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Manga Review: Nabari No Ou by Yuhki Kamatani (Volumes 1-3)

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Nabari No Ou
# of Volumes: 14 / completed
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: [from Vol. 1] Apathetic schoolboy Miharu Rokujou is content to meander through life in the sleepy village of Banten. But his quiet existence is shattered when the Grey Wolves of Iga, a powerful ninja clan, attempt to kidnap him in broad daylight. Only then does Miharu discover that the ultimate power of the hidden ninja realm — a power that can do both great good and great harm — is sealed within his body. As battles erupt among rival ninja clans seeking to control him, Miharu must overcome his apathy and learn the ways of the ninja if he wants any shot at survival!

 

My Review: Nabari No Ou is a good manga/anime. The volumes I’m reviewing cover seem to cover the first 8 1/2 episodes. I’d only seen the anime before now but I’m glad to have finally gotten around to reading the manga.

I wasn’t super blown away by these volumes but I was still enjoying the story. I was invested in Miharu and what was happening. I loved the artwork, especially all the action scenes. There wasn’t much character growth but it may be too soon for that. We know the stakes and (kind of) who opposition is early so we’re set for more action and tension to take off in volume 4.

I adore Miharu. I don’t mind that he’s apathetic most of the time because his big heart and sense of humor shine through on several occasions. He’s not as weak as others may perceive him to be. He can defend himself for the most part.

It’s a compelling story overall that I’d recommend to others.

 

 

 

 

Images via Goodreads

Vol. 1https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/5422179-nabari-no-ou-vol-1

Vol. 2https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6406020-nabari-no-ou-vol-2

Vol. 3https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6867945-nabari-no-ou-vol-3


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Manga Review: Days by Tsuyoshi Yasuda (Volumes 1-7)

*review modified from what I wrote on Goodreads to give an overall review of volumes 1-7*

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novels
Series: Days
# of Volumes: 18 / ongoing (English translation)
Rating:
Recommend To Others?: Yes

ABOUT: [from Vol. 1] During his last spring break before starting high school, Tsukushi Tsukamoto meets Jin Kazama, who invites him to a pick-up soccer game. Their chance meeting, and his first-ever experience with soccer, move kind-hearted, timid Tsukushi to enroll in his new high school’s soccer club, which is among the strongest in all of Japan. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, there’s something amazing hidden inside Tsukushi’s heart…and through the trials and tribulations of his time in the soccer club, it’s beginning to blossom!

 

My Review: Days is such a great sports anime. Like other in the sports genre, Tsukamoto, the MC, is lovable and often underestimated and the team is full of adorkable weirdos. So when I found the manga for purchase I was ecstatic and eager to read. Seiseki is one of my favorite manga/anime sports teams!

The first volume was an ok introduction to the story. It was missing the high energy level that the anime has but was still cute.

Tsukamoto slowly – very slowly – grows into his own in a way only he can. He’s such a lovable character who almost everyone keeps underestimating just because of his personality and the way he looks. He is a precious gift from above! But it’s an uphill battle for him as he struggles to learn how to be an effective soccer player and member of Seiseki.

Seiseki goes through several emotional highs and lows that only serve to make the team stronger. The players are very determined to win and uphold the team’s legacy. Seiseki has a top tier soccer program.

Mizuki is a beast! He’s one of my favorite characters. What he lacks in words – which most cannot understand – he makes up for in his skill on the field.

Some of my favorite parts take place when the team goes to training camps. I think it is there where you start to see character growth not just from Tsukamoto but from other members on the team.

Big things are happening. I left off during a crucial tournament for Seiseki, so I’m looking forward to seeing how far the team will go and if they can make their dreams of representing Japan come true.


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Book Review: Becoming Brianna by Terri Libenson

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Emmie & Friends #4
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Middle school is full of challenges.

Everyone knows how much brainy Bri likes the spotlight (not). So why did she ever agree to something that forces her to learn a new language, give a speech, help organize a party, and juggle drama at school and home?! As the big event inches closer, Bri wonders if it’s all worth it. . . .

Told in alternating past and present chapters, Bri’s heartwarming story unfolds over the eight months leading up to her bat mitzvah–as well as over the course of the big day itself.

 

My Review: I loved the Emmie & Friends series so much and this new book has made me love it even more! Becoming Brianna had me hooked from page one. I was eager to see how she would overcome having a bat mitzvah (with only 8 months to prepare), middle school drama, and her best friend, Emmie’s, close friendship with someone else.

Terri Libenson is a very talented artist, writer, and storyteller. Her stories are always so captivating and relatable, tackling middle school aged issues big and small. She’s so good at juxtaposing the past and present. It’d be difficult for a reader to not walk away from this creative story without thinking at last one “been there, done that.”

I wish these books had been around when I was Brianna’s age. They would have helped so much – such as with public speaking – and made life a bit easier and more understandable. I wasn’t a huge reader then, but I’m positive this series would have turned me into a bookworm.

I loved getting to know Brianna and reuniting with past characters. I also loved the art – so imaginative and funny! I adored Rabbi Nosanchuk and Brianna’s friend Dev.

This was such a great read! When I received my copy of Becoming Brianna I was surprised by how thick the book was. The other books are much thinner. But the story never dragged. Everything fell into place quite nicely.

I’m so glad to have read this book and series!


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#PubDayTuesday | ARC Review: Attack of the Stuff by Jim Benton

Thank you to Kristen LeClerc for sending me an e-ARC to read and review! Attack of the Stuff is available NOW!

FULL TITLE: Attack of the Stuff: The Life and Times of Bill Waddler

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In what is described as “an 8 year old’s fever dream,” New York Times bestselling author introduces us to Bill Waddler. Bill is a duck who dreams of being smothered by farting snakes. He also has a special gift. He is able to hear appliances complain. Imagine what toilets would complain about. Bill doesn’t need to imagine. While working as a cash-only hay seller (that doesn’t accept credit cards), Bill doesn’t know that he, and a very confused orange juice sales clerk, are about to save the world. If you could hear this book complain, it would be saying “where have you been all my life?”

 

My Review: Attack of the Stuff is a wild story that I found comically entertaining.

A duck named Bill has the ability to hear objects talk – already starting off on a good note! The things in Bill’s house have a lot to say and are not shy about speaking their minds (to Bill’s detriment). For instance, his toilet aspires to be a movie star! The absurdity of it all is great. Kids will sure to find this story ridiculously hilarious.

Bill doesn’t have much going for him, which is probably why being at his house is anything but relaxing. As Bill puts it, “Electronics complain too much.” I love that he owns his own business and that his job is selling hay. What makes it even more amazing is that the business is called Hay Man (what an incredible title!).

I feel like we can all put ourselves in Bill’s shoes and have similar reactions to the ridicule and complaints by the stuff in our houses. It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by an abundance of stuff.

I love how the story goes from somewhat strangely ordinary to extraordinary. You get to see Bill’s character really shine in the most Bill-like fashion. The snake scene was absolutely hilarious!

The art was really neat and very lively. I love graphic novels that fill much of the white space with an explosion of color and vibrancy of life.

I really enjoyed reading Attack of the Stuff. I’m sure this book will be a hit with middle graders.


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Book Review: Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quote: “I know how it’s supposed to work in seventh grade: You are who the other kids say you are. But I’m not ok with that. I’ll say who I am.”

 

ABOUT: A laugh-out-loud funny and empowering graphic memoir about growing up and finding your voice.

Twelve-year-old Cindy has just dipped a toe into seventh-grade drama—with its complicated friendships, bullies, and cute boys—when she earns an internship as a cub reporter at a local newspaper in the early 1970s. A (rare) young female reporter takes Cindy under her wing, and Cindy soon learns not only how to write a lede, but also how to respectfully question authority, how to assert herself in a world run by men, and—as the Watergate scandal unfolds—how brave reporting and writing can topple a corrupt world leader. Searching for her own scoops, Cindy doesn’t always get it right, on paper or in real life. But whether she’s writing features about ghost hunters, falling off her bicycle and into her first crush, or navigating shifting friendships, Cindy grows wiser and more confident through every awkward and hilarious mistake.

 

My Review: For context: Cub takes place in 1972/1973 America. The infamous Watergate scandal is making waves in the media and there’s also President Richard Nixon’s re-election by a landslide.

It was interesting to read a memoir as a middle grade graphic novel. I think it translated well and gave that extra authenticity to the story. I liked Cindy’s development and how through the confusing loss of her best friend she discovers a passion for journalism. And in turn her voice.

How hard middle school life is socially and the pressure fit in and “be cool” is depicted very well through an apt predator versus prey metaphor.

The book teaches Cindy (and the reader) what journalism is, how to report and write a news story, and the importance of an ethical, fact-driven media and its influence. This is one the book’s most important points relevant to today’s media.

Good story all in all.


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Book Review: Nat Enough by Maria Scrivan

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade, Graphic Novel
Series: Nat Enough #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “Maybe you should focus on who you are instead of who you aren’t.”

“Making friends isn’t easy, but losing them is even harder!”

 

ABOUT: Making friends isn’t easy, but losing them is even harder!
Natalie has never felt that she’s enough — athletic enough, stylish enough, or talented enough. And on the first day of middle school, Natalie discovers that things are worse than she thought — now she’s not even cool enough for her best friend, Lily! As Natalie tries to get her best friend back, she learns more about her true self and natural talents. If Natalie can focus on who she is rather than who she isn’t, then she might realize she’s more than enough, just the way she is.

 

My Review: I really adored Nat Enough. The story, the characters, and the art combined into one terrific read.

I felt bad for Nat as she tried to figure out why Lily wasn’t acting like the BFF Nat has known since second grade. There was something about Lily as Nat herself described her that I didn’t quite trust from the very beginning. The red flag was everything in their club was purple because that’s Lily’s favorite color. Perhaps it was a mutual thing between them but I couldn’t shake my skepticism.

On top of losing Lily, Nat already feels inadequate, not good enough. This prompts her to try (and sadly fail) to be cool to win back Lily. I, like the other characters Nat gets to know, are stunned again and again why Nat would want to be friends with someone who is mean to her.

I loved the art and how the author designed each character. I loved the chapter sketches involving Nat’s cat and dog – those two were hilarious! The art graced the pages with bright colors, which was pleasing to the eye. The story was brilliantly fashioned together to create an appealing read.

Nat Enough is one of those books that stay with you long after reading. It has a strong message about friendship and self-worth. A perfect story for middle grade readers.


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Hyping About Winter Themed Book Releases In The Spring

Happy Narwhalidays! by Ben Clanton
Series: Narwhal and Jelly #5
Pub Date: September 8, 2020 by Tundra Books


I know what you’re probably thinking. Spring just started so why am I posting a book about a winter holiday. Simple: I love narwhals and this adorably informational book series so much that I was beyond ecstatic when the news of another book was going to be publish.

Here are some links to my reviews for all the previous books in the Narwhal and Jelly series:

 

ABOUT THE BOOK: Narwhal and Jelly spread some holiday cheer (and warm waffle pudding)!

It’s the festive season in the world wide waters, and Narwhal is looking forward to cozying up with a good book, singing and partying with his pod pals and enjoying some warm waffle pudding. But most of all he’s excited about the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn! According to Narwhal, she’s part mermaid, part unicorn and completely mer-aculous! Jelly is of course skeptical about the existence of the “Mira-Miny-What-A Corn” . . . even when he receives a mysterious present. It must be from Narwhal. Now Jelly has to get the perfect gift, but finding a present for someone as unique as Narwhal is no easy feat, even when you have six tentacles. How will Jelly ever come up with a whaley great gift for a best pal who spreads cheer all through the year?

 

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Cover image via Goodreads
Background Royalty free image via Pixabay


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[Manga Review] Kamisama Kiss (Vol. 1) by Julietta Suzuki

Review of Volume 1 only

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Kamisama Kiss
# of Volumes: 25
Rating: 4 out of 5

 

ABOUT: Nanami Momozono is alone and homeless after her dad skips town to evade his gambling debts and the debt collectors kick her out of her apartment. So when a man she’s just saved from a dog offers her his home, she jumps at the opportunity. But it turns out that his place is a shrine, and Nanami has unwillingly taken over his job as a local deity!

Nanami has all kinds of new responsibilities she doesn’t understand, dangers she’s unaware of, and a cranky ex-familiar who’s… actually pretty hot. What’s a new-fledged godling to do?

 

My Review: This was a great start to the story. I’ve only watched the anime so this was a nice re-introduction to the story. Reading was a nostalgic experience.

Nanami is alot different than I remember. She is an eh character as of this first volume but I’m sure I’ll grow to like her character more. She’s vocal when she needs to me. She doesn’t allow Tomoe to walk all over her or scare her.

Tomoe is like any other of my favorite white-haired main character. You can tell how deeply the betrayal has affected him. He doesn’t think much of Nanami because she’s human. But I also think he’s projecting his anger onto her. I like his character the most because of his cool attitude.

I can’t wait for more characters to appear. I think they will add a lot of color and humor to the rest of the story.


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Reading 2019: Best of Middle Grade, Young Adult, LGBTQIA+, Manga, ARCs

 

 

 

 


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Book Review: “Bloom” by Kevin Panetta, Illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQIA+ Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.

Writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.

 

My Review
This story was so cute! I loved every page so much I couldn’t (and didn’t want to) stop reading. The sketch style art is great and I love that everything is in shades of blue , black and white.

Ari is a very relatable character: youthful and dreaming; quirky and unsure. He comes off as winy sometimes but I get where he’s coming from, especially when his dad is so dismissive of his plans.

Hector is a nice, caring person and very sure of himself. But it seems like he doesn’t undergo any change within the story even as his relationship with Ari grows. There wasn’t any conflict for him to overcome. I do love seeing his passion and devotion to baking though. And his friend Meg is so wild and funny and very supportive.

Ari and Hector’s relationship was so beautiful to watch. I adored watching them together, enjoying the moment. But my favorite part of the story were all the full double pages of art. A montage of scenes sweeps across the pages in stunning clarity. And it’s all done in my favorite color – blue!

What a wonderful story that takes place at one of my favorite places – a bakery. This would make a great summer read. Bloom is a sweetly, romantic story. I would read more books with Panetta and Ganucheau at the helm.