Thursday, February 19, 2015


Aya by Marguerite Abouet is about teenage girls in the IvoryCoast of West Africa in the 70's. The main character, Aya, is very studious. Her two friends, Adjoua and Bintou, are much less interested in their schooling. They spend most of their time going out drinking and chasing men. When Adjoua gets pregnant, everything plunges into chaos.

Aya is not actually the center of the story. Most of the dramatic things happen to Bintou and Adjoua. Hell, even Aya's father has a more dramatic story involving a big beer compony. Aya acts more like the voice of reason than the center of attention.

My absolute favorite scene in the book is when Aya's father is trying to turn a luncheon with his boss into a promotion interview. It's funny how he completely sucks up to his boss, and his boss loves it. It is one of the funniest scenes in a graphic novel I've read in a long time.

The art in Aya is very French looking. Some might say it looks quite a bit like the Rabbi's Cat. The characters look like they were drawn by Johann Sfar, especially when it comes to their eyes. I really like the way that the markets and plazas are drawn in Aya. You cannot take one look at them and not think Africa.

There are some words used in this book that are native to the region  that the book takes place in. Luckily for us, there is a glossary in the back of the book so that you don't have to look up words on the Internet. And for all you food lovers, there are two recipes behind the glossary, as well as a tutorial of how to tie a pagne (a head scarf or skirt).

I don't think Aya is appropriate for all ages. There are strong mentions of sexual activity. I think it's more tame than Low Moon, but still pretty out there. If you are a parent, I would suggest that you proof read the Aya before you give it to a younger reader. All inappropriateness aside, Aya is a great book. I would give Aya 9 pregnant teens out of ten.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Ares Bringer of War

Ares Bringer of War is the seventh book in a series about the Greek gods by George O'Connor. It follows the gods as they watch the events of the Trojan war. I have to admit, the book started off a little slow. There was way too much narration, which I am not a fan of. The narrator started off explaining the difference between Ares and Athena, both Greek gods of war. Then he talked about what it's like when a soldier is possessed by Ares in the heat of battle. One thing I did like about this beginning is the depiction of the ancient Greek battles, and Ares fighting in the middle of it all.

It started to pick up for me once the prologue was finished. There was a lot less explaining who Ares was and a lot more showing what was happening to Ares. I like that.

My favorite scene in the book is when Athena blesses King Argo with divine strength. During King Argo's godly rampage, Aphrodite reaches down from the heavens to save one of her demigod children from King Argo's wrath, but he stabs her through the arm and continues with his bloody work. I like this scene because it is the first time in the series that we learn that the gods can be wounded by mortals. It makes them more relatable.

The art in this is one of my favorite things about the book. The characters are beautiful and the landscapes are epic in proportion. The noses of the characters are very specifically drawn. I have never seen noses drawn the way they are in this book. They look like upside down shields.

I personally think that Ares Bringer of War is pretty PG. The violence is not very bloody, there are no sexual innuendos, and the language is clean as a whistle. I would definitely recommend that you read Ares Bringer of War if you happen to find it in your local bookstore. If you find the other Olympians books, you should get them as well I would give Ares Bringer of War 6 vicious hoplites out of ten.  

This review was part of the Ares Bringer of War Blog Tour. If you want to see other reviews, click on this link.

Friday, January 23, 2015

(Low Moon)

Low Moon is a book of five short stories by a Norwegian man named Jason. Each of them are very different from each other. I won't reveal the plot of every story, but I will delve into the plot of my favorite story in the book.

The story I like the most is about a husband and a wife who get into a fight. The wife storms into the kitchen where she finds an alien. She faints from shock and the alien takes her to his ship and flies away. The husband begins to build a rocket the next day.  His son soon starts to realize that his mother is not coming back. The next few pages follow the son as he goes to school, hits puberty, has his first girlfriend, goes to college, gets married, has kids and gets divorced. Finally the father calls the son to tell him that rocket is finished. The father and son get into the rocket and fly into space. I'm not going to spoil the ending for you, but trust me, it's very ironic. I know I'm not doing the story justice, but trust me, its really good.

The stories are 90% silent. When you're reading the book, it feels like you're watching a silent movie. There's a little bit of text here and there, but only when it's absolutely necessary. Speaking of silent films, someone on YouTube made a silent film of one of Jason's stories.

The work of Jason is very genre oriented. A lot of the time, he writes noir stories, but he has also done western, prehistoric and sci-fi. He once  said, in an interview, "Genres are sort of open frames that you can fill with whatever you want to talk about". Brilliant.
The art in this book is quite different then anything I've seen before. Most of the characters are depicted as humans with dog heads. They have blank eyes and extremely deadpan expressions. If I had been told of this choice of depiction before picking up the book, I would have assumed that I wouldn't like it. As a stage actor, I've been taught to be very expressive, but this really utilizes the theory that less is more. I know it isn't always the case, but this time, it is.

Low Moon is not for children in any way, shape, or form. The first depicts a little bit of that old sex-for-murder, and the fourth story also has some of the old in-and-out, if you know what I mean, wink wink, nudge nudge, whistle. If you think you can handle it, find Low Moon by Jason and buy it or borrow it.  I would give Low Moon 10 father-son trips to space out of 10.

P.S. Jason doesn't use a last name. It's not a typo.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Today I'm going to be reviewing one of my favorite series ever, Dungeon by JoannSfar and LewisTrondheim. This dungeon is not actually a prison as one might think. Its more like a big obstacle course which adventurers flock to with dreams of wealth and glory. There are piles and piles of treasure which entice the poor fools to try to brave the dangers that lie within the dungeon walls. They come to steal some of the treasure, but instead get massacred by the monsters of the dungeon. Their weapons and jewelry are added to the treasury.

The dungeon is run by the Dungeon Keeper, a short white bird with a top hat and a pipe that releases smoke in a skull shape, reflecting his mood. He started the dungeon when he was young. His most trusted employes include Marvin, a man sized, very religious dragon who serves as the Dungeon Keepers body guard, Herbert, a light hearted duck who has a long descent into evil, and Alcibiades and Horus, the two alchemists of the dungeon.

Over the course of over a dozen books, the dungeon becomes a major political power, and therefore gains all the problems brought by its position. Its attacked constantly and the system becomes more and more corrupt. They create their own secret police, participate in underhanded dealings, and accept bribes from neighbors who fear invasion.

 Dungeon is set during three major time periods in the dungeons universe. The Early Years follows its rise, Zenith takes place during the height of the dungeon's power, and Twilight is the story of the dungeons downfall into madness. Each one of these time periods has several books devoted to them. Even if you only get the books in one time period, you will have a very full experience. Each is like its own little series.

The art in this book is unforgettable. It looks very French, which makes sense considering that Joann Sfar is French (Joann Sfar is not the only illustrator, other artists draw short stories for the bonus books). There are a lot of very broad, flat colors in Dungeon. One of my favorite characters, Marvin the Red, a skinny little rabbit who thinks hes a brave warrior, who was exiled from his rabbit town because he was born with red fur, is a shade of red that never changes. All of the characters are designed to pop off the page. The world of dungeon look goofily cartoony, but It makes sense considering that all of the characters are anthropomorphized animals, monsters and magical creatures.
You will never find anything even remotely similar to Dungeon. It is its own thing which makes it all the more amazing. I warn you younger readers, there are some quite bloody and sexual scenes. The violence is never scary. Characters get their heads lopped off all the time, but its humorous because these awful acts are being carried out by these almost cute little animals. While detailed, the art isnt very realistic which makes the gore completely un-terrifying. With the holidays almost here, I think the complete set of  Dungeon is a perfect gift for anyone 14 to 65. I'm sure you'll all get hooked. I find myself rereading these books at least once every two months. I would give Dungeon 10 vicious red rabbits 10.