Thursday, February 24, 2022

The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa, translated by Louise Heal Kawai

The Cat Who Saved Books The Cat Who Saved Books by Sōsuke Natsukawa
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Books have a soul… A book that sits on a shelf is nothing but a bundle of paper. Unless it is opened, a book possessing great power or an epic story is mere scraps of paper. But a book that has been cherished and loved, filled with human thoughts, has been endowed with a soul.”

Just finished this little gem of book. Sosuke Natsukawa’s THE CAT WHO SAVED BOOKS is a love story to books and anyone who loves them.

After the death of his grandfather, high school student Rintaro Natsuki finds himself at something of a loss and not sure what to do with himself. To occupy the time until he’s to move in with his aunt, he keeps up his grandfather’s routine of running the family bookshop. One day, an orange tabby appears in the shop, requesting Rintaro’s help in saving some books from being imprisoned and thus begins this fantastic story of friendship and a shared love of books. A quick read, but delightful none the less. Translated by Louise Heal Kawai. @harperviabooks

An added bonus, this fits the January selection for @a.novel.concept’s #lansingreads22 2022 Reading Challenge: a book by a Japanese writer in translation. I discovered their challenge just recently, so I’m running a little late@to the party, but I’ll catch up!

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Thursday, February 17, 2022

Wicked Stepmother by Michael McDowell

Wicked Stepmother Wicked Stepmother by Michael McDowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No review because the publisher can't handle getting a bad review on one of their books, so I will no longer be reviewing any of their books, regardless of how much I enjoy it.

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Sunday, February 13, 2022

Recitatif: A Story by Toni Morrison

Recitatif: A Story Recitatif: A Story by Toni Morrison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

RECITATIF is Toni Morrison’s only short story and is a study in racial identity. The story of Twyla and Roberta bounces throughout their lives from when they meet as young girl at the St. Bonaventure shelter and again as they encounter each other at different points in their lives. Everything is told from Twyla’s first person perspective, and we see how racial tensions put a strain on their friendship built in the past. The important part of this story is that Morrison makes it very clear from the beginning that one little girl is Black and the other white, but she never makes clear which girl is which race, leaving it up to the reader to make their own decisions based on their own biases as to who is who. It’s a fascinating study. There’s nothing overt in either woman’s description, from either the time they are young girls or at any other point throughout their lives, that would point to either being Black or white, yet as the reader, I felt compelled to make a decision in my head, but I’ll keep that decision to myself. @aaknopf

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Saturday, February 12, 2022

Geiger, Vol 1 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, & Brad Anderson

Geiger, Vol. 1 Geiger, Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an unexpectedly great read! GEIGER, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson from @imagecomics, set in a near-future post-apocalyptic United States, is the story of Tariq Geiger and his mission to save his family from a nuclear bomb dropped in the Unknown War of 2030. Caught outside in the blast, Geiger survives due to the experimental cancer radiation treatments he was undergoing. Now it is 2050, and Geiger, known as the Glowing Man in urban legend, stands guard at the door to the nuclear shelter where his family has been locked away, waiting for the day that he can let them out safely.

This book sets up an alternate history, where in addition to legends such as Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed, there are other urban legends woven into American history, called the Unnamed. In this alternate United States, these Unnamed seem to spring up during times of war, and the Glowing Man is just the latest of these legends. Future series will highlight these legends, such as Junkyard Joe and Redcoat. The storytelling in this initial volume is solid, and the art is great. Geiger is a great character design and looks fantastic when he unleashes his power. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the continuing stories set in this world.

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Gwen, in Green by Hugh Zachary

Gwen, in Green Gwen, in Green by Hugh Zachary
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

WTF did I just read?!

GWEN, IN GREEN by Hugh Zachary is the latest release in the Paperbacks From Hell collaboration, and I think this is one of the more whackadoo books in the series, and that’s saying something as there are a lot of weird books released in this series. There’s some pseudoscience about plants being telepathic, a touch of horror, and lots and lots of sex and outdated sexual ideas about women, which is specifically covered in the introduction by Will Errickson, who tries to explain away the way Gwen is treated as a timid sexually frigid woman as a sign of the times the book was written, while never touching on the fact that Gwen basically statutorily rapes all the 13 year old boys in town. I guess that’s ok because they’re boys? I’m pretty sure if the genders were flipped in that particular scenario, this book would have never seen the light of day in this series. Plus, maybe aliens? I don’t know. The Paperbacks From Hell have generally been a hit for me, but aside from the all-over-the-place writing and storytelling, I think all of the over-the-top sexual identity issues in this book really did not work for me, despite the introduction trying to warn me about this very thing. Perhaps this is one particular volume that should have stayed obscure.

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Saturday, February 5, 2022

Saga, Vol 9 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 9 Saga, Volume 9 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saga continues to be one of the stronger graphic novels that I've been reading, and the ending to this volume... And a year hiatus to the series... ugh ETA: A year hiatus that turned into 3...

I knew the hiatus was coming after this volume, but I wasn't expecting this ending. Needless to say, there are several THINGS in this volume, especially ONE THING that happens at the end and if you're a fan of this series, you're in for a shock. That's all I can say, because SPOILERS.

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Saga, Vol 8 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 8 Saga, Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saga is another series that continues to surprise me with how much I enjoy it. I did not like the first volume of the collected editions the first time I read it, and set the entire series aside in my head. Cut to about a year later, and a friend convinced me to give the series a try again, so I picked up the first volume again and something clicked for me this time - the story really stuck with me (Vaughn's writing really hit home for me the second reading), and Staples artwork is spot on perfect for this story.

As the series has progressed, it has become way more timely and aware of what's going on in the real world today and bringing those themes into the story; themes of acceptance for those who are different (or lack of acceptance in some cases), trans rights, women's rights, etc. What started out to me as being a simple battle between two cultures who cannot accept each other's differences has become a story that is still about these problems, but one that is now holding up a mirror to what's going on in the real world. Staples art has continued to shine issue after issue and while there does seem to be a whole lot of nothing happening from one story arc to another, the storytelling is still strong and Vaughn continues to move the characters along, albeit at a slightly slower pace than I'd like, but it still seems to work. I'll continue to read this series as long as Vaughn and Staples continue to out out such strong work.

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Saga, Vol 7 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 7 Saga, Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Saga is another series that continues to surprise me with how much I enjoy it. I did not like the first volume of the collected editions the first time I read it, and set the entire series aside in my head. Cut to about a year later, and a friend convinced me to give the series a try again, so I picked up the first volume again and something clicked for me this time - the story really stuck with me (Vaughn's writing really hit home for me the second reading), and Staples artwork is spot on perfect for this story.

As the series has progressed, it has become way more timely and aware of what's going on in the real world today and bringing those themes into the story; themes of acceptance for those who are different (or lack of acceptance in some cases), trans rights, women's rights, etc. What started out to me as being a simple battle between two cultures who cannot accept each other's differences has become a story that is still about these problems, but one that is now holding up a mirror to what's going on in the real world. Staples art has continued to shine issue after issue and while there does seem to be a whole lot of nothing happening from one story arc to another, the storytelling is still strong and Vaughn continues to move the characters along, albeit at a slightly slower pace than I'd like, but it still seems to work. I'll continue to read this series as long as Vaughn and Staples continue to out out such strong work.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Star Wars: The High Republic: The Battle for Starlight by George Mann, illustrated by Tomato Farm

Star Wars The High Republic: The Battle for Starlight Star Wars The High Republic: The Battle for Starlight by George Mann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very quick recap of the events from THE FALLEN STAR, this children's book does a fairly good job of creating the sense of urgency from that novel, while keeping it at a level that kids will be able to appreciate and understand.

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Saga, Vol 6 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 6 Saga, Volume 6 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm so glad that I ended up giving this series a try again (had not enjoyed Vol 1 all that much, but was convinced to revisit it). This has turned into an excellent space opera that is actually all about the bonds of family, both good and bad. I know it's several volumes in now, but if you've been on the fence about giving this series a try, I'd say go for it - you won't be disappointed.

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Saga, Vol 5 by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples

Saga, Volume 5 Saga, Volume 5 by Brian K. Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I remember reading this and just not vibing with it originally. Cut to a couple of years later, and a buddy convinces me to try it again, and I was HOOKED. Cut to several years later yet again, and re-reading the entire series in anticipation of the release of the very long overdue next issue in the series after hiatus, and damn this story still holds up. I don't know why I didn't like it the first time. It's funny, brutal, violent, naughty, but at the center of all of it, the story has heart. So glad I'm getting to enjoy this series all over again.

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Star Wars: The High Republic: Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland, illustrated by Pétur Antonsson

Mission to Disaster Mission to Disaster by Justina Ireland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've really enjoyed Justina Ireland's other entries in the High Republic initiative so far, but this one just didn't really work for me. I did listen to it as an audiobook as the print edition was delayed, so I'll try reading it through and see how it holds up that way. Basically, the entire idea of this book is how to move Starlight Beacon around the galaxy via hyperspace, setting up moving it to Eiram so that it is in place for the events of THE FALLEN STAR. Also, it shoehorns the Halcyon Legacy into the story just to make it part of the canon now (the HL being the new, much-maligned-before-it's-even-opened Disney hotel experience). Fans of Vernestra Rwoh and the group of kids who have formed their own little band around her won't be dissappointed, as they all have a chance to shine in this novel.

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