Love and Love – Shadow Rock

Shadow Rock by Jeremy Love and Robert Love
Date read: 06 June 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

LoveLoveShadowRock

Paperback, 80 pages
Published 2006 by Dark Horse Books
Source: Deschutes Public Library [J Graphic Novel LOVE JEREMY]

This is a cute book by various members of the Love family that I requested from my public library, due to looking for the Bayou books.

This is certainly for a younger audience than the Bayou books. It is a paranormal murder mystery that while perhaps missing some nuance as such has African American characters including one of the main ones, and class and race issues, along with other important topics being brought in. Life is complicated even if the mystery aspect of the book is not.

The artwork is solid and always supports the story quite well.

Highly recommended for 10-years or so on up.

This is the 30th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Dunegan – Best Hikes Near Bend

Best Hikes Near Bend (A Falcon Guide)( Best hikes near series) by Lizann Dunegan
Date read: 6 April 2015 – 5 June 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Image of the cover of Lizann Dunegan's Best Hikes Near Bend

Paperback, viii, 223 pages
Published 2014 by FalconGuides
Source: Own

This one took me a while, primarily due to one or two very long reading breaks. It is actually a fairly quick read, if one were to read it cover-to-cover like I did.

Bottom line: Highly recommended for hiking in the vicinity of Bend.

The book is “endorsed” by the American Hiking Society, as their emblem is on the cover, but I can find no other info in the book regarding such agency. No idea if they are the premier US hiking organization or fall somewhere else on the spectrum. http://www.americanhiking.org/

The book contains 40 hikes around the Bend area. And, yes, Pilot Butte is hike #1, as it should be [Haven’t talked about the butte here in a while, have I?].

Here is the map used to show you what that means:

Image of the map showing region covered as near Bend.

There is also a short introduction with some [but not much] information on weather, flora and fauna, wilderness restrictions/regulations; a how to use this guide section; a trail finder which covers waterfalls, great views, for children, for dogs, streams, lakes, nature, and history.

Next comes the 40 hikes and then a 23-page section called the Art of Hiking, which covers the following: trail etiquette, getting into shape, preparedness [water, treating water, food, shelter, finding a campsite], first aid [general, sunburn, blisters, insect bites and stings, ticks, poison ivy, oak and sumac, snakebites, dehydration, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, frostbite, altitude sickness (AMS), Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)]; natural hazards [lightning, bears, mountain lions, other considerations]; navigation [maps, compasses, GPS, pedometers]; trip planning with checklists for day hikes and overnight trips; equipment [clothes, footwear, hiking poles, backpacks, sleeping bags and pads, cellphones; hiking with children, hiking with your dog; and an index.

Each hike has an overview which covers why you might be interested, what else you will see, etc. Then there is a big box with all of the important info summarized (start, distance, hiking time, difficulty (and why), trail surface, best season, ….

Then there is a more fleshed out description and photos, followed by a clear map of the hike, miles and directions [turn-by-turn, if you will], options and hike information.

I found the format to be clear and highly useful. I have done a few of these hikes but I look forward to doing several more; hopefully soon for one or two. The author also does a good job in the text of telling us where we need mosquito/insect repellent.

Highly recommended if looking for a hiking guide book of trails “near” Bend. Use the scan of the map above to determine whether they are near enough to Bend for you.

This is the 19th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Stevenson – Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Date read: 01-02 June 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image from the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Paperback, 266 pages
Published 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic Novel STEVENSON NOELLE]

A supervillian and a sidekick. Institution. Good vs. evil. But which is which?

An entertaining story that demonstrates the moral complexities of life, and of the labels we use in that arena of thought.

My wife requested it from the public library for some reason and thought I might like it. I most certainly did!

The lettering borders on tiny frequently, but it otherwise is readable and legible. The drawing style is not extremely nuanced or detailed but almost always tells the story extremely effectively. There are only a very few panels where I’m like, “Not sure what that was …,” unlike say the two manga by Toboso that I read right before it where it frequently happened (and other manga, and other graphic novels). So while I would’ve preferred the lettering just a bit bigger most of the time (old eyes with slight astigmatism and serious shortsightedness), I found the text and images worked extremely well together to tell the story with neither getting in the way or being all flashy and attracting attention to one or the other.

I found this a rather endearing and morally complicated story which I think is a great story for teens (and adults). There’s plenty of negativity and broodiness and Nimona is just a girl (or is she?) and such a bad-ass with a go-getter, in-your-face attitude. Circumstances made Lord Blackheart a supervillian but his heart really isn’t in it. Who is the villain or hero, and who is the sidekick? And does that imply that the sidekick is neither villain or hero?

There are nemeses, dragons, science and symbolism and many other exciting things in this endearing tale of friendships.

The author’s bio:

“Noelle Stevenson has been nominated for Harvey Award and was awarded the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic in 2012 for Nimona. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Noelle is the cowriter of Lumberjanes. She lives in Los Angeles.

Visit her online at www.gingerhaze.com.“

I have heard great things about Lumberjanes and it appears she has several webcomics available—although only a part of Nimona is still—if you wanted to check her work out for free. Also there’s the library which we used.

This the the 29th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Toboso – Black Butler I & II

Black Butler I & II by Yana Toboso; Tomo Kimura, translation; Tania Biswas, lettering
Date read: 01 June 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars each
Challenges: 201gnc 2016transl

Image of the cover of Yana Toboso's Black Butler I

Image of the cover of Yana Toboso's Black Butler I

 

Paperback [manga]: I = 186+ pages; II = 180+ pages
Published I = First Yen Press Edition 2010 [Kuroshitsuji Vol. 1 © 2007] by Yen Press [Square Enix co., Ltd.]; II = Yen Press 2010 [Kuroshitsuji Vol. 2 © 2007] by Yen Press [Square Enix co., Ltd.]
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Jefferson County Lib. district] [YG Black Butler (v.1) & YG Black Butler (v.2)

These were a quick, sitting in the sun in the backyard read yesterday. There are many more but I will probably try just a few more and then get bored. So many others out there. I did already request III and IV, though. They are manga so read from back to front for us Westerners.

From the back cover of I:
“Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant … and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true … or at least, too good to be human …”

If you understand the genre of blurb writing, then you realize that that story synopsis is mostly, but not entirely, true, and the story is certainly a bit more complicated than that might suggest.

Incompetent servants as additional, but mostly harmless, foils to the butler. Demons, evil geniuses, kidnappings, billiards, dinner parties, martial arts, and much more. What’s not to love?

These are the 27th and 28th books in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

These are the 9th and 10th books in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Dysart, et al. – Neil Young’s Greendale

Neil Young’s Greendale by Joshua Dysart (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Todd Klein (letterer)

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

Cover image of Neil Young's Greendale by Joshua Dysar

Hardback, unnumbered
Published 2010 by Young Family Trust and DC Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic novel DYSART JOSH]

I greatly enjoyed this. It went places I hadn’t imagined and it’s far more complex than it needs to be as if there are more Green family stories out there still to be told. Almost makes me tingle.

Let me back up. I heard and acquired this album when it came out in mid-2003 and listened to it many, many times. I was fully immersed in Greendale lore as either directly elucidated or as hinted at on the album. I truly wanted to have a serious “book discussion group” about this album as a text, as a narrative. I was at university at the time and was well-integrated into a couple of those sorts of discussion groups then so it made some sense. Sadly, it never happened. The album truly is that complex. There is one other album from around the same time that I believe merits the same treatment, Poe’s Haunted.

Greendale (the album is Young’s twenty-sixth studio album and his ninth with Crazy Horse. My copy was one of those which “… was originally released with a DVD of live “Neil-only” acoustic performance of the Greendale material from Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland.” So this was another interpretation.

At some point I also got the movie, which gave another spin on the story. Clearly, Greendale was a rich mental ecosystem for Young.

This graphic novel adaptation by Joshua Dysart and others, with a short intro by Neil (and supposedly some direct involvement) really expands the world while keeping the story the same. It really is pretty brilliant. I honestly think I want to own a copy of this. As I said above, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Greendale on a fairly serious level.

Highly recommended whether or not you know the album or even if you can’t stand Neil Young (I know those people exist; I don’t hold it against them.).

I really wish there was more of this world, perhaps exploring more of those members of the family who barely made a complicating appearance.

Description from Vertigo website:

“Legendary singer-songwriter, musician and activist Neil Young brings one of his most personal albums, GREENDALE, to comics. Overseeing the work of acclaimed writer Joshua Dysart (UNKNOWN SOLDIER) and fan-favorite artist Cliff Chiang (HUMAN TARGET), they compose a graphic novel that explores a whole new dimension to the album that Rolling Stone voted as one of the best of its year.In the Fall of 2003, as the nation gallops into war, a politically active teenage girl named Sun lives, loves and dreams in a small California town named Greendale.Sun’s always been different. There’s been talk that the women in her family have all had a preternatural communion with nature. And when a Stranger comes to town – a character whose presence causes Greendale to, well, go to hell – she’ll find herself on a journey both mystical and mythical. To face the Stranger, she’ll unearth the secrets of her family in a political coming-of-age story infused with its own special magic.”

This is the 26th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Love – Bayou, volume one

Bayou, volume one by Jeremy Love

Date read: 29 May 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Jeremy Love's Bayou, volume one

Paperback, unpaged
Published 2009 by [Zuda Comics] DC Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel LOVE JEREMY]

No idea where I heard of this one; has been in my Goodreads list since June 2014 and I failed to mention why. Hints at from Goodreads itself then, but who knows?

Excellent! And not your typical fare either. African-American magical realism in the swamps of Nawlins. I am hoping to get the second volume soon but I had to go a different route. Deschutes Public Library only has the first. I am hoping I can get it via Summit and Portland Community College. I have a request out.

Not for the young due to explicit and overt racism, violence, and other forms of pointing out the ugly truth of US history.

Not a nice place but it seems to be a magical place. I truly hope I get to read more.

 

This is the 25th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Tezuka – Apollo’s Song

Apollo’s Song by Osamu Tezuka
Date read: 07-08 May 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016tranls

Cover image of Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song

Paperback, 541 pages
Published 2007 by Vertical (originally serialized in Japanese as Aporo no Uta in Shukan Shōnen Kingu, Shōnen Gahōsha, 1970
Source: Deschutes Public Library

I wish I had more to say about this. I quite enjoyed it but looking back through it today (14 May) there are large bits I simply do not remember. [I also have the flu right now and am not quite in my right mind and I read it a week ago so….]

Due to a bad upbringing, a young man unknowingly pisses off a vengeful goddess who condemns him to the eternal pain of (the eternal) loss of love.

The back cover says it for Ages 16+

Description from the inside back cover:

“Apollo’s Song reaches Olympian heights of tragedy as the story proceeds from a Nazi concentration camp to a dystopian future where human beings are persecuted by an ascendent race of their own clones. Will Shogo ever attain redemption, or, like the human race itself, will he have to relearn row lessons of love forever? Is it better to have loved and lost if the heartbreak must recur eternally?

Love, propagation, nature, war, death—Tezuka holds his trademark cornucopia of concerns together with striking characterizations, an unfailing sense of pacing, and of course, stunning imagery.”

I also read the author’s Ode to Kirihito back in January. 

This is my 24th book in this year’s Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [I got to 24 last year by mid-March but that was almost all I was reading then. I’ve read vastly differently this year so far] which completes the middle level of the challenge for me. The last one is Silver Age with 52 books. Even at this pace—which has not been strenuous—I would be past 52 by the end of the year. So, onward! And if I don’t quite make it I read other things and/or had no time to post reviews.

This is the 24th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

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

Immonen & Immonen – Moving Pictures

Moving Pictures by Kathryn Immonen & Stuart Immonen

Date read: 10 April 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Moving Pictures by Kathryn Immonen & Stuart Immonen

Paperback, 136 pages
Published 2010 by Top Shelf Productions
Source: Central Oregon Community College Barber Library [PN6727 .I466 M68 2010]

From inside front cover flap:

“During the Second World War, French efforts to inventory, categorize and hide the collections of the major galleries collided with the German Military Art Commission’s attempt to do the same.

This is (not) that story.”

But it is. Or a part of a small one based on that historical storyline.

The flap goes on but I am omitting it because I think it seriously oversells the work. I just wasn’t that impressed after that (admittedly short) sales job. I guess the story can be described as it is but whatever. It was OK but not amazing.

Lots of artists names, and some titles and images of artworks, are thrown around and it is historically-based fiction.

But. Meh.

This is the 23rd book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Hoffman – Survival Lessons

Survival lessons by Alice Hoffman

Date read: 18-19 March 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Cover image of Survival lessons by Alice Hoffman

Hardback, viii, 85 pages
Published 2013 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Source: Deschutes Public Library via Jefferson County Library [616.99 Hoffman]

This is a book with highly divergent reviews. Some find it uplifting, delightful, beautifully written, and so on. Others find it trite and written from a position of privilege. I would say it is all those things and more, both good and bad.

It was written as a survivor, 15 years after Hoffman was diagnosed breast cancer, as you read about in the preface.

It is a small book that can be quickly read, which is what I did. In that manner, it very easily seems trite. But if you truly need this book—which, in effect, is trying to teach you how not only to be a survivor but to thrive doing so—then you ought read it slow. Read a section at a time. Ponder what your own answers to the topic might be. Don’t just embrace hers. Not everyone needs a puppy. Then act on them. In that way, the book would become much much more and could, in fact, be life changing. But only as a catalyst; one must still choose and act. That was always the answer.

Contents:

  • Preface
  • Choose Your Heroes
  • Choose to Enjoy Yourself
  • Choose Your Friends
  • Choose Whose Advice to Take
  • Choose Your Relatives
  • Choose How to Spend Your Time
  • Choose to Plan for the Future
  • Choose to Love Who You Are
  • Choose to Accept Sorrow
  • Choose to Dream
  • Choose Something New
  • Choose to Give In to Yourself
  • Choose to Make Things Beautiful
  • Choose to Tell Your Own Story
  • Choose to Forgive
  • Choose to Claim Your Past
  • Choose to Be Yourself
  • Choose to Share
  • Choose Love
  • Choose the Evidence

Each section is between two and seven pages long, and the book includes a brownie recipe and instructions for knitting a hat.

One main comment regarding the book is that you do not need to be fighting cancer or trying to survive a trauma or whatever your situation may be. These points are all valid for every single person. Your character will come through by what you choose and, more importantly, those choices you actually act on.

Recommended if you need it. But know that simply reading it will be pointless, as quick as that may be. You must invest thought and action. Otherwise it is simply tripe.

This is actually my 19th nonfiction book finished this year but the review for the 18th is taking a bit.

This is the 18th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

North and Henderson – The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (2015)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 (2015) by Ryan North and Erica Henderson; et al.

Date read: 05 March 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1

Comic, single-issue
Published December 2015 [published monthly] by Marvel Worldwide
Source: Gift; wife was given this at the World Muse Conference in Bend

Before I review this let me say that comics often drive me crazy: all the reboots, spreading story lines across different titles, and just plain weirdness. This one being only the first issue falls into the last since it is actually the second first issue of this title. Seriously. W.T.F. Do publishers think they are cute? Is it some kind of litmus test to see if you can be geeky enough? Who knows? Maybe there’s even more weirdness going on in this title than I know. All I have at hand is this issue, which proudly proclaims on its cover, “Only Our Second #1 So Far This Year.” It also references that other first issue within the text. Whatever.

This is rated T for teen and that’s probably who it is best suited for. It was generally fun and kind of interesting. In the future, if there is ever a collected volume I might revisit it. Otherwise it isn’t really to my taste, even though I like squirrels.

The cast includes Squirrel Girl, aka Doreen Green; Tippy-Toe the squirrel; Nancy Whitehead, Doreen’s friend and roommate; Chipmunk Hunk, aka Tomas Lara-Perez; and Koi Boi, aka Ken Shiga. The human characters are second-year computer science students who generally act as a team saving folks and stopping bad guys. Props for a diverse cast. Squirrel Girl is a New Avenger; for proof the editor tells us to go read New Avengers #1. Um, nope.

The artwork is clearly drawn and supports the story without confusing the reader. At the bottom of each page is some tiny print that offers assorted commentary on that page or some aspect of it. For instance, on the third page when Squirrel Girl is about to leap out of a burning building with a parent over each shoulder and the kid she told to grab her tail and the mother begins to protest the safety of the idea, the text reads, “I was gonna the say the mom is being a drag here for not assuming this is safe, but Squirrel Girl never actually told her that “leaping hecka far” is one of her powers, so—good work, mom. You are a sensible mom, and you only want the best for your child.”

All in all, was OK but not my thing right now.

This is the 21st book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups