And I’m back with another set of mini reviews. I might consider making this a thing.
This set contains two graphic novels, a comic book, and one manga, and all are great. I consider them all favorites and look forward to continuing with the stories.
The two graphic novels center on two of my favorite things: tea and dragons. The comic book is the third volume in one of my favorite series, and the manga is a collection of volumes of one of my favorite stories. Reading these were a treat and hopefully I’ll convince you all to try them too.
The Tea Dragon Society and The Tea Dragon Festival by Katie O’Neill (illus.)
Tea Dragon, book 1
Tea Dragon, book 2
The Tea Dragon Society introduces us to Greta, a young blacksmith apprentice, who finds a lost a tea dragon while at the market and returns it to its owner, a kind teashop owner named Hesekiel. Greta befriends Hesekiel and his partner Erik and learns from them the dying art of caring for tea dragons, small, gentle creatures that grow tea leaves from their horns. While visiting them, Greta runs into Minette, a shy, young girl who lives at the teashop who Greta hopes to befriend. It’s a sweet story about the beginning of a friendship. (Goodreads)
Although it’s the second in the series, The Tea Dragon Festival takes place in the past. It’s set in a village that has so many tea dragons that all the villagers share in caring for them. In this story, we meet Rinn who goes out one day to gather special plants for the villagers when she happens upon a real dragon, who she befriends. The dragon, Aedhan, is young for his species and was sent to the village to protect it years ago but has been sleeping on the job for 80 years. With the help of Rinn’s uncle Erik and his partner Hesekiel, Aedhan is able to learn what caused his enchanted sleep. It’s a charming story that also centers on friendship. (Goodreads)
Those aren’t the best summaries, but just know the books are great and you should read them. The stories are short but charming and although the characters don’t often feel fully fleshed out, they will still appeal to readers. I liked Greta and Hesekiel in The Tea Dragon. I loved Greta’s spirit and how elegant and mysterious Hesekiel seems. In the Tea Dragon Festival, I immediately liked Rinn’s grandmother, although we don’t get much from her.
Of course, the tea dragons are the cutest and most appealing things about the stories. I read the first book while having my morning tea, which I think was a great decision although it made me late for work because I refused to leave without completing the book (it’s only a few pages). Each book made me want to get a tea dragon and made me eager for more of the story. I do hope O’Neill will continue with the series. I’m curious to learn more about the world and the creatures in it. I certainly didn’t expect there to be different types of dragons in it apart from the tea dragons.
Although I enjoyed both stories, I liked the first one more than the second. But The Tea Dragon Festival was still a great read and the part where we see the cause of the enchanted sleep made me think of Avatar: the Last Airbender for some reason, which made me like the story even more. I also liked how diverse the characters are. I don’t often come across characters with disabilities in stories, but we get that in these comics.
I love it. I think it’s cute and it works well for the story. I consider myself a fan of O’Neill’s illustration style. Although these are the only books of hers I’ve read, I’ve admired the covers of her other graphic novels, namely Aquicorn Cove.
I also love the overall design of The Tea Dragon Society physical book. I love the endpages, the illustrations on each extra page leading up to the story’s beginning, the layout of the panels, and even the font used. They all work well together. I sort of wish the pages were a little glossy so the colors would pop more, but I guess the toned-down luster pairs well with these stories, which seem to exude tranquility and have a soothing quality to them.
★★★★★ The Tea Dragon Society
★★★★★ The Tea Dragon Festival
I enjoyed both, I love both, and consider both favorites.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Go get yourself a tea dragon! I think I’d get on well with either a Chamomile, Ginger Tea, or Fennel Dragon.
Monstress, volume 3
Maika Halfwolf has begun to unlock the mysteries of her past – but the challenges are only going. In this third volume of MONSTRESS, collecting issues 13-18, Maika’s journey takes her to the neutral city of Pontus, where she hopes to find temporary refuge from her pursuers. Unfortunately, Pontus may not be as safe as Maika and her allies had hoped.
As the impending war between humans and Arcanics creeps ever closer, and powerful players fight for the chance to control her future, Maika finds she must work with Zinn, the Monstrum that lives inside her, in order to ensure their mutual survival. But even that alliance might not be enough to prepare Maika for the horrors to come. (Goodreads)
Another great volume in the Monstress series. This one focuses a lot more on world building, which I appreciated. We get more of the politics and warfare going on, but also about how the old gods were introduced to the world and worshipped, the part cats say they play, and the different worlds that are in this universe. It’s all very interesting and I enjoyed reading it all.
Of course, we’re also following Maika as she tries to learn more about the monster inside her and her mother’s past. However, in this volume, she’s more concerned about finding a temporary sanctuary. But everything comes at a price. It seems no one in this world can be trusted, except maybe Kippa.
I can’t wait to see what will happen next. I believe Zinn, the Monstrum inside Maika, is not to be trusted, but then I also think the Shaman-Empress was not a good person and probably not to be trusted either. Those two confuse me. I’m curious to find out who the “Doctor” is — the cats Ren is in dealings with refer to that person, and I have a bad feeling about him/it. And poor Kippa. I hope she is okay and is able to make it out of these dark moments with her innocence, hopefulness, and light spirit intact. I think there’s something very special about her and I wonder what it is.
My favorite moments: Maika’s humor. She’s sarcastic and it’s often right before shit’s bout to go down.
It’s amazing as always. There’s not much more I can add to what I’ve already said about it in previous reviews. I love Takeda’s illustration style and will always admire it. But here are my favorite character designs in this one:
Vihn Nem, royal engineer of Pontus — love how she’s drawn and her costume and everything.
Syryssa – not sure if I mentioned this before, but I really like her and also how she’s drawn. I love the cloak she wears in this volume (can’t remember if she rocked it in the last volume) and wouldn’t mind having a coat inspired by it.
I initially gave it 4 stars — no idea why I did that — but I reread it and now believe it’s a 5-star story. I love it. It’s a dark, yet compelling read that’s as rich in detail as any high fantasy novel. Totally worth picking up.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
Yes. Buy it! The art is amazing and worth it.
YA Fantasy; Sci-fi
Fullmetal Alchemist, volumes 10-12
Ed returns to Resembool and meets his estranged father Hohenheim for the first time in many years. Though their meeting is brief and strained, Ed comes away with the revelation that Al’s body is still alive somewhere. But before the newly energized brothers can search for it, Scar returns, catalyzing an unlikely alliance between the Elric brothers, Prince Lin of Xing, and Colonel Mustang. Though they hope to use Scar to lure in a homunculus, the hunters become the hunted when Gluttony proves more than they can handle. (Goodreads)
I love the Fullmetal Alchemist manga series. It’s such a great story about family and friendships and morals and much more. The story is dark, but it’s balanced by light, humorous moments that make the story entertaining. The characters are sometimes charming, always engaging, and sure to get you easily hooked on the story.
There is so much action in these volumes. They were exciting reads that I sped through wondering what would happen next although I already knew since I watched the majority of both the anime adaptation of the exact story as well as Brotherhood. Still, I enjoyed the twists and mysteries in these volumes and the development of the characters throughout them.
The new characters are great, especially Lin Yao and his companions and May Chang and her cute little panda (I want a cute little panda too). The Elric brothers’ father, Hohenheim, makes an appearance in one or two of these volumes too (I forgot which ones). He is such an absentee dad who seems not to care about what happened to his sons. Because of that, I don’t care for the dude, but this could be because we haven’t learned much about him yet.
I love it. And I especially love the transitions from panel to panel in certain scenes where a figure would extend into another panel. I like Arakawa’s style. These are the only mangas I’ve read, so I don’t have anything else to compare them to, but I enjoy them and love the art.
I might end up giving each volume I read 5 stars.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
The story is worth it.