The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Publication Order, #1)

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Rating: ★★★★★

I vividly remember going to see the Disney film adaptation and falling in love with the world of Narnia and Aslan. I was supposed to read this novel in the 5th grade but due to Hurricane Katrina and Wilma I did not attend school for almost a month making it impossible for my class to devour the novel and see the film adaptation. Over the years I have always wanted to invest my time in the series and started reading the chronological order with The Magician’s Nephew which I thoroughly enjoyed but the desire faded until now thanks to the PBS: The Great American Read. I did my research and decided that I should follow the publication order.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobedeals with the Pevensie children (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) who have evacuated from London during World War II to escape from the Blitz. They are sent to live with an old professor and one day Lucy discovers an old wardrobe in one of the rooms and enters it. What she does not realize that the wardrobe is magical and now has transported her to the magical land of Narnia. She walks to a lamppost and befriends a faun named Mr. Tumnus who invites her to tea and with a change of heart saves her. He was supposed to trap Lucy and give her to the White Witch because Lucy is a human being who fulfills the Narnia prophecy.

Narnia has been living in harsh winter for years because the White Witch has claimed that she is the true ruler of Narnia and only the two sons of Adam and the two daughters of Eve can claim the throne and put an end for the White Witch destruction and Lucy safely returns to the Wardrobe to tell her siblings about all this revelation and they refuse to believe her. Time passes by and during a game of hide-and-seek Lucy enters the wardrobe again but this time around Edmund follows her and ends up in Narnia as well. He is in complete shock and is trying to find Lucy instead he meet the White Witch. She uses her magic to employ Edmund as a spy for her and orders him to recruit all his siblings and take them to her ice castle. Edmund is such f%$king spoiled brat and for me personally he is not a redeemable character at all especially how he deceives everyone and is a bit cruel.

Finally what makes everyone believe Lucy is when the housekeeper, Mrs. Macready is giving a tour of the house to visitors and they are trying to hide from her so they enter the wardrobe and all the Pevensie children are together at last in Narnia. They learned that Edmund had lied to Lucy and gives Lucy the permission to lead the way and decides to check up on Mr. Tumnus who unfortunately is captured by the White Witch. What is also mysterious is a bird guides the children to a talking beaver named Mr. Beaver who is messenger sent by Tumnus to protect Lucy and send the children to meet the powerful and mystical lion named Aslan. When Mr. Beaver reveals the details about what Aslan has in stored for everyone, Edmund escapes and heads to the White Witch castle where he becomes a prisoner to her cruelty. The only way to rescue him is meeting up with Aslan.

Out of all my favorite characters I have to admit that I have a soft spot for Aslan. A lion is one of the majestic and beautiful animals I have ever seen and the fact that he is a metaphor for Jesus Christ is both a powerful image and interesting concept. His conversations with the Pevensie children showcase major advice for them and he is the glue that helps put everything together. The children have weapons thanks to St. Nick and he is able to rescue Edmund. Except that the price of saving Edmund meant sacrificing himself at the stone table by the hand of the witch. Definitely got the whole Jesus crucifixion imagery and I still found myself heartbroken over it but knew like Jesus that he would be resurrected someway or somehow.

For being a novel that was written over half a century ago it still holds up today especially Lewis precision to writing and getting to the core of the story. I was never bored when reading this novel and I believe it is a great series for children and adults to discover. C. S. Lewis is not a perfect individual and there are some major flaws that I had issues with but overall it can be a teachable moment for children. I hated how Lewis was adamant in his writing to showcase his sexist views that women do not have a place in the battlefield. Lucy weapon is a small dagger and huge vial of medicine and Susan gets a bow and arrow. They never use any of their weapons except for the vial because they were too busy weeping for Aslan. I dislike how they relied on Peter to make all the decisions and dictate the roles for his siblings.

Another moment that I found annoying was how the children had forgotten about their life before Narnia as if it never existed and when they discover the lamppost again they cannot figure out why it strikes a sense of familiarity. The illustrations are fantastic and at times definitely helped providing me a visual when it comes to the creatures of Narnia and having it in color makes a huge difference. I cannot stress enough for everyone who reads The Chronicles of Narnia to pick up the Full-Color Collector’s Edition. Overall I hope the rest of the series lives up to this enchanting first novel and I cannot wait to discover more about Narnia and the Pevensie children in Prince Caspian.

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Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home

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Rating: ★★★★

Ever since Rainbow Rowell made the announcement that she was going to write a comic book I was immediately sold on the idea. Rainbow Rowell can do no wrong in my book especially in the YA department because her novels Eleanor & Park, and Carry On are one of my favorite YA novels of all time. Another bonus why I was sold with this comic book series is the Runaways was created by one of my favorite graphic novel writers Brian K. Vaughan. This was automatically a win-win situation for me and when I got this graphic novel in my precious hands I consumed it in a matter of minutes.

Ultimate verdict: A success with some flaws.

Rainbow Rowell made the claim that you do not have to read the previous version of Runaways to understand this new reboot of the franchise and she is right and wrong about that claim. For the most part I believe you can read this series without ever having picked up a graphic novel in your life but there are some key plot points that during heated arguments with the characters made it extremely confusing on the context that I have not read the Brian K. Vaughan version.

Runaways begins two years after our iconic characters had the epic battle with their villainous parents so now they are no longer teenagers and now young adults. As for the Runaways, the entire team disbanded after the death of Gertrude and for the most part they have moved on their lives or rather try to forget about the past. For Chase, he never gave up trying to find a solution to save Gertrude and accidentally pretty much brought her to our present aka the future with his time machine.

Nico gets involved in this time-travel mess and using her witchcraft magic wand cures Gertrude of her injuries and now she is alive. I feel like this drama got some major tips from all these 90s television revivals if I am being honest. Now that Gertrude is alive now what? Quite simple get the band back together. Well it is easier then it seems. For the most part Nico and Chase are on board but Karolina, and Molly are happy with their new lives and who can blame them. Even though these runaways were practically family, now Karolina is experiencing the joy of attending university, a new girlfriend, and Molly is living with her grandma and enjoying the 7th grade.

Basically all the epic fighting is close to nonexistence for this first volume and pretty much the title says it all. Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home is essentially the theme for these characters and we get to see the wounds that haven’t been left treated for many of our super heroes. Having Gertrude alive again makes each and everyone realize who they used to be when all this sh%t went down and who they can possibly become with the family reunited.

The grandma being evil was extremely predictable and creepy with her madness at learning about the runaways DNA sequencing. I did not much care for her character and Molly was such a pain in the ass in my opinion especially since she had always known her grandmother was up to no good and yet allowed her research to persist for all these years. Overall I am glad that the gang is back together and I look forward as to what will happen with these characters once the bad guys popped into the picture. I am definitely expecting high school drama to rise to the occasion and lovers being reunited.

The illustrations for this graphic novel was beautiful and breath-taking and that alone should get all the stars. The coloring and the illustrations made me glued to the page absorbing every excruciating detail about the characters, the locations, and the subtle background that helped foreshadow the plot. Rainbow Rowell I believe was the perfect choice for this series and I hope her creativity continues to flow naturally and make this new series an epic one. I highly recommend everyone to pick this graphic novel up and discover these fascinating and troublesome adults.

Thor, Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer?

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Rating: ★★★★

If you haven’t figured it out by now then it is finally revealed that Girl Thor is none other than Jane Foster. She is battling terminal cancer and refuses to use magic to save herself and since she has nothing to lose it suits her that she is worthy to become the Mighty Thor. Thor Odinson on the other hand is clueless that it is her which astounds me how stupid he is because if you connect the dots then it only leaves a small window as to who is the woman underneath the mask. Thor spends the whole chunk trying to figure it out only to end up back in square one. Besides that mini drama the main conflict for this final volume of this miniseries is essentially Odin wants Girl Thor destroyed and sends his robotic giants that are impossible to be destroyed.

Girl Thor at first has to fight by herself but Thor’s stepmother comes to the rescue recruiting Odinson and countless other Gods and Valkyries to show an example that Odin is out of his league. His absence had left a vacuum of power and since Frigga has been the leader of Asgard its bound to reason that she ultimately has the true loyalty of Asgard and it brings a riff between her marriage to Odin and the faith of the universe. Frigga believes that Girl Thor should be left alone because while she wishes Odinson to possess Mjolnir again for the moment the Galaxy needs a functioning Thor and this woman possesses something unique that separates herself from any other Thor.

The main plot was extremely short and for the last half of the graphic novel is full of annuals and short stories about Thor and Girl Thor and one comic from the Silver Age dealing with “What If” Jane Foster became Thordis. This graphic novel would have had a perfect score if it was not for that boring issue. I could not finish it for the life of me and it put me to sleep twice reading about Thordis. I do not know how people can enjoy comics from that era especially since the plot were extremely basic and predictable. When I realized that Thor changes into a mortal whenever he stops holding Mjolnir makes me extremely grateful that Jason Aaron eliminated that detail in this graphic novel and focused purely on the God aspect only.

The illustrations are off the charts for this graphic novel especially the transformation sequences for Girl Thor and Jane Foster changing back to her feeble state especially how the suit takes a huge chunk of her energy and life force. I am curious how long she will survive before she passes away. I believe her death will provide the reason for Thor to hold Mjolnir again because he will only feel worthy of holding the hammer in keeping the memory of Jane alive inside his heart and soul. Goodbye Thor miniseries and hello The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins !!

Paper Girls, Vol. 2

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Rating: ★★★★★

Finally I read a graphic novel that maintains the hype following the aftermath of the first volume. The Paper Girls escaped from 1988 only to end up in 2016. When they time traveled they bumped into the Adult version of Erin who is completely shocked as to what is going on. She is in disbelief that she is meeting her younger self and it showcase that something happened during all of this time-travel that the adult version has no recollection of this encounter and did not stay friends with the other paper girls.

Another important issue that arises is that one of the girls is missing. They discover an artifact that looks like an Apple TV and somehow the Adult version of Erin is able to unlock the device and search the contents. From messing around with it, she discovers that there is a route in place to the location of an abandoned mall and the younger Erin believes that this might be a clue as to where is KJ. The girls do not trust the older version of Erin but decide to split up and find their older self. That aspect of the story was definitely dark and heartbreaking especially with Mac’s future.

One thing I laughed so hard and it goes to show that I was fully absorbed into the story is when they are riding their bikes and someone has a sign on the front lawn with the slogan “Clinton for President”. Tiffany mentions like oh wow we finally have a female President and MacKenzie is quick to say, “No some lady is running, doesn’t mean she’s gonna win” Tiffany gets offended and asked, “How do you know? For all we know we could have 4 women presidents by now!” and Mackenzie’s response is AS IF . I was laughing so hard at the sad reality of how things turned out for this election.

While Erin is exploring this abandon mall with older Erin we get insight as to what happens when she grows up and for the most nothing really happens. Erin is not married, not dating anyone, still lives at home and works for the newspaper which may seem grim for many but younger Erin has no issues about it. In the process they are being watched and Stony Stream reeks of havoc as monsters have shown up because an Erin replica has surfaced to 2016 trying to find the Paper Girls and her time machine device magnified these creatures to Godzilla proportions.

When Erin retrieves what they are looking for in this abandoned mall it is a hockey stick that says do not trust the other Erin. The suspense is on and Brian K. Vaughan marvelously crafted that suspense making you figure out which one should Erin trust especially since these futuristic villains are after her and will not stop at nothing. The replica Erin suggests to the gang to come to the future as it is the safe haven to escape from the bad guys and reveals a bunch of time traveling concepts that start to make this story have a coherent sense.

The girls do not trust this replica Erin and dumps her back into her future and rely on the Adult Erin to save the day. The sky is pink again with the monsters and the older Erin sees that the 2nd location the girls need to travel is a crack in the sky. Luckily for Erin, her younger sister is a pilot and has a helicopter available to accomplish this task. Once they enter through this portal they find KJ but realize they are in a strange land and she was not the one who was sending them the message. Now they are stuck to discover where exactly are they.

Nothing good will come out of this new world and the devil omen carved into a mountain is a huge indicator as to what is going to happen next. The illustrations are marvelous as always and this second volume switched the narrative of it being like a Stranger Things vibe to more of a classic Sci-Fi Back to the Future meets Arrival universe. I hope Brian K. Vaughan keeps changing it up for each volume and I love that I am clueless as to what is going to happen. I leave these characters fates in Vaughan’s hands and I look forward to know if one of the paper girls will get killed in the next volume. Until next time…

Paper Girls, Vol. 1

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Rating: ★★★★★

Based on the reviews of my fellow Goodreads friends and family I understand wholeheartedly why they dislike this graphic novel series. I am biased because Brian K. Vaughan can do no wrong in my book. My introduction into the creative mind of Vaughan was in his series Y: The Last Man and I have not been disappointed since especially with Saga and now Paper Girls . Paper Girls = If Stranger Things had a baby with Back to the Future , Terminator mixed with traditional end of the world dilemma.

The story takes place in the early hours of the morning on Halloween night in 1988. We follow Erin as she gets ready to do her route as the paper girl in the Cleveland suburb of Stony Stream. She bumps into three other girls (MacKenzie, KJ, and Tiffany) and realized that they were the trend setters who paved the way for her to work as a paper girl and tags along to feel like she is part of this gang. Unfortunately the girls believe that a group of teenagers have stoled one of their walkie talkies and chases after them. This chase takes them to abandon house where they stumble what looks like a time machine in the basement. After that encounter all hell breaks loose.

These teenagers are actually from the future trying to escape from these adults and now the sky has turned pink, with monsters falling from the sky, and weird people dressed like something that came out of Star Wars who want to capture the girls. Another dilemma that arises is the girls retreat to MacKenzie’s house and discovered that a bunch of people have magically disappeared like as if they are living in the Rapture and MacKenzie’s step mother wants to kill everyone to save themselves. A fight breaks up and Erin gets shot in the end. Now they are trying to save her life and place their faith on these teenagers.

Fortunately Erin is quickly recovering thanks to these boys and she is able to learn a little bit as to the shit storm that has erupted. The boys sacrifice themselves to protect her and her friends and the only way out of this mess is by finding another time machine. The villains of this series do not truly make an appearance for this first volume but definitely will play a role in the upcoming issue. The girls get transported into the future and they stumble upon an adult version of Erin and that is where the comics ends.

Time traveling can definitely be a confusing plot to incorporate into these series and one of the brilliant ways that they try to solve is that no matter the invasion these people create they are able to erase it from peoples memories in a way that it does not affect their world and everyone acts like as if it never happen so no matter the damage that is caused in the end its like pressing the redo button except if you die during these crusades you do not comeback from the grave. I do not know if its because I am used to Brian K. Vaughan’s storytelling but I figured that the first volume was more about world building and feeling like you are part of the gang not knowing if they will live to see another day.

There is a lot of mysterious stuff that happens that will leave you with a thousand questions and I hope they will get answered as the series progresses. Overall the illustration and coloring is utterly beautiful and enabled me to get absorbed into the story. Even though I did not grow up in the 80s, I love 80s culture especially music and film so Brian K. Vaughan brilliantly dedicated his attention to detail and made it feel like I was actually living in the 80s. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope everyone is able to pick up a copy and discover this gem of a graphic novel.

Archie, Vol. 2

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Rating: ★★★★

In this new volume of Archie the main focus is on the supporting characters and less about Archie. Archie is trying to get on good terms with Veronica’s father and yet Reggie is being a slime who is trying to ruin Archie for a taste of power. Archie starts connecting the dots and realizes that he needs to patch things up with Jughead in order to get Reggie out of the picture. In a matter of seconds all the drama of the first volume just poof magically vanished with a hamburger. What I found myself disliking about this volume is that the drama is dictating the characters action and not much about the characters.

Betty is still in love with Archie and clearly he still holds a flame for her but what makes him go crazy over Veronica is the fact that she doesn’t conform to anyone and that blows up in Betty’s face in epic proportions. They participate in a talent show contest to compete against each other but in the end apologizes for the mistakes they made and the act of apologizing gets misconstrued for Veronica and Trevor (irrelevant love interest for Betty). Betty has a lot to learn in order to win Archie again and throughout this volume the readers makes the connection that she is willing to sacrifice her own desires to help Archie.

I am shocked that Veronica is annoying the f@%k out of me. I absolutely adore her in the comics, Archie cartoons, and even in Riverdale and yet she becomes the epitome of being a rotten spoiled brat. I honestly do not see how Archie could be attracted to her especially in the early stages of their relationship and she attempts a few times to make herself likable in front of his parents but it backfires. I enjoy that she rebels against her father and for being naive she actually stirs most of the drama that happens in this volume.

Veronica’s father makes a campaign to be the Mayor of Riverdale because he believes that he has a winning shot and it will lay the foundation for his political career and Veronica realizes that he has used her as a pawn. Fortunately in the end he loses the election and being livid by the whole experience he decides that the Lodge family is leaving and we see Veronica being forced into a plane and fly off to the sunset. The last bit of this graphic novel felt straight out of a classic romance film where the protagonist realizes that he loves the girl and rushes to the airport to make sure she does not get on that plane and then they live happily ever after. You know that plot? Well it almost happens exactly like that but unfortunately Archie arrived too late. Will Veronica ever come back? Or will Archie hitch a plane and ditch Riverdale?

Theres a million and one drama that I have not discussed in this volume and quite frankly its meaningless to the overall arch of the narrative. I still enjoy this series for the fact that it is Archie and it is definitely an updated version of these iconic characters. I enjoy that Jughead is acknowledged in this series as asexual and embraces it nonchalant. I am starting to see the web that Mark Waid is creating in order to get these characters to the point that it reminds people why they love Archie comics and I am curious what will happen in the future volumes.

Overall I hope Archie Andrews takes charge of his life and revert back to how he was the narrator of this graphic novel series. I cannot get enough of Archie and I am curious if Kevin is going to make an appearance and have Mark Waid make this more LGBTQA-friendly. I may be a bit too old for high school drama but it don’t stop me from devouring the drama of Riverdale High.

Archie, Vol. 1: The New Riverdale

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Rating: ★★★★★

To say that this brand-new updated version of Archie is phenomenal is an understatement. IT IS F@#KING AMAZING!! (Matthew calm the hell down). Mark Waid as the writer for this serious was brilliant at maintaining the core values of what makes Archie comic while bringing it into the 21st century. Archie as always is the main character and if you are familiar with the classic television show Saved by the Bell then prepare for ultimate nostalgia. Throughout the graphic novel, Archie is constantly breaking the 4th wall with the readers like Zack Morris does and it fits perfectly because we are learning about Archie’s world through his point of view.

Immediately we are thrown into high school drama at Riverdale High when news is widely circulated that Betty Cooper and Archie Andrews have broken up. Later on you discover what is exactly the lipstick incident that triggered them parting ways but in the end they try to remain calm and pleasant about the experience. Everyone is utterly shocked because Betty and Archie have glued to each other since they were kids and in high school that type of romance is viewed as practically soul mates. Archie is clearly not over Betty and is a bit confused about all this drama and Betty is still in love with Archie but there is something that is holding her back from resolving this crisis.

Jughead and the entire gang try to find ways at helping solve this dilemma and I gotta admit Jughead is the wise one out of the entire group. While Archie is trying to find ways at moving on with his life it doesn’t take much when the new girl, Veronica Lodge comes into the picture and its love at first sight. Archie is head over heels with Veronica and especially the early stages of their encounter she take major advantage of that which causes a riff in Jughead and Betty. Veronica does not deserve Archie in the sense that he is the perfect boyfriend to introduce your parents to unless he so happened to have destroy the wood foundation of the brand new Lodge Mansion.

Archie feels the guilt of destroying the Mansion and is partly why he acts like a dog on a leash around Veronica. When the gang plans of ending Veronica’s relationship with Archie fails badly the question of friendship and loyalty comes into play? Will they be able to patch things up and move on or is it the end for Archie and the gang?

The illustrations overall is mind-blowing and it helps that Fiona Staples put her signature thumbprint on this epic new series. If you do not know who she is or rather don’t recognize her then you will definitely recognize her illustrations as she has done the artwork for another beautiful graphic novel series Saga . Mark Waid gave a new burst of life into these iconic characters that I am obsessed now to continue the series. I did not have to go to the library today to pick up anything and yet I desperately went because they have the 2nd volume available on the shelf and I look forward for these characters to keep stirring the pot that is high school drama and see how they will grow in the upcoming issues.

I believe this new take on the whole Betty vs Veronica fiasco is interesting and I look forward to see whether Archie is able to decide which one he prefers to be with. I have a feeling it will be Betty in the long run but it is cute to see how Archie is warming up to Veronica. Overall I will admit that Veronica gets on my nerves as this spoiled brat and at times it drives me up the walls to wonder what does Archie see in her that makes me want to spend time with her? I could not fall in love with someone like Veronica based on the sole actions of her character for this first volume.

Betty is not the victim either and you can definitely see where she royally screwed up with Archie. She allowed other girls to voice their opinion on how she should look and behave around him when in fact nothing was wrong to begin. I understand that she is less of a barbie girl but trying to conform for someone is only go lead to room of disappointment for both parties in this relationship. It seems very childish the whole lipstick incident and then I forget this is High School! Of course everything may seem like it is a big deal when it fact it is not at the end of the day. Overall this was a brilliant first volume to kick off the series and I cannot wait to devour all the upcoming volumes!