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review 2017-11-17 16:58
Fathers and sons in America: A Matt Phelan Masterpost
Bluffton - Matt Phelan
The Storm in the Barn - Matt Phelan

I had said in last week's post that today I'd be writing a Matt Phelan 'masterpost'. Typically this means that I cover 3+ books by a single author (or multiple authors writing together in a series). However, today I'm just going to talk about 2 books because honestly that's all I could get my hands on and so that's all I managed to read. :-) I picked up Bluffton: My Summers with Buster Keaton and The Storm in the Barn with fairly high expectations based on the work I had seen by Phelan in the Comics Squad compilation I read and reviewed not too long ago. On the one hand, I was not at all disappointed. The illustration style is most definitely up my street. He is excellent at drawing evocative expressions on people's faces. I think where I was let down was on the overall reading experience. Let me take each of the books separately so that I can (hopefully) explain what I mean.

 

I read Bluffton first because it featured a circus and I am all about that circus lifestyle. Firstly, when I grabbed this book I somehow missed the subtitle and therefore was shocked to discover that one of the main characters in this book is that famous star of vaudeville, Buster Keaton. Secondly, I went into this book expecting a rollicking good time and instead got a somewhat borderline depressing narrative of what the childhood of Buster would have entailed since he was a performer from infancy. It's about the expectations that a parent has for their child and how those might be vastly different from the aspirations that the child holds for themselves. It's also about the nature of friendship and jealousy (especially when one of the friends is an itinerant performer). It's a coming of age tale that paints a rather grim picture of child stardom and how the experiences of our youth shape us into the adults that we will one day become.

 

Then there was The Storm in the Barn which I can only categorize as a Debbie Downer type of book. I'm not sure that this falls under any one genre. It's most certainly historical fiction as it depicts a little boy, his family, and his community as they struggle during the time of the Dust Bowl in Kansas circa 1937. However, it also contains fantasy elements of which I can't really go into without spoiling the plot... It's certainly rooted in reality because Phelan does not shy away from the harsh conditions that these characters face (don't even get me started on the rabbits). He covers bullying from both peers and parents. The protagonist is forced to watch a beloved sister struggle with a possibly fatal illness. The entire plot is fraught with tension and a dark cloud seems to hover over every page. What I'm trying to say is that if you're looking for a light read to send your tots to sleep at night then you should probably keep looking. BUT if you wanted to teach your kids about an era of history that's not usually dwelt upon in the classroom then this might indeed be the right selection for you.

 

I'd rate both books about the same. In terms of imagery and writing, they're both 10/10. The issue is that I held expectations about these books (as readers do from time to time) and I finished both of these feeling somewhat let down. I understand that not all books are going to be rosy, sweet, and fun. I know that not every book has a happy ending. And yet when these two books delivered hardship, sadness, and loss I was ill prepared and disgruntled. I can't honestly flaw these books and say that from a reviewer's standpoint they were faulty...but I still find it difficult to give them full marks just the same. Does this make sense? I guess my point is that a book can tick off all the boxes and still fall short based on the assumptions of the reader and/or their relative mood when they picked up the book. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

 

Now let's take a look at Buster from Bluffton followed by a page from The Storm in the Barn:

 

Source: YouTube

 

 

Source: books4school

 

What's Up Next: Ghost Waltz: A Family Memoir by Ingeborg Day

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Kid Authors: True Tales of Childhood from Famous Writers by David Stabler

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-12 01:42
Impatient to read the next one
Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth - Judd Winick
Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World - Judd Winick
Hilo Book 3: The Great Big Boom - Judd Winick

In an effort to expand my repertoire of graphic novels and maybe be more helpful when recommending books to my library patrons I took a trip to the shelves. I came upon a set of 3 books in a series written by Judd Winick and their covers were so eye-catching that I decided to grab all of them to binge. I'm grateful that I did because I breezed right through them and it's left me impatient for book 4 which comes out at the beginning of next year. The series centers around a character called HiLo (arguments could be made that it's written Hilo or HILO) who crash lands onto earth (and into our hearts) with The Boy Who Crashed to Earth. The title pretty much says it, right? HiLo looks like your typical kid except that he's super strong and extremely weird. He doesn't get why clothes are mandatory or that not everyone has superpowers like he does. Luckily, he makes friends with D.J. who is more than happy to show him the ropes and to absolutely have his back...even if that means fighting robots from another dimension. By the second book, Saving the Whole Wide World, their duo has expanded to include Gina who used to be D.J.'s best friend before she moved away. She's struggling with her own identity so it's challenging to try and sort out just what kind of a creature HiLo actually is...and if he's a hero or a villain. The stakes are higher and the danger is 100% real but it doesn't seem like there's anything that HiLo can't defeat...which brings us to the third book titled The Great Big Boom. There are magical warrior cats in this book. I don't think I need to say anything else because MAGICAL WARRIOR CATS. HiLo and his friends are going up against the ultimate baddie and it's only going to get worse which is why I'm practically vibrating with excitement over Waking the Monsters which is set for release on 1/16/18.

 

These books are full of heart and what it means to be a loyal friend no matter what (even if there are killer robots). The illustrations are 99% of the reason why I love these books. The colors, characters, and layouts are perfectly married to the hilarious, heartwarming prose. This is a solid 10/10 for me and I have been recommending it so much that now we only have book 2 sitting lonely on our shelves (they're going like hotcakes is what I'm saying). So catch up so that like me you can sit in anticipation for the 4th book to hit the shelves!

 

What's Up Next: Matt Phelan Masterpost

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That'll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly & Zach Weinersmith & I'm rereading Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie because I just saw the film :-D

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-11-03 14:53
What makes us "real"?
The Imaginary - A.F. Harrold,Emily Gravett

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold recalls to mind the memory of childhood and the power (danger?) of imagination. The story revolves around Amanda and her best friend named Rudger. They're typical friends that have lots of imaginary play, get into mischief, and share all of their secrets with one another. The only difference is that no one else can see Rudger because he's Amanda's imaginary friend. This book walks a tightrope between fantasy and reality which at times is quite blurred. This is not a fantasy full of giggles and silliness but one fraught with darkness and fear. There is a threat not only to Amanda and Rudger's friendship but to their very lives...and it's getting closer. This is a book about the true meaning of friendship and to what lengths you will go to preserve it. Also, cats. (I genuinely made a note after reading this book that was simply CATS so clearly that's an important aspect of this book.) I must also point out that the narrative was elevated even further by the fantastic illustrations of Emily Gravett. (I liked her work so much that I sought out her picture books.) I've been recommending this to reluctant readers because I think it's a great way to dip your toe into fantasy and the scary element definitely sells it as well. 9/10

 

 

 

Source: books4yourkids.com

 

 

What's Up Next: HiLo series books 1-3 by Jeff Winick

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatues by Aaron Mahnke & Haunted Nights: A Horror Writers Association anthology

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-10-23 17:06
A Very Vintage Christmas - A Heart Warming Christmas Romance by Tilly Tennant

 

 
Tilly Tennant knows how to keep warm the heart of her readers.

What I loved the most from the first lines of A Very Vintage Christmas - A Heart Warming Christmas Romance is the warm, joyous atmosphere and this mix of old and modern, old-fashioned and present, old times and new frenetic life.
You know I love vintage and I love old stories and I love letters and I love past connected with them. It's not a surprise if you read my reviews.

This romance will be a trip: a trip in the past staying in the present in an unforgettable beautiful warm tale able to bring goodness to all the protagonists and readers as well.

Dodie is the main protagonist of this story and the owner of a vintage second hand store where she sells old clothes. You know very well second hand stores. They have a particular smell, they have a particular atmosphere.
Dodie is connected with the past just for the fact she sells old things.
Every time new items arrive Dodie controls that they are OK, but once, magic, she finds a letter in a coat. The letter is pretty old, written during last Second World War and important.
Dodie had never read a more beauty love-letter than this one and thinking better at her relationships at the moment with the other sex, she thinks that she hasn't never seen all that romanticism portrayed in the letter she just finished to read like an intruder, from the other sex. But you know in modern times is just a story of texts, chats, video calling. It's this.
Dodie thinks that it's better to start to search for the characters of this letter. She knows that the last second world war gone from a long while, and sure that girl won't live anymore in that house where that young soldier wanted to send the letter at, but she must tries because maybe that letter for someone means a lot...

Beautifully written, I enjoy the Christmas' atmosphere and that sensation of warm and friendship, love, good values that from the beginning to the end surrounds the book like in a special aura.
I hope to continue to read all the books written by Tennant!
The cover is wonderful!

I thank NetGalley for this ebook!


Anna Maria Polidori



Source: alfemminile.blogspot.it
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review 2017-10-11 21:57
For iddle passing of time
Secrets in Death - J.D. Robb

A lot of how this one will be taken depends on how much you can accept the protagonist's view of things. There are some fine and healthy bits of hypocrisy. Healthy because, to my to my sensibilities, hard cut and unbending stances are unmerciful at best, inhuman at worst.

 

Anyway *waves away*

 

I was entertained. I like it when the books focus on the characters friendships, and there was a lot of talk on loyalty. I'm also a bit amused by this trend where the dead body was a poor excuse for a human being. It says quite a bit about a hopeful outlook of humanity, where the ones getting killed are the despicable creatures that push everyones buttons beyond the limit.

 

Of course, then it goes and balances it with the little crazy shit that actually did it, so a bit of fast-stepping on that one.

(spoiler show)

Not as great a time killer as the first volumes, but better than the one before.

 

 

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