The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Posted by on Sep 15, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 0 comments

The Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel GreenbergThe Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: 2016 Little, Brown and Company
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 224
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

My Thoughts:
So many people I know and trust recommended this graphic novel that I just had to get on the waiting list at the library.

I am so glad I did. This is simply a wonderful graphic novel. The story and the stories layered within it are interesting, fun, sad, touching, dark and also humorous.

Also beautiful is the artwork by the author. It places the action firmly in a world created by the daughter of a god.

The stories Hero tells become stories within stories and are about the women. They’re part fairy tale and part feminist manifesto. Some are retellings of familiar tales but with changes that still make them new. They are also about the stories and the power of storytelling.

I loved it and I think you will too

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Posted by on Sep 5, 2017 in 2017, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 2 comments

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil FerrisMy Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Trade Paperback
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 386
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.

My Thoughts:
Thank you to everyone who recommended this. It was exactly what you told me it would be. A completely unique and fascinating graphic novel the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I was a little hesitant to read it because I’m not nearly as big a horror fan as the main character. I shouldn’t have worried. What she loves is the old classic horror movies and comics that I loved as a kid myself.

The layers to both the story and the artwork in this graphic novel are both complex and wonderful. This is a hefty volume but I didn’t want to put it down. I’m so glad I started it when I had plenty of time.

There is a second volume to this story coming and I’m stalking my library website in order to be on the waiting list early.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Secret Path by Gord Downie

Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Secret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff LemireSecret Path by Gord Downie with art by Jeff Lemire

Genre: History
Format: Music plus graphic novel
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 96
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Secret Path is a ten song digital download album by Gord Downie with a graphic novel by illustrator Jeff Lemire that tells the story of Chanie “Charlie” Wenjack, a twelve-year-old boy who died in flight from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School fifty years ago.

Chanie, misnamed Charlie by his teachers, was a young boy who died on October 22, 1966, walking the railroad tracks, trying to escape from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to return home. Chanie’s home was 400 miles away. He didn’t know that. He didn’t know where it was, nor how to find it, but, like so many kids—more than anyone will be able to imagine—he tried.

Chanie’s story is Canada’s story. We are not the country we thought we were. History will be re-written. We are all accountable. Secret Path acknowledges a dark part of Canada’s history—the long suppressed mistreatment of Indigenous children and families by the residential school system—with the hope of starting our country on a road to reconciliation. Every year as we remember Chanie Wenjack, the hope for Secret Path is that it educates all Canadians young and old on this omitted part of our history, urging our entire nation to play an active role in the preservation of Indigenous lives and culture in Canada.

My Thoughts:
I heard about this book and music in my LibraryThing group. I was immediately interested because Jeff Lemire did the artwork and as you know he’s one of my favorites. It wasn’t readily available but I was able to get a copy throuth interlibrary loan.

This is much more than the graphic novel. The music is an integral part of Chanie’s story. The only text in the graphic novel is the lyrics to the songs by Downie.

Secret Path Screenshot

After reading the book I watched the animated film that was created from Downie’s music and Lemire’s art. It’s about an hour long but in my opinion the best way to experience this story.

In all of it’s formats Chanie Wenjack’s story is heartbreaking. In the music of Gord Downie and the art of Jeff Lemire it is one of the most beautifully heart wrenching stories I’ve ever experienced.

This is the film which is about an hour long followed by an hour long panel discussion. Secret Path is bookended by Downie’s visits with Charlie’s family. Save this link and watch it when you have time.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 9, 2017 in 2017, 5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire | 0 comments

Roughneck by Jeff LemireRoughneck by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Gallery 13
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 272
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Derek Ouelette’s glory days are behind him. His hockey career ended a decade earlier in a violent incident on ice, and since then he’s been living off his reputation in the remote northern community where he grew up, drinking too much and fighting anyone who crosses him. But he never counts on his long-lost sister, Beth, showing up one day out of the blue, back in town and on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Looking to hide out for a while, the two siblings hunker down in a secluded hunting camp deep in the local woods. It is there that they attempt to find a way to reconnect with each other and the painful secrets of their past…even as Beth’s ex draws closer, threatening to pull both Derek and Beth back into a world of self-destruction that they are fighting tooth and nail to leave behind.

My Thoughts:
Yes. I know, another Lemire. He’s being rather prolific this year and I can’t help it. I love his work and this one is no exception.

For this one he’s back to doing his own artwork. He has a distinctive style and I’m happy to see it again. He’s done the main story is blues, white and black. It’s the colors of the landscape in wintertime in remote northern Canada. He’s done the flashbacks in more color as well as the danger and violence in the present to underscore the connection.

The story, as with much of Lemire’s work, deals with emotional issues. It’s about family dysfunction, loss, healing, and breaking the cycles of violence and abuse. It’s a dark story but one that draws you in and tugs at your emotions.

Here’s a video from the publisher that include some of the first few pages and some comments from Jeff Lemire.

I know I always highly recommend Lemire’s work but seriously do yourself a favor and read this one.

5 stars Rating 5/5

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March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Posted by on Oct 18, 2016 in 2016, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel | 2 comments

March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate PowellMarch: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin with art by Nate Powell

Format: Paperback, Graphic Novel
Series: #3 in the March series
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 250
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

By Fall 1963, the Civil Rights Movement is an undeniable keystone of the national conversation, and as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, John Lewis is right in the thick of it. With the stakes continuing to rise, white supremacists intensify their opposition through government obstruction and civilian terrorist attacks, a supportive president is assassinated, and African-Americans across the South are still blatantly prohibited from voting. To carry out their nonviolent revolution, Lewis and an army of young activists launch a series of innovative projects, including the Freedom Vote, Mississippi Freedom Summer, and a pitched battle for the soul of the Democratic Party waged live on national television. But strategic disputes are deepening within the movement, even as 25-year-old John Lewis heads to Alabama to risk everything in a historic showdown that will shock the world.

My Thoughts:
I cannot recommend this trilogy enough. Even if graphic novels are not something you routinely read I absolutely encourage you to stretch your comfort zone a bit and give it a try. It’s an important story well worth reading.

This is an extremely well done story of the early 1960’s Civil Rights Movement told by one of its key leaders. John Lewis is now a congressman and his story is told with intermissions of him attending Barack Obama’s inauguration. The majority of the story in this volume takes place between the 1963 bombing of a Birmingham church that killed four little girls and the 1965 Freedom March from Selma to Montgomery.

It’s tough to read at times but given the increasingly vocal racism that has permeated this year’s election season it’s a timely read right now.

The artwork is wonderful. It’s all black and white drawings but the emotions are well portrayed. The violence is a major part of this history and while it’s clearly portrayed enough to be unsettling it’s never too graphic (unlike the real events).

If you have kids this is an excellent nonfiction series in a very accessible format to teach them about the battle for the right to vote.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Watchmen by Alan Moore

Posted by on Mar 15, 2016 in 2 stars, 2016, Book Review, Comics, Graphic Novel | 6 comments

Watchmen by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons

Watchmen by Alan Moore with art by Dave Gibbons

Genre: Superheroes, Science Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel, TradePaperback
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: 2005 (this edition)
Pages: 334
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

It all begins with the paranoid delusions of a half-insane hero called Rorschach. But is Rorschach really insane or has he in fact uncovered a plot to murder super-heroes and, even worse, millions of innocent civilians? On the run from the law, Rorschach reunites with his former teammates in a desperate attempt to save the world and their lives, but what they uncover will shock them to their very core and change the face of the planet! Following two generations of masked superheroes from the close of World War II to the icy shadow of the Cold War comes this groundbreaking comic story — the story of The Watchmen.

My Thoughts:
As a fairly recent reader of comics and graphic novels this is one that I have not read. It’s fairly well known as a classic and a critically acclaimed graphic novel. It was one of those books that I felt like I should read because it’s considered a landmark in the world of comics and graphic novels.

I enjoyed the retro look if it. I also liked the alternate history aspect and the way real events were slightly altered yet still familiar. The story does a lot of jumping around in time and there is a story within the story that someone is reading throughout the book. It’s more than a little challenging to keep track of the timelines and story but a bit of strategic googling helped.

The history of the superheroes in most cases is that of normal people without superpowers donning costumes and alternate identities. They weren’t all good all the time though. For a variety of reasons, the superheroes are outlawed and now it appears that they are targets of someone with a nefarious plan.

It’s not a quick read because the story is complex. The artwork is so densely packed with detail it was definitely one of the reasons I needed to take my time with this one. Most of the panels are small but filled with important elements of the story.

I didn’t love it. I’m not even sure if I liked it. I’m glad I read it mostly for it’ place in comics and graphic novel history, but it sort of felt like an assignment and I was ready to move on before I was done with it. I think the only reason I did finish it was because it does have an important place in publishing history. I’m glad this was not the first graphic novel that I read.

2 stars Rating 2/5

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