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15 Aug, 2017

Graphic Novel Mini Reviews

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Format: Graphic
Source: Library

I decided to read several new to me graphic novels as part of Women in Translation Month.  I was impressed with how many my library had.  Here are the first few series I started.

The Rabbi's CatThe Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar

“In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.”  Translated from French

First of all, the author is not a woman. Whoops. I still loved this story. The cat is full of contempt for any Jewish law that doesn’t make any sense.

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The art is cute. I enjoyed the North African setting. I will be continuing this series.


Bride of the Water God, Volume 1Bride of the Water God, Volume 1 by Mi-Kyung Yun

“When Soah’s impoverished, desperate village decides to sacrifice her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe that drowning one beautiful girl will save their entire community and bring much-needed rain. Not only is Soah surprised to be rescued by the Water God — instead of killed — she never imagined she’d be a welcomed guest in Habaek’s magical kingdom, where an exciting new life awaits her! Most surprising, however, is the Water God himself… and how very different he is from the monster Soah imagined.” Translated from Korean

I don’t know about an exciting life. I found this one pretty boring. It is a great concept and it seemed like it was going to be good but then nothing happened by the end of the volume. Maybe it gets better if you read more but I’m not interested.

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The art is good but it isn’t enough.


Fruits Basket, Vol. 1Fruits Basket, Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya

“Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.”  Translated from Japanese

A girl moves in with a family who are all possessed by the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac. That sounds good. Again, I couldn’t get into this one. I had a hard time telling the male characters apart or even how many of them there were. Bad sign.

FruitsBasket

The art was fine but I’m starting to think that manga just isn’t for me.


A Bride's Story, Vol. 1 (A Bride's Story, #1)A Bride’s Story, Vol. 1 by Kaoru Mori

“Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.”  Translated from Japanese

I gasped when I opened this one. The art was extraordinary and very detailed.

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It is set in 1800s Turkmenistan. I loved the characters who all had distinct personalities. Amir isn’t just meekly trying to fit into her new family and the family isn’t trying to make her conform. I’m glad this moved away from that trope.

I am definitely continuing with this series.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Africa
  • Books Set in Asia
03 May, 2017

The Wicked + The Divine

/ posted in: Reading The Wicked + The Divine The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles
on November 12th 2014
Pages: 144
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels
Published by Image Comics
Format: Graphic
Source: Library
Setting: England

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

Goodreads

I’m not a big graphic novel reader but I was intrigued by this story.

Every 90 years twelve gods take over the bodies of people. This is a well known phenomenon. People study it. For two years these gods are superstars. People flock to them. By the time two years are finished, they are all dead.

The art in the books is beautiful.

luci

This is Luci. She is the incarnation of Lucifer. You see the story through the eyes of Laura, a mixed race English girl who goes to all the gods’ concerts against her parents’ will. She ends up befriending Luci and that brings her in contact with the all schemes of the gods.

The first book was my favorite. You are drawn into Luci’s world. You see the glamor and the pain of knowing that you are going to die soon.

SPOILERS in the next descriptions


The Wicked + The Divine The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 2: Fandemonium by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles
on July 1st 2015
Pages: 168
Published by Image Comics

The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity. Includes issues 6-11 of the series, plus supplementary material.

Goodreads

Laura starts to investigate why Luci was framed for murder and then killed.  It draws her deeper and deeper into the world of gods.  Not all of the gods are friendly.


The Wicked + The Divine The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie
on February 9th 2016
Pages: 200
Published by Image Comics

After the detonation of FANDEMONIUM the gods-as-pop-stars of THE WICKED + THE DIVINE try living in the long dark shadow.
Team WicDiv are joined by a stellar cast of guest artists to put the spotlight on each of the gods. The multiple Eisner Award nominated series continues in the only way it knows how: darker, weirder, faster. Don't worry. It's going to be okay.
Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #12-17

Goodreads

There were guest artists for this book and I wasn’t a huge fan.  I did like seeing more back story on some of the gods that have been bit players up to now.

I must admit that I’m a bit lost on the overall story right now.  I thought it was me but then I started looking at other reviews and I’m not alone in feeling this way.  It seems like the story is starting to lag.


The Wicked + The Divine The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 4: Rising Action by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
on October 5th 2016
Pages: 144
Published by Image Comics

Every ninety years, twelve gods are reincarnated as young people. They are loved. They are hated. And sometimes - just sometimes - they fall into open Superstar wars. The fourth volume of the award-winning, best selling series from acclaimed creators KIERON GILLEN, JAMIE McKELVIE and MATT WILSON is the most explosive yet.
Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #18-22

Goodreads

This book was back to the amazing art.  That’s good.  Now all the gods are fighting against their mentor/controller/I don’t know what she is.  I feel like the story is murky at best but I kept flipping through for the art.

 

AMATERSU

This is the incarnation of Amatersu, the Japanese sun goddess in the first book.  She is one of the few that is mostly trying to do good with her new body and powers.

Bottom line – Look at it for the art and maybe read the first two volumes.  Then wonder why the covers are so blah when the art inside is so colorful.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Backlist Books
  • Books Set in Europe
27 Jan, 2017

Graphic Novels

/ posted in: Reading Graphic Novels Lady Killer (Lady Killer, #1) by Joëlle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Chelsea Cain
on September 15th 2015
Pages: 138
Published by Dark Horse Books
Format: Graphic
Source: Library, Owned

Betty Draper meets Hannibal!
Josie Schuller is a picture-perfect homemaker, wife, and mother—but she’s also a ruthless, efficient killer for hire! A brand-new original comedy series that combines the wholesome imagery of early 1960s domestic bliss with a tightening web of murder, paranoia, and cold-blooded survival.
* New original series by Joëlle Jones!
* Dark comedy, gritty action, and killer laughs!

Goodreads

I’m not a huge graphic novel fan because they are over too quickly.  I don’t like a book that is done in 20 minutes. Occasionally though I pick some up because I love the look of the art.

How can you not love the cover of Lady Killer?  Each book ends with a fake advertisement aimed at 1960s housewives who are also assassins.  Think of this book as Mr and Mrs Smith set in the 60s if Mr Smith wasn’t a spy.


Graphic Novels Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening (Collected Editions) by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton
on July 19th 2016
Pages: 202
Published by Image Comics

Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, MONSTRESS tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.

Goodreads

The art in Monstress is beautiful.  I wasn’t that big of a fan of the story.  I’m definitely in the minority with that opinion.  Every other review I read is raving about this book.

I did like the two tailed cats who are obviously the smartest beings around – as cats should be.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • POC authors
02 May, 2016

Small Shen – The Book I Wasn’t Allowed to Have!

/ posted in: Reading Small Shen – The Book I Wasn’t Allowed to Have! Small Shen by Kylie Chan, Queenie Chan
on December 1st 2012
Pages: 352
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, Fantasy, Legends, Myths, Fables
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Australia
Format: Graphic
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

SMALL SHEN is the amazing story of Gold -- a stone spirit and a chronic troublemaker in the court of the great Gods of Chinese mythology.
A mix of Kylie Chan′s brilliant storytelling and Queenie Chan′s beautiful illustrations, SMALL SHEN is a fantastic treat for fans of WHITE TIGER. Readers will be thrilled to discover the events leading up to John Chen and Emma Donahoe′s story in this wonderful prequel.
Shown through Queenie Chan′s stunning illustrations and comics, the story follows the stone spirit Gold′s entertaining adventures throughout history. His escapades include seducing a dragon princess, attempting to steal one of the Tiger′s wives, making bets with demons, and working for the Blue Dragon of the East.
Eventually, as a result of his crimes against Heaven and his constant philandering, Gold is ordered to join the household of Xuan Wu, the Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens. Xuan Wu is also known as John Chen, a Hong Kong businessman.
The story then follows Gold and Jade -- the dragon princess - in contemporary Hong Kong. The two small shen must help guard John Chen′s beloved human wife and baby daughter from demon attack.

Goodreads

I’m a fan of Kylie Chan’s series about the Taoist Gods. The series starts with White Tiger.

White Tiger (Dark Heavens, #1)White Tiger by Kylie Chan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“A young woman accepts a position as nanny to the young daughter of a handsome, wealthy, and mysterious Chinese businessman only to discover her new employer is really a god and every foul demon in creation is out to destroy him!”

This is a very complex world that is developed through a lot of books. I was excited to see that there was a standalone story about Gold. I wanted to get it to read for Weirdathon in March. So when March came around I went to try to find it. That’s when I discovered that I wasn’t allowed to have it.

This book is not available outside of Australia. Ok, but there is this thing called the Internet and you can buy anything… or not. It turned out to be surprisingly difficult. By this time I was determined. Nothing will make you want something like being told you can’t have it.

I finally found a store willing to sell me a copy and based on the cost of shipping they must have sent it on the back of a flying unicorn to get to my house.

It was worth it though. I love the style of having a written novel interspersed with sections of graphic novel. I want the rest of the series like this. For a series based on gods who have any different aspects and presentations this is a big help.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

The cover copy says that this is a good introduction to the series. I don’t think so. It does take place before the series starts but you don’t get the gentle introduction and world building that happens in the first book. If you feel like seeing a floating stone carrying towels to the human wives of a white tiger and then finding a snake and a turtle lounging in the pool would leave you with some questions, read the White Tiger first. For fans of the series this is a fun read about one of the essential secondary characters that you really don’t get to know much about.

08 Apr, 2016

The Comic Book History of Comics

/ posted in: Reading The Comic Book History of Comics The Comic Book History of Comics on 2012
Pages: 224
Genres: Comics & Graphic Novels, General, Nonfiction
Published by IDW
Format: Graphic
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

For the first time ever, the inspiring, infuriating, and utterly insane story of comics, graphic novels, and manga is presented in comic book form! The award-winning "Action Philosophers" team of Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey turn their irreverent-but-accurate eye to the stories of Jack Kirby, R. Crumb, Harvey Kurtzman, Alan Moore, Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Fredric Wertham, Roy Lichtenstein, Art Spiegelman, HergE, Osamu Tezuka -- and more! Collects "Comic Book Comics" #1-6.

Goodreads

The title of this book made me laugh so I borrowed it online from the library.

I don’t know a whole lot about comics but this book packed a whole lot of history into it.  It starts with the development of the comic strip and then moves into the business ideas behind making books out of comic strips.  The early developers of the format are all profiled.

The history of comics seems to be mostly about intellectual property disputes.  Were comic artists creating work for hire in which case anything they made belongs to the company or were they authors in which case their creations belong to them?  For me the book got bogged down in the middle around the 1980s with all kinds of legal challenges.

I was more interested in the early creators like the men behind Superman and what Stan Lee may or may not have done for comics.

This book looks mostly at American comics with some side trips to France but it does contain a section on manga too.

This would be a great book for any comic book fans in your life who also love history.

 

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