Sera And The Royal Stars #2 by Jon Tsuei Comic Review

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 2 by Jon TsueiSera And The Royal Stars #2 by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (Artist), Raúl Angulo (Colorist), Jim Campbell (Letterer), & Tim Daniel (Design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: August 28, 2019

Pages: 28

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Sera And The Royal Stars Vol. 1

Summary: After rescuing the Eye of the Bull, Sera returns to Parsa, only to discover it is no longer her home. Just when it seems war has stripped Sera of everything she holds dear, a surprising ally emerges. Together they set out to turn the tables on her uncle Shaheen’s invading forces. 

My Rating: ★★★★☆

My Thoughts: Sera continues her quest to restore the Royal Stars in the page-turning Issue #2! Delving into even more of the politics, mythology, and familial ties of this series, Sera’s adventure takes her back home with a new ally!

If you’ve been following me on Twitter, then you’d know that Sera And The Royal Stars is the main comic series right now that has literally taken over my life!

Words can’t describe how this story just sweeps me away with each issue from its detailed artwork, expansive world (inspired by Ancient Persia), gripping story and phenomenal cast of characters! Sera is inspiring and wonderful― though I’m only 2 issues in, I feel I already know so much about her! I’m incredibly excited to see where her journey takes her next.

As we learn in Issue #1, Sera has been tasked with breaking “the bonds that bind the Royal Stars…” Which means she must find the deities of her country’s past and awaken them to allow the seasons to turn once again. Only then, will the Empire Of Parsa and its people no longer suffer, even as they undergo a civil war. The first deity she’s tasked with finding, is the Bull and makes her way to an old temple, where a mysterious old man can’t seem to remember who he is!

Issue #2 picks up right where it leaves off with us figuring out the old man is in fact the Bull! Starting off with an action scene that pulls you in, Sera and the Bull are in the middle of fighting of hordes of lizard monsters in the temple.

Once the battle is done, the Bull (also known as Aldebaran) tells her that the temple has been “lost to time” and at one point “all people worshiped” the Royal Stars!

Delving further into the mythology of the world, Sera gets more insight into the other Royal Stars she’s meant to find and awaken (scorpion, fish, and lion so far). Also if they don’t act fast, they may lose the chance at getting the seasons turning again.

As Sera heads home, she realizes the aftermath of her uncle’s surprise attack on the kingdom! He’s taken over and her brother Jahar is nowhere to be found!

Family is an intricate and important element of this series and those ties are explored a bit more in Issue #2. From confronting her cousin (now prince) Nima, her uncle, and reuniting with her father and sister Roya. Even getting more background to Sera’s mother (who we already know was given the same task of restoring the Stars). I really appreciate the layers and complex ties of family that are being explored so far in this series! I’m looking forward to seeing how these threads continue to evolve over the future issues.

The scope of the world does seem to be more centralized in this particular issue and that’s mainly because of its focus on the royal family and Sera’s quest.

Luckily, as Sera finds herself reaching home and getting to continue her quest, she and Aldebaran are not alone! It turns out, the Scorpion is finally awoken!

The full page of Scorpion (Antares) being transformed/awoken in the palace’s throne room was one of my favorite pages! Her outfit is detailed and she is such a fierce deity I can’t wait to learn more about (also you have to definitely appreciate her friendly banter w/ Aldebaran)!

The setting immerses you from the very beginning and as with the previous issue, where your swept away into the hidden temple, tension of the throne room, and outskirts of the empire! I’m really looking forward to seeing what else there is to explore in this vast world that’s being set-up! Sera And The Royal Stars as single issues really balances the world-building, plot, and character-development in a fantastic way where it always leaves you wanting more after the last page!

As with Issue #1, Audrey Mok’s artwork continues to be an absolute highlight of this series! Similar to my thoughts with the first issue, its colorful, detailed, especially when it comes to character introductions, clothing, and landscapes. Again, probably one of my favorite pages was Scorpion’s intro (the detail on her spear, her long white braid, and her epic outfit!), also the trail of red smoke that symbolized her entrance just added a whole other layer to the issue!

I think my only minor critique is that was a slower-paced issue, where its focused on more on a couple of the core themes already established. It delves more into the complex familial ties/politics, and mythology, which puts the plot on a bit of a slower pace. But, I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in Issue #3 as Sera’s journey with the Royal Stars continues!

Sera And The Royal Stars is an epic fantasy adventure that follows an arrow-wielding princess whose sent on a quest that could turn the tides of her country’s civil war! Issue #2 takes time to develop on the politics, lore and mythology, alongside the familial ties that were introduced in Issue #1! If your looking for a fantasy tale filled with ancient prophecies, great cast of characters, set in an immersive world as shown through the great artwork, then you should definitely pick up this series!

 

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei Comic Review

Sera And The Royal Stars Issue 1Sera And The Royal Stars #1 by Jon Tsuei, Audrey Mok (Artist), Raúl Angulo (Colorist),  Jim Campbell (Letterer), & Tim Daniel (Design)

Publisher: Vault Comics

Release Date: July 17, 2019

Pages: 28

Available For Pre-Order Through The Book Depository: Sera And The Royal Stars Vol. 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.

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: Sera And The Royal Stars #1 is a must-read epic fantasy-adventure comic! The detailed art, page-turning story, alongside its rich and expansive world, all come together to deliver a great introduction to what I know will be a fantastic series! Princess Sera finds herself embarking on a quest to save her kingdom and its people during the height of a civil war!

Sera And The Royal Stars is a comic series I’ve been waiting to read for months since I’d heard about it earlier this spring! I’d already been following the publisher for sometime,  I just hadn’t read any of their comics yet. I’m SO filled with joy that I finally did because I’m even more excited to read more of Vault’s comics on my TBR shelf!

This is the kind of story that swept me away without realizing it, allowing me to connect with its rich world, phenomenal characters, and immersive story and before I knew it― I’d reached the last page.

Sera And The Royal Stars is the type of story that roots you into its fascinating world (and doesn’t let go for one single second), as seen through a brave and valiant princess who’s willing to trek across her war-torn land to save her country and its people!

In the western territories of Parsa the story opens up with Princess Sera alongside her brother and sister (Jahar & Roya), who’ve come to collect the fallen soldiers as they continue on to fight a civil war across their dying land.

But Sera finds herself, in the midst of battle, summoned by the deity Mitra! She’s told that she’s been chosen to “break the bonds that bind the Royal Stars…” Once she does, she can save her people who have been suffering. With one more visit from Mitra, the deity replaces Sera’s heart with a special crystal and her journey quickly begins! The crystal seems to guide her along her journey and I’m interested in learning more about it.

The empire of Parsa is vast and within this first issue we get just a glimpse , but it leaves so many pockets of this world open to exploring―places, characters, the mythology, and the royal family!

What I loved about this first issue is how we’re thrown right into the action and already established story threads! We’re given all of these detailed bits of world-building to learn more about the story itself in a layered way! For example, Sera states that she’s already aware of the visions she’s had, but Mitra was the first to actually speak! Additionally we learn more about the queen, Tara who wasn’t able to complete the mission of restoring the dimming royal stars.

The layered and subtle details allow for the reader to build on this vast world with each turn of the page!

I’m also a big fan of royalty in fantasy stories and I appreciate how this first issue layers the complexity of the royal family, above all showcasing the importance of family (seeing Sera and her siblings fighting together)! I also love how the mythology and lore of Parsa are such driving forces in Sera’s journey to find a solution to this war–it allows the reader to get a glimpse into the on-going conflict and history of the world.

Sera is an incredibly dedicated and brave princess who’s love for her country and its people that pushes her to embark on a heroic quest!

Sibling dynamics are often overlooked in fantasy, but its clear Sera And The Royal Stars wants to explore it in more depth as future issues are released. Within issue #1, not only do we see Sera, Jahar, and Roya together on the battlefield, but also the conflict between family as the presence of war continues.

As Sera prepares to leave for her journey, her brother Jahar offers figs and feels confident in Sera’s abilities to find the answer. However, her sister Roya still carries the grief and anger of being abandoned by their mother all those years ago–just wanting Sera safe and staying home to fight!

I’m really interested in exploring more of the wonderful sibling dynamics that were introduced, in future issues.

Now onto the story–just wow! There’s so much that happens within this first issue and sets up even more as the series continues. After Sera’s vision on the battlefield, she heads back and we’re introduced to the king and quickly learn that the civil war is against Shaheen, Sera’s uncle!

We also learn that the queen was also called upon a similar mission to Sera’s but couldn’t complete it. As Sera is sleeping she’s contacted by Mitra and learns if she doesn’t break the bonds of the royal stars, not only will the seasons continue to remain unchanged, but her people will be led towards a horrible fate. Sera wastes no time leaving for her journey which starts with being directed east to find the Bull.

As she embarks on her journey, back home outside Parsa’s city walls, Shaheen is readying his forces to attack the kingdom! With Sera being the best tactician, the kingdom is left without her intellect.

After a few days of traveling she reaches a local village that directs her to a temple filled with ancient magic! She meets an old man who can’t remember who he is, until we realize he is the Bull–and the issue ends there!

Alongside Sera’s uncle, there’s a mysterious brother and sister duo who know quite a bit about the deities, the figure known as the Yazata, and are determined to rule, in time!

There’s a very present theme of war and its impacts on the people of Parsa from famine, to death, alongside mysterious forces at every turn. The plot though dark in its themes, presents resounding messages of hope and resilience!

“My earliest memories of family all revolve around war…”

Delving more into the mythology of Sera And The Royal Stars, the world seems to lay a large foundation on the deities and astrology! According to an interview with writer/creator Jon Tsuei over at Comics Pit, Tsuei was inspired to build this world around ancient Persia and wanted to focus on mythology from non-Western (specifically Asian) cultures:

” [The idea of the Royal Stars] seems to have originated through the Zoroastrian religion, which started in ancient Persia…It led me to sorcery and also led me to astrology…”

The setting is incredibly immersive, expansive and leaves so much to explore in future issues! The world of Parsa is vast from its rocky canyons of the Western Territories to its capital city, villages far from the outskirts of the kingdom, lush forests, and magical temples! There’s so many locations explored in issue 1 and not once did I feel lost in the world–I was excited to learn more and see what else lies in the expansive Kingdom of Parsa!

I’m also interested in exploring more of the politics of the different parts of the world, royals, and the war as the series continues!

The themes, world, characters, story, etc. all come together in such an incredible way to deliver an such a complex and layered story that’s easily my new favorite series!

Audrey Mok’s artwork is another highlight of this series! Its colorful and detailed, showcasing lush backgrounds, various styles of clothing, detailed characters, and the vastness of the world itself. As for the paneling, its done extremely well– the pacing of the story is great, each panel offers something important to the story and offers more insight into the world.

Also, every moment filled with action, shined through Mok’s detailed art and brought each scene to life!

I had such incredibly high hopes for this start to the Sera And The Royal Stars series and I was not disappointed, in fact I was left surprised and everything about it continued to exceed my expectations–I loved every moment and I can’t wait to read the future issues!

Sera And The Royal Stars #1 introduces an expansive fantasy world in the middle of war! Sera embarks on a heroic journey to save her people, while dark forces loom close by! If you love fantasy tales filled with epic journeys, ancient prophecies, royalty, heroic princesses, immersive world-building, and stunning artwork, don’t miss Sera And The Royal Stars, its a phenomenal start to a new comic series!

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!

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!

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!

The Prince And The Dressmaker by Jen Wang Review

The Prince And The Dressmaker by Jen WangThe Prince And The Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Publisher: First Second (FierceReads)

Release Date: February 13, 2018

Pages: 288

Summary:Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend? 

My Rating:★★★★★

My Thoughts: The Prince And The Dressmaker is a delightful graphic novel that will capture you from page 1 as it breaks gender norms in Paris at the turn of the 19th Century! From the delightful artwork, characters, and fast-paced, but wonderfully developed plot, this story is filled with important themes such as trust and friendship. The Prince And The Dressmaker is a must read graphic novel for 2018~

The Prince And The Dressmaker was such an immersive story that had me hooked from the very beginning!

The story starts with Frances, a lower-level seamstress. However, when she gets assigned to create a dress for Lady Sophia for an upcoming ball hosted by Prince Sebastian, her life quickly changes.

When word spreads of her dress, Frances gets approached by someone who offers her 5 francs for to work for an unknown client. She quickly learns that client is none other than, prince Sebastian.

Prince Sebastian loves wearing dresses and he now entrusts Frances to keep his secret. He dresses up and goes out into town by the name of Lady Crystallia.

I loved the friendship + dynamic between Frances & Prince Sebastian so much! The prince & the dressmaker forge such a beautiful friendship forged on trust and the growth that develops overtime as Frances continues to make dresses for him.

Sebastian goes through such development as we learn more about him. Seeing the stress and pressure put upon him by his family to find a wife, we see how unhappy he feels. But with Frances happy to help him, we see him shine as Lady Crystallia.

“…I don’t feel like Prince Sebastian could lead a nation into battle, but Lady Crystallia could.”

Similarly, as Frances wants to grow as a seamstress, we see the stress she feels at times to hide who she is in order to keep Sebastian’s secret. However, what we learn further into the story is that Frances feels without her work as a seamstress, she’ll be nothing.

Through their beautiful friendship, we see how their stresses and struggles fade as both Frances and Sebastian come to see how it allows them both to shine.

The artwork is so beautiful! You can see the deep emotion and beauty of Frances dresses come to life through the art. The colors weaved in with each page bring so much to the brilliant artwork!

I highly recommend The Prince And The Dressmaker & The Tea Dragon Society if your looking to get into graphic novels! Both are fast-paced, but capture you with their beautiful and immersive stories, characters & artwork!

The Prince And The Dressmaker is delightful, charming, and diverse graphic novel that breaks gender norms and puts a focus on trust and friendship! Everything about this graphic novel from the story to the characters, and messages will capture your heart in this delightful + heartwarming story!

January 2018 Wrap-Up

Can’t believe the first month of 2018 is already over! Today I’ll be sharing my first Monthly Wrap-Up of 2018~ 

# Of Books Read: 9

Anchors &amp; Vacancies by Kat Savage1.Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage

Owned | Read/Finished on January 1 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Anchors & Vacancies Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Now pretty much a yearly tradition for me, I try to start off the new year by reading a poetry book, for 2018 I decided to read Anchors & Vacancies by Kat Savage!

This book contains 45 poems centering around the journey of a love lost and how that loss can impact a person when its difficult to let go.

This quote really stuck with me throughout the entire book:

“There’s a certain kind of ache in the chambers of my heart…”

While I really understood the complex emotions + journey Savage portrayed in the collection, on a personal level (aside from a few) many didn’t really connect with me (hence the 4 stars). However, I loved her writing-style and plan to read more of her poetry in the future.

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes2. The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

Library | Started December 23 + Finished on January 4 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |The Arsonist Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Told through 3 unique POV’s, The Arsonist brilliantly weaves coming-of-age, historical fiction, & Mystery/Thriller all in one! This novel follows Molly Mavity + Ibrahim, aka, “Pepper” Al-Yussef who’s paths cross when a mysterious letter brings them together to solve the mystery of Ava Dreyman, who was a resistance fighter during the time of the Berlin Wall. The friendship between Pepper + Molly was so beautifully written and you really see how lonely they feel, but the bond of their friendship reminds them that they aren’t alone & I loved that! There’s so much complexity + mystery that really makes this book surprising. I suppose my only issue was that compared to Oakes debut The Sacred Lies Of Minnow Bly (Which I loved), the writing for The Arsonist felt rather flat and certain aspects from side-character development to setting description, etc. fell a bit short. Aside from that, The Arsonist is a compelling story that weaves in so many differing genres/themes that I highly recommend it if your looking for a unique read!

Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire3.Beneath The Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire (Wayward Children #3)

ARC | Started January 7 + Finished on January 8 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ |Beneath The Sugar Sky Full ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Beneath The Sugar Sky was easily my favorite book of the Wayward Children series so far! The descriptive and whimsical writing really showed McGuire’s growth as an author with this series. When Rini finds herself Eleanor West’s Home For Wayward Children characters, both new & returning, join Rini on her quest to the peculiar world of Confection, to bring back an old friend. Kade & Christopher are easily my favorite characters of the entire series & not only did this book remind me of that, but their banter + friendship easily made this book one of my favorites! Filled with adventure, a dynamic + diverse cast of characters, magic & mystery, Beneath The Sugar Sky is a fantastic continuation to the Wayward Children Series!

A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen4.A Taxonomy Of Love by Rachael Allen

ARC | Started January 5 + Finished on January 13 | Rating: ★★★☆☆ ½ |A Taxonomy Of Love ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: The unique format & expansive timeline, made A Taxonomy Of Love a pretty unique YA Contemporary. We follow Spencer from 13-19 as he navigates life + his friendship with his new neighbor Hope Birdsong. Allen really developed the main character Spencer, while bringing so much progression & growth to his character that you can really see by the end of the novel. Throughout the story, Spencer + Hope begin to drift apart when Hope suffers an important loss in her family. Your left wondering if they’ll ever reconnect, while also seeing where their own paths are leading them. I felt however, with the constant jumps in the timeline, characters + story points had uneven development, going from extremely fast + rushed pacing to uneventful & slow moments. That made it difficult to really connect with any of the other characters, aside from a few main ones (hence the 3.5). However, Allen did a fantastic job at weaving in so many themes + developing the atmosphere of her contemporary story over such an expansive timeline!

Love Hate And Other Filters Samira Ahmed5.Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

ARC | Started January 15 + Finished on January 19 | Rating: ★★★★☆ |Love, Hate & Other Filters ARC Review

Overall Thoughts: Love, Hate & Other Filters tackles such a relevant + timely issue while also balancing heart-warming moments and chilling/honest ones too! I loved Maya so much, from her passion to follow her dreams of becoming a film director to the strength and courage she builds over the course of the novel. There was one important moment I found that pretty much put the entirety of the novel into focus and that was the importance of Maya’s camera. I found it represented not only a shield for Maya, but also thinking broadly how people tend to view each other lenses (or filters!). Throughout the novel we follow Maya Aziz and her journey to not only understand who she wants to become, but seeing her inspirational journey to follow her dreams and tackle whatever life throws her way!

Fence Issue 1 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad6.Fence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #1 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: 16-year old Nicholas Cox has the heart, but not exactly skill, for fencing. He’s worked from the basics and is eager to win the local tournament (Connecticut Regionals). The win from this competition could earn him a spot into a top school and allow him to receive a scholarship & continue with fencing if he is serious about pursuing it. His competition is none other than  Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy. This first issue introduces so much from Nicholas’s past to his passion for fencing & the mysterious fencing prodigy. There is so much great development, action and dialogue that will keep you hooked! Its a brilliant start to a new comic series! (Honestly, there’s tons more I discuss in my full reviews that I can’t fully explain in this wrap-up, but I HIGHLY recommend checking out Fence 💙✨🤺)

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad7.Fence #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½ Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #2 is very much build-up to Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic when they begin at King’s Row and introduction to new characters on the fencing team. We definitely see the stakes set for not only the team, but Nicholas too (considering we learn there are a limited # of spots for the main team + upcoming championships). Both Issue #1 & #2 introduce characters of color + trans rep. & it does hint at gay rep.! The tension really builds in this issue and similar to Issue #1, will keep you hooked!

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad8.Fence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad + Joana Lafuente

Owned| Read/Finished On January 20 | Rating: ★★★★☆ ½Fence Issue #2 Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Fence #3 is easily my favorite issue in the series so far! There is much more character development/background + is a very plot-driven continuation! This issue very much follows Nicholas & not only his daily campus life on King’s Row, but his determination to prove himself before his first match against a classmate. The characters from Issue #2 are getting better developed as is the gay rep. The perfect pacing, development for plotting, characters, and slight twists + turns make Issue #3, such a brilliant addition to the Fence series!

Love Sugar Magic-A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano9.Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano (W/ Cover art by Mirelle Ortega)

Library | Started January 25 + Finished January 27 | Rating:★★★★★  | Love Sugar Magic: A Dash Of Trouble Full Review

Overall Thoughts: Easily one of the best middle-grade novels I have ever read! Themes of family and friendship, alongside a delightful writing that delivers a sweet and magical tale, Love Sugar Magic was a truly unforgettable read! The story follows Leo Logroño and she comes from a family of bakers, they run the Amor y Azúcar Panadería. She’s always felt left out of the family business + feels her mother + sisters are hiding something, so a day before the Día de los Muertos festival, she sneaks her way into the bakery to see what really goes on (she soon discovers she comes from a family of brujas, who use their powers within the bakery + their treats). Now that her oldest sister Isabel knows, Leo begins to use the powers within her & experiments with the special family recipe book. However as Leo begins to lie about using her abilities to the rest of her family, she soon gets into trouble & must make very important decisions. The magic system is one of my favorite aspects about this novel, it really builds and you see how unique it is for each member of Leo’s family. The plot is perfectly developed, the writing is beautiful, the characters are spectacular, & so much more!! Such a fantastic novel, I highly recommend it!

Additional Posts From This Month:

Latinx YA Book Releases To Add To Your TBR {2018}

What Books Did You Read This Month? 😄✨📚

You may have noticed, I never posted one for December. Well, that was mainly because of vacation, but also because as the months passed nearing the end of 2017 when making my monthly wrap-ups, I noticed that I began to lose my enjoyment for making/posting them because I felt like I had to (being a pretty common post in the book-community). While I do enjoy them I felt it was time to change up the review format a bit to add more to make a bit more personal (adding the format of the book + when I started/finished). And I think doing that really brought back my enjoyment for them~

So similar to this one, I may be trying out this new format for the upcoming monthly wrap-ups, but again I’m really liking how this one turned out! 😄✨📚📚💻~ But, feel free to let me know what you think of the new format in the comments!

Fence Issue #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 3 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #3 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: January 17, 2018

Pages: 27

Summary: As Nicholas works to become a better fencer, Seiji takes an unexpected interest in his journey.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence #3 delivers on more character development and is very much a plot driven issues! For those who’ve been wanting a bit more development compared to previous issues, readers will not be disappointed in this continuation!

As we’ve know from previous issues, Nicholas has the heart to be a great fencer, but as it turns out his skills need some work. He begins to train earlier & much harder before the big competition.

I loved that for those who don’t have too much knowledge on fencing (like me 😂 ) , the fencing terms are really easy to understand  & overall I loved learning more about the techniques involved with it.

Nicholas shares more of the King’s Row dynamics + daily life in this issue which really helped to give the perfect amount of background to characters introduced in Fence #2.

While it was clear Aiden was the school’s heartthrob (and player), we get a little more development to his character when he denies to having had any connection w/ classmate Jay (who is heartbroken). However, its clear not all the top fencing guys are mean, when Harvard confronts Aiden about his rude behavior.

We also get more tension between Nicholas & Seiji as they continue to be rivals. I also loved getting more from Bobby + seeing him with his roommate/friend Dante!! (Even though Dante hasn’t said a word, I can already tell he will be another one of my favorite characters 😆💕)

Nearing the end, the main arc of this issue was definitely building up to Nicholas’s first match against a classmate. To the class’s surprise, Seiji decides to watch his match.

As it turns out Seiji admits that his first ever match/victory against Nicholas was a fluke. While that definitely was a theory in my mind as I read Fence #1, I was shocked when it was true.

This issue is probably one of my favorites. It had so much development in terms of character & story, while also being perfectly paced.

As with the previous issue, there continues to be diverse representation from black, brown to Japanese & Filipino rep.! And gay rep. is better represented than being hinted at from previous issues.

Fence #3 is definitely the strongest issue in the Fence series so far! More background to the main cast and plot make this issue perfectly paced and developed. There continues to be great character dynamics & tension that build the plot, making Fence #3 a much needed + brilliant addition to the series!

Fence Issue #2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The Mad Comic Review

Fence Issue 2 by C.S. Pacat + Johannah The MadFence #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad (Artist) + Joana Lafuente (Artist)

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: December 20, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: As Seiji and Nicholas struggle with their living arrangement, the competition heats up.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue #2 is a character-driven continuation of the Fence series! The introduction to new characters & build up to what is at stake for these fencers will keep you hooked!

As we saw in Fence #1, Seiji & Nicholas are now roommates. Their rivalry and tension continues as this issue finally introduces us to more of the King’s Row fencing team!

As Nicholas is on his way to the fencing room on campus, he figures out he’s been tricked by rival fencer, Eugene Labao, into going the wrong direction. Luckily, we get introduced to Bobby Rodruíguez who helps him get to the right room. ( I know Bobby will definitely be one of the fan-favorite characters of the series! B/C he’s one of my favorites for sure!)

Nicholas & Seiji’s dynamic is so interesting and I feel that the breaks in between their rivalry make each moment in this issue so entertaining & funny (Bobby vision vs. Nicholas vision is a perfect example!)

We get introduced to members on the current team: Tanner, Kally, & the captain!

I felt the introduction to the new members was pretty good for this issue & I’m hoping for more development in the next few issues.

As it turns out, with Nicholas’s scholarship on the line, he can’t afford to mess up (being late,  etc.) so the stakes for him as raising quite a bit as we figure that he has to make the team and reach the Championships against Exton (However only 3 spots are available!).

It was great to get even more diversity in Fence #2! This issue not only introduces more black + brown characters, but also Filipino-American rep. (Eugene), and trans rep (Bobby), and it hints at gay rep.!

This issue felt very much like build up and introduction to what will come in the next issues. Although it was great, I felt there could have been a bit more to develop the characters introduced, because it is clear there will be more from them in the future. Though I did feel there was much more development from Nicholas and Bobby in this issue.

Fence #2 is a well-developed continuation to the Fence series! With short introductions to who will obviously be more central and unique characters, this series continued to build tension and raise the stakes for the fencing team at King’s Row!

Fence Issue #1 by C.S. Pacat + Johanna The Mad Comic Review

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

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom Studios) 

Release Date: November 15, 2017

Pages: 27

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Nicholas Cox is an outsider to the competitive fencing world. Filled with raw talent but lacking proper training, he signs up for a competition that puts him head-to-head with fencing prodigy Seiji Katayama…and on the road to the elite all-boys school Kings Row. A chance at a real team and a place to belong awaits him-if he can make the cut!

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Fence Issue 1 is a brilliant start to a new comic series! The genius direction of the plot and introduction to the rivalry between the dynamic duo protagonists made Fence #1 such a page-turner! 

Okay I don’t usually buy comics issue by issue, but when I first heard about this series, I immediately knew I wouldn’t be able to wait for a complete volume!

If you’ve never heard of this series or just haven’t gotten reading it yet, please do! Its SO GOOD! I actually just marathoned all 3 issues because I knew I wouldn’t be able to put them down, so definitely keep an eye on the blog for reviews of Fence Issue #2 & #3 💙✨🤺

Fence #1 gets into the story right away as we are introduced to Nicholas Cox, 16-year old who is new to the world of fencing, but eager to compete and win in the Connecticut Regional Circuit.

As it turns out, his father, Robert Coste was an Olympic fencing champion in the 80’s. Ever since Nicholas was young and his father was out of the picture, he’d been drawn to fencing, but it wasn’t until he was a teenager that he was given the opportunity to learn.

He’s worked hard (starting at the basics, keeping up with school, work & earning just enough money to make it in) and while he is no champion, he does have a lot of heart and is determined to win. He’s told by his coach that if he wins a local tournament (Connecticut Regionals) he may have a shot at getting a scholarship if he is serious about fencing.

Now presently, he is about to enter his first match against Seiji Katayama, fencing prodigy who is incredibly skilled and on his way to the championships and possibly getting a scholarship from Exton (the best fencing school in the country).

Fellow competitors give him a hard time and believe he isn’t good enough to beat Seiji, but Nicholas isn’t giving in so easily.

This first issue of Fence really introduces a lot of threads to the story that will certainly become more complex as it continues. From Nicholas’s past, his dream to compete in fencing, to understanding fencing prodigy Seiji, the plot itself has you turning the pages and when you reach the end, eager to start the next issue right away!

I also loved that this series introduced characters of color( black, brown) & Japanese rep.!

What I felt really stuck with me about Fence (aside from the amazing + unique plot), was the characters! They are phenomenally developed! I adored the main characters Nicholas & Seiji so much!! Its clear there is so much more to them and this issue just gives you an introduction.

Their rivalry is what kept the plot of this first issue going, wondering who would win!

By the tournaments end, Seiji wins 15-0, however Nicholas vows he will beat him someday.

Six months later, Nicholas makes it to King’s Row (an all-boy’s school) on scholarship to continue with his fencing and has not forgotten his promise to beat Seiji in another tournament. As he makes his way to his dorm, he is quite surprised as to who his new roommate is!

While I personally think that the art-style could have been a bit more detailed on the backgrounds + expansion & detail on the action scenes, I felt it went perfectly with the story! It was vibrant, evenly colored and I loved the character designs! ❤

Fence #1 is a great introduction with the perfect mix of rivalry, character development, action, and dialogue to keep you hooked till the last page! Seiji & Nicholas are such incredible main characters that you will definitely be rooting for! If your looking for a new comic series I highly recommend Fence, it will not disappoint!