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Category: Graphic Novels Page 1 of 6

Making Sense of the World Around Us

Well, we’re a fortnight into 2021 and hoo mama what a time it has been.  It’s full on for anybody right now looking around at what is going on in the world, particularly in America, and trying to just understand what on earth it all means.  In times like these, I turn books to get answers, but I know there are so many dry and dull books out there that just make the whole topic all that more confusing!  So I thought I’d put together a bit of a list of some that are interesting and topical to help you get some answers and perspective on the events of the world around us.

Eyes wide open : going behind the environmental headlines / Fleischman, Paul

This book is an excellent explainer for the position we find our world in environmentally.  It takes a deep dive into capitalism, world politics, consumerism and our everyday lives to look at just how we got here, and how we can think about moving forward.

Hope was here / Bauer, Joan

A powerful story about a young woman finding her place in a new society and how her everyday choices draw her further into local politics.

 

 

Legacy / Hereaka, Whiti

“Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, Gemma, who has suddenly stopped seeing or texting him. But on his way to see her, hes hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds hes living through his great-great-grandfathers experiences in the Maori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of whats happening and find a way home, we go back in time and read transcripts of interviews Rikis great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.” (Catalogue)

Saints and misfits : a novel / Ali, S. K

Janna divides the world around her into three categories – saints, misfits and monsters, to try to make sense of the events happening in her life.  She is trying to fit into her community and deal with a recent traumatic event that she has been through.

 

The tyrant’s daughter / Carleson, J. C.

“When her father is killed in a coup, Laila and her mother and brother leave their war-torn homeland for a fresh start in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. At her new high school, Laila makes mistakes, makes friends, and even meets a boy who catches her eye. But this new life brings unsettling facts to light. The American newspapers call her father a brutal dictator and suggest that her family’s privilege came at the expense of innocent lives. Meanwhile, her mother would like nothing more than to avenge his death, and she’ll go to great lengths to regain their position of power. As an international crisis takes shape around her, Laila is pulled in one direction, then another, but there’s no time to sort out her feelings. She has to pick a side now, and her decision will affect not just her own life, but countless others. . . . Inspired by the author’s experience as a CIA officer in Iraq and Syria, this book is as timely as it is relevant.” (Catalogue)

The dharma punks / Sang, Anthony

“Auckland, New Zealand, 1994. A group of anarchist punks have hatched a plan to sabotage the opening of a multi-national fast-food restaurant by blowing it sky-high come opening day. Chopstick has been given the unenviable task of setting the bomb in the restaurant the night before the opening, but when he is separated from his accomplice, Tracy, the night takes the first of many unexpected turns. Chance encounters and events from his past conspire against him, forcing Chopstick to deal with more than just the mission at hand. Still reeling after the death of a close friend, and struggling to reconcile his spiritual path with his political actions, Chopstick’s journey is a meditation on life, love, friendship and blowing things up!” (Catalogue)

Bernie Sanders guide to political revolution / Sanders, Bernard

“Adapted for young readers from Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, from political revolutionary and cultural icon Bernie Sanders comes an inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world–a perfect gift and an important read. Adapted for young readers from “Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In, ” this inspiring teen guide to engaging with and shaping the world is from political revolutionary and cultural icon Senator Sanders.” (Catalogue)

She takes a stand : 16 fearless activists who have changed the world / Ross, Michael Elsohn

“She Takes a Stand offers a realistic look at the game-changing decisions, high stakes, and bold actions of women and girls around the world working to improve their personal situations and the lives of others.

This inspiring collection of short biographies features the stories of extraordinary figures past and present who have dedicated their lives to fighting for human rights, civil rights, workers’ rights, reproductive rights, and world peace. Budding activists will be inspired by antilynching crusader and writerIda B. Wells, birth control educator and activist Margaret Sanger, girls-education activist Malala Yousafzai, Gulabi Gang founder Sampat Pal Devi, who fights violence against Indian women, Dana Edell, who works against the sexualization of women and girls in the media, and many others.” (Catalogue)

Dawn Raid / Smith, Pauline

“Like many 13-year-old girls, Sofia’s main worries are how to get some groovy go-go boots, and how not to die of embarrassment giving a speech at school! But when her older brother Lenny starts talking about marches and protests and overstayers, and how Pacific Islanders are being bullied by the police for their passports and papers, a shadow is cast over Sofia’s sunny teenage days. Through her heartfelt diary entries, we witness the terror of being dawn-raided and gain an insight into the courageous and tireless work of the Polynesian Panthers in the 1970s as they encourage immigrant families across New Zealand to stand up for their rights.” (Catalogue)

The rise of the Nazis / Tonge, Neil

Learn about the Nazi occupation through visually stimulating primary sources taken from the War era; readers will be engaged as they discover authentic newspapers, broadcasts, propaganda, letters, and diary entries.

 

Persepolis / Satrapi, Marjane

“The intelligent and outspoken child of radical Marxists, and the great-grandaughter of Iran’s last emperor, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Amidst the tragedy, Marjane’s child’s eye view adds immediacy and humour, and her story of a childhood at once outrageous and ordinary, beset by the unthinkable and yet buffered by an extraordinary and loving family, is immensely moving. It is also very beautiful; Satrapi’s drawings have the power of the very best woodcuts.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Hindsight : pivotal moments in New Zealand history / Hager, Mandy

Hindsight is a good look at four key moments in New Zealand history and how they affected our society as a nation.

 

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.

Webcomic collections

Webcomics are one of the best (although this may be controversial) things to come out of the internet. Creators has a direct path to new and diverse audiences, without meddling from publishers and often a better understanding of the current social climate than more mainstream titles. It seems that there’s a webcomic for any interest! WCL has to be a bit more…selective in the webcomic collections we acquire, but if the thought of clicking through hundreds of pages doesn’t appeal, we’ve got a decent selection.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHomestuck has been called the internet’s “Ulysses.” Possibly due to its length, possibly due to its devoted fanbase and its equally vocal detractors. It’s also incredibly hard to describe its plot. It’s also very hard to translate to a book format, as the author notes but he helpfully provides links to the actual pages where the plot is conveyed in gifs and flash animations. And it was created in MS paint, which is quite something. You’ll never read anything like it.

“A young man stands in his bedroom. It just so happens that today, the 13th of April, 2009, is this young man’s birthday. Though it was thirteen years ago he was given life, it is only today he will be given a name! What will the name of this young man be?”
-Homestuck, first lines.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGirl Genius has been running since 2005. It’s still going, and updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. That’s a lot of material. It is based around the adventures of Agatha Clay, who discovers that she has an ancient and mysterious birthright, as well as having the “spark” – a strange group of personality traits, which predisposes the person to acts of mad…genius. It’s one of the preeminent Steampunk works, although the author prefers the term “gaslamp fantasy.” At any rate, it’s a great webcomic but works so well in a printed format – it’s much easier to catch up! Here’s book one.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsYou probably never thought of seeking out a comic written by a five year old and professionally illustrated and you never thought you’d need it in your life but Axe Cop is really something else. It’s silly, anarchic, and really nice to look at; the comedy webcomic holy trinity. It’s really funny as well. The plot is basically the title. An axe-wielding cop fights crime, which consists of whatever a five year old deems as criminal (hint: dinosaurs are heavily involved). As a side note, the writer and the illustrator are brothers, which is adorable.

Other webcomics we have in printed format include Gunnerkrigg Court and Hark: a vagrant.

Beyond Marvel and DC!

There are a real flood of comic book adaptions coming out at the moment. Aquaman, Teen Titans, Spiderman, Captain Marvel…and of course, the conclusion to the Infinity War. We have plenty of those titles in our collection! But smaller publishers and lesser-known titles deserve some love too.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSheets, Brenna Thummler

In four words: love, grief, laundry, and ghosts. Marjorie is thirteen and struggling to deal with the death of her mother, the (failing) family dry cleaning business, and the pressures of school. Luckily – or unluckily – she comes into contact with Wendell, a ghost trying to deal with the very particular struggles of his afterlife. The two worlds collide with dramatic results for everyone.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tillie Walden

This only came across my desk in the last weeks of December but I’ve already decided it’s one of my top picks for the year’s best graphic novels. Set in a far-distant future, it depicts two teenage girls falling in love, while studying at an exclusive boarding school. But another plot thread enters the narrative; one of those girls, many years later, joins a crew who do restoration work on abandoned buildings. Did I mention this was all set in space? It’s one of the most intriguing and more importantly heart-felt narratives about loss and found family I’ve seen in a long time. The art – purely black and white- manages to be stark and lush at the same time. It’s a striking, original work.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsHelen and the Go-Go ninjas, Ant Sang And Michael Bennet

Ant Sang’s one of New Zealand’s premier comic artists and Michael Bennett is a likewise acclaimed writer and director. This powerful team-up brings us this fascinating view of a New Zealand after an environmental catastrophe and strange spheres that use mind control on the few remaining human survivors. We don’t get a lot of Aotearoa-centric science fiction and a graphic novel is even rarer. But its rarity isn’t its main selling point (although worth mentioning) – this has clever sharp writing and amazing art work (check out those action scenes) so please pick it up.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBad Machinery, John Allison

I wasn’t quite sure what I was picking up when I first looked at Bad Machinery. It’s got British weirdness and teen angst in equal measure, along with a hefty dose of dark, strange humour. There are five volumes – plenty to chew through and enjoy.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBarefoot gen: a cartoon story of Hiroshima, Keiji Nakazawa

This is a classic of the graphic novel genre. The author was a Hiroshima survivor and depicts the aftermath of the nuclear bomb being dropped on that city in 1945. There is no glorification of war here; just the agony of people caught up in historical events and living through the ensuing devastation. The art despite being in the familiar ‘toon style, pulls no punches in conveying the horrors of the bombing and the years afterwards. This will stay with you a long time.

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSleepless, Sarah Vaughn, writer ; Leila del Duca, artist.

The art is lush and gorgeous, the writing is excellent – I highly recommend this fantasy graphic novel which depicts the difficult life of Lady ‘Poppy’ Pyppenia – the illegitimate daughter of the deceased king – as intrigue seizes the court as her uncle takes the throne. Then there’s her bodyguard, Cyneric – a “Sleepless Knight” – who has taken a vow to protect her. Courtly intrigue, romance, assassination attempts – a must-read for fantasy fans.

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsQueen of air and darkness, Cassandra Clare

Innocent blood has been spilled on the steps of the Council Hall, the sacred stronghold of the Shadowhunters. In the wake of the tragic death of Livia Blackthorn, the Clave teeters on the brink of civil war. One fragment of the Blackthorn family flees to Los Angeles, seeking to discover the source of the disease that is destroying the race of warlocks. Meanwhile, Julian and Emma take desperate measures to put their forbidden love aside and undertake a perilous mission to Faerie to retrieve the Black Volume of the Dead. What they find in the Courts is a secret that may tear the Shadow World asunder and open a dark path into a future they could never have imagined. Caught in a race against time, Emma and Julian must save the world of Shadowhunters before the deadly power of the parabatai curse destroys them and everyone they love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe pretty brilliant experiment book, Jade Hemsworth

Inspired by Netflix’s original series, Project Mc2 (TM), The Pretty Brilliant Experiment book has over 20 experiments introduced by our favorite Nov8 (that’s Innovate) agents: McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Bryden Bandweth, and Camryn Coyle. Learn about electricity, chemical reactions, physics, and biology while crafting an hour glass, creating crystals, and making ice cream! Then record your own observations after reading the scientific analysis accompanying each activity. The ingredients are affordable and easy-to-find, and each DIY experiment can be completed safely at home with parents and friends. (Amazon.com)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsA daring sacrifice, Jody Hedlund

In a reverse twist on the Robin Hood story, a young medieval maiden stands up for the rights of the mistreated, stealing from the rich to give to the poor, but she never anticipates falling in love with the wealthy knight who represents all she’s come to despise. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSoulbinder, Sebastien De Castell

A failed mage learns that just because he’s not the chosen one it doesn’t mean he can’t be a hero in the fourth book of an exciting adventure fantasy series from Sebastien de Castell. For Kellen, the only way to survive is to hide. His curse is growing stronger, bringing dark and violent visions, and the bounty hunters dogging his heels get closer every day. Desperate, he searches for a mysterious order of monks rumored to have a cure. But salvation comes with a high price. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsTrans Teen Survival Guide, Owl and Fox Fisher

Frank, friendly and funny, the Trans Teen Survival Guide will leave transgender and non-binary teens informed, empowered and armed with all the tips, confidence and practical advice they need to navigate life as a trans teen. Wondering how to come out to your family and friends, what it’s like to go through cross hormonal therapy or how to put on a packer? Trans youth activists Fox and Owl have stepped in to answer everything that trans teens and their families need to know. With a focus on self-care, expression and being proud of your unique identity, the guide is packed full of invaluable advice from people who understand the realities and complexities of growing up trans. Having been there, done that, Fox and Owl are able to honestly chart the course of life as a trans teen, from potentially life-saving advice on dealing with dysphoria or depression, to hilarious real-life awkward trans stories. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFinding Baba Yaga, Jane Yolen

You think you know this story. You do not. A harsh, controlling father. A quiescent mother. A house that feels like anything but a home. Natasha gathers the strength to leave, and comes upon a little house in the wood: A house that walks about on chicken feet and is inhabited by a fairy tale witch. In finding Baba Yaga, Natasha finds her voice, her power, herself…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBlack rabbit summer, Kevin Brooks

Pete Boland was busy doing nothing that SUMMER. Long, stiflingly hot, lazy days stretched ahead of him. THEN SHE CALLED. It was Nicole. ‘Listen, Pete . . . you know that funfair, up at the recreation ground . . . I thought we could all meet up . . . You know, for old times’ sake. BUT, where there are old times there are old tensions. And as secrets, bitterness and jealousies resurface, five old friends are plunged into the worst night of their lives . . .(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe tomorrow code, Brian Falkner

When Tane and Rebecca receive digital messages warning of the impending disaster, there is a chance to alleviate the threat. As they piece the clues together, they discover that the messages are being sent by their future selves, and they must stop The Chimera Project – a devastating apocalyptic plague – from being released. But they soon discover that changing the past in order to protect the future will be more difficult than they first thought. As a strange white cloud begins to move across New Zealand – and people start disappearing – Tane and Rebecca find that, not only may they be too late, but it may be impossible to stop at all. The cloud is made up of antibodies designed to attack human beings and has been created by Mother Nature herself as an antidote to the destructive human race. As the mist devours everyone and everything in its wake, Tane and Rebecca realize there is no way out – this plague is going to destroy the earth and their only hope is to take refuge from impending doom. As the end of the world begins, Tane stumbles on a way to prevent this from happening – they will send new messages to themselves from the future and change the course of history. Only this time they will get it right. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe dark intercept, Julia Keller

The earth is in ruins. Years of warfare, plague, and disaster have ravaged the planet and driven its people into despair. The powerful and wealthy have abandoned Earth and created New Earth, a utopia in the sky where the last of the elite can start fresh. On New Earth, citizens are free from danger thanks to a surveillance device that lives beneath their skin. A device that keeps their new home crime-free through meticulous emotional surveillance. A device called the Intercept.Violet Crowley has never gone hungry. She’s endured neither violence nor fear. As the only daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, Violet has spent her entire life in comfort and safety. That is, until her friend, colleague, and long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a deadly altercation on the streets of Old Earth. In an instant, Violet risks her father’s fury and intercedes to rescue Danny. When Danny can’t explain his actions, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he’s hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she’s ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsDamsel, Elana K. Arnold

The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: When the king dies, his son the prince must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been. When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon or what horrors she faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome young man, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny of sitting on a throne beside him. It’s all like a dream, like something from a fairy tale. As Ama follows Emory to the kingdom of Harding, however, she discovers that not all is as it seems. There is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows, and the greatest threats may not be behind her, but around her, now, and closing in. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsIt’s not summer without you, Jenny Han

Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach? It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come. But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started–at Cousins Beach. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsMonsters of virtue, L.J Ritchie

Eugenics: noun. The science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics. New Zealand, 1932. The height of the Great Depression. In the wilds of the Ōtaki River Gorge, the newly-formed Eugenics Department gathers the best and brightest in an attempt to create perfection.… But what makes a perfect person? Fifteen-year-old Eve knows she’s not one – but with her sister’s life on the line, she’d better convince her new classmates that she could be. Together with uneasy allies Orion and Nyx, she’ll pry into the dark heart of this fledgling utopia. Will the future that awaits them there be one worth fighting for? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsGiant days, Non Pratt

Based on the hit graphic-novel series from BOOM! Studios, the publisher behind Lumberjanes, Giant Days follows the hilarious and heartfelt misadventures of three university first-years: Daisy, the innocent home-schooled girl; Susan, the sardonic wit; and Esther, the vivacious drama queen. While the girls seem very different, they become fast friends during their first week of university. And it’s a good thing they do, because in the giant adventure that is college, a friend who has your back is key–something Daisy discovers when she gets a little too involved in her extracurricular club, the Yogic Brethren of Zoise. When she starts acting strange and life around campus gets even stranger (missing students, secret handshakes, monogrammed robes everywhere . . .), Esther and Susan decide it’s up to them to investigate the weirdness and save their friend. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsSwing, Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hesse

Best friends Walt and Noah decide to use their voices to grow more good in the world, but first they’ve got to find cool. Walt is convinced junior year is their year, and he has a plan to help them woo the girls of their dreams and become amazing athletes. Never mind that he and Noah failed to make the high school baseball team yet again, and Noah’s love interest since third grade, Sam, has him firmly in the friend zone. Noah soon finds himself navigating the worlds of jazz, batting cages, the strange advice of Walt’s Dairy Queen-employed cousin, as well as Walt’s “Hug Life” mentality. Status quo seems inevitable until Noah stumbles on a stash of old love letters. Each page contains the words he’s always wanted to say to Sam, and he begins secretly creating artwork using the lines that speak his heart. But when his private artwork becomes public, Noah has a decision to make: continue his life in the dugout and possibly lose the girl forever, or take a swing and finally speak out? At the same time, numerous American flags are being left around town. While some think it’s a harmless prank and others see it as a form of peaceful protest, Noah can’t shake the feeling something bigger is happening to his community. Especially after he witnesses events that hint divides and prejudices run deeper than he realized.As the personal and social tensions increase around them, Noah and Walt must decide what is really true when it comes to love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLast pick [1], Jason Walz

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat–until now. Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game. In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLost soul, be at peace, Maggie Thrash

Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope. A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsOn a sunbeam, Tille Walden

Two timelines. Second chances. One love. A ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together. Two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love–only to learn the pain of loss. With interwoven timelines and stunning art, award-winning graphic novelist Tillie Walden creates an inventive world, breathtaking romance, and an epic quest for love. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsBanana Sunday, Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover

Kirby is about to start a new school with three talking primates in tow. Unlike other students, Kirby Steinberg begins her time at Forest Edge school with a speech to the entire student body introducing her unusual entourage that’s composed of three talking simians: eggheaded orangutan Chuck; Go-Go the gorilla, who is hungry and tired in equal measure ; and spider monkey Knobby, who has a fondness for romance. Although Kirby claims the simians were secret experiments of her scientist father, school reporter Nickels smells something deeper to this story and decides to investigate. Meanwhile, Kirby’s new school is filled with human drama, including mean girl Skye’s relentless bullying and gentle romantic tension with lovably goofy Martin. Will Kirby be able to navigate all these pitfalls and look after her rascally primate posse? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe complete Angel Catbird, story by Margaret Atwood and art by Johnnie Christmas

A genetic engineer caught in the middle of a chemical accident all of a sudden finds himself with superhuman abilities. With these new powers he takes on the identity of Angel Catbird and gets caught in the middle of a war between animal/human hybrids. What follows is a humorous, action-driven, educational, and pulp- inspired superhero adventure–with a lot of cat puns. (Publisher summary)

New books

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsFreedom’s children: young civil rights activists tell their own stories, Ellen Levine

In this inspiring collection of true stories, thirty African-Americans who were children or teenagers in the 1950s and 1960s talk about what it was like for them to fight segregation in the South-to sit in an all-white restaurant and demand to be served, to refuse to give up a seat at the front of the bus, to be among the first to integrate the public schools, and to face violence, arrest, and even death for the cause of freedom. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWe spoke out: comic books and the Holocaust, Neal Adams, Rafael Medoff, Craig Yoe ; introduction and afterword by Stan Lee ; produced by Clizia Gussoni.

Long before the Holocaust was taught in schools or presented in films such as Schindler’s List , the youth of America was learning about the Nazi genocide from Batman, the X-Men, Captain America, and Sgt. Rock. Comics legend Neal Adams, Holocaust scholar Rafael Medoff, and comics historian Craig Yoe bring together a remarkable collection of comic book stories that introduced an entire generation to an engaging and important subject. We Spoke Out is an extraordinary journey into a compelling topic. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe Wicker King, K. Ancrum

August and Jack have never lived in the same world. August is a misfit with a pyro streak and Jack is a golden boy on the varisty rugby team – but their intense friendship goes way back. It’s something they keep for themselves, and they rely on each other for survival. When Jack begins to see increasingly vivid hallucinations, August decides to help Jack the only way he knows how – by believing him, and believing in the fantasy kingdom that creeps into the edges of the real world. Jack leads August on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy, and together they alienate everyone around them as they struggle with their sanity, free-falling into a surreal fantasy world that feels made for them. In the end, each one must choose his own truth. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsWest, Edith Pattou

In the sequel to the beloved high fantasy East , Rose sets off on a perilous journey to find her true love when he goes missing in a thrilling tale of danger, magic, adventure, and revenge . When Rose first met Charles, he was trapped in the form of a white bear. To rescue him, Rose traveled to the land that lay east of the sun and west of the moon to defeat the evil Troll Queen. Now Rose has found her happily-ever-after with Charles–until a sudden storm destroys his ship and he is presumed dead. But Rose doesn’t believe the shipwreck was an act of nature, nor does she believe Charles is truly dead. Something much more sinister is at work. With mysterious and unstoppable forces threatening the lives of the people she loves, Rose must once again set off on a perilous journey. And this time, the fate of the entire world is at stake. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsThe boneless mercies, April Genevieve Tucholke

Frey, Ovie, Juniper, and Runa are the Boneless Mercies–girls hired to kill quickly, quietly, and mercifully. But Frey is weary of the death trade and, having been raised on the heroic sagas of her people, dreams of a bigger life. When she hears of an unstoppable monster ravaging a nearby town, Frey decides this is the Mercies’ one chance out. The fame and fortune of bringing down such a beast would ensure a new future for all the Mercies. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAs old as time, Liz Braswell

Belle is a lot of things: smart, resourceful, restless. She longs to escape her poor provincial town for good. She wants to explore the world, despite her fathers reluctance to leave their little cottage in case Belles mother returns a mother she barely remembers. Belle also happens to be the captive of a terrifying, angry beast. And that is her primary concern. But when Belle touches the Beasts enchanted rose, intriguing images flood her mind; images of the mother she believed she would never see again. Stranger still, she sees that her mother is none other than the beautiful Enchantress who cursed the Beast, his castle, and all its inhabitants. Shocked and confused, Belle and the Beast must work together to unravel a dark mystery about their families that is twenty-one years in the making. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsShow stealer, Hayley Barker

Hoshiko and Ben have been on the run since they burned Silvio Sabatini’s circus down to the ground at the explosive finale of Show Stopper. But Ben’s mother will stop at nothing to track him down and get her revenge: backing him into a corner where he is forced to sacrifice himself to save Hoshiko. The deadliest show on earth has been resurrected and if Ben thought he’d seen into its dark corners as an outsider, the true extent of the horrors that lurk beneath the Big Top are about to be revealed as he becomes the circus’s new star attraction…(Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsNot even bones, Rebecca Schaeffer

Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet–her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” Until her mom brings home a live specimen and Nita decides she wants out; dissecting a scared teenage boy is a step too far. But when she decides to save her mother’s victim, she ends up sold in his place–because Nita herself isn’t exactly “human.” She has the ability to alter her biology, a talent that is priceless on the black market. Now on the other side of the bars, if she wants to escape, Nita must ask herself if she’s willing to become the worst kind of monster. (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsKingdom of the blazing phoenix, Julie C. Dao

Princess Jade has grown up in exile, hidden away in a monastery while her stepmother, the ruthless Xifeng, rules as Empress of Feng Lu. But the empire is in distress and its people are sinking into poverty and despair. Even though Jade doesn’t want the crown, she knows she is the only one who can dethrone the Empress and set the world right. Ready to reclaim her place as rightful heir, Jade embarks on a quest to raise the Dragon Lords and defeat Xifeng and the Serpent God once and for all. But will the same darkness that took Xifeng take Jade, too? Or will she find the strength within to save herself, her friends, and her empire? (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsLady Helen and dark days deceit, Alison Goodman

After the shocking events in London and Brighton, Lady Helen and Lord Carlston are now the newly forged Grand Reclaimer, a dyad of power bonded through blood and death. They cannot, however, yet control this terrifying new force between them. They and their Dark Days cohort have taken up residence in Bath, looking for the Deceiver who can give them the key to wielding their power and help them find their nemesis: the Grand Deceiver. Helen and Carlston are not only struggling to control their new dyad power. They must also contain their illicit feelings for one another as Helen prepares to marry the devoted Duke of Selburn. The wedding, to be attended by the Queen, is fast approaching and Helen must juggle her imminent life as Duchess with the dangerous and unseemly duties of a Grand Reclaimer. When an old enemy arrives in Bath bringing death and deceit, the final confrontation between Grand Reclaimer and Grand Deceiver is set into terrifying motion. Can Helen and Carlston finally unleash the power and love between them to save mankind from annihilation? Set against a background of glittering Regency society, this thrilling finale to the Lady Helen trilogy hurtles to a shocking conclusion full of passion, betrayal and heartbreak. (Publisher summary)

Remembering Stan Lee (1922-2018)

Comic book legend Stan Lee died today. He’s responsible (either alone or in collaboration with various artists and writers) for Marvel luminaries such as the X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Black Panther and Spiderman. Try to imagine the past ten years without a MCU movie – it almost doesn’t bear thinking about! Stan Lee not only created these characters, he created a sandbox for other writers and artists to present their own unique takes on each character. Some comic fans may notice that the characters featured in the display aren’t in their original incarnations. As the years have gone by, these characters have changed too, reflecting societal change and new ideas. But Stan Lee started it. The literary world (and comics are literature, fight me) is much poorer with his loss but all the greater for his influence.

You’ve seen the movie…(Venom edition)

…now read the books! Despite its rather lukewarm reviews, the movie Venom has been a massive hit. Originally the character – the alien symbiote- is an enemy (or ally – it’s complicated) of Spiderman, who doesn’t show up in the film, but we’ve got plenty of comics about Venom if you want to read more!

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVenom (2012), writer, Rick Remender ; penciler, Tony Moore ; artist, Tom Fowler.

America – meet your newest hero! The lethal alien symbiote known as Venom is in the custody of the U.S. military – and with a familiar face from Spider-Man’s world inside the suit, the government’s own personal Spidey is going into action as one of the nation’s top covert agents in hostile territory! (Publisher summary)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsVenom : the complete collection: Volume 2, by Rick Remender

When a portal to Hell opens in the middle of Las Vegas, Venom must join Red Hulk, Ghost Rider and X-23 on a crusade to stop the spread of Hell on Earth. Can these tarnished heroes wrestle free of their own personal demons and band together to save the world in its darkest hour? Then, Venom faces a gauntlet of doom as Crime-Master unites Jack O’Lantern, the Human Fly, Toxin and more to destroy him! Crime-Master’s diabolical plan brings war to Flash Thompson’s family and friends – and in this war, there will be victims! Meanwhile, Venom joins the Secret Avengers, but what’s left of Flash to join the team? Even with the symbiote under control, Flash’s dark secrets put everything at risk…especially when the original Venom host, Eddie Brock, comes calling! (Amazon.com)

Book cover courtesy of SyndeticsAmazing Spider-Man : Venom Inc, writers, Dan Slott & Mike Costa ; artists, Ryan Stegman & Gerardo Sandoval

It’s an amazingly lethal Spider-Man/Venom epic!Peter Parker, Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson share a bond – literally! The Venom symbiote changed all of their lives. Now the inky black alien life-form is doubling down on our heroes – and they won’t be the only ones put through the wringer. As a familiar face rises to new levels of villainy, Spidey finds himself between Eddie and a mysterious new figure! Black Cat and her gang are confronted by an amped-up villain called Maniac, who will show everyone how well he lives up to his name. and all the while, Venom Inc. weaves its tendrils through New York’s criminal underworld… (Publisher summary)

Book company courtesy of SyndeticsVenom : the land where killers dwell, writer, Cullen Bunn ; artists, Marco Checchetto and others

If Venom’s going to be the super hero Philly deserves, he’s got to do it right. Venom wants it all – resources, allies, contacts and an HQ – but he knows nothing about setting that up. To make matters worse, he’s already made an enemy of Philly’s toughest crime boss – Lord Ogre. And Lord Ogre declares war! Venom’s evolution as Philadelphia’s makeshift Avenger continues! But Katy Kiernan is dead set on learning all Venom’s secrets. How does Flash protect his secret identity while trying to protect himself? (Publisher summary)

Comicfest 2017!

I hope you’ve heard about our amazing event Comicfest! It’s now a yearly event that celebrates free comic book day and puts the spotlight on some of our amazing local talent. There’s competitions, talks from said local talent, and of course, free comic books!

Check out the Comicfest 2017 Facebook page for details.

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