Tag Archives: YA

September in Review: What I Read

The month of September has been a slower month for me. Having lowered my reading goal from one hundred and fifty-six to one hundred and fifty, it gave me time to breathe and not feel like I was falling far behind. That said, I am making progress and am on track.

For the month of September, I have read four books, four comics, and one manga. Totaling out to nine books this month. These are those books and my general thoughts on them.

Epic Tales: Celtic Myths and Tales/Celtic Myths and Tales: Epic Tales by Various

This collection of Celtic tales has been sitting in my Currently Reading shelf since March. It was originally going to be the “bigger/more in depth book” that I would read in March as well as fitting into the Ireland theme I had planned for the month (Note: I will sometimes dedicate a month for a specific topic, theme, or what have you for a particular month. For instance June, I read mostly LGBTQ+ centered books in honor of Pride Month. It’s a way for me to expand my reading and maybe find a book I like that I might not have thought of previously). The only reason it took me this long was because of other books I had to read, the fact I wanted to take my time with this book, and my motivation to read it being hit or miss.

So for the month of September, I decided to sit my butt down and finish it. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed it. All of the tales were really neat and were divided into sections. It’s also a really nice collection of tales, and a number of which, if any, might not appear in the Irish Fairy and Folk Tales leather bound book I own. This book is also apart of a series of “epic tales” which include other tales from other mythologies, Mary Shelley, Black Sci-Fi stories, and more. A number of these are included on my to read list, including the Black Sci-Fi stories, Epic Tales: Norse Myths and tales, Epic Tales: Persian Myths and Tales, African Myths and Tales, and Epic Tales: Japanese Myths and Tales.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Essential X-Men Volume 11 by Chris CLaremont

I’ve been making my way through the Classic X-Men comics via the Epic Collection and their respected Omnibuses. This is the last of the Essential X-Men Collection that I needed to read before hopping into the run starting in the 90’s (Either through regular paper backs or their respected Epic Collection). I’ve been enjoying this run of the X-Men, some issues and volumes a little more, but this has been a fun run. This one was one that I enjoyed, but maybe not as much as others. However, I do think it was still worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson

The Sandman has been on my to read list since at least the beginning of 2022. I managed to get through the first two volumes before the release of the Netflix adaptation and read the Deluxe Edition of Death last month. I also ended up reading the two Little Endless Storybooks (The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party). I checked this out on a whim as well as for a quick read since I was a little behind on my reading total.

I’m kind of mixed on the story as a whole, however, it was a fun read. The art and the story did remind me of some early 2000’s manga tie ins like Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Chain of Memories, which were all fun and whimsical reads. If you are looking for a fun and slightly different story within the Sandman universe, I would give it a shot.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price, PhD

One topic I have an on and off interest with are nonfiction books on Autism. As someone who has been diagnosed with Autism (Asperger’s when it was used a little more frequently), I’ve had an interest in reading upon it over the last few years. Mostly because, like a number of people who fall on the spectrum, I had a hard time coming to terms with it due to some perceptions out there and feeling disheartened by it. These days, I am more comfortable with it, but I want to better understand Autism where I previously didn’t.

Reading Unmasking Autism has helped me. In fact, it is set up in a way that I connect with. A lot of what this book covers touches on things that I had felt when I was younger, the conflicting emotions and having to mask that side of myself in order to appear normal. This is probably the first book on Autism that resonated with me on a personal level. And for that, I appreciate it and am glad that I bought it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon

This one I picked up on a whim on one of my Barnes and Noble trips. It was one I was considering, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the hardcover or wait until the paperback was released the following Tuesday (Sundays are my Barnes and Noble days since it’s a day I don’t work on and is the one day out of the weekend that right for me). Towards the end of this trip, I was looking at the LGBTQ+ section in the YA area, looking for Loveless by Alice Oseman, when I spotted it. And as luck would have it, there was one copy of the paperback copy available before it was even supposed to hit shelves (Goodreads said the paperback was set to release that Tuesday, September 13th). Which coincidentally, was the second time that has happened to me, with the first being the Essential Legends Collection release of Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, which I got my hands on the Sunday before it’s release date that Tuesday (August 2nd). And had this been on my radar in June, I might have read it along with the other LGBTQ+ books I read that month (I do wish I read one or two more fiction books that month honestly, but I digress).

Taking place in the 1970’s and right around the time the events at Waterloo broke, it focuses on a young man trying to find his place in the world, when he meets Web, a Lakota teen, who in some ways is his total opposite. This is a coming of age story that deals with how people perceived the LGBTQ+ at the time and two young men whose lives are changed forever. Note: This book does cover some sensitive topics like racism towards Native Americans and how being gay was seen as a mental disorder.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

Wolverine Vol 2 (1980’s) Issues 45-47 by Larry Hama

These are here since I needed to read them before hoping into Essential Wolverine Vol 3. On Goodreads, I counted these issues towards the Essential Wolverine Vol 2 since, due to me not being able to get my hands on volume 2 through my library. Plus, I would rather have these issues act as one entry, so lumping it in with Essential Wolverine volume 2, I felt made sense since technically, I already read most of it with the second and third Epic Collection volumes. Which I noted when I finished.

Overall, I though these were solid enough issues. Not sure if I would go back to them, but it was neat to see Logan and Jubilee teaming up.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

X-Men Red (2018) Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

I wanted to read this series before I inevitably get into the 2022 X-Men run. From my understanding this, X-Men Gold, and X-Men Blue, were a sort of trio run with each one focusing on the Scott/Jean/Logan trinity. Scott is Blue, Jean is Red, and Logan is Gold. I read Gold, which had Nightcrawler as a mainstay and was a reason why I picked it up. And I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I will jump on Blue, at least at this time, but I may eventually.

As for the first volume of 2019’s X-Men Red, it was alright. The story itself made sense with the direction they wanted with Jean (focusing on her being a sort of spokesperson for the X-Men, the brief discussion on the Phoenix Force, and Jean seeking out alliances with Namor and T’Challa). I just wasn’t as invested/interested in this one compared to X-Men Gold. I’ll still read the second volume though. It was just kind of average for me personally.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Almost There by Farrah Rochon

Disney’s Twisted Tales are some really neat books. Acting as what if for the movies there based on, they generally have one question in mind. What if a different choice or event happened in the story? For instance, in Go the Distance, it asks, “What if Meg Had to Become a God?”

This one focuses on Tiana and Princess and the Frog. And personally, this is one of my favorites. Reflection is my favorite thus far, but Almost There is right up there with it. It was a good spin on the Princess and the Frog and it was interesting to see what direction it took. my only critiques, which I go over in my review, were one or two little things, but other than that, I thought this was a good read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams

I finished off September with Trials of Magneto. I was looking for a quick read and I kind of wanted to check this one out. Mostly because of the mixed reception and it no longer being a comic on my to buy list. So I checked it out through my library and gave it a read.

Now, I don’t now if it’s because I am slowly inching my way into the Krakoa Age, or if this is something others believe too, but this story kind of felt all over the place. One minute it’s about Magneto going on trial for possible killing Wanda, the next she’s not dead and interacting with her past, present, and future selves. And there is some kind of resolution at the end.

That said, I wouldn’t say it’s terrible enough for one star. And if I can give it anything positive, it would be that the art was nice and that there was potential for a good/interesting story. Other than that though, I just didn’t enjoy it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Conclusion

Nine books for the month of September. Some good. Some bad. Some average. What were some books you read in September? Thoughts?

Reflection: A Twisted Tale

The Twisted Tales series is a series that takes beloved Disney classics and gives it a spin with a single question. It currently has twelve books out ranging from several princess movies like Aladdin, Frozen, and the Little Mermaid (among others) as well as other Disney movies like Alice and Wonderland and Peter Pan, and has a thirteenth novel based on the 2009 Princess and the Frog movie coming out in September. They are an interesting what if type story on Disney movies, and I don’t believe they plan on stopping anytime soon (there isn’t anything expected after Almost There, but I’m sure the series will continue after Almost There, and I have heard a rumors about a Pinocchio book).

of the twelve books currently published, I have read three of them: Go the Distance (What if Meg Had to Become a Greek God?), What Once was Mine (What if Rapunzel’s Mother Drank a Potion from the Wrong Flower?), and the topic of this review, Reflection (What if Mulan Had to Travel to the Underworld?). I also have A Whole New World (Aladdin), Part of Your World (The Little Mermaid), Tale as Old as Time (Beauty and the Beast), and Almost There (Princess and the Frog) on my To-Read list.

Out of the three I’ve read, I’d say Reflection is my favorite. Not only because it’s based on one of my favorite Disney movies and my favorite Disney princess, but because I found it the more interesting of the three. However, I do love how Go the Distance explores the Hades-Persephone dynamic. It’s a lighter toned take on the myth, and fits the tone Disney would probably take with it, had they done so.

Synopsis

Picking up after the battle with the Huns, Shang is mortally wounded. The only way to save him is if “Ping” goes to the underworld, Diyu, to bring his soul back. While King Yama, the king of Diyu, is not willing to release Shang’s soul without a fight, Mulan is on limited time. With help from ShiShi, Shang’s great lion guardian, she goes deeper into Diyu to find Shang, and with the secret that she is actually a woman slowly coming to light, trust is called into question.

Will Mulan be able to save Shang? Will trust be restored? Will everyone get out in one piece, or will they be lost in Diyu forever?

Positives

The concept of this story was really interesting to me. Shang being mortally wounded instead of Mulan is an interesting spin on the fight in the mountain. And her going to Diyu to save Shang is a concept that I feel works and adds a nice extended fantasy element to the story.

While I am not as knowledgeable about Chinese mythology and folklore, I do think there is accuracy in Reflection. However, I’m sure anyone more familiar with Chinese folklore and mythology can confirm how accurate exactly better than I could. The most I know is aspects of Journey to the West, which is a well known tale and was what Dragon Ball took inspiration from (which, fun fact, has a character named King Yemma in it’s sequel series, who appears to be inspired by King Yama, who makes an appearance here).

I also like how when Shang learns that Ping is a woman named Mulan, I did like how it wasn’t immediately resolved. There was time to reflect on the trust that was broken and there was some work involved when forgiving Mulan. Because while I know Mulan’s reasons for lying were honorable, being for her father’s well being and safety, the bond Shang and the other soldiers had with Ping would certainly be called into question when it’s revealed that Ping isn’t actually Ping. So not glossing over it was good.

I also kind of liked how it addressed the Great Stone Dragon bit from the beginning of the movie. As I’m sure you may know, assuming you’ve seen the 1998 animated movie, The Fa family has a stone dragon on their property, referred to as the Great Stone Dragon by the ancestors. And when asked to awaken him, Mushu accidently breaks the statue.

In Reflection ShiShi, who is Shang’s family (animal) guardian, was familiar with the Fa family and their family guardian. Which just so happened to be the Great Stone Dragon. This gets brought up because ShiShi is perplexed by the small size of Mushu and expecting the Fa family’s guardian to be bigger and fiercer.

Critiques

It has been a while since I have read the book, so I can’t remember if I had any flaws upon my initial read, unlike some books I’ve recently reviewed. However, I do plan on rereading it so I can log it on Goodreads, so I may find something I missed. That said, I wouldn’t say it was flawless. If I had to think of anything, it might have felt a bit formulaic. It took chances and explored some interesting concepts, though.

Conclusion

I would give this book an eighty five percent. Out of the Twisted Tales stories I’ve read, this was probably one of the better ones. At least in my opinion. It was a neat way to approach Mulan’s story. It was interesting to see how they addressed the underworld aspect with elements from Chinese lore.

It was also cool to see how they addressed Mulan’s whole secret and the revelation that Ping was, in fact, a woman. As well as addressing one or two elements from the 1998 movie that never really got much discussion. And while maybe not a perfect story, if you enjoy Mulan, I would certainly say it is worth the read.