Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Panels! A Comics Site for Everyone!

Good day, friends! I know I've been a bit scarce, but I finally decided to give myself a guilt-free break from blogging. To tell the truth, I haven't even read anything in a week or so. But this slump shall pass, too, and probably all the quicker if I cut myself some slack.

In the meantime, you should check out Panels! It's the new comics site from Book Riot. And as you can see, I'm fortunate to have a piece on the main site on launch day! I hope you'll check out my comics birth story in "Stuffy Academics Love Comics, Too"...part of the Our Reading Lives series.

There's plenty of other great stuff waiting in the wings over at Panels, and you can find it on social media @heypanels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).

Now, maybe I'll get my reading started back up with Lumberjanes, volume 06!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#Diversiverse: This One Summer by Jillian and Mariko Tamaki

For this year's #Diversiverse event, I had several choices of books from authors of color. I chose to dive into one of the graphic novels on my stacks, This One Summer, by Japanese- and Jewish-Canadian author cousins, Jillian and Mariko Tamaki.

On the surface, this might seem an odd graphic novel to choose for #Diversiverse. The main characters are both white, for instance, but does that mean diverse authors can't write about them? Certainly not.

One of the most important things, to me, about reading diversely, is reading about diverse experiences and to see what authors of diverse backgrounds include in their work, thematically, that resonates with me. That can resonate with all of us!

In This One Summer, Rose goes to Awago Beach for a lake house vacation with her parents just like all the years before. She's excited to see her friend Windy who is always there, too. But this one summer, Rose's parents won't stop fighting, her mom has a hard time getting out of bed each day, and even a visit from her spirited aunt and uncle can't make things right. Windy and Rose escape the tension at home by observing the local teens and their dramas, watching horror movies that are way too mature for them, and generally trying to navigate their emotional growing pains.

It's hard to pinpoint why I loved this graphic novel so much. It's just a lovely examination of growing up. It's also a good look at Othering, no matter what background you're from. Rose and Windy certainly feel Othered in their own ways. Rose is alienated from her parents, Windy is alienated by the fact that she's adopted, and both girls are alienated in the face of some crass locals and their personal dramas. Along with that Othering comes a profound sense of loneliness for each of the characters for their own very personal reasons. 

Ultimately this is an examination of universal themes that everyone can relate to. The written story is fantastic, and the artwork is just as effective. Drawn in dark purple, black, and navy blue, it's a moody atmosphere with dramatic contrasts and shading. It reflects all of the nuances in these girls' lives so wonderfully and creates a perfectly put-together reading experience. 

Now I can't wait to read their other graphic novel, Skim!

Thanks so much to Aarti for hosting this fantastic #Diversiverse event! Click to read reviews and link up your own!

Pub. Date: May 2014
Publisher: First Second
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 1626720940
Source: Library

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

I read Horrorstor, by Grady Hendrix, a few months ago, and I've been on the edge of my seat waiting to report back to you all about it. 

Set in Orsk, an IKEA-like chain furniture store, all is not right with the world. 

"Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring wardrobes, shattered Brooka glassware, and vandalized Liripip sofa beds—clearly, someone or something is up to no good (Goodreads)." 

Five employees take on an after-hours expedition to uncover the truth behind the strange happenings in the store. One overbearing manager, one employee on the verge of being fired, one woman who seems naively devoted to the cause, and two ghost hunter wannabes. 

What they find after hours is nothing short of gory, B-movie fun: sudden graffiti on the bathroom walls, strange gooky smells, hidden doorways, ghostly perpetrators, slit throats, and unlikely torture devices. 

There are fairly equal positive and negative parts of this book.  On the positive side, I really liked the possibilities for social commentary presented by a horror story set in an overwhelmingly large and pervasive chain store. Sweet deal! It's hell!

I think I expected more shades of "IKEA catalog." The book has chapters with illustrated furniture and a blurb that gives a retail feel at the beginning of each chapter but that was all of the "catalog" I got. There may have been a few between-chapter pictures, but my e-galley was jacked and those pages were unreadable. I think I wanted more of the cover sprinkled throughout the book. 

I did find this novel fairly suspenseful. I read the majority of it in a day, so that's pretty high praise from me of the crappy attention span. 

But on the flip side, I found the characters quite cookie cutter and some of the dialog stilted. However, to be fair, I think these aspects of the writing give it more of that B-movie feel I mentioned earlier, so that's not entirely a bad thing. 

On the whole, this is a really fun, and in many ways innovative book, but don't go into it expecting a blow-your-socks-off narrative. It's really about the whole package and what you can glean from its quirks.

Pub. Date: September 23, 2014
Publisher: Quirk
Format: E-galley
ISBN: 978-1-59474-526-3
Source: Edelweiss in exchange for review consideration.