Showing posts with label young adult. Show all posts
Showing posts with label young adult. Show all posts

Early Book Review: It’s Your Funeral by Emily Riesbeck, Ellen Kramer, Matt Krotzer

It’s Your Funeral by Emily Riesbeck, Ellen Kramer, and Matt Krotzer is a young adult graphic novel currently scheduled for release on July 21 2020.
Marnie Winters was going to turn her life around; get out of the house, make friends, no more “Miserable Old Marnie!” Everything was going to plan, but then, of course, she died. Now, Marnie’s a ghost trapped on Earth, and the only one who can help her is the overenthusiastic, alien social worker, Xel, whose job is to help ghosts “close their file” and pass on.  Xel has an idea to soothe Marnie’s troubled spirit: an internship in the hopeless bureaucracy of the trans-dimensional Department of Spectral Affairs! This new do-gooder duo has their work cut out for them in a series of hilarious mishaps and misadventures throughout the space-time continuum (but mostly in and around the office) as Marnie finds pathways through her feelings of worthlessness by helping others. A paranormal fantasy about healing, learning to love yourself, and being OK with being not OK.

It’s Your Funeral is a graphic novel that is fun to look at. I really enjoyed the artwork and colors, and thought the imagination involved was wonderful. It was also a read that will appeal to many on an emotional level. There are a number of very different personalities, and I liked that no one style is touted as perfect or better, rather it is those differences that make things work.  I cringed a few times, especially when Marnie took her emotions out on others, but those emotions and reactions rang true and help move the story forward and raise the emotional stakes of the story. I like that the book acknowledged that dealing with anything, including depression or anxiety, is a process and that taking the time and being kind (including to yourself) is key. I thought the overall product was very good, and good read.

It’s Your Funeral is a well drawn and told story that will appeal to a number of young adult and adult readers. 

Early Book Review: RWBY: Vol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc by Bunta Kinami is currently scheduled for release on July 21 2020. In the world of Remnant, monsters known as Grimm wreak havoc. They’re kept in check by Huntsmen and Huntresses, highly skilled warriors experienced in monster extermination who utilize their special abilities on the field of battle. Ruby takes her first step on the road to becoming a Huntress by enrolling at Beacon Academy, eager to take on the battery of tests, challenges and difficulties that follow. Ruby knows her talents will take her to her goal, but is she ready to clash with Weiss Schnee, haughty scion of the Schnee Dust Company?

RWBYVol. 1 The Beacon Arc is a solid start to an engaging story. A few very important characters are introduced and fleshed out in the midst of settling into school and a very dangerous mission. I think story did a great job of introducing the world this all takes place in, and the characters in their strengths and weaknesses. I liked the variety of personalities and skill sets and think that it does a good job of interesting readers that might never have heard of the series previously. The art is nearly perfect, although I will admit that I occasionally had trouble keeping track of who was who in some of the action scenes, because there was just so much going on. I think this promises to keep newcomers to the RWBY Universe and long time fans happy and entertained. 

Early Book Review: SuperSimple Chemistry and SuperSimple Biology: The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide by DK Children

SuperSimple Chemistry: 
The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide by DK Children is currently scheduled for release on June 23 2020. It is an aid for coursework, homework, studying for tests, and a comprehensive guide for grades 6-10. Each topic is fully illustrated to support the information, make the facts crystal clear, and bring the science to life. A large central image explains the idea visually and each topic is summed up on a single page, helping children to quickly get up to speed and really understand how chemistry works. Information boxes explain the theory with the help of simple graphics and for further studying, a handy "Key Facts" box provides a simple summary you can check back on later. 

SuperSimple Biology: The Ultimate Bitesize Study Guide
 by DK Children is currently scheduled for release on June 23 2020. This biology book for kids 12+ years old is ideal for home and school learning. From reproduction to respiration and enzymes to ecosystems, this guide makes complex topics easy to grasp at a glance. Perfect support for coursework, homework, and studying for tests. Each topic is fully illustrated to support the information, make the facts crystal clear, and bring the science to life. For key ideas, "How It Works" and "Look Closer" boxes explain the theory with the help of simple graphics. And for studying, a handy "Key Facts" box provides a simple summary you can check back on later. 

Both of these books are exactly what one would expect from the titles, and the publisher. They are crisp, clean, and bright looking resources with concise and well written text. The sections are well organized and the pages are formatted to keep readers focused. I liked the balance of illustrations, charts, text, and the key facts boxes. I think resources like this are well timed (although I know they have been around previously) with everyone learning from home for months, and the worries about losing ground with studies, and the possibility of more home learning in the future for many. This would be useful both as a personal resource to support classroom work, as a resource in the classroom, or independent study for those interested in the specific field of study. 

Book Review: Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka

Ao Haru Ride, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka is a popular shojo manga series that was adapted into the Blue Spring Ride anime. In high school, Futaba gets a second chance with her first love, Kou. Futaba Yoshioka thought all boys were loud and obnoxious until she met Kou Tanaka in junior high. But as soon as she realized she really liked him, he had already moved away because of family issues. Now, in high school, Kou has reappeared, but is he still the same boy she fell in love with?

Ao Haru Ride is a story that felt very classic to me. Girl that wants to fit in, but does not want to quite be the stereotype that she would need to act like to really fit the mold. Figuring out who she really wants to be, and how she wants to interact with other people. Trying to decide is Tanaka is who she thinks he is, and then where she stands with him, is at the heart of the story. However, being herself and figuring out the importance of how she interacts with others and being herself is a close second in importance. The story was classic for young adult literature in general, and this style of manga. I liked the art style, it was consistent and showed the emotion, motion, and mood of each moment very well. 

Ao Haru Ride felt familiar and comfortable. It is classic high school story of finding yourself and figuring out what you want and who you want to be.

Early Book Review: Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino

Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino is a manga style graphic novel currently scheduled for release on June 10 2020. It is a psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan. After that day, she stopped being a girl. In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

Not Your Idol is a well drawn and suspenseful story. I liked the pacing, including the action and the character backstory and development. I really enjoyed the character dynamics of Nina/Karen and how her life and perspectives have changed over time. The issues of sexual assault and related issues are handled very well, and how different people react to them is an issue we all need to think about. The story is very engaging, and kept me turning pages to learn more about the characters and what might happen next. It is not an easy read, as there are a number of tough moments and some things that survivors might find very triggering, and others will find upsetting. However, it is well written and I am very eager to see where the story goes from here, and learn more about the major players as the story continues. My only complaint is the cliffhanger that the volume ends in. Be prepared to be left wondering, and eager for the next volume. 

Not Your Idol is an intense and engaging read. I look forward to seeing what happens next.

Early Book Review: The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names by Matthew Murrie, Steve Murrie

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names,  written by Matthew Murrie and Steve Murrie, and illustrated by Julie Benbassat, is currently scheduled for release on June 9 2020. It is a a science-based illustrated celebration of creatures notable for their bizarre, baffling, and just-plain-funny names. Meet the Waxy Monkey Tree Frog, who lives high in the forests of South America—the “waxy” refers to its skin secretions and the “monkey” comes from its long, simian fingers, perfect for climbing. The White-Bellied Go-Away Bird—guess what its cry sounds like? Plus the Fried Egg Jellyfish, the Sparklemuffin Peacock Spider, the Bone-Eating Snot Flower Worm, and many more. While the names of these species are undeniably curious, the heart of the book is their just-as-curious habits, appearance, abilities—and the stories of how they acquired their unusual monikers. There are over 70 creatures in all,  with full-color illustrations and photographs and detailed text.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names was a really interesting read. I have always been a fan of learning about the weird and wacky of the world, so some of the animals described (like the naked mole rat and blobfish) were not new to me. However, most of the creatures were at least partially unknown to me- and frankly man of their names could double as awesome band names. The artwork was simply amazing. The images were very well done, with great detail, and added significantly to the book as a whole. The text was well written, and while some of the terminology was advanced definitions and explanations were woven perfectly into the text. I like that there was also a glossary at the end of the book, along with some resources for further reading and information on conservation. I also liked the use of text boxes and small commentary on almost every page. I found the balance of science and humor kept the reader's attention and interest which in turn keeps them reading. My daughter just might be getting this book for her next birthday.

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals with Wild, Wacky Names is a fun and informative read that I think will be a favorite for middle grade and older readers.

Early Book Review: Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo

Spy x Family, Vol. 1 by Tatsuya Endo is a manga currently scheduled for release on June 2 2020. Master spy Twilight is the best at what he does when it comes to going undercover on dangerous missions in the name of a better world. But when he receives the ultimate impossible assignment—get married and have a kid—he may finally be in over his head! Not one to depend on others, Twilight has his work cut out for him procuring both a wife and a child for his mission to infiltrate an elite private school. What he doesn’t know is that the wife he’s chosen is an assassin and the child he’s adopted is a telepath!
Spy x Family is a fun and entertaining read. I liked seeing the lone wolf spy trying to make his next mission a success, even when it means bring a child and wife into the fold. He keeps his goal under his hat, but when the little girl you adopt is a telepath that does not do much good. Watching him struggle with what do with a child is very entertaining, and when his attempt at gaining a wife only ramps up the humor and complications. The characters each have their own issues, on top of their secrets, and it was an interesting and entertaining read. My only complaint is one I have with many manga that I enjoy, the story had just reach a point of everything coming together and high interest and I really need to know where the story goes from here. 

Book Review: Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 by Io Sakisaka

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 by Io Sakisaka is a graphic novel continuing a young adult manga story. Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites—Yuna is an idealist, while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated! Love and friendship have become quite complicated for these four friends. Yuna has fallen in love with Rio, but he has feelings for Akari that he’s never been able to express. While Yuna keeps his secret, Akari makes a move on the person she’s interested in.
Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 2 is a good follow up to the first volume, but it did not grab me and keep my interest as much as the first. It took me a couple pages to remember all the details of who everyone was and where we left off. Once I was back in the swing of things there were emotions, angst, and teen conflict left and right. Yuna and Akari come to some conclusions and are working toward being more honest with themselves about their emotions, and in some cases more open with others. There were heart wrenching moments, and some that have left me as confused as the characters in the story. I think readers that enjoy character angst and emotional struggles will want to keep reading this series, and will enjoy it. 

Early Book Review: Blue Flag, Vol. 1 by KAITO

Blue Flag, Vol. 1 by KAITO is a young adult manga that is currently scheduled for release on May 10 2020. It’s the last year of high school, and love is in the air. Romantic feelings that have been building up over years of friendship come to light. When Taichi’s classmate Futaba asks him to help her confess to his best friend, Toma, it sparks the catalyst that begins the sweet and heart-wrenching journey of their third and final year of high school.

Blue Flag is a well written and drawn story. I liked the art style, and how no character is too perfect or bad. They are all just high school students trying to navigate school, relationships, and their own feelings. They are each complex characters, and changing as they grow and figure out who they are, what they like, and who the like. At that age these things are all moving targets, and  think the story does a good job of illustrating that. Taichi is getting a better understanding of some of the choices he has made, and how he appears to others. Futaba is trying to come out of her shell and be a stronger person, and Toma has secrets he is not ready to share. Watching their interactions with each other, and the larger scope of schoolmates and family, was fascinating and I cannot wait to see what happens next. I will admit that I saw some of the complications or secrets coming, but I so enjoyed the ride. My only issue with the story is that it ended just as things were getting good and I really want the next book.

Book Review: The Mythics #1 Heroes Reborn by Philippe Ogaki; Patricia Lyfoung; Patrick Sobral

The Mythics #1 Heroes Reborn by Philippe Ogaki; Patricia Lyfoung; and Patrick Sobral is a children's graphic novel. In the ancient times of Gods and heroes, evil attempted to seize the world disguising themselves as six different gods. While they were spreading all their power of destruction, six heroes, each with extraordinary powers and brandishing sacred weapons, rose against these incarnations of evil. The evil was defeated and sealed in a secret place within the red desert on the planet Mars. Today, enter six young heirs: Yuko of Japan, Parvati of India, Amir of Egypt, Abigail of Germany, Miguel of Mexico, and Neo of Greece suddenly pulled from their everyday lives. About to face the greatest threat that the contemporary world has ever known, in a flash, they get to discover just how worthy successors they may be of the ancient heroes.

Heroes Reborn is a graphic novel telling three origin stories, with three more to come. The artwork is very well done and I liked the style. The stories were nicely varied, with different locations and the focus or each tale different in lifestyle and interests than the others. The action was good, and the stories were well told. My problem is that none of it was surprising. The twists as to who was the carrier of evil in each part was fairly predictable, as were the reactions of the teens discovering their powers and dealing with their guide. It felt like so many other stories, so many superpower or magic origin stories, that I started skimming the action scenes in ope that the next character development moment would wow me. It was not badly told but it was not extraordinary. It felt familiar and fun, but not as new or fresh as I was hoping. 

Heroes Reborn is a well drawn and entertaining graphic novel. 

Early Book Review: Cursed (Fairy Tale Reform School) by Jen Calonita

Cursed is the sixth book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series by Jen Calonita and is currently scheduled for release on May 1 2020. I do recommend reading the series in order to understand what is going on and the relationship details. In fact, having read the previous books and the two books in the spin off series, it took me a bit to remember important details and figure out where we had left off.

The evil Rumplestiltskin is planning to cast a curse that will erase Enchantasia as the world knows it, and a fairy prophecy declares that Gilly Cobbler will play a key role. Never one to shy away from adventure, Gilly and her friends embark on an epic, swashbuckling journey to stop Stiltskin from getting the ingredients he needs before it's too late. Gilly can't help but wonder if it's already too late for her beloved sister, Anna, who's still a member of the villainous Stiltskin Squad, and will seemingly stop at nothing to thwart Gilly and her crew. Only by harnessing the skills she may have inherited from her fairy grandmother can Gilly stop Stiltskin and reunite her family. But with time running out and her fairy skills lying dormant, does Gilly have what it takes to prevent the evil curse and ensure a happily-ever-after for the Cobblers? Or will she lose Enchantasia and her friends forever?
Cursed brings readers back into the story right in the middle of the action, and there is a great deal at stake. I have to admit that it took me a bit to remember who everyone was and if characters from the cross over series made appearances and where everything stood. But, I did figure it all out and was able to follow the action. Gilly is still trying to figure out her place and what she wants, and still is struggling to let people help her and themselves. The action is almost constant in this installment, which keeps the story moving along. However, it also made the character's actions and decisions feel much more reactionary and less thought out. There was little discussion, thinking things through, and character growth than in the previous books- at least in my opinion. I think fans of the series will want to read the book to see how the larger storyline with Stiliskin and Anna conclude, and I am glad that I read it for that reason. The conclusion was well done, and at wrapped things up nicely, but I was somehow expecting more from the book as a whole. It was good, but perhaps my expectations were sky high because of how much I enjoyed the start of the series, but it was not all I had hoped.

Cursed is a good wrap up to a series, and I think those that are fans of the author will need to read it.

Book Review: Kakushigoto: My Dad's Secret Ambition Vol. 1 by Kouji Kumeta

My Dad's Secret Ambition Vol. 1 by Kouji Kumeta is a manga style graphic novel. Kakushi Gotou is a single father with a secret: He’s a top-selling manga artist of a raunchy series that perhaps isn’t suitable reading material for his young daughter, Hime. So he does what any doting father would do, he hides it all from her, no matter the hi jinks that ensue!

My Dad's Secret Ambition is a book that hit some really good notes. I liked the single father struggling to do right by his daughter, and the lengths he would go to in order to keep her happy and healthy. The social gaffes and caste of characters were interesting, but I was rarely fully engaged in the story and found myself having to go back to re read or look closer at a picture to decide if I missed something. The artwork style is nice, but it just did not match up with my personal preferences consistently. I did like the personal notes and writings from the author, which put some on the scenes and moments in context and made it more interesting. 

My Dad's Secret Ambition is a good graphic novel, with some really good moments. It just did not wow me after having read some absolutely fabulous ones recently.

Early Book Review: Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir

Camp Spirit by Axelle Lenoir is a young adult graphic novel currently scheduled for release on April 14 2020. Summer 1994: with just two months left before college, Elodie is forced by her mother to take a job as a camp counselor. She doesn't know the first thing about nature, or sports, of kids for that matter, and isn't especially interested in learning... but now she's responsible for a foul-mouthed horde of red-headed girls who just might win her over, whether she likes it or not. Just as Elodie starts getting used to her new environment, though -- and close to one of the other counselors -- a dark mystery lurking around the camp begins to haunt her dreams.

Camp Spirit is a graphic novel that I could relate to on a number of levels, not the least of which I graduate from high school the same year the main characters did, so most of the pop culture references were a direct hit with me. I liked Elodie's character, her reluctance to be the smiling happy soul that most people seem to expect was something I could completely understand, as was her curiosity about the camp and those around her once she got tossed into the thick of things. I enjoyed the side stories of how she related to her campers and some of the other counselors. The second layer of the story, with the mystical elements, had me guessing right along with Elodie. Some of the sly glances had me thinking down false paths, but that was part of the nature of the artwork. I thought that the art was very well done, and added a great deal to the story, both in emotion and plot. I really enjoyed the read, and wonder if there will be more to come. 

Camp Spirit is a well written and drawn graphic novel that will appeal to some middle graders, but mostly young adult and older readers. Adults that shared the joys of high school in the 90's with me might want to give it a go as well.

Early Book Review: Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka

Love Me, Love Me Not, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka is currently scheduled for release on April 10 2020. Four high school friends share the springtime of their youth together. Fast friends Yuna and Akari are complete opposites—Yuna is an idealist, while Akari is a realist. When lady-killer Rio and the oblivious Kazuomi join their ranks, love and friendship become quite complicated!

Love Me, Love Me Not is a sweet story of four high schoolers trying to figure out what they want from love, friendship, and themselves. I liked the way the characters were different from each other and none was perfect. I enjoyed the art style, it did not stand out as unique, but did a wonderful job of capturing the moods and emotions of the text and characters. The four major characters all had moments when they absolutely shone, and others when they showed their flaws. I think the self doubt and worries were all very realistic and the story covers Yuna and Akari facing some of their issues in how they see themselves. My biggest complaint is the big reveal and cliff hanger ending opening up more questions than were actually answered in the story. Of course, thes just means I need to read the next one, but still. AS a whole I really enjoyed the story, and am glad that I read it.

Love Me, Love Me Not is a young adult graphic novel that will appeal to many. I enjoyed the story and will be keeping an eye out for volume two.

Book Review: Komi Can't Communicate, Vol. 1, by Tomohito Oda

Komi Can't Communicate, Vol. 1, by Tomohito Oda is a young adult magna. The journey to 100 friends begins with a single conversation. Socially anxious high school student Shoko Komi’s greatest dream is to make some friends, but everyone at school mistakes her crippling social anxiety for cool reserve! With the whole student body keeping their distance and Komi unable to utter a single word, friendship might be forever beyond her reach. Timid Tadano is a total wallflower, and that’s just the way he likes it. But all that changes when he finds himself alone in a classroom on the first day of high school with the legendary Komi. He quickly realizes she isn’t aloof—she’s just super awkward. Now he’s made it his mission to help her on her quest to make 100 friends!

Komi Can't Communicate is a graphic novel about finding your place in school, and I really like that it shows how different the way people feel can be from how they are perceived by others. I think readers of all ages can identify with Tadano on some level. He just wants to get through school unscathed, but things are not all that simple. In real life they never are either. Befriending Komi might not be good for flying under the radar, but it does help her start toward her own goals for school. I really liked that we get to see multiple perspectives, which gives the reader a bit of room to wonder how much of the story might be different from another view, and how much of their own worries or fears are fueled by similar assumptions and misperceptions. Aside from all that heavy stuff, there was also a good deal of humor and funny moments, and I found the read engaging and entertaining. I enjoyed the artwork very much, and think the line work did a great deal to add to the emotion and overall story through out. I thought the cast of major characters was well done and fun, and I look forward to seeing more. I did find the ending a bit abrupt, like maybe the last couple pages and back cover were missing from my digital copy, but that could have just been a clever hook to make me want the next installment even more. 

Komi Can't Communicate is a fun and engaging read. I think most middle schoolers through adults would find something entertaining and relatable in the read. 

Early Book Review: Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh is a magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself. It is currently scheduled for release on February 4 2020. 

Snap's town had a witch. At least, that’s how the rumor goes. But in reality, Jacks is just a crocks-wearing, internet-savvy old lady who sells roadkill skeletons online—after doing a little ritual to put their spirits to rest. It’s creepy, sure, but Snap thinks it’s kind of cool, too. They make a deal: Jacks will teach Snap how to take care of the baby opossums that Snap rescued, and Snap will help Jacks with her work. But as Snap starts to get to know Jacks, she realizes that Jacks may in fact have real magic—and a connection with Snap’s family’s past.

Snapdragon was so much more than I expected. When I first started reading I thought I was going to get a typical story about a young adult dealing with fitting in and finding friends, with a dose of not judging a book by its cover. That is all there along with so much more. Snapdragon is trying to find her place in a new school and makes a friend that is struggling to find their place just as much as she is. Being yourself and standing up for yourself and others is fully in play here and very well done. I was worried that the town witch story line was going to by typical, but I should have known better. Jacks is different, no question about that. I loved watching Jacks and Snap forge a connection and each get more out of the friendship than they expected.  I really enjoyed how frank and openly the LGBT aspects of the story were handled- it was refreshing. I loved the art style, and think that the colors and motion on each page added a great deal to the feel of the story. I just really enjoyed this read and already have a few young readers that I would like to recommend it to.

Snapdragon is a great graphic novel for middle grade and older readers. I love the way a variety of subjects were covered and blended together. It is a wonderful read.

Early Book Review: Jinxed by Amy McCulloch

Jinxed by Amy McCulloch is a middle grade series starter that is currently scheduled for release on January 7 2020. Lacey Chu has always dreamed of working as an engineer for MONCHA, the biggest tech firm in the world and the company behind the “baku”—a customizable “pet” with all the capabilities of a smartphone. But when Lacey is rejected by the elite academy that promises that future, she’s crushed. One night, Lacey comes across the broken form of a highly advanced baku. After Lacey repairs it, the cat-shaped baku she calls Jinx opens its eyes and somehow gets her into her dream school. But Jinx is different than any other baku she’s ever seen…He seems real. As Lacey settles into life at school, competing with the best students in a battle of the bakus that tests her abilities, she learns that Jinx is part of a dangerous secret. Can Lacey hold on to Jinx and her dreams for the future?

Jinxed is ba well written start to a new series. Lacey is a smart and determined middle school girl, who has her faults and makes mistakes but tries to to the right and best thing. The world and character building is well done, feeding readers the information they need at a good pace, neither overwhelming them with too much information at once or making them wonder if they missed something. I liked Lacey's character and the relationships she maintains or builds with those important to her- even if she makes some mistakes along the way. I liked the premise and the execution of it.  I thought that the technology in the story is well done, and not unrealistic when the story on how and why it was developed in considered. I would not be surprised if someone was already working on something of this nature. The implications of the technology is also well thought out and positioned in the story to be game changers.The characters are all complex, and even the ones we only see in passing feel complex and multi layered- leaving them plenty of room to play major roles in the upcoming books. My only complaint with the story is that it does end with a cliffhanger. The majority of the story is wrapped up and crisis managed, but there is a big new problem to deal with. I cannot wait for the next book so I can read all about what happens next. 

Jinxed is a very well written middle grade novel with great series potential. I am eager to see where Lacey and the other characters go from here. 

Book Review: Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons by Chuck Mullin

Bird Brain: Comics About Mental Health, Starring Pigeons by Chuck Mullin is a collection of brutally honest, brilliantly weird comics exploring what it’s like to live with mental illness, using pigeons. When Chuck Mullin began experiencing anxiety and depression as a teenager, she started drawing comics to help her make sense of the rollercoaster. Eventually, she found that pigeons—lovably quirky, yet universally reviled creatures—were the ideal subjects of a comic about mental illness. The book is organized in three sections—"Bad Times," "Relationships," and "Positivity"—and featuring several short essays about the author’s experiences. 

Bird Brain is a comic collection that I related to on some levels, and not so much on others (I am more of an emotion stuffer than a crier), because we are all different. I loved how honest Mullin is about how she has felt, and the changes that she has made in her life. Like Mullin I have never shared the disdain for pigeons, and find them fun and cute. I liked the stories she shared, and the artwork. I think the only thing I might have changed is the inclusion of resources, like hotlines or online communities, that readers might use for support if they want or need some connection. However, since the book was originally published in the UK, I understand that it would take getting some different information for each publishing market.

The acknowledgement that self love and the love of others is not mutually exclusive, and that improving mental health is a journey, was important to me. So many of the platitudes people throw at people dealing with any kind of mental distress (clinical or situational)  are more harmful than helpful- because if people could just smile and feel better don't you think they would? If only it were so easy. I also like that Mullin points out that medication can be part of the solution- but is not the only part and is not for everyone. Side effects and allergies can make medication more problematic than what they are supposed to help, but if he right dose of the right med is found it can make life significantly better for some. I really love the clear point that we are all different, and effect to different therapies and tools accordingly- working with a professional to find the right combination is important and can very greatly depending on the person. 

Bird Brain is an honest and relatable collection that will speak to anyone that has suffered through anxiety and/or depression. I think it would also be a great read for those with loved ones that are dealing with them to help them understand what it feels like. 

Book Review: The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook: 100 Fast and Healthy Recipes for Busy People by Taylor Ellingson is a collection of recipes that are budget-friendly, health-conscious, and super tasty—and all of them can be made in half an hour or less. No need to be an experienced home chef. This cookbook can show you how to make good, fresh food at any skill level and help you make your kitchen as convenient as possible, with guides to the best equipment and ingredients to keep on hand. Some of the included recipes are: Mixed Berry Pancake Muffins, Pesto Turkey Burgers, Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad, and One-Skillet Cashew Chicken. This cookbook includes recipes tagged with icons for No Cook, One Pot, 5-Ingredient, or Superfast (10-minute) meals.

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a book geared towards helping people eat healthier, faster. I like that the book starts with the basics, the information and tricks that new cooks might need to make informed decisions and speed up their cooking time. I found all of it to be common sense, and things I had been doing for years, but those just striking out on their own or just moving past pasta and the basics. The recipes are easy to follow with, with clear instructions and good tips and tricks for substitutions and shortcuts when applicable. I like that while the recipes aim for healthy and using fresh ingredients when possible, there is still some fat and richness with lower fat suggestions rather than ignoring the fact that we can all treat ourselves to an alfredo sauce if the mood strikes. Some of the recipes looked fantastic, and gave me ideas of things I might try to mix things up in my own cooking. However, not much struck me as terribly new or original- perhaps because I spend way too much time watching the Food and Cooking channels. I do think that this might be a valuable book for those just starting to have an interest in cooking more, or cutting back on take out for whatever reason. 

The Easy 30-Minute Cookbook is a well organized and accessible cookbook. I think it would be the most valuable to those just starting to cook on their own.

Book Review: Strange but True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained by Kathryn Hulick, Gordy Wright

Strange but True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained, written by Kathryn Hulick and illustrated by Gordy Wright, explores ten of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries. Readers can witness a UFO encounter, search for the lost city of Atlantis, tour a haunted house, and discover the kraken's true form. The book utilizes the scientific method and sharp thinking to separate fact from fiction and explain the unexplainable.

Strange but True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained takes the stories of the unexplained and offers readers as much of the story as they can. I like that the book offers the legends, witness statements, and scientific information to give readers of all ages the tools and information necessary to make up their own minds. I love the documentaries and television show that do this, so not much of this book was new to me. However, I think it was a well organized and structured book that can help interested readers take the time to look at mysteries and experiences like those discussed from multiple angles. I thought the illustrations were well done and broke up the text nicely to keep the pages and blocks of text from becoming overwhelming. I did think that some of the font choices, particularly the chapter headings  and sidebar commentary was hard to read- however that could have been partially because I was reading a digital copy. I did like that in the end notes the author included information on his sources, so that if readers are interested in a particular story they can do further research. 

Strange but True: 10 of the World's Greatest Mysteries Explained is a well organized and interesting read. I think many middle grade readers will enjoy it.