Tag Archives: graphic novel

Review: Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel Part 1 by Shannon Messenger, Celina Frenn, and Gabriella Chianello

Keeper of the Lost Cities The Graphic Novel Volume 1 by Shannon Messenger

Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel Part 1
Shannon Messenger
Adapted by Celina Frenn
Illustrated by Gabriella Chianello
Aladdin Books
Published November 7, 2023

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel Part 1

The first book in the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Keeper of the Lost Cities series is being reimagined as a graphic novel with the first half of the epic novel adapted to this new format with beautiful artwork!

Twelve-year-old Sophie Foster has never quite fit into her life. She’s skipped multiple grades and doesn’t really connect with the older kids at school, but she’s not comfortable with her family, either. The reason? Sophie’s a Telepath, someone who can read minds. No one knows her secret—at least, that’s what she thinks…

But the day Sophie meets Fitz, a mysterious (and adorable) boy, she learns she’s not alone. He’s a Telepath, too, and it turns out the reason she has never felt at home is that, well…she isn’t. Fitz opens Sophie’s eyes to a shocking truth, and she is forced to leave behind her family for a new life in a place that is vastly different from what she has ever known.

This stunning graphic novel retelling of the first half of the thrilling first novel comes to life with all the adventure and epic worldbuilding the Keeper of the Lost Cities series is known for.

My Review

This is my first foray into the Keeper of the Lost Cities series, which is maybe a weird place to begin. On the other hand, I had no preconceived ideas about the story going into the book and also no familiarity with the original. I had no trouble following the story and making sense of what was happening, so I don’t think readers would need to have read the prose novels in order to follow this adaptation.

Some elements of the story felt a little bit dated, which only makes sense. After all, the original book came out in 2012. It definitely has that portal fantasy feel of some of the other big books that came out around that time, and yet, I think the themes are super relatable anyway: friendship, feeling alone in a new place, learning you have abilities or history you never knew about.

I liked the relationships between Sophie and the other characters. As I read, I kept trying to figure out who was on her side and who was secretly working against her. I definitely have some theories, but I have no idea if I’m right or not at this point.

The only thing that I kept getting stuck on is the fact that the illustrations of Sophie make her look so much older than twelve. I kept thinking she was fifteen or sixteen from the images of her in the panels and then remembering that wasn’t right. So that threw me off a little bit. The illustrations are beautiful, though, and definitely anchor the story in the fantasy setting.

I think readers looking for an engaging portal fantasy will enjoy this series opener. I think fans of THE STONEKEEPER by Kazu Kibuishi will enjoy it.

Content Notes for Keeper of the Lost Cities: The Graphic Novel Part 1

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Representation
Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Maybe some attraction between Sophie and a boy character. Just some blushing here and there.

Spiritual Content
A hidden world contains people with magic powers.

Violent Content
Magic can cause some pretty serious destruction when not properly used. A man tries to kidnap Sophie.

Drug Content
None.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL PART 1 in exchange for my honest review.

Review: Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel by James Howe, Andrew Donkin, and Stephen Gilpin

Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel
James How and Andrew Donkin
Illustrated by Stephen Gilpin
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Published August 30, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel

Celebrate over forty years of the modern classic BUNNICULA with this graphic novelization!

Beware the hare!

Harold the dog and Chester the cat must find out the truth about the newest pet in the Monroe household—a suspicious-looking bunny with unusual habits…and fangs! Could this innocent-seeming rabbit actually be a vampire?

My Review

I remember my teacher reading the Bunnicula series to us in elementary school. At the time, Chester was my favorite. I’m not sure if that was true of the first book or if it’s because of what happened later. I didn’t feel as connected to Chester’s character in this version of the story.

The fun antics, tension, and humor were all well-represented in the graphic novel version of the book, though. I enjoyed getting to see some of the scenes play out visually. There are definitely moments where the panels perfectly capture the absurdity or fun of the story.

A few of my daughter’s cousins are really into graphic novels, so when I saw that there was going to be a graphic novel version of Bunnicula, I knew I wanted to check it out with them in mind. I bought a paperback copy of the book and will see if it interests them to read. I enjoyed reading it myself. It was really fun to be back in a story centered around pets and peppered with silliness.

All in all, I’m happy that I read this one, and I look forward to sharing it with my nephew and niece.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Representation
Main characters are a dog, cat, and bunny owned by a white family with two sons.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
Chester the cat is convinced that the family’s new pet bunny is a vampire. He reads about vampires and tries some vampire repellant tricks from famous stories, such as garlic. The family finds vegetables that have been completely drained of their juices and have gone completely white.

Violent Content
None.

Drug Content
None.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

Review: Duel by Jessixa and Aaron Bagley

Duel
Jessixa Bagley
Illustrated by Aaron Bagley
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published November 7, 2023

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About Duel

A rivalry between sisters culminates in a fencing duel in this funny and emotional debut graphic novel sure to appeal to readers of Raina Telgemeier and Shannon Hale.

Sixth grader Lucy loves fantasy novels and is brand-new to middle school. GiGi is the undisputed queen bee of eighth grade (as well as everything else she does). They’ve only got one thing in fencing. Oh, and they’re sisters. They never got along super well, but ever since their dad died, it seems like they’re always at each other’s throats.

When GiGi humiliates Lucy in the cafeteria on the first day of school, Lucy snaps and challenges GiGi to a duel with high sisterly stakes. If GiGi wins, Lucy promises to stay out of GiGi’s way; if Lucy wins, GiGi will stop teasing Lucy for good. But after their scene in the cafeteria, both girls are on thin ice with the principal and their mom. Lucy stopped practicing fencing after their fencer dad died and will have to get back to fighting form in secret or she’ll be in big trouble. And GiGi must behave perfectly or risk getting kicked off the fencing team.

As the clock ticks down to the girls’ fencing bout, the anticipation grows. Their school is divided into GiGi and Lucy factions, complete with t-shirts declaring kids’ allegiances. Both sisters are determined to triumph. But will winning the duel mean fracturing their family even further?

My Review

I love books about sisters, and this one is no exception. I liked both GiGi and Lucy, though sometimes it was hard to read the awful ways they treated one another. It was clear that their grief over losing their dad drove much of the hurtful behavior. I especially liked Sasha, Lucy’s best friend, who helps her practice her fencing moves and tries to offer a gentle perspective on how GiGi is behaving.

Each chapter begins with a fencing term or move and a short explanation. I enjoyed learning a little bit about fencing. Some of the terms were vaguely familiar from fencing scenes in movies, but the book gave me more of a perspective on those terms. I also liked the way the term at the beginning of the chapter connected to what would happen during the chapter.

GiGi, Lucy, and their mom all realize that their grief has isolated them and hurt their other family members. I got all teary in several of the scenes where they explore those feelings. I loved that the story has both that strong emotional arc and an active, physical story through fencing. Those elements were balanced really nicely.

I hope this team continues to write graphic novels. I would absolutely read more.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 8 to 12.

Representation
Lucy and GiGi are Black.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
Explanations of fencing techniques and moves.

Drug Content
None.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but which help support this blog. I received a free copy of DUEL in exchange for my honest review.

Best Young Adult Books I Read From Summer 2023

At the start of the summer, I had all these grand plans of lists to share and updates to post… and then reality hit like a stack of overdue library books. Don’t get me wrong– I had a great summer, but it was a much busier summer than I predicted. Between family responsibilities, work, and my out-of-control review calendar (Yep, I’m still struggling to say yes to fewer books. It was much easier before I knew so many irresistible books were coming out!), most of my glorious plans went out the window.

Now that school is back in session, I’m ready to catch up a bit on things I missed. One such thing was a most-anticipated summer release post. Obviously, now that summer is done, I’ve read my summer books. The good news is that instead of telling you about books I haven’t read yet that might be amazing, I’m here to talk about the books that lived up to my anticipation. Here are 24 of the best young adult books I read from summer 2023.

Best Young Adult Books I Read From Summer 2023

Andy and the Extroverts by Jessica K. Foster

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Concerned about Andy’s isolation and refusal to make new friends, her parents force her to attend leadership camp. There, Andy must navigate actual outdoor activities and enthusiastic camp counselors… without her morning coffee. This delivered all the fun summer camp vibes I was looking for.

Published: May 16, 2023 | My Review


Limitless Roads Café by Samantha Picaro

Amazon | Goodreads

What you need to know: When the café where Kinsey works faces permanent closure, she reluctantly teams up with her former best friend and the girl who landed a prized internship in order to plan a fundraiser to keep the café’s doors open. A main character with autism by an author with autism. I loved the commentary on ableism and the centering of multiple characters with disabilities. Great summer job vibes.

Published: May 30, 2023 | My Review


Always Isn’t Forever by J. C. Cervantes

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: After the tragic loss of her perfect boyfriend, Hart, Ruby can’t figure out how to move on. When a cosmic mix-up leaves Hart’s soul trapped inside the body of the school bully, he’s determined to find a way to convince Ruby to give him another chance. The cover copy compared this one to YOU’VE REACHED SAM by Dustin Thao. A sweet second-chance-at-love story.

Published: June 6, 2023 | My Review


Borrow My Heart by Kasie West

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What you need to know: When Wren overhears a boy being bullied for getting catfished, she decides to pretend to be the girl he was supposed to meet. Fake dating, secrets, summer romance, dogs… what’s not to love in Kasie West’s latest novel?

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


Going Bicoastal by Dahlia Adler

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What you need to know: Torn between spending the summer in NYC with her dad or in LA with her mom, Natalya lives out both lives and summer romances in alternating chapters in the book. A SLIDING DOORS rom-com perfect for a poolside afternoon.

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills

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What you need to know: An overworked baker’s apprentice with an outdated magical skill, a bounty hunter with a perfect memory for details, a troll with zero patience for nonsense, and a prince known for his well-intentioned follies embark on a quest to unmask a plot against the crown. Something about this book gave me THE PRINCESS BRIDE vibes in the best way. My top favorite book of the summer!

Published: June 13, 2023 | My Review


You’re Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: At a theme park celebrating slasher films, a true killer strikes, leaving Charity and her friends scrambling to escape before the killer strikes again. Honestly, is there anything Kalynn Bayron can’t write? I ate this one up in one sitting.

Published: June 20, 2023 | My Review


Ode to My First Car by Robin Gow

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: After Claire totals her first car, she feels adrift. In letters to her car, she shares her blossoming feelings for her best friend and her quest for romance and autonomy from her watchful parents. A powerful novel in verse.

Published: June 20, 2023 | My Review


The Shadow Sister by Lily Meade

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What you need to know: A missing sister returns, but her behavior is… odd. Casey can’t figure out if Sutton is playing a game or truly processing trauma. Unraveling her sister’s secrets takes Casey on a journey into a darkness she may not be ready to face. A brilliant debut on sisterhood, family connections, and power. Another summer favorite for me.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


Monstrous: A Transracial Adoption Story by Sarah Myer

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A Korean-American girl adopted by white parents faces bullying and racism growing up in a mostly white, rural Maryland town. Evocative illustrations and honest storytelling make this one a must-read.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


Manslaughter Park by Tirzah Price

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A queer retelling of MANSFIELD PARK by Jane Austen wrapped inside a murder mystery. This is my second read from this series, and it was such a blast to read.

Published: June 27, 2023 | My Review


A Song of Salvation by Alechia Dow

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A reincarnated god tasked with saving her people, a pilot filling the void of familial rejection with dangerous missions, and a podcast celebrity who’ll do anything to speak truth to power embark on a quest to save the universe from total destruction. Dow’s writing is always immersive, and her stories engaging. This one is no exception!

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


Give Me a Sign by Anna Sortino

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: Summer camp for Deaf and blind campers and a sweet romance. I loved getting immersed in Deaf culture and Lilah’s journey of self-acceptance. Perfect summer camp romance vibes.

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


A Warning About Swans by R. M. Romero

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: SWAN LAKE meets THE LAST UNICORN by way of the Brothers Grimm. A girl with a cloak that transforms her into a swan who must guide spirits to their resting place. A boy who will use her power to make dreams real. An artist who paints truths no one else can see. A lush, fantastic novel in verse by the author of THE GHOSTS OF ROSE HILL.

Published: July 11, 2023 | My Review


All That’s Left to Say by Emery Lord

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Leave it to Emery Lord to write a book that turned me inside out emotionally and kept me coming back to every page for more. Powerful, raw, and honest. Have your tissues ready.

Published: July 18, 2023 | My Review


Clementine and Danny Save the World (And Each Other) by Livia Blackburne

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What you need to know: A teen blog writer and a boy trying to save his family’s tea shop. Rivals to lovers romance. This one pretty much had me at “You’ve Got Mail with a YA twist.”

Published: July 18, 2023 | My Review


All Alone with You by Amelia Diane Coombs

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: A grumpy-sunshine/rivals-to-lovers story packed with great lines and a salty mentor character. This was one of the most fun books I read this summer.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


Their Vicious Games by Joelle Wellington

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What you need to know: A girl enters a strange, elite competition that promises to grant the winner the life of her dreams. Creepy, eerie, and filled with rock-solid writing.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt #2) by Erin A. Craig

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: The youngest sister from HOUSE OF SALT AND SORROWS leads this perilous journey to an estate tangled with dangerous, disturbing secrets and a slowly blossoming tale of first love. I liked this one better than the first book in the series.

Published: July 25, 2023 | My Review


The Reunion by Kit Frick

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Four teens gather in a family reunion at a Mexican resort. One of them will not make it home afterward. Filled with secrets and lies, this one kept me on my toes until the very last page.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Guardians of Dawn: Zahra by S. Jae Jones

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A girl with forbidden magic may be the only one who can stop an outbreak of demon possession among her people. A beautiful East Asia-inspired fantasy landscape with fantastic characters. I loved it!

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Secrets Never Die by Vincent Ralph

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: Five friends with secrets they’re desperate to keep. An unknown person poised to reveal them. Great stakes and tension with characters I enjoyed. A good pick if you’re looking for a Halloween read.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


I Feed Her to the Beast and the Beast Is Me by Jamison Shea

Amazon | BookshopGoodreads

What you need to know: Tired of her talent being overlooked, Laure makes a deal with an ancient god of blood– all of her in exchange for the power she needs to rule the Paris ballet. I enjoyed seeing the tense horror elements blended with the high-stakes, high-pressure ballet world. This author is either a former dancer or did their research really well!

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review


Infinity Particle by Wendy Xu

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

What you need to know: A young inventor joins a colony on Mars working with a pioneering Artificial Intelligence scientist. There, she falls for an AI and begins exploring questions of freedom and autonomy. Breathtaking illustrations and a moving story.

Published: August 29, 2023 | My Review

What Were Your Favorite Young Adult Books of Summer 2023?

So, these are simply the best young adult books I read from summer 2023. What are yours? Did you read any great books over the summer this year? Are there great books I should add to my reading list? Leave a comment and let me know!

Review: Squire by Sara Alfageeh and Nadia Shammas

Squire
Sara Alfageeh
Nadia Shammas
Quill Tree Books
Published March 8, 2022

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About Squire

Aiza has always dreamt of becoming a Knight. It’s the highest military honor in the once-great Bayt-Sajji Empire, and as a member of the subjugated Ornu people, Knighthood is her only path to full citizenship. Ravaged by famine and mounting tensions, Bayt-Sajji finds itself on the brink of war once again, so Aiza can finally enlist in the competitive Squire training program.

It’s not how she imagined it, though. Aiza must navigate new friendships, rivalries, and rigorous training under the unyielding General Hende, all while hiding her Ornu background. As the pressure mounts, Aiza realizes that the “greater good” that Bayt-Sajji’s military promises might not include her, and that the recruits might be in greater danger than she ever imagined.

Aiza will have to choose, once and for all: loyalty to her heart and heritage, or loyalty to the Empire.

My Review

After seeing so many positive things about this book last year, I decided I really needed to read it. My nephew is really interested in graphic novels, so I’m always looking for new ones he might be interested in.

In its simplest terms, SQUIRE is the story of Aiza, who joins the army for an opportunity to train as a squire when she’s promised she’ll be granted full citizenship if she passes her training. She meets other recruits and an unlikely mentor and has to navigate through trials and betrayals.

I really liked Aiza and the small, close-knit group she forms at training. I loved the way the panels showed the characters’ expressions and the way the action sequences were laid out. The story pulled me in. I wanted to know what would happen to Aiza, so it was really easy to just keep reading all the way through this book.

The story addresses some racism and marginalization of Aiza and the Ornu people. She faces prejudice and betrayal. She feels caught in the middle as a soldier serving an empire that doesn’t acknowledge her people as equal members and who could be tasked with fighting against her own people. I thought those parts were well-incorporated into the fantasy setting and story.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be looking out for more work by these authors. Readers who enjoyed Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker, Wendy Xu, and Joamette Gil should check this one out.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Representation
Aiza is Ornu, a marginalized minority race in her country. There are characters with a variety of skin tones.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
None.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
Aiza and others sign up to join the army and train to be squires. Aiza experiences a battle in which one of her team members is injured. Characters make disparaging and racist comments about Aiza and her people.

Drug Content
None.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

Review: The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

The Prince and the Dressmaker
Jen Wang
First Second
Published February 13, 2018

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Prince and the Dressmaker

Paris, at the dawn of the modern age:

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. At night he puts on daring dresses and takes Paris by storm as the fabulous Lady Crystallia―the hottest fashion icon in the world capital of fashion!

Sebastian’s secret weapon is his brilliant dressmaker, Frances―his best friend and one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect her friend?

Jen Wang weaves an exuberantly romantic tale of identity, young love, art, and family. A fairy tale for any age, THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER will steal your heart.

My Review

Consider my heart stolen.

THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER has been on my reading list for a long time, but I finally picked it up after seeing it on a list of challenged books in Florida schools. I was able to borrow a copy from my local library, but I hope to add a copy to my bookshelves as well.

The relationship between Frances and Sebastian hooked me from their first scene together. I thought Frances was absolutely fantastic. Her artistic eye and her ability to translate what was unique about her clients and bring it to the clothes she designed was really cool. I liked that she and Sebastian became best friends, and that they both learned things from one another. Everyone needs that kind of friend who sees who you are and is with you no matter what.

While the story addresses some more serious conversations– Sebastian being outed to his parents and whole kingdom, for example– it also delivers some playful moments. The first meeting between Sebastian and Frances. The fashion show toward the end of the book. I loved that the book wove both those awful and wonderful moments together and connected them through people loving and supporting Sebastian for all he was.

I truly enjoyed reading this book, and I’d love to read more of Jen Wang’s books. Readers who enjoy fairytale stories or sweet romances will want to check this one out. I’m not sure I’ve read anything else like it– the closest might be TIDESONG, though I think that one is for a slightly younger audience than THE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER.

Content Notes for The Prince and the Dressmaker

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Representation
Sebastian expresses that sometimes he identifies as a prince and other times he identifies as a princess and wears dresses to express that.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
None.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
None.

Violent Content
Another prince finds Lady Crystallia unconscious and realizes she is also Sebastian. He kidnaps and outs her to the king and queen.

Drug Content
A bartender gives Lady Crystallia a mood-altering drink.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.