Sunday, June 26, 2016

Thematic Sunday: Image Comics For New Comic Book Readers

So if you've delved into comics, probably the first thing you noticed is all the different publishers. Marvel and DC (sometimes called The Big Two), are the most well known. But there is also Image, Dark Horse, Vertigo, and so many more along with a bunch of indy publishers. Image is having quite a moment right now. They have lots of popular series under their belts. They're a great gateway for new comic book readers because there's not decades of history that you have to delve through. So here are some top Image comic book series that I recommend for newcomers to comics, or if you're just new to Image in general. FYI, most of these are going to be adult rated.

1) The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman

Unless you've been living under a rock somewhere, you likely already know about this series. So I won't bother describing it. But if you're a fan of the show, absolutely pick up the graphic novel series it's based on. You won't be spoiled for it, the comics are very different from the show.

2) Chew series by John Layman

I recommended this back in my first general comic book post and the recommendation still stands: this series is great. For those that missed the first one: it's about a detective named Tony Chu who gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats (think iZombie, but with food instead of brains and wackier hijinks).

3) Alex + Ada series by Johnathan Luna and Sara Vaughn

Love sci-fi drama with androids? This one is for you.

4) Bitch Planet series by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Into dystopians? I highly recommend this series about women who get sent to a prison planet if they put even the slightest toe out of line. If you like this, also check out DeConnick's Pretty Deadly series, which is also published under Image. FYI, she also writes for the Captain Marvel series.

5) The Fade Out series by Ed Brubaker

Love noir? Who doesn't. Check out this series set at the end of golden age Hollywood about a writer and a mystery to solve.

6) Morning Glories series by Nick Spencer

Into the high school with secrets trope? Also like X-Men? Then I recommend this series about kids who get sent to a fancy boarding school with sinister things going on.

7) Saga series by Brian K. Vaughn

Yes, Saga again. This series is just that awesome.

8) Sex Criminals series by Matt Fraction

I have not gotten to this one yet, but I've heard good things. This one is about a couple who has a odd gift where they both can stop time when they have sex. They decide to use the convenience of stopped time to do things like rob banks.

9) Witchblade series by Ron Marz and Mike Choi

You might remember hearing about Witchblade a couple of years back when there was a TV show made of it. Well, the series goes much better. This is a rebooted version of it and it's perfect for newcomers.

10) Monstress series by Marjorie M. Liu

This is a fairly new series with utterly gorgeous art that I recommend for all fantasy fans.

Bonus series to look into: Lazurus series by Greg Rucka
The Wicked and the Divine series by Kieron Gillen
Rat Queens series by Kurtis J. Wiebe
Southern Bastards series by Jason Aaron

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Book Review: We Are The Ants

TITLE: We Are The Ants
AUTHOR: Shaun David Hutchinson
PUBLISHED: January 2016
GENRE: Sci-fiish, Romance
PREMISE: A boy tries to move on from the suicide of his boyfriend while aliens keep kidnapping him and trying to get him to push a red button that will avert the destruction of the planet.
MY REVIEW: This is my first time reading Hutchinson, who apparently has been around awhile. After this, I hope he becomes more well known, because this book was brilliant. I'm pretty sure it's going to be one of my top ten of the year, unless a book comes along that is better.
This book takes a premise that sounds silly and makes it work beautifully. Now if you're going into this hoping for strictly alien stuff, then...I wouldn't pick it up. The aliens are there, but the focus is mostly Henry and trying to get over grief and dealing with the issues in his family and school life. There is also a romance tied into it that I enjoyed a lot.
This one definitely was a pleasant surprise. I picked it up mostly for Pride Month and wound up enjoying and appreciating it a hell of a lot more then I expected. I wish the aliens had tied in a bit more. But at the end of the day, this was a very satisfying read.
WHO SHOULD READ: Aristotle and Dante fans, those looking for LGBTQA reads, Shaun David Hutchinson fans, those looking for books dealing with mental health issues
MY RATING: Four and a half out of Five red buttons

Friday, June 24, 2016

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

TITLE: To All The Boys I've Loved Before
Book 1 in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before Trilogy
AUTHOR: Jenny Han
GENRE: Romance, Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Lara Jean hardly ever talks to her actual crushes. Instead, she writes letters to them, puts the letters away and moves on. But in a time when things are changing, her letters accidentally get sent to all the boys. And they come looking for answers...
MY REVIEW: Okay, NOW I get why Jenny Han has become a thing. I've never read her Summer I Turned Pretty trilogy, but now, I'm thinking I'm going to have too. Especially now while I seem to be in a cute realistic fiction romance mood. This book was just a delight.
Lara Jean is just fun. I adore her relationships with her sisters. The relationship shenanigans are straight out of a rom-com, but ten times better handled then most rom-coms. There are some things at the end I wasn't expecting, and now I'm definitely going to be reading PS I Still Love You.
If you're in the mood for a cute romance book for the summer, definitely give this one a shot. For once, the hype machine and I are in agreement. That doesn't happen often.
WHO SHOULD READ: romance fans, fans of the Summer I Turned Pretty
MY RATING: Four out of Five letters

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Reading Through the Classics: The Price of Salt

TITLE: The Price of Salt (or Carol depending on the edition)
AUTHOR: Patricia Highsmith
GENRE: Romance, Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: Therese gets a job at a department store and meets Carol, a housewife in the midst of a divorce...
MY THOUGHTS: This is actually my first Patricia Highsmith novel. When the movie Carol came out last year, I actually had no clue Highsmith had wrote the book it was based on. I know who Highsmith is. She's known for books like Strangers on a Train and other mystery thriller classics. Somehow, none of the literary buffs who talked about her to me mentioned she wrote a lesbian romance at some point. I wish I could be surprised at that...but I'm sadly not.
As far as romance novels go, this is fairly standard. Two people meet, fall in love, have messy lives and those messy lives interfere with said love, work out how to be together in the end. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that it was two women in love, this book would look very similar to books like The Reader, The Husband's Secret, Me Before You etc. etc. Honestly, it's no wonder the Oscars ate it up.
This was a very interesting read. I look forward to whenever I eventually tackle Highsmith's other books.
WHO SHOULD READ: those looking for happy ending LGBT reads, those that like drama filled romances, Patricia Highsmith fans

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Book Review: Stargirl

TITLE: Stargirl
Book 1 in the Stargirl duology
AUTHOR: Jerry Spinelli
CATEGORY: YA/or middle-grade depending on the pov
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A quirky new girl moves to Leo's school and he watches as she gets bullied for her differences.
MY REVIEW: This was yet another book that totally passed me by somehow in my teen years. I have read Spinelli's other book, Maniac Magee. But, I never got to Stargirl. Mostly because I just wasn't interested. But it's been years, and this book is still passed around and talked about, so I picked it up on a whim in the library.
It...was okay. Honestly, it was a bit too manicpixiedreamgirlish for my taste. I suspect this book would have been ten times more interesting from Stargirl's point of view. I'm sorry, I'm just over books that give us this story about an interesting looking female character, but refuse to give us her side of things, instead we're stuck with the dull guy's pov who only gets half the story to begin with! It's ridiculous and I'm tired of it. Male authors, buck up and write from a female's point of view. It won't kill you. I promise. I swear, you won't get cooties if you write a story about a female from the actual female's perspective.
Like John Green, I suspect if I had read this when I was actually in high school, I might have enjoyed it ten times more. But adult me just can't help but notice all the flaws and how, despite the fact that it has teenage characters in it, it feels more like middle-grade fiction then YA. There is a interesting look at conformity issues in it. I just feel like the author went a little too over-the-top in places to get his message across.
WHO SHOULD READ: teenagers, John Green fans, those that don't mind the manicpixiedreamgirl trope
MY RATING: Three and a half out of Five shrugs

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Book Review: Career of Evil

TITLE: Career of Evil
Book 3 in the Cormoran Strike series
AUTHOR: Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling)
GENRE: Mystery
PREMISE: A body part arrives at Cormoran's office causing him and Robin to delve into suspects who have links to Cormoran's  complicated past.
MY REVIEW: My love for this series continues to grow with each installment. I personally, can't wait for the BBC series, whenever that may come. It's great modern detective noir.
This book does a great job in developing not only Cormoran's past, but Robin as well. It all leads to a rather surprising cliff hanger that makes me need the next book like NOW. No release date as of yet, sadly.
If you love old school PI detective books, what are you waiting for? Pick this series up immediately.
WHO SHOULD READ: those that have read the first two books, PI detective novel fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five creepy mysteries

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Book Review: Exit, Pursued By Bear

TITLE: Exit, Pursued By Bear
AUTHOR: E. K. Johnston
PUBLISHED: March 15th, 2016
GENRE: Realistic Fiction, Drama
PREMISE: A girl gets drugged at her summer cheerleading camp and finds out she was raped while she was drugged and deals with the fallout.
MY REVIEW: I wanted to like this book so much more then I did. I don't think every book dealing with rape has to be like say...Speak where bad things upon bad things happen to the main character.
That said...this was like the opposite of Speak. The rape was literally the only bad thing to happen to the character. Afterwards, she cried, then basically went on with her life with little to no fuss. Which...okay. That's great. Everyone handles situations like this differently. There are rape survivors who are able to function perfectly fine afterwards. But...this book kind of went overboard to the point that there was basically no conflict in the book whatsoever. The result is frankly a very idealized and thus very boring book.
Honestly, the more I think about this book, the more it bugs me. I'll give the author points for trying. But this was honestly...just too unrealistic and idealized for my taste. Also a tad insulting for those rape survivors who don't have the easy access to care, a supportive environment, etc. such as this very privileged character had.
WHO SHOULD READ: Um....I don't know. People who want an idealized handling of rape I guess?
MY RATING: Two and a half out of Five frowns

Friday, June 10, 2016

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

TITLE: Between Shades of Gray
AUTHOR: Ruta Sepetys
GENRE: Historical Fiction
PREMISE: Lina and her family get rounded up by Soviet officers in Lithuania during WWII and forced on a journey with hundreds of other people...
MY REVIEW: This one has been on my TBR list for quite awhile now. I finally got to it. Like Salt to the Sea, this book looks at an event in WWII that a lot of people don't talk about much. Actually, other then a different setting, this reminded me almost exactly of Salt to the Sea. But Salt to the Sea was written after this. So I kind of feel like going back and lowering my rating for that book, because I can't help but notice that other then different historical event and multiple POVs in one book, these two books are very similar in terms of plot.
Between Shades of Gray is still good though. I do think this is the weakest of Sepetys' writing that I've seen, but I'm also keeping in mind, that this was her first book. It's still powerful, and looks at what people had to do to survive, and not everything is black and white (hence the title). This also makes me wish, yet again, that studies about WWII were not so US/European focused. I get a lot of stuff happened in Europe, but WWII happened in other places as well. It was called the World War for a reason.
So now, I've read all of Sepetys' books. I think my favorite of hers is actually Out of the Easy, but I suspect I'm in the minority there. I can't wait to read her next book, which apparently is going to be in Spain during the 1950s. Bring it.
WHO SHOULD READ: Historical Fiction fans, Salt to the Sea fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five why isn't this stuff taught more in history class feelings

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Book Review: Ash

Book 1 in the Ash duology
AUTHOR: Malinda Lo
GENRE: Fantasy/Retelling, Romance
PREMISE: A retelling of Cinderella with a bit of a twist...
MY REVIEW: This is one of those books I've been meaning to get too forever. There was no particular reason I kept putting it off. It was just one of those things. I was always sure I was going to like it though, and lo and behold: I was right.
This is not my favorite Cinderella retelling. That honor goes to Cinder at the moment. But it is definitely up there in my top five along with the Ever After movie. So, that's a pretty high compliment. Story-wise, this goes much like most fairy-tale retellings do, except in this one, she doesn't exactly fall for the prince, instead she falls for a female huntress. The writing is perfect for it, it's done in a very fairy-tale like way and I love the inclusion of the fae in this.
Is it the most brilliant retelling of Cinderella ever? Perhaps not. But I was personally very satisfied. And again, with all the LGBT ladies dying lately on TV, it was nice to read a book where a female LGBT couple gets their happy ending. Definitely will be reading more Malinda Lo in the future.
WHO SHOULD READ: Cinderella retelling fans, Malinda Lo fans, those looking for happy ending LGBT books
MY RATING: Four out of Five happy endings

Monday, June 6, 2016

Book Review: Lady Renegades

TITLE: Lady Renegades
Book 3 in the Rebel Belle Trilogy
AUTHOR: Rachel Hawkins
PUBLISHED: April 5th, 2016
GENRE: Urban Fantasy
PREMISE: David has left Harper behind. Just as she starts trying to move on, Other girls claiming to be Paladins sent by David start trying to kill her.
MY REVIEW: Once again, it looks like I'm the only one that actually enjoyed the ending of a trilogy/series. This seems to be happening a lot lately. Oh well.
So I liked the way this one ended. It wasn't typical of most YA trilogies (which I'm guessing is why it's not a super popular ending), it was a bit more bittersweet then most. I do think the middle part of it dragged a lot. For most of it, David and Harper are separated so I did miss the snark there. But we still have Harper kicking butt and her awesome friends and at the end of the day, that was my major draw to this series. So I was happy.
It did everything and ending trilogy should do and tied up some loose ends. I'm personally sad to see this one go. But it looks like Hawkins has a middle-gradish book coming out and apparently a new series in the works so I won't be sad for long.
WHO SHOULD READ: Fans of the first two Rebel Belle books, Rachel Hawkins fans, Buffy fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five dresses
RATING FOR TRILOGY: Four out of Five

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Looking Ahead: June 2016

Here are all the releases in June 2016 that are on my radar:

Released June 7th:

Fixer Book 2: The Long Game by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I love Barnes' YA version of Scandal. I'll go as far as to say, I like it more then I like Scandal at the moment ;stops self before she goes on another Fitz rant;

Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemmingway's Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M. M. Blume

I read The Sun Also Rises back in school. I love micro-histories. This one should be interesting.

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Good old-fashioned YA thriller that looks like it's going to be perfect for the summer.

Ivory and Bone Book 1 by Julie Eshbaugh

Mostly interested in this because it's apparently a prehistoric fantasy. Not many of those out there.

The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone

This one is getting lots of buzz post BEA. It also sounds perfect for summer reading since it takes place on a cruise ship.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Adult fiction debut that's been getting lots of buzz.

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

A book about Lady Jane Grey? Yes please.

Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings

Considering all the transphobic things going on right now (yes I am looking at you, North Carolina), this book is coming out at a good time.

The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe

Adult historical fiction book that sounds interesting.

June 14th:

Witch Hunter Book 2: The King Slayer by Virginia Boecker

Though in all honesty...I don't remember much about the first Witch Hunter was fantasy, right? I know I read it...

Hunger: A Memoir of My Body by Roxane Gay

After reading Bad Feminist, I'm basically here for anything Roxane Gay writes.

Alternate Detective Book 1: Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley

Steampunk with detectives. Of course I'm going to be reading this.

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I'll be honest, the summary of this sounds exactly like Girl on a Train but with ships. This makes me wary because I honestly didn't like Girl on a Train (I wound up DNFing it, which is why there is no review here). But I've heard good things about Ruth Ware so I'm giving it a shot.

June 16th:

Peter Grant series Book 1: The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch

Yay, new Peter Grant book!

June 21rst:

Never Ever by Sara Saedi

Is it me or are there are a LOT of Peter Pan retellings this year? Doesn't matter though, I'm still going to read them, because I'm a sucker for Peter Pan retellings.

June 28th:

A Hundred Thousand Worlds by Bob Proehl

It's a road trip story featuring comic cons. I have to at least give this a look.

Conquerors Saga Book 1: And I Darken by Kiersten White

It's Kiersten White. We all know I'm Kiersten White trash here. I'll basically read anything she writes.