Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Dance of the Violin

The Dance of the Violin
author: Kathy Stinson
name: Wayne
average rating: 4.25
book published:
rating: 4
read at: 2017/03/15
date added: 2017/03/15
shelves: children-s
review:
'The Dance of the Violin' by Kathy Stinson with illustrations by Dušan Petričić is a read aloud story adapted from the life of famed violin player Joshua Bell.

The story starts with a young Joshua who loved making all kinds of music on all kinds of things, like cardboard tubes and bicycle bells. When his parents bought him a violin, the journey began. I love the image of a star over the young child's head representing learning the song 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.' When he gets older, he learns of a violin competition, and he has to go. He also decides to play a piece of music that his teacher cautions against. What will happen at the competition?

The illustrations are so fun in this book. The lines that come off of the violin and represent the music are really great. I liked the F.A.Q. answering questions I had about the story. It's a pretty cute story, and might inspire young musicians to pursue something they might enjoy.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Annick Press Ltd. and NetGalley in exchange for an honest reivew. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.


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Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road

Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road
author: John Jennings
name: Wayne
average rating: 3.79
book published:
rating: 3
read at: 2017/03/15
date added: 2017/03/15
shelves: graphic-novels
review:
'Blue Hand Mojo: Hard Times Road' by John Jennings is an urban fantasy that has an interesting story and unusual art going for it. I enjoyed the ride, but it's definitely of the R-rated variety.

Frank Johnson is known as "Half Dead" in his neighborhood for the deal he made with the devil to save his life. In return, he got a blue hand and some weird powers. Because of this, he has a debt to work off. He does this by helping people out. The latest of these people is a Chicago gangster named Mac the Shark, an associate of Al Capone.

The book has an interesting vibe. I liked that it was set in 1930s Chicago. I also like that Frank is also a pretty dark and tortured guy. The book is in black and white, and I didn't like it at first, but the violence is so over the top that I was glad that there was no color (specifically the color red). There were times when the story and art felt a little muddy to me, and I lost interest in the first third, but I came back and finished it and enjoyed it more.

I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Rosarium Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.


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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cigarette Girl

Cigarette Girl
author: Masahiko Matsumoto
name: Wayne
average rating: 3.21
book published:
rating: 4
read at: 2017/03/14
date added: 2017/03/14
shelves: graphic-novels
review:
'Cigarette Girl' by Masahiko Matsumoto is a reprint collection of manga from the 1970s. These stories come from the alternative comics movement known as "gekiga."

There are 11 stories collected here and they are about normal people and lives that don't feel fulfilled. One story follows an older lady as she tries to make her way as a condom salesperson. She ends up not being very good at sales, but pretty good at getting entangled in people's lives. In another story, a man buys cigarettes, not because he smokes, but because he secretly likes the woman who sells them.

Alternative and mature should be described more as indie film. The stories tell quiet stories of people interacting in each others lives and the solitude and isolation that can be felt even in a crowd of people. This volume also includes some essays about the artist and the work. It's an interesting reprint and I'm glad I got a chance to read it.

I received a review copy of this manga from Top Shelf Productions, Diamond Book Distributors, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this manga.


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Monday, March 13, 2017

Superman: American Alien

Superman: American Alien
author: Max Landis
name: Wayne
average rating: 4.28
book published: 2015
rating: 5
read at: 2017/03/13
date added: 2017/03/13
shelves: graphic-novels
review:
'Superman: American Alien' collects all 7 issues of the series by Max Landis and a host of great artists. Each issue has a different style and tone, both in storytelling and art. Each chapter is named after a creature that flys.

An early story shows how Clark can't control his flight and just seems to float upward. In his early teens, he is still figuring out how much force he should be using. In one, he is mistaken for Bruce Wayne at a party on a yacht (Bruce never shows up to these things). Batman shows an interest in this strange man and that leads to Clark "borrowing" a few things from Batman. He slowly learns and discovers who he is and who he is supposed to be.

Many times when people talk about Superman, he can seem sterile and uninteresting, but in the best stories, this is not the case. This is an amazing arc of stories from the early life of Superman. We see a frightened child and his family trying to figure out a strange phenomenon. We see an all too human Clark making the mistakes that teenagers do. We also see his friendships and who he tells his secret, and who he doesn't.

The included materials include a cover gallery, and some layouts for each issue. There is also the original story pitch which tells the tone for each issue. Some are based on Pixar or sun and sexy, others are action movie. The artists picked reflect the style of the story very well. My personal favorite is Eagle with art and color by Francis Manapul for the sheer joy of a goggled and gloved Superman eating Chinese food on a rooftop. I'm sure you'll find your favorite.

I received a review copy of this graphic novel from DC Entertainment and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.


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The Paranoid Style in American Politics: An Essay: from The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Kindle Single) (A Vintage Short)

The Paranoid Style in American Politics: An Essay: from The Paranoid Style in American Politics (Kindle Single) (A Vintage Short)
author: Richard Hofstadter
name: Wayne
average rating: 4.60
book published: 1964
rating: 4
read at: 2016/11/15
date added: 2017/03/13
shelves: non-fiction
review:
'The Paranoid Style in American Politics: An Essay: from the Paranoid Style in American Politics' by Richard Hofstadter is a Vintage Books reprint. It shows that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

First published in 1964, the essay is certainly biased towards the left since it is showing the rise of extremism in the Conservative Party. The book talks about fringe groups and goes back quite a ways in history to show that they have been with us for a long time. They don't seem likely to go away anytime soon. From the responses to President Kennedy's assassination to those who think that fluoride in water is done to promote socialism. There are examples from speeches from 1951, 1895, 1855 and 1798.

I started this book while the US election was still in full swing. It was enlightening to read as I viewed what I considered to be fringe groups on both sides. We have endured in spite of these groups, so I suppose there is comfort to be taken here.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Vintage, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson: America's Favorite Recluse Just Got a Life!

The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson: America's Favorite Recluse Just Got a Life!
author: Rosanna Bruno
name: Wayne
average rating: 3.10
book published:
rating: 4
read at: 2017/03/11
date added: 2017/03/11
shelves:
review:
I'll admit that I had a few eye-rolling moments when I began reading Rosanna Bruno's 'The Slanted Life of Emily Dickinson: America's Favorite Recluse Just Got a Life!,' but by the end, it had won me over.

There isn't a lot known about the life of Emily Dickinson, so Rosanna Bruno invents one based on what we do know. She also imagines what this poet might be doing in our modern age, so there are OKCupid, Yelp and other social media pages. There is a review of her house as an airbnb. There is fictional early school work and correspondence. There are lots of references to birds and death.

But there are also phrases from the works of Emily Dickinson woven in as well. Initially, I thought this was going to be a snarky take on a misunderstood person from an older time, but by the end, I felt like it was done in tribute and with affection. Perhaps this will create new poetry fans.

I received a review copy of this ebook from Andrews McMeel Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this ebook.


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The Damned, Vol. 1: Three Days Dead

The Damned, Vol. 1: Three Days Dead
author: Cullen Bunn
name: Wayne
average rating: 3.81
book published: 2007
rating: 4
read at: 2017/03/11
date added: 2017/03/11
shelves: graphic-novels
review:
'The Damned, Vol. 1: Three Days Dead' by Cullen Bunn with art by Brian Hurtt is kind of a weird alternate world where prohibition era gangsters are ruled by
demonic overlords.

One crime family is run by Big Al, a red and horned demon. In order to find a missing bookkeeper, he brings a guy named Eddie back from the dead. Eddie can't die, but that doesn't mean he can't be killed. Every time he is, he spends some time in a weird shadowy world where things make even less sense than in his world. He finds the bookkeeper, along with a missing ledger. Unfortunately, that discovery could lead to a gang war, and when you're dealing with demons, that may not be something you want to stick around for.

I'm familiar with this creative team from the series The Sixth Gun. I wasn't familiar with this earlier book, but I'm happy to have gotten the chance to read this reprint. The story feels fairly standard underneath all the weird demonic trappings, but I liked it. The art works really well for this story and I loved it.

I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Oni Press, Diamond Book Distributors, and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.


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