Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven – review

Here’s a review of Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven (a DC YA graphic novel) by our 9-year-old daughter (aka Luna Lamb).


Beast Boy loves Raven carries on from the first two comics in an incredible way. With connections from the first two books (Teen Titans: Raven & Teen Titans: Beast Boy) and full colour, this interesting comic is a spectacular way to continue making the Teen Titans an amazing and hilarious team in the DC universe.

One of the ways it is interesting is how it portrays the characters. Beast Boy is displayed as a teen who idolises everyone and is incredibly self conscious. Raven is made to look like a dark and moody teen but is really a fun and grateful girl who recognises a bully when she sees one. Her foster sister, cousin and best friend Max is protective, kind and ”Not a hope for the best type of girl”. 

Another way it is interesting is how powers are discovered. Raven’s emerge through simply going to school. If an untrained empath went into a building full of teenagers, what would happen? In Raven’s case it caused a splitting headache that was called to a halt after a strange, bird shaped shadow appeared over her head. 

Beast Boy discovered his powers after he ends the supplements that stopped him from gaining weight, height and a lower voice, among other things. There is also how the teens dress that is interesting. Beast Boy loves his green trainers and carries his grey backpack around to put his pet monkey in when travelling.   

Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo, who created this comic series, used their favourite Teen Titans and redesigned, remade and put a strange new twist to these characters. Neither had done a graphic novel before they created the first book Teen Titans: Raven but they managed to make an excellent first comic. Raven is Kami Garcia’s favourite Teen Titan, and the following year Teen Titans: Beast Boy came out, who is Gabriel Picolo’s favourite.  

In this comic Beast Boy is funny, thoughtful and kind while Raven is cautious, caring and trying to fit in. With Max trying to follow Raven everywhere, Gar (Beast Boy)  trying to find vegetarian food and Raven having nightmares (again), new and strange characters are appearing with tech and skill like no other. We meet Damian Wayne, who grew up in the shadow of his father, a wealthy businessman living in Gotham city (who could that be, hmmm?), was raised by his mother in mountains far away, and Adeline, a character who until now has been only behind the phone of Slade Wilson. This comic reveals the secrets of the mysterious Slade and his even more mysterious boss, and sees Raven and Gar trying to hide their dangerous secrets from each other.

Pick pocketing, medical issues, thugs, demons, tests, insanely smart and lovable pets, ghosts and inhumane research labs are all included in this extraordinary comic.


Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven is out now

How to make Authentic Sokovian Paprikash

A key moment in the relationship of the Scarlet Witch and Vision was when he attempted to make Wanda Paprikash, an authentic dish from her made up homeland Sokovia.

Turns out Paprikash is an actual Hungarian dish (Paprikás), served with little flour & egg dumplings (Nokedli).

Scouring the internet for how to make it, I complied this tasty looking recipe. I ran it past a Hungarian colleague who said it looked great – but suggested the addition of the cucumber salad (Uborkasaláta), and noted her grandmother used pork fat (lard) instead of oil & butter.

FYI: Vision’s key mistake appears to be using just “a pinch of Paprika” – this dish requires a lot of Paprika – about 40g, so 100 times ‘a pinch’. The clue is in the name – Paprikás is the Hungarian word for Paprika.

To make this dish I strongly recommend using authentic Hungarian Paprika, as well as a Spaetzle maker for the dumplings (Nokedli).

Serves 4. Allow 30 mins prep, 60 mins cooking time.

How it should look: Chicken Paprikash, with dumplings and cucumber salad

Chicken Paprikash (Paprikás) recipe

  • 1 tbsp oil (or lard)
  • 2 tbsp butter (or lard)
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, v.finely chopped
  • 2 green peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml/14fl oz hot chicken stock
  • 150ml/5fl oz sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180C (160C Fan)

Heat the butter & oil (or lard) in a heavy pan placed over stove.

Season the chicken with salt & pepper, brown in pan then set aside.

Add the onions, garlic and peppers to the pan and gently fry for 10 minutes – until onions are translucent.


Stir in the paprika & flour. Once combined, stir in the tomatoes and stock.

TURN ON HEAT, then return the chicken thighs to the pan. Simmer gently in oven for 30–40 minutes.

Reserve the sour cream until ready to serve.

Now make the optional cucumber salad (Uborkasaláta), and then the essential dumplings (Nokedli).

Dumplings (Nokedli)

  • 140g flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream (or yogurt)
  • 2 tablespoons milk (you may need more or less)
  • Butter or olive oil (for serving)

Mix flour and salt together in a bowl.

Add the eggs and sour cream and whisk the mixture to combine.

Stir in 1 tablespoon of milk at a time until your dough is soft, but not runny. 

(If you are using the board and knife method, the dough should be a little firmer).

When you’re ready to make the Nokedli, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Method 1: Put your Spaetzle maker over the pan of water, and run the dough in small batches into the boiling water using the dough scraper.

Method 2: Put the dough on a wet wooden board and then use the back of a knife to cut small dumplings into a pot of boiling water. I usually use the back of a large spatula for this as the dough won’t stick to it as much as it will stick to a piece of wood. 

Give the dumplings about 30 seconds in the water after they float to the surface, to ensure they are fully cooked.

When cooked, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl, and cover to keep them warm, tossed with a little butter or olive oil to keep them from sticking together.

Hungarian Cucumber Salad (Uborkasaláta)

  • 2 large English cucumbers
  • 250 ml (1 cup) of water
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of 10% white vinegar
  • Sweet paprika powder (to sprinkle)
  • Ground black pepper (to sprinkle)
  • Salt

Peel the cucumbers and (preferably using a mandolin slicer) cut both cucumbers as thinly as possible into a bowl. 

Add the salt and mix the cucumbers slices to lightly and evenly coat them. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw out the water from the cucumbers.

The cucumbers will release about ½+ cup of liquid. Then, take large handfuls of cucumbers and, with your hands clenched, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and place the balls of squeezed cucumbers in a bowl. Discard the liquid.

In a cup, combine the sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add this mixture to the squeezed cucumbers and mix thoroughly. Add the chopped garlic, sprinkle with paprika powder and ground black pepper.

Serving the Chicken Paprikash

When ready to serve, stir the soured cream into the chicken mixture, and dish up over the dumplings with the cucumber salad on the side.

Chicken Paprikás, with Nokedli and Uborkasaláta

Leftovers are great the next day with pasta, either short pasta or flat noodles. Or you could make some more Nokedli 😉

For more movie inspired food, why not try my Big Night Timpano?

Alternative Gift Guide for Girls (or Boys): Comics

Every year I like to put together a guide of ‘alternative’ (ie. non-stereotypical) gift ideas for girls. They work for boys too.

This past year, toys have not really factored. New toys at least – as we have hit peak LEGO, Star Wars, dolls, and superhero toys.

But – superheroes are still ever popular with our daughter, and she has acquired a LOT of comics this year. What I’ve really noticed is how much effort the mainstream industry is making to create/repackage comics for girls.

I appreciate this is a potentially contentious observation to make – but I see female characters & creators getting greater visibility, and stories more focussed on character and emotions than power fantasies and hi-tech violence.

Does that mean these titles are targeted at girls? I would say absolutely yes – but that does not mean male fans are excluded. Speaking as one, I enjoyed these titles immensely.

Anyway, here’s our comic book gift guide for girls (and boys).

DC ZOOM comics

Launched this year, DC Zoom is a DC Comics imprint, with titles aimed at readers aged 8-12.

They feature many familiar DC characters, but often in retold origins and backstories. They also have some great titles featuring female protagonists.

1. Black Canary: Ignite

Written by none other than Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot, this is a nice fusion of teen drama and superhero adventure.

In this story, Dinah Lance is an ambitious 13-year-old who not only wants to fight crime – she must first win the battle of the bands, and deal with the consequences of the actions of a mysterious stranger.

2. DC Super Hero Girls

DC have revamped their recent girl-targeted line with a new look and all new stories.

I’m a fan of the update, as is our daughter, and this title & brand remain a great way to introduce girls to superhero comics, as well as hooking existing young fans.

3. Dear Justice League

This is a fun comic, which sees the iconic heroes of the Justice League answer questions from their biggest fans – kids!

Written by novelist Michael Northrop with delightful art by Gustavo Duarte, you’ll find out the answers to burning questions like What was Wonder Woman’s eleventh birthday like? Or Does Aquaman smell like fish? 


This is another DC Comics imprint, this time aimed at the YA (Young Adult) market aged 13+ (but I was more than happy for our 7-year-old daughter to read these).

4. Teen Titans: Raven

Raven – in her Teen Titans Go! guise – is a strong favourite of our daughter’s. She also loved this sombre, teen angst ridden retelling of the characters origin.

Written by best-selling author Kami Garcia, with almost monochrome art by Gabriel Picolo, this is a story of surprising depth and nuance.

5. Mera: Tidebreaker

After her empowering turn in the Aquaman movie, Mera gets her own DC Ink title by award-winning author Danielle Paige and illustrator Stephen Byrne.

Here, an engaging tale of teen romance and palace intrigue unfolds, with simple colouring emphasising the aquatic setting and raven hair of the lead character.

Marvel Comics

Marvel have been trying to appeal to a similar market younger and more female market.

They have done this in the main by republishing recent (and not so recent) relevant comic series in the new smaller format favoured by DC Ink.

These offer great value for money, as they consist of 8-12 issue reprints compared to the usual 6 – but for the same price (or even less).

6. The Unstoppable Wasp

This was my happiest discovery of the year. From Writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Elsa Charretier, it centres on the hitherto unknown to me Nadia Pym, long lost daughter of original Ant Man Hank Pym.

What made this series such a delight was the unbridled optimism of the character (which is despite her backstory involving years of enforced captivity).

Collects issues #1-8 of The Unstoppable Wasp (2017) 

7. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur

Another fun new discovery was the adventures of African-American pre-teen tech genius Lunella Lafayette – known as Moon Girl to her classmates – and one of Jack Kirby’s late-seventies Marvel creations Devil Dinosaur.

This first collection, Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur: The Beginning, is a great value TPB, as it features issues #1-12 of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur (2015).

The follow up collection Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur: Full Moon (issues #13-24) is due to be published in January 2020.

8. Ms. Marvel

Teenage Pakastani-American Kamala Khan burst onto the scene in 2014, and mainstream comics have perhaps never been the same.

Marvel’s first ever Muslim character to headline their own comic, she was an instant hit with fans.

If you haven’t read these yet, Marvel have released 2 great value collections this year:

Ms Marvel: Kamala Khan which collects issues #1–11 plus material from All-New Marvel NOW! Point One

And Ms. Marvel: Metamorphosis, which has issues #12–19, plus S.H.I.E.L.D. (2014) #2 and Amazing Spider-Man (2014) #7-8.

9. Hawkeye (Kate Bishop)

Kate Bishop – confusingly also called Hawkeye – debuted in the Young Avengers way back in 2005.

She was also a key player in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s 2012 series Hawkeye (ostensibly about Clint Barton, but who knows…)

This collects her own series, written by Kelly Thompson supported with lovely art by Leonardo Romero. Set in LA, the Venice Beach based Kate decides to embark on a career as a private eye.

This collects issues #1-12 of Hawkeye (no, not the one mentioned above – another Hawkeye series!)

The title was sadly cancelled after issue #18. You can get the concluding collection of 6 issues in the graphic novel Hawkeye: Family Reunion.

10. Spider-Gwen

Leaping out of comics into more mainstream awareness in the utterly magnificent animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse (which you should definitely see if you haven’t already) was Spider-Gwen.

An alternate-Earth version (that old chestnut) of Peter Parker’s famously dead ex-girlfriend, here she is reimagined as an arachnid powered Spider-Woman, with a nifty outfit, troubled past, and playing drums for high-school rock-band the Mary Janes.

Another great value collection, this has her introduction from Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Spider-Gwen #1-5 (2015), and the subsequent Spider-Gwen (2015) #1-6.

Other Comic Book suggestions

11. Crystal Fighters

This is one our daughter just picked off the shelf at the comic shop.

From wife & husband team of Jen Bartel (Artist) and Tyler Bartel (Writer), Crystal Fighters is a slick and modern high-school drama encompassing fantasy, sci-fi, virtual reality, and teen angst.

It is slight book in terms of content, as the 144 pages belie the fact that there are often just a few panels per page. But this is an imaginative and engaging story – which had our daughter hooked.

12. Go, Girls, Go! 

Ok, not really a comic – but I wanted to get this is somewhere.

This fun picture book has essentially one aim – to redress the false notion that vehicles, from tractors to space ships, are something only little boys are interested in.

So over the course 40 pages, author Frances Gilbert, with illustrator Allison Black, depict a succession of girls driving various vehicles.

With minimal words, this is ideally for an early reader, and is perfect for any young child – boy or girl.

13. DC: Women of Action

Even less of a “comic”, this is a fantastic celebration of female DC characters.

The author is Shea Fontana, who was also the writer of the earlier DC Super Hero Girls comics as well as various other DC titles.

This would make a lovely gift for anyone who already loves female superheroes – or even someone who you think might be interested.

There is also a Marvel book which does the same for their female characters called Powers of a Girl. We’ve not read this one, so cannot recommend it other than saying it looks pretty cool too (and is on our daughter’s gift list).

DISCLOSURE: This post uses Amazon affiliate links, which means I receive a VERY small fee if you make a purchase via Amazon links, at no extra cost to you 🙂

I’m excited for Frozen 2 – but not a new wave of sexist merchandise

Frozen (2013) was released just shy of 2 years into me being the parent of a daughter. I was at the height of my determination that the princess-industrial complex was not going to dominate her childhood. Continue reading I’m excited for Frozen 2 – but not a new wave of sexist merchandise

Alternative Gift Guide for Girls

It’s that time of year when people are buying girls gifts – but not wanting to waste their money, many buyers tend to stick to more traditional present ideas.

So, here’s a few ideas for anyone looking to get something less stereotypical for a girl, based on things our daughter has enjoyed (or soon will…!) this year.

And yes, this list can be used for present ideas for boys too 🙂

Continue reading Alternative Gift Guide for Girls