Monthly Review! April

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This month I read a lot of graphic novels and comic books. What did you guys read this week? I’m going to highlight my favorites that I read this month and a few that I wasn’t really a fan of. Now onto the books!

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The first book that I really loved last month is Archival Quality by Ivy Noelle Weir. This graphic novel is about Celeste “Cel” Walden who was a librarian that was let go from her previous job after a mental breakdown. She is desperate to find a new job and Abayomi Abiola is searching for a new archivist at the Logan Museum. She quickly finds out that the new job is anything but what it seems. It comes with an apartment that is located inside the museum that Cel gets to live in for free and her job is overnight, after the museum closes and everyone goes home. Soon things start happening. She starts losing time, there are odd noises late at night, objects are moving around – and Cel is getting blamed. She also starts to have horribly realistic nightmares of a young woman. Cel must work with her boss, Holly Park, and Abayomi, the head curator, to find out what happened long ago in the Logan Museum.

This graphic novel is FANTASTIC. It deals with mental illness in a different way than other graphic novels that I’ve read before. It seemed more real and raw to me in that sense. I really loved the storyline and the mystery as well. As someone who works at a library, I really understood how Cel felt when she got let go from her job and said that the job was her whole life and that she didn’t want to do anything else (that would be me if I ever stopped working here!). She is a great character and most definitely has lots of flaws and they are not hidden from the reader in any way. She is portrayed as a complicated human being who is going through a lot of things in her life. I really loved Cel as a person; I just wanted to jump in the book and help her out so bad! If you are a fan of mysteries then this will be right up your alley!

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The next book that I would absolutely LOVE to talk about is Bloom by Kevin Panetta. I cannot express enough how much I loved this graphic novel. This book is about Aristotle (called Ari throughout most of the book) and his life after graduating high school. He really wants to move to the big city with his band and try to play music full time, if only he could convince his dad to let him quit his job at the family bakery. But the bakery is struggling and his family needs Ari to help out there for the time being. He makes a deal with his dad, if he can find a replacement for himself then they might let him move to the city. While interviewing people for the job, Ari meets Hector. Hector loves baking and if Ari doesn’t mess everything up, he may love Ari too. This BOOK YOU GUYS. It’s a big one coming in at a whopping 368 pages but they fly by because this book is just that good. I would highly, highly recommend this book. I adored it and I will be adding it to my personal library as soon as I can!

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The last book that I want to talk about is On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden. I really loved this book and the art style was fantastic. I’ve read one other book by Tillie Walden, Spinning, which is a book about the author’s childhood spent figure skating and coming to terms with her sexuality. This book is about Mia. She joins a crew aboard a space ship as they travel the galaxy restoring old buildings. The more she gets to know the crew the more she reveals about why she has taken the job aboard the space ship. She is trying to find her lost love, Grace. This is another big book, coming in at 544 pages. But honestly I didn’t really notice how big it was once I got started. It was amazingly drawn and colored. There were pages in here that you could take out and frame as art they were that gorgeous. I can’t wait to get a copy of this book and add it to my collection. I will gladly read it over (which I normally do not do).

Those were my three favorite books that I read this month. Now onto the books that I wasn’t so crazy about.

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The first one is Hawking by Jim Ottaviani. I feel like the synopsis from Goodreads is a good place to start: “Following their New York Times-bestselling graphic novel Feynman, Jim Ottaviani and Leland Myrick deliver a gripping biography of Stephen Hawking, one of the most important scientists of our time.

From his early days at the St Albans School and Oxford, Stephen Hawking’s brilliance and good humor were obvious to everyone he met. A lively and popular young man, it’s no surprise that he would later rise to celebrity status.

At twenty-one he was diagnosed with ALS, a degenerative neuromuscular disease. Though the disease weakened his muscles and limited his ability to move and speak, it did nothing to limit his mind. He went on to do groundbreaking work in cosmology and theoretical physics for decades after being told he had only a few years to live. He brought his intimate understanding of the universe to the public in his 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time. Soon after, he added pop-culture icon to his accomplishments by playing himself on shows like Star TrekThe Simpsons, and The Big Bang Theory, and becoming an outspoken advocate for disability rights.

In Hawking, writer Jim Ottaviani and artist Leland Myrick have crafted an intricate portrait of the great thinker, the public figure, and the man behind both identities.”

After reading that synopsis I thought I would be reading a book about Hawking’s life. That’s not really what this book is about though. It’s very, very heavy on the science and not to heavy on Hawking’s personal life. The first half of the book was almost impossible to read (unless you know a lot about physics!) but it did get better in the second half. There was nothing (that I can recall) about him being an advocate for disability rights in this book, nothing about him playing himself on any TV shows (it more seemed like he didn’t like the fame and wanted nothing to do with it), and nothing that was really that interesting! This was a fascinating man and I feel like they watered him down to just the science that he was responsible for and not much else. The one thing that I did like about the book was the artwork by illustrator Leland Myrick.

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The next book is one that I haven’t talked about here called Fathom: A World Below by Michael Turner. I thought the story for this comic was pretty interesting, but it didn’t really hold my interest all that well throughout the whole thing. I didn’t like the fact that there were hardly any female characters (four, five if you count a surfer girl that was on one page.) and the ones that were in the story we drawn so overly sexualized that it was very distracting (and one of them died not even halfway through the book!). The art style was alright, but it wasn’t my favorite that I’ve ever seen in a comic book before (literally the women’s legs were twice the length of their torsos). I would have rated this higher if there had been more women who were drawn with normal proportions. Although I did mostly like the plot it was pretty easy to figure out what was going on and I was able to predict most of the major plots points before they happened. All in all I enjoyed the book a little bit and I would recommend possibly checking it out (if you can get past the lack of women characters which I really could not). I realize that art styles are personal so you may like this better than I did (I doubt it!).

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The last one is a classic juvenile fiction book, Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh. Now I’ve watched the movie that this book was made into a lot. It’s one of my favorite childhood movies (granted I have not seen it in awhile). So I thought this would be an easy read and one that I would pretty much automatically like. Boy, was I wrong about that! Harriet is really just a spoiled rich kid who wrote nasty things about her classmates and then didn’t understand why they froze her out and stopped talking to her when they found out. Like I don’t know Harriet, maybe Sport didn’t like that you were writing about how much he had to take care of his poor old dad and how they mostly only ate eggs because that’s all the could afford and calling him a little old woman for all the cleaning that he did around the house. And maybe Janie didn’t like you saying that she could never be a scientist (her dream job). And then all the other horrible things that you called your other classmates as well – Marion Hawthorne is going to grow up to be lady Hitler, Carrie thinks Marion is mean and a pig, turn the hose on Pinky Whitehead, pull off his pants and laugh at him, pinch his ears until he screams, ect. And these are all examples that I pulled directly from the book (around page 184)! This isn’t even all of them because Harriet is a “spy” that goes around breaking into people’s houses and eavesdropping through skylights and taking notes in her notebooks (she has 14). Most of the time I wanted to reach through the book and shake her because she was so mean and nasty to everyone around her! I honestly would maybe recommend reading this one along with a child and discussing why Harriet’s behavior wasn’t nice and why her classmates we hurt when they found out what she wrote about them.

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That is it for this month! If you read anything good in April then please let me know in the comments! I’m always looking for great books to read. I hope you all had a great month of reading and I look forward to hearing from you!

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