I.D.

Title: I.D.
Author: Emma Rios
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: June 28, 2016
Rating: ★★★

Noa, Charlotte, and Mike want to undergo a new transplant surgery to get a new body. They meet in a cafe to talk about it, while terrorist attacks happen around them. Noa is a girl who believes she is a man inside. She wants to get a man’s body. Charlotte is a middle-aged writer. She’s curious about the transplant to a new body. Mike is researching the surgery, so he wants to try it to know what it’s like, hands-on. The three of them go to a meeting about the procedure, where they learn about the process of having their brain removed from their own head and implanted into a new body. At the end of the story, they all have the surgery.

The stories of Noa, Charlotte, and Mike were moving. The three of them came together over a procedure, when they wouldn’t normally have had any reason to know each other.

The idea of the procedure is also intriguing, because one thing that most people would want to change about themselves is their body. This was a great premise.

I loved the monochromatic art in this graphic novel. The graphic novel format was perfect for this kind of innovative topic because the modern comic art reflected the modern subject.

Happy People Read and Drink Coffee

Title: Happy People Read and Drink Coffee
Author: Agnes Martin-Lugand
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Weinstein Books
Release Date: May 10, 2016
Rating: 

Diane is the owner of a coffee shop in Paris, called Happy People Read and Drink Coffee. When her husband and daughter are killed in a car accident, her life falls apart. She doesn’t leave the house and she closes her shop. Then one day she decides to travel to Ireland to start fresh. She meets Edward, a photographer, and she falls in love. Eventually the time comes when she has to leave Ireland and return to Paris. Diane has to figure out if her romance with Edward was just a fling or if it’s meant to last.

This book started off well. Diane’s turmoil was obvious from the way she was acting, and she appeared to have a good chance to start over in Ireland. Even the beginning of her romance with Edward seemed genuine.

However, Edward turned out to be a really horrible guy. Secrets about his past were revealed to her that should have destroyed their relationship. I was so angry when Diane still stayed with him, and wanted to make it work. In my opinion, he wasn’t worth it. I think the author was trying to make him into a ‘Darcy’ character, so he seems unlikeable and moody at first, but then turns into her dream man. This was not the case, and it ruined the story for me.

Everything Everything

Title: Everything Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult
PublisherDelacorte
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

Madeline has SCID, a disease which means she can’t go outside. She lives in a sealed house with her mother, who is a doctor. Maddy is just turning 18. She does her school work online. Carla is her nurse who stays with her during the day. One day, a new family moves in next door. Maddy notices a boy about her age there. At night him and Maddy communicate through their bedroom windows and eventually start emailing each other. Soon, Maddy wants to spend time with the boy, Olly. Her nurse lets them spend time together one afternoon, but they have to stay on opposite sides of the room. However, this little taste of the outside world makes Maddy long to see the rest of the world, even if it’ll kill her.

This book is amazing! I love the diversity in the characters. Maddy’s mother is Japanese, and her father was African American. Her nurse, Carla, is Latina. Diversity in literature is especially important in YA because then teen readers from different nationalities can see themselves represented in their favourite books.

At first, I thought this book was going to follow a common YA theme, where the main character has a horrible disease. This story is so much more than that. It’s about discovering who you are and how to live life. It’s about everything, everything.

Limbo

 

Title: Limbo
Author: Dan Watters, Caspar Wijngaard
Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Rating: ★★★

Clay has gotten a new identity. He doesn’t remember anything of his life before nine months ago. He now works as a private investigator. One day, a singer named Ms. Bridgette asks him to investigate her boss. She tells him she saw something strange happen with him in a room with other people. He was sitting in front of a TV and a man climbed out of it. But then her boss heard her standing in the doorway behind and saw her there. She wants Clay to investigate and find out what was happening. Her boss is a dangerous man, and her request puts Clay, Bridgette, and Clay’s roommate in danger.

This graphic novel is science fiction. It takes place in another world from ours. Everyone has different colour skin: Clay is blue, Bridgette is red, and Clay’s roommate Sandy is green.

The font of the speech was different for different characters. It distinguished who was talking. Sometimes the speech boxes were even different colours which related back to their different skin colours.

This story had everything, from cannibals to skeletons to mobsters. It was kind of weird and strange, but in a good way, so I couldn’t put the book down.

Eligible

Title: Eligible
Author: Curtis Sittenfeld
Genre: Fiction, Adaptation
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Rating: ★★★★★

Imagine Elizabeth Bennet as a writer living in New York City. Imagine Mr. Darcy as a neurosurgeon. Imagine Jane Bennet as a 40-year-old single woman undergoing IVF treatment. Imagine Bingley as a reality TV star.

That is exactly what Curtis Sittenfeld did in her new novel Eligible. This new retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes place in modern day New York and Cincinnati. Jane and Liz have to return to their hometown of Cincinnati when their father has a heart attack. While they are hime, they hear that the star from the reality show Eligible, like The Bachelor, is moving to town. Mrs. Bennet has picked out Bingley to marry one of her daughters. Bingley and his friend Darcy are doctors working at the local hospital. Other favourite characters are also in this story, such as Charlotte Lucas, Catherine de Bourgh, and Caroline Bingley.

This novel is my favourite retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Sittcnfelf updated the events so that the story is completely plausible in today’s world, such as the Bennets being in debt from Mr. Bennet’s medical procedures following his heart attack. That is the reason they will lose their house, rather than it being entailed to a distant male relative. Though Sittenfeld follows the original plot faithfully, there are many surprises that could only happen in a modern retelling, which kept me laughing through the novel.

The Sound of the World by Heart

Title: The Sound of the World by Heart
Author: Giacomo Bevilacqua
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Magnetic Press
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Sam is a photographer and writer. He created a magazine with his friend, Jorge. Jorge sends Sam to New York City to work on a project, and get over his girlfriend. The project is that Sam has to survive 2 months in New York, without saying a word to anyone. The only person he is allowed to communicate with is Jorge and only through texts. One day, Sam goes to pick up his photos from the printer. He ordered them all in black and white. But when he looks at them, there is a girl with red hair who is in many of the photos. She stands out in the photos because she is in colour while everything else is in black and white. Sam can’t remember seeing this girl, though she is in many of his pictures. Now, Sam has to figure out why he has blocked this girl and her photos out of his memory.

This is a beautiful graphic novel. The story is amazing. It’s about recovery and overcoming obstacles.

The pictures are beautiful too. They represent NYC very well. I loved how there were reflections of buildings and people in the water and any shiny objects, such as the store counters. It made the pictures realistic.

This story has multiple narrators, but unlike a traditional graphic novel it doesn’t have any speech bubbles. The narrators are differentiated by coloured boxes (for example, Sam’s narration is in a blue box). I like how this gives multiple perspectives of the story. The reader finds out what’s happening to Sam at the same time he does.

This is a great graphic novel! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read it.

Stereotypical Freaks

Title: Stereotypical Freaks
Author: Howard Shapiro
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult
Publisher: Animal Media Group
Release Date: November 14, 2012
Rating: ★★★★

Tom and Dan are friends who want to start a band to play in the battle of the bands at their high school. They consider themselves outcasts in school. When Tom starts tutoring his former friend, Mark, they ask him to join the band too. But then they need a drummer. Jacoby is the foreign exchange student from Canada, who is also an awesome drummer. They invite him to join, but he is distant at practices and doesn’t seem to have much time to devote to the band. They name their band the Stereotypical Freaks, because they all fit stereotypes (nerd, goofball, star athlete, quiet foreign exchange student) but they don’t fit in with the rest of the kids at school. However, when one of their band members reveals that he is dying of cancer, they have to decide if they still compete.

This graphic novel has a diverse set of characters. Mark is African American. Jacoby is an Inuit from Nunavut. This story shows one of the struggles that Inuit peoples face. Since Jacoby comes from such a small town, he has to move to Pittsburgh to get medical treatment for his cancer. I like that it brings some awareness to Inuit peoples of Canada.

I liked the style of art in this graphic novel. They are black and white sketches, rather than full colour pictures. This style fits with the indie band that the boys form.

I really liked this story and I’m excited to read the next graphic novel in the trilogy!

New Release: Arboria Park


Title: Arboria Park
Author: Katherine Tyler Wall
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Stacy Halloran is the youngest of four. When she is a young girl, her older sister, Mary, has to get married at 18. Her sister is pregnant, so her parents force her to marry her boyfriend, though she isn’t sure if she loves him. They move into an area close to their home in Arboria Park, but not as nice. Stacy loves wandering around the neighbourhood and looking at the architecture. When she meets Greg, a boy she really likes, all she does is talk about the houses in Arboria Park. Though her friend thinks it’s strange, it makes Greg fall in love with her. The story follows the perspectives of Stacy, as she grows from a child to an adult, as well as her nieces Autumn and Rosie in their journeys through life in Arboria Park.

I really enjoyed this story. It is setting driven, which is not as common as plot or character driven. The story revolves around the neighbourhood of Arboria Park. Though Stacy is the main focus of the story, it also shows how the neighbourhood grew through the eyes of her nieces Autumn and Rosie. Even though Autumn and Rosie are sisters, there are so many years between them that they’re almost from different generations.

An important part of the story is the way that music influenced the lives of all three women. Stacy and Autumn mark major points in their lives through the music they listened to or created. Music also helps Rosie find her place in the world, by looking at biracial women in rock music.

The character list started out small, with just Stacy’s immediate family: her parents, her sister Mary, and her brothers, Tom and Mark. It slowly branched off into each of the siblings’ families. It was a little complicated with so many characters at the end, but I liked the way that it demonstrated the way a family grows.

This story is a realistic look at how the Halloran family grew with the times, from welcoming people of multiple races into the family, as well as same-sex couples. They also have one family member who doesn’t agree with the way the family has accepted these “different” people because they are not white and heterosexual. I liked this modern look at how families, and neighbourhoods, have changed over time.

 

Great Expectations (Manga Classics)

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Stacy King, Charles Dickens
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Udon Entertainment
Release Date: May 19, 2015
Rating: ★★★★★

The story opens on Pip in a cemetery looking at his parents’ graves. A prisoner in shackles approaches him and asks him to bring a file for him to remove his chains. Pip returns to his home, with his sister and her husband who is a blacksmith. Pip smuggles the file to the prisoner who is then able to escape. One day, Pip is invited to go visit the widow, Miss Havisham. She is a very wealthy women who lives in her wedding dress because she was left at the altar years ago. She adopted a girl named Estella, and Pip falls in love with her. Then, after Pip has begun an apprenticeship with his brother-in-law, Joe, someone comes from the city and tells Pip that he has a benefactor who is going to pay for him to become a gentleman. He now has great expectations. Pip moves to the city, assuming that his mysterious benefactor is Miss Havisham. Pip hopes that if he can become a gentleman, he will be able to marry Estella.

This graphic novel followed Dickens’ story faithfully. It gives the basic story, without all the added details in the novel. Though I love his writing style, I know some people think that Dickens is tedious to read. This graphic novel is a great alternative to get the same story.

It’s been a few years since I read the novel, so I liked reading the story again in graphic novel format. This is a great addition to any library of classics.

New Release: Eden

Title: Eden
Author: Jeanne Blasberg
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: She Writes Press
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★

Becca Meister lives in her family home of Eden on Rhode Island. Her father built it following World War I. She has always lived at the house, but due to the debt that her husband left her with, she may now have to sell it. She wants to sell her share to her brother, so that the house can be kept in the family. For July 4th in the year 2000, Becca invites her whole family to give them a big announcement. Not only does she have something to tell the family, but her granddaughter, Sarah, has returned from college pregnant. Becca invites her brothers and their wives, her son and his family, and her sister-in-law for this family reunion. However, some family members can’t handle the news.

I struggled with this book. There were so many characters that I couldn’t keep track of them. About half way through I thought I had them all figured out, but then I got some names mixed up. I don’t like when a story is difficult to read without the help of a family tree, or taking notes.

Another thing that made it confusing is that it jumped back and forth between periods of time, and generations in the Meister family. It alternated between the “present” on the July 4th holiday in 2000 with Becca’s children and her siblings, and the early 20th century with Becca’s parents and her brothers.

The story line was good but moved very slowly to compensate for the jumping between time periods. This story could have been improved if it was spaced between a couple of different books. Even if it was divided into different volumes within this book that separated the different generations so it moved linearly through time, it would have improved my understanding of this novel.