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Graphic Novelty²

My Brother’s Husband

I am typically not a fan of manga series, although I do admire the art and storytelling style. In over a year and a half of blogging, this is my first manga review and Kathleen has only reviewed one manga title herself, Vinland Saga: Book One.  But after reading this fun and affirming book, I will reconsider and try other series.

Author and illustrator Gengoroh Tagame is a well known openly gay Japanese artist whose previous manga series are extremely adult orientated. Tagame typically writes gay BDSM erotic manga, but in this case he decided to write an all ages book written to combat prejudices against gay culture. What results is a beautifully written book about preconceived notions and how to fight them.

We first meet Yaichi, a divorced dad to daughter Kana. He receives a visit from Mike, a hulking Canadian, who was married to Yaichi’s twin brother Ryoji. Ryoji has recently died, and Mike wants to meet his family and see where his husband had grown up. Kana is absolutely shocked to meet him, for first of all she didn’t even know her father had a brother as the twins were estranged, and secondly she did not know men could marry.

Yaichi had reservations about Mike, as shown by his early biased thoughts, but when Kana asks him to stay over Yaichi is shamed into offering the hospitality he would have given other friends or family. Slowly the three of them get to know each other better, and Yaichi’s learned bigotry starts to fall away. He is forced into confronting bias he was not aware he had, and learns much from Kana’s love and acceptance of Mike. While her natural curiosity can at times be embarrassing, Mike is a willing teacher and a model of decency to his new niece.

There are no major events in this book beside the three becoming a family unit. It naturally introduced gay acceptance in Japanese culture and showed how parents and children can acknowledge differences in a honest and sensitive way. I also liked how Kana’s mother was still shown in a loving maternal role, even if she broke gender norms by not being the parent that Kana lived with.

Tagame draws his trademark bearish men, and his artwork was traditionally manga-ish, but yet unique enough to stand out for someone like me who does not read manga. The only mis-step I saw in the illustrations was a pose between the two men in one panel that could be interpreted in a sexual manner. Normally, I wouldn’t even point this out, but for an all ages book this suggestive pose could be misconstrued.

I will definitely be on the look out for future books in this new series, and will be adding them to the collection at my library as they are released.

-Nancy

Tagame, Gengorah. My Brother’s Husband. 2017.

 

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The Autobiography of James T Kirk

I am a big fan of the Star Trek universe, so when I saw this book come highly recommended by a Goodreads friend, with whom I have many similar reading tastes, I snapped it up.  A description from Amazon says it is the “first officially produced in-universe biography of the legendary and iconic Star Trek character, Captain Kirk“. Written as if it were the memoirs of Captain Kirk, I was prepared to love it.

Sometimes we read a book at just the right time in our lives, so the book speaks to us, as if it were written for you alone. Other times due to timing, a book is read at the absolute wrong time, so you end up hating the book. Unfortunately, this book falls into the later category for me.  Let’s find out why!

The book starts out promisingly, with Kirk recounting his childhood in Iowa with his parents and older brother Sam, to the book’s “editor” David A Goodman. It proceeds through his first time off planet with his mother, then through his early years of Starfleet Academy. We meet many of the people who will play a part in his later missions, for several of them tie in with school and his first two ship assignments. Thus, the narrative takes official Star Trek canon and builds around it.

Once we hit the Enterprise years, the book came to a screeching halt. Kirk’s recollections lurched from one episode to another, recapping what we know happened in the tv show and later in the movies. Spock and McCoy were barely mentioned, and their friendship did not ring true, even with their foreword and afterwards bookends.  Then the other important quartet of Uhura, Scotty, Sulu and Chekhov were also all but ignored in this supposed memoir. There was so sense of unity or teamwork among the Enterprise staff, much less the family he left behind. Even the Khan stories lacked power.

Now let’s talk about the ladies. Kirk is known as a swashbuckling ladies man, but in this story he is a petulant man child. He is callous to his first love at the academy and is a complete ass and a deadbeat dad to Carol and their son David. There is no mention of his marriage to Miramanee, whom I felt was one of his true loves, and doesn’t mention the kiss with Uhura. The largest story goes his romance with Edith during a mission he went to the Earth’s past. He moons over her death, and then slights other women. Even with Carol and David come back into his life years later he doesn’t muster much excitement or love for them. When David dies, he isn’t heartbroken and dismisses Carol, never to see her again.

I believe there are three glaring reasons why I didn’t like the book. One- my eldest just started college, and I miss him terribly. I was angry at Starfleet for making family life basically impossible. Family relationships were torn asunder by the long absences, and the choices people made if they wanted to accept a promotion. Second- I recently had a negative experience when someone else’s bad decision affected me. So Kirk’s many decisions through out his career, where others were collateral damage to his ego, infuriated me. Thirdly- the filling in around canon didn’t seem authentic to me. While it was approved (so I assume the new info is canon too now), it all seemed fake and wooden. I recently read Superman: American Alien which did the same thing, but that story filled in the gaps of Clark Kent’s growing up years in a very believable way.

So while I hated this version of Kirk, I am going to do what many fans do when faced with problematic story lines or conflicting data- I’m going to pretend it doesn’t exist. If I can forget about Spock’s brother or how Klingon’s first looked when we met them in TOS, I can forget about Goodman’s Kirk. Instead I shall remember the blustery but fun William Shatner version that started this whole Trek phenomenon.  Live long and prosper, my friends.

-Nancy

Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book 8

Sooo… remember a few issues back when I mentioned Flycatcher got turned back into a frog for some reason? Well, he’s human again, but he’s got a glorious purpose! With the help of Lancelot’s ghost, Flycatcher dons Lance’s sacred armor and sets out to stake a claim in the Homelands – a claim that is his right as a prince. Meanwhile, Mayor Charming and Beast are working with Hansel, the Adversary’s ambassador from the Homelands. Each party has something the other desperately wants – but can they exchange goods without starting an all-out war?

This volume! Was so!! Good!!! Everyone loves a good underdog story, and boy is Flycatcher the ultimate underdog. To watch him struggle for his birthright after knowing his backstory, you can’t help but cheer for him. Since it was mostly one story, the art was consistent throughout, which was a bonus! A few new revelations from side characters made this volume pretty juicy and moving along at a fast clip. As always, can’t wait for the next volume!!!

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, and Andre Pepoy. Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book 8. 2007.

Wild C.A.T.S.

I discovered Wild C.A.T.S. in the .25¢ bins at a local comic con, and I am enthralled by this time capsule of the early 1990’s and reading about the growing pains of brand new (at that time) Image Comics.

This series was one of the first published by Image and was created by Jim Lee and Brandon Choi, with further pencils by Lee. Originally envisioned as a three parter, it was expanded to four. It established a new super hero group, with the moniker Covert Action Teams. This team concerned themselves with the battle between aliens called  Kherubim and Daemonites.  The team was a motley group pf heroes, with not a great deal of backstory to explain their origins. When Vice President Dan Quayle is overtaken by the evil Daemonites (OMG- how awesome is that!), so the group works together to avoid world chaos. Image’s flagship superhero group Youngblood shows up too, not understanding that Quayle has been possessed and is not truly himself. This was the first combining of Image universes, showing that the two teams coexist together. While there’s more to the story obviously, a recap is hard to explain. This story must be experienced to appreciate it. You can also have fun matching up these heroes with who you think they would correspond with in the Marvel or DC universes.

Now let’s talk about the art! Lee is a talented artist, but God, the excesses of his drawing made me laugh. The issues came out in 1992-93, right during that time frame that the superhero genre was at it’s most superlative. Women especially were drawn so amazingly out of proportion to be comical, and unfortunately that continued to be the case with this series. At times the art overpowered the already somewhat confusing story, with an myriad array of panels. There were a few times you had to flip the story sideways to follow the panels, one time just so they could show a full length view of the hyper-sexualized Voodoo. A nitpick I had with the covers of the first four issues is that the art always covered some of the words. I found that odd and not very appealing. For the compendium cover, they fixed that problem.

Jim Lee started each issue with a letter to the readers, which I found fascinating, for it gave a window into what was going on behind the scenes at the company. I watched the DVD documentary about the founding of Image Comics, The Image Revolution, so I was already privy to the rough start of a now strong comic publisher (BTW, I wrote that review very early on in my blogging career, and it hardly received any love. Read it now to understand more about Image’s rocky start & like the review!!). Lee was brutally honest in his letters in acknowledging that Image had a big problem with timeliness in getting their issues out. He also is kind enough to explain why Whilce Portacio, the first of the seven founders to leave Image, was MIA due to a family death. This went far in reinforcing my thought that the documentary didn’t explain enough what happened to Portacio.

I came away from this series smiling. While I might have criticized some aspects of the storytelling, this was a fun read. Image Comics remains a favorite of mine, so I enjoyed going back in time to read some of their first stories.

-Nancy

Lee, Jim & Brandon Choi. Wild C.A.T.S. 1993.

Sunshine Blogger Award³

We were nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award by Lily from Cheeky Booky! This is our third time for this award, but it never gets old, for we love getting selected since it means another blogger thought of us!

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award logo in your post and/or on your blog

1. Which Disney Princess do you relate yourself with?

Nancy: Mulan!!! It’s a rare Disney movie in which BOTH her parents are still alive, plus Mulan is kick -ass. The romance at the end is secondary, because while I am a sucker for romance, Mulan and her team prioritize saving that day before that happens.

Kathleen: Jasmine! She is smart, headstrong, and independent, but she is also loving and a good judge of character. She’s not passive at all and takes charge of who she is, where she’s going, and who she loves. She refuses to conform to others’ expectations or plans for her, and I both admire and strive to be like her.

 

2. What would the world be like if you are the leader? (Be as detailed as you like)

Nancy: World peace and a beautiful environment!

Kathleen: First thing I would do as world leader would be cure all nut allergies (seriously, it sucks)! I would strive to lead a peaceful, humane, and just world.

3. Top 5 Pairings?

Nancy: Me & my husband, Eleanor/Park, Superman/Wonder Woman (ignore what Kathleen says below for the Kingdom Come pairing was perfect!), Jamie/Claire from Outlander and Ehd/Beh from Transcendence (the most ridiculous historical fiction romance book ever that I inexplicably loved).

Is this not the best OTP ever?!

Kathleen: Batman/Wonder Woman!!! Black Canary/Green Arrow, Barry/Iris from Flash. Harry/Hermione.

4. What animal is your patronus? ( Mine is a Dolphin according to Pottermore XD)

Nancy: Wolf. I love their beauty and teamwork.

Kathleen: I think mine was a terrier according to Pottermore, but I secretly feel it would be a snow leopard instead.

5. OH NO! Eric Cartman came and stole your favourite desert. What’s your favourite desert and how would you deal with it? (Yes I am a huge South Park Fan) XD

Nancy: I am a sucker for dark chocolate so Cartman wouldn’t even stand a chance of getting near it in the first place.

Kathleen: My favorite dessert is homemade chocolate cake… with 3 layers and chocolate frosting, just how my mom makes it. Consequently, I would have no qualms about punching Eric Cartman out over it 8D

6. What would you do if you won a huge jackpot from the lottery?

Nancy: Fund my children’s college educations and donate to charity. Then take some epic vacations!

Kathleen: Pay off them student loans!!!

7. What book do you think should be a videogame?

Nancy: Ready Player One!

Kathleen: I talked about this in a previous post, but among them, I really want an 8 bit sidescrolling George Perez WW game!

8. (On the behalf of my friend who would ask everyone this) Vampires or Zombies?

Nancy: Reluctantly vampire. I do not wish to be a rotting mindless zombie.

Kathleen: Neither, because they are both seriously overrated and overhyped following the eras of Twilight and The Walking Dead.

9. You have the power of re-animation to bring back anyone from the dead. Who would you bring back?

Nancy: I read the short story The Monkey’s Paw as a teen, and it traumatized me so I would never wish the dead back to life.

Kathleen: Robin Williams. I miss him so much.

10. Would you be a Superhero or a Supervillian and what would your name be?

Nancy: Hero of course! I used The Superhero Name Generator and it gave me The Silk Shadow! Sounds cool to me.

Kathleen: Superhero! I’m unsure of what my name would be, though. There are so many that are already taken =P

11. And lastly the most important question: Cats, Dogs, both or neither??

Nancy: Cats 100%

Kathleen: PUPS!!! ❤

Our questions for our nominees are:

  1. Describe your best friend.
  2. Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts?
  3. Do you buy or borrow the books you read?
  4. What’s the most creative thing you’ve ever done?
  5. Do you like to cook? If so, do you like to experiment?
  6. What is you most controversial book-related opinion?
  7. What would you do if you won a huge jackpot from the lottery?
  8. What is your favorite topic/category to blog about?
  9. What is your favorite T.V. show?
  10. Who is your favorite author?
  11. If you could switch lives with one person who would you pick?

We nominate:

In all likelyhood, these bloggers have already been nominated for this award, but we always like to throw some love to our blogging posse!

Michael @ My Comic Relief

Rob @ My Side of the Laundry Room

GO @ The Green Onion Blog

Shanannigans @ Reads & Reels

Danielle @ Books Vertigo and Tea

Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

Thank you again to Lily for spreading some sunshine our way!

– Nancy & Kathleen

I’m off!

To Europe! For a week! With my boyfriend!

Months and months of planning have finally led up to this day… soon I’ll be boarding a plane to fly overseas for the first time in my life. I’m both incredibly excited and incredibly nervous I’ve forgotten to pack something.

Even though I’ve triple checked my bags.

I thought it’d be fun to tell you guys which books I’m bringing for the 8 hour flights!

  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – it just seems fitting. I’m about to embark on a great journey, just like Frodo is.
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – A dense read like this is sure to keep me occupied for a while =P Plus, I’ve been feeling like it’s time for a reread.
  • The Naming by Alison Croggon – I feel like I need some comfort from my favorite book for it being my first time so far away from home.
  • Night Shift by Lilith Saintcrow – See last entry =P Plus, I need some of Jill’s ultimate badassery to bolster me.
  • Wizard and Glass by Stephen King – I just couldn’t stand the thought of waiting until I get back to continue the story!!!

Four out of the five are rereads. I feel like I need some familiarity and comfort as I take this big new step.

I am a homebody. Most of my life choices have been based on what is close to home, what is familiar. My university was 45 minutes from my house – far enough away for me to feel independent, but close enough to get back home whenever I needed. I still live with my mom now, a year and a half after I’ve been done with school – though this was more out of necessity than anything else, it’s still nice. When I do eventually move out, I’m not sure how far I’ll be willing to go.

I’m taking a huge step here. It’s terrifying, but I’m not going alone. My wonderful boyfriend will be with me, as well as all my friends who’ve embarked on their own journeys.

If they can do it, I can, too.

See you guys in a week ❤

Kathleen

Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse

As I’ve stated in previous posts, I love Green Arrow and Black Canary as a couple. They have a lot of history and are so freaking cute besides. This volume compiles various stories of Ollie and Dinah starting from the Silver Age. Some of my favorites were:

  • “In Each Man There is a Demon” by Denny O’Neil, Dick Dillin, and Joe Giella. One of the first GO/BC stories, in which various members of the Justice League have to battle their evil selves!
  • “Zatanna’s Double-Identity” by  Elliot S! Maggin, Dick Dillin, and Frank McLaughlin. Zatanna casts a spell that accidentally gives her the Black Canary’s personality – and she tries to get between Dinah and Ollie as a result!
  • “The Hunters” by Mike Grell, Lurine Haines, Julia Lacquement, and Steve Haynie. Ollie reminisces on the old days of crime fighting before proposing to Dinah. Her answer will change the course of their relationship. The art in this story was by far my favorite, and I want to pick up “Longbow Hunters” (the GO comic it’s from) as a result!
  • “Feast and Fowl” by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Jaims Sinclair, and Sean Konot. Contains Ollie and Dinah’s reunion after Oliver’s death, which is just the sweetest and most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read.

As with any compilation, the art and writing styles varied considerably throughout. There was only one I absolutely hated, but it’s one of the short ones so that was good! I really wish they would have put cover pages at the start of each individual story like they do in the Greatest Stories Ever Told. They did kind of at the end, where all the stories were connected – but they only wrote what was missing between them. This might not bother some, as it does make it a little more cohesive, but it’s something I didn’t know I appreciated until it was gone!

… For some strange reason, I felt some weird deja-vu as I read the first few stories especially. I felt as if I’d read them before. When I texted my boyfriend what I was reading, he said he’d bought that one and I must have flipped through it at some point. Great minds think alike =P

– Kathleen

Various. Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse. 2007.

Ghost World: Book vs Movie

Spoiler alert: I HATED both. Truly hated both the book and movie.

I have read graphic novels I haven’t cared for before.  I didn’t like Sandman or Civil War II, but neither left me with such a bad taste as this story. I was angry at Enid and Rebecca, the two teen-aged best friends, who are so hateful and nasty. Truth be told, I have met people like this- people who are so unhappy with themselves that they strike out at anybody, hoping to elevate their own sorry selves.

A lot of comedies nowadays have characters that are jaded and say sarcastic quips to one another for laughs. But, in a tired trope, they always have a heart of gold and come though to help their friends and family. Well, I would have welcomed that trope here- for these two young women were miserable and petulant. I also did not like how they clung to each other, and would not let anyone else into their tight friendship. While I am blessed to have two best friends, I also have circles of friends from HS, college, my community and work. Why isolate yourself? What happens if the friendship ends for some reason-then you have nobody. Plus, I’ve always been turned off by intensely cliquey people. It’s an affront to my natural sociability.

The artwork in this relatively short book was unique. Drawn in black and white, a blue-green wash overlaid the panels, giving it an odd shading. The backgrounds were drawn realistically, but often the close ups of faces resembled caricatures, and were not attractive. The non-prettying up of the characters lent it some authenticity, as did some of the dialogue, yet I felt the author was trying too hard.

To top it all off- I never learned what Ghost World stood for. Was I not deep enough to understand a metaphor? By the end of the book, I didn’t even care if I was missing a huge clue, I just wanted to be done.

So why, after hating the graphic novel, would I subject myself to the movie? I was curious as to how the two well regarded actresses would portray the parts. Thora Birch as Enid, and Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca were well suited physically to the roles. They captured the world weariness and Gen X angst of the early 90’s. Some roles in the movie were expanded such as Seymour’s character, played by Steve Buscemi. If anything the movie was slightly better than the book, but I’d say it was because I liked the look of the movie better than the way people were drawn in the book. So while it wasn’t a true replication, it kept true to the spirit of the book, and was a faithful adaptation. Thus, I did not like it.

So this review ends up being less a review of the book and movie, and more a commentary of how I feel about people. Be nice! Be kind! Be inclusive! If you don’t have anything nice to say, then shut up. I know I live in a bourgeois bubble at times, but I can still be shocked at how mean people are. Do I have to have a harder shell to succeed? I hope not. At least this book got an emotional response from me, and for that, it was noteworthy.

-Nancy

The Goodreads Tag

Two weeks ago, I came across this writing prompt/tag and was inspired by Holly, the Nut Free Nerd, who did this tag. I love me some Goodreads, as I have had an account since November of 2012, close to five years ago. I love cataloging and reviewing books, some which get long reviews on GR and this blog, while some just get a paragraph. No matter what, I share my opinion!

What was the last book you marked as ‘read’?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Read this book! Will be on my favorites list of 2017!

What are you currently reading?

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes (review on Friday)

The Autobiography of James T Kirk by David A Goodman

The Late Show by Michael Connelly (audio)

What was the last book you marked as TBR?

I almost completely eliminated my TBR list, because it was stressing me out! I kept adding on, and I knew I would never/could never, read them all. I recently added one book that is co-written by a cousin of mine about Hudson Valley (NY) wines. I wanted to give the book some love, but once I read it, my TBR will go back to zero.

What books do you plan to read next?

Welcome to Night Vale by Jeffrey Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

Wild C.A.T.S. by Jim Lee & Brandon Choi

Do you use the star rating system?

You betcha! If only I could give half stars though. Some books don’t quite make it to four or five stars, but I typically bump them up instead of down.

Are you doing a 2017 reading challenge?

YES!! I choose 100 books, but am already at 79. I will probably get to about 120 by end of the year.

Do you have a wishlist?

Yes, again! I have been slogging my way through graduate school at Dominican University and have not had the time or energy to read some books I would like to. Sometimes just a short graphic novel is a challenge some weeks. I have many longer and/or deeper books I would like to tackle. I graduate in December, so afterwards my first two are:

Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

Rereading The Wedding by Dorothy West

What book do you plan to buy next?

Truth be told, I rarely buy books. Library borrowing all the way! But…I have the pleasure of purchasing YA and graphic novels for my library, so technically I buy hundreds of books yearly 😉

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

“We who live in quiet places have the opportunity to become acquainted with ourselves, to think our own thoughts and live our own lives in a way that is not possible for those keeping up with the crowd.”  – Laura Ingalls Wilder

“I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.”  – Ray Bradbury

Who are your favorite authors?

I will not be impressing you with a list of deep and urbane authors- I like straightforward stories and am not a fan of tortured protagonists who speak in metaphors.

Some of them are (includes children’a authors): Rainbow Rowell, Silas House, Patrica Polacco, Richard Peck, John Sandford, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Virginia Lee Burton, Sheila Kay Adams and Wendy Pini.

Have you joined any groups?

Top 5 Wednesday

Hype or Like Friday

So there you have it…my love affair with Goodreads. Go ahead and friend me on Goodreads, and let’s discuss books!

-Nancy

*Goodreads Tag logo was made by MiRakelBooks

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