Bites

Published: January 25, 2017
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

When King Mancastle and his mighty vassals ride off on crusade, the women left behind are not at all put out—that’s a lot less armor polishing for them to do. Of course, when the men get themselves eaten by a dragon and leave a curse that attracts monsters to the castle…well, the women take umbrage with that. Now the blacksmith’s wife Merinor is King, Princess Aeve is the Captain, and the only remaining (and least capable) knight Sir Riddick is tasked with teaching the ladies of the castle how to fight, defend, build, and do all manner of noisy things the men had been doing while the women assumed they were just drunk. (goodreads.com)

I’ve been hearing about LADYCASTLE for a while now so when I got the chance to nab a copy at BEA I took it. When I first started reading I was a little discombobulated with Aeve’s singing. Not too sure what was going on or what I was supposed to be reading. And then I got to the part where it’s basically making fun of Disney princesses and word comes back to the castle that all the dudes are dead and things finally settled in.

The art is cute without being cutesy and is an excellent compliment to the story itself. Both bring it all together to give you a little bit of snark, a little bit of humor, and a lot of BAMF women having to take care of themselves after their husbands got themselves killed. I look forward to reading more in the series and where Merinor takes her feisty band of badass broads next.

4

I received a copy of this comic from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

December 9, 2017

Published: June 25, 2014
Publisher: Image Comics
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Kyle Barnes has been plagued by demonic possession all his life and now he needs answers. Unfortunately, what he uncovers along the way could bring about the end of life on Earth as we know it. (goodreads.com)

This is definitely an interesting comic. I’m not strictly blown away by the art. It’s not bad. It tells the story without getting in its own way, which is nice. But the story is really what’s driving the book here.

It’s compelling and so far (having only read the first issue) it’s sort of toying with the idea that this may or may not be an actual demon possession but someone who’s just mentally ill. Maybe. But I like that psychological horror aspect of it.

While I’ve watched the first few seasons of The Walking Dead (I stopped after they escaped the Governor’s town there) I haven’t read the comics and THE OUTCAST is my first Kirkman comic that I’ve read. So far so good. It’s nabbed my attention, that’s for sure. I look forward to reading more!

4

I received a copy of this comic from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Published: September 25, 2017
Publisher: Rabbit Publisher
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

In this origin story, Harry Moon is up to his eyeballs in magic. In the small town of Sleepy Hollow where every day is Halloween night, his archenemy, Titus Kligore, has eyes on winning the annual Scary Talent Show. Harry’s sister, Honey Moon, says Harry needs better tricks so he finds a new and better magic wand. Still, Harry has a tough job ahead of him if he is going to steal the crown. He takes a chance on a magical rabbit who introduces him to the deep magic. Harry decides the best way forward is to “do no evil ” while the battle to defeat Titus goes epic. (goodreads.com)

Whoa, buddy, are there some serious issues with this book. Like deeply troubling issues.

So to start, I’m not sure who the target audience is. On Goodreads it’s listed under children’s but Harry’s in 8th grade and is 13 years old. I would probably peg this as being for someone in the 7/8/9 age range and while it’s not uncommon for kids to read up the age of the protag and style of writing don’t seem to fit.

Combatting bullying is the main theme of this book. Harry’s the one on the receiving end of said bullying. The thing is, the bullying in this book is a bit outdated. That’s not to say bullying isn’t still a physical problem, but it’s definitely moved more into the realm of the psychological and insidious, taking place online and outside of school where the bullied can’t escape. HARRY MOON doesn’t even touch on that. The bullying Harry received is taunting and then Titus, the bully, holds him down and shears his head with a pair of sheep shears.

So that’s assault and the police would be involved if that were to happen. That’s not something that you treat with kindness and you have a touchy-feely conversation with your kid over a sundae about. That’s press charges territory. And electronics are a thing in this world. The kids have cell phones and laptops and everything but cyber bullying doesn’t exist, apparently.

That was my first thought when I read that scene but I’m like okay. This book is obviously not going there. It has a message to tell and it’s going to tell it. Fine. So I kept reading and it was going along okay. I was really afraid there was going to be some godly moralizing going on based on the marketing material I had for it, but that’s actually kept to a minimum. I just thought it’s kind of weird that magic and religion to that extent are co-existing in the same book. As an outsider they seem very antithetical to me. But whatever.

And then we get to Sarah, Harry’s former babysitter and assistant for his magic act. Initially I didn’t think anything about their relationship. They’re only three years apart and I imagine she just stopped babysitting for him and she’s just kind of humoring him in a big sister sort of way with being his assistant and being encouraging. Of course Harry’s crushing on her hardcore but for most of the time she’s very adamant that they’ll always have that age difference and nothing will come of his crush.

Until she kisses him. On the lips. To which I went

Why? Because she’s 16 and drives and is in high school and Harry’s 13. Of course he’s over the moon about this and she actually shows some intent there and I’m just like:

Because I’m pretty sure it’s illegal in most states. This should not be in a children’s book as being okay. At all. Because it’s pedophilia. Thing is you can age them up and it would be less of an issue (if they’re in their 20s). But he’s THIRTEEN. She’s SIXTEEN. This is what Lifetime movies are made of. No. This is not sweet and awww and how cute. This is fucking gross.

And then you have the effectively morally superior Harry talking about do no evil and only using his magic for good. And there’s this paragraph at the end where some of his friends got in trouble and he’s looking at one friend in particular standing with his very angry dad and he thinks about all the welts that the kid comes to school with and how he lies about them to cover them up. And Harry just kind of turns his back on it and thinks about how thankful he is that his parents don’t beat him and basically sucks for his friend but THAT’S not the kind of evil Harry’s going to be fighting.

This book does not fit in the current market. At all. Its message is antiquated at best, downright ignorant at worst. There are elements added effectively to add detail that just end up raising eyebrows. I mean yeah, show some “diversity” in characters in how not everyone has a great home life but dropping little tidbits about how one of Harry’s friends gets the shit beaten out of him by his dad and have Harry, who’s on a crusade against evil, just ignore that, is not the way to go about adding detail to flesh out characters.

And then the “love interest.”

No. That’s horrifying. People go to jail for shit like that.

Update your thinking, guy. This book is indicative of the author not understanding what kids these days are going through or how to address them. This is not a well-represented book on bullying for multiple reasons. It’s so out of touch and so whimsical with a serious issue while outright ignoring other very heinous problems that I just can’t take it seriously as any kind of lesson book. It teaches nothing that a kid can use that would be pertinent to their lives.

Missed the mark on this one. Big time.

1

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

December 2, 2017

Published: October 1, 2011
Publisher: Darby Creek Publishing
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

I thought the bus was filling with smoke. But then the smoke took the shapes of shadowy, faceless people. …

Lamar takes the late bus home from school after practice each day. After the bus’s beloved driver passes away, Lamar begins to see strange things – demonic figures, preparing to attack the bus. Soon he learns the demons are after Mr. Rumble, the freaky new bus driver. Can Lamar rescue his fellow passengers, or will Rumble’s past come back to destroy them all? (goodreads.com)

This was a great freaky little read for reluctant readers. I’ve enjoyed all of the books I’ve read in the Night Fall series and THE LATE BUS was no exception.

Jasper mixes terrifying elements of the supernatural with the psychological for a blended story that really plays with the mind. Considering the way things disappear, how not everyone can see these things, and the voices Lamar hears, it really toes the line of what’s real and what isn’t. And Jasper does it in a way that doesn’t invoke the cheese card (a la RL Stine). The characters are realistic and relatable, truly scary things happen to them, and things are resolved in a way that doesn’t require huge blow-outs and contrived situations. It all really works.

And even for a story that’s written for reluctant readers I don’t feel like I’m being talked down to. The writing is simple and to the point but it has a job to do and it does it. It tells the story. It gives me characters struggling through these scenarios. It gives me creepy, scary elements. But it doesn’t moralize me or condescend to me at all. I think the people at Lerner/Darby Creek really nailed the line for that.

Two thumbs up for THE LATE BUS! A great little chiller to read right around Halloween.

4.5

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Published: May 23, 2013
Publisher: Automatic Publishing
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan’s search takes an unexpected detour when he travels ‘within’ guided by a mischievous and often maddening young girl named Nekko. Nekko’s origin is a Zen mystery, but her devotion to Hatter’s quest to find the lost Princess is unwavering. After Nekko kidnaps his Hat and leads him on a fearless chase across the rooftops of 1871 San Francisco, Hatter must acknowledge her as a teacher. It is written that when you are ready the teacher will appear, but if the teacher is a 12-year-old girl and you are a High Ranking Bladesman you may discover that all you can do is laugh.

Hatter and Nekko’s adventure around the ring of fire begins when they track a stolen samurai sword with a Wonderland connection to San Francisco’s styling 19th century hiphop crime madam Missy Tong and her eager protégé, the outspoken Lil’ Dick. A stowaway trip aboard a shanghai sailing ship ends on the Hawaiian Islands where a surfboard becomes Hatter’s vehicle to illumination. And then on to Japan! Good grief it’s Chikao and the gang, schoolhouse demons, cosplay, manga, noodles and a long lost brother from another world. Duality? No. Milliners.” (goodreads.com)

This was probably my least favorite for the series so far, mainly because it made me cringe with how stereotyped everyone of non-white ethnicity was. From the very stereotypical Chinese/Japanese accent to the mystical Japanese girl functioning solely to bring the white man to enlightenment, it was all so . . . stereotypical. It really clouded the story for me to the point where I’m having a hard time remembering around the stereotypes.

The thing is I’m not even sure if this sidetrack storyline was even necessary for the story arc itself. It just seemed like a way for the author to jaunt through history to a self-serving time period to mix things up a bit. This was more about Hatter trying to find himself, but I feel like there are better ways he could have done that. Or at least ways that didn’t employ Long Duk Dong-level stereotypes coupled with Matt Damon’s The Wall/white savior elements.

ZEN OF WONDER doesn’t really add much to the whole storyline so if you’re looking for one to skip, this would be it. It’s not like there’s any Hatter growth in it at all. It’s just all rather pointless.

2