July 26, 2016

Doesn't pull any punches

The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi was the June book from the feminist book club on Goodreads called Our Shared Shelf started by Emma Watson. This was the first graphic novel we've read in the group so I was understandably quite excited. This is the true story of the author's experience growing up in Tehran (the capital of Iran). The book opens at the beginning of the Islamic revolution in 1979. The first chapter is called The Veil and describes the incredulity of all of the children in her school when they are told that they are now required to wear the veil. Marjane is  bounces between unbelievably horrific imagery of torture to the seemingly arbitrary rules and regulations thrust upon Iranians. It's at times quite humorous but mostly it's appalling. The graphic depictions of torture, death, and oppression are raw and I felt gave our main character more depth than did the descriptions of her relationships and drug experimentation. It can be difficult to review a memoir (as I mentioned with Blankets) because it feels somewhat odd to say "I'm not a huge fan of the main character". However, it's the truth. I didn't really care for Marjane and I didn't really connect with her. I did connect with the plights of the people in her country. When she wrote about the unfairness of the law and the subterfuge that everyone committed just to have some semblance of humanity I felt deeply moved. The art style is not my favorite but neither is it terrible. I'd say this would be a good read for someone who wants to learn more about the people of Iran and their struggles but for me it's not one I'd reread and I don't think I'd read any more of her works. :-/ 5/10

A few examples of her art and some truly gut-punching dialogue.



**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

July 22, 2016

Comfort reading

If you harken back to my Dickensian love fest a la A Tale of Two Cities then you'll recall that Charles Dickens is one of my all-time favorite authors. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to you that whenever I come across any of his works that I don't own (we don't speak of the two copies of David Copperfield which I covet) I pick it up. That's how The Mudfog Papers came into my life and I couldn't be happier about it. It's a satirical little novel that was original written in serial format (as most of the works by Dickens were). It's all about the goings on in the town of Mudfog. Especially of interest were the meetings of 'The Mudfog Society for the Advancement of Everything' where a reporter was sent to take notes for public consumption. It is HYSTERICAL. Between the caricatures of the learned men in the so-called 'Society' and the minute-by-minute letters from the reporter it's Dickens's tongue-in-cheek commentary at its best. (He was lampooning the British Association for the Advancement of Science by the way.) I read a few pages a night of this delightful little tome only so I could prolong the experience. This is 'comfort reading' at its very, very best. 10/10 highly recommend this and (everything he's written) to everyone.


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

July 19, 2016

Little Women but with more booze and acrobatics

The following review was requested by the lovely people over at Wunderkind PR who always seem to know just what kind of books I like. :-)

One of my favorite things about writing this blog is thinking up creative titles for the posts that somehow convey the essence of the book without giving too much away. (It's also usually the last thing that I do after writing the actual review.) The Tumbling Turner Sisters by Juliette Fay has whispers of Little Women in that the story revolves around 4 sisters who are very different but each with defining character traits. However, this story doesn't take place in the home but out on the road as the girls and their mom leap (quite literally) into the world of vaudeville. It has a strong Water for Elephants vibe in that there is a host of rich characters that crop up and sometimes fade away after only a few pages never to be seen again. The book bounces between two of the sisters: Gert (the beauty) and Winnie (the brains). It's not a jarring transition but I would have liked to see from the eyes of Kit and Nell (the other two sisters).  Fay is able to weave real people (Cary Grant makes an appearance but you won't realize it until you read the author's notes at the end.) and historical events to fit into her narrative (I can't tell you what they are or it'll spoil it.). I love the fact that the theaters chosen for this book can still be visited today and I hope to get to see them in the near future. :-) Our story begins in 1919 with the family visited by two tragedies at once. One of them changes the life of a sister irrevocably and the other sets the family on a path that they never could have foreseen. As vaudeville performers, they glimpse a world that they never could have dreamed of and it strengthens their bonds while also testing their limits. There's romance, daring, anguish, and above all the lure of the limelight. My only regret is that the book ends in such a way that the reader is left feeling saddened that they may never know what became of these characters. I'll definitely be adding more of Juliette Fay's books to my TRL.

**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

July 15, 2016

The search for identity

I watched a really interesting anime a few months back called Wandering Son which focuses on two main characters who are transgendered. It was such an intriguing storyline but I felt there was potential for so much more. Luckily, anime are generally based off of manga so I did a little search and Wandering Son, Vol.1 by Takako Shimura (translated by Matt Thorn) fell magically into my hands. As you can guess, there are a number of volumes in this series which consist of multiple issues. The story focuses on two fifth graders who share a secret: They both want to be the opposite gender. This is the second book that I've read which discusses gender identity but it's the first I've read with characters this young. There are the normal trials and tribulations of adolescence (puberty being one of them) as well as the added anxiety of gender identity and secrecy. It's an interesting storyline but unfortunately not a lot is covered in this volume (even less than in the anime) so I think I'm going to have to read several more before I get the more that I was craving. (I'm not sure if I'm interested enough to continue honestly.) The majority of the artwork is average but there are a few pages which really shine. I'll include examples below. :-) If you're looking for an anime/manga combination that explores a topic which you may or may not be overly familiar with then you might want to give this one a chance...as long as you understand you'll have to be committed for the long haul. 5/10 since this volume fell short of my expectations.



The first few pages are in color...the rest isn't. :-(


Shuichi Nitori



Yoshino Takatsuki




**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **


July 12, 2016

Grief does not preclude hope

The following book was kindly sent to me by the author, Dan Buri, who requested a review. He's been extraordinarily patient with me as I've waded through a lot of books (and procrastination). Thanks, Dan!

Pieces Like Pottery: Stories of Loss and Redemption is exactly what it claims to be. This is a collection of short stories that examine grief and how different people deal with it. It's also about hope and resilience. After finishing this delightful little book, I felt uplifted and encouraged. I'd compare it to The Opposite of Loneliness in terms of how powerful I found the writing and it's re-readability. In between each short story is a little vignette which works as a bridge between each narrative. At the end, you realize that they're more interwoven than the disparate stories led you to believe. (It truly surprised me.) Pieces Like Pottery runs the gamut of loss and the myriad ways it can affect an individual. From the loss of a child to the loss of one's self, this was a beautifully imagined and heartfelt little collection. 10/10 highly recommend.


Source: amazon.com


**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **

July 11, 2016

Book Hype: Ratchet, The Reluctant Witch

I wanted to hype up a book that came out at the end of last year. Ratchet, The Reluctant Witch by Sara Pascoe is the tale of a young girl in foster care named Ratchet who accidentally travels back in time to the witch trials of antiquity. This is a story of a fiercely independent young woman who is trying to find her place in this world and just so happens to be doing so by traveling through history. If this sounds up your street, I encourage you to check it out! To learn more about the author and her book you can visit her website here.





Since I haven't reviewed it myself I thought this would be informative.

July 8, 2016

Born in a horror film and brought to life in a graphic novel

When I saw the cover art for Alien Next Door by Joey Spiotto I was intrigued. When I read the blurb on the back I knew that I needed to get my hands on it immediately. Luckily, I am happy to report that it exceeded all expectations. This book explores what the alien from Alien does when not terrorizing the crew of the Nostromo. IT IS BRILLIANT. Basically, it's a series of images of this terrifying creature just going about it's normal routine. There's a picture of it going to the dentist (complete with mini alien head sticking from its mouth), one of it putting together a replica of the Nostromo a la Star Wars vibes, and so much more. It's a quick, fun little book with really creative imagery of a character that had appeared one-dimensional as an entity without anything except bloodlust and propagation of its species on its mind. Now we know that it has a cat named Jonesy, enjoys celebrating holidays with its eggs, and that it takes domestic responsibilities seriously. 10/10

This review wouldn't be complete without a few pictures of the artwork. Enjoy!



Hope there were no cavities.

The lack of eyes doesn't bother me. How about you?

This one really cracked me up.



**If you're interested in buying this book or any books really, you can click here or here. The first will re-direct you to AbeBooks and the second will re-direct you to The Book Depository. These are great websites for purchasing books (AbeBooks carries inexpensive used and out-of-print books and The Book Depository ships free everywhere in the world). Full disclosure: I will receive a commission on all sales made by following either of these links. I wouldn't recommend a site that I didn't use and you are under no obligation to purchase anything. :-) **