Month: April 2017

Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Batman: Night of the Monster Men

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I should really try and read comics in order a bit more…

I believe this is the first crossover of DC Universe: Rebirth? It’s also Batman Vol. III #1.5.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men

Batman: Night of the Monster Men (DC Universe Rebirth, Batman Vol. III #1.5) – eBook (Review Copy), 153 pages – Published March 21st 2017 by DC Entertainment

There are tons of great characters in this, mostly featuring Batman (duh), Batwoman, Nightwing, Orphan, Spoiler, Clayface, Gotham Girl and even Dr. Strange. Pretty great line-up, I think!

So the plot of this volume is monsters, as you may have guessed from the title. Genetically engineered monsters, developed from human corpses. But the dead aren’t the only ones affected by the creation; an algae-like substance is sending civilians insane with rage. And the costumed heroes aren’t immune to it, either…

The crew have to protect the citizens of Gotham, and Gotham Girl is intent on helping – even if she isn’t quite well enough yet. But why has Dr. Strange picked these particular people to turn into monsters? And why is he aiming them at Batman?…

I absolutely loved how it turned out to be “Batman’s monsters” (I won’t spoil it for anyone who wants to read it, but it’s really clever I think). The characters are as good as always, but there isn’t much personal life included in this (but it is a superhero story, I guess.) There’s a lot of action, as you’d expect, as well as some careful calculations, biology and physics. A really good volume! 4 stars out of 5.

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Great Expectations

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I discovered these Manga Classics via NetGalley, and am so glad I did! I’m definitely intent on reading a lot of the collection.

Manga Classics Great Expectations

Manga Classics: Great Expectations by Stacy King and Crystal S. Chan (Originally by Charles Dickens) – eBook (Review Copy), 312 pages – Published May 20th 2015 by UDON Entertainment

I’ve only seen the film of this story, and not even read the original novel. But I am planning to do so, and I really feel like this has given me a better understanding of the plot and the characters.

The story itself, written by Charles Dickens, is pretty good – not my favourite, but not bad. It tells the story of Pip, a little boy who wants nothing more than to be a gentleman. But his humble lifestyle is not particularly accommodating of that wish, until an anonymous benefactor sends him to London…

I think the characters and emotions are portrayed really well through the artwork in this, helping to understand the developments in the plot and relationships that are taking place. The language makes it easier to follow and understand, too, which a lot of people have problems with when reading older novels. For example with Miss Havisham, who’s emotions are somewhat exaggerated to show her grief and frustrations.

If you like classic novels but are maybe uncomfortable with the language or length, then I’d definitely recommend this line of graphic novels. Even as an accompaniment to the original books, just to give that extra insight and understanding.

Simply because this isn’t a favourite story, I’m going to give 4 stars. But the adaptation itself is fantastic.

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Book Review: Frankenstein

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Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – eBook, 126 pages – Published May 17th 2012 (first published March 11th 1818)

This book has been reviewed and studied so many times over the years, so I’ll keep this simple.

It is a classic novel, originally published back in 1818. This does mean that the language is harder to read and understand for some people, and the general culture and ideas are all rather different to what you may be used to. That’s always the biggest problem with reading and appreciating older novels – sometimes we just can’t enjoy the fantastic writing or the unique characters like people would’ve back when it was released.

We are first introduced to Robert Walton on an expedition to the North Pole, writing letters back home. The whole story is, in fact, him recounting what he is told by the man he picks up in his boat – Frankenstein. Frankenstein’s story is a familiar one; he created a monster, who subsequently felt lonely amongst this world of humans. This creature wanted a partner, a mate, but Frankenstein was unwilling to create yet another daemon of this kind. So he took revenge, slowly removing all of the Frankenstein’s loved ones until he no longer held the will to live himself.

It is actually a lot sadder than I ever knew. I didn’t know much, just the generic “Frankenstein’s monster” creation story. But this novel is full of heartache and loss, regret and terror. It’s about a scientist crossing the line of creation, only to suffer drastically for his ambitions.

Yet we are also given the “monster’s” account – his terrifying, lonely entry to the world, his plea for company, even his regret for the lives he took. I never really thought much about the creation himself, didn’t consider his side all that much. But this novel makes you think about him, and even causes you to sympathise with him.

I liked this book, but I feel like it’s one of those books you’re supposed to like. I’m not a huge fan of classic novels, but I can see past the difference in language and lifestyle. I just really appreciated the amount of emotion in this, and also it’s not-so-perfect ending. It isn’t a favourite, and it wasn’t a casual, easy read, but I will give it 3.5 stars.

Check out this edition here.

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Book Review: The Outs

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

Well, this was… an interesting read…

Just gonna quickly put a little trigger warning in here, as there are graphic and emotional descriptions of depression and suicide. But the story isn’t about these things, and they aren’t properly talked about until far later in the novel.

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The Outs by E.S. Wesley – eBook, 365 pages – Published January 24th 2017 by Curiosity Quills Press

You’re thrown right into the deep end from page one, having to put the pieces together as the plot progresses. We meet one of our protagonists, Caleb, in an unfamiliar room with mysterious men and a random little girl. He ends up taking her with him as he runs, trying to figure out what he did during the Outs.

The Outs are kinda confusing. They’re moments in time where electrical appliances all fail, and anything that happens is forgotten as soon as the Outs end. Oh, and anyone killed during the Outs is resurrected from the dead.

I’m really not sure how to describe this book. The plot is super confusing – Caleb and his aphasic friend, Kitzi, take this weird little girl (Amanda) who somehow has powers over everyone and everything, in an attempt to stop Deeds and his army of Deadheaders. Caleb has a psychopathic voice in his head called Crimes, Amanda’s dreams come true, Kitzi’s suicide happens to have taken place at the same time the Outs started, she can smell the truth – and somehow they’re all connected to the Outs? These three individuals – and many others along the way – each have a big part in what is happening. But how?

Honestly, I cannot explain it. There are so many little ties and strings throughout this book that all add up, and I couldn’t possibly include them all.

It definitely is a unique book. The idea is pretty good, too – the whole “nightmares becoming real” and all. But I just didn’t connect; I don’t know if it was the pacing or what, but I just didn’t feel involved in it.

I feel like I should’ve been able to sympathise with the characters more – they had good backstories, emotional and family issues that different people should be able to relate to. And the narration following Kitzi often makes references to comic books which I personally really appreciated. But I just didn’t quite feel them. Maybe it’s just me – there’s nothing wrong with the writing in particular, so maybe it’s just personal preference. I don’t know.

I had a few typos in my copy but I received an ARC, not a final copy, so that shouldn’t affect anyone buying the book. I loved the cover, and the art at each chapter start was great. Also, the inclusion of “Notes From Last Night” (a site where people recorded notes during the outs for after they forget) was awesome, too. It added a whole other dimension to the world, an extra little bit of interest.

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I wanted to like this, I really did. And I didn’t dislike it – but it didn’t feel like anything special to me. 3 stars for The Outs.

If you’re interested, you can check it out on Amazon.

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Book Review: City of Heavenly Fire

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City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare (The Mortal Instruments #6) – Paperback, 638 pages – Published February 1st 2015 by Walker

Wow. I cannot believe the series is over.

I started this series thinking it was just another paranormal YA series, which it was in some ways, but I ended up falling in love with it as the series progressed. Now I’m gonna have to go and buy the gorgeous box set and read them a dozen times over.

If you’re not familiar with these books, you can check out my reviews of the first five books (starting with number one). I may actually be re-reviewing these in a while though, as I’ve come to appreciate them a whole lot more now.

So, where to start… The plot? Complicated but great. Action, tons of heartache, and a sprinkle of love. The ending is super sweet, too. Maybe a bit too neat and happy, but I’m a cynic. Honestly, it was nice to see them all find happiness at last.

The characters. Oh, the characters! I love them all. The use of the relationships in the plot is fantastic (and super sad), and the character development is pretty strong, too. The relationship between Clary and Jace becomes more *ahem* intimate, while Magnus and Alec finally get to talk about what happened between them. As for Isabelle and Simon… you’ll have to read it yourself to see what happens to them.

I find that Clare’s writing in these novels has a really distinct, iconic feel. From the first page, I was immersed in the Shadowhunting world, despite it having been a while since I read the previous novel. And although the book is long – over 600 pages – it didn’t feel tedious or boring. It took me a while to read it due to school work, but I did find myself having to force myself to put the book down and go to sleep.

Like I said, I have grown fonder of this series with each passing book. I’m going to start the series over again soon to see if I still feel the same way as before, but for now I’m going to give this finale a 4.5-star rating. Not quite in my favourites, but after a re-read it may be!

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Graphic Novel Review: MANGA CLASSICS Pride and Prejudice

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

 

We all know of the classic novel, but have you ever read Austen’s work in the form of a manga?

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Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice by Stacy King (originally by Jane Austen) – eBook, 377 pages – Published September 17th 2014 by UDON Entertainment

 

I won’t talk about the plot much – I’m sure you know enough about it already – but I will definitely mention the art and the portrayal of the different characters and their relationships with one another.

So, just in case you don’t know the story of Pride and Prejudice – my review of which is here – I will give you a quick summary. Originally published in 1813, the story features common themes from the era such as wealth, social standing, and marriage. A family with five daughters are desperate to get them married into wealth, into comfortable homes with handsome young men. But Elizabeth is not so keen on marrying just anyone, and her eldest sister soon finds herself falling for a particular young man.

The original novel is fantastic, but some people don’t particularly enjoy reading classics – which is understandable, as a lot of the language is rather hard for us to understand in the modern day and age. So this adaptation makes the story a whole lot more enjoyable and easy to follow, while still keeping the importance of the plot intact. Not to mention how well the characters are all portrayed – especially Mrs Bennet, the comedic mother in the book. The artwork emphasises how exaggerated she is, as well as showing her husband’s reaction to her.

At important times – such as weddings or the introduction of a certain character to another – the illustrations are particularly beautiful and romantic, with lots of floral designs. I thought the illustrations reflected the mood of the plot/characters really well. And the language is a lot easier to understand than Austen’s original writing, yet still somewhat classic and formal.

I really did enjoy this, and am definitely going to consider other books from the range. 5 stars for this wonderful retelling of Pride and Prejudice.

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BOOKTRACK Book Review: The Jungle Book

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The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling – eBook/Booktrack – Originally published in 1894

I’m not going to say too much about the plot – you’re probably already pretty familiar with the story. I am, however, going to comment on the soundtrack provided by Booktrack. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s basically a site where you can buy, write and read books with coinciding music and sound effects. (I’ve always used sites like MyNoise to create soundscapes and things to help immerse me in the fictional worlds I’m reading, so the discovery of Booktrack was heaven-sent.)

So yeah, obviously this is the story of Mowgli, the man-cub, raised by wolves and Baloo and Bagheera. He lives in the jungle, until finding a human village to take him in. But he does not belong – he may be man by blood, but he is of the Jungle People now.

The soundtrack with this book really helps you feel as though you are in the forest, hearing the life all around you. There’s music to accompany the little songs and poems included throughout, and dramatic music to portray the intensity of the plot and action. The only problem I really have with the track is how it sometimes jumped or cut off when I turned a page, but that may just be due to me reading faster than it is expecting.

Altogether, the story and Booktrack has earned 3.5 stars from me. It’s a nice read, and the soundtrack is a great accompaniment to the story.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Superman, Action Comics Volume 1: The Path of Doom

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I’ve not read that much about Superman, but my boyfriend has kept me updated on the plot. That background knowledge really helped when reading this volume, as it was pretty confusing.

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Superman Action Comics Volume 1: Path of Doom (Action Comics Vol. III, #1) – 128 pages – Published February 17th 2017 by DC Comics

The start took me by surprise; Lex Luthor as Superman, following the death of Clark. What’s he doing as Superman, though? What are his true motives?

One thing to remember with this is that DC have several universes, meaning there are different Clarks/Supermans on different worlds. And this issue involves a Superman who is not on his home planet, and an extra Clark that nobody was expecting…

I love Clark’s little family, and the way it’s affected by his being Superman and everything. There wasn’t much in this volume of the family together, though, as it is mainly based on the fight between Superman, Lex, Wonder Woman and Doomsday.

I would’ve liked more explanation in here on the whole situation with all the different Supermans, but I haven’t read any previous issues so I suppose they might explain it. (Maybe I’ll ask my boyfriend about it.)

One thing I haven’t yet mentioned is the mysterious figure commentating on the battle, even intervening and stealing Doomsday away. I’m really interested to see where that’s going.

As usual, the art is awesome. It’s not my favourite comic, but I still enjoyed it. 3.5 stars.

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Graphic Novel/Comic Book Review: Suicide Squad Volume 1: The Black Vault

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Thank you to the author/publisher for accepting my request to read and review this book

I actually read (and own) one of the issues in this volume already, but reading them all together like this was a lot better.

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Suicide Squad Volume 1: The Black Vault (Rebirth) – 161 pages – Published 7th March 2017 by DC Entertainment

So this is obviously following the Suicide Squad, a group of villains and criminals pulled together by Amanda Waller. Their mission, under the code name Task Force X, is to remove some galactic matter from within Russian grounds.

When introducing the members, Waller adds some humorous details on them. I really liked the little details thrown in throughout. And the relationships between the different characters are pretty good, too.

On this misson, they acquire Hack and end up running into General Zod and tons of other evil dudes. Not to mention the huge army of Russian dudes attacking them from the outside…

I absolutely love Harley in this. She’s a great character! But I like how several characters have their backgrounds pulled forward, too, including Harley. I always really enjoy finding out about their pasts, and what made them who they are now. This volume includes the backstory of Katana, Harley, Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang.

I think this is one of my favourite volumes of comics. The characters are awesome, the fight scenes are great – and the art is amazing. I think it deserves 5 stars.

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