Monday, September 26, 2016

Graphic Novel Round Up: September 2016

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF Moon Girl and the Devil Dinosaur, Vol.1: BFF
Author: Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclair, Natacha Bustos (artist)
Info: Marvel Comics, copyright 2016, 136 pages

Took me a beat to realize that this is directly connected to Ms. Marvel.  That's how observant I am.  As "heroes" go, Lunella is adorable (with an adorable name) and worth rooting for - despite being just nine years old.  She's a genius with a mission - find a way to save herself from succumbing to her Inhuman genes.  And because of her genius, she now has a Red T-Rex as a pet.

Not an extremely well-plotted series started, but I still loved it, and I can't wait to see what happens with Luella next.
The Shadow Hero

The Shadow Hero
Author: Gene Luen Yang, Sonny Liew (artist)
Info: First Second, copyright 2014, 169 pages

A boy who loves his father and has never lived up to his mother's expectations.  A boy finding a destiny he never expected.  An unlikely hero.  Gene Luen Yang at his best.  Love this guy.  Love the art.  Love the ease of storytelling, the appreciation of culture and heritage, and the crazy mother.  Just love.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol. 1: Squirrel Power

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Vol.1 & 2
Author: Ryan North, Erica Henderson (artist)
Info: Marvel, copyright 2015, 128 pages

With all the hype, I felt like I should have enjoyed this one more than I did.  Squirrel Girl is fun, and funny, and brave...but she's no Ms. Marvel.  I guess I'm just partial.  Love the tie-ins with other Marvel stories (especially Deadpool) and the humor.  But the whole concept of a girl with squirrel powers and squirrel friends felt a little crazy.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 5: Super Famous
Author: G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa (artist), Adrian Alphona (artist), Nico Leon (artist)
Info: Marvel, copyright 2016, 144 pages

How do you balance real life and the life of a superhero?  How do you balance the emotions of teenager-dom with the responsibilities of an adult?  Kamala Kahn is excited about her new role as an Avenger, but what price does she have to pay to be a superhero?  Love the journey Kamala has traveled on the last couple of volumes.  Definitely makes her feel more like a "real" character with "real" problems.  One of my favs of the year.

Author: Raina Telgemeier
Info: Graphic, copyright 2016, 256 pages

Catarina doesn't want to move.  She doesn't want to leave her friends or her school.  But she does want her sister Maya to be more comfortable, an environment where her she can breath without struggle.  But the town of Bahia de la Luna isn't quite what she expected.  The town seems to be a little preoccupied with ghosts.  Cat is a bit of a scaredy cat, and Maya seems a little conscious of her own mortality, but the resolution is heartwarming and fun.  Plot is thin in places (or moves too quickly, missing some great opportunities), but the artwork is vibrant and fun and the characters likable.  Another solid outing by Telgemeier.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top 12 Favorite Audiobook Readers

Top Twelve Favorite Audiobook Readers
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Today is an "audio" freebie...with endless possibilities for fun lists.  Because I have been obsessed with audiobooks this year, I thought I would make a list of some of my favorite audiobook narrators.  I tend to fall in love with a reader and then only listen to books they read (and then I find another awesome reader with an accent and my attention gets diverted to their list...)  And I made myself stop at twelve :)

Everland | Wendy Spinale A Corner of White: The Colors of Madeleine, Book 1 | Jaclyn Moriarty
1) Fiona Hardingham

Juliet | Anne Fortier Moon Over Manifest | Clare Vanderpool
2) Cassandra Campbell

Etiquette & Espionage: Finishing School, Book 1 | Gail Carriger Prudence | Gail Carriger
3) Moira Quirk

Atlantia | Ally Condie Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles | Marissa Meyer
4) Rebecca Soler

The Night Circus | Erin Morgenstern Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 | J.K. Rowling
5) Jim Dale

The Johnstown Flood | David McCullough Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption | Laura Hillenbrand
6) Edward Herrmann

The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime | Jasper Fforde Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell | Susanna Clarke
7) Simon Prebble

The Royal We | Heather Cocks,Jessica Morgan The Coldest Girl in Coldtown | Holly Black
8) Christine Lakin

An Ember in the Ashes | Sabaa Tahir The Crown's Game | Evelyn Skye
9) Steve West

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie | Alan Bradley The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel, Book 1 | Colleen Gleason
10) Jayne Entwistle

Armada: A Novel | Ernest Cline Ready Player One | Ernest Cline
11) Wil Wheaton

 Enchanted | Alethea Kontis My Lady Jane | Cynthia Hand,Brodi Ashton,Jodi Meadows
12) Katherine Kellgren


Monday, September 19, 2016

A Torch Against the Night

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes, #2)Author: Sabaa Tahir
Info: Razorbill, copyright 2016, 452 pages

Elias and Laia are running for their lives.  After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire.

Laia is determined to break into Kauf - the Empire's most secure and dangerous prison - to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholars' survival.  And Elias is determined to help Lai succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom.

But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Lai and Elias.  The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kauf, and most heartbreaking of all, Helene - Elias's former friend and the Empire's newest Blood Shrike.

Bound to Marcus's will, Helene faces a torturous mission of her own - one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape...and kill them both.

~Goodreads Description

It's always difficult a book that has been recently released.  You don't want to give too much away.  While I'm not opposed to spoilers, I understand others aversion to them.  There's one, maybe two spoilers that I'll try to stay away from.  One in particular that took me by surprise.  (It should be mentioned that I usually get so invested in a story that I start to become very unobservant - then BOOM!  What just happened?!)

As the description about describes, Elias and Laia are on the run, attempting to escape Serra with their lives, and on a mission to reach the prison at Kauf to rescue Laia's brother.  That, of course, is easier said than done.  The Martial army, the Commandant, and Helene, the Emperor's new Blood Shrike, are right on their tail.

I think I'm going to leave it there.  This is a journey book, and if you like journey books, you'll like this one.  I don't mind journey books, but with all of the action of An Ember in the Ashes, this felt a smidgen slow.  Just a smidgen.  Sabaa Tahir is that good.  Seriously.  This story, while filled with intrigue and suspense, is a character story.  And you really fall in love with the characters.

The Commandant is terrifying.  She is quickly traveling up the ranks of my most feared fictional villains.  She's ruthless, conniving, and violent.

Elias is selfless.  He has a big heart, despite his lethal abilities, and follows through (to a fault) on promises.  While I don't have a clear picture in my head of what he looks like, I know he's ruggedly handsome :)  (A reader just knows these things.)

Laia almost lost me in this book.  She was on the verge of making me mad, and unsurprisingly it was because of the love triangle between Keenan and Elias.  So often in teen fiction a girl becomes a damsel in distress when a boy is around.  Laia's fierce attitude, unwavering courage, and intent focus on her brother almost fell apart, but like a boss, Tahir calls attention to it.  It was intentional!  And while it doesn't really resolve itself positively, Laia comes out of it with a new "spark".  :)

As series sequels go, A Torch Against the Night is excellent.  The story progresses with additional obstacles thrown into the mix.  The characters continue to develop, moving toward who they will need to become for a final resolution.  And it's just exciting (despite the smidgen of slowness).

On a sidenote, I listened to the audiobook.  That is how I devoured the first, which means it was the only way I could devour the second.  Plus, Fiona Hardingham is a reader, and Fiona Hardingham can do no wrong.  Hilariously, the Warden at Kauf reminded me A LOT of the Six Fingered Man in the Princess Bride.  The cadence they chose to use for his voice made him both creepy and intriguing.

I can't wait for book three!

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