My Thoughts On: Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vende Velde

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Title: Cloaked in Red

Author: Vivian Vande Velde

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Year Published: 2011

Format: ebook

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Synopsis:

So you think know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species? Well, then, try your hand at answering these questions:

-Which character (not including Little Red herself) is the most fashion challenged?

-Who (not including the wolf) is the scariest? 

-Who (not including Granny) is the most easily scared?

-Who is the strangest? (Notice we’re not “not including” anyone, because they’re all a little off.)

-Who (no fair saying “the author”) has stuffing for brains?

Vivian Vande Velde has taken eight new looks at one of the world’s most beloved (and mixed-up) stories. You may never look at fairy tales in quite the same way again. – (Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

*Since this book is made up of eight relatively short stories, there is probably going to be SPOILERS here.

I’ve been eyeing this book for roughly a year or so, but I could never bring myself to pay the $12 I always tended to see it priced as and I wasn’t much for paying for digital books at the time (I tended to wait and see what I could find on promotion on Amazon for free). It wasn’t until I lent a friend a copy of The Changeling Prince, also by this author (and that I also have not read), and listened to her talk excitedly about it and how she read it three times in about the two weeks she had it, that I caved in getting this book. (It also helped that it was an special promotion in the Amazon Kindle store that month for $1.99). I am very happy that I purchased and read this book as I thought it was rather imaginative, especially since there are eight very different retellings of a single fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood.

1) The Red Cloak – This one is about a shy girl, who prefers to blend into the background, but one day her lovey-dovey dyes her oatmeal colored cloak, a bright, look-at-me, red. She is severely embarrassed about this, so when her mother asks her to deliver dinner to her grandmother, and since she does not want to hurt her mother’s feelings, she wears the cloak on the way, but in order to avoid people seeing her in it she walks through the woods instead of close to the village like normal. This proves to be a bad decision as she runs into some trouble with a woodcutter who wants to kidnap her and use her for ransom. This was a great tale to start off with! I loved how it did a reverse roles thing and made the hero of the original tale the villain and, to some extent, the villain of the original tale the hero.

2) The Red Riding Hood Doll – This tale was very interesting in the fact that Little Red Riding Hood doesn’t start off as a real person, but a doll. A young seamstress, who works with her mother, is unhappy and wishes for a child of her own in hopes the child will love her as much as she loves it. So, in a fit of rebellion the young seamstress, Georgette, makes a life-like doll with a red cloak. Still the doll is not alive, which prompts her to go to a field that she heard had magic powers and she makes a wish to give the doll life. This is a classic example of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ The doll, now a beautiful girl, ditches her creator/mother to go off with some boys. I did not like this tale as much as the first or some of the others as I felt Georgette’s overall reaction to the now girl leaving was rather bland. She put so much heart into making this doll and refuses to sell it, but when it comes alive and simply leaves, she brushes it off almost like it was nothing.

3) Little Red Riding Hood’s Family – This one puts even a more supernatural spin on the tale, it turns out old granny… well, she’s a werewolf. And Roselle (Red Riding Hood)? Yeah, she’s a witch. This one was probably my least favorite out of all eight of these stories. It had great potential, but just sort of turned into a frog at the end. The whole revelation about the grandmother was done poorly and what I mean by this is Roselle knows her grandmother is a werewolf, but before we find out of her granny’s full moon problem, and she enters the house and wonders what all the funny noises are and where her sick grandmother is – it is like she didn’t know at all herself. Not to mention she just turns a seemingly random vampire into a frog… What?

4) Granny and the Wolf – I really loved this tale because it shows how strong and kind people can be. Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, a rich widow, is supremely kind and believes one most show kindness to all. She saves a wolf, which subsequently follows her home, and it leads to problems, but in the end is able to keep the wolf a secret and chase away her gold digger suitor. I just really loved the grandmother in this one so much!

5) Deems the Wood Gatherer – This one is my absolute favorite retelling! It follows the woodcutter instead of Red Riding Hood or her grandmother and mentions other fairy tales like the Three Little Pigs and Hansel and Gretel. Unfortunately, for all the other nice characters involved, the woodcutter has very poor eyesight, and where he thinks he is helping he just ends up ruining the lives of those around him, except for the wolf’s. Those poor pigs… I really enjoyed this one because of that. Here you have this generally nice man helping others, but unknowingly destroying their livelihoods, and thinking they would have been lost without him.

6) Why Willy and His Brother Won’t Ever Amount to Anything – This one also didn’t leave much of an impression on me, like number two. It’s a very quick story about two boys Isolda, Red Riding Hood, and her family know and how they live to completely in a fantasy world that they don’t even really see the actual world before them. They only amount to becoming writers. This story just seemed lacking especially when compared to some of the others, but it did hold slight humorous charm.

7) The Little Red Headache – I felt extremely bad for the wolf in this one! He is so nice, yet because of the speaking barrier, he is unable to communicate is good intentions causing horrible misunderstandings between him and Little Red Riding Hood. He just wants to give her back her basket for crying out loud! I really did enjoy this tale quite a lot. I loved how it played on the wolf just being a misunderstood character.

8) Little Red Riding Hood’s Little Red Riding Hood – This is probably my second favorite tale and it has a Sleeping Beauty feel to it, I suppose. A fairy godmother means to part the gift of intelligence on a newly born girl, but accidental gives this gift to a red cloak, which she then gifts to the baby instead (do to her old age the fairy godmother can only grant one wish per day). The cloak keeps the girl out of trouble through the years, even though she is a total brat, and changes it’s form (lighter in the summer and thicker in the winter) when the need arises. The girl treats it like crap and it eventually slithers away when she unwittingly releases it from it’s bond. Loved it! It even has a very brief and vague reference to Superman. It was great that the cloak was very loyal and duty bond, but was also essentially trapped.

Sorry, that this review had a good number of spoilers, but I didn’t really know how else I could talk about this book. Overall, I found these stories to be very enjoyable and quick reads and would recommend them to anyone who enjoys retellings of fairy tales, Little Red Riding Hood in-particular. However, if you are looking for anything in-depth, I would avoid this work, as there is no real world or character building. They are just pure fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Comic Book Wednesday: Quantum and Woody #1

Welcome to another Comic Book Wednesday! This is a small, bi-weekly, feature I created to help share some comic love and say what I thought about the first issue of a series, why I bought it, and if I would continue it. Of course, since a single issue is, roughly, 30 pages these posts will be relatively small, but if a series can’t suck you in at the very beginning are they worth continuing?

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Title: Quantum and Woody #1

Writers: James Asmus

Artist & Colorer: Tom Fowler (artist) & Jordie Bellaire (colorist)

Letters: Dave Lanphear

Covers: Ryan Sook, Andrew Robinson, Tom Fowler, & Marcos Martin

Editor: Jody Leheup

 Publisher: Valiant (July, 2013)
Quantum and Woody were created by MD Bright & Priest.
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Synopsis:

Once upon a time, Eric and Woody Henderson were inseparable. Adopted brothers. Best friends. Brilliant minds. Years later, they are estranged siblings, petty rivals, and washed-up failures. But when their father’s murder leads them into the throes of a life-altering scientific accident, Eric and Woody will find themselves with a whole new purpose – and a perfectly legitimate reason to wear costumes and fight crime. Go big or go home, folks! Quantum and Woody are coming! And the action-packed, zeitgeist-shredding exploitation stunt comic you demanded is here at last.

(And, yes, there will be a goat too. Eventually.) – (Valiant)

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Why I Bought It:

I bought this comic because of the adopted brother dynamic. I’ve read many a story involving brothers or half-brothers, but nothing really dealing with adoptive brothers, so that really peaked my interest. Plus, there was a goat promised to come in later issues and I think it may end up being the Quantum and Woody superhero team mascot!

What I Thought:

(I did go a bit more into depth about certain scenes of the comic than I normally do, so if you like to be completely surprised when reading an issue the first time this may take some the surprise out. So, yeah, spoilers, I guess?)

The art was a bit inconsistent for my tastes. At the very beginning there is a flashback to Eric and Woody’s high school days and Woody looks like he could be in his early forties. There is also a point, about halfway through, where the facial styles just seem to change, I believe there was only one artist and colorist working on this issue so it just felt kind of strange. I mean, the change wasn’t that dramatic or anything, it was subtle, but still… I don’t know, it could just be the way the facial expressions are done. There was also two or three times were we only saw the whites of Woody’s eyes which made him look extremely murderous in one case (pg. 13, I believe, when he is being interrogated). I was just meh on the art really, yet I think my biggest reason for that was the facial expressions.

As far as the story goes it was okay, it wasn’t as humorous as I thought it would be and some parts left me going, “really?” For example: Eric is eating at a 24 hour diner and a man walks in, comes up behind a waitress and tells her to give him all the money, and no one will get hurt; Eric acts in a way I think most people would expect a guy like him to act – he incapacitates the supposed threat! However, it turns out that he is the boyfriend of said waitress and was only joking and Eric is kicked out of the joint and threatened by the waitress who says she will call the cops (I am assuming it is the waitress that says this as we only get a glimpse of the aftermath of the incident from what Eric says as he is leaving the diner). Honestly, who pretends to be an armed robber in a public place like that and doesn’t expect any negative repercussions!? Then there is a family photo that was taken when they were in high school after they got in major trouble for a fight that was shown throughout the issue, which I didn’t feel was as bad as the diner fight, but I thought it weird that they would take a photo then.

The rest of the story was decent. It had some mystery and some nice wit from Woody, but there was nothing that really blew me away about it. Quantum and Woody #1 was interesting with the fact that the comic started with what’s to come and ended with how they may have gotten said abilities. It was average overall, yet it just may have a slow start. I can see potential in this.

Would I Continue?:

I think I will give this series another issue, but if I don’t feel like there is an improvement I may drop it entirely or wait for the trade.

Comic Book Wednesday: Adventure Time Candy Capers #1

Welcome to another Comic Book Wednesday (Well, Thursday, I am posting it late. Sorry about that.) This is a small, bi-weekly, feature I created to help share some comic love and say what I thought about the first issue of a series, why I bought it, and if I would continue it. Of course, since a single issue is, roughly, 30 pages these posts will be relatively small, but if a series can’t suck you in at the very beginning are they worth continuing?

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Title: Adventure Time: Candy Capers #1 (out of 6)

Writers: Ananth Panagariya & Yuko Ota

Artist & Colorer: Ian McGinty (artist) & Maarta Laiho (colorist)

Letters: Hannah Nance Partlow

Cover: Magnolia Porter (Cover B – the cover above and the one I have)

Editor & Assistant Editor: Shannon Watters (editor) & Whitney Leopard (assistant editor) 

Designer: Stephanie Gonzaga 

 Publisher: Kaboom! (2013)
Adventure Time was created by Pendleton Ward.
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Synopsis:
A SUGARY WHO-DONE-IT IN THE LAND OF ADVENTURE TIME! Something rotten is afoot in the Land of Ooo, and someone’s gotta sniff out what it is! When Finn and Jake are suddenly kidnapped, Princess Bubblegum deputizes two of her most trusted citizens…Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun?! The crime movie homages come hard and fast in the Candy Kingdom that never sleeps, written by acclaimed cartoonists Yuko Ono and Ananth Panagariya (JOHNNY WANDER)! Don’t miss the newest hardboiled addition to the ADVENTURE TIME comic book family! – (Kaboom Studios)
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Why I Bought It:
I really enjoy Adventure Time cartoon on Cartoon Network, so I thought I would try one of the comic adaptions and since this one just started, was a mini-series, and starred Peppermint Butler, I thought I would give it a try.
What I Thought:
When Jake and Finn go missing the Kingdom of Ooo is in trouble, but don’t you worry Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon Bun are here to crack the case behind this mysterious disappearance and save the day! Reading this comic is a lot like watching the show (without the animation, of course) and I liked that about it. It stays true to the series and it’s source material. Candy Capers is actually reminiscent of the episode “BMO Noire,” in which BMO tries to find Finn’s missing sock through detective work – to some degree.
This issue, as I stated above, is what I have come to expect from Adventure Time. Humorous and out there. I find Peppermint Butler and Cinnamon to make a intriguing team: one is innocent and only wants to help, while the other is conniving and underhanded. I find this is a good time to mention that I have only seen most of season one in full and tons of episodes from other series (whatever I caught on Cartoon Network really), so I may have missed an episode where they had worked together, but I found this team dynamic to be a great collaboration so far.
The art is just like what you would find when watching the show and so is the coloring. However, in all honesty, I feel Adventure Time transfers better on screen than it does on paper. The animation just adds that extra something. I admit, this preference could just be because I am so used to watching the series. If you love the show I would recommend giving this comic a go. If you have tried the television series though and you disliked liked it, yet thought of giving the comic a try because it may carry a different feel – I would say avoid it. As I said before, this issue holds a very similar feel to that of it’s source material.
Would I Continue?: 
I do plan to finish this mini-series, but I don’t know if I will buy anymore Adventure Time comics. As I said above, I prefer it animated, but it still holds the Adventure Time charm. I don’t know. It’s 50/50.

My Thoughts On: Yoki Koto Kiku by Koge-Donbo

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Title: Yoki Koto Kiku

Author: Koge-Donbo

Publisher: Broccoli Books

Year Published: 2006

Format: Paperback

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Synopsis:

In the ancient House of Nekogami, sibling rivalry is a game of life and death. The family patriarch is dead, and his grandson Sukekiyo is the rightful heir. There’s just one problem — Sukekiyo is away at war, his fate unknown. Only one person can inherit the family fortune, and the triplets Yoki, Koto, and Kiku won’t let Sukekiyo’s fiancée, Tamayo, walk away with everything. With a fortune at stake, it’s kill or be killed as the Nekogami clan goes up against demons, thieves, and each other to protect the family — and the cash! – (Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Yoki Koto Kiku is a one-shot manga that has been on my shelf, unread, for about as long as it’s publication date in English… I don’t know why. I really enjoyed what I have read of one of Koge-Donbo’s other works Pita-Ten (I’m on volume four), so I had relatively high expectations for this manga. Unfortunately, it fell short.

The art is what I have come to expect from this author’s works – very cute and cuddly characters. I find the character designs to be very refreshing, like a spring time breeze carrying the soft sent of flowers, as it is very dissimilar to the other manga-artists styles I normally read. I will say this, if you don’t like chibi, super adorable, characters then the art in here (or most of this author’s books) is not for you.

The story, while entertaining, was very bland. It follows the course of the siblings as they fight over the family inheritance in order to achieve their own dreams and when I say fight, they are trying to murder each other. Not to mention trying to kill their older brother’s fiancé whilst hoping he dies in war, so he can’t claim the money for himself. The story is broken up mainly into four chapters, three of which focus on each individual triplet. This was a good idea in order to get the reader more invested in the characters, but it just didn’t seem to pan out. The chapters just weren’t long enough and though they were slightly humorous, they just had no development. I was left feeling like everything was disjointed and randomly strewn about, especially when you through in the fourth chapter which mostly follows a soldier who had mistaken Yoki as his sister. Overall, all I liked that chapter probably the most, but it didn’t seem to offer to much to the story as a whole.

So, while I found the art to be candy-coated and refreshing, and the story vaguely comical, it did not offer anything new to the manga scene. I would recommend this manga if you just won’t a quick, light read – something to entertain you for about an hour, but nothing so engaging that you will remember it for years to come. If you don’t read Yoki Koto Kiku you probably aren’t missing much, yet, as I stated, it is an easy, quick-paced read.

Rating: 3 out of 5