feel like there was so much room for character development. I liked all of the characters, and the dynamic between them but at times they felt a little flat and certain plot points were glossed over. I still really liked the story though, and I think it has definite TV/book series potential! If there is a sequel in the works I’ll definitely check it out!

Realm of the Blue Mist – ARC Review

Thank you Scholastic for providing this free copy in exchange for a review.

This was my first time reading a book by Amy Kibuishi, and it won’t be the last! This first book in the series was so much fun, and captured my attention automatically. I was finished reading it in one sitting!

Book Summary:

Tabby Simon is determined to learn what happened to her father, who was found dead after researching a tree that leaks a mysterious mist in her neighborhood. She is unexpectedly led to Rema, a distant world of magic and beauty that is periodically invaded by a nearby planet desperate for resources. While Tabby searches for the truth surrounding her father’s death, she meets a handsome blue-haired boy named Philip. He has his own dangerous secrets, but he has promised to help Tabby get home. As Tabby learns more about this strange world, she discovers that she is destined for something far greater than she ever could have imagined. — goodreads

overall thoughts and rating

This graphic novel reminded me of some of my favourite series from when I was a kid. I knew instantly that I would like it after meeting Tabby and Philip in the first few pages, and being thrown into this fantastic adventure!

There was so much thought and care put into the illustrations, along with great world building throughout. The cast of characters were fun, and I have to say Philip’s god-father is one of my favourites so far (I won’t spoil the reason why, but he’s fantastic). I also loved that there were sweet moments between Tabby and Philip throughout this volume, it gave me Howls Moving Castle vibes.

I’ll definitely be purchasing the final copy in 2022, and I highly recommend this series for young fans of fantasy, action-adventure and superheroes. I’m already excited for the next book in the series!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

YA Faves

As YA week comes to a close, I’ve found myself reminiscing over some of my old favourite books that I read during my teenage years. […]

Creating a Middle Grade Book Rec List

My sister-in-law requested some series recommendations to help expand my nieces love of stories, so I’ve been on the hunt for a handful that I can gift her for her birthday/Christmas.

In my adult life, after realizing how hectic the holiday season gets, I’ve tried to get gifts for my family members as early as September. With my niece I keep track of things that she mentions throughout the year and buy them later. Shopping early also stops my wallet from crying after the holidays. December is the busiest month of the year for me outside of work, so planning my gifts and getting them wrapped up by the end of November saves me time and alleviates stress.

One thing that I’ve noticed is that I have to get a really good feel for a book before passing it along to my niece. Often I’ll read them first, because I would hate to give her something that she might not enjoy, and on top of it something that might be too scary or too mature for her at this time in her life.

I’d say 9-12 is a hard age group to navigate when it comes to young readers, because on top of each kid being an individual with their own unique interests, there are also different levels of maturity in each of the books and series one might encounter when shopping in this section. I was definitely one of those kids who read books intended for an older audience between 9 and 13…however, much of these books were manga and graphic novels. My experience as a reader definitely effects how I approach recommending books for kids, especially kids I don’t know personally like my niece. That’s why I don’t like to recommend books I haven’t read.

For adults who aren’t big readers themselves, I can imagine choosing books for others is a challenge. I salute you. My personal recommendation, if you have absolutely no idea what to buy the bookworm in your life is to just give them a gift card for your local bookstore. It’ll save you the headache, and they can pick out something they like. You can always pair it with a bookmark, or a mug if you want the gift to feel a little more personal.

I’m thinking of reading through a handful of middle grade books over the next month so that I can get a good idea of what might actually peak my nieces interest. When I can’t think of a series, one thing I try to do is to recommend people specific authors who I’ve read extensively like Judy Bloom, Jerry Spinelli, or Kenneth Oppel. All authors who I’ve read multiple works from, and really enjoyed despite not all of their books being contained within a series.

There are just so many great reads to choose from, but each person has their own preference and I feel it’s important to take that into consideration.

Another little project that I’ve started is that I’ve been creating lists of middle-grade books based on certain topics such as sports, theatre, mystery, family, spooky, pirates…etc…because this can really help figure out what books to recommend. Once my list is a little more organized, I’m going to post it on my blog, with the description. This is is going to include a chunk of books that I haven’t read, but just because something isn’t my cup of tea doesn’t mean it isn’t good and I want this list to be filled with books that I can come back to with my niece or a family friend with kids and go, “You really like basket ball, there’s this entire series on that, or you can read this book over here where the kids on the team have to hunt down a thief.”

I love helping people find their next favourite book, so for me this is kind of just a fun little project to do in between working and writing. I hope this list is useful, and I can’t wait to add more to it as I go.

Happy 1st Blogiversary!

Apparently it’s my blogs anniversary. I hadn’t even realized it until just now. Traditionally, with my older blogs I would make a long post highlighting […]

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 […]

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.

Manga I Read as A Kid

WARNING: This entire blog post will likely be filled with excessive fan-girling. For your own safety, please approach with caution. I’ve been reading manga and […]

Fake Blood Book 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.

Check out 5th Grade Challenge on Audible!

“Ted, the 5th grade genius and Veronica, his arch-rival, are constantly pranking each other. When the pranks spill over and ignite a grade-wide war, the teachers organize a girls vs. boys competition.”

This is a project I’ve been working on during 2020 with author Jamaal Fridge! I absolutely loved voicing his characters and discussing his work with him. It was so much fun and such a great learning experience as both an actor and an author!

You can find the audiobook on audible and read along!