Chachic's Book Nook


Leave a comment

Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge: Giant Days

graphicnovelmangachallenge by espressodream

Image designed by my friend Kim of Dreaming of Espresso. Thanks for letting me use it!

Giant DaysThe only book challenge that I signed up for this year is the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge, and I went for the Modern Age level. This challenge is kicking my ass! I thought it would be totally manageable, and I was half-right because it hasn’t been difficult to read at least one graphic novel a month. I just haven’t been able to keep up with the reviewing part. But hey, last month’s review was a 3 volumes in 1 review type of thing so I think I’m still good.😛 Giant Days, Vol. 1 by John Allison and Lissa Treiman was supposedly my March graphic novel but I’m posting my review late, because this work week has been tiring and I wasn’t able to find time to sit down and work on a post.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of handwringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery mold, nuchauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive.

Giant Days, Vol. 1 was the book that I read during my birthday. I bought a copy of it earlier this year based on the recommendation of my good friend Maggie. I don’t think I’ve ever read a graphic novel with a college setting so I was curious when I found out about Giant Days. I was also drawn to the bright yellow cover and the illustration on it, showing a girl concentrating hard while she’s typing away on her phone. The art style seemed fitting for the storyline, and it reminded me a bit of some cartoons that I watched growing up. It had a young and fun vibe to it. Right off the bat, readers are introduced to Susan, Esther and Daisy. Three college girls who have totally different personalities but have become close friends in a short span of time. It was easy to sink my teeth into Giant Days and I found it an enjoyable read, but I couldn’t really say that I loved it. It was fun to get to know the girls and to see them supporting each other through their college-related adventures, but I wasn’t as invested in them as I would have liked to be. The length felt too short for me to get to know them enough. It would have been a stronger read for me if it had more character development. As it was, I felt that the storylines were spread a bit thinly to shine the spotlight on each of the girls. While it’s an interesting graphic novel, I’m a little undecided on whether I’d pick up the second volume due to be released sometime in April. I should probably read the rest of the graphic novels on my TBR pile before deciding to buy more.


7 Comments

Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge: The Wicked + The Divine

graphicnovelmangachallenge by espressodream

Image designed by my friend Kim of Dreaming of Espresso. Thanks for letting me use it!

The only book challenge that I signed up for this year is the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge, and I went for the Modern Age level. This means I need to read and review at least one graphic novel per month. On the reading part, that’s definitely not too difficult to accomplish! The reviewing part is more difficult. I received Vol. 1 of The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie (Illustrations), Matt Wilson (Colorist), Clayton Cowles last Christmas and I bought the next two installments right after. I read all three volumes together so I’m consolidating mini reviews of them in this post.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

The Wicked + The Divine - The Faust Act The Wicked + The Divine - Fandemonium The Wicked + The Divine - Commercial Suicide

Vol. 1: The Faust Act – So many people were gushing about WicDiv and it kept being mentioned whenever I asked for graphic novel recommendations. I was excited to get started on Vol. 1 because I thought the concept for the series was brilliant. I was intrigued when I read the premise, and immediately wanted to find out more about these young men and women who turned into gods, and manifested their powers by performing concerts. They thrived on these performances, and the audience loved them. Kind of similar to how much influence rock stars and pop stars have in the real world, just a little bit more intense. I thought the artwork was gorgeous and reminded me a bit of Jem and the Holograms, one of my favorite animated shows when I was younger. Vol. 1 served as a quick introduction to the series, showing readers a wide range of characters. I enjoyed reading it but I was mostly confused by the time I reached the end. I felt like I couldn’t get a clear grasp of the storyline. Good thing I already had a copy of Vol. 2 with me so I could dive right in.

Vol. 2: Fandemonium – Vol. 2 continues with the story that Vol. 1 started and introduced a few more of the gods. I went through Vol. 2 pretty quickly because I wanted to understand what was going on. And yes, I did get some of the answers that I wanted but even more questions were raised. Just when I thought I would finally see everything come together, BAM! Something else happens that I can’t figure out. I know I’m being very vague here but I don’t want to accidentally mention any spoilers. Similar to how I felt when I finished Vol. 1, I wanted the next installment ASAP. I was lucky I started reading these just as Vol. 3 was released.

Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide – I was so glad Vol. 3 was readily available in Kinokuniya Singapore. I didn’t have to wait too long to find out what happens next. Going into Vol. 3, I had no clue that the illustrations would be different from the earlier two installments. Each chapter was illustrated by a different artist. While the idea may seem appealing to other readers, I really liked the original artwork and wanted the story to continue in that way. I found the abrupt changes jarring. On top of that, I still felt mostly confused even if I was already in the third book in the series. Sadly, it was a disappointing read for me. I just wasn’t invested enough in the story or the characters.

After reading three volumes, my conclusion is that WicDiv isn’t a series for me. There’s too much violence, too many questions, and not enough answers. I wouldn’t have minded the violence if I loved the story, but sadly, that wasn’t the case here. As always, I’m glad I tried something new. But I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that I would have a better experience with my March graphic novel read.


11 Comments

2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge

One of my reading goals this year is to read more graphic novels! I was just browsing when I happened to stumble upon a challenge that will help me accomplish this goal: the 2016 Graphic Novel / Manga Challenge. Instructions can be found here. And since it’s mentioned in the site that it’s never too late to join, I’m signing up now!

2016 graphic novel challenge

I haven’t joined a book challenge in ages but I feel like this is something that I wouldn’t have much trouble with. Since I’m a newbie, I’m going to choose the Modern Age level which means I have to read and review 12 graphic novels this year. One per month shouldn’t be too much, right? I even have one for January since I managed to read and post a (mini) review of Soppy. I’m glad my last book haul also has some titles that I can read for this challenge. To serve as a reminder to myself when I look back on this post, here are graphic novels / comics that I already have copies of:

American Born Chinese This One Summer Anya's Ghost

Maktan 1521 Halina Filipina Mythspace

The Wicked + The Divine - The Faust Act The Wicked + The Divine - Fandemonium Rat Queens Vol 2 Ms. Marvel Giant Days

I have a few more titles in my wishlist but we’ll see if I’ll be able to get copies of them. I have a feeling this challenge will make me want to browse the graphic novel section of Kinokuniya more often (or Fully Booked whenever I’m in Manila). If you have any recommendations for graphic novels, please feel free to leave a comment.:)


19 Comments

Best of 2011

Happy 2012! Hope you guys had fun celebrating, wherever you may be. I’m basically mirroring what I did with my best of 2010 list last year because I also posted it on January 1. Looks like 2010 was better in terms of favorites because I had 20 in my 2010 list and I only have 15 for 2011. Here they are, in no particular order (click on the images to see my reviews):

Also, just a quick recap of the challenges that I joined this year and the books that I read and reviewed for them:


Aussie YA Reading Challenge
Good Oil by Laura Buzo
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Pink by Lili Wilkinson
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley


Once Upon a Time V Challenge
Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliassotti
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Chime by Franny Billingsley
The City in the Lake by Rachel Neumeier
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier

That wraps up 2011 for me. Looking forward to more bookish goodness in 2012!:)


11 Comments

Good Oil by Laura Buzo

I can’t remember where I got the original recommendation for Good Oil by Laura Buzo but I’ve heard such good things about it. I’ve put off reading it because after this, I’ll be out of Aussie YA books to read. But I wanted to include it in this year’s Aussie YA Reading Challenge so I went ahead and picked it up. I finished reading this a couple of weeks ago but real life got in the way of things so I haven’t posted my review until now.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

“Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I’m open to all kinds of bribery.”

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost… head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he’s 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be a hundred. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

Good Oil was published in 2010 but I get the feeling that it’s set earlier because the characters use landlines instead of mobile phones to contact each other and there’s no mention of the internet. I just noticed that little thing but I certainly didn’t mind because it reminded me of how things were like when I was in high school. What I really liked about Good Oil is we get alternating perspectives from both Amelia and Chris. I could relate to fifteen-year-old Amelia, still in high school and nursing the biggest of crushes even though she knows there’s no hope. If you’ve ever had a crush on someone unattainable, then you’d really like Amelia. She’s also smart and passionate about the things that she believes in. And a bonus point for all of us readers: she loves to read as well. A quote from the book from Chris’ POV: “She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally.” Umm Chris, why is that surprising? I do that all the time! I could also relate to Chris, who’s older but not necessarily wiser. Funny, charming Chris who studies in college while working in Woolsworth, or what he calls the Land of Dreams. He’s heartbroken and dulls his pain by consuming as much alcohol as he can. Endless drinking sessions in college? Been there, done that. If you’ve ever been lonely and heartbroken, you’ll be able to sympathize with Chris too. I felt like his voice was very realistic for a guy in his early twenties.

I’m beginning to think there really is something in the water that Australian authors drink. How else can we explain the number of well-written YA novels that keep popping up? Good Oil is no exception. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the interactions between the two main characters – how Amelia looks up to Chris and wants to spend more time with him even if nothing romantic develops between them and how Chris calls Amelia youngster but starts to think of her as maybe something more (although he also knows there couldn’t be anything between them because of the age difference). I liked the tension and the friendship between these two, their conversations are intriguing and fun to observe. It also made me realize how vastly different high school and college students behave. Good Oil is something that I’d recommend to all fans of contemporary YA, I just wish it was a lot easier to acquire. I think this is the last Aussie YA title that I will review for this year but I’m looking forward to reading more of these in 2012! I definitely had a lot of fun completing the Aussie YA Reading Challenge for this year.

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Inkcrush
Readventurer
The Crooked Shelf


8 Comments

Pink by Lili Wilkinson

I’ve been neglecting the Aussie YA Challenge the past few months because I still have the rest of the year to finish it and I only need two more books. But when my good friend Celina offered to let me borrow her copy of Pink by Lili Wilkinson, I decided to go ahead and read it. I’ve been hearing good things about this book. Also, that’s one less book for me to buy. Thanks again, Celina, for lending your copy.:)

Here’s the summary from Lili Wilkinson’s website:

Ava Simpson is trying on a whole new image. Stripping the black dye from her hair, she heads off to the Billy Hughes School for Academic Excellence, leaving her uber-cool girlfriend, Chloe, behind.

Ava is quickly taken under the wing of perky, popular Alexis who insists that: a) she’s a perfect match for handsome Ethan; and b) she absolutely must audition for the school musical.

But while she’s busy trying to fit in — with Chloe, with Alexis and her Pastel friends, even with the misfits in the stage crew — Ava fails to notice that her shiny reinvented life is far more fragile than she imagined.

Pink is a delightful, contemporary Aussie read. It’s all about how the main character, Ava, is confused about a lot of things in her life. She thinks her girlfriend Chloe is awesome and she feels lucky to be in a relationship but she also wants to explore and discover other things about herself. She’s tired of always wearing black and trying not to care about school because that’s what Chloe wants. So she transfers to Billy Hughes so she can wear pink, act all girly and maybe even date a guy. Ava just didn’t realize that things aren’t so simple. It’s hard to form friendships when she’s hiding so much about herself. She doesn’t even know when she’s just pretending and when she’s being real. I think Pink’s storyline is something that most teenagers will be able to relate to. I can remember being confused about so many things in my life back when I was that age so I could definitely understand where Ava is coming from. As Ava finds out for herself, it takes time for things to fall into place. You can’t just magically be somebody else even when you transfer schools.

As with most novels set in high school, the characters are divided into the popular and unpopular groups – in this case, the actors vs. the stage crew. I’ve always liked theater settings in novels because there’s so much that happens in preparation for a play or a musical (and also because I like watching theater productions in real life). The characters get to bond over rehearsals or while building sets. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, Aussie YA rocks. Why can’t Filipino YA be the same?😛 Pink is funny and very easy to read. Ava is one smart girl but some of the things that she gets herself into are hilarious. I felt embarrassed for her several times. But I was always rooting for her, I wanted her to make sense of everything that was confusing in her life. Ava makes mistakes along the way but that’s part of growing up. I think she did the best that she could and that’s all that we can ever ask of anyone. I recommend this for fans of contemporary fiction and international readers should take advantage of the fact that this has been printed in the US so it’s more accessible than other Aussie titles. I’m already looking forward to reading Lili Wilkinson’s A Pocketful of Things.

Other reviews:
Steph Su Reads
My Girl Friday
The Readventurer


8 Comments

Retro Friday: Clockwork Heart

Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie over at Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be an old favorite, an under-the-radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print, etc.

I already posted about how I was able to get a copy of Clockwork Heart but in case you didn’t see it, Janice of Janicu’s Book Blog generously sent me a copy when she found out that I was interested in reading this book.

Here’s the summary from Dru Pagliassotti’s website:

Taya soars over Ondinium on metal wings. She is an icarus — a courier privileged to travel freely across the city’s sectors and mingle indiscriminately among its castes. But even she can’t outfly the web of terrorism, loyalty, murder, and intrigue that snares her after a daring mid-air rescue. Taya finds herself entangled with the Forlore brothers, scions of an upperclass family: handsome, brilliant Alister, who sits on the governing council and writes programs for the Great Engine; and awkward, sharp-tongued Cristof, who has exiled himself from his caste and repairs clocks in Ondinium’s lowest sector. Both hide dangerous secrets, in this city that beats to the ticking of a clockwork heart…

I was confused for the first few pages of Clockwork Heart because it took me a while to be fully immersed in the worldbuilding and to understand the terms that go with it. This steampunk novel is set in a fictional country where there’s a strict caste system. Only the icarii, couriers who can fly using metal wings, can move freely across all castes. It’s funny because I’m afraid of heights but I would love to try flying using those icarus wings. Taya is an icarus who suddenly gets involved in Ondinium’s politics when she rescues the wife and son of one of the country’s most powerful leaders. Taya was an easy character to like, she’s a no-nonsense type of person who strives to be the best that she can be in her job. She loves to travel, which is fitting since she’s an icarus, and longs to be assigned as an envoy in other countries. Another character that I liked right from the start is grouchy, sarcastic Cristof who’s the exact opposite of his handsome and charming brother Alister. Cristof is a member of the highest caste in the country but he chose to turn his back on his prestigious lifestyle. He works as a clockwright instead because he’s fascinated with the inner workings of clocks and other mechanical devices. I think he’s the steampunk equivalent of a nerd and I found him endearing. Cristof’s geeky charm trumps Alister’s suave moves. Another intriguing aspect of the novel is the relationship between these two brothers and how they do what they can for the other person even though they have such different views in life.

There were some parts of the novel that went way over my head like the mechanics of the icarii’s metal wings and the discussions about programming and subroutines. Programs what? But those things didn’t pull me out of the story so I didn’t really mind them. There’s a lot of action, some mystery and political intrigue in Clockwork Heart, which made it such a fun book to read. I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that I enjoyed reading this because I’m a fan of political intrigue in fiction. You really don’t have to be into steampunk to like this novel and I have a feeling most fantasy fans would take pleasure in reading Clockwork Heart. I was able to predict one of the plot points and had an “I knew it!” moment but all of the other events were a surprise. It’s only the middle of the year but I have a feeling that this book will make it to my best of 2011 list. I really don’t understand why it’s out of print. I heard that there’s a second book in the works and I’d love to read that as soon as it becomes available. Read this if you get the chance, it deserves to get more attention!

Other reviews:
Janicu’s Book Blog
Angieville
See Michelle Read
The Book Smugglers

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,697 other followers