I Live in Many Worlds

I'm not one to talk about myself. I will say that I love to read and study languages. I have strong opinions about the things I read. Stick around if you'd like to hear them. :)

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

Allegedly - Tiffany D. Jackson

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued. Allegedly is about a black girl named Mary who was convicted of killing a three-month-old white baby when she was only nine-years-old. The story follows her life of imprisonment to when she is sixteen-years-old and gets pregnant herself. Now she must prove to the criminal justice system that she is a capable loving mother so they won't take her child away from her to put him in foster care. 

 

That premise alone was so enticing to me. I wanted to see how Tiffany D. Jackson was going to cover the subject of race, especially when it comes to a serious topic such as murder and the justice system. I wanted to know what happened to Mary when she was young that ended up with a baby being killed. I was interested in finding out so, naturally, when I saw this book at my library, I decided to bring it home... and I was utterly disappointed.

 

Let's start with the only positive comment I have for this book. The writing. Jackson clearly has talent. She was able to weave a story about a girl and the unfairness of her trial because of her race. And that, I feel, makes this story an interesting one. I managed to read this book in one sitting because it was an engaging read. Her writing is strong and I can see her improving as time goes on and I hope she does continue to write.

 

Now on to things I did not like about this book. Most of them having to do with the perpetuation of stigmas. The main one being of mental illness. There's already the belief that anyone with a mental illness will become murderers at some point. That stereotype is not only false but it's dangerous. For the one who has a mental illness and the people who surround them. Mental illness is something many people must live with, but with therapy and (sometimes) medication, they can live happy and healthy lives. What this book mentions is that mental illness gets you into trouble. You end up hurting maybe even killing people. Especially the people you love. And I do not agree with that sentiment. As I've said, there are many people living with a mental illness that are able to live happy lives. And I understand that the characters in this book have harsh lives, I do. But almost all the characters in this book have a mental disorder and they all end up wanting to hurt someone. Not one person with a mental illness in this book is shown to be a good person. They are all "crazy." That is harmful representation. It uses a stigma that's already well ingrained into our society and further enhances that stigma without challenging it one bit.

 

Another problem I have with the book is the fat-shaming. Every time someone that was slightly overweight, the main character had to call them disgusting. She mentioned that how she couldn't understand why people wouldn't change their diet if they were over two hundred pounds. And there are other times when she just says really nasty things when it came to people's weight. There's also quite a bit of homophobic slurs spread throughout the book in reference to one of the girls who stays at the group home with Mary. The worst part about these two horrendous actions is that it is never challenged within the text. Much like with mental illness, the book further adds to the notion that people who are fat or people who are gay are disgusting. That they are going to "rot in hell." And not once does the main character or another character question it. Meaning they agree with such toxic sentiments.

 

Last thing I want to cover is how there were a lot of unnecessary scenes throughout the book. One is the mutilation of a cat. Why? Why kill the cat? Especially if you're not going to do anything with it. We don't even find out who killed the cat. It's just there to be there. The cat-killing scene served no purpose to the plot whatsoever. I guess it was there just to show that the girls in the group home are "crazy." Another thing that was unnecessary is introducing Sarah, making her to be Mary's (only) friend, just to take that away. Because Mary doesn't have enough to deal with, let's add "crazy" best friend to that list. Oh, and the fact that Mary's only solace is in a man's arms? Really? A man that helped his friends rape a girl? A man who cheats on her? A man who claims he loves her but does everything to contradict that? Not to mention he shows signs of being abusive. There are times when he and Mary get in an argument and he forcefully grabs her and pushes her against walls. But is that ever challenge? No. Mary LIKES that he's being forceful with her. She even says so in the text! So not only does this book maintain the ideas that mental illness, fat-shaming, and homophobia are okay, it's also advocating for abusive relationships. All these aspects are what really ruin the book for me.

 

There's so many things that I don't like about this book. Everything that I mention are the main reasons why this book rubbed me the wrong way. I could go into further details, especially when it comes to Mary because she's another reason why this book didn't work for me, but that will reveal some things about the ending that I don't want to spoil in case you still want to read the book. I will just say that the negatives outshine the positive.

 

If you still want to read this book, go ahead. Like I said, the writing is actually pretty good. Just remember there's rape, strong language, murder, violence to every degree manageable, fat-shaming, homophobia, and domestic abuse. If you're okay with reading about those things, then give this book a read. I hope it enjoy it a lot more than I did.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is a book that has received a lot of buzz lately. If you're somewhat active on Twitter or on BookTube, you've probably heard about it. And rightfully so. I recently went to my library and saw it on the shelves and since I want to educate myself more on important issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, I quickly snatched this book up. I read this book in one sitting. That's how good this is!

 

The book follows Starr, a black girl that lives in a poor black neighborhood but attends a fancy prep school in the suburbs. She tries to keep her two lives separate, but when a night of fun ends up with her unarmed best friend getting shot by a police officer, she finds that both of her lives will intertwine in a way she never wanted nor expected it would ever be.

 

Angie Thomas did a fantastic job in writing her debut novel. Her writing is so engrossing! I could not put this book down. The moment I started reading this book to her acknowledgements in the back, I inhaled her writing, her story, her characters. Everything is so beautifully written and everything felt so real. And that's important in a book like this. You need to feel like it's real because in a lot of ways, it is. How many times have we seen names becoming hashtags because the were the victim of a police shooting? More times than anyone cares to admit, but admit it we must... for this is a very real situation and these a very real people who have yet to receive justice. I am truly grateful to Angie Thomas for bringing more awareness to the movement with this book. To shed light on the darkness that persists in clouding the reality to what's happening in this country.

 

The characters in this book are incredible. Let's start off with Starr, our main character. I love her. She is so strong and fierce. Even when she feels like she's falling apart, she continues to fight and stand up for what she believes in. She was born into a world that literally has everything set up against her and yet she still perseveres! It's incredible to see such strength in this character, to have this example for other little black girls to look up to is important and necessary. I want little black girls to read this book and feel inspired to not keep their mouths shut, even if the whole world tells them to keep quiet. I want them to not feel afraid to stand up for what is right and what they believe in. And by reading this book, I think little girls can see themselves in Starr and do just that.

 

The other characters were just as engaging. Starr's parents are supportive and loving towards one another. In fact, the whole family treats each other with so much love and support. They may have their flaws, but what family doesn't? Still, that matters little when push comes to shove. They are always there for one another to help out in times of need. You truly see the strength of a community come together once the shooting happens. And even the falling out with some people. That's another aspect I love about this book. It teaches you that sometimes, you need to let certain people go. If that friendship is toxic and is doing more harm than good for you, then you need to let that friend go. It'll help you in the long run in finding your happiness.

 

One more thing I want to mention about this book is how Angie Thomas covers race. She was able to talk about race in a respectful, straight to the point way. She stated how different people have different experiences when it comes to race and we should be understanding and try not to hurt one another for it. I love that she destroys certain stereotypes that we are all familiar with when it comes to race. And she didn't only do it with black stereotypes. She did it for white people, too. Thomas took this book and used it as an educational tool not just for black people, not just for white people, but for everyone who may have been brought up in a society that does nothing but perpetuate these harmful stereotypes. Reading this book is truly an educational experience that I encourage everyone to partake in.

 

I love this book. It's such a good read. As I said, I could not put this book down the moment I started reading it. It is such a great book to read, and relevant. The Hate U Give is a beautifully crafted book that everyone should read. Angie Thomas did an amazing job and her message at the end of the book is absolutely stunning. I won't tell you what it is (you should definitely read the book to find out), but trust me that it's something a lot of us needed to hear. Thank you, Angie Thomas, for writing such a beautiful book. It's one that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement - Wesley Lowery

I will be honest with you. This book is very difficult to read. Especially if you have been paying attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. If you've seen even some of the videos that are referenced in this book, then all those memories of seeing dead bodies on the ground will come flooding back to you in mere seconds. You will be thrown right back to when you saw the videos on your phone or on your computers. You will remember the gruesome acts that were placed upon these people. Because this book is about now. Right now. What's happening in America and the police brutality that's happening mostly to people of color.

 

This book is not easy and it's not meant to be. It's meant to throw you into the pain and suffering that people are facing everyday of their lives because of the color of their skin. It's meant to tear you up whilst also providing facts about the movement and what the family of the victims have gone through, in some cases, are still going through. And it's important. It's important to keep your eyes and ears open. To learn about the world around you, and to realize that not everyone has it easy. Not everyone can just go out and have fun without people racially profiled. And, although this book is written in cold harsh truths, I appreciated every word written down.

 

I am glad for people like Wesley Lowery who are willing to go the extra mile to give us the truth as to what is happening in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston. I'm glad he's constantly working with very little rest to bring some form of justice to these slain Black lives. And I am glad that no matter what he will continue to do so. He writes with an elegance and poise. He doesn't sugarcoat the cruelty that has taken place in these cities and he doesn't just paint one side of the picture. He writes about those who lost their lives and he writes about the police. What both parties are going through during these times of strife. I am glad I read this book because, even though I keep myself politically aware of what's going on in my country and even though I have seen many of these videos and I am aware of the racial injustices in America, I feel I have gained a deeper understanding of what is going on with this country and police brutality.

 

If you want to understand more about the Black Lives Matter movement, if you want to know more about how the police is handling these crimes and their take on it, if you just want to know more about the people involved in these shootings/crimes, if you want to know more about the people who are trying to make a positive difference in this world, then please read this book. You will learn so much from it. Besides, it's important to know these issues so that way we can start making positive changes in better understanding one another. We need to try to help each other now more than ever.

March: Book Three by John Lewis

March: Book Three - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Lewis Gaddis

And with this, I've completed the trilogy. I am so happy I read this. It helped educate me on the finer details that helped bring about the Civil Rights Movement. In this volume, we follow John Lewis from the streets of Atlanta, Georgia to the entire continent of Africa and back to the streets of Selma, Alabama. This volume covers the events of Bloody Sunday, the 1965 Voters' Rights Act, and so much more.

 

John Lewis has a way of telling these important events in a conversational tone. And sometimes it sounds as if we're getting to sit in an academic setting and hearing his lecture of his time on the battleground. For that's what it was: a battleground. So many people mercilessly killed because they just wanted the same rights as white people. It's horrific and wrong. And although this is a very difficult read, it is also an important one.

 

The artwork is gritty. It's a lovely style, but it does not sugarcoat what went on during those times. And I am grateful that it doesn't. People need to see the blood, the violence, the deaths. They need to be reminded that these events happened and they could easily happen again if we are not careful. We need to be vigilant and help each other as much as we can. Because that's what it means to be human. I've learned so much about these events and I shall continue to educate myself and fighting for the rights of others.

 

Please read all three volumes of March. Especially if you don't know much about what America was like during the 60's. Lewis packs in a lot of information, yes, but it's vital to know who played a role in our history and how we got to where we are today. These are not easy reads, but I think the knowledge and experience you gain from reading these books are well worth it. I love these books and I will definitely be adding them to my personal library.

March: Book Two by John Lewis

March: Book Two - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis

This is a disturbing, harrowing, yet beautiful and important continuation to John Lewis's role in the Civil Rights Movement. This continues after his early life within the SNCC and how he became one of the "Big Six" as well as what happened during the March on Washington. 

 

Once again, I do not feel right reviewing this book. As I've said in my previous review, this is our history. This happened. The segregation, the violence, the murders... all of this was experienced by people. Real people. People whose lives were taken from them far too soon because of the blind hatred running rampant during those times... that could still rise up today if we are not careful.

 

John Lewis is an incredible man for working as hard as he did. Everyone who participated during the movement were all amazing! Every single one of them. From the leaders in the groups to the ones marching in the streets. Every single one of them were brave, incredible, amazing people who risked their lives... and sometimes lost them... in order for us to be here today. Thank you.

 

I will just reiterate: Please read these graphic novels. If you want to know history, if you want to understand what others went through and sacrificed so that we can have a better future, please read this. Educate yourselves as much as you possibly can. If you want to make a difference, know your history, learn from it, then we can move forward.

March: Book One by John Lewis

March (Book One) - Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell, John Robert Lewis

Lately, I've been trying to educate myself in areas of life where my knowledge is sorely lacking. A part of that lacking is how the Civil Rights Movement came about. Then, recently, I learned about Congressman John Lewis and his role in the Civil Rights Movement. When I heard about this graphic novel, I went to my library and placed orders for all three volumes. Now, after having read just the first volume, I can tell this is going to be one of the most important reads of my life.

 

How does one even begin to review a book like this? This is our history. This is extremely important information to know. Not only if you live in America, but for the world. What John Lewis and so many others did to help put an end (and there's still a lot more we have to do in order to fully put an end to racism and discrimination of any kind) to the injustices that were happening during that time period is astounding and is worth more than what my measly review can cover here.

 

So instead of reviewing this book like I would normally do, I will simply talk about the importance this graphic novel holds and how much I urge you to pick up this book. Or to pick up any book by John Lewis, really. 

 

This graphic novel covers the beginning of John Lewis's life where he grew up in a farm in Alabama and it covers his early teens to when he's a young adult at college. The story is harrowing, to say the least. This is a time where black people were beaten and killed for just looking at a white person... so you know this is going to be a hard read. But it is a necessary one. So please. Read this book. To educate yourself on our history. To learn from the brutal and cruel mistakes of our past. To have a better future.

 

This is not a book I think is an enjoyable read. How can you enjoy reading about people being stripped away of their rights and humanity? No. I will say this is an important read and, in a sense, a good one. Pick it up! The artwork is dark and matches the story perfectly, and the graphic novel might give some insight to how we got to where we are today and how we still have so much work left to do. I highly recommend this graphic novel.

 

I'm off to read the other two books in this trilogy. I have a feeling it's going to be just as painful and important to read.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 1 - Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples

I am fully aware that this comic is loved by many, many people. I know that it has the appeal to reach wide audiences. I also know that it's not the worst comic to ever have been created. This review is here to point out the reasons why I, myself, did not connect with it as a reader. However, I am in the minority here. Loads of people love this comic and if you love it, too, that's great! I just, personally, found some problems with it that kept me from fully enjoying the comic.

 

I'm sure I don't have to talk about what Saga is about. So many people have talked about it enough that, at this point, it's redundant to say it's plot. Put briefly, it's a Romeo and Juliet type story where two different, warring alien species fall in love, have a baby together, and must flee their home worlds since their love is forbidden. That premise sounds pretty good. It's a classic tale of forbidden love with aliens and space thrown in! I really like the idea of that. However, I was not a fan of the execution. 

 

The dialogue felt forced. As if they were written to be in some poorly made sitcom for "edgy" people. There's a part where Alana, female lead, says "I was stupid to think we could ever outrun this retarded fucking war!" That doesn't sound like something a military official, an adult, would say. Yeah, I understand she's supposed to be your non-typical military official. She's supposed to be tough and a "badass," but I didn't get that by the way she talked. Neither did I see the "charm" to her lover, Marko. He's supposed to be the softer side to Alana rough and, yes, he is. But what bothered me the most is that he's still written as a "typical" man. Alana is capable of defending herself, or at least the narrative wants the reader to believe that, yet he still has to come to her rescue multiple times. But you can excuse it because Alana has just given birth. She is not in her top form. Fair enough. However, what I cannot forgive (and we're going to go into spoiler territory so skip the rest of this paragraph if you don't want to know what happens in this comic) is the fact that he's apparently engaged with another woman, even though he's married to Alana, and he never told Alana about this other woman, even though he's madly in love with Alana. Look, that is just shit you DO NOT DO! If you're not in a polyamorous relationships, you don't keep a relationship that's still on-going a secret from your significant other. That's wrong! And Alana just forgave him! She questioned him a little bit about it, but she just let it go. What? Why? This is the father of your baby! Shouldn't you have a few more questions than that? Ugh... I don't know. The comic is fast-paced so I suppose you can't dwell on topics like borderline CHEATING for long. Still, it pissed me off to read about.

 

Not to mention I felt a lot of what they said was crude for no actual purpose. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind crude jokes or sex in the media I consume. But it felt like in Saga there was no purpose to it. I don't understand why in an advance society, we are reduced to slut-shaming, pedophilia, and misogyny yet no one seemed to put a stop to it. It's all seen as very normal in this advance, futuristic society. How is it that there has been no progress in that front? Yeah, this also goes for how they treat inter-species/inter-racial relationships, too. But it just irks me to read how the women are treated so poorly in this comic. And seeing a six-year-old girl being sold into being a sex slave really left a sour taste in my mouth. Yeah, it's somewhat "handled" but that doesn't mean I don't have problems with how this is apparently "normal" in this world.

 

Really the only good thing about this comic is the art. Fiona Staples did an incredible job bringing this world to life! I love how in some panels the colors are just so vibrant! And the character designs are amazing! I also loved seeing the different designs to the different alien species. The backgrounds are fully detailed and really helps you to visualize the type of universe these characters are in. Incredible art all around. I wouldn't mind buying a print from Staples, her art is that amazing!

 

As I've said before, these are just some of the things that bugged me about this comic. I know not everyone is going to feel the same way. If you really enjoyed this comic, I think that's awesome! I can see why it's gotten so much praise as it did. But for me, it left a lot to be desire. The premise was good but the execution was lacking. I am not opposed to reading other works by Brain K. Vaughan, but I think I'll be skipping the rest of Saga for now.

Descender, Vol. 1: Tin Stars by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

Descender Volume 1: Tin Stars (Descender Tp) - Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen, Dustin Nguyen

And now I am going back to comics. I am really having a lot of fun reading comics lately. I didn't read many last year so getting back into comics this year has been a real treat. I heard about Descender on BookTube. I heard it was a pretty good sci-fi novel so I thought I'd give it a try. And I'm so glad I did. 

 

The story follows a boy named TIM-21. He's a robot who has been put to sleep for ten years during an attack by The Harvesters, a group of alien robots set to destroy everything! And the story takes off from there. I'll admit that it's not an original story. We have all seen stories about alien lifeforms threatening to destroy the world and one person being the key to prevent that from happening. However, I love the pacing of this story. It's taking a concept we are all very well familiar with and spinning it to fit this expansive world that Jeff Lemire is creating. The beginning of this volume introduces this world and its characters and sucks the reader in and by the end of it, you just want to keep reading. To find out where this ancient technology came from. I wish I had the second volume to read because I am super intrigued by what's happening so far!

 

The artwork is phenomenal! Dustin Nguyen mixes a realistic, soft style with watercolor and it just blows me away! I love how bright some panels are, with light blues and reds, but then it gets dark when the mood is right for it. He is able to balance the serious tone of the book without making it seem dreary. Well, there is a bit of gore... but it's not all bad! In fact, I think it's pretty cool! I am in love with his art and I cannot wait to see more of it in the future.

 

The characters are incredible! Especially the robots! I love the main character, TIM-21. He is sweet, caring, and empathetic towards his human counterparts. He has a dog-bot called Bandit and it's a DOG ROBOT! Need I say more? Then there's Driller who joins the team after he helps protect TIM from Scrappers, beings who try to get their hands on old parts to sell to the highest bidder. Driller is also loving and charismatic. He doesn't like humans very much, seeking to kill them since he is Driller the Killer, but TIM holds him back by teaching Driller to understand that some humans are there to help them. Still, Driller prefers not to put his faith in humans as much as he can, which isn't really a bad thing considering how humans react towards any sentient beings.

 

Speaking of humans, they are the ones who I didn't really connect with. There's Dr. Quon, the so-call "inventor" of the TIM series. He's a coward, a jerk, and plain compared to the robots. There's Telsa (although she is not really human), who is the captain of the UGC, an organization sworn to protect the universe from the Harvesters. She's tough, gets things done, and intelligent. My one complaint with her is that she keeps the reader at a distance. She does seem to have more than she lets on but as of right now, she's not letting anyone know who she truly is. My hope is that in future volumes, she allows for those around her into her heart. And the final character is Tullis, Telsa's second in command. We don't know much about him yet. Except that he's very loyal to Telsa and follows her every command without question. I'm sure we'll see more of him, too.

 

All-in-all, I really enjoyed this comic. I liked the premise, the atmosphere, the setting, the plot, and some of the characters. In fact, I would have loved this comic if some of the characters I mentioned above were a bit more fleshed out. Other than that, I highly recommend this comic. If you love sci-fi, alien races, fast-paced action, and a story we've seen time and time again done differently, then you should read Descender. Just keep in mind that there's a bit of gore towards then end, if that's something you prefer to avoid in your comics.

 

I really like this comic and I cannot wait to read more of it soon!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda - Becky Albertalli

This has been a book I've been meaning to read since its publication date. So many people have talked about how it's such an amazing book about LGBTQIAP+ characters and their struggles being in a high school environment. And I've wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Well, I finally read it and I have to say that it is a very good book indeed!

 

The writing is so refreshing. Albertalli writes in a way that most teens write/talk. I enjoyed her writing style quite a bit. It's a fun style. It's easy to read through. In fact, I read this book in one sitting. I don't think it's anything mind-blowing, but that's not what Albertalli was aiming for. She was trying to capture the essence of what it is to be a teenager and I think she succeeded fairly well. My one complaint about her writing was whenever she talked about Tumblr. If you have a Tumblr, you know that it's main focus/use is for people to connect with their fandoms. However, within the story, Albertalli uses it more as a tool for gossip... which is an aspect that is used on FaceBook, not Tumblr. Also, Tumblr users don't tend to say "I saw it on the Tumblr." We just say Tumblr. It came off as someone who has heard of Tumblr but never really used it. You know "trying to be hip with the kids" and all that. It was not necessary and felt completely forced.

 

The story itself is quite entertaining. Simon, main character, is closeted and talks to this other boy, nicknamed Blue, about what he's feeling and going through as a gay teen. However, another boy, Martin, finds out about Simon being gay and uses it to blackmail Simon into helping him woo Simon's friend, Abby, and the story goes on from there. It's filled with drama, rivalries, angst, and the like. It's a great contemporary novel about high school life and struggling with sexuality. I also love this novel for not being completely bleak either. That's not to say Simon doesn't deal with some turmoil; there's a bit of that, too. But I like that it's not all tragic. I am sick and tired of reading LGBTQIAP+ fiction and it always ending in tragedies. Queer people are not tragedies waiting to have for heterosexuals entertainment. And I feel that this book understood that and actually gave hope and happiness for the characters, which is something I appreciate tremendously.

 

Now let's talk about the characters! Simon is our lead and he's trying to figure out who he is whilst trying not to change in a constantly changing world. I like him. He's fun and energetic if a bit stupid. No, seriously... he's dumb. Throughout the entire novel, he was trying to figure out the true identity of Blue and it took him until the end of the book to figure it out. The reader is able to figure it out before the half-way mark of the novel so it was just his own stupidity, really, that he couldn't figure it out. Also, there's a thing that happens in the end that involves a T-shirt that I couldn't help but roll my eyes at. I mean, really, Simon? You didn't check the bloody shirt for two weeks? If you read the book, you know what I mean. Anyway, he's a good kid. He's just a little dumb.

 

Martin is a douche. He does so many unspeakable things for no other reason than jealousy. He's a very shallow character who is self-entitled and annoys the crap out of me. Abby is cool. She's a character that was very sweet and loving and I adore how she doesn't judge anyone. She is my favorite character by far. Leah is Simon's other friend and I love that she likes anime/manga. The one thing about her character that I don't like was how she was always treating Abby so coldly because, you guessed it, of jealously. Why is it that female characters can't be friends with each other? And yeah, there are other female characters in the book that are awesome, too, but the main ones are Abby and Leah, and Leah spends the entire book hating on Abby. This trend where females are always at each other's throats because of some GUY really needs to end. Women are more than bratty, bitchy characters fighting over men. Please write better female characters! DX

 

Overall, I did enjoy this book. I had problems with how Simon acted and how the women were sometimes portrayed, but other than that, it was a fun book. I love how Albertalli called out how wrong it is for people to consider being white and straight as the default to all. She did have interracial couples within the book and she had more than two gay characters. So it's a pretty solid read despite what I stated previously. I do see potential for this author to grow and be even more inclusive. So if you're looking for a fun light read about teenagers in high school, then give this a shot. I think you might like it.

Young Avengers, Volume 1: Style > Substance by Kieron Gillen

Young Avengers - Volume 1: Style > Substance (Marvel Now) (Young Avengers Graphic Novels) -  'Jamie McKelvie', 'Kieron Gillen'

The way I stumbled upon this comic is interesting. I first heard about it on BookTube. I heard that it was a great comic so I always kept my eyes open for it. I saw it at the library the other day and decided to bring it home. Then, earlier today, I saw a post about Young Avengers on Tumblr and it piqued my interest. I decided to pick it up and read it. And I did. And I absolutely LOVE everything about this manga.

 

The story follows America, Loki, Wiccan, Hulkling, Hawkeye, and Noh-Varr in trying to set time and space right. I know that doesn't make much sense but I literally can't tell you anything about the story without giving away major plot points. I can say that the story starts off with Wiccan trying to help his boyfriend, Hulkling, feel at ease with their current situation and Loki trying to prevent the worst from happening. It's such an engaging story! I read it a lot faster than I normally read comics because I just HAD to find out what was going on!

 

The artwork is beautiful! I have no complaints about it whatsoever. The colors are vibrant, the character designs are amazing, and the backgroud is breathtaking! I love the art so much!

 

The characters are incredible! This is the first time I've read anything that had America Chavez in it and she is one of my newest favorite hero. She's badass and sassy. I still don't know much about her but I'm definitely looking forward to learning more about her. Loki is so precious. He's a bit of a butt but I love him anyway. He's the perfect blend of hero and villain that I can't help but be drawn to him. Hawkeye and Noh-Varr are not in this much, but what we do get to see of them is good. They are in a relationship and it's a happy and healthy one and that's always a plus in my book!

 

Speaking of characters being in a happy and healthy relationship, Wiccan and Hulkling are just absolutely lovely. This volume focused on their relationship quite a bit and I loved that it's a positive portrayal of a homosexual relationship. I felt the entire story was done respectfully towards them. They are two people in love trying to help each other out when the world is crashing before them. I adore how loving, caring, and supportive they are to each other. It's such a good relationship that my feels just cannot handle! Ah~ 

 

In fact, I love this comic a lot for its diversity. As I've said, there's a positive homosexual relationship and America is a queer Latina who kicks ass! Reading about her in this comic has me quite excited for the current run of America that's being written by Gabby Rivera. I have the first two issues and I cannot wait to read them next! I need more badass queer ladies in my life!

 

Another thing I want to mention before I wrap up this review/gush-fest is how mental illness is portrayed. Billy, (a.k.a. Wiccan) suffers from anxiety and depression. Within the comic, we see a bit of that being touched on. I know from that post on Tumblr that it's something he has struggled with for a long time. I don't know how it's going to be handle in later issues, but in this one, I feel that they handled it well. Obviously, there needs to be more conversations on the topic of mental health, but as an introduction to who Billy is and what he is going through, I think the writers did a good job.

 

In all, I love this comic. It's engaging, fun, interesting, inclusive, diverse, positive, and informative. It's bringing positive awareness for the Queer community and for anyone suffering from a mental illness. I really like what this comic is doing for its characters and audience. I also love that they are adding an extra layer to who Loki is as a character (people are so hard on him). The love between Wiccan and Hulkling is adorable. And America Chavez is awesome. Seriously, if you love Marvel comics then you should definitely pick this one up! It's a great read! However, this does come with a slight trigger warning for attempted suicide. Please keep that in mind before picking this up.

 

Other than that, I hope you end up enjoying this comic. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of this series the moment I get the chance to!

Bleeding Earth by Kaitlin Ward

Bleeding Earth - Kaitlin Ward

I love horror. I love seeing horror movies, listening to horror podcasts, and reading horror novels. Every Halloween, I binge-read the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe because I just find his work so fascinating. So when my partner and I went to the library and saw Bleeding Earth, a horror apocalyptic novel, on the shelves, we just had to check it out. And I'm glad we did!

 

The story follow Lea as she struggles to survive a world covered in blood, bones, and hair. Sounds interesting, no? The premise is so intriguing! I've never read a book where the end of the world is happening as the characters were living their normal lives. Usually books take place after the apocalypse has happened. So this was an interesting take on the genre.

 

I'll be honest, the writing is nothing special. Not that it's bad in any way. It's just very simplistic. I didn't fall in love with the way Ward writes descriptions of scenery nor did I fall in love with her character portrayals. Yet I did fall in love with her ideas and the way she executed them. I loved how she wrote about the world being nothing but an ocean of blood. I love how she described the gore and horror of what this world became. The writing may be simple but it helps the reader envision the dire situations these characters are in throughout the entire novel without making it overly complicated. My one complaint about the story as a whole were how desperate the characters want to hang outside because "there's nothing to do at home." Are you kidding me? With the world ending, there's no way anyone in their right mind would want to be outside. And I know there's the whole "psychosis" disease that comes with the blood if you come in contact with it, but the characters were talking about being outside in the blood before that disease took place. And there's plenty of things you can do at home! You can read a book, watch YouTube video, binge-watch a show on Netflix, play video games, exercise, etc. There's a million things to go at home. Why the hell did these characters only cared about going outside and partying?

 

Speaking of characters, I feel they are the weakest aspect of the book. Lea, the main character, falls into a lot of "teenage drama" tropes. In fact, a lot of the time, she was bratty with her parents just to be bratty. Not to mention that she acted really stupid throughout parts of the novel. Who the hell wants to go to a party in the forest when the world is being swallowed up in blood? Who would even want to party at a time like that!? But I digress. Lea is definitely not the most annoying character I've ever read about but she certainly did a lot of moronic things for no other reason than just because she could do them.

 

Then there's Aracely, Lea's girlfriend. She's actually not a bad character. I found her the most intriguing out of all the characters in the book. She starts off shy and reserved. She really likes Lea but wants to keep is a secret since she is not out yet and that's fine. You should only come out if you're ready and safe to do so. And I love that, throughout the novel, we see her grow and become more comfortable with who she is. Hell, she even becomes a badass! I do like her, I just wish we got to explore her more. Aside from seeing her grow into a more determined person, we literally know nothing else about her. Not her past or where she came from. Very little is known about her and I wish she was explored more.

 

The side characters are really nothing too special. Hillary, Lea's best friend, is kind and always willing to be there for her friend, but she literally contradicts herself when she believes her boyfriend (who's a jerk) over her friends. It made no sense why she would be upset with Lea for treating her boyfriend harshly when he was literally taking advantage over a drunk girl. Speaking of that drunk girl, Mikayla was forgettable. She was only in the book just to have that scene in the park and served no other purpose. Cadence, another friend, couldn't even remember her friends long enough to invite them to said party. Felix is nice but apparently has a big mouth. And they are all just kinda... there. None of them, aside from Hillary, served any point to the plot other than to be a nuisance. All these sides characters were just so shallow that I did not connect to a single one.

 

Another thing that bothered me about this novel was how it ended. No spoilers but... it left a lot to be desired. I was hoping for a bit more closure and I did not get that. 

 

But with all my critiques, you might be wondering why I gave am recommending this book then. Well, because of how engaging it was! I couldn't put the book down. I HAD to know what was going on. I HAD to see where it was going to end. I needed to know why the Earth was like this and how they were going to resolve it all. I liked this book because of its diversity. We have two queer girls in a relationship and one is a PoC. I liked this book for the world it presents. I liked the anticipation it builds and intrigue it instills. Basically, I just had a lot of fun reading this book. 

 

Do I recommend this book? Yes. But to only those who are looking for a horror/gore-filled diverse adventure. It's not without flaws but it is an entertaining book. Keep in mind that this book has descriptions of blood, gore, violence, murder, and suicide. So if any of that might be triggering for you, then do not read this book. Otherwise, I hope you enjoy reading this despite the flaws. It really is quite the fast read.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 1: Squirrel Power by Ryan North & Erica Henderson

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Vol. 1: Squirrel Power - Ryan North, Erica Henderson

I am in such a comic kick right now. All I want to do is read ALL of the comics! And so I decided to pick up a comic all about Squirrel Girl. I'll admit, I don't know much about the character. I know she has a huge following but I have never heard about her until the release of this comic. And I have to say I'm intrigued.

 

Squirrel Girl is quirky, fun, and slightly bizarre, but that just adds to her charm. It took a while of getting used to, to be honest. The first issue in this volume was just not for me. I felt like the creators were trying too hard in reaching new fans to mix in with the old. I didn't find it funny and the artwork is not my favorite. I understand why you'd want to draw Doreen with the pursed lips and buck teeth (she is supposed to be part squirrel), but when I saw every other character drawn in that style as well, it didn't seem unique at all. Just the way Henderson illustrates, I guess. Anyway, the art style is just not my cup of tea and the whole tone of the first issue left me feeling rather disappointed. I had heard that Squirrel Girl was an amazing character that goes on fun adventures and I just did not see that from the first issue.

 

The second issue started off in much the same way. By this point, I was wondering whether I was going to enjoy this super hero comic at all. However, by the end of the second issue, much to my contentment, the tone and the pace improved dramatically! The plot picked up and became interesting, the characters were authentically funny, and I felt the creators were able to figure out what story they wanted to tell. It became a fun story about Squirrel Girl saving the world from Galactus, who wanted to eat Earth for its life energy. The comic became a story that I found quite entertaining and I am so glad it did.

 

But the end of this first volume, Doreen Green (Squirrel Girl) was an interesting character with her own quirks and way of handling "villains" that I wanted to see more of. I want to see more of Squirrel Girl and Galactus just chilling and talking about life. (Trust me. It's quite a hilarious site to see.) And speaking of Galactus, he's my new best friend! His entire presence in this comic made it that much more enjoyable to me. I love his nonchalant way of speaking and his laid back attitude. Seriously, he's a great character and I hope to see more of him in the future installments.

 

In this particular volume, the first comic where Squirrel Girl makes an appearance is included in the back of the book. It was so interesting seeing where she got her origins from. Seeing the difference in character designs was most fascinating to me. And, although I don't really like the artwork for this comic, I much more prefer the current rendition of Squirrel Girl than her previous one. X3

 

In all, this was a pretty good intro to who Squirrel Girl is as a super hero. This comic takes a while to get going but once it does, it's a fun ride up into space! If you like fun, silly, and bizarre comics, then give this one a read. I'm glad I was finally able to see who Doreen Green a.k.a Squirrel Girl is!

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona -  Noelle Stevenson

A couple of years back, it seemed everyone was talking about Nimona and how amazing this graphic novel was. Fast forward to today and people still seem to be talking about it. That, to me, is a sign to how brilliant a work of art is. So when I went to the library and saw it on the shelf, I snatched it up so fast! I just couldn't believe I was FINALLY going to read this comic! And, let me tell you, it's just as amazing as everyone says it is.

 

I literally have no complaints about this comic whatsoever! The art, the story, the characters, the setting. Everything! It's all so amazing! Noelle Stevenson did a fantastic job in creating a story where the reader becomes invested in the characters and their struggles. The artwork is matches the tone of the plot perfectly. It's light and cartoony when it needs to be and gets dark and grittier when the tone of the story shifts. The setting is a mixture of medieval and futuristic at the same time. A beautiful blend between fantasy and sci-fi. And the character designs are unique and diverse with each individual. I love the art so much!

 

The story is just as incredible as the artwork! It follows Nimona, a shapshifter, who is a fan of well-know "villain" Ballister Blackheart and joins him in his pursuit of "evil." I will not tell you anymore than that because it's best to go into this story knowing very little. But if you love adventure and a bit of mystery with characters who develop gradually and beautifully, then you will enjoy this graphic novel.

 

As for the characters, they are all so beautiful and amazing and intriguing and I just can't get enough of them! Nimona is a shapeshifter who is spunky, headstrong, funny, and cares so much for the "boss." Ballister Blackheart, the "boss," is a scientist who is a bit on the serious side but learns to care for Nimona throughout the book. Their friendship is one of the sweetest I've read about in any form of fiction. I love how they are willing to risk their lives for each other to see each other succeed. We also have Ambrosius Goldenloin. He works for the "government" and is a type of rival to Blackheart.  But, the more you read the story, the more you'll understand why they bump heads so much. The reasoning just melts the heart.

 

I cannot recommend this books highly enough! Please go out and read this book. It's funny, beautiful, magical, diverse, and a treat to experience. I love how positive it is for girls and boys alike. It teaches that it's okay to be who you are and that being a "monster" is not as bad as some would make it out to be. Such a fantastic message and a good read all around! 

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis

Lumberjanes Volume 1 -  Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis

There have been so many people talking and raving about Lumberjanes. So much so that when I want to the library, I snatched it up so fast! The only thing I knew about this comic was that it was about a bunch of girls who were at a summer camp and how it showed such a positive light on friendship. And, yes, it is about that. But there's also so much more to it!

 

The story is how they are at this camp and there's some bizarre events happening. Events that cannot be explained. The campers, being inquisitive and curious, set out to try and solve the mysteries surrounding Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. It is such a fun and quirky little story about female friendships and the positivity therein! I really loved reading this story. In fact, when I got to the end, I was shocked because it ended so fast and I just wanted more!

 

Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis did a fantastic job writing this comic. They managed to capture what it's like being a young teen, exploring different perspectives and friendships, and how diverse each and every single one of these characters felt was truly a breath of fresh air. Their characters are all different. Different race, skin, sexualities, body types, etc., and it's done respectfully. These traits just happen to be a part of that character. It does not define them. It's just who they are and I think it's such a well-done aspect of the comic. Props to the writers!

 

The artwork is so cute! Brooke Allen is the illustrator and she did such a fantastic job in capturing the feel and tone of the story through the art. It's a bit cartoony and that art style brings out the humor of the book perfectly! I love how each character looks so different from one another and since there are quite a few characters in the comic, it's important for each one to have a very distinct look. The colors are bright and light, the art is smooth, it just fits so well with everything this comic has set out to do.

 

The characters themselves are so fantastic. I love Jo. She's a calm and intelligent individual. April is spunky and tough. Mal and Molly have a beautiful relationship blossoming that I cannot wait to see more of. Ripley is a ball of energy and made me laugh more than one. And Jen, their camp counselor, is so awesome and humorous in her own right. Actually, I feel a bit bad for Jen. She has to deal with so much of the shenanigans that's happening around her. Poor woman can't catch a break. X3 But all the characters. Every single one of them is just unique and beautiful and lovely and I just can't! 

 

Seriously, if you have not yet read Lumberjanes then I highly recommend you do. It's fun, sweet, light, and an all-around good time. If you're looking for a quick fun comic about friendships and mystery then I think this is a good comic to try out! I cannot wait to read the rest of the series. I know I am going to love it~

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home (Fairyland, #5) by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home - Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente

This is it. The final installment to this incredibly innovative, whimsical series. I've been following September and her crew for a couple of years now and it makes me have so many feelings. Happy, sad, excited, wonderful feelings! I hate that it's coming to an end (and I know she recently wrote a short story afterwards which I will be reading) because I love this series so much, but just as the narrator said, we can always come visit and spend some time together again.

 

I don't even know where to start with this review. It's always been difficult for me to review books I feel so much love and attachment to. Valente is a fantastic story-teller. She has the ability to weave a bizarre tale of magic and wonder around the reader. She gets you, as the reader, involved in her books with writing that leaves you breathless. She never talks down to you. No. She includes you. And I love her for that. I love that she wants you to be a part of the story. Not necessarily as stepping into September's shoes, or lack thereof, but to bring your own shoes and tag along with the characters. This book is no exception. I felt like I went on a very long adventure for years that I was happy to be on. I adored getting to see the characters grow and learn from when they were children to when they became teenagers to becoming young adults. It's incredible how talented of a writer Valente is and I'm looking forward to seeing where she goes next as a writer.

 

Speaking of characters, every single one of them is just as amazing as they are in the first book. September is a lot older, braver, daring, and fearless here. Saturday grows and regresses and grows again! (You should really read the book to understand what I mean.) A-Through-L is still the best Wyverary I have ever read about in fiction ever. I love how sweet and caring and excited he gets about books. (He's one of my favorite characters in this series.) We also see more of Hawthorn, Tambulaine, and Blunderbuss in this book as well. Hawthorn and Tamburlaine is there for a little bit and you can see that they are having their own private adventures~ Blunderbuss plays a key role here and she's just awesome! I mean, she kind of has to be since she's a wombat and all! X3 But seriously, I have no complaints about any of the characters. In fact, Valente even includes portions with September's family! After all, just because you're an adult, doesn't mean you can have your own fun and adventures, right?

 

This story in this book really brings a lot of questions you may have had throughout the series to the forefront. So many elements were explained and answered. There's so many unpredictable events, which just adds on to my love for this entire story! I love it when books aren't easy to decipher. I love not being able to tell when Valente is taking us. You think that one thing is going to happen, and then Valente flips it over and kicks it towards a ring of fire made of ice and you have no idea where you're headed. It's such a fun experience to see yourself, as the reader, wonder what's going on and then be amazed as soon as you see where you have landed! Man, I love this book!

 

I highly highly recommend you check out this entire series. It's whimsical, magical, incredible, fun that you're going to love if you adore fantasy, great characters, and even better writing. With these books, I have discovered and fallen in love with Catherynne Valente as an author and I will continue to read her writing for as long as she creates art. I love the Fairyland series and, I hope, you will, too.

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Fairyland, #4) by Catherynne M. Valente

The Boy Who Lost Fairyland - Ana Juan, Catherynne M. Valente

It should come as no surprise to anyone who's been following my reviews for some time now that I LOVE Catherynne Valente's Fairyland series. I adore them to bits! Ever since I read the first book in the series a couple of years ago, I couldn't get September and her adventures out of my head. I've gone back to re-read the first three books in the series to prepare myself for the fourth installment. And let me tell you, that is the best decision I could have made in regards to these books because refreshing my memory to what happened in the first three books made my reading experience for the fourth that much more enjoyable.

 

This time, however, we are not following September, Ell, and Saturday in their journey, but a whole new cast of characters. There's Hawthorn, Tamburlaine, Scratch, and Blunderbuss. Two changelings, a gramophone, and a stuffed wombat, respectfully. And we get to see how they stumbled from Fairyland to our world and back again. This story is filled with all the lovely whimsy and magic and adventure as all the other Fairyland books with an added layer of life lessons that all children must read.

 

And when I say "life lessons," I don't mean "please be nice," though that's definitely there. I mean Valente writes a beautiful narrative about a boy who is seen as "bizarre" and "different" and how poorly he is treated for being so, but in the process, Valente makes it clear that there's nothing wrong about sticking out. That there's nothing wrong with not being "normal." That each child (or adult) should embrace themselves for being different. The way Valente portrays this is subtle, too. It's not IN YOUR FACE about this message. She writes in as a mere mention and, as a reader, you take it in and continue on with the story. It's beautiful the way she writes this.

 

Also, I took a lot of what she was saying as how people treat queer kids differently from straight kids and it made my heart soar with happiness, but also pain. It hurts me inside to see when children are treated harshly because they don't fit a mold close-minded adults put before them. Kids should be allowed to be themselves. They should be allowed to be happy. As long as they are not hurting anyone, kids should be allowed to grow into happy, healthy adults being themselves. And Catherynne Valente is allowing children to do that by writing these books.

 

The characters for this book are all so beautiful. I love Hawthorn so much. I saw a lot of my younger self in him. Being a Changeling, he never quite fitted in to our world. The "human" world. He was questioned by every adult for his peculiarities, bullied in school, and treated as an "abnormal." But when he finally returns to Fairyland, he finds his place with people who love him for him and he starts to find his happiness. He's an amazing character who I fell deeply for. Tamburlaine is also a Changeling and she's a sweetheart. She finds solidarity with Hawthorn and begin to form a lovely friendship where neither of them had any before meeting one another. Scratch is Tamburlaine's gramophone with a spring to his step! Or, at least, he would is he had feet. He's cheerful and kind and helps in the best way a gramophone can: by providing music! Blunderbuss is Hawthorn's wombat (it makes sense when you read the book) and she is one of the feistiest characters I have read in a long time. I love how she comes across blunt and a bit mean but she means well and she shows it by being loyal and loving to her band of friends. Basically, all of the characters in this book are incredibly well-rounded and complex, I can't help but love them.

 

This story is great. If you've read all the other books in the series thus far, then I highly recommend you go ahead and pick up this book! Valente actually does something in this book that I did not see coming! I can't tell you because it is a HUGE spoiler but let me just say that I love it when a book is unpredictable. It makes for a much more interesting and entertaining read. So pick up this book and follow Hawthorn, Tamburlaine, and the rest on a journey through Fairyland to assist a King and find the ever allusive Spinster. It's going to be a wild ride~

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