Nutshell Review – Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jun 19, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire, Nutshell Review | 2 comments

Essex County Vol. 1: Tales From the Farm by Jeff Lemire

Essex County Vol. 2: Ghost Stories by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Fiction
Format: Graphic Novel
Series: #2 in the Essex County Trilogy
Publisher: Top Shelf
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 223
Source: Library

The Book:
From the back cover:

Now the tale continues with Ghost Stories, the second volume in a trilogy of graphic novels set in a fictionalized version of Lemire’s hometown of Essex County, Ontario, Ghost Story follows the lives and relationship of brothers Lou and Vince Lebeuf over the course of nearly seven decades. In this volume, eldest brother Lou, now a deaf and lonely man, lives out his final days on his farm full of guilt and regret for the decisions he made that tore his family apart. From their childhood on the farm, to Toronto in the 1950’s (where they both played professional hockey), Lou is left to revisit his life, his decisions and his regrets. A silent observer, haunted by his own memories

My Thoughts:
Well, once again Jeff Lemire has created characters who have wrapped themselves around my heart and will stick with me for a long time. It’s no secret that I think Lemire is a talented genius. He has the ability to tell a complex and emotional story in spare and raw black and white images often with little or no text on the pages.

The events of this volume primarily take place many years before the events of volume one. It’s clear based on the character names that there is a connection with at least one of the main characters from the first book. That relationship isn’t clear until late in this volume. Also the titular Country Nurse of volume three is introduced here.

I already have volume three out from the library to read soon but I have also requested the collected one volume edition of the trilogy for a couple of reasons, The first is that I want to re-read volume one because of new information I now have. The second reason is that it also includes two additional shorts that Lemire wrote that are connected.

Once again I’m going to recommend that you read anything you can get your hands on that Jeff Lemire has done. He’s amazing.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5

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Nutshell Review: The Unwritten Vol. 10: War Stories by Mike Carey

Posted by on Mar 6, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review, Mike Carey, Nutshell Review | 0 comments

The Unwritten Vol. 10: War Stories by Mike Carey with art by Peter Gross

Unwtitten Vol. 10: War Stories by Mike Carey

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Series: #10 in the Unwritten series (AKA Part 1 of The Unwritten Apocalypse)
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 128
Source: Library


The Book:

This volume is a compilation of issues 1-6 of The Unwritten Apocalypse

From the back of the book:

It’s the end of the world as we know it

Tom Taylor’s not just a character in a story, he’s a character in all stories.

When Tom’s novelist father gave the boy-wizard hero of his book’s Tom’s name, he imbued his flesh-and-blood son with powers beyond even those of his fictional doppelganger. Tom can travel between the real world and the countless fictional worlds contained in every tale ever told.

But those worlds are in danger. The great beast Leviathan, in whose belly every story world resides, lies wounded. The boundaries between the stories are weaker than ever. And as Tom careens uncontrollably from world to world, the deadliest denizens of a million tales threaten to tear his world apart.

Words are magic. And unless Tom can stop the forces working to destroy every story, he’ll learn there’s blacker spell words can form than THE END

My Thoughts:
This is the penultimate volume in what has been a fascinating and literary reference filled journey

I don’t think I will wait for the final collected edition which will be released in May. I will probably finish out this series with the final six issues as individual issues.

This has been an utterly fascinating, challenging and mind bending journey with Tom and his friends (and enemies). The artwork has been excellent throughout and told as much of the story as the words. Peter Gross has had to tell the visual part of the story in an incredible number of different ways and the variety, depth and detail of the art is amazing.

I know that even though I am relatively well-read there are references that flew way over my head along the way. This was not always an easy series to read and I had to re-read many sections to figure out what was really going on. Nevertheless it’s been an entertaining and interesting journey. Now that it’s winding down I’m both eager and nervous about how it will all end.

I expect that this is a series that I will revisit from the beginning at some point.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Nutshell Review: Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Nutshell Review | 2 comments

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe

Genre: Fantasy, Comics
Series: #1 in the Rat Queens series
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 128
Source: Library


The Book:

This volume 1 is a compilation of issues 1-5 of the comic series.
From the back cover:

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

My Thoughts:
Oh this was fun! I heard about this one from Swapna at S. Krishna’s Books and I’m so glad I paid attention. It’s kind of weird and hard to describe but I cannot wait to read more. You can check out a preview of a few pages at the Image Comics site. I’ve already put my name on the waiting list at the library for volume 2 which will be released in February.

The Rat Queens are a group of kick ass female mercenaries. They are assigned a quest as punishment for their latest drunken brawl (as are several other groups involved in this particular brawl). It soon turns out that this is all a trap and someone is out to get all these mercenaries assassinated.

Obviously the Rat Queens can’t let that happen.

This is definitely a comic for mature audiences so if your sensitive to bloody violence, profane language or sexual content don’t bother.

The art by Roc Upchurch is vibrant and action packed. The characters are so varied and interesting because of the fantasy setting. I found a great interview with him at Paste Magazine.

Personally I enjoyed the heck out of it. I liked all the main characters. They’re sarcastic and not pretty idealized female images. They’re also pretty darn badass. I’m going to have to buy this one so I can read it again before volume 2 is released.

 

6a117-rating_35starsRating 3.5/5

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Nutshell Review: Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire

Posted by on Jul 3, 2014 in 2014, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Lemire, Nutshell Review | 2 comments

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Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire

Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire

Genre: Science Fiction, Grapic Novel
Series: #3 in the Sweet Tooth series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 143
Source: Library

The Book:

From the publisher:

In this new collection featuring issues #12-17, Gus and the other hybrid kids meet a new ally in the militia camp, but will he help them find a way out? And Jepperd begins to assemble an army of his own to take down the militia camp. But can he control the forces he’s set in motion? It’s the most explosive SWEET TOOTH epic yet!

My Thoughts:
This series just gets more and more fascinating with every issue.

This time it opens with Gus in the Militia camp where his captors and scientists want to find our where he came from. Other human/animal hybrid children were born after the plague that killed much of the worlds population but Gus is too old to have been born after the plague. Is he (and the other hybrid kids) the key to the survival of the human race?

The clues to Gus’s past are generating more questions than answers at this point and the intriguing possibilities have me hooked. There are some seriously whacked out people in the remains of civilization.

Jeppard’s story in the meantime, is getting more answers but they are heartbreaking. He’s an angry man and the things he’s discovering are making him even angrier. At the same time however, he’s determined to help Gus.

Where this series will go next is clear at the end of this volume but the possibilities of what will happen there are wide open. I need to get volume 4 out from the library soon.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Nutshell Review: Jack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges

Posted by on Jun 27, 2014 in 2.5 stars, 2014, Bill Willingham, Book Review, Nutshell Review | 2 comments

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Jack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham and Matthew SturgesJack of Fables Vol. 2: Jack of Hearts by Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Series: #2 in the Jack of Fables series
Publisher: Vertigo
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 143
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 2 is a compilation of issues 6-11 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

After successfully escaping from an inescapable prison, is there a better place to head for than the city that fickle fortune built? Not if you’re Jack of Fables! Overflowing with his legendary self-regard, Jack is about to discover the key to winning back his lost riches and triumphantly returning to the top of the heap. All it will take is a little planning and some help from Lady Luck.
Unfortunately, Lady Luck turns out to be a bit more substantial than her reputation would suggest, as well as a whole lot crazier. Jack’s going to have his hands full just keeping his head on straight in Sin City – something that his former jailers intend to take full advantage of.

My Thoughts:
This second volume of this series had me remembering why I don’t like the character of Jack. I’ll continue with this spin-off series because I can alternate it with books from the main Fables series and I know that the stories do converge back together eventually.

In the meantime there are parts of the Jack story that are fun and interesting, but the problem is that Jack isn’t one of them. He’s insufferable and a jerk. I do enjoy when his grand plans get thwarted but he always seems to pick himself up and remind himself how great he thinks he is and move on to another adventure as he tries to rebuild his fortune and power.

I did enjoy learning about how he became Jack Frost for a while.

I’m going to be very disappointed if Jack doesn’t either get what’s coming to him or has a Grinch like change of heart somewhere along the way. In the meantime. I’m glad that next up for me is the next in the main Fables series.

2.5 stars Rating 2.5/5

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Nutshell Review: Audiobook – How to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell

Posted by on Jun 10, 2014 in 3.5 stars, Audio, Book Review, Cressida Cowell, David Tennant, Nutshell Review | 0 comments

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How to Be a Pirate by Cressida CowellHow to Be a Pirate by Cressida Cowell, Narrated by David Tennant

Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Fantasy
Series: #2 in the How to Train Your Dragon series
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Publication Date: 2004 for the book, 2013 for this audio edition
Length: 2 hours, 54 minutes
Read by: David Tennant
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

Follows the further adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as his Viking training continues and his father leads a stranger and the Hairy Hooligans to the Isle of Skullions in search of a pirate’s treasure.

My Thoughts:
I enjoyed listening to the first of this series so much I started this second book right away.

Hiccup and his dragon Toothless once again had me laughing my way through my commute time. David Tennant’s narration is just a delight.

The story begins with the young Vikings training to become Pirates. When “Alvin the Poor-But-Honest-Farmer” arrives on the scene he quickly gains the trust of Hiccup’s father the chief of the tribe. Alvin soon has the Hairy Hooligans on a dangerous mission in search of the treasure of Hiccup’s ancestor Grimbeard the Ghastly.

The adventure is fun. The story is over the top and full of humor that makes both 10 year old kids and me laugh.

I’m looking forward to continuing with this series. The books are short so they’re quick listens and for me they’ll make nice breaks between my typical audio mystery fare.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5 for the book

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the narration


SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.

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