Thematic Recs: Graphic Novels

Well, it seems like I end up saying this every time I do a new Thematic Recs post, but… it’s been a while since the last time I did a Thematic Recs post! 😉 This time I wanted to share some of my favourite graphic novels with you all.

There are plenty of comics that I love, too (and I expect I’ll be doing a post on them at some point as well), but they’re often very interconnected, and their quality often fluctuates with their creative teams, so they can be difficult to recommend… So for now I’ve decided to stick to graphic novels (i.e. non-serialised publications) as well as a couple of limited-series comics (i.e. comics with a pre-determined number of issues), as their stories tend to be more self-contained than other comics. But enough rambling, and onto the recommendations!

[An aside: I just realised that three out of five of these are blatantly about death, even without going into spoiler territory (which might reveal that they’re all about death! Or not. 😛 ). What that says about my taste, I’m not certain. ^^’ ]

1) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isbel Greenberg. A wonderful story about a storyteller who’s travelling the world in order to find the missing piece of his soul, and telling all kinds of stories to the people he meets along the way. Greenberg’s art style is really cute, and complements the folk-tale feel of her writing perfectly; I stumbled upon this book two years ago, and it’s probably my favourite graphic novel of all time.

2) The River of Lost Souls by Isabel Greenberg. Another Greenberg story, written in a very similar style, though this one is only a few pages long, and was never officially released. It tells the story of a young woman who follows her father into the afterlife, and ends up meeting – and marrying – Charon, the ferryman of souls. I’d actually be quick to recommend any of Greenberg’s work, but this, and The Encyclopedia of Early Earth are probably my favourites.

3) Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan. A single-volume limited series that’s set in Baghdad in the aftermath of an American bomb raid, and follows a pride of lions that escaped from the zoo. Beautifully illustrated, and incredibly moving, and apparently inspired by a real pride! Vaughan’s Saga series has become really well known in the last couple of years, but Pride of Baghdad is every bit as excellent.

4) Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman. This is a spin-off from the Sandman series, but I’m recommending it here anyway because it’s a completely self-contained story, as well as a fantastic one. The personification of Death must live as a mortal for one day in every century, and this time, she’s spending her time exploring New York with her new friend Sexton – who’s pretty sure she’s crazy. The Sandman has some really great spin-offs, and The High Cost of Living is definitely one of the best.

5) The Undertaking of Lily Chen by Danica Novgorodoff. A strange tale about a young man called Deshi who is tasked with finding a bride for his deceased brother (apparently an old tradition in Northern China). The story is both haunting and incredibly intriguing, and is accompanied by some really amazing watercolour illustrations. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the character design, but that’s a very minor complaint, considering everything else about this fantastic book.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: TBR

The time for the October Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon has almost arrived! And, once again, I plan on participating. 🙂 For those of you who don’t know, the gimmick (I suppose) with this readathon is that it lasts for 24 hours straight, and the starting and ending times are the same wherever you are in the world. That – and all the competitions and events that run on the Dewey’s blog – make for a really fun readathon, and a pretty strong sense of community.

Here are some links for you:

I’m probably not going to be doing quite so many of the memes and challenges this time around, as last time I think I went a bit overboard with my post-spamming. I’m also not going to be trying to stay up all night – my sleep schedule has been completely out-of-whack recently, and an all-nighter would probably be one of the worst things I could do while I’m still trying to fix it. I will however be doing my usual mini-reviews for each book that I finish, and I’ll also be doing posts for those challenges that I do decide to take part in… I hope you’re all looking forward to it! 😀

Last (but by no means least) up, here’s my tentative TBR (and it is very tentative, as my reading has been quite slow of late):

Dewey's TBR

1) Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I started reading this book a few days ago (and am loving it), so there’s a good chance I’ll have finished it before the readathon starts… But if not, then this book will be my first port of call. 😉

2) The Sandman, Volume 8: World’s End by Neil Gaiman. Another book that I’ve already started (just barely). I’m not particularly fussed about whether I finish this one particularly soon, though, so it may end up falling a little by the wayside.

3) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (illustrated edition). This one I will probably not be finishing during the readathon, as I’m really enjoying taking my time with it. I am very likely, however, to read a couple of chapters of it between my other books.

4) The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I’ve wanted to read this for quite a while, and it’s the Waterstones Book Club pick for October, so I want to read it soon… I haven’t actually been in the mood for dystopian lately, though, so who knows? (Certainly not me. 😉 )

5) Seeker by Arwen Elys Dayton. The book on this list that is most likely to actually be read (after Carry On, of course). A YA fantasy, which I’ve been strangely craving in the last couple of weeks. Probably because of all the Dragon Age I’ve been playing. 😛

6) A Dark Horn Blowing by Dahlov Ipcar. Apparently a classic fantasy novel, though I know very little about it. I am quite intrigued, however, so this is probably what I’ll pick up next if I finish both Carry On and Seeker.

September Wrap Up

Well, September has been a bit of a let-down, especially after August, which was a really great reading month. I did manage to read quite a bit (though not as much as I usually would – once again, I got distracted by video games), but for much of the month, I felt like every book I’d read was either terrible, or a disappointment in some way… I probably just had my expectations too high for the latter ones. :/ But in any case, this September, I managed to get through a grand total of five novels, and five comic books. Here’s what I thought of them:

Ryan North//Adventure Time vol. 1Adventure Time Volume 1 by Ryan North. Wacky adventures with Finn & Jake in the land of Ooo! I actually don’t know too much about Finn & Jake, as, generally speaking, I prefer the genderswapped uiverse (with Fionna & Cake), but this comic was super-fun, and I’m looking forward to the next volume. 🙂3 starsHolly Bourne//SoulmatesSoulmates by Holly Bourne. A romance between two teenagers whose relationship is threatened by… government agents who monitor weird, unbelievable sci-fi crap? I feel bad for rating this book so low, because I really wanted to like it – there were a few moments that made me laugh (particularly in the first few chapters), and Poppy & Noah’s romance was surprisingly cute, once I managed to get past the part of the book where they were just being obnoxious gits to each other… The writing was okay, but most of the characters were unbearable. And all the government stuff? It completely ruined the story. 😦 Holly Bourne also seemed to be trying really hard to push a feminist message with this book, but it was never expressed properly (usually just coming across as man-hating instead) and just fell completely flat. I ended up feeling like I’d just wasted my time reading this book… which is something that (fortunately) doesn’t happen often. :/1 starSarah J. Maas//Queen of ShadowsQueen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas. The fourth book in the Throne of Glass series, which follows the assassin Celaena Sardothian – and saying anything else about the plot of this book would be spoilery, so I’ll keep it to myself~ 😉 That said, I felt that this book was a bit of a let down after Heir of Fire (which was definitely the best in the series so far). I still enjoyed the book a lot, and plot-wise it was as epic as I was hoping, but in regards to the romance (which, let’s face it, is an important part of this series’ popularity), I wish that Maas could take back everything that happened in Queen of Shadows… 😦 On a more positive note, though, I found Dorian’s perspective surprisingly interesting, and I really hope that that’ll continue for the rest of the series; Elide was an interesting new character, and I’m looking forward to seeing her interact with Celaena; the climax was absolutely epic; and Manon has now been solidified as my favourite character (though I wish that she and Petrah had met up again at some point) – and her’s was probably my favourite perspective to read from.4 starsKatie McGarry//Chasing ImpossibleChasing Impossible by Katie McGarry. The fifth book in the Pushing the Limits series, which follows Abby – Isaiah and Rachel’s friend from Crash Into You – and Logan, one of Ryan’s baseball friends in Dare You To. Abby is a drug dealer, and is struggling to keep her friends and loved ones safe from the dangers of her world, while Logan – an adrenaline junkie – is hiding his diabetes from his friends, because he doesn’t want to be seen as vulnerable. Abby & Logan’s story was great, too – I really liked both of them in the previous books, and they were both very sympathetic leads here. Chasing Impossible wasn’t quite as good as some of the better books in the series (i.e. Crash Into You and Pushing the Limits), but it was definitely better than the worse ones (e.g. Dare You To and Take Me On), and I had a fun time reading it.4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 1Amulet, Book 1: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi. The story of two siblings – Emily and Navin – who move to a new house with their mother after their father’s death. The house, however, turns out to be connected to a parallel world, full of monsters, and when their mother disappears one night, Emily and Navin must cross over in order to rescue her. This was a great start to the series: Fun, but with a slightly ominous atmosphere hanging over everything that happened – I found myself constantly holding my breath, waiting for something terrible to happen, which really added to the experience. In terms of the art, I’m not a huge fan of the character design, but it is growing on me, and the backdrops and the monsters are all wonderfully creepy. I’m definitely looking forwards to seeing where this series goes. 🙂4 stars

Kazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 2Amulet, Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi. The adventure continues! This volume wasn’t quite so creepy, but the story is progressing very nicely, and I really liked Leon, the new character who was introduced in this book. I’m also pretty intrigued by Trellis, and I’m hoping he’s going to be joining the crew at some point~ 🙂4 starsKazu Kibuishi//Amulet vol. 3Amulet, Book 3: The Cloud Searchers by Kazu Kibuishi. In which Emily & the crew search for the sky city of Cielis. This is the last of the volumes that I’ve managed to get hold of so far, which is a shame, since I’m really eager to read the rest of the series, now! And this book was even better than the last two – I came very close to giving it five stars~ 😀4 starsNeil Gaiman//Sandman vol. 7The Sandman, Volume 7: Brief Lives by Neil Gaiman. A book that’s been on my currently-reading list for quite some time – not because I haven’t been enjoying it, but because I find the Sandman books quite heavy sometimes, and consequently I have to be in a very particular mood to pick them up. This volume follows Dream and Delirium as they go on a journey in search of their missing brother Destruction… And I really liked it. A lot more than I liked some of the other volumes (though I doubt anything in this series will ever live up to the perfection that was volume 2). But most of all, I thought it was great to get some new insights into Delirium’s character. She’s definitely one of the more intriguing members of the Endless.4 starsKate Cann//FiestaFiesta by Kate Cann. The first book in the unoriginally-named Beach series, which was mostly terrible (though it was still better than Soulmates). This was my Library Scavenger Hunt book for September, so I’ve written a proper review of it – you can read it here.1 starKeith Austin//Snow, WhiteSnow, White by Keith Austin. A slightly odd tale about a young boy (John) who starts seeing strange images in the mirror – and then his whole world starts to change. Surprisingly, this is only vaguely connected to any fairytales, and I didn’t notice any Snow White references at all (though there is an enchanted sleep at one point). Instead, it pitches itself as a horror story… I didn’t actually find it too scary, but it was quite eerie, and the writing was very atmospheric. A pleasant surprise at the end of what has, quite frankly, been a rather underwhelming month. I’ve written a full review of this book, which you can read here.3 stars