Aquicorn Cove – Review

Last year, I read Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill. I was blown away by the art along with how Katie can write heavy topics with a bright artistic style. Once I read Tea Dragon Society, I had purchased Aquicorn Cove, another book written in the same world as Tea Dragon Society. It’s no surprise that Aquicorn Cove was a graphic novel I would adore. This story focuses on the loss of a family member and ocean preservation which are two topics that are drastically different, yet Katie can focus on both topics equally.

Aquicorn Cove stars a young girl named Lana. Lana goes on a trip to her father to visit her Aunt Mae who lives by the sea. Lana would visit Mae when she was younger with her mother. Unfortunately, Lana’s mother is killed in a boating accident when Lana was young. As Lana visits Mae, Lana discovers a young, injured Aquicorn which resembles a Tea Dragon seahorse. Throughout the story, Lana realizes that Mae’s actions may have damaged the ocean and led to the injury of the Aquicorn. This forces Mae to recognize that her actions have consequences.

I see the struggle Lana faces as she visits Mae. Lana is struggling with memories of her mother. As someone who has lost a parent at a young age, I felt Lana’s pain. She is coming to terms with the fact that these memories will preserve her mother in her mind, although, it’s painful to think that her mother is gone. This is all illustrated by Katie O’Neill across the pages of the story.

Katie’s imagery in this is breathtaking. The sea is bright, the sky is sparkling, and the aquicorns are cute creatures living in the sea. Each panel was interesting to look at. While this book is about 100 pages long, I found myself taking longer to read it because I kept looking at each panel.

Aquicorn Cove is a beautiful story of life, loss, and reflection. I would recommend reading Tea Dragon Society first because I think it sets the tone for this story. Both Tea Dragon Society and Aquicorn Cove can be purchased on Oni Press‘s website or through your local book store.

Mid-Year Comic Freak Out Tag

I have seen the Mid-Year Book Tag floating around the internet both on blogs and Youtube videos. I wanted to shake it up because this year I have read so many comics. Having a pull list has created an obligation to go to a comic book store at least twice a month. This is my take on the “Mid-Year Book Tag” except with comics instead.

Best Comic I’ve Read So Far in 2021

Earlier in 2021, Marvel had launched their King in Black crossover event. This teams up the Marvel heroes to battle Knull, the god of the symbiotes. I had several series I was interested in, but none captured my attention like Black Cat. Each issue was equally entertaining and action-packed. Black Cat has quickly become one of my favorite Marvel heroes to follow. This was so good and quite possibly might be my favorite issue I have read in 2021.

Best Comic Sequel I’ve Read in 2021

Witchblood is another comic series that I’m thoroughly enjoying. On the cover is the main protagonist, Yonna. She is a witch traveling in the Western United States. While traveling, her motorcycle breaks down and she stumbles upon a group of vampires. These vampires are hunting for an artifact that belongs to Yonna’s witch mentor. Yonna realizes she can’t let these vampires collect this artifact and now she’s on an adventure to stop them.

Witchblood is a comic I would recommend for anyone new to comics.

New Release I Haven’t Read Yet

I backed the third volume of For Goodness Sake by K. Lynn Smith. Additionally, I was able to pick up the second volume as well. I believe it technically will be released this year? or sent to me in the mail this year, so I thought it counted.

For Goodness Sake tells the story of Rayne, a young woman traveling throughout the US in her makeshift camper. She stumbles upon Thatcher. Thatcher was cursed and now he appears as a relative to the devil. Rayne is determined to rid Thatcher of his curse and find who cursed him in the first place. Rayne and Thatcher’s friendship is adorable to read about.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

I’m a big fan of any of the YA Teen Titans books. This one features Mandy, the daughter of Starfire. She’s nothing like her, yet she’s constantly compared to her. As Mandy figures out her plans post-high school graduation, Starfire’s past comes back to haunt her. Does Mandy help her mother? or is this her chance to break free?

I’m a big fan of Teen Titans anything, so I’m going to read this. As a side note, this book is getting a lot of negative press on Goodreads, and I’m not sure why since it’s not out till August. I’m still planning on reading this.

Biggest Disappointment

Hollywood Trash #1 was probably the worst comic I have read this year. I’m a big fan of Mad Cave Studios, however, this series wasn’t for me. The story was hard to follow and I didn’t find it that interesting. I encourage everyone to check out Mad Cave Studios, but not this series.  

Newest Favorite Character

Logan McBride is a character I thought was intriguing to follow. She’s one of the main characters in Destiny NY by Pat Shand. I like reading about Logan because I think her actions seem realistic to me. She is going through a bad breakup and calls out her ex for treating her badly. She takes comfort in working at a coffee shop and petting her cute kitty. She also happened to fulfill her destiny at a young age and now struggles to find what’s next in her life. She’s a young woman who doesn’t quite know who she is yet. I think that struggle reminds me of me a couple of years ago.

Destiny NY is another great comic series I would recommend.

Book That Made Me Happy + Beautiful Book I’ve Bought

Aquicorn Cove is such a lovely story about family, loss, and ocean preservation. Aquicorn Cove takes place in the same world as Tea Dragon Society both written and illustrated by Katie O’Neill. Aquicorn Cove centers on Lana who visits her aunt by the sea. Lana’s mother passed away when Lana was young and she finds the sea has awakened memories of her and her mother. As storms constantly rock the land, Lana finds an Aquicorn that’s been damaged by the pollution in the lake. This promotes Lana’s aunt to revisit why she does the things she does and how her actions have caused damage to the ocean.

This is such a beautiful story. Katie O’Neill has a way of telling a story about heavy topics while still making this light-hearted. I want to save these books for my children and read these stories to them.

This cover is gorgeous which is not unexpected considering how Katie O’Neill illustrates this lovely world.

Currently, I have read 63 books and/or comics this year. I have surpassed my goal and I’m excited to see what my reading number will be at the end of 2021. What comics have you read this year that you have loved? Let me know in the comments below.

Webtoon Comics I’m Loving

Every morning, I have an hour before I have to log in for work. I used to spend this time drinking a cup of coffee and browsing through social media. I have been trying to fill this time with something more productive. One way I have filled this time is by browsing through either Webtoon or Tapas. I’m going to focus specifically on Webtoon for this post. I wanted to talk about various series that I cannot get enough of!

***I do not own the images of these comics, therefore I will not be posting images into this post. Please do not share images without the creator’s consent.***

Hey, I’m Gay – Fulcagay

Hey, I’m Gay is a series starring Gelms, a gay man, and his life with his friends. He often introduces his friends who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community representing a variety of different identities. His comics sometimes detail his life or talk about misconceptions about an identity. I find the art to be so vibrant and positive even if Gelms is writing about a negative experience he had. I always try and watch the issue before it’s released by watching the ad associated. While June is Pride month, it’s crucial to support LGBTQIA+ creators at all times of the year.

To support Fulcagay, you can follow him on Twitter or support him on Patreon.

Simon the Gamer – Simon

Simon the Gamer is a series about Simon and the various video games he plays. I originally found his series when I started playing Animal Crossing. I thought the art was adorable. This is such a fun, laid-back comic celebrating the love and joy of playing video games. While the series mostly focuses on video games, Simon also writes about how he’s a gay man who enjoys the hobby. Simon the Gamer just finished a crossover with Fulcagay a couple of issues ago.

To support Simon, you can follow him on Twitter or follow his Twitch streams.

Not Even Bones – Rebecca Schaeffer & Alai Cinereo

Not Even Bones is a bit darker than the other series I mentioned. Not Even Bones is a webcomic adaptation of the YA novel of the same name. Nita lives with her mom who sells organs on the Black Market. Nita is often responsible for dissecting the bodies they find. Nita lives with a secret power from which her mother protects her. After saving a boy her mother found, Nita is kidnapped and is on the run from everyone she formerly trusted. Not Even Bones had so many twists and turns. This series is on hiatus with an excruciating cliffhanger. The last update was back in December of 2020. The second season of this series is in the works and I have my notifications turned on for this series when it returns.

I couldn’t find a specific social media handle for her, but I was able to link her author’s website.

Litterbox Comics

I wanted to end on a lighter note with Litterbox Comics. Litterbox Comics is a slice of life comic about being a parent and all the difficulties that surround parenting. As noted by the name, it follows a cat family raising two kittens. I’m not a parent, but I still find the comics to be hilarious. I like that this is a lighthearted series that has been working well to read in the morning. It doesn’t require a lot of time to invest in the stories as each comic is independent of the other. I’m not fully caught up in the series yet, but I’m sure it won’t take long.

Litterbox Comics can be found on Twitter.

Reading webcomics can be an accessible form of reading comics. Webcomics are just as valid as physical comics and there’s so much to read. These were a few series that I enjoy. If you also read webcomics, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading!

May the 4th 2021 – Revisited

Last month, I wrote a post about my Star Wars plan for May the 4th. Every May, I spend almost the entire month devoting myself to all things Star Wars. I do it every year and I find I look forward to it. I wanted to reflect on my month and what I accomplished.

Books and Comics

The main book I wanted to read was Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I didn’t finish the book. To be honest, I thought the book felt a bit bloated with too many characters introduced. It was hard to keep track of which characters were driving the story and which characters were supposed to be in the background. I’m disappointed because I have felt this way about quite a few of the new Star Wars novelizations. I put this one down and I don’t think I will try re-reading it.

Skipping Alphabet Squadron, I did finish Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. I gave this book four stars on Goodreads. This lived up to my expectations for Padme and her story before Attack of the Clones. The end of Queen’s Shadow seems to set up further stories for Padme’s handmaidens, so I’m excited to see if more books will be written. I would highly recommend this if you’re a fan of the prequels.

Besides the books, I read every graphic novel I had set about reading except Lando Double or Nothing. It didn’t grip my attention and I ended up putting it down. I will highlight my rating for the other graphic novels down below:

Rise of Kylo Ren – four stars

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – three stars

Star Wars Adventures Vol. #1 – three stars.

Movies & TV

My goal was to continue in The Clone Wars. I ended up finishing season #1 and I’m halfway through season #2. I do think the seasons get better as I continue. I found watching Clone Wars helped when I was reading Queen’s Shadow because of references to the show popping into the book.

Gaming

I started with Star Wars The Old Republic. My laptop surprisingly ran the game without any forced restarts or glitches. However, I found the game to be repetitive and quite boring. I only finished one mission before uninstalling this from my computer. I can see why everyone raves about the game, but it wasn’t for me.

I switched over to Lego Star Wars and had a blast. I ended up getting through all the prequel levels and I’m now onto the A New Hope levels. I do need to take a break from this as I spent all of May playing through it. I do intend to return to it and finish it sometime this year.

I would say that this was a successful Star Wars month. Aside from not liking Alphabet Squadron, I set out to do exactly what I intended. I hope you all had a lovely May the 4th Be With You!

Magic Casting in Black Mage

I’m looking for magic school-type content to fill the void of Harry Potter. I’m trying to distance myself from the fandom for now. I follow comic writer Daniel Barnes on Twitter and he was posting about a graphic novel he wrote called The Black Mage. Barnes describes The Black Mage as a Harry Potter meets The Boondocks. The Black Mage is the diverse magical school world I wanted to read about.

Tom Token is invited to attend St. Ivory Academy, a Wizarding school floating above the land. Tom is the first Black student in the school as St. Ivory wants to be more inclusive. As Tom attends school, he is met with racism right away from various students and teachers. As Tom explores the school, he finds evidence that he may not have been the first Black mage as he once believed. If that’s the case, what happened to the other Black mages who attended the school?

The Black Mage touches on racism in a way that many fantasy stories don’t. It begins with Tom hearing about various unrealistic stereotypes applied to Black mages. The racism increases steadily leading to a violent vendetta. I find it hard to believe that a Wizarding society wouldn’t have racism and The Black Mage writes about what this could look like. In addition to writing about racism in this wizarding society, St. Ivory has ties back to the Civil War and how various Civil War heroes were mages. I liked seeing Harriet Tubman casting spells.

I liked the art in The Black Mage. It seemed to draw inspiration from manga in the way the characters were drawn. It also reminded me of fighting games because when Tom would release a spell, there would be a “Boom” or a “Miss” above the panel.

The Black Mage was an adventurous and fun magic story. It’s nice to see other magical Wizard-type stories with more diversity than Harry Potter ever had. I rated The Black Mage four stars on Goodreads.

Then She Was Gone – Thriller

CW: Abuse / Specifically Abuse of a Young Girl

**I won’t discuss this in my recap of the book, but if you choose to read this book, the content warning is needed**

Last month, I was reading mainly mysteries and thrillers. I found a used copy of Then She Was Gone at my local bookstore. I have heard raving reviews for Lisa Jewell’s books, so I figured I’d give this a shot. This was such a fast-paced, dark thriller to read.

Laurel Mack has been without her daughter, Ellie since her disappearance almost a decade ago. The grief of losing her daughter and not knowing what has happened to her has kept Laurel from moving on. As Laurel is going about her routine, she meets a man in a cafe with whom she begins a relationship with. She meets his daughter, Poppy, who is identical to Ellie. This leads Laurel into a harrowing investigation of Ellie and what happened to her all those years ago.

I loved Laurel as a character. She starts to see the cracks in her relationship early on. Instead of being consumed by this new romance, she continues to investigate Ellie’s disappearance and if someone Ellie knew could have played a role into her vanishing. Laurel is intelligent, kind, imperfect, and was a character I enjoyed reading about. The way she handled her grief seemed realistic especially with putting her other daughter, Hanna on a pedestal to replace Ellie. Laurel has her flaws, but she’s also a genuinely good person.

This isn’t the type of thriller where there’s a plot twist towards the end of the book. It’s revealed early on what happened to Ellie through flashbacks. The reason Then She Was Gone was so engaging was the slow-burn of seeing the full story and how Laurel was going to uncover what happened to Ellie. I tend to prefer thrillers where there is a plot twist at the end, however, the way Jewell wrote the book felt more like a countdown to when Laurel would figure out the truth.

Then She Was Gone was a well-written thriller about a mother who is desperate for answers and how Ellie’s disappearance has put a dark cloud over the Mack family. This was one of the darkest thrillers I have ever read. With the content warning, I can fully understand why some readers would avoid this book. However, Then She Was Gone is well worth the read.

May the 4th Be With You – 2021 Plan

It’s almost May which means May the 4th is rapidly approaching. Every May, I devote my entire month to all things Star Wars. Last year, I re-watched all the movies and read a few Star Wars books throughout the month. This year, I wanted to share my May the 4th plan and hold myself accountable throughout the month. I genuinely look forward to May to dive into all things Star Wars.

Books and Comics

The first book I plan on reading is Alphabet Squadron by Alexander Freed. I received this book for free at Del Rey’s booth at C2E2 I was planning on reading this book last year, but the book was a lot longer than I had anticipated. I’m going to start reading Alphabet Squadron this week leading into May to give myself a greater chance of finishing the book in May.

To prepare for May the 4th, I bought books from my local bookstore, Cream and Amber. I purchased Queen’s Shadow by E.K. Johnston. This is the first book in a Padme book series. This has been on my TBR for a while, so I’m excited to finally read it. Padme is one of the most fearless characters in the Star Wars franchise. I hope this book lives up to my expectations.

As far as comics, I bought The Rise of Kylo Ren, Lando Double or Nothing, Star Wars Adventures Vol #1 Heroes of the Galaxy, and Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma. My goal is to read all of these along with Alphabet Squadron and Queen’s Shadow.

Movies & TV

Instead of re-watching the films, I’m going to watch The Clone Wars. I’m halfway through season #1 and I started to lose interest. Everyone I talk to who has watched The Clone Wars cannot stop raving about it and I don’t want to be missing out. I don’t think I will finish all the seasons in a month, but I hope to at least get through most of the show and get the motivation to finish the whole show.

Gaming

Last year, I put so many hours into Star Wars Battlefront II and it was a blast. I decided to try out Star Wars The Old Republic. I’m not sure if my laptop will be able to run the game, so as a backup, I found LEGO Star Wars The Complete Saga on Steam as well. Another option I have is to finish playing Jedi Fallen Order which I still have not completed the main campaign.

I am going to have a jam packed Star Wars themed month and I’m thrilled! I would love any Star Wars themed reading suggestions or podcasts, feel free to add those in the comments below.

Fangirl Revisited – 6 Years Later

When I was in college, I went through a major reading slump. With all of the studying and textbook reading I had to do, the last thing I wanted to do was read for fun. I pulled myself out of my reading slump thanks to friends and rediscovering what I liked to read. One of the books I credit for pulling me out of this was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Fangirl had been on my list to re-read for a while and it seemed like every time I wanted to start the book, something would get in my way. Since this is a re-read post, I won’t be covering the plot of Fangirl, however, you can read my original review here: https://bizarrebrunette.com/2015/04/03/fangirl-review/

Fangirl will always be a five-star book for me however, I had a couple of critiques I had this time around with this book. I do think Fangirl is a bit too long. The first half of the book tells the reader about Cath’s routine at college. She’s locating where her classes are, she’s writing a fiction story in the library and she’s too afraid to go to the dining hall. I found this part of the book to be boring to read. There easily could have been sections taken out without the book’s plot suffering. Fangirl is 433 pages and it felt long to read. The second half of Fangirl does pick up, but the first half took me a long time to finish.

Originally when I read Fangirl, I loved Cath as a character. I felt like I identified with her being introverted and her love of fandom. This time, I started to notice how judgemental Cath is. She makes negative comments on how much Wren likes to party. Now, Wren was a bit out of control in some ways, but it felt like to Cath that if Wren was living her life differently than her, it’s wrong. Additionally, Cath seems to have this pretentious attitude because of her scholarship and intelligence. This can be seen in her relationship with Levi who struggles academically and finds it challenging to read a physical book. I do think Cath grows up a bit towards the end of the book, but I was surprised at how some of her statements made me resent her a little bit.

Finally, I noticed Rainbow Rowell makes some weird comments about race in her books. There are examples from both Cath and Wren regarding how they comment on race. Wren comments later in the book how she doesn’t realize a certain race lived on one part of campus. I’m not sure if Rowell wants to hammer into readers how Cath and Wren growing up in Omaha have interacted with people from different races, but the statements come off more cringey than anything else. There has been some controversy surrounding Rainbow Rowell and how she writes characters from a different race specifically in her book Eleanor and Park. It’s interesting reading Fangirl and noticing some of these comments even though this controversy is with a different book that she wrote.

Fangirl will always have a special place in my heart. I read this book while I was going through a identity/insecurity crisis and reading about Cath helped me accept myself for who I am. I can understand why other readers would rate this lower than I did because of some of the points I made above. I’d love to hear any additional thoughts regarding Fangirl, let me know in the comments section below.

Intergalatic Cooking in Space Battle Lunchtime

With starting a pull list, I have been reading more single issues than trades. It’s funny because when I first began reading comics, I heavily relied on trades to continue in a series. The latest trade paperback I read was Space Battle Lunch Time published by Oni Press. Imagine if Top Chef took place in space and that’s the synopsis of Space Battle Lunchtime. This had such a fun premise and left off on a big cliffhanger.

Space Battle Lunchtime is an intergalactic hit! It’s a reality cooking competition featuring chefs from a variety of different galaxies. Peony a human from Earth is in the right place at the right time when she is zapped from her bakery to appear on the show. Peony is replacing another contestant who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Peony has never used galactic cooking ingredients which makes her at a serious disadvantage compared to her previous opponents. Will Peony fall under the pressure? or can she cook up to the competition.

This graphic novel was such a lighthearted read. I liked reading about their challenges and how Peony has to quickly adapt. While Peony is the main character, I would say I liked both Neptunia and Aris. Neptunia is a fellow contestant and has to work with Peony on a cooking challenge. There’s a budding friendship between the two and I liked seeing it unfold. Aris is a cameraman on the show and he’s always in Peony’s corner wishing her good luck. Both characters added to Peony’s journey throughout the show.

The art in this graphic novel complemented the story perfectly. I liked how the beginning of each issue had a recap page which felt in line with other reality TV shows or cooking shows. I also liked the logo of Space Battle Lunchtime with the pink spatula and the star.

Additionally, Space Battle Lunchtime is an age-appropriate novel. This would be great for kids to read. There were so many good messages in this story including highlighting teamwork, emphasizes the negatives of cheating, and how hard work can pay off. It can be intimidating to find graphic novels for kids, however, Space Battle Lunchtime would be perfect.

I have nothing bad to say about Space Battle Lunchtime. It was a fun departure from other graphic novels I tend to read. This is the first graphic novel I read from Natalie Riess and it won’t be the last. Space Battle Lunchtime can be purchased directly from Oni Press’s website or through a local comic book store.

Unicorns, Critical Role & 90’s Punk – Highlighting Indie Comics

I consider indie comics to be anything other than Marvel or DC. With Image and Dark Horse becoming more prominent comic publishers, are they still considered indie? Despite the lack of conventions I have attended, I have been reading more comics than ever before! It helps to have weekly trips to my local comic book store. I wanted to highlight a couple of indie comics I read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

By The Horns Issue #1 Naso, Muhr, and Tabacaru

By the Horns is published by Scout Comics whom I had never heard of before purchasing this issue. By the Horns follows Elodie, a monster hunter who is fueled by revenge after her husband, Shintaro was murdered by a unicorn. Elodie is so consumed by rage that she’s asked to leave her town after they feel she’s abandoned them. Accompanied by her animal sidekick, Saijen, she adventures through various cities in search of unicorns.

By The Horns was a fully fleshed-out first issue. I liked Elodie as the main character. I felt the way she was designed with her white, rogue jacket and blue face paint gave her a look that was memorable to me. Elodie feels like a character I would play as in a dnd campaign. Saijen is Elodie’s fox companion. Elodie and Saijen have this close bond and I’m interested to see more of their battles together.

By the Horns issue #2 will be released in May while issue #1 is available for purchase. I rated By the Horns issue #1 five stars.

Home Sick Pilots Issue #1 Watters, Wijngaard, Bidikar, and Muller

Home Sick Pilots is published by Image whom I’m a huge fan of. Home Sick Pilots follows the band of the same name. To be competitive with a rival band, Ami suggests to both Buzz and Rip to perform at a haunted house. Both Buzz and Rip are terrified because of the rumors they have heard. Ami ventures in on her own and finds that this is more than a haunted house.

I love anything spooky and Home Sick Pilots gives off this feeling. I liked the art in this issue a lot. The blues/purples of the haunted house along with the ethereal look of Ami as she enters the house. There’s a panel showing both the Home Sick Pilots and rival band Nuclear Bastards as they are both exploring the house at the same time. There was so much to look at that I found myself staring at the page way after reading the panels.

Home Sick Pilots has been releasing weekly issues and should all be available at your local comic book store. I rated Home Sick Pilots issue #1 four stars.

Critical Role Vox Machina Origins Series III #1 Mercer, Houser, Samson, Msassyk, and Maher.

I started Critical Role last month and I’m hooked! This issue follows the group from Critical Role’s first campaign: Grog, Keyleth, Vex, Vax, Trinket, Scanlan, Pike, Percy as they find their next paid mission. They wander through the town, drinking ale, and deciding their next move.

I felt each character was written the way they were roleplayed. I read their voices in my head as I read their lines. Grog has his witty one-liners while Keyleth serves as the humanitarian of the group. It helps with Matthew Mercer, the DM for Critical Role had a hand in writing the script. Since starting Critical Role, I cannot get enough, so I’m happy with the addition of a comic series coinciding with their game.

Critical Role Vox Machina Series III Issue #1 can be found at your local comic book store. I rated this issue five stars.

Reading comics is so much more than superheroes. I find the easiest way to get into reading comics is to take your interests and find a comic equivalent. Let me know what indie comics you’re reading in the comments below.