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Category: Comics Page 1 of 5

Books with Bodies Like Mine

When I was a kid and then a teenager, I never read about anyone in books that looked like me.  I have always loved to read, and have always found solace in stories, but never truly identified with any of the protagonists, because none of them ever looked like me.

The heroes and heroines of the books that were around when I was growing up were all thin.  Rarely were they ever described as being thin, occasionally the word skinny was used for a particularly thin character,  but  they were generally called average, or normal.  Which is something I, a kid in a fat* body, had been led to believe I was definitely not.

* Note: I use the word fat as a weight neutral term and simple descriptor, like tall or blonde.  Personally I prefer it to other euphemisms, but I acknowledge not everyone is comfortable with referring to themselves in that way.

Most of the books I grew up reading were about pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  They had bouncy ponytails and couldn’t decide which boy they liked the most.  I was a fat, pimply Australian teenager with an old lady name and a mop of fluffy, mousy brown hair who was used to boys ignoring me.  Stacey and Jessica’s lives weren’t very relevant to me.

If there were fat characters, they were subjects of derision, sassy friends (who never got the guy) or had to have lost weight by the end of the book.  Not exactly relevant to most fat teenager’s lives to be honest.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, and stumbled across Kerry Greenwood’s Earthly Delight series, where the heroine was described as voluptuous, or at most, curvy, that I finally had a character that bore any relevance to me.  And while they’re great stories and Corinna Chapman is a badass heroine, they really skirted around her body size and shape, like actually saying she wasn’t thin was something shameful or wrong.

Thankfully, times have changed.  We now actually have books that are about more than just pretty, thin, blonde, American girls named Stacey or Jessica.  We are hearing stories about people in bodies that have long been ignored.  I can tell you, I’ve spent a lot of the past few years catching up!

Here are few of my favourite so far…

Dumplin’ / Murphy, Julie

Dumplin’ is a gorgeous story about Willowdean Dickson, aka Dumplin’ to her beauty queen Mom Rosie, who meets a hot boy named Bo, joins the local beauty pageant as a protest and has a fight with her best friend.  All to a soundtrack of Dolly Parton and supported by some fabulous drag queens.  My favourite quote from Dumplin’ is the way to get a bikini body is to put a bikini on your body.  Bonus Netflix TV series for this one, starring Jennifer Aniston as Rosie (perfectly cast).

Puddin’ / Murphy, Julie
If you like Dumplin’, you’ll love Puddin’.  Technically a sequel, Puddin’ is the story of Millie Michalchuck, one of Willowdean’s classmates and fellow beauty pageant constestant.  I loved Willowdean as a character, but I **ADORE** Millie.  She’s just so genuinely kind and open.  Millie is forced to spend time with the prettiest girl in school and over time, they realise they have a lot more in common than is obvious.

Heads up, a third book in the series is due out in 2021, called Pumpkin and all I know is that the tagline is “This year, prom’s a drag.”  Looks like we’re getting a queer character in the series.

Eleanor & Park / Rowell, Rainbow

This is the book I always wanted when I was a teenager.  Set in 1986 (confession, I was a teenager in 1986) it’s a first love story about two misfits from very different families.  Touching on themes of race, domestic violence, poverty and bullying, Eleanor & Park is the perfect story about two young people with very imperfect lives.  You may have read some other books by Rainbow Rowell, but this is her debut novel and she landed a #1 New York Times Best Seller on her first book!

Shrill : notes from a loud woman / West, Lindy

Another debut book that became a New York Times bestseller (fat gals got talent), Shrill is a memoir by brilliant writer Lindy West.  Yep, this one got made into a series too.  I followed Lindy right from her first big article about living in a fat body in The Stranger and it has been a delight to see her career just keep moving onwards and upwards.

Huge : a novel / Paley, Sasha

This is one I found through watching the TV series first.  Wilhelmina and April meet at Wellness Springs, a posh fat camp in California.  They have very different attitudes to being there and hate each other from the start.  It features a whole cast of fat characters and there is lots of nuance and depth to the story, which is unfortunately a rare thing.

Faith / Houser, Jody

An actual fat superhero in an actual comic.  I mean, it’s something I never thought would happen in my lifetime and I’m thrilled that I was wrong.  The artwork by Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage is gorgeous.

 

Happy fat : taking up space in a world that wants to shrink you / Hagen, Sofie

This one is a non-fiction book by the hilarious Danish comedian Sofie Hagen.  It has a little bit of memoir, but a lot more social commentary, Sofie writes about the reality and politics of living in a fat body, and how to liberate yourself in a world that is so often unwelcoming to those of us who live in fat bodies.

These are just a few of my favourites, I’m still working my way through a lot of other titles that have come along in recent years.  Have you read any that you can recommend?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

From Shelves to Screen

If you’re anything like me, there’s nothing like an announcement that a beloved graphic novel is going to be made into a movie or TV series to fill you with a combination of hope and dread.  Are they going to do it justice?  Will they find actors that fit the characters?  Is it going to have an ending that doesn’t match the book?  Please tell me that Tom Cruise has nothing to do with the project!

Of course, sometimes it just works and we get the hero we always dreamed of…

Ok maybe maybe that’s just the hero I’ve always dreamed of.

I’m always keeping an eye out for upcoming adaptations and there are a few in the pipelines (or at least rumoured to be happening) that are well worth reading before they hit our screens if you haven’t got to them already.

Paper Girls. 1 / Vaughan, Brian K

One of my favourite graphic novel series, Paper Girls, written by Brian K Vaughan and illustrated by Cliff Chiang (amazing colour work) has a bit of a Stranger Things vibe, mixed with some time travel.  This one has been greenlit for production by Amazon for a TV series.  No word on release date yet.

Lumberjanes. [1], Beware the kitten holy / Stevenson, Noelle

Word is that Lumberjanes has been picked up by HBO Max for an animated TV series with author Noelle Stevenson as project showrunner and I’m thrilled.  The action packed storylines are perfect for an animated series, and Noelle has proved her skill at animated series with the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reboot as well as the Big Hero Six series.  I just want to see Ripley animated really.

Sweet Tooth [1] : out of the deep woods / Lemire, Jeff

This is the one I’m really nervous about.  I adored this series and I had all of the cast mapped out in my head for it while I was reading it.  I was sure that Jepperd absolutely HAD to be played by Daniel Craig, even though he’s not as big a guy as the character is.  But the IMDB listing has relative unknown Nonso Anozie down as playing Jepperd… and from what little I’ve seen of him, it could work.  I cannot wait to see what Netflix will do with the hybrid children characters and the post-apocalyptic setting.

Y : the last man [1] : unmanned / Vaughan, Brian K

This one is another Brian K Vaughan series (he really is a writer of quality – worth reading any of his work) and is currently in production.  Another series perfect for adaptation for the screen, the unlikely Yorick is the literal last man on earth (and his pet monkey Ampersand the last male animal) they are in hiding trying to find answers as to what happened to all of their fellow males on the planet.  It’s a good mix of mystery and humour with some fantastic characters.  With the right cast it could be one to keep an eye out for.

The Sandman. Volume 1, Preludes & nocturnes / Gaiman, Neil

Look, it’s Neil Gaiman, you usually can’t go wrong with adaptations of his work.  He’s apparently involved with the project as executive producer.  He’s really good at what he does, he’s super committed to quality in any of the projects that come from his work, and The Sandman is iconic.  The original comic series came out in the early ’90’s and was part of a massive shift in comic book culture at the time.  Gaiman’s work ages well, and Netflix are behind this new series. The real question is who are they going to get to play The Sandman (aka Morpheus/Dream)?

Special mention…

Grasshopper jungle : a history / Smith, Andrew

Ok I know this is not a graphic novel/comic book.  And there has been no recent news of a movie project for a few years.  But this is my favourite YA book of all time and I am desperate to see it made into a movie.  When I read it, back in 2014 when it was newly published, I finished the last page, put down the book and sat down at my laptop to email the author to tell him how much I loved it.  He emailed me back within 24 hours, which I still think is amazing.  Director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Shaun of the Dead) was slated to be taking on this one but there has been nothing happening for a couple of years.  Even if it’s not going to happen as a movie, you should read it, I’m sure you’ll thank me for it later!

So… what would you like to see adapted from shelf to screen?  Is there an upcoming project that you’re keen to watch when it comes out?  I want to know what’s on your radar.

We Need These eManga in Our Lives (and so do you)

We understand it’s been a dark time for many manga fans. The books you were able to borrow before our libraries closed are long finished, their covers growing thick with the dust of disappointment. Your days are growing heavy with the weight of unresolved cliffhangers. Thankfully, our eLibrary is absolutely stuffed full of manga series to keep you going until you can get your hands on printed material once again. Below are some of our faves, but be sure to check out the Comics, Graphic Novels, and Manga section on OverDrive/Libby for more gold.

Overdrive cover Assassination Classroom, Volume 1, Yusei Matsui (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
One of the most popular manga series currently publishing outside Japan, in Assassination Classroom we join Nagisa, Sugino, Karma, Okuda, and the other would-be assassins of Class 3E as they navigate life, death, and education under their moon-killing, pseudo-octopoid, super-organism teacher, Koro-sensei. Sound weird? Well, strap in. This is shōnen sci-fi manga at its best we’re talking about here — pretty much anything goes.

Overdrive cover Cardcaptor Sakura Omnibus, Volume 1, CLAMP (ebook)
Omnibus Volumes 1 and 2 available on OverDrive.
I love Cardcaptor Sakura unreservedly, and once you read it, you will too — and not just for its super awesome anime adaptation that aired in the late ’90s. This series has everything you’re looking for in a shōjo ‘magical girl’ manga — namely, an awesomely strong and compellingly-rendered magical girl to lead the cast, vicious beasts to fight, mythological dreamscapes to explore, complex characters that grow into their roles, and of course it can all be pulled together into a largely unknown trading card game from the year 2001 that I wish I owned. Some day, some day.

Overdrive cover Haikyu!!, Volume 1, Haruichi Furudate (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Okay, I admit it. I was skeptical about Haikyu!! at first. I mean, I’m not really one for the whole sportsball thing, so a manga about one boy’s drive to become the greatest volleyball player in Japan didn’t really sound like my cup of tea. With that out of the way, if you read one thing from this list, read this. The characters are expertly-drawn, both in terms of line and in terms of personality. The whole gamut of human experience is explored and poignantly rendered: hubris, ambition, disappointment, determination, loss, commitment, betrayal, hurt, unity — but ultimately it is this series’ big-heartedness that will win you over. Do yourself a favour and read it now.

Overdrive cover One-Punch Man, Volume 1, ONE (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 5 available on OverDrive.
I still remember the first time my friend showed me the One-Punch Man webcomic. Even then, in the summer of 2010, it seemed legendary, destined for greater things. And so it was — the manga remake is full of the charm, the absurdity, the inexplicable baldness, and the manic, supercharged energy of the original webcomic, but distilled, whisked, blended, and baked into the extended manga form. It’s a superhero story like no other, and we couldn’t recommend it more highly.

Overdrive cover Tokyo Ghoul, Volume 1, Sui Ishida (ebook)
Volumes 1 – 8 available on OverDrive.
Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul may just be one of the greatest tales in contemporary fantasy. The premise is simple — in the shadow of our regular human world there dwell mysterious, powerful, and cannibalistic demi-humans known as ghouls, kept at bay by the powerful but shadowy government-controlled CCG (Commission of Counter Ghoul), who will go to any length to exterminate ghouls from the face of the planet. The morals of each party? Grey. The storytelling? Immersive, dark, and intense. The characters? Deeply human and beautifully flawed, with motivations that gradually unwind as we get to know them. The result? A series you must read. Not for the faint of heart.

This is just the barest sliver of excellent manga you can find on OverDrive and Libby. If we don’t have what you’re after, you can always use the handy-dandy ‘Recommend to Library’ tool to suggest we purchase what you’re after. At the moment you can only recommend one title every 30 days, to make sure our librarians aren’t overwhelmed, so choose wisely!

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe 57 bus, Dashka Slater

One teenager in a skirt. One teenager with a lighter.
One moment that changes both of their lives forever. If it weren’t for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe goose road, Rowena House

Angélique Lacroix is haymaking when the postman delivers the news: her father is dead, killed on a distant battlefield. She makes herself a promise: the farm will remain exactly the same until her beloved older brother comes home from the Front. “I think of it like a magical spell. If I can stop time, if nothing ever changes, then maybe he won’t change either.” But a storm ruins the harvest, her mother falls ill and then the requisition appears… In a last-ditch attempt to save the farm from bankruptcy, Angélique embarks on a journey across France with her brother’s flock of magnificent Toulouse geese. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKiller T, Robert Muchamore

Harry and Charlie are teenagers whose lives are shaped by a society that’s shifting around them. He is a lonely Brit in his first term at a Las Vegas high school. She is an unlikely friend, who gets accused of mixing a batch of explosives that blew up a football player. The two of them are drawn together at a time when gene editing technology is starting to explode. With a lab in the garage anyone can beat cancer, enhance their brain to pass exams, or tweak a few genes for that year-round tan and perfect beach body. But in the wrong hands, cheap gene editing is the most deadly weapon in history. Killer T is a synthetic virus with a ninety per-cent mortality rate, and the terrorists who created it want a billion dollars before they’ll release a vaccine. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSpillzone: the broken vow, Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland

Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Strange manifestations and lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. Addison got close enough to the Spill Zone to touch it, literally. She survived the encounter, but came back changed. It turns out she’s not alone. North Korea has its own Spill Zone, and a young man named Don Jae is the only one who made it out alive. Alive, but changed. Now Addison, Don Jae, and, curiously, a rag doll named Vespertine, share an unholy bond and uncanny powers. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSleepless, Sarah Vaughn and Leila Del Luca

Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia is guarded by the Sleepless Knight Cyrenic but becomes endangered when an assassin threatens her life in the new king’s reign. As Poppy and Cyrenic try to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangerous waters of life at court and of their growing feelings for one another. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSadie, Courtney Summers

Sadie’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated Colorado town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. When Mattie is found dead, and the police investigation is botched, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice. She hits the road following a few meager clues. When West McCray, a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America, hears Sadie’s story, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTwo dark reigns, Kendare Blake

Katharine sits on the throne of Fennbirn. Dead bodies have washed up on the shore, but the real Mirabella and Arsinoe are in hiding. There are murmurs of dissent among the people of Fennbirn. The crown has been won, but unexpected renegade is about to wage a war of her own. The battle to be queen is far from done. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsEden conquered, Joelle Charbonneau

The Trials of Virtuous Succession have ended. Prince Andreus is king–and Princess Carys is dead. But even as he’s haunted by what he did to win the throne, Andreus discovers that his dream of ruling only brings new problems. The people love his twin even more in death than they did when she was alive. The Elders treat him as a figurehead. And worst of all, the winds of Eden are faltering. But despite what everyone believes, Carys is alive. Exiled to the wilderness, Carys struggles to control the powers that have broken free inside her. And as she grows stronger, so does her conviction that she must return to the Palace of Winds, face her twin and root out the treachery that began long before the first Trials started. The Kingdom of Eden is growing darker with each passing day. Brother and sister, former foes, must decide whether some betrayals cut too deep to be forgiven–and whether one will wear the crown or both will lose everything. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsRuin of stars, Linsey Miller

As one of the Queen’s elite assassins, Sal finally has the power, prestige, and permission to hunt down the lords who killed their family. But Sal still has to figure out who the culprits are. They must enlist the help of some old friends and enemies while ignoring a growing distaste for the queen and that the charming Elise is being held prisoner by her father. But there’s something terribly wrong in the north. Talk of the return of shadows, missing children, and magic abounds. As Sal takes out the people responsible for their ruined homeland, Sal learns secrets and truths that can’t be forgotten. (Publisher summary)

Free Comic Book Day

…It’s been a busy day on the blog today! Just letting you know that Free Comic Book Day tomorrow. We’re not having Comicsfest this year – it’s a biannual event – but you can still head down to Graphic, our local comic book store, and check out their selection.

New Books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSightwitch, Susan Dennard

Set a year before Truthwitch, Sightwitch follows Ryber Fortiza, the last Sightwitch Sister as she treks deep underground to rescue her missing best friend. While there, she encounters a young Nubrevnan named Kullen Ikray, who has no memory of who he is or how he wound up inside the mountain. From the New York Times bestselling author of Windwitch Susan Dennard, an illustrated prequel novella set in the Witchlands setting up the forthcoming hotly anticipated Bloodwitch. (Publisher information)

First lines: You don’t remember me, do you, Kullen?
I’m familiar though. When I walked into the Cleaved Man, you squinted your eyes as if there was something in my face you knew. Something that made you rub that scar on your chest. Don’t you wonder how you got that scar?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDon’t cosplay with my heart, Cecil Castellucci

Edan Kupferman’s life is coming apart: her father is being “sequestered” because the company he works for in Hollywood is in legal trouble, her best friend is in Japan for the summer, and the boy she has a crush on is just plain confusing, so she escapes into the world of comics, and her favorite character, Gargantua–but when Kirk, a boy from her high school, gets her into the sold out ComicCon it starts to look like she might, with a little help, be able to take control of her life after all. (Publisher summary)

First lines: it’s no wonder when I see the cheap Gargantua mask I picked up on Free Comic Book Day this past spring on my desk, I put it on and leave it on when I am called down to dinner. Gargantua, my favorite character from Team Tomorrow, is ten feet tall and so is the size of my being pissed off at everything right now.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe price guide to the occult, Leslye Walton

When Rona Blackburn landed on Anathema Island more than a century ago, her otherworldly skills might have benefited friendlier neighbors. Guilt and fear instead led the island’s original eight settlers to burn “the witch” out of her home. So Rona cursed them. Fast-forward one hundred-some years: All Nor Blackburn wants is to live an unremarkable teenage life. She has reason to hope: First, her supernatural powers, if they can be called that, are unexceptional. Second, her love life is nonexistent, which means she might escape the other perverse side effect of the matriarch’s backfiring curse, too. But then a mysterious book comes out, promising to cast any spell for the right price. Nor senses a storm coming and is pretty sure she’ll be smack in the eye of it. In her second novel, Leslye Walton spins a dark, mesmerizing tale of a girl stumbling along the path toward self-acceptance and first love, even as the Price Guide ‘s malevolent author — Nor’s own mother — looms and threatens to strangle any hope for happiness. (Publisher summary)

First lines: They have been called many things.
Years ago, when their nomadic ways led them north to where the mountains were covered in ice and the winter nights were long, the villagers called to them , “Häxa, Häxa!” and left gifts of lutfisk and thick elk skins.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe fandom, Anna Day

Violet’s in her element – cosplay at the ready, she can’t wait to feel part of her favourite fandom: The Gallow’s Dance, a mega-story and movie franchise. But at Comic Con, a freak accident transports Violet and her friends into the The Gallows Dance for real – and in the first five minutes, they’ve caused the death of the heroine. It’s up to Violet to take her place, and play out the plot the way it was written. But stories have a life of their own…(Publisher summary)

First lines: I begin to stand, realize my maxi skirt has stuck to my thighs, and subtly unpeel the cotton from my skin.
“Go for it,” Katie whispers.
I don’t reply. Why did I volunteer to do this stupid presentation?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWhat goes up, Katie Kennedy

Rosa and Eddie are among hundreds of teens applying to NASA’s mysterious Interworlds Agency. They’re not exactly sure what the top-secret program entails, but they know they want in. Rosa has her brilliant parents’ legacies to live up to, and Eddie has nowhere else to go–he’s certainly not going to stick around and wait for his violent father to get out of jail. Even if they are selected, they have no idea what lies in store. But first they have to make it through round after round of crazy-competitive testing. And then something happens that even NASA’s scientists couldn’t predict…(Publisher summary)

First lines: NASA stored the future in a hangar in Iowa. Rosa Hayashi’s future, anyway. The tryouts for a position with the Interworlds Agency would take two days, but they started now. Rosa stepped into the hangar and didn’t wait for her eyes to adjust. She found a seat and bounced a pencil on her leg while waited for the future to catch up with her.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA very, very bad thing, Jeffery Self

Marley is one of the only gay kids in his North Carolina town — and he feels like he might as well be one of the only gay kids in the universe. Or at least that’s true until Christopher shows up in the halls of his high school. Christopher’s great to talk to, great to look at, great to be with-and he seems to feel the same way about Marley. It’s almost too good to be true. There’s a hitch (of course): Christopher’s parents are super conservative, and super not okay with him being gay. That doesn’t stop Marley and Christopher from falling in love. Marley is determined to be with Christopher through ups and downs-until an insurmountable down is thrown their way. Suddenly, Marley finds himself lying in order to get to the truth-and seeing the suffocating consequences this can bring

First lines: I am not a bad person. I’m not a great person, either, but not bad. No matter what I did.
Stupid? Yes.
Desperate? Yes.
Completely and totally lost beyond all belief? Abso-damn-lutely.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe extinction trials, S.M. Wilson

Stormchaser wants to escape her starved, grey life. Lincoln wants to save his dying sister. Their only chance is to join an expedition to a deadly country to steal the eggs of vicious dinosaurs. If they succeed, their reward is a new life filled with riches. But in a land full of monsters – both human and reptilian – only the ruthless will survive. (Publisher summary)

First lines: She couldn’t see him. She didn’t even know he was there. Lincoln pressed herself against the dark red walls of the cave. Maybe it was the artificial light that made her look so unwell. They’d been rushed out of their old home and moved into this one so quickly that he couldn’t even remember when he’d last seen his sister in natural daylight.

New graphic novel spotlight: The unbelievable Gwenpool

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe unbelievable Gwenpool, written by Chris Hastings, artists Danilo Beyruth, Gurihiru

What happens when a comic book fan is suddenly blasted into the Marvel Universe? Utter chaos – imagine Deadpool as a teenage girl. Her costume is pink, she has no plans and for a for a while her closest ally is a talking duck. (That would be Howard the Duck, last seen in the post credits scene in Guardians of the Galaxy). Then she gets a job as a freelance assassin, then as a henchmen for a major player in the MU – encountering various other Marvel heroes and villains along the way. I’m looking forward to Gwen’s further adventures…

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSteeplejack, A.J. Hartley

Seventeen-year-old Anglet Sutonga, makes a living repairing the chimneys, towers, and spires of Bar-Selehm. Dramatically different communities live and work alongside one another. The white Feldish command the nation’s higher echelons of society; the native Mahweni are divided between city life and the savannah. And then there’s Ang, part of the Lani community who immigrated there generations ago and now mostly live in poverty on Bar-Selehm’s edges. When Ang is supposed to meet her new apprentice, Berrit, she finds him dead. That same night the Beacon, an invaluable historical icon, is stolen. The Beacon’s theft commands the headlines, yet no one seems to care about Berrit’s murder—except for Josiah Willinghouse, an enigmatic young politician. When he offers Ang a job investigating the death, she plunges headlong into new and unexpected dangers.
Meanwhile, crowds gather in protests over the city’s mounting troubles. Rumors surrounding the Beacon’s theft grow. More suspicious deaths occur. With no one to help Ang except Josiah’s haughty younger sister, a savvy newspaper girl, and a kindhearted herder, Ang must rely on her intellect and strength to resolve the mysterious link between Berrit and the missing Beacon before the city descends into chaos. (Goodreads)

First lines: The last person up here never made it down alive, but there was no point thinking about that. Instead, I did what I always did-focused on the work, on the exact effort of muscle, the precise positioning of bone and boot that made it all possible. Right now, that meant pushing hard with my feet against the vertical surface of one wall while my shoulders strained against another, three feet away.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe bombs that brought us together, Brian Conaghan

Fourteen-year-old Hamish Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes for ever. Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town’s rules crumble, Hamish is sucked into a dangerous game. There’s a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.(Goodreads)

First lines: It was hard to remain silent. I tried. I really did, but my breathing was getting louder as I gasped for clean air. My body was trembling, adding noise to the silence. Mum pulled me closer to her, holding tight. Dad cuddled us both. Three spoons under one duvet. With the summer heat and us huddled together the smell wasn’t amusing.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe geek’s guide to unrequited love, Sarvenaz Tash

Graham met his best friend, Roxy, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since. But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books. When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be…even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.(Goodreads)

First lines: “I know we’ve been friends for such a long time, Roxana. I only have about five years’ worth of memories without you in them. But…”
Here’s where the next panel would come. And in an ideal world, I’d ask Roxy to help me figure it out. She would sketch something, sometimes just a ghost of a line, and on the best of days, a dying ember would ignite and suddenly I’d know exactly what came next.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAgent of Chaos, Kami Garcia

How did Fox Mulder become a believer? How did Dana Scully become a skeptic? The X-Files Origins has the answers. The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos explores the teen years of Fox Mulder, the beloved character depicted in the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files. His story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The book will follow Mulder as he experiences life-changing events that set him on the path to becoming an FBI agent.(Goodreads)

First lines: Packs of teenagers, pumped for the official start of spring break, rushed past the black sedan parked across from the high school, unaware they were being watched from behind the car’s tinted windows. Jocks wearing Wilson High jerseys carried pretty cheerleaders on their shoulders, enjoying the chance to final touch some thigh. Other guys horsed around in the road, showing off for girls in tight jeans who pretended not to notice them.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKids of appetite, David Arnold

Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell. It begins with the death of Vic’s father.It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle. The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it. But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.(Goodreads)

First lines: Consider this: billions of people in the world, each with billions of I ams. I am a quiet observer, a champion wallflower. I am a lover of art, the Mets, the memory of Dad. I represent approximately one seven-billionth of the population; these are my momentous multitudes, and that’s just for starters.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIn the skin of a monster, Kathryn Barker

Three years ago, Alice’s identical twin sister took a gun to school and killed seven innocent kids; now Alice wears the same face as a monster. She’s struggling with her identity, and with life in the small Australian town where everyone was touched by the tragedy. Just as Alice thinks things can’t get much worse, she encounters her sister on a deserted highway. But all is not what it seems, and Alice soon discovers that she has stepped into a different reality, a dream world, where she’s trapped with the nightmares of everyone in the community. Here Alice is forced to confront the true impact of everything that happened the day her twin sister took a gun to school … and to reveal her own secret to the boy who hates her most. (Goodreads)

First lines: The night before you shot up our school, I slept like a baby. So much for twins having some kind of mysterious connection. I was probably dreaming of fluffy bunnies, or something stupid, when you crept out of our bedroom and nicked Dad’s gun.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAllegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say. Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home. There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?(Goodreads)

First lines: Some children are just born bad, plain and simple. These are the children that don’t live up to the statistics. One cannot blame their surroundings or upbringings for their behaviour. It’s not a scientifically proven inheritable trait. These children are sociological phenomena.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBefore you forget, Julia Lawrinson

Year Twelve is not off to a good start for Amelia. Art is her world, but her art teacher hates everything she does; her best friend has stopped talking to her; her mother and father may as well be living in separate houses; and her father is slowly forgetting everything. Even Amelia. (Goodreads)

First lines: Someone yelling wakes me up. I have no idea what time it is. I jump out of bed and head for the kitchen. I almost collide with Mum, who’s also coming out of her room.
“Go back to bed,” she whispers.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPushing perfect, Michelle Falkoff

Kara has the perfect life. She gets perfect grades. She never messes up. Until now. Because perfection is an illusion, and Kara has been struggling to maintain it for as long as she can remember. With so much pressure to succeed, it’s hard not to do whatever it takes. But when Kara takes a new underground drug to help her ace the SATs, she doesn’t expect to get a text from a blocked sender, telling her to follow a set of mysterious instructions—or risk her dark secret getting out. Soon she finds herself part of a group of teens with secrets of their own, who are all under the thumb of the same anonymous texter. And if they don’t find a way to stop the blackmailer, their perfect futures will go up in flames.(Goodreads)

First lines: During the summer between eight and ninth grade, I turned into a monster. It didn’t happen overnight; it’s not like I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and let out a dramatic scream. But it still felt like it happened really fast.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsValentine, Jodi McAlister

Four teenagers – all born on the same Valentine’s Day – begin to disappear. As the bodies mount up, Pearl Linford has to work out what in the supernatural hell is going on, before it happens to her. Finn Blacklin is the boy with whom Pearl shares a birthday, the boy she has known all her life and disliked every second of it, the boy her subconscious has a totally annoying crush on. Finn is also the Valentine: a Seelie fairy changeling swapped for a human boy at birth. The Unseelie have come to kill the Valentine – except they don’t know who it is. And now both the Seelie and the Unseelie think Pearl is the Valentine, and if they find out she isn’t, she’ll disappear too. Pearl must use all her wits to protect herself. Finn must come to terms with his newfound heritage. And then there’s the explosive chemistry between them that neither of them know quite what to do about…(Goodreads)

First lines: We might have been at the old stables, but the last thing any of us had expected to see was a horse. No one’s gone and changed the meaning of the word ‘abandoned’ on me, have they? Because I was pretty clear that it meant deserted, vacant, empty, assorted other shift+F7 adjectives. Abandoned stables = devoid of horses.

New graphic novels

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPoison Ivy: cycle of life and death, Amy Chu, Clay Mann and Seth Mann

Coming hot on the heels of Gotham City Sirens and Harley Quinn and Power Girl, it seems like more members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery (especially the female ones) are getting more attention. In this issue, Dr. Pamela Isley (one guess as to who she actually is) is working on a plant/human hybrid project for very personal reasons. However, someone is killing the other scientists…and Poison Ivy has to find out why.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe adventures of Supergirl, Sterling Gates and others

This is a tie-in comic to the TV show, but it works great as a standalone. New villains, new friends…Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin, tries to make a life for herself in National City, keeping her identity and powers a secret. But mysterious forces are working against her, and Kara has to work out who her real family is and where her loyalties lie. I’

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsPower Man and Iron Fist: the boys are back in town, David Walker, Sanford Greene and Flaviano

Power Man (aka Luke Cage, who really doesn’t like being called Power Man) and Iron Fist (aka Danny Rand, and it’s Iron Fist, not Iron face, and certainly not Iron Man) have definitely and absolutely split up. They’re still friends, but they’re not a team any more. Then their old boss gets out of jail, and the guys are agree to help her. Then they’re suddenly in way over their heads, and they have to fight together (but not as a team, because Power Man and Iron Fist are DEFINITELY not teaming up again) to get themselves out. There are a ton of Marvel Universe cameos, and every page is hilarious.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSecret wars too, a marvel comics non-event, various artists and writers

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. It’s various strange and silly stories about the Marvel Universe, asking such important questions, such as what if Wolverine did appear in every comic? Then there’s the little vignettes about the secrets of various superheroes (Storm apparently dated a weatherman and then ruined his career when they broke up.) It’s funny, bizarre and sometimes a little gut churning (Galactus gets food poisoning) but it’s nice to see a studio happy to look at their work, tongue firmly in cheek.

Summer reading: Best stories about survival

Whether in the face of the elements, climate change, mysterious conspiracies or zombies…here are my top picks for books about surviving (or not) against the odds. These aren’t easy reads, but they’re testament to the human spirit in challenging and overcoming.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHatchet, Gary Paulsen

This is a classic and for good reason. After a plane crash, Brian finds himself alone with only the titular hatchet to help him survive in the middle of the wilderness. I haven’t read it for a while and I really appreciated it on the re-read. There are few other characters that appear but the majority of the book is Brian vs. nature. “One flip of the coin”, Brian thinks at one point, is all that stands between him and disaster. My heart was in my mouth until the very end.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot a drop to drink, Mindy McGinnis

“Regret was for people with nothing to defend, people who had no water.” Lynn is lucky; she lives by a pond in a world where there is little water. She will defend it, even if it means killing to do so. But a stranger comes Lynn has to make some hard decisions about what to do about her water. Often these survival novels deal with people who are lacking something – this is one of the few that deals with the choices an individual has to make when they have control of the resources; when it’s not a question of your survival, but other people’s.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA drop of night, Stefan Bachmann

Anouk is contacted by a mysterious corporation, asking her to apply for a spot on a team of “talented young people” to explore an archaeological site, unlike any other. This one is an underground palace dating from the French Revolution somewhere near Paris. Of course, not everything is what it seems. I really enjoyed this book; it’s an intriguing premise and the book’s pace doesn’t let up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe girl who owned a city, by O.T. Nelson ; adapted by Dan Jolley ; illustrated by Joëlle Jones

This is one of my favourite graphic novels ever. A plague has killed off everyone over the age of 12, leaving the children in a world where their main threat is each other. Is it survival of the fittest or is there an option to create a better world?

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBleeding earth, Kaitlin Ward

Lea and her girlfriend Aracely have enough to deal with in their lives, hiding their relationship from Aracely’s father. Then the earth starts bleeding, literally, and their struggle for survival begins. Quite apart from the representation of GLBTQ characters in genre fiction (which is great!), this a heartrending story of realising what the people you love are capable of when their lives are on the line.

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