Review | Hopeless, Maine: Personal Demons by Tom and Nimue Brown

Trapped on an island off the coast of Maine, the people of Hopeless find life a little darker and more dangerous with every day that passes. The number of orphans rises continually, but who can say what happens to their parents? Plenty of the bodies are never found. This is not the stuff of happy, careless childhoods, it is instead fertile ground for personal demons. In Hopeless, the demons are not always abstract concepts. Some of them have very real teeth, and very real horns.

The island has been isolated for a very long time. Partly because of being small and forgotten, partly because the rocks and currents do not encourage visitors, Hopeless is surrounded by fog and overrun with nightmarish creatures, from small things with tentacles to demons and vampires. It’s a peculiar place. Here, almost anything can happen, from the weird and unsettling to the darkly funny. With a cast of freaks, nutters and the odd power crazed psychopath, life in Hopeless is seldom dull.

Hopeless is also about who you choose to be. The tale is a protest against apathy, and against the small evils that everyone takes for granted. The worst monsters frequently aren’t the ones with the obvious teeth–who are merely dangerous by nature–but the apparently ordinary people who choose to do hideous things.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

As soon as I saw the coloring and art style of this one I knew I wanted to pick it up, that’s what instantly sucked me in. The styling is very gothic while at the same time having some paranormal and Lovecraftian touches. I did feel like this could have used backstory, or snippets here and there giving more of an explanation as there were definitely times I was a little confused. Still, I really enjoyed the imagery and mysteries that were slowly revealing themselves as I read. It intrigued me enough that I would definitely pick up the rest of the installments in the series.

Happy reading!

Review | Dragon Racer by Joey Weiser

On your mark, get set, GO! Dive into the graphic novel sequel to GHOST HOG from the Eisner Award-nominated creator of MERMIN full of action, adventure, and speed!

Following the events of GHOST HOG,Truff, Claude, and Stanley are joined by a new friend, Vern,as hegears up for the big race back home in DRAGON RACER! He’s never won the race before…but this could be his year! Vern’s been practicing and practicing, both on and off the road. But when the other racers start to tease the fast driving dragon about his abilities on the track, he’ll have to put the pedal to the metal and prove he’s got the speed and finesse to compete in this year’s race.

After the big race, a young racing fan falls ill and needs a doctor urgently. The only racer with skills off the road is Vern, and he’ll need Truff’s help if they’re going to make it to the doctor in time. Will Vern be able to face his greatest challenge yet and prove that he’s got what it takes behind the wheel to save the day?

Zoom into this fast-paced graphic novel full of friendship, teamwork, and believing in yourself. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This graphic novel was adorable, funny and heartwarming all at the same time. The colors are vibrant and dynamic and the art style is fun so it will definitely be a great read for younger audiences. I felt like the characters all have distinct personalities and there were so many different little touches that made then really individual. While the plot touched on some heavier topics such as everyone having different strengths and struggles, bullying and prejudice, these topics were lightly done which I also think will suit the younger audiences that this is meant for. Overall it’s a really fun story with some fantastic and adorable characters.

Happy reading!

Review | Pax Sampson Vol 1: The Cookout by Rashad Doucet & Jason Reeves

Pax Samson: The Cookout is the first volume in a new action-packed, fantasy trilogy that depicts a world struggling to find peace in the midst of threats, and a young superhero chef torn between following his passion and following in his family’s footsteps. 

When it comes to the kitchen, no one knows cooking better than twelve-year-old Pax Samson. He’s a hero when it comes to testing recipes and supplying copious amounts of Dragon Noodle Soup at his family’s cookouts. It’s tough being a master chef, though, when the rest of his family are world-famous superheroes, and they expect Pax to take up the beacon to keep the world safe with his telekinetic powers. 

Pax’s home planet of Soltellus is home to all walks of life, including humans, gods, as well as elves, orcs, dragons, sprites and other fantasy races known as the “Enchanted” all living in a modern society similar to our own. Among them is the Samson family, led by the fearless and mighty Grandma Samson, the greatest superhero to ever live and the person responsible for always saving Soltellus when trouble strikes. She’s been doing it for hundreds of years, but she’s ready for the younger generation of Samsons, including Pax, to step up. 

When the mad god Odin, long-time enemy to the Enchanted race and arch-rival to Grandma, resurfaces in another attempt to regain power, Pax will attempt to put his training into practice, but ends up just making things worse. Tempted to hang up the superhero cape and stick to the kitchen, Pax faces the toughest decision yet when a legendary savior of the Enchanted people arrives, along with a startling discovery that there might be parts of the Soltellus history that are wrong. Pax, determined to protect his family and friends, will do everything he can to stop the new threats set on disrupting the peace between humans and the Enchanted. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Just the premise and cover had me wanting to pick this one up and I was not disappointed. While many may look at this like a fun, superhero story with mystical races and situations – it is far deeper than that. It hints to many real world issues that are prevalent today and the personal journey that Pax goes through is also a very real situation that many people have to work through. Deciding on your path and journey is something that pretty much everyone deals with and the conversations that Pax had with his family were real and refreshing. The color palette and art style went perfectly with the setting and scenes and were fun and dynamic. I definitely look forward to reading the future volumes and finding out what else happens with Pax, his family and friends.

Happy reading!

Review | Vampire: The Masquerade Vol 1

Immerse yourself in the hit comic series based in the world of the international best-selling tabletop role playing game, Vampire: The Masquerade!

When Cecily Bain, an enforcer for the Twin Cities’ vampiric elite, takes a mysterious new vampire under her wing, she’s dragged into an insidious conspiracy.

Will she be able to escape with her unlife and protect her aging, Alzheimer’s-afflicted sister, or will she be yet another pawn sacrificed to maintain the age-old secret: that vampires exist among the living.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was intrigued when I found that there was a new graphic novel series coming out of Vampire: The Masquerade, being someone who was familiar with the role playing game. While I did enjoy the storyline as it came together, I feel like this would be hard to get into for someone who didn’t have some base knowledge of the world. There isn’t a ton of backstory, but some clan information and world information is revealed throughout the story. I would be interested to see where the story goes and did like that there were game sheets in the back.

Happy reading!

Series Review | Nightschool by Svetlana Chmakova

NIGHTSCHOOL answers the age-old question: Where do demons get their diplomas? Schools may close for the night and the lights may be off, but the classes still run. The Nightschool is education for a different crowd – vampires, demons and weirns, a special breed of witches. When Alex, a young weirn, enrolls in a Nightschool to learn what has become of her sister, will she be prepared for what she finds there?

Now that I’ve finished the four volumes of Nightschool, I wanted to kind of do a wrap up on my feelings about it. First things first, I really enjoy the world that Svetlana Chmakova has created here and would pick up anything else she writes in this world. At the end of this series I was definitely left wanting more but not because I felt there wasn’t enough, just because I felt like I just wanted more and more of this world. The art style is very manga-esque and I loved it as it was able to portray the characters and creatures well. I would love to learn more about some of the adults in the series, since it seems each of them could have amazing back stories on their own.

If you like paranormal worlds and mystical beings, I would definitely recommend picking up this series. They are quick and fun reads and will fly right by!

Happy reading!

Review | Living With Mochi by Gemma Gené

Gemma Gene’s adorable comics celebrate fur-parenthood and the extreme love you experience when you look into your dog’s eyes. If you are never alone when you go to the bathroom, are forced to share your food, and find your life ruled by a sassy fur ball, Living With Mochi is the perfect book for you.

When architect-turned-cartoonist Gemma Gené first met her pet pug, Mochi, she felt as if time stopped. This dramatic moment and her adoring relationship with the rambunctious pug led her to begin chronicling her adventures with Mochi in a series of incredibly cute webcomics that have gained a social media following of half a million loyal readers. The comics chronicle Mochi’s life from puppyhood to adulthood, featuring Mochi’s unrequited dog friendships, his jealousy of his two dog-brothers, and his love of food. Readers and dog parents will love this humorous tale of a sincerely loyal friendship between one grumpy pug and his adoring owner.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was so adorably cute! I’m not a pug owner and am pretty solidly in the cat camp, but as someone who loves pet in general and has owned both dogs and cats in the past, this was wonderful. It perfectly illustrates pet and owner personalities and interactions. If you’re a pet owner or love animals, you will likely enjoy these mostly single page comics about Mochi the pug and his humans. This is definitely a great read if you’re looking for something to put a smile on your face.

Happy reading!

Review | The Hazards of Love Vol 1 by Stan Stanley

The Hazards of Love follows the story of a queer teen from Queens who makes some mistakes, gets dragged into a fantastical place, and tries to hustle their way back home.

Amparo’s deal with the talking cat was simple: a drop of blood and Amparo’s name to become a better person. Their mother and abuela would never worry about them again, and they’d finally be worthy of dating straight-A student Iolanthe. But when the cat steals their body, becoming the better person they were promised, Amparo’s spirit is imprisoned in a land of terrifying, flesh-hungry creatures known as Bright World.

With cruel and manipulative masters and a society that feeds on memories, Amparo must use their cleverness to escape, without turning into a monster like the rest. On “the other side,” Iolanthe begins to suspect the new Amparo has a secret, and after the cat in disguise vanishes, she’s left searching for answers with a no-nonsense medium from the lesbian mafia and the only person who might know the truth about Bright World. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I was really intrigued by the premise of this one so though I would pick it up. The art style was vibrant and punchy and had me instantly enjoying it but I did find the story a little hard to get into. It starts with action off the bat and the introduction of Bright World is like being thrown in head first. This made it a little hard for me to understand at first, but as the story goes on we learn along with the main character as they navigate it and it definitely picks up. The second half was more and more enjoyable as it went along and I was a little bummed when I reached the end. Though the first half definitely was slow for me, I would be eager to read the next volume to see what happens!

Happy reading!

Series Review | Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

Hey everyone! If you read my post in January about the series I wanted to complete in 2021 one of them was the Locke and Key graphic novel series. I had already listened to the fully casted audiobook version a couple years ago, but I wanted to read the source material.

Overall I did enjoy the graphic novel series, and having the images added to the story I already knew was really nice. Some of the things described in the audiobook weren’t really easy to envision, so graphic novel was definitely the way to go in some ways. While I didn’t always love the art style, it didn’t detract from the story. There were definitely some things I had forgotten about.

I also recommend picking up Heaven and Earth (which is noted as book 7, but contains a few short comic stories and background information on the places that provided a lot of inspiration for the location. Seeing pictures of the town in Massachusetts that a lot of the locations were modeled after was great insight, as were the short stories featuring different generations of the Locke family.

I do recommend reading the series in its original form, but I also recommend the audiobook. It is fully casted and plays out like a movie, which makes it really enjoyable to listen to.

I’m glad I was able to complete the entire series and hope that this is a sign of finishing the other series that I set a goal for. Fingers crossed!

Happy reading!

Review | The Sprite and the Gardener by Joe Whitt and Rii Abrego

Long, long ago, sprites were the caretakers of gardens. Every flower was grown by their hand. But when humans appeared and began growing their own gardens, the sprites’ magical talents soon became a thing of the past. When Wisteria, an ambitious, kind-hearted sprite, starts to ask questions about the way things used to be, she’ll begin to unearth her long-lost talent of gardening. But her newly honed skills might not be the welcome surprise she intends them to be. 

The Sprite and the Gardener, the debut graphic novel by Joe Whitt and Rii Abrego, is bursting with whimsical art and vibrant characters. Join our neighborhood of sprites in this beautiful, gentle fantasy where both gardens and friendships begin to blossom. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a heartwarming story about finding friendship and doing what makes you happy, this is a wonderful, whimsical graphic novel that will fit the bill. Though we don’t get a ton of insight into the other sprites as much as we do into Wisteria, they still come across as individuals. Wisteria’s need to do something and to have a purpose was very sweet and her creating bonds with others as the story went on was a great plot point. The story itself is very sweet and the art style matches that. Overall it was a great pick me up read that will leave a smile on your face.

Happy reading!

Review | Gudetama: Mindfulness for the Lazy by Wook-Jin Clark

Mindfulness takes a lot of mental energy to wrap your brain around. Gudetama is here to help you become a better person…sort of.

Empathizing with others, understanding your feelings, learning to be selfless. These all sound like really hard things to do! Well fear not, come along with Gudetama who’ll guide your way to learning things and more. Living selflessly is something many struggle with. Don’t worry, Gudetama does too, and wants to join you on your journey in finding the wonders of mindfulness. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve really enjoyed the last couple Gudetama books I’ve read from Oni Press, so as soon as I saw this one pop up I wanted to read it as well. I knew it would be filled with humorous but also some wholesome content. This approach to mindfulness was no different. Gudetama is equal parts funny and morality lessons and some of the situations he finds people in are relateable and super easy to identify with. The art style is the same signature style that Gudetama always has, whether he’s laying down to take a nap or hiding in his shell, he always takes time to talk people through their issues and give them helpful advice – whether they take it or not is up to them. It’s a quick read that will make you smile and laugh and I’d say that’s perfect if you need a pick me up.

Happy reading!