Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Complete Year One by Nick Abadzis & Robbie Morrison

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Title: Doctor Who : The Tenth Doctor Complete Year One by Nick Abadzis & Robbie Morrison

Premise:

The Doctor recently had to leave Donna Noble behind and is currently traveling alone.  During one of his adventures he bumps into a young lady named Gabriella Gonzalez, whose family is caught in the middle of an alien invasion.  Gabby helps the Doctor set things right and accompanies him on several more intergalactic journeys.  Includes comics #1-15 of the Tenth Doctor Year One series.

My thoughts:

I saw this at the library and just had to check it out!  Doctor Who?  Yes, please!  This is my first foray into Whovian comics.  I sort of expected this book to feature characters we had met in the TV series, but it brings in a whole new cast of characters.  At first I wasn’t sure about Gabby, but after getting to know her through the stories, I’ve come to appreciate her spunk and determination.  The storytellers did a great job of capturing David Tennant’s portrayal of the Doctor on the written page–his mannerisms, way of speaking, looks.

Don’t expect a completely seamless artistic experience when cracking open this big, honking book.  It was illustrated by a variety of artists, some of them with widely differing styles.  One of the stories is fairly gruesome as it deals with the subject of WWI.  I wouldn’t want my middle schooler getting his hands on that, but you’ll have to be the judge for your own kids.

I recommend Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor Complete Year One to Doctor Who fans.  If you love David Tennant, you will want to see the Doctor’s additional adventures!  I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of these!

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence & gore (particularly in “The Weeping Angels of Mons”)

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Run for It: Stories of Slaves Who Fought for Their Freedom by Marcelo D’Salete

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Title: Run for It: Stories of Slaves Who Fought for Their Freedom by Marcelo D’Salete

Premise:

This book contains four short stories about slavery in Brazil and the way that slaves resisted it to the best of their ability.  Chapters include: Kalunga, Sumidouro, Cumbe, and Malungo.

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read, and I’m still not sure exactly how to process it.  It’s a story told mostly in pictures with minimal text, and you really have to read between the lines and study the pictures to know what is happening.  It’s not really a book about right and wrong.  Readers are shown some very difficult situations and experiences, and how people reacted under those circumstances.  Sometimes violence begets violence.  The stories don’t have warm, cushy endings.  However, they do show the resilience of those who languished under slavery and their determination to be free from oppression.  It shines a glaring light on the moral corruption which accompanies slavery.

Certainly, you have to read the two short introductory blurbs at the beginning of the book to get the context for the stories.  Even then, there is a lot of background information which isn’t included.  I wish there had been a bit more about Brazil’s history with slavery, but maybe this book could be seen as a jumping off point for readers to seek out additional sources.

The drawings are in black and white, so even in the scenes with violence you don’t see graphic blood or anything.  Also, the drawings are somewhat stylized, so things that might be too much if done with a lot of detail are less offensive to look at.

I recommend Run For It to older teens and adults who want to learn more about slavery and resistance.  It wasn’t just an issue in the United States, but that’s where a lot of the currently available literature takes place.  Also a note on the possible objection of seeing a woman’s bare chest–this book adopts the traditional African view of a woman’s chest being utilitarian more than erotic.  It’s for feeding children and there’s nothing shameful or sexually charged in that.

Possible Objections:

  • Some violence
  • Bare women’s chests
  • A couple of rape scenes (not graphic)

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Reckless Life: Guns N’ Roses by Jim McCarthy & Marc Olivent

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Title: Reckless Life: Guns N’ Roses by Jim McCarthy & Marc Olivent

Premise:

The history of the sensational hard rock band, Guns N’ Roses, told in graphic novel form.  From the early days of its band members, through their tumultuous yet successful era, to the breakup of the original band and its aftermath.

My thoughts:

I was really excited to read this book!  I grew up listening to Guns N’ Roses, though I was too young at the time to take any notice of their personal shenanigans.  That’s probably a good thing.  Sadly, this book was just so-so for me.  The beginning is really cluttered up by a lot of information that introduces us to the variety of characters who eventually come together later in the story.  It tends to jump (seemingly randomly) between the young characters and can get mighty confusing.

That brings me to my next criticism.  There is almost no overarching narration that would help tie everything together and make it more cohesive.  If there had been a narrator to introduce us to the characters and settings, it would have been clearer.  Switching the first-person narrator (sometimes in the middle of a page) without warning the reader, is just a recipe for confusion.

All of the artwork is in black and white and it has sort of a unique look to it.  It’s something you’ll either love or hate.  Personally, it’s not my favorite style for illustrating graphic novels.  It reminds me of a scrapbook with little captions or stories written to go with each image.  Some of the images literally look like snapshots arranged on the page.

The story itself was interesting once I got past the initial introduction and back story of the main characters.  This band was majorly messed up and all I can say is, “Thank God I’m not a rock star!”  Though I did learn many things about the band, I think I would have preferred learning it from a traditional chapter book.  The band’s history and interconnected stories are too complex to capture adequately in a graphic novel.  I don’t know if I’ll seek out anymore books about GNR, but if I ever feel like reading about a majorly messed up lifestyle, I’ll know where to look.

I recommend Reckless Life: Guns N’ Roses to adult fans of GNR.  I think that unless you’re a fan, the comic won’t be interesting enough to keep your attention.

Possible Objections:

  • Lots of profanity
  • Lots of drug use
  • A bit of sexuality

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

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Title: Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo

Premise:

This is an autobiographical graphic novel about John Leguizamo’s life–from his childhood through the present day.  It includes episodes from his stormy childhood days, through his varied and colorful acting career, to his marriage and family.

My thoughts:

My favorite role of John’s was as Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything!  So when I saw that the library had this graphic novel about his life, I had to get it.  I was totally unprepared for what I found when I cracked it open!  It’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t like painful honesty and plenty of potty-mouth language.

Objectionable parts aside, I really enjoyed the book.  It took me a little while to come to that conclusion, though.  After I got to the last page and closed it, I felt like I had gone through some sort of traumatic life experience and needed some time to recover and process what I had just read.  John’s life was pretty intense (often not in a good way), yet in this story he shares his heart and motivation with us.  I’m sure this was a cathartic endeavor for him–a chance to examine his life, come to terms with all of its stages, and accept it for what it is.  Without his past he wouldn’t be who he is today.  As someone who likes getting inside other peoples’ heads, this was a satisfying read for me.  It makes me thankful for my relatively uneventful (and peaceful) life.

I recommend Ghetto Klown to adults who enjoy autobiographies told in a unique way.  Just be prepared for a lot of crudeness and bad language.

Possible Objections:

  • Lots of bad language
  • Cartoon nudity
  • Sexual references & language
  • Drug use
  • Some violence
  • A few racial slurs

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text)

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Title: Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel (Original Text) by Charlotte Brontë

Premise:

Jane Eyre has lived a largely loveless and harsh life, first under her aunt’s roof and later at the infamous Lowood School.  When Jane becomes a young adult she ventures forth from her stifled existence, ready for the next chapter in her life.  When she arrives at Thornfield Hall as the new governess, however, she has no idea the pleasures and pain that lie in store for her.

My thoughts:

I wanted to share just a quick note on this book.  It’s a graphic novel which is totally awesome, not only for younger readers, but also for Jane Eyre aficionados.  There is a whole series of these graphic novels based on classic literature, and I will definitely be reviewing more of them in the future.  Also of note, each title comes in at least three different text formats: Original Text, Plain Text, and Quick Text.  These come in handy for different reading levels, making the story accessible to people of all ages.

On to the story!  The story line was followed quite faithfully in the graphic novel version (with only a few minor changes), and this being the Original Text version, the dialogue was also quite faithful.  It’s fun to see the artists’ imagining of how the story looks.  Seeing their imagined facial expressions and the characters’ mannerisms, along with the dialogue, is just another fun way to explore the story of Jane Eyre.  I really enjoyed it!

The illustrations are nice, though for some reason they remind me of 1970’s illustrations.  Don’t ask me why.  Also, the book is divided into chapters, so that provides some good stopping points along the way and keeps the reading manageable for those who want to digest it in stages.

I recommend Jane Eyre: The Graphic Novel to young readers who want an easier introduction to the story, as well as to Jane Eyre fans.  It’s a fun way to explore a wonderful classical story.

 

Possible Objections:

  • some violence

 

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Jane Eyre - Graphic Novel - Original Text 2.jpg

California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu

California Dreamin'.jpg

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A special thank-you to :01 First Second and Goodreads for providing me with an ARC to review!

Title: California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before The Mamas & the Papas by Pénélope Bagieu

Premise:

Explore Ellen Cohen’s (Cass Elliot’s) artistic development before she became a part of The Mamas & the Papas.  Cass’s larger than life personality and talent take her to some very interesting places, but it isn’t until she joins with her now famous bandmates that she truly experiences the fame she’s been seeking since she was a child.

My thoughts:

The format of this book is very interesting.  It’s an adult graphic novel, not in the sense that it’s full of garbage, but because it’s an adult-oriented story.  Through Bagieu’s whimsical illustrations, we follow Cass from her early years growing up in a Jewish home in Baltimore, when she dreams of someday becoming a superstar.  At a young age Cass decides to leave home and strike out on her own to see if she can make a go of her dream in New York City.

This takes her to some interesting places and she encounters a lot of unique characters.  Though Cass performs with several different groups, she doesn’t get a big break until she hooks up with her final bandmates — Denny Doherty, and John and Michelle Phillips.  Unfortunately, their success was not to be long-lived because of in-fighting, jealousy, and a weird love triangle sort of thing.  Really, it was rather tragic that a group that had such a unique and cohesive sound should implode quite so spectacularly.

But really, the focus of this book is on Mama Cass and her journey to stardom, along with the final painful moments when her dreams seemed to have fallen completely apart.  Though the book necessarily left out a lot of details because of its format, I think it was successful in conveying Cass’s personality, her hopes and dreams, and who she really was as a person.  This was a really nice book for letting readers get to know Cass a little better and more fully appreciate her life.

I recommend California Dreamin’ to adult fans of The Mamas & The Papas.  It’s fun to look at the early years of Cass’s development, but because of the language and drug use, I can’t recommend it to younger readers.

Possible Objections:

  • lots of bad language
  • a bit of cartoon nudity (fairly tame)
  • some drug use
  • a couple of homophobic slurs

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori