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The Sleeper and The Spindle

A reimagined fairytale combining parts of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into one story, that because of the author Neil Gaiman, you know will be a dark and whimsical tale.

Snow White is about to have her wedding and her happily ever after, but she’s really not into her Prince and would rather have an adventure without him. She kisses him goodbye and heads off with three dwarfs to look into a sleeping sickness she heard about in the kingdom over. You are already off-kilter from that start, and the rest of the story follows suit. When she arrives at the castle you assume you are about to meet Sleeping Beauty, and are half expecting a romance to develop between the two women. But that’s not where Gaiman goes, and the surprise ending elevates this short story.

The book is more a novella with lots of illustrations, too long and mature in theme to be a children or even a junior book, but not quite a teen book or a graphic novel either. I enjoyed the twist ending but it is really Chris Riddell’s illustrations in black and white with gold leaf that pushes the book beyond a simple fractured fairytale. His illustrations are lush and detailed, with the gold touches used to great affect. This story is worth a read, especially if your like your fairy tales a bit on the creepy side.

-Nancy

Gaiman, Neil & Chris Riddell. The Sleeper and the Spindle. 2014.
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Drama

Last Friday, I skipped writing a book review and instead wrote the definitive answer to who is the best cinematic Chris (Chris Pine of course), so this week my reading public has the pleasure of two book reviews from me!

As a teen librarian, I am in charge of leading two graphic novel book clubs- one for middle school youth, and the other for high school and early college teens. This month we read Drama by Raina Telgemeier, who is a favorite of the middle school set, and this particular story was requested after we read Ghosts a few months back. As coincidence would have it, the 2017 Top 10 Challenged Book list came out the week before we read it, and Drama is on it again! Continue reading “Drama”

Speak: The Graphic Novel

The 1999 YA novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was a poignant, uncomfortable but terribly necessary novel about a teen-aged girl surviving rape.  It is on many school reading lists, but also has been banned by some school districts for it’s mature content. In fact I had a long conversation with a conservative friend about the book, when our children read it during middle school for an English class, and whether parents and students should have the choice to opt out of reading it.

This graphic novel adaptation recently came out and was penned by the author and illustrated by Emily Carroll, best known for her eerie graphic short story collection Through the Woods. Carroll was an excellent choice, as her inky black, white and gray panels perfectly captures Melinda’s depression and internal struggle. Her depiction of realistic looking teens gives it a timelessness, so that you don’t even notice that no one has a cell phone, as it is based in the time frame it was originally written in.

As Melinda begins high school she knows she is an outcast, as most of the school knows she is the one who called the police to bust a drinking party a few weeks prior. Her former best friend Rachel won’t  associate with her and other students jeer at and bully her. Her only friend is Heather, a new student, who doesn’t know her past. Melinda’s depression is quickly established and the ongoing closeups of her bitten bloody lips that signify her anxiety establish Melinda’s descent. Her parents’s marriage struggles blind them to their daughter’s muteness and retreat from society. It is only much later in the book that we discover the real reason for Melinda’s struggles- her rape by a popular senior at the summer party. I do not feel I am spoiling anything by saying Melinda was assaulted, for I feel most readers picking this book up are aware of the novel’s subject matter.

The narrative covers a school year, and in the end Melinda grows stronger and has some hard-won redemption. This adaptation, at 372 pages long, compared to the 198 pages of the chapter book, still had me at the edge of my seat during the scary confrontation between her and her rapist at the conclusion. I truly was impressed that this version is as strong as Anderson’s first book, and perhaps even more so, as Carroll’s illustrations aptly depict this difficult subject matter and Melinda’s journey towards recovery.

As to my earlier conversation with my friend about the subject matter, I voiced that I felt it was too important a topic to ignore, and students should read it. I stand by that opinion and would recommend it to teen readers who all should be educated as to the horrors and fall-out of sexual assault.

-Nancy

Anderson, Laurie Halse & Emily Carroll. Speak. Text 1999 & Pictures 2018.

Top 5 Wednesday: Book Covers You’d Live In

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

As some of you may know, I’m also an artist! I looooove me a well-done book cover. Here are some I love so much I’d just crawl in and stay there!

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5. The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born by Stephen King

The backstory to the titular Gunslinger in Stephen King’s weird Western series. I’m not sure that I’d necessarily want to live in the world of the Gunslinger, but the art in this GN is so beautiful and dark and hypnotic, I’d want to go at least for a visit. A short one =P (Review of this one upcoming!)

 

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4. The Wrath and the Dawn by Reneé Ahdieh

A retelling of the “Thousand and One Nights” with a female heroine. The peek-a-boo nature of this cover is brilliant, and reflects the shadowed intentions of some of the characters. What I wouldn’t give to wander an Arabian palace with screens and decorations like this pattern!

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3. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee

A YA Western adventure novel featuring heroines and heroes of color. I fell in love with the colors and silhouettes of this cover. It makes me want to roam free and be wild! But then settle down and watch the brilliant sunset ;D

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2. The Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

A favorite guilty pleasure series of mine when I was a teenager, featuring vampires of New York’s richest set. I’ve always loved these covers, and each one depicts a different city featured in the novels as the main characters go on their adventures. The silhouetted skylines make me dream of wandering these cities on my own someday.

 

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1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and Jim Kay

The original covers will always have a place in my heart, but I think this cover perfectly captures the spirit and wonder of Harry’s world. Besides, if I were in this cover, I’d be on my way to Hogwarts! =P

Who wants to climb in here with me?

– Kathleen

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

I admit I haven’t read a whole lot of LGBTQ+ fiction, but I will do my best!

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5. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Simon’s email falls into the wrong hands, and he’s suddenly being blackmailed into playing wingman for the hacker – or both Simon and the boy he’s been emailing (who, by the way, he has a huge crush on) will be outed. A funny story about friendship and family and figuring out who you are.

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4. Honor Girl by Maggie Thrash

I spoiled my own post… the official review is coming in 2 weeks! Maggie develops a crush on a camp counselor one summer – a crush that would be innocent enough, if the counselor in question wasn’t also a girl. Heartbreaking and a too-real portrayal of teenage girlhood.

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3. Great by Sara Benincasa

A modern retelling of The Great Gatsby, featuring a fashion blogger and a senator’s daughter as the reincarnations of Jay and Daisy, respectively. A fresh take on an old tale with all the sumptuous summer setting and gossip you could want.

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2. Batwoman: Elegy, written by Greg Rucka

A new cult in Gotham is obsessed with Batwoman – and why they do reveals a painful family secret. Batwoman’s sexuality isn’t a surprise to anyone, but her stages of coming out are revealed through poignant flashbacks.

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1. DC Bombshells, written by Marguerite Bennett

An AU in which DC heroines serve in World War II covertly while their male counterparts are on the front lines. Batwoman is one of the main characters, but feelings bloom between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and it’s hinted there were past relations between Wonder Woman and Mera ;D

Any recommendations for us? =D

– Kathleen

Guest Post on the Green Onion Blog

Believe it or not, but I read many other genres than Graphic Novels! Check out my guest post on the Green Onion Blog about one of my favorite books, Eleanor & Park!

The book has some issues of bullying in it, which connects into the timely #AntiBullyReads 2016 readathon that runs from November 14-20th. This Readathon is created and run by Sarah Churchill with the aim to start discussions about bullying and our bid to stand up for those who need it and never be a bystander. Check out this Goodreads page for more info!

-Nancy

Picture from the talented Simini Blocker!

Kindred Spirits

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Rowell, Rainbow. Kindred Spirits. 2016.

Rainbow Rowell and I are Kindred Spirits, for how does she articulate feelings I have had so perfectly???

This story is a novella at only 62 pages, but even in that short span, the book manages to convey deep thoughts. Elena is a senior in high school who adores Star Wars and wants to experience camping overnight for tickets. After much discussion with her mother, she camps out, becoming third in line. Expecting instant camaraderie, she is disappointed that the line remains only three people up until the day before the movie opens. During her wait, she gets to know the other two men, learning more about them and herself in the process. She especially gets to know Gabe, realizing later she goes to school with him, and that she and her friends are cliquey and oblivious to others such as him. The ending is hopeful that Elena will break out of her social shell and see there are others like her, if she only opens her eyes.

A quote that hit home was this:

“Everybody likes everything these days. The whole world is a nerd.” (Gabe)

“Are you mad because other people like Star Wars? Are you mad because people like me like Star Wars?” (Elena)

“Maybe.” (Gabe)

I have always felt I am socially in no-mans-land. I have always been the geekiest of my circle, but then when I try to branch out into other groups, I am too normal or “bougie” for people in arty circles. In high school I was too self conscious to admit my fascination with Star Trek and Star Wars, but in college I could not keep my love of Star Trek TNG to myself anymore. My friends in my sorority thought it was cute. I even had a Star Fleet Academy sticker in the back window of my sports car.

As an adult now, especially with my job as a Teen Librarian, I can embrace who I really am. I like Star Wars. I like Star Trek. I like Pokémon GO. I like Avatar the Last Airbender. I like Rainbow Rowell. I like ElfQuest. But I also like being a Mom, Nashville (tv series), The Americans, pedicures, ADPi, hiking and hanging out with my (cliquey?) friends. I still am a social chameleon at times, moving between groups.

Although this book was shooting for a YA audience, it hit the bulls eye with a woman many years past HS, making me proud of who I am- including all my personality contradictions. Bravo RR, and THANK YOU!

-Nancy

Top 5 Wednesday: Most Recent Additions to Your Wishlist

 

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This week’s topic is: Most Recent Additions to Your Wishlist!

 

locke-and-key-seriesI read the first volume of Locke & Key and loved it, thinking that it was one of the best graphic novels I have ever read. I wanted to savor the rest of the series, so I put off reading volumes 2-6 until I have time. My family vacation is around the corner and I have all the rest of the volumes packed away for me to enjoy then. (Edit- Volumes 2-6  So amazing! Go out and buy this series!)

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I love Rainbow Rowell, as Kathleen can attest to, for I talked about RR’s book Eleanor & Park every chance I could get, at our Young Adult Literature class. RR released a novella for World Book Day in the UK and Ireland, and it is not available in US bookstores. I am patiently awaiting my order from overseas. (Edit- I got the book in the mail and loved it!)

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I happened upon this article about the two authors working together when I was Googling RR, but I have not heard any news regarding the status of their collaboration. I loved the artwork of FEH in Friends With Boys, so I hope the graphic novel still happens.

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I am a fan of short stories, so I really enjoyed the collection My True Love Gave To Me which included a story by RR. I recently bought Summer Days and Summer Nights for my library’s collection and featured it on my monthly teen newsletter.

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Civil War II is coming out in issues now but won’t be collected into a graphic novel until the end of the year. I look forward to reading the whole story then, as I was a huge fan of the original story. (Edit- not a fan of this second profiling tale)

I always have many books I anticipate reading, but I contained myself to graphic novels and YA books for this post. So many books, so little time!

-Nancy

Top 5 Wednesday: Authors You’d Want To Meet at Book Expo America & Bookcon

 

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I recently joined a group through Goodreads called Top 5 Wednesday with blog topics, so I plan to occasionally use their prompts for my posts…so here goes!

Believe it or not, I read many other books beside graphic novels, so if I were to attend Bookcon, these are the authors I would stop and visit based off the current guest line up:

 

SAlexie

Sherman Alexie, The Absoluletly True Diary of a Part Time Indian. His book was so awesome, REAL, and necessary. Should be a must read for all high schoolers!

CClare

Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments series. This choice is for my daughter- I would gain epic points for bringing home an autograph of her favorite author!

KDiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo wrote my one of my favorite children’s books ever, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I read this aloud to not only my own children, but to 3rd-5th graders when I was a school librarian. They eagerly looked forward to the chapters weekly!

J Holm

Jennifer Holm, Babymouse. My kids loved these graphic novels when they were younger. Babymouse is adorbs!

LYee

Lisa Yee, DC Super Hero Girls. She is writing some cute graphic novels geared towards younger children, plus she wrote great short stories for the anthologies Dear Bully & Geektastic.

 

So, who would you pick, and why???

 

-Nancy

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