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!

Book Releases Of May and June I’m Looking Forward To!

Hey everyone! Today on the blog I wanted to share some of the upcoming book releases that are on my to-read list! 🥳📚💖

I’ll be highlighting YA, Manga, Graphic Novels, Middle Grade & Adult! There’s a ton of fantastic books, so it was really tough to narrow down the list, but I wanted to highlight ones that I haven’t talked about much on my blog or twitter. Hope everyone has been doing well and enjoy the list! 💞✨

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence

1. Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence
Middle GradeMay 5ContemporaryBookshop

Summary: Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have…together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends-even if it means losing one of them-or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

➣ I need to catch up on so many middle grade novels and this one sounds so good! The great cover is what first drew me to it!

The Mermaid The Witch And The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

2. The Mermaid, The Witch, And The Sea by Maggie Tokuda-Hall

Young AdultMay 5FantasyBookshop

Summary: A desperate orphan turned pirate and a rebellious imperial daughter find a connection on the high seas in a world divided by colonialism and threaded with magic.

Aboard the pirate ship Dove, Flora the girl takes on the identity of Florian the man to earn the respect and protection of the crew. For Flora, former starving urchin, the brutal life of a pirate is about survival: don’t trust, don’t stick out, and don’t feel. But on this voyage, as the pirates prepare to sell their unsuspecting passengers into slavery, Flora is drawn to the Lady Evelyn Hasegawa, who is en route to a dreaded arranged marriage with her own casket in tow. Flora doesn’t expect to be taken under Evelyn’s wing, and Evelyn doesn’t expect to find such a deep bond with the pirate Florian.

Soon the unlikely pair set in motion a wild escape that will free a captured mermaid (coveted for her blood, which causes men to have visions and lose memories) and involve the mysterious Pirate Supreme, an opportunistic witch, and the all-encompassing Sea itself.

➣ I’ve heard amazing things about this one and it sounds like such a great fantasy/debut!!

Suncatcher by José Pimienta

3. Suncatcher by José Pimienta

Graphic NovelMay 19SupernaturalBookshop

Summary: If life wasn’t already hard enough for Beatriz — being a teenager, trying to start a band, and going to school — then she discovers that her grandfather’s soul has been trapped in an old guitar, and that the only way to free him is to play the perfect song . . . his perfect song, a song that he never actually wrote down. She’s determined to save her grandfather, but as music slowly takes over her life, she soon finds herself growing obsessed with his song, and making it absolutely flawless, at the expense of her friendships, her band, and her health.

Beatriz won’t let anything stop her, not even her own limitations. Creating a magical song is already a lot of pressure, but Beatriz will have to make some hard choices before it’s too late for her grandfather . . . and for herself.

A story filled with music, passion, supernatural secrets, and family, Jose Pimienta’s Suncatcher brings to life a contemporary story of life in Mexicali with a supernatural twist and a lot of music.

➣ This ones already been on my TBR for a while, but what has me even more hyped for this graphic novel is that its from a Latino author, it also looks like there’ll be a big focus on family and self (mixed with some paranormal)! Thrilled to check this one out.

The Archer At Dawn by Swati Teerdhala

4. The Archer At Dawn by Swati Teerdhala (Tiger At Midnight #2)

Young AdultMay 26FantasyBookshop

Summary: For Kunal and Esha, finally working together as rebels, the upcoming Sun Mela provides the perfect guise for infiltrating King Vardaan’s vicious court. Kunal returns to his role as dedicated soldier, while Esha uses her new role as adviser to Prince Harun to seek allies for their rebel cause. A radical plan is underfoot to rescue Jansa’s long-lost Princess Reha—the key to the throne.

But amidst the Mela games and glittering festivities, much more dangerous forces lie in wait. With the rebel’s entry into Vardaan’s court, a match has been lit, and long-held secrets will force Kunal and Esha to reconsider their loyalties—to their countries and to each other.

Getting into the palace was the easy task; coming out together will be a battle for their lives. In book two of Swati Teerdhala’s epic fantasy trilogy, a kingdom will fall, a new ruler will rise, and all will burn.

➣ I had so much fun reading Tiger At Midnight last year and I can’t wait to see where the series is headed next! My galley is waiting to be read!

A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

5. A Song Of Wraiths And Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown (SOWAR #1)

Young AdultJune 2FantasyBookshop

Summary: The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.

But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.

When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death? 

➣ I’m all here for supporting YA debuts and I have a galley of this one, so hopefully I’ll read it soon!

Sky Island by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee

6. Sky Island by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee (Illustrations) (A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure #2)

Graphic NovelJune 9MythologyBookshop

Summary: The stunning sequel to Sea Sirens, the middle-grade graphic novel about a spunky Vietnamese American surfer girl and her cantankerous talking cat. This time Trot and Cap’n Bill have to rescue a Sea Siren friend from the clutches of a ruthless amusement park owner.

School’s out and Trot and Cap’n Bill are looking forward to a carefree summer of surfing. But trouble surfaces when Grandpa hooks a message in a bottle while fishing. Clia, the Sea Siren princess, and Anko, King of the Sea Serpents, need their help: Merla, their Sea Siren friend, has been kidnapped!

Trot, her cat, and her grandfather join the rescue effort which takes them to an old abandoned amusement park island resort, where plans are afoot for a grand re-opening. But who is behind this development? Enter Rosalie, an environmentalist with a personal grudge against the developer. She can tell them a thing or two about the mysterious Mr. Buluru and his secret plans for the park. And Trot has a pretty good idea who the new main attraction of the park will be–but not if she and her crew get to that tank and free Merla first!

Sea Sirens is a wonderful graphic novel that I feel slipped under the radar. I’ve been waiting for this sequel and I can’t wait to see where Trot’s adventure is headed next.

Satoko And Nada Volum 3 by Yupechika

7. Satoko And Nada Volume 3 by Yupechika

MangaJune 16ContemporaryBookshop

Summary: A charming fictional manga about the friendship between a Japanese woman and her Muslim roommate!

Satoko, who is Japanese, has a new roommate in America: a Saudi Arabian woman named Nada, who practices Islam and wears a hijab. While under the same roof, Satoko and Nada learn how to live together with very different customs and still have all the fun young women crave! Through mutual respect—and the hilarious adventures of their daily life—Satoko and Nada prove that friendship knows no borders.

➣ This manga series is everything I think the book community has been looking for: College-set, no romance, focus on female friendship! I adore this series and I can’t believe the 3rd volume is almost here! Please read this series, its SO good! (Full review of Satoko And Nada Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)

Forest Of Souls by Lori M. Lee

8. Forest Of Souls by Lori M. Lee (Shamanborn #1)

Young AdultJune 23FantasyBookshop

Summary: Sirscha Ashwyn comes from nothing, but she’s intent on becoming something. After years of training to become the queen’s next royal spy, her plans are derailed when shamans attack and kill her best friend Saengo.

And then Sirscha, somehow, restores Saengo to life.

Unveiled as the first soulguide in living memory, Sirscha is summoned to the domain of the Spider King. For centuries, he has used his influence over the Dead Wood—an ancient forest possessed by souls—to enforce peace between the kingdoms. Now, with the trees growing wild and untamed, only a soulguide can restrain them. As war looms, Sirscha must master her newly awakened abilities before the trees shatter the brittle peace, or worse, claim Saengo, the friend she would die for.

➣ I actually discovered Lee’s books through her original series called Gates Of Thread And Stone! She has such unique fantasy concepts and this one sounds so cool: Sirscha is training to be a spy and then realizes she’s a soulguide? There’s also an ancient forest? This sounds fantastic!

Love On The Main Stage by S.A. Domingo9. Love On The Main Stage by S.A. Domingo

Young AdultJune 25ContemporaryBook Depository

Summary: Five music festivals . . . One unforgettable summer! A new clean teen romance from the author of Love, Secret Santa.

16-year-old songwriter Nova is having the best summer of her life. Helping out with her parents’ food truck, she gets to attend not one, but FIVE different music festivals! Things get even better when she meets cute American boy, Sam, an aspiring musician like her. After sharing a magical evening dancing under the stars, Nova never expects to see Sam again. But to her surprise they keep meeting up at music festivals . . .

Nova begins to hope that their romance could become more than just a festival fling. So why is Sam so reluctant to talk about himself? And why does he have access to the VIP backstage area . . .?

➣ I’m 90% sure I discovered this book browsing through twitter! The cover completely caught my attention and I’m always looking to read more UKYA, this sounds like such a wonderful contemporary and I’m really looking forward to this one!

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

10. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

AdultJune 30HorrorBookshop

Summary: From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a reimagining of the classic gothic suspense novel, a story about an isolated mansion in 1950s Mexico — and the brave socialite drawn to its treacherous secrets.

He is trying to poison me. You must come for me, Noemí. You have to save me.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find — her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough, smart, and has an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

➣ Okay I’ve heard about Silvia’s books for so long and I’ve been excited to read Gods Of Jade & Shadow! But I’ve heard lots of my fellow Latinx blogger friends absolutely gush about this upcoming book too, especially  from my blogger friend Alicia over at A Kernel Of Nonsense! I’m trying to go into this book without a lot of knowledge, but I know its historical fiction set in 1950’s Mexico and is a mix of horror/gothic suspense!

What May and June releases are you looking forward to? 🎉📚
As a quick update: I’ve been stuck in the middle of drafting a recent book review and will try to have that up by next week! 😍📚✨

 

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!

Skip by Molly Mendoza Review {Graphic Novel}

Skip by Molly MendozaSkip by Molly Mendoza

Publisher: Nobrow Ltd.

Release Date: July 23, 2019

Pages: 168

Available Through The Book Depository: SKIP

Summary: A colorful, unpredictable postapocalyptic world comes alive in Skip, when two unlikely friends, Bloom and Gloopy, find themselves tossed from dimension to dimension. Gloopy is running toward adventure, and away from their home and friends who don’t understand their creative talent. Bloom is desperately trying to return home to their lake, and avoid the terrible violence of the city. Instead, both Bloom and Gloopy find what they need in each other, and bravely return home to challenge their fears and create beauty in their own worlds.

As Bloom and Gloopy skip through dimensions and encounter weeping giants, alligator islands, and a topsy turvy 2D world, they find comfort in each other and learn that sometimes, your greatest fear reveals where your strengths lie. 

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: Skip is an absolute gem and a graphic novel that should be on your to-read list! The art is enchanting, a captivating rainbow of color!  Its a deeply moving tale about 2 unlikely friends whose dimensions cross and now they must travel across countless dimensions to find their way home! Skip by Molly Mendoza is an absolute masterpiece!

I’d had this beautiful graphic novel on my TBR for months, ever since I first discovered it through LatinxInPublishing during its release day! I hadn’t yet read a graphic novel by a Latina illustrator/author and I’m absolutely thrilled that SKIP was the first!

In this mysterious, postapocalyptic world the journey starts with Bloom, a young kid who lives with their guardian Bee! The two always head out to lake to go fishing and go about their daily lives peacefully, however Bloom can’t help but be curious about the cities on the other side of the lake.

Through stunning art and beautifully crafted writing, you get instantly transported to a world that is wholly familiar, yet still unrecognizable.

The society (across the lake) seems to be teeming with tech-hounds, there’s even innocent people being chased by these technologically advanced creatures, and all other forms of communication (aside from radio) seems to have vanished.

Bee decides they’ll investigate and leaves Bloom in charge of looking after the lake. However, Bee leaves an important treasure for Bloom: a black stone necklace.

Bloom tends to things as best as possible, but there’s an emptiness where Bee’s presence should be. As Bloom skips some stones across the lake, they uncover a swirl of color that’s actually a portal–taking them to another dimension!

On this other side we meet Gloopy and their world seems to filled with unique creatures inspired by nature. Their the oddball in their world and no matter how they try, their creative spirit just doesn’t gel with other friends and townsfolk. This quickly leads to Gloopy messing some things up for The Great Harvest. As Gloopy tries to make time to reflect, Bloom appears in a field within Gloopy’s world.

The two investigate as to how Bloom got there and find themselves quickly sucked into a vibrant world of color, which leads across hundreds, possibly thousands of dimensions!

Friendship is an important layer to this story not only as Bloom & Gloopy learn more about each other, but also how it tests their connection to one another as they try to find their way back home. Gloopy is the optimistic and curious one of the group and I loved seeing their dynamic with Bloom change and grow throughout the novel! Their friendship is the sweetest ❤❤

There’s such a beauty in the portrayal of emotion from fear to sadness, joy, melancholy and through Mendoza’s surrealist-style art, its given such attention and gravity to the story! Its really brought into focus and as the plot progresses you see that its such an intrinsic part to our characters journey and the world itself.

There’s an important symbol of mirrors and reflection throughout this novel and it beautifully captures that journey through the emotional depth and story of our main characters, including those they meet. 2 sections highlighted that reflection very well, their introductions and later towards the end (If you’ve read it you know what I mean) 😭💖

What comes through in the art from very first page at Bloom & Bee’s lake (& in Gloopy’s nature-filled world) is a distinct sense of place and such a feeling of realness from the gusts of wind to a splash of water in a lake!

The art continues to capture you with each and every panel. It delivers weight, emotion, and perception, which you can see beautifully through the pauses and details, mainly through the hands and eyes.

Another brilliant element to the art that I only noticed upon writing my review, was the variety of colors used when we’re first introduced to our main characters, to later the distinct color palette we’re guided along as Bloom & Gloopy travel throughout the dimensions.

One that really stuck out to me was this distinct blue world that had a technological side to it and used a pastel, dark blue & green color palette. This world really focused on Gloopy’s internal reflection and the development was explored beautifully through the colors.

Each world though they may seem disconnected due to the distinct creativity of each, there’s a common thread that links them all. Its the tools they offer to Bloom & Gloopy to continue with the challenges they face ahead. Another important element is how they both manage to shape and inspire those they run into in each dimension.

“I have been so lonely…so afraid. I would have never left the tower if not for you…” (96).

I also wanted to mention the representation within this novel! There’s brown-skinned main characters, 3 characters (our main characters included) use They/Them pronouns: Bloom, Bee & Gloopy! Also, this was just from my personal interpretation, but I personally read the human characters to be Latinx as well!

Skip is not just a story of emotion and reflection, its also exploring what it means to find or reach home!

I could gush about this graphic novel all day! So, if my review hasn’t convinced you yet, then let me just say PLEASE read this gem! Its beautiful, heartwarming, moving and just captivated me in so many ways! If you love emotionally-driven and impactful storytelling, surrealist + vibrant art, and a journey of friendship this should be on your to-read list!

Skip is a captivating graphic novel! Beautiful in every way from its storytelling, art, characters, their journeys, and underlying themes, this is a wonderful tale not to miss! This fantastical story is a journey unlike any other, its emotionally-driven, deeply moving and enchanting! Molly Mendoza’s Skip is not a graphic novel you want to pass by!

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio Review {Graphic Novel}

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene VisaggioVagrant Queen Vol. 1 by Magdalene Visaggio (Writer), Harry Saxon (Colorist), Tim Daniel (Design), Zakk Saam (Letterer), & Jason Smith (Ink)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: February 26, 2019

Pages: 192

Available Through The Book Depository: Vagrant Queen Vol. 1

Summary: Former child queen Elida was driven from her throne at age ten and forced to wander the galaxy, evading the revolutionary forces that wanted her dead. When an old frenemy claims to know the whereabouts of Elida’s long-lost mother, she is forced to return to her former kingdom and stage a rescue.

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Vagrant Queen is fun, fast-paced, space opera adventure featuring a queen on the run! There’s action, space travel, politics, but where the story really shines is through the main character Elida, who remains on the fringes of space as she is the only royal left after her kingdom’s revolution!

I’d actually heard about this series last year when it was being released as single issues and this is the same publisher that you may already be familiar with on my blog, because they are also publishing Sera And The Royal Stars!

Its been a while since I’ve read a good space story and Vagrant Queen was a book I’d had on my to-read shelf already. I’ve eagerly been trying to get through my physical TBR, so I finally got the chance to pick it up!

Elida Al-Feyr is a former child queen who was forced to leave her kingdom of Arropia after a revolution. Now in her 20’s, she’s living out in the fringes of the galaxy as she is also trying to evade capture from space commander Lazaro, as one of the last remaining royals!

However, when she gets a tip from her former friend Isaac that he knows the whereabouts of her mother, she realizes its the only lead she’s gotten in such a long time.

Now the two of them are charting across space, bantering, and evading capture along the way!

As Elida joins Isaac, we also see them try to reconnect considering they used to work with each other a few years back and over the course of this volume, we learn more about their history and what led to them splitting ways.

There’s also a lot of surprises to Elida’s space adventure as we learn more about where the journey to finding her mother will take her and what her former friend Isaac Sterling has been up to!

Vagrant Queen features Black royalty, lots of action and adventure! This was such a great start to the series and overall is incredibly fun! I’m surprised I haven’t seen more discussion about this series, because its just a blast― start to finish!

Elida is a fun character to follow, she’s always ready to punch and fight someone if necessary, evade enemies, and always has a plan! I’m looking forward to learning even more about her in future installments.

The setting feels incredibly well developed through the slow progression of the world-building from the politics, our main protagonists & antagonist’s history, alongside the different planets, security and political figures!

The art style has a vintage aesthetic to it with a lot of bold colors that really bring each page to life! Alongside that, pages deliver on the detail whether its to a character, the setting or background, and the action is portrayed through the detailed lines and unique paneling!

What I wasn’t expecting was that this was more futuristic sci-fi dystopia than just sci-fi and that surprised me, but in a great way! This leaves certain future plot threads open for exploration in future installments, even as the story itself wraps-up wonderfully!

My only minor critiques are that, I did want a little more to Elida’s adventures (space travel, world exploration, etc.) but I’m sure there’s more to come in future installments!

And though I knew going in this series wouldn’t be for younger readers, I did find the mature/adult vibe of some parts of the story to not really click with me personally– again it isn’t too adult, but I wouldn’t recommend this for YA readers on the younger side.

Though rating aside on they enjoyment scale, this is definitely a 5 out of 5! Elida is a fantastic and captivating main character, I loved her banter, getting to learn more about her history with Isaac, and following them on their unique journeys as they reluctantly travel the galaxy together!

Also, its been a while since I’d read about this, but now that I’ve read Vagrant Queen it also seems fitting to mention that: its getting a series on SYFY in 2020! From what I’ve looked up it’ll have 10 episodes, the cast for Elida & Isaac look fantastic, & it already has a preview trailer which is pretty awesome!! So if your looking to be ahead of the hype for this new series, I recommend picking up Vagrant Queen 😁💜👑🚀

Vagrant Queen Vol. 1 is a dynamic space opera featuring a fantastic female lead! Adventure, action, humor, great world-building, and page-turning story, this series has it all! Looking forward to future issues!

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill ARC Review {Graphic Novel}

The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O'NeillThe Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (Tea Dragon Festival #2)

Publisher: Oni Press

Release Date: September 17, 2019

Pages: 136

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: The Tea Dragon Festival

Summary: Rinn has grown up with the Tea Dragons that inhabit their village, but stumbling across a real dragon turns out to be a different matter entirely! Aedhan is a young dragon who was appointed to protect the village but fell asleep in the forest eighty years ago. With the aid of Rinn’s adventuring uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, they investigate the mystery of his enchanted sleep, but Rinn’s real challenge is to help Aedhan come to terms with feeling that he cannot get back the time he has lost.

*Requested ARC from the publisher*

My Rating: ★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Tea Dragon Festival is both a delightful and captivating companion to The Tea Dragon Society!  Rinn, aspiring to be a cooking apprentice, loves collecting ingredients for the locals in their village! After an encounter with a sleeping dragon, Rinn sets off on a series of adventures as the Tea Dragon Festival is just around the corner! Enchanting art, alongside an equally captivating story with beautiful messages will make your heart soar as you turn the page in Katie O’Neill’s next Tea Dragon tale!

After finishing The Tea Dragon Festival, I truly need more TEA DRAGON content in my life, this series carries such a special place in my heart! 😭🧡✨🐉🌿

I originally read The Tea Dragon Society as a webcomic in 2017 and fell in love with it from page 1! Not only did it introduce me to the beauty of webcomics, but it also got me back into graphic novels and it still remains as one of my all-time favorite graphic novel series!

Going into this companion all I knew was that it was essentially a prequel and would include cameos from Tea Dragon Society characters! From its opening pages, I was whisked away into the world of The Tea Dragon Festival by not only the art, but also its opening line:

“At the nearest station, trains come once a week…” (7).

The kind-hearted Rinn lives with their grandmother and travels the surrounding forests and plains of Silverleaf Village to collect ingredients for not only family, but local townsfolk!

Journeying into the forest with a pouch, adorable Fennel tea dragon, and list of ingredients (with one they can’t seem to find by the name of goatshorn) Rinn stumbles upon a seemingly abandoned house in the forest!

Their in for a quick surprise when it turns out a dragon lives there! Not only that, but the dragon Aedhan has been asleep for over 80 years! With his destined task to look over the festival and protect the village, he’s left sad at the time that’s been lost. However…

Rinn invites Aedhan to town and with that, allow him to feel more at home!

As Aedhan adjusts to this jump in time, he also comes to learn more about the community and feel a sense of belonging. We learn he’d been tasked by his ancestors many years ago and that now, he feels pain for those he’s lost during his sleep. But Aedhan quickly finds a powerful friendship in Rinn (alongside their family) and finds a place to call home.

There’s something special about stories like this that evoke a quiet and endearing tale, while immersing you in a compelling and fantastical world…

What I loved about this prequel is that not only did it build more into the lore and history of both tea dragons & dragons, but also gave this sense of expansion to the world of the Tea Dragon universe in ways I can’t really put into words.

I feel though, that has to do with how O’Neill brings together two important elements! The art and story meld together to present an utterly timeless tale that offers so many beautiful messages about family, community, friendship, and much more!

Let’s talk for a minute about O’Neill’s art! While its no surprise that I adore her art-style I really payed more attention to the colors, paneling, and emotion evoked in The Tea Dragon Festival!

Every panel is weaved with a beautiful array of color that brings to life the dense and whimsical forests, the open fields, the sunsets, open sky, and and timeless magic of nature!! 🌿🌸✨

I internally screamed when seeing Erik & Hesekiel again and the little Easter Eggs it left for those who read and adored The Tea Dragon Society, like myself!

The writing is phenomenal! I loved the story in The Tea Dragon Society, but The Tea Dragon Festival is a fantastic on a completely different level and readers will not be disappointed! The writing flows wonderfully with the soft, colorful art and I can’t tell you how many times I stopped to write down some of the beautiful quotes woven throughout this book!

The art also beautifully portrays a diverse and inclusive setting (feat. Non-binary protagonist Rinn, characters of color, and Sign Language, and messages of the fluidity of gender). Alongside that, the color and soft detail, immerse you in a wondrous setting focused on nature (there’s a magic to it that just comes to life through O’ Neill’s art).

The story itself is perfectly paced and with my anticipation to get back into this lovely world, every page I was ready to see what would happen next (I also appreciated how there were more pages in this companion 💖). From forest adventures, magical creatures, moments of quiet and everyday life, festival planning, cooking, and much more, this graphic novel also has a cast of characters that will capture heart!

There’s themes of identity, friendship, family, appreciating your talents and skills (even if they come easily), and the power in community!

If you haven’t read The Tea Dragon Society, please pick it up if you love stories about friendship, are looking to learn more about the tea dragons, and are interested in seeing where Hesekiel and Erik end up together! Then, after that, pick up this companion 😆💖🌿🐉✨ Though these can essentially be read in any order, I recommend reading them in release order (Tea Dragon Society first).

The Tea Dragon Festival is a must-read! Through whimsical storytelling grounded in truth, a diverse cast, and charming characters, this tale will captivate you from page 1! There’s a uniqueness O’Neill’s art-style alongside the equally wonderful story, beautifully explored themes and delightful ensemble cast of characters! This companion to The Tea Dragon Society will leave you wanting more once you’ve reached the last page!

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!

Graphic Novel & Comic Recommendations Featuring Women Of Color

This past weekend it was D23 (an expo to showcase/celebrate Disney properties + announce upcoming Disney projects)! One of those projects that had many (including myself) incredibly excited was that there is now a live-action series for Ms. Marvel in the works for Disney+.

To celebrate that announcement, I’m sharing a list of comics and graphic novels featuring women of color! A lot of these series are ones that have really stuck with me with their immersive stories, wonderful artwork and above all, feature inspiring female leads!

831. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona (artist)

Publisher: Marvel

Release Date: October 28, 2014

Summary: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey! 

I remember when I first getting back into graphic novels, this was a series I picked up in my early days as a book blogger (2015) and fell in love with it! Not only was it the first female-led superhero series I’d ever read, but also I loved that it had a diverse lead (Muslim & Pakistani-American). Also, after looking at my Goodreads, I really need to catch up on this series! I can’t wait to see how the Disney+ series turns out, looking forward to seeing Kamala on screen! ⚡❤

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 12. Sera And The Royal Stars by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (artist), Raúl Angulo (colorist),  Jim Campbell (letterer), & Tim Daniel (design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: July 17, 2019 (issue #1) & Jan. 2020 Vol. 1

Full Review: Sera And The Royal Stars Issue #1

Summary: Civil war rages in the Empire of Parsa, and famine has struck. As the seasons refuse to turn, Princess Sera receives a vision from the deity Mitra telling her to find the Royal Stars and restore them to the heavens. Despite her kingdom and her troops’ need of her command, Sera embarks on a quest to find the fallen stars-now trapped on earth-and save her people from dearth and death.

Its been such a long time since I’ve found myself reading comic/graphic novel series and keeping up with them regularly, that is until, I discovered Sera And The Royal Stars! The first issue introduces colorful and detailed artwork, the world of Parsa is expansive, and I can’t wait to see where Princess Sera’s epic journey takes her next as she embarks on a quest at the height of her country’s civil war! This is a fantastic series and I highly recommend picking it up if you love fantasy tales with ancient prophecies, epic journeys, immersive world-building, and more! 💖💫

goldie-vance-vol-13. Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson (writer) & Brittney Williams (artist)

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: October 11, 2016

Full Review: Goldie Vance Volume 1

Summary: GOLDIE VANCE IS ON THE CASE

Sixteen-year-old Marigold “Goldie” Vance has an insatiable curiosity. She lives at a Florida resort with her dad, who manages the place, and it’s her dream to one day be the hotel’s in-house detective. When Walter, the current detective, encounters a case he can’t crack, together they utilize her smarts, skills, and connections to solve the mystery…even if it means getting into a drag race, solving puzzles, or chasing a helicopter to do it!

If your looking for a fun, 1960’s-set graphic novel filled with mystery and featuring a diverse cast (biracial, queer, & Black rep!) pick this series up! I’ve only read volume 1, but I really want to get back into this series again because I love mystery stories! 🔍🌟

M.F.K. by Nilah Magruder4. M.F.K.: Book One by Nilah Magruder (author & artist)

Publisher: Insight Comics

Release Date: September 26, 2017

Full Review: M.K.F.: Book One

Summary: A fantastic adventure following the story of Abbie, a deaf girl with a mysterious power, who is traveling across a vast desert to scatter her mother’s ashes.

In a world of sleeping gods, a broken government, and a fragile peace held in the hands of the corrupt, one youth must find the strength to stand up against evil and save humanity.

This story is not about that youth.

It’s about Abbie, who just wants to get to the mountain range called the Potter’s Spine and scatter her mother’s ashes. But the way is filled with sandstorms, wild beasts, and rogues that wield inhuman powers and prey on poor desert dwellers. When one of these rogues threatens the town where Abbie takes refuge, she must choose between running, or unleashing her own hidden power to meet danger head-on.

Journeys are hard on the social recluses of the world.

This is one of those graphic novels that in my opinion, is highly underrated! It has a lot of diverse representation within its main cast (featuring brown-skinned characters and Abbie, the MC, is deaf). I fell in love with this incredibly unique and moving story about Abbie who’s trekking across the desert alongside her giant pet bird, to spread her mother’s ashes! The artwork is beautifully illustrated and introduces so many different elements from some sci-fi/fantasy and is incredibly character-driven as she finds refuge in a small town and makes new friends! I remember reading MFK: Book One back in 2017 and was so excited to pick up the next volume, I haven’t heard much about a continuation recently but I do hope to one day see another installment of this wonderful series! 💖🏜

The Avant-Guards Vol. 1 by Carly Usdin

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

Publisher: BOOM! Box

Release Date: September 3, 2019

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.

I’ve heard so many wonderful things about this upcoming series and I’m counting down the days until its release! I’ve also been wanting to get into more sports-related stories and this one looks fantastic- not only does it feature a diverse cast, but its also about a women’s basketball team, and has a lot of queer representation! The Avant-Guards looks incredible and I’m hyped to read it when its finally out on shelves! 🏀🎉

And that’s my list of comic and graphic novel recommendations featuring women of color! I highly recommend checking out all of these wonderful female-led series and adding them to your TBR if you haven’t already! 📚❤

Are any of these on your list? Do you have any other recommendations you think I should check out? 📚✨🎉

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee Review {Graphic Novel}

Sea Sirens by Amy ChuSea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (Artist/Illustrator) (A Trot & Cap’n Bill Adventure #1)

Publisher: Viking Books For Young Readers

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Pages: 144

Available Through The Book Depository: Sea Sirens

Summary: Trot, a Vietnamese American surfer girl, and Cap’n Bill, her cranky one-eyed cat, catch too big a wave and wipe out, sucked down into a magical underwater kingdom where an ancient deep-sea battle rages. The beautiful Sea Siren mermaids are under attack from the Serpent King and his slithery minions–and Trot and her feline become dangerously entangled in this war of tails and fins.

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Sea Sirens is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel with a unique art-style, a delightful story, and wonderful cast of characters! Trot finds herself in an underwater kingdom with her cat Cap’n Bill, where an ancient deep-sea battle rages on between Sirens & Serpents! Powerful themes of family and friendship, alongside adventure, are present all throughout Chu and Lee’s spectacular graphic novel! This one is a must-read!

Sea Sirens follows Trot, whose a dedicated surfer girl living in Huntington Beach, Cali. & her one-eyed cat Cap’n Bill who she rescued as a stray on the beach! They both get taken to an underwater kingdom of Sirens & Serpents when powerful wave pushes them underwater!

READ THIS GRAPHIC NOVEL–ITS FANTASTIC!! 💖 I was looking forward to this one for months because the beautiful cover immediately had me add it to my TBR and the story inside is just as beautiful!

Trot is a surfer girl at heart and the story starts with her spending the day at the beach surfing and her grandfather enjoying fishing! But, her grandfather goes missing (due to his dementia) and she’s heartbroken! Luckily he’s found, but her workaholic mother tells her she can’t go out to the beach without her, to ensure her grandfather’s safety!

However, Trot doesn’t let that stop her from surfing, so she finds a way to sneak out. She and Cap’n Bill catch a bad wave and get thrust to the bottom of the ocean where Sirens and Serpents are in battle! Luckily, Cap’n Bill is ready to chase the serpents away! The Siren princess, Clia invites them to stay in her kingdom– now Trot & Cap’n Bill are celebrated for their bravery (but mainly Cap’n Bill 😂)!

The story continues with Trot & Cap’n Bill exploring the kingdom, being celebrated with a feast, and learning more about the battle between Sirens & Serpents, alongside the history of the Queendom of the Sirens (I loved the scene introduced early on when princess Clia shows her a mural of their history commissioned by her great-grandmother)!

Clia, princess of the Sirens introduces Trot to her world, as does Queen Aquareine, and the 2 develop a friendship over the course of the story.

One of my favorite parts was seeing the inventions/magical objects of the Siren’s world that continuously immerse Trot into this underwater kingdom! There’s one object in particular that added so much to the story and that was a special pearl necklace that allows Cap’n Bill to talk! I loved getting to hear what he had to say and it added so much to the story!!

I don’t want to spoil things, but there’s a few plot twists that send Trot, Cap’n Bill, and Clia on a rescue mission!

Of course with the Sirens being familiar/fascinated with human world (but not exactly interacting with it so close to the surface). I really enjoyed learning more about this split between their world and ours through their fascination with the ships that sink in their territory! I also loved learning about the Sirens love of charting the ocean territories–I hope that’s explored more in upcoming releases!

The politics and world-building of the underwater kingdom were so beautifully explored and had so much depth, yet still left a bit of mystery that I can’t wait to learn more about it in future books!

Sea Sirens draws inspiration not only from Vietnamese folklore and fairytales, but mainly L. Frank Baum’s children’s fantasy novel published in 1911 titled, The Sea Fairies!

Now onto the representation! This graphic novel mainly features Vietnamese representation! Trot herself is Vietnamese-American and her grandfather is Vietnamese! It was great to see the rep. explored through the use of language and elements of Vietnamese folklore/fairytales! The representation and culture is woven throughout the pages of this beautiful story!

The art itself is so unique! There’s the use of watercolor and vibrant line-work present throughout the whole graphic novel! I really paid attention to the artwork throughout each panel and was in awe at the stunning art that not only immersed me, but left me captivated! The design of the characters, settings, and color palette brought everything to life!

Sea Sirens ends on a wonderful note hinting at more to come and I can’t wait!!

Sea Sirens by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee is a beautiful and immersive graphic novel that’s filled with adventure when Trot gets sucked into an underwater kingdom! From the story to artwork, themes, and so much more–this is a wonderful graphic novel that you don’t want to miss!