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.

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.

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. 🙂

Instagram Challenge: #FYAPhotoaday

This month, I’m joining Forever Young Adult’s Photo-a-day challenge on Instagram. I saw that several of the bloggers I follow on Instagram were participating in this so I thought it would be fun to do it too. I’m chachickenpie on Instagram if anyone wants to check out my posts. I have no idea if I’ll be able to keep up with the challenge for the whole month of September but let’s see. I may not be able to post every day since a lot of my books are back home in Manila. And I’ve been reading a lot on my Kindle lately and I have to admit that it’s difficult to take creative pictures of Kindle editions.

Here’s the list for the challenge:

fya_photo-a-day

I like Instagram bookish challenges because I think is fun to browse through book pictures. Do you post book pictures on Instagram? Have you joined any bookish challenges there?

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

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews

Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews is the fifth installment in the Kate Daniels series and one of my most anticipated reads for this year. I always thought I was more into epic fantasy than anything else but Ilona Andrews changed my mind and this series has become my favorite when it comes to urban fantasy. This review will contain spoilers for the previous books so don’t proceed unless you’ve read the others. Even the book’s summary is spoiler so pick up the other books in the series first before you read this one, I promise, you won’t regret it. Reading order of the books: Magic Bites, Magic Burns, Magic Strikes and Magic Bleeds.

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Kate Daniels may have quit the Order of Merciful Aid, but she’s still knee-deep in paranormal problems. Or she would be if she could get someone to hire her. Starting her own business has been more challenging than she thought it would be — now that the Order is disparaging her good name, and many potential clients are afraid of getting on the bad side of the Beast Lord, who just happens to be Kate’s mate.

So when Atlanta’s premier Master of the Dead calls to ask for help with a vampire on the loose, Kate leaps at the chance of some paying work. Turns out this is not an isolated incident, and Kate needs to get to the bottom of it—fast, or the city and everyone dear to her might pay the ultimate price…

I devoured the first four books in this series last year and proceeded to read everything that Ilona Andrews has written. I read Magic Slays as soon as I can because it feels good to be back in Kate Daniels’ world. Everything that I loved in the other books is present in this one: the detailed worldbuilding with a different set of villains and mythology in each book (in this one, it’s Russian mythology), the characters who change and develop throughout the course of the series and the witty banter that had me laughing out loud. There’s also the magic vs. technology situation that’s always interesting.

What I really liked about Magic Slays is how the authors keep building on the world that they created, slowly revealing information to move the story along. We get to know more about Kate’s past but there’s still enough mystery to make readers speculate. I’m sure there will be more (and probably bigger) revelations in the next book. I also really enjoyed seeing the development in Kate and Curran’s relationship. Yes, it’s been established that they’re mated and we all know that they’re meant to be together but I loved seeing them work through the problems that rise up because they’re both complicated people with a lot of issues. Just when you think you couldn’t love Curran more, he goes off to do and say things that are unexpectedly sweet. Kate’s tendency to be a lone wolf makes it difficult for her to connect with anyone – her mate, her best friend, her ward and friends from the pack – and even though she’s mellowed out in this installment, it’s still not easy for her. Add to all that the usual amount of butt-kicking action than can be expected from someone like Kate Daniels and her circle of friends and you’re in for a book that you wouldn’t be able to put down.

The other day, I was telling friends who are also fans of the series that maybe it would have been a good idea to wait for all of the books to be out before I started reading them. But then I realized that I wouldn’t want to miss out on all the fun and I enjoy discussing these books too much not to read them as they’re released. I just need to learn to be patient and wait for the next installment after reading this. At this point, if you’re an Ilona Andrews fan then there’s nothing more that I can say because you probably have this book in your TBR pile already. If you’ve never heard of the series or you’re thinking of reading it (boo, you’ve seen the spoilers!), I hope you get to do so soon because the Kate Daniels books are awesome. I gobbled up Magic Slays and it still left me hungry for more. I think the stage is nicely set for the next two books in the series and as always, I can’t wait to read them.

Other reviews:
Lurv a la Mode
Angieville

______________________________________________________________________________________
This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

I think I’ve mentioned in the blog before that I’m not a big fan of dystopian books but since so many blogging buddies loved the Chaos Walking trilogy, I decided to give it a try. I received all three books for my birthday this year.

Here’s the summary from Patrick Ness’ website:

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

I think the UK editions are so pretty, look:

The Knife of Never Letting Go is a very absorbing read. Each chapter end was written in such a way that it encourages you to keep on reading and I think that’s the mark of an excellent writer. Other people warned me that the language might take some getting used to. Todd’s lack of education is clearly reflected in the way he narrates but that didn’t bother me at all. Patrick Ness created a very intriguing world with this trilogy and it reminded me somewhat of Sharon Shinn’s Samaria. Todd was believable as a boy on the cusp of manhood, as innocent as his foster fathers can keep him and clueless about his town’s past. He has no idea of what’s real and what’s not in his world. When he discovers something unexpected, he has no choice but to run, together with his accidental friend, Viola. My favorite character in the entire book is Manchee, Todd’s dog. I feel like if dogs could communicate with their masters, they’d act exactly like Manchee. At first I found him hilarious because he acted the same way as Dug, the talking dog in the Pixar film Up with his constant shouts of “Squirrel!” before running after the smaller animal. Manchee is a steadfast companion and the best friend any boy could ever have.

To be honest, I was hoping I’d love this just as much as my blogging friends did but that didn’t happen (please don’t hate me!). I really liked it but it didn’t make me emotional, which is what other readers experienced. Others had really violent reactions to this book: they cried, they wanted to throw it against a wall, they had to pause before they could continue reading. I feel like I was more of a casual observer and I was kind of detached from the characters instead of being fully engrossed. And I can’t even explain why. There wasn’t anything specific that pulled me out of the story, I just wasn’t sucked in. I’m starting to think that maybe I’m missing the dystopian gene? Why do I end up just liking the post-apocalyptic books that others love? But then again, I loved The Hunger Games and The Giver so maybe it really is just a matter of taste. Like I said, this is a really good book with excellent writing and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to fans of dystopian lit, I just wanted to explain why I didn’t love it. I’m still looking forward to reading the other two books in the trilogy since I already have copies and I am curious about what will happen to Todd and the rest of the characters. I just don’t think I will be as enthusiastic about this series as the rest of the fans are.

Other reviews:
See Michelle Read
One More Page
Good Books and Good Wine
The Crooked Shelf

______________________________________________________________________________________
This book is one of my entries in the Once Upon a Time challenge.

Once Upon a Time V Challenge

This year, I already signed up for the Aussie YA Reading Challenge and I told myself that I would only join one challenge this year so I won’t have a hard time finishing it. But then I saw Chelle’s starting line post for the Once Upon a Time V challenge and I was tempted. Once Upon a Time is a challenge hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. I did the challenge last year and I was able to accomplish what I originally signed up for. Since I read a lot of fantasy anyway, I think it would be a good idea to participate again this year.

Here are the rules:

Rule #1: Have fun.

Rule #2: Have fun.

Rule #3: Don’t keep the fun to yourself, share it with us, please!

Rule #4: Do not be put off by the word “challenge”.

Initially, I was only going to do The Journey, which only requires a person to read one book but then I decided to go with what I went for last year – Quest the First.

Read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.

That looks like something I’ll be able to manage. Yay, I’m excited to read the books that will fall under this challenge. Reviews are posted here if you want to check them out. Some of my possibles for this challenge:

Aussie YA Reading Challenge

I haven’t signed up for any challenges for next year but since I plan on reading a couple of Aussie YA books, I thought I might as well sign up for this one. The Aussie YA Book Challenge is hosted by Nic of Irresistible Reads and Nomes of Inkcrush. Click on the link to learn more about it. The rules of the challenge are:

Australian participants – Read at least 12 young adult books by Australian authors from 1st January, 2011 to 31st December, 2011.

International participants – Read at least 6 young adult books by Australian authors from 1st January, 2011 to 31st December, 2011.

They can be old or new titles, however no re-reads. It is open to everyone. You don’t have to be a blogger but you MUST POST A REVIEW.

I’m planning to read the following books for this challenge:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Six Impossible Things by Fiona Wood
Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar
Good Oil by Laura Buzo

I’ve had my copy of The Book Thief since 2007 and I still haven’t read it! I know that it’s really good, I’ve seen so many glowing reviews so I don’t understand why I haven’t picked it up. I enjoyed reading Saving Francesca so I can’t wait to read The Piper’s Son. I’m so glad it’s going to be internationally available soon. I will be getting copies of the last four books in the list from a friend who’s coming home from Australia. Yay, so excited to get them. Aussie books are really expensive but at least I won’t have to pay for shipping.

That’s it for my starting post for this challenge. What about you, any Aussie titles that you’re planning to read next year?

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Bloggiesta is a challenge hosted by Natasha of Maw Books and it is about to come to an end. My starting line post can be found over here. If you click the link, you’ll see that I’ve crossed off the items that I was able to accomplish. I am sorry to say that I wasn’t able to cross off everything but I can definitely say that I’ve been productive and I still feel like I’ve done a lot this weekend. In summary, these were the things that I was able to finish:

– Cleaned up my sidebar
– Edited my About Me page and added a Review Policy there
– Wrote a non-review post about the availability of books here in the Philippines
– Created a new weekly meme called Want Books? focusing on books in your wishlist. Anyone can join in this meme!
– Had a little break from the fiesta and watched North and South
– Created templates for future posts with book cover images, summaries and links
– Made a business card design
– Organized my Google Reader into folders
– New post We Love YA! post featuring my friend Evert
Giveaway of Beauty by Robin McKinley, only in the Philippines

Here’s the breakdown of the number of hours that I put in:
Friday – 5
Saturday – 3.5
Sunday – 6.5

For a total of 15 hours. I’m sure that’s not a lot compared to the other participants but I still think it’s been a great weekend. I had a lot of fun and I look forward to participating in the next Bloggiesta. To all those who dropped by my blog, thank you and I appreciate the comments.