Lenni Reviews: "Watersnakes" by Tony Sandoval

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review and is suggested for mature readers

While Mila is out playing, she meets a strange but beautiful girl named Agnes who believes ghosts live in her teeth. As they spend more time together, Mila realizes Agnes is far from a normal girl as otherworldly forces spill into Mila's life.

This is what I was expecting from Likely Stories; a trippy, thrilling, scary, bloody, fantastic fantasy story that's beautiful to look at. The art takes some getting used to but if you can appreciate the likes of Roman Dirge or Dave McKean, this will be a treat to read through. If you like dark fantasy where fairy tale nightmares bleed into real life, this is a cool book to read and I'd like to see more from this creator. 4.7 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Sheets" by Brenna Thummler

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.

After her mother's death, Marjorie is holding down the family laundromat all by herself and raising her little brother as her father is still mired in his grief. She has typical outsider problems at school but she also has to deal with the conniving Nigel; who is after the laundromat to demolish the building and replace it with a resort. Feeling disconnected and helpless, things change for Marjorie when a ghost named Wendell sneaks into her shop.

This is a beautiful story about a young woman dealing with loss the best way she can. The laundromat is a perfect setting after such a deep shock since, after the death of a loved one, you do feel like you're spinning and being tossed about beyond your control; feeling transparent and lost, just floating through life.

Not too much time is spent on the "mean girls" schtick, as that can get old real fast. The idea of ghosts being actual sheets could be stupid if not for the amazing art. The whole book is in such a soothing palate, it's a pleasure to the eyes. Wendell and his friends are delightful as well but if I had to nitpick (and of course I do) this is another of those awesome graphic novels that feels like it ended too soon. I wanted to know more about everyone; even that dipshit Nigel: He of the Punchable Face.

Also, and this is spoiler territory here, something about the ending didn't quite sit right with me. SPOILERSSS!!!

Marjorie starts using Ghosturizer - basically ghost detergent/stain remover - to save her failing business, which seems a bit exploitive to me. I get that do misadventures it was Wendell's fault in part that Marjorie got into some extra trouble but unfettered access to otherworldly cleaning products? Seems highly suspect.

Other than that, awesome book. It's meant for kids but I recommend to anyone who needs a daily dose of DAWWWW!! 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "The Ghost, The Owl" by Franco and Sara Richard

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

One night, an owl spies the ghost of a young girl skipping across the swamp and goes to investigate. Despite the advice of his fellow owls, he decides to help the lost ghost figure out why she is lost and the mystery of how she died.

Despite being predictable, this is a beautifully drawn, sweet story. The art is a treat for the eyes; soft and flowing when it needs to be and crisp and scary when it needs to be. The detail is fantastic so, even though this is a pretty standard 'find out why the ghost died so they can move on' story, it's so pretty, it should be seen. 

The ending is a bit abrupt and I would say this is too dark for very young kids but I enjoyed it and give it a 3.9 out of 5!

Lenni Reviews: "Streak of Chalk" by Miguelanxo Prado

Raul lands on a tiny, nearly deserted island where the only other non-resident there is a mysterious woman named Ana; who claims to be waiting for someone. 

To quote the book: "This island predisposes you to believe in things that you wouldn't believe in under ordinary circumstances." Therefore, we can't be sure what we're seeing take place in the book is real. The art style does a great job of projecting that mysterious atmosphere; looking like oil or acrylic paintings. Some of the panels are REALLY dark, though; making it hard to make out some details.

Raul isn't exactly the most likable of the small cast of characters. He's pushy and arrogant; thinking because a female is near him, obviously, she must want to get with him and just can't understand why she doesn't fall into bed with him. Then the only other male characters introduced are also sexist assholes. Then it's over.

While lovely, this is not a book for me. It felt like it was trying to hart to mean something and as a result, it didn't feel like it meant anything. But man, is it pretty. 3 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Taproot" by Keezy Young

*This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review

Hamal works at a flower shop but the owner and customers think he's crazy because he can hear, see, and speak to ghosts. This ability is bitter sweet as the ghost, Blue is his best friend and Blue is in love with Hamal. But lately, Blue has been unexpectedly vanishing and all the ghosts are afraid of what's going on.

I am such a fan of all these calm, multi-cultural, creative, and beautiful graphic novels I'm seeing these days. The cool, soft color palette and relaxed writing make this story about an accidental necromancer an amazing and wonderful read. Even when dealing with death, reapers, and ghosts, Taproot never takes itself too seriously; remaining sweet and grounded the entire time. I was a little confused because the terms 'necromancer' and 'ghost hunter' are used interchangeably when I'd always believed them to be very different things. Perhaps if given more time to develop, we could get Hamal's powers clearly defined, learn where they came from, and get some backstory on the other ghosts around him. As it stands, this book was an overall pleasure. 4 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Tea Dragon Society" by Katie O'Neil

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review

When she finds an injured tea dragon in the marketplace, young Greta - who is a blacksmith's apprentice - returns the magical creature to its owner and learns the nearly forgotten art of crafting tea from the delicate leaves growing from the tea dragon's bodies.

I found this to be the most refreshing fantasy comic I have read in a long time. The story Greta through 4 seasons as she meets Minette; a seer who has lost her memory, Hesekiel; one of the last remaining tea masters, and his partner Erik; a former adventurer who is now a paraplegic.

There are no grand adventures, no epic battles; just a little girl who finds a dragon and makes some friends. A delightfully progressive slice of life story with simple and beautiful art, about the only thing I can legitimately complain about is there isn't enough of this. If this was a webcomic or a series, I would be reading it all the time. It's very rare for me to find something so lighthearted yet well done and I find it perfect. 5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Lost Boys" vol 1 by Tim Seeley

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is best for mature audiences

In the follow up to the 1987 movie, we meet the Emmerson Brothers Sam and Michael. After defeating the vampire monster, Max and his buddied, the brothers thought their lives would go back to normal. But a coven of female vampires calling themselves the Blood Belles targets them for revenge and their lives are once again overturned with blood and violence.

Before we get into it, I have to admit I was not the biggest fan of the original movie. I didn't dislike it but I didn't feel the need to watch it more than once; which always shocks people who learn I write vampire fiction. After refreshing my memory, I found this book enjoyable. It picks up right where the movie left off, ups the stakes (no pun intended) and tells an entertaining story. The color palette and art are perfect for this genre to keep the mood haunting and dark. The character Believer had me rolling my eyes with his over the top speeches but otherwise, this book is cool. If you like vampires and love the movie, I think this is worth the read. I give it a solid 3.8 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: "Great Divide" by Ben Fisher and Adam Markiewicz

*This book was given to me in exchange for an honest review and is rated 18+

A fragmented human race struggles to live because a mysterious condition has made it so any skin to skin contact will cause one of those people to die an agonizing death. Whoever survives the encounter absorbs the memories of the dead person. While fumbling a heist, Maria and Paul stumble first upon each other then later upon a possible cure.

This comic is a mix of Walking Dead, Crossed, and Y the Last Man (without what made me so uncomfortable about Crossed). It has a unique take on an apocalyptic world with all the darkness that entails while still managing to maintain some humor. I'm glad it's not zombies for once...

The characters and world building here are well thought out and some really original implications of whatever sort of virus like this can do or be used are played with. Thankfully the cast members we're following around play off each other well despite the fact Paul's jokes can get tiresome. I give this a 4 out of 5 for being blessedly original in a genre that sorely needs it.

 

Lenni Reviews: "Octavia Butler's Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation" by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

In this adaptation of Octavia Butler's groundbreaking story of a young Black woman thrust back in time to see her slave ancestors, you get a gripping and harrowing view of this tale.

Having not read the original, I can say that this is a hard story to get through. Butler's depiction of the life of slaves on a plantation in antebellum South is raw, unfiltered, and heartbreaking. And as our main character grapples with being treated like garbage by the same man who is intrinsic to her existence so she has to protect him? Yikes...

The art style is sketchy and raw; it really is perfect for this story. You feel every punch, every whip crack, every pejorative word. By the end you're almost relieved because it's so hard to deal with so much raw evil but it's part of our history and it's more important now than ever to be reminded so as not to head down the same path. I think Octavia Butler would be proud of this adaptation. 4.5 out of 5.

Lenni Reviews: Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh



Who can resist that smirk on the cover? I sure can't. And as is par for the course for me, I flipped through the pages of  Blue is the Warmest Color by Julie Maroh (originally called Blue Angel when it was published in France) before I read it and my art geek tendencies were immediately satisfied by the breathy style of the art in this book. Every page is like a sigh; poignant and emotional.

The story begins with a young woman named Emma vising the home of her deceased lover, Clementine. Before she died, Clementine wrote a letter to her mother asking for her diary to be delivered to Emma after she passed. The story of how Clementine realizes she is a lesbian and her relationship with Emma is told via the entries Clementine wrote.

I am a fan of well done LGBT comics and I am a sucker for a good (honest) love story no matter the sexual orientation of the characters. As long as the characters are genuine and the relationship realistic, they could be tri-sexual for all I care (apparently that's a thing). As long as the story is good, I'll be a happy otaku.

As the story is told in flashbacks, the colors are muted, save for blue; the color Emma's hair was dyed when Clementine met her. Even the scenes set in the present have a dream like quality. This story does contain some scenes of smexy woman love so be aware if that offends your sensibilities.

I know there are readers out there who get tired of the traditional coming out story but this comic is worth picking up. It isn't just the story of how Clementine became a lesbian, its the story of two women in love who were taken from one another too soon. This graphic novel has been made into a movie and when it comes out, I plan to watch it to see if its as good as the book. If your heart can stand the ending, I highly recommend this stunning graphic novel.

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