{Graphic Novel Week} Graphic Novel Review Round-Up #1 (This One Summer, Ghost World, and more!)

Graphic Novel Week

Instead of throwing multiple review posts at you each day, I figured I’d do a few review round-up posts with mini reviews! This month I’ve been trying to read a lot more graphic novels, so there are a LOT of reviews to get through!

this one summerThis One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

I loved this story of Rose who travels to the summer house every year with her parents. She hangs out with her friend Windy each year, but this year it’s a little different. Rose is on that cusp between teenager and adulthood, but Windy is younger than her so she seems a little young to Rose at points of the story. Rose is also having different feelings, towards boys, towards Windy, towards her parents … it’s really a book that anyone can relate to if they were a teenage girl at some point (which is basically all women). This story is also great because it’s not just about Rose and Windy, but there’s also a storyline going on with Rose’s parents that is completely heartbreaking. I definitely teared up at one point and that is rare for me when reading a graphic novel. The artwork is beautiful and I found myself really starting to appreciate graphic novels with this one. I think part of me always expects full-blown colour illustrations so I tend to shy away from saying anything good about comics that might have beautiful drawings. This one is also Canadian and the authors have released another book, Skim, which I hope to read soon.

ghost worldGhost World by Daniel Clowes

This book is one of those books that has a major cult following. It’s actually a pretty good story and one that I enjoyed a bit. I wouldn’t say that I loved it since I think there’s a part of me that just didn’t get it. Maybe it’s too short? Or maybe it was just too melodramatic for me? I kind of feel the same way when I read stories about young adults who are full of so much angst and I just never find myself connecting with any of them. Is it because I didn’t have a childhood like them that I just can’t relate? I did really enjoy the friendship between the two girls in the story — that’s one thing I could relate to. Other than that, though, maybe it was the humour I didn’t get … I just don’t understand that cynical, teenage humour that’s represented in books. But yeah, still glad I read it. Maybe I’ll check out the movie one day.

the terrible and wonderful reasons why I run long distancesThe Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances by Matthew Inman

I love Matthew Inman’s work, so when I saw that he had a new book out, I didn’t care what the subject matter was, I knew I had to read it! This one was a bit different from the other books I’ve read. In fact, it’s quite the inspirational read! This one is all about running and while it might not necessarily be considered a graphic novel (a graphic humour book?), I still think it fits in this category. It’s still full of some of the great humour you can find in other Matthew Inman and Oatmeal comics, but it also is a bit of a resource on how to start running. And it’s so funny because running is freaking hard. Yeah, it might be the cheapest way to get exercise, but if you want to run long distances, be prepared to hate it a bit. There is a whole lot of honesty in this book, which is perfect for beginners since Inman pretty much says, yeah it sucks, but it’s amazing. I may not be a runner anymore, but I get it. Parts of this book (the lazier parts) were a little tough to get through since I expect lots of illustrations, so they felt a little dense, but it was still a good book.

the truth is a cave in the black mountainsAnd an honorable mention to The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman

This one was so very different and so very Neil Gaiman. By the end of the book, I knew that it wasn’t quite a graphic novel, even though it has pieces of it that resemble a graphic novel. Really, it’s an illustrated short story. It’s incredibly dark and full of lore and legends. It only has a few characters and as they make their way to the cave in the black mountains the story gets darker and darker until the very end. It’s really a story that made me think and want to go back and reread it after finishing (despite the fact that it was late at night when I finished and I can barely stay up past 9pm as it is). I’m so used to seeing Neil’s stories paired with Dean McKean’s artwork, so it was quite the change to see illustrations by someone else. They were almost rough illustrations (not like your Sandman artwork), but they paired so nicely with the story. My only complaint was the typography from some of the illustrated speaking parts — I felt those were almost a little too childlike and rough. BUT super good story and a gorgeous book — one I’m happy to have in my Neil Gaiman collection!

Have you read any of these graphic novels? What did you think? 

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Review: I Could Pee on This (And Other Poems by Cats) by Francesco Marciuliano

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I could pee on thisTitle: I Could Pee on This (And Other Poems by Cats)
Author: Francesco Marciuliano
Genre: Non-fiction, Humour
Source: Library (Hardcover)

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Cat lovers will laugh out loud at the quirkiness of their feline friends with these insightful and curious poems from the singular minds of housecats. In this hilarious book of tongue-in-cheek poetry, the author of the internationally syndicated comic strip Sally Forth helps cats unlock their creative potential and explain their odd behavior to ignorant humans. With titles like “Who Is That on Your Lap?,” “This Is My Chair,” “Kneel Before Me,” “Nudge,” and “Some of My Best Friends Are Dogs,” the poems collected in I Could Pee on This perfectly capture the inner workings of the cat psyche. With photos of the cat authors throughout, this whimsical volume reveals kitties at their wackiest, and most exasperating (but always lovable).

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(This review was originally posted on my blog Winter Distractions on April 9, 2013)

Let me just preface this review by saying that I’m not really a cat person. I like dogs.

BUT, I can still appreciate a good cat book — especially one with great cat pictures. This book, a book full of just over 100 pages of poems by cats, had some very cute cat pictures. The lighting was perfect, the poses were adorable, and they made me want to just reach inside the book to smush their smushy little faces.

But I digress. I am NOT a cat person.

There’s still something to be appreciated with a book like this. The poems were definitely cute, but I do think that it’s a book that should be read in small doses. After a while, the poems all started to feel the same, a lot of them lacking a certain punch line to make me laugh out loud. Meanwhile, others started off so simply and it was the last line that did me in. Unfortunately, I could count on one hand the number of poems that were like this.

I lick your nose
I lick your nose again
I drag my claws down your eyelids
Oh, you’re up? Feed me

Still, if you are a cat lover, this is definitely the book for you. I think it would make a good coffee table-type book — I mean, with a title that has ‘pee’ in it, it’s hard NOT to talk about it. It’s also a really beautifully-made little book. I love the colours, the size, and the fact that it isn’t more than 100 pages.

Maybe it’s just me, but I do look forward to the companion book the author is writing, I Could Chew on This (And Other Poems by Dogs). Being a dog-lover, I could get behind that.

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Review: How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman

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how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill youTitle: How to Tell If Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You
Author: Matthew Inman
Genre: Non-fiction, Humour
Source: Library (Paperback)

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TheOatmeal.com’s most popular cat jokes, including “How to Pet a Kitty” and “The Bobcats,” plus 15 new and never-before-seen catthemed comics, are presented in this hilarious collection from New York Times best-selling author Matthew Inman, a.k.a. TheOatmeal.com. Includes pull-out poster!Jesus Rollerblading Christ–another helping of TheOatmeal! Mrow, MOAR kitty comics. Mr. Oats delivers a sidesplitting serving of cat comics in his new book, How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You.

If your cat is kneading you, that’s not a sign of affection. Your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness. If your cat brings you a dead animal, this isn’t a gift. It’s a warning. How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You is a hilarious, brilliant offering of cat comics, facts, and instructional guides from the creative wonderland at TheOatmeal.com.

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You presents fan favorites, such as “Cat vs. Internet,” “How to Pet a Kitty,” and “The Bobcats,” plus 17 brand-new, never-before-seen cat jokes. This Oatmeal collection is a must-have from Mr. Oats! A pullout poster is included at the back of the book.

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(This review was originally posted on my blog Winter Distractions on March 23, 2013)

I am a big fan of The Oatmeal and their zany illustrations, so when I saw that this book was going to be released, I had to put a hold on it.

Unfortunately, this one kind of fell flat for me. There were some parts that I really, really loved and was laughing out loud — like, How to Pet a Kitty, which was hilarious, as were the pages on how to tell if your cat is plotting to kill you. But there were other parts that just seemed silly and not that funny, like the week-long comic of The Bobcats, two cats who work in an office and terrorize their coworkers. I think these ones didn’t appeal to me because they weren’t realistic cat cartoons.

One thing I do really like is the simplicity of the drawings and how it all translates from web to book. It’s very visually appealing and shows a lot of the quirkiness that you can get on the author’s website. I loved the layout of the book and how colourful it all was and not at all cluttered together.

This is definitely more of a library book than a buy book. I’m sure there are some of the sections alreaady on The Oatmeal, as well — actually, I’m pretty sure a LOT of these comics can be found for free on the website, so unless you’re a HUGE Oatmeal fan, I wouldn’t even suggest buying this one. I doubt you’d get what you paid for.

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