I love Bee and Puppycat. I want more of that show... all the time. And so when I found out that there was a Bee and Puppycat comic, I waited eagerly fI love Bee and Puppycat. I want more of that show... all the time. And so when I found out that there was a Bee and Puppycat comic, I waited eagerly for the first volume. These stories are adorable, funny, and have the same quirky, charming characters from the show. Each artist brings their own style to the table, playing with Natasha Allegri's creation. Some stories here are stronger than others, and I found myself wanting more. Since there are only a handful of episodes, and a lot of hinted backstory, I was hoping that the writers/artists would use the comic book format to explore some of those plots. And while Natasha Allegri's story and Madeleine Flores's "What Happened" expand on Bee and Puppycat's lives and work, most of the others are "a day in the life of". It's a fun read, but not quite what I was hoping for....more
**spoiler alert** I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Clariel. I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting(!) for this book, as much as an**spoiler alert** I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Clariel. I've been waiting... and waiting... and waiting(!) for this book, as much as any other fan of the Abhorsen series. It was worth the wait. This prequel, set several hundred years before the birth of Sabriel, explores the history of another member of the Abhorsen line, Clariel. For those of us that have read the Abhorsen series, we know her better as Chlorr of the Mask. And while this wasn't the story I was expecting, it was still incredibly enjoyable and fits well into the world of the Old Kingdom.
Clariel is not the most likable of characters, but I sympathized with her and was surprised at how much I cared about her as the story progressed. In a way, she reminded me of Katsa in Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. Clariel isn't like Sabriel or Lirael... she's not comfortable with Charter magic and really doesn't care to learn about it Nor is she a noble figure. She has an exceptional temper and a strong will that will play a part in her undoing. She's been recently uprooted from her home in Estwael and wants nothing more than to leave the city of Belisaere and return to the Great Forest, where she feels most at ease. As her story unfolds, she becomes more desperate to leave Belisaere, making choices that lead her further down a path that will end... well, it'll end with Chlorr.
I enjoyed seeing the Old Kingdom during a more orderly time, though we're also seeing what complacency does to the Kingdom. You get a good does of politics, free magic creatures, and leaders who are content to let their responsibilities slip. We see Belisaere in detail and explore the Abhorsen's house. Mogget plays a pivotal role in Clariel's story, and I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite characters at his worst.
We see Clariel really struggle with her desires and her anger throughout the book. It's so rare, I think, to find a book that has a strong female character who isn't sacrificing herself for others and has this incredible flaw. And by the end, the problem isn't solved or controlled. If you've read the other books in the series, you know that things will, in fact, get much, much worse. And I liked (and hated) seeing an Abhorsen who was wretched at his work. Things are so turned on their head in this book compared to the figures we see in the rest of the series; while this was a bit disorienting at first, I enjoyed the change and grew to appreciate that not every person is cut out to be an Abhorsen, a Charter Mage, or a hero. I think that Nix did an excellent job, particularly with Mogget and Aziminil, at making you realize that these are not sympathetic characters. Or that the act of revenge lives up to the idea.
I was a bit surprised by the ending. That direct connection to Chlorr is not there, but rather hinted at. We know what is to come, but this story really shows you where Clariel starts down that path, not how she gets there. And while I had a problem with that as I finished the book, the more I thought about it, the less I minded it. ...more
This is a Neil Gaiman book and, as such, if you like Neil Gaiman, there's a good chance that you'll enjoy it. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I love it? NotThis is a Neil Gaiman book and, as such, if you like Neil Gaiman, there's a good chance that you'll enjoy it. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Did I love it? Not really. I tried reading this earlier this summer and nothing came of it. I got about halfway through and really didn't care for our unnamed main character. For some reason, I'm really put off when authors try to insert themselves into their stories. While Gaiman ends by saying that this is not actually his family, it was obviously his childhood and very much himself. And yet, this character was somehow to ambiguous to me. Lettie Hempstock was much more intriguing and I think I would've enjoyed the story more had it come from her perspective.
So I got stuck with the book and didn't try again until I got my hands on the audio copy. Maybe something had changed with how I read books over the years, but I'm much more into audio now. And if it's read by Neil Gaiman, then yes please! And things went much faster and I really did like the story, even if I didn't care about the main character. I guess if you're building a story about friendship and sacrifice and having a life well-lived, then I feel that there needs to be more substance to our hero. And he just... wasn't. I don't think it's helped that I've been in the midst of reading Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series, which I feel the Hempstock family would be very much at home in. Lettie reminded me so much of Tiffany that I wanted to hear more from her, and less from the narrator.
All that being said, the writing itself is beautiful. Ursula Monkton is horrifying and the Hempstocks are the sort of people everyone wishes they had as neighbors. I love that Gaiman can make something like a scrap of canvas into an object of terror... and I will never look at an empty shirt the same way again! And once again, a book makes me crazy for food - Gaiman's descriptions of the Hempstock meals will make you desperate for raw honey, oatmeal, bread... basically you'll want a lot of carbs. I think that's a trend in writing now - make people want to eat what you're writing about! And then terrify them with stories about worms in feet. Yeah!
So, if you like Gaiman's writing, you'll want to read this book. But it may just leave you wanting to read Terry Pratchett at the end. ...more
I was first introduced to The Last Unicorn through the movie. I think my sister and I watched the VHS until is was ragged. And then in high school I fI was first introduced to The Last Unicorn through the movie. I think my sister and I watched the VHS until is was ragged. And then in high school I found out that the movie was based off of a book. I have bought multiple editions of this book because I love it so much. I found out about the comic adaptation a little more than year ago when one of the teens at my library very sweetly bought a copy of the first volume for me. All that is to say that I went into this book pretty much prepared to love it. And I do.
The story sticks close to the novel, not the movie, which I appreciated. I love the movie, but I also know that it's cheesy and has some grimace-inducing scenes - oh, the singing! The singing. So instead we get more of Schmendrick's history, the story of Hagsgate, and Lir is a little more fleshed out. Dialogue is often taken straight out of the novel.
The artwork does seem inspired by the movie, but cleaned up and less ridiculous. Parts are absolutely gorgeous - check out the Midnight Carnival and the cover for that issue with the creatures tangled in Mommy Fortuna's hair. I got choked up during the final battle with the Red Bull - the art just has an excellent sense of pacing. When I got to the guest art featured at the end, I couldn't imagine the book looking any other way than it does with Rene De Liz illustrating.
If there's anything I missed in this book, it was the way that the story is told in King Haggard's castle. I feel like that part of the story is glossed over in both the comic and the movie. Haggard is a fascinating but unexplored character, Amalthea is losing herself and falling in love at the same time, and Schmendrick and Molly are both trying to solve the mystery of the Bull's location. But this section of the tale gets rushed to the moment of finding the clock and the passageway and the final confrontation. I don't know if that's to be helped, but that's my complaint.
This is definitely on my wish list - time to try collection more of the individual issues!...more
If you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the HardscIf you're looking for a mix of Lemony Snicket, Neil Gaiman, and Roald Dahl, then you'll find The Kneebone Boy to be a good fix. It features the Hardscrabble children, Otto, Lucia, and Max, three oddball British kids who live with their father, an artist who paints portraits of deposed royalty. Their mother mysteriously disappeared when Otto, the oldest, was only eight, and the other two children barely remember her. Rumors fly around their small town about the missing mother - was she murdered? Strangled by her own son? Or did the father kill her? Or has she just perhaps abandoned her family?
Regardless, it's been many years without their mother and the children have accepted life as it stands: Otto doesn't speak and constantly wears a scarf, Lucia speaks for Otto and fights to keep order, and Max is a quiet daydreamer who spends time on the roof, thinking. When their father is suddenly called to a job, the children are sent to London to stay with an aunt. But she's not home... she's out of the country. Suddenly the children find an adventure thrust upon them. They discover a mysterious great-aunt, who lives in a folly castle, a mysterious creature called the Kneebone Boy, a 25-toed cat, and the secret behind their missing mother.
The writing for this book is clever... sometimes a little too clever for its own good. While I enjoyed reading it, the language often made me want to take a break after a chapter or two. It's snarky and very conversational, often taking the time to tell us how the story should be composed (and why it isn't written that way) or reassuring us that it may sound like a ghost is in the chapter but, because it's a book about real stuff, there wouldn't be any actual ghosts. Except there would be, but in a later chapter. The pacing was also a bit slow, with a lot of build-up on how boring their town is and their family history. There's a point in the book where a short chapter is used to apologize for the slowness of the plot line, with promises that, since the reader was already hooked and wouldn't be stupid enough to put it down, the next part would be even more exciting. Well it was, but it all came very quickly, particularly compared to the start of the book.
The characters are terrific and the narration sets a great tone for the book. The resolution regarding their mother is not really a happy one, and while it answers a great deal of questions, I feel like it raised more that weren't addressed. The scenery of the book, from the Hardscrabble's house to the folly castle to the foggy beach and forests in Snoring-by-the-Sea are vivid. Overall, I would recommend this book, but wouldn't say it's a must-read. For grades 5 - 9....more
If you had told me that Creature Tech would combine a man's search for his faith in God, space eels, ghosts, aliens (including an alien Jesus!), demonIf you had told me that Creature Tech would combine a man's search for his faith in God, space eels, ghosts, aliens (including an alien Jesus!), demon cats, giant praying mantis heaven, romance, and a heavy dose of sass, I would've tell you that it's not possible. You just cannot fit that much stuff into one graphic novel and have it make any sense! Well, for the most part, Creature Tech makes sense and is a moving, fun exploration of Dr. Michael Ong's journey through life.
Dr. Ong is the lead researcher/director of Creature Tech, an institute dedicated to cataloging hundreds of crates of alien, paranormal, and just plain weird stuff. Think of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Creature Tech exists in the tiny town of Turlock (ah, alliteration), a place full of hillbillies, church picnics, and museums devoted to the campy and mysterious. When Creature Tech opens a crate containing the "Shroud of Turlock," a vengeful ghost (are there ever other kinds?) named Jameson uses it to bring himself back from the dead, complete with his demon hand, and sets his plan in motion to resurrect the alien that killed him... a giant space eel! Yeah, see what I mean?
This book seems like it should be shaky. It's covering a fairly wild story mixing sci-fi and horror. To complicate matters even more, Dr. Ong struggles with his father, a pastor, and his own lack of faith. Science has become all-important to him, though what he sees at Creature Tech often defines explanation through science. Ong himself is transformed during the examination of the Shroud, when an alien destroys his heart and attaches itself to him. He and symbiote must work together and this unexpectedly brings up his lost faith.
I felt like this book could've been divided into a few volumes and really taken the time to explore some of the heavier issues TenNapel brings up. The one-liners spouted by Ong and Jameson are funny but lighten the mood too much. The artwork is excellent, particularly anything involving Blue, the praying mantis sidekick. While I don't think this is the greatest graphic novel of all time, it's one I would happily recommend....more
I hadn't heard of this blog before, but saw this book on a list of recommended titles for reluctant readers. I'm really not all that reluctant of a reI hadn't heard of this blog before, but saw this book on a list of recommended titles for reluctant readers. I'm really not all that reluctant of a reader, but I'm apparently all for telling cute animals what's what. Matthew Gasteier covers all the bases... animals in our homes (take that, adorable kitten), animals from around the world (and that, yoga polar bear!), and some of the more exotic creatures (you don't know fear until you see a binturong). Penguins are particularly hard hit, but deservedly so. Each entry consists of a mind-numbingly adorable picture of an animal (mmm... capybaras!), Gasteier's telling them what's what, and some cold, hard truths about said animal.
This is a fun book to flip through and Gasteier is hilarious. If your wallet is a little light, then you can just head over to the blog and get your laughs for free. Or buy a t-shirt. Just don't let you cute animal run your life anymore. Now I have to go tell my dachshund what's what....more
I was introduced to American Elf by a friend and have kept reading the daily strips for more than a year now. I really wanted to go back and read theI was introduced to American Elf by a friend and have kept reading the daily strips for more than a year now. I really wanted to go back and read the comic from the start, though, and this book is the best way to do it (unless you have many, many hours to spend at your computer). I read this first volume on my lunch breaks, on and off, and it was always such a pick-me-up. I also would find myself thinking about strips later in the day, reflecting on them. I don't know if this is "deep" material, but it's hard not to feel a connection to James Kochalka and his family. He doesn't shy away from certain topics, which makes it all the more fun and wonderful... though it does make for an interesting glance by coworkers in the lunch room. Reading this is a lot like talking to a friend about what's happening in your life, when maybe you think your life is strange and maybe your relationships aren't working out and you're just not getting it, and then that friend says "yeah, me too!" Okay, it's not quite like that, but that's the feeling I got. I'm happy to be catching up to present day American Elf! ...more
This is one of my favorite fantasy series ever. The Old Kingdom setting is amazing, Sabriel is a wonderful, strong heroine, and Touchstone and MoggetThis is one of my favorite fantasy series ever. The Old Kingdom setting is amazing, Sabriel is a wonderful, strong heroine, and Touchstone and Mogget are some of my favorite side characters. Add in Tim Curry's narration on the audiobook and I'm in heaven! That sounds so lame... but it's true! I can't recommend this series strongly enough....more
I think I started this on the wrong foot... You Suck was recommended to me, but I've never read anything by Christopher Moore, so I didn't realize thaI think I started this on the wrong foot... You Suck was recommended to me, but I've never read anything by Christopher Moore, so I didn't realize that this was a sequel until about halfway through. It works just fine as a stand-alone story, but I'll definitely be picking up Bloodsucking Fiends.
This was one of the funniest books I've heard in a long time. It's vampires, it's romance, it's San Francisco. Abby Normal, the perky goth, makes this book worthwhile on her own. Moore clearly knows his setting and I got pretty nostalgic for the Bay Area. I've read some reviews complaining that there's a lack of plot for the book... and it really is more of a character piece. Of course, these are incredible characters with well-developed backgrounds, personalities, and voices.
I'd have to recommend the audio version of this - Susan Bennetts is the best narrator I've ever heard for an audiobook (that includes Tim Curry, which I feel guilty about). She can go from naive, midwestern Tommy to gangsta to goth to refined vampire, without you ever feeling that it's a stretch for her.
This book will make you want to steal a homeless guy's huge cat. And maybe shave it. And give it a sweater. Fair warning....more
This is, without a doubt, my favorite book in the Abhorsen series. It may have something to do with being a librarian, but I think it has much more toThis is, without a doubt, my favorite book in the Abhorsen series. It may have something to do with being a librarian, but I think it has much more to do with Lirael and her insecurities, strengths, and maybe even her dog. I mean, the Disreputable Dog may be the best talking dog EVER. The only time I found myself slowing down with this book is during Sam's parts. I wish I liked Sam more, but he tends to irk me with his whining and avoiding of problems. I'm not sure why I'm cool with Lirael's depression and not Sam's, but there you go. The only thing that makes this book better is listening to Tim Curry read it. This is a great mix of fantasy, a little horror, magic, and some issues that every teen (and older) deals with....more
This was an awesome ending to the trilogy! Lirael and Sam both play important roles, though maybe not what they expected as the story began. We get soThis was an awesome ending to the trilogy! Lirael and Sam both play important roles, though maybe not what they expected as the story began. We get some long-awaited answers about the Old Kingdom's magic, the Dog, and Mogget. Yay! And, even better, we learn a little history about the Abhorsen family that paves the way for more stories! I think this was a very powerful ending (yeah, I cried) and I loved the way that Nix tied his characters' stories together. I can't wait for the prequel!!!...more