Category Archives: Manga / Graphic Novels

3 Reviews: Homegoing, Tipping the Velvet, & A Silent Voice

homecomingTitle: Homegoing
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Date Completed: August 11, 2016
Format: Hardcopy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: Multi-generational story follows two half-sisters (one sold into slavery, one married to a British slaver) and their descendants.
Thoughts: Homegoing was absolutely beautiful. It was well written, and the style light enough to be quickly readable, but without the sacrifice of quality or depth. Each chapter focused on a different family member/generation, alternating between the two branches. The story did not get bogged down in detail, but looked at a highlight or defining moment of a given family member’s life. Even though each character only had one chapter, they are fully formed and fit within their time, location, and experience.


tipping-velvet-2Title: Tipping the Velvet
Author: Sarah Waters
Date Completed: September 1, 2016
Format: Audiobook
Rating: 2/5
Synopsis: Nan King leaves home to be the dresser for male impersonator, Kitty Butler. As the attraction they have for each other grows, Nan joins Kitty on stage. Eventually, their relationship sours, and Nan must make her own way in London.
Thoughts: The good – Sarah Waters did a phenomenal job with details. The characters were fully formed, settings and scenes are in-depth, but not overwhelming, and I liked the ease with which various characters wore their gender fluidity/identity. The bad – Nan was whiny, self-absorbed, shallow, and didn’t seem to be able to make the connection between her actions and the consequences they brought about. If I had read the book instead of listened to it, the book would have hit the wall multiple times because of Nan’s oblivious idiocy. She did, thankfully, experience some redemption and happiness at the end.


silent-voice-4Title: A Silent Voice, Vol 4-6
Author/Illustrator: Yoshitoki Ooima
Date Completed: September 20, 2016
Format: Hardcopy
Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: Shoya continues to try to redeem his childhood actions, and build a friendship with Shoko, while relearning to interact with other childhood classmates.
Thoughts: I love, love, love this manga! It is full of feels, and can be painful to read at times. Shoya is still trying to figure out how to be a better person, and has a hard time of it because old classmates (who also implicitly or explicitly bullied Shoko) keep trying to pull Shoko back onto their orbits. No single character is good or bad; all of them are a mix of the two. Even Shoko harbors a darker side. A defining event with her, forces the other characters to evaluate their flaws and behaviors. Naoka is the only character who really drives me nuts. I know there has to be a backstory as to why she behaves this way, but she is selfish, petty, and cruel.





Read Harder Challenge – Panels

Because I have assiduously avoided participating in reading challenges, why not throw a second one into the mix? Panels (sister site to Book Riot, focusing on comics), is also doing a Read Harder Challenge. They have 26 tasks as opposed to 24, but that shouldn’t be too big of a deal given how many volumes of graphic novels and manga I read last year – over 200.

I dove into Book Riot’s challenge in January, so unless I count A Bride’s Story towards Panels’ challenge, I haven’t read anything yet (being sick for the first two weeks of February hasn’t helped either – thank you to my three little incubi of viral plagues). I am however, starting to pull together a list of what I want to read. Some of it will be fluid based on what I buy, get from the library, or steal from my 8-year old’s bookshelf. Some of it will be hard because I have never been drawn to the traditional superhero comic book. But the point of this is to branch out, so in the spirit of the challenge, I will most likely end up reading at least one. My husband is very much a traditional superheroes kind of guy, and my 3-year old son is obsessed with all things Spider-Man, so between the two of them, I’m sure I’ll find something good.

Completed Task:

#15 – Manga

bride story

A Bride’s Story, vol 1-7 by Kaoru Mori

Tasks in the Stack:

DD andes beauty hubert letter 44 v 1

#1 – Golden Age Comic – Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Banks
#3 – Originally Published in EuropeBeauty by Hubert
#22 – Science FictionLetter 44 Volume 1: Escape Velocity by Charles Soule and Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque






My Daughters’ Favorite Graphic Novels

My 8-year old daughter is an avid graphic novel reader. She’ll whinge if you hand her a chapter book, but she’s loved almost every graphic novel I’ve placed in her hot little hands (the Amulet and Squish series being the exceptions so far). The idea of giving her graphic novels didn’t occur to me until we started reading The Fog Mound trilogy when she was in first grade. The chapters in the books alternate between prose and comic format, but she was especially taken by the details of the comics chapters. I read the first Babymouse to her because of that her fascination, and she’s been hooked on graphic novels since then. Below are her current favorites.

My 4-year old daughter loves looking through the Babymouse books, but wanted her own graphic novels. She cannot read, so that’s a limiting factor. She’s been obsessed with owls for most of her life, and since Owly has no words, I figured it would be a perfect fit. She now owns three Owly books, and reads them in bed on most nights. Hello Kitty is the other series she’s read, but we check them out from our library.

8-Year Old

babymouse 1 happy happy clover 1 mameshiba guinea pig swan

Babymouse by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (18 volumes so far)
Happy Happy Clover by Sayuri Tatsuyama (5 volumes)
Mameshiba: On the Loose by James Turner & Jorge Monlongo
Guinea Pig: Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen AF Venable & Stephanie Yue (6 volumes)
Swans in Space by Lun Lun Yamamoto (3 volumes)

4-Year Old

owly 1 hk here we go

Owly by Andy Runton (5 volumes so far)
Hello Kitty: Here We Go! by Jacob Chabot & Jorge Monlongo

lily owly

My 4-year old getting ready to read her brand new Owly in bed.


2014 Graphic Novels / Manga (First Half)

Because putting everything I’ve read in the first half of 2014 into one post would be too long…

My manga/graphic novel reading addition was not adversely effected by graduate school. In fact, I read more than I have ever because they’re just so darn quick to zip through.  A lot of the manga is scanilated (bad me for reading it) because a lot of what I’m interested in is not printed in English. Some of the series I really like have peen published in German, so if I want to get my hot little hands on them, I’m going to need to brush up on my languishing German skills.

Graphic Novel Favorites
saga16th gun 1rat queenssoulless 1

*Saga, vol 1 – I own all three volumes, but sacrilegiously have only read the first one. I need to read the rest. It’s a space opera, and I love that the characters are complex – the good guys aren’t completely good and the bad guys aren’t completely bad.
*Soulless, vols 1-3 – Because the novels are perennial favorites, I invariably read the GNs at the same time.
*The Sixth Gun, vols 1-6 – I would have never picked up this series if it hadn’t been mentioned by an author I saw at a conference in May. She said it wasn’t a genre she usually read, but liked how the female main character developed. I agree with her. Becky, the female lead, starts as naive (but not wimpy), and as the story progresses, becomes more worldly and confident with her new-found power. I am looking forward to seeing who she turns into.
*Rat Queens: Sass & Sorcery, vol 1– What’s not to love about this? Rat Queens is a bundle of awesomeness. It’s crass and sarcastic, violent and bloody, and had me snorting at some of the comments the characters made.

Graphic Novels
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
The Sandman, vols 1-3
Friends with Boys
The Professor’s Daughter
The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec: Pterror Over Paris/The Eiffel Tower…
Mystic: The Tenth Apprentice
The Lost Boy
Zita the Space Girl

Manga Favorites
321 lievehoney d ropsbeelzebubiron-maiden
private-prince-1crazy-girl-shin-biahorimiyaseraph 1

*Kyou Koi wo Hajimemasu / 3 2 1…Liebe! – The first of my “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” stories on this list. I bought the last volume in German because the scanilation wasn’t up yet.
*Honey x Honey Drops – Admittedly, the storyline is really jacked up, and the female lead needs to have her head checked, but I still liked it even though I wanted to throttle some of the characters. It is one of the series I’ve read twice (in Jan and Apr). It is also one of the series I will most likely buy in German. It is my second “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” story.
*Beelzebub – A delinquent becomes the adopted father of a son of Hell. Hilarity and hijinks ensue. It can be violent and the humor is a bit off, but it was a fun read.
*Shishunki no Iron Maiden – One of the main focal points of the story revolves around girls who develop armor-like iron protrusions on their body once a month. The main character is a girl who has this condition, but manages to keep it a secret (the government takes away the girls who are special). This manga really, really needs to be translated and published.
*Private Prince – Viz is putting out Happy Marriage?! (by the same author), and I hope they publish this one as well. Yes it is a “the guy is outwardly an asshole, but just needs the right woman to set him straight because deep down inside he’s really caring” story, but again, I  really liked it.
*Crazy Girl Shin Bia – There is a part of me that would love to fall into an alternate universe in a similar situation. It’s not the best written thing out there, and the female lead can be a pain, and you can figure out fairly quickly how it’s going to end.  I don’t think it has been published in either English or German, which is a shame because I would buy it and read it over and over.
*HorimiyaCompletely different from all of my other favorite manga. This is a quiet slice of life story between a popular girl and a loner guy who have different personalities/appearances at home. A chance meeting puts them on the path to friendship and dating.
*Owari no Serafu / Seraph of the End
I learned of this series because Viz recently started publishing it. Of course I then went online and read the scanilations. However, I like the story enough that I’ve bought/pre-ordered all the volumes available. It’s a different twist on the vampires/end of the world scenario.

*Most of these I’ve read as far as the scanilations were available online. Some I read in print.
Maid Sama
Watashi xx Shinasai! / Missions of Love (thought it was awful)
Dengeki Daisy
Monster Musume
Hirunaka No Ryuusei (Stopped reading, want to throttle both the male/female leads)
Faster than a Kiss
Blood Lad
Millenium Snow
Crimson Spell
Only Serious About You
Totally Captivated
Ultimate Venus
B.O.D.Y. (Stopped reading, want to throttle both the male/female leads)
Virgin Ripper
Ware Ka Diablo
Midnight Secretary
Demon Love Spell
Barajou no Kiss
Maoh: Juvenile Remix, vol 1
Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives (Couldn’t even finish the first volume)
Mitsu Aji Blood

Graphic Novels + Common Core + The Dust Bowl

I am taking a Young Adult Literature course this summer, and had to make a short (2-4 minute) video presentation.  I had a lot of fun making it, actually, even though I’ve never made a video before.

3 Graphic Novels: Primates, The Lost Boy, & Rat Queens

primatesTitle: Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas
Author: Jim Ottaviani
Illustrator: Maris Wicks
Intended Audience: Older middle reader and up
Date Completed: May 19, 2014
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis: Primates shows the journeys Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas took to become preeminent primatologists, and highlights their contributions to the understanding of that field.

Thoughts: Primates is a good introduction to these scientists, but it glosses over many details. The holes in the storylines/information bothered me, but when trying to cover three famous scientists and their contributions in 133 pages, details have to be left out. For the intended audience, Primates gives enough information to hook readers who might want to learn more. The bibliography lists other resources about each woman to that end.

The multiple comments regarding the lecherous tendencies of Louis Leakey detracted from the flow of the narrative.


lost boyTitle:  The Lost Boy
Author/Illustrator: Gary Ruth
Intended Audience: Middle Reader
Date Completed:  June 15, 2014
Rating:  4/5
Synopsis: Nate moves into a new house only to discover tape recordings tucked underneath a loose floorboard. In listening to the tapes, he learns about Walt, a boy who disappeared several decades ago. With the help of his neighbor, Tabitha, the two children embark on a journey to find out what happened to Walt and to save their town from dark forces.

Thoughts: I liked the pacing. The drawings/shadings set the tone beautifully. While readers are set down in the middle of the story, the tapes help flesh out the backstory, and the climax answers the initial question of what happened to Walt. The ending was left open, so hopefully there will a sequel.


rat queensTitle:  Rat Queens, Volume One: Sass and Sorcery
Author:  Kurtis J. Wiebe
Illustrator:  Roc Upchurch
Intended Audience: Adult/Mature
Date Completed:  June 15, 2014
Rating:  4/5
Synopsis: The four Rat Queens are ostensibly a mercenary group that protects the town of Palisade, but at the point the story begins, are pretty much hell-bent on carousing and mayhem. As punishment (the only other option being banishment), they are sent on a quest. The quest is not what it seems, and the Rat Queens spend the rest of the volume trying to solve the mystery and dealing with the repercussions of their actions.

Thoughts: What’s not to love about this? Rat Queens is a bundle of awesomeness. It’s crass and sarcastic, violent and bloody, and had me snorting at some of the comments the characters made.

3 Graphic Novels: Saga, Delilah Dirk, & Adele Blanc-Sec

saga1Title: Saga, Vol. 1
Author: Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrator: Fiona Staples
Intended Audience: Adult/Mature
Date Completed: March 18, 2014
Rating: 5/5
Synopsis:  Alana and Marco are from opposite sides of an intergalactic war. She is a prison guard, he a prisoner, and together run away to start a new life. The story starts with the birth of their daughter, Hazel, then follows them as they try to escape from multiple enemies. In addition to character dialog, Hazel provides narration that gives bits of insight into the future of her family.

Thoughts: I’ve always enjoyed a bit of space opera, and this one is akin to Romeo and Juliet (though hopefully without the untimely deaths of the two main characters).  The baddies aren’t one-dimensionally bad, and if you don’t exactly like them, you at least respect them.  Even the good guys have their own baggage. Stories are better when the characters exist in the realm of grey instead of black and white.

**Be warned that there are explicit scenes in the book, and I wouldn’t consider it appropriate for adults, possibly teens at the end of their teen years.**


delilah dirkTitle: Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Author / Illustrator: Tony Cliff
Intended Audience: YA
Dates Completed: March 24, 2014 & May 19, 2014
Rating: 3/5
Synopsis: Delilah Dirk is a daring adventuress; Selim is a mild-mannered Janissary with a deep love of quality tea. He gets swept up inadvertently into Delilah’s adventures and becomes her unwilling (?) accomplice.

Thoughts: I ended up reading this twice because I wanted to see if I could reconcile my opinion from the first reading (meh) with all of the glowing reviews I’d seen on other websites and blogs. My first reading impressions were that it lacked a cohesive plot and had no overarching goal to tie everything together. My 13-year old self would have absolutely loved it for the sheer adventure.

The second go-round left a much better impression. The art is wonderful, especially the landscapes. I like how the humor is shown/played. The lack of romance between the two was refreshing. This volume felt more like an opening chapter in a longer story – Selim gets swept up unintentionally, comes to grips with it, and joins Delilah. I think my previously poor opinion stemmed from the massive amount of stress I was under with graduate school, Girl Scouts, three children, and no time to get anything accomplished.


adele blanc-sec 1Title: The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec
Author / Illustrator: Jacques Tardi
Intended Audience: Teen/Adult
Date Completed: May 27, 2014
Rating: 1/5
Synopsis: This book is split into two interconnected stories. In the first, a pterodactyl has been brought to life and is on the loose in Paris. At around the same time, Adele Blanc-Sec has arrived in Paris with a hostage in order to use said hostage as collateral to free an associate from prison before he is executed. Treachery is afoot and things don’t go as planned.

Shortly after the conclusion of the pterodactyl incident, the second story begins when Adele gets involved in an intrigue surrounding an ancient Babylonian statue. She is fueled by the realization that it is connected to her treacherous allies and the incident that caused her associate to be jailed in the first place. Adele discovers a sinister cult, and must find away to escape its clutches.

Thoughts: I did not like this book, and had to force myself to read the second story. Adele is unlikeable, and most of the male characters felt like variations of the same mustachioed suit and bowler. The first story was essentially two separate, and only marginally connected, plots – the pterodactyl and Adele. Except for some seemingly random insets of a wailing man, the pterodactyl plot line made sense. However, the reader was dropped into the middle of Adele’s plot with very little backstory to fill in the details. The second story was an improvement in plot line coherence.