The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named by Nicole Sealey
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought for myself
Sometimes I impulse buy chapbooks of poetry when a poem hits me deeply, and that is the case here.
I came across Nicole Sealey through the poem Even the Gods and the analysis provided under Ordinary Plots. Even weeks after reading it, the words of it are still dancing in my head and living there rent-free. As Devin, see the linked blog post, explains, the word even does a lot of work in the poem but it was fascinating what it was trying to do and how much the little poem says in a few lines.
Everytime I read it, I get a little more, a little different from it, and therefore, I had to buy the chapbook. So I did. And I have to say not all the poems in it are as powerful, or at least not as powerful to me personally, but there are still quite a lot fo good ones and it was inteeresting to read and just try to see what the author was trying to say but also the way the words were used to say things. That is one of the things I enjoy of poetry, the use of words and how they can have a lot of meaning in a single one.
This is not a long post, but I do want to feature the chapbook because it is worth checking it and also getting the powerful poems in it.
I had read some of Tails of Magicat before on Tapas and when the kickstarter popped up I knew I wanted it. It did take a long time to get it, but the quality of the book is absolutely stunning. The paper is thick and gorgeous, the book is full colour and it is a chonky one. And obviously the art is extremely cute.
It mostly follows the story of a little cat as he learns magic, makes new friends and explores the forest, plus slowly grows up. It is ADORABLE and made me both smile, and laugh and be emotional and the story is varied. For example, he goes hunting and makes frineds with a frog, and then he makes friends with his bullies and things like that.
Magicat lives with his grandma who cooks delicious meals and is the elder in magic to him, so she teaches him too. This means we get illustrated recipes throughout the books. The first one is just for carrots, but as the story goes through it gets more complex and with fancier recipes, including bear claws and a roast. Each of the recipes also features as part of the story so your mouth is already watering by the time you get to read the full recipe and then it even shows variations and ideas to make it more of your own at the end.
Honestly, it was a slow joy to read this one and it cheered me up plus it made me want to cook a lot too. I want to make those bear claws soon. I can highly recommend it, and if you’re interested in a cute black cat learning magic and making friends and taking care of his community, then you can buy it here.
Conspiracy of Ravens by Leah Moore, John Reppion and Sally Jane Thompson
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought a while ago and forgot to read it.
Conspiracy of Ravens is a bit of a gothic magical girls story based on the corvid family. And I mean come on that’s pretty cool as a premise. But does it hold to it?
We start with Anne who inherits her long lost aunt’s English mansion and a mysterious locket alongside a maid/caretaker. As she tries to decide what to do with her inheritance that is conveniently close to her boarding school, she starts finding a few other girls who also have mysterious lockets, and those lockets start unlocking superpowers related to each fo the corvid family birds shown in them.
However, no everyone that has superpowers is using them for good or even wants to be involved in this whole thing, so it is up to Anne and her friends to try to do the best.
I have to say I struggled initially to identifiy the characters because they all looked way too similar and changed slightly as the story developed, and as much as it was a fun magical girl story it had a few holes in it I couldn’t see why they were there.
I did like the powers they get from each bird and the mini stories of each of the characters, but they felt missing and rushed and at times it was all over the place, more like it should have been several volumes or stories rather than compile it into a single one, or maybe not add as much side stories to the main one.
So I guess it has room for improvement however I kept rushing through it once I got into the story. So if you like magical girls and gothic vibes plus a bit of steampunk and corvids, then give this a try.
Paradise Kiss was one of my first mangas I ever read and to this day I still love it. It is about a young student, Yukari, who is trying to find meaning in her life and is doing her best to fulfill expectations, until she accidentally gets “discovered” by a group of fashion design students who think shed make the perfect model for their final project.
The full story follows Yukari and George, alongside the rest of the atelier and Yukari’s own friends and family as she initially rejects the proposal to be a model and then realises that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. So she “joins” the atelier as their model and starts spending more and more time with them, which also means more time with George, with whom she establishes a relationship.
The manga is full of fashion desing, lots of amazing looks, a lot of relationships happening and things going on and it is just a delight to read, or at least it was to me. One thing ot mentionis that George has an interest in sadomasochism and can be manipulative nad abusive at times to Yukari, but it is part of the story that their relationships develops as it goes. There is also the relationship of the other atelier members and how they visualise George.
Overall, it has a special vibe and the young me that wanted to be a fashion designer loved it, plus it explores bisexuality, has a queer character and a lot of representation and alternative ways of life that show that it isnt all one way to make it and way to live. On top of that, the story doesn’t end when Yukari models for them, instead it suddenly opens a world of opportunities for her and a modelling career, so it is a good interesting show of what choices one can make and opportunities that we take or not.
I cannot recommend this enough as a manga to read, however, as per above I do highlight that it has some interesting topics and some content warnings that are there for a reason. This isn’t all honey and fashion and good vibes. It has a lot of tough topics and a lot of hard moments.
If manga isn’t your thing, you can always go the anime or live action way. I have watched the anime a few times but still haven’t the live action. It is good fun and only 12 episodes long. And overall, regardless of format, it is a well contained story that shows many sides of a coin and about making choices and taking opportunities.
I added Flying Witch to my wishlist after Asha over at A Cat, A Cup Of Tea, And A Book talked about it, and as soon as I read her review plus the about of the book, I knew it was one I’d enjoy too.
Now, Flying Witch is a soft slow book, there isn’t technically a lot going on, or at least on in the Western fast-paced need for adventure and plot advancing at a high-speed kind of pace. Instead, things just slowly happen and overall there is little progress from Makoto moving in to live with her distant cousins and the end of the first volume.
And yet, I was happy to read through her trying to set up a garden, or figuring out what she actually wants to do beyond follow the path to becoming a full-fledged witch. There is the fact that her sense of direction is apalling and therefore, small hiccups and fun things happen on her day to day, plus there is also her little cousin who is a bit confused and surprised about Makoto being a witch. Plus there is obviously some excitement about magic.
Overall, it is a soft hedge witch story with slow pace and a lot of day to day little things that suddenly build up a bigger nicer thing. A good soft Ghibli vibe with a little less intense moments and more of smaller moments building up to a bigger one. It feels like a softer more Japanese version of Kiki’s Delivery Service, with a slightly older witch and family receiving her rather than just selecting a completely new city.
Partly, the relationships between Makoto and her cousins and family is what adds a nice flavour to this story and enriches it with new things to explore including dynamics of how to settle into a new house with family and not disrupt too much but also how to accommodate for a budding witch trying to find her way in the world.
Recommended for fans of Kiki’s Delivery Service, lovers of slow soft stories and magic, and overall if you want a feel-good story.
Ok, this was an impulse buy. I saw the Yoshi had a sale a while back, wanted some prints, bought some prints, found there was a collection titled Foxy Fashions and well, there was a book with all the illustrations, and it was on sale, so obviously I had to have it. Come on, it says “foxy” and it is about fashion. It was utterly irresistible for me.
The book is a collection of fashions seen through Yoshis eyes per era/type and with the wearers having their face masked by fox masks. It is gorgeous and honestly if you check the store and see some of the prints youll find the joy of just flicking through this book and revelling in it.
All I can do is share my favourite page and say that I recommend it because it is stunning!
Luna Loves World Book Day by Joseph Coelho and Fiona Lumbers
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought myself
Every year I browse the selection of books that will be available for “World Book Day”. The UK celebrates it in March which confuses me but apparently there are reasons for it, and I don’t need to get into an essay about them. Still, I browse books and saw this one which caught my curiosity and bought it.
I ahve to say the artwork is what wins in this book for sure. There are a lot of unicorns and cuteness. Sweet illustrations make Luna feel more alive and her story be what it is, you barely need the words to understand it. Which is why I was a bit meh about the words, the story feels a bit like it was written to fit and therefore wasn’t as well prepared as other books.
Now I have not read other books in this series, so not sure if that is the style of them, but I read enough children’s books to feel one that is a bit odd and just doesn’t capture the attention with the words. That was a shame because the story is about a little girl excited for dressing up but things keep going worng until thankfully she still manages to enjoy the day and love it as much as she can. That is in itself a sweet story and it was beautifully illsutrated.
Dress in Detail from Around the World by Rosemary Crill, Jenniger Wearden and Verity Wilson
Read before: No
Ownership: Bought second hand
Found Dress in Detail as I was searching for a more varied and less Western focused costume encyclopaedia. It was a gamble since I found it extremely cheap second hand and it looked like it’d have a lot of photographs on the details of patterns, embroidery and other items of clothing.
Let me say, this was one of the best gambles I’ve done in a while. Each pair of pages is a stunning set of information. On the right page, you get a photograph of the details, and on the left, you get one or two flat lay illustrations of the garment composition, almost like a pattern of the piece of clothing included alongside a description of where it came from, its history and a few other details. This is even better than I had hoped to find, as I bought it as a reference to draw and write, and that extra details page with the full item drawn is like finding a perfect treasure. I cannot convey how amazing this was.
The book is laid out to highlight in sections different parts of clothing items, starting with necklines, or showing buttons, and it shows the many incredible details fo each piece alongside a good variety of garments, if I remember correctly theres about 150 of them with a good variety of countries and periods alongside occasions for those garments to be worn. As I went through the book I was in awe of the amount of details, and everything in it.
This is exactly what I wanted, and now I wish there was one per country and their costume history which I find fascinating and would like to know more about it. Definitely setting it up as a source of inspiration and reference for future works.
The Long Way Home by Corrinne Averiss Kristyna Litten
Read before: No
Ownership: Requested. A free copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a review
Spoiler free review: Yes, but may contain hints about most of the story.
When Little Tiger UK sent the newsletter of new titles coming, this felt right up my street so I asked for a review copy and they gracefully provided me one. This does not change or influence my opinion of the book at all.
I breezed through The Long Way Home on a weekend afternoon, and it made me teary eyed. Lets start with the artwork. It is a soft palette that mostly conveys pink, purple and orange, and tones of it with some blue in there, and the style is soft with some pops of colour. It is delightful and gives a soft warm feeling already to the story even before starting to read the words.
And talking of words, the story is about a little elephant, Otto, and his grandmother, Nanu, as they go on an adventure. As we know, the saying is that elephants don’t forget, and going on adventures definitely means not forgetting the way home. But as they set off on the adventure, Nanu seems to be keep forgetting little things here and there, getting distracted and just not being herself as usual. And then she forgets the way home, and it is up to Otto to try to remember the way home, plus also put his explorer skills to the test and help himself and his Nanu.
It was a tender story that touches on dementia and Alzheimer, so it would be a story I recommend for children whose grandparents may be diagnosed or being a little “extra forgetful”, as it shows that one should be kind and cherish the memories but also, continue making memories, it isn’t that forgetfulness means the end of the story or of the relationship and that is part fo what the story tries to show. Plus encourages the young to help their elders as they struggle with new challenges.
Overall, a story to make your heart soft and your eyes slightly teary alongside lovely illustrations in full colour.
Ownership: Preordered a signed copy form Waterstones
Spoiler free review: Probably. Mild spoilers.
I have been enjoying branching out on graphic novels beyond my usual, and when Waterstones had a sale I popped this in my basket and then read it in an afternoon.
We mostly follow a sad ghost who suffers with anxiety and just sadness and is trying ot do a little bit more, dare a little more, so when they get invited to a party, after a lot of maybe yes maybe not, they decide to go.
Obviously it isnt a case of just going to the party and we see all the mulling and thought that go through their head, but at the party they spy someone else who is lonely and ask if theyd like company. Surprises do happen when you dare a little bit and well, the rest is more left to the reader once they get on the story and for me not to spoil anymore.
Overall, I liked it, but it does have a sad undercurrent not unexpectedly) so its a bit of a double edged sword. I think it is a bit undecided too if it is middle grade or young adult. Part of it feels older than middle grade, but the art style and the way the dialogue happens have a more middle grade vibe to it, so this is probably bordering both genres rather than fitting neatly in one or the other.
Art style is relatively simple since its mostly ghosts and just following the one character for a while, but it does keep you int he world and the dialogue moves it along. And itd be a good graphic novel to gift to someone struggling with loneliness and sadness. Not that this is a solution, but maybe a little bit of hope or to feel seen and identify a little with the characters in it.
Overall, it was enjoyable if sad, but I did hope for a little bit more and maybe that was more my expectations than the book itself, so who knows?