Saturday, January 24, 2015

Booklist 2014: The Final Half

* = reread

CB = Children’s Book
GN = Graphic novel or comic anthology
art = art book

*   64.   *

Guards! Guards!

by. Terry Pratchett

Someone is causing trouble in the city of Ankh-Morpork, but unfortunately for the City Watch that someone just happens to be a dragon.

The Guards books tend to be my favorite Discworld stories. Although I've gotta admit it’s weird seeing the early stuff, because out of everyone in the series the guards are the group that evolves the most as the stories go on. I mean, in this one they're still operating out of the Treacle Mine Road headquarters? It's madness!

*   65.   *


by. Terry Pratchett

A young boy with a penchant for demonology tries to summon a demon to grant his wishes, but accidentally summons an incompetent wizard instead in this Faust parody.

This is probably my second Least favorite Discworld book. There's just no meat to the story and I don’t care about Faust.



by. Edan Lepucki

In the near future the world as we know it has fallen apart. Cal and Frida have managed to create a life for themselves in the wilderness, but when Frida becomes pregnant they start considering joining a mysterious and guarded community of survivors.

I spent a large portion of this book rather bored, but really curious where it was all headed. But it turns out it was headed to a really dumb ending.

*   69.   *

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

by. Shirley Jackson

A poisoning incident left everyone in the Blackwood family dead except for the two daughters and their senile uncle. Now they keep to themselves to avoid the judgement, persecution, and hateful gossip of the people in town. But events are taking place that will force them all into the open and the wrath of their conformist community.

I love Shirley Jackson and this is one of my favorites of hers. It captures that frightening feeling of not fitting in and being judged for it. Of just wanting to be by yourself and with the few people you love and not dealing with anyone elses bullshit. The whole thing is like a wonderfully dark urban fairy tale.



by. Kenneth Oppel

During the old war between the beasts and the birds, the bats refused to pick a side and were subsequently barred from ever seeing the sun again. But war is about to reignite once again when a young silverwing bat dares to sneak a peek at the sun.

Definitely kids’ fare, but it was a fun light read. I loved the backstory of the war that set up the world of the bats. I was expecting this series to be like Redwall, but it’s actually got more of a Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH thing going on.


In the Heart of the Beat:
The Poetry of Rap

by. Alexs D. Pate

For me, reading this book was like getting trapped in a conversation with a horribly pretentious person.


Shadow & Claw
The First Half of the Book of New Sun

by. Gene Wolfe

When an apprentice to the guild of executioners is excommunicated for showing mercy, he sets off on an epic journey.

I honestly have no idea how to describe this series to anyone. Let’s just say that it’s essentially a science-fiction story that's been translated as a fantasy?

It’s just like that, except not entirely.

*   [GN]   73.   [GN]   *

Last Chapter and Worse

by. Gary Larson

A collection of comic strips from The Farside.

Much to my discredit it’s been quite some time since I’ve read a Farside collection. But, damn, do I ever love that strip. It is far and away the greatest single panel comic strip ever made.



by. Kenneth Oppel

Shade and the others are back in this sequel to Silverwing, but this time they’re on a mission to find Shade’s father and unravel the mystery of the humans’ bands.

Haha, this one starts off a lot like the other one and then ends up getting really weird.

But it did introduce me to the concept of the Bat Bomb and for that I am eternally grateful.


Black Noise:
Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America

by. Tricia Rose

See subtitle.

Absolutely fascinating. No question the best non-fiction book I read this year. After I finished I immediately went out and bought a copy of it for myself. If you have an interest in rap music I highly suggest you give it a try.


100 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know

by. Russ Kick

A collection of 100 unfortunate facts that are not commonly known.

I think someone gave this to me for Christmas last year, and I’ve rather slowly been working my way through it this year. It’s full of some really fascinating stuff that I was not aware of. For instance did you know that America once accidentally dropped an atomic bomb on itself? Because that totally happened.

I also liked how they cite all their information, so you can look into some of this stuff yourself if you so desire.


A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus

by. Bill Wasik & Monica Murphy

A look at the history of rabies.

Turns out rabies has had a much bigger and more fascinating impact on human history and culture than I ever imagined. Did you know that rabies was a huge part of life in ye olden days? Or that a lot of monster myths probably stemmed from rabies symptoms? How about that possible symptoms of rabies include a fear of water and sustained erections/uncontrollable ejaculations?

See what I mean? Turns out rabies is both fascinating and horrifying.


Shock Wave

by. John Sandford

A small town in Minnesota is awash in controversy regarding the construction of a huge mega-store. When a terrorist begins using explosives to impede the construction, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension sends agent Virgil Flowers in to try and get to try to get to the bottom of it all before anyone else gets hurt or killed.

My dad recommended this one to me, but it wasn’t really my thing. The whole thing was rather forgettable. Especially since I thought Virgil Flowers was a pretty darn bland for a main character.

*   [GN]   79.   [GN]   *

Dogs Are Worth It!

by. Charles Schulz

A collection of Peanuts strips.

I actually reread this one to see if it was really the kind of thing I needed to keep it on my bookshelf. But goshdarnit, I just really like Peanuts! It’s really just one of a million various Peanuts collections, but whatever! I enjoyed it.

[art]   80.   [art]

Avatar: The Last Airbender
The Art of the Animated Series

by. Bryan Konietzko & Michael Dante DiMartino

A collection of Avatar art and interviews.

Yeah, Im a big ol’ Avatar fan. Okay? I love that show and I loved getting to see all the production artwork, storyboards, character designs, and inside stories regarding the making of it! No regrets about buying this thing. None at all.


A Wanted Man

by. Lee Child

Former military police officer and current itinerant hobo Jack Reacher hitches a ride late one snowy night. Inside the car are three people: The driver, a frightened woman, and a man whose stories don't add up. Meanwhile, three miles back the police have just discovered a murder scene.

The first half of this book is absolute gold. Reacher finds himself in a regular Agatha Christie style mystery when his hitchhiking lands him in a car with 3 people, a lot of lies, and 1 murderer. Meanwhile the FBI is investigating the the murder of a man found dead in a gas station bathroom. As Reacher tries to subtly unravel the secrets of his mysterious car pool, the FBI lets the readers in on more of the secrets behind the case.

It was just tons of fun.

BUT THEN, about halfway through, the car ride ends and not long after so did my interest. By the end I found that I really couldn
’t care less about what was happening. So take from that what you will. If nothing else I’m glad I read it, if only for that first half.

[GN]   82.   [GN]

Through the Woods

by. Emily Carroll

A collection of Emily Carrolls short story horror comics.

I can not say enough nice things about this book. It is one of the most hauntingly beautiful things I’ve ever read. All of the stories are wonderfully spooky and riveting, but a couple of them were actually freaking me out!

You can read a number of them on her webpage if you want to get a little taste for what’s in store.

I really have absolutely nothing negative to say about this book. I loved everything about it.


The Inconvenient Indian:
A Curious Account of Native People in North America

by. Thomas King

A discussion of the history of the settlers’ dealings with Native peoples in North America.

Normally I’m really bad with historical books. There’s a lot of dates & figures and I’m really terrible at keeping all the information in order in my mind. But this one is a very interesting and enjoyable read. As Thomas King says, the book isn't really a history book per se, it’s more like a really engaging conversation with someone who knows a lot about what they’re talking about.

“Still, for me at least, writing a novel is buttering warm toast, while writing a history is herding porcupines with your elbows.

As a result, although The Inconvenient Indian is fraught with history, the underlying narrative is a series of conversations and arguments that I’ve been having with myself and other for most of my adult life, and if there is any methodology to in my approach to the subject, it draws more on storytelling techniques than historiography. A good historian would have tried to keep personal anecdotes in check. A good historian would have provided footnotes.

I have not.”



by. Kenneth Oppel

The third book of the Silverwing series, wherein a now older Shade must journey into the bat-underworld in order to rescue his son from bat-Satan.

At first I was quite confused at why this book even exists, because it sounds ridiculous. Now that I’ve read it though, I’ve gotta admit that it’s probably my favorite book of the series. I mean, if nothing else, its craziness makes it extremely memorable. It’s honest-to-goodness a story about bats fighting their way out of hell! Either that sounds like something you’ve gotta read or the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard of (or possibly both). So I’ll leave that judgment up to you.


The Tao of Wu

by. The RZA

The Wu-Tang Clan’s leader tells of the spiritual lessons he’s learned in his life in this autobiography / spiritual guidebook.

This is one of the most theologically interesting books I’ve read. And yet the amazing parts are scattered amongst a lot of bits that just made me want to throw the book own in sheer annoyance/disgust. The RZA frequently goes off on these self-aggrandizing tangents about how amazing he is. Even when he tries to talk about his faults he still describes them as if they were assets.

If that wasn’t enough, a few times he goes into out-and-out racism. Talking about how white people are inherently evil by their very nature. Not, mind you, that our current cultural naturally instills a sense of racism in white people, but that white people are evil fucks from womb to tomb and the only ones who aren’t are the ones who fight against their natural tendencies. I He says this kind of thing while talking about the importance of understanding and compassion and stuff too.

So yeah. Fuck that noise and this book too.

*   [GN]   86.   [GN]   *

Dragon Ball, vol. 1-3

by. Akira Toriyama

A strange boy with a monkey tail and a mastery of martial arts helps a girl named Bulma to track down 9 mystic spheres. Legend tells that if you gather them all together an ancient dragon will be summoned to grant you a wish. But things get complicated when they discover that they aren’t the only ones who want to summon the dragon.

Oh, I do so enjoy the Dragon Ball series. DBZ is so over the top and obsessed with fighting, but Dragon Ball has so much more humor and good fun.

Although, I’ve gotta admit that there’s a few parts in the early story that are unfortunately creepy. But context is everything, and the series was written 40 years ago, in another country, for adolescent boys. Still though, while I love so much of this series, there’s a couple bits in early on that make me uncomfortable.


Akata Witch

by. Nnedi Okorafor

A young girl in South Africa finds she has inherited a rare gift from her grandmother and is part of a magical community known as the Leopard People. Now she’s a studying African magic in secret, but she and her friends better learn fast, because a serial killer is on the loose and if they’re not careful they could wind up dead.

So much fantasy out there is rooted in the same old Witches & Wizards and Wands & Dragons of the Western traditions. This book, being rooted in African myths and legends and traditions, was just such a nice breath of fresh air. We’ve all heard the magical school story somewhere before, but it’s all wonderfully fresh and new when it’s also introducing ideas from a tradition I’m not as familiar with.

Although I’ve gotta admit that the ending was quite disappointing. It was really sudden and quite anti-climatic.

While the book is not on the same level of writing quality as Harry Potter, it’s still a lot of fun and the world is wonderfully imaginative. I, for one, am pretty interested to see what the next book in the series will be like.

*   88.   *

Reaper Man

by. Terry Pratchett

The auditors of the universe fire Death. They give him a golden timer, a Life, and send him on his way. But even without Death, people still believe in death. And their belief is creating a new reaper, a dangerous one. While Death is enjoying his chance to experience life, he’s the only one with the skills and experience to put this new personification of death into its place.

The early Discworld’s Death-centered stories always have such interesting concepts, but are a little weak in the plot department. I mean, not a lot happens in this book. BUT it’s still a really enjoyable read with some amazing moments and interesting ideas about the nature of life and death.

*   [GN]   89.   [GN]   *

Bravest Warriors, vol 2

written by. Joey Comeau
art by. Mike Holmes

The Bravest Warriors must go undercover at the Miss Multiverse Pageant to uncover who’s been stealing contestants’ brains!

It’s a comic written by Joey Comeau and based on the animated webseries by Pendleton Ward! Anyone who knows me is not at all surprised that I would be a big fan of this.


Here Be Monsters!

by. Alan Snow

The town of Ratbridge is a strange place where boxtrolls and cabbage heads live under the streets, cheeses run wild, and rat pirates run a laundry business out of their ship. A young boy who live with his grandfather underground becomes embroiled in a sinister plot when he discovers that an evil aristocrat from above ground is trying to capture all the underground dwellers and thus threaten all life down below.

I heard that The Boxtrolls movie was based on a book and had to go check it out.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie or not, but let us just say that the book is quite a lot different. They made a large number of changes/cuts to the original. Perhaps it’s just that I saw the movie first, but I prefer the movie’s story to the book’s. The book is really quite inexplicably odd. It kind of feels a bit like a wannabe Roald Dahl? I don’t know. I can see why it would be a popular book, but it just wasn’t for me.


The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing,
Traitor to the Nation
Volume I: The Pox Party

by. M.T. Anderson

Set in 18th century Boston, Octavian Nothing is a black boy who has unknowingly grown up as part of a grand experiment to see whether or not intelligence is racial trait. But people start to fear what the ramifications of the experiment’s results will have if Octavian disproves their racist beliefs and they seek to disrupt the experiment. Octavian begins to see that his life has all been a lie: that he is and always has been a slave and a lab rat. He runs away, but there are those who have invested a lot of time and money in him and aren’t about to let him go without a fight.

My friend recommended this one, but at the end of the day it wasn’t my kind of thing. I’ve just never been a fan of M.T. Anderson’s writing style.

*   [GN]   92.   [GN]   *


by. Kazuki Takahashi

A young boy solves an ancient Egyptian puzzle and unlocks the soul of an ancient pharaoh. Now these soul-brothers battle evil by playing games.

Have you ever wanted to see a young boy with crazy hair gain magical Egyptian Pharaoh powers and use them to play ridiculously twisted games with various thugs? Probably not, but sometimes the best things are the ones you didn't even know you wanted.

While most people have seen the wonderful absurdity of the Yu-Gi-Oh cartoon, much fewer have taken a look at the comic. And they're missing out. Believe it or not the show actually toned done the absurdity level of the original.
ESPECIALLY in the early volumes before the Duel Monsters game is introduced. 

For instance? Well, how about the part where Yami Yugi plays a game of air hockey with a high school thug, except they play it on a hot griddle with a puck made of ice. Oh, and did I mention that there's a vial of explosives in the puck so whoever is next to the puck when the ice melts down will explode? Because that totally happens. And this kind of thing is happening every chapter! The whole thing is so ridiculous and over-the-top that you can't help but enjoy it.

[GN]   93.   [GN]

Costume Quest

by. Zac Gorman

There’s a candy shortage in the world of monsters! A couple of monster kids decide to break the rules and head into the human world for a treat this Halloween. But getting back is going to be harder than they first thought.

I’ve never played the computer game this one is based on, but I had to check it out anyway because Zac Gorman wrote/drew it! I’m a big fan of his work and he doesn’t do nearly enough stuff.

So yeah! It’s fun. It’s not some Earth-shattering, run to tell your friends kind of story, but I enjoyed it. A great one for kids to read around Halloween I should think.

*   94.   *

John Dies at the End

by. David Wong

John and Dave are two 20-something slackers.

John and Dave took a drug called “Soy Sauce.”

John and Dave can now see beyond the surface of our reality to the horrors underneath.

John and Dave aren’t both going to live to see the end of this book.

I end up talking about this book every year, don’t I? Well, thats because its amazing and I love it and you should read it too! I consider it to the be the ultimate unreliable-narrator story. It does an amazing job of straddling the line of hilarious and freaky to create a brilliant story of kooky what-the-fuck Horror.



by. Neil Gaiman

A young girl named Coraline (NOT “Caroline,” thank you very much) moves into a new house with her parents who never seem to have time for her. Left to her own devices she discovers a strange door in the house that leads to a parallel world. One where everything is perfect, where her other-parents fawn over her, where everything is fantastical and never boring, where no-one calls her Caroline, and a place where everyone...has buttons for eyes? A world that perhaps isn’t so perfect after all...

I’ve seen the fun animated Laika adaptation of this book, so I figured it was overdue for me to read the source material. It’s a fun book. The movie was actually quite faithful for the most part, but I think I would say the book is a bit better.

All in all though, it reminds me a lot of Clive Barker’s book The Thief of Always...except not as good. Yes, I know that’s something I say a lot! But it’s true a lot! I know it’s wrong to deal with something based on anything other than its own merits, but sometimes I can’t help myself. Coraline is fine and all, but The Thief of Always is absolutely brilliant.

*   96.   *

The Day of the Triffids

by. John Wyndham

A strange and deadly new species of walking plants called “Triffids” is discovered. Despite the danger people have begun breeding them to harvest a valuable oil they secrete. But the power tables are turned when a freak astronomical event renders the majority of the world blind. Now humans have become prey.

This one’s been overdue for a reread. It was written in the 50s and it dates itself a bit with the preconceptions of the time, but it really is a fun piece of sci-fi. It’s part post-apocalyptic scenario, part alien invasion, and part horror. While I wouldn’t say it’s a masterful piece of writing, I would certainly highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in a unique sci-fi story.

*   97.   *

Witches Abroad

by. Terry Pratchett

Magrat is one of the three Lancre witches and has just received a letter informing her that she’s the new fairy godmother of a young woman in the distant city of Genua, and P.S. to absolutely not tell the other witches about it, because they’d just muck everything up. Well, when they hear about that they insist on coming along. Now the witches are off to distant lands to do battle with foreign customs, a tyrannical queen, and a city that’s being forced into a fairy tale.

As I go along through the Discworld books I’ve noticed certain ages developing in terms of the style of Pratchett’s writing. I would say that the first books are part of the Rough Age: they are filled with interesting characters and ideas, but on the whole he’s still finding his legs and the stories aren’t very refined.

But I would say that this book is the start of a new age. Let’s call it, I don’t know, the Dawning Age? This is where Pratchett really starts to get a feel for his world and the kind of stories he wants to tell. This is the first book where I could really see that signature Discworld style that I love so much.

I didn’t really remember anything about this book when I went to reread it, but it’s pretty great. ESPECIALLY if you love fairy tales, which I do!

[CB]   98.   [CB]


by. Emily Hughes

A children’s picture book about a young girl who was raised in the woods by animals until she is found by people who try to tame her.

This was the best new book I read this year. I love it so much. It now ranks as my favorite children’s book. I stumbled across it while looking for a good birthday present for my little niece and I loved it so much that I couldn’t bring myself to give it away.

First of all, the art is absolutely GORGEOUS! I would happily put framed pages of this book up on my walls. And if that wasn’t enough I love the story! It is so cute and wonderful.

Just trust me about this and track down a copy of this book, because it is the greatest thing.

[GN]   99.   [GN]

Clive Barker’s The Thief of Always

written by. Kirs Oprisko
original story by. Clive Barker

A graphic novel adaptation of a book by Clive Barker.

For the record, I consider The Thief of Always to be the greatest YA book ever written. It is the bar by which I rate any other YA book and it is brilliant and I love it to death.

This abomination, however, I do not love. In fact, I kind of despise it. It strips the novel of all its original charm and eloquence and leaves nothing but the empty skeleton of its basic plot. So fuck this graphic novel. Let us go back to pretending this thing does not exist, and just happily read the original. Shall we?

*   100.   *


by. Joe Hill

Ig Perrish was accused of raping and murdering the love of his life. He was never convicted, but as far as the town is concerned, he did it. Who else could have? Living under this constant perception of being a monster, he wakes up one morning to find horns growing on his forehead and no one seems to care. Now people are starting to tell him all their darkest thoughts. With this new twisted power on his side he begins to unravel what really happened the night the love of his life was murdered.

I reread this one because, A.) I’ve been meaning to for a while because I loved it the first time I read it, and B.) because they made a movie out of it. However, I never made it to the theater to actually see it. Haha, but who cares about the movie! The book is amazing! I love it. It’s both a super romantic love story and an unnerving horror fest. When it comes to horror stories Joe Hill is my favorite. He has a spectacular ability to use Horror as a tool for talking about the difficult things in life.


The Mist

by. Stephen King

A strange mist descends on a small town in Maine. But there’s something unnatural about this mist. Or should I say there’s something unnatural inside the mist...

Yes, yes, I read the book because I really like the movie. I’m that person! That person who annoys everyone by always comparing movies to books. Deal with it.

In any case, this book is not nearly as good as the movie. Also, what on Earth is the deal with Stephen King and brand names? That man goes insane in this book with brand names. No one can use any sort of product without King telling you exactly what brand it was. At one point he even goes on to tell you about how this one brand of chainsaw is superior to this other brand of chainsaw, even though its significantly cheaper! It was truly maddening.

So yeah. To its credit there is some good stuff at the story’s heart, it’s just that (in my opinion) it was all handled much better in the movie.

[GN]   102.   [GN]

GoGo Monster

by. Taiyo Matsumoto

A story about being different, growing up, and a young boy who says he can see beyond our world's veil.

Since I loved Tekkonkinkreet and Ping Pong so much, I figured I should really try out some of Taiyo Matsumoto’s other work. Much like Tekkonkinkreet, this one has a very surreal angle to it, where you aren’t quite sure what’s real and what’s not. If you’re a fan of his work, I’d definitely recommend giving it a try. But I can see why something like this wouldn’t be appealing to everyone. It’s one of the those stories that merges novelization and poetry...if that makes sense?

[GN]   103.   [GN]

Sunny, vol 1

by. Taiyo Matsumoto

The story of an orphanage in Japan from the perspectives of the children living there.

My tour of Taiyo Matsumoto's other works continues! This one is actually a series and a lot more straight forward than a lot of his other work. I really liked it though. It's hard to describe what exactly I enjoyed so much about it. The stories are pretty simple, but they fill you up and remind you what it was like being a kid.

[art]   104.   [art]

The Legend of Korra, Book One: Air
The Art of the Animated Series

by. Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko,
& Joaquim dos Santos

A book of the art surrounding the creation of the first season of The Legend of Korra.

I am in love with these Avatar art books. Not only are they filled with wonderful production and concept artwork, but also with great stories from the creators. I think my favorite parts are when you get to see the concept ideas behind the show and seeing how characters were originally pitched.


The Inspection House:
An Impertinent Field Guide to Modern Surveillance

by. Emily Horne & Tim Maly

A look at the concept of the Panopticon and how its ideas of the architecture of surveillance are used in today’s world.

I was intrigued by this one because it was cowritten by Emily Horne! Some of you might know her as half of the duo that creates A Softer World and whose yearly book lists inspired me to make my own.

It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was certainly fascinating nonetheless. Its approach to looking at the architecture of surveillance (not as in how surveillance systems are built, but as in the actual building of phyiscal-scapes to allow for surveillance) was one I had never really thought of before. The book speaks of itself as a sort of field-guide to spotting modern pantopicons and it really is. Once it points out these systems to you you start to see them everywhere.

And who doesn't love a book that changes how you see the world?

*   106.   *

Small Gods

by. Terry Pratchett

In a land ruled by the church of a mighty and vengeful god named Om, a lowly pupil named Brutha was tending to the melon patch when a tortoise began talking to him. If that wasn’t strange enough it claimed it was the great god Om! Now Brutha and Om are on an adventure to learn of the nature of Gods, restore belief in Om, and stop the church from being overtaken by a power-hungry zealot.

For me this is the most philosophically interesting book I’ve ever read. Pratchett takes on the subject with all the good humor and eloquent wit you expect from him and the result is fantastic.

In fact, when introducing people to the Discworld series, I usually suggest starting here. You see, it’s a Discworld book, but it takes place away from the usual settings and characters, so you don’t have to worry about missing any sort of references. Plus it’s far enough into the series to be at the point where Pratchett’s writing is more polished.

*   107.   *

Pride and Prejudice

by. Jane Austen

A story about love and how hard it can be to see the truth about people when your prior misconceptions get in your way.

Romance is a book genre that I don’t venture into very often as I don't really know what to look for. So it probably doesn’t carry to much weight when I say that Pride and Prejudice is my favorite romance story. But it is! So there. It is delightful.

*   108.   *

Lords and Ladies

by. Terry Pratchett

Elves. Such a beautiful and elegant race, don't you think? Not in Discworld. But few can remember the truth: that elves are a wicked, cruel, and ugly lot who will get inside your head and torture you just as soon as look at you. When a foolhardy group of wannabe witches accidentally release the seal keeping the elves locked away, it’s up to the real witches of Lancre to save the day.

You can pretty much assume every Discworld witch-centered story is worth reading. I love how this one goes back to the old school elves: the cruel tricksters who only seemed beautiful, because they could cast glamour over humans. This one is kind of like a proto-Wee Free Men in a lot of ways.

[GN]   109.   [GN]

Ms. Marvel, vol 1:
No Normal

written by. G. Willow Wilson
art by. Adrian Alphona

A high school girl struggling with...well, everything (school, romance, peer pressure, family pressure, etc.), has her world thrown upside down when a strange mist gives her shape-shifting abilities.

This comic is So. Much. Fun! It’s like a Spider-man for a new generation. It’s got struggles with school and family and love (not to mention superpowers), plus an endearing quippy hero! The whole thing is such a wonderfully refreshing thing to see in a genre that has become known for its lack of diversity.

In short: This comic is amazing and I can’t wait until the next volume comes out!


Brain on Fire:
My Month of Madness

by. Susannah Cahalan

The memoir of a woman who was struck with a mysterious disease that inflamed her brain, but appeared to the world as having just gone mad.

I heard about this one from the Hannibal commentaries, actually. Bryan Fuller mentioned it as being the inspiration for Will Graham's condition in Season 1.

It's really quite a horrific tale. Her sickness presented itself as psychosis, so most people weren't looking for a physiological cause! I mean, holy shit, getting sick and everyone just thinking you were going crazy? Talk about a scary scenario.

Not only is the premise intriguing, but her account of what it was like to live through madness and eventually recover from it is really quite fascinating.


I Work in a Public Library:
A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks

by. Gina Sheridan

A collection of stories and occurrences in the life of a public library librarian.

I work in a library and am obviously extremely biased here, but I loved this one. And since I work for an academic library the whole thing makes me like my job all the more! I don't know how the public library workers of the world do it. If you like stories about the crazy things people in customer service come across on a daily basis then you’ll enjoy this book for sure.

[art]   112.   [art]

The Art of Richard Thompson

by. David Apatoff, Nick Galifianakis,
Mike Rhode, Chris Sparks,
& Bill Watterson

A collection of art and interviews with Cul-de-Sac creator Richard Thompson.

I’m a big Cul-de-Sac fan so I obviously found this collection to be quite interesting. I never knew he had be so prolific in so many different types of art. I liked how the book was divided up into sections based on the different types of art he’s done over the years, with each section having an artist from that specific field doing the interview.


Death of a King

by. Tavis Smiley

The story of the last year of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

Normally I’m not a fan of biographies, but I really enjoyed this one. It’s written in a very engaging style and tries to ground Mr. King as a human being and not as some exalted figure out of history.


Why Do Men Have Nipples?:
Hundreds of Questions You’d Only Ask a Doctor After Your Third Martini

by. Mark Leyner & Billy Goldberg

A book answering some of the strange medical questions doctors get asked at dinner parties.

Some of it is interesting, but the whole thing tries way too hard to be funny. As if they thought that the answers to kooky medical questions weren’t interesting enough. It made the whole thing rather tiresome.

* 115. *

Dealing With Dragons

by. Patricia C. Wrede

A princess is continually told that the things she’s interested in (like magic and fighting) are improper activities for a princess, but when her family tries to arrange her marriage, that’s the last straw. She runs away from home and decides to find a dragon. After all, being a dragon’s princess certainly sounds a lot more interesting than marrying a dunce and practicing her diction.

This was a favorite series of mine as a kid, but it’s been a Long time since I’ve read it. It holds up though. The way they play with the whole captive princess / dragon thing is pretty great.

[CB]   116.   [CB]


by. Thyra Heder

A children’s book about a little girl who is afraid to go to the zoo, but can’t remember why. Her family proceeds to dress up and act out all the animals of the zoo to try and jog her memory.

I actually gave this one to my little niece for Christmas. I loved it. It’s got a lovely art style, it incorporates animals in unique way, and it gives a lot of fun ideas for playing dress-up and using your imagination to have fun.

[CB]   117.   [CB]

The Book With No Pictures

by. B.J. Novak

A children’s book that features no pictures whatsoever. None. And yet it cleverly makes use of the fact that when parents are reading books to their kids...they're reading out loud.

I got this one for my little nephew for Christmas and I haven’t yet heard back about it, but personally I think its concept is a lot of fun. It forces the reader to say a lot of silly stuff out loud and in doing so it creates a very unique reading experience. One that shows kids that books are fun not just because of their pictures, but because of how their words (and our reading of those words) can shape our reading experience.

[GN]   118.   [GN]

Saga, vol. 1-2

written by. Brian K. Vaughn
art by. Fiona Staples

In an epic war between the inhabitants of a planet and its moon, two soldiers from opposing sides fall in love and have a child. Now they are on the run from everyone, as both sides want them and their child to be destroyed before their story can get out.

I’ve heard a lot about this one over the past year or so, but I never got around to reading it until now and now I’m hooked! It’s a story that has everything: romance, fantasy, sci-fi, action, adventure, comedy. Plus, so far it hasn’t fallen into that horrible American comics trap of switching artists every chapter! So the art is consistent and great.


The Worthing Saga

by. Orson Scott Card

A collection of 3 books (1 novel, and 2 collections of short stories) centered around a sci-fi world where people can sleep time away and live for centuries, and the ramifications that ends up having for the universe.

The first book in the collection, the novel The Worthing Chronicle, is most definitely worth reading. It has a really intriguing story structure, some fantastic characters, and a wonderfully thought-provoking story.

The collections of short stories aren’t bad, but they struck me as mostly superfluous. Everything they do was better done in the novel, and expanding on them kind of takes away some of their charm.



by. Jeff VanderMeer

All 11 expeditions to the bizarre land of Area X have ended in strange disasters. Now the 12th expedition is about to learn why.

The whole thing was rather bizarre yet still somehow boring? I nearly quit partway through, but kept reading anyways in order to learn where exactly they were trying to go with this story.

Now Ive finished it and Im clueless as to what they were trying to do with that story.

[GN]   121.   [GN]

Box of Bones

by. Clio Chiang

A short vignette of a comic about a little skeleton who runs off to join the circus.

It’s short and has almost no words in it, but its imagery is charming and it uses the medium to wonderfully tell a really great little story.

*   [GN]   122.   [GN]   *

Essex County, vol 1:
Tales From the Farm

by. Jeff Lemire

After his mother dies a young boy is sent to live on his uncles farm. While his uncle struggles to find a way to connect with him, the boy uses tries to use the fantasy world of comic books as a way of escaping from his reality.

A short little graphic novel, but a great one. The whole Essex County series is brilliant.

*   123.   *

The Golden Compass

by. Philip Pullman

In a world where people’s souls manifest as animals outside their bodies and armored bears rule the lands in the North, a young girl finds herself in the middle of a dangerous battle between politics, religion, and science.

While I have some mixed feelings about the rest of this trilogy, I can say without hesitation that this specific book is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. It masterfully creates a truly fantastic world, while always leaving you grounded within it.

P.S. If you can avoid it, never see the movie adaptation...unless you're drunk and feeling pugnacious.

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