Book Review: Sparks!

Sparks is a hero and man’s best friend, but nobody suspects he’s two cats!
This Super Dog is the Cat’s Meow!

August is a brilliant inventor who is afraid of the outside. Charlie is a crack pilot who isn’t afraid of anything. Together these pals save lives every day. They also happen to be cats who pilot a powerful, mechanical dog suit! 

Always eager to leap into danger, this feline duo have their work cut out for them as they try to thwart Princess, an evil alien bent on enslaving mankind. Don’t let the fact that Princess looks like a cute, diaper-wearing baby fool you. She’s clever, determined, and totally ruthless. So when Princess and the browbeaten fools she calls servants enact a brilliant and dastardly plan to conquer Earth, August and Charlie pull out all the stops to save the day.

Published February 27th 2018 by Graphix

What did I think?

I read this in between virus naps and then had fabulous dreams about it. I don’t recommend the virus, but I’m pretty sure this story holds up regardless.
I’m so in love with graphic novels right now. They really can be the “gateway drug” to lifelong reading.
This story, in particular, is going to resonate with readers/viewers who love The Simpsons, Powder Puff Girls, Adventure Time, or Gravity Falls. That means you, older parents, and siblings, you too will laugh out loud.
These two cats, their litter box, and the ingenious way they go about battling evil are masterful—bonus points for diversity and having main characters that do hard things. There isn’t anything not to love. Also, there is a sequel due out this Summer!

As always if you are buying books from Amazon, please use this link or the one below, as it helps pay for this site.

Book Review: The Oracle Code

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Marieke Nijkamp (This Is Where It Ends) and artist Manuel Preitano unveil a graphic novel that explores the dark corridors of Barbara Gordon’s first mystery: herself.

After a gunshot leaves her paralyzed, Barbara Gordon enters the Arkham Center for Independence, where Gotham’s teens undergo physical and mental rehabilitation. Now using a wheelchair, Barbara must adapt to a new normal, but she cannot shake the feeling that something is dangerously amiss. Within these walls, strange sounds escape at night; patients go missing; and Barbara begins to put together pieces of what she believes to be a larger puzzle.

But is this suspicion simply a result of her trauma? Fellow patients try to connect with Barbara, but she pushes them away, and she’d rather spend time with ghost stories than participate in her daily exercises. Even Barbara’s own judgment is in question.

In The Oracle Code, universal truths cannot be escaped, and Barbara Gordon must battle the phantoms of her past before they swarm her future.

Expected publication: March 10th 2020 by DC Comics

What did I think?

I had to read this on my phone as I didn’t have a hard copy, and it wasn’t available in kindle format. The fact that I powered through- pinching and zooming should prove my zealous love/ determination to read this new graphic novel!
I loved this backstory of Barbara Gordon of the Batman Universe. She suffers significantly after a gunshot wound, with both physical and mental injuries, and I loved that lesson that disabilities are not something that needs to be healed or fixed. It is such a fantastic and robust message to have in YA books, graphic novels, and the DC universe. The reader gets the whole story of how she became the oracle. At first, she pushes everyone away, and her story into her full potential as the oracle was great to see. I also loved the art style in this all-new graphic novel. I’m a late adopter of graphic novels, and now I can’t get enough of them.
More importantly, teens today have so many great choices in fiction. This could have been awesome as a prequel showing how Barbara Gordon became the oracle, and that would have been great. Instead, it was that along with the message that disabilities are not something that needs to be fixed.
I’m looking forward to more art and story from the dynamic duo of Nijkamp and Preitano.

As always if you are buying books from Amazon, please use this link or the one below, as it helps pay for this site.

Book Review: Cub

Shop your local indie bookstore

Let me begin with a general pitch for graphic novels. I was a late adapter, and now they will always be apart of both my recreational reading and the reading I assign in my home school. Today’s middle-grade graphic novels are not the comic books of your youth. (although I’ve come around to those too!) They aren’t a cheater type book, and they aren’t abridged or easier in any way. They are a full-fledged genre of their own told in full-length stories contained in paneled, sequential, graphic format. They are NOT merely collections of comic strips. You can find nearly any genre written in graphic novel format, including fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, biography, and nonfiction. *Jumps down off soapbox, and stops posting like a recipe blogger*

I was lucky enough to get a copy real copy of this book back in December to read and review. The pay isn’t great with this review gig, but the perks are incredible!

In this book, Cindy is starting seventh grade and endures all that goes along with that age group of friends. The 1970s era atmosphere is sublime. Starting with her dress on the cover, to the outdated way her Dad treats her compared to her brothers, growing up during that time was tricky for a girl. Readers will notice the stark differences in how males treat female career aspirations during that time. Luckily, Cindy has excellent mentors to guide her. Our society has changed in so many ways, but not much in others:

Reporters have huge responsibility, especially now. Our country is in turmoil: chaos in the white house, a senseless war, environmental crises, women having to fight for equal rights…

Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland

I doubt you could get a gig as a cub reporter anywhere these days as newspapers struggle to keep paid reporters on board, and so this peek into history was a refreshing throwback to the days when printed word brought the news to your home. I especially liked the examples of how an article looks in editing. So many kids think that the first draft is the only draft, and this may help young writers see that everyone needs editing. Her writing evolves as she finds her voice and learns the skills of reporting.

Between learning to write (and rewrite), Cindy struggles with typical middle-grade issues of juggling old friends, new friends, boys, and bullies. I enjoyed every bit of it.

Book Release today! January 7, 2020

Book Review: PumpkinHeads

Better than candy. Well, maybe not peanut butter cups. This short and sweet graphic novel takes place at a Pumpkin Patch, where Josie and Deja work each Halloween season. If you are trying to grab on to the last bit of Halloween magic, this is precisely the right book.

Next year they’ll both be at different colleges, but on this last night, they spend their time doing all the things they always meant to do together at the Farm.

It’s such cute and wholesome while at the same time effortlessly representing diversity, bisexuality, male/female friendship, consent, etc. as it should be.

The story is nothing that you can’t guess, and that’s part of its charm. It’s two teens at a Midwestern pumpkin farm doing the things teens do. It’s both touching and comical.

The art is fantastic, and you should read it with some spice cake and a Pumpkin Spiced Latte.

Book Review: Spell on Wheels

This is another title that I chose after watching an OwlCrate Video. Those gals and I seem to have similar tastes in books. Luckily, it was available online from my library with no wait, and I was able to get immediate gratification. It’s the last of my non-Cybils reading for awhile.

Anyhow, if you are looking for a quick, fun graphic novel read that’s seasonably themed- look no further than this slightly, spooky title. This trade paperback collects the first five issues of Spell on Wheels. The story features three witches ( Andy, Jolene, and Claire)- normal girls with a healthy sense of boundaries as well as excellent fashion sense. 

We learn about the trio, their relationship with one another, and their magical abilities as we follow them on their journey.

The story begins with their house being burglarized, and then they go on a mission to get all their magic belongings back.

The thief is selling their stolen items. And their quest leads them all over as they track each piece down. At each location, they get more hints as to who the thief is and why he targeted them. The people they meet along the way are memorable in and of themselves. 

There are no throw-away characters here. We meet people from all walks of life. They are diverse in almost every way. There’s also feminist themes, a lot of humor, and it takes a dig at an emotionally abusive relationship while it supports positive relationships. 

After all the awesomeness in the storyline, it almost seems like you wouldn’t also get great art- but you do. Bonus points for realistic body types.

This title would be a great way to introduce a teen to graphic novels.

You can pick up a copy of this just about anywhere. Plus, there is a sequel which will be out in 2020!

Book Review: This Was Our Pact

You’ve watched all of Stranger Things, then maybe you did a family re-watch of Goonies. What’s next?

You may want to try this graphic novel. Not only is it an excellent read aloud for all ages, it’ll get you out of a reading slump with a bang. I saw it on a Owlcrate video and snagged it at the library while I was picking up Cybils Awards nominees. It was a sort of send-off book for me as I embark in nearly a two month reading spree where other people choose my books. PSA: It’s not too late for you to nominate your favorite kids book published between Oct 2018- and Oct 2019. Pick me something good in the YA Speculative Fiction section.

Ok, so back to this gem.

It’s so well done, I want to hang the artwork all over my house.

From the publisher:

It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they’ve made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.

The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn’t long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben’s disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn’t seem to fit in.

Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship*.

*And a talking bear.

I read most of this book while I was sick with a fever and feel like it was like reading a Hayao Miyazaki film. It’s so full of bite sized wisdom like:

“No one is going to force you to, but if you don’t jump in, you’ll always think back on this moment and wish that you had.”

All together suitable for all ages, spooky without being scary. Tons to talk about while reading. It checks all my boxes for the perfect October read aloud.

ARC REVIEW: The Escape Manual For Introverts

The idea that introverts may need this guide was inspired. I can say I’m an introvert all day long, but extroverts reading this may finally get an idea of what that actually means for me in real life.

The strategies are divided into five situational categories: Friends, relatives, coworkers, acquaintances, and strangers.

The book even includes a handy dandy Plausibility of Excuse Absurdity graph for reference.

Side note from me even extroverted spoonies will benefit from some of the strategies presented inside. Sometimes you just need to get away from a crowd of people even if you actually like them. Read more about The Spoon Theory here.

I’ve got no criticisms at all related to this book and you should check it out August 6 when it drops onto Kindles everywhere.