Sunday, June 23, 2024

REVIEW: My Life Among Humans (graphic novel) by Jed McGowan

My Life Among Humans is a sci-fi graphic novel. I bought my copy new.

Review:

The POV character is a small alien that was born and raised solely to act as a research tool for its manager. In this one's case, it's meant to observe humans in their natural habitat. It releases microscopic scouts into the air that attach to the brains of nearby humans and allow it to know and experience their thoughts, memories, and emotions, without affecting them in any other way.

It starts with Will and then expands to his family, but it gets distracted by its own curiosity and feeling of connection to Will's home and family and is seen by them by accident. Being seen by humans, and thereby tainting the manager's research, must never happen - it's the kind of thing that could get the alien killed by its manager. Not knowing what else to do, it tries to calm the humans down and realizes that, despite what it's always been told, it can somehow use its scouts to control humans.

REVIEW: Heaven Official's Blessing (Tian Guan Ci Fu), Vol. 3 (book) by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, art by ZeldaCW, translated by Suika and Pengie

Heaven Official's Blessing is a fantasy historicalish danmei (Chinese m/m) series. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

I waited way too long to review this, but I have notes, so I'll do my best. 

Anyway, the first half of the volume is a flashback to Xie Lian's early days as a god, desperately trying to protect everyone, even if it involves breaking rules. He is, however, doomed to failure, and his efforts make things worse, leading to the Human Face Disease. In the second half of the volume, Xie Lian investigates a fetus spirit and spends time with Hua Cheng.

REVIEW: The Earl & the Fairy (manga, vol. 1) story & art by Ayuko, original concept by Mizue Tani, translated by John Werry

The Earl & the Fairy is a fantasy romance series based on a Japanese light novel series. I bought my copy of this volume used.

Review:

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor, one of the few people with the ability to see magical creatures and communicate with them in order to resolve issues between them and humans. Intending to go visit her father, she actually ends up kidnapped instead, and escapes with a mysterious young man named Edgar who claims to be a descendant of the Blue Knight, Earl Ibrazel. He needs Lydia's help to find the Merrow Star and claim his birthright.

I've only read a bit of the light novel series - my first exposure to this series was via the anime. This manga was okay, but I recall the anime being better. 

The action scenes were confusing. Honestly, the whole situation was a little confusing. 

Extras:

A short note from the adapter.

REVIEW: Moon Knight: The Complete Collection (graphic novel) written by Jeff Lemire, art by Greg Smallwood, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Garland, Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe

Moon Knight: The Complete Collection collects Moon Knight (2016) #1-14. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

Marc Spector is Moon Knight, the hero who was resurrected by the Egyptian god Khonshu. Or is he? Part of him is in a mental institution, being treated for dissociative identity disorder. Part of him sees behind the mental institution to the various Egyptian gods and monsters that torment him and his friends in the guise of institution employees. Which view of the world is the real one?

As Marc struggles to figure out where he is and what's going on, his view of the world and his own identity fractures even further. He's a cabbie named Jake Lockley. He's a wealthy movie producer named Steven Grant, working on a live action movie production of Moon Knight for Marvel. He's Marc Spector, an astronaut battling his way through space werewolves. He's Mr. Knight.

REVIEW: Fiasco (book) by Constance Fay

Fiasco is sci-fi romance, the second book in the author's Uncharted Hearts series (trilogy?). I bought my copy new.

Review:

Bounty hunter Cyn Khaw is best known as the cold-blooded killer who spaced a ship full of slavers. Most recently, she pretended to be a woman named Generosity in order to infiltrate a cult and rescue her clients' daughter.

Inside, Cyn is an absolute mess. She practically lives on stims and barely sleeps, because, when she does, she has screaming nightmares about the incident with the slaver ship. Although her reputation is useful, she isn't nearly as cold-blooded as people think. She has one goal driving her: to find and destroy her cousin Aymbe's killer, the man known as the Abyssal Abductor.

When the Abductor kidnaps Estella Escajeda's secret daughter, Cyn agrees to help, even though it'll mean working with the crew of the Calamity - teamwork isn't Cyn's forte. This setup is even less appealing when Cyn learns that the Calamity used to be the Quest, which means she'll be in close quarters with Micah, the attractive medic who tried to help her when he thought she was trapped in a cult.

Saturday, June 22, 2024

REVIEW: Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, Vol. 3: The Silver Sugar Master and the Ivory Aristocrat (book) by Miri Mikawa, illustrated by Aki, translated by Nicole Wilder

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale is a Japanese fantasy romance series. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

Due to a poor harvest of sugar apples, Anne must work at the Radcliffe House (where she has nothing but enemies, except Keith) to refine communal sugar in order to be allowed to make enough of her own sugar for the next candy fair. While working herself to the bone making both communal sugar and sugar for her own personal use, she must somehow come up with a design for her silver sugar sculpture and find the time to make it.

REVIEW: The Titan's Bride (manga, vol. 1) by ITKZ, translated by Katrina Leonoudakis

The Titan's Bride is a BL fantasy manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

High school senior Kouichi is thinking about graduation and girls when he decides to take a break and masturbate to let off a bit of steam. At that exact moment, he is summoned to another world where he is declared to be the fated bride-to-be of Caius, the crown prince of the kingdom of the Titans. Kouichi has some understandable concerns about his new role - he's male, and much smaller than Caius, and they've just met - which Caius cheerfully brushes off (hey, who knows, maybe a male human can get pregnant with a Titan's child?). However, Caius wants Kouichi to feel comfortable, so he promises not to force himself on him and asks for a month to convince him to stay and be his bride.

REVIEW: My Brain Is Different: Stories of ADHD and Other Developmental Disorders (nonfiction manga) nine true stories illustrated by Monzusu, translated by Ben Trethewey

My Brain Is Different is nonfiction manga. I bought my copy new.

Review:

This manga features nine stories by people with ADHD, autism, or a learning disorder, including Monzusu's own story. Each account begins with the person's name, age, diagnoses (developmental disorder + comorbidity such as depression), and what, if any, medication the person is on.

This was meant to show the many different paths and experiences of these contributors, even if their general diagnoses were similar. Some folks had happier stories than others - be aware that this does touch on things like suicide attempts, extreme poverty, bullying, and more.

Overall, I thought this was okay. There wasn't enough time to really delve deeply into anyone's story, so I was left with more questions about Japan's available social services and education about these issues than anything.

REVIEW: Emma Dreams of Stars: Inside the Gourmet Guide (graphic novel memoir) by Emmanuelle Maisonneuve and Julia Pavlowitch, art by Kan Takahama, translated by Eamon Fogarty

Emma Dreams of Stars is an autobiographical French graphic novel. I bought my copy new.

Review:

This autobiographical work tells the story of Emma becoming the first woman to be hired as a Michelin Guide Inspector. There's a bit about her initial training (reading, shadowing three experienced inspectors), her doubts, the tug-of-war between her personal life and her dream of doing this work, and her adventures across France and Japan (where she went on vacation).

REVIEW: Batman: Wayne Family Adventures, Vol. 2 (graphic novel) written by CRC Payne, inks by Starbite and Toby Fan

Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is a slice-of-life story about Bruce Wayne and his found family (Alfred, the various former Robins, etc.). I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

If you liked the first volume, you're more than likely going to enjoy this one, since it delivers more of the same, along with tidbits of serious stuff like PTSD, imposter syndrome, overwork, etc. 

It occasionally had a "very special message" sort of feel that was a bit much for me, but I still loved it overall. You get to see Superman and Batman hanging out as pals, Alfred and the Kents talking about parenthood, and more fun and occasionally warm and fuzzy stuff. 

Extras:

A couple pages of bonus sketches.

Friday, June 21, 2024

REVIEW: The Girl That Can't Get a Girlfriend (autobiographical manga) by Mieri Hiranishi

The Girl That Can't Get a Girlfriend is an autobiographical manga. I bought my copy new.

Review:

In this autobiographical manga, Mieri is an awkward, nerdy lesbian who thinks her dreams have come true when she meets Ash, a hot androgynous woman, and realizes her feelings are returned. They date for about a month, and Mieri pretty much exists for Ash. Then they break up, and Mieri still feels crushed four years later.

I actually finished this several months ago and am only now getting around to reviewing it. I...was not impressed. Mieri's obsession with Ash wasn't exactly healthy - in fact, her general theme seemed to be low self-esteem and putting anyone she deemed attractive on a pedestal. 

The author did get to a place, by the end of the volume, where she realized that she needed to work on being a person she could like and approve of, though, so that was nice. But she never really got past the point of viewing every aspect of her life as discrete blocks that she had to crowbar into her life rather than things that could, even just some of the time, work and function together.

I could see this being a relatable read for some folks, and it had some funny moments, but I was expecting a bit more from it than I got.

Extras:

A bonus comic/author's note, a couple Q&A pages, and a bonus gallery with cover sketch ideas.

REVIEW: Calamity (book) by Constance Fay

Calamity is sci-fi romance. I bought my copy new.

Review:

Years ago, Temperance (Temper) Reed was a member of one of the wealthy Ten Families, second only to the Five. Then she tried to interfere with one of her brother's schemes and ended up banished. Her only home, since then, has been the Quest, a spaceship with a ragtag crew. 

After she's betrayed by her lover, the ship's captain, she buys the ship off of him, becomes the new captain, and tries to get jobs decent enough to dig herself out of debt. Unfortunately, her first job as the ship's new captain seems likely to be riddled with traps. The Escajeda, one of the Five, hires her to scout part of Herschel Two, a mostly deserted planet that happens to have a cult living right near the Escajeda's choice of survey site. In addition, the head of the Escajeda has forced her to bring his second child, Arcadio Escajeda, along as the ship's new security expert. Temper's pretty sure his primary goal is actually to spy on her and her crew, and make sure they're upholding their end of the deal. It also seems like he's hiding something - for some reason he keeps leaving the ship to do some scouting on his own when he thinks no one is watching.

REVIEW: Servant x Service (manga, vol. 2) by Karino Takatsu, translated by Amanda Haley

Servant x Service is a workplace comedy/romcom manga. I bought my copy of this volume new.

Review:

Hasebe and Lucy's first date is coming up - can he successfully convince her that he really likes her and isn't just hitting on her as part of his playboy image? And will Ichimiya finally get the courage to tell his younger sister that he's dating Chihaya? Will that damage the friendship between Chihaya and Ichimiya's sister? Will Chihaya finally get Lucy to cosplay for her? Oh, and will Lucy finally track down the civil servant who allowed her parents to give her a ridiculously long name and give him or her a piece of her mind?

REVIEW: Killer Content (book) by Kiley Roache

Killer Content is a YA thriller/mystery. I bought my copy new.

Review:

Sydney, Gwen, Cami, Tucker, Beau, and Kat are six teens who live in a beachfront mansion they've named the Lit Lair - it's a collab house intended to allow the TikTokers to work together and use their follower counts to boost each other to greater heights. Sydney's parents made the down payment on the house (which she never lets them forget), but they all have an agreement that essentially makes them equal, as long as they abide by the rules of the house and continue to pay rent on their rooms. 

Of course, teens being teens, there's a lot of drama under the surface. Sydney and Tucker are a couple, but Tucker's been sleeping with someone else behind Sydney's back. Cami has a secret crush on Gwen, Gwen is painfully aware that the others don't consider her to be very smart, and Beau and Kat (who many of the Lit Lair's fans ship, although they aren't a couple) are the only two in the group whose TikToks have a comedy rather than dance focus. 

After Sydney gets in a fight with her housemates, she leaves and doesn't even come back for a planned celebrity meeting. But she's done similar things before, so the others shrug it off...until the next morning, when Cami spots Sydney's body in the pool while filming a live tour of the house. A short while later, someone uses the Lit Lair social media accounts to tauntingly post about her death. True, the housemates had some beefs with each other, but did one of them really hate Sydney enough to kill her?

Thursday, June 20, 2024

REVIEW: The Prince and the Dressmaker (graphic novel) by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker is a historicalish graphic novel. I bought my copy new.

Review:

Frances, a young dressmaker, gets noticed due to a dress she designed - it fit the young lady's requirements ("Make me look like the devil's wench.") but horrifies nearly everyone else...except a mysterious aristocrat who wants to hire her to be their private dressmaker. Then Frances learns that her new patron is Prince Sebastian. After listening to him, Frances decides to continue with their agreement - Sebastian gets to be the beautiful and mysterious Lady Crystallia, and Frances' work gets seen by larger and larger audiences.

However, as Lady Crystallia gets more attention, Prince Sebastian worries about his parents finding out about his cross-dressing, particularly if people see Frances with him and connect Lady Crystallia and Prince Sebastian. At the same time, if Frances wants to achieve her own dreams, she can't just stay in the shadows for Sebastian's sake.