Wonder Woman

I’ve been on a bit of a superhero kick recently. My husband got me hooked on Arrow and The Flash, we watched all the Avengers movies in order recently (although we still haven’t seen the newest Spiderman), and we saw Wonder Woman of course. One of Book Riot’s challenges is to read a Superhero Comic with a female lead, so a Wonder Woman story was the obvious choice. Having seen the movie I knew a tiny bit about Wonder Woman’s story but still had to google various characters. Also, since Arrow and The Flash are in the D.C. Universe I kept trying to make connections there that didn’t exist.

I’m glad I read Wonder Woman: Volume One: The Lies, but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. First off, the story is super confusing since Diana doesn’t know what is a true memory anymore and what is legend and what is someone sabotaging her memory. So as readers, especially someone new to the storyline, I had no idea either. Which is mostly fine, but then we never find out! I know the story has to continue on to the next volume, but some closure would be nice.

Lastly, I didn’t realize that comics often have different artists, so throughout the volume the art changed and the characters looked different. It wasn’t hugely problematic, but it was annoying.

Book Riot Reading Challenge: A superhero comic with a female lead

Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book becoming a movie in 2017

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Comics!

I have a newfound appreciation for comics. I follow several comic artists on Instagram (emilyscartoons, lucyknisley, bymariandrew, and sarahandersencomics) and am always open to finding more. So when I saw Sarah Andersen’s Adulthood is a Myth on the shelves on a slow day at work I grabbed it and devoured it. So many of the comics spoke to me and made me laugh. However, I think Andersen plays a little too much into the period, my uterus is trying to kill me humor. Not that I can’t relate, but I wish there was a bit more variety.

A few days later I found Big Mushy Happy Lump and while I appreciated that there were some story arcs and not just one page comics, I didn’t enjoy it as much as Adulthood is a Myth. Maybe it’s because while scrolling through Instagram seeing comics on the same few themes is okay because there is so much other stuff to break up the monotony, but in book form, it’s more obvious. Anyway, Adulthood is a Myth seemed to me, to be more original, while Big Mushy Happy Lump was out only to capitalize on the first’s success.

Ghosts

When I worked at the school library in Louisiana I could not keep Raina Telgemeier’s books on the shelf. The books are just as popular here in Minnesota. I love her books Smile and Sisters and I enjoyed Drama. I had high hopes for Ghosts and I’m not sure they were filled.

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Firstly, I find Telgemeier’s best books are those based off her life (Smile and Sisters), and Ghosts is a completely fictionalized story of a girl who moves to a new town for her sister’s health. This particular town, Bahia de la Luna, takes ghosts seriously and loves celebrating Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead.

I don’t know if it’s because I read this book too quickly (wanted to get it back into circulation), or if it is actually a fault of the book, but the connection between the two sisters (Cat and Maya) felt limp. We see Cat’s struggle with the move and her struggles with Maya’s Cystic Fibrosis, and how that affects her family.  However, it all seems very surface level.

Secondly, the way Telgemeier represents Dia de los Muertos feels very off to me. I don’t celebrate the holiday myself and my  knowledge stems from middle and high school Spanish class, so by no means do I claim to be an expert. In my opinion it seems like Telgemeier borrowed the celebration of Dia de los Muertos as a vehicle for her story about sisters and sickness and death. As far as I recall, ghosts don’t love orange soda and Dia de los Muertos isn’t about finding a 17th century dead boyfriend, like Cat’s new friend does, nor is it a Halloween type of celebration.

Other, better writers, discuss the issue in their blog posts. Let me know what you think!

Something New: Tales from a Makeshift Bride by Lucy Knisley

I saw this book pop up on several friends Goodreads shelves and I had to check it out after reading their glowing reviews. While I don’t read a lot of graphic novels, I got married in February so the subject matter was pertinent enough to my own personal experience to grab my interest.

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As for the actual book, I liked it and I didn’t like it. Knisley brings up a lot of points about marriage that I hazard to guess many people don’t even think about, like what does getting married do to a bisexual person’s identity? Does that part of their experience/identity go away because they chose to marry? According to Knisley, that’s what many people think, even if it’s untrue. She also touches on the cookie cutter nature of weddings and the sexist undertones (women changing their names, pledging to submit and obey, etc.). Taking all of this into consideration, Knisley and her fiance strive to create a wedding that is welcoming to all, fulfills their liberal/feminist beliefs, and represents them as a couple.

This is the part that bothered me. Knisley goes on and on about how the wedding industry demands so much of the bride– lose weight, buy this stuff for your guests otherwise they’ll hate you, do this and do that– and she talks about how she ignored that and made the wedding her own. Yet, she is still falling into the wedding industry hullabaloo, only Knisley is diy-ing it all herself. Don’t buy a bridesmaid dress– Have your friend make one! Don’t waste your  money renting out a barn for your large party– have your  mom build one!

I don’t know if I’m explaining this well, but it seemed like Knisley just added to what a “good bride (and groom)” should do in terms of weddings, instead of taking away the stress. The average person does not have connections to the art, carpentry, catering, and restaurant businesses, nor do they have as flexible a schedule, which allowed Knisley and her husband to create the unique DIY wedding of their dreams.

 

Graphic Novels

Today I came across a post by Hennepin County Library and their staff’s thoughts on introductions to graphic novels. Since graphic novels are not my preferred genre, I figured my reading list and the recommended list would have one or two in common. Turns out, I’ve read far more great graphic novels than I realized! Granted, I read Skim and Stitches in grad school for class and I read Maus in 7th grade history. Still… I read them, so they count!

From this list I have read:

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Skim by Mariko Tamaki

Stitches by David Small

Maus by Art Spieglman

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

 

 

Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm popped up in my Goodreads “readers also enjoyed” section. I can’t remember which book readers also enjoyed, but the bright and simple cover appealed to me and I immediately put Sunny Side Up on hold.

Sunny Side Up is a graphic novel about a girl sent to Florida to spend the summer with her grandfather. Through a series of flashbacks we learn why Sunny is sent down to Florida, while we also watch her bond with her grandfather and Buzz, the only other kid in her grandfather’s retirement community. Sunny’s summer isn’t filled with beaches and Disneyworld, like she expected, but discovering Big Al, Swamp Thing and comics more than make up for it.

I greatly enjoyed Sunny Side Up, but the references to addiction in her family and the relationship with her brother is very vague. I wonder how much the target audience understands. Granted I was a very sheltered middle schooler so my experiences are probably very different from others. This books could lead to some great discussions however, and it broaches a topic not normally discussed in children’s literature.

Humor Me

I perused Booklist’s Top Ten Humorous Novels for Youth: 2016 the other day and marked a few books I must read. Pugs of the Frozen North (a not so impossible tale) by Philip Reeve was one of them. Who can resist that title? And for the most part Pugs of the Frozen North did not disappoint.

It’s not as funny as I was hoping (I am also not the target audience), but the creative characters, unique plot (I especially enjoyed the different kinds of snow), and engaging illustrations made up for it.

However, I did find the pictures/color/font choice difficult sometimes, but I think that’s due more to me putting off a visit to the eye doctor.

Overall, I can totally picture my brother as a 9 year old loving this book. He loved the Captain Underpants books at that age too.

The other book I picked up after finding this list was Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy written by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis and illustrated by Brooke A. Allen. I really enjoyed the Girl Power message in Lumberjanes and found myself laughing at almost everything Ripley did or said.

However, I found the plot line confusing. Maybe it’s my lack of graphic novel experience, but I found myself flipping back pages for plot and character refreshment.

In the end, I’m glad I read it, as I need more graphic novels in my repertoire, but I don’t feel the need to read the rest of the Lumberjane installments.