Review and Giveaway: Perfect Couple by Jennifer Echols

 

 

Review:

Perfect Couple sounded like a cute read, so I was excited to receive an eARC.  I had a couple issues with the story right off the get go, and they prevented me from completely enjoying the book.  Your mileage will probably vary.  When all was said and done, I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, either.  It’s a quick read that kept me turning the pages for an afternoon and I don’t regret reading it.

Read more

Graphic Novel Review: Food Wars! Vol 1 & 2 by Yuto Tsukuda and Shun Saeki

I like food so I thought I’d give Food Wars! a try.  I thought the first volume was okay, but it didn’t blow me away.  Soma’s family owns a diner, and Soma’s number one goal in life is to be a better cook than his dad.  I love this storyline; it kept me reading The Prince of Tennis for a long time (and I need to catch up on that one!).  I’m not sure why I find this trope so appealing, but it is one of my favorites.  The protagonist working to hone his skills, hoping to one day surpass the person who taught him almost everything he knows, yeah, I really like that.

Read more

Spotlight and Giveaway–Afterparty by Ann Stampler

 

Ann Stampler stopped by the virtual offices with a quick This or That as she celebrates the release of Afterparty.  Check it out, and then enter the giveaway below.

City or Country?

City. I like to visit country, especially country with a beach. But I prefer living in town, where there’s a lot going on. And especially in my town, where we have some many different cultures all mixed together.

About the book:

A toxic friendship takes a dangerous turn in this riveting novel from the author of Where It Began.

Read more

Graphic Novel Review: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Faith Erin Hicks and Prudence Shen

 

Title: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Author: Faith Erin Hicks and Prudence Shen

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

It’s only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club’s robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!

In Faith Erin Hicks’ and Prudence Shen’s world of high school class warfare and robot death matches, Nothing can possibly go wrong


Review:

I have to admit that I wasn’t too eager to dive into Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, and I don’t know why.  I think that the synopsis just didn’t grab my imagination.  A surprise day off due to power issues at work prompted me to pick this up, and I’m glad I did.  This is such a fun read, with plenty of humor to keep the conflict between Charlie and Nate from getting too intense. 

At the beginning of the book, when the cheerleaders were forcing Charlie to run for Student Body President, I just wanted him to tell them to go jump off a cliff.  He gets caught up in an election campaign that he wants nothing to do with, and it is destroying his friendship with Nate.   Nate only wants to win because he’s discovered that the Student Body gets to decide whether funding will be available for the cheerleaders’ new uniforms or his beloved robotics club.  Charlie doesn’t care one way or the other, except that the cheerleaders freak him out.  They are like ninja cheerleaders – they are scary and they get what they want, and what they want are those new uniforms!  As Nate’s war on the cheerleaders, and Charlie, by association, heats up, Nate doesn’t hesitate to pull out all of the stops, and many of the stops are embarrassing to Charlie.  The pony incident when he was little certainly didn’t need to be plastered all over the high school walls for everyone to see!  I enjoyed Nate and Charlie’s friendship, and how they interacted with each other.  Even when they were so pissed that they were driven to pummel each other, it was evident that they didn’t really want to ruin their friendship.  They are so different that they complimented each other, and I thought they made a great team.

When it’s apparent that the election isn’t going to have the desired results, Nate figures out another way for both sides to get what they want.  It requires working together, and the cheerleaders need mucho convincing.  Through all of the negotiations, it’s obvious that Charlie has a lot more on his mind than robots or uniforms.  He’s been having a hard time forgiving his mom for leaving him and his dad and moving to California.  He’s resentful of his dad, too, for never being home.  Charlie has a lot going on, and his way of dealing with his problems is to ignore them.  He is passive aggressive to both parents, and even though he wants to give them a piece of his mind and make them understand where he’s coming from, he just can’t find the words.  Instead, he hangs up on his mom a lot, and then avoids her calls.  I found him a very likable and sympathetic character, and kept hoping he would find the strength and courage to let both of his parents know how badly they had let him down. 

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a fun, humorous read about robots, scary cheerleads, and all of the important relationships in the lives of two unconventional friends.   Friendship is work, especially when you don’t always have the same goals, and this book captured the ins and outs of working through adversity through the magic of spot on prose and expressive illustrations.  Highly recommended.

Grade:  B+ / A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks, Creators of Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Please give Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks a warm welcome! They are visiting the virtual offices to chat about their graphic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can each of you describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

Prudence Shen is a caffeine-addicted, camera-toting work in progress. She’s never met a library book sale that wasn’t her jam.

Faith Erin Hicks is a small human from planet Earth. She is addicted to diet coke and making comics. She is always sleepy. Also hungry. Cats

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong?

Pru: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is about loving your friends even when they’re jerks, building robots, and how through teamwork and car theft, anything is possible. Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is also about how everything goes completely and totally wrong, and how sometimes that’s okay.

Faith: Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong is a graphic novel about Nate and Charlie, childhood friends and (in Charlie’s case, unwilling) adversaries in a school election gone horribly wrong. There are geeks, cheerleaders, evil plots and it all climaxes in a 50 page battle bot fight scene. You must read it to believe it.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

Pru: Nate and Charlie are basically the worst parts of my personality split across two people. The idea in general came from watching way too many battlebot highlight reels on YouTube, and having a deep fondness for teenaged romps and road trips.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Charlie?

Pru: Hesitating, uncertain, improving.

Faith: Tall. Depressed. Sweaters.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Nate had a theme song, what would it be?

Faith: Haha, I’m just going to take a wild stab in the dark and say Anna Eng by They Might Be Giants. I’m curious what Pru’s choice would be …

Pru: I personally think Marina and the Diamonds, "Oh No!"

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Charlie is never without.

Pru: $1 in change; something drilled into him by his dad in case he needs to make an emergency pay phone call, nevermind he has a cell.

Faith: His legs. … oh, that’s two things. His right leg.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Nate’s backpack?

Pru: I feel like Nate’s that kid who never has any cash, a working pen, or clean paper to write on. Probably all of his schoolwork is just filled with marginalia from incidental writing needs.

Faith: Probably a sports team uniform or some kind of sports-related magazine. A complete DVD collection of Saved by the Bell (although that would be hilarious). A note to his parents apologizing for his behavior. ;)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

Pru: The news, insomnia, and books I read as a kid. I was just rereading Farmer Boy this morning, actually.

Faith: My top three cartoonist influences are Jeff Smith (Bone), Naoki Urasawa (Pluto) and Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist). I also like animated shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Gravity Falls. Authors I like are Maggie Stiefvater, Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones and Stephen King.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to work?

Pru: I have to write at a desk or table, must have music, and it usually helps if I’m supposed to be doing something else that’s due on a really tight deadline, because that seems to be the magic bullet for actually getting me to write.

Faith: Diet Coke! My drawing desk! A good audiobook to listen to while I draw!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

Pru: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. If you haven’t read it, you absolutely must.

Faith: I blubbered like a baby throughout Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. That was an amazing book.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

Pru: Little House in the Big Woods is the first one I remember vividly, although almost everything I read between the ages of 6 and 8 were foundational things that would build into a lifelong love.

Faith: I was a pretty voracious reader as a kid due to growing up without a television. I honestly can’t remember what books really sparked my love of reading, but I remember what books really inspired me to want to create my own stories and especially stories starring awesome girl characters: the Vesper Holly series by Lloyd Alexander. They’re fun, awesome, Indiana Jones type adventure books, starring an amazing heroine, perfect for nerdy 12 year old tomboys like me.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Pru: I’m lucky enough to travel quite a bit. This year I’m hoping to get to Morocco and Shanghai.

Faith: … or drawing? ;) Draw and write more, I guess! I definitely should try and develop more hobbies. When I’m not working, I try and go outside (I like running), explore the city I live in (Halifax), and get fresh inspiration for more stories. I should maybe take up knitting …

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can order Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below:

About the book:

You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both.

It’s only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club’s robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course!

In Faith Erin Hicks’ and Prudence Shen’s world of high school class warfare and robot death matches, Nothing can possibly go wrong. 

Cover Shot! If I Fall by Anna Cruise

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I love the colors on this cover for If I Fall by Anna Cruise.  Very pretty!

In stores April 2013

 

Meg Calloway is at the edge.

Reeling from her parents’ sudden divorce, fifteen-year old Meg has never felt more alone. Her father is about to marry a woman she can’t stand and her mother’s only companion is an endless supply of alcohol. When Aidan Westwood, an older boy at school, shows interest in her, she grabs on and doesn’t let go, thinking he’s exactly what she needs to help stem her loneliness and despair. She quickly learns that Aidan lives a darker, more dangerous life than she does and the more isolated she feels from her family, the more willing she is to step into Aidan’s world.

As Meg drifts further from her friends, she tries to find comfort with a boy who is opening her eyes up to new things, none of them good. Will she listen to those around her who are warning her that she’s headed down a path of self-destruction?

Or will she fall too far…too fast…too deep?