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Posts Tagged ‘graphic novels’

Hi all, I’m back with another top books post!  This month was pretty busy for me–I was doing Nanowrimo and had some job interviews–but I still found some time to read!  Here is my short list for this month.

Toil and Trouble (Scott): Smertae, Cait, and Riata–also known the Fates or”the weird sisters”– have always protected the island of Scotland.  When Semetae gets into a disagreement with Riata, she helps Macbeth earn a crown that does not rightfully belong to him. This retelling of Macbeth explores the story in fresh new ways and has gorgeous art to boot.

Born on the Edge of Race and Gender (Wilkinson): In this collection of essays and poems, activist and educator Willy Wilkinson shares his experiences as a queer, transgender, and disabled Asian. Among his stories are his experiences with transition, parenthood, and chronic fatigue syndrome.  Wilkins has an approachable writing style, and the vast breadth of subject matter means many people will find something that engages and touches them. This would be a great read for a gender studies class or anyone interested in the intersection between race, health, and gender issues.

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Happy New Year, all!  Here is my favorite books I read this month.

Between the World and Me/Coates: Written to his son, Coates describes the discrimination and the vulnerability that is part of the experience as a person of color in the United States.  Coates’ honesty and writing makes this an absolutely gripping and powerful read.  If you’re looking for some amazing nonfiction, read this.

Hereville(1-3)/Deutsch:  This series follows Mirka, a young Jewish girl who dreams of fighting monsters, but is instead stuck in the village of Hereville.  When Mirka wins a sword from a troll, her life gets a lot more interesting.  From fighting meteorites to saving her sister from a magical fish, Mirka handles her problems with youthful impulsiveness.   Yet even though Mirka creates most of her problems, she also fiercely wants to do the right thing.  This feisty and caring heroine will be sure to win a spot in your heart, and the books (How Mirka Got Her Sword, How Mirka Met A Meteorite, and How Mirka Caught a Fish  ) are great for all ages.

The Sandman: Overture/Gaiman:  A prequel to Gaiman’s original series The Sandman, Dream must face down a mad star in order to save the Dreaming and the world.  I was captivated by the twisty story-line and the breathtaking art (which reminded me very strongly of paintings).   If you liked Sandman, you will enjoy this.

That’s all for January, folks!  Catch you later!

 

 

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A “Top Books” has been long overdue; I apologize for the radio silence.  Let’s get right into the books!

Fiction:

The Rose Society (Lu): I believe I have talked about Marie Lu’s Young Elites on this blog before; I have been waiting for its sequel for awhile.  In The Rose Society, Adelina forms her own group of allies to pursue her plans for revenge against the Dagger Society and to take the throne and punish the Inquisitors who hurt her.  When I finished reading this book, I wrote on Goodreads “gut-wrenchingly awesome”; I still stand by this statement.  Adelina is a sympathetic, well-portrayed character, and it is heartbreaking to watch her descend into darkness   If you haven’t started reading The Young Elites, you should.

The Heart Goes Last (Atwood): Atwood plays with the concept of safety and personal freedom in her newest book.  After an economic crisis hits, Charmaine and Stan start living out of their car in an increasingly unsafe world.  When they hear about Positron–a contained complex where members live in houses one month and prison the next.  In the meantime, everything is provided for, and they are safe.  However, things rapidly become complicated when Stan and Charmaine become involved with their house’s alternates.   Margaret Atwood’s work is hit or miss with me, but I really enjoyed this unsettling tale.

Shadows of Self (Sanderson): I really love Sanderson’s Mistborn series, and I was thrilled to get my hands on Shadows of Self.  Wax is serving as an assistant investigator for the local police force; meanwhile a kandra (shapeshifter who takes on the form of another) has gone mad and is trying to overthrow the government.  I loved the continual application of aspects of Sanderson’s setting, and the plot was equal parts exciting, humorous, and sad.  I can’t wait for the next one.

Graphic Novels:

Lion of Rora (C. Gage, R. Gage, and Lewis): In the early 17th century, the Waldensians (a minor Protestant religious group deemed heretical) struggle to survive in the area near the French-Swiss Alps, under the Duke of Savoy’s reluctant tolerance.   When farmer Joshua Janavael stands up to a representative who tries to bully a grieving family, he ignites and leads a war of rebellion.  Based on real events, this graphic novel delivers a compelling, action-packed story about a little known underdog.  The creators do a great job of working together to portray this fascinating and little-known historical event.  Definitely check this out.

Low: The Delirium of Hope (Remender and Tocchini): Humankind has retreated beneath the surface of the ocean.  However, time is running out to find a new home because the radiation is finally starting to reach the ocean.  After her family is destroyed, Stehl sets out on a suicide mission to find a new place for mankind.  I found this graphic novel by chance, and I’m so glad I read it.  The setting is compelling, and the world is portrayed in gorgeous color illustrations; Stehl’s eternal optimism is great and well-portrayed; even though she could (and does) get called delusional, she works to make her dreams happen.

Non-Fiction:

Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (Snyder): In Black Earth, historian Timothy Snyder argues that usual narrative around the Holocaust (one that usually focuses on the mechanical systematization of murder) leads us to miss important language; his argument centers on the collapse of statehood in Eastern Europe–a factor which he claims set the stage for the Holocaust. Snyder writes well: he presents his argument in an accessible narrative fashion and backs up his claims well.  The topic is a heavy one, and, as a result, I took my time with this book  However, it is a fascinating and worthwhile read.

That’s all folks!  Catch you next time!

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All right, another month has come and gone.  Let’s get down to business!  I read some great books this month!

First off, I had the pleasure of reading Neil Gaiman’s Trigger Warning, his latest collection of short stories.  I usually enjoy Gaiman’s work, and this case was no different.  The stories are engaging and frequently made me feel a sense of wonder; many of the stories had fairy tale elements, which I felt contributed.  To my delight, the collection featured a story about Shadow, the protagonist from American Gods (one of my favorite books!).  Overall, Trigger Warning is a fantastic collection–I was sad to have to return it to the library.

Another interesting read was Jo Walton’s The Just City.  This book follows a group of individuals gathered by the goddess Athena to build a city based on Plato’s Republic.  I found myself drawn into the world and the questions that sprung from it.   Once Socrates comes on the scene, the questions fly!  My somewhat limited humanities background was definitely put to the test, but I found the book enjoyable.  If you love philosophical works or utopia tales, pick this one up.

I also finally finished The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders .   This book discusses the role of the press in the murder frenzy that captured Victorian England.  The book is dense, yet fascinating reading; Flanders does a great job of highlighting the interplay of the press and society in the portrayal of murders.  I sometimes felt at a bit lost in the anecdotes, but ultimately found the argument compelling.  If I was taking my Representing the Metropolis history seminar (where we talked a lot about the role of the press) now, I wouldn’t be surprised to find this book on the syllabus.

I also enjoyed The Autumn Republic,the conclusion to Brian McClellan’s Powder Mage trilogy .  I have discussed this series on this blog before, and I suppose it doesn’t come as a surprise that I’m talking about it again.  In this final book, Tamas must defend his country from new invaders while still fighting to crush the Kez assault.  I enjoyed McClellan’s exploration of the consequences of Tamas’ anger; I also dig Nila and Ka-poel–they’re both awesome female characters who I really think get more done than the male heroes.   The action is top notch, and the story concluded the series in a properly bittersweet fashion.  I look forward to seeing more from this author.

I also had the pleasure of reading Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming.  This book of poetry describes Woodson’s experiences growing up.  I really loved Woodson’s language and self-reflection; this one was a treat to read.

I can’t skip over my graphic novels!  I got my hands  on the latest in George O’Connor’s Olympians series, in the latest, Ares: Bringer of War, he tells the reader about Ares through the lens of the Trojan War; I was really impressed how accessible he made the complex story of The Iliad (where there’s a lot of detail that can obscure the story).  The art is top-notch as well.

I also enjoyed Hana Ros and Matteo Farinella’s Neurocomic.  A man finds himself trapped in a brain and learns all kinds of things about the research and historical figures of neuroscience as he tries to find the way out.  The situation sounds a bit odd, but the visuals make a tricky concept accessible.  I could see this being a good introduction for middle school students.

That’s it for March!  See you next time!

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As you might guess, I read a lot.  It gets tricky with graduate school, but still I manage.   Anyways, this review is going to cover two graphic novels, Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tomaki and Kabuki: The Alchemy by David Mack.

Skim

Kimberly  Cameron, referred to Skim throughout the graphic novel, is a Wiccan Catholic school girl trying to figure out her place.  She tells the story of the most recent drama at her high school: the suicide of volleyball star John.  Skim describes the drama casually, but the artwork and scenes that the reader observes from Skim’s perspective indicates that these matters touch her more strongly than she lets on in her words.

I enjoyed this story; I think I would have gotten a bit more out of it if I had been younger, as I am several years older than the protagonist.   However, I appreciated the characterization of Skim, who gradually becomes more assertive and confident over the course of the novel.  I liked that her transformation was not swift and complete, but rather more gradual, with the implication that she was still growing up.  In that regard, the character felt very real to me and think that teenagers would really enjoy this story.

Kabuki: The Alchemy

Mack’s Kabuki: The Alchemy is another story of transformation.   The protagonist Kabuki, who goes by several names over the course of the story, is a woman scarred by her past who is trying to start over.   She is helped by Akemi, a mysterious individual looking to bring down the ghosts of Kabuki’s past and to upset the status quo.   Part personal journey, part thriller, this story will pull you in.

I loved this graphic novel; the artwork is absolutely gorgeous.  It does not follow the traditional panel set-up and encompasses different artwork styles to tell the story, using collages and water-color, among other things.  The story has similar themes to Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, but the emphasis was placed more on the protagonist’s personal development rather than the conflict.   I liked this different emphasis; it shows a different way of fighting and challenging the status quo.   I think it does a good job of demonstrating the importance of the individual because you must first change yourself before you can have the effect that you want to have.

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