Monday, November 30, 2015

Manifest Destiny: Flora & Fauna by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, and Owen Gieni, 128 pages

The Comics and Cocktails book club I'm in read this for November. Imagine if Lewis and Clark's mission to explore the Louisiana Territory was really a cover to look for and wipe out monsters. This was a superbly done graphic novel.

Zombies Need Love Too by Mark Tatulli, 128 pages

Another fun comic collection.

Reheated Lio by Mark Tatulli, 128 pages

Lio is one of the funniest and most twisted comics out there.

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger, 298 pages

While I don't enjoy this as much as the Parasol Protectorate Series it's still really fun.

Monday, November 23, 2015

I Dressed Myself! by Bill Keane, 128 pages

I always said I'd make a fortune selling stickers that said "I Dressed Myself" or "Daddy Dressed Me".

Granddad! It's Morning! by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Sad to see characters who are now gone.

Happiness is a Squishy Cephalopod by Mark Tatulli, 128 pages

Lio is one of the most twisted comics out there
, that's why I love it so much.

Where Did the Summer Go? by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Still funny.

He Followed Me Home! by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Always sweet and funny.

Oops! We're Out Of Juice! by Bill Keane, 128 pages

These are timeless.

Garfield Makes it Big by Jim Davis, 128 pages

I'm going to have to read faster if I'm going to finish all of these before Christmas.

There's Corpses Everywhere by Mark Tatulli, 128 pages

Everyone in my family loves the Lio comics, so we were glad to see my husband get some for his birthday.

The Big Chili by Julia Buckley, 293 pages

A hilarious and sweet murder mystery that I was glad to get as a review book.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua, 237 pages

Looking at the parenting differences between Chinese and Western parents. I wouldn't have picked this up unless it was for book club, but it was a very entertaining read.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

We're Home by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Fun read.

Can I Have a Cookie by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Nice book

It's Muddy Out Today by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Always a great way to relax before bed.

Dolly Hit Me Back! by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Good, clean fun

We Didn't Do It by Bill Keane, 128 pages

Family Circus really is a timeless comic.

Dr. Mutter's Marvels by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz, 371 pages

A really interesting read that features a doctor who changed the face of plastic surgery in the 1800s, and helped introduce the use of ether in surgery. All in all, a good read, especially for a nonfiction book.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

I need to begin this review with an apology to high school English teachers everywhere – especially the ones I had.  I confess and apologize for having hated having to analyze all the symbolism, types and anti-types, foreshadowing and the like in what we read.  I wondered, perhaps rightly, why an author couldn’t pen a good story to be just that.  A good story.

So, to humor them, I would make up the most outlandish interpretations of symbolism in the books we were reading, only to have other students act like my ideas were interesting, brilliant, and likely meanings the author intended.  I apologize.

Enter today’s book, “Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman.  Perhaps Gaiman has just written a good story.  Perhaps he inserted some symbolism and allegory into this book, a la C.S. Lewis or Tolkien.  Either way, I keep seeing things in this book.

“Ocean at the End of the Lane” draws the reader in.  It is a story about growing up and beginning to understand grownups.  “Grown-ups don't look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they're big and thoughtless and they always know what they're doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. . . .  Truth is, there aren't any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

By the end, however, it becomes a story showing the colossal battle between good and evil, with a trio reminiscent of the Trinity. 

The narrator is a 40-something man returning to his childhood home area for a funeral.  Killing time between obligations, he ends up wandering to Sussex where he grew up.

Without conscious thought he finds himself at the dilapidated farm house pond (that Lettie, who we will meet later, calls an ocean) at the end of the lane near where his house once stood.  He encounters an old woman who invites him in for a cup of tea.  Unbidden, the memories begin to return.

The narrator’s family had a boarder, an opal miner, who committed suicide in the family car.   This act was “lighting a fuse on a firework” that led to an opening for evil to come into their world.

After an encounter which was too bizarre to share with adults, our narrator found Lettie, an eleven year old girl who may have actually been thousands of years old; her mother, Ginnie Hempstock, and her grandmother, Old Mrs. Hempstock.  Each Hempstock seems to be ageless and forever.

The evil that was unleashed into the world revealed itself in Ursula Monkton, a being from another reality who arrived to earth, leaving a wormhole inside the seven year old narrator so she could come and go between realities at will. 

Ursula becomes the family’s babysitter and housekeeper, releasing darkness that is unfathomable, un-understandable, and downright terrifying to our narrator. 

Lettie Hempstock however, in her magical and mystical way becomes his guardian and protector, occasionally relying on assistance from the older Hempstocks.

In the battle to remove the evil from the world, Lettie makes a supreme sacrifice to protect the narrator and is released into her “ocean” to return again at a time unknown to all.

Throughout the book, I saw pictures of sin, good and evil, pictures of the God-head, redemption and sacrifice.  I saw pictures of the transfiguration and the Second Coming.  The price Lettie paid to save the nameless boy invokes Biblical themes of sacrifice for salvation.

Gaiman writes a story a hard to summarize because there are so many layers and complexities to it.  Not everyone will enjoy it, but I certainly enjoyed the audio version.  Gaiman is a skilled narrator which unusual for authors reading their own works.  JPL has the book in print and downloadable audio.

Read it, savor it, and look for meaning in this book.  Or perhaps, it’s just a good story meant to be only that.  A good story.  You read it and decide.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Game of Queens by India Edghill, 386 pages

I love historical fiction that is religious based, and this retelling of Esther was outstanding.

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, 200 pages

My daughter had told me that in the original book, Peter Pan killed Lost Boys and I had to read for myself. Definitely different from the Disney Peter Pan I grew up with. A very good read, though I did find Peter very irritating in his cockiness and selfishness.

Garfield at Large by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Interesting to see how Garfield has changed since the beginning.

Betty and Veronica Digest Magazine, No. 53, 128 pages

I think I'll always like these.

Betty and Veronica Double Digest Magazine, No. 30, 256 pages

Fun reading

Betty and Veronica Annual Magazine, No. 4, 128 pages

Light-hearted reading.

Betty and Veronica Digest Magazine, No. 52, 128 pages

Betty and Veronica are still fighting over Archie.

Laugh Comics Digest Magazine, No. 85, 128 pages

Archie comics are always a fun read.

Garfield Life in the Fat Lane by Jim Davis, 128 pages

A fun comic.

Garfield Takes His Licks by Jim Davis, 128 pages

A nice way to relax before bed.

Betty and Veronica Comics Digest Magazine, No. 33, 128 pages

A fun read.

Betty and Veronica Digest Magazine, No. 49, 128 pages

I was delighted to find this on the sales shelf.

Garfield Goes to Waist by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Another enjoyable read.

Garfield Thinks Big by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Some light reading.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Garfield Chews the Fat by Jim Davis, 128 pages

No matter how many times he kicks Odie off the table, it's still funny.

Garfield Hogs the Spotlight by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Always enjoyable.

Garfield Bigger Than Life by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Still a nice way to relax before bed.

Garfield Out to Lunch by Jim Davis, 128 pages

I might make it through the big box of comics before I give them to my daughter for Christmas.

Garfield, Bigger & Better by Jim Davis, 128 pages

Garfield comics have stayed funny throughout the ages.

IZombie, Repossession by Chris Roberson & Michael Allred, 224 pages

A windup to the graphic novel series.

Monday, November 2, 2015

White Trash Zombie Gone Wild Volume 5 by Diana Rowland, 325 pages

I totally love these books and my husband does to. The last book left both of us mad and upset, but this one totally redeemed itself. This is one of the best zombie series I've ever read, not too bloody or graphic, and a real twist on the zombie genre.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Icebreaker by Lian Tanner (304 pages)

For children in grades 4 through 8

On the Oyster, an ancient and giant icebreaker ship, everyone belongs to one of three groups—there is Grease Alley for the engineers; Braid for the officers; and Dufftown for the cooks.  There is little intermixing between the groups, except to trade goods and services and to make sure the ship is safe.

As an orphan whose parents were thrown overboard when she was a baby, twelve-year-old Petrel belongs to neither group.  She spends most of her time hiding from bullies and trying to scavenge enough food to survive.  To most of the ship’s inhabitants she is invisible, and to those who notice her, she is simply known as the Nothing Girl.  Her only companions are two talking rats, Mister Smoke and Missus Slink. 

The ship’s tribes occasionally fight, but they are united in keeping the ship moving along the same course it has been following for 300 years and in protecting it against the Anti-Machinists—a powerful group who believes anything mechanical is evil and should be destroyed.  And while all the documentation of the ship’s original purpose has long since vanished, many of the Oyster’s residents believe a “sleeping captain” will return to lead once the reign of the Anti-Machinists ends.    

One to avoid trouble and stay hidden, Petrel suddenly finds herself thrust into the limelight after her actions cause an unconscious boy to be rescued from an iceberg and brought aboard the ship.  Untrusting and fearful of strangers, the ship’s crew have little patience for the mysterious boy who claims to know neither his name, nor how he came to be alone on the ice.  

Fearful that they will soon return him to the ice, Petrel rescues the boy and hides him.  Little does she know the boy has his own secret agenda and he may end up destroying her and all she holds dear.   
Book one is a powerful start to Tanner’s latest trilogy.  Petrel and the supporting cast are well drawn and readers are sure to be hooked from the beginning thanks to the author thoughtfully parceling out the clues.  Placing the Icebreaker and her tenants in a world where the powerful subscribed to anti-technological way of thinking is an intriguing scenario and makes for a dramatic build up and a satisfying conclusion.  Readers are sure to anticipate the next episode in this enthralling adventure series.