Review: Black Widow: The Name of the Rose

Title: Black Widow: The Name of the Rose
Author: Marjorie Liu, Daniel Acuña (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Marvel
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 22, 2010
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The deadly super-spy from IRON MAN 2, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA in her own action-packed tale! Natasha Romanoff is not a super hero. She’s not psychic. She doesn’t fly. And yet as the Black Widow, she manages to hold her own against a world of incredibly powerful enemies and allies. But now someone has tried to kill Natasha and almost succeeded.

Review:

Natasha Romanoff is a spy, with the alias Black Widow. She has many enemies who have targeted her over the years, but she’s always able to fight them off. Now, someone has been sending her messages and trying to kill her. This person knows secrets that she has never told anyone. Natasha has to revisit her past to find her attacker.

I haven’t read any Black Widow stories before this one. I loved the movie so I wanted to read more of the history of the character. This story was a good introduction, but it made me want to know more about Natasha’s history. There were just teasers of what she had done earlier in her life, so I’ll need to go find some more stories to learn more.

Black Widow: The Name of the Rose is a good introduction to Black Widow!

What to read next:

Black Widow: Kiss or Kill by Duane Swierczynski, Manuel García (illustrator)

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

Have you read Black Widow: The Name of the Rose? What did you think of it?

Review: An Unkindness of Ravens

Title: An Unkindness of Ravens
Author: Dan Panosian, Marianna Ignazzi
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 8, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Acclaimed cartoonist Dan Panosian and rising star artist Marianna Ignazzi present a new supernatural mystery about a group of high schoolers steeped in witchcraft and the town they live in filled with long-hidden secrets and unchecked power.

WELCOME TO CRAB’S EYE. A SMALL TOWN WHERE MAGIC IS REAL AND GOSSIP CAN KILL.

Not all the witches burned during the Salem Witch Trials—and the ones that survived did so together, protecting the ancient secrets entrusted to them for generations. They call themselves the Ravens. Wilma is the new girl in school, and she plans to go completely unnoticed—except that she bears an eerie resemblance to the Raven member Waverly, who just went missing. The truth behind Waverly’s disappearance will put the entire coven in danger—and Wilma will have to rely on power she never knew she had if she wants to save her new friends!

Acclaimed cartoonist Dan Panosian (Slots) and rising star artist Marianna Ignazzi present a new supernatural mystery about a group of high schoolers steeped in witchcraft and the town they live in filled with long-hidden secrets and unchecked power. Collects An Unkindness of Ravens #1-5.

Review:

Wilma moves with her dad to his hometown of Crab’s Eye after he got a new job. Immediately, two different groups of students try to recruit Wilma to join them. One group is the popular kids who rule the school. The other group is known as the Ravens. Wilma looks exactly like Waverly, a member of the Ravens who just disappeared. Wilma has to choose which group she’s going to join, so she can learn more about her past and her new powers.

This was a creepy graphic novel. Right from the start, things seemed strange, since a missing girl looked exactly like Wilma. Then, the two groups of students tried to get Wilma to join them. The Ravens had some kind of supernatural powers, that I wish we saw more of in the story.

The ending of the story felt a little rushed. There was a lot that happened in a short amount of time. Since the title and cover show the Ravens, I would have loved to see more of them. The story mostly focused on what was happening to Wilma, which was interesting, but I think there is a lot more to know about the Ravens.

An Unkindness of Ravens is a great, creepy YA graphic novel.

Thank you BOOM! Studios for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Martian Ghost Centaur by Mat Heagerty

Specter Inspectors by Bowen McCurdy

Have you read An Unkindness of Ravens? What did you think of it?

Review: Witch For Hire

Title: Witch For Hire
Author: Ted Naifeh
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Amulet Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 24, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When a series of high school pranks get out of hand, teen witch Faye Faulkner is the only one who can solve the case in this spooky YA graphic novel

Faye Faulker isn’t popular, and that’s just fine by her. She spends her lunches at the Loser Table with the other social rejects, aka her best friends, and brushes off the uninspired taunts from the cool kids. But when lonely freshman Cody finds her way to Faye’s corner of the cafeteria, it sets off a peculiar chain of events . . . To Cody’s surprise, these kids aren’t so bad; an overdramatic theater nerd, a handicapable girl in a wheelchair, an overweight boy, and Faye, who comes to school every day dressed like a witch. But it’s no costume, Fay really is a witch!

While high school can be hell for many reasons, this year the ante has been raised when a series of pranks swiftly go from mischievous to downright dangerous. From the lowliest debate team nerds to the prom queen, no one is safe, not even the teachers! When things start to really get out of hand, Cody owns up to Faye: in a moment of desperation, she signed up for an online challenge that promises to grant popularity to those who follow the website’s twisted demands.

Now Faye is faced with a choice: Reveal her witchy nature to Cody and help her or stand aside and keep her secret identity safe. Despite her misgivings, Faye takes on the case, but will her powers be strong enough to solve this mystery? And will people ever stop asking her if she puts newts’ eyes in her homemade baked goods? Witch for Hire is a gothic whodunnit about resilience, magic, and the power of friendship.

Review:

Faye Faulkner isn’t popular. She sits at the “loser” table and wears her witch’s hat. When Cody starts going to that school, her popular older sister sends her to the loser table, so Cody befriends Faye. Then a series of pranks begin happening, targeting students and teachers. The pranks take a dangerous turn, which makes Faye decide to figure out who or what is behind these pranks.

This story showed the dangers of cyber bullying. The students who were targeted by a social media account were told to do dangerous things at school. Some of the pranks became life threatening. This story had a magic side to it as well, but the bullying began with a social media account, which was realistic.

I liked that Faye was unapologetically herself. She was called names because of the witchy way she dressed, but she insisted on being herself and wearing her witch hat. It is so important to show a character in a teen book that doesn’t cave to peer pressure. With all of the cyber bullying that encouraged students to do dangerous pranks in this story, it was nice to see a strong, confident character.

Witch for Hire is a YA graphic novel with an important message.

Thank you Amulet Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Cheer Up!: Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier

Have you read Witch For Hire? What did you think of it?

Review: Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms

Title: Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms
Author: Crystal Frasier, Val Wise (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Romance, LGBTQ
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 10, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A sweet, queer teen romance perfect for fans of Fence and Check, Please!

Annie is a smart, antisocial lesbian starting her senior year of high school who’s under pressure to join the cheerleader squad to make friends and round out her college applications. Her former friend BeeBee is a people-pleaser—a trans girl who must keep her parents happy with her grades and social life to keep their support of her transition. Through the rigors of squad training and amped up social pressures (not to mention micro aggressions and other queer youth problems), the two girls rekindle a friendship they thought they’d lost and discover there may be other, sweeter feelings springing up between them. 

Review:

Annie is an antisocial lesbian senior who has to join a team to look good on her college applications. She decides to try out for the cheer squad, where her former best friend, and trans girl, Bebe is the captain. Bebe has to keep her grades up and do well in activities so her parents continue to support her transition. Both Annie and Bebe have to deal with social pressures to follow the path society thinks they should be on.

I joined the cheerleading team at my school in my final year, like Annie did. This story explained the positions of the sport, so it gives a good overview of what it involves. This team appeared to be supportive of Bebe’s transition because they always put her in the spotlight. However, Bebe didn’t want to be in the spotlight, so they ended up putting a lot of pressure on her and making her stand out in ways that made her uncomfortable. Bebe had to figure out how to share her feelings so she was treated fairly on the team.

Bebe’s identity as a trans girl was an important part of the story. Some people in her life, such as her parents, thought they were protecting her by treating her differently. Her parents gave her strict rules to follow because they thought she would be targeted for being trans. There was also a boy at school who would harass her because he thought she wanted male attention. The most important thing is to treat everyone in ways that make them comfortable. If you don’t know what would make them most comfortable, like Annie wasn’t sure about how Bebe wanted to be treated, the best thing to do is to ask them.

Cheer Up is a fun queer cheerleader graphic novel!

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

She Drives Me Crazy by Kelly Quindlen

Heartstopper, Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

Have you read Cheer Up: Love and Pompoms? What did you think of it?

Review: Pax Samson Vol. 1: The Cookout

Title: Pax Samson Vol. 1: The Cookout
Author: Rashad Doucet, Jason Reeves (illustrator)
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Pax Samson: The Cookout is the first volume in a new action-packed, fantasy trilogy that depicts a world struggling to find peace in the midst of threats, and a young superhero chef torn between following his passion and following in his family’s footsteps. 

When it comes to the kitchen, no one knows cooking better than twelve-year-old Pax Samson. He’s a hero when it comes to testing recipes and supplying copious amounts of Dragon Noodle Soup at his family’s cookouts. It’s tough being a master chef, though, when the rest of his family are world-famous superheroes, and they expect Pax to take up the beacon to keep the world safe with his telekinetic powers. 

Pax’s home planet of Soltellus is home to all walks of life, including humans, gods, as well as elves, orcs, dragons, sprites and other fantasy races known as the “Enchanted” all living in a modern society similar to our own. Among them is the Samson family, led by the fearless and mighty Grandma Samson, the greatest superhero to ever live and the person responsible for always saving Soltellus when trouble strikes. She’s been doing it for hundreds of years, but she’s ready for the younger generation of Samsons, including Pax, to step up. 

When the mad god Odin, long-time enemy to the Enchanted race and arch-rival to Grandma, resurfaces in another attempt to regain power, Pax will attempt to put his training into practice, but ends up just making things worse. Tempted to hang up the superhero cape and stick to the kitchen, Pax faces the toughest decision yet when a legendary savior of the Enchanted people arrives, along with a startling discovery that there might be parts of the Soltellus history that are wrong. Pax, determined to protect his family and friends, will do everything he can to stop the new threats set on disrupting the peace between humans and the Enchanted.

Review:

Pax Samson is a twelve-year-old superhero who loves to cook. He comes from a big family of superheroes, but cooking is his passion. His family is led by Grandma Samson, the strongest and most powerful superhero. Now Pax, his sister, and his cousins have to step up and help the family defeat his grandma’s enemy, the ancient god Odin.

I love superhero stories. Pax was a fun character because he was trying to figure out where he fit in with his family and in the superhero world. He felt torn between following his family’s legacy and doing what he wanted, which was cooking. Luckily, he was able to do both.

The art was brightly coloured. The superheroes had distinct costumes in vibrant colours. I liked seeing the different generations depicted in the art. There were some flashbacks that had monochromatic illustrations, so they stood out against the present story.

Pax Samson is a fun middle grade graphic novel!

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Pizazz by Sophy Henn

How to be a Supervillain by Michael Fry

Have you read Pax Samson Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: Geis: a Matter of Life and Death (Geis #1)

Title: Geis: A Matter of Life and Death (Geis #1)
Author: Alexis Deacon
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

As the great chief matriarch lay dying, she gave one final decree: Upon her death there would be a contest. Having no heir of her own blood she called on the Gods. Let fate decide the one truly worthy to rule in her place. The rich, the strong, the wise, the powerful; many put forward their names in hope of being chosen. But when the night came . . . only fifty souls alone were summoned.

Book one in gripping action, supernatural, and historical fantasy graphic novel trilogy where souls battle in a contest to become the ruler of an island.

Review:

When the chief matriarch died, she didn’t leave an heir. Instead, she left a contest in her will for fifty people to compete and earn the title of chief. Their first task is to be dropped somewhere in the world and find their way back to the castle. However, they don’t know that this will contained a geis: a magical curse that cannot be broken. All of the competitors must stay in the contest until a chief is named, but if they do not make it back to the palace by sunrise, they will automatically be killed.

I loved the premise of this story. The geis in the will was a secret from the competitors, which made the story so much more intense. Some of the characters wanted to quit, but they didn’t realize that quitting would mean death.

The art in this book was so beautiful. There were a lot of characters but they each had a distinct style and different colour of clothing. Sometimes with a large cast of characters in graphic novels, I can’t tell them apart. Each character was a distinct person, which made this story an easy read.

Geis: A Matter of Life and Death is a beautiful graphic novel! I can’t wait to read the next one!

Thank you Nobrow Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Geis: A Game Without Rules by Alexis Deacon

Other books in the series:

  • Geis II: A Game Without Rules

Have you read Geis: A Matter of Life and Death? What did you think of it?

Review: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 4: The Endless Song

Title: Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 4: The Endless Song
Author: Nick Abadzis, Elena Casagrande
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 5, 2016
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The Tenth Doctor and Gabriella Gonzalez return for a second year of cosmic adventures! 

A bold new season begins for the Tenth Doctor and companion Gabby Gonzalez! Whether facing down an evil corruption of sentient music on a gas giant, catching up on unseen trips with Gabby’s best friend Cindy Wu, or journeying back to the dawn of humankind to witness the clash between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, there are no limits to the adventure – or the danger!

Review:

The Doctor and his companion Gabby Gonzales go on adventures in this graphic novel. They start on a distant planet that has been invaded by an alien virus, and end up traveling to the past where they have to fight alien creatures with Neanderthals.

I’ve missed watching Doctor Who, since there haven’t been new episodes in months, so I decided to read some of the graphic novels. I’ve enjoyed the graphic novels in the past, but this one was a little disappointing.

This graphic novel wasn’t as exciting as I expected, and the Doctor wasn’t even in many of the scenes. There was a comic in the middle, which was about completely different characters and didn’t seem to have anything to do with the Doctor until the end. I was expecting more exciting stories about the Tenth Doctor.

Unfortunately, this graphic novel was a little disappointing.

What to read next:

Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 5: Arena of Fear by Nick Abadzis, Elena Casagrande

Other books in the series:

Have you read Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 4: The Endless Song? What did you think of it?

Review: Cici’s Journal

Title: Cici’s Journal
Author: Joris Chamblain, Aurélie Neyret
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Contemporary, Mystery
Publisher: First Second
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 20, 2021
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Cici dreams of being a novelist. Her favorite subject: people, especially adults. She’s been watching them and taking notes. Everybody has one special secret, Cici figures, and if you want to write about people, you need to understand what’s hiding inside them. But now she’s discovered something truly strange: an old man who disappears into the forest every Sunday with huge pots of paint in all sorts of colors. What is he up to? Why does he look so sad when he comes back? 

In a graphic novel interwoven with journal notes, scrapbook pieces, and doodles, Cici assembles clues about the odd and wonderful people she’s uncovered, even as she struggles to understand the mundane: her family and friends.

Review:

Cici dreams of becoming a writer, so her author friend tells her to watch people and make up stories about them. Cici notices a man carrying paint cans into the woods every weekend, and she needs to find out what he’s doing. She follows him and eventually discovers a beautiful secret. In another mystery, Cici finds a library book card for a book that has been taken out by the same woman over and over again. Cici’s curiosity takes over again and she has to investigate why the woman keeps reading the same book.

Cici was quite a curious child. She often seemed nosy, when she would watch people and want to find out what they were doing. I didn’t really like this quality, but Cici ended up helping the people who she investigated, so it worked out in the end.

I liked that this story featured elderly characters. There aren’t a lot of older people in children’s books. Cici was able to help them relive their pasts and create some nice memories. Though Cici was nosy, she ended up helping people.

Cici’s Journal is a good middle grade graphic novel.

Thank you First Second for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches by Angie Lake

Premeditated Myrtle by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Have you read Cici’s Journal? What did you think of it?

Review: How to Survive in the North

Title: How to Survive in the North
Author: Luke Healy
Genre: Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: November 15, 2016
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

With stunning narrative skill, this compelling graphic novel intricately weaves together true-life narratives from 1912, 1926 and a fictional story set in the present day. How To Survive in the North is an unforgettable journey of love and loss, showing the strength it takes to survive in the harshest conditions.

Review:

2013: Sully Barnaby is put on leave from the university where he works after having a relationship with a student. He finds comfort in the library, researching the Arctic expeditions of 1912 and 1926. The 1912 expedition follows a grumpy captain, Robert Bartlett, whose ship ends up stranded on a deserted island. In 1926, another group of explorers went on the same expedition. Ada Blackjack told their story of being stranded on the same island.

All of the characters in these three alternating narratives have to deal with some kind of crisis. Sully had a midlife crisis after being placed on a leave of absence. Bartlett and Blackjack had to solve problems to survive in the Arctic. Bartlett was a captain who had to make decisions to save his crew. Blackjack had to learn survival skills, such as how to hunt, so that she could survive until she was rescued. They all faced different forms of crisis and survivals.

Each of these stories were devastating in their own ways. Sully lost all of his life’s work and had to give up his job because of the relationship he had with his student. He learned from reading about the Arctic expeditions how to pick up his life and continue on. The 1912 and 1926 narratives were set in harsh living conditions. Many people died on those expeditions. They also had to hunt and kill animals to survive. Some of these scenes were upsetting to read, but they reflect that period and place in history.

How to Survive in the North is a fascinating graphic novel about the Arctic expeditions.

Thank you Nobrow Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Americana by Luke Healy

Have you read How to Survive in the North? What did you think of it?

Review: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow

Title: The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow (The Okay Witch #2)
Author: Emma Steinkellner
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Contemporary
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 6, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this hilarious and heartwarming sequel to the bestselling and critically acclaimed graphic novel, The Okay Witch, half-witch Moth Hush uses magic to boost her confidence with disastrous results—perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Molly Ostertag!

Moth Hush is starting to settle into her newfound witch heritage and powers, but life at school continues to be rough. Even her best friend, Charlie, doesn’t entirely understand what it’s like for her to always be the one who gets mocked, and things only get worse when Moth’s mom starts dating one of the dorkiest teachers in the school! Then Moth gets hold of a mysterious charm that can unleash another version of herself—one who is confident, cool, and extremely popular. What could possibly go wrong?

Review:

Moth Hush is a witch, but she’s not allowed to do magic at school. She gets teased at school, and it would be easier if she could just use a spell to make herself more likable. The bullying gets worse when her mom starts dating one of her teachers. Then, Moth discovers a magic charm necklace that can make her popular. But every kind of magic has a price.

This graphic novel started out with a recap of the first book. I was really glad to see that because it’s been a while since I read the first book. It was told by her talking cat, Lazlo, who is a hilarious character. I appreciated seeing this brief recap at the beginning of the book.

Moth faced bullying in her school. Her classmates were quite mean. Moth felt like an outsider since she had just discovered she was a witch, but she couldn’t tell anyone except for her best friend. Using a magic charm didn’t solve her problem. It masked it for a while, but it ended up causing a bigger issue in the end. Rather than fighting back or changing what kind of person she was to please her classmates, Moth had to learn how to be herself.

The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow is a great middle grade graphic novel!

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow? What did you think of it?