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.

New Release: Lemons

Title: Lemons
Author: Melissa Savage
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Crown Books
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Rating: ★★★★

Lemonade Liberty Witt moves to Willow Creek, California to live with her grandfather after her mother dies. Willow Creek is known for one thing: Bigfoot sightings. As soon as she arrives, she meets Tobin Sky, a ten-year-old boy who created the company Bigfoot Detectives Inc. Tobin spends a lot of time with Lemonade’s grandfather, Charlie, and he runs his business out of Charlie’s garage. Various people who live in the town call Tobin to report Bigfoot sightings on their property. Mrs. Dickerson phones regularly with new evidence, and freshly baked cookies for the two kids. While Lemonade has to learn to cope with the loss of her mother, Tobin feels the space left by his father. His father was drafted into the Vietnam War five years earlier, but he still hasn’t returned. Lemonade and Tobin go on expeditions into the forest to try and get the coveted photo of Bigfoot.

I really enjoyed this story. It was quite funny when Tobin and Lemonade were searching for Bigfoot. Especially when Mrs. Dickerson kept calling them over for her suspected sightings, but she really just wanted to share her baking with them.

At first, I thought Lemonade was going to be in foster care in the story. It seems like that when her social worker drove her to live with Charlie. But it eventually became apparent that she was moving in with her grandfather because her mother passed away. I was glad it deviated from the cliche of the main character being in foster care. I have read so many books with that premise lately so I’m glad this one was different.

I wasn’t sure when the story was happening until quite a few pages into it. It was set in 1975, but it could have been happening now. I usually like this timeless quality, but it’s not good when there isn’t any indication of when the story is actually happening.

This is a cute and funny story, great for middle grade readers!