Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire (Vols. 1&2)

So you guys have to go out and read this one right now. How’s that for starting out a review? :p I know…we all need another graphic novel SERIES like we need a hole in the head, but this one is really good. Even better than I thought it would be. Debi actually recommended this one to me back in August when I went to visit her and I bought volume one then, but it’s been sitting on my shelf unread until this past week. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG???

It’s a fantastic concept and it’s pulled off perfectly. Nine year old Gus is a mutated form of animal/human hybrid living in the woods with his father. He’s half deer and half human. Gus’s father has always told him that he must never leave the woods, for there are sinners out there that will do horrible things to him…that he is a special sort of person…that there was a sickness spread across the world by God to punish the sinners of the world and rid the world of them. And Gus is safe with his father. Until his father dies.

Shortly after his father dies, Gus comes across a violent man who we soon learn has a story of his own. Gus doesn’t know if he can trust this man or not, but the man promises to take him to a sanctuary where there are other kids like him….other animal/human hybrids. Gus sees the world for the first time…sees the cruelty of humanity, sees the death and devastation that has spread throughout the world due to whatever disease has claimed everyone’s lives…a disease that we are still not aware of as readers. And soon Gus learns that he is someone that many people want to get their hands on.

I was SO captured by this series in just the first two issues. And I’ve already preordered Volume three. I’ve sort of been over dystopian books lately, but this one really works for me. Gus reminds me somewhat of Todd from Chaos Walking in a way. I just love him to death. He’s so innocent and has a kind way of looking at the world and it’s constantly challenged by the world he discovers. It’s his accent too that reminds me of Todd :p

In a very fantastical way, this book tackles very real issues. Issues of genetic modification, religion, power, politics, chaos, love, family, betrayals. It’s illustrated in a style that’s often very gritty…not always beautiful. But that runs perfectly with the story. Can’t wait to see where this story heads.


Let's Go With A Bad Bloggers Post!

So I feel like blogging but don’t know what to blog about…so I guess now would be as good a time as any to post about some new books that have made it into my home, right? Why not….Here we go:

1. Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton – I was approached by TLC Tours to review this one and just about freaked out when they offered me this one for review. I hadn’t even heard of this book and I’m a long time fan of Anne Sexton. She was the first poet I fell in love with. Well that’s not true. The first poet I fell in love with was Emily Dickinson and then came along Anne Sexton and I formed a bit of an obsession with her during my high school years. This book is written by her daughter and is a memoir of surviving her mother’s suicide and her own battle with depression and suicide. I haven’t started it yet but I’m very much looking forward to reading this one and reviewing it in February. (For Review)

2. East of the Sun and West of the Moon illustrated by Mercer Mayer – I’ve read countless retellings of this classic fairy tale but have never read the original…shame on me. But I know it’s one of Ana’s favorites. And because of that I’ve been wanting to read it for awhile. Well when I saw that Mercer Mayer illustrated an edition I had to have it…I’ve always adored Mayer’s illustrations since the Little Critter books when I was a kid. Point to Ana for this one. (Paperback Swap)

3. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn – You know I honestly still don’t know much about this book aside from that it’s very clever. I’ve purposely avoided learning much about it and usually skip reviews. Though I know people rave about it! Heather assigned it to me for our mutual challenge so I finally have the motivation I need to read it now!! Point to Heather. (Paperback Swap)

4. Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones – Will this FINALLY be the year that I read some DWJ? Let’s hope so because Ana has assigned it to me for our mutual challenge. I’ve been wanting to read this one for years anyway. Point to Ana. (Paperback Swap)

5. Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine – Well after Ana reviewed this one I had no choice but to go out and buy it immediately. Really….like IMMEDIATELY! It sounded like everything I’ve always wanted in a book about gender!! So of course I did go out and buy it. So far I’m only about 30 pages into it so I can’t properly give you my thoughts on it yet, but I’m enjoying it! Point to Ana! (Bought it)

6. Tales From Moominvalley by Tove Jansson – I haz Moomins!!! That’s exactly what I said when I opened this package when it came in the mail :p I was ecstatic over finally getting this book :p This is yet another point for Ana. LOL…one of these days someone else will win bad bloggers, but it looks like she’s taking the lead again! (Paperback Swap)

7. I was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block – So I read the Weetzie Bat books and then needed to own everything that FLB has ever written. I loved them that much. And this is one of her many wonderful sounding books. (Paperback Swap)

8. Bird by Rita Murphy – I have been wanting this book for SO long but can never find it anywhere. I finally got a copy on Paperback Swap. Isn’t that one of the most amazing covers ever? I need to see who the artist is. I love his/her painting. So I don’t know who to give the point to :/ Becky’s review put this on my wishlist….Pat’s (Deslily) review made me say “yeah, I need this now…point to both of them!!! (Paperback Swap)

9. Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll – I posted on Tumblr the other day looking for books about ghosts that are not scary. And my dear Nicky recommended this book to me!!! I know she’s a big Carroll fan 🙂 Can’t wait to read this one!! Point to Nicky! (Paperback Swap)

10. Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis – Well this was a nice surprise…as far as I can tell it’s an unsolicited review copy but that’s fine because it looks delightful!! It’s a middle grade novel about regency England with MAGIC! And I love that cover 🙂 Publishers can send me unsolicited books all they want if they fit my taste like this :p (review copy)

11. The Story of My Boyhood and Youth by John Muir – Um…I know there was a REASON why I wanted this book but I can’t remember for the life of me now what that reason was :/ Does someone want to remind me if you know? LOL….Has anyone else heard of this book from anywhere that I may have heard about it from too? Def sounds like something I’ll enjoy too though. (Paperback swap)

And in addition to these I have three new ebooks on my Nook, Shadow from NetGalley!! You can look forward to reviews of a gay erotica, a regency vampire novel, and a good old fashioned serial killer novel! Woohoo!!

Never Learn Anything From History by Kate Beaton

I’m joining in Lu’s unofficial challenge of sorts this year to read a graphic novel a week. Last year I think I read 17 graphic novels and that wasn’t nearly enough for me….I have so many amazing graphic novels on my shelf that have been sitting there for far too long and I’m just dying to read them! I’ve already read three fantastic ones this year….Howard Cruse’s Stuck Rubber Baby, Hope Larson’s Gray Horses and now Kate Beaton’s Never Learn Anything From History…it’ll be a good year!

I’ve loved Kate Beaton for awhile now. You’ve heard me talk about her before. She’s the writer of the webcomic, Hark, A Vagrant! She has a degree in history and translates that degree into some of the most hilarious and intelligent comics I’ve ever read…anywhere. I can’t tell you how excited I get whenever she posts something new. She’s not picky when it comes to the history that she picks on…Canadian history, US history, English history, Asian history, Ancient Greece, the Victorians…and then she’ll delve into literature, religion, politics, lgbt issues, race issues…she’s truly a gift to humanity. She tells it like it is.

Yes, her comics will make you laugh out loud. I’ve found myself laughing hysterically at my computer screen. But there’s a lot of true, important social commentary to be had in just a few panels. I love the way her mind works. Never Learn Anything From History is a collection of her webcomics from December 07 through March 09. It doesn’t contain everything that she published, but rather choice pieces that she picked to include along with her commentary on the comics.

I got my copy from topatoco.com where she has a whole store with all kinds of awesome merchandise \o/ I love that whole website, but there’s an especially awesome Kate Beaton shop :p In fact my “Reading! This shit is crazy!” tshirt that I’m reading in my profile picture on some of my accounts was created by her as well. It was my official readathon shirt for a long time, lol.

Here’s a sample of what can be found in Never Learn Anything From History…I chose this because it’s particularly bookish :p Click to enbiggen:

The Sunday Salon: A Decent Start

Happy Sunday everyone 🙂 It’s a lazy Sunday for me over here. I’m on day number five of the current migraine streak, but today’s headache seems to be much less than the previous four days…so hopefully this is the LAST day. Things had been going well too…I hadn’t really had a bad headache since Christmas. Maybe this will be the last one for a little while. That would indeed be nice. The good news about having a headache (if there is any) is that it confined me to my bed for most of yesterday…which meant I got a fair amount of reading done.

I finished Francesca Lia Block’s Dangerous Angels and OMG did I ever love it!! My review is right under this post. What an amazing author. I’ve ordered two more of her books already after reading that one and added several more to my Paperback Swap wishlist. I also read Hope Larson’s Gray Horses yesterday and I’m not really sure what the hell I think of it to be honest with you, lol. It was short….and I liked it…but I’m just sort of confused as to what I’m supposed to get out of it. I mean I get the basic jest of the story….holding on and letting go and finding yourself in a new place…but I guess I just wanted more. Anyway. That put me at 5 books already for this year! Which is really good for me after the year I had last year.

Right now I’m in the middle of quite a few books. I’m finishing up Mary Oliver’s collection Owls and Other Fantasies. Don’t love it as much as the last collection of hers that I read, but it’s still quite beautiful. Still working on Orson Scott Card’s The Lost Gate which is really good and I went out and bought Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine last night 😀 😀 😀 Of course I jumped into that right away!!! I had to buy it after Ana’s review. Let me tell you, this book is AWESOME! So far it’s everything I’d want it to be. And her writing is just what I hoped it would be. Can’t wait to talk about this one some more!!!

My plans for today are just to read some more..and try to beat this headache a little bit more. And prepare for another week of HELL. I swear, my job has just been awful lately, but there’s not much to be done about that, so I’m not going to complain about it at all. I’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good! I’m lucky to have a job. Instead I’ll focus on the good things in my life. Because there are really fantastic things going on in my life right now too 🙂

Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block

I love it when a book comes along that feels like it was written for you. When you can read it at a certain point in your life and relate specific events in your life to what you’re reading at the time. What makes those books even better is when you realize that those books have been applicable throughout your whole life. That this author doesn’t just get what you’re going through right now, he/she gets you fundamentally as a person. He/She gets how humanity works…they get relationships, interactions, emotions…they just get it right. That’s what Francesca Lia Block has done for me with Dangerous Angels…also known as “The Weetzie Bat Books.” And I’m guessing that there are scores of people out there who feel the same way as me on this one.

I don’t know what I was expecting going into The Weetzie Bat books, but it certainly wasn’t this! You know what I was expecting? I was expecting a sort of juvenille tale with “life lessons” I think and elementary language…cutesy stuff. “Weetzie Bat”…it’s cute…that’s what I thought. And there’s a lot here that certainly is cute. The names of the characters for one, but they’re cute in a heartwarming, brings tears to your eyes sort of way. What I got instead was quite a powerful series of books that dealt with issues of abandonment, gender, search for meaning, sexual orientation, music, spirituality, love, loss, death, belonging and oh so much more.

This is actually a collection of five short novellas. The whole collection is 478 pages. I’m not going to go into each story, but it’s basically the story of a young girl named Weetzie and her friend Dirk and the unique family that they form together. Weetzie and her boyfriend, My Secret Agent Lover Man, raise two children together with Dirk and his boyfriend, Duck. The children are Cherokee, the birthchild of a night spent between Weetzie, Dirk and Duck and Witch Baby, the child of My Secret Agent Lover Man and a witch. As you can imagine, there are lots of tales to tell from this unique family. But they are not the strange, bizarre tales that you would think from my description of the family.

Instead they are beautiful, human stories. Stories of Weetzie struggling to find happiness through making her family happy. Stories of Dirk and Duck’s struggles with growing up being gay and feeling like they didn’t belong, Stories of Witch Baby trying to find who she truly belongs to…never quite feeling like she fits in. Through this very ABnormal family, Block shows how normal the feelings that we all experience are….at least she did that for me. And she did it so very beautifully. So beautifully that I want to read so much more of her work.

“Our stories can set us free, Dirk though. When we set them free”

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

On Friday, a present came to me in the mail…a present I had bought for myself…The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan. It’s his newest novel, this one his first written as an “adult” novel. Though I really hate the terminology…I think that any YA could enjoy the book just as much. I started to flip through the pages…beginning with the “A’s” and came across this:

abstraction, n.

Love is one kind of abstraction. And then there are those nights when I sleep alone, when I curl into a pillow that isn’t you, when I hear the tiptoe sounds that aren’t yours. It’s not as if I can conjure you there completely. I must embrace the idea of you instead.

And from there on out I couldn’t put the book down and read all 211 pages of it in one sitting. Not that it was hard to do. The above passage was set on one page. The book is literally set up like a dictionary, but still reads like a novel. Different from anything I’ve read before, but quite beautiful. It tells the tale of two lovers by going through the alphabet and sharing pieces of their lives together through definitions of different words. Some words take up a whole page..some just a sentence.

It’s not always a happy love story. It’s upsetting at times. It hurts sometimes. It’s not what we want as a reader for the couple. But love doesn’t always consist of what we want for each other either…but I suppose it’s the compromises that we make for each other to make it work that makes it beautiful.

Stuck Rubber Baby by Howard Cruse

I just finished one of the most incredible graphic novels I’ve read. I hadn’t heard of Stuck Rubber Baby or Howard Cruse until about a year ago when it appeared on some list that I read of lgbt literature. I thought, “hey an lgbt graphic novel! Sounds good!” So I got it, not knowing much about it. I knew that it dealt with issues of racism as well, but aside from that, not much else.

In the introduction, written by Tony Kushner, author of the play Angels in America, I learned that Howard Cruse is a huge name in the world of lgbt comics. He’s written a series called Wendel that appeared in The Advocate for quite a while and it’s something that I desperately want to read! He spent four years working on Stuck Rubber Baby and all of that effort and time shows.

Stuck Rubber Baby takes place during the Civil Rights movement and centers around a young white man named Toland who is struggling with his sexuality while at the same time submersing himself in the fight for equality for his black friends. Toland finds himself submerged in the civil rights movement and soon enough also submerged in the gay movement as well. Though he continues to deny that he is gay. What he finds is that minority culture provides support and acceptance but it’s him who’s unable to give that same acceptance to himself.

As you can imagine, this is a painful book. It’s not light in the least bit. It jumps right into the heart of bigotry, racism at it’s worst, homophobia at it’s worst, hate crimes, violence….it doesn’t ignore anything that actually happened. It also looks at the hearts of the individuals who suffered these crimes. But on the flip side, there is the absolute beauty of people coming together and supporting each other. The “good guys” in this book…oh how I loved every one of them so damn much.

It’s like an entertaining history book really that doesn’t edit history. Tells it how it really was from someone who lived it. Howard Cruse does point out in the afterword that it IS a work of fiction but it’s written by someone who is gay and did live through the civil rights movement. I so wish that this book was better known and that more people read it. I wish it was as well known as Maus for instance…because I think it’s just as important as that graphic novel is. Yeah…second book of the year and I can already see it being a favorite!