Love the Fur You’re In: Monster Wit & Wisdom from Sesame Street

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Thank you to Random House Kids for providing me a copy of this book!


This post is a little bit out of the norm for this blog, but I still wanted to write a little quick blurb because THE FEELS.

Oh, my heart. This illustrated book is so perfect as a gift for graduates or if you just need a dose of daily inspiration. I wasn’t expecting it to be so geared toward adults. It gave me such a major throwback to when I was just a little Thai kid, reading Sesame Street books to brush up on my English reading skills. Since this book is celebrating Sesame Street’s 50th anniversary, there were TONS of illustrations from decades ago. It gave me so much nostalgia, and I found myself giggling so many times. This book is filled with so much good and reminds us to not just be kind to others, but also to ourselves.

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The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

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Title: The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Author: Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

Pages: 208

Genre: Graphic novel, YA, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The first installment of Cassandra Clare’s bestselling urban fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments, is adapted into a graphic novel series!

Hanging out with her best friend, Simon, is just about the most exciting thing in Clary’s life…that is, until she realizes there are people only she can see. But when her mother disappears and a monster attacks her, Clary has to embrace a world that she never even knew existed–a world full of vampires, werewolves, demons, and those who fight for the humans, Shadowhunters…

Okay, I’m going to be real for a second: I originally rated the novel version of this book 2 stars. Well, maybe it was more like 2.5 stars. But, nevertheless, I just did not love it and when people saw my rating I was… met with some rather unhappy responses.

Here’s my opinion on The Mortal Instrument series: they’re fun and consumable, and they have stood up well over the years. They have good world building, action, and romance. But what grips me the most is the very complex history and connections between all the characters/families. I think Cassandra Clare does such an amazing job in building the Shadowhunter/Downworlder worlds and each book gets stronger and stronger. Are they literary masterpieces? I mean, that’s not my decision to make. And I’m not going to drag anyone who likes these books because you are allowed to enjoy what you want. This series has overall been really fun for me to read and I will continue to read however many more books Cassandra Clare publishes.

Now with that being said, I did not love book 1 in this series because it read like bad Harry Potter fanfic. However this graphic novel was a wonderful new way for me to dive back into this world. I really recommend this if you’re wanting a refresher or cliffnotes version of what happened in book 1 (but keep in mind this graphic novel is only a portion of the novel.) And, dare I say it? But I found Jace so much more likeable in the graphic novel version!

However, I don’t love the art. At times some panels looked really poorly drawn and it was confusing during some action sequences. And there were a few times where I thought Clary and Izzy looked oddly drawn. However, I really love the cover art and wished we could’ve gotten the entire graphic novel in full color.

Overall I really enjoyed diving back into this world. There were a lot of things I forgot (like, hello, Hodge. I forgot about you) and it was fun to be able to visualize it all. I thought Jace’s falcon story was depicted very well and all the pertinent information wasn’t glossed over. I really think if you’re a huge fan of this series then you may enjoy these graphic novels, too!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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Title: Aquicorn Cove

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 96

Genre: Children’s, middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Earlier in 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society. I adored the illustrations and important messages so much, and Aquicorn Cove was just as amazing.

This illustrated story is about a girl named Lana. She and her father go back to their seaside village to help clean up after a storm. They meet with Lana’s aunt, Mae, who is highly respected in sustaining the community with fish. Lana also finds an injured aquicorn (they’re seahorse-like creatures) and she helps care for it while also learning from Mae the history behind the mystical sea colony.

Right away we learn that Lana lost her mother, and this book does a beautiful job at addressing grief and depression. Lana, through flashbacks, talks about how lost and sad she felt, and how she needed help to get through some days. I really appreciated how these feelings were brought up not just for Lana, but for Mae as well. Lana’s mom was Mae’s sister, and it was interesting to not only see the grief from Lana’s perspective but from Mae as well.

“Everything has a use. Sometimes beautiful things are made through necessity.”

However the focal point of this book is about environmental sustainability and conservation. It addresses important topics such as climate change, pollution, and over-fishing; that we cannot take more than we can give. And how even if we are just one person or a small community, there are still things we can do to help preserve our future.

I’m truly amazed how much good was condensed into this short graphic novel and all the powerful messages it contains. There’s a beautiful f/f romance, diverse characters, and a wonderful sense of community coming together during dire times (natural disaster clean up). I really feel like this book is so essential for younger generations and I am already looking forward to Katie O’Neill’s next book!

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xx,

Amy

Heartstopper: Vol. 1 by Alice Oseman

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Graphic Novel: Heartstopper: Volume 1

Chapters: #1-2

Author: Alice Oseman

Pages: 278

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

From the author of Solitaire and Radio Silence comes a bind up of the first two chapters of Heartstopper, an ongoing webcomic.

Look no further if you want something heartfelt, cute, pure, emotional, and important, with beautiful art and the most lovable characters! Y’all, this comic melted my heart. I binged the entire webcomic on Tapas and then I ordered Alice Oseman’s self-published edition of Heartstopper: Volume 1 (it will be officially published by Hachette in February 2019!). I honestly love everything about it.

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This comic follows Charlie, an openly gay student at an all-boys British grammar school. His classmate, Nick, is captain of the rugby team, and they become close friends. But then Charlie begins developing feelings for Nick, and Nick starts to question his attraction to Charlie, too.

This comic checked off so many boxes for me:

  • Diverse characters & LGBTQIAP+ rep.
  • A romance you will ship SO HARD.
  • Set in England.
  • Amazing art work.
  • The cutest dog ever.

Not only is this comic a coming-of-age story about young love and friendship, it is also a story that addresses bullying and homophobia. Charlie was outted when he was not ready yet, and the aftermath of that follows him throughout the story.

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I fell in love with both Charlie and Nick. Charlie is such a sweet and supportive friend, while Nick is the most kindhearted soul you will ever meet. And you will be rooting for these two from the very first page as you watch them navigate through their day to day lives playing rugby, studying together, and going to school.

And you will meet some other characters that help shape this story too. There’s Tao, Charlie’s best friend, Tori, Charlie’s cynical sister, and Tara, Nick’s old crush (but she’s now dating Darcy and they’re my faves! Oh, and we have the same birthday!)

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I hope you pick up this book and enjoy it as much as I did! Just a reminder that this webcomic is ongoing, so what you find on Tumblr and Tapas does not have an “end” yet. This copy in my photo is from Alice Oseman’s Kickstarter campaign, and it contains Chapters 1 & 2 of the webcomic. You might be able to still purchase the Kickstarter edition (and other merch) from Alice’s art shop, or pre-order the official publication edition (due to drop in February 2019).

(Photos of Nick, Tara, and Charlie’s bios are from Alice Oseman’s website)

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xx,

Amy

 

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

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Title: The Tea Dragon Society

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 72

Genre: Middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons.

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

I first learned about this adorable middle grade graphic novel from Melanie. After catching a few glimpse of the pages I knew I had to read it. And I am so glad I did. This graphic novel is so cute and had me grinning from ear to ear.

This book follows Greta, a blacksmith apprentice who comes from a long line of blacksmiths. Her mother is her teacher, but she also teaches Greta that while blacksmithing may not be a popular occupation anymore, it is a tradition and art form that should not be lost. One day Greta finds a lost tea dragon and she returns it to its rightful owner, Hesekiel. From there Greta befriends Hesekiel and his husband, Erik, and a prophetess named Minette who has trouble remembering things.

Hesekiel explains to Greta the importance of tea dragons and how rare they are. Tea dragons grow tea leaves on their horns or antlers, and you can use those leaves to brew tea. Drinking the tea allows you to see a person’s memories. There used to be a time when tea dragons and their owners were part of a society, but sadly over the years, the society dissolved. However with Greta and Minette helping out, the future of the tea dragon society looks promising.

I totally didn’t expect to feel all the feels when reading this graphic novel. And the fact that Katie O’Neill could make me teary-eyed in just 72 pages means something. I loved seeing how Hesekiel and Erik met, and how much they cherish each other. But I also loved the friendships, LGBTQIAP+ main characters, disability rep (Erik is in a wheel chair), found family, and the importance of traditions this book highlights. All of the characters are also people of color. There is just so much good in this book, and the art is quite possibly the most beautiful art I’ve ever seen.

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xx,

Amy

Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat & Johanna the Mad

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Graphic Novel: Fence Vol. 1

Issues: Fence #1-4

Authors: C.S. Pacat (author), Johanna the Mad (illustrator), Joana Lafuente (colorist)

Pages: 112

Genre: YA contemporary

My rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Combines Issues #1-4.

Nicholas Cox is determined to prove himself in the world of competitive fencing, and earn his place alongside fencing legends like the dad he never knew, but things get more complicated when he’s up against his golden-boy half-brother, as well as sullen fencing prodigy, Seiji Katayama.

Nicholas, the illegitimate son of a retired fencing champion, is a scrappy fencing wunderkind, and dreams of getting the chance and the training to actually compete. After getting accepted to the prodigious Kings Row private school, Nicholas is thrust into a cut-throat world, and finds himself facing not only his golden-boy half-brother, but the unbeatable, mysterious Seiji Katayama…

Through clashes, rivalries, and romance between teammates, Nicholas and the boys of Kings Row will discover there’s much more to fencing than just foils and lunges. From acclaimed writer C.S. Pacat (The Captive Prince) and fan-favorite artist Johanna the Mad.

I had the pleasure to read Fence Vol. 1 while on vacation at the beach. And, guys… this book was such a damn treat. I wished it was 200 pages longer because I immediately fell in love with the characters and art. I am considering buying the individual issues because I don’t know if I can wait for Vol. 2 to come out in January!

Fence checked so many boxes for me:

  • Diverse characters (sexuality, race, backgrounds.)
  • An interesting, competitive sport.
  • Set in a boarding school.
  • Cute friendships.
  • Gorgeous art work.

Fence Vol. 1 combines issues #1-4, and follows Nicholas Cox, a boy with a dream to fence competitively like his world-champion father. But he’s up against Seiji Katayama, who is unbeatable in every way, and Nicholas’ half brother, Jesse Coste, who is ranked 1st in the league.

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I immediately was rooting for Nicholas because he’s the underdog we all need to love and protect. Nicholas comes from an underprivileged background. He never knew his father and had to work his way to get fencing lessons. He was accepted into the boarding school on a scholarship, but his future there depends on making the fencing team.

Right away it became clear to me who I was going to ship. And, oh my gosh, I love everyone. Seiji is quiet yet intense. Harvard is serious but goofy. Aiden is the nonchalant playboy. But I especially love Bobby – who is gender fluid and is the cutest cinnamon roll. I was overjoyed that the boarding school had no qualms about Bobby’s choices in dressing, because it is 2018 and this is what we need nowadays! ❤

The rest of the issues within Fence Vol. 1 follow the boys’ journey through trying out for the fencing team. I loved the competitiveness, sportsmanship, and friendships that bloomed. It is so fun, and important, and I just want to read it forever and ever.

Thank you to my dear friend Melanie @ Meltotheany for recommending Fence to me!

 

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Cover art images from C.S. Pacat’s twitter

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xx,

Amy