Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #43: Chew, vol. 2 – International Flavor by John Layman and Rob Guillory

Chew 2“Hey, you like funny things! You should totally read this,” my cousin said to me one day as he rifled through his vast collection of comic books.  They are basically his most prized possessions, and while some may think he’s a bit of an oddball, my cousin definitely knows what he’s talking about when it comes to this stuff, and he was dead on about this series; Chew is hilarious, in a demented kind of way, and I am starting to absolutely love it. I will admit, it’s the sort of thing that won’t appeal to everyone, as it gets a bit ludicrous and also very dirty and grotesque at times, but if you like the weird and wonderful in your graphic novels and comic series, then you will probably like this as well.

Volume 2, entitled International Flavor, follows our dear chibopath, Tony Chu, with a new partner at the FDA…

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #42: Hawkeye, vol.2 – Little Hits by Matt Fraction

Hawkeye 2

[With art by David Aja, Javier Pulido, Steve Lieber, Francesco Francavilla, and Jesse Hamm]

Hawkeye might be a bit of a doofus and not really know what he’s doing with himself at any given moment, but there is still something so likeable about him; you can tell that he genuinely cares about people, despite his often confused and public “I couldn’t care less about anything” nature. Hawkeye wants to do the right thing, he’s just not always sure what that is.

Once again focusing on the life of Clint Barton when he’s not acting as a part of The Avengers, Little Hits collects issues 6 to 11 of the Hawkeye series. Each issue acts like it’s own little episode in Clint’s life, though some are connected with recurring characters, such as Kate Bishop (the Young Avenger’s Hawkeye), and Cherry (the girl who is always in with the wrong people) who first appeared in My Life as a Weapon.

Continue reading

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #41: City of Glass by Cassandra Claire

Or as I like to call it: City of Why Can’t You Guys Just Communicate a Little Better?

City of GlassAnd so, after a strong first novel and slightly less-engaging sequel, this installment to Cassandra Claire’s Mortal Instruments series hits the third-book-slump for a number of reasons. While the story is still engaging if you have become invested in these characters from the previous books, there is a definite increase in melodrama and love-angst in City of Glass. Furthermore, many of the plot twists and outcomes can be seen coming from a mile away, making it far less exciting than say, City of Bones with all it’s amusing turns. Although I must admit, I did accidentally spoil one of the big twists for myself before reading this book (I was dorking around on the internet, rookie mistake, I know), but I still feel as though you could see where all of this was headed very easily.

[Hold on to your hats, kids, if you haven’t read any of these books before, this plot description is likely to leave you a bit lost…]

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Reviews #39-40: City of Bones and City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

City of BonesWhenever I read a young-adult series, I find that I fall in love with the first book, only to be extremely disappointed by each sequel that comes to follow it (I’m looking at you, Maze Runner, a series I still haven’t finished from frustration with the second novel). Because of this, when I embarked on reading City of Bones before the film adaptation is released this week [Jonathan Rhys Meyers film career, back from grave!], I also decided to read City of Ashes immediately afterwards. While City of Ashes does experience a bit of a sequel slump, it’s not nearly as drastic as I feared it would be, and is still quite good.

In any case, the first two books of The Mortal Instruments series have definitely made me want to continue reading to see what happens: I’m enjoying them a lot. Maybe it’s my love of all that fantasy, angels and demons stuff (which we can see in the fact that I never met a Supernatural reference I didn’t want to make). Or maybe it’s that everything seems to have a very distinct purpose and is very planned out; the books are richly detailed, but not so much so that it becomes a chore to read through them. Of course, being that these books are aimed at the young-adult demographic, there are bound to be some young romance plot lines, which vary in their degrees of being seemingly necessary or just plain irritating. City of Ashes definitely hinges more on the slow-paced discussions of relationships and issues of love than the action and back-story-filled City of Bones. 

[Spoilers ahead, ye be warned…]

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #38: Star Trek/Doctor Who – Assimilation^2 by Scott and David Tipton

Assimilation2 1Assimilation2 2(With art by J.K. Woodward)

A crossover between Star Trek: The Next Generation and Pond-era Doctor Who? It’s like a super geeky fantasy dream! Written as a short serial of 8 issues collected into two volumes, this idea totally roped me in, but in the end was a bit disappointing. There was potential here to do so much, but inevitably all the conflicts and conclusions felt… easy, I guess? And the action was very swayed to feel much more like a general 2-part episode of Doctor Who than a Star Trek story. At the end of the day, however, Assimilation^2 is a fun little story that combines two worlds that may not otherwise meet, if not in a very memorable fashion.

[My full review can be found here.]

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #37: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

BurnedWritten as a series of short, connecting poems, the young-adult novel Burned tells the tale of a young girl in a strictly religious and abusive household who is sent away for the summer after her father finds her in a compromising position. A few years back, I read another work by Ellen Hopkins, written in a similar style, called Impulse, and absolutely loved it. But did I love this one? Not as such. While Burned does bring up some interesting questions regarding faith and spirituality in a person, there were too many problems that I found in this novel that I just couldn’t get around, many of which involved that subject of religion which the novel was trying to address in the first place. But more on that in a minute:

The story of Burned focuses on 16 year-old Pattyn, the oldest of 7 daughters, all raised to be Mormon by an alcoholic, ex-army father, and detached mother who is often beaten by her husband. As Pattyn is growing up, she is finding herself to be questioning a woman’s role in the world, and wondering if there is more for her than simply getting married and spawning children. She is also experiencing sexual thoughts about some of the non-Church-going boys at school, and begins to wonder if these dreams she is experiencing are being put there by God or if it is wrong to even think like this. When one boy starts to take interest in her, however, she chooses to act on it and acquires her first boyfriend, Derek. Pattyn keeps her steamy relationship a secret due to fear of what her father will do; of course, Pattyn’s father eventually discovers them through word from people at Church (who heard about the couple from some of Pattyn’s old Mormon friends at school) and splits them up, which really does a number on Pattyn, but not so on Derek who appears to have been only interested in Pattyn for physical reasons. Pattyn is hurt and begins to act out, making her a bit of a pariah in the eyes of the Church and local Latter Day Saints community. From fear of stigmatization by other families, Pattyn’s father sends her away for the summer to live with her somewhat estranged Aunt Jeannette in the Nevada desert.

[Be aware of some spoilers in the remaining plot description to come]

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #36: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Fahrenheit 451I first read this iconic Ray Bradbury novel for my 9th grade English class. And while I may have pretended otherwise, my 15 year-old self didn’t really… get it. Also, apparently while reading it, we were supposed to mark down every figure of speech we ran across and label them accordingly: boy did I do an atrocious job at this, as half of them I just didn’t even notice, and many others that I did notice were marked completely incorrectly (yes, I still have that same copy from 8 years ago). But now I am older and I thought I would give this book another go. And did I understand on this second occasion? Well, I definitely feel like I got a lot more out of it reading it this time. And it truly is beautifully written, with some eerie predictions of our present day, made all the way back at its publication in the 50s.

Fahrenheit 451 focuses on the issues of censorship and the control or manipulation mass media can have upon people. The main way in which Bradbury addresses these issues is through the subject of book burning. I’m sure many people have already read this novel over the years, but in any case, my full review for it can be found here.

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #35: American Vampire, vol. 2 by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire 2The second volume of comic series American Vampire picks up in a new era of American history, allowing us to see how the vampires and their many different forms and feuds have influenced that history over time. But while this book was good, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the first volume. Maybe because I read that one a while ago and forgot some of the little things that had already happened, as well as some of the characters we had met? Or maybe the story itself just wasn’t as thrilling and compelling this time. I think it may have had a little to do with each. In any case, this second book in the series is comprised of two main stories, with certain characters and relations overlapping between the two, as well as connecting from the previous, first volume (which is to be expected).

For more details on what this entails, my full review can be found here.

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #34: The Host by Stephenie Meyer

The HostWhile reading The Host, I had so many people ask me, “Why?” with a clear mark of distain in their voices. But why do I need to explain myself? Just because I’m reading this book doesn’t mean I like it. But if I do like it, am I an idiot, like some might say? If I say I don’t like it am I just going along with what the popular notion is? Should I automatically be closed-minded about it because of the name on the cover? What is it about Stephenie Meyer that makes people so up in arms?

I tried to read The Host a few years back when I was in high school, but I only got about a quarter of the way through and had to stop because I was just so bored with it (and also had some more important school reading to finish). But here I am, giving it another go. And did I like it? Well… I’d say that it has a really intriguing premise to it that could be developed into something incredibly interesting. Unfortunately, it was not handled very well, and inevitably became very frustrating for a number of reasons.

The idea behind The Host (if you weren’t already aware) is the following: A race of aliens known as “Souls” have basically invaded the planet earth over time, taking over human bodies as “hosts” to house their species. The aliens believe that humans are too violent, and therefore do not deserve the planet: they live by a certain set of rules, and all abide by them. They are calm, and courteous, and have a society in place that runs smoothly. But the threat of humans is always present, as the Souls believe there are still pockets of human survivors that have not become overtaken and inhabited by Souls yet. When the body of the young human, Melanie, is found, it is believed that she can lead the “Seeker” Souls—who hunt out humans—to more humans and eliminate them so that they do not try to fight the Souls. Yet once Melanie is implanted with the Soul (who is eventually known as Wanda), it becomes clear that Melanie’s mind is still active within the host body.

For some more details on where it goes from there (mild spoilers ahead), as well as what made me so exasperated, my full review can be found here.

Lisa Bee’s #CBR5 Review #33: Peter Panzerfaust, vol. 1 – The Great Escape by Kurtis Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

Peter PanzerfaustThe simplest way to describe the comic series of Peter Panzerfaust would be as a mid-teens Peter Pan, fighting through World War II Europe with a group of French orphans. It’s the kind of thing that makes some people turn away as it seems ridiculous, while others are intrigued by how it could work, putting this classic figure of Peter Pan into a completely different and historically real universe.

And does it work? I think it does, extremely well: Peter Panzerfaust takes the iconic image of the boy who never wants to grow up and turns his mythology on its head to become something else entirely. It’s not about not wanting to grow up, but about keeping a youthful spirit in a situation where you are forced to grow up before you are really even an adult.

For a slightly more detailed description of the first volume in this series, The Great Escape, a full review can be found on my blog.