Friday, February 26, 2016

Livingstone 1: Soul Savers by Tomohiro Maekawa; illus by Jinsei Kataoka

Livingstone 1: Soul Savers by Tomohiro Maekawa; illus by Jinsei Kataoka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 216 pages
Published November 3rd 2015 by Kodansha Comics
Source: Review copy from Penguin Random House Canada

An interesting and intriguing start to a new manga series. Two guys work as soul savers for a company called Livingstone where their job is to help suicides, either to stop them or to save their souls before they complete the action. This first volume concentrates on character and getting the reader up to speed on what is actually going on. Thus, we get to know Sakurai, a by-the-book agent and his partner, Amano who has no soul himself as they work on several cases which range from sad to scary to strange. There is more needed. But for a first volume, a lot is presented and leaves me eager to read the second volume of this seinen to find out what the "more" is all about.

Die Wergelder 1 by Hiroaki Samura

Die Wergelder 1 by Hiroaki Samura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 29th 2015 by Kodansha Comics
Source: review copy from Penguin Random House Canada

Die Wergelder (#1)

I was hesitant going into this with the Mature rating but ended up being impressed with the intense, complicated plot. This series is not going to be for everyone; let's get that out of the way first. It is graphic both in physical violence and sexual violence. It's a story of the yakuza to start with though there are many plot threads interwoven. It is a violent world of drugs, sex, and death with the language suited to it.The art is detailed and gorgeous! For me, I found the setting to be unique in a manga, taking place in Germany, China, and Japan. Many of the characters are also German or Chinese. This is a large volume actually combining the original Japanese volumes 1 & 2 so we are getting a lot of plot and as I've categorized them in my mind, there are the three "good" female characters and one "bad" one that have all been introduced. The story involves a lot of men, this is a man's world the yakuza (the Japanese mafia) where the men run things and they use and abuse women. The men are in charge, they are the bosses, they use, torture, rape the women. However, they are weak, unremarkable and forgettable characters. The women carry the story. They are strong, intelligent, some are there of their own accord using the men unbeknownst to them. They have their own agenda. For the women, this is a tale of vengeance. There is a terrible, wicked new product being sold in the underground world. The yakuza has sent three of their top agents into an island of elite prostitution to find out what that product is and how they can get in on it. Meanwhile, two of these women have personal connections to the island and what is being sold, turning undercover rogue. We get some background on each of the women, especially one "Nami", the one-eyed sniper, who has led a terribly brutalized past. An awesome action thriller with intense plotting and characterization, but viciously violent especially in sexual content.

Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 3 & Vol. 5 by Sui Ishida

I got a little mixed up and read volume 4 out of order, so I had to go back and read volume three before I continued on with the current new release!


 
Tokyo Ghoul, Vol. 3 by Sui Ishida
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published October 20th 2015 by VIZ Media
Source: amazon.ca

Tokyo Ghoul (#3)

A satisfying volume that concentrates on two ghoul agents tracking down Hinami, Agent Amon and the freaky Agent Mado who is weirder than a ghoul! The ghoul gang tries to throw them off the scent and ends up coming to the rescue (well, sort of). We learn a lot about Hinami in this volume and Kaneki is pushed to his limits in battle when he releases his inner ghoul but doesn't know if he'll be able to tame it back before he has to take a bite of flesh.






Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 5 by Sui Ishida
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 200 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: amazon.ca

Tokyo Ghoul (#5)

Brilliant! I'm reading a couple of horror series right now and this is my favourite one. Rated T+ its got just the right amount of darkness and gore (mostly consisting of decapitations and limb removals) and has a great story line. In fact several are going on at the same time, this volume closes The Gourmet arc and does a lot of character development on Kimi, Touka and especially Nishio taking us on a flashback to his past. We also go on a flashback to learn more about Rize. Meanwhile, the investigators are upping their presence on all the killings going on and Amon is made part of an exclusive team while the book ends with the introduction of a really weird new Special Investigator. This should prove interesting! I have to say I really enjoy reading Viz's Signature line too. These are quality books and I love the slightly larger format.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

QQ Sweeper, Vol. 2 by Kyousuke Motomi

QQ Sweeper, Vol. 2 by Kyousuke Motomi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss

QQ Sweeper (#2)

Really enjoyed this second volume! The prince charming and cleaning temes are downplayed in this volume as the story arc gets started. We found out Fumi has a big problem and the story firmly sets itself in the paranormal as the Sweepers gather together to help Fumi find out who is after her. Fumi joins the group and does a sweeping with them to clear the mind of a boy from school who had attacked her. I really liked the paranormal aspect of this manga, with bugs as the bad guys, you can't go wrong with giving me the willies and I like that the sweepers help people in mental distress. The humour side is fun and this looks like it's going to be an excellent mix of paranormal romance. Can't wait for the next volume to see if it continues in the same vein.

Sherlock Holmes: Crime Alleys by Sylvain Cordurié; Nespolino Alessandro (Illus)

Sherlock Holmes: Crime Alleys by Sylvain Cordurié; Nespolino Alessandro (Illus)
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 104 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by Dark Horse Books
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Sherlock Holmes Graphic Novels

I've read the previous two books by Cordrié which have been translated into English and was excited to read this one. It was surprising then to find "Crime Alleys" doesn't take place in the same paranormal world as the other two. This book features a young Sherlock Holmes, the "budding detective". We find him flatmates with a virtuoso violinist and the two of them are buddies with a Scotland Yard detective named Colin Pike. Notice the disappointing absence of Holmes' famous colleagues. Holmes and Pike get involved in the case when Ron, the violinist, is the next man in a string of elitists who have been kidnapped and declared missing over the last few months. Here Sherlock also meets for the first time the Moriarty family, a young James, but more importantly, the patriarch, his father, Henry. The story isn't paranormal like the first two graphics but it is a little out of this world featuring a mad scientist-type plot with a contraption more science-fiction than realistic and a leader called "Most High Lord" who can't be human with his all over body hair, extraordinary height and claws. A decent enough story, though a little off the grid, and not what I was expecting.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

My Hero Academia, Vol. 03 by Kohei Horikoshi

My Hero Academia, Vol. 03 by Kohei Horikoshi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 2nd 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss

My Hero Academia (#3)

I think my rating for this is more of a 3.5; I enjoyed the second half a whole lot more than the first half. We start off with the finishing of the battle between class 1A and the group of villains who broke into the University, ultimately this has serious consequences for All Mighty. Then it's time for the annual UA sports contest where all students compete against each other. I'm a sucker for these competition battles in shonen manga and wasn't disappointed. The book ends with the winner of Round 1 and the announcement of what the challenge for Round 2 will be.

Ultraman, Vol. 3 by Eiichi Shimizu

Ultraman, Vol. 3 by Eiichi Shimizu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 188 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by VIZ Media
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Ultraman (#3)

This is good, I'm enjoying it but not a lot to say this volume. The plot doesn't move forward too much, rather Shinjiro discusses his feelings about being Ultraman now having killed, with his senior Morobishi, a new human character called Jack living in a hidden alien city and with his father, the former Ultraman. Meanwhile, the serial killer case is being investigated. A good read keeping me interested.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Last Man #4: The Show by Bastien Vivès

The Show by Bastien Vivès
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 208 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by First Second
Source: egalley via Netgalley

Last Man: (#4)

This French manga just continues to hold its excellent appeal. Continuing on this whole volume centers on Richard, Marianne and Adrian being caught in Paxtown where they all are competing in a live ultimate fighting-type tag team tournament under duress. Paxton is a mega-opolis society with undertones of Judge Dredd and Hunger Games and Richard remains as elusively mysterious as ever as more layers are added to the plot. Other characters from Marianne's homeland arrive and new characters are introduced keeping the story fresh and familiar at the same time while ending on a small cliffhanger to keep us eagerly awaiting the next volume. I love everything about this series, the plot, the characters and the art.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Night and the Enemy by Harlan Ellison; illus Ken Steacy

Night and the Enemy by Harlan Ellison; illus Ken Steacy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 96 pages
Published November 18th 2015 by Dover Publications
first published January 1st 1987
Source: egalley via Netgalley


Fantastic classic sci-fi short story fiction by one of my favourite author's of the genre. These five stories don't really have anything to do with each other except that they take place during a two-hundred-year war between Earth and a humanoid race, the Kyben. Most of the stories are personal encounters with characters and a couple deal with the follies of war. I love Ellison's characterization and dialogue and his science isn't overly techie so it doesn't sound outdated or campy. I really enjoyed these stories, which I don't remember having read before. However, the art didn't appeal to me at all. The colours are muddy and the people are stiff with unnatural faces. I kind of got a "Thunderbirds" vibe from it for some reason, like they were puppets. A couple of the stories have been adapted into graphic "comic" style while the others are simply the full text of the short stories illustrated in full colour. Great for fans of the author!

The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition by Brian K. Vaughan; illus Marcos Martin

The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition by Brian K. Vaughan; illus Marcos Martin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 300 pages
Published December 17th 2015 by Image Comics
Source: egalley via Netgalley

This was fantastic. I won't lie, it's not Vaughan's best story but it's still really good and combined with the art I found it truly mesmerising. I was so hooked I stayed up very late reading the whole thing in one sitting. Private Eye is a mixture of genres, first and foremost I'd label it a detective, pulp, a private eye working a case. But this is not your normal PI; it's set a couple of generations in the future making the secondary genre science fiction. I loved the book for both these elements. It was a good case as the reluctant PI is pulled into a murder case and stumbles upon a maniacal murderous billionaire who won't stop at anything to change the world the way he sees it must to survive. On the other hand, it's a strange future I've never come across that is imagined her. One where personal identity and privacy is of utmost importance. The 4th amendment has become the most important civil right to the extreme that the government runs The Fourth Estate to make sure it is not violated at any and all costs. People wear costumes and use aliases to protect their identities. The internet is gone, two generations ago the cloud burst and everyone's search histories became public knowledge ruining families, careers and lives. There is no "online" and this future world is interesting. It is like the 80s in many respects where computer advances have devolved but other tech has been developed such as hover cars. The excitement of the case, the twists, the murders, etc keep you reading, but in the end, the book makes you think about the internet, personal privacy, who should have access to your info and while the bad guy here was evil, were his ideas bad. Should we live insular, cut off from the rest of the world to keep our privacy. Will this generation's use of the internet to spread every single piece of private secret detail of themselves (mostly through search history) one day blow up in our faces. If we, the human race, are all networked together, who should the controller be? Corporations? Governments? Which is scarier? Some very thought provoking stuff here which I've never really thought about to this degree. I found myself agreeing at some point with both arguments. A fast-paced read, exciting story that ends on a final note but also leaves some dangling threads for a possible sequel.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The 2015 Cybils Winners!



I was thrilled to be on the Round 1 shortlist committee again this year and today the Round 2 committee has announced the winners.  I couldn't be happier with the books they picked. For the whole list of all category wins visit the Cybils website.

Graphic Novel 2015 Cybils Award Winners


Elementary/Middle Grade

I was behind this one all the way and super-excited to see it win. Definitely recommend you read it. You can read MY REVIEW here.

Roller Girl
by Victoria Jamieson
Dial Books
Nominated by: Maureen E
Since infancy, Astrid has always had her best friend, Nicole. But now that they’re twelve, Nicole begins to focus on dance camp and boys while Astrid is drawn to the knockdown, drag-out world of roller derby. Unfortunately, Astrid is terrible at roller derby. But as the summer progresses, Astrid learns little by little how to fall (literally), how to get back up (figuratively), and how to accept the inevitable changes that growing up brings. ROLLER GIRL tackles the tension of growing apart from a longtime friend and the transition to adolescence, and captures the tween voice expertly. In finding friends, communicating with parents, and meeting new mentors, Astrid begins to realize people are more complicated than she thought they were. ROLLER GIRL is a complete package: great art, great action, emotional grab, and all the right scenes and moments to help us understand Astrid’s journey toward forgiveness.

Young Adult

I had no frontrunner within our shortlist, but did have two I felt were neck-in-neck for me so am thrilled Nimona, one of my frontrunners won!  You can read MY REVIEW here.

Nimona
by Noelle Stevenson
HarperTeen
Nominated by: Liviania

Nimona is the snarky, shape-shifting sidekick to a supervillain. Her unwilling employer, Lord Ballister Blackheart, plays his part promoting evil and clashing against the hero Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin. Pulling Blackheart along with her overenthusiasm for wrongdoing, Nimona forces everyone to look deeply into questions of good and evil. She reopens old wounds between villain and hero, and tears into her own enemies with a vengeance, regardless of the consequences. But she also foils a nefarious government plot and is a fierce protector. Who is good? Who is evil? And who decides, anyway? In NIMONA, the answers keep shifting, and the results are awesome. We loved the way Noelle Stevenson created complex, sympathetic characters who subvert traditional understandings of beauty, power, and morality. And NIMONA is riotously funny to boot!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Stein's Gate, Volume 1 by Yomi Sarachi

Stein's Gate, Volume 1 by Yomi Sarachi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 178 pages
Published November 10th 2015 by Udon Entertainment
Source: egalley via Netgalley

Stein's Gate (#1)

I'm not an anime watcher so hadn't heard of this but the premise sounded promising for me to give the manga a go and I have to say I was impressed. A realistic science-fiction tale that felt actually unique. It starts off a bit slow and jagged but things come together quickly and it then flowed nicely. The plot heats up, moving forward always, ending this volume with a tense moment. All the characters are given plenty of character development and there is an unusual selection of differing types. The text messages that alter time are cool, seeing how the small changes make an affect on the world as they know it, but I'm waiting to see if this will all come to some big crisis further down the road. Would love to read the next volume!

Fairy Girls, Vol. 01 by Boku

Fairy Girls, Vol. 01 by Boku
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Kodansha Comic
Source: Review copy from Random Penguin House Canada

Fairy Tail Universe

This is good. It starts after vol. 50 of the main series and doesn't intrude upon that series but takes the 4 main female Fairy girls and shows us what adventures they get up to by themselves.I'm not well-versed in Fairy Tail at this point and only know two of the 4 female characters but didn't find it hard to gather what was going on and the plot was easy to figure out even though it got more complicated as it went along. Actually, a good first volume that tries to get a bit of everything in. Assuming we know who the characters are there isn't much development but they do each get a turn at showing off who and what they are, there is a lot of battling, the story is relatively complicated for a first volume and we understand relationships. This could prove to be quite successful as it is an ongoing series still current in Japan. Bad parts are the art is nothing like Hiro Mashima's and is downright not cute nor pretty like his work. Is Boku trying to make up for that with the outrageous amounts of bosoms floating around defying gravity everywhere you look? Perhaps. I'm not offended; I like boobs, but "Boob" really should be in the title to let you know how heavily they represent the main angle of the art. Perhaps "Fairy Girls' Boobs" LOL

Fairy Tail Ice Trail, Vol. 1 by Yuusuke Shirato

Fairy Tail Ice Trail, Vol. 1 by Yuusuke Shirato
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 208 pages
Published December 15th 2015 by Kodansha Comics
Source: Review copy from Random Penguin House Canada

Fairy Tail Universe

This is Gray's origin story and his adventures before and how he gets to Fairy Tale. It isn't necessary to have read the original series to start this one, however, this volume does start at the point in Gray's background that we've been told of in FT. I've read the first 5 volumes of FT and was "in" on everything they were talking about. This first volume is full of action and zooms along at a fast past. A bit too much to the detriment of character building, as there are a few scenes of emotion but we don't get to know Gray enough because of all the battles. Since this only has one more volume to go I imagine the whole thing will be a whirlwind. The humour is fun, though, and the art is cute. I can imagine Gray fans will take particular delight. My son, who has watched the anime, says he's looking forward to reading it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

X-Men: Misfits by Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman

X-Men: Misfits by Raina Telgemeier & Dave Roman; illus Anzu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, First Edition, 192 pages
Published August 11th 2009 by Del Rey
Source: Local library

This is a lot of fun and what I guess would be called fanservice. The X-men have been turned into a shoujo manga by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman! It's a sweet story too. I'm not much into the X-men but from what memory serves me, this story reimagines Kitty Prydes' first semester at Xavier's School and introduces only a few other X-men, with the climax being Xavier's crippling accident. The book itself is from Del Rey's run at manga publishing, printed American style and the proposed series was cancelled due to Del Rey's abrupt closure of their manga printing house. A cute shoujo for fans of the X-men and a fun look at some early work by the authors who have both gone on to industry-leading work in graphic novels.

New Suicide Squad, Vol. 2: Monsters by Sean Ryan

New Suicide Squad, Vol. 2: Monsters by Sean Ryan; illus by Philippe Briones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Paperback, 144 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by DC Comics
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Suicide Squad


This is much better than the first volume and has quite a serious story being quite dramatic going into some depth with most of the characters. We have a new team with 6 members (some from last time) divided into two sets of three. Three working inside a cult and three working on extraction. I won't name names but one member gets brainwashed into the cult which upsets the plan from the beginning and a character I never really liked ends up getting a redemptive moment and an actually sad death. Though they are careful to say "lost" so maybe it's not really final, but the book ends letting us know who the replacement team member will be. I liked Harley's insight into herself as well. My favourite new team member is Parasite. Only thing I didn't like is the art for this volume. Harley, my favourite she-villain, is drawn ugly and I couldn't get used to her and Reverse Flash just looked plain weird. No, not a fan of the art. Otherwise, a good volume leaving me looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Fairy Tail Master's Edition, Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tail Master's Edition, Vol. 1 by Hiro Mashima
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 944 pages
Published October 13th 2015 by Kodansha Comics
Orig pub 2006-2007
Source: Review copy from Random Penguin House Canada

Fairy Tail (Vol. 1-5)

This is my first time reading Fairy Tale and I had wanted to start earlier but then I heard these omnibus editions were coming out so I waited. Omnibus editions are the glory of my home library manga bookshelves! Kodansha publishes beautiful collections, suitable for collectors at a price that is reasonable for the quality you are getting and a lower price point than buying the volumes individually. A large oversized volume containing volumes 1 thru 5 with huge pages and large text that make it a joy to read. There are no colour pages, but that is not something I fall for or need. The pages are quality, a far cry from viz omnibuses, but viz is serving a different market with their omnibi (?). The back information following each volume is crazily informative and I've been reading every word. Admittedly, I often find manga backmatter boring and skim at best and skip usually, but not here. Fans of the series will be pleased with the omnibus.

As to the manga itself, for a first-timer, I'm in delight! Such a fun old-school (2006) shounen fantasy with all the tropes that were popular back then. There are a lot of characters and it promises to be a large world inhabited by many people and creatures. These first five volumes establish a small core of main characters: Natsu, Happy, Lucy, Gray, Erza & Makarov. Many others have been introduced too but just in the Guild's pub setting so far. There is going to be a lot of variety here as so far in the five volumes the characters have gone to the board to select jobs/missions for themselves, they have been gathered together to go on a mission of great importance to the Guild Masters and they have snuck out without permission to accept a mission for glory which ended up having personal meaning for one of the heroes. There is a lot of character development which I'm loving; the battle scenes are many, wild, but short and the plots are both hilarious and serious. The general tone of the series reminds me of "One Piece" with the obscure, wild characters and enemies they meet and the extreme overreaction of the main characters. On the other hand, the art is highly akin to "Dragonball"'s Akira Toriyama, especially the facial drawings. This is so much fun; I'm so glad I'm finally getting into this must-read classic. I haven't settled on a favourite character yet because I like them all so far!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mean Girls Club by Ryan Heshka

Mean Girls Club by Ryan Heshka
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Paperback, 24 pages
Published Feb 2 2016 by Nobrow Press
Source: egalley via edelweiss

First let me say I love the art. It's 1940/50s "femme fatale" glamour women portrayed as extremely shocking, violent and mafioso. I dig that. Pink and black are awesome, one of my favourite colour combinations. I even dye my hair bright pink every summer! However, I'm not at all sure I agree with the sentiment it is going for. On top of that, there is no plot, or characterization, just a series of acts. Disappointing, it could have been something wild to remember.