Author Archives: Kat Mandu

Poison by Bridget Zinn

Poison is a cute, fast-paced story about a witty girl who tries to assassinate her best friend, the princess, and ends up missing. Now as a fugitive, she’ll have to figure out how to save the kingdom – while getting in a lot of trouble along the way.

Title: Poison
Author: Bridget Zinn
Publish Date:  March 12, 2013
Genre: Young Adult/Fantasy

Publisher’s Description:  Sixteen-year-old Kyra, a highly-skilled potions master, is the only one who knows her kingdom is on the verge of destruction—which means she’s the only one who can save it. Faced with no other choice, Kyra decides to do what she does best: poison the kingdom’s future ruler, who also happens to be her former best friend.

But, for the first time ever, her poisoned dart . . . misses.

Now a fugitive instead of a hero, Kyra is caught in a game of hide-and-seek with the king’s army and her potioner ex-boyfriend, Hal. At least she’s not alone. She’s armed with her vital potions, a too-cute pig, and Fred, the charming adventurer she can’t stop thinking about. Kyra is determined to get herself a second chance (at murder), but will she be able to find and defeat the princess before Hal and the army find her?

Kyra is not your typical murderer, and she’s certainly no damsel-in-distress—she’s the lovable and quick-witted hero of this romantic novel that has all the right ingredients to make teen girls swoon.


Kat Mandu says…

Poison is a cute, fast-paced story about a witty girl who tries to assassinate her best friend, the princess, and ends up missing. Now as a fugitive, she’ll have to figure out how to save the kingdom – while getting in a lot of trouble along the way.

Kira is a potioner, which is basically an alchemist. She’s trained under the best and has an entire arsenal of knowledge, explosives, and poisons at her disposal. Plus, she’s slightly a witch, blessed with the power of sight. When she sees her best friend and princess of the kingdom in a vision, standing over a shattered city of ash, Kira knows she’s got to stop the vision from happening, even if it means killing her best friend.

But she missed her target and now she’s on the run from the law. She knows that if she just finds the real princess, and kills her, the horrible vision she saw won’t come to pass. So she buys a pig that can track down the real princess. But along the way she discovers a handsome, witty guy with a hound dog, and albeit she’s determined not to care, she begins to have feelings for.

To sum things up without spoiling too much, she manages to best the fake princess, put the real bad guy in jail, and live happily ever after.

For me, this was a fun, quick read. Interesting world building, fun characters. Something that had drama, but not tragedy. I picked this up because it looked interesting and quirky. It was, and it’s shame the author is no longer around to enjoy the spoils of accomplishment and adoring fans.

However, as much as it pains me to say it, it just didn’t hold my attention. I found myself starting and stopping too much…. and even worse, I found myself missing that edge of danger and drama that I tend to stray to. This had a lot of adventure, a lot of intrigue. But didn’t have the suspense I was hoping for. I just couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted to.

That being said, this is a wonderfully crafted story. Just perhaps not for me, or perhaps it’s something I’ll read again when I’m looking for something whimsical and fun.
 

 

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Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 4 by James Tynion IV

Arsenal and Starfire return to save their friend Jason (Red Hood) from erasing his memories and forgetting who he is – at the worst possible time.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 4: League of Assasins
Author:  James Tynion IV (Writer), Julius M. Gopez (Illustrations), Ray McCarthy (Illustrator)
Publish Date:  June 17, 2014
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

Publisher’s Description:  A new era begins for Red Hood and the Outlaws!
Following the Joker’s horrifying attack on the Bat-family, Jason Todd finds himself lost in his own past. Kori and Arsenal set out on a treacherous journey to the far reaches of the globe to rescue him, but when they come face to face with the All Caste, Hugo Strange, and the League of Assassins, the Outlaws might reach their breaking point.

 

 

 

 


Kat Mandu says…

Arsenal and Starfire return to save their friend Jason (Red Hood) from erasing his memories and forgetting who he is – at the worst possible time.

At the end of Death of the Family, Jason is fed up with the demons in his head telling him what he can and can’t be. He wants to forget all the wrong he’s done, all the people he’s hurt. He doesn’t want to feel anymore pain himself. So he rids himself of his memories just as Starfire and Arsenal show up to try to stop him.

But they’re not the only ones who are trying to get the Red Hood. The League of Assassins are searching for Jason, because with their leader vanished, someone needs to step in and if they’re able to show Jason the darkness in his heart, he’ll be able to lead them into a very terrifying victory against the Al Caste, which is the formidable group that trained Jason in the first place.

Overall, this really focuses on friendship as an arc. Arsenal and Starfire have their first lovers’ quarrel. Starfire hides that she can so easily forget someone (like her relationship with Nightwing, the original Robin) and Arsenal, plagued by feelings of disappointment and anger, sinks in lower by choosing the wrong side in a fight, despite Starfire’s protests. And poor Jason, without his memory, is targeted by assassins across the globe, left slightly defenseless without the memory of his training and history.

But *spoiler alert* Arsenal manages to get Jason back in the groove by being a friend, and in the end Jason ends up even more powerful than how he started. Plus he has a glowing blade, so that’s nice. Now the three are back together and facing off against a threat poor Arsenal didn’t see coming. I imagine it’ll be quite the fight, so I’m eager to see what happens in the next one.

To wrap up the fourth installment though, I’ll admit again that as much as I enjoy the story, sometimes it is just hard to follow. I enjoy comic books a lot, the artwork is always done so beautifully. But sometimes it’s just easier for me to read regular books. I tend to understand their flow and detailed descriptions better. And I catch on faster. But still, I give it a four.

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Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 3 by Scott Lobdell

Death of the Family is quick to the punches as the Joker returns to set fire to Gotham and the Bat Family legacy.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 3: Death of the Family
Author: Scott Lobdell (Writer), Fabian Nicieza (Writer), Scott Snyder (Goodreads Author) (Writer), Timothy Green II (Illustrator), Pasqual Ferry (Illustrator), Brett Booth (Illustrator), Ig Guara (Illustrator), Wayne Faucher (Illustrator), Norm Rapmund (Illustrator), Greg Capullo (Illustrator), Jonathan Glapion (Illustrator), Ardian Syaf (Illustrator), Robson Rocha (Illustrator), Ken Lashley (Illustrator), Julio Ferreira (Illustrator), Jaime Mendoza (Illustrator), Le Beau L. Underwood (Illustrator), Tyler Kirkham (Illustrator)
Series: Red Hood and the Outlaws #3
Publish Date:  December 3, 2013
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

Publisher’s Description:  As if Batman’s former sidekick Jason Todd, now known as the Red Hood, didn’t have enough problems leading the team of outlaws such as Arsenal and Starfire, now his “estranged” brother Red Robin is knocking on his door because The Night of Owls is here! With Batman in dire need of help, will Red Hood answer the call?

And when Jason and the team find out that Starfire is one of the most feared (and dangerous) commanders in all of space, the team will find their adventures taken to the stars and beyond to help decide the fate of the throne of Tamaran. Witness the galactic struggle between Starfire and her sister Blackfire as Red Hood and the Outlaws are caught in the middle of an interstellar war!


Kat Mandu says…

Death of the Family is quick to the punches as the Joker returns to set fire to Gotham and the Bat Family legacy. Jason Todd aka Red Hood is caught in the crossfire again between his former mentor and his own psychotic murderer.

And although Jason is one of the Joker’s favorite creations, and therefore one he enjoys torturing the most, Jason finds he’s not the only chew toy this time around. The Joker has kidnapped all the former and current Robins, plus Batgirl. And Batman! Because it’s his birthday and the Joker gives no shits.

The Joker has a sick game for Batman planned – and he’ll stop at nothing to win. Which means the Bat Family have to team up and face down their demons to turn the tables… and make it out alive.

Intermingled with this story is the perspective of both Starfire and Arsenal as they hop into the fight in an attempt to save their best friend. They team up with the Teen Titans to help stop the spread of The Joker’s madness within Gotham and save a lot of people along the way.

What I like: the intensity of this story arc is phenomenal. One trap laid after another. Suspenseful and engaging. Red Hood is my favorite DC character and he continues to be full of surprises. I’m very eager to see where this goes in the fourth installment.

Arsenal and Starfire are the best, with fierce friendship skills and awesome one liners.

What I didn’t like: It’s one thing to be able to immerse yourself into a comic book world. But the Death of the Family arc spans about twelve different stories, just told by several different characters. So it’s hard to jump into the series and still understand everything that’s going on. I found this book to be jumpy and choppy, with unnecessary fillers.

And sadly, as much as I adore Starfire and Arsenal for being goofy and formidable, their story arc distracts from the story too much, only adding to the chaos. This comic could have done with a bit more editing to help with the flow.

Overall though, it’s an enjoyable read.

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Red Hood & The Outlaws, Volume 2 by Scott Lobdell

DC Universe and comic book fans will love this intergalactic story that features Red Hood, Arsenal, and Starfire as they venture across the universe to save it.

Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws, Volume 2: The Starfire
Author: Scott Lobdell (Writer), Kenneth Rocafort (Illustrator), Timothy Green II (Illustrator), Pascal Alixe (Illustrator), Ario Anindito (Illustrator)
Series: Red Hood and the Outlaws #2
Publish Date:  July 2, 2013
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

Publisher’s Description:  As if Batman’s former sidekick Jason Todd, now known as the Red Hood, didn’t have enough problems leading the team of outlaws such as Arsenal and Starfire, now his “estranged” brother Red Robin is knocking on his door because The Night of Owls is here! With Batman in dire need of help, will Red Hood answer the call?

And when Jason and the team find out that Starfire is one of the most feared (and dangerous) commanders in all of space, the team will find their adventures taken to the stars and beyond to help decide the fate of the throne of Tamaran. Witness the galactic struggle between Starfire and her sister Blackfire as Red Hood and the Outlaws are caught in the middle of an interstellar war!


Kat Mandu says…

DC Universe and comic book fans will love this intergalactic story that features Red Hood, Arsenal, and Starfire as they venture across the universe to save it.

I love that these comic books feature side stories from all the characters. In this installment, you’re able to get a glimpse of Kori (aka Starfire) and her origins. She’s an alien who was sold by her princess sister, Blackfire, to a group of slavers in hopes that they might make peace. Instead, she was abused and tortured through a lot of it. In the comics, she’s somewhat rescued by a rag tag team of alien prisoners and after everything she’s been through, she leaves that prison behind in the dust. Quite literally. But along the way she has discovered confidence, forgiveness, and power.

Arsenal and Red Hood are dealing with their own issues. Arsenal still has ghosts about the way things fell out between him and Green Arrow, while Red Hood fights to maintain peace in Gotham against the Night Owls. Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Red Hood has always toed that anti-hero line, and now he’s got to figure out if stepping in to help his former friend, Red Robin (Tim Drake) and mentor (Batman) or if letting the Night Owls take out the criminals is what Gotham needs.

As much as I was a fan of the story, it jumped around a lot and Starfire’s story was the hardest to understand. Certain frames were harder for me to follow in a lot of scenes, so I had to go back and reread a ton.

Plus, I LOVED the artwork of the first book so much that I was really sad that it changed so drastically in this one. Starfire always looks great. She’s beautiful and powerful and dangerous and that artwork really comes through for her. But Jason and Arsenal don’t get justice I feel like. Jason just magically has a spacesuit that he carries with him at all times??? I know that he’s a very prepared guy, but I think even that takes it too extreme.

Anyway, this is a great book. Eager for the next one since this leaves you hanging at the end.

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Boy2Girl by Terence Blacker

Fans of contemporary cuteness and coming-of-age books will love Boy 2 Girl.

Title:  Boy2Girl
Author: Terence Blacker
Publish Date:  March 9, 2005
Genre: Young Adult/LGBT

Publisher’s Description:  Is he a girl? Is she a boy?

Matthew’s American cousin, Sam, has come to London to live with the family. Sam is a charismatic, funny kid, but can he be trusted to be a reliable friend? Matthew and his “mates” decide that Sam must undertake a challenge in order to prove himself: he must start off his new year at their school posing as a girl. It turns out that Sam makes a great girl. He fools everyone and has an electrifying effect at Bradbury Hill School. And the longer the prank goes on, the more hilarious — and serious — the repercussions.

This brilliant novel shines a laser-sharp beam into the perilous territory of early-teen life, in an unforgettable story of chaos, confusion, and cross-dressing.


Kat Mandu says…

 

Fans of contemporary cuteness and coming-of-age books will love Boy 2 Girl. I can’t believe it took me so long to review this. Sometimes it’s nice to step out of the fantasy scene and read something fresh and not so typical of what I usually read because I tend to find books I really, truly enjoy.

Matthew and Sam lead completely different lives. Matthew, whose parents might be overbearing and oversharing, still love and take care of him. Sam has had a rough childhood because he lived with his single-mother and her criminal boyfriend, who is actually Sam’s father, though he never acts like it.

So when Sam is sent to live with his cousin, things get very strange, very quickly. Sam, still reeling over his mother’s death, is emotional and somewhat crazy. When Matthew and his friends, who feel like Sam doesn’t fit in with their social group, dare Sam to dress up and act like a girl, Sam strives to prove himself in their eyes by doing so.

This isn’t necessarily a story about transgender, but it is about finding your identity. Sam discovers he’s not entirely sure who he is in the strange new world where Matthew lives, but pretending to be a girl gives his confidence, energy, and happiness.

It’s a truly good story-line, with a lot of laughs along the way. It’s hard to explain a proper age group for this one because the identity crisis suggests a middle-grade tone but the language and innuendo make me think it’s great for older teens as well. Either way, young adult contemporary. I really enjoyed the flow of writing and the characters, especially since there’s quite a few scenes where you hear from other side characters, like Matthew’s dad and his teachers and friends. Overall, a wonderfully told story.  

 

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