Friday, November 6, 2015

Book List 2015: October

* = reread
[GN] = Graphic novel or Comic anthology
-CB- = Picture book


[GN]   125.   [GN]

Beartato and the Perilous Danger
by. Anthony Clark

The continuing exploits of best friends Reginald (a giant bird) and Beartato (a beartato).

Nedroid Picture Diary is one of the greatest and most hilarious webcomics out there today and I for one say, “God bless it.” Fewer comics have me consistently laughing out loud like this one does.

In other news, I got a personalized copy! Under what I wanted the drawing to be I put “Reginald accidentally raises the dead” and under what I wanted for text I put “A haiku about the dangers of playing with dark magic.”

What resulted is perhaps the greatest raising the dead premise I have ever heard:


One Bloody Thing After Another
by. Joey Comeau

The intertwining stories of three people who each encounter something darkly supernatural and are each forced to deal with it one way or another.

There are few authors who can create a meaningful connection between the story and reader faster and more effectively than Joey Comeau. The book begins and right off the bat I find myself going, “Oh! I like this character.” & “OH! I wonder what’s going to happen next!”

At its heart it’s a hauntingly beautiful look at the things we’re afraid of, the people we love, and how often those things are intertwined.

“Ann doesn’t say much at all. She’s been quiet, today.

‘Do you want to go on a date with me tonight, Ann?’

‘What?’ Ann doesn’t sit up, at least. Jackie was worried that she would sit up. Or just walk away.

‘We can do anything! The whole city is ours,’ Jackie says. ‘We can go to the carnival, or up to the tower. We can find the old abandoned subway lines underneath the city. Don’t go home. Come out on a date with me!’

Ann doesn’t say anything for a long time, lying with Jackie’s head resting warm on her stomach.

‘I don’t want to go home,’ Ann says.”
-pg. 56


Ask Me:
100 essential poems of William Stafford

by. William Stafford
edited by. Kim Stafford

A collection of former Poet Laureate of Oregon William Stafford’s poetry as edited by his daughter and fellow poet.

The library I worked at in college is actually home to the William Stafford archives and I’ve always meant to actually read some of his work. And now, all these years later, I finally have!

Just Thinking

Got up on a cool morning. Leaned out a window.
No cloud, no wind. Air that flowers held
for awhile. Some dove somewhere.

Been on probation most of my life. And
the rest of my life been condemned. So these moments
count for a lot--peace, you know.

Let the bucket of memory down into the well,
bring it up. Cool, cool minutes. No one
stirring, no plans. Just being there.

This is what the whole thing is about.”

-CB-   128.   -CB-

Rad American Women A - Z
written by. Kate Schatz
illustrated by. Miriam Klein Stahl

An A to Z look at some of the rad American women who have helped shape this country’s history.

I really love what this book tried to be. I am all aboard the introducing kids to rad American women train and they picked a pretty great lineup here.

My only problem is just that the illustrations are done in a...oh, I’m not sure what the art term is...screen-print activist style, maybe? You know, like you see with those Che Guevara shirts? Anyways, part of their goal seemed to be trying to select woman from all sorts of different ethnicities and backgrounds. But the art is done in this screen-print style, on white paper, so everyone’s skin is white. Which kind of seems like a not insignificant problem when you’re trying to showcase diversity.

And I totally get why they used the style. It’s iconic and synonymous with revolutionaries. But the book isn’t meant to be a tribute to great these figures: a showcase for those who are familiar with them. It’s meant to be a way to introduce these people to kids. And I just really don’t feel like the art style works well for that purpose at all.

I don’t really have a solution, or know what I’d have done differently, but I just couldn’t shake feeling like that that was a rather unfortunate decision.

F is for Flo-Jo

Florence Griffith-Joyner

Who showed us how to run like a girl

One day in school, Florence Griffith’s teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. ‘Everything,’ she said. ‘I want to be everything...’”


The Iron Giant
by. Ted Hughes

A gigantic robot crash-lands on Earth and angers a small town when it starts eating all their metal objects. But when an even bigger alien arrives and threatens to destroy the planet, the giant may be the only one who can stop it.

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Brad Bird’s 1999 movie The Iron Giant. You’d think that I’d have gotten around to reading what it was based on before now, but you’d be wrong!

Right of the bat I should mention that the original name for the book was The Iron Man: A Children's Story in Five Nights. I’m pretty sure the copy I read had just changed the name to appeal to the movie fans.

Anyways, the book was definitely not what I was expecting. I quickly learned that the movie took the story in a very different direction. But in spite of my shock at having waded into unexpected waters, the book was still quite enjoyable. It reads like a 60s science fiction fairy tale.

It’s not as iconic and powerful story as the movie was to me, but I think it’s definitely worth taking a look at. 

“The furious farmers began to shout. The Iron Giant had stolen all their machinery. Had he eaten it? Anyway, he had taken it. It had gone. What if he came again? What would he take next time? Cows? Houses? People?

They would have to do something.”
-pg. 19

* 130. - 132. *
133., 134.

volumes 1-5

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

A planet’s war with its own moon has spilled out across the galaxy. But when a man and a woman from opposing sides fall in love and have a child...well, let’s just say they make a lot of enemies really fast.

Five volumes into Saga and it’s still going strong! And unlike pretty much every other American comic series out there they’ve stuck with the same artist the whole way through! Thank you, comic gods!

Why should you check this series out? Umm, because it has everything! It’s got romance. It’s got fantastical worlds and imaginative creatures. It’s got Fantasy. It’s got Sci-Fi. It’s got adventures, and action, and drama. And it’s not afraid to take the story in some wonderfully unexpected directions. Really. It’s a series that offers something for everyone.


High Rise
by. J.G. Ballard

A new 40-story deluxe apartment building has just been created and the residents couldn’t be happier. With every amenity you could ever want inside it quickly becomes its own little ecosystem, cut off from the outside world. But when petty grievances between neighbors begin to escalate, things quickly take a turn for the worse. Before long this upper-class utopia becomes an upper-class war zone.

I heard about this book in passing and it piqued my interest. Its premise almost sounds like a strange upper-class Lord of the Flies, don’t you think? And generally it kind of is! I like how it stages the action on a high-rise populated entirely by the wealthy and yet the building still inevitably segregates itself into a class system. And setting it amongst the upper class provides this great satirical lens to look at how people’s territorial instincts manifest in today’s modern environments.

Overall it’s a book that I’m glad I read, but not good enough to make me ever want to read it again. The writing is strong enough to make the situation interesting, but not strong enough to make any of it seem remotely possible. I mean, this building ends up going full on insane and as you’re reading it becomes increasingly hard to not be constantly wondering why the cops haven’t descended on this place yet.

But whatever its problems, I’ve got to give it credit for having one of the greatest opening lines I’ve ever seen:

“Later, as he sat on his balcony eating the dog, Dr. Robert Laing reflected on the unusual events that had taken place within this huge apartment building during the previous three months.”

*   136.   *

Carpe Jugulum
by. Terry Pratchett

The witches of Lancre are going to a royal baby shower! But they aren’t the only ones. As a gesture of goodwill the king has invited people from across the disc, even the...vampires? But you know what happens when you invite a vampire into your home, right? And a king’s home is a country...

I’m so excited, y’all! Were into the area of the Discworld series where things start getting really, really good.

Overall this one is a little too similar to Lords and Ladies in its story, but at the same time that comparison also shows you how much better Pratchett has gotten since then

This is book where Pratchett really develops the (soon-to-be) classic Discworld set piece of Überwald. Überwald is essentially a distillation of that location you always see in old horror movies like Dracula and Frankenstein. You know the one. It’s full of vampires and werewolves. Hunchbacked lisping servants and dark and stormy nights. But in classic Discworld style, Pratchett pokes fun at our horror clichés by putting a magnifying lens up to them, taking them seriously, and then seeing what happens.

If that wasn’t fun enough add in the Lancre witches and you’re good to go. The witch books are some of my absolute favorites of the series. They are always full of great humor and wonderful insight.

“‘There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment on the nature of sin, for example.’

‘And what do they think? Against it, are they?’

‘It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.’



‘There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.’

‘It’s a lot more complicated than that

‘No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.’”
-pg. 277-278

“There is a very interesting debate raging at the moment about the nature of sin, for example,” said Oats.
“And what do they think? Against it, are they?” said Granny Weatherwax.
“It’s not as simple as that. It’s not a black and white issue. There are so many shades of gray.”
“There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.”
“It’s a lot more complicated than that—”
“No. It ain’t. When people say things are a lot more complicated than that, they means they’re getting worried that they won’t like the truth. People as things, that’s where it starts.”
“Oh, I’m sure there are worse crimes—”
“But they starts with thinking about people as things…”
- See more at:


I’d Rather We Got Casinos:
and other black thoughts

by. Larry Wilmore

A collection of comedic essays on being black in American from the host of The Nightly Show.

I’m a fan of Larry Wilmore. He’s got that great blend of humor, common sense, and keen observations that you want in your comedians. While not all of the essays were amazing, I overall had a great time reading it. But I think it’s safe to say that if you, like me, enjoy Larry Wilmore on The Nightly Show then you’ll enjoy most of this book. Just, you know, play it safe and get it from the library first.

“You always hear people say, ‘racism is still a major part of everyday life.’ Most people accept this premise without investigating it further. Mainly because they agree with it and, secondly, they don’t want to challenge it for fear of seeming like the racist in question. They also feel there’s nothing they can do about it. It’s racism, you can’t change it. My problem with this statement is that it’s too general. By using words like ‘racism’ or ‘racists,’ it keeps the notion distant and ‘out there.’ It feels like a problem to be contemplated and discussed like a philosophical construct instead of a problem that could use a concrete solution like a backed-up sink.

If we imagine racism as a backed-up sink, the solution becomes clearer. Unclog it. Look into the drain, see what’s backing it up, and get that crap out of there.”
pg. 1-2

*   138.   *

The Fifth Elephant
by. Terry Pratchett

Tensions are high in Ankh-Morpork’s dwarf community. Back in the old country a new dwarf king has just been elected and some people are less than pleased about who was chosen. Ankh-Morpork will need a diplomat of unsurpassed skills in order to navigate this dangerous political terrain. Unfortunately they’re going to have to settle for Sir Samuel Vimes, the commander of the City Watch.

The Watch books have always been my favorites, but this is the one where they go from Really Good to Great. So far in the Discworld series the books with wide-ranging epic plots tended to have been a little shaky, but he’s really started to get a handle on them in this one. Which is good for us because it means we not only get a pretty big mystery, but also get to see all the secret areas of Überwald and get some great character development as well.

And like any Discworld book it delivers some Grade A satire as it beautifully lampoons aristocracy and politics and diplomacy and race relations and so much more!

“‘Why’s he sending me, Sybil?’

‘I’m sure Havelock shares with me a conviction that you have hidden depths, Sam.’

Vimes sank gloomily into his armchair. It was, he felt, a persistent flaw in his wife’s otherwise practical and sensible character that she believed, against all evidence, that he was a man of many talents. He knew he had hidden depths. There was nothing in them that he’d like to see float to the surface. They contained things that should be left to lie.”
-pg. 30-31

*   139. & 140.   *

Bible Camp Bloodbath
The Summer is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved

by. Joey Comeau

11 year old Martin is going to bible camp!

There’s going to be swimming and crafts and bonfire sing-a-longs and new friends and a priest who wants to see if you’ve let Jesus into your heart... cutting him out of there.

Muhahaha! The last time I read The Summer Is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved I wished I had a copy of Bible Camp Bloodbath so I could more accurately see how they compared. But since then I have managed to procure a copy! So now I can (and shall!) properly compare and contrast them.

For those of you who aren’t in the know, Summer Is Ended is the result of Comeau going back to his book Bible Camp Bloodbath and trying to fix his mistakes. And so while they are the same story they go about it in slightly different ways.

I read them back to back and I’ve gotta say that in my mind there isn’t a clear winner between them. If I had to pick one I’d say the original is the best. BCB is the shorter of the two and is forged in Comeau’s wonderful short and sweet style. It wastes no time with verbosity, instead deftly giving you just enough details to let your mind take care of the rest. The biggest flaw with Summer is that there are a number of points where Comeau has fleshed out a deft snippet from BCB into a full scene, but in doing so weakens its effect. It’s like strawberries, you know? You can breed them bigger, but they’ll just be the same amount of sweetness in a bigger package. So the smaller strawberries are actually sweeter by area. A scene might be extended, but it just felt bigger, not overall sweeter.

And yet I can’t fully discount Summer, because while I felt that the scenes it extended were generally substantially weakened, the scenes it adds are so delightful and ingenious that I can’t imagine them ever not being a part of the story. For instance, Summer adds this element wherein the story is interspersed with the emails that Martin’s mom has been sending him. And it adds such a great flow and impact to the story. Not to mention there’s this whole added part wherein the kids make an attempt to get out of the camp that’s just fantastic. It sets up a number of great scenes and really fleshes out some of the characters.

So, really, each version has its own strengths and weaknesses. In actuality the best one is...both of them! (Preferably starting with BCB and ending with Summer is Ended.) When you do it that way your memory gets all the good bits from the two mixed together and then when you look back on the story it becomes this perfect amalgamation of the two.

“‘Is it dangerous?’

‘Everything’s dangerous,’ his mother said. She kissed him on the top of his head. ‘You can’t let that stop you.’”

-The Summer Is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved, pg.13

-CB-   141.   -CB-

Zombie in Love
written by. Kelly DiPucchio
art by. Scott Campbell

Mortimer is lonely and decides to try and find a date for the ball. Unfortunately for Mortimer finding love can be rather difficult when you’re a zombie.

This is one of those picture books where the premise is good and all, but the art is just—dare I say it?—to die for. Campbell’s illustrations are laugh out loud enjoyable. They are full of all sorts of wonderful little details and, ugh, it’s just pitch perfect.


If you like taking walks in the graveyard

and falling down in the rain.

If you’re not into cooking,

if you have half a brain.

If you like waking up at midnight,

horror films, and voodoo,

then I’m the guy guy who you’ve looked for

and I’m dying to meet you!”

-CB-   142.   -CB-

Zombie in Love 2 +1
written by. Kelly DiPucchio
illustrated by. Scott Campbell

Mortimer and Mildred get quite a surprise when someone leaves a (very much alive) baby on their doorstep.

This is a pretty fun one, but I’ve gotta admit that it’s lacking the same panache as the first one. The set ups for the illustrations just don’t present the same opportunities for fun that we had before.

Still enjoyable though, and I’m holding out hope that DiPucchio and Campbell will continue on with the series? Maybe? Hmmm?

“And, worst of all, he was awake all day and slept through the night.

Poor Mortimer and Mildred. They were dead tired. And worried sick.

They read books and followed all the advice.

They gave bottles to the baby.

They changed his diaper.

They took him for long walks in the fresh air.

They even shrieked him lullabies, but nothing worked.”

-CB-   143.   -CB-

Dragons Love Tacos
written by. Adam Rubin
illustrated by. Daniel Salmieri

“The only thing dragons love more than parties or tacos, is taco parties (taco parties are parties with lots of tacos).

If you want to have some dragons over for a taco party, you’ll need buckets of tacos. Pantloads of tacos. The best way to judge is to get a boat and fill it with tacos. That’s about how many tacos dragons need for a taco party. After all, dragons love tacos.”

In a perfect world I’d have pictures of picture books so as to show you exactly what I’m talking about, but alas! Which is a pity because this is another one of those picture books where the illustrations just make the book. The first time I saw this book I saw the Spanish version and even when only understanding a few words I was laughing out loud at the story, because the illustrations were so fun.

Plus it’s a story about tacos and dragons! Two things I just can’t get enough of.

Be warned though: You’ll have a major hankering for some tacos by the end of the book.

“Just remember: Dragons hate spicy salsa.
Before you host your taco part with dragons,
get rid of all the spicy salsa. In fact, bury the spicy
salsa in the backyard so the dragon’s can’t find it.”

-CB-   144.   -CB-

Interstellar Cinderella
written by. Deborah Underwood
illustrated by. Meg Hunt

I adore what this book was going for, but it just fell a bit flat to me.

“One upon a planetoid,
amid her tools and sprockets,
a girl named Cinderella dreamed
of fixing fancy rockets.”

[GN]   145.   [GN]

Deep Dark Fears
by. Fran Krause

A collection of people’s deepest darkest fears, illustrated into comic form.

I’ve been a fan of Deep Dark Fears ever since I first learned of the site. It brilliantly combines 3 things I love: people’s secrets, dark ideas, and people making silly cartoons/comics out of people’s stories. There’s just something about reading about other people’s irrational fears that makes me feel better about my own.

I’m also always pleased when my favorite webcomics release physical collections. And I’ve gotta say this book is a very handsome tome.

“I worry that my reflection is recording my expressions,

and one day when it has captured them all,

it will crawl out of the mirror,

and it will replace me.”

P.S. On a personal note:
Every time I walk across a bridge,
I’m afraid a gust of wind or errant passerby,
will knock me over the side.

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