Category: book review

Graphic Novel Review: Through a Life

Through A Life by Tom Haugomat. Nobrow, 2018. 9781910620496. 184pp. – Nobrow’s books are always beautiful, but this one wowed me. Each two-page spread is a moment from a year in the life of a red-haired dude named Rodney, starting when he’s in the womb (1955) (in Ketchikan, Alaska), to an incubator (1956), then a crib (1957). With little variation, the left page is Rodney, looking out of wherever he is, and on the right is what he sees (usually in a window or something window-like). I loved it from the moment I saw the Star Trek posters on his wall (in high school), when he watched Planet of the Apes on TV, and then saw Alien in a theater (like I did, even though I was much younger than him when that happened). There’s personal and newsworthy tragedy woven in as Rodney’s interest in space pushes him to study it, and then enter NASA’s astronaut program. The drawings are […]

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Graphic Novel Review: The Iliad

The Iliad: A Graphic Novel by Gareth Hinds. Candlewick Press, 2019. 9780763681135. 272 pp. including author’s notes, a map showing where the armies gathered at Troy came from, a prologue, page-by-page notes, and a bibliography. – Hinds’ graphic novel adaptations of classics are always beautifully painted and worth reading. They remind me of things I’d forgotten (or, more often, they teach me the truth of what I saw in movies). Reading this I learned that The Iliad doesn’t include the entire siege of Troy, or even Achilles’ death. Instead it ends with Hector’s burial, after Hector’s father Priam begs Achilles to let him return his son’s body to Troy. All of this happens after Achilles not only kills Hector but drags his bloody body behind his chariot for a fair while, by leather straps threaded through Hector’s heels. And that is after the Achaeans gather around and stab Hector’s body, after a fight to the death. This book’s most entertaining […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Bone Parish Volume One

Bone Parish Volume One by Cullen Bunn (words), Jonas Scharf (illustrations), and Alex Guimaráes (colors). BOOM! Studios, 2019. 9781684153541. Contains #1 – #4 of the series. – This is the introductory volume in what promises to be an intense, psychedelic, brutal crime series. The ash is a new drug made from the remains of the dead. Whoever snorts it experiences events from the deceased’s life. While it’s fun to snort a rock star, the supply is pretty limited, and acquiring the ingredients is as illegal as distributing the product. At the center of it all is a family in New Orleans. Only they know how to make the drug, and they’re now fending off takeover offers, rivals, and crooked cops. – If you’ve never read any comics by Cullen Bunn, look up his work. He’s a great writer, and I’m a huge fan. The art in this one is stellar, too, especially when Guimaráes’ colors and Scharf’s drawings express the […]

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Coffee Table Book Review: Off the Grid

Off the Grid: Houses for Escape by Dominic Bradbury. Thames & Hudson, 2019. 9780500021422. 271 pp. including an Off-Grid Guide to get you started thinking about things like planning, materials, energy/heat, light, waste, water, and landscaping; thumbnails of architectural plans; and an index. – The ultimate cabin book includes photos of (and words about) beautiful, small homes in scenic locales, with each small building focused on design, green living, and an appreciation of the natural world. I could live in any of these as long as it had more built in bookshelves. My favorites include: – the Watershed in Wren, Oregon. Rainwater from the roof pours into a trough in front of the door! – the 72H Cabin in Henriksholm, Sweden. The wall is a door is a wall. – the Outside House in Maui, Hawaii.  It has the coolest detached porch I’ve ever seen. – the Sky House in Oroville, Washington. I grew up in Seattle and I’ve never […]

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Graphic Novel Review: The Clandestinauts

The Clandestinauts by Tim Sievert. Uncivilized Books, 2018. 9781941250259. 224 pages. – Sievert’s epic homage to D&D adventures reminded me of several things: Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit (though it’s not as gory and has fewer penises), Joe Daly’s Dungeon Quest (though it’s not quite as ridiculous), Carlton Mellick III’s The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2 (though it’s not quite as meta or purposely juvenile), and the over the top inventiveness of Adventure Time. All of that is an indirect way of saying I loved it; it’s violent, entertaining, and just plain fun to look at. I love the art so much I’d pay extra for an oversized edition if one was available. – Inside you’ll find: a slugman, automatons, wizards, warlocks, demons, mercenaries, a half hag, hell, cat people, piles of treasure, magic items, egg sacks, strange creatures, spells, and, of course, a quest. My favorite character is Ganglion the Grim, a bandaged warlock who uses his flesh to […]

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Illustrated Chapter Book Review: Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover

Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Mike Lowery. Scholastic, 2018. 9781338143591. 150pp. – Fact: when author Mac Barnett was a kid, he worked as a spy. It all started with a call from the Queen of England, who needed his help — someone had stolen her crown jewels. So Mac packed his bags and took the next flight to London. The Queen even loaned him one of her Corgis for the duration of his mission. – This book is so delightfully silly I couldn’t put it down, and it was the perfect antidote to the grim, violent genre fiction I normally read. I first saw Lowery’s cartoony illustrations in the Doctor Proctor’s Fart Powder series, and they continue to amaze me. No one has ever drawn a dog’s behind better.

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Graphic Novel Review: Bloom

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau. First Second, 2019. 9781626726413. 364pp including a recipe for sourdough rolls and some production art in the back. – High school is over, and so is his sister’s wedding. Ari wants to move away to Baltimore with his friends/band mates. His parents need him to stay and help out at the family baker, so Ari hatches a plan to hire a replacement for himself. Enter Hector, a handsome dude who loves baking. Hector will either make it easier to leave or impossible, especially if their friendship ever moves on to the romance it seems destined to become. – The art is black and blue-green, a color that reminds me of a crayon I used to love, and it’s wonderful. The book seems destined to be a favorite of high school kids like my daughter, who hate it when adults their parents’ ages try to label everyone’s sexual orientation. There’s no coming out scene, […]

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Book Review: The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volumes 1 & 2

The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume 1 by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. Andrews McMeel, 2019. 9781449497989. 124pp. The World’s Best Jokes for Kids Volume 2 by Lisa Swerling and Ralph Lazar. Andrews McMeel, 2019.. 9781449497996. 124pp. Silly jokes and puns for kids, every single one illustrated (as it says on the cover) from the creators of Happiness Is… Are they going to be funny to adults? Sometimes. Are kids going to tell them over and over and over again while giggling? I think so. I HOPE so. I love the illustrations, and the jokes are pretty good. I’m giving my review copies to two kids I know because 1) they’ll love them and 2) they’ll probably torture their parents with them. I can justify the gift because puns are food for thought — they require a deep understanding of language — but I know that I’m going to have to fight hard not to laugh when my friends […]

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Guest Book Review: Funny Business

Funny Business by Revilo. Hallmark Books, 2006. 115 pages. 9781595301345. (Guest review by Murphy’smom) This collection of comics was given to me by my manager earlier this week. All of the cartoons deal with corporate bullshit, which, unfortunately, we all have had to deal with one way or another. I especially enjoyed the ones poking fun at performance evaluations and their absolute pointlessness. (We’re going through the hellishness of second quarter evaluations at my job right now, and since there’s no monetary reward on offer, I see no need in doing these.) Artist Revilo is also spot on — it only takes a collared shirt and tie to move a yeti into upper management. (At least it appears this way.) I think this is a hilarious, relatable comic collection because as much as I love my library job and hate corporate America, I get it! But again, I may be just bitter because my manager docked me a few points […]

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Graphic Novel Review: Dugout

Dugout: The Zombie Steals Home by Scott Morse. Scholastic Graphix, 2019. 9781338188097. 256pp. – Twin sisters Stacy and Gina are baseball rivals. Gina and her team are doing well, while Stacy isn’t having any luck. Some of Stacy’s teammates on the Rooks think they’re cursed, and that her grandma is a witch. The latter is true, but their grandma isn’t going to teach Stacy and Gina spells until they’re at least sixteen. After Gina secretly uses her grandma’s magical ingredients on Stacy’s glove anyway, a zombie climbs from the ground in the middle of the Rooks’ practice field. It’s a freaky looking (if somewhat rotten) old guy zombie but don’t worry, it quickly and humorously becomes part of the team. Later, there’s a ghost in a baseball uniform, and a baseball-centered mystery/adventure involving both. – Full disclosure: Morse is one of my favorite cartoonists. I own copies of most of his books and several pieces of his art and I […]

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