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Graphic Novelty²

Month

June 2022

Mid Year Freakout #6

I’m freaking out for the sixth time! I like this post idea, as it forces me to reflect on my reading halfway through the year instead of just at the end with the Best Of list. I had fun going through my Goodreads data, and bonus, it highlights the other genres I read since I read way more than just graphic novels.

Best book you read in 2022 so far

The Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley is a gritty thriller that was a love letter about Native culture and was beyond excellent! While it is a YA novel, it will also appeal to adults who are looking for an intriguing coming-of-age narrative.

Best sequel you’ve read so far 

Run, which is a sequel to the trilogy March by John Lewis, continues Lewis’s Civil Rights journey. Despite his death, I hope the Run series will continue, for Lewis’s story is inspiring!

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Hanya Yanagihara has a new book, To Paradise, out and I want to read it. I loved her The People in the Trees but hated A Little Life, so I have put off her newest book because I’m nervous about if I will like it or not, plus it has a huge page count.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I’m still waiting on the last volume of Manifest Destiny that will complete the Lovecraftian reimaging of the Lewis and Clark expedition. The graphic novel series really grew on me but has undergone several delays, so I am hoping it sticks the landing.

Biggest disappointment

Run, Rose, Run was penned by both Dolly Parton and James Patterson. I adore Parton, but the Nashville-based story was so fake and saccharine that I could barely finish it.

Biggest surprise

The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green surprised me in the very best way. I typically think of him as a quirky YA author, but this book of essays in which he muses about a large variety of topics was thought-provoking and made me reflect on the subjects long after reading them.

Newest fictional crush

I’m not a fan of Batman, so I don’t read much about him but I recently read two books that featured the second Robin, Jason Todd, and really liked him. The Three Jokers was based on the previous book A Death in the Family, and Todd has grown into a vigilante hero that Batman can no longer control. Todd aka Red Hood makes hard decisions that I can sympathize with.

Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

I’m flipping this- I read Lord of the Flies for the first time (I have tried many times over the years, and just couldn’t finish it until now), so afterward I watched the 1963 and 1990 films, and both were terrible adaptations! While books are always better than movies/tv, this was incredibly true with these two movies.

Newest favorite character

Daunis Fountaine, the bi-racial heroine, from the above-mentioned Firekeeper’s Daughter was a believable young woman who had to make tough decisions. I loved her.

Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

I will be reading whatever Angeline Boulley next writes!

Favorite review you have written this year 

I have participated for four years in a blogging series- Fiction’s Fearless Females, and this year I wrote about the friendship between Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi. Female friendships are not often authentically shown in books or films, but these two women were allowed to shine!

Book(s) that made you happy

I got on a Little House on the Prairie kick early in the year and read (or re-read) memoirs by several actresses from the tv series: Melissa Gilbert, Charlotte Stewert, Karen Grassle, Melissa Sue Anderson and Alison Arngrim. The gossipy books were fun to compare to the memories I had of the iconic show that I loved when I was a child.

Book that made you sad

As a librarian, I was anxious to read Overdue by Amanda Oliver, for a fellow colleague’s take on public libraries, however, it turns out she only worked in a public library for nine months and I came away disappointed with her lack of a complete picture of issues facing libraries today.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I am a fan of artist Gregory Manchess and found two children’s books illustrated by him and enjoyed them, so I ended up reading all six of the books in the series about Great Explorers. Written and beautifully illustrated by several people, all of the books gave very thorough looks at six explorers- John Wesley Powell, Rene-Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle, Vasco da Gama, Henry Hudson, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca and Ferdinand Magellan.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year? 

I’m on a national library committee this year, that I can share more information about at a later date, and have tons of graphic novels to read so we can put together an award list at the end of the year. I’m not allowed to publically review any that are under consideration for the list. Stay tuned!

I gave myself a goal of reading 100 books this year, and I am already at 62, so I might up to 120 which I should easily hit, especially if a new season of LeVar Burton Reads is released this year. Happy reading everyone!

One True Loves

I have become a huge fan of Taylor Jenkins Reid, especially loving Malibu Rising and Daisy Jones and The Six, so I searched for an earlier book of hers and found this romantic tale. Emma is a young woman who falls in love with Jesse during their senior year. They marry young and move out to California and lead an adventurous life with lots of traveling. But on their one-year anniversary, Jesse is lost at sea during a helicopter trip to Alaska. Devastated, Emma moves back home to Massachusetts and settles into a more sedate life with her family and working at her parent’s bookstore. After a few years she begins to date again, re-meeting Sam who had been a co-worker at the bookstore when she was in high school. The two become engaged and soon after Jesse is shockingly found alive, after spending almost three years alone on a deserted island (few details are given to explain this implausible Cast Away plot contrivance). So who does Emma pick when she loves both men??

Despite the possible corniness of this narrative trope, Reid pulls it off. An added bonus was finding out that this book is being turned into a movie, with the yummy Simu Liu portraying Sam. Reid really captures characters’ voices and capably juggles large casts. Her books have such an accurate sense of time and place and I look forward to her next new book!

Batman: A Death in the Family

I’ve never been a fan of the morose Batman, but I recently read the excellent Three Jokers which is built upon this book that killed off Jason Todd who was the second Robin, and the trauma that Batgirl endured at the hand of the Joker in The Killing Joke. This book collects the six-chapter A Death in the Family and the five-chapter A Lonely Place of Dying that introduced Tim Drake as the third Robin.

This 1988 book was groundbreaking in that it killed Jason, and he truly didn’t return as the anti-hero Red Hood until 2005. On top of that, it was up to readers to decide if Jason would live or die within a three-week period in which they could make a 50-cent call to a 900 number. Alas, his character wasn’t as popular as Dick Grayson who was now Nightwing, and his death was sealed by a slim margin.

A Death in the Family

This storyline occurred in the later years of the Bronze Age of Comics, so it still had the superhero look of past decades, but more mature themes were being explored. Jason Todd is shown pushing boundaries, by being petulant and too violent, and Batman and Alfred feel he hadn’t properly grieved his parents before becoming the new Robin. When told he needs to take a break from crime-fighting, he heads back to his old neighborhood and a former neighbor gives him a box of belongings from his parents. He discovers a birth certificate that shows he had a different mother than he thought, so going off a few clues heads to the Middle East to figure out which of three women she could be. But in an improbable twist, both Batman and Joker are there too. This part of the story has not stood the test of time, for the era of the 80s with Reaganomics is mentioned and the Iranian Allatoyah is shown in a very uncomfortable plot point in the story. The woman who was his mother (now retconned I believe, and no longer viewed as his mother in his bio) is perfectly awful and lets Joker attack Jason after they have been reunited. Spoiler alert- he is killed- but everyone knows that. The concluding chapters bring in Superman and yet another improbable plot twist with the Joker.

A Lonely Place of Dying

Can Batman be any more emo than usual? Of course, he can! He is now taking bigger risks as he feels guilty over Jason’s death. Nightwing who is now part of the New Titans comes to help his former partner deal with new threats from Two-Face. We are introduced to a brilliant and earnest teen, Tim Drake, who has pieced together clues and figured out Batman and Nightwing’s secret identities. He convinces them that Batman still needs a Robin, and who better than him?

An afterword by writer Marv Wolfman was interesting and gave context to the story. The art and layouts were good but rather standard for the time period. Joker’s face was so exaggerated that it was distracting for me and hard to take him seriously as a villain. While this book hasn’t changed my opinion of Batman, I’m still glad I picked it up for it is considered a classic and fills in some gaps in my DC knowledge.

Overdue: Reckoning with the Public Library

As a librarian, I was anxious to read a fellow colleague’s take on public libraries, however, it turns out she only worked in a public library for nine months and I came away disappointed. A bulk of her time was spent in school libraries in DC, and I felt for her, for I myself had a brief stint as an elementary school librarian and I know too well all the limitations and extra work that administrators pile on school library staff.

As for her short public library experience, I know the neighborhood, as my family traveled to DC a few years ago, and we stayed at a townhouse in the gentrifying neighborhood of NoMa, so I saw the homelessness that is part of the city. Even in the two rural libraries I have worked at, there is homelessness and mental health issues among patrons, but what the branch she worked at deals with is on the extreme side. But despite that, how can she be the voice of librarians with her limited experience?

I enjoy my job as a teen librarian, but I know there is a lot of dissatisfaction among library workers, as I see a lot of raw feelings shared on Facebook on Twitter, and the pandemic has just magnified those issues. The author highlighted some very real problems in libraries, I just wish she had more experiences to draw on or had co-written it with another librarian, as to pull together a larger picture of libraries today.

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