Friday, January 8, 2016

Tales from the Bookshelf - December Reads

Friends! I've fallen so far behind on book reviews, it hurts. I may not have had time to write about everything I read last month, but I DID get a good chuck of reading done. Here's what I read in December :)

Saga (Issues 1 - 32), by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Saga volumes 1 - 5

"When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 
From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults."

I've finally read Saga! I'm always behind on reading the cool and popular comics, but I always read them eventually. In the beginning of December I picked up volume 1, and later that week picked up the rest of it; I was hooked! Now I'm all caught up and have to wait for each issue like the rest of you -_-

The art is often a "make it or break it" thing for me when it comes to comics and graphic novels. I like the drawing well enough in Saga, but what really drew me in were the vibrant colors and unique characters. Each character has their own style and story, and I often felt myself feeling sorry for the "bad" characters as often as the good ones. I love this series!

 Saga: 5 out of 5 soot sprites (Like my new rating system? Hahah.)

Library of Souls, by Ransom Riggs
Library of Souls

"A boy with extraordinary powers. An army of deadly monsters. An epic battle for the future of peculiardom.

The adventure that began with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and continued in Hollow City comes to a thrilling conclusion with Library of Souls. As the story opens, sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers a powerful new ability, and soon he’s diving through history to rescue his peculiar companions from a heavily guarded fortress. Accompanying Jacob on his journey are Emma Bloom, a girl with fire at her fingertips, and Addison MacHenry, a dog with a nose for sniffing out lost children.

They’ll travel from modern-day London to the labyrinthine alleys of Devil’s Acre, the most wretched slum in all of Victorian England. It’s a place where the fate of peculiar children everywhere will be decided once and for all. Like its predecessors, Library of Souls blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reading experience."

This is the third and final book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. There's something about all three of the books that I just can't place...they all start off strong, and then halfway though I start getting bored and take forever to finish the book. But then the ending is always really good, too! It's weird. Anyway, I still applaud the books for being a YA series that I don't hate, and the creative illustration format. The "thing" about these books is that they're illustrated with real, vintage photographs; which for the most part are unaltered. Library of Souls probably included the most photos of all the books, but I have to say that the photos in the second book, Hollow City, were much more interesting. I'm really interested in seeing for the movie turns out! You can read my reviews of the first two books here and here.

 Library of Souls: 3 out of 5 soot sprites

Batgirl vol 1: The Batgirl of Burnside, by Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr & Brenden Fletcher
Batgirl vol 1: The Batgirl of Burnside

"Barbara Gordon is no stranger to dusting herself off when disaster strikes, so when a fire destroys everything she owns, she spots the opportunity for a new lease on life – and seizes it! Following the rest of Gotham City’s young adults to the hip border district of Burnside, Barbara sets about building an all-new Batgirl…and discovers new threats preying on her peers! As the new hero of Burnside, Batgirl gets started by facing twin sister assassins on motorcycles!"

Another comic I picked up in December (thanks library)! I really enjoyed the art style, it felt new and fresh. I also love Barbara's new outfit - no more spandex, yay! Unfortunately I felt the story line to be lacking a little. In an attempt to make the characters seem modern I think they also made them more annoying - definitely gave off the "trying too hard" vibe. AND all the "enemies" that Barbara fights, are...really lame. I'll probably read more when another trade paperback is released, but I wasn't hooked enough to bother looking for individual issues.

 Batgirl of Burnside: 3 out of 5 soot sprites

The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book, by Ciye Cho
The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book

"The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book is a whimsical treat for cat lovers everywhere. Dive into its pages to meet Catalina the narcissistic movie star, Kit the steampunk genius, and Guillaume the macaron chef. Browse through letters, notes, and photos to learn about mystery cats from Svalbard and the Amazon. Follow a detective as he unravels the crimes of “Murder Kitties.”

The OOAK Cat Book is a grown-up picture book full of modern themes: a shameless search for fame (or infamy), an obsession with true crime, and our constant need for adventure and kawaii cats. The felines here will guide you to places like Paris, Varanasi, Woodstock, and the Great Barrier Reef."

I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting into with this book (is it a picture book? a graphic novel? what's going on here?), but when the author, Ciye Cho, e-mailed and asked me to take a look...well, how could I say no to a colorful book about cats? In many ways The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book reminded me of a modern Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, the book that the musical Cats was based on (minus the poetry aspect). There's no overlaying story, but it makes up for it with colorful imagery. In each chapter you meet a new cat along with a little story (really little, like one or two pages). Each story is written in a different format (such as in letters, an FBI case file or a magazine article), which I also enjoyed. It's a fun book to pick up and just read a little at a time. If it wasn't only available in e-book format it would make a really fun coffee table book! In the meantime you can pick up the e-book here!

 The One-of-a-Kind Cat Book: 4 out of 5 soot sprites

Joker, by Brian Azzarello & Lee Bermejo
Joker, by Brian Azzarello

"The Joker has been mysteriously released from Arkham Asylum, and he's none to happy about what's happened to his Gotham City rackets while he's been "away." What follows is a harrowing night of revenge, murder and manic crime as only The Joker can deliver it, as he brutally takes back his stolen assets from The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face, Killer Croc and others."

I think Joker is an interesting character, but this book was surprisingly boring. And the parts that weren't boring were just...bad. The art was ugly. The very minimal story line was a letdown. It's told from the POV of wannabe-henchman, Jonny Frost. Which is kind of cool for like five minutes, but after that you realize that Jonny Frost is boring and has no depth.

My biggest qualm is how Harley Quinn is portrayed. You see her a handful of times, so you know she's in the picture, but she doesn't say a single word in the whole book. She's just treated as this hypersexualized thing. In her first entrance you learn that she's working as a stripper. Scene: Joker and some other dudes are chilling at the bar, and you see Harley walk in, moving right past them. Then on the next page it's a full page spread of her sprawled out onstage with no top on. And that's basically her one "big scene" in the whole book. After that you only see her in the background or just kind of hanging out with them, usually drawn at an angle where you can't see her face and mostly only her chest and bottom. It was really bizarre.

Finally, they couldn't come up with a better name for this? I know it's just a one-shot comic, but still. You know how many hits come up when you type in "Joker?" Yeah.

  Joker: 1 out of 5 soot sprites

Happy reading! :)

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