3-6, 5-7, 7-12, Books, Children, Hi-Lo

Graphic Novel Recommendations for Kids: Fantasy

One of the biggest booming industries in the middle grade genre at the moment is that of the graphic novel.  Now of course,  comic books have always been a beloved pastime of the young nerd in training but the cultural ideas around comics and graphic novels has been shifting and with that has come a whole new genre of books available to kids both avid readers and those who require something a little easier.

My younger brother was never a big reader like most of the women in my family (I still believe part of that has something to do with cultural gender norms) but most of it had to do with his struggle to read and his preference to other ways of passing the time.  I was a kid who would read for hours with no issue, or play video games, or all manners of arts and crafts.  He was a bit more focused in the things he liked to do and was adamant against any other suggestions.

However, he did follow my love of super heroes and so comics were a good way to get him reading when he wouldn’t be interested in a regular book.  Now I don’t think that kids should read graphic novels alone, but getting them to read a story is a win in my book and here are some action packed adventure suggestions for anyone who should want them.

For anyone who has never seen one of my recommendation posts, clicking the cover photo will open the goodreads page for that book so you can read more.

I have a full review of this guy on the blog already if you missed it but the tl;dr version of it is: This is a great action story set in a steam punk world where most folks live on giant flying ships separated from those on the ground by giant dangerous storm clouds.  Our rambunctious female protagonist is more than ready to come of age to inherit her father’s ship as she has been a constant troublemaker on the ship, unable to really find her own niche.  The world is rich and varied, the characters are incredible bright and well fleshed out both visually and through their characterization.  This might be worth the look for any young girls (or boys) who are interested in mechanical engineering or robotics.

Now I can’t completely vouch for the graphic version of this book because it is an adaptation of a Newbery Award winning book by the same title.  The reason I am throwing it in here as an option is to show how there are graphic novel versions of a lot of really well written and complex stories.  For kids who have a hard time parsing through language the graphic version may be a good option for them (even classic children’s books like A Wrinkle in Time have graphic versions)  This story is an adorable one about a child who lives in a graveyard and raised by the spirits who reside there.  Neil Gaiman is a master of fantastic fiction for both children and adults and will appeal to folks who enjoy a little bit of creepiness in their books as well as a lot of heart and humor.  Worth the read for adults as well in my opinion.

This one is great for slightly older kids (7th grade and older)  It discusses what it is like to go through puberty, to begin to feel a bit out of place in your school and your family, and what it is like to be an outcast.  Anya needs a new friend, she just didn’t realize that she would find one … at the bottom of a well.  This is a cute little story and the art is simplistic for kids who don’t care about the massive color spreads.  It is an original graphic novel (created to be a graphic novel specifically) and is also highly recommended for adults in my opinion.  It captures the feeling of young children (especially girls) very well.  The younger kids may not fully relate with Anya and most of the beauty in this one comes through how relateable of a story it is.

Doug TenNapel has several graphic novels made for kids and I would recommend all of them.  I was a kid who loved interesting weird stories (maybe a little scary) so I was most drawn to Ghostopolis.  A young boy is accidentally transported to the realm of the undead and this is the story of his misadventures attempting to leave … while also fighting the evil ruler of Ghostopolis.  It also has a really cute story involving the ghost of the protagonists grandfather and I really appreciated the way that generations and familial ties are used in this story and it would definitely be loved by an child who is worried about the afterlife or how their family members who have passed away are after death.  (Even if their city is ruled by an evil dictator)

This may be the most well known title on this list but I figured I would throw it out there for anyone who hasn’t stepped into the world of middle grade graphic novels.  This was the series that my brother loved and really got him interested into the genre.  This is a more traditional fantasy story about some kids who are on a quest to save their mother from the demons who lured her into a mysterious world on the other side of an out of place door in their basement.  It calls upon so many stories of children falling into fantastic worlds, as well as the idea that they are gaining self sufficiency from their parents while still needing them.  It has great monsters, interesting allies, and is all around fun to read.  This is a must read in the genre, if you aren’t at all interested, I would still highly recommend getting it as an example of everything graphic novels can do.

I want to make this into a series where I discuss different subgenres within the graphic novel arch.  There are great graphic novels on many different subjects and while I am limited to those that have piqued my interest any good bookseller can show you the best way to find graphic novels for kids.  If you have more specific questions about the books that I discussed here or want to hear my thoughts on a different title please let me know down below and I will do my best to compensate you.

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7-12, Books, Children, YA (Young Adult)

The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud Review

Another of the backlist reviews, this time a book that I read out loud to my best friend.  We both happen to be adults, and we both happened to really enjoy this book.  We had many a giggle and fell a little bit in love with the banter found within.

Series Title: Lockwood & Co.
Book Title and #: The Screaming Staircase #1
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Page #: 381
Genre: Fantasy, Mystery, Middle-Grade, Ghost Story

Adult, Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, Comics

#imbibliomancy: Death Vigil by Stjepan Sejic Review (Bibliomancy for Beginners Book Club)

Remember how once a month we do drunk book club?  Well this is the last one of Taylor and Gretchen’s undergraduate careers, so its a momentous occasion.  Honestly it is one of our best discussions as well.

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Series Title: Death Vigil
Volume Number: 1
Collected Issues: #1-8
Writer: Stjepan Sejic
Illustrator: Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: Image Comics
Page #: 284
Genre: Fantasy, Horror

Hope you guys enjoy this!  If you want to know what we are reading next and when the live streams are scheduled you should definitely check out the Bibliomancy page up above and follow the book club’s social media.  We have a bunch of fun!

Adult, Books, Musings, YA (Young Adult)

My Love Hate Relationship with Fantasy

We are now entering the final days of Michaela does all the things on youtube.  This is the penultimate Gretchen free video … at least until I do a solo video for my own reasons.  In any case, I figured I would take the opportunity of having the audience to myself to ask for some help figuring out what exactly it is about Fantasy that pulls me in and then disappoints me so much.

Tomorrow I am gonna talk about my favorite genre, Horror!  I will recommend some of my favorites and give you some tips on where to start.  Talk to you then!

Books, YA (Young Adult)

The Last Man by Tobias Wade Review

I accepted a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review from the author.

This book was published February 1st so you can buy it now if you so desire!

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Title: The Last Man
Author: Tobias Wade
Publisher: Incandescent Phoenix Books
Page #: 173
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Now Tobias Wade, the author, contacted me on tumblr (which means you know he’s cool) and asked if I would like a copy of his book to review. I read the description of it and found it delightfully quirky so I agreed to review it. I am glad I did.

Many of you know I have been complaining about reading too much fantasy lately because I have been finding it dull and repetitive. Why then was I able to enjoy this fantasy book? I think it is because it is telling a different story in a way. While it at its core is still the nobody becomes a somebody along the way story it is different in a couple key features.

The hero the book sets up at the beginning is kidnapped and his sister decides it is her job to save him. So it was not her destiny, it is something she chose. Always something I like. It isn’t someone doing just what they believe they were destined to do, but someone who is trying to do right because they want to.

Also, and I’m going to give Taylor credit for this because as I was talking about it he said, “Ah it takes the David Wong approach of making everything so weird you just except it.” I have to agree. The author said he enjoys creating surreal worlds and this definitely is that. It pulls elements from ancient mythology, eastern religions, classic fantasy, modern fantasy, young adult tropes, middle grade tropes. It wraps it all up into one bundle and ties it neatly there. I kept saying, now it is reminding me of this, now it is reminding me of that. I was completely okay with it because it wasn’t a rehashing of any one of those stories it somehow took all of those elements and blended it into something new that I really enjoyed.

I do have to say that a lot of the things it reminded me of were stories that I particularly charished as a child, even though I was not the biggest reader of fantasy, and still am not, this reminded me of the fantastic stories that I did hold dear when I was younger. Stories like Alice in Wonderland, anything by Jules Verne, Taylor said some parts reminded him of Terry Pratchett books and while I never read him I do know that what I have heard of them they sound like something I would enjoy. All in all I was delighted to see that there is some hope in the genre.

Now saying all that, this isn’t a perfect book. I had some problems with some of the characters, especially those who appear earlier in the book being a bit confusing or bland. The parents were standard archetype parents who said standard archetype parent things and then were promptly forgotten until their mention was needed again. We have the wise grandmother figure, who I did quite enjoy but honestly has appeared in so many stories before hand. Then of course the original hero who couldn’t seem to decide whether he was a kid or a sassy teenager, and while he is at an age where he would be transitioning between the two, I am not sure these two identities meshed quite enough for me.

I have seen some people complain about the romance aspect of this book and I agree it also not very strong.  It is kind of … bland.  A lot of showing and not telling and insta-love if you ask me, but it wasn’t something I paid much attention to if I’m honest.  It wasn’t that big of a feature in it, and while I do wish it was a bit less of a feature, I can’t really fault it for being there when I have definitely read worse in young adult literature, at the very least it was not abusive or romanticizing the dangerous bad boy.

While I had my problems with it I was still able to really enjoy it in the end. I definitely think this is a good addition to the YA genre and I especially think this would be a good one to hand over to young boys who want something before they leave the cocoon of middle grade and are thrown into adult fantasy and science fiction as apparently is our custom. YA is pretty gendered and I think this is a great book that would appeal to both. It bridges the gap nicely and I definitely think more books like this should come out. I just wish it existed in physical form in order to entice them. However, I guess the tweens of the future would prefer tablets to paperbacks. Who knows? Not me.

In any case, there you guys go.  There is my review.  I liked a young adult book.  I liked a young adult book despite the problems I had with it.  I actually quite enjoyed it in fact.  Weird.  Unheard of almost.  Next you will hear from me is with the weekly wrap up.  I hope you guys enjoy.

 

Bibliomancy For Beginners, Books, YA (Young Adult)

#imbibliomancy The Queen of the Tearling Review (Bibliomancy for Beginners)

Its time for a new section of #imbibliomancy.  Once a month the Bibliomancy for Beginners book club get together and try and tell you what they thought about books while in various stages of tipsiness.

This first episode is Gretchen’s pick and unsurprisingly it is a fantasy but surprisingly it seems to bridge the YA and adult fantasy genres.  This is sure to be an interesting discussion all around!

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Title: The Queen of the Tearling
Author: Erika Johansen
Publisher: Harper
Page #: 448
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult

The next episode will be in March and we will be reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  If you want to stay updated on what the book club is reading and when the meetings will be you should check out the Bibliomancy for Beginners page for all of its social media!

That’s all for now folks I will come to you soon with a new book review!

Adult, Books

Uncommon Bodies Anthology ARC Review

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review!

This book is already published if you want to read it by all means pick up a copy!

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Title: Uncommon Bodies
Author: Anthology (full list of authors on Goodreads)
Publisher: Fighting Monkey Press
Page #: 300
Genre: Short Story Collection

I spent a long time trying to figure out how I would review this collection. It is difficult enough to review a collection of short stories written by one author, but when there are so many people writing so many pieces the challenge becomes ever greater. I feel as if that is the beauty of this anthology though. There are so many different stories in it. Some of them I was confused by, others I was awed. Some terrified me and others had me sighing at the adorable protagonist and their love interest. All of these things are held in one book and I was dumbfounded as to how I could sum it all up, and perhaps I can’t.

I’m not going to go through all 20 stories, it would take me forever and I doubt anyone would want to read that so I will do my best to discuss what I think was done really well here, and what I think could have been improved upon.

As far as the collection as a whole goes, I definitely think that it had a great breadth of pieces. I also appreciated how many of the pieces were incredibly inclusive not only because of its seamless discussion of common ailment, disfigurements, and disabilities along side mythical or magical creatures, but its inclusion of different sexualities. I actually thought the relation of physical “deformity” with non-hetero-normative sexuality identification incredibly interesting and if I could go into more detail without spoiling you I would. It is perhaps something I will write a paper on at some point in my life.

I am not sure, however, whether or not I liked the order in which these stories were curated. The breadth of the tones and genres in here is astounding for sure but it was a little difficult for me to go from a romantic story to a horror story to a poem to something else entirely. While I feel like it does allow the book to keep the stories separate from each other it is also a little jarring.

If you want to know some of my favorite stories in the bunch then I would say that the opening and closing stories, We is We by Michael Harris Cohen and Scars: First Session by Jordanne Fuller were incredibly poignant. I think they book end this collection incredibly well. The first was moving in its portrayal of the duality of opinions in conjoined twins. Whether or not it is better to be a spectacle behind the glass or experience the real world. The latter was an incredible story about over coming years of mental and physical abuse. I also want to shout out Undead Cyborg Girl by Kim Wells for its ability to make me laugh and awe on cue.

Stories that I found uncomfortable were mainly only uncomfortable because they were not my preferred style of story. All The Devils by Keira Michelle Telford read a bit like Jack the Ripper fanfiction to me, not only because of its erotic overtones, but because the writing wasn’t pushed as far as I thought some of the other stories were, and Reserved by SM Johnson was equally uncomfortable but only because of the over-sexualization to the point of fetishization of disability. Now I don’t have a disability and I cannot say whether these stories accurately or inaccurately portray such fetishization because of this, but it made me uncomfortable and I would put that forward as my only grievance.

The stories were interesting enough to keep me engaged. I was able to read two or three a day and finish it within a week. If you have an interest in magical realism there is plenty of that in here for you, if you have an interest in connections between perceived deformity and assumed deformity I think this also has some interesting comments.

Overall I really enjoyed the collection and would recommend it to you all if you haven’t already to look into it!