fiction, graphic novel, reviews

Graphic Novel February, Part One

It’s the middle of the month, so it’s time for posted about the graphic novels I’ve read. Graphic Novel February has been a wonderful idea. If it wasn’t for graphic novels and children’s books, I wouldn’t have any books finished this month.

21326Fables vol. 1 – Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham

Source: Public Library

Imagine that the fairy tales characters most of us grew up with were not only real but still alive and residing secretly in New York. That’s the basis of Fables but the series creator, Bill Willingham, does so much more. Snow White and Prince Charming have been divorced for centuries now and the Big Bad Wolf (now called Bigby) is the sheriff of Fabletown. Those fables who are human live in Fabletown while their non-human counterparts, like the pig brothers from The Three Little Pigs, live on The Farm.  When Rose Red, Snow White’s little sister, comes up missing, it’s up to Bigby and Snow to find out what happened.

This was a reread for me.  I got the idea to reread the series after talking to Kelly (The Written Word). I haven’t read the first volume in years and it was a delight to be reintroduced to the characters at the very beginning of the series.  My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

A17591893 Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown

Published in 2013 by Top Shelf

Source: Public Library

I’ve seen this book on many of the GNF participants’ tbr list last month, so I decided to add it to my list too. I went into reading it with no expectations but that didn’t help.  A Matter of Life is a graphic meditation/memoir on Brown’s life growing up as the son of a minister and being a dad. As a high-schooler, Brown comes to the realization that he doesn’t believe in God. Brown experiences pressure from his family as well as members of his father’s church to go back to church to no avail. Instead, he chooses to find wonder and gratitude in other ways. The later end of the book is about Brown’s new roles as father and husband.

I thought the book was okay and fairly interesting. Other participants (Lu and Debi) have talked about the book being disjointed and I have to agree. Sadly, when I finished reading the book, I wondered about its purpose. There was nothing “lasting” about it; no scenes or reflections to really take away from it. My rating: 2-3 stars.

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Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (Olympians Vol. 6) by George O’Connor

Published in 2013 by First Second Books

Source: Public Library

George O’Connor’s The Olympians series is a must-read for anyone who loves mythology. The series covers the Olympians of Greek mythology with one book being dedicated solely to each deity. So far, readers can read the stories of Zeus, Athena, Hera, Poseidon, Hades, and the latest one, Aphrodite. I’ve read the whole series and any favorites I have are based on my own biases because all six volumes are wonderful

The book covers the goddess’s first moments of being as a presence to her birth and later her role in the Trojan War. Aphrodite is different from the other Olympians since she’s not a child of Zeus and she’s much older than the rest. Readers see Aphrodite as she influences some of the most well-known characters of Greek mythology like Pygmalion, a sculptor who fell in love with his sculpture of the goddess.  When Eris, goddess of discord, throws a golden apple into a crowd of gods claiming it’s for the most beautiful, a powerful struggle ensues between Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. It’s a struggle that will affect later generations.

I love how not only does O’Connor brings these volumes to life by using ancient sources with his writing, but he also makes these stories a little modern. Being the goddess of love, Aphrodite is the most beautiful of the goddesses (though Athena is GORGEOUS to me). O’Connor gives her brown skin which I loved and readers will too. If you haven’t read this series yet, it’s time to start. My rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:29 am

The scene: // At my desk with my first cup of coffee, while listening to Gregory Porter’s album,  Be Good.

What’s going on:// I’m anticipating the chaos of this week. Today, I have to submit the kids’ grades to their charter school. When I decide to homeschool my kids (ages 8, 10, and 12), I didn’t think of grades (and still don’t really). Instead, I try to help the kids master the subjects they’re taking without the pressure of getting top grades. I need to finish up since today’s the deadline.

In case you missed my last post, February is Graphic Novels Month. There’s so many people participating and everyone’s welcome. I already finished my first comic: Aphrodite by George O’Connor. I hope I get through my stack this month, but there’s always March. The twitter hashtag is #comicsfebruary.

Between homeschooling and reading graphic novels, I have school myself. The first day of the spring semester starts tomorrow. Luckily one of my class websites opened up yesterday, so I’ve gotten a head start on this week’s homework and studying.

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Today’s plans: // include missing the Super Bowl to do some studying and reading for pleasure. Lu and I decided to have a mini comics readathon today. My stack includes A Matter of Time by Jeffrey Brown and Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt.

I’m not just reading comics this month so Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon is in today’s stack. Its subtitle: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements tells it all. A plus for this book is that it’s so readable. I wasn’t sure if a book about chemistry would be.

Now I’m off to: // make waffles, sausages, and eggs for breakfast. What are you up to today?

reading

Graphic Novels Month

I’ve spent most of January waiting for February and now it’s here! Graphic Novels Month! It’s the brainchild of Debi and Chris. Last February, the two decided to just read graphic novels and it was a hit. They’re bringing it back again this month and I’m so excited to join them along with a few other readers.

Picture 793Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang

Explorer: The Lost Islands by Kazu Kibuishi

Castle Waiting by Linda Medley

Castle Waiting 2 by Linda Medley

Tommysaurus Rex by Doug TenNapel

A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown

Aphrodite: Goddess of Love (The Olympians series) by George O’Connor

Jane, the fox & me by Franny Britt

Letting It Go by Miriam Katin

What it is by Lynda Barry

Picture This by Lynda Barry

That’s a pretty small stack compared to other participants (ha!), but it’s going to keep me busy. The only new-to-me authors in the stack are Franny Britt and Jeffrey Brown while Castle Waiting and What it is are both re-reads. I’m so excited. My first read will be Aphrodite by George O’Connor.

Are you joining Graphic Novels Month?

reading

Favorite books of 2013

It’s that time where I get to share with everyone my favorite books of the year! So looking back at all the books I’ve read for 2013, it was a “meh” sort of year. There were some good books, some great ones, and a lot of “meh” reads, which is why overall my year wasn’t that great. As I write this (Sunday morning), I’ve read 249 books in all. By the time January hits, I’ll probably add two more books to that number.

Before I get to my favorite books of the year, here’s a few things about the list that surprised me.

1. Most of the books that made the list were published in 2013. That’s never happened before.

2. None of the books that made the list were books I owned. This is one more reason why I’m tackling my tbr mountain in 2014.

3. The oldest book on my list is Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time. It was originally published in 1973.

4. The newest book on my list is The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart. It’s publication date is January 14, 2014. I found it such a good read that I had to add it to my list of favorites.

5. Every book that made my list is a book that I’m willing to buy. Pure and simple. If I’m not willing to buy it, I won’t give it five stars or add it to my list.

So enough of that, here’s my favorite books of 2013:

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bestof2013f.jpg

bestof2013g.jpg

bestof2013hbestof2013i.jpgThe last book is Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson.

Have you read any of these books? Which books made your “favorites” list of 2013?

graphic novel, nonfiction, reviews

Short review: Primates by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

ottavianiPrimates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

Written by Jim Ottaviani

Illustrated by Maris Wicks

Published in 2013 by First Second Books

139 pages

Source: Public Library

In Primates, Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks tell the stories of researchers Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas; three women whose obsessions with primates lead them to famed anthropologist Louis Leakey and their life’s work. The book starts with Goodall’s childhood fascination with Africa and nature before detailing the lives of Fossey and Galdikas along with some background information on Leakey.

What makes all three women so fascinating is their determination to do their research despite the challenges. Goodall’s mother was her chaperone when she first arrived at Nigeria in the 60s while Fossey had her appendix removed before her trip to the Condo. The hut that Galdikas and her husband lived in while she did her research on orangutans was in such bad condition, it would probably been better to just live in a tent. I loved this type of detail about the women. Readers see that their research wasn’t easy but the women managed.

I do have a few issues with the book. I was confused a few times about who I was reading about. Being a graphic novel, the women were drawn differently but still similarly enough for me to be lost. Goodall being a blonde helped but with Galdikas and Fossey as brunettes, I had to look at them really closely. Since this is a book aimed at middle grade readers, there isn’t any detail about Fossey’s death just a panel explaining that her life was tragic in ways and an illustration of her headstone. If you don’t know, Fossey is famous for her research on gorillas and her book Gorillas in the Mist which was adapted into a movie. She was murdered in 1985 and her case is still open.

Even with those issues, Primates is a fantastic book to read. It’s also a great introduction into the lives of these three women for readers young and old.  My rating: 4 ½ out of 5 stars.

R.I.P.Challenge, reading, Reading Journal, reviews

Mini-Reviews

Can you believe that I haven’t posted a new review in over a week? I don’t know if it’s this confusing California weather (thick fog in the morning and warm during the day) or what. I’m in the weirdest mood though November is supposed to be the month where I get so much done. The week fter the readathon, I didn’t read much. This week I’m in the middle of five books so the next review I write will probably be next week. I don’t have the energy desire time to write longer reviews so I thought shorter reviews would be a nice change for right now.

hale

Rapunzel’s Revenge (2008)
Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Nathan Hale
144 pages

I first heard about this book during last year’s Cybil’s awards. My library just bought a copy last month and I’ve finally been able to read it. The Hales have taken the Rapunzel fairy tale and turned it on its head! After escaping from Mother Gothel, Rapunzel decides to go back and get her revenge on the witch and free her mother from enslaved in a mine camp. On the way she meets Jack of the Beanstalk fame and the two start on a daring adventure.

This was a great read. In this retelling Rapunzel is a daring young girl who won’t take no for an answer. With Jack by her side the duo chases off coyotes, wrestle with giant snakes, and rescue a spoil brat from a group of bandits. This is a book that has a place in my permanent library.

kubuishi 1

Amulet Vol 1: The Stonkeeper (2008)
Amulet Vol. 2; The Stonekeeper’s Curse (2009)
by Kazu Kibuishi

Kibuishi is the genius behind the fabulous Flight graphic series. Last year I found out about Amulet and read the first book in the series. The problem with reading books in a series is that you have to wait until the next volume comes out. Just last month volume 2 arrived and I dove in. Both books are about siblings Navin and Emily. With their mother they move to an old family home to start over after losing their father in a car accident. Only days after arriving, strange things start to happen and their mother is kidnapped by a strange creature and taken to another world.

Book two starts where the first book left off with Navin and Emily trying to rescue their mother. Filled with more action and adventure than book one, you can’t put this book down until you turn the last page. The graphics are so great, there were a few I wanted to blow up and put on my wall. Great read for all ages.

willingham

Peter and Max: A Fables Novel (2009)
Bill Willingham
400 pages

I have been a fan of  Bill Willingham’s graphic novel series, Fables, for years. Peter is a Fable who lives with his wife Bo (Little Bo Peep). When Bigby Wolf, Beast, and Frau Totenkinder informs Peter that his older brother Max has returned, Peter knows he has to go and finish the fight that started between the two brother centuries before.

With that said, I have to tell you this was an excellent read. Because I’ve already read the graphic novels I found the beginning slow-going and almost set the book down. After a while, the book picked up and I set aside almost everything to read it. The plot goes back and forth between the past explaining how Max became the Pied Piper and his jealousy with Peter, and the present as Max flies across the world to confront his brother.Willingham did a fantastic job providing the background information. Bigby and Frau Totenkinder both appear in the brothers’ past and readers find out more about Frau Totenkinder and the life she lead before coming to our world.

The fight that happened between the two brothers wasn’t what I expected after the build-up of so much suspense. It was a pretty crafty fight though. If you love fairy tales and/or love the Fables series, this is a great book for you.

2009 challenges, books, fiction, graphic novel, Library Loot, Readathon, reading

Read-a-thon Pile

dreamstime_readathong

Okay so we all know that I have a tendency to go overboard when it comes to books. Whether it’s my library loot, buying binges, or signing up for reading challenges, it always seems to be all or nothing. My current reading pool for the read-a-thon encompasses almost every genre and ranges from a mere 32 pages for many of my picture books to almost 500 pages for Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels. Maybe instead of thinking of this stack as just my read-a-thon picks, we should also think of it as my October/November even possibly December reads.

Plays I started reading plays during last year’s read-a-thon. I found so many wonderful playwrights that I’ve started slowly reading as many as I can especially Pulitzer prize-winning plays. Plays are usually no more than a hundred pages long and contain memorable characters and great settings. For the upcoming read-a-thon, here are a few plays I plan on reading that won the Pulitzer for Drama.

play row

I Am My Own Wife by Doug Wright. 2004 Pulitzer.
Wit by Margaret Edson. 1999 Pulitzer.
Angels in America by Tony Kushner. 1993 Pulitzer

not shown: August: Osage County by Tracy Letts.

Short Stories The great thing about reading short stories during the read-a-thon is that you can dip in and out of collections and still feel as though you’re accomplishing something.

row 2 short stories

The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie.
Woman Hollering Creek and Other Stories by Sandra Cisneros. I read this collection years ago and I think it’s really time for a re-read.
Dedicate Edible Birds by Lauren Groff.


Graphic Novels

row 3 graphic novels

Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry.
Amulet 2: The Stonkeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kabuishi.
Maus by Art Spiegelman

Not shown: The Professor’s Daughter by Joann Sfar and Emmanuel Guibert

Fantasy

row 4

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Tigerheart by Peter David
The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan

Other Notables

row 6row 5

Peter and Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
A Fine and Private Place by Peter S. Beagle
A Wish After Midnight by Zetta Elliot

Books not shown:

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
B.P.R.D. series by Mike Mignola
Sprout by Dale Peck
Uglies by Scott Westerfield
The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Little Brother by Cory Doctrow

You see how crazy I went? This is why I’m calling this pile my October-November-and-possibly-December pile. I have a ton of books on hold at the library that will be coming in sometime next week. I can’t wait for the read-a-thon to start but I’m not going to wait to start reading some of these great books.

Have you read any of these graet books? Which ones do you think I should save for the read-a-thon? Are there any that you think I should move to the top of the pile? Have you thought about what books you’re going to read for the big event?