Translation Is No Substitute for Interpretation

Debris Dreams by David Colby

First Look:

It’s simple, graphic, gets the point across.  She’s not in a ball gown!

Jacket Copy:


1.5 million kilometers above the surface of the Earth

Drusilla Xao has only seen a tree in movies and vid-games. She has never breathed air that wasn’t recycled, re-filtered, and re-used a hundred times over again. She has never set foot on the Earth.

And now she never will.

When a terrorist attack by a radical separatist group on Luna destroys the space elevator that had called so many – including her parents – to live permanently in space, Dru is cut off from any hope of ever reaching Earth and her beloved girlfriend, Sarah. The Chinese-American Alliance declares immediate war on the rebels and conscripts everyone they can get their hands on…including Dru.

Cast adrift, forced to become a soldier, trapped in a nightmare of vacuum and loneliness, Dru’s training will help her survive, but only Sarah will be able to bring her home. Continue reading


Watercolor Fantasy

Deva Zan by Yoshitaka Amano

First Look:

Amano’s signature style: watercolors that are decidedly not pastel landscapes and blurry flowers.

Jacket Copy:

In his forty year career, Yoshitaka Amano has illustrated many projects, becoming famous for Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D. But never before has Amano written the visions he depicts – never until now! Dark Horse has the honor to publish Deva Zan, Yoshitaka Amano’s first fantasy novel as an author as well as an illustrator! An epic ten years in the planning, Amano has made Deva Zan as his personal expression of the legends of Asia for his Western readership. In esotevic Japanese Buddhism, twelve generals – the Juni Jinsho – stood guard over the cosmos at the points of the zodiac. But now they have vanished, and nothing stands between us and the forces of darkness but Deva Zan, a samurai without a memory. To restore order to existence, he must marshal not only his own fighting skill, but find companions that can cross the boundaries of time and space – to join him in a battle that will stretch from the fields of ancient Japan, to the streets of modern New York City – and to dimensions beyond human comprehension! Continue reading

Heartbreak and Healing

My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

First Look:

It says 10-year-old, for sure.  It’s eyecatching, and deceptively cheerful-looking, until you actually look at what IS on the mantelpiece.  Whatever you think of it, it is better than the alternate cover, which is terrifying.  I’m pretty sure that the alt cover is for a completely different book, where Jamie becomes a tiny serial killer.

Jacket Copy:

My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. A collarbone, two ribs, a bit of skull, and a little toe. 

To ten-year-old Jamie, his family has fallen apart because of the loss of someone he barely remembers: his sister Rose, who died five years ago in a terrorist bombing. To his father, life is impossible to make sense of when he lives in a world that could so cruelly take away a ten-year-old girl. To Rose’s surviving fifteen-year-old twin, Jas, everyday she lives in Rose’s ever present shadow, forever feeling the loss like a limb, but unable to be seen for herself alone. 

Told with warmth and humor, this powerful novel is a sophisticated take on one family’s struggle to make sense of the loss that’s torn them apart… and their discovery of what it means to stay together. Continue reading

Must Be Gold Dust*

The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardinge

 *Refers to Hathin’s name, which is supposed to sound like dust settling.

First Look:

It piques my interest.  There are a lot of story elements in the picture, some of which you can’t appreciate till almost the end of the book.  So right there, it’s head and shoulders above the average YA novel.  Plus, no inappropriately fancy clothing!  Hathin has no time for parties, she’s too busy fixing everything ever.

Jacket Copy:

On an island of sandy beaches, dense jungles, and slumbering volcanoes, colonists seek to apply archaic laws to a new land, bounty hunters stalk the living for the ashes of their funerary pyres, and a smiling tribe is despised by all as traitorous murderers. It is here, in the midst of ancient tensions and new calamity, that two sisters are caught in a deadly web of deceits.

Arilou is proclaimed a beautiful prophetess–one of the island’s precious oracles: a Lost. Hathin, her junior, is her nearly invisible attendant. But neither Arilou nor Hathin is exactly what she seems, and they live a lie that is carefully constructed and jealously guarded.

When the sisters are unknowingly drawn into a sinister, island-wide conspiracy, quiet, unobtrusive Hathin must journey beyond all she has ever known of her world–and of herself–in a desperate attempt to save them both. As the stakes mount and falsehoods unravel, she discovers that the only thing more dangerous than the secret she hides is the truth she must uncover. Continue reading

A Whole New World

Sharaz-De: Tales from the Arabian Nights by Sergio Toppi

First Look:

The cover art was the reason I requested this ARC.  It’s uniquely beautiful, strange and striking.

Jacket Copy:

A set of tales inspired by 1001 Arabian Nights, European comics master Sergio Toppi’s Sharaz-de explores a barbaric society where the supernatural is the only remedy to injustice.

The lovely Sharaz-de, captive to a cruel and despotic king, must each night spin tales to entertain her master and save her head from the executioner. Her tales are filled with evil spirits, treasures, risk, and danger, but ever at their center hold the passions of gods and men.


I believe that there is an as-yet untranslated second volume in existence.  Please let it be translated someday soon!

Worth Reading?

Yes–by which I mean “worth staring at”.  If you’re looking for a radical retelling of the Arabian Nights tales, you won’t find it here, although most of the tales Toppi chose are not the most popular of the collection.  The art, however, is worth the purchase ($29.95 cover price) and more.

Notable Things:

Arabian Nights!  I mean, obviously, but the tales themselves are compelling.  Like all folktales, they point to attitudes and cultural truths at the time of recording, as well as truths and ideas about humanity. (Art here by Virginia Frances Sterret.)


Unique Art!  I really can’t say enough about this.  I stared at many of the illustrations for a long time.


I had never heard of Sergio Toppi before, probably because I’m a fairly recent graphic novel fan, and because very few of his works have been translated into English as of yet.  Now I want to go out and buy everything of his, so that I can enjoy it again and again.  His work is intricate, detailed, strange, beautiful, and truly unique.  Can’t wait to discover more!  Of course, my love of this book is helped by the fact that I love fairy tales and folk tales of all kinds, but although the text and art enhance each other, the drawings are good enough to stand on their own, no question.


I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley.

Quirky to the Max

Zeb and the Great Ruckus by Joshua Donellan

First Look:

Cute illustration style, although the kids look too old and Flip looks as though she may be swooning with an unrequited crush.  Not true: only platonic friend love here!  The Aleph is somewhere in the grey area between adorable and creepy, which…is just about right!

Jacket Copy:

“This is a story made from pieces of all the dreams that you had when you were asleep, but then forgot when you woke up.”

Hello! You are reading this in order to determine whether or not this book will be of interest to you ! Well, congratulations, you obviously have fabulous taste! Zeb and the Great Ruckus is a story about magic, music, fireworks, bewilderbeasts, clockwork birds and weaponised toffee. It has some funny bits, some scary bits, some sad bits, and a rather large bit about a cave-dwelling ruttersnarl which we would tell you about but we don’t want to give away the ending. If you like the sounds of any or all of the above, then this is the book for you ! If you would rather read a complete history of European haberdashery, please consult your local book emporium. Continue reading

Learning to Live (Again)

Faerie Winter by Janni Lee Simner

First Look:

Just like the first one, this cover is beautifully stark (and lacks a fancy gown, hurrah!), somehow managing to convey an unsettling feeling while sticking with a nature theme.  Bottom line: I love these covers.

Note: this is the second volume in a series: spoilers below!

Jacket Copy:

The long-awaited sequel to Janni Lee Simner’s breathtaking YA fantasy debut, Bones of Faerie.

Liza is a summoner. She can draw life to herself, even from beyond the grave. And because magic works both ways, she can drive life away. Months ago, she used her powers to banish her dangerous father and to rescue her mother, lost in dreams, from the ruined land of Faerie.

Born in the wake of the war between humanity and Faerie, Liza lived in a world where green things never slept, where trees sought to root in living flesh and bone. But now the forests have fallen silent. Even the evergreens’ branches are bare. Winter crops won’t grow, and the threat of starvation looms. And deep in the forest a dark, malevolent will is at work. To face it, Liza will have to find within herself something more powerful than magic alone.

Here at last is the sequel to Bones of Faerie, for all those fans of dark fantasy and dystopian adventure who thrilled to Janni Lee Simner’s unique vision of a postapocalyptic world infused with magic. Continue reading