The Avant Guards Vol. 2 by Carly Usdin Review {Graphic Novel}

The Avant Guards Vol. 2The Avant-Guards Vol. 2 by Carly Usdin (writer), Noah Hayes (artist), Rebecca Nalty (colorist) & Ed Dukeshrire (Letterer)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios)

Release Date: February 18, 2020

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: The Avant-Guards Vol. 2

Summary: The Avant-Guards have been on a roll when it come to their newly-formed basketball league and Charlie has been getting more comfortable with her new teammates, but when they hit the end of their winning-streak, will these new friendships survive? As the Avant-Guards struggle to move forward, they’ll soon learn just what it means to truly be a team― on the court, and most importantly, off the court too.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: The Avant-Guards Vol. 2 is phenomenal continuation to a female-led sports series that at its core, is about friendship! This volume delves more into the team and their lives off the court as the season continues! The series art is colorful, features a great cast of characters and a page-turning story!

Although I don’t talk about it much on my blog, The Avant-Guards is easily one of my favorite graphic novel series (tied up there with Sera and Tea Dragon Society). I fell completely in love with Vol. 1 last year and there was no surprise I’d be continuing with the series.

As Charlie has become more comfortable with the team, found her loyal group of friends, also navigating her relationship with Liv, this volume very much focuses on the rest of the team and what they’re up to when not on the court.

While there are many things I love about this series, it’s very clear how much care is given to our delightful cast from Jay to Ashley, Nicole, Tiffany, Liv, and Charlie. No matter how much page time they have, their personalities shine through in every moment.

As the team continues their season at away games, you learn even more about their hobbies and them as a whole while they aren’t practicing. Jay has their art, Ashley has been recovering from an injury and we see its keeping her from playing a game she loves. There’s a joy she feels from coaching the team despite missing the game and her budding relationship with her physical therapist.

We learn there’s more to “cynic” Nicole and resident witch Tiffany too!

What makes this such a fantastic sequel is because not only are the girls loyal and passionate about what they love, but the series itself realizes this too! With each page you see the love and appreciation for these phenomenal characters! Each of these women have their own quirks, personalities, and energy that shines whenever their on the page.

There’s specific plot points/arcs in this volume that allow the cast to shine: Jay’s art exhibit, Ashley’s birthday, the film fest night for Liv, even when we learn more about Tiffany and her family! Even though Charlie is more in the background during this volume, I adored getting the cute moments between her and Liv!

But what stands out the most across both volumes so far is how Charlie, Liv, Jay, Ashley, Tiffany, and Nicole are there for each other, to lift each other up always! Their dedication to friendship and teamwork always fills me with so much joy and is just inspiring! I cannot pick a favorite character, I LOVE them all ♥♥

I can’t wait to see how the team dynamic/friendship develops across the rest of The Avant-Guards series! Some of my favorite moments include their practice and when their hanging out together, like at Jay’s art exhibit.

This second volume also delves into an underlying and subtle conflict, where their league is struggling financially. While it weaves into the story in a quiet sort of way, I liked how this obstacle further emphasized their dedication towards teamwork and finding a way to solve the issue!

The writing is really good, it delivers great dialogue and helps to build the development of our main cast! With this installment focusing more on the other teammates, one detail that just adds more to the already wonderful cast is the internal 1st -person dialogue bubbles that tells us a bit more about how the ladies are feeling at a particular moment. Although its brief, it shows us how these characters perceive themselves in ways we probably didn’t expect.

As with Volume 1 also, the panel and art continue to be a highlight of the series! The colors are bright and eye-catching, making the series an absolute visual delight! Paneling is also metaphorical in a way, limiting the use of full or large panels for impactful moments or action-packed scenes during the games, another example of this would be the final panel during Jay’s art exhibit with their partner Tyler.

The bright colors and dynamic art style showcase the fun, lighthearted ton of the series.

The emphasis on small, overlapping, tighter-fitting panels also leaves tons of room for seeing more of the characters, setting, and visuals! The paneling also emphasizes the action, movement, and expressiveness of both characters + scenes.

One example of this where it was cleverly drawn was: When Jay & Ashley are passing out flyers, even the full page spread of Jay and Tyler looking at a painting together. There was also a moment in Ch.6 where the paneling brilliantly was presented in the shape of a basket to emphasize the action! (It mirrored a similar scene in Vol. 1 where there were panels shaped in the form of a basketball). Overall, the way the panels are presented in this series is phenomenal!

Friendship continues to be a hallmark of the series and no matter what, the Avant-Guards always come together to support each other in different ways! The series also continues to feature characters of color and Queer women, and just continues to be a diverse/inclusive series! For ex. we get introduced to Jay’s partner Tyler (who also goes by they/them).

My only issue with this volume is that I wanted more page & plot time with these characters, because the last page does leave the ending somewhat abrupt leading into Vol. 3. It just felt like there needed to be MORE whether it was more Liv/Charlie moments, Tiffany/Nicole bonding, or just the team hanging out. The story is just so wholesome and they deserve the world!!

The Avant-Guards Vol. 2 is a fantastic sequel to a series that can only continue to get better and better! Its a series dedicated to its characters and focuses on friendship, centering around a college basketball team! The colorful artwork, wonderfully diverse cast, and immersive story makes The Avant-Guards one of the best sports series out there!

Fence Vol. 2 by C.S. Pacat Review

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence Vol. 2 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna The Mad (Artist) & Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom Studios)

Release Date: January 15, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: Fence Volume 2

Cover Illustration: Johanna The Mad

Summary: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place on the Kings Row fencing team, alongside sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama, to win the right to go up against his golden-boy half-brother.

Tryouts are well underway at King’s Row for a spot on the prodigious fencing team, and scrappy fencer Nicholas isn’t sure he’s going to make the grade in the face of surly upperclassmen, nearly impossibly odds, and his seemingly unstoppable roommate, the surly, sullen Seiji Katayama. It’ll take more than sheer determination to overcome a challenge this big!

My Rating: ★★★☆☆ ¾

My Thoughts: Fence Vol. 2 is a fun and fast-paced continuation to the series! Tryouts at King’s Row force both Nicholas and Seiji overcome challenges as they work towards finding their place on the team! This volume focuses on the deeper, emotional sides of the characters and what’s at stake if they don’t make the cut!

Fence is one of the first comic series that really motivated me to pick up more single issues as it got released weekly in 2018! I’ve reviewed the first 3 issues and Volume 1 on the blog and felt this was a series that would really draw me in with its complex characters and unique story. After reading this volume, I can’t say for sure whether I love this series as much anymore, but I’ll admit it is a lot of fun!

What all readers can appreciate about this series is how interesting, fast-paced and fun the story is! Everything feels heightened, dramatic, but that’s what makes it super enjoyable.

Nicholas is struggling to find his place on the King’s Row team, but as tryouts continue he gets the push he needs to finally be a more focused fencer. While Seiji on the other hand, is starting to struggle. I liked that contrast between the two and it made for an interesting arc in this volume. My favorite characters definitely include Bobby & Dante, but I feel that it’s Seiji and Nicholas’s dynamic that’s keeping me invested in this series!

We get more of a glimpse into Seiji’s past and his connection to Jesse―that moment really surprised me, but it was one of my favorites. Another one included finally seeing Nicholas find his ground in fencing and I appreciated that we as the reader get to note his dynamic energy and have it shine through. It’s clear he has the skills and he’s not yet perfected them, but this volume showcased his potential to be a better fencer! A major story arc was definitely seeing the matches and who’d be paired with Nicholas & Seiji.

This volume mainly focuses on the tryouts alongside the development and interactions between 2 characters, such as Nicholas & Bobby, Seiji Vs. Aiden, Adien & Harvard, etc. It’s in the way this series highlights how two characters bounce off each other and the moments they share that always leaves you wanting more!

However, I still feel like the pacing of this series moves way too quickly, while at the same time it can feel like not much is even happening. There’s not any major plot progression other than the tryouts and I can kind of sense Pacat’s plan, but so far this volume all just felt like build up. The story always feels like its ending too soon, even when realistically not too much has happened yet.

As for characters, I like them all and their enjoyable, but they still feel a bit static (and Aiden continues to be my least favorite). Again, I liked the more quiet, personal moments with Harvard, Seiji, even Nicholas. But with a mix of static personalities (characters that need more development), minimal plot progression and a story that seems stuck, its starting to get difficult for me to feel super attached to these characters (aside from my favorites) and their journey.

But of course there were moments that stood out to me, so I’ll highlight some of my favorites: ↠ Seeing a moment of Seiji’s past when he & Jesse were young fencers together
↠ Nicholas better focusing on his fencing
↠ Bobby being happy to get advice from Seiji ❤
↠ Getting more into Seiji’s character

Now onto more critiques! While I really appreciate that the art gives a lot of focus to particular characters or certain emotions at intense moments, the art itself is still rather simplistic and I find that the backgrounds have barley any detail. In some scenes it makes the school feel empty. As a positive though, the art looks more suited to be animated for a cartoon adaptation, especially with how extremely fast the story goes.

The paneling felt a bit off in this one too. The pages were presented with a lot of wasted space, odd cropping choices, and with the big panels, there’s a lot of full page art that never really ended up adding a whole lot to the story, in my opinion. There can definitely be more room for background detail, more panels, and dialogue.

Overall though, I’m interested in seeing where the story is headed because it truly is just a fun, entertaining series with an interesting cast of characters and mystery as to where their journey at King’s Row is headed!

Fence Vol. 2 is a solid continuation to the series! There’s more time spent between characters, developing the more personal moments. The cast has somewhat of a clearer focus as to their own personal stories, with much more hinted at in future volumes. Nicholas and Seiji’s dynamic really takes the stage in this volume! With mystery, fencing rivalry, and a fast-paced story, this series always leaves you wanting to know what happens next!

I’m also shouting out a fellow book blogger review today😍📚🤺

 Fence Vol. 2 review from Autumn at Chaptermalliumpkin

As a 5-star review, Autumn goes into detail as to how this series completely stole her heart, the rivalries between the team, and how connected she feels to the characters! I also love the chapter-by-chapter breakdown, it reminded me of even more details in the series I forgot! If your a fan of this series, check out Autumn’s fabulous review (it even includes a great bookstagram) 📸💞

Heavy Vinyl: Y2K-O! by Carly Usdin ARC Review

Heavy Vinyl Y2Ko by Carly Usdin and Nina VakuevaHeavy Vinyl: Y2K-O! by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva (Pencil), Irene Flores (Ink), Natalia Nesterenko (Colorer), & Jim Campbell (Letterer)

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom Studios)

Release Date: March 25, 2020

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: Heavy Vinyl Y2KO!

Cover Design: Nina Vakueva

Summary: SAVE THE INTERNET, SAVE THE WORLD (OF MUSIC)!

It’s 1999 and Chris is living her dream: working at Vinyl Destination by day and fighting for (musical) justice by night (okay, maybe during the day too) in the world’s coolest teen girl vigilante fight club. But when the girls of Vinyl Destination enter a Battle of The Bands – to investigate and, of course, win – they learn that the shadowy corporate masters of the music industry plan to destroy the fledgling world of digital music and blame it on Y2K. Now it’s time for Chris and the gang to dial up 56k (or more, pretty please) of justice so they can save the day once again!

*Received a digital galley for review from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl Y2K-O! is is a stellar continuation to the Heavy Vinyl series centering around a group of girls in the 90’s who not only work in a record store, but also are part of an undercover vigilante fight club! The fast-paced plot is immersive, while also focusing on friendships, relationships, and a digital music mystery! You don’t want to miss this sequel!

Back in 2018 I read this fun graphic novel called Heavy Vinyl, for years I’d always hoped there would be more adventures from the Vinyl Destination crew. Luckily, there was a surprise announcement last summer that there would be more to this spectacular world that was introduced to us with the first volume & now, its finally here!

As with Vol.1, you can expect another musical mystery, this time focused on the rise in a digital music website, female friendships, Queer rep. & of course 90’s references!

From the very beginning, you could sense the growth in the bonds & dynamic of friendship between Chris, Dolores, Kennedy & Maggie! There’s a much more laid back vibe to their friendship as they’ve really gotten to know each other, alongside the love & support they have for each other that’s grown even stronger!

This time their latest mystery reunites them with Rosie (of Stegosour) as they attempt to go undercover in a Battle Of The Bands to investigate mega-producer Rick Blaze, whose plan was foiled in the previous volume. They aren’t exactly sure what he’s up to, but they have to be prepared!

Where this issue really shines is in its fantastic characters and their separate arcs! Chris is navigating her wonderful relationship with Maggie. D. becomes friends with Carmen, a local radio host who visits the shop to deliver a concert prize pack to her in-person and the two bond over studios, zines, and music! Then there’s Kennedy who’s feeling down when her boyfriend Logan has to leave early for university!

There’s lots of funny and more relatable moments as each of the girls navigates relationships in such a personal, introspective way. Chris is trying to feel more comfortable with romance as she’s never been with another girl before, even trying to feel more comfortable around quiet nights with Maggie at her house. Reading Chris’s arc delivered a lot of internal conflict, emotion, and was one of the stronger romantic arcs of this volume, alongside Dolores & Carmen’s which I’ll get to in a bit.

Also a super random point, but there’s a scene where Dolores goes to see Carmen at the Transister Radio studio, which is actually set up in a local bookstore. From there as they continue to grow closer, Carmen introduces her to zines that she’s been working on alongside the radio show. From there, I kind of went into researching more about zines because I’ve always been fascinated with them, but mainly because of the way Carmen described them: “Kel was really the one who encouraged me to make my own stuff. ‘Self-publishing is the tool of the oppressed’…”

Considering this series takes place in the 90’s I found this fascinating article from Mental Floss titled ‘A Brief History Of Zines’ which was a super fun read and delved into quite a bit of background of how influential they were/are. This particular quote stood out to me, especially as it connects to Heavy Vinyl and I recommend checking it out if it interests you:

“In the 1990s, zines flourished again thanks to the riot grrrl scene. As an alternative to the male-driven punk world of the past, riot grrrl encouraged young girls and women to start their own band, make their own zine, and get their voices heard….”

One of my new favorite characters was definitely Carmen! Her dynamic with D was super fun and hopefully if  volume 3 is in the works, Carmen makes a return! As for returning characters, it was wonderful because it just felt like there was a lot more page time left for our main cast to undergo their own personal stories. It was nice getting to delve into each of their arcs!

The navigation of relationships was a surprising, yet phenomenal plot thread of this volume. As with the first, its also present in this one of the diverse & Queer relationships: featuring f/f couples (Chris & Maggie / Irene & Simone), interracial couples (Kennedy & Logan / Irene & Simon).

Next I wanted to talk about the phenomenal art style, which I loved! The art looks to be a more softer style compared to Volume 1, which definitely had a more realistic look to it (if that’s how it can be described?). There’s clean, minimal backgrounds but, it definitely spotlights the important details. As for characters, there’s such a great attention to detail and the rainbow of colors used delivers a mix of a cool and warm palette. The action scenes definitely take up space on the page when necessary and overall the art is detailed, while taking on a certain “vintage style” to it!

As I mentioned already, Y2K-O also features such an inclusive & diverse cast! Featuring a mostly female cast there’s also a main character who identifies as trans (Carmen) & f/f relationships!

My only gripe is that the mystery had a lot of build-up and you’ll definitely be satisfied with how the team solves it, but for me personally I was just expecting a bit more. Its interesting to see how Snapster weaves its way into the story and its nice that the overarching conflict doesn’t interfere with the wonderful character arcs/development for sure. However, the end does feel a little bit rushed, but I will say it REALLY leaves you wanting more to the Heavy Vinyl series and concludes nicely! (*I hope there’ll be more volumes <3)

Heavy Vinyl: Y2K-O is a much needed continuation to a series set in the 90’s following a group of friends working in a record store, who also happen to be part of a secret vigilante group as they solve a mystery on the brink of Y2k! The plot is immersive, fast-paced, and features great character arcs, and the art is wonderfully detailed! This volume will leave readers wanting more from the Heavy Vinyl world!

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin Review {Graphic Novel}

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly UsdinThe Avant Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin (writer), Noah Hayes (artist), Rebecca Nalty (colorist), & Ed Dukeshrire (Letterer)

Publisher: BOOM Box! (Boom Studios)

Release Date: September 3, 2019

Pages: 112

Available Through The Book Depository: The Avant-Guards Vol. 1

Summary: When Charlie transfers to the Georgia O’Keeffe College of Arts and Subtle Dramatics, she struggles to find her feet, but winds up exactly where she belongs…in the school’s (terrible) basketball team.

As a transfer student to the Georgia O’Keeffe College for Arts and Subtle Dramatics, former sports star Charlie is struggling to find her classes, her dorm, and her place amongst a student body full of artists who seem to know exactly where they’re going. When the school’s barely-a-basketball-team unexpectedly attempts to recruit her, Charlie’s adamant that she’s left that life behind…until she’s won over by the charming team captain, Liv, and the ragtag crew she’s managed to assemble. And while Charlie may have left cut-throat competition in in the dust, sinking these hoops may be exactly what she needs to see the person she truly wants to be.

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Avant-Guards is a fantastic series from Boom Studios! This female-led series is about friendship and discovering who you are! The colorful art, alongside the great cast of characters, and much more, deliver a page-turning story you won’t be able to put down! With a fresh start at a new college, Charlie learns more about herself and finds where she belongs when her new friends convince her to join their basketball team!

This first volume of The Avant-Guards completely captured my heart and I can’t wait to see where the series is headed next! 💞

I’d already been familiar with Usdin’s graphic novels, already having read Heavy Vinyl (which is getting a sequel next year & recommend checking it out! 🎉 — it basically follows a group of girls in the 90’s who work in a record store and follows the newest employee, Chris as she discovers her co-workers are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!).

Going into The Avant-Guards, I knew I’d love it! But, I didn’t just love it, I adored it so much! I can definitely say―that THE AVANT-GUARDS IS MY NEW FAVORITE GRAPHIC NOVEL SERIES, I love it with all my heart!! 😭 

Charlene (Charlie) Bravo is a recent transfer to the Georgia O’Keeffe College For Art & Subtle Dramatics (amazing title for a school tbh) and she’s still figuring out where she fits in, that is until she meets the all-girls basketball team!!

Olivia is the energetic and optimistic one that really wants Charlie to join and sees her potential, then there’s the other wonderful teammates who I loved too: Jay, Nicole, Tiffany & Ashley, who are all incredibly welcoming to her!

This first volume chronicles the team getting together and introducing us to the wonderful team of The Avant-Guards! From beginning to end I felt I knew the team so well and I’m excited to learn even more about them. The Avant-Guards is the kind of story where the characters just pull you into the story and throughout it, they feel like your best friends too! 💞💞

Stories like that connect with me on such a deep and personal level because friendship is incredibly important to me and to see it highlighted and be such a focus of this series, just warms my heart!

Alongside that, this story is just filled to the brim with supportive and positive energy and you can’t help but smile while reading. As Charlie attempts to find where she belongs on this new campus, she seems to be pretty nonchalant about her environment. That is until she meets The Avant-Guards at their table during the campus’s activities fair!

With the team only needing one more player to make it official, Liv makes it her mission to convince Charlie to at least think it over. But after they all immediately click with Charlie, Liv comes up with a plan for all of them to get her to join!

As the story progresses, you learn so much about each of the girls (Liv is the captain of the team & got them all together, Nicole is the “resident cynic,” Ashley who “sings like Beyonce, [parties] like Rhianna & balls like Lebron,” Tiffany, whose interested in crystals & the like, & Jay, they are pretty quiet but an incredibly loyal friend).

The Charlie & Liv dynamic was so beautifully written! Having been a former basketball player, Charlie isn’t too interested in returning anytime soon, but its through Liv and the other girl’s she realizes its not just about the game, but also the connections she’s made with them!

We learn that they both had girlfriends in the past and its so obvious Liv has a crush on her, so seeing their friendship and romance develop was just so beautiful and I just loved seeing them together! 😭💞 There’s 3 moments throughout this volume that stuck out to me: Liv telling Charlie she wouldn’t give up on getting her to join, Liv explaining that the other girls genuinely want her to join b/c they’d love to be her friend, & their talk on the bus about Charlie’s anxiety!

All of the girls have their own quirks and personalities that shine throughout this entire first volume and I’m really looking forward to more of their interactions and dynamic as both friends/teammates in future issues! Every one of these girls resonated with me so much because their confidence and loyalty to each other was just incredibly inspiring to me!

The writing and pacing of the story allow for their characters to get the perfect amount of development, page-time, and still leave some mystery about them for future issues/volumes!

I also appreciated this intersection between sports and art! An underlying message (at least that I found) was the empowerment one can find through art! I mean anywhere you go I believe your surrounded by art in some way and I’m not really sure how to describe it, but I feel The Avant-Guards gets that? 😄

Throughout Volume 1, I found the art and paneling was done so wonderfully! The colors are bright and bring even more to the already brilliant story! As does the art! Its expressive, detailed, and feels incredibly cinematic & animated! The paneling is also something I was paying close attention to and it never felt like space was wasted. Alongside that, I felt the art and dialogue together complemented each other and came together to tell a fantastic story!

From the character expressions, pacing, action scenes, and even backgrounds, they all come to life through the vibrant colors and great art-style!

Overall, I felt The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 story was complete and well explored!

Honestly, if you were to ask me to pick a favorite character of the Avant-Guards, I honestly couldn’t do it, I adore each of the them with all my heart!! ❤ ❤

Considering this is a sports comic series, I did want to quickly talk about another series I’ve read which is Fence! Looking back, I can see why I enjoyed it when I first read it (its one the first sports comics I read & had a unique cast of characters like Avant-Guards). But if I’m being honest, I feel like my love for Fence has faded and The Avant-Guards has found that special place in my heart! Not saying they should be compared (because they are completely different stories) but if your stuck between both series and not sure which one to pick up, I’d say read The Avant-Guards!

Based on this first volume alone, I found the art, characters, pacing, and much more to be better developed and explored!

The Avant-Guards is diverse, colorful, the characters are all full of life, and the wonderful themes of the story weave their way through each page! I HIGHLY recommend this wonderful graphic novel!

Featuring characters of color, queer women, and just overall being incredibly inclusive, I just love the care and attention to diversity that the team behind this series has represented!  From the characters of different backgrounds (mainly featuring Brown/Black women), characters identifying as Queer and Jay (who uses They/Them), this is just such a beautifully inclusive series and I hope more people will pick it up!

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 is must-read graphic novel series from Boom Studios! This series is all about friendship, self-discovery, and is beautifully inclusive + diverse! Charlie learns more about friendship and overcomes obstacles from her past when she joins the all-women’s basketball team! From the lovely artwork and colors to inspiring themes throughout this first volume, The Avant-Guards is a new series you don’t want to miss!

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat Review {Graphic Novel}

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie NourigatI Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)

Release Date: January 1, 2019

Pages: 96

Available Through The Book Depository: I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation

Summary: The story of one woman’s quest to move to Los Angeles and got a job in animation…and how you can too.

When artist Tally Nourigat left her life in Portland to move to Los Angeles and pursue a job in animation, she realized that despite her research, nothing truly prepared her for the wild world that awaited in the studios of Southern California. From grinding on storyboard test after storyboard test to getting a job at a major studio to searching for an apartment in…the Valley…this autobiographical how-to graphic novel explores the highest highs and lowest lows of pursuing a dream in animation. Brushed with a dose of humor and illustrated advice about salaries, studio culture, and everything in between, ‘I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation’ is the unique insider experience you won’t find anywhere else.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Natalie Nourigat’s graphic novel chronicles her journey of getting into animation all while providing informative knowledge + advice of understanding and getting into the industry! This story is informative, fun, and filled with humor!

This graphic novel begins as Nourigat shares that she started as a freelance comic artist in Portland. As her hometown became more expensive, she still longed to break into the animation industry!

Then, she gets an opportunity to move to LA when a friend offers to host her stay.

From there, Nourigat shares her journey into what it took for her to land her jobs in the animation industry. It’s very technical and from what I read, a fun and informative graphic novel that details the process of getting your work out there and providing an insider look at getting into the industry of animation.

What I loved a lot while reading this story, was that even for those not in animation, Nourigat shares wonderful advice for anyone on the hunt for a job!

Such as building your resume/portfolio, being persistent in applying to as many positions as you can, using free time to enhance your skills for the career your interested in, and the importance of connecting with others in the industry face-to-face!

The art mainly features warm pastel colors, the designs feel so animated and lively, evoking strong emotion. The art also explores the vibrant LA setting! I also loved all the humor thrown into this story!

It was interesting seeing an outside and aspiring artist perspective on adjusting to life in LA!

Nourigat’s journey was one that featured many ups & downs, shows that the search for a job varies and isn’t the same for everyone. But reminds the reader that never giving up and continually motivating yourself to chase after your dreams is a big part of the process too!

Animation has always been interesting to me and looking up fanart and webcomics online in my free-time is always fun & leaves me inspired as an aspiring writer! So, though I’m not an animator/illustrator myself (though I wish) I loved reading about the details of breaking into the industry!

There’s a lot of little details and information that I never knew from my surface-level knowledge of the industry that was a lot of fun to learn more about.

I also loved how the ending features other artists in the industry, such as Angie Wang who works as a prop designer on Steven Universe and Kellye Perdue who’s a storyboard artist of one of my most anticipated upcoming cartoons, Infinity Train!

For me personally however, because this novel is very technical about the animation industry, I did find the story to be a bit text heavy at some points.

Overall though, I had such a fun time reading this graphic novel and learning more about Nourigat’s journey.

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation is an informative graphic novel that’s above all a fun read that shares an animator’s journey of going after her dreams in LA! The art is expressive, Nourigat’s artistic style and use of pastel colors give life to this unique story! Anyone looking to get into animation or wanting to feel inspired by the journey of a fellow artist, should definitely give this a read!

January 2019 YA Books I’m Looking Forward To!

Its been so long since I’ve made monthly book release posts! In 2019, I really want to talk more about the upcoming books I’m excited to read!! 😍💕📚✨So, here’s my list of January releases that are on my TBR! 

January 2019

Contemporary

I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat1.I Moved To Los Angeles To Work In Animation by Natalie Nourigat
Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)
Release Date:
January 1, 2019
Summary: The story of one woman’s quest to move to Los Angeles and got a job in animation…and how you can too.

When artist Tally Nourigat left her life in Portland to move to Los Angeles and pursue a job in animation, she realized that despite her research, nothing truly prepared her for the wild world that awaited in the studios of Southern California. From grinding on storyboard test after storyboard test to getting a job at a major studio to searching for an apartment in…the Valley…this autobiographical how-to graphic novel explores the highest highs and lowest lows of pursuing a dream in animation. Brushed with a dose of humor and illustrated advice about salaries, studio culture, and everything in between, I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation is the unique insider experience you won’t find anywhere else.

Black Enough edited by Ibi Zoboi2.Black Enough: Stories  Of Being Young & Black In America edited by Ibi Zoboi; Including Tracey Baptiste, Coe Booth, Dhonielle Clayton, Brandy Colbert, Jay Coles, Lamar Giles, Leah Henderson, Justina Ireland, Varian Johnson, Kekla Magoon, Tochi Onyebuchi, Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Liara Tamani, Renée Watson, & Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (EpicReads)
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: Edited by National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, and featuring some of the most acclaimed bestselling Black authors writing for teens today—Black Enough is an essential collection of captivating stories about what it’s like to be young and Black in America.

Black is…sisters navigating their relationship at summer camp in Portland, Oregon, as written by Renée Watson.

Black is…three friends walking back from the community pool talking about nothing and everything, in a story by Jason Reynolds.

Black is…Nic Stone’s high-class beauty dating a boy her momma would never approve of.

Black is…two girls kissing in Justina Ireland’s story set in Maryland.

Black is urban and rural, wealthy and poor, mixed race, immigrants, and more—because there are countless ways to be Black enough. 

The Love And Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan3. The Love & Lies Of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary:
Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents’ expectations, but lately she’s finding that harder and harder to do. She rolls her eyes instead of screaming when they blatantly favor her brother and she dresses conservatively at home, saving her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don’t know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech, where she can pursue her dream of becoming an engineer.

But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana’s plans fall apart. Her parents are devastated; being gay may as well be a death sentence in the Bengali community. They immediately whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Only through reading her grandmother’s old diary is Rukhsana able to gain some much needed perspective.

Rukhsana realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love, but can she do so without losing everyone and everything in her life?

Contemporary Mystery

Spin by Lamar Giles1.Spin by Lamar Giles
Publisher:
Scholastic Press
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Paris Secord’s (aka DJ ParSec) career–and life–has come to an untimely end, and the local music scene is reeling. No one is feeling the pain more than her shunned pre-fame best friend, Kya, and Paris’s chief groupie, Fuse. But suspicion trumps grief, and since each suspects the other of Paris’s murder, they’re locked in a high-stakes game of public accusations and sabotage.

Everyone in the ParSec Nation (DJ ParSec’s local media base)–including the killer–is content to watch it play out, until Kya and Fuse discover a secret: Paris was on the verge of major deal that would’ve catapulted her to superstar status on a national level, leaving her old life (and old friends) behind. With the new info comes new motives. New suspects. And a fandom that shows its deadly side. As Kya and Fuse come closer to the twisted truth, the killer’s no longer amused. But murdering Paris was simple enough, so getting rid of her nobody-friends shouldn’t be an issue…

Fantasy

The Girl King by Mimi Yu1.The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Publisher:
Bloomsbury YA
Release Date:
January 8, 2019
Summary: Two sisters become unwitting rivals in a war to claim the title of Emperor in this richly imagined, Asian-inspired fantasy!

Sisters Lu and Min have always known their places as the princesses of the Empire of the First Flame: the eldest, assertive Lu, will be named her father’s heir and become the dynasty’s first female ruler, while timid Min will lead a quiet life in Lu’s shadow. Then their father names their male cousin Set the heir instead, throwing both girls’ lives into chaos.

Determined to reclaim her birthright, Lu is forced to flee, leaving Min to face the volatile court alone. Lu crosses paths with Nokhai, the lone, unlikely survivor of the decimated Ashina, nomadic wolf shapeshifters. Nok never learned to shift–and he has no trust for the Empire that killed his family–but working with the princess might be the key to unlocking his true power.

As Lu and Nok form a tenuous alliance, Min’s own hidden power awakens–a forbidden, deadly magic that could secure Set’s reign . . . or allow her to claim the throne herself. But there can only be one Emperor, and the sisters’ greatest enemy could very well turn out to be each other.

Told in three distinct points-of-view, this first book in a sweeping fantasy series weaves a story of ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye2.Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye (Circle Of Shadows #1)
Publisher:
Balzer + Bray
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied around his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.

As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging in the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark.

So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group. Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.

King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo3.King Of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
Publisher:
Imprint
Release Date:
January 29, 2019
Summary: Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

*Because I have so many theories about King Of Scars, keep an eye out for Bookish Theories a new feature where I share all my thoughts & theories for upcoming books!

Historical Fiction

Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden1. Inventing Victoria by Tonya Bolden
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Summary: As a young black woman in 1880s Savannah, Essie’s dreams are very much at odds with her reality. Ashamed of her beginnings, but unwilling to accept the path currently available to her, Essie is trapped between the life she has and the life she wants.

Until she meets a lady named Dorcas Vashon, the richest and most cultured black woman she’s ever encountered. When Dorcas makes Essie an offer she can’t refuse, she becomes Victoria. Transformed by a fine wardrobe, a classic education, and the rules of etiquette, Victoria is soon welcomed in the upper echelons of black society in Washington, D. C. But when the life she desires is finally within her grasp, Victoria must decide how much of herself she is truly willing to surrender.

Historical Fantasy

The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi1. The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
ARC Review To Come
Publisher:
Wednesday Books
Release Date:
January 15, 2019
Summary: Set in a darkly glamorous world, The Gilded Wolves is full of mystery, decadence, and dangerous but thrilling adventure.

Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.

Mythology

Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard1. Oh My Gods by Alexandra Sheppard
Publisher: Scholastic UK
Release Date: January 3, 2019
Summary: Life as a half-mortal teenager should be epic.
But, for Helen Thomas, it’s tragic.

She’s just moved in with her dorky dad and self-absorbed older siblings – who happen to be the ancient Greek gods, living incognito in London!

Between keeping her family’s true identities secret, trying to impress her new friends, and meeting an actually cute boy, Helen’s stress levels are higher than Mount Olympus.

She needs to rein in her chaotic family before they blow their cover AND her chances at a half-normal social life.

Or is Helen fated for an embarrassment of mythical proportions?

Retellings

The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale1.The Cold Is In Her Bones by Peternelle Van Arsdale
Publisher:
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date:
January 22, 2019
Summary: Milla knows two things to be true: Demons are real, and fear will keep her safe.

Milla’s whole world is her family’s farm. She is never allowed to travel to the village and her only friend is her beloved older brother, Niklas. When a bright-eyed girl named Iris comes to stay, Milla hopes her loneliness might finally be coming to an end. But Iris has a secret she’s forbidden to share: The village is cursed by a demon who possesses girls at random, and the townspeople live in terror of who it will come for next.

Now, it seems, the demon has come for Iris. When Iris is captured and imprisoned with other possessed girls, Milla leaves home to rescue her and break the curse forever. Her only company on the journey is a terrible new secret of her own: Milla is changing, too, and may soon be a demon herself.

What January 2019 Books Are You Looking Forward To? 😍📚✨🎉🎉

 

September 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram1.Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

ARC | Started August 25 + Finished September 3 |Rating:★★★★☆| Darius The Great Is Not Okay ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: A moving and deeply character-driven debut! I loved how Khorram explored the character-dynamics + relationships that Darius has and how they differ between each other. Darius takes a trip with his family to visit grandparents in Iran. This trip isn’t just about him connecting more with his cultural background, but also allowing him to carve a space for himself when he is unsure of where he fits in. He also makes a new friend while there, Shorab. They play soccer and their friendship is given so much page-time & development! Because depression is very much present in Darius’s life, we see how its impacted his views of situations and people around him, etc, so there’s a great exploration of mental health. There’s such a focus on family, friendship, and acceptance of ones-self that are such central themes to the book. My only major issue that impacted my rating, was that many times there were pauses written in to Darius’s thinking (b/c its 1st person; “um”). I felt it never really added anything to the story and because we already know the anxiety Darius feels, it felt very unnecessary and was a bit overused. But aside from that, overall what makes Darius The Great Is Not Okay such a wonderful debut to check out is the depth to the characters and story!

Monthly Girls Nozaki-Kun Volume 32.Monthly-Girl’s Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 by Izumi Tsubaki

Owned | Started + Finished September 6 |Rating:★★★★☆ | Monthly-Girl’s Nozaki-kun Vol. 3 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Monthly-Girl’s is a brilliant & underrated manga series that follows Chiyo who has a crush on one of her classmates Nozaki & through hilarious scenarios filled with misunderstandings, becomes his assistant & meets tons of new friends! What makes this series so great is the unique and dynamic cast of characters that you connect with so easily and the clever ways the author puts comedic spins on romance/romance tropes! This volume focuses more on the side characters and their development. My only minor issue is that in this volume its more focused on the scenarios & skits that the plot doesn’t really connect & did feel a bit different than the previous volumes. However, this manga series continues to be one of my favorites, with brilliantly-timed jokes, fun & immersive skits & similar to volumes 1 & 2, puts the cast in such hilarious situations while also bringing them to life with each page!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad3. Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Library | Started + Finished September 13 | Rating:★★★★☆ |Fence Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence is a fast-paced character-driven series that is incredibly immersive as it introduces you to the world of championship fencing! Fence Vol. 1 follows Nicholas Cox as he tries to prove he’s ready to get into the leagues of championship fencing, but with his loss against championship fencer Seiji Katayama, he gets set back quite a bit, but vows to challenge him again one day & win! This 1st volume not only introduces the main cast, but also whats at stake for Nicholas as he finds himself at the King’s Row boarding school & with his roommate being none other than, Seiji! I go more into depth as to why I rated this lower than when I read the single issues, but basically after a re-read I found the characters to be a bit static & the first few issues overall seem more as set up for something much bigger than the story its really giving you in this volume! Aside from that, Fence Vol. 1 is a fun series filled with friendship, rivalries, championships, & of course–fencing!

Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes4. Analee, In Real Life by Janelle Milanes

ARC |Started September 15 + Finished September 18 | Rating: ★★★★★ | Analee, In Real Life Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Milanes delivers another stunning YA Contemporary! This novel follows Analee who finds things difficult to say in real life, but through her favorite online RPG, she plays as a character who is all the things she aspires to be: brave, outgoing, and always willing to take chances! The plot is fantastic, wonderfully paced, and told through a relatable 1st person POV! Milanes’s novel follows Analee learning to come out of her shell when she decides to start a fake relationship with Seb Matias who is trying to win back his ex-girlfriend, thinking she can win back her friend Lily, who’s also part of the popular crowd. The friendship/relationship that develops between the 2 was so incredibly developed and I loved how the each grow with each other’s help. I loved it!! Aside from Seb & Analee’s relationship, there’s also themes of family, love & loss that is explored as we also learn that Analee’s mother’s death 3 years earlier has left both her and her father still grieving. Analee learns more about her stepmother Harlow & step-sister Avery! The incredible characters, plot, and themes explored made Milanes’s latest book another on of my all-time favorite YA Contemporary books! I loved everything about Analee, In Real Life and highly recommend it if your a fan of: Online RPGs, fake dating, diverse cast of characters, exploration of family, friendship, & love! 

Wildcard by Marie Lu5.Wildcard by Marie Lu (Warcross #2)

Owned | Started September 20 + Finished September 21 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ | Wildcard Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Wildcard was such a unique finale, but also delivers new elements that made it different from Warcross, in a great way! I found it delivered more on political intrigue and character-development, even hints of a psychological thriller in a way, that added many layers of depth to what we remember in Warcross. Without spoiling too much, I also enjoyed the addition to new characters and seeing a different side to the stakes introduced previously in book 1! My only minor issue is that because it is more character-driven and intrigue heavy, story/character threads did feel a bit slower and the development felt a bit uneven at times. However, Wildcard is definitely a finale that will leave you at the edge of your seat as the stakes and the game, changes!

The Carrying by Ada Limón6. The Carrying: Poems by Ada Limón

Library | Started + Finished September 26 | Rating: ★★★★★ | The Carrying: Poems Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Limón’s collection explores life, death, identity, womanhood, youth, and so much more through a writing-style that has such vivid imagery and paints so many different emotions with each poem! Limón’s poems (broken up into 3 parts) really leave you thinking and reflecting as each line carries such weight and depth. I also loved the beautiful imagery/view of nature and how it connects to so many differing emotions explored throughout this collection! The Carrying is easily one of my favorite poetry collections of all-time. It really left an impact as it explored so much about life and reflecting on the intense and emotional moments in life! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Recommendations For Your TBR! {2018 + 2019}

Waiting On Wednesday #10

Book Bytes #15

Latinx Book Bingo TBR! {Book Blog Discussion}

~ I also started a Medium page for my blog on the 7th just add onto what I post on my blog! But, overall I think it’ll be where I have more discussions, you can check it out Here
The posts currently on it talk about annotating books & audio dramas!

Plans For October:

~ Catch up on ARCs! I feel like this’ll probably be my goal each month for the rest of the year 😅📚✨There’s ARCs I hope to read ahead of time before release & review them on the blog! 💖📚✨

~ I’ve been listening to some new podcasts recently, so I’m also going to plan out some more reviews and recommend some new ones! 😍💞✨🎙

~ Read more than last month! I feel like I’m a pretty behind on recent releases, so I really want to try to get back on track with my TBR! 📚✨🎉🎉

What books did you read this month? Any bookish plans for October? 😍💕📚🎃✨

Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat, Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente Review

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence Volume 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Pages: 112

Summary: Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Fence Vol. 1 is a fast-paced, character-driven series that follows aspiring fencer Nicholas who wants to prove he has what it takes to make it as a champion! From the fencing, competitions, high stakes, complex character dynamics, and so much more, this is gearing up to be quite a series!

So if you’ve been following my blog, you may have already seen my review of Fence, issues 1-3 in January!

Because the single issues (for me) were getting a bit pricey, I decided to put the series on hold and wait for the first volume collection!

So with this essentially being a bit of re-read, (except for Issue 4), overall I loved Fence as much as I did the first time! There’s such an interesting (but rather slow) dynamic between Nicholas Cox, 16-year old who’s new to the world of competitive fencing and Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy, who’s on his way to the championships and possibly getting a scholarship from Exton (the best fencing school in the country).

Nicholas hints that his father, Robert Coste, was a fencing champion in the 80’s but now has is with his what Nicholas calls “legitimate” son, Jesse Coste, who currently fences for Exton!

We follow Nicholas as he makes his way to his first match in a Connecticut circuit, but ultimately loses against Seiji! However, after a 15-0 loss, Nicholas vows to challenge him again, one day!

Six months later, Nicholas makes his way to the all-boys boarding school on a fencing scholarship, King’s Row and learns his roommate is none other than Seiji!

After issue 2, Fence introduces life at King’s Row, the fencing team, and the beginnings of Nicholas and his journey to prove himself as a fencer worthy of his spot at King’s Row!

Aside from Nicholas & Seiji, the other characters I love are Bobby (who becomes one of Nicholas’s good friends) & Dante, Bobby’s best friend! (They are my faves <3)

Fence is a pretty plot-driven series for the most part, fast-paced, & the story is incredibly immersive!

I also love how diverse Fence is! From characters of different ethnic backgrounds, such as black characters (coach Williams & Harvard–Fencing capitan), Seiji (Japanese), Kings Row fencers Eugene (Filipino) & Bobby (trans), and there’s also gay rep. hinted at, but more clearly shown in volume 3!

I also love how this series has characters from different economic backgrounds and (though a bit vague), shows differing family dynamics!

Now I did rate it (& issues 1-3) 4.5 on goodreads, but after this re-read I think for this review I’ll leave it at 4 stars (But, I’ll see how I feel after future volumes)... My critiques are: I’m not the biggest fan of one of the King’s Row fencers, Aiden (he reminds me a lot of a female character in Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun named Kashima, but I like Kashima better TBH <3!), the art-style could have been a little more detailed (in the backgrounds especially), and the side characters for the most part felt static.

Another thing I noticed from a re-read is that because some characters are static and the story is gearing in a direction that I’m looking forward to, it just feels a little too planned out! With the quick pace, it feels as if Fence is more setting up for whats going to come and not really lay the foundation for the story its giving us (if that makes sense)?

However, I will say what is really keeping me invested in this series, is where the story is headed exactly for Nicholas & Seiji!

But overall, Fence is such a delightful, character-driven series that is just fun all around! I definitely recommend checking it out!

Fence Vol. 1 will leave you wanting more! Its a character-driven series that is fast-paced, inclusive, while having a cast and story that easily immerses you! From fencing, boarding schools, rivalry, championships, friendships, & so much more, Fence is a must read series!

June 2018 Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 5

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina Vakueva1.Heavy Vinyl Volume 1 by Carly Usdin +Nina Vakueva (Heavy Vinyl #1)

Owned | Started/Finished June 1 |Rating: ★★★★★ | Heavy Vinyl Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A fun, diverse, graphic novel with so much girl power set in 90’s New Jersey! Heavy Vinyl follows Chris who works alongside her all-female co-workers at her local vinyl store. With anxiety, she wants to fit in with her new friends but hasn’t gotten the chance! That is until a case of missing singer introduces her to the world her co-workers have been hiding from her: their vigilante fight club! Now she’s tagging along with them to solve the mystery and maybe uncover more along the way! This is an incredible graphic novel that’s character-driven, diverse, and just a fun story! Friendship is at the heart of Heavy Vinyl and it really shows with each page. Additionally, there’s a lot of fantastic representation among the main cast/side characters: f/f & m/m relationships, lesbian rep., black & Puerto Rican rep., interracial relationships! I adored this graphic novel so much & highly recommend it!  I think there’s only 1 volume planned which is sad, because it ends on at place leaving you to want more from the story & characters, so definitely pick it up & support it, you won’t be disappointed!

Running With Lions by Julian Winters2.Running With Lions by Julian Winters

Owned| Started June 3 + Finished June 7 |Rating: ★★★★☆ ½| Running With Lions Full Review

Overall Thoughts: A coming-of-age YA sports contemporary, that really focuses on characters! Sebastian Hughes is ready for his last summer of soccer training camp with his teammates, before senior year. However things get a bit complicated when his former friend, Emir Shah, shows up. Though regardless of their past, Sebastian is eager to make Emir feel at home! Through a 3rd person POV, the characters, plot, summer setting/atmosphere come to life! A huge aspect of this novel is the way Winters explores sexuality, with characters identifying as gay and bisexual + through the teammate’s support + acceptance of each other throughout the entire book! The characters really grow as they spend their time at Camp Haven and I loved seeing their friendship dynamics with each turn of the page! The plot, characters, etc. are all wonderfully developed and the pacing is great! Highly recommend checking out Winter’s debut!

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl3. Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl

ARC| Started June 9 + Finished June 12 |Rating:★★★☆☆ ¾| Neverworld Wake Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Neverworld Wake was an intriguing YA Contemporary that blends with science fiction! Beatrice Hartley gets the opportunity to reconnect with her friends from boarding school at an estate, since the year or so since her boyfriend Jim’s passing. But when a mysterious man arrives, he tells them they’ve been caught in the Neverworld Wake and only one person can make out alive by the end. The mystery that surrounded Neverworld and how the info was revealed was both delivered and explored at perfect moments throughout the story. While the plot and mystery remain such huge parts of the story, I did find myself not enjoying this book as much as I’d hoped. The writing (which is 1st person) never really made me find a connection to Bea as a character and with the simplicity to the writing, some elements of the story, like side characters were pretty forgettable. However, what definitely made Neverworld Wake an immersive read, was definitely the mystery, and exploration + complexities to the Neverworld!

Not The Girls Your Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi4.Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi

ARC| Started June 13 + Finished June 18 |Rating:★★★★☆ ½| Not The Girls You’re Looking For Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Aminah Mae Safi’s debut explores the complexities of family and friendship (especially female friendships) in her debut! I connected with Lulu, the main character, from the very first page! She’s outgoing, not afraid to speak her mind and I just–loved her character so much.  This novel explores the messiness of friendship in an honest + complex way, and its such a huge theme of the story. Safi really allows for both friendship & family to be explored, and I was able to really see the many different sides to these dynamics. The unique plot, themes explored, character dynamics, etc. all came together so wonderfully in Not The Girls You’re Looking For to make for such a fantastic YA Contemporary!

A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir5. A Reaper At The Gates by Sabaa Tahir (An Ember In The Ashes #3)

Library| Started June 19 + Finished June 25|Rating:★★★★☆| A Reaper At The Gates Full Review

Overall Thoughts: This is very much a darker continuation to the An Ember In The Ashes series! Character development and lore/mythology are such huge parts of this book and really take center stage. I loved seeing the development and growth to Laia, Helene, and Elias. They are such phenomenal characters and you really see where their fates lead them in this book! War and the dark aftermath of it are explored in this novel and its just heartbreaking. While this was such a great book, I found for me personally that the pacing in the first 1/2 or so made this book a bit difficult for me to really love it as with the previous ones. With the pacing, I felt that with the urgency of the stakes that are given + alongside the writing that made side characters, setting, etc. feel a bit under-developed and not as fully immersive for me in previous books. However regardless of that, as soon as I reached the end, I needed the next book right away. So, I am beyond excited to read the final book and see what Sabaa has in store for the world/story of Ember! 

Additional Posts From This Month:

Book Bytes #12

Audio Dime Museum Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Currently Reading & YA Books On My June 2018 TBR!

Circle Of Shadows by Evelyn Skye Exclusive Cover Reveal

Dark Ages Podcast Review {Literary Listens}

Plans For July:

~READ MORE!! I feel like I just haven’t been reading much as I’d hoped (;´༎ຶД༎ຶ`) & before summer ends, really want to catch up on my TBR! If you have any tips to read more, definitely let me know!! 😭💕📚📚

~ Post more podcast reviews for Literary Listens! June was my first month posting audio drama podcast reviews & they were such fun posts to make!! I really hope to review/recommend more audio dramas next month too!! 🎙✨💖

~Continue working on my summer bullet journal 😍📒💕☀

What books did you read this month?? 😍📚

+ What are your bookish goals for July? Lets discuss in the comments!! ✨✨

Heavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin & Nina Vakueva Review {Graphic Novel}

Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin + Nina VakuevaHeavy Vinyl Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva,  Irene Flores & Rebecca Nalty
(Heavy Vinyl #1)

Publisher: BOOM! Box (Boom! Studios)

Release Date: April 24, 2018

Pages: 112

Summary:When Chris joins the staff at her local record store, she’s surprised to find out that her co-workers share a secret: they’re all members of a secret fight club that take on the patriarchy and fight crime!

Starry-eyed Chris has just started the dream job every outcast kid in town wants: working at Vinyl Mayhem. It’s as rad as she imagined; her boss is BOSS, her co-workers spend their time arguing over music, pushing against the patriarchy, and endlessly trying to form a band. When Rosie Riot, the staff’s favorite singer, mysteriously vanishes the night before her band’s show, Chris discovers her co-workers are doing more than just sorting vinyl . . . Her local indie record store is also a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club!

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Heavy Vinyl is an incredible graphic novel that follows an all-female vigilante group! With great art, 90’s references, female friendship, diverse representation, and of course–music, you follow Chris as she, alongside her co-workers at the local record shop, solve a case of a missing singer! With mystery, friendship, and so much more, Heavy Vinyl is a fantastic graphic novel!

I hadn’t looked too much into the summary, so all I knew going into Heavy Vinyl was: female friendship, record store, and GLBTQIA+ rep!

Heavy Vinyl was beyond spectacular!! (~˘▾˘)~♥♥ I had a feeling I would enjoy it, but by the time I reached the last page, I realized just how much I loved & adored it! ❤

Its easily become one of my new all-time favorite graphic novels! Its one I could see myself reading over & over again!! Its fantastic!!

Set in 1998 New Jersey we follow Chris, who is passionate about music & has worked at her local record shop, Vinyl Destination for about a month!

She’s gotten pretty close with her co-workers, Maggie, Dolores (who doesn’t exactly get along w/ her sometimes), Kennedy, and her manager Irene, but doesn’t feel included just yet.

She hopes to find some way to fit in with her new friends (she suspects that maybe they have a secret band, that they won’t tell her about!) and maybe find the courage to tell her co-worker/friend Maggie how she feels about her!

Then when a local band Stegosour has a gig at the shop and it turns out their lead singer Rosie Riot, goes missing, while she had her suspicions, Chris learns there’s more to her co-workers than she originally thought!

It turns out, they are actually part of an all-female vigilante group!

“It’s more than just fighting crime and beating bad guys though–we pledge to fight all forms of injustice…”

Chris is unsure whether she has what it takes to be alongside these brave women, but with some encouragement from Maggie + connecting more with Dolores, she discovers that she does belong!

The plot itself was so interesting! Its first all about Chris working in the vinyl shop and getting a bit of a romantic plot-line with Maggie and Chris wondering if anything could ever happen between them!

Then its all about the mystery surrounding Rosie who’s gone missing & Chris finding a way to fit in this secret group that her co-workers are all a part of!

However, the more they get into the mystery of trying to find Rosie & understanding why her band mates are starting to act a bit odd, the more it becomes a even more interesting case than they first thought!

The world of the vigilante group and the history behind it was developed in such a great way, where it never felt like all the info was just delivered all at once. It develops all throughout the graphic novel and builds even more into the mystery of the plot when you reach the very end!

There’s also such a great emphasis and overall theme of friendship/female friendship! Chris also has anxiety and all though she has a passion for music, she finds she doesn’t really feel like she clicks with any of her co-workers completely!

However throughout Heavy Vinyl, the more she becomes a part of the vigilante group, the more she comes out of her shell bit by bit and really feels she can belong at Vinyl Destination and connect even more with her friends!

There’s also a lot of diverse representation throughout Heavy Vinyl, which was so great to see!! From the f/f & m/m representation (Irene & her girlfriend & Maggie’s 2 fathers), black rep. (Kennedy), Puerto Rican rep. (Dolores), and lesbian rep. (Chris)!

The characters and their dynamics was one of my favorite parts! We have Chris who really looks up to Irene and wants to be like her one day (with her passion of music), we have Kennedy who kicks butt and is always on top of any situation, Maggie who is the cutest & apparently loves everything ^_^, & Logan + Chris who we see really get along through their love of comics (Logan works at the comic store not to far from Vinyl Destination & the relationship between him & Kennedy is the sweetest♥♥!!)

I also really loved the art style & the colors, they worked perfectly with the story, setting, etc.!!

While reading Heavy Vinyl, I also listened to my favorite band Haim ^_^ I don’t usually listen to music w/ lyrics while reading, but I found in this case, overall it made the reading experience even better!

I was so sad when I reached the end because its clear there is so much more to the vigilante group and the conspiracy they uncover regarding the missing bands, etc.!

I think my only very minor issue was that I wanted a bit more background for the Vinyl Destination girls like Maggie, Irene, Kennedy, & Dolores. Their characters really do shine throughout the graphic novel, I just wanted a bit more!

From what I heard, there is only 1 volume of Heavy Vinyl currently planned, but I do hope there’s more in the future!

So, if your looking to read another graphic novel or are looking for a story with female friendship, music, mystery and adventure, I highly recommend picking up Heavy Vinyl! You won’t be disappointed!

Heavy Vinyl is a stunning graphic novel! From its 90’s and music scene, great artwork, fantastic story, mystery, intrigue, diverse representation, and girl power, Heavy Vinyl is a graphic novel you don’t want to miss!