Rummanah Aasi
 In the 1940s a superhero named The Green Turtle was created by unknown cartoonist named Chu Hing. The Green Turtle didn't have notable superpowers but he seemed to be able to avoid bullets. He was an superhero, defending China in the World War II against the invading Japanese army. The story goes that Hing wanted his superhero to be Chinese but the publisher didn't agree and asked him to make his character white. Seemingly Hing was not happy about it which might explain why Green Turtle's face is never to been seen in original works, always covered with something; mask, his own arm, weapons etc. 
  Unfortunately, Green Turtle never made it in the market which left the legacy containing only few volumes of the superhero adventures. However, there remained unanswered questions about the Green Turtle: why and how did he become a superhero? Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew recreate the origin story of the Green Turtle in The Shadow Hero. Many thanks to First Second and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy of the book.


Description: In this origin story for the classic comic book hero the Green Turtle, Hank, the nineteen-year-old son of Chinese immigrants, resists his mother's attempts to make him a superhero at first, but when tragedy strikes he assumes the role of a caped crusader. Aided by one of the four spirits of Chinese mythology, Hank becomes the Green Turtle and sets out to rid Chinatown of the gangsters who have intimidated everyone for years and murdered his father.

Review: The Shadow Hero is a creative take on the superhero genre. Instead of a science experiment gone wrong which leads to incredible powers, we are given elements of magic, Chinese history, and mythology. Yang and Liew tackle and create the origin story of a lesser known superhero named the Green Turtle. In this graphic novel The Green Turtle is cast as an unlikely 19-year-old young man, Hank, the son of Chinese immigrants who own a grocery store in 1940s America. When his mother is rescued by a superhero, the loving but overbearing woman decides that it's Hank's fate to become a hero himself, and she does everything in her power to push her son in that direction. Though Hank initially shies away from assuming the role of caped crusader, when tragedy strikes, he's eventually inspired to call himself the Green Turtle, and fight back against gangsters who have been intimidating his family and many others in Chinatown.
  The action packed illustrations have a nostalgic feel to them and sets up the gritty/hard boiled setting of Chinatown. The text plays expertly with cliches and stereotypes about Chinese culture without ever becoming heavy-handed or obvious and actually gave the graphic novel some depth. I really liked the inclusion of the immigrant experience along with learning new things about the Chinese mythology such as the four spirits of China, one of whom allies himself with Hank's father and then aides Hank in help fighting the bad guys. The Shadow Hero is an enjoyable read and perfect for those to pick up while they wait for their favorite superhero movie to hit the movie screens.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language and some violence. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.


If you like this book try: Secret identities: the Asian American superhero anthology edited by Jeff Yang
Rummanah Aasi
 If you know of any young readers who need some adventure, action, and humor in their summer reading schedule, be sure to hand them Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand. I found the book to be a quick, fast, and enjoyable read and I look forward to reading more by the author. Many thanks to Sourcebooks and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced reader's copy of the book.

Description: Dorrie Barnes had no idea an overdue library book would change her life. When Dorrie and her brother Marcus chase her pet mongoose into the janitor's closet of their local library, they accidentally fall through a passage into Petrarch's Library -the headquarters of a secret society of ninja librarians who have an important mission: protect those whose words have gotten them into trouble. Anywhere in the world and at any time in history.
   Dorrie would love nothing more than to join the society. But when a traitor surfaces, she and her friends are the prime suspects. Can they clear their names before the only passage back to the twenty-first century closes forever?


Review: Ninja Librarians: The Accidental Keyhand reminded me a lot of the Indiana Jones movies except it features librarians and a really cool library. Dorrie and her brother Marcus literally drop into a strange new world when they crash through the floor of their New Jersey public library and into a library that transcends space and time. The siblings discover they have landed in Petrarch's Library, a web of libraries from different places and times, with doorways to ancient Greece and to their modern-day hometown of Passaic, New Jersey. At the Petrarch Library, "lybrarians" train to become agents, or "ninja librarians" as Marcus calls them, who go on missions to rescue imperiled writers, including Socrates. Dorrie and Marcus use their temporary stay in Petrarch's Library to become apprentices, learning swordplay from Cyrano de Bergerac and the deceptive arts from Casanova. I love how the author uses both historical and literary figures in the story. Those familiar with Cyrano and Socrates will understand the hints dropped within the plot while others will be intrigued to learn to find out more. I also really appreciate the author giving younger readers an inside look at the daily duties of a librarian which include reference, research, and cataloging amongst other things. The "lybrarians" aren't your caricature figures who shush you constantly, but rather people you want to hang out with and learn from them. 
  As Dorrie and Marcus attempt to return an accidentally stolen document to the archives, they uncover other secrets and mysteries. The lead-up to the kids' discovery of Petrarch's Library is a bit slow, but it allows you to get a better sense of the characters, but once Dorrie and Marcus are in the Library, the melding of fantasy, adventure, and history is enlightening and the story takes off. Dorrie is a smart, observant, wannabe sword fighter, who is struggling to build her self confidence. Marcus is an adorable and typical teenage brother: a mix of hormones, sarcasm, and obsessed with Star Wars, but he does genuinely care for his younger sister. I really like watching the sister and brother duo work together. I don't think you can have too many good sibling relationships that are in books. The Library is a vivid, well-drawn world that you wish would really exist in real life so you can visit. There is also a large supporting cast of characters that have distinct personalities and their special talents and knowledge seem natural. This book does have a feel for a series beginner, and I hope we get to see more of Petrarch's Library and more of Dorrie and Marcus.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4-6.

If you like this book try: The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein,
Rummanah Aasi
In an inspired collaboration, Kiersten White, an author of urban fantasies and paranormal, pairs up with artist Jim Di Bartolo to create a dark, moody, and mysterious hybrid novel. While it is certainly exciting to see authors experiment with the novel form, In the Shadows still feels unfinished and much left to be desired. Please note that this review is based on the advanced reader's copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley.

Description: Cora and Minnie are sisters living in a small, stifling town where strange and mysterious things occur. Their mother runs the local boarding house. Their father is gone. The woman up the hill may or may not be a witch.
   Thomas and Charles are brothers who’ve been exiled to the boarding house so Thomas can tame his ways and Charles can fight an illness that is killing him with increasing speed. Their family history is one of sorrow and guilt. They think they can escape from it . . . but they can’t.


Review: In the Shadows consists of two alternating narratives, one in prose and one in vividly colored, sometimes horrific wordless graphic novel panels. It isn't immediately apparent if or how the two narrative threads are related. As a reader, I kept turning the pages to see how these two narratives collide and I had many theories running through my mind as I read.
  The written narrative story is about two sisters, Cora and Minnie, who live with their mother in a boardinghouse in Maine. After spying on the town witch and getting caught, Cora blames herself for the death of her father the next day. When a mysterious stranger, Arthur, comes to board, along with two brothers from New York, Minnie involves them in the folklore of their sleepy Maine resort town, only to discover that they are in an evil place, surrounded by watchers, and in more danger than she could have ever thought possible. While the characters have distinct personalities, we only get brief sketches of their lives and I wanted to know more about them, particularly with the character of Arthur who drives the mystery and seems to know the answers but refuses to share them with any of the other characters and even the reader. Like the characters there are subtle romances that run throughout the story, however, I was never convinced of any of them since the characters were underdeveloped.
  For most of this slow moving story, you are wondering what exactly is going on. Though the illustrations are stunning and in color, I felt they were included in the narrative at the wrong time since the events in the graphic panels take readers across the globe and spans from the turn of the 20th century to the present, which is distracting because the written narrative story is only happening in one time period which is the late 1800s. As a result the graphic panels are more distracting, which is what I'm sure what the creators had no intention of doing.
  Though we finally do get some answers to the mystery we were introduced in the novel, I had many more unanswered questions such as how and why did the secret society start in the first place? Why did Arthur and his family only know of the secret society? Overall In the Shadows is an ambitious attempt at creating a hybrid novel, a combination of written and wordless illustrations to tell a story, but unfortunately it feels more like a rough draft storyboard rather than a novel.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some  minor language and disturbing images. Recommended for Grades 7 and up.

If you like this book try: Balefire by Cate Tiernan, Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink
Rummanah Aasi
Manga Mondays is a meme hosted by Alison at Alison Can Read where bloggers can share their passion for reading mangas. It's a great place to get new manga titles to try and to meet new bloggers. There are only three more volumes left in this series! I'm curious to see how this series ends.

Description: While Tsukasa recuperates from his amnesia and head injury, a fellow female patient takes to visiting him. This seemingly well-meaning girl soon becomes a rival to our beloved Tsukushi. Meanwhile we catch a telling glimpse into Sojiro's past and meet his first female friend. Later, Yuki uncovers a message from this friend meant for Sojiro's eyes only.

Review: Luckily in this volume we don't have too much melodrama. The sickly sweet girl that Tsukushi meets at the hospital is infamously known for stealing other people's boyfriends. Thankfully with Tsukasa reverting to his old mean, grumpy self, he is not in the least concerned with being in a relationship. I'm sure Tsukasa will get his memory back. I'm also sure that a huge break through will happen in the next volume but I'm not exactly sure what that could be. Meanwhile  Tsukushi is still taking Tsukasa's memory loss in stride. She is trying different tactics that might help spark his memory back.
 While the drama between Tsukushi and Tsukasa is happening, I became more interested in learning more about Sojiro's storyline. We are given hints as to who he was afraid to open up his feelings to and how he had lost the girl that he cared for. Yuki is still pining for Soijiro and plans to help him make up for his regrets. I only hope that Yuki doesn't get hurt in the process. Overall this was a fun volume and it doesn't end with a cliffhanger.
 
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language. Recommended for teens.

If you like this book try: Boys Over Flowers Vol 34 by Yoko Kamio, Kare Kano: His and Her Circumstances by Masami Tsuda, Mars by Fuyumi Soryo
Rummanah Aasi
 I've been interested in Greek Mythology for as long as I could remember. When I came across Kerry Greenwood's Delphic Women which retold the myths of Jason and the Gold Fleece, the Trojan War and its aftermath from the point of view of the important female characters, I knew I had to read them. Greenwood makes the myths come alive and provides a different spin on characters who were once thought to be weak and one dimensional.

Description: From Mount Olympus, Aphrodite, the goddess of love, yawned. Even perfection can be tedious. "My Lord," she called to Apollo, "Sun God and brother. Let us play a game with mortals—my power against yours."
And so Cassandra, the golden haired princess cursed with the gift of prophecy, and Diomenes, the Achaean with the healing hands, become puppets of the gods. Their passions are thwarted, their loves betrayed, their gifts rendered useless for the sake of a wager between the immortals.
Doomed, magnificent Troy is the stage, and Cassandra and Diomenes the leading players in this compelling story of the city's fall. Both have found love before, and lost it.
Will they find each other in the light of the burning city? And, if they do, can their love survive the machinations of malicious gods and men?

Review: What is stronger: love or death? Cassandra is the second book in the Delphic Women series featuring a new reimaging of popular female figures in Greek Mythology. As the title suggests, Cassandra is the focus of this novel as we watch the horrifying fall of Troy. Like Medea, Greenwood uses popular myths and new additions to the story along with well researched time period to recreate the Cassandra myth. Cassandra and her twin brother, Eleni, the children of King Priam and Queen Hecube of Troy, are a priestess and priest of Apollo the sun god. When a bored Aphrodite makes a wager with Apollo for a golden apple, the lives of Cassandra and Achaean healer Diomenes, called Chryse, are forever changed as they become pawns of the gods.
 Cassandra, as some of you know, is cursed with the gift of prophecy after rejecting to sleep with Apollo. While she can clearly see what will happen to her beloved city Troy, she cannot tell others what she knows. While Cassandra is growing and learning in Troy, we see Chryse becoming a gifted healer whose life is forever changed when he is called upon to treat his first love, Elene (aka Helen) of Sparta, the most beautiful woman in the world. Though she's married to Menelaus, Elene is nevertheless sought by many powerful men, and a war will soon be fought over her. When Elene runs off to Egypt with Cassandra's arrogant brother Pariki (Paris), the Achaeans have the perfect excuse to declare war on Troy even though they know that the Trojans would gladly have given her up had she not remained in Egypt. The story then follows the major events of the Trojan War.
  I was completely sucked in to this new story of Cassandra. Normally, Cassandra is depicted as the frail girl who harbors a horrible curse and eventually gets kidnapped, raped, and killed, however, she is a completely different person in Greenwood's version. In this book, Cassandra is a strong female character even in the worst circumstances. She never backs down and continues to fight against the gods. Chryse is an equally fascinating character who meets famous mythical figures and is passionate about medicine. Though their story lines are told in alternating chapters they eventually intersect in an interesting fashion. The ending of Cassandra's story was a nice surprise and I'm very curious to see how it pans out in the next Delphic Women book, Electra.
  The destruction of Troy is vividly illustrated and the settings come to life as their own characters in this book. I thought it was very interesting how Greenwood approaches romantic love as their are several relationships throughout the book. It was not uncommon for the people of this time to have more than one romantic partners. If you are a serious fan of Greek Mythology I would definitely recommend picking up the Delphic Women series by Kerry Greenwood. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong violence including rape and sexual situations throughout the book as well as language. Recommended for mature teens and adults who enjoy and are serious about Greek Mythology.

If you like this book try: The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Antigoddess by Kendare Blake
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