ComicsFebruary week one

Ms Marvel Vol. One: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson (Goodreads Author), Adrian Alphona (Artist)



I have been wanting to read this for so long! I actually held one in my hands for a while but didn’t get to read it. It was a Christmas present for my sister-in-law in Singapore and it was to return in my father-in-law’s luggage so I didn’t get to do more than make sure it was dent-free.

But yay! An Asian superhero (or superhero-in-training)! I was so excited to hear that!

While I enjoyed the butt-kicking (or attempted butt-kicking) and life-saving and all, the parts I loved the most in Ms Marvel were when she was just plain old Kamala Khan, teenager of Pakistani descent who lives in Jersey City and just wants to do what she wants to do. Her family, by the way, is hilarious. And so are her friends.


Ode to Kirihito – Osamu Tezuka



Tezuka is apparently the “godfather” of manga. He’s probably most known for his Astroboy series. But this is the first of his works I’ve read. I’ve not really ventured much into manga territory, terrified usually by the very many books that make up a series.

It has a fascinating story – a disease that deforms people, makes them look like dogs. One doctor is certain that it is not infectious, contrary to what the head of the hospital thinks. He travels to the rural village where the disease is centered and contracts it himself. And things just get worse for him from there on.

So yes, a dog-man. And in case that’s not enough for you, human tempura!

It’s kind of a weird medical drama/comic! Tezuka actually has a medical degree. He died in February 1989.




I do wish though that this comic was less male-centric. The women are wives, fiancees, daughters, nurses, nuns. The doctors are all men. So are the reporters at a news conference. And there is a rather stereotyped depiction of mental illness. Sigh. I guess that was just how life really was in 1970s Japan.

So if you’re willing to put that aside and remember this was serialized in 1970 and 1971 (published in English in 2006), Ode to Kirihito is an incredible read. Its storyline was very strong, very unique, and really quite exciting – and yes, very odd, very bizarre yet still somehow quite believable. I mean, it has all these weird things going on, yet he put it forth in such a way that it never really quite fell into “the WTF is going on?” category. Ok so sometimes that WTF category is worth venturing into, but I think in this sense, I appreciate how grounded it all seemed. I’m intrigued enough to want to read more by Tezuka.

Am I making sense? Probably not. Oh well, onto the next one!


Dancer – Nathan Edmondson (Writer), Nic Klein (Artist)


An average read. Not very memorable despite its dancer on the cover. To be honest I was hoping that the dancer would be the assassin and not the helpless girl being dragged around and used as bait. I mean wouldn’t you read a comic in which the ballerina is the assassin? I give this one a solid 2 stars. The artwork was typically moody and dark. There was something about operatives and clones that wasn’t very remarkable. Maybe if you like watching Liam Neeson in Taken 1 to 10 (?) this might be your thing.



See? Moody and dark and muted. (Yawn!)

However, those guns are lovingly detailed.

Pretty Deadly Vol One: The Shrike – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos (Illustrator)

I went into this one, as I do most books, not knowing a thing.

I read it in one sitting, closed the book and thought, I still don’t know a thing about this book.

Except that it is narrated by a butterfly and a rabbit skeleton.

And it has a vulture girl and death and a blind man.

Oh and it’s some kind of western.

But perhaps more importantly, it has plenty of female characters. Hooray! Plus it’s written and illustrated by women! Extra bonus points there!






Visually stunning.

Just left me bamboozled.

New York Five – Brian Wood (Author, Illustrator), Ryan Kelly (Illustrator)

Apparently I read New York Four. I don’t remember anything about it, but as I read this one, I realized that yes, there was something familiar about the girls and the setting. It’s an ode to New York City, this comic.

Four was about these four girls’ freshman year in New York City. Five is about the same four girls, this time, a year older, and a little bit wiser (not really).

This is one of my favourite illustrations in the comic. I really like the use of black and white here.




Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black – Karl Bollers, Justin Gabrie (Editor), Rick Leonardi (Illustrator), Larry Stroman (Illustrator)


John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, re-envisioned as African-Americans living in Harlem. There’s even Mrs Hudson and Mycroft! Watson is an overworked ER intern and an Afghanistan war veteran. Holmes is a know-everything, fedora-and-dreads kind of Sherlock. It’s a fresh and interesting take on this well-known duo. And their version of Inspector Lestrade is a woman known as Leslie Stroud (a bit cringey that one). The artwork is dark and gritty, and there’s some exciting action sequences. Nicely done.



Rose and Isabel – Ted Mathot


And yet another different perspective on things, this time the American Civil War. Rose and Isabel leave their farm to search for their three brothers who have gone missing while fighting for the Union Army.

They slash and slice, are expert archers and swordswomen. Is there nothing they can’t do? Well, Isabel finds it hard to control Rose, to make sure she doesn’t go over the edge.

The illustrations are in black and white. And a lot of grey so it is at times a little hard for this non-American to figure out who’s who in the battle. But it is action-packed, exciting, also sad as they realize that to get to their brothers they have to kill or at least maim many men. And just so very refreshing to have two women fighting their way through a battle. On their own accord. Dressed like men sure, but at least it’s not some skintight catsuit!

Something else awe-inspiring is that Ted Mathot, who is a story supervisor at Pixar, self-publishes his books. They (yes there are sequels!) are available for purchase online here.  



IMG_4983It begins with women warriors in history/myth! Awesome!

I can’t wait to read more comics!


Let’s explore Cooking Manga!

One thing I was hoping to do this month is to read some manga. And what better way to start than with Cooking Manga!

I’ve yet to read any of these but they look like such fun.


Bambino! – Tetsuji Sekiya
Pasta!! I like how that pasta looks like it’s coming out of the cover. That is promising.

Shogo Ban, a college student from Fukuoka, likes to cook. Thanks to the owner of the restaurant where he works part-time, he finds himself working at the line of Roppongi’s best Italian restaurant, Trattoria Baccanale, and discovers that the real deal isn’t quite as easy as he’d thought. The manga follows Ban as he struggles to keep up with the hectic workload and his co-workers, along with issues outside the kitchen like his relationship with his girlfriend Eri, who he left behind in Fukuoka.

Chuuka Ichiban – Etsushi Ogawa

Hello! This is how you know it’s a cooking manga, I am holding a cleaver that’s bigger than my head. I must be a great chef!

“After the death of Mao’s mother, who was called the “Fairy of Cuisine”, Mao must strive to become a legendary chef himself, in order to take the title as head chef at his mother’s restaurant. To do this, he must travel to China to learn the many ways of cooking. During his journey, he meets great friends and also fierce rivals.”

Cooking Papa – Tochi Ueyama

This one sounds like fun – a salaryman who cooks! And recipes!

The artist sure is taking that literally on the cover…

Araiwa Kazumi is an energetic salaryman who is able to perfectly manage his responsibilities at work and at home. Kazumi is also a fantastic chef, though many of his coworkers are unaware of it. His wife Nijiko, who works as a journalist, has a bit of trouble making time for her home life. However, she tries to always be a cheerful mother. With their son Makoto, who is 7 at the beginning of the story, they have a very happy family. This is a story that follows the Araiwa household and their delight with delicious food. Cooking instructions are also often included throughout the story.

Delicious! – Yui Ayumi

I tried to find a good picture of the covers. Apparently not very many can be found. They are also annoyingly cutesy. You are better off not seeing them.

Ringo Nonohara’s dream is to become a star. Although she can’t cook, she tries out for the lead in a cooking show called “Delicious Time,” which will also be starring the star she idolizes, Mahito Ishizaka. When she discovers that the final stage of the competition will mean she has to prepare a dish, however, Ringo calls on her good friend, chef, and next-door-neighbor, Tsutsui Kazuomi. Thanks to Kazuomi’s help and her own cute persona, she is chosen for “Delicious Time.” Thus begin trials as Ringo tries to become a star.

Food Wars!, Vol. 1: Shokugeki no Soma – Yuuto Tsukuda, Shun Saeki (Illustrator)

This one is about an elite cooking school. Fun! Plus the characters actually look like they could be real people!


Soma Yukihira’s old man runs a small family restaurant in the less savory end of town. Aiming to one day surpass his father’s culinary prowess, Soma hones his skills day in and day out until one day, out of the blue, his father decides to enroll Soma in a classy culinary school! Can Soma really cut it in a school that prides itself on a 10 percent graduation rate? And cacn he convince the beautiful, domineering heiress of the school that he belongs there at all?!

Iron Wok Jan – Shinji Saijyo

Sounds like Iron Chef ! And another cleaver!

Hilarious use of the green pepper and tomato. Hey, is that why the Chairman bites a pepper?



Allez Cuisine!

Allez Cuisine!

Jan is a talented, arrogant young chef on a non-stop quest to become the world’s greatest cuisine master. He continuously battles his uppity rival Kirikol, —another talented chef, who is also the niece of the head chef at the top-class Tokyo restaurant where Jan works. In this volume, the All-Japan Chinese Cuisine Cook-off is down to the last battle between Jan, Kiriko, and Serene—and the final dish is dessert! What crazy concoction will Jan pull out of his bag of tricks?

What Did You Eat Yesterday? – Fumi Yoshinaga

This one is rather unique, sounds far less in your face than the others, the graphics not overly-cutesy, and it’s a comic about a middle-aged gay couple! And that notepaper-like background.


From award-winning author Fumi Yoshinaga comes a casual romance between two middle-aged men and the many meals they share together.
A hard-working middle-aged gay couple in Tokyo come to enjoy the finer moments of life through food. After long days at work, either in the law firm or the hair salon, Shiro and Kenji will always have down time together by the dinner table, where they can discuss their troubles, hash out their feelings and enjoy delicately prepared home cooked meals!

Kitchen Princess – Natsumi Ando (Illustrator), Miyuki Kobayashi

And we are back to the mind-bogglingly huge eyes and the heart-shaped face, long blonde hair and all. She even has a tiny crown. Awwww!


Najika is a great cook and likes to make meals for the people she loves. But something is missing from her life. When she was a child, she met a boy who touched her heart–and now Najika is determined to find him. The only clue she has is a silver spoon that leads her to the prestigious Seika Academy.

Attending Seika will be a challenge. Every kid at the school has a special talent, and the girls in Najika’s class think she doesn’t deserve to be there. But Sora and Daichi, two popular brothers who barely speak to each other, recognize Najika’s cooking for what it is–magical. Is either boy Najika’s mysterious prince?

Oishinbo – Tetsu Kariya, Akira Hanasaki (Illustrator)

Now this one looks more real-life type of food manga. Everyone looks very serious. Except for Mr Sideways-Glance over there on the right.

To commemorate its 100th anniversary the heads of newspaper Tozai Shimbun come up with a plan to publish the “Ultimate Menu”. The assignment is given to journalist Yamaoka Shiro, the protagonist of the series. With the help of a female coworker, Kurita Yuko, Yamaoka starts off on what can only be termed an epic saga to find the dishes hat will go into the “Ultimate Menu”.

Toriko – Mitsutoshi Shimabukuro
Sounds like Andrew Zimmern to me. With hair. Blue hair. And a devilish face. Those eyebrows!!!

Gourmet Hunter Toriko! This is the great era of gourmet food! And only Toriko can hunt down the ferocious ingredients that supply the world’s best restaurants. As a gourmet hunter, Toriko tracks and defeats the tastiest and most dangerous animals with his bare hands. But has he met his match with an eight-legged alligator the size of a tank?

Yakitate!! Japan – Takashi Hashiguchi

This is supposed to be one of the better cooking manga. At least the kid looks more believable. But what does that synopsis mean by ‘dense’?


Azuma Kazuma, an energetic and dense young man, was introduced to the art of bread making when he was six. He decides to take the path of bread-making and become a baker right after graduating from middle school. Through his travels, he encounters many rivals and found work at the branch store of the most famous bread maker brand, the Phantasia.

Yumeiro Patissiere – Natsumi Matsumoto

GAAAAHHHH THOSE EYES!!!! Look away! Look away before she steals your soul and eats all your strawberries!!!!


Amano Ichigo is incredibly clumsy and can’t seem to do anything right until she is scouted at a Sweets Festival by Henri-sensei, who acknowledges her ability of taste. Henri-sensei suggests that she transfer to St. Marie academy, which she recognizes as the school her Grandmother, a skilled patissiere, was enrolled at. Ichigo has trouble adjusting, but with the help of the three Sweets Princes and their magical Sweets Spirits, as well as her own Sweets Spirit, Vanilla, she gains confidence and is able to work towards becoming a fantastic patissiere.

Let me know if I missed anything out!

It’s Monday and I’m reading all the comics!

Hooray! It’s finally February and that means I can attack that stack of comics that has been sitting on my dining table ever since I lugged them home from the library. And it is such a good stack. Just look at it! There’s some classic stuff like Osamu Tezuka’s Ode to Kirihito and the graphic novel version of Peter S Beagle’s The Last Unicorn, and plenty of new stuff that I hadn’t heard of before but just pulled off the shelves because the covers looked interesting and because, hey, gotta make sure the library knows that at least one library user loves comics!

Anyway, last week wasn’t such a great week as it was my first week alone with the boys again, after their grandmother flew back to Singapore after six weeks with us. It’s not easy to adjust to that! Plus the Husband caught a cold and that’s never pleasant.

So last week was about taking things easy and going back to my cooking staples of pasta and noodles. Things that are easy to make ahead or throw together while the kids are watching Daniel Tiger or Thomas or Sesame Street.


But I managed to do quite a bit of reading, mostly during the younger one’s nap time. The almost-4 doesn’t nap anymore (sigh) but I make sure he knows it’s quiet time and he will play his Lego or his cars or look at books on his own, relatively quietly. And I can prep for dinner and sometimes sneak in a quick read.

On the weekend though we had lunch at our favourite Japanese restaurant. Chirashi for me please!


And picked up some pastries from that little French bakery with the expensive but so delicious croissants in Stanford shopping centre. The Husband also picked out this chocolate dome for me.





Girl Runner – Carrie Snyder
For an upcoming book tour. But so good!


Ode to Kirihito – Osamu Tezuka
For Comics February


Ms Marvel: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson

Because I have waited so long for this!


Love on the Dole – Walter Greenwood
A “forgotten classic”. I’m finally getting started on my Back to the Classics challenge!


Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
I realized last year that I hadn’t reread any books. There are so very many books out there waiting to be read, why reread? You might be wondering just that. But I don’t know, somehow I was interested in rereading this classic again. It is the book that I dip into when I’m waiting to pick Wee Reader up from preschool. It’s always on my phone and won’t expire. And it’s so comforting to hear about Laurie and Jo and Meg and Beth and Amy and Marmee!

Just downloaded:

My hold for Florence Gordon came in. It’s on the Tournament of Books shortlist.

I also just added John Scalzi’s The Last Colony (Old Man’s War #3) to my Kindle, a library e-book.


Made some oatmeal raisin-coconut cookies for the kids. And a batch of oatmeal-chocolate chip for myself. There’s oatmeal in it, so it counts as a breakfast item, right?

Black tea with milk

I have a hankering for Hainanese chicken rice so I’m going to crack open one of these pastes, stir it into uncooked jasmine rice, place some chicken on top and let the rice cooker do its thing. Then serve with stirfried leafy vegetables.

Also, some beef stew in the slow cooker, to be served with a couscous or mixed harvest grains from Trader Joe’s – love how quick it cooks up.

Noodles of some sort again. Maybe using the Korean sweet potato noodles, some chicken and lots of vegetables.


The Fall. 

It’s rather sickening to be honest…


Arcade Fire.

Last week…

I read:


An Untamed State – Roxane Gay

Devastated me completely.


Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber

I posted:

Let’s get graphic! or, how I got started with graphic novels and comics!

Library Loot

F is for Ferrante, Ferrante is Fabulous

More comics this Library Loot!

Yes! Two Library Loots last week!

What are you reading this week?




Let’s get graphic! or, how I got started with graphic novels and comics!

It’s Comics February!


Growing up all I knew of comics was the Archies. And, thanks to my Dad, a little X-Men.


Then in junior college in Singapore (junior college is kind of like the last two years of high school), some manga came into my life. My sister and I got interested in Slam Dunk, a manga about a high school basketball team. The anime version aired on TV and we bought the manga series, although it was in Chinese (I can read and write Chinese but not comfortably so this was a bit of a stretch!). My sister also adored Sailor Moon but that was just too cutesy for me.

And in between all that? I’m not sure!

But I can definitely say that it was Marjane Sartrapi’s Persepolis that pushed me toward graphic novels again. It was the first graphic memoir I ever bought for myself. It might have been sometime in 2009.

And since then my love for the genre has grown, as has the different types of graphic novels and comics available out there.

And there are many!

Here are some of my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE graphic novels. I hope you read them too!


Neil Gaiman has done some of his best work in the Sandman series. I’ve only added six of the books, they pretty much have similar styled covers. It has been five years since I’ve read them, and I hope to reread them some day!


Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? – Roz Chast (my thoughts)


Locke and Key series (Books 1 to 6) – Joe Hill

Creepy, weird, but just absolutely amazing. Not for everyone though. The Husband read the first book and said it was too macabre for him.


Strangers in Paradise (Books 1 to 6) – Terry Moore

I didn’t expect to love this one but I fell head over heels despite those horrendous covers. The friendship! The love! The bizarre former life of Katchoo!



Castle Waiting – Linda Medley (my thoughts)

Oh! Just thinking about this makes me want to borrow (or perhaps just buy myself a copy!) these books again. So darling, so charming.



But I Really Wanted to be An Anthropologist by Margaut Motin (my thoughts) tells of parenthood from the perspective of a high-heeled Parisian. It’s funny, full of swear words and even bits about shaving legs.




Another French one, this one about wine and comics! You can read more about it here

I love how you can find comics and graphic memoirs for just about anything these days.

Depression? Read Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney
Epilepsy? Read Epileptic by David B
Young love? Read Blankets by Craig Thompson
Did your father administer radiation to you as a kid? Read Stitches by David Small
Are you cibopathic? Read Chew by John Layman, Rob Guillory
Do you want to know what it’s like to bring coffee to a shivering Kate Hudson at a photoshoot? Read Relish by Lucy Knisley
Waitressed at a diner in 1970s California? Read Over Easy by Mimi Pond
Life in a weird-ass prep school for kids who all have the same birthday? Read Morning Glories and prepare yourself to be bamboozled!
Wandered what it would be like if all the men (but one) on Earth were wiped out? Read Y the Last Man

Then there’s the way that graphic novels/memoirs can take you armchair traveling. With illustrations!

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert takes you to Afghanistan
A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached takes place in Lebanon
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang brings you to China during the Boxer Rebellion
Rutu Modan’s The Property is set in Poland
March by John Robert Lewis is the story of the civil rights movement, beginning in Alabama

Guy DeLisle’s works – Guy DeLisle’s wife works for Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors without Borders so they’ve ended up in countries like Myanmar and Jerusalem, which he chronicles in his funny graphic memoirs. He’s also written about his stays in Pyongyang and Shenzhen (which I’ve yet to read). Delisle, who is from Quebec, writes in French but his books have been translated into many languages.

There is so much more!

Fables and its offshoots! Unfortunately I never got very far with Fables as my library’s collection is rather scattered. But it is delightful.

I’ve just started on Saga, and it is bold and such fun. It’s by the guy who did Y the Last Man.

I love how some of my favourite shows continue on in comic form. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8. And in Serenity, the short-lived Firefly gets a second chance of sorts.

I’m sure I’ve left out so very many wonderful ones, but this post is getting a little out of hand.

What are some of your favourite comics/graphic novels? I’d love to add to my list!

Library Loot

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.


Ok now I am all set for Comics February!



a + e 4ever – I. Merey


Asher Machnik is a teenage boy cursed with a beautiful androgynous face. Guys punch him, girls slag him and by high school he’s developed an intense fear of being touched. Art remains his only escape from an otherwise emotionally empty life. Eulalie Mason is the lonely, tough-talking dyke from school who befriends Ash. The only one to see and accept all of his sides as a loner, a fellow artist and a best friend, she’s starting to wonder if ash is ever going to see all of her…. a + e 4EVER is a graphic novel set in that ambiguous crossroads where love and friendship, boy and girl, straight and gay meet. It goes where few books have ventured, into genderqueer life, where affections aren’t black and white.

Ms Marvel Vol 1: No Normal – G. Willow Wilson



Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City — until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them, as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, New York!

The Shadow Hero – story by Gene Luen Yang ; art by Sonny Liew ; lettering by Janice Chiang

Another one I am SO EXCITED to get my hands on!!


The Shadow Hero is based on golden-age comic series The Green Turtle, whose hero solved crimes and fought injustice just like any other comics hero. But this mysterious masked crusader was hiding more than your run-of-the-mill secret identity…The Green Turtle was the first Asian American superhero.

Now, exactly seventy years later, New York Times-bestselling author Gene Luen Yang has revived this nearly forgotten, pioneering character in a new graphic novel that creates an origin story for the golden-age Green Turtle.

With artwork by the unmatched Sonny Liew, this hilarious and insightful graphic novel about heroism and heritage is also a loving tribute to the long, rich tradition of American superhero comics.

Vietnamerica : a family’s journey / written and illustrated by GB Tran

I found this one when searching my library’s catalogue for ‘graphic novels’. Why yes, I do that, don’t you?

GB Tran is a young Vietnamese American artist who grew up distant from (and largely indifferent to) his family’s history. Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past—and to focus on their children’s future. It was only in his late twenties that GB began to learn their extraordinary story. When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, GB visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.

In this family saga played out in the shadow of history, GB uncovers the root of his father’s remoteness and why his mother had remained in an often fractious marriage; why his grandfather had abandoned his own family to fight for the Viet Cong; why his grandmother had had an affair with a French soldier. GB learns that his parents had taken harrowing flight from Saigon during the final hours of the war not because they thought America was better but because they were afraid of what would happen if they stayed. They entered America—a foreign land they couldn’t even imagine—where family connections dissolved and shared history was lost within a span of a single generation.

In telling his family’s story, GB finds his own place in this saga of hardship and heroism. Vietnamerica is a visually stunning portrait of survival, escape, and reinvention—and of the gift of the American immigrants’ dream, passed on to their children. Vietnamerica is an unforgettable story of family revelation and reconnection—and a new graphic-memoir classic.

Black Widow Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread – Nathan Edmondson, Phil Noto (Illustrator)


You’ve seen Black Widow as an Avenger and even an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. But on her own time she searches for atonement for her past as a KGB assassin – in ways of which those teams just wouldn’t approve. The Black Widow goes undercover in Russia, but from its cold streets, the Hand of God reaches out to crush her…and it is as merciless as its name implies. Outmatched by the brute force of a powerful new villain, Natasha faces her deadliest test, and discovers a deadly plot unfolding that spans the entire globe. From the Marvel Universe’s darkest corners, Nathan Edmonson (Who is Jake Ellis?) and Phil Noto (Thunderbolts, X-23) bring you a new series as gorgeous and mysterious as Natasha Romanov herself!

The kids’ loot:
I grabbed these in five minutes from the area where the librarians leave books yet to be shelved. I figure I’m kinda helping by borrowing them so that they don’t need to be shelved!

What did you get from your library this week?