Book Reviews

Over the Garden Wall Vol. 3 by Jim Campbell, Kiernan Sjursen-Lien, Danielle Burgos, Art by Cara McGee

Over the Garden Wall Vol. 3 (Over the Garden Wall (Collection) #3) by Jim Campbell, Kiernan Sjursen-Lien, Danielle Burgos, Cara McGee (Illustrations)Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

I enjoyed this volume much more than 1 & 2 because even though Greg is still stuck on his quest with the frog, we finally ARRIVE somewhere froggy rather than just passing through more silly meandering shenanigans in the forest. Wirt is still following his brother’s trail and his story is even more fun too because a companion joins him, adding more continuity between each chapter.

The last chapter is similar to the one at the end of volume two, featuring a vintage palette of limited colors, a squiggly squishy drawing style, and a story about the little schoolhouse with all the animals. The story centers on the kitty cat family and it’s really just cute, funny and precious. I loved it!

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Book Reviews

Orphan Black, Vol. 1 by John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, Jody Houser, Art by Szymon Kudranski, Cat Staggs

Orphan Black, Vol. 1 (Orphan Black #1) by John Fawcett, Graeme Manson, Jody Houser (Goodreads Author), Szymon Kudranski, Cat Staggs (Artist)Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

This volume includes chapters about: Sarah, Helena, Allison, Cosima, and Rachel. Each chapter ends with a slight mention of the next featured clone, and Rachel’s chapter ends with a mention of MK/Mika, so I’m guessing the next chapter/volume will start with her. Every chapter has a slightly different art style to match the personality/mood of each clone.

If you’re a fan of the series, I highly recommend this. but just don’t expect it to be a sequential story.

Each chapter is a self-contained standalone backstory for each character, all with the intention of helping you understand the nurture side of each clone’s life; which is something we don’t get to see a lot of in the show. (Spoilers for the show in each chapter are minimal.)

Book Reviews

Orphan Black: Deviations by Heli Kennedy, Art by Wayne Nichols

Orphan Black- Deviations by Heli Kennedy, Wayne NicholsRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

Orphan Black Deviations is what would have happened if Sarah had prevented Beth from dying in the first episode of Orphan Black.

If you’re a fan of the series, I HIGHLY recommend this comic. BUT it would definitely be advisable to have watched at least some of season 4 before you read this because it contains tons of spoilers for that season.

Basically if Beth hadn’t died, the story would have zoomed by at Mad Max speed, skipping over a lot of the nuance, character and relationship building from seasons 1-3.

The downside is that Beth and Sarah are quite similar characters in that they’re both forceful alpha leaders to the Clone Club. With Beth being in the picture, Sarah (literally) has her hands tied for most of it, and you don’t get to see her shine as a character with her skillfull impersonations of Beth and her improvisation skills.

A couple more clones are added to the team, but they hardly make up for all the soul that Sarah brings to the story.

The other downside is: no Tatiana Maslany. We already know she is a mind-blowingly skilled actress, but it’s even more evident when reading this story through a comic and not having her voices and acting to help distinguish the clones from one another. The text bubbles were confusing to follow at many points and it made me sorely miss the voices that she designed for each character.

But I guess the advantage is they can freely write the story with groups of clones congregating as often as they want?

The comic ends quite tragically and I really hope they follow it up with a second volume rather than keeping this as a one-shot exercise in re-imagination.

Book Reviews

Monstress, Vol. 3: Haven by Marjorie M. Liu, art by Sana Takeda

Monstress, Vol. 3- Haven (Monstress #3) by Marjorie M. Liu (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Sana Takeda (Artist)Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

The art in Montress Vol 3. is as mindblowingly gorgeous as in the previous volumes. I’ll keep coming back if only for the art any day of the year.

As for the story, if I’m being 100% honest, I’m having trouble piecing it all together and I didn’t find this volume as engaging as the previous two. What is it all leading up to? Who are all these new characters? What the actual fuck is happening? 

I’m sure it’ll make sense eventually. 

If you’ve followed Monstress this far, there’s no reason not to continue.

p.s. It ends in a teeny tiny cliffhanger that isn’t terribly frustrating.  

Book Reviews

The Apple-Tree Throne by Premee Mohamed

the apple tree throne

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

The Apple-Tree Throne is Premee Mohamed’s first novella, based on the song “The Ghost of Genova Heights” by Stars, from the album “In our Bedroom After the War.”

It is the autumnal first-person narrative of a soldier who returns from an unnamed war and is haunted by his superior officer. It takes place in an alternate England of an indeterminate era, complete with all the social mannerisms you’d expect.

The ghost himself seldom appears, so we mostly read about the effects that his haunting is having on the mind of the main character; who spends his days inserted into the spaces that his ghost used to occupy in life, while ruminating on life, death, and everything in between.

Can’t say much more without running into spoilers, but disregarding the plot, the reason why you’d want to read this book is because of its beautiful, beautiful prose.

Premee is a rare breed of writer known as a prose poet and even if “soldier haunted after the war” doesn’t pique your interest (as was the case with me*), hers is the superior level of an elegant voice that is just a pleasure to read. I highly recommend it.

*I follow Premee on Twitter and she is one of the funniest people around, precisely because of her constant and intelligent play on words. Even though the plot didn’t call to me, I just needed to read more of her words and it ended up being such a treat.

I would recommend this to: someone looking for a quick read/novella for a rainy afternoon (especially during these crisp autumn days), and also to people who want to enjoy the beautiful words of poems without necessarily having to read one.

The Apple-Tree Throne is available on Amazon for $2.99.

Book Reviews

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, illustrated by Katie Harnett

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr, also Freymann-Weyr (Goodreads Author), Katie Harnett (Goodreads Author) (Illustrations)Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

This is… a sad little book.

But it isn’t so much sad as in depressing, but sad as in: life is hard and it doesn’t always go the way we’d expect it to, we can’t have everything we want, and there’s sacrifices we have to make, whether we like it or not.

However, this book is written in tender, warm and fuzzy language that’ll make you feel like a child again, and that’s what I loved the most about it. It just feels whole-hearted all the way around. (By the way, if this were an objective review I’d give this 3 stars instead of 4.)

It’s hard to say much about the plot without spoiling half the story, but just know that it includes: magic that is hidden in plain sight, enchanted cats (one of which is named TATIANA!!!), an evil sorcerer, dragons with eyes and scales that come in every color, a bourgeois little girl with the warm-heartedness of a thousand suns, and enough kind souls to restore your faith in humanity.

Every chapter is headed by a full page illustration in black and white ink. The illustrations have that loose handmade folksy style that is so trendy nowadays.

The ending is… Not what you’d expect. The ending is the kind of thing I would have been super upset about as a child, so therefore, it would have been a great book to read in a class setting with guiding questions. There’s a LOT to discuss here, and I can see children having very strong opinions about this book for days.

I would recommend this to: young pensive children, and to adults who want to feel cozy before bedtime but also question themselves about the magics they may ignore on the daily.

Book Reviews

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness, Rovina Cai (Illustrator)

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness,  Rovina Cai (Illustrator).jpgRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

And The Ocean Was Our Sky is one of those rare genre-bending books that sits in a niche all on its own. (It was shelved under “Teen”, probably because of Patrick Ness’s previous works, but it definitely doesn’t belong there.)

I would describe it as existential fantasy. 

It is the story of a small team of whales who hunt the humans who hunt them.  Their hardened captain, Alexandra, is in a vicious search for a mythical foe known as “Toby Wick”. 

Their story is told by Bathsheba, a young apprentice, and the only one who is asking the important existential questions that nobody else is. “Are we hunting a devil? Does that not make devils of us also?”

Besides the obvious phonetic similarity between Moby Dick and “Toby Wick”, the epigraph also quotes that book. I haven’t read Moby Dick yet but if you have, I’d be interested to hear about any parallels with Bathsheba’s story. 

Lastly, apart from loving Patrick Ness’s previous work, Rovina Cai is half the reason I got this book. Her illustrations skillfully set the dark, contemplative mood of the story. They are mostly monochromatic, using dark greys with the smallest tinge of dark blue, plus the occasional bright scarlet stream of blood. 

I would recommend this to: readers looking for something different and reflective, someone who wants a deep read that isn’t necessarily long and dense, and people who appreciate dark wispy illustrations.