Review: Cucumber Quest: The Doughnut Kingdom by Gigi D.G.

cucumber quest 1-- bookspoilsI nearly jumped with joy at the sight of this book on my library shelves, which made quite the show for my little sister accompanying me that day. This is just the perfect read to share with your younger sibling.

What happens when an evil queen gets her hands on an ancient force of destruction?

World domination, obviously.

The seven kingdoms of Dreamside need a legendary hero. Instead, they’ll have to settle for Cucumber, a nerdy magician who just wants to go to school. As destiny would have it, he and his way more heroic sister, Almond, must now seek the Dream Sword, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat Queen Cordelia’s Nightmare Knight.

Can these bunny siblings really save the world in its darkest hour?

Sure, why not?

It didn’t take all too long for this book to impress me at once. Cucumber Quest is the perfect combination of featuring visually stunning art, hilarious one-liners, and fully-fleshed characters.cucumber quest 2-- bookspoils THAT LAST PANEL MADE ME LAUGH OUT LOUD.

I appreciated how this book veered from the usual “heroic” arc and tackles often-used (ridiculous) tropes* from fairytales with creative and playful jabs. Cucumber Quest not taking itself too serious was a highlight, for sure. Also, the self-empowerment in Almond, the little sister, impressed me, as well, because who said little sisters can’t be the hero of the story. Through her character, the idea of a knight in shining armor is spun on its head.

Again, I have to emphasize the rich, dreamy, and vibrant coloring which makes for quite the visual to hold in your hands. I mean:cucumber quest 3-- bookspoils

cucumber quest 6-- bookspoilscucumber quest 7-- bookspoilsAnd:

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*Tackled tropes include:

  • The villain making those long speeches before acting with his fists.cucumber quest 4-- bookspoilsFirst, that “instant replay” is epic. Second, Almond is a hero.
  • Making the mission harder for the sake of Drama.cucumber quest 7-- bookspoils

Her self-confidence is both aspiring and troubling because it costs them dearly.

Screen Shot 2018-02-28 at 09.46.55There’s more to the story than meets the eye, and I’m forevermore shocked that it left of such a cliffhanger. Essentially this first volume builds up the ground for the upcoming adventures awaiting this group, and I’m keen on diving in.

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Review: Opal by Maggie Stiefvater

If you’ve previously read my reviews* for any of the books in the Raven Cycle, you probably know by now that I’m a huge fan of Ronan Lynch. So finding out about this short story dedicated to Opal, aka Ronan’s dream girl, had me beyond keen on returning to their world.

“She was to remember that she was a secret.”

Set after the events of The Raven King, this story, like all the best things, starts with a dream. And just like that, upon opening the first page, I felt like I had never left this world, even though it’s been nearly two years since I first read the books. It’s even more magical than I could have envisioned. And I have so much to discuss, so let’s start at the very beginning:

(Spoilers from here.)

  •  We’re back at the loyal Barns, featuring Opal, Ronan, and Adam, and thanks to Opal’s excellent eavesdropping, we get an insider’s scoop into their lives that just hits the mark of satisfied:

“She had to content herself with stolen glimpses through cracked doors, slender one-inch views of duvet and sheets piled like thunderheads, Adam and sometimes Ronan pillowed among them.”

I missed my sleepy boys…

  • Good: Ronan’s intent of dreaming up a better and safer Cabeswater. Watching him dream is always one of my favorite bits because that’s Ronan at his most vulnerable. Speaking of which, this delicate shared moment made my heart flip:

“The only thing that had ever made her blink away was when Adam had once encountered Ronan in the second-floor hallway. Ronan had been standing outside of his parents’ old room, one hand holding a cassette tape and the other clenched into a fist, and he’d been there for quite a few minutes by the time Adam climbed the stairs. Adam had taken the cassette from Ronan’s hand, working Ronan’s fingers loose and putting his own fingers between them. For a moment Opal, hidden, had thought they were going to kiss. But instead, Ronan pressed his face against Adam’s neck and Adam quietly put his head on top of Ronan’s head and they did not move for a long time. Something about this made Opal burn so furiously that she could not stand to look a second longer.”

As I read, all I could think of was this fanart:

  • Ronan cares so much for Adam, and you can feel it oozing off the page through the tiniest of moments:

“Ronan was less thrilled to discover Adam’s inventive way of travel. “What the hell, Parrish? I was just about to leave to get you. Who dropped you off?”
“I walked.”
“Ha ha.” Ronan’s real laugh did not sound like ha ha, but this was not Ronan’s real laugh. When Adam didn’t explain the joke, he said, “Walked. From where?”
“Work.” Adam had ceased frolicking and instead removed his shoes and then his socks before sitting at the round table in the kitchen.
“Work. What. The. Hell. I told you I was going to pick you up.”
“I needed to walk.” Adam put his head on the table.”

  • Bad: We were saved from seeing the raven gang disperse in The Raven King, but it’s pretty much unavoidable here… and I wasn’t ready.

“I’m coming back,” he said.
She tore up some more grass, but she felt a little less wobbly having heard him say it.
“I don’t want to go, but I do — does that make sense?” he asked her. It did, especially if she thought about how some of her dreamthing’s happy-sadness might have rubbed off on him because they were sitting so close. “It’s just that it’s finally starting. You know. Life.”

You deserve so much, Adam.

  • Good: Seeing things captured through Opal’s eyes was a curious experiment that I find this passage conveys best:

“Ronan was not there to tell Opal it was all right for this visitor to see her, so Opal hid herself and watched the lady stalk through the mist to the back door. The lady tried the doorknob and the doorknob shook its head no, but then she opened her purse and did something else to the doorknob and the door said yes and opened for her.”

To capture the otherworldliness of Opal I simply had to listen to this equally mesmerizing song:

If anything, this swift read prepared me for any and all future events set to occur next. I just hope the wait for the following book won’t be too long.

“There were no rules in dreams so you could try anything.”

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Review: Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughan

Saga, vol 8 7-- bookspoilsAfter the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.

Trying to gather together my scattered thoughts regarding this newest volume in the Saga series is turning out to be rather hard, so I opted for making this bullet point list below:

(Spoilers from here.)

  • The start of the journey took us to Abortion Town, after the unfortunate events of the last volume, where solid commentary was present in the precarious situation.Saga, vol 8 1-- bookspoils
  • This lullaby tribute to our most iconic babysitter, Izabel:Saga, vol 8 2-- bookspoils
  • The emotional bond between Hazel and “make-believe” Kurti. This is what this volume was truly about: focusing on fleshing out character-based storylines, which is incidentally how I like my stories best. Saga, vol 8 5-- bookspoilsThis moment of impact… She’s maturing at a rapid pace.Saga, vol 8 3-- bookspoilsThis girl has known too much loss in her young life.
  • Which then leads me back to Alana having to suffer through her miscarriage; it was utterly hard-hitting. Ultimately, she’s one the most formidable and fearsome protagonists I’ve encountered in my reading of graphic novels.Saga, vol 8 6-- bookspoilsHazel’s narration throughout was particularly grounding.
  • And last but not least, I have to mention that the completion of this volume was spectacular. I love how everything came together and connected seamlessly. Plus, the gorgeous artwork by Fiona Staples that brings the world and characters within to life.Saga, vol 8 7-- bookspoils

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Note: I’m an Amazon Affiliate. If you’re interested in buying Saga, Vol 8, just click on the image below to go through my link. I’ll make a small commission!