Showing posts from November, 2009

The Good Neighbors series by Holly Black

239. Book One: Kin by Holly Black. illustrated by Ted Naifeh. 2008. 117 pgs. Ages 13+ - Rue's world is torn apart when her mother disappears and her professor father is held on suspicion of murdering a student. She finds out that her mother is a faerie who has returned home and Rue must deal with her own identity as she starts to see strange people that no one else can see. Absolutely beautifully drawn by Ted Naifeh of Courtney Crumrin fame, a better artist couldn't have been chosen to bring Holly Black's faerie world to life. I loved this story! Rue is a totally real person with a full set of emotions and one connects with her right away. I was drawn into the story from the opening pages and had an exciting read from start to finish. The shocking ending leaves me clamouring to read book 2. 5/5

240. Book Two: Kith by Holly Black. illustrated by Ted Naifeh. 2009. 115 pgs. Ages 16+ - Wow! The second volume in this series takes a turn to the darkside as Rue battles against her…

Monday: Books in the Mail

I'm short on time today so just a list for you to peruse this time around. Things have slowed down to a reasonable mailbox load last week. I received a few more Cybils plus a regular review copy (even though it too is a GN!) and I won an ARC.

Graphic Classics: Louisa May Alcott (from Eureka Productions)

Shades of GreyARC by Jasper Forde (won from Penguin Book


Black is for Beginnings by Laurie faria Stolarz
Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer
Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday by Ted Naifeh (already reviewed here)

For those wondering, I'll be continuing with the graphic novel reviews for a while yet. I do see an end in sight. I'm almost finished with the books I have on hand then I'm just waiting for the last ILL's to trickle in. Our deadline for a shortlist is the end of the December but I do hope to be reading a few novels over December as well :-)

Hatter M. Series

237. Volume One: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor with Liz Cavalier. art by Ben Templesmith. 2007. 176 pgs. ages 14+ - I haven't read the novels so I'm jumping in here with no prior knowledge of the story. I am under the presumption that this is a parallel story to Alice's story in the original novels. It's easy enough to figure out that Hatter has been separated from Alyss and is spending his time searching for her. He lands in Paris and later takes a puddle to Budapest. There is a flashback to the novel retelling how and why Alice escapes to our world. So I felt pretty comfortable with the story though there were many references to people and things that alluded me. This is a strange story. It held my interest but I'm not exactly sure whether I would say I really enjoyed it. It was OK. The artwork has an ethereal quality to it making it very unusual, it is dark and done in various monotones with a small splash of contrast colour in each colour palette. I di…

Short Stories in Graphic Novels

#235. The Eternal Smile: Three Stories by Gene Luen Yang. illustrated by Derek Kirk Kim. 2009. 170 pgs. 15+ - This book of short stories is an adult title with crossover appeal to teens. Yang shows us here that he has a taste for the strange. In these three stories Yang has taken a person's reality and turned it into a fantasy or turned their fantasy into reality, making for stories that end with the infamous twist. I enjoyed all three very much; they were each enjoyable and unusual, as well as making one think about the good or bad consequences of living in a fantasy world and avoiding your own reality. The illustrations are all wonderful. Kim has used different styles for each story to match the theme and mood. The second story has actually been done in the style of an old comic book (one of those "Gold Key" comics from the seventies) complete with fake ads. Very well done book. Recommended. 4.5/5

#236. Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Death and Dementia illustrated by G…

Graphic Novel Trios Continue

#232. Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood by Tony Lee. illustrated by Sam Hart & Artur Fujita. 2009. Age 13+. - An absolutely beautiful book! Slick, glossy pages with gorgeous artwork done in various monotones for different settings such as the forest scenes are done in greens, the Nottingham castle scenes in purples and the action/fighting scenes in reddish yellows. This palette certainly brings the mood and tone of the story alive. Tony Lee has set down a wonderful retelling of the Robin Hood legend taking various parts of the lore and weaving them into his own wonderful, serious, cohesive story of Robin Loxley robbing from the rich to both give to the poor and save to pay the King's ransom. He's made sure to keep the famous scenes present such as the joust with Little John on the bridge and the archery contest Robin wins while in disguise, though Lee has added his own twists on each to keep his retelling fresh and new. A wonderful piece of work to be enjoyed by Robin Hood …

A Trio of Cybils Nominees

#231. Joey Fly Private Eye in Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds. illustrated by Neil Numberman. 2009. Age 8+. - This is a wonderful crime noire in graphic novel format. Taking place in the Bug City all the characters are various insects and arachnids. Joey Fly is a Private Eye (da da daaaa) and Sammy Stingtail (a scorpion) is his sidekick. Written in classic thirties private eye style, "It was a muggy summer day when he walked through my door. Right away, I thought he looked like trouble. I was right.", the book is a pure joy to read. The crime is a fun one to keep kids guessing and following the clues and there is plenty of humour. Most of the art is done in dark blue & white to give that old noire feeling but other colour palettes show up as well to add variety. A lot of fun and definitely a winner! Loved it! 5/5

The Incredible Rockhead by Scott Nickel. illustrated by C.S. Jennings. 2009. Age 8+ - I'm a big fan of Stone Arch Press books but have to say I finally…

OT: Canadian MP Slams Abortion Regime

This is an off topic post about politics and pro-life; please kindly skip and do not read if you do not share the same values.

Despite the fact that Canada has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the world and that recent polls show that most Canadians would prefer to have some restrictions on abortion, the political pressure to keep the status quo on the issue is so firm that it is rare for a Canadian politician to even mention the issue, let alone critically.

But one Conservative MP has bucked the trend of silence and recently issued a salvo against Canada's "abortion regime" that he argued is directly and seriously harmful to mothers, as well as their unborn children.

"As a compassionate, caring, progressive society, we should provide the kind of support and options for the expectant mother, so that she doesn't feel her only choice is to choose death for her offspring," said Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott in a hard-hitting press release issued last …

230. The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa

The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa, translated by Lauren Na
The Story of Life on the Golden Fields Vol. 1

Pages: 319 pgs.
Ages: 16+
Finished: Nov. 26, 2009
First Published: (Apr. 2009 Eng. trans) (2003 orig. Korean)
Genre: YA, realistic fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

"Golly! Them beetles are matin'."

Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.

Acquired: Borrowed through ILL.

Summary: This is the story of two women, one a little girl and the other her young widowed mother. The story focuses on the little girl and her awakening identity as a woman, and also as a side story is her mother who finds love again for the first time since her husband's death. As the back of my book says "first love and second chances."

Comments: This first book in a trilogy follows the little girl from the age of about six to fourteen. It takes place in a small Korean village in a time period unknown, with the only clue to placing it somewhere in the 20th century being a steam or coal engine trai…

Courtney Crumrin Graphic Novel Series

The 4th volume in the Courtney Crumrin series has been nominated for a Cybils Award this year so I thought I would read from the beginning to better appreciate volume 4, instead of jumping into a story in progress.

Courtney Crumrin series by Ted Naifeh (recommended ages 11+, due to some language and frightening scenes)

#226. Book 1: Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things (2002) - I was sucked into the story right away! Courtney's parents, living well beyond their means, jump at the chance to live rent free at Great Uncle Aloysius's creepy old mansion that happens to be in the rich area of town. Having use of the lower floors but strictly forbidden to enter his upper domain the parents settle in. Courtney can't make friends at school due to her association with the Crumrin house and she hears things in the night. This leads to her snooping around and finding an old book with very strange recipes in it that she starts to experiment with and she meets some very strange creatures…

225. The Heroine of Long Point

The Heroine of Long Point by Leslie and Lois Benham. illustrated by Vernon Mould
Buckskin Books 4

Pages: 113 pgs.
Ages: 8+
Finished: Nov. 26, 2009
First Published: 1963
Genre: children, historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

This is a true story about a boy, a sailing-ship, and a very brave woman.

Reason for Reading: read aloud to ds as part of our history curriculum.

Acquired: We own this book.

Summary: A fictional retelling of the true story of Abigail Becker, who in 1854 discovered in a hurricane-like storm that a ship, the Conductor, had wrecked upon a sandbar near her cabin. The ship was a reasonable swim's distance from shore but the eight men were devastated and had tied themselves to the topmast to wait out the storm (or die). By gestures Abigail, who herself could not swim, convinces the men to make the swim and this brave woman goes out to meet each one, in turn, and single handedly rescues the crew.

Comments: This little known Canadian story takes place on Long Point penin…

Danny and the Dinosaur

Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

Pages: 64 pgs.
Ages: 5+
First Published: 1958
Genre: easy reader
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

One day Danny went to the museum.

Reason for Reading: my son read aloud to me.

Acquired: We own this copy.

Comments: Danny visits the museum and when he gets to the dinosaur display a real dinosaur pops out and asks Danny to play with him. So off they go through the town having lots of fun ending up playing hide 'n' seek with the neighbourhood children but as sunset comes along everyone must go home including the dinosaur who must get back to the museum. This is one of the original "I Can Read" books that has stood the test of time. What little boy doesn't go through the dinosaur stage? This silly story is a load of fun and can be enjoyed by any age. Syd Hoff was one of the great children's author/illustrators and his works will never go out of print. Some of the PC persuasion may find the display of the "Indian" and "Eskimo&quo…

The Artemis Fowl Graphic Novels

Artemis Fowl: The Graphic Novel adapted by Eoin Colfer and Andrew Conkin. Art by Giovanni and Paolo Lamanna

Artemis Fowl series

Book 1: Artemis Fowl - It has been so long since I read the novel that I barely remembered the story before I started to read this. I wasn't impressed with the first Artemis Fowl novel but reading it in graphic novel format seems to have done it a bit of good as I did quite enjoy this version, though I still find the story rather on the mundane side. The end of each chapter finishes with a dossier on a character, event or place which adds a lot of background information in a unique way; I found these entertaining and hope they continue throughout the series. I love the illustrations and seeing the characters coming to life, so to speak. Holly and Butler were done very well but Artemis was not how I envisioned so he had to grow on me through the book. I felt that Artemis was also presented not as mean as he was in the novel. Sure he is shown as self-centred,…

222. The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders

The Photographer: Into War-Torn Afghanistan with Doctors Without Borders by Didier Lefevre & Emmanuel Guilbert. illustrated by Frederic Lemercier, introduction and translated by Alexis Siegel

Pages: 267 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Nov. 23, 2009
First Published: May, 2009 (English translation) (2003-2006 orig. French)
Genre: non-fiction, graphic novel, memoir
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"I say good-bye to everyone."

Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee

Acquired: Borrowed a copy from my local library.

Summary: Photographer Didier Lefevre was offered to accompany the MSF (the original French version of Doctors Without Borders) on a 3 month mission to Afghanistan in 1986 when the Soviet-Afghan War was raging. The book tells of his journey from Pakistan to the mission site in Afghanistan, his stay and his decision to make the journey back to Pakistan alone which almost cost him his life.

Comments: An incredibly brilliant, powerful work of art! At first I thought this was going to be about …

221. The Stonekeeper's Curse

The Stonekeeper's Curse by Kazu Kibuishi
Amulet, Book Two

Pages: 219 pgs.
Ages: 10+
Finished: Nov. 23, 2009
First Published: Sept, 2009
Genre: children, graphic novel, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

"Let go of me."

Reason for Reading: Next in series. Cybils nominee

Acquired: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Comments: It's been awful long wait since the first book in this series that I had to sit down and think a bit before I dove into this eagerly anticipated sequel. While Book 1 was all dark and foreboding, this second in the, I assume, trilogy gets right into the action. We find out all the answers and reasons for Emily's attachment with the Amulet and what her quest must be whether she wants it or not. Her brother also has an important part to play in saving this world. New friends are met and the enemy is shown in it's full evil wickedness. A compelling, fast-paced, action packed story with plenty of odd creatures, magic and hand-to-hand combat. Also…

Monday: Books in the Mail

The Cybil book fairy has been visiting my mailbox all last week. Every book I received was for review purposes for the Awards. My reviews are going to be strictly graphic novels for the next few weeks as I get all these books read (except of course the read alouds to my son).

So here's what the mailman brought:

Since the release of Artemis Fowl in 2001, Eoin Colfer's blockbuster series has sold more than eight million copies in the United States alone. Now, in this second graphic novel installment of the series, fans can follow along as the world's youngest criminal mastermind rushes to save a man who has been kidnapped by the Russian Mafiya: his own father.

Eoin Colfer has once again teamed up with acclaimed comic writer Andrew Donkin to adapt the text for this action-packed, brilliantly illustrated adventure in the Artemis Fowl series.

Fast-paced graphic storytelling and stunning full-color illustrations combine in an action-packed retelling of the heroic Robin Hood story.


220. The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe

The Taken by Inger Ash Wolfe
Hazel Micallef Mystery (Book 2)

Pages: 415pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Nov. 22, 2009
First Published: Oct. 27, 2009 (Canada only)
Genre: mystery, crime
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

What always broke his heart was the way they dressed themselves.

Reason for Reading: Next in series.

Acquired: I received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Summary: Reports of a body found at the edge of a nearby lake have Detective Inspector Micallef and her sidekick DC Wingate investigating. What appears to be an apparent drowning is by no means a mere murder but only the beginning of a twisted game being played out by a psycho. The drowning seems familiar and is found detail for detail in the last issue of the local paper's summer serial story. When the next installment is printed the police begin a frantic investigation to save the life of a kidnap victim before he is killed or not enough of him is left to be rescued.

Comments: This second book by Wolfe was even better than the firs…

Contest: Neil Armstrong

This time I am giving away an ARC of a children's book recommended for ages 8-12: Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino. The cover of the ARC shows a reduced version of the actual cover, shown in the picture.

Contest will run until Dec. 4, with the winner randomly chosen and announced on Dec. 5. This contest is open to US and Canada only. Sorry, but International postage is too expensive for me.

To enter:

Please try to leave all your responses in one comment.

1) You must be a follower (over in the right bar) and let me know you are in your comment.

2) Leave your email address (if it is not already in your profile.)

3) +2 Tweet or blog about this contest and leave me the link.

4) +1 If you were going to lie to impress someone, who would you say was your uncle?

You can read my review of the book here and see how much I enjoyed it. Here is the publisher's summary:

"Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excu…

219. T-Minus: The Race to the Moon

T-Minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani. illustrated by Zander Cannon & Kevin Cannon (no relation)

Pages: 124 pgs.
Ages: 10+
Finished: Nov. 21, 2009
First Published: May, 2009
Genre: children, non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

"...New UN headquarters in the Big Apple..."

Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.

Acquired: I received a review copy from the publisher.

Summary: Starting in 1957, this non-fiction book tells the story of the space race between the United States and Russia as they each strove to be the first to make a more impressive advancement in space technology, which started with the Russians being the first to launch a satellite into space and ended with the US being the first to set foot on the moon. The book focuses on the men and women working behind the scenes rather than the astronauts themselves.

Comments: This is a perfect example of how a graphic book can be so much more rewarding than the traditional textual book. Personally, this is not a subject I …

And the Winner Is ...

And the winner of The Line Painter by Claire Cameron is ...............

Belinda M

Belinda says " I would rather be the person offering the ride. "

In fact every person who answered the question wanted to be the driver!! Personally, I would rather be the stranded one, remember it is "late at night". So this could mean dawn is not that far off. Anyway I would lock myself in the car and hide under blankets and wait until dawn with whatever kind of weapons I could find in my hands, including, hopefully, a can of some sort of spray. Then when daylight hits I'd start walking (with weapon) to the nearest help or for a police car to flag down. But that's just me .....

You can read my review of The Line Painter here.

If you didn't win today, there is always another chance so stay tuned tomorrow for another giveaway!

With the beginning of Advent at the end of this month and Christmas to follow, the next shall be my last contest until the new year.

Follow me on Twitter!

Graphic Novels

Two more Cybils nominees I've been reading:

217. Constance and the Great Escape by Pierre Le Gall. illustrated by Eric Heliot. 2009 (orig. French edition 2007). 32 pgs. Ages 6+. - Constance is a horrid little girl with a huge kitty. Her parents decide to take her to a boarding school for troublesome children and Constance hits upon a plan to get sent back home. The artwork in this book is gorgeous in what I guess is called a Goth style. Other than that though the book has rather a pointless plot: how to be a nasty kid; how to trick grown-ups into thinking you are good. I'm reading it as a Cybils nominee in the graphic novels category and it's simple one panel per page style is more reminiscent of a picture book, but it's appearance is more like an easy reader only the vocabulary is a bit high to classify it as such. Kid's are sure to enjoy the book, but there are so many more better books out there why bother with this one. My rating is based on the artwork 2/5.


216. Bang Goes a Troll by David Sinden, Matthew Morgan & Guy Macdonald

Bang Goes a Troll by David Sinden, Matthew Morgan & Guy Macdonald. illustrated by Jonny Duddle
An Awfully Beastly Business, Book 3

Pages: 202 pgs.
Ages: 8+
Finished: Nov. 17, 2009
First Published: Sep. 15, 2009
Genre: children, fantasy
Rating: 4/5

First sentence:

High on a snowy mountaintop, a blizzard was howling.

Reason for Reading: Next in the series. Read aloud to the 9yo.

Acquired: I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Summary: The RSPCA receive a messenger bat that tells them the trolls are in trouble and Dr. Fielding, Orson, Ulf and Tiana set out to investigate. Once there they find that someone has set up an elaborate enclosure full of mechanical traps for a beast hunter's ultimate hunting weekend getaway. The three meet a new friend and set out to save the beasts.

Comments: This is definitely my favourite book in the series so far. So as not to keep repeating the same template book after book of having Baron Marackai plotting against the RSPCA t…

Graphic Novels Mini Reviews

Cybils Award nominees I've been reading.

212. The 3-2-3 Detective Agency: The Disappearance of Dave Warthog by Fiona Robinson. 2009, 73 pgs, Age 7+ - A delightful mystery story about a group of animals who meet on the 3:23 train to Whiska City where they decide to open up a detective agency together. Upon placing an advertisement in the paper they receive several clients reporting missing persons and finally the mayor shows up to report the entire police force missing. The new detectives are on the case and find all disappearances lead to one place! The characters are delightful from Slingshot the overactive Sloth to Roger the dung beetle with a taste for gourmet cooking. The mystery is a fun one that kids will love and the book is full of humour. The illustration style is bright and detailed. The only issue I may have with the book is that the frames could be a little over busy and crowded and the text is on the small size. This could have been solved by producing a larger format …

211. Another Faust by Daniel & Dina Nayeri

Another Faust by Daniel & Dina Nayeri
The First of Another Series

Pages: 387 pgs.
Ages: 14+
Finished: Nov. 15, 2009
First Published: Aug. 25, 2009
Genre: YA, paranormal
Rating: 5/5

First sentence:

Victoria didn't have time to play.

Reason for Reading: The plot drove me to choosing this one. Plus, I'll admit the cover also attracted me.

Acquired: I received a review copy from Random House Canada.

Summary: Five children disappear from their homes, all ten years old. Five years later they all arrive at an elite New York high school with a governess in charge of them. They are all beautiful, brilliant or athletic and soon take over the school with their popularity. They each have a special talent such as stopping time, reading minds, etc. and they'll do anything to get what they want including making deals with the devil.

Comments: I absolutely loved this book so much! I really didn't know what to expect when I went into it as I have been avoiding reading any other reviews an…

210. High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips

High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips with Hilary Liftin

Pages: 292 pgs.
Ages: 18+
Finished: Nov. 14, 2009
First Published: Sept. 23, 2009
Genre: non-fiction, memoir
Rating: 4.5/5

First sentence:

In the mid eighties, when I was on tour with the New Mamas & Papas, a porter brought two packages up to my hotel room.

Reason for Reading: I enjoy reading celebrity memoirs and was a big fan of One Day at a Time when the show was on. I had read Valerie Bertinelli's recent memoir and knowing Mackenzie Philips' checkered past figured she would have a very interesting memoir.

Acquired: I received a review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada.

Comments: Mackenzie Phillips is the daughter of John Phillips (the mastermind of the famous singing group The Mamas & The Papas) and is best known for her role as Julie Cooper on One Day at a Time. In this book Mack tells her own story from birth to the present. She was born into the psychedelic world of the sixties, partially raised by a man addicted…

Monday: Back to Books

Very busy mailbox again last week with the Cybils review copies rolling in. I also won 1 book and received 1 ARC.

First the review copies for Cybils nominees:

I won this book from Darlene at Peeking Between the Pages.

A small treasure of a novel in the tradition of The Bridges of Madison County and For One More Day. The Wakefields seem to have everything. Garrison is a hugely successful graphic artist. Liza is an active member of the community and a patron of the arts. Their 16-year-old daughter Angel is bright, beautiful, and a gifted dancer. At the same time, though, they have traded away many of their dreams. Garrison gave up a future as an accomplished painter to make money. Liza suspended her own dancing career to raise a family. And Angel is setting aside her ambitions to live her mother's dream.

When Angel gets into a car accident that kills her first love, the Wakefields' lives turn on a dime. While Angel lies in a coma from which even the best prognosis is devastating, Ga…