Live Oak, with Moss by Walt Whitman – A Review

Live Oak with Moss Walt Whitman

Live Oak, with Moss by Walt Whitman
Illustrated by Brian Selznick
Poetry | Graphic Novel | LGBTQ+
Published by Harry N. Abrams
Released April 9th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

I’ve always been a bit intimidated by classic poetry. When we read it in high school and college, I never really got them and found myself frequently frustrated with the flowery language, as well as the teacher making us pull apart each line of the poem until I found myself hating it.

Recently, however, I’ve been getting into modern poetry and really loving it. When I was at my local library browsing their poetry collection, I came across this beautiful edition of Walt Whitman’s Live Oak, with Moss.

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I’d never heard of this poem, but I was intrigued by its format – the poem is told through Brian Selznick’s wonderful art. Of course, the actual poem is included as well!

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I will say that if you’re unfamiliar with the poem, the art isn’t going to make a lot of sense. At least, it didn’t for me. However, once I read the poem and went back through the art, I got it, and loved it.

Live Oak, with Moss is one of Whitman’s more obscure poetry collections. Written in a small book that he made himself, sewing the pages together, he wrote about his attraction to, and relationships with, men. At the time that Whitman wrote these poems, in 1859, “homosexual” wasn’t a word yet. There was a burgeoning homosexual subculture emerging in New York City during this time, of which Whitman was a part.

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Walt Whitman

The poems are passionate and personal and touch on lust, desire, love, and loss. They’re beautiful to read, and I’m glad that these poems were discovered and published in this manner.

Along with Walt Whitman’s words and Brian Selznick’s art, scholar Karen Karbiener’s essay about the poems and the author’s sexuality shed a lot of light on his life, the evolution of these poems, and their discovery.

Overall, I’m so glad that I picked this book up from my library’s shelf. It was an absolute pleasure to read, and I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in classic or LGBTQ-positive poetry.




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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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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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Review Quickies #1

Sometimes I read small books or graphic novels that might not warrant a full review. I’ll post about these books periodically in Review Quickies, starting with a few graphic novels I read while moving this past week.


Super Chill Adam Ellis

Super Chill: A Year of Living Anxiously by Adam Ellis
Graphic Novel | Humor
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Released October 23rd, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_2_and_a_half_stars

I won this short graphic novel in a contest hosted by Andrews McMeel Publishing along with several others. I’ve been following Adam Ellis, a former Buzzfeed contributor, for a while on Instagram, so I assumed that I would enjoy this. Unfortunately, though, I was mainly just bored while reading this. There were one or two short comics in here that I could identify with, but as for the majority of them, I’ve actually already forgotten what the comics were about. I do love his art style, however, so an extra star for that. Overall though, it really missed the mark for me.


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Total Jazz by Blutch
Non-Fiction | Graphic Novel | Jazz
Published by Fantagraphics
Released February 14th, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_0_and_half_star

I can’t remember the last time I rated something less than one star, but this short graphic novel 100% deserves it. When I came across this title on Hoopla I got excited because I adore jazz and was fascinated by a graphic novel about famous jazz musicians. What I got, however, was a racist, nonsensical jumble of bad art and few words.

What do I mean by racist? The book starts off with some Native American caricatures, drawn by a Frenchman:

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These caricatures serve no purpose and I was confused about why the author/artist would even include this. Once he started talking about jazz, things didn’t get much better. I was almost angry to have wasted my time on this book.

Even if you’re a jazz fan, do yourself a favor and skip this.


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Waves by Ingrid Chabbert
Illustrated by Carole Maurel
Nonfiction | Memoir | Graphic Novel | LGBT
Published by Archaia
Released May 14th, 2019
Originally published in France, 2017
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

We’re finally getting to the good stuff! This graphic novel was poetic, heartbreaking, and beautiful. The story is based on author Ingrid Chabbert’s own experience and follows a young woman and her wife as they try to conceive. It’s a difficult pregnancy, however, and they have to face a loss neither of them could prepare for. While the story is simple, it’s immensely powerful. Carole Maurel’s beautiful artwork adds a lot to the story as well:

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I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough. I was able to find it for free on Hoopla, but regardless of how you have to get your hands on it, be sure to read it!


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A Fire Story by Brian Fies
Nonfiction | Memoir | Graphic Novel
Published by Harry N. Abrams
Released March 5th, 2019
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars

To end this post, we have another five-star read. As you can probably tell, I was on a bit of a non-fiction graphic novel kick the week before I moved (keep an eye out for my last non-fiction graphic novel review – They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, which is getting its own post).

A Fire Story caught my eye because it was something that I could relate to, as my family’s house burned down in February 2006. It was a surreal experience to lose everything you and your family had ever owned, but thankfully everyone was okay.

Brian Fies’ own experience with losing his house involved the massive California wildfires of last year when his whole neighborhood was quickly consumed by flames. The emotions he experienced felt so real to me and reminded me of everything my family went through when our own house burned down. With wildfires becoming the new normal in California (as well as in other parts of the world), now’s a good time to give this graphic novel a read.



I really enjoyed reading all of these non-fiction graphic novels, although I do wish I could take back the fifteen minutes I spent on Total Jazz. If you have any recommendations for other great non-fiction graphic novels, please 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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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken by Scott Tipton and David Tipton – A Review

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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Mirror Broken
Written by Scott Tipton and David Tipton
Art by J.K. Woodward
Science Fiction | Comic Books
Published by IDW
Released March 20, 2018
Goodreads | Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_and_a_half_stars

Can you believe that this is the first Star Trek review I’ve done?

No, I can’t either.

In case you’re new to the blog: I’m a Trekkie. I’m obsessed with all things Starfleet.

(With the exception of the J.J. Abrams movies, but that’s a post for another day.)

IDW puts out a lot of great Star Trek content and the comics that take place in the Mirror Universe have easily become my favorites. The Mirror Universe was first established in Star Trek: The Original Series season 2, episode 4, titled Mirror, Mirror. star_trek_mirror_mirror.jpg

 

This alternate universe is the polar opposite of the prime universe’s principles. Rather than the unity, peace, and spirit of exploration we know from the Federation, the Mirror Universe’s Terran Empire is xenophobic and violent. They fear anything they deem as being “other.” Members of the Empire regularly stab their comrades in the back (figuratively and literally).

Since Star Trek: TOS, the Mirror Universe has popped up over and over again in various series. Star Trek’s newest series, Discovery, spent most of the latter part of its first season in the Terran universe. Enterprise had a couple of Mirror Universe episodes as well.

I’m fascinated by the Terran Empire and am always on the lookout for new content. This isn’t the only IDW series that takes place in the Mirror Universe, but it was the first collection that I read.

The series is written by brothers Scott and David Tipton, who are no strangers to Star TrekThey wrote another personal favorite, which was a Star Trek/Doctor Who mashup.

Mirror Broken is the story of how Captain Picard, who commands the I.S.S. Stargazer, puts together a team in order to take over the Empire’s newest, most powerful ship, the I.S.S. Enterprise. Many of the characters are ones you’ll know from Star Trek: The Next Generation: We’ve got William Riker, Data, Deanna Troi, Geordi La Forge, and Reginald Barclay, among others.

Barclay was the most surprising character of the bunch. Rather than his meek, nervous character on ST: TNGin this series Barclay is strong and wants victory and power for himself. Although I like the original Barclay’s character, the Mirror Universe version is a nice change of pace.

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I also enjoyed Data’s Terran version, who spent his free time upgrading his own body, even having a variety of arm attachments. Data is one of my favorite characters in ST: TNG, however, so I’m not surprised I enjoyed his character here.

The art by J.K Woodward was perfect for this series, and I loved the Terran versions of the Starfleet uniforms. st-mirrorBroken-02AMOCK-copy.jpg

I wish that Deanna Troi would have had more of a role in the series, aside from just scanning the thoughts of crew members to get a grasp of their loyalty to Captain Picard. Actually, I would have enjoyed larger roles for any of the female characters.

It should be no surprise to anyone that I gave this 4.5 stars. The only reason I didn’t give it five stars was because I’ve read many Star Trek comics, and there are some I enjoyed more than this one.


Have you read any Star Trek comic series? If so, which are your favorites?



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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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Skyward Volume 1 by Joe Henderson – A Review

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Skyward Volume 1 by Joe Henderson
Art by Lee Garbett and Antonio Fabela
Comic Books | Sci-Fi
Goodreads
Published by Image Comics
Released September 25, 2018
Purchase: Amazon
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

I would like to preface this review by mentioning Hoopla, a website that allows you to check out all sorts of books, comics, films and television shows, and audiobooks using your library card. I use it exclusively to read non-Marvel comic books (I use Marvel Unlimited to read those), and I’ve been so impressed by their selection. I noticed this book there and the premise caught my eye.

Skyward is a comic series about Willa Fowler, a woman living on Earth after gravity has gone haywire. In volume one, we don’t learn what caused G-day to happen, just that it was caused in part by her father. We watch as Willa discovers that one of the richest men in the world, Roger Barrow, used to work with her father. She reaches out to him to try to help her father, who has become a recluse. Mr. Barrow isn’t quite what she was expecting, however, and she finds herself trying to save both her and her father’s life instead.

As I mentioned already, I really enjoyed the premise of this series, although I have many questions that I hope will get answered in future issues. Questions such as what happened to large bodies of water when gravity stopped working? How are birds doing with this change? Stuff like that.

The art was beautiful in this series and the coloring perfect. I’ve found that the color palette of a comic book has just as much power as the art itself on setting the tone of the story.

The story was well-paced and I enjoyed the number of panels that focused on the world of the people living “above.” The only gripe I had with Skyward was that some of the side characters seemed very one-dimensional and that Willa was the only one who felt fully fleshed out. Hopefully, that changes with the later issues/volume two.

I definitely recommend Skyward for people looking for a unique new comic series to get hooked on. I’m looking forward to reading volume two.

Lady Killer Vol 1 by Joelle Jones & Jamie S. Rich – A Review

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Lady Killer, Vol 1 by Joëlle Jones & Jamie S. Rich
Graphic Novel | Thriller
Published by Dark Horse
Released September 15, 2015
Goodreads
Purchase: AmazonBooks-a-Million
Jamie S. Rich Links: Website
Joëlle Jones Links: Website | Twitter | Tumblr
Rating: 5_Star_Rating_System_5_stars


The first book/graphic novel I finished in 2019 ended up being a re-read for me. I first picked up this book last year after falling in love with the fifties-style art while browsing at one of our local comic book shops, Comic Kings.

While 90% of the comic books and graphic novels I read are situated in the Marvel universe, I do like to branch out on occasion and pick up something new. Lady Killer Vol 1 was one of those times.

I’ve always been slightly obsessed with dark, morbid, 50-style motifs, which is the reason Fallout is my favorite video game in the world. The 50s have always been portrayed as a time of wholesome family endeavors, and seeing a bastardization of that is something that I’ve always found incredibly delightful.

Written by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, this series follows Josie Schuller, a housewife by day and assassin at night. The beautiful dresses and dinner soirees are starkly contrasted by the sheer bloody violence of the story – this is not a series for people who get nauseous at the sight of blood. Joëlle Jones does an absolutely wonderful job of drawing all that gore and violence in an almost pleasant and definitely artful way.

One of the most interesting aspects of this series is how it deals with the inherent sexism of the 1950s. Josie is expected to be the perfect housewife – raising the children, cooking and cleaning, keeping up appearances with the neighbors, etc. During her “other” life as an assassin, she’s always given jobs that require her to wear skimpy outfits and flirt with the men she’s going to kill. She is also told by her boss that she cannot keep a family and work at the same time, that she has to choose. Josie, however, sees both sides of her life as completely separate and is willing to do both.

The book reminded me a bit of a combination of Archer and Mad Men, and I think would be appropriate for fans of either.

Josie herself is a complete badass who is willing to do what it takes to finish a job and is smarter than most of the men in her life. I love that she’s not willing to take nonsense from anyone and will stick up for what she wants. I also am very envious of all of Josie’s daily outfits, and I appreciate that so much time was spent focusing on the fashion of the 1950s.

Overall, this has easily become one of my favorite self-contained comic series, and I’m going to be picking up volume two very soon.

Comic Book Releases for January 2, 2019

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s comic book release day! Here are some of the most exciting issues coming out. For a complete list, head over to Midtown Comics.

Not sure where to buy your comics? Check out Comic Shop Locator for shops near you. If you don’t live in an area with a local shop, you can purchase from Midtown Comics, directly from the publisher, or through Comixology if you prefer digital copies.

The highlighted issues are the ones that I’d personally recommend.


Marvel

  • Champions Vol 3 #1 by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings
  • Conan the Barbarian Vol 4 #1 by Jason Aaron and Mahmud A. Asrar
  • Deadpool Vol 6 #8 by Skottie Young and Nic Klein
  • Immortal Hulk #11 by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
  • Infinity Wars Infinity #1 by Gerry Duggan and Mark Bagley
  • Killmonger #3 by Bryan Edward Hill and Juan Ferreyra
  • Man Without Fear #1 by Jed MacKay and Danilo Beyrouth
  • Marvel Knights 20th #5 by Donny Cates, Matthew Rosenberg, and Niko Henrichon
  • Marvel Super Hero Adventures Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith
  • Marvel Tales Fantastic Four #1 by Stan Lee, John Byrne, and Jack Kirby
  • Mr & Mrs X #7 by Kelly Thompson and Oscar Bazaldua
  • Runaways Vol 5 #17 by Rainbow Rowell and Kris Anka
  • Shatterstar #4 by Tim Seeley, Carlos Villa, and Gerardo Sandoval
  • Star Wars Age of Republic Obi-Wan Kenobi #1 by Jody Houser and Cory Smith
  • Star Wars Han Solo Imperial Cadet #3 by Robbie Thompson and Leonard Kirk
  • Tony Stark Iron Man #7 by Dan Slott and Valerio Schiti
  • Uncanny X-Men Vol 5 #8 by Ed Brisson and R. B. Silva
  • Winter Soldier Vol 2 #2 by Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis
  • Wolvering Long Night Adaptation #1 by Benjamin Percy and Marcio Takara

DC

  • Action Comics Vol 2 #1006 by Brian Michael Bendis and Ryan Sook
  • Batgirl Vol 5 #30 by Mairghread Scott, Paul Pelletier, and Norm Rapmund
  • Batman Beyond Vol 6 #27 by Dan Jurgens, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund
  • Detective Comics Vol 2 #995 by Peter J. Tomasi, Doug Mahnke, and Jaime Mendoza
  • The Flash Vol 5 #61 by Joshua Williamson and Christian Duce
  • Heroes in Crisis #4 by Tom King and Clay Mann
  • Injustice vs The Masters of the Universe #6 by Tim Seeley and Freddie Williams II
  • Justice League Odyssey #4 by Joshua Williamson and S-bis
  • Old Lady Harley #3 by Frank Tieri and Inaki Miranda
  • Raven Daughter of Darkness #11 by Mary Wolfman and Pop Mahn
  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #45 by Sholly Fisch and Dario Brizuela
  • Silencer #12 by Dan Abnett and Jack Herbert
  • The Terrifics #11 by Jeff Lemire and Viktor Bogdanovic
  • Titans Vol 3 #32 by Dan Abnett and Clayton Henry
  • Wonder Woman Vol 5 #61 by G. Willow Wilson and Xermanico
  • Scarlet Vol 2 #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev
  • Books of Magic Vol 3 #3 by Kat Howard and Tom Fowler
  • Hex Wives #3 by Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo

Dark Horse

  • BPRD Devil You Know #12 by Mike Mignola, Scott Allie, Laurence Campbell, and Christopher Mitten
  • Halo Lone Wolf #1 by Anne Toole, Kieran McKeown, and JL Straw
  • Olivia Twist #4 by Darin Strauss, Adam Dalva, Emma Vieceli, and Lee Loughridge
  • Stranger Things #4 by Jody Houser and Stefano Martino
  • Sword Daughter #5 by Brian Wood and Mack Chater
  • Umbrella Academy Hotel Oblivion #4 by Gerard Way, Gabriel Ba, and Nick Filardi
  • Whispering Dark #3 by Christofer Emgard and Tomas Aira

IDW

  • Crowded #6 by Christopher Sebela and Ro Stein
  • Errand Boys #4 by D.J. Kirkbride and Nikos Koutsis
  • Gasolina #14 by Sean Mackiewicz, Niko Walter, and Mat Lopes
  • Low #20 by Rick Remender, Greg Tocchini, and Dave McCaig
  • Redneck #18 by Donny Cates, Lisandro Estherren, and Dee Cunniffe
  • Savage Dragon Vol 2 #241 by Erik Larsen
  • Unnatural #6 by Mirka Andolfo
  • Walking Dead #187 by Robert Kirman and Charlie Adlard

 

10 Short Books to Help You Get to Your Reading Goal

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If you’re trying to meet your yearly Goodreads or reading goal during the final week of 2018, no worries: there are plenty of short books, novellas, and graphic novels that you can finish in under a day! Here are ten of my favorites.


The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

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128 pages

I read this entire book in less than three hours. It’s short, wonderful, and an easy read. The story is simple, as it follows a fisherman out on the ocean on a quest to catch a great fish. Its simplicity doesn’t make it less enjoyable – in fact, that simplicity makes the novel worth reading. The Old Man and the Sea is a great place to start if you’re new to reading Hemingway. If you want to know more, here’s my full review.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thrift Books


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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112 Pages

What could be more perfect to read during the holidays than this classic? This is one of those books that you can definitely finish in one sitting. If you don’t know what the story is about, it follows Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy old man who values money more than anything else in the world. Things change when he’s visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present, and future. Plus, if you would rather listen to it, there are plenty of audiobook performances, including readings by Neil Gaiman and Tim Curry.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

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248 Pages

This comic book is a unique take on the Marvel universe that you’re used to. Written by the incredible Neil Gaiman, this story takes place 400 years in the past and reimagines favorite characters such as Doctor Strange, the X-Men, Daredevil, and more. I also love the art in this comic book, which is done by Andy Kubert. There are other books in this series, but this is the first and collects issues 1-8.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks


Black Bolt, Vol 1: Hard Time and Vol 2: Home Free by Saladin Ahmed

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272 Pages

For another comic book option, these two volumes by Saladin Ahmed are wonderful, plus you get to look at the colorful, trippy art of the best modern comic book artist, Christian Ward. I did a review of this series a while back, so check that out for a full review. This series follows Black Bolt as he tries to escape from an inescapable prison.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks


Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

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96 Pages

Honestly, any of Roald Dahl’s books would work for this, but Fantastic Mr. Fox is my favorite. It’s so short that you can finish it in a couple of hours, and it’s such an adorably fun story. Mr. Fox, along with a few other underground friends, works to outsmart a few nasty farmers so that he can feed his friends and family.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | ThriftBooks


Binti by Nnedi Okorafor

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96 Pages

This is one that I’ll probably read myself during this last week. Binti is the first book in a series of fantasy novellas by acclaimed author Nnedi Okorafor. Binti is the first of her people to be accepted into a renowned galactic university, and the journey is a difficult one. She leaves behind her family and enters a world of warfare.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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204 Pages

Poetry is a great way to up your count of finished books, and it’s hard to think of a poetry collection better than Rupi Kaur’s milk and honey. There’s also an audiobook version narrated by the writer herself, and she puts so much passion into her words that it’s hard not to get sucked in completely.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million


The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

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64 Pages

Shel Silverstein was one of my favorite writers as a child, and I read and reread his books constantly. The Giving Tree is undoubtedly one of his best, and the lesson taught in the book is one that everyone should learn. If you never read this book as a child or if it’s been too long and you’ve forgotten, it’s never too late to relearn.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Coraline by Neil Gaiman

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162 Pages

Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is much beloved for a reason. It’s a great story as well as being fantastical and ridiculous all at the same time. Coraline goes exploring in her family’s new home, and discovers a door that opens onto a parallel universe where she’s in a house just like her own, only things are… quite different.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson

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374 Pages

Don’t be scared off by the page count on this one. First of all, it’s a graphic novel, so it takes only a fraction of the time to get through the story. Second, it’s 100% worth reading. This is the graphic novel adaptation of Anderson’s famous novel Speak, and Emily Carroll does an amazing job with the illustrations. The story follows Melinda, a high school student who is raped and struggles with it during her freshman year of high school. It is a deeply upsetting book, but one that is all the more important because of it. If you want to know more I did a full review a couple months ago.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Thriftbooks


What books are you reading to complete your reading challenge? Let me know in the comments.

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

 

 

Short Reviews

I’m almost always reading multiple books or comics at one time, and many of the smaller books I read are too short to warrant a long review. Therefore, I’ve gathered those books to review in one post!

Note: All of these books were obtained through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Good Night, Kitty Kitty! by Brenda Ponnay

Release date: November 1, 2018

This very short children’s book is about a child and their cat, and that cat’s mischievous hijinks at bedtime. As a cat owner myself, I can attest to the truthfulness of everything this cat does right as you’re attempting to fall asleep! This book was adorable and would be perfect for the kitty-loving child in your life.


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Muddy: The Raccoon Who Stole Dishes by Griffin Ondaatje

Release date: April 2, 2019

Another children’s book, this is a story about Muddy Whiskers (how cute is that), a raccoon that wants to eat human’s leftovers. His parents along with the rest of the raccoons that inhabit their little cove by the water have all promised to stop stealing leftovers from humans because it was causing them to get into trouble. One day, though, a new restaurant opens up nearby, and Muddy decides to get what he wants, stealing plates full of leftovers, much to the chagrin of Mr. and Mrs. Whiskers.

This was such a cute book, and the illustrations were wonderful. This is definitely a book I would share with the children in my life.


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A Hell of an Innocent by Zidrou

Release date: April 18, 2018

This third book is definitely not a children’s book!

A Hell of an Innocent is a graphic novel noir set in Australia around the time of the Vietnam War. Greg Hopper is a man who was accused of his wife’s gruesome murder, afterward fleeing into a remote area where he raises livestock with his dog Commonwealth.

Everything stays the same for Greg for around 20 years, until one day he receives a newspaper whose front page is proclaiming that the killer has confessed, and it’s none other than Greg’s brother Ike.

Greg goes back into town where he’s surrounded by people who are constantly apologizing to him for blaming him for his wife’s murder. He seems to take everything in stride until he goes to see his sister-in-law.

Throughout the story his companion is the ghost of his wife, frequently sharing the stories of all the lovers she had when still alive.

It’s a graphic novel about jealousy, sibling relationships, and guilt.

Overall, the story itself is lacking, and the characters were a little bland. The twist was predictable, but in a story whose focus is the relationship between siblings, I don’t think that hurt the overall work very much. The art by Philippe Berthet was absolutely stunning. There are so many panels that blew me away, especially the ones that focused on landscape. The characters and animals were all well-drawn and the color scheme of the whole thing was perfect for the type of story that it was. It was a somewhat enjoyable read, but not one I would ever find myself coming back to a second time.


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Book Love by Debbie Tung

Expected release date: January 1, 2019

Out of all the books on this list, this one was my favorite.

Book Love is the perfect gift for the book-obsessed person in your life. I recognized my own experiences in almost every page of this graphic novel. The art is adorable, and it’s a quick read, as I finished it in roughly 20 minutes. Everyone who calls themselves a bookworm will fall in love with this book.


Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts?