Books Recap: Graphic Memoirs + Sci-Fi + Comics + Sports

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Graphic Memoirs: Stitches, Marbles

Page from graphic memoir Marbles by Ellen Forney

Page from graphic memoir Marbles by Ellen Forney

Stitches told the story of Small growing up with his family. There was not much love or communication in their household growing up. The title comes from a surgery he undergoes as a child. The art was done well and fitting to the story. It is not a story I would have wanted to read without the illustrations. As a reader, the story itself didn’t quite keep my attention. There seemed to be a lot of emotions left out. Small tells the story of what happens to him. But doesn’t show us how he felt about everything that happened. It seemed flat.

On the other hand, Marbles was fantastic! The full title is Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me. Forney goes into a lot of detail about her experience dealing with Bipolar Disorder. The book actually begins with her going to a therapist and being diagnosed. She then tells and shows the reader exactly how severe her mood swings were. The story follows her three-year journey of finding the correct combination of medications to control her moods.

Although I have never experienced mania, I am familiar with depression. Forney’s illustrations and words were some of the most accurate descriptions I’ve encountered of what depression feels like. Outside of that, she also ventures to explain the association with artists and psychological disorders. This reference section is extremely intriguing. She’s also not afraid to admit her fear of losing creativity in the process of managing her moods. The story is well-written, emotional, and informative. I definitely recommend.

Title: Stitches
Author: David Small
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Rating: 2/5
Summary: David tells you the incomprehensible experiences of his childhood but show any feeling.

Title: Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me
Author: Ellen Forney
Genre: Graphic Memoir
Rating: 5/5
Summary: Ellen details her battle with Bipolar Disorder and the related fears she has as an artist.

Sci-Fi / Fantasy: Jumper, Bad Monkeys, Jennifer Morgue

Charles Stross' Laundry Files

Charles Stross’ Laundry Files

Jumper by Steven Gould is a fantastic take on classic sci-fi teleportation. What keeps it interesting is that the main character is an 18-year old kid. Although his actions grew annoying to me after a while. That was only because they were realistic actions of an 18-year old. What would you do if you could teleport anywhere in the world, where you’ve already been? You can’t jump through time. But you still have a lot of freedom. Would you rob a bank? Would 18-year old you consider robbing a bank? I thought so. The story turns into a meddling revenge plot at the end. But, of course, these are still the realistic actions of an 18-year old. So I can’t fault Gould too much. The writing style holds solid through the entire book. And you do find yourself sympathizing with the main character throughout all of it. I recommend this as a really fun read that is more adventure than sci-fi.

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff is one of those “where is this going” type of sci-fi stories. The plot involves a secret organization actively practicing vigilante justice. There may or may not be a conspiracy against the main character. The story is told in a way that you’re not supposed to know who is on what side. But the open-ended ending is still fulfilling. And the entire story is enjoyable.

Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross is part of the series The Laundry Files. I have not read any other books in the series. But I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Think of this story as James Bond in a fantasy world. Actual, fantasy. Demons and the like. But there is a strong mix of both. You can read one without liking the other. Especially since it’s a bit of a satire of the spy genre. It was a little more fantasy than my liking but I still really enjoyed the story and it’s characters.

Title: Jumper
Author: Steven Gould
Genre: Sci-Fi/Adventure
Rating: 4/5
Summary: An 18-year old guy discovers he can teleport around the world and behaves as an 18-year old guy would.

Title: Bad Monkeys
Author: Matt Ruff
Genre: Adventure/Conspiracy
Rating: 3/5
Summary: A conspiracy story that we never learn who is in on it but it’s a fun ride anyway.

Title: Jennifer Morgue
Author: Charles Stross
Genre: Fantasy/Spy
Rating: 4/5
Summary: James Bond pairs up with a demon to save the world.

Comics: Saga, Locke & Key

Saga Vols 1-3

Saga comics Volumes 1-3 (current)

Saga written by Brian K Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples didn’t hook me right away. But mid-way through the second volume, it did. The story line, plot, and interesting cast of characters all make this a must-read. And that’s without even mentioning the incredible art! The story line revolves around saving a child who was born from parents of warring races. And it’s told from the child’s point of view. That changes things up. I definitely recommend reading this if you’re into space opera type stuff. Or beautiful/gruesome illustrations.

Locke & Key written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez is very heavy. Honestly, at the end of the first one I wasn’t sure if I should continue. But then lots of people encouraged that I finish the series. Stating that it was clearly worth it. So I will. I currently have the rest of the volumes reserved at the library. The first volume seemed like it was setting up the story. The narration change was interesting. I wasn’t expecting to hear the same story from different sides. But it was helpful as a reader to get a full understanding of each character. The story is very dark. The art is very dark. But also beautiful. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

Title: Saga
Author: Brian K Vaugh; Fiona Staples
Genre: Space Opera Comic
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Everyone is trying to kill the child born from two warring races

Title: Locke & Key
Author: Joe Hill; Gabriel Rodriguez
Genre: Fantasy/Horror
Rating: 4/5
Summary: A family torn apart by a death… After the first volume, I’m actually not sure where the story is going.

Quick Reads: A Season of Saturdays, Famous Baby

A Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games by Michael Weinreb is a fantastic, brief, account of College Football. I like that the book is organized to take you through the sport via 14 big games. Other events are talked about in each chapter, but within the context of that particular game. It surprisingly works well. Of course, the book begins with the first American football game, ever, Rutgers V. Princeton. The author is originally a Penn State fan, so there are biases toward the team and the B1G. No complaints from me. It is easy reading even if you don’t know everything about the sport. The history of the universities and corruption within is also very interesting. It’s light reading and not too long, I’d recommend for any level of college football fan.

Famous Baby by Karen Rizzo has a really fun premise but convoluted plot lines drag everything down. The main plot involves a mommy blogger, whose “baby” is now 18-years old and is leaving the house. Looking for more blog fodder, the mother then talks her dying mother into moving into the web-cam-fitted house. But the daughter takes things into her hands and kidnaps Grandma. I wish I could say hilarity ensues, but it doesn’t. This book is very easy reading; I finished it in three hours. But it’s confusing because it reads as a sequel. The author tells how the daughter’s childhood was affected by her mother’s blog. But the reader is never shown those tales. It comes off clumsy and there wasn’t much of a pay-off in the end.

Title: A Season of Saturdays: A History of College Football in 14 Games
Author: Michael Weinreb
Genre: Non-Fiction/Sports
Rating: 4/5
Summary: Discusses the history of college football (universities, coaches, teams) within the context of 14 key games.

Title: Famous Baby
Author: Karen Rizzo
Genre: “Summer Reads”
Rating: 1/5
Summary: A mommy blogger tries to exploit her mother after exploiting her daughter. Lots of tell, no show.
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