Recollections: Reviews by a Book Lover


Let’s Get Graphic: Graphic Novel Roundup

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately, probably more graphic novels than books actually. Below are some of my favorites.

The first 3 are Advanced Reader Copies through Netgalley:

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

First one I’ll mention is The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen & Sonny Liew. It doesn’t come out until July, so I’m going to hold off on a full review for now. I will say it’s about the Green Turtle, the first Asian American super hero, and I will say I really enjoyed it. Fans of Gene Luen Yang won’t be disappointed. My copy was an e-galley through Netgalley.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The Return of Zita the SpaceGirl by Ben Hatke comes out this month. This is the third installment of Zita the Spacegirl. Again my copy was an e-galley through Netgalley. I loved the two previous Zita’s, and I loved The Return as much as the first two. I love Zita’s spunk and determination. She is loyal and a true friend to all who need her help. If you are looking for a graphic novel with loveable characters then check out Zita, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

The last e-galley I read recently was This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki. Every summer Rose and her family go to a Lake House in Awago Beach. Rose hangs out with Windy, whose family also always vacations there. Rose’s parents are constantly fighting, so Rose and Windy find ways to distract themselves, like swimming, going to the local convenience store, and watching horror movies. This is the summer of growing up, transitioning from child to teen, and learning all the heartbreak and wonder that come along with it.

 

Great graphic novels I’ve read lately that are already out include:

 

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Zombie’s Calling by Faith Erin Hicks. Joss loves zombie movies, but will her knowledge of the rules of a zombie movie be enough to save her and her roommates when her university is taken over by a zombie plague? Great story, loveable characters, and I personally appreciated the commentary on the price of higher education (as I, like Joss, will be paying off my college education for the rest of my life).

Picture from GoodReads

Picture from GoodReads

Mind the Gap by Jim McCann. I’m on volume two of this graphic novel series, and I am HOOKED! Elle is attacked in the subway station, and now she is lying in a hospital in a coma. Who tried to kill Elle and why? Elle’s spirit is detached from her body and trying to put all the pieces together. This is a fantastic thriller with a supernatural twist. I’m really intrigued by this story, and I can’t wait to get volume number 3.

MorningGlories

Morning Glories by Nick Spencer. I picked up with graphic novel series at work because the back said it was about six brilliant new students at a sinister boarding school. I love a good boarding school story, add mystery and something deadly lurking and I’ll pick it up! I’m on volume #3 so far and I haven’t been disappointed. The twist and turns are never ending. The teachers are straight up evil, almost drowning the 6 student on their first day. There is a weird cult and strange medical experiments. So far this series is keeping me hooked and on the edge of my seat.

 

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Review: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
By Jesse Andrews

 

What it’s about: Greg Gaines is just trying to get through high school by flying under the radar. Earl Jackson is Greg’s only friend (although he prefers to refer to him as a coworker), and together they make movies they never let anyone else watch. Greg is very satisfied with the way his senior of high school is going, he has no real friends but he is friendly to everyone and therefore no one actively dislikes him or makes fun of him. But as mothers will often do, Greg’s mother puts a kink in his high school plans to have no friends. A girl Greg knew in middle school (and kind of dated but didn’t because his intention in talking to her had been to make another girl jealous) is diagnosed with leukemia. Greg’s mom tells him he has to hang out with her because he was so good at making her laugh when they used to hangout.

 

What I thought: Greg tells you right away that this book is not a romance nor is it a book in which he learns some great life lesson from hanging out with the dying girl. I appreciated the honesty. And he is honest about it not being a romance. Whether he learned anything from it is up for debate. Greg visits Rachel and tries to cheer her up. Sometimes his attempts are successful, other times they’re not. Then one day Earl brings some of their movies to the hospital for Rachel to watch. Greg is extremely annoyed with him, but Earl puts him in his place. Rachel’s cancer seems to hit Earl harder and in a different way than it affects Greg. Despite what Greg thinks Rachel loves the movies and so Earl brings her different ones to watch. She respects that Greg doesn’t want anyone to see them and she never shows anyone. Greg has no real plans for his future. He avoids the topic of college with his parents, saying he would just go to Pitt. He’s grades end up suffering though because of the time he is spending with Rachel, and also because of how his mother ruined his life (that’s all I’ll say because I don’t want to ruin it for you). Rachel wants Greg to apply to film school, he thinks it’s a terrible idea, but maybe in the end Greg did learn something from his time with Rachel.

 

I highly recommend Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I’ve heard if you like The Fault in our Stars than read this when I’ve read stuff about Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. While I think those who love TFIOS will love this book as well, it isn’t exactly like TFIOS.

 


Review: Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders

Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders by Geoff Herbach

Picture from goodreads

Picture from goodreads

My copy is an Advanced Reader Copy from the publisher.

What it’s about: Gabe (aka Chunk) has a rule he learned from an old woman who used to clean his house, “Better laugh than cry.” For most of high school he has pretty much lived by that rule. Someone is making fun of him for being fat? Then do a dance and make everyone laugh. But when the soda machine money (to which Gabe has given a lot of money) stops going to the band, and starts going to the cheerleaders’ dance squad, well, Gabe is done laughing. It is an all-out war between the band Geekers and anyone who gets in their way, and Gabe is the unlikely leader.
What I thought: I loved this book. I was laughing out loud throughout – which for me is always a sign of a good book. I love how much Gabe grows and changes as the story goes on. Gabe’s friends call him Chunk (yes that is a Goonies reference for all you who know great movies ) and other kids (like the Jocks) choose other words to describe Gabe’s size which are much harsher. So Gabe gets called names a lot, and with his anger over the soda pop money comes the realization he doesn’t like being called fat. Gabe is no longer laughing because the only time it’s better to laugh than cry is when you can’t do anything about it. Gabe can do something about it, and he does. He starts working out with his Grandfather (you’ll love his grandfather) and eating healthier; he isn’t going to let food and soda control him, or use it as a way to deal with how he feels. Gabe starts to take control of his life health wise. He also starts to realize he also calls people names, and maybe the jocks, cheer bitches, and Goth, may not like those names any more than he likes being called fat. As for the war over the vending machine funds, well Gabe learns what it means to be a leader. He also learns a lot about his fellow classmates and friends.
I love Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders because I was laughing throughout, but also because I saw Gabe grow. As you read the book, you see as Gabe realizes, yes he is picked on but he is also the one who picks on others too. He just never realized he was name calling too. Gabe realizes a lot and you can’t help but cheer him on.
I highly recommend this book.

 


Let’s Get Graphic

I’ve been reading a lot of graphic novels lately.  Here are some short reviews of my favorites:

 

Friends

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks

Maggie is about to start high school after being homeschooled her whole life.  Maggie’s mom left her and her three brothers and nothing has been the same since.  Maggie’s brothers have been her only friends until she meets Alistair and Lucy. 

I love this book because it’s all about friendship, growing up, learning to forgive and move on.  I almost forgot to mention, Maggie is haunted.  While trying to deal with her brothers and her new friends, she is also trying to figure why she is being haunted and how she can help the ghost. 

 

Page

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

Paige Turner just moved to New York.  She is trying to adjust to the big city while making friends and her sketchbook is helping her do just that.

This is a great book because Paige is in her head so much, and her sketchbook helps her get it all out there.  She learns to open up and share her sketchbook and thoughts/feelings with others.   It’s about finding yourself and learning to be comfortable enough with that self to share it with the world. 

 

 Will

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

Will lost her parents in an accident and now she lives with her aunt.  She has two best friends and loves to make lamps.  She is also afraid of the dark. 

Will’s lamps help her deal with her fear of the dark, but she hasn’t come to terms with the loss of her family.  She tries to avoid it, but when a storm knocks out all the power in town, Will can’t hide from the dark anymore.  This is a story about coming to terms with loss and your fears.  Will is lucky because she has her friends to help her. 

 

Amulet

Amulet Volume 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

Emily and Navin move into their great-grandfather’s house with their mother after their father dies.  However, this house proves to have dangerous secrets and soon Emily and Navin are on journey to save their mother after she is taken by monsters to an underground world.  Soon siblings meet others and find allies. 

I love the storyline and the characters are great.  I love Miskit the mechanical rabbit, and all the other friends Emily and Navin make along the way.  Emily lost her father, but she isn’t going to let her mother be taken away from her.  She will do anything to protect what is left of her family, something we can all relate to.

 

 

Astonishing X-Men (volumes 1-9) 

The first four volumes were written by Joss Whedon, and I loved them.  The story arc was fantastic.  Cyclops and Emma Frost have reformed the X-men, but something threatens the existence of mutants, and it is up to them to stop it.  Out of the 9 volumes I’ve read so far this was my favorite story arc.  The other arcs include ghost boxes, parallel universes, the brood, and Monster Island.  Some arcs are better than others, but all have kept me reading. 

 

The artwork in all these graphic novels is amazing.  Gulledge’s art is black and white (which I normal don’t care for, I love color!), but she is such a great artist I hardly notice the absence of color.  The X-men volumes have different artists and writers, some artists are better than others.  A few of the volumes felt a little dark, and I didn’t like how some of the artists drew certain characters. 


Review: Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones

Doll Bones by Holly Black

What it’s about:  Poppy, Zach, and Alice have been friends forever, and for almost as long they have been playing a continuous game with pirates, mermaids, and the Queen.  One day everything changes when Zach has to give up playing the game, but he doesn’t explain to Poppy and Alice why he has to stop.  Poppy and Alice are afraid Zach is moving on from them.  Then one night Poppy tells Zach and Alice the Queen (a bone china doll) is actually made from the bones of a little girl, and now her ghost is haunting Poppy.  Poppy tells them they have to go on a quest to find the girl’s grave and put her spirit to rest.

What I thought:  Everyone loves a quest, and everyone understands a quest.  So I understood why Poppy had to do this, and why despite the trouble they could get in Alice and Zach decided to go with her. Like all quests, things don’t go according to plan.  Thus a lot of adventure occurs as they try to find the grave.  But I’m not going to talk about that because you have to go on their adventure yourself.

Is the doll really haunting Poppy?  That’s something you will have to decide for yourself in the end.  I’d like to believe the ghost was real.  Don’t worry Holly Black does a great job in providing just enough creepy, it isn’t too much to really scare kids but it’s enough to give you goose bumps.

I really liked Doll Bones because besides the creepy it also addresses growing up.  How everything changes, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.  How sometimes we feel like our friends are changing and we are going to be left behind.  It’s hard to watch the people you have known all your life change, but it’s not necessarily bad.  We all grow up but that doesn’t mean we have to grow apart or that we have to stop playing.


Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Picture from Goodreads.com

Picture from Goodreads.com

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

As I’ve mentioned before I was temping in the children’s department of my local library.  While there I was able to read some picture books, and some juvenile fiction.  Since Diary of a Wimpy Kid has been the rage for a while I figured it was time I read the first in the series.

What it is about:  Middle school for Greg Heffley has its twists and turns.  In this novel we follow Greg through his mishaps and adventures as he writes in his diary.  We learn about the cheese touch, how Greg feels about his family, and friends, and how he deals with middle school.

What I like:  Diary of a Wimpy Kid is full of funny boy humor.  Will girls get a kick out of it too? Of course! We all lived through middle school, or are currently navigating through it, and therefore we can relate.  Greg makes some pretty terrible decisions, and is often very selfish in his actions.  While Greg may think he has gotten away with something, he soon gets bite in the butt for his choices.  There are tons of drawings to compliment the storyline, and these are also hilarious.

If you are currently in middle school, or just what to remember trying to navigate life while that age, then I recommend you pick up Diary of a Wimpy Kid.