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: ★★★★★

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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?

Blog Tour Review: Last Pick and Born to Run

Title: Last Pick (Last Pick #1)
Author: Jason Walz
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat—until now.

Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game.

In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope.

Review:

Three years ago, aliens came to Earth and abducted every able bodied person between the ages of 16 and 65. Twins Sam and Wyatt were left on their own. Now they’ve just turned 16, and they are searching for answers on why the aliens took the people and where they went. However, right after their sixteenth birthday, the aliens return. Sam and Wyatt are in even more danger since they’re now 16 and part of the age group that the aliens will abduct.

This story shows that you shouldn’t underestimate people’s abilities. The aliens think that people under 16 and over 65 are too weak to work for them. They also left people who have disabilities. The people who were left on Earth work hard to survive, and prove that they are just as strong and smart as everyone else.

I found this post-apocalyptic story really relatable during the pandemic. Of course aliens didn’t arrive on Earth in 2020, but the idea of having your life completely turned upside down and having to learn new ways of doing things, like the characters did in this book, is relatable to the pandemic.

Thank you First Second and YA Bound Book Tours for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Born to Run (Last Pick #2)
Author: Jason Walz
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: First Second
Source: YA Bound Book Tours
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Four years ago, aliens kidnapped most of mankind, leaving behind those they deemed unworthy—the “last picked.”

The future for Sam is bleak and unthinkable. A galaxy away from her twin brother, she is a pawn in the aliens’ bloody civil war. But with her new friend Mia, Sam has found a way to resist her captors and hold onto her humanity.

Back on Earth, Sam’s twin, Wyatt, is leading a resistance of his own. With a ragtag army of the old, the young, and the disabled, he has a plan to bring the fight to his alien captors. But to defeat the aliens, Wyatt may need to befriend one.

Review:

Wyatt and Sam were separated when she was abducted at the end of Last Pick. Sam is living on another planet where they are instructed by the aliens to kill all of the inhabitants of that planet. Meanwhile on Earth, Wyatt is leading a revolution. Wyatt must find his confidence to lead the resistance team, and Sam has to learn that fighting back against the enemy doesn’t necessarily mean killing them.

Born to Run shows more disabled characters. One girl is deaf and communicates with sign language. Another character uses a wheelchair, and struggles when he loses it. Wyatt is on the autism spectrum, so he processes information and feelings differently. Even though these characters had disabilities, they were able to use them to their advantage to figure out how to defeat the aliens.

This is a great series! I’m excited to see how it all ends.

Thank you First Second and YA Bound Book Tours for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Rise Up (Last Pick #3) by Jason Walz

About the Author:

Jason Walz is comic and graphic novel creator living in Minneapolis. He is the author of several comics and graphic novels, including the LAST PICK trilogy and the Eisner nominated graphic novel HOMESICK.

Website: http://jasonwwalz.com/

Have you read Last Pick or Born to Run? What did you think of it?

Review: Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters #1)

Title: Sarah’s Dream (The Grémillet Sisters #1)
Author: Giovanni Di Gregorio, Alessandro Barbucci
Genre: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Publisher: Europe Comics
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Being sisters is never easy. But when you’re as different as Sarah, Cassiopeia, and Lucille, it’s even harder! The first is haunted by recurring dreams, the second lives with her head in the clouds, and the last spends most of her time with her cat. Then one day they discover a mysterious photo of their mother pregnant. Where was it taken, and who is the baby? And most importantly, why was this photo hidden away in the depths of the attic? To find out, they’ll have to venture into the tangled forest of the Grémillet family secrets!

Review:

Sarah is the oldest of three sisters, and she’s always felt responsible for her younger sisters Cassiopeia and Lucille. Sarah has a recurring dream of a large tree holding her mom’s bedroom, with a jellyfish inside. Before she can reach the jellyfish, she always wakes up. While Sarah and her sisters are making a Mother’s Day gift for their mom, they find an old photo of their mom at the base of the tree from Sarah’s dream. They have to enter a hidden forest to learn their mother’s secrets.

I loved the mystical aspects of this story. Sarah has a mysterious dream that is connected to her mother’s past. There was a strange forest that held their mom’s secrets. These mysterious secrets also created some beautiful, mystical images in the illustrations.

This story deals with the death of a newborn at the end. This can be a sensitive subject for some readers. However, it could also introduce the subject of a child’s death to young readers. This story could create a starting point for talking about that difficult subject.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel! I’m looking forward to reading the next one.

Thank you Europe Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Hotel Dare by Terry Blas, Claudia Aguirre

The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner

Have you read Sarah’s Dream? What did you think of it?

Review: My Riot

Title: My Riot
Author: Rick Spears, Emmett Helen
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

“Full of raw noise & 90’s angst, MY RIOT delivers an electric gut-punch of a tale that will have you aching for the return of the riot grrrl movement.” — Kim Liggett, New York TimesBestselling author of THE GRACE YEAR

Set in the early ’90s, My Riot is about a trio of teen girls team up to form a rock band and shake off society’s expectations of what it means to be a young woman coming of age in the modern world.

1991—Val, a teenager from a conservative family, has grown up dreaming of becoming a ballerina, but recently something has changed. She’s begun feeling pressure to conform to a specific idea of beauty, body type, and a personality that just doesn’t fit.

Val meets Kat, a smart, witty girl that doesn’t take any crap off anyone. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. Along with Rudie, another new friend, the three form an all-girl punk band they ironically name The Proper Ladies.

Soon Val and her friends find themselves caught up in a movement with other girls also starting bands—also finding their voice. Collectively, these “riot grrrls” discover that their songs ring out loud and powerful, and for Val, there’s no going back.

Review:

Val is a girl from a conservative background who has always wanted to be a ballerina. When her ballet teacher tells her she needs to lose weight, she suggests she start smoking. Val gets the cigarettes from Kat, who becomes her new friend. Kat introduces Val to punk rock. They form a band called The Proper Ladies, and Val’s life is changed forever.

This was a great story about girl power. Val gained confidence from performing in her band. She had been restricted and limited in what she was allowed to do when she was a dancer. With punk rock, she could make the rules and become her true self.

A trigger warning for this book is eating disorders. It was disturbing to see how Val’s teacher told her and other dancers to lose weight any way they could. That included taking up smoking cigarettes. Some of them developed eating disorders. I was glad to see Val take up music so she could develop a healthy body image.

This is a great punk rock graphic novel.

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

What to read next:

Queen of Kenosha by Howard Shapiro and Erica Chan

Mooncakes by Wendy Xu and Suzanne Walker

Have you read My Riot? What did you think of it?

Review: Fangs

Title: Fangs
Author: Sarah Andersen
Genre: Graphic Novel, Humour
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A new gothic romance story from the creator of the enormously popular Sarah’s Scribbles comics.

Vamp is three hundred years old but in all that time, she has never met her match. This all changes one night in a bar when she meets a charming werewolf. FANGS chronicles the humor, sweetness, and awkwardness of meeting someone perfectly suited to you but also vastly different.

Review:

Elsie, a vampire, meets Jimmy, a werewolf, at a bar one night. They instantly hit it off, sharing their unconventional lifestyles. Jimmy helps her stay away from the sun while Elsie looks after him in his wolf form. They have a hilarious relationship, filled with jokes about blood and dogs.

This is such a clever graphic novel. There were so many jokes about vampires and werewolves. Jimmy overheard Elsie saying that she likes dogs, which makes him start talking to her. Elsie would joke about the ex boyfriends she killed. It was often dark humour but it was very funny.

Some of the jokes were in the illustrations. Jimmy was tempted to chase squirrels when they went out for walks. Elsie couldn’t see her reflection in the mirror while getting dressed. These were the realistic parts of day to day life that a vampire or werewolf would deal with if they were real.

I loved this clever and funny graphic novel!

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

What to read next:

Snug by Catana Chetwynd

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

Have you read Fangs? What did you think of it?

Review: The Daughters of Ys

Title: The Daughters of Ys
Author: M.T. Anderson, Jo Rioux
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: First Second Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 11, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

An Atlantis-like city from Celtic legend is the setting of this mythical graphic novel fantasy from National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and artist Jo Rioux.

Ys, city of wealth and wonder, has a history of dark secrets. Queen Malgven used magic to raise the great walls that keep Ys safe from the tumultuous sea. But after the queen’s inexplicable death, her daughters drift apart. Rozenn, the heir to the throne, spends her time on the moors communing with wild animals, while Dahut, the youngest, enjoys the splendors of royal life and is eager to take part in palace intrigue.

When Rozenn and Dahut’s bond is irrevocably changed, the fate of Ys is sealed, exposing the monsters that lurk in plain view. M. T. Anderson and Jo Rioux reimagine this classic Breton folktale of love, loss, and rebirth, revealing the secrets that lie beneath the surface.

Review:

Queen Malgven was a sorceress who used magic to protect the city of Ys. After she dies, her two daughters grow apart. Rozenn, the heir, goes to live in the wild with nature, while Dahut stays home, taking over her mother’s magic. Dahut has to use magic to continue protecting the city from the monsters that threaten them.

This story is based on a Celtic legend. I didn’t know that story before reading it, so it was interesting to learn about. There were common elements of legends and myths, such as love, loss, magic, rebirth, and power.

At first, I thought this book is for younger readers, such as middle grade or young adult. With the illustrations and simple dialogue I thought this would teach younger readers about this legend. There were some depictions of sex, which surprised me. The illustrations were also graphic in some violent scenes. It should be read by an older young adult or adult audience.

I enjoyed this graphic novel.

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

What to read next:

Cursed by Thomas Wheeler, Frank Miller

Have you read Daughters of Ys? What did you think of it?

Review: Giant Days: Early Registration

Title: Giant Days: Early Registration
Author: John Allison
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 18, 2018
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Flashback to freshman year with Esther, Susan and Daisy to see how they first met and became the best of friends, in these bonus Giant Days stories.

Take a trip through the past in these early Giant Days stories, and discover the origin of Daisy, Esther and Susan’s friendship as they embark on orientation, getting-to-know-you-exercises, and collisions with a secret society devoted to Black Metal.

Collecting the original, self-published Giant Days comics for the first time, creator John Allison (Bad Machinery, Scary Go Round) takes us back to where it all started in Giant Days: Early Registration.

Review:

Daisy, Esther, and Susan are just starting university in this prequel to Giant Days. They meet when they first move into their residence. Though they have completely different personalities, they get along and become friends quickly.

This is a great prequel to the Giant Days graphic novel series. Daisy, Esther, and Susan are so different, that it’s hard to see how they became friends. Though they had different interests, they respected each other’s decisions and ideas, so they got along well.

This graphic novel was as funny as the other ones. Ed Gemmel was pining over Esther, even though she had other boyfriends. He would do anything she wanted, including go to an emo underground club. Daisy’s awkward behaviour and Susan’s sarcastic quips were also hilarious.

I really enjoyed this Giant Days prequel!

What to read next:

Giant Days by Non Pratt

Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, Whitney Cogar

Have you read Giant Days: Early Registration? What did you think of it?

Review: Dewdrop

Title: Dewdrop
Author: Katie O’Neill
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The tale of an axolotl who cheers on his underwater friends as they each bring their talents to the pond’s sports fair! 

Dewdrop is an easygoing, gentle axolotl who enjoys naps, worm pie, and cheerleading. When the yearly sports fair nears, he and his friends—Mia the weightlifting turtle, Newman the musical newt, and three minnows who love to cook—get ready to showcase their skills to the whole pond! However, as the day of the fair gets closer, Dewdrop’s friends can’t help putting pressure on themselves to be the best. It’s up to Dewdrop to remind them how to be mindful, go at their own pace, and find joy in their own achievements.

Review:

Dewdrop is an axolotl who is attending the pond’s fair with his friends. Dewdrop will be the cheerleader, while his friends do other activities, such as songwriting, weight lifting, and cooking. When Dewdrop’s friends get discouraged while they struggle with their activities, he is there to cheer them on.

This was a cute story about doing your best. When Dewdrop’s friend struggled with their activities, he pointed out that they were doing the best they could do. Even though the turtle couldn’t lift the heaviest weight, he could still lift more than he could before. When the fish felt like their food wouldn’t appeal to everyone, they realized that they wouldn’t be able to please everyone, but some would like it. The newt couldn’t find inspiration for a song, so Dewdrop told him that he finds inspiration by relaxing and taking the pressure off. Dewdrop had great solutions for all of his friends.

I wish the story talked more about the kinds of animals in the story. Dewdrop was an axolotl, which I had never heard of before. I had to google axolotl while reading. The illustrations look exactly like the fish. Sometimes children’s books have some information about the animals featured at the end of the book. That wasn’t in my copy, and I’m not sure if it was in the final book, but that would have been helpful to read.

This is a cute children’s book!

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

What to read next:

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Cat’s Café: A Comics Collection by Matt Tarpley

Have you read Dewdrop? What did you think of it?

Blog Tour Review: Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army

Title: Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army
Author: V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri (illustrator)
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this third volume in the all-original comic book adventure series sees the saga of the the story begun in The Steel Prince – perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!

Once just a single ship, now the pirate fleet of the Rebel Army numbers in its thousands. Made up of traitors from each of the three empires, the fleet, who once made the open waters of the Blood Coast their home, have set their sights on establishing their own land based empire with London as their capital.

The Rebel Army is a battalion made up of traitors to each of the three empires, who’ve claimed the open waters of the Blood Coast as their territory. Led by a Faroan, a Veskan, and an Arnesian (Rowan, the Antari from the Night of Knives), the RA started as a rag-tag gang, a single ship, but in the last few months, they’ve gained momentum. Once content to claim the open water as their empire, they’ve grown in ambition, and scope, and now they’re claiming ports, creeping toward a full-on land assault. Their goal? London. But first, they’ll have to cross Verose, where Maxim, Isra, and the royal guard are waiting.

Review:

The Rebel Army is coming to Verose, where Prince Maxim will be waiting for them. The Rebel Army slowly grows as it picks up followers in the cities on the way to Verose. They have three leaders, including Maxim’s enemy Rowan. Maxim and his guard Isra have to prepare Verose for the imminent invasion of the Rebel Army.

This graphic novel was a great conclusion to this series. Maxim has to defend Verose one last time before returning to his father in London. Rather than backing down or being prepared to lose the battle against the Rebel Army like the other towns did, Maxim uses what he knows about the Army to defeat them.

The three graphic novels in this series have a clear story arc. Each graphic novel has a complete story, but they are also part of the larger story of Maxim spending time in Verose. Any of these stories could be read by itself, but you will get more out of it by reading them all together. I hope that the story will continue in future graphic novels.

This is a great conclusion to the Shades of Magic graphic novel series!

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

Blog tour schedule:

Where to buy:

Have you read Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army? What did you think of it?

Review: Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives

Title: Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives
Author: V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Titan Comics
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 16, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this all-original comic book adventure continues the story begun in The Steel Prince – perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!

The young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, having faced the terror of the Pirate Queen, now aims to capture the respect of the combative port town of Verose – by taking the impossible challenges of the Night of Knives… and surviving, where none has survived before!

These are the hidden, secret adventures of Maxim, from long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic! 

Collects Shades of Magic #5-8: Night of Knives

Review:

Prince Maxim is training with the army, but he finds that the soldiers still think of him as a royal, not a fellow soldier. To gain their trust, he decides to do the Night of Knives. The Night of Knives is a series of four challenges that people can do to prove their strength. Maxim’s friend Isra has done it, but she only made it through the first two. She tells Maxim not to go all the way through to the fourth challenge, because no one has ever survived it. Maxim doesn’t always follow instructions, so he has some surprises waiting for him in the Night of Knives.

This was another great story set in the word of the Shades of Magic. This volume could be read without reading the first one, though you will get more out of it by reading them in order.

This second volume was even more fast paced than the first one. There were a lot of action when Maxim was fighting through the challenges, which made the story progress quickly. My only complaint is that I wish the story was longer because I love this world.

I loved this graphic novel! I’m so excited to read the third and final volume.

Thank you Titan Comics for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Shades of Magic, Vol. 3: The Rebel Army by V.E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab

Other books in the series:

Have you read Shades of Magic, Vol. 2: Night of Knives? What did you think of it?