Morrison, et al. – The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution

The Invisibles, Vol. 1: Say You Want a Revolution by Grant Morrison (writer, creator), others

Date read: 15-16 February 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles

Paperback, 222 pages
Published 1996 by DC Comics [Originally published in single magazine form as THE INVISIBLES 1-8 1994-5]
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel MORRISON GRANT]

This was OK. Pretty strange.

Mostly a rant against/questioning the seemingly never-dying, yet highly dangerous, concept of utopia. The art was reasonably well done yet still somewhat confusing at times. It also jumps around in time narratively, just as some of the characters do in time. Also present are forms of astral projection, mind control and other complicated topics. The Marquis de Sade makes an appearance, as does Shelley, Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron.

If you like such things then recommended. Not for children; note the de Sade, amongst other things.

This is the 19th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Simone, et al. – Red Sonja, vol. 1 and 2

Red Sonja: Queen of Plagues, and Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire by Gail Simone, Walter Geovani (illus.), et al.

Date read: 14 February 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Red Sonja: Queen of PlaguesCover image of Red Sonja: The Art of Blood and Fire

Paperback, unpaged volumes
Published 2014 by Dynamite Entertainment [Vol. 1 “collects material originally published in Red Sonja volume 2 #1-6” and vol. 2 ““collects material originally published in Red Sonja volume 2 #7-12, 0.”]
Source: Deschutes Public Library [actually Crook County Library via DPL GRAPHIC NOVELS YGN Simone, G]

I quite enjoyed both of these. I see that there is a 3rd volume titled The Forging of Monsters, which collects #13-18 but it doesn’t look like my public or university libraries have access. I may have to ask that they get it.

The artwork is well done and the story lines are solid.

Recommended if you like sword-and-sorcery stories and/or strong women.

These are the 17th and 18th books in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Alanguilan – Elmer

Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan

Date read: 09 February 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Alanguilan's Elmer

Paperback, 1 vol. unpaged
Published 2010 by SLG Publishing [originally self-published by the author in the Philippines]
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [PN 6727 .A383 E46 2010]

This book kicked my ass! I am declaring it my favorite book of 2016. Calling it now.

I was tweeting about it all evening while I was reading it. I almost never tweet about books while I am reading them. Seven tweets in total. Simply unprecedented for me.

Utterly recommended! For everyone and anyone who may be considered “mature readers,” as labeled on the back cover.

This edition collects together all four of the originally issued comics into a single, coherent whole.

From the back cover:

Elmer is a window into an alternate Earth where chickens have suddenly acquired the intelligence and consciousness of humans, where they consider themselves a race no different from whites, browns, or blacks. Recognizing themselves to be sentient, the inexplicably evolved chickens push to attain rights for themselves as the newest members of the human race.

Elmer tells the story of a family of chickens who lives and struggles to survive in a suddenly complicated, dangerous and yet beautiful world.”

It could serve as commentary on our eating of chickens and other animals, and it does some, but its main focus is a commentary on race, hatred, the irrationality of humans, love, fathers and sons, compartmentalization of roles in society, and humanity at its best in the individual where it ultimately resides.

It is quite graphic in spots, which I will not downplay, but it is in black & white so is not as bad as if red had been splashed everywhere.

Single panel from Elmer

There are many ways to tell the story of bigotry, racism, and hatred and this may be one of the seemingly more absurd but it works very well. Of course, a “mature reader” will also explore other perspectives on these topics as one should, be it the lived experience of individual persons of color (or other targets of bigotry) to the collective movements, such as Black Lives Matter, to the things disciplines such as psychology, sociology and anthropology can teach us, to explorations of the structures of racism (and other -isms) built into our laws and societies.

Single panel from Elmer

This book can be difficult. But my heart is ripped apart every single day when I see where American society is still on these topics at this point in history. And, no, this book does not solve any of that. It is not supposed to. Its purpose is to illuminate, perhaps educate, to make one think, to make one question. Maybe even to help one love.

There were a few spots where the transition from one time frame to another was abrupt and not as clear as most, but in the end the story was so powerful that this did not detract from it for me.

I give this the highest recommendation I possibly can. Beautiful. Haunting. Hits so close to the bone that it drills in and starts sucking the marrow out.

Two panels from Elmer

This is the 16th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Hayden – The Story of My Tits

The Story of My Tits by Jennifer Hayden

Date read: 07-08 February 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016nfc

Cover image for Hayden's graphic novel The Story of My Tits

Paperback, 352 pages
Published 2015 by Top Shelf Productions
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel HAYDEN JENNIFER]

I quite enjoyed this graphic novel. Well, as much as one can enjoy a book so full of disease and death. But it is also full of strong women (and a few strong men) who find ways to deal with what life throws at us; which makes it utterly full of life.

Jennifer Hayden was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 43. Her mother had already had a mastectomy just after Jennifer had graduated from college. This book is about how one small group of family and friends and their caregivers handle cancer and all that comes with it.

The book actually deals with many other issues around family, parenting, and everyday living.

Recommended.

This is the 15th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 9th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Backes – Cannabis Pharmacy

Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana by Michael Backes

Date read: 08 January – 06 February 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Cover image of Backes' Cannabis Pharmacy

Paperback, 272 pages
Published 2014 by Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
Source: Deschutes Public Library [615.7827 BACKES MICHAEL] [Updated]

This is an excellent book. I highly recommend it for all public and academic libraries. It would be even more useful in states with medical cannabis laws but would be an excellent educational resource even in those without.

Contents:

  • Foreword
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Cannabis as a Medicine
  • Historical Context
  • The Cannabis Plant
  • How Medical Cannabis Does and Doesn’t Work
  • How Cannabis Works Within the Body
  • Adverse Effects of Medical Cannabis
  • The Endocannabinoid System: A Brief Primer
  • Phytocannabinoids and terpenoids—The Principle Active Ingredients of Medical Cannabis
  • Genotypes, Phenotypes, and Chemotypes of Medical Cannabis
  • Part 2: Using Medical Cannabis
  • Metabolizing Medical Cannabis
  • Dosage: A Short Introduction
  • Storing Cannabis
  • Cannabis Contaminants, Pathogens, Pesticides, and Adulterants
  • Forms of Cannabis
  • Delivery and Dosing
  • Using Medical Cannabis in the Workplace
  • Part 3: Varieties of Medical Cannabis
  • What Makes a Cannabis Variety and Why It’s Important
  • … [Information on 27 specific varieties (see below)]
  • Part 4: Medical Uses of Cannabis
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • … [Information on 27 other conditions]
  • Stress
  • Cannabis and Adolescence
  • Cannabis and Children
  • Cannabis and Pregnancy
  • Cannabis and Preventive Medicine
  • Cannabis and Women’s Health
  • Cannabis  Dependence and Withdrawal
  • Notes
  • Selected Bibliography
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments

Comments

Not an all out pro-Cannabis stance by any means. Cannabis use—like anything we can put in our bodies—comes with risks. This book takes a clear-eyed look at all of them—as best as possible within our current knowledge. He discusses contaminants, pathogens, pesticides, and adulterants, THC tolerance, dependence and withdrawal, which terpenes do (or may) exacerbate which conditions, along with Cannabis use by adolescents, children, and pregnant women.

Backes also discusses the direction research (and the medical Cannabis  market) seems to be heading. As he writes in the Intro:

“The research collected herein is drawn from hundreds of recent studies, but this book hopes to present this evidence in an accessible manner for the layperson. Cannabis Pharmacy is designed to encourage further inquiry, so I have attempted to avail myself of as many open and accessible sources as possible in its creation, so that patients and physicians wishing to dig deeper may do so easily and inexpensively” (9).

Bravo, sir! And speaking of those references, there are 63 citations in Part 1, 11 in Part 2, and 235 in Part 4; 15 pages in total. The Selected Bibliography covers 5 full pages of the same small but legible type.

Strains

The basic template for each strain, all of which cover two pages (or more), is a couple opening paragraphs, a couple paragraph Notes section, a Medical Uses breakout box, and comments on each of the following items: type, species, breeding date, genetics, similar varieties, availability, ease of cultivation, aroma, taste, potency, duration of effects, psychoactivity, analgesia, muscle relaxation, dissociation, stimulant, and sedation.

Taste usually includes comments on smoking and vaporizing. The last six comment sections are, of course, relating the effect of that strain in that arena; so, the stimulant effect, for instance.

The Medical Uses section covers 29 disorders and some borader information in 5 sections under the head of “Cannabis and …,” along with one on dependence and withdrawal.

The disorders covered are: Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders, arthritis, asthma, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, autoimmune disorders, cachexia and appetite disorders, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal disorders, gerontology, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, insomnia and sleeping disorders, migraine and headache, multiple sclerosis and movement disorders, nausea and vomiting, neuropathy, pain, Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, seizure disorders, skin conditions, and stress.

The five “Cannabis and …” sections are listed above in the Contents listing.

Final comments

Well-balanced and as up-to-date as is currently possible. I hope that the author, or at a minimum the publisher, keeps this book current by revising it in the next couple years.

Highly recommended for all public and academic libraries, along with anyone interested in/concerned with medical cannabis; either as a patient, a caregiver, or a doctor or other medical folks.

This is the 8th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Williams & Crowell – A Pictorial History of the Bend Country

A Pictorial History of the Bend Country by Elsie Horn Williams and Jim Crowell

Date read: 15 January – 05 February 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc
No pic available
Hardback, 223 pages
Published 1998 [Rev., 2nd ed. cover title: The Bend Country: Past to Present] by The Donning Company Publishers
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [F 884 .B38 W54 1998]

I enjoyed this well enough; it had its moments. To either side of the pendulum. I learned a few things about Bend I hadn’t known and had a few others reinforced.

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Introduction
  • I. 1825-1877
  • II. 1877-1900
  • III. 1900-1904
  • IV. 1904-1911
  • V. 1911-1915
  • VI. 1915-1920
  • VII. 1920-1933
  • VIII. 1933-1950
  • IX. 1950-1970
  • X. 1970-1983
  • XI. 1984-1998*
  • Bibliography
  • Author Biographies
  • Index

* Rev., 2nd ed. Ch. XI 1984-1998 (c)1998 by Jim Crowell. 1st ed. was 1983.

This is book of photos of the Bend area and its residents, along with captions providing context, divided up into chronological order. The photos within sections—and even across once or twice—are a bit looser.

Recommended if you are interested in Bend history. Not exactly a history as such but it is captioned historical photos.

[Of interest to no one except other book metadata geeks]

As a cataloger, let me say that this book is a mess! It does not help that the work itself doesn’t do the best job of representing itself, at least in the rev. 2nd edition I have at hand. There are records for both editions in Worldcat but the title is clearly different in the newer one. Or is it? The title page still says “A pictorial history of the Bend Country,” which according to the records should be the title of the first edition. But clearly on the cover, the spine, and the dust jacket of this edition it says the title is: “The Bend Country: Past to Present.” Title page verso has LC CIP which has the title as “Bend: a pictorial history.” Considering we use the title page as our main source it is correct. The MARC record does have an alternate title for the cover title. Still. Publishers you need to understand how things are cataloged if you want to rename works. Or generally.

This is the 7th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Modan – Jamilti & Other Stories

Jamilti & Other Stories by Rutu Modan

Date read: 06-07 February 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016transl

Cover image of Rutu Modan's Jamilti & Other Stories

Hardback, 174 pages
Published 2008 First hardcover edition by drawn & quarterly
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel MODAN RUTU]

This is my fourth Modan book this year. I also read The Property, exit wounds, and the children’s book Maya Makes a Mess. In general I quite liked them. The children’s one not as much but the others all got 4 or 5 stars out of 5.

This is a collection of seven short graphic stories:

  • Jamilti 2
  • Energy Blockage 1
  • Bygone 2
  • The Panty Killer 1
  • Homecoming 2
  • The King of Lillies 1
  • Your Number One Fan

Translation credit: 1 Noah Stollman, 2 Jesse Mishori

Most of these are a slight bit twisted, to say the least, but they provide some interesting commentary on assorted aspects of modern Western culture, and on Israeli culture in particular.

Jamilti describes a day in the life of a couple trying to plan their wedding. Based on the course of the day I’d say things aren’t looking up for the prospective groom. Very powerful.

Energy Blockage has to do with our search for solutions to well-being, charlatans, and the damage families do to themselves for some sort of closure.

Bygone is about mothers and daughters, or sisters, and the secrets families keep.

The Panty Killer is about the differences between an adult’s and a child’s version of memories and how they impact us in the longterm.

Homecoming. Well. I’ll let you read it and decide. There are some things I would like to say about this and some aspects of several of the stories but the topic is beyond fraught. Whether justified or not, there is a lot of Israeli aggression in this book, as one might expect.

The King of Lillies reflects on plastic surgery and the ideal of beauty, especially as embodied in an unrequited love.

Your Number One Fan visits the topic of fandom and the relations between Israeli Jews and the Diaspora.

All in all, I really enjoyed this and highly recommend it, particularly if you are interested in translations and/our perspectives from other cultures.

This is the 14th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 7th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Wang – Koko Be Good

Koko Be Good by Jen Wang

Date read: 01 February 2016
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Wang's Koko Be Good

Paperback, 1 volume unpaged
Published 2010 by First Second
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [PN 6727.W284 K65 2010]

A sort of -coming-of-age story and one of finding oneself in the world. It was alright but between the artwork and even the narrative I was lost far too often. I either had no idea what took place to generate some reaction in one of the characters or I could not understand their motivation when I did.

I generally really liked the artwork but sometimes it just wasn’t clear what was going on.

Your mileage may vary.

This is the 13th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Way and Bá – The Umbrella Academy, volume 2: Dallas

The Umbrella Academy, volume 2: Dallas by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá

Date read: 30 January 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Way and Bá - The Umbrella Academy, volume 2: Dallas

Paperback, 172+ pages
Published 2009 by Dark Horse Books “This volume reprints the comic-book series The Umbrella Academy: Dallas issues #1-6, and a story from MySpace Dark Horse Presents #12, “Anywhere but Here,” published by Dark Horse Comics.”
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen GRAPHIC NOVEL WAY GERARD]

I read the first volume of this 2-3 days ago; review here.

A rampaging Lincoln. Kennedy assassinated and not assassinated. And then…? A black and white line drawing God. Atomic annihilation of the Earth. Vietnam. And more.

I am looking forward to further volumes but am guessing that I will have forgotten it all by the time another arrives. Although, poking Wikipedia further and doing a search on the proposed title of the 3rd volume is not promising.

All in all, a couple good reads but I would’ve liked another volume or two for further character development. Ah well.

This is the 12th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Modan – Maya makes a Mess

Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan

Date read: 30 January 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Modan's Maya makes a Mess

Hardback, 32 pages
Published 2012 by A Toon Book (imprint of Candlewick Press)
Source: Deschutes Public Library [J GRAPHIC NOVEL MODAN RUTU]

This is by the author of Exit Wounds which I read about a week ago. It is a book for those learning to read still. It is labeled as: Easy-to-Read Comics Level Two; that is Toon into Reading Level 2 (Easy-to-read comics for emerging readers), which equates to Grades 1-2, Lexile BR-170, Guided Reading G-J, and Reading Recovery 11-17 (per inside back cover).

Maya’s parents are trying to instill manners in her at the dinner table and her father says, “You need manners! What if you were eating dinner with the QUEEN?!” Of course, in the next frame there is a loud DING DONG! at the door and the story is off and running.

I only gave this 3-stars as I’m not sure what the moral is, or, less haughtily, just what is being communicated to the “emerging reader” by this story, fun as it may be. This is the first children’s book that the author has written and drawn.

This is the 11th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups