Review: My Last Summer with Cass

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Rating: ★★★½

 I received an ARC of this book for free from The Novl in exchange for an honest review. 

The strongest part of this book was how it portrayed a complicated friend dynamic. It explored their past as childhood friends, then their last summer together in New York, and then finally revisited them a few years later. It really highlighted the highs and the lows of their friendship well.

Since this is a graphic novel, I have to talk about the artwork. I had an ARC so the art was not in full color. But I did look through the book preview on Amazon and saw it in full color and the coloring was amazing! 

However, I wanted a little bit more from the story. The plot is incredibly basic and I would have liked for it to have been more nuanced. It’s also very fast paced and would have benefited from a slower pace, especially after the main conflict happened. It jumped from the main conflict to three years later so fast. I would have liked to seen the aftermath of it play out more (most of it happened off page), especially in regards to Megan and her parents. 

Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel, but ultimately was left wanting more. If you like art or are an artist yourself, you may like this one! 

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Review: You Brought Me The Ocean

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Rating: ★★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher (DC Comics) in exchange for an honest review.  

This was a heartfelt origin story that tackles identity and sexuality. 

Prior to reading this, I had no idea who Jake Hyde (aka Aqualad) was so I had no expectations going in about his origin story. I was pleasantly surprised. The superhero element was a lot more subtle than I thought it would be. Jake trying to figure out the mystery behind his powers and coming to terms with his sexuality were both given equal weight. I liked that the book didn’t go too overboard with the superhero aspect because that could have easily overshadowed the coming-out story. 

The plot is very basic (it’s not the most exciting superhero comic you will read), but it works well for what the story was trying to accomplish. Sometimes less is more, and this book proves that. 

As for the characters, I loved Kenny. He was hands down my favorite character. I also loved the diversity in the characters. Jake is black. His best friend, Maria, is Latina. Kenny is Asian. The teacher, Mrs. Archer, is Native American. 

At first I wasn’t a fan of the artwork. I saw a sneak peek of this in another DC Comic and I was a little hesitant. The artwork seemed a little incomplete. But as I started the book and kept reading, I grew to love and appreciate it. There was actually a lot of detail in the sketches. I loved that at the end of the book there was sketches from the illustrator explaining the thought process behind them. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this beautiful superhero comic and its coming-out storyline! #RepresentationMatters 

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Review: Gotham High

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Rating: ★★★½

I received a copy of this book for free from DC Comics.

This graphic novel takes the iconic Batman characters and puts them in a high school setting. It reminded me a lot of the show, Riverdale. There’s mystery and lots of high school drama. 

What I really loved was the diversity. Bruce Wayne’s mom is from Hong Kong, which makes him half Asian. I found that so refreshing. There’s been so many versions of Bruce Wayne over the years and they are always white. It was cool seeing a Bruce Wayne that was different. Now I really want to see an Asian Bruce Wayne on tv or in a movie. I also loved that Alfred is now Uncle Alfred, Bruce’s gay Asian uncle (he even has a husband). 

The storyline wasn’t mind blowing in any way. It’s fairly simple and straightforward. It went by really fast and could have used a little bit more of development towards the end. 

The artwork, on the other hand, was amazing. It really popped and worked well with the young adult vibe of the book. 

Overall, this was a quick and entertaining graphic novel with beautiful artwork. If you are open to a different interpretation of Batman, give this one a try! 

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Review: The PLAIN Janes

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from The NOVL in exchange for an honest review. 

Please note that since this is an ARC, it only includes the first 2 installments and a sneak peek at the third installment. Therefore, my review is based only on these parts.

I really liked this graphic novel and the story it told. The book deals with many relevant topics such as terrorism and PTSD. I was happy that the book didn’t shy away with showing the mental effects that terrorism has on people. Jane’s mother is the perfect example of that. 

I liked how the girls came together to make a statement using art. Art is such an important tool in enacting societal change. 

I loved the artwork and stylization of the text. Both the illustrations and the text were clear and easy to follow. If you find graphic novels to be a bit distracting, you might want to try this one. 

I’m really glad that all the installments were put together in this book because they all come together nicely. For example, the first installment, “The PLAIN Janes,” sort of just ends abruptly. But the second installment, “Janes in Love,” really builds upon the first. I only got a sneak peek at the third one, “Janes Attack Back,” but from what I read, I think it will be a satisfying conclusion.

Overall, I enjoyed this graphic novel and am looking forward to seeing how it all ends. 

Review: Mooncakes

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Rating: ★★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from The Book Drop.

Omg this book was so cute! It was cozy and fluffy and just plain adorable! 

First off, I loved the artwork! I had an ARC so I only had a little bit of the full color artwork, but from what I saw, it is amazing. The artwork gave the book a really cozy and autumn feel, which matched the entire vibe of the book. 

I also loved the representation. Nova is queer, Chinese American, hard-of-hearing, and has two grandmothers who are in a relationship with each other. Tam is non-binary and also Chinese American. I loved how all of these elements were incorporated into the story. For example, Nova’s hearing aids get talked about a lot throughout the book. 

The supporting characters were great as well. Nova’s friend, Tatyana, was awesome and I loved their friendship. Another standout was Nova’s cousin Terry (if you’ve read the book, you’ll know why). 

Also the bookshop/cafe that Nova’s grandmothers own is the cutest thing ever, especially the special room dedicated to the witchy books. 

The storyline is fairly simple but it worked. This is just a feel good graphic novel and a straight forward plot was exactly what it needed. 

Overall, this is the perfect fall/Halloween read! 

Review: Queen of the Sea

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Rating: ★★★★

I received an ARC of this book for free from Candlewick Press in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a graphic novel very loosely based on Elizabeth I and her sister, Mary. And by loosely I mean that it more like an alternate history. That being said, I still enjoyed it. 

I had an ARC of this so the art was not complete and not in color but from what I got, I really liked the art. I can tell it will look stunning in its finished version. It’s cute in a way that captures the innocence of the main character well. The art was also successful in explaining things, like the history of the island. Those panels were well done and helped the story come to life in an interesting way. 

The overall storyline was good, however, the ending was a bit lackluster. It didn’t truly satisfy me. When it ended, I immediately wanted more. I felt like it was just getting started. I’m hoping this could be the start of a series. There’s a lot more to be explored. This book took place solely on the island, so I would love to see the rest of the kingdom in a future book. 

Overall, this is a wonderful graphic novel perfect for fans of history and the lives of queens.