Yuri fans, rejoice—it's time to clear some space on those shelves for a sweet, honest, and down-right adCheck out more reviews at Across the Litoverse
Yuri fans, rejoice—it's time to clear some space on those shelves for a sweet, honest, and down-right adorable depiction of two girls falling in love. For starters, I found the evolution of Mariko and Akiko's relationship had a natural pace to it, and the two girls played their doubts and insecurities off one another well. In the first collection, Mariko's narrative takes the lead, and we see how her admiration of Akiko becomes infatuation, which then matures into Mariko's first love. Throughout this section, readers follow the small, faltering steps Mariko takes before she's able to name her feelings for her best friend, and we're given a view of the unwitting attraction and initial self-denial that accompanies the first crush of an LGBTQ kid.
I also appreciated that Girl Friends doesn't follow a standard coming-out narrative. While the main audience of Girl Friends will likely be younger, queer-identified readers who might find themselves in the same situations as Mariko and Akiko, Morinaga doesn't turn the work into a Coming Out event. In the second collection, Mariko and Akiko do discuss their future, and the girls dream of a time when they'll share their relationship with family and friends—but for now, while the girls are still in high school, they choose to enjoy their time together.
Definitely a welcome addition to any yuri collection!
Ideal for: Yuri fans and queer-identified readers; Manga fans who like a well-crafted romance and the high school drama inherent to falling for a close friend; Folks who liked Sasameki Koto and Aoi Hana in particular....more
San Francisco's under attack by a shaved vampyre cat name Chet and his gang of undead kitties—wait, what?
Our last hope rests in Abby Normal, resident Goth girl and "emergency backup mistress" of the Greater Bay Area—of course, had she not encased her vampiric mentors in bronze, we might have a little more faith in our self-appointed saviour. Jody and Tommy represent love in its grandest, most undying form, and Abby's determined to keep the two together for all eternity…even if it means casting them in bronze and keeping them in her front hall for the rest of time. Meanwhile, Abby and her brilliant Ph.D.-candidate boyfriend, Steve "Foo Dog" Wong (a.k.a. the love monkey), are racing the clock as blood-sucking cats prowl the streets and a clever cat named Chet gets bigger, stronger, and thirstier…
Along the way, Abby and Steve join forces with a colourful cast to take on San Francisco's four-legged threat—there's the Emperor of San Francisco and his trusted canine companions Lazarus and Bummer, Abby's gay Goth friend Jared (who also ruins her Skankenstein red vinyl thigh-highs, WTF), the city's finest undercover cops, Cavuto and Rivera, and a pot-smoking gang of Safeway shelf-stockers. But things get a li'l complicated after Jody and Tommy escape their bronze prison and set out to even the score with Abby.
'Kayso, I did mention this was a love story, right?
To start, Abby Normal's a fantastic character. Her paraphrasing abilities, her obsession with French, her colourful and creative insults, her insistence on slapping Steve when she kisses him (so he doesn't think she's a slut)—she asserts herself as a memorable character, and her journal entries add a remarkable level of quirk to Bite Me. Readers who like VampLit will get a satisfying kick to the genre with Christopher Moore's chaotic, campy, and hilarious style. He's got the same self-reflexive camp as Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire series, except his dialogue's got an extra bite to it, and his characters are clever and full of sass (re: far more entertaining than Ms. Sookie Stackhouse).
Ideal for: VampLit fans craving a swift kick to the genre; Anti-hero fanatics and readers who like unpredictable lady leads; Folks fascinated by the concept of vampiric cats....more
Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC evFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC event Final Crisis. Kane's a former marine, forced out of the U.S. Armed forces under the tenets of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military; however, her drive to protect Gotham, and her desire to overthrow a mysterious cult that tried to kill her six months earlier, motivates Kane to transform herself into the vigilante Batwoman.
As Kane rises to power, a new madwoman and her minions threaten the good citizens of Gotham with a toxic death cloud and an unrelenting urge for chaos. But Alice—the Lewis Carroll–quoting High Madame of the Religion of Crime—has more than poison in her arsenal, and the dizzying revelations she carries will alter Batwoman's life forever…
To start, I have to praise J.H. Williams III and his remarkable, panel-shattering artwork. Whenever Kane dons her iconic suit and takes to the crime-filled streets of Gotham, readers are treated to non-linear fight scenes saturated with Kane's taste for blood-red accents, and the very layout of Williams's panels take on a highly-stylized, shattered design that begs for hours of careful study.
Of course, due credit should be given to author Greg Rucka who's been praised for his nuanced, thoughtful depiction of Kate Kane, the modern incarnation of Batwoman herself. Here, Rucka takes the time to explore the motivations behind Kane's vigilantism and fills out her backstory with salient political issues, namely her dishonourable discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." She's sacrificed a career with the armed forces to live an honest life, and her aim to bring justice to Gotham's streets makes perfect sense in this context. When it comes to personable, complicated superheroines, I can think of no better vigilante to start with than Batwoman.
Ideal for: Readers craving lush, groundbreaking artwork and a capable, complicated superheroine; Folks who'd like to see LGBTQ issues rendered in a thoughtful, action-packed story arc; DC fans and members of the Bat-clan....more
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youthFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youth among the glamorous, self-made thieves of the Night Market and learned of London's mobster scene from the Dandy of Hoosegow himself. In the wake of his father's death, Joe renounced his title as the heir of crime and followed his grandfather, Daniel, into the honourable world of clockwork repair. Of course, Joe's business suffers under its anachronistic leanings, and he struggles to earn a living with his antique clocks and mechanical curios.
When Joe's mischievous pal, Billy Friend, offers him a glimpse of a clockwork "doodah", Joe takes the fate of the world into his very hands. His tinkering activates a contraption called the Angelmaker, a veritable doomsday machine commissioned by Shem Shem Tsien—the sadistic Opium Khan of Addeh Sikkim—and built by Frankie Fossoyeur, a Frenchwoman consumed by her own brilliance. With the clock running, Joe must call upon his thieving roots and put his street smarts to work in order to survive. At the same time, one woman named Edie Banister—a former British intelligence agent from the Second World War era—holds the well-guarded secret of the Angelmaker's origins, and only she knows how to stop the deadly clockwork swarm within…
Nick Harkaway captures a brilliantly gritty and violent world of organized crime, espionage, and government-sanctioned torture, while creating a vibrant cast of characters overflowing with amusing tics and cutting humour at every turn. He's got an excellent ear for dialogue as well, and he wields a dark, very British sense of humour in the most unlikely situations. I found I took an immediate shine to Joe Spork for his loveable, somewhat self-defeatist attitude at the start, and for his hesitant charm throughout.Readers are treated to a rare example of a coming-of-(middle)-age novel, which proves to be a delightful twist to a common generic convention.
Overall, Angelmaker proves an addictive read with a stinging sense of humour, and readers will find an eclectic blend of noir mystery, science fiction, and espionage action all in one shot.
Ideal for: Noir newcomers with a penchant for sci fi; Dark humorists craving the glitz and swank of London's underworld; Readers craving complex narrative puzzles within their looming-apocalypse books; Folks interested in coming-of-(middle)-age stories and their unpredictable outcomes....more
K-ON! follows the lives of four high school students who band together to save their schoFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Note: Series Review
K-ON! follows the lives of four high school students who band together to save their school's pop music club from the chopping block. At Sakuragaoka Girl's High School, the once-popular music club's membership has dropped to absolute zero when the girls enter their first year. Ritsu Tainaka, the official drummer and the self-proclaimed president of the club, recruits her best friend Mio Akiyama as the band's bass player. The duo catch the interest of Tsumugi Kotobuki, a skilled keyboard player and a rich girl who brings a collection of expensive teas and cakes to their daily rehearsals. But the group needs four members to survive and the clock is ticking…
Enter: Yui Hirasawa. In the pain and panic to find a club to join, Yui makes the snap decision to join the pop music club despite her inexperience. I mean, a girl can play the castanets in the music club, right? Lucky for the girls, Yui's got a natural talent for the guitar and proves to be a quick study—you know, if she'd just take a moment to sit down and practice. But, sadly, standing in front of the mirror and practicing her posing is a lot easier than concentrating on her actual guitar playing skills. And don't even get the girl started on her exam scores…
K-ON! proves to be an excellent pick for spring reading lists. Each book in the four-volume series offers light-hearted and humorous four-panel comics with the added bonus of over ten pages of full-colour work. Volume One boasts some special bonus features, including an intro to music theory and nine basic chords for beginner guitarists. While I do prefer the anime to the manga—largely because the anime benefits from an awesome soundtrack—readers will find a great deal of fun with the girls of Ho-kago Tea Time.
Ideal for: Manga fans who came of age during the 90s Girl Power movement; High school girls who dream of starting their own band, or girls who were in a high school band; Fans of the anime series who'd like to understand its origins; Kids who like four-panel, punchline-driven manga....more
Two months have passed since Ava's last assignment. While savouring the good weather on a family cruise arouFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Two months have passed since Ava's last assignment. While savouring the good weather on a family cruise around Curaçao, Ava takes a business call from Uncle. He has little information to offer, but the client—Wong Changxing, the "The Emperor of Hubei"—has called in an urgent favour and needs to meet with the duo immediately.
Wong, one of the most powerful men in China, is livid after discovering his collection of Fauvist paintings are forgeries. His love for the French masters of this colourful, bold movement collapses when a representative from Harrington's auction house informs Wong that at least seventeen of these paintings—with a combined total of eighty million dollars—were painted by professional forgers. With his pride at stake, Wong cannot afford a public scandal and his second wife May Ling will not allow their finances to be compromised further. Ava's reputation as a forensic accountant precedes her, and her particular brand of persuasion could help bring these thieves to light. But her gut reaction to Wong's revenge-lust sets Ava on the defensive, and May Ling's gradual interference in the investigation could prove disastrous to all parties involved…
Ah, Ava Lee—Canada's sweetheart and James Bond's official successor, all wrapped into one clever, deadly package. The Wild Beasts of Wuhan offers cleaner dialogue and excellent verbal sparring, a nice glimpse into the mundane work of accountancy, and a brilliant representation of a queer relationship and the stresses of having a girlfriend in the process of coming out. Ian Hamilton's fourth book—The Red Pole of Macau—drops in Canada this July 2012 and you can bet I will be first in line for Ava's next adventure.
Ideal for: Disbelievers of detective fiction and mystery stories; Kids who get a kick out of James Bond and his brand of suave, action-packed detective/spy work; Readers in need of a positive portrayal of a queer woman who just happens to kick lots of ass as well. ...more
Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
Within the circular maze of black-and-white-striped tents, and against a midnight canvas of stars and white fire, circus patrons lose themselves in the unmatched wonder of Le Cirque des Rêves. But behind the smoke and mirrors lies a fierce competition waged between two illusionists, bound to the contest by their teachers' on-going gentleman's agreement. Celia and Marco have trained since childhood to compete in a "game" with no clear timeframe and no concrete rules. Unbeknownst to the players, this game allows for only one victor, and the circus will be the venue for a remarkable battle of imagination and endurance.
As the circus travels through Europe and then on to the world, the feats of magic spiral to fantastic new heights at each location. But the game absorbs the lives of all those involved in its waking dream—from the eccentric circus owner and the elusive contortionist, to the forlorn fortune-teller and the red-headed twins born into the venue. When Celia discovers that Marco is her adversary, the duo transform the competition into a collaborative effort without knowing that the game must end in sacrifice…
Erin Morgenstern hypnotizes with her prose and offers a bright window into a world where mystery pervades and magic is entirely real. The Night Circus is comprised of short, quick chapters that are ideal for commuting readers, though the non-linear movement through the narrative might disorient at times (re: near the end where we jump between 1901 and 1902 in quick succession). Though, being a fan of Doctor Who, I enjoy those breaks from an "A to B" novel structure. I understand now why fashion designers and graphic artists have been captured by The Night Circus, given the lush attention to clothing and the overall style of the circus proper. An excellent book for October in particular, with a steaming cup of tea at hand.
Ideal for: All the kids who ever dreamed of running away with the circus; Readers who love modern fairytales and magic realism blended with a nice bit of tea; Romance junkies who crave an extra bit of magic in their stories; Folks with a soft spot for Halloween and the otherwordly....more
Transcendent storytelling meets dark and detailed illustration, all folded up into a Canadian suburban landscape. Skim captures the awkwardness, the iTranscendent storytelling meets dark and detailed illustration, all folded up into a Canadian suburban landscape. Skim captures the awkwardness, the isolation, and the crush of new feeling connected to adolescence and spins it into graphica gold. Written from Kimberly Keiko Cameron's perspective, readers are invited into the internal space of the character known as "Skim" through her cutting journal entries and her often strained interaction with parents, her best friend, Lisa, and the enigmatic English teacher, Ms. Archer. She is a beautiful mess of teenaged angst and anxieties and offers a stunning portrait of a young girl negotiating the complex network of first love, depression, friendship, and alienation.
Readers new to graphic novels will find an absolute gem with Skim, one that will form the (unfair) basis of comparison for all other works produced in this medium. Serious, it will take a stunning duo to overwhelm the story contained in these pages. It's the graphic novel I wish I wrote.
Ideal for: fans of coming-of-age narratives; newbies to the graphic novel universe; readers who love confessional, intimate prose from their first-person characters; kids who came of age in the 90s in Canada....more