Review: Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only V 2 by Cecily von Ziegesar & HyeKyung Baek

 

Title: Gossip Girl: For Your Eyes Only Vol 2

Authors: Cecily von Ziegesar & HyeKyung Baek

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0759530270

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Queen B has fallen off her throne and landed in Brooklyn (of all places!), where she’s sharing an apartment with V. It’s hell at first, but somehow they find a way to make it work – and B even discovers that she has some domestic talents she never knew existed! But now N and S are a couple, and heartbroken B’s desperate attempts to maintain her reputation have put her on "sweet" little J’s foul side. And when it comes to these girls, revenge is a dish best served HOT!
Can you take a little heat?

Review:

I will be the first person to admit that I hated the first volume of this manga series.  The characters rubbed me the wrong way, and I found the plot boring and trite.  Fast forward to volume two, and guess what?  I enjoyed this outing much, much better.  The plotting was better, Blair had to eat humble pie, and the rest of the cast were a little more agreeable.  I gobbled this up in one sitting, and now I have a new appreciation for the series.  I can hardly wait to read the next installment.  What a difference from my first venture into the Gossip Girl franchise.

Blair, Blair, Blair, you finally got a teeny bit of what was coming to you.  How does it feel to have no money and to see how the other 99% live?  Without your mommy’s AMEX card and access to your endless closet, you really had to learn how to rough it.  After moving in with Vanessa, you were even forced to share a bathroom, eat weird new things that were fried in fatty goodness and, horrors, you were recruited to do the cleaning in order to earn your modest vittles.  And best yet, you discovered something that you excel at!  Who knew that Molly Maid was lurking in your not quite pure soul?

I found this volume much more humorous, but mainly because Blair, who really is a Queen B, was the butt of most of the jokes.  Things don’t go her way here, and because I didn’t like her the first time I met her, I was overjoyed.  Go clean the toilet, witch!  Wear the same jeans twice in one week!  See how the rest of us do things!  lol – yup, Blair is one character that is fun to hate on.  So imagine my surprise when I actually started to like her by the end of the book?  I never saw that coming!

Now that I am in Blair’s corner (for this volume, at least!), I am looking forward to seeing her go up against her new adversaries.  While she certainly deserves to be reviled,  I now want to see her get her revenge against her tormentors.  Since she can be so mean herself, I am sure that she will cook up a tasty dish of vengeance pie.  I am just hoping that she retains some of her newly discovered perspective on life, but I have my doubts.  The next volume should be jam-packed with really bad behavior, and, to my chagrin, I find myself looking forward to it.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Highschool of the Dead Vol 2 by Sato and Sato

 

Title: Highschool of the Dead Vol 2

Author: Daisuke Sato & Shouji Sato

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0316132398

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Separated from the rest of the survivors from their high school, Takashi and Rei make their way through town, taking in the full scope of the sudden outbreak that’s turned most of the residents into undead terrors. Though the immediate threat of attack has subsided, their survival instinct is still on high alert. Among those untouched by the disease, anarchy is the only law, and when anything goes, Takashi and Rei may have to become monsters themselves if they want to stay alive.

Review:

It’s the last week before the Labor Day holiday.  This is a time for soaking up the last of the warm summer rays before the leaves start to change colors and the colder weather of autumn begins to settle in.  This is the time for brainless, action-packed movies, and caving in to the theory that too much thinking is sometimes bad for your noggin, I picked up the second volume of Highschool of the Dead to help usher out the last of the summer. 

Where to start?  Let’s see – brainless certainly fits this series.  It is a mindless festival of gore and blood splatters.  Oh, and impossibly large breasted women, but I think I already covered that in my thoughts on the first volume.  Takashi and Rei have split away from their friends because of a falling out with Shidou.  They race off on a motorcycle, each clutching blunt-edged weapons so they can pummel the crap out of any zombies they encounter.  Ignoring for the moment the fact that motorcycles are loud, noisy machines, they make it unscathed to a gas station, where they are accosted by a nut-case intent on kidnapping Rei so he can have his wicked ways with her.  And because he needs a chick to survive. Or something like that.  During this encounter, both Rei and Takashi discover that they enjoy beating the brains out of anything that moves, including cash registers.  Go figure.

After discovering that all of the bridges in town have been closed off and our little gang is trapped on the wrong side of all of them, Rei and Takashi are reunited with their buddies from the bus.  Naked bath scenes with large breasted bimbos ensue.  Again, I wonder at the intelligence of these characters as they cavort loudly and drunkenly with hordes of the undead searching for a snack just outside of their bathroom.  Since there isn’t really a plot, whatever, we’ll just go whichever way the rubber ducky floats.

There is a rescue scene, a Hummer running over zombies scene, and even police officers firing on frantic crowds of desperate people trying to escape becoming zombie chow scene.  The bulldozer squashing everyone in its path scene only got a few measly panels, but it’s here!  Flattening anything in its path, leaving human and not-quite human pancakes in its wake!

I am not a fan of brainless horror flicks, but some people love them.  Dean will sit in front of Syfy all day long, watching Mongolian Death Worms, Mega Piranha, and Dinocroc, one right after another.  This is why I read.  I am trying to avoid having my brain cells rot during the course of a Sunday afternoon.  Still, there must be an audience for these kinds of movies, because they keep making them.  So, in theory, there must be an audience for brainless manga as well.  I am just not a part of it.  Maybe if they added naked beefcake and a sausage fest, it would be more to my liking. 

Grade:  Ughhhh!

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Jack Frost Vol 5 by JinHo Ko

 

Title: Jack Frost Vol 5

Author: JinHo Ko

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0316126755

Recommended for Older Teens

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

With his friends in danger, Hansen puts memories of the past behind him and squares off against his brother. Though long-dead, Der Freischütz is still a gunman to be reckoned with, but Hansen has a secret weapon in store that could turn the tables on the deadly sharpshooter. As Hansen delivers his final blow, Jack decides he’s had enough of sitting on the sidelines and does what Jack Frost does best. But victory is short-lived as the head of the East District moves his final pawns into place! What does the mastermind behind this attack have in store?

Review:

Gosh, I’m embarrassed to admit this, but some volumes of Jack Frost go right over my head.  Only the frenzied battle scenes manage to save the read for me.  If there are lots of explosions, impossibly large firearms, bullets, and blood spattering in every direction, my baser instincts emerge and can’t help but keep turning pages at a rapid rate.  It’s like driving by an accident scene; you know you shouldn’t be gawking, but you can’t help sneaking a peek as you drive by.  I consider this to be one of my worst reading weaknesses.  As long as there is a lot of action, I can usually get caught up in pretty much any series.

Which leads to my disappointment with this volume of the weird and occasionally grotesque Jack Frost.  While there is some fighting, with the requisite gunfire, bodies, and imploding buildings, the action sequences are just not as compelling as in previous outings with the demonic Jack.  He doesn’t really get to do much here.  He’s a supporting player in Hansen’s battle with his brother.  Jack does make a few cryptic remarks about the Tailor and the Mirror Image, but his comments are more of a tease than the exchange of any real information.  Boo.

Ethan from the East District makes his big move and attempts to blackmail Noh-A into joining his side.  He does a good job of it, but the whole storyline there is predictable and not very compelling, and that’s my problem with this volume.  I didn’t get caught up in the activity playing out across the panels, which made me not care who won and who lost.  I didn’t feel any emotional connection with any of the characters this time around, unlike in earlier volumes where the characters’ backstories engaged me in the read.  This time, there are just too many characters cycling throughout the volume that I found myself getting more and more detached from their individual plotlines.

Though this volume of Jack Frost left me underwhelmed, I’m still invested enough in the series to wonder what’s going to happen next.  I am hoping that this installment is the lull before an upcoming storm of epic Jack fighting.

Grade: C+

Review copy provided by publisher

[PR] YEN PRESS LAUNCHES IPHONE APP WITH FREE GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER DIGITAL COMIC

{The San Diego Comic Convention is this week, and I’m starting to get some press releases from the publishers in attendance.  Here’s one of the first. I’ll have to give the app a spin.  I am curious about the 22 page Gossip Girl, Psycho Killer comic; the cover cracks me up.  Have you heard any SDCC news? Comment below and share.}

YEN PRESS LAUNCHES IPHONE APP WITH FREE GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER DIGITAL COMIC

SAN DIEGO, CA July 23, 2011 — Friday night at San Diego Comic Con, Kurt Hassler, Publishing Director of Yen Press, announced the expansion of their Yen Press comics app to include the iPhone and iPod Touch. As a special bonus, a free promotional comic and three chapter excerpt of the hugely anticipated novel GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER by New York Times bestselling author Cecily von Ziegesar is available through the application for an exclusive first look.

Cecily von Ziegesar’s forthcoming GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER (Poppy, 10/3/2011, 978-0-316-18509-7) is a gruesome and hilarious take on her iconic novel GOSSIP GIRL wherein the infamous socialites are reimagined as serial killers. To promote the release of the novel this October, artist HyeKyung Baek — who adapted and illustrated the GOSSIP GIRL: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY manga series — has created a special 22-page digital comic book preview of the book for fans.

Kurt Hassler said: “The concept behind GOSSIP GIRL, PSYCHO KILLER is brilliant and we knew we wanted to do something special to help promote it. HyeKyung Baek’s graphic interpretation will be a thrill for fans — if you thought these girls were bitchy before, this is just taking it to a whole new level!”

Read more

Review: Time and Again Vol 4 by JiUn Yun

 

Title: Time and Again Vol 4

Author: JiUn Yun

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0759530614

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

"After it’s too late to turn back, after it’s too late even to regret…only then, realization comes with great pain."
On occasion, life offers an unexpected blessing: a natural talent, a promising opportunity, or even a spot of good luck. But human nature will not be satisfied by simply enjoying the fruits of fate. When greed takes over and man exploits the gifts he has been given, seeking more power, more wealth, more than is his share, it can only end in tragedy…a truth Ho-Yeon knows all too well…

Review:

Despite being occasionally hard for me to follow, Time and Again is one of my favorite series.  The art is pretty, with dramatic illustrations that compliment the action taking place on the pages.  This series is full of angst, which is probably why I enjoy it so much.  There are so many intense emotions woven into the plot.  Both Baek-On and Ho-Yeon have tragic pasts, and Ho-Yeon’s is explored in agonizing detail here.  No wonder the guy hardly ever smiles.  He did the one thing his father told him not to do, and it gives him nothing but regrets.  And, ultimately, has him crossing paths with Baek-On, which I’m not so sure is a good thing for him.

I enjoyed this volume so much because it does spend most of its focus on Ho-Yeon, instead of just following Baek-On and Ho-Yeon on exorcism cases.  Instead of  each chapter featuring a cursed,  random stranger who is usually being bothered by malignant spirits because of their own greed or short-sightedness, Ho-Yeon is front and center.  Left to support his mother and invalid sister after his father is executed, he struggles with his feelings of inadequacy.  It’s hard to keep your family fed when your father was branded a traitor, and you’re hard-pressed to find a position of any consequence because of the taint on your name.  When he’s given the opportunity to use his sword to make a name for himself, disaster and heartbreak seem to follow.

Full of melancholy and told in quiet, dreamy prose, Time and Again is a compelling series that keeps me coming back for more.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: James Patterson’s Maximum Ride Vol 3 by NaRae Lee

 

Title: James Patterson’s Maximum Ride Vol 3

Author: James Patterson & NaRae Lee

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0759529694

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Narrowly surviving their encounter with Erasers in New York City, the flock is following up a lead on their pasts in Washington, D.C. But what they find waiting for them is…a home?! How will the flock adjust to a real school – one that doesn’t involve mad scientists and genetic freaks?

Review:

Maximum Ride is turning out to be a surprise favorite for me.  I had zero expectations going into the series, mainly because I haven’t read anything by James Patterson.  Sure, I’ve seen his books everywhere, but I was never interested enough to do more than pick up one or two of his titles to read the synopsis on the back before putting it down again.  Now both Maximum Ride and Yen Press’s adaptation of Daniel X are two Patterson series that I am really looking forward to reading more of.  Once I started this third volume of Maximum Ride, I could not put it down until I finished it. 

I think the engaging characters is the first thing that pulled me into this series.  I love Max and her flock.  These kids have some pretty cool powers, with the ability to fly being at the top of the list.  Their search for a place to fit in, and a desire to know who their parents are is also a compelling backdrop for their story.  What kid doesn’t want to fit in?  What kid doesn’t have an overwhelming desire to know who they are and how they got to be where they are?  This question is especially urgent for Max and her flock – they have all suffered at the hands of unscrupulous scientists, and being the subject of scientific experiments has left them all with emotional scars.

This volume has the kids taking a break.  After Fang is badly injured, the FBI swoops down on them and offers a trade-off.  They’ll make sure Fang receives the best medical care available, and the kids will have a place to de-stress, but they have to come clean about themselves.  Agent Walker gives them a safe place to stay, and before they know it, everyone is forced to act like normal kids.  Only that’s not so easy for Max and her family.  They aren’t normal kids, and they have no clue how to behave around kids their age.

I enjoyed this volume, because Max and company are thrust into a “normal” situation – they are enrolled in school.  I felt that I could relate to them all even better as they each struggled to fit in and not draw unwanted attention to themselves.  What would be a mundane day of classes for me is a minefield of uncertainty for them.  They don’t know how to trust anyone, and they are so accustomed to being on the run that school, and so many other kids, are an alien concept to them. Throw in the threat of the Erasers, and it’s a wonder that they can concentrate in class at all!

This is the best volume of Maximum Ride yet, and I’m looking forward to digging into volume four. 

Grade: A-

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: A Bride’s Story Vol 1 by Kaoru Mori

 

Title: A Bride’s Story Vol 1

Author: Kaoru Mori

Publisher: Yen Press

ISBN: 978-0316180993

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Amir is twenty years old when she marries her husband, a boy named Karluk from a neighboring village. Adjusting to life in a new household can be trying for any young bride, but Amir’s husband is eight years her junior! Amir was a strong, sophisticated hunter and horsewoman in her village, but though their villages were next to each other, their customs are very different. As Amir introduces Karluk to the foods and pastimes that were popular among her comrades back home, the warmth she feels for her young husband grows.

Review:

A Bride’s Story is a hard book to review, because in order to truly appreciate how special it is, you have to actually look at it.  Kaoru Mori’s art is beautiful and engaging, and it takes you to Mongolia.  Gorgeously detailed illustrations, elaborately rendered with stunning precision, make you feel like you are part of the story.  The finely etched costumes, rugs, and buildings give an added dimension to the story of a girl trying to fit in with her new family.  The drawings are so pretty that they actually took my breath away, and this book definitely deserves the first class production values that Yen Press has lovingly granted it.

Much like Emma, the storytelling is subdued and quiet, with events building on each other to chronicle the life of a young, newly married couple.  Amir is 20, and she has traveled to her new home, alone, and on horseback.  Her young husband, Karluk, is eight years her junior.  As Amir settles in with her new family, she has to learn new customs so she can fit in with her new clan.  So many things are different – modes of dress, diet, traditions – yet they share many customs as well.  Being an agreeable, if somewhat bold, young woman, Amir doesn’t want to cause any waves.  She tries hard to please everyone, and she quickly becomes part of the family.

Amir is a wonderful character, and I found that I liked her immediately.  She goes out of her way to make her new family happy, and she takes her new position in the family very seriously.  She is capable, too, and an accomplished horsewoman as well as a skilled hunter.  Her family is nomadic during the summer, while Karluk’s family has given up wandering with their sheep herds.  When they go in search of Karluk’s relatives, who still practice a nomadic lifestyle, Amir teaches him about the plains and about sheep herding. 

I don’t know how to express how I feel about this book.  I enjoyed it immensely, and loved the illustrations.  If anything, Kaoru Mori has become even more skilled than in her EMMA days.  If you liked EMMA, you will like A Bride’s Story.  This is an exploration of relationships and family more than anything else, with subtle dramas offset by the more mundane tasks of everyday life.   What’s amazing is the firm grasp Mori has for relationships, and how she makes even the most ordinary events interesting and compelling.  If you are looking for a series that isn’t about magic and endless fighting, but instead explores people and how they relate with each other, you can’t find a better place to start than here.

Grade: A

Review copy purchased from Amazon

[PR] TWILIGHT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, VOL. 2 WILL GO ON-SALE ON OCTOBER 11, 2011

{ED. – I enjoyed the first volume of Twilight, the Graphic Novel much more than I was expecting, and I have been wondering when the next volume would hit store shelves. Yen Press has finally announced a date!}

 

YEN PRESS ANNOUNCES

TWILIGHT: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL, VOL. 2

WILL GO ON-SALE ON OCTOBER 11, 2011

NEW YORK, NY (xx, 2011) — Yen Press, the graphic novel imprint of Hachette Book Group, announced that it will publish the eagerly-awaited second volume in the graphic novel adaptation of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight on October 11, 2011. Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 will be released as an e-book and in hardcover for $19.99 ($22.99 CAN) with a first printing of 350,000 copies.

A visually arresting retelling of the story that has captured the hearts and minds of countless fans, Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 2 contains selected text from Meyer’s original novel with illustrations by the talented Korean artist Young Kim. Kim’s unique artistic style which combines Asian and Western comic techniques are showcased in this black-and-white graphic novel with color interspersed throughout. Meyer consulted throughout the artistic process and had input on every panel.

“Knowing how beautifully Young Kim rendered the Twilight universe in the first volume, I couldn’t wait for this next one,” remarked Meyer. “Her illustrations of characters and settings gorgeously capture the world and are very close to what I saw in my mind’s eye while writing Twilight.”

Kurt Hassler, Yen Press Publishing Director, commented, “The first volume of the Twilight graphic novel was an utter phenomenon in the category, and the reception by Stephenie’s fans was absolutely overwhelming. It’s an incredible testament to the collaboration between Stephenie and Young Kim, and we cannot wait to be able to put the second volume into the readers’ hands!”

Stephenie Meyer has become a worldwide publishing phenomenon. The Twilight Saga’s translation rights have been sold in nearly 50 countries and 116 million copies have been sold worldwide.

Yen Press is an imprint of Hachette Book Group dedicated to publishing graphic novels for adults and young readers. Yen Press’ focus is primarily on licensed manga, but also publishes across the wide spectrum of the graphic novel market, including, but not limited to: original manga publications, original American comics/graphic novels, webcomics, licensed adaptations, and children’s graphic novels.

Hachette Book Group is a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the second largest publisher in the world. Hachette Book Group’s product lines include adult, illustrated, religious, children’s and audio books under the Little, Brown and Company, Little Brown Books for Young Readers, Grand Central Publishing, FaithWords, Center Street, Orbit, Yen Press and Hachette Book Group Digital Media imprints.  For more information, visit www.hbgusa.com.