Review: Red School (Part 1)

Title: Red School (Part 1)
Author: Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainai, Joel Gennari (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Publisher: N/A
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Fantasy titans Victoria Aveyard and Soman Chainani team up in a two-part graphic novel event! Featuring your favourite characters from ‘Red Queen’ and ‘The School for Good and Evil’ series.

Review:

The royalty from Norta, including Mare, Cal, and Maven, go to The School for Good and Evil for a special ball. While they are celebrating, the school is taken over by a red fog that infects people from both sides and posses them. The characters from Red Queen (Mare, Cal, and Maven) and the characters from The School for Good and Evil (Agatha, Sophie, and Tedros) have to work together to find the source of the fog.

This is such a fun graphic novel that combines the worlds of two of my favourite series. This story doesn’t give any spoilers to the series (all the characters are alive, even if they died at some point during either series) so this graphic novel could be read at any point during the series. However, it would be useful to have some knowledge of the characters and read at least one book from both series before reading this graphic novel because the characters aren’t really introduced.

I loved seeing these characters illustrated. There are images of the characters from The School for Good and Evil on those book covers, but I had never seen authentic illustrations of the characters from the Red Queen series. It was so much fun to see all of these characters work together.

This was such a fun graphic novel! I can’t wait to read the next one!

What to read next:

Red School (Part 2) by Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainani, Joel Gennari (illustrator)

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Other books in the series:

  • Red School (Part 2)

Have you read Red School (Part 1)? What did you think of it?

Review: Lemonade Code

Title: Lemonade Code
Author: Jarod Pratt, Jey Odin
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 19, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

This is a fully illustrated graphic novel about a middle school super genius who starts a lemonade stand to fund his ultimate top-secret project, only to find unexpected competition right across the street when the new kid starts a rival stand.

Robbie Reynolds isn’t just a genius. He’s a super SUPER genius! But he doesn’t have the cash to fund his ultimate (and top secret) project. That’s why he’s opening a lemonade stand. Not just any lemonade stand: this one is state of the art, and his automatista can make you any flavor of lemonade your heart desires! Bacon, salsa, potato salad, dirty diaper—anything you want.

Unfortunately, Robbie isn’t the only one in the Lemonade Hustle. Daphne Du-Ri, his new across-the-street neighbor, has her own setup going, and something about her lemonade is resonating with people in ways Robbie’s can’t. Before the week is over, Robbie and Daphne are in a full-on Lemonade War.

Review:

Robbie is a genius and a mad scientist. He created a robot that could make lemonade with any flavor imaginable. As soon as he opens his lemonade stand, another stand opens across the street by a new girl, Daphne. Once one of his customers tries her lemonade, everyone leaves Robbie’s stand to support Daphne. However, after Robbie’s mother tries Daphne’s lemonade, he realizes there is something in her drink that makes people become obsessed with it. Robbie has to use his coding and mad scientist skills to figure out what is happening with Daphne’s lemonade.

This story started out really strong. It’s set in the future, where people use hoverboards and robots. It was still relatable since the kids created a lemonade stand, which is such a common activity for children. The story got complicated when Robbie had to use code to figure out the secret behind the lemonade. I don’t know much about coding, but I’m sure kids who are interested in it will like this story.

This graphic novel was a little text heavy. I liked that there was a lot of text and description because sometimes graphic novels don’t have enough words. However, this may have worked better as a novel. I found some of the technical coding parts confusing and wordy. If there was simpler language or if it was explained more, I would have gotten more out of this story.

This is a great graphic novel for middle grade readers who are interested in coding.

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

What to read next:

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes

Last Pick by Jason Walz

Have you read Lemonade Code? What did you think of it?

Review: Dryad, Vol. 1

Title: Dryad, Vol. 1
Author: Kurtis Wiebe, Justin Osterling (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Best-selling writer Kurtis Wiebe (Rat Queens) and newcomer artist Justin Osterling launch a new fantasy saga!

The Glass family has spent thirteen years hiding peacefully in the sleepy forest settlement of Frostbrook where Morgan and Yale planted roots and raised their twins, Griffon and Rana. But secrets never stay hidden, and the entire Glass family find themselves the target of an unearthly attack on Frostbrook.

Now on the run from Muse Corp., they must flee to the massive city of Silver’s Bay to hide in plain sight. Rana and Griffon find themselves uprooted and answering for their parents’ mistakes. But, they’ll soon find that the past has a way of finding you, no matter where you run

Review:

Yale and Morgan have hidden their family in a small village for thirteen years. When their children find some hidden ruins in the forest, demons are unleashed. Yale and Morgan have to rescue their children and escape to the city where they came from to fight against the terrorist group Dryad.

This story started slow but sped up as the story progressed. I found it a little difficult to figure out who everyone was at first, especially since there was a thirteen year jump within the first few pages where their children grew up. Once I figured out who all the characters were, the story became more exciting.

The illustrations of this graphic novel were beautiful. The village and forest at the beginning had vibrant colours. When the story shifted to the city, the colours were darker and more monotone. These colours reflected the change in tone of the story.

I found the ending a little confusing. Some new characters were introduced, setting up the story for the next graphic novel. This left me wondering what was happening, since it wasn’t really an ending for the main characters.

This was a good graphic novel, but I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the next one.

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

What to read next:

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

Have you read Dryad, Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation

Title: The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Author: K. Woodman-Maynard, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 5, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

A sumptuously illustrated adaptation casts the powerful imagery of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel in a vivid new format. 

From the green light across the bay to the billboard with spectacled eyes, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 American masterpiece roars to life in Katharine Woodman-Maynard’s exquisite graphic novel–among the first adaptations of the book in this genre. Painted in lush watercolors, the inventive interpretation emphasizes both the extravagance and mystery of the characters, as well as the fluidity of Nick Carraway’s unreliable narration. Excerpts from the original text wend through the illustrations, and imagery and metaphors are taken to literal, and often whimsical, extremes, such as when a beautiful partygoer blooms into an orchid and Daisy Buchanan pushes Gatsby across the sky on a cloud.

This faithful yet modern adaptation will appeal to fans with deep knowledge of the classic, while the graphic novel format makes it an ideal teaching tool to engage students. With its timeless critique of class, power, and obsession, The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel captures the energy of an era and the enduring resonance of one of the world’s most beloved books.

Review:

Nick Carraway moves in next door to the wealthy Gatsby. Nick hears about the famous Gatsby from his cousin Daisy and her husband. Gatsby is known for throwing lavish parties, but no one can recall anything about the actual man, despite attending his parties. Soon, Nick gets swept up in two affairs that Daisy and her husband Tom are having with other people. Not everything is what it seems in the life of the Great Gatsby.

This is a great adaptation of this classic literary novel. The water colour illustrations suited the literary plot which dances around Nick, even though he is the narrator. His position of the unreliable narrator was demonstrated in the images when he would say one thing but the characters did something else. This shows that he can’t be believed.

The way the words were placed on the story were also part of the narrative. Some of the sentences were written on buildings or roads, rather than set aside in speech bubbles. Sometimes they were even curved if the characters were moving a lot in the images. The speech bubbles for women, such as Daisy, were more curvy with waves around the edges, which demonstrated the lighter tone and musical way they spoke. I liked the way this literary novel was adapted into a graphic novel using unconventional techniques.

This graphic novel is a great accompaniment to the novel!

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

What to read next:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Have you read The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation? What did you think of it?

Review: Juliet Takes a Breath

Title: Juliet Takes a Breath
Author: Gabby Rivera, Celia Moscote (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

A NEW GRAPHIC NOVEL ADAPTATION OF THE BESTSELLING BOOK! Juliet Milagros Palante is leaving the Bronx and headed to Portland, Oregon. She just came out to her family and isn’t sure if her mom will ever speak to her again. But don’t worry, Juliet has something kinda resembling a plan that’ll help her figure out what it means to be Puerto Rican, lesbian and out. See, she’s going to intern with Harlowe Brisbane – her favorite feminist author, someone’s who’s the last work on feminism, self-love and lots of of ther things that will help Juliet find her ever elusive epiphany. There’s just one problem – Harlowe’s white, not from the Bronx and doesn’t have the answers. Okay, maybe that’s more than one problem but Juliet never said it was a perfect plan… Critically-acclaimed writer Gabby Rivera adapts her bestselling novel alongside artist Celia Moscote in an unforgettable queer coming-of-age story exploring race, idenrity and what it means to be true to your amazing self. even when the rest of the world doesn’t understand.

Review:

Juliet Palante leaves her home in the Bronx to do an internship in Portland. Her idol, the feminist author Harlowe Brisbane, has invited her to go work with her for the summer. Just before she leaves, Juliet comes out to her family, which they don’t take very well. Juliet can embrace her queer identity in Portland, but she has to learn that Harlowe isn’t the perfect idol that she expected.

This is a graphic novel adaptation of the novel Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera. I haven’t read the novel, but I loved this graphic novel. It is a beautiful queer coming of age story.

Juliet is discovering her own feelings and trying to find answers to all of her questions. Since Harlowe’s book explained feminist ideas to her in a new way, she thought that Harlowe was the best person to continue teaching her about feminism. However, Harlowe has flaws that her friends know, and Juliet has to learn the hard way.

I loved the art in this graphic novel. Most of the characters were curvy. Juliet felt self conscious about her body, but she learned to be comfortable with showing it off. There was great body positivity theme in this story that went along with Juliet discovering her sexuality.

This is a great graphic novel!

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

What to read next:

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Have you read Juliet Takes a Breath? What did you think of it?

Review: Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #1)

Title: Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #1)
Author: Katy Farina, Ann M. Martin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Graphix
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 26, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

A fresh and fun graphic novel series spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, featuring Kristy’s little stepsister!
Karen Brewer lives next door to Mrs. Porter, who wears long robes and has wild gray hair. Mrs. Porter has a black cat named Midnight and always seems to be working in her garden. Karen isn’t supposed to spy on her neighbor, but she’s determined to prove that Mrs. Porter is a witch named Morbidda Destiny!

Mrs. Porter is getting ready to have a special meeting at her house, and Karen is sure the meeting is for witches. Are they going to cast a spell on Karen? Or will she be brave enough to send them away — once and for all?

Review:

Karen Brewer’s father lives next door to Mrs. Porter. Mrs. Porter has a black cat named Midnight, she grows an herb garden in her yard, and she rides a broom at night. Karen thinks that Mrs. Porter is a witch called Morbidda Destiny. When she finds out that Morbidda Destiny is planning a gathering at her house, she is sure that it is a witch meeting. Karen has to be brave and stop the witches from meeting to save her neighborhood.

I loved the Baby-Sitters Little Sisters stories when I was a kid. Karen Brewer is an imaginative girl who often misunderstands things and gets into trouble. This story was so nostalgic for me.

The illustrations were so cute and represented Karen perfectly. The only thing that I think could have been improved is introducing all of the characters. Karen has a large blended family, which can be confusing if you haven’t read the other books. It would have been helpful to describe their relationships for readers who are unfamiliar with the characters, but it was still a great adaptation.

This is a fun story! I highly recommend it!

What to read next:

Karen’s Roller Skates (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #2) by Katy Farina and Ann M. Martin

Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #1) by Ann M. Martin

Other books in the series:

  • Karen’s Roller Skates
  • Karen’s Worst Day

Have you read Karen’s Witch? What did you think of it?

Review: Heartstopper: Vol. 1

Title: Heartstopper: Vol. 1
Author: Alice Oseman
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, Romance, LGBT
Publisher: Graphix
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore. Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him.
They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

Review:

Charlie is an openly gay student at an all-boys school. He has a secret relationship with another boy at school, who is not openly gay. When the new school year begins, Charlie meets Nick, a boy who’s a year older than him. Charlie and Nick get closer and closer, with Charlie developing feelings for him. Charlie worries that he has a crush on a straight boy, but is Nick really straight?

This was such a sweet love story. There weren’t a lot of words on the pages, which let the actions speak for themselves. Their body language was shown in the illustrations, which told most of the story. My only critique of the illustrations is that Ben, the boy Charlie was with at the beginning of the story, and Nick looked alike. They were both tall, with blonde hair and a similar body structure. This shows that Charlie has a type, but it made it a little confusing to tell them apart at the beginning of the story.

There were scenes of bullying and a sexual assault. Charlie was bullied for being openly gay. He was even bullied by Ben, the boy he kissed at the beginning. For some reason, since Charlie was open with his sexuality, the other students thought they could treat him any way they wanted. These were disturbing and upsetting scenes, but they told an honest side to Charlie’s story.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I’m excited to read the next one.

What to read next:

Heartstopper: Vol. 2 by Alice Oseman

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, Faith Erin Hicks (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • Heartstopper: Vol. 2
  • Heartstopper: Vol. 3

Have you read Heartstopper: Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches

Title: Swamp Thing: Twin Branches
Author: Maggie Stiefvater, Morgan Beem (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: DC Comics
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Twins Alec and Walker Holland have a reputation around town. One is quiet and the other is the life of any party, but they are inseparable. For their last summer before college, the two leave the city to live with their rural cousins, where they find that the swamp holds far darker depths than they could have imagined. 

While Walker carves their names into the new social scene, Alec recedes into a summer school laboratory, because he brought something from home on their trip—it’s an experiment that will soon consume him. This season, both brothers must confront truths, ancient and familial, and as their lives diverge, tensions increase and dormant memories claw to the surface.

Review:

Alec and Walker Holland are twins with opposite personalities. Alec is quiet and introverted, but Walker is the life of the party. They take a trip to visit their cousins in the country for the summer before they start college. Walker wants to spend some quality time with his brother, but Alec wants to keep studying his plants that he brought along with them. He studies how plants store memories and emotions. On the first night, their cousins’ dogs are locked up in the garage where Alec’s plant experiments are being stored. The dogs eat the plants and chemicals, but it actually does more harm to the dogs than the experiments. The dogs transform into plant-dog hybrids. As the brothers slowly drift apart over that summer, Alec becomes more involved in his study of plant emotions.

This was the perfect graphic novel for Maggie Stiefvater to write. Her other books explore nature and plants, so writing about a character who studies and becomes a plant is a perfect match.

The plant emotions were displayed right on the page. If a character was connected to the plant, the emotions the plant was feeling would hover around them. The plants also stored memories of the things that happen around them, which revealed some secrets that the characters were hiding.

There was also great representation of diabetes. Alec was a diabetic, who had to check his blood sugar often. He had a sensor in his arm to check his blood sugar with his phone. The plants affected his blood sugar, so it played an important part in the plot as well. It was great to see this diabetes representation illustrated in the story.

I loved the fresh, green illustrations in this graphic novel. There were plants everywhere, including on the lockers in the school. Even if I didn’t notice the plants right away in the panel, the plant would give off emotions which showed that it was present in the story. Though Alec and Walker were twins, I could always tell them apart in the story. Sometimes, characters who are related are drawn so similarly that it’s difficult to tell them apart. Alec was always wearing green and had part of his head shaved, so he looked distinct from his brother. The expressions on their faces even reflected their personalities, with Alec looking very tense and Walker more relaxed.

This is a great graphic novel!

What to read next:

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia, Gabriel Picolo (illustrator)

Have you read Swamp Thing: Twin Branches? What did you think of it?

Review: Elvis Puffs Out: A Breaking Cat News Adventure

Title: Elvis Puffs Out: A Breaking Cat News Adventure
Author: Georgia Dunn
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humour
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 6, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

This just in: your favorite purr-nalists are back and reporting on all of the most pressing cat issues in this third collection of Breaking Cat News comics for middle-grade readers.

Anchor cat Lupin and his faithful field reporters, Elvis and Puck, are as cute and funny as ever in Elvis Puffs Out. There’s no shortage of news to cover this time around: In the wake of a winter snowstorm, the team tries their hand at meteorology (with mixed results). Man and Woman nurse a stranded kitten back to health. And the pessimistic, straight-laced Elvis demonstrates that even he has a soft side.

The fun continues in the “More to Explore” section, with lessons on wooden-spoon puppet theaters, the basics of reporting your own news stories, and—as always—charming paper dolls to craft.

Review:

The Cat News reporters are back in this fun graphic novel. The cat reporters live with a family with two toddlers and they find lots of breaking news in their daily lives. They experience a snowstorm, a birthday party, a protest, and a stray kitten being fostered in the home.

This is a hilarious graphic novel series. My family and I care for a colony of feral cats at our house, so I could relate to these different cat personalities. I loved the reaction that the cats had to snow. They said the ground had disappeared and created a void. Some of our cats just experienced snow for the first time and they were just as shocked as the cats in this book.

The cats also reported on the news in a hilarious way. The actions of the humans often caused breaking news for the cats. For example, they were worried when the humans brought fire, in the form of a birthday candle on a cake, near the baby on her birthday. The cats asked the humans for interviews, but their owners couldn’t understand them so they couldn’t give interviews.

This is a hilarious parody on breaking news for cat lovers!

Thank you Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Take It Away, Tommy by Georgia Dunn

Cone Cat by Sarah Howden

Other books in the series:

Have you read Elvis Puffs Out? What did you think of it?

Review: Welcome to the New World

Title: Welcome to the New World
Author: Jake Halpern, Michael Sloan (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

goodreads-badge-add-plus-71eae69ca0307d077df66a58ec068898

Goodreads Synopsis:

Now in a full-length book, the New York Times Pulitzer Prize–winning graphic story of a refugee family who fled the civil war in Syria to make a new life in America

After escaping a Syrian prison, Ibrahim Aldabaan and his family fled the country to seek protection in America. Among the few refugees to receive visas, they finally landed in JFK airport on November 8, 2016, Election Day. The family had reached a safe harbor, but woke up to the world of Donald Trump and a Muslim ban that would sever them from the grandmother, brothers, sisters, and cousins stranded in exile in Jordan.

Welcome to the New World tells the Aldabaans’ story. Resettled in Connecticut with little English, few friends, and even less money, the family of seven strive to create something like home. As a blur of language classes, job-training programs, and the fearsome first days of high school (with hijab) give way to normalcy, the Aldabaans are lulled into a sense of security. A white van cruising slowly past the house prompts some unease, which erupts into full terror when the family receives a death threat and is forced to flee and start all over yet again. The America in which the Aldabaans must make their way is by turns kind and ignorant, generous and cruel, uplifting and heartbreaking.

Delivered with warmth and intimacy, Jake Halpern and Michael Sloan’s Welcome to the New World is a wholly original view of the immigrant experience, revealing not only the trials and successes of one family but showing the spirit of a town and a country, for good and bad.

Review:

In November of 2016, the Aldabaan family moved to the United States from Syria as refugees. They didn’t speak English and had to leave many family members in Syria. The family had to adjust to life in America, including finding jobs, navigating the school system, and seeking protection in their new home, despite death threats and an oppressive political system.

This was an incredible graphic novel. It is based on a real family who moved to the U.S. as refugees from Syria. Though many of my childhood friends immigrated or were from families who immigrated from other countries, I wasn’t familiar with this process. I can’t imagine what it would be like to feel so unsafe in your home that you have to move to a new country that you’ve never been to. I recognize that I have this privilege, and this book opened my eyes to the Syrian refugee experience.

Some parts of this story were devastating. The Aldabaan family left a dangerous situation in their home country, but they didn’t arrive to a safe situation in America. The children faced bullies at school. The parents struggled to find work that would support their family of seven. They were constantly worried about the way immigrants were treated by the new government. They even received a terrifying death threat at one point, for no other reason than being refugees. These were some very upsetting events that I’m so sorry they had to go through.

This is an incredibly powerful and informative graphic novel! I highly recommend it.

Thank you Henry Holt and Co for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Homes: A Refugee Story by Abu Bakr al Rabeeah with Winnie Yeung

Have you read Welcome to the New World? What did you think of it?