Graphic Novel Review: Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

August 27, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews, Graphic Novel: Adult 1 Comment

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imagesBandette

Series: Volume I

Author: Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Published: Published November 26th 2013 by Dark Horse Comics

Genres:  Young Adult, Crime, Adventure

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover’s enchanting, Eisner-nominated digital series comes to print! The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar in swinging Paris by the nome d’arte of Bandette! Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law, Bandette is a thorn in the sides of both police inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. But it’s not all breaking hearts and purloining masterpieces when a rival thief discovers that an international criminal organization wants Bandette dead! This beautiful hardcover includes the first arc, tales of Bandette’s street urchin helpers by guest artists, an original illustrated story, and more!

Things I liked:

  • The design is bold and striking, referencing a sort of 60s mod-ish design. This is something I really haven’t seen before and it gives the book an immediate sense of identity. Plus, isn’t that cover just gorgeous? The combination of that red and black really catches the eye in the same way Hitchcock’s Vertigo poster does.
  • The story is written with a real sense of fun and whimsy. It is a pleasure to follow the free-spirited Bandette’s adventures and this story is told with a perfectly-pitched light touch.
  • There is a real depth to the gallery of characters here. Even the minor characters feel distinctive and inject the story with lots of personality. I particularly liked the Matador and I loved the way she was styled.

Things I disliked:

  • This is only the first volume of adventures for Bandette, collecting a run of digital comics, and as such it does not tell a complete story. Be forewarned that the story ends really abruptly and that you will be left craving more.

Favorite Moment:

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I really enjoyed the sequence in which Bandette battles the Matador. They are both very strong female characters with lots of personality and it was fun to watch them interact.

What I thought of the art style:

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I really enjoyed the artwork in this collection. I loved the striking use of bold colors for the main characters with simpler watercolor backgrounds that really make those characters pop out of the page and seem larger than life. I also really appreciated that the artist is given a section at the end of the graphic novel where she explains the processes she uses to create her artwork which mixes traditional and digital techniques.

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Final Thoughts: This is a tremendously enjoyable graphic novel which combines an entertaining story with a charming, lively heroine. Bandette is given some wonderful dialog that shows off her spunky, lively character throughout the story and I also liked the ensemble of background characters who contribute much of the story’s sense of whimsy and humor. Bandette is definitely an unusual heroine in that she is technically a thief but she is always stealing for a good cause. I loved her interactions, especially with two characters – the first being her love interest who she teases mercilessly and secondly with the Matador, one of her most distinctive rivals who is also a very fun character in her own right. I also really enjoyed all of the literary and art references that are spread throughout this story. It is very rare that a comicbook will make you smile as much as this one made me smile and if you enjoy lighthearted caper stories with strong female leads, then I think this is the comicbook for you!

rating5
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Book Review: A Hitch at the Fairmont by Jim Averbeck

August 26, 2014 Aidan Middle Grade, Mystery, Thriller 0 Comments

AHitchAtTheFairmontA Hitch at the Fairmont

Author: Jim Averbeck
Published: June 24th 2014 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Thriller

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir.
After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco’s swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written… in chocolate?
Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice: Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair.

Aidan’s Review:

smalliconaidanThe Three Investigators series was one of my favorites from my childhood. The series featured three young boys who, having befriended Alfred Hitchcock, investigate mysteries around their hometown. Often these would feature spooky elements, like haunted houses, and there were sometimes tenuous connections to the movie business but I ate them up. I even foolishly believed that Alfred Hitchcock must have genuinely played some role in developing them thanks to the introductions that would precede each story.

This novel features its own teenaged male lead but Alfred Hitchcock is much more central to the story.

The mystery itself is surprisingly complex, playing out across over four hundred pages. That would not be long for a young adult novel but it does feel long for a middle grade read. It begins with an apparent murder (which happens “off screen”) and a kidnapping follows shortly afterwards. While the plot initially seems quite straightforward, there are several twists that definitely change the game. One of those took me completely by surprise yet fit with the book’s setting and provides the reader with an interesting lesson about some of San Francisco’s history.

Jack was an appealing lead and I did root for him to find the answers he was looking for. He’s perhaps a little too capable, but he fits the tradition of Nancy Drew, Frank and Joe Hardy and yes, even Jupiter Jones and his friends. I really enjoyed the novel’s depiction of Alfred Hitchcock and I enjoyed the author’s habit of having elements of their adventure foreshadow movies Hitchcock would direct later. While the youngster solves the crime, he provides some invaluable advice not just about solving the mystery but about life in general. Their friendship is quite charming and while the Hitchcock of the book owes more to his public persona than the darker side of his character found in some biopics and biographies, I enjoyed seeing the pair interact. It turns out that as worldly as Hitchcock is, Jack is sharp and able to use his youth to his advantage.

The pair find themselves in some ridiculous situations in the course of the novel, prompting many of the story’s funniest scenes. While those familiar with Hitchcock’s personality will get the most out of the humor, many of the situations are ludicrous enough to stand on their own merits. I particularly enjoyed the indignities that get heaped on the famous director in the final chapters as they devise a cunning plan to expose the criminals.

Perhaps the thing I liked most about this book though was the way each chapter opens with a storyboard showing a key moment that will happen. Some of these are instantly clear, whetting our appetites for things to come, while others may seem less obvious. The drawing style is utterly charming though and they are eventually referenced in the story itself (storyboarding is one of Jack’s talents).

I do wonder how suited the novel will be to its target audience, particularly given its page count, but I really respect that it doesn’t talk down to its younger readers. Those with an interest in films will have fun spotting the references and those who have yet to develop an interest in his films may appreciate the author’s notes at the end.

rating4
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Book Review: Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

August 25, 2014 Alisa Book Reviews, Fantasy, Young Adult 4 Comments

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17926775Stolen Songbird

Author: Danielle L. Jensen

Published: April 1st 2014 by Strange Chemistry

Series: The Malediction Trilogy #1

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Alisa’s Review:

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Stolen Songbird is a novel that works thanks to its striking and original world-building which goes far beyond the typical fantasy elements to deliver a richly developed and satisfying Troll culture. Unlike many fantasy novels where a culture is represented as monolithic, Stolen Songbird‘s world is peppered with believable individuals who may have fantasy origins but who feel truly three-dimensional.

This same approach extends to the main character, Cécile, and to her love interest Tristan. I really loved how tough and spunky Cécile is and that even though she finds herself in an impossibly difficult situation, her bravery and fearlessness helps her meet her challenges. As for Tristan, I liked the way the author gives him complex, murky motives that are slowly revealed as the story goes on. The pair share a love-hate relationship that follows a predictable path but it is really fun to see them spar with each other.

While I thought that this story’s setting was original and exciting, I felt like very little is actually resolved at the end of this book, making it seem like the story has been arbitrarily cut into three sections. That being said, the world building was so strong and the characters were so appealing that I am very interested to see what happens next.

rating5

 

 

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Weekly Roundup: Dr. Who Is Back!

August 24, 2014 Alisa weekly roundup 8 Comments

weekly roundup5What is going on the blogs:

 

pictureusreadingbanner3Picture Us Reading:

Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Graphic Novel Review: Star Trek- Burden of Knowledge

Discussion Post: Bookish Webseries 

 

cropped-twglogoThose Who Geek: 

Twilight Zone: Mr. Denton On Doomsday

Top Five: Star Trek Aliens

Veronica Mars: Meet John Smith

Star Trek: The Corbomite Maneuver

Doctor Who: The Fifth Doctor Box Set

Doctor Who Season 8: Deep Breath

Outlander: The Way Out

Awesome Blogger Posts:

Asti@ Oh The Books!- Talks about her boyfriend’s reading habits and how she convinced him to be a reader. Very cute post!

Tabitha@ Not Yet Read-Does a weekly post where she includes her fanart and links to other art as well.

 Life Stuff:

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  • Doctor Who is back! However the TV Scheduling gods are EVIL because Outlander and Dr. Who are on at the SAME day and time this year!
  • I am bit overwhelmed with how much work stuff I need to get done, I am more than aware that the baby is going to be born in a matter of weeks and I still have a lot to get done on that front as well.
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Feature and Follow: TV series or movie?

August 22, 2014 Alisa Uncategorized 23 Comments

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Question of the Week: What book/series do you think would make a better TV show than a movie?

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Of the YA adaptations that have been out there I think quite a few of them might have been better as a mini-series or television show. The one I am looking forward to the most is the Grisha Trilogy and while I don’t think it would suite a weekly show, I think a mini-series might suit it very well! I certainly would like that as I would get to spend more time with the characters.

I love meeting and getting to know new bloggers. I have two blogs that I post reviews for the first is Picture Us Reading which is primarily book focused and the second is Those Who Geek which includes book/comic reviews but is more popular culture focused.  You can follow me via either of these blogs and I will be sure to follow back,  just leave a comment below to tell me you have! You can follow me through e-mail, bloglovin or twitter.

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Discussion Post: Bookish Webseries

August 21, 2014 Alisa Discussion Post 4 Comments

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This week I posted my review of a book based on the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is based on the classic novel ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ I really loved that web series, especially their unique takes on several characters from the novel such as Lydia Bennet, who at one point gets her own spin off web series.  That series was SO immensely popular that it has prompted several series based on classic novels to be created! For example there was The Autobiography of Jane Eyre, a series which I enjoyed greatly even though I was disappointed by the end( Bookish Whimsy’s review sums up my feelings perfectly.)  I thought today it would be fun to post a list of web series that have unique takes on several classic books, if you enjoy watching web series you may want to check these out!

 

tumblr_mu40q43aZG1qg1xgyo1_500Title:  A Tell Tale Vlog 

Based On:  The Work of Edgar Allan Poe

Published: Oct 7, 2013

Reasons You May Want To Check this Series Out:  This series is done by Shipwrecked, which does some really hilarious and awesome parodies such as this song by Bertha’s Attic Song based on Jane Eyre. I really love how they cast Edgar as this socially awkward, slightly intense, overtly gothy character who is likable but a bit self obsessed. I LOVE the ghost of Lenore’s comments about him as a dating prospect, her valley girl accent and pithy comments are very fun to watch!

DAC5867F-F3B2-2690-F6B6AE0C1470918FTitle: Classic Alice

Based On: Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Caroll 

Published: Mar 4, 2014

Reasons You May Want To Check this Series Out: This series just recently started posting content again, for which I am VERY happy. When I first heard of this series I thought it was going to be a pretty classic retelling of Alice and Wonderland, it turned out to be much more complex than that. It is all about a student who decides she is going to live her life as though she were in a classic novel, the first one she picks is Crime and Punishment, which if you have ever read it obviously isn’t a great choice. I love the way the story plays out and I definitely am curious to see where this series goes.

Pillbox_Emma_2Title: Emma Approved

Based On:Emma by Jane Austen

Published: Oct 7, 2013

Reasons You May Want To Check this Series Out:  This is second of the Austen adaptations that Pemberley Digital has created. I am definitely loving how this series has turned out and am going to be sad once it comes to an end, at the moment it is airing it’s final episodes. Emma is one of those characters who is perfectly flawed, she is a character you either love or hate. I have always liked Emma, she feels so real and believable, we all have had moments where we interfered or felt we knew better than other people how to live their lives. I think this series is perfectly cast, the lead 100% embodies the Emma from the book and I especially like the casting of Mr. Knightley, who does IMHO the second best version of the ‘Badly Done Emma’ scene that I have seen (number one goes to Mark Strong in the BBC adaptation.) This is definitely a must see for Austen fans!

 

cast-announceTitle: The New Adventures Of Peter and Wendy

Based On: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

Published: May 9, 2014

Reasons You May Want To Check this Series Out: I just started this series and so far I am finding it to be really charming. Wendy is very fun and silly, a little reminiscent of Lizzie Bennet with her delight of costume theater and re-enactments. I liked the depiction of Peter Pan as Wendy’s BFF who seems to endlessly keep his sense of adventure and fun.  I will have to watch more episodes before I have a final verdict for how much I like the series, but so far I am intrigued.

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Graphic Novel Review: Star Trek – The Burden of Knowledge

August 20, 2014 Alisa Graphic Novel Reviews, Graphic Novel: Science Fiction 6 Comments

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292px-Burden_of_Knowledge_tpb_coverBurden Of Knowledge (Star Trek Graphic Novels)

Author: Scott and David Tipton

Published: Published December 14th 2010 by IDW Publishing

Genres:  Adult, Science Fiction, Star Trek

Find this book on Goodreads

BlurbA new Original Series-era mini-series from the creative team behind Spock: Reflections. The newest adventure of the classic Enterprise crew begins here When a routine Federation diplomatic visit turns suddenly and unexpectedly violent, Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and Dr. McCoy find themselves kidnapped and halfway across the galaxy

Things I liked:

  • I think that this book manages to stay really true to the classic Star Trek series, both in its tone and also in the way it presents the relationships between Kirk, Spock and Bones. This really does feel like it could have been a part of the series itself.
  • The art style is effective and the portrayals of the series regulars look just right, both in appearance and their range of expressions.
  • The aliens invented for this story were interesting and they worked well with each of the stories’ themes. Though these stories are all quite brief, we quickly learn who each of those alien races are and what defines them.

Things I disliked:

  • The first story in this collection is really very interesting and ends with a lot of threads left unresolved. While I knew that there had to be more to it, the two stories that followed didn’t directly link to the first and I felt impatient to get back to the main story. I would have preferred if the first and last parts had been presented together.

Favorite Moment:

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One of my favorite aspects of the original Star Trek show is the sparring between Spock and Bones. This book captures their personalities really well and I really enjoyed the sequences where the two interact. It is easy to imagine hearing the actors say dialog like in the example above.

What I thought of the art style:

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As you can see from the panels above, the art style is quite realistic and does a good job of capturing both the actors’ likenesses and also their body movement. I was very impressed and surprised by how well the artists rendered each of the characters here and also how true to the style and appearance of the original series it was.

smalliconalisaFinal Thoughts: I really was surprised by how much I enjoyed this graphic novel. I thought it was a good example of the type of story that they would have told in the original series. All of the aliens were interesting and I liked that each of the stories had that learning moment at the end, much like the original series episodes. The themes and the alien races shown manage to present more modern themes while still making them feel like they were being discussed in the way the show would have presented them (there is a sequence that clearly references Facebook sharing but the discussion feels broader and more philosophical). I think that this is definitely a graphic novel that is worth reading for Star Trek fans who wish there were more stories with the classic series lineup.

 

rating4

 

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Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

August 18, 2014 Alisa Adult, Book Reviews, Romance 12 Comments

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18775255The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Author: Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Published: June 24th 2014 by Touchstone
Genres:  Adult, Retelling, Contemporary

Find this book on Goodreads

Blurb: Twenty‑four‑year‑old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight. When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck‑up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets—and for Lizzie’s viewers. But not everything happens on‑screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.

Alisa’s Review:

smalliconalisaAs a big fan of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries I was thrilled to find that a novel was coming out based on the web series. I had really enjoyed the modern twist that the series had put on Pride and Prejudice and I was looking forward to spending more time with these wonderful characters. The novel is presented as an actual journal kept by Lizzie as she works on her project. This does allow us to hear the character’s thoughts on the events from the series in more detail and there are some points in the story where we learn things that Lizzie never talks about on camera that give context to some of the events from the series. I thought that this was a strong approach and I felt it kept this from being just a straightforward novelization of the series. While there are some personal thoughts and revelations here that add value, the prose style never quite fits the diary format. I never had any problem imagining Ashley Clements reading the lines out loud but there are some parts of the novel that do not feel like something the character would have written down. I also felt that this book would be much less effective for readers who have not already watched the entire web-series as the character revelations would lack context. Fans of the series though will love the way that this expands on the characters’ relationships, adding some moments that are every bit as memorable as anything we saw on screen. One favorite sequence from the book features Darcy taking Lizzie on a tour of San Francisco, something that was referred to in the series and shown in still photographs on the show’s social media accounts but we never saw. Here we read about all of the events from that day and its emotional effects on Lizzie. It is moments like these that make this feel special and make this book an engaging read. Be prepared that after you read this you may find yourself revisiting some of the key episodes all over again and viewing them in a fresh light! rating4
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Weekly Roundup: So Much To Do, So Little Time!

August 17, 2014 Alisa weekly roundup 8 Comments

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What is going on the blogs:

 

pictureusreadingbanner3Picture Us Reading:

Book Review: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

Book Review: Followers

Graphic Novel Review: Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale

Discussion Post: Picture Books I Can’t Wait To Read To My Daughter

 

cropped-twglogoThose Who Geek:

Twilight Zone: One For The Angels

Top Five Studio Ghibli Films

Veronica Mars:  Credit Where Credit’s Due

Doctor Who: Breaking Bubbles and Other Stories

Batman: Assault on Arkham

Outlander: Castle Leoch

 

 

Awesome Blogger Posts

Jamie Zehr @Absurdly Nerdly- Is posting a week of Webseries Reviews! I really love finding new ones to watch, so check it out!

Merin@ Read and Reviewed- Came up with a cool Top Ten Tuesday list! It is a list of mythology retellings that she recommends checking out.

Rinn@ Rinns Reads- Has a cool feature called Fantasy Friday, loved her list of her favorite fantasy characters, Tyrion is my favorite as well!

Life Stuff:

  • My schedule has really changed this year at school, I don’t really get a planning block so in terms of getting school stuff done at school it is getting a bit harder.  I was so busy all this week at school and next week we are testing for the specials areas so it is going to be equally if not more hectic!
  • We got a bunch of new blurays of Disney films this week, we are planning to get back into doing more Project Disney posts. However we are finding it is much easier to create content by just doing written posts. We love doing the audios but it might just be a special occasion thing or at the end of a project etc. We are still not sure when we will start posting Project Disney again, but it will probably either be on Tuesdays or Saturdays.
  • I was so sad about the news about Robin Williams this week! It seems strange to be this upset about someone you don’t know personally, but it really saddened me as he was so funny and talented.
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Feature and Follow: Questions

August 15, 2014 Alisa Meme 14 Comments

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Question: Suggest a question! We need more questions of the week for future FFs. Any ideas?

   Wow, I can’t think of any brilliant ideas for a question. I am sure probably this has been asked before but ‘What do you look for in a blog when deciding to follow it?’ That is something I am always curious about, why someone does or doesn’t follow a blog. Is it the length or content of reviews? Is it the genre of books that the blogger reads? Is it the way the blog looks? etc.

I love meeting and getting to know new bloggers. I have two blogs that I post reviews for the first is Picture Us Reading which is primarily book focused and the second is Those Who Geek which includes book/comic reviews but is more popular culture focused.  You can follow me via either of these blogs and I will be sure to follow back,  just leave a comment below to tell me you have! You can follow me through e-mail, bloglovin or twitter.

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