A Rogue Librarian's Reading List











{February 9, 2015}   Comics and manga of January

tmntAfterschool Charisma, volume 10 by Kumiko Suekane

  • Clone Hitler has been denouncing St-Kleio’s Academy in the media, hoping to destroy it and it’s legacy of creating clones of famous people. But Kai, who has recently discovered that he is the founder’s clone, has begin to fight back using clone Napoleon’s charisma to counter Hitler’s. He is prepared to be ruthless to save his friends. This is an interesting series about genetics and self-determination with a lot of twisted political machinations. I feel like it’s starting to drag a bit and the series has not ended yet so hopefully the author has something exciting in store for us in the next volume.

All-New X-Men, volume 4: All-Different by Brian Michael Bendis

  • Kitty Pride and the X-Men from the past join Cyclops’s mutant rebellion, track down X-23 and fight off Stryker. I much prefer Immonen’s art to Peterson’s (seriously, just flip through the trade, Peterson’s but shot just jump out at me :P ) but on the whole the story is high action and interesting. I really like what they’ve been doing with the X-Men from the past, it’s something new in a universe that had been getting stale. The volume also includes several shorts in celebration of X-Men’s 50 years. They are silly and cheesy but we’re early X-Men comics too? :)

Amazing X-Men, volume 2: World War Wendigo by Craig Kyle

  • Oh, Amazing X-Men, you really let me down. You should have let Immonen keep writing this title (she did do the first stand alone issue in the volume). I had nothing but good to say about the current X-Men series but Kyle’s World War Wendigo is eye rollingly bad, and not just because of his painful and lazy attempt at French or because he thinks Canada’s capital is made up of cabins in the woods. Unless you desperately want to see some accidental canabalism resulting in a wendigo outbreak or Wolverine turned into a wendigo, skip this one.

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{January 2, 2015}   Comics and manga of december

TheWickedAndDivine_vol1-1It was so hard to chose the image for this post. There were so many great new series in December. The Wicked + The Divine won out but Princess Ugg and the Little World of Liz Climo were also contenders.

Heartbroken Chocolatier, volume 8 (French) by Setona Mizushiro

  • Sohta has finally been reunited with his muse, the woman who led him to become a chocolatier. But it isn’t the great love affair he expected and he begins to regret hurting Elena in order to pursue Saeko. Meanwhile Karuoko tries to forget her onesided love for Sohta and meet someone new. But this isn’t the type of manga where anyone is happy in love. This beautiful, unhappy manga will end in the next volume.

Hinterkind, volume 2: Written in Blood by Ian Edginton

  • In volume one, we saw how fairy creatures took over the earth and humans have been driven to near extinction. In volume 2 we begin to glimpse the power struggle within the fairy royal family. Meanwhile our fleeing heroes encounter ever more monstrous antagonists: centaurs, ogres and nazi vampires… though the monsters are not always the ones who look more inhuman. This is an enthralling and horrifying magical post-apocalyptic world.

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snow queenPlot: In this fairytale that inspired the movie Frozen, a young girl leaves on a quest to retrieve her childhood friend who is being held captive by the Snow Queen.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Julia Whelan.

This audiobook was Audible’s holiday gift to it’s members this year and it is a great tale for the season. For all that can be said about Amazon, who now owns Audible, I do love the service and the wonderful audiobooks that it gave me access to this year. I highly encourage you all to give it a try at Audible.com.

But enough advertising. This was an enthralling and magical fairy tale in seven parts starting with a magic mirror, traveling down frozen rivers, through witches’ cottages, princess’ palaces and ending with rescues and happy endings. It’s always a pleasure to read a fairy tale where the girl is the victorious hero and not simply a future wife to be rescued.

The whole is only a little over an hour long and narrated skillfully by Audible’s narrator of the year.

2014 (#73)



AChristmasCarolPlot: Mr. Scrooge has little care but for his riches. But on Christmas Eve, he is visited by three Christmas spirits, of present, past and future, who show him the errors of his ways and what will happen if he continues on his path.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Tim Curry.

Does anyone not know this story? There have been so many adaptations that are shown every year during this season but I had never read the original. It was really worth it. Dicken’s words, spoken by Curry were such a pleasure to listen to… though I confess that I kept imagining the characters as ducks, mice and dogs (Can you guess which adaptation I’ve seen most often? :P)

If I hadn’t read the book (well listened to the audiobook) I would have missed out on such great lines as: “There is more of gravy than of grave about you.” Dickens really does have a way with language and I love Curry’s voice. A highly recommended Christmas read.

2014 (#72)



blue lilyPlot: As Gansey and his friends draw closer to the fabled tomb of Glendower, he starts to question whether he wants the quest to end. Meanwhile the search has taken on added importance for Blue, whose mother has disappeared and who is coming to better understand her powers and how they tie her to the raven boys.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is the third book in Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. Both The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves were amazing reads, among my favorite YA novels, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. I was not disappointed, though I wasn’t as stricken by the language as I was in the first two books.

The quest for the mythical king is quite exciting and comes to a head in this volume: they venture underground in search of three tombs (one to be opened, one not to be disturbed, and one containing a surprise) and both Blue and Ronan explore their growing powers. But their more mundane live are also undergoing change: Gansey and Blue’s feelings grow stronger despite her curse, Ronan struggles to save his mother and brother, both made of dreams, Adam faces down his abusive father and Blue faces great loss in her family. Stiefvater weaves these different stories together with such skill and brings such depth to all the characters in the process, I didn’t see the time pass as I read.

I love all the main characters, flaws and quirkiness and all but she does equal justice to the more minor characters. We learn more of the charming assassin, Mr. Gray, his cruel former employer and Gansey’s mentor Malory (and his endlessly entertaining service dog who seems to offer no service). There are also fascinating new characters including a giant of a man with a curse of his own and a crazy witch with surprising ties to Blue.

I cannot recommend this series enough. There is another book to come in the series and I cannot wait to read it.

2014 (#70)



{December 31, 2014}   Jane Austen audiobooks

persuasion-jane-austenMy review backlog is getting the best of me again and in the interest of finishing some of it before 2015, here are all the Jane Austen audiobooks I listened to in the past month. They were all skillfully narrated by Juliet Stevenson, who I thought was great at both capturing the tone of the time and the various voices. I think she’d make an especially good Mrs. Bennet, I could almost hear the character in some of the lines though Pride and Prejudice was not one of the novels I listened to.

Persuasion

Plot: Anne Elliot fell in love with a young naval officer at 19 but because of his lack of fortune and position, she was persuaded to break off the engagement. Now 27 and still unmarried, Frederick has returned with a great fortune. But will he still have her?

If I was to compare Anne to any other Austen heroine, it would be Elinor Dashwood. She is very sensible and reserved, especially when compared to her prideful, narcissistic, wasteful and selfish father and sisters. She is very thoughtful and bears her heartbreak in silence. In trying to respect the wishes of those around her, she does a very great injury to herself and the man she loves. They both continue to feel it throughout the novel, though Frederick pretends coldness.

I think this is the romance I like best in all her novels. For while one cannot deny Darcy’s charms, this kind of slow, constant love arising from mutual interest and suitable characters has always been my favorite.

It is a great novel, but I love it all the more for the sci-fi adaptation by Diana Perterfreund For Darkness Shows the Stars.

2014 (#66)

Emma

Plot: Emma is a young unmarried woman who runs her father’s household and meddles in people’s lives. But her attempts at matchmaking create nothing but trouble, both for herself and for the young woman she has taken under her wing.

If Elizabeth Bennet is Austen’s most likable heroine, Emma is the hardest to love. Though her intentions are good, she is unaccomplished (not from lack of intelligence but from laziness), elitist, a poor judge of character and rather arrogant. In any other Austen book, she would be the thoughtless relation who ends quite poorly. But precisely because of her flaws, it is also a pleasure to see her grow and discover the errors of her ways. Like Knightley, I can sees her flaws but can’t quite hate her for them…. even though I sometimes found myself yelling at her infuriating actions.

If you like the book, I highly recommend the video blog adaptation Emma Approved.

2014 (#67)

Mansfield Park

Plot: Lord and Lady Bertram take in and raise their impoverished niece Fanny to aid her family. They are determined to do well by her but without making her equal to their four children. Their help promise her a good education and good match but unbeknownst to them, she has set her heart on her cousin Edmund.

Mansfield Park is the Austen novel I was the least familiar with before listening to it. I think it stands out amongst her her works first because, while most of her heroines are in some financial and matrimonial straights, Fanny is certainly the poorest with the worst status. It is probably also the most scandalous of Austen’s novels: there is bad behaviour (acting! *gasp*), elopement, even infidelity and divorce. And what is more entertaining than the scandals of mean, prideful people?

While Fanny is as kind and intelligent as most of Austen’s heroines (Emma’s kindness is a matter of debate), I find that her morals haven’t aged very well. By our standards she is rather self-effacing, judgmental and prudish but there is no denying that she is kind, grateful and good. But I especially appreciate how strongly she holds to her morals, even in the face of overwhelming disapproval.

I found, after hearing the novel, that the 1999 movie took a lot of liberties with Austen’s tale.

2014 (#68)

Sense and Sensibility

Plot: When Mr. Dashwood died, he was forced to leave his whole fortune to his son by his first marriage. His second wife and their three daughters were left with barely enough to live on. They settle in a small cottage where Marianne falls madly and passionately in love while her more sensible elder sister, Elinor, hides her feelings for a man who may be completely out of her reach.

Unlike Mansfield Park, I know this novel almost as well as Pride and Prejudice but it’s always a pleasure to meet the Dashwoods again. The two sisters (the thrid sister, Margaret is quite endearing in the 1995 movie but has a much smaller role in the book), are very different but both kind, intelligent and cultured in their own way. Marianne is full of spirit and passion (both artistic and romantic) and while this can cause her to be occasionally rash and rude, I cannot help but smile as I read her. Elinor is much more reserved and reasonable but no less kind, caring or interesting. Elizabeth Bennet will always be my favorite but there is a warm place in my heart for these two women.

Romance is thwarted as in many Austen novels by disapproving families, unscrupulous men, bad first impressions and the lack of fortunes. The whole is unravelled with such skill and such subtle humour (at 33 I can’t help but laugh at 15 year old Marianne’s assertion that “A woman of seven and twenty can never hope to feel or inspire affection again.”), as I have come to expect from Austen. It is a novel to revisit again and again.

2014 (#69)



{December 23, 2014}   Nickel Plated by Aric Davis

nickelPlot: Nickel is 12 years old and on the run from child protective services. He survives by blackmailing pedophiles, selling weed and working as a private investigator. When a young girl disappears, only Nickel can bring her back alive.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Nick Podehl.

I bought this book because I liked Podehl’s narration of The Chaos Walking series. His performance didn’t impress me as much this time (though, don’t get me wrong, it was far from bad) but the story really did catch my attention.This is a short audiobook (just over 5 hours) but it is packed so full of mystery, trauma and action that it seemed longer.

Nickel is an interesting character: he is a boy who has been deeply, violently betrayed by the foster system. He reacts by growing up quickly and striking back at the types of people who hurt him in the first place, including though not limited to pedophiles. His slowly unfolding back story would be worth reading on it’s own. Davis is obviously playing on the pulp detective trope when writing Nickel’s mannerisms and monologues. This is interesting but it also leads the book’s biggest failing in my mind. Because Nickel is a 12 year old boy, some of the things that he thinks, especially with regards to the opposite sex, are outright creepy. I got chills. And not the pleasant reading a thriller kind of chills.

Ultimately, this fast paced thriller about human trafficking with a unique twist.

2014 (#65)



impossible knifePlot: Since Haley’s father returned from Iraq, they had been living on the road. But for her last year of high school, he decides to move them back to his home town so she can have a normal life. But her life is anything but normal: her father is still haunted by the war and Hayley is hiding bad memories of her own.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Julia Whelan and Luke Daniels.

Laurie Halse Andersen’s most recent novel tackles PTSD and the way it affects both those suffering from it and those around them. Hayley’s dad can’t hold a job, self-medicates with alcohol and drugs, has nightmares and rages. Hayley constantly fears that he will harm himself while she isn’t watching him.

Hayley has her own problems. She distances herself from people and she has huge gaps in her childhood memories. Many readers will dislike her. She is cynical and unfair to the people around her, especially her step-mother. But I don’t think you have to like a character in order to find her interesting. It is her development, her slow realization of her own problems which made her a good character.

The romance didn’t do it for me though. Finn’s interest in her is sudden and unexplained. The only explanation I have is that he found her challenging, which I don’t consider a solid foundation for a relationship. And their relationship seems to revolve around him badgering her to do things: write articles for the school newspaper, swim, etc. I know she needed a human connection but I didn’t buy this one.

The novel didn’t affect me emotionally as much as I expected, I didn’t cry. But it is a hard subject and thought provoking book, as are all of Halse Anderson’s novels. I think that it is an important subject to make people aware of, especially as the Canadian government is cutting services to veterans, and Halse Anderson writes it with her usual skill.

I thought Whelan was a very effective narrator and the book worked well as an audiobook, except for Hayley’s text conversations. However I didn’t care much for Daniels, who recounted the war flashbacks, it jarred me out of the narrative.

2014 (#64)



{December 15, 2014}   Comics and manga of November

gokusen100 Bullets, Book 1 by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

  • I bought this because I like Azzarello but, to be honest, I was just expecting another violent crime thriller. I’ve never been happier to be wrong. A man who calls himself Agent Gravesfinds people who have been wronged and offers them a gun and a hundred untraceable bullets. The character studies of the complex and conflicted people Graves meets and the decisions that they make about the gun make this an unmatched series. A brilliant crime comic.

Ab Irato, volume 2 (French) by Thierry Labrosse

  • I really loved the first volume of Labrosse’s BD about post-apocalyptic Montreal. This one starts with a hostage situation and a risky rescue. A new woman with mysterious powers also makes her appearance. The two volumes are best read together; I was a bit confused to be throw right back into the midst of everything without explanation after more than a year away from the series. Still the art is amazing and there’s plenty of fast paced action.

Ad Astra, volume 3 by Mihachi Kagano

  • Fabius takes control of the senate and launches a new strategy against Hannibal: he has his troops avoid confrontation. But this causes unrest in his army. Can a divided Roman army challenge a great strategist like Hannibal? This is a thrilling historical manga, about a period of history that I don’t know well, drawn in a beautiful, detailed style. If you like Vinland Saga, you need to read Ad Astra.

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masked ballPlot: Georgie is hired to attend a masked ball at a country manor, to add a bit of class to a a traditional British party for rich American tourists. But the party begins with a suspicious suicide.

This review is based on the audiobook narrated by Katherine Kellgren.

This was an hour long prequel story to the Royal Spyness series. It takes place just after Georgie’s disastrous coming out and before the beginning of the series.

This was a nice little glimpse into Georgie’s past and into the lives of impoverished nobles trying to make ends meet. But because of the length of the novel, only a bit over a hour, it lacks the twisty series of crimes and large cast of suspects that all the other stories have. Also, Darcy’s insertion into the story was a pointless effort to make their ongoing romance seem fated and I could have done without it.

A fun little interlude but it is intended for fans of the series.

2014 (#63)



et cetera
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