Mini Reviews: Graphic Novels & Illustrated Books

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Happily Ever After & Everything In Between

by Debbie Tung

eARC, 160 pages

Published June 2nd 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing

✰✰✰✰.5

From the bestselling author of Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and Book Love comes a funny and adorable collection of comics about married life, specifically an introvert married to an extrovert! Debbie Tung’s tender, funny, and utterly relatable comics are the perfect gift for anyone in a relationship.

The comics in Happily Ever After & Everything In Between may be inspired by Debbie Tung’s marriage to her extrovert husband, but any couple can relate to increasingly relaxed anniversaries, slowly seeing more of each other’s weird sides, or the punishment for taking care of your sick loved one (catching whatever they had). Happily Ever After humorously captures what everyday love looks like—both the sweet moments and the mundane—making it a fitting gift for weddings, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day.


I received an eARC from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review

This is a really lighthearted and fluffy graphic novel that just warms my heard and made me really happy! I love how it covers the first few years of their marriage, the journey of doing other mundane “firsts”, but as a couple that are worth to be celebrated (c’mon, couple pre and post marriage are different 😂). I love the ending, it’s really sweet and hopeful and I can’t help but following the author on instagram afterwards because I’ve grown to care so much haha! Basically it’s just super cute and I love it so much!

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The Crossroads at Midnight

by Abby Howard

eARC, 358 pages

Expected publication: October 6th 2020 by Iron Circus Comics

✰✰✰✰✰

A masterful collection of tales from the faded border between our day-to-day world and the horrifying unknown on the other side of midnight.

An old woman living alone on the edge of a bog gets an unexpected — and unsettling — visitor, throwing her quiet life into a long-buried mystery. An isolated backwoods family stumbles into good fortune for a time with a monstrous discovery in the lake behind their house, but that time is running short. And a misfit little girl, struggling to make friends, meets an understanding soul one day at the beach: but why will he only play with her alone at night? All these lonely souls — and more — have reached out into the darkness, not knowing what they might find.

Around the dark edges of reality lurk unknown beings with unknowable intentions — ordinary objects can become cursed possessions, entities who seem like friends can become monstrous, and those who seem monstrous can become the truest companions. In this collection of evocative, unnerving slice-of-life horror, five stories explore what happens when one is desperate enough to seek solace in the unnatural, and what might be waiting for us at the Crossroads at Midnight.


I received an eARC from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review

I LOVE scary stories, especially those with illustrations and I found a new favorite in The Crossroads at Midnight! This graphic novel is an anthology of 5 different different tales, all happening on midnight and let me tell you, it just sucks you right in! I read this in one sitting and I’m super lucky to read it in broad daylight because I got chills then- I can’t imagine reading this at midnight for real like I planned to do! 😭😨

Some of them downright scares you, other is more sad. Some of them have a subtle scares, others showed you the gore. I can’t choose which story is my favorite because all of them are just fantastic in their own way, but if I really have to choose: Mattress, Used scared me the most, but Kindred Spirit was just perfect in terms that not only it’s creepy, it’s also emotional.

I don’t know what else I can say except that I love this and I highly recommend it to you guys if you’re looking for some creepy stories to read! 

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Popol Vuh: A Retelling

by Ilan Stavans & Gabriela Larios

ebook, 160 pages

Expected publication: October 27th 2020 by Restless Books

✰✰

An inspired and urgent prose retelling of the Maya myth of creation by renowned Latin American author and scholar Ilan Stavans, gorgeously illustrated by Salvadoran folk artist Gabriela Larios.

The archetypal creation story of Latin America, the Popol Vuh began as a Maya oral tradition millennia ago. In the mid-sixteenth century, as indigenous cultures across the continent were being threatened with destruction by European conquest and Christianity, it was written down in verse by members of the K’iche’ nobility in what is today Guatemala. In 1701, that text was translated into Spanish by a Dominican friar and ethnographer before vanishing mysteriously.

Cosmic in scope and yet intimately human, the Popol Vuh offers invaluable insight into the Maya way of life before being decimated by colonization—their code of ethics, their views on death and the afterlife, and their devotion to passion, courage, and the natural world. It tells the story of how the world was created in a series of rehearsals that included wooden dummies, demi-gods, and eventually humans. It describes the underworld, Xibalba—a place as harrowing as Dante’s hell—and relates the legend of the ultimate king, who, in the face of tragedy, became a spirit that accompanies his people in their struggle for survival.


I received an eARC from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review

I’m really sad to give this book only 2 stars because ever since I read GODS OF JADE AND SHADOWS, I’m interested to learn more on Mayan mythology and this illustrated book seems to gives a unique opportunity. However, while I love the illustration, the writing doesn’t really click with me.

So let’s start with the positive; again, I love the illustrations and the story seems to be told chronologically. It’s interesting to see how many religions in the world have similar themes in their creation and origin story- such as world creation, the great cleansing flood, the importance of fires, and exodus- these themes (and more) are present in Popol Vuh. The writer also did a great job in showing how inextricably linked the Mayan people with natures, their homeland, and the traditions through their origin from maize and animals that continuously present in the story, whether as a secondary character or as a symbol.

But there are things that did not click with me and severely affect my reading experience. This book is told from a 3rd person perspective and it feels like an elder telling the story to the tribe/people after conquistador era, but it felt like it’s told by a vengeful all-knowing being at times? It gives the feel of gathering around fires to listen to story, which is good I guess considering Popol Vuh was told as an oral tradition. But I just felt this nagging sense of loss of who’s talking and it’s unsettling, if you know what I mean? There are also events in the book that I feel are not explained well, for example: if humans are created later and the hero twins is considered as a demigod, what are Hun Hunahpu and Ixquic? Which one of them is the “god” and which one is “human”? Another questions came later when reading about the progenitor humans and the migration of the K’iche people, where the “them” and “they” became confusing on who’s the pronoun is pointing at. Is the progenitor good or bad? And does this chapter showed the K’iche people going out into the world by merging or conquering other tribes?

Overall, I’m glad I read this book as now I have a better knowledge on the Mayan mythology. The accompanying illustrations are beautiful and I have a better grasp on the important values held by the civilization. However, there are parts of the story that can be written in a less confusing way.

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Moonstruck Vol 1: Magic to Brew

by Grace Ellis

eARC, 138 pages

Published March 27th 2018 by Image Comics

✰✰✰

Werewolf barista Julie and her new girlfriend go on a date to a close-up magic show, but all heck breaks loose when the magician casts a horrible spell on their friend Chet. Now it’s up to the team of mythical pals to stop the illicit illusionist before it’s too late.

Collects issues 1 through 5.


I received an eARC from Edelweiss Plus in exchange for an honest review

This graphic novel makes me really happy! It’s like a combination of Mooncakes and Tea Dragon Society: the art reminds me of the latter, while the characters and settings reminded me of Moonstruck where humans and magical creatures are living side by side in the modern setting.

I also love how diverse the characters are! Julie is a latina, Serena is Black and both of them are werewolves! We also get a f/f romance between them 💕 Then there’s Chet, a centaur that’s an amazing friend and who’s dramatic made them my favorite 🥰 It feels very natural without being forced in the midst of magic, poltergeist, wizard, and seer.

The whole volume gives me positive feelings and I love the relationships between the characters here, but one huge complain I have is that the plot is actually very weak. I prefer the slice of life part because the mystery was just really meh and wasn’t developed properly. It feels like we don’t know the villain motivation as well as any closure. But it’s a very short and quick story and I can’t wait to read more!

tasya

 

 


7 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Graphic Novels & Illustrated Books

  1. Omg I’m actually interested in Happily Ever After & Everything in Between, it sounds so cute ❤ I've seen a few comics online about married life and it's hilarious, heartwarming, and simply adorable. Super interesting! I don't really read graphic novels because I don't know much books that interest me, but I would definitely give them a try when I can. 🙂

    jillian @ jillian etc.

    Like

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