Graphic Novels · Middle Grade · Sunday Morning Comics · Uncategorized

Sunday Morning Comics May 27, 2018

Good Morning! In the United States we are enjoying a long three-day weekend which means that Sunday morning is extra relaxing. I had the time to quietly enjoy both of these graphic novels which feature characters grappling with typical adolescent issues in additional to the impact of their culture background.

American Born Chinese by Gene Lien Yang showcases the stories of Jin Wang, the Monkey King, and Wei-Chen Sun. Jin Wang’s parents are Chinese immigrants and when Wei-Chen Sun arrives at school directly from Taiwan, Jin Wang wants nothing to do with him. Jin Wang wants to be an all-American boy and date the all-American girl. And the Monkey King has lived for thousands of years mastering skills to join the ranks of the immortal gods. But there is no place in heaven for a monkey!

The author and illustrator employs a fairly unique storytelling trick and does not use a traditional narrative structure. This allows three different perspectives regarding cultural assimilation and race-shaming to combine into one poignant message: “It’s easy to become anything you wish so long as you are willing to forfeit your soul.”

Meanwhile, in Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, Vera is the odd-duck out in her social circle of all-white affluent kids. Vera immigrated from Russia with her Mom, little brother and sister when she was five. After a disastrous attempt to host a sleep over she turns to her Russian Orthodox Church to find friends. There she hears about a camp which is only for Russian Orthodox kids and convinces her Mom to send her to camp. She figures that it will be easy to make friends with kids with her own cultural identity and background.

Once at camp though things don’t go quite as planned. They speak in Russian as much as possible, sing Russian songs and while Vera’s accent is perfect, it seems she isn’t Russian enough. She is also placed in a tent with much older girls and finds out that there is a big difference between almost ten and fourteen.

I really enjoyed how both of these authors used their personal knowledge to highlight the additional struggle foreign culture can add to growing up in America. While I have always been fascinated by other cultures I am well aware that there are many obnoxious Americans insist on cultural homogenization which is a tragedy. I hope every child (really, adults as well) read these books and work to feel comfortable with their own culture, or, embrace the child whose culture is different from your own. The world is just a more interesting place with diversity and acceptance.


Tell me, please!

Have you come across any other culturally interesting Graphic Novels?


 

nonfiction

Ask an Astronaut by Tim Peake

Let me be clear, I am never going to space. Nope. Can’t make me. I went to an exhibit years ago about life on Mars. On the way into the exhibit you had to choose whether you would want to go live on Mars or not and the same question was asked on the way out. Upon entry I was all “Meh, no thanks.” After the exhibit I was a firm, “Hell no. Can’t make me. Never happening.”

askanastronautBut that is the beauty of books! In Ask an Astronaut, My Guide to Life in Space Tim Peake answers all of our questions about traveling to and living on the International Space Station for six months. I get all the fun learning without having to leave the safety and comfort of my home.

The majority of the questions to Tim were asked by children but, honestly, they were all things I had pondered. Questions like, “How do you go to the bathroom in space,” were answered with equal sincerity as, “What is the best advice you ever received?” I quickly learned to appreciate the depth of knowledge possessed by the author as well as how humble he continued to be in the face of his enormous accomplishments.

As to his accomplishments, Tim Peake is the first British ESA astronaut and the first British person to spacewalk wearing the Union Flag. When asked what souvenirs he brought back from space he listed his space cutlery, a crushed Russian coin and the Union Flag patch. Then, almost as a side note he mentions that this flag represents a new chapter in the UK’s long and distinguished history of exploration and scientific research so he had the “honor of presenting this Union Flag to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II” so that it could be placed in the Royal Archives and Royal Collection. So very wonderfully British and modest.

The book is a delightful read and is probably appropriate for all ages. However, the science and technology reference made by the author (again, in that easy breezy manner) are a little more complex. I learned a tremendous amount about the methods for getting to and from the ISS, what arduous work is being done on the space station as well as how much scientific research is being performed on a daily basis as they revolve around the Earth in microgravity. I have a lifelong awe of astronauts but I always considered them elite athletes. Now I understand how incredibly intelligent and multi-talented an astronaut needs to be, as well as fairly lucky, to actually have the opportunity to travel outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Also, astronauts know a lot of acronyms.

Tim Peake’s book will give you a taste of life on the ISS and the adventure of traveling into, walking among the stars, and returning back to Earth. He does so with intelligence, a lovely dry British humor and an unbelievable amount of modesty. I’m still not traveling to space but I loved reading about it.


Tell me, please!

Would you want to travel to space? Where would you go?


 

Sunday Morning Comics

Sunday Morning Comics 5/20/2018

 

This is a tardily posted Sunday morning comic because this particular Sunday has been extremely long and far from amazing (it’s only 2:00 my time!). The rain from last night came into my house and so I have been cleaning that up. The fans are set up and so I stopped to enjoy a long brunch. Happily, the bacon and the books have turned my day around!

These two comics are both fantastic and have rocketed to the top of my must-be-owned Graphic Novels. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang is a gorgeously illustrated story of the Prince who employs the dressmaker to sew outrageous frocks for him to wear. It is a wonderful story of embracing your own uniqueness.

Brazen or Rebel Ladies who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu is a collection of stories about women who broke the mold. Traveling around the world and through centuries of history this book covers women like Nellie Bly, Nazid al-Abid, and the Shaggs. I knew several of the featured women but so many I had not heard of and this book has really inspired me to follow up and learn more about these strong wonderful women.

Just look at these pages!

Rebel_InsideAll in all, this Sunday Comics was wonderfully inspiring. From the Prince who grew to accept himself to the Brazen women themselves these two Graphic Novels really lifted me up, dusted me off and set me back into Sunday with a much more positive mindset. I highly recommend both of these books!


Tell me, please!

Have you read either of these books?

Do you enjoy Graphic Novels?


Throwback Thursday

Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

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Throwback Thursday was originally created by Renee at It’s Book Talk to share older books published more than a year ago. 

goodinbedNormally I wouldn’t pick up a book entitled Good in Bed. Even in the romance genre this title would come across as less story and too steamy for my taste. However, this little gem was recommended to me by a trusted librarian so I borrowed it and quickly became deeply invested in these characters.

Jennifer Weiner’s writing in Good in Bed reminds me of Olivia Goldsmith, one of my favorite authors. Like Goldsmith some of Weiner’s books have been adapted for film. However, Good in Bed has been left to the pages. And I am grateful. I loved the main character, Cannie Shapiro and enjoyed picturing her without trying to match or compete with a movie.

And, believe me, Cannie is fun to picture. At 28 years old Cannie describes herself as having a “plus-sized body” which, as many of us know, is a size 2-4 in Hollywood. Rather, my Cannie was a gorgeously curvaceous young woman with a sharp wit, a cadre of formidable friends and a rat terrier named Nifkin. Her humor and her face when telling weight loss stories or attempting to down-play her angst at her father’s abandonment captured my imagination. Cannie is a talented writer working at a newspaper under a woman that I think we have all worked under at some time in our lives. Aptly named Grace (for her lack thereof), I recognized this woman immediately by her lack of female solidarity. Cannie does have emotional baggage to unpack and this book follows her year of forced self-discovery and transformation. And it all starts when her ex-boyfriend decides to use their relationship as a basis for his monthly national magazine articles. The first one, “Loving a Larger Woman” is just the beginning.

Can I just pause to say that the idea of someone writing about our romantic relationship in a magazine makes me break into a cold sweat. Being described as “Larger” would most definitely lead to a decade of never leaving the house. Amazon didn’t exist in Cannie’s time but having a Prime membership would allow me to literally never leave the house. Cannie may get mad, badmouth (but still long for) her ex, but she doesn’t hide.

Which is why it’s important to note that the blurb for Good in Bed makes the book sound like a lovely beach read. Rather, I think this books holds up beautifully as a reflection of the time in all of our lives when we focus on putting out the fires of our childhood and work on becoming a true adult. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, I still recommend Good in Bed. Perhaps Cammie’s story will help you plot your own path.


Tell me, please!

Have you read Good in Bed?

What would you do if an ex wrote about your love life?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday May 9, 2018

It’s Wednesday! In May the weeks seem far too long as summer is not officially upon us and every single week is crammed full of activities and end of the school year shenanigans. So, I fall deeper in love with Wednesday as this is the day that rolls us closer to the weekend and summer.

WWW

Sam generously continues to host the WWW Wednesday meme which gives us all a chance to get organized. Please check out her website and all the other fantastic WWW lists. So, without further adieu….


What did I just finish reading?

 

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris is an adult, Victorian romance themed, choose your own adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed it and you can read my full review here.

Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead is an all ages read that had me smiling on full beam. I loved Bob and Livvy and you can read my full review here.

I also finished BatmanNightwalker by Marie Lu. Marie wrote Batman true to character and filled the book with interesting sidekicks, friends and foes. However, I must admit, I really do not like Batman. I find him deeply annoying. His parent’s death aside, he needs additional therapy for his inability to believe that a gorgeous woman could be capable of evil deeds. Pretty ladies get him every single time and it makes me want to bat-slap him. However, if this doesn’t bother you about Batman you might enjoy this story. Nightwalker finds Bruce at the end of his high school experience stepping into his role in Wayne Enterprises (and into his slick Bat-suit.).


What am I Currently Reading?

I think the more important question might be, “Have I lost my mind?” Actually, I seem to have lost my attention span. I am struggling to get through The Book of Joy even though it is excellent. It has a lot of deep thoughts and rather than speed through them all I am challenging myself to slow down and absorb the wisdom. Therefore, I decided to read just one chapter a day.

The same is true of all the other books on this list with the exception of Good in Bed. Each of these books is proving to be a unique and interesting book that I have gotten sucked into one chapter at a time. Check back next week to see if this weird attention problem proves to help or hinder my reading log. Good in Bed is just a cute romance someone recommended to me that I am burning through right before bed.


What do I plan to read next?

The only firm plans I have is to get my Sunday Comics back on track. So I have these two graphic novels sitting at the ready!


Tell me, please!

Have you read any of my books? And, how excited are you for the longer days of summer?!

all ages · Fantasy · fiction

Bob by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass

One of my 2018 challenges was to not purchase any books until I had read my already owned whole shelf of books. I did really well in January and February and then fell off the wagon….hard. I wrote down my newly purchased books for some of March but then I just couldn’t even keep track. Now I am not even trying. Recently, I went into Barnes and Noble to wander around (the lie all book lovers tell themselves upon entering a book store). I stumbled across an a few must-purchase books and I could not resist the sweet premise of Bob by Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass.

BobFive years ago Olivia (Livy to her friends) visited her Gran in Australia. Now that she is back she can’t help but feel that she is forgetting something. Something really, really important. Maybe it is the little green man dressed in a handmade chicken suit hiding in her closet. His name is Bob and he has been waiting for her all this time. She promised to help him and now its time to keep that promise.

This sweet little book left me sighing with pure happiness. Olivia and Bob’s friendship is pure and wrapped in the protective bubble of childhood that seems to disintegrate slightly during adolescents. The mystery of what Bob is and why Livvy struggles to remember him only adds to their bond.

This adorable book is well written and sweet. For adults, this is a one hour read. I can imagine this book would be a one week to ten day read aloud. Either way, it really make me think about memories, friendships, and how childhood adventures can sculpt our future lives.


Tell me, please!

Was there a childhood moment that defines magic to you?


Romantic

My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris

I love Regency Romance novels. It doesn’t bother me one little bit that there are more Dukes in these stories than people in my hometown, the stories are lovely and sometimes all I want to read is something lovely. So, when I saw My Lady’s Choosing by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris I had to read it.

myladyschoosingMy Lady’s Choosing is a Choose Your Own Adventure novel that stars you as a plucky, penniless, Regency-era London lady. You begin your adventure as a companion to your dragon Aunt and through a series of choices end up in a wide variety of situations and endings.

For those who don’t remember these books, Choose Your Own Adventure novels typically give you two avenues and your selection takes you to a certain page. This continues until the end of the chosen story-line. I loved them as a kid. A number of years ago I discovered that there were adult versions out there but I never really enjoyed them like I did the juvenile versions. Many of the adult choices were daunting and I kept dying or getting kidnapped. The adventure part was missing. I didn’t want to chose whether to take a job or go back to college – I was actually making those decisions already.

This is what makes My Lady’s Choosing so fun for me. Finally I get to participate in a Regency romance from inside the story. I get to decide whether to slap the gentleman caller or kiss him. One path had me taking a position as a companion to an older gentleman or choosing to teach orphans. I decided whether to help the insufferable Lord or travel to Egypt. All paths obviously included romance.

My one complaint is that I felt at times that the authors were overly mocking regency romances. I accept that this book as a parody but still, names were frequently too silly and the characters could be inconsistent in their historical accuracy. But, I let many of the details pass as the Choose Your Own Adventure stories of my childhood were riddled with similar issues.

If you enjoy historical romances this book is a fun way to participate in the story. I had a great time working my way through the book five times already and I know that there are several other paths I have not yet taken!


Tell me, please!

What do you think of Choose Your Own Adventure novels?


Throwback Thursday

Throwback Thursday

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Throwback Thursday was originally started by Renee at It’s Book Talk. It is a way to highlight some old favorites or share books that I’m finally getting around to reading that were published more than a year ago. Or, in my case, usually more than ten years ago.

attachmentsAttachments, by Rainbow Rowell, was published in 2011 and takes place from late 1999-2000. This, for any reader born after 2000, was the real beginning of companies using intra-web applications and playing with allowing employees to have access to the internet. There were rampant concerns about Y2K and IT people came out of the shadows to save us all. And, obviously, read our e-mails.

Rowell focuses on this snippet of recent history and features Lincoln O’Neill who has been hired by The Courier as an internet security officer. He thought he would be putting up firewalls and crushing hackers when his night actually consists of reading e-mails that are flagged for inappropriate words. Typically, he reads the e-mail and sends the individual a warning. But one exchange, between Jennifer and Beth, pops into his folder and he is so captivating and engaged in their messages that he not only doesn’t warn them, he continues reading. The more he reads, the more he becomes invested in these women and their lives. And he finds himself falling in love with Beth even though he had never seen her. How can he admit his feeling when he has been invading her privacy?

I worked in an office as a intra-office e-mail trainer right around this time and Rowell took me right back to that (horrible) job. Beyond explaining to people that their disk holder was not a cup holder (for real) it was also my job to review their exchanges looking for porn and time wasters. Lincoln got to read adorable conversations between Jennifer and Beth and I got to inform a nasty man that just because other people couldn’t see into his cubicle didn’t mean that it was permissible to watch “light” porn on his break. Sigh. Life is better in books.

Rowell may give Lincoln a better experience than mine but he deserves it. At 27 Lincoln has several masters degrees but lives with his Mom and is still nursing a broken heart from his first love. Reading the supportive and loving messages between Jennifer and Beth is a balm for his soul. And who could blame him? Jennifer and Beth are the epitome of great girl friends – supportive, loving, hilarious and just there for each other.

I loved this little book for all the reasons I hated my IT job – the people. Rowell’s characters are good to the core and grow into only more likeable characters as the story continues. If you have not already enjoyed this sweet story I highly recommend it!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever worked a job featured in a book? How was your experience the same / different?


WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday April 25th

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WWW Wednesday, as always, is hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Join the fun by either checking out all of the other amazing WWW posts or answering the following three questions yourself!


What did you just finish reading?

Oh my bookish friends, things have been ugly here. A strange combination of books that failed to keep my interest and a free 30 day subscription to Hulu has resulted in me not reading very much at all. Still, I finished a couple of books and placed a few more firmly into the dreaded did not finish pile.

Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston was in my April OwlCrate. It was such a pretty book and I love (love) this author so I was pretty excited. Sadly, this book will not be receiving a SilverButton review. It was a retelling of Princess Anastasia told from four (four!) different points of view and it was a bit of a mess. Apparently it is also Book 1 in a series so perhaps the fabulous Poston will make it all work in the sequels.

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan was delightful! You can read my review here.

All four of these books went back to the library unfinished. Perhaps it is my mood but I couldn’t get into any of them. The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules was a wonderful premise but the translation made the story stilted and boring. The Case of the Missing Books featured a main character that I hated and I couldn’t stick with him. The Book Jumper was another I-have-super-powers-and-we-move-a-lot-and-I-call-my-Mom-by-her-first-name story. And The Wish Granter was just overdue. I didn’t even crack into it.

See? It might be me! I could be in a true book funk.


What am I currently reading?

I am trying to limit myself a little bit this week to only three books: One fiction, one non-fiction, one graphic novel. So, this week I am a couple of chapters into the inspirational book The Book of Joy. So far, I am deeply moved by the profound words and the loving relationship of these two spiritual leaders.

I either love Rainbow Rowell books or….not. Attachments is from 2011 but I am halfway through it and really enjoying it.

Brazen is the graphic novel to pique your interest in learning more about Brazen women who rocked the world. I have already enjoyed half of the book and I cannot wait to see the rest of the ladies!


What do I plan to read next?

I picked up The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell because the cover reads “Tales of a 6’4”, African-American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and proud, Blerd, Mam’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-up Comedian. SOLD.

Batman Nightwalker by Marie Lu is part of the DC Icons series. I love Warbringer and so I was curious enough to check out Batman even though Batman is my least favorite superhero. Maybe Marie Lu can bring me to the bat-side.

I first saw Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Franklin reviewed on Ryan’s site Muse With Me. His review is here and if you read it you’ll see why it piqued my interest. After The Book of Joy I really want to explore resilience and this book seems like a fine place to start.


Tell me, please!

Have you read any of these? Thoughts? Also, let me know what’s on your WWW list in the comments section below!

nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday: I Work at a Public Library… by Gina Sheridan

I have had a serious dry spell in good non-fiction! I read and read but haven’t loved anything enough to recommend it. Then, I picked up I Work at a Public Library, A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks, by Gina Sheridan. I initially chose the slim book because I needed one that could be read in a day for one of my reading challenges. Then I enjoyed it so much I wished it was longer! Imagine my joy when I discovered that it began as a blog and she continues to add entries. You can find the blog here.

iworkI was also interested in reading the stories because my first, third, fourth and fifth jobs were all at libraries. I worked as a page (that person who re-shelves your books), a reference assistant and later a legal reference librarian (worst.job.ever – no books!). I loved being a page because I spent my days looking at the books and seeing what people loved checking out and returning. And, in case you haven’t visited one lately, the public library is amazing people watching. Amazing. There are very few things in life I enjoy more than people watching.

Gina Sheridan embraced the people watching without making me feel like she was mocking the patrons of the library. From innocent questions about internet porn to the crazy antics of the usual customers, it was clear that these people were important to the author. And, I was incredible impressed with her diplomatic answers to some truly rude and probing questions.

For a small taste: One entry on her blog from December 2017 reads,

“Today a patron brought in his own (large) TV and game console and set them up in a study room. He played for hours with no explanation or disruption.”

This is what I love about the public library. It’s public but for many people it is their home away from home. And they treat it just like it belongs to them – for better or worse.

I really enjoyed this funny quick read but the last chapter, the one that focuses on the patrons that return to thank their librarians, made me happy-cry. Librarians are heroes and Gina’s humurous book and blog embrace the beautiful and sometimes weird things our librarians do for all of us.


Tell me, please!

Do you love your public library?