The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard: A Review

The Great Gatsby K Woodman Maynard

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard
Based on the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Graphic Novel | Classics | Literary Fiction
Published by Candlewick Press
Publication Date: January 5th, 2021
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Adapting a classic and beloved novel into a graphic novel is no easy task, but K. Woodman-Maynard has done a fantastic job of adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. 

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K. Woodman-Maynard

The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite books of all time, so I went into this adaptation a little skeptical but wanting to love it. I needn’t have worried though – K. Woodman-Maynard stuck to the roots of the story while making it accessible to a new (and old) audience.

The ARC I received from the publisher was in black and white, but the finished version, set to be released in early January 2021, will be in full color. I actually loved the black and white artwork, but I am eager to see the full-color version! The art is simple and fits this medium perfectly, and also manages to grasp the feelings of extravagance and yearning of the original story.

Great Gastby
Colored preview courtesy of Amazon and the publisher

While it’s impossible to adapt a novel such as The Great Gatsby without leaving some elements of the original story out, Woodman-Maynard kept all the important bits and everything needed to create the same atmosphere and themes of the original. I wouldn’t call The Great Gatsby a difficult classic novel by any means, but I remember not really “getting it” in high school – this may have been a much better medium for me to be introduced to the story.

There’s no substitute for the original F. Scott Fitzgerald novel – there never will be. It’s one of the Great American Novels for a reason and I encourage you to read it if you never have. If it’s a story that you love, however, or if you find the original novel uninteresting (a concept I can’t understand!), picking up K. Woodman-Maynard’s adaptation is an absolute must.

You can tell when a writer and artist loves the story that they’re working on, and Woodman-Maynard’s love of The Great Gatsby shines through clearly in her work.

Thank you Candlewick Press for the free advanced copy for review.




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Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa – A Review

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe Yumi Sakugawa

Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe by Yumi Sakugawa
Nonfiction | Graphic Novel | Spirituality
Published by Adams Media
Released 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

The older I get, the more interested in spirituality I become. I’ve never been much of a religious person, not enjoying the confines of organized religion. However, I have been finding some solace in quiet meditations and pondering on some of life’s big questions.

I found Yumi Sakugawa’s Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe tucked away in my library’s graphic novel section, and it stuck out to me. It’s a very short book at just 160 pages, and the art is done in a very minimalistic style.

This graphic novel is exactly what it sounds like: a cute, illustrated guide to feeling connected with the universe at large. While it definitely has some “woo-woo” moments, overall this book is meant to be a quick meditation on oneness. It won’t be for everyone. In fact, I had a hard time with it.

The art itself isn’t typically something I would enjoy, but I do feel that it worked well for what this book was. It’s all hand-drawn, black and white, simple doodles.

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The content is what I had trouble with. If I had read this book five years ago, I would have hated it. I prided myself on preferring logic and science over religion and spirituality (perhaps some Vulcan-ness rubbing off on me). As I mentioned before, however, I have been growing more open in the past couple of years, and the book spoke to me more than I was expecting. There is some useful information and advice contained in these pages, and reading it was itself a calming experience.

At the same time though, some of the information was far too “out there” for me. For example, there are several suggestions to lie outside at night and explore the cosmos through your mind. For someone who is a verbal thinker rather than a visual one, it was hard for me to picture doing this.

Much of the information in this book is metaphorical or abstract, which is something else that left me feeling unconnected with it. There’s nothing wrong with metaphors! It’s just that in a format such as this one, I’d prefer information that can be taken at face value. An example is a chapter on “planting seeds” of your hopes and dreams and learning more about yourself as they grow. I get it, I really do. It just didn’t speak to me.

I’m glad that this book encourages meditation and peacefulness, traits that, in my mind, are always positive and good for the spirit. Some people will like this graphic novel more than others depending on how you feel about new-age spirituality. I read the entire book in roughly fifteen minutes, so if you’re even remotely interested in, go for it.




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Small Spaces, DCeased, & Quiet Girl in a Noisy World – Review Quickies #2

Review Quickies

Between working massive amounts of overtime and dealing with the normal ups and downs of life, I haven’t had a lot of time to write reviews. In order to catch up, here are a few quick reviews of books I’ve read lately.



Small Spaces Katherine Arden

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden
Middle Grade | Horror | Fantasy
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Released September 25th, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_and_a_half_stars

I don’t often read middle-grade books, but I wanted an audiobook that would be easy to listen to and found Small Spaces on Scribd.

The story follows eleven-year-old Ollie who joins her class on a trip to a local farm. There’s quite a bit more going on, though, as Ollie discovers a bizarre scene with a crazed woman attempting to dispose of a mysterious book. Ollie starts reading the book and notices strange parallels between the story in the book and what’s happening on the farm. Ollie, along with two of her classmates, has to work together to save the rest of their class as the night takes a supernatural turn.

Small Spaces was super adorable and fun. I know this is the type of book I would have loved had I read it in middle school. The story touches on difficult topics such as grief, yet it is also a rich tale of friendship. It’s a short novel but packs a lot of punch. I’ll definitely be reading the sequel, Dead Voices.


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DCeased by Tom Taylor
Art by Trevor Hairsine & Stefano Gaudiano
Horror | Graphic Novels/Comics | DC Universe
Published by DC Comics
Released November 26th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Tom Taylor is my favorite comic book writer. He has a unique ability to combine humor with darkness, and I absolutely love it. Even though I’m not a huge fan of the DC Universe (I much prefer Marvel), I’ll read anything that he writes.

DCeased is an apocalyptic story involving a disease spreading across Earth, turning victims into zombies (essentially), and even superheroes aren’t spared.

What really struck me about DCeased is how dark it is. One of the reasons that I don’t read many DC comics is that the stories and characters often seem a little cartoony for me, but DCeased is dark and serious. I’m not going to spoil the story and say how it ends, but let’s just say that I wasn’t expecting it to end like it did, and I thought that it was great.

The only downside to this collection is that, for many of the characters, I had no real idea of who they were. Obviously, the big names like Batman and Wonder Woman are obvious, but to someone unfamiliar with the DC Universe, there were a lot of less well-known characters who I didn’t care about. If you’re a DC fan though, you won’t have that problem.


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Quiet Girl in a Noisy World: An Introvert’s Story by Debbie Tung
Graphic Novel | Memoir
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Released November 7th, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Last year I had the pleasure of reading Debbie Tung’s newer graphic novel release,  Book Love. Quiet Girl in a Noisy World is a collection of black-and-white comics about life as an introvert. I felt as though I was reading about my own life. All of Debbie Tung’s work is adorable and perfectly captures introversion. This would make a perfect gift for your bookworm friends.



Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!




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They Called Us Enemy by George Takei – A Review

They Called Us Enemy George Takei

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, & Steven Scott
Art by Harmony Becker
Non-Fiction | Graphic Novel | History | Memoir
Published by Top Shelf Productions
Released July 16th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

There are parts of American history that the people in power would like for you to forget, and the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II is one of those. I wasn’t taught about this in high school, even while discussing World War II, and it wasn’t until college that I found out about the prejudice and hate that Americans of Japanese descent had to live through following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

Hopefully, George Takei is a name that is already familiar to you. You’ll definitely know him if you’re a Star Trek fan as I am, as he played Hikaru Sulu in The Original Series.

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George Takei was born to Japanese-American parents in southern California in 1937. In 1942, when George was just four-years-old, his family was one of many rounded up unfairly and sent to an internment camp. They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s memoir of his family’s experience living in three different internment camps, one as far away as Arkansas.

Told as a graphic novel with wonderful, simple art done by Harmony Becker, this is a heartbreaking book to read. It’s hard to imagine a level of hate and fear so great that America would support internment camps for people of a particular ancestry.

As I mentioned before, I was not taught about this period of our history in school, which is offensive to the people who had to live through it. Takei’s book is accessible for all ages, and I sincerely hope that it makes its way into schools all over the country.

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As hard to read as this real-life account was, it was also inspiring at times. I was incredibly impressed at how Takei’s parents tried as hard as they could to make their children’s lives normal. His father worked to make conditions better in the camp for everyone while his mother tried to make their new “home” more liveable. All of the families who were sent to these camps lost so much – their homes, possessions, jobs, and links to the outside world.

In many cases, these families were given little to no warning that they were about to be forced to leave their homes behind.

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One of the Japanese-American internment camps

One of the most difficult moments in the book came when the people living in the internment camps discovered that America had dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Takei family had relatives living in Hiroshima, who died that day. They were locked up with their grief, along with other families grieving for their relatives as well, with no way to fight back. They weren’t allowed to travel and were unable to properly mourn for their loved ones in Japan. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror that so many people had to experience.

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Towards the end of the book, Takei writes about how little he realized was happening when he was young and learning about it through his father afterward. The anger he felt when he thought they hadn’t done enough to prevent it to a greater understanding is all portrayed honestly here. Takei also discusses the racism and prejudice that ran rampant in Hollywood when he got started as an actor, and how Star Trek was the role of a lifetime for him.

I cannot urge you enough to read this graphic novel. It’s too easy to forget the horrors that governments and angry citizens can lay down on people, and it’s something that we should never forget. Donate this book to schools, share it with others, read it yourself – let’s not forget what happened to the Japanese-American population during World War II, and let’s prevent it from ever happening again.


Have you read They Called Us Enemy? What did you think? Were you taught about the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II? Let me know in the comments.




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Sheets by Brenna Thummler – A Review

Sheets Brenna Thummler

Sheets by Brenna Thummler
Graphic Novel
Published by Lion Forge
Released August 28th, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Sheets has been on my radar for a while, but reading it on Hoopla this morning was totally spur-of-the-moment. It turned out to be one of the best random decisions I’ve made recently.

This middle-grade ghost story is adorable and perfect for people that want to read something for Halloween but without the normal scares. The story follows a teenage girl named Majorie Glatt, as she tries to juggle school and running her family’s laundromat. After her mother drowns, her father essentially disappears from life, and both the laundromat and her little brother become her responsibility.

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Brenna Thummler

One day a ghost, Wendell, makes the decision to leave his ghost town because he doesn’t feel like he fits in with them. Ghosts are attracted to laundromats (because they wear sheets!) and Wendell ends up in Marjorie’s. He inadvertently causes a bit of mischief and between Wendell and a manipulative man trying to buy the laundromat, Marjorie quickly becomes overwhelmed.

The story is so cute, yet bittersweet at the same time. As someone who has also lost her mother, I felt the pain of Marjorie missing her and quickly became attached to her character. I also saw parts of myself in both Marjorie and Wendell, neither one of whom feel like they fit in with their peers.

As adorable as the story is, the art is just as good. Author Brenna Thummler is also the artist of this story, and I loved both the art style and the colors Thummler used. Here are a few examples:

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I was hooked by the art pretty much immediately.

While I don’t read a lot of middle-grade books, I would recommend this ageless story to all readers. It’s relatively short (I finished it in under an hour) and there’s so much to get out of it. Plus, as we near Halloween, it’s the perfect time to read it!


Have you read Brenna Thumler’s Sheets? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!




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Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman – A Review

Snow Glass Apples Neil Gaiman

Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Colleen Doran
Retellings | Fantasy
Published by Dark Horse
Released August 20th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Many readers of this blog will know that Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I love the whimsy and darkness that permeate his stories. I had never heard of this Snow White reimagining before it was re-published by Dark Horse back in August, but the cover art immediately caught my eye.

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Snow, Glass, Apples is a reimagining of the Snow White fairy tale, where the step-mother isn’t the evil one, but the young girl, Snow White, is. I love that this is a horror-reimagining of the fairy tale, something I’ve never seen done before. The story was delightfully dark and twisted.

As wonderful as Neil Gaiman’s writing for this was, however, the art by Colleen Doran stole the spotlight. It’s gorgeous. I’ll be buying a physical copy of this before long just so I can look at the artwork whenever I want to. It’s perfect.

If you’re looking for a Snow White story with a happy ending, this isn’t for you. It’s very dark, there’s no happy ending, and the story involves vampires. For example:

“If it were today, I would have her heart cut out, true. But then I would have her head and arms and legs cut off. I would have them disembowel her. And then I would watch, in the town square, as the hangman heated the fire to white-heat with bellows, watch unblinking as he consigned each part of her to the fire. I would have archers around the square, who would shoot any bird or animal who came close to the flames, any raven or dog or hawk or rat. And I would not close my eyes until the princess was ash, and a gentle wind could scatter her like snow.

I did not do this thing, and we pay for our mistakes.”

It probably won’t happen, but I would love to see this story turned into a film or television show.

If you like Neil Gaiman or dark fairy tale reimaginings or just amazing art, definitely pick up this book.


What is your favorite Snow White retelling or reimagining? Let us know in the comments!




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F*ck, Now There are Two of You by Adam Mansbach – A Review

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Fuck, Now There Are Two of You by Adam Mansbach
Illustrated by Owen Brozman
Humor
Published by Akashic Books
Released October 1st, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

Note: I received a free finished copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book.

While Fuck, Now There are Two of You is not the type of book I would normally pick up, when Akashic Books reached out to me, I was incredibly intrigued by it. I had heard a lot about the first book in this series, called Go the Fuck to Sleep, and was excited to finally get my hands on one of these books.

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This short, 32-page book is a picture book for adults, something that, after reading this, I would love to see more of. If you can’t guess from the title, in this book Mansbach throws done some hard truths about having a second child.

Now, I don’t have children yet, but as I get older, many of my friends are either having their first or second child, and Mansbach definitely isn’t wrong about the difficulty of having a second baby. From the older child feeling jealous over the new baby, to the parents never having time for adult things, to the exhaustion that comes from trying to handle two energetic children – a lot of people will be able to relate and will find this book both hilarious and honest.

My boyfriend and I laughed from the first page to the last. If you have friends that are about to have their second child, go ahead and get them a copy as a gift. They could probably use some good laughs before the mess that is having a new infant while already having another kid.


Have you read any of Adam Mansbach’s books? What did you think of them? Let us know in the comments!




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Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – A Review

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Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh
Graphic Novel | Humor | Mental Illness | Nonfiction
Published by Gallery Books
Released October 29, 2013
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

I remember the first time I came across Allie Brosh’s webcomic, Hyperbole and a Half, and I read her comics on dealing with depression. They immediately struck a chord with me, and I understood her own plight completely, as it wasn’t that far from my own.

Hyperbole and a Half is Allie Brosh’s first book, which is a collection of stories from her webcomic. The book is made up of several topics, with Brosh’s recognizable drawing style. The topics deal with depression, finding a letter that her younger self had written to her future self, her lack of motivation, childhood mischief, her two dogs, and so much more.

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This collection is so hilarious that I was literally laughing out loud, while my boyfriend looked at me as though I were crazy (books rarely make me laugh). I loved this book so much and identified with so much of it that I’m definitely going to be buying my own copy to read over and over again.

Unfortunately, Brosh doesn’t appear to be updating her blog anymore, the last update coming in 2013, which is a damn shame. She did write a second book, called Solutions and Other Problems that I will for sure be seeking out.

If you’ve dealt with depression, psychotic dogs, a lack of motivation, or just being plain weird, you’ll probably find this book very relatable. It’s so wonderful to read. It was so easy to give this graphic novel five stars – it absolutely deserves it!




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Not My Bag by Sina Grace – A Review

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Not My Bag by Sina Grace
Graphic Novel | Fiction | LGBT
Published by Image Comics
Released October 30, 2012
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Working in retail, or any type of customer service, is difficult. You have to deal with the messiest, rudest people imaginable, and the work is rarely fulfilling. I worked in retail for nearly a decade until I transitioned into spas and then insurance, and I still cringe whenever I hear retail horror stories.

Sina Grace’s graphic novel Not My Bag is a story that all retail workers will be able to relate to. It tells the story of a man who hopes to become a comic book artist but finds himself working in high-end retail. You watch as the main character has to navigate the personalities of backstabbing employees while overworking himself to meet the standards of the industry. As time passes, he starts becoming obsessed with getting a promotion and outselling his co-workers, until one day he finally snaps and realizes he’s become obsessed with a job that he doesn’t actually want to do.

I spotted this graphic novel at my local library and was intrigued by the cover. If you look at the cover above, you’ll see that the bag on the left has tentacles emerging from it, and I was hoping for a story with Lovecraftian elements. The synopsis on the back states that the story is “a haunting retail hell story like you’ve never encountered before! A young artist takes a job at a department store in order to make ends meet … little does he know that he may meet his end!” Alas, that’s not what this story was, and I was slightly disappointed due to the expectations I had. The combination of the cover art and the synopsis felt misleading to me.

The art, which is drawn by the author, has a simple, gothic feel to it that I enjoyed. The characters are expressive and distinct. From cover to cover, the entire book is presented in shades of white, black, and gray, and it worked quite well.

The subplot of the story is about the character’s romantic relationships. He’s gay, so there’s some great LBGT representation here, and the relationships are thankfully realistic. He thinks about his exes and considers where things went wrong while also currently being in a new relationship. He refers to his exes and past as his ghosts, which I think all of us can understand.

Since I was able to relate to much of this story through my own frustrations in the retail world, I enjoyed the story, although it didn’t blow me away. I doubt I would ever re-read it, although I would still recommend it to people who want a story about retail or the fashion industry.


If you want more stories like Not My Bag, try these recommendations:

If you have any additional recommendations, let me know in the comments, and I’ll add them to the list.

The Tea-Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill – A Review

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The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill
Graphic Novel | Fantasy
Published by Oni Press
Released in January 2019
Received in an Owlcrate Box
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

This short graphic novel is probably one of my favorite items that I’ve ever received in a subscription box. I had never heard of Katie O’Neill before, but she has instantly become one of my favorite artists, to the point that I’m actually planning on buying one of her framed art prints as soon as my budget will allow.

The story in The Tea Dragon Society is almost too adorable – there are tiny dragons that grow tea leaves on their horns, and they’re meticulously cared for by their providers. The main character is Greta, who meets two members of the Tea Dragon Society, Hesekiel and Erik. They start teaching her how to care for the picky dragons. Greta also meets and befriends Minette, who’s very shy and quiet, but starts to emerge from her shell with Greta’s help.

There’s so much diversity in the characters, which is so wonderful to see in a children’s graphic novel. Within these pages, you’ll also find plenty of healthy relationships, whether it’s romantic, friendship, or familial love.

It’s the art, though, that makes this graphic novel truly spectacular. It’s beautiful.

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I want so much more of this world in my life. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this story or the art. Check it out, buy it, love it. I hope that one day we’ll get more Tea Dragon Society comics because I want to learn so much more about the different types of dragons and about what’s in the future for Greta and her friends.




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Tonoharu by Lars Martinson – A Review

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Tonoharu by Lars Martinson
Graphic Novel
Goodreads | Amazon
Published by Pliant Press
Released May 1, 2008
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_3_stars

Whenever I’m at my local library, I always try to search out a couple of books I’ve never heard of before to check out. I’ll walk down random aisles, grabbing books off the shelf until I find something that sounds interesting. Tonoharu by Lars Martinson was one of those books for me.

I was near the graphic novel aisle looking for some Neil Gaiman titles when I randomly picked this one up. The synopsis on the back details the story of Daniel Wells, an American who travels to Japan to become an assistant junior high school teacher in a rural community. The story is about Daniel’s loneliness in a culture where he barely speaks the language.

The aspect of this graphic novel that I enjoyed the most was the art. Done in black and white, it’s incredibly appropriate for the story and is entertaining to look at. I’m always impressed by artists who can portray emotions on drawn faces so simply, and Martinson is definitely gifted in that department. I also liked the simple layout of the book.

Daniel’s story showed how isolating a language barrier can be, and also how hard it can be to settle into a new city. Even without a different language to tackle, moving to a place where you don’t know anyone is daunting and the struggle of making new friends as an adult is very difficult (I’m speaking from experience here). It’s refreshing to see a writer/artist tackle that topic.

I found myself wanting more from the story, however, and the reason I’m rating this graphic novel three stars is that I never felt connected to the characters or cared that much about them. The book is short and a quick read, so perhaps if it had been longer it would have been easier to connect with Daniel. When I don’t feel that connection with the main character, I find that I quickly forget the plot and find myself not wanting to ever come back to the story. There is a sequel to Tonoharu, but I won’t be reading it.

I would like to stress that Tonoharu is a well-made graphic novel and I would recommend it to people wanting something different, but I just wished there had been more to it.

 

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch by Neil Gaiman – A Review

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The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Michael Zulli
Graphic Novel
Goodreads
Released April 1, 2008
Published by Dark Horse Books
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_stars

I had never heard of this Neil Gaiman graphic novel until I came across it while perusing the comic book shelves at my local library. As I’ve mentioned so many times on this blog, I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, so I added it to my pile without looking at the synopsis or anything else.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch is about a group of four people, including Miss Finch, who go to an urban underground circus together. A lot of bizarre things happen, and the acts of the circus are all over the place – from flying ghostly apparitions to a man hanging from the ceiling by his nipples to a guy in a fish costume motorcycling around the audience. Miss Finch disappears, and we’re left wondering what happened to her.

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While this was an interesting graphic novel, it wasn’t one of my favorite Neil Gaiman works. It was difficult for me to get past how much I disliked the art. It wasn’t that the art was bad, it was just of a style that I personally don’t enjoy in comics or graphic novels. It was a little rough around the edges and had a watercolor quality to it. Again, I think the art is good and does seem to work for the story, I just wasn’t a fan of it.

My favorite books or stories are the type that leaves you guessing and thinking about it even after you close the book. This is not one of those. While the story was entertaining, after I finished it I found that I stopped thinking about it after setting it down. I didn’t realize this at the time I read it, but apparently, this is a graphic novel adaptation of one of Gaiman’s short stories. I feel that I may have appreciated it more in story format. The graphic novel format felt too short and rushed.

This was by no means a terrible graphic novel or story, and it was mildly entertaining, but it just wasn’t for me. I definitely favor Neil Gaiman’s novels more than his graphic novels. I’ve read three of them, and none of them lived up to my expectations.


Have you read The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch? What did you think?

Foundations of Chinese Civilization by Jing Liu – A Review

“After 17,434 disasters, 3,791 wars, 663 emperors, and 95 dynasties, the 5,000-year-old Chinese civilization marches on.”

The Book

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Foundations of Chinese Civilization: The Yellow Emperor to the Han Dynasty (2697 BCE – 220 CE) by Jing Liu
Released May 31, 2016
Published by Stone Bridge Press
Goodreads
Author links: Facebook

Synopsis

Foundations of Chinese Civilizations is the history of China told through comic book form. This one is the first in the series.

It examines everything from the most important and long-lasting Chinese dynasties to the dynastic cycle itself, geography, emperors, and so much more.

Review

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I found this comic book on Hoopla while looking for books about Chinese history for this month’s #readtheworld-china challenge. The idea of telling a nation’s history through a comic book really caught my attention.

The thing that really struck me was how incredibly comprehensive it was. It covers everything, from geography and natural disasters to the history of the dynastic cycle and the origin of Chinese civilizations and the mysterious Xia dynasty, said to be the first, although no evidence has been found to support that theory.

I learned so much from this graphic novel, such as that during a dynasty change, as much as two-thirds of the population could perish (!). Also, some interesting information on Chinese surnames:

“Today, 85% of China’s population uses only 100 surnames. Many of these surnames come from the Zhou period.”

It also examines Chinese schools of thought and philosophers, such as Confucius:

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I really enjoyed learning about the Qin and Han dynasties, and some of their leaders, especially Wang Mang, who I’d never heard of before, but had interesting ideas to rid his government of corruption and make overall society fairer.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars. This was a wonderful way to learn more about early Chinese dynasties. I’m definitely going to be seeking out the rest of the books in this series.

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson – A Review

The Book

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Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson, with art by Emily Carroll
Published by Farrar Straus Giroux
Released February 6, 2018
Goodreads
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr
Artist Links: Website | Twitter |

Synopsis

This book is the graphic novel adaptation of the novel, Speak. It’s about a teenage girl named Melinda, who has just entered her freshman year of high school at Merriweather High.

Over summer break, she attended a party with a friend, and she was raped by an older student.

She doesn’t tell anyone about what really happened that night, and this story is about her internal struggle and about the bullying and ostracization she faces at the hands of the other students.

Review

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This book was difficult to read, but it tackles an extremely important topic, and feels especially important right now, during the #metoo era.

So many victims of sexual assault stay silent about what happened. In my own life, I’ve had many friends who experienced some form of sexual assault, and many of them did not contact the police or speak up about what happened. There are many reasons for this, from being afraid that the police aren’t going to take women seriously or will blame them for anything from wearing a dress to being out at night. This book encourages people to speak up because rapists don’t deserve to get away with their crimes.

The art by Emily Carroll is incredible and perfect for the story. It’s done in black, white, and gray, but is far from simple. It reflects the tone of the story well, and of the darkness and depression that Melinda is experiencing.

Verdict

5 out of 5 stars. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s a story that everyone should read.

Resources

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, there are a ton of great organizations that can help.

RAINN – the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline

Planned Parenthood

Rape Crisis Center

 

 

Book Review: Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl

The Book

Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl and Charlotte Gastaut

Mortals and Immortals of Greek Mythology by Francoise Rachmuhl, illustrations by Charlotte Gastaut
Amazon | Goodreads
Children’s literature, mythology
Published by Lion Forge, 2018
I received an ARC of this book for review through NetGalley

What It Is

This is a children’s book about the most important figures in Greek mythology. Each page is fully illustrated, and the book is separated by gods first, followed by mortals. Each character receives a quick biography spanning several pages. The book was originally published in France but was released on September 18th here in America.

My Thoughts

It’s been years since I’d read any Greek philosophy, so I was pretty rusty going into this book. As I read it, I remembered many things I had forgotten and learned much more. The biography of each god or mortal is concise, yet very informative. The more adult themes are dealt with in a relatively light-hearted manner, making it accessible to children.

The illustrations, done by Charlotte Gastaut are gorgeous and are what makes this publication so special. Here are my favorite examples:

It was a stunning book. Despite being marketed toward children, this is definitely a book that people of any age would love.

Verdict (Buy/Borrow/Skip)

Buy. If you forget about famous Greek deities and need to brush up quickly, this book is a wonderful way to do so.