Review: Pizazz

Title: Pizazz
Author: Sophy Henn
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Aladdin
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Discover the annoying side of being a superhero from snarky, reluctant hero Pizazz in this hilarious and highly illustrated new series for young middle graders—perfect for fans of Dog Man and Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Most people think superhero work is awesome and fulfilling. Pizazz knows better. Whenever she’s in the middle of a movie or having fun with her friends, she has to dash off the save the world. And she’s always in the same outfit, including an embarrassing glittery cape, and the wedgies are unreal. Plus, being the good guy all the time is so not easy. Superheroes have bad days like everybody else, but Pizazz always has to be cheerful and noble and brave. More than anything, she just wants to be normal.

Review:

Pizazz is a superhero, but it isn’t easy. She has to dash off to fight villains while she’s with friends or even while she’s sleeping. And she always has to go to school the next day. Pizazz has to put on a happy face, because she’s a superhero who saves the world, even if she’s having a bad day. Plus, she thinks she has the worst superpower ever, but she has to use it sometimes to defeat villains. Even though Pizazz doesn’t like being a superhero, she’s always there to help her superhero family.

This was a fun superhero story. Pizazz feels like a lot of middle graders, which is uncomfortable with herself. She doesn’t like her place in her family because everyone else has a better superpower than her, even her little sister. She had to start at a new school so she didn’t feel included by the kids in her new class. Pizazz wanted to fit in with the popular kids, like her sister did, but she didn’t. Though most middle graders aren’t superheroes, I think a lot of them can relate to feeling out of place during that time in their life.

There were a few funny moments in this book. Pizazz and her family had a dog that would report to them on what villain they had to go fight. They had to fight unusual villains. There was Twerknado, who would twerk and destroy the city. There was also Goo Go, who was a giant baby fighting with baby toys. Pizazz’s secret superpower was saved and only revealed at the end of the book, so that was a funny part since she hated it so much but always ended up using it.

Pizazz is a fun start to a new series!

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

What to read next:

How to Be a Supervillain by Michael Fry

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

Review: The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon #3)

Title: The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon #3)
Author: Kay O’Neill
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

Review:

Greta’s Tea Dragon, Ginseng, is having trouble adjusting to life without her former owner. Greta tries to help Ginseng while also figuring out how to impress a master blacksmith enough to take her on as an apprentice. Her friend, Minette, receives a gift from the monastery where she used to live, which brings back some old memories of her ancestors. Greta, Minette, and their friends and family have to learn how to adjust to the changes in their lives.

This is the final book in the Tea Dragon series. This is a great series because it has so much diversity. Some characters are non-binary. Most of the characters are like humans in behavior, but some have animal-like features. This gives them a diverse variety of appearances.

An important theme in this story was adjusting to life changes. Greta had to figure out how to make her Tea Dragon feel comfortable enough with her. Minette was adjusting to her new place with this group of friends. She had to learn to accept her history to be able to move on with her future.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry is a great conclusion to this graphic novel series.

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

What to read next:

Princess Princess Every After by Kay O’Neill

Dewdrop by Kay O’Neill

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Tea Dragon Tapestry? What did you think of it?

Review: Savage Beard of She Dwarf

Title: Savage Beard of She Dwarf
Author: Kyle Latino
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 16, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A heartwarming graphic novel that tells the story of a lonely dwarf searching for her place in the world. 

She Dwarf believes herself to be the last dwarf in existence. Hoping to find evidence to the contrary, She Dwarf sets out on a mission to find the lost dwarven city of Dammerung. But Dammerung isn’t on any map and will not be easily found. Strong forces stand in She Dwarf’s way. Begrudgingly forced to take on a partner to aid in her mission, She Dwarf is joined by war barbarian, Hack Battler. Together, the pair will face vengeful shorcs, sludge demons, mutant bear monsters, and more. When warned by an elf named Drift of the dangers of searching for the lost city, She Dwarf will come face to face with the consequences of her quest. Driven by memories of her mother, She Dwarf is more determined than ever to unearth the truth of the dwarves.

Savage Beard of She Dwarf is a fantasy webcomic seen in book form for the first time. From comic writer and artist Kyle Latino, this YA graphic novel packs all the epic adventure and delightful humor with a heartwarming story of a lonely dwarf searching for her place in the world.

Review:

She Dwarf believes she is the last dwarf in existence, but she wants to travel to the dwarf kingdom of Dammerung to see if there are any others still alive. She Dwarf is joined by a fighter, named Hack Battler, who she defeated in a beard battle. They are warned along the way to Dammerung of how dangerous this quest is, but She Dwarf is determined to make it to the dwarf homeland.

This graphic novel was so funny. It had some clever twists on the classic fantasy journey tale. She Dwarf is a female dwarf with a long beard. She is able to use the beard for fighting as well as style. She traveled with Hack, who was clueless most of the time. There were a few laugh out loud moments that I really enjoyed.

She Dwarf and Hack met different fantasy creatures along the way. There was an elf who helped them after proving their strength in a battle. There were goblins and a dragon. There was even a creature with real bears in place of arms. These fantastical characters made the story unpredictable and exciting.

Savage Beard of She Dwarf is a fun fantasy graphic novel.

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

What to read next:

Girl Haven by Lilah Sturges

Dark One, Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly

Have you read Savage Beard of She Dwarf? What did you think of it?

Review: Shark Summer

Title: Shark Summer
Author: Ira Marcks
Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 25, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When a Hollywood film crew arrives on Martha’s Vineyard with a mechanical shark and a youth film contest boasting a huge cash prize, disgraced pitcher Gayle “Blue Streak” Briar sees a chance to turn a bad season into the best summer ever.

After recruiting aspiring cinematographer Elijah Jones and moody director Maddie Grey, Gayle and her crew set out to uncover the truth of the island’s own phantom shark and win the prize money. But these unlikely friends are about to discover what happens when you turn your camera toward the bad things lurking below the surface.

Review:

Gayle Briar was the pitcher on her softball team until she broke her arm. Now, her mother has moved them to Martha’s Vineyard because her mom has fond memories of spending the summers there when she was a kid. Their plan to open an ice cream stand is put on hold when her mom has to get a higher paying job to pay for Gayle’s hospital bills. Gayle explores the island and watches the filming of a shark movie. Gayle ends up finding Elijah, a young eager filmmaker, and Maddie, a local girl with a ghost story. The three of them make a shark film to enter into a film competition, but they end up uncovering an ancient island secret.

This is the perfect summer read. Gayle had moved to Martha’s Vineyard, but since it was her first time spending the summer there, it was like she was on a vacation and learning about the island for the first time. Elijah was just in town for the season and Maddie had lived there all her life, but she was bullied by the local children. They were each outsiders in some way. The three of them made a good group to discover the island secrets.

I love it when characters explore an ancient ghost story! Those stores about ghosts and hidden histories fascinated me as a kid. Maddie knew a ghost story and they used it as inspiration to make their film. What Gayle and Elijah didn’t know was that the ghost story was part of a deeper secret on the island. This secret reveal at the end of the story tied everything in together, and made the story feel complete.

Shark Summer is a fun middle grade graphic novel for the summer!

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Just Pretend by Tori Sharp

Secrets of Camp Whatever, Vol. 1 by Chris Grine

Have you read Shark Summer? What did you think of it?

Review: Just Pretend

Title: Just Pretend
Author: Tori Sharp
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A graphic memoir, in which a young girl uses her active imagination to navigate middle school as well as the fallout from her parents’ divorce. 

Tori has never lived in just one world.

Since her parents’ divorce, she’s lived in both her mom’s house and her dad’s new apartment. And in both places, no matter how hard she tries, her family still treats her like a little kid. Then there’s school, where friendships old and new are starting to feel more and more out of her hands.

Thankfully, she has books-and writing. And now the stories she makes up in her head just might save her when everything else around her—friendships, school, family—is falling apart.

Review:

Seventh grader Tori lives with her mom and her older twin siblings, and she visits her dad on weekends. Her parents treat her as a little kid, even though she’s growing up. At school, she struggles with making new friends and keeping her old ones. When they begin to bond over their love of writing or their friendships, something comes between them. Tori continues to write her own story while she tries to cope with the rest of her life.

In this graphic novel, Tori has to deal with many issues of growing up. She had problems at home, with juggling the two homes of her parents, as well as older siblings who liked to tease and bully her. She also had problems at school with her friends and her school work. The middle school years are filled with emotional relationships. Between her family and friends, Tori had to figure out many relationship dynamics that come with growing up.

I could relate to Tori in this story. Tori tried to write a story with her best friend, and I did the same thing in middle school. My friends got bored with writing after a while, like Tori’s did, but writing is still my passion. I could relate to the way Tori got lost in her fantasy world. I think other young artists will be able to relate to Tori as well.

Just Pretend is a great middle grade graphic novel!

Thank you Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Have you read Just Pretend? What did you think of it?

Review: Brontë

Title: Brontë
Author: Manuela Santoni
Genre: Graphic Novel, Biography
Publisher: Graphic Universe
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë–faced with an ailing father and an alcoholic brother–pursue independence through art in this graphic vision of the lives of three legendary writers.

Despite their family’s stormy fortunes, the Brontë sisters resolved to write. To thwart the nineteenth century’s double standards, they took the names of men, becoming the Bell brothers. Their works incited controversy and speculation, while at home, the sisters contended with the rages of Branwell Brontë, their self-destructive sibling. Manuela Santoni presents a time before Jane EyreWuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall were known as literary masterpieces, when winds shook the Brontë house and determination held it together.

Review:

Emily, Anne, and Charlotte Brontë are three famous sisters who wrote in the 1800s. They had to look after their aging father and their alcoholic brother, while trying to make a name for themselves. The sisters ended up publishing under male pen names before revealing their identities.

The Brontës had tragic lives. They lost their two oldest sisters and their mother before they were ten years old. All of the siblings died as young adults, under the age of forty. Their brother, Branwell, was addicted to drugs and alcohol, so his sisters had to look after him as well as their father. I read a few reviews of this book and many people criticized it saying that it was so tragic and inaccurate. Some of the timelines may have been changed to fit into the story, but the Brontës did lead lives full of tragedy, which was reflected in their gothic novels.

The illustrations in this graphic novel were in black and white. The images were simply drawn without a lot of detail. I would have liked to see more detailed drawings. However, the simplicity and harsh black lines reflected the dark nature of the lives of the Brontë family.

I enjoyed this graphic novel biography of the Brontë sisters.

Thank you Graphic Universe for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni

Why She Wrote by Lauren Burke, Hannah K. Chapman, and Kaley Bales (illustrator)

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

Review: Gamayun Tales I

Title: Gamayun Tales I
Author: Alexander Utkin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Nobrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore. Collected into a beautiful new paperback edition for the first time!

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Russian folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books!

Series Overview: The Gamayun Tales are colorful stories based on Slavic mythology.

Review:

This graphic novel is a collection of stories told by Gamayun, a bird in Russian folklore who can see the future. The tales begin with talking animals, then they tell the story of a merchant and his family and the deals he makes with kings without understanding the consequences.

Each of the tales in this book were connected but they could be read on their own as well. Sometimes folktales with a moral or a lesson can have a tragic outcomes. I found that these stories had positive endings, even if they didn’t seem so at first. Everything worked out in the end, which makes it a fun, positive story for kids.

This was a beautiful book. It is printed on thick paper, which makes it feel like an art book. The illustrations had vibrant colours that made the story a fun read. The beautiful illustrations matched the tone of the folktales perfectly.

This is such a beautiful graphic novel of Russian folktales. The story continues in Gamayun Tales II, so I’m excited to read it soon!

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

What to read next:

Gamayun Tales II by Alexander Utkin

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

Other books in the series:

  • Gamayun Tales II

Have you read Gamayun Tales I? What did you think of it?

Review: Dark One, Vol. 1

Title: Dark One, Vol. 1
Author: Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly
Genre: Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Vault Comics
Source: Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 18, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Visions of a dark and fantastic world haunt Paul Tanasin, but when he discovers they are prophecies from Mirandus–a world in which he’s destined to become a fearsome destroyer–He’ll have to embrace the fear, rise up as The Dark One, and shatter everything.

Review:

Paul Tanasin is haunted by visions of a girl who claims to be his sister. He is sent to therapy but he can’t explain what is going on. One day he is captured and brought to a fantasy world, Mirandus, where he is destined to be the Dark One. Meanwhile, his mother is a attorney representing a serial killer. This murderer has an unusual request that she hasn’t seen before, but she must do her best to give him what he wants. Both Paul and his mother must face their demons in the real world and in Mirandus.

I like it when fantasy stories begin in the real world and then transport the characters to a fantasy land. There were some hints that something greater was going on in Paul’s life when he was haunted by a girl claiming to be his sister. He was destined to fulfill his role in the “narrative” that the people of Mirandus had to follow.

This story had the narrative trope of the “chosen one.” When Paul reached Mirandus, he was told that he was meant to play a particular role there. It didn’t take long for Paul to start to fill in that role, even though he didn’t want to at first. If someone is told that they are something enough times, they start to believe it, whether it’s good or bad.

This graphic novel finished on a cliffhanger so I’ll have to read the next one!

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

What to read next:

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

White Sand, Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Rik Hoskin, Julius Gopez

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

Review: Stargazer

Title: Stargazer
Author: Anthony Cleveland
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Mad Cave Studios
Source: Diamond Book Distributors via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 11, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Years ago Shae, her brother Kenny, and two childhood friends experienced a traumatic, unexplainable event that left Kenny scarred for life. Kenny commits himself to the belief that what they experienced was an alien abduction. Twenty years later and the friends have since drifted apart, but the sudden, mysterious disappearance of Kenny leads the group to reunite and discover the truth of what took place all those years ago.

Review:

When they were in middle school, Shae, her brother Kenny, and her two friends had an alien encounter that left her brother scarred for life. He had an accident and became obsessed with alien abductions. Now, twenty years later, Kenny mysteriously disappears, and only Shae and her friends have the key to finding him.

This was an entertaining story. There was a lot of mystery around the alien abduction when they were kids. It seemed like it really happened, but they were young so no one believed them. Even when they got older, Shae had to wonder if it really happened. Once her brother went missing as an adult, she had no choice but to believe he had actually been abducted by aliens.

This story alternated between the present and twenty years ago when the kids first encountered the aliens. The first time this happened, the two timelines were labeled so it was easy to see the time jump. However, the other times there wasn’t a label to indicate that the time period was changing. It was a little confusing to get used to at first. The older timeline had illustrations in more pink colours and the present story was in blue colours, which made it a little easier to tell them apart. It would have been a smoother transition if each jump in time was labeled.

I really enjoyed this sci fi graphic novel!

Thank you Diamond Book Distributors for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Villainous by Stonie Williams

Dark One, Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson, Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly

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

Review: Riverdale: The Ties That Bind

Title: Riverdale: The Ties That Bind
Author: Micol Ostow, Thomas Pitilli (illustrator)
Genre: Young Adult, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 4, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Archie’s second original graphic novel features the world of CW’s Riverdale! Four interconnected stories trap each of our main characters in a unique high-stakes conflict over the course of a few pressure-cooker hours!

Jughead’s locked in and left behind with Moose at Stonewall Prep, Veronica is trapped with Cheryl at a nearby suburban shopping mall, Betty and Polly are stalked by a possible madman when a girls’ night goes horribly awry and Archie is held hostage by a ‘long lost relative’ of Fred’s who’s come to town seeking payback of any and every kind.

Will Archie and company even make it to sunrise? If they do, will they ever be the same again?

Review:

Archie, Jughead, Betty, and Veronica all have encounters with a strange cult over the span of a few hours. Jughead and Moose are locked in their school library. Archie and Reggie are trapped in an escape room at school. Betty and her sister are stalked by a madman to an empty motel. Veronica and Cheryl are chased around a closed shopping mall. Each of these separate incidents are all connected to the same cult.

This was a great fast paced graphic novel. It was short, at just over a hundred pages, so I didn’t expect it to have such a detailed story. Each of the four main characters had a complete story told about their night being terrorized. Even though these stories were separate incidents, they were all connected by a group with the same cult tattoos.

The details of this group behind these events weren’t given so I hope there will be a sequel. Each of the incidents were connected, and some of the background of why they were being targeted was given, but I would have loved if there was a clearer solution. I hope there will be another graphic novel that explains this group who targeted Jughead and his friends.

I really enjoyed this graphic novel.

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

What to read next:

The Day Before by Micol Ostow

A Werewolf in Riverdale by Caleb Roehrig

Have you read Riverdale: The Ties That Bind? What did you think of it?