7.23.2017

7 Graphic Novels You Should Read This Week

📚 I've been reading a massive amount of graphic novels over the summer thanks to my local public library, Comixology, and NetGalley. I decided to do a round-up style review post to share some of the best. 👋

📣 If you like this post please leave a comment and tell me so I'll know to do this style again in the future. 📣



Print/Digital (112 pages, BOOM! STUDIOS)

Mali and Tessa have lived hundreds of different lives throughout time, caught up in an eternal cycle as they take part in a war so old that neither side remembers what they’re fighting for anymore. As Mali wakes up in her newest life, she suddenly becomes self-aware and starts to question everything, especially why she continues to fight. But elsewhere, Tessa is already on the hunt...
Critically-acclaimed series, Welcome Back is a break-neck thriller of reincarnated assassins forever fighting, killing, and loving each other, by Eisner Award-nominated writer Christopher Sebela (Dead Letters, High Crimes) and artists Jonathan Brandon Sawyer (Critical Hit) and Claire Roe. Collects issues #1-4.


Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: This comic has a gorgeous blend of angst and no-you're-crying emotive depth that's vividly illustrated. It's been a damned long time since I cried after reading a graphic novel but what a refreshingly heart-rending experience. I can't wait for the next volume to be available in digital. (5 stars)

Print/Digital (128 pages, ACTION LAB)
Adrienne has been on the run and working to save her sisters, but when she finds another princess locked away in a tower, she decides to spring her! But Raven Xingtao, the daughter of the Pirate King, is more of a handful than Adrienne could have ever expected. Before she knows it, Adrienne is off on a whirlwind adventure to complete Raven's quest for revenge!
The complete collected edition of Princeless: The Pirate Princess! (Ages 9 - 12)


Note: This is a review of a book I checked out at the library.

Why you should read it: A great series to share with your tween this was a hilarious meeting of two very headstrong heroines. Plenty of action, a dragon, and the introduction of a Princeless spin-off make it one I'm recommending to both adults and children alike. (4 stars)



Klaw Vol.2: The Second Cycle by Antoine Ozenam, Mike Kennedy, & Joel Jurion


Print (144 pages, LION FORGE)
The hit YA action series continues with volume 2, following secret were-tiger Angel Tomassini as he navigates the ancient underworld of secret societies hidden in the midst of everyday modern life! The Were War is coming, and he must find the other Dhizhi warriors before they are hunted to extinction by the many forces that are after them – crime lords, prophesies, government agencies, and paranoid others among their very ranks!

Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: The first volume was so complex! I thought for sure it couldn't get any more confusing or expanded in its mythology. Nope, totally wrong. You definitely can't pick this up not having read the first one but another truly high quality story and illustrations. (4 stars)



Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly

Print/Digital (152 pages, IMAGE)
Prince of Cats is the B side to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, played at an eighties block party in a NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, disco and no wave. It's the story of the minor players with Tybalt at the center. Like Shakespeare's originals, Prince of Cats implements various formalist restraints. The definitive printing of Ronald Wimberly's critically acclaimed first work, presented as intended for the first time.

Note: This is a review of a book I checked out at the library.

Why you should read it: In the dozens of times I read and performed Romeo and Juliet in high school I always found myself far more interested in the secondary characters. Mercutio and Tybalt were always my favorites. So rarely though are writers daring enough to humanize the prince of cats. Ron Wimberly manages not only to do so, but to do so with bold style and a delicious nod to 80's hip-hop. Definitely my new favorite reimagining of the classic. (5 stars)


The Good Earth by Nick Bertozzi & Pearl S. Buck

Print/Digital (144 pages, PUB)
Pearl Buck’s 1931 Pulitzer Prize–winning classic about the rise and fall of Chinese villagers before World War I comes to life in this evocative graphic novel by New York Times bestselling author Nick Bertozzi.
In The Good Earth, Pearl S. Buck paints an indelible portrait of China in the 1920s, when the last emperor reigned and the vast political and social upheavals of the twentieth century were but distant rumblings. This moving story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-Lan is must reading to fully appreciate the sweeping changes that have occurred in the lives of the Chinese people during the last century. Though more than eighty years have passed since this remarkable novel won the Pulitzer Prize, it has retained its popularity and become one of the great modern classics in American literature.
Now New York Times bestselling author Nick Bertozzi brings Buck’s timeless, epic novel to life with incredible imagery in this vivid graphic novel. Through his Eisner Award-winning talents, Bertozzi retraces the whole cycle of life depicted in the unforgettable original: its terrors, its passions, its ambitions, and its rewards. Buck’s brilliant novel—beloved by millions of readers—is a universal tale of an ordinary family caught in the tide of history, now accompanied by beautiful, evocative images.


Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read it: Having never read The Good Earth in it's novel form but had heard it praised so often that I thought reading it as a graphic novel would be a good way to see if I would enjoy it. Now I know I would most assuredly not enjoy it. It is not a pleasant story and I was often moved to anger and grief for poor O-Lan. Yet, it is through reading of a time and place not my own that I saw the value of such a story. If you've wanted to read the book but feel like it might be daunting I think this graphic novelization would be a great way to do it. (4 stars)


Disney Manga: Beauty & Beast - Belle's Tale by Mallory Reaves & Studio Dice

Print/Digital (160 pages, TOKYOPOP)
In Disney's live-action film "Beauty and the Beast," Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores Belle's innermost thoughts as she learns that true beauty comes from within. (Ages 9 - 12)
Disney Manga: Beauty & Beast - Beast's Tale by Mallory Reaves & Studio Dice

Print/Digital (160 pages, TOKYOPOP)
In Disney's live-action film “Beauty and the Beast,” Belle, a bright, beautiful and independent young woman, is taken prisoner by a beast in his castle. Despite her fears, she befriends the castle's enchanted staff and learns to look beyond the Beast's hideous exterior and realize the kind heart and soul of the true Prince inside. This manga explores the Beast's struggle as he tries to move on from his past and learn what it is to love. (Ages 9 - 12)

Note: This is a review of an advanced readers copy I received from NetGalley or the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Why you should read them: Beauty and the Beast was a favorite of mine long before Disney got their monopoly on it. But naturally, I enjoyed the classic animated film as well as the live action recreation that came out earlier this year. This manga tells the tale from both sides very well and you really shouldn't read one and not the other. If you liked the live action film these are based on that version and are sure to delight. (4 stars)

7.04.2017

Like Adult Coloring Books? Then You'll Love This

Activity book for lovers of rude cats (3 stars)

Cats are hilarious but I confess I just didn't find Catsass very funny. That said I think lots of folks will. What saves it from being too dull for me is that it's a coloring and activity book for grownups. If you're someone who has hopped on the coloring book fad and could use one featuring cats that's more crass than cute this would be a good option. Or maybe you just want to try out a book that's more activity book than just coloring? Either way I think you'll like it.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


Life Lessons from Catsass by Claude Combacau


Humor, Coloring, Cats
Print (160 pages, ANDREWS MCMEEL)

Step aside, Pusheen! With his sassy remarks, judging stare, and hilariously sinister antics, Catsass is the new kitty-du-jour.
From French graphic designer Claude Combacau comes a book of sassy, cat-themed coloring pages, mazes, and puzzles with directions like: “Put the pieces of the $3,000 vase Catsass just destroyed back together. Three odd pieces are parts of other ruined objects because you don’t deserve to have it easy.” Combacau’s “Catsass” cartoons about a lewd, crude, mischief-making feline have been featured on Bustle, Bored Panda, and elsewhere.



6.27.2017

Book Review: The Successful Author Mindset


Any genre, any writing goal, be successful! (5 stars)


I've been writing for fun in some form or another since I was able to hold a writing implement. Having toyed with the idea of taking my dabblings to the next level—publishing—and having many published author friends whom I felt might enjoy it, I thought I'd give this a listen.

Not only is this a great book for aspiring authors, it's a fantastic resource for indies, mid-listers, and anyone who wants to take their writing career farther. One of the points Penn makes that I found particularly wonderful is that everyone defines their own success. She then gives you keys to how to reach farther and go bigger while providing anecdotal experiences from her own writing journey.

Whatever your genre, whatever your goals, whatever your location on the writer's journey, you are sure to find at least one useful suggestion for getting the right mindset. I chose to enjoy it as an audiobook and really found the narrator to be engaging and charming, she did a fantastic job of keeping Penn's writing lively. I would much recommend picking this up in digital or print for easier reference points but it is definitely a listen I would recommend too.

If I were still working as a publicist I would share this with every debut author I worked with, I think it's a resource worth every penny.

Notes: This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.


The Successful Author Mindset: A Handbook for Surviving the Writer's Journey by Joanna Penn


Reference, Publishing, Nonfiction
Audio/Digital/Print (164 pages/2hr 55min)

Being a writer is not just about typing. It's also about surviving the rollercoaster of the creative journey.
Self-doubt, fear of failure, the need for validation, perfectionism, writer's block, comparisonitis, overwhelm, and much more. When you're going through these things, it can feel like you're alone. But actually, they are part of the creative process, and every author goes through them too.
This book collects the mindset issues that writers experience, that I have been through myself over the last nine years, and that perhaps you will experience at different times on the creative journey. Each small chapter tackles a possible issue and then offers an antidote, so that you can dip in and out over time. It includes excerpts from my own personal journals as well as quotes from well-known writers. I hope it helps you on the road to becoming a successful author.




6.26.2017

45 Highly Effective Habits of Successful People


Short but packed with valuable insights. (5 stars)


I've been on a bit of a self-help kick, devouring books about managing mental illnesses, having better physical health, and more professionally focused reads as well. This one seemed awfully short to offer much but to my surprise it was quite meaty and had some rich insights.

While its up to an individual to define their version of success, the habits outlined within are great for anyone with a desire to make their life better. Available in print and ebook formats it would make a great tool for a young adult just moving beyond school and parental guidance and as an audiobook (the format I read it in) it's perfect for a lunch time pep-talk or while stuck in gridlock. The narrator has a very business like tone that doesn't feel conversational but that works well with the subject matter.

Overall, I'm really glad I took a chance on this. I think I'll wind up picking up the ebook to reference from time to time for one of those lunch hour pep talks.

Notes: This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.


Live Your Life with Success, Good Habits and Love: 45 Highly Effective Habits of Successful People Written by: Stirling De Cruz-Coleridge Narrated by: Harry Roger Williams III


Self-Help, Nonfiction
Digital/Audio (80 pages/1hr 15min)

You know how dull and aimless life can seem sometimes? You feel in a rut or lost your direction in life and don't know what to do next? When you make it a point to find your real life's purpose and become successful, your entire existence changes. Suddenly, everything you do has a purpose. There are no more days when you wonder why you're doing what you're doing, or when the most exciting event of your day is a funny cat meme you saw on the Internet! It's time to take life into your own hands and become the person you have always dreamed of becoming. This motivational book will show you the way towards developing, personal growth and transformation, success, and happiness. It will prepare you with the right foundation and mindset.





Book Review: Lunarbaboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood

Comedic and Heartfelt (5 stars)

Lunarbaboon's comics are the perfect mix of sassy and sweet. Parenting can be the hardest job on the planet and the observations shared in comic form are ones most parents are sure to feel personal. If you've enjoyed the work of Hyperbole and a Half, Sarah's Scribbles, or Fowl Language chances are you'll enjoy this as much as I did.

I think this would make a thoughtful gift for new parents.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Lunarbaboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood by Christopher Grady


Humor, Comics, Parenting
Digital/Print (128 pages, ANDREWS MCMEEL)

Explore the daily struggles and humor of family life with Lunarbaboon. He’s just like any other dad--but vaguely hairier because he’s half man/half moon monkey.
Lunarbaboon shares life's parenting moments from the perspective of a 30-something dad/husband/chaos survivor. Together with the savvy, laid back Mom, wild child Moishe, baby Matilda, and a former Julliard student (their cat), Lunarbaboon must navigate the family and social dynamics of everyday life. Ranging from the hilarious (defeating closet monsters with a “stun” blaster that offers surprising facts about bears, Mars, and cats) to the sweet (the gray scale-to color transition out of depression at the touch of a loved one), this collection explores the bonds within a family and all the characters who bring both order and chaos to life.
Lunarbaboon’s perfect meld of crabby humor and moments of impactful honesty give these comics a wide range and distinctive voice that’s both comical and sincere.




6.25.2017

You Can Change This In Just 10 Minutes a Day

Your Cleaning Routine Refined (4 stars)

As one of those weirdos who can go to work and be a cleaning and organizing maniac you'd think my house would be spotless. It makes no sense but I loathe cleaning and my home often shows it. I either don't know where to start or feel overwhelmed and completely stall. I really didn't think this book could offer much help but to my surprise there were some great insight and ideas.

For the sake of reviewing I tested Rapinchuk's 10 minutes theory. I'd set a timer, put on a playlist, and tackle one room. You can bet I was annoyed to actually get a bathroom clean in less than 15 minutes when I actually told myself I couldn't do anything else until the timer went off. No taking the trash out of the room or anything that could distract me. So I kept trying it and while I'm not following the method yet I'm hoping to implement properly once I have a non-reviewer's copy to use.

If, like myself, you really want to live in a clean and tidy space but struggle with burnout, overwhelm, or just feel lost knowing how to make a plan and stick to it this book is worth giving a read. I tend to be a skeptic with organizing and cleaning methods and I hate to be wrong but this is one time I'm happy I went against that part of me that shies at this kind of thing. The many lists and even recipes (for DIY cleaners) contained within are a great help.

At the very least you'll probably get some pointers on what's keeping you living in clutter. Sometimes that's all ya need to kickstart a change.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.



Simply Clean: The Proven Method for Keeping Your Home Organized, Clean, and Beautiful in Just 10 Minutes a Day by Becky Rapinchuk


Housekeeping, Cleaning, Organization, Time Management
Audio/Digital/Print (272 pages, TOUCHSTONE)

From the cleaning and homekeeping expert and creator of the wildly popular Clean Mama blog comes a simple and accessible cleaning guide with a proven step-by-step schedule for tidying a home in just ten minutes a day.
Becky Rapinchuk, the “Clean Mama,” understands that many people don’t have enough time, organizational skills, or homemaking habits to have a constantly clean and decluttered living space.
In Simply Clean, she can help you effortlessly maintain a tidy house and build habits to become a “clean person”—no matter how messy you may naturally be! Along with a 7-Day Simply Clean Kickstart and a 28-Day Simply Clean Challenge, Rapinchuk includes plans for customizing the Simply Clean Routine to fit the busiest of schedules and any type or size of home.
This guide also contains step-by-step tutorials for cleaning hard-to-clean spaces, dozens of recipes for organic, environmentally conscious cleaning supplies, and many of Rapinchuk’s famous checklists, schedules, habit trackers, and inspirational art prints. It really is possible—in just ten minutes a day, you can create a cleaner, happier home!




6.24.2017

Book Review: Big Mushy Happy Lump


Big Mushy Happy Book (5 stars)


I absolutely adored Andersen's Adulthood is a Myth so I was thrilled to get another book filled with the same relatable hilarity. It's funny in general but I think it hits a lot of struggles contemporary women face like body image and mental health. I would recommend this as a gift to any friend who has been feeling down and could use some chuckles.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.

Big Mushy Happy Lump: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen


Self Help, Comics, Humor
Digital/Print (128 pages, ANDREWS MCMEEL)

Sarah Andersen's hugely popular, world-famous Sarah's Scribbles comics are for those of us who boast bookstore-ready bodies and Netflix-ready hair, who are always down for all-night reading-in-bed parties and extremely exclusive after-hour one-person music festivals.
In addition to the most recent Sarah's Scribbles fan favorites and dozens of all-new comics, this volume contains illustrated personal essays on Sarah's real-life experiences with anxiety, career, relationships and other adulthood challenges that will remind readers of Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half and Jenny Lawson's Let's Pretend This Never Happened. The same uniquely frank, real, yet humorous and uplifting tone that makes Sarah's Scribbles so relatable blooms beautifully in this new longer form.



6.20.2017

Book Review: Art on the Rocks


Best rock painting book I've found. (5 stars)



My partner and I have been thinking about taking up rock painting so I've been looking into different styles. So far this book has been the best find to give some great tools and basic knowledge on top of some beautiful styles. Whether you're looking for mandalas, animals, or patterns you'll get detailed instructions, beautiful inspired ideas, and three different styles to try.

If you're not someone with artistic talent that still wants to try out rock painting this is the perfect beginner's book.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.


Art on the Rocks: More than 35 colorful & contemporary rock-painting projects, tips, and techniques to inspire your creativity! by F. Sehnaz Bac, Marisa Redondo, Margaret Vance


Hobbies, Painting
Print (128 pages, WALTER FOSTER)
Packed with creative ideas, step-by-step projects, and endless inspiration, Art on the Rocks offers a colorful, modern approach to rock painting. Following an overview of how to gather and prepare your rocks, as well as a basic review of the tools and materials necessary for each project, three talented rock-painting artists demonstrate a range of contemporary designs featuring patterns, animals, mandalas, and more. Each project includes easy-to-follow instructions and invites creativity and originality, encouraging readers to sit back, relax, and develop their own unique Art on the Rocks.



The Rhialist (Rhianna Walker) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.