04. December 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book, Informational Book, NonFiction

Army of God: Joseph Kony's War in Central Africa by David Axe, Tim Hamilton, read by Courtney, on 11/25/2013

Joseph Kony is the most dangerous guerilla leader in modern African history.

It started with a visit from spirits. In 1991, Kony claimed that spiritual beings had come to him with instructions: he was to lead his group of rebels, the Lord’s Resistance Army, in a series of brutal raids against ordinary Ugandan civilians. Decades later, Kony has sown chaos throughout Central Africa, kidnapping and terrorizing countless innocents—especially children. Yet despite an enormous global outcry, the Kony 2012 movement, and an international military intervention, the carnage has continued. Drawn from on-the-ground reporting by war correspondent David Axe and starkly illustrated by Tim Hamilton, Army of God is the first-ever graphic account of the global phenomenon surrounding Kony—from the devastation he has left behind to the long campaign to defeat him for good.

06. November 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book, History, NonFiction · Tags:

The Hypo: The Melancholic Young Lincoln by Noah Van Sciver, read by Courtney, on 10/26/2013

This graphic novel tells of a lesser-known chapter of Abraham Lincoln’s life. It begins well before his presidency, before his marriage to Mary Todd. It follows a young Lincoln through his early days as a struggling lawyer. Set-back after set-back drive Lincoln into a deep, dark depression that nearly kills him.
I must confess I did not know a whole lot about Lincoln’s early life as most historical documents focus on his presidency and the years leading up to it. This graphic novel presents a less-than-glamorous tale of a man trying to find his way in the world. The stylized artwork may not be to everyone’s liking, but this is still a very accessible book that adds an extra dimension to the life of one of America’s greatest historical figures.

03. July 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Autobiographies, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Arab in America by Toufic El Rassi, read by Angie, on 07/02/2013

Arab in America is an interesting look at what it is like to be Arab and Muslim in a post-911 America. Toufic El Rassi delves into his personal history and the history of the Middle East to give us a look at what it is like to be discriminated and hated just because of how you look. He not only talks about his personal experiences, but he highlights others who were caught up in the anti-Muslim tide; some innocent, some not so much. As a white, middle class America I really don’t know what it is like to be hated and feared because of my ethnicity or looks. Arabs and Muslims have known for a long time. This book opened my eyes to the different ways we might discriminated against groups of people and it educated me on the difference between Arabs and Muslims and what has been going on in the Middle East. An excellent read and a good source of information into the current and past political climate in regards to Arabs/Muslims.

I received a copy of this book from Toufic El Rassi at ALA 2013. Thank you!

31. May 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Biographies, Courtney, Graphic Book

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song by Frank M. Young and David Lasky, read by Courtney, on 05/19/2013

If you’ve never heard of the Carter Family, you’re missing a huge part of American music history. Countless acts have professed influence from the timeless melodies crafted by the Carters. This graphic novel seeks to tell their story. It is, by turns, a love story, an all-American rags-to-riches tale, and an homage to traditional music. It’s a great story, but I’m not sure if the graphic novel format is ideal. Granted, it does make for a very accessible introduction to the Carter Family (and even includes a CD, though the CD didn’t have many of the songs most frequently mentioned, which would have been nice), but it feels like it glosses over a lot of details. The artwork is decent, but not outstanding. I suppose the purpose is really to distill what would otherwise be an unwieldy family biography, so in that sense, the graphic format works. Perhaps not for those who already know quite a bit about the Carter Family, but definitely a decent introduction to a new fan.

30. April 2013 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Informational Book

Economix: How and Why the Economy Works (and Doesn't Work) in Words and Pictures by Michael Goodwin, read by Courtney, on 04/20/2013

With the financial world in more turmoil than it’s ever been, this graphic novel economics primer seems especially timely. Michael Goodwin is out to show readers that the economy can be understood, even by non-economists. He goes back in time to show how our current economic structure evolved and the theories it was built upon. While there’s a lot to take in, Goodwin does an excellent job of simplifying the seemingly obtuse mechanisms that make our economy work (or not). We can easily see where our theoretical foundations lie and where they have deviated from what was originally envisioned. We can also see just how inextricably linked money is with our history and future. It’s simultaneously educational and chilling, but ultimately, knowledge is power (though honestly, money is still likely more powerful) and this knowledge is not nearly as inaccessible as the powers that be would have us believe.
Goodwin makes attempts to keep politics out of the picture, but admits that, when it comes to our current economic climate, it is nearly impossible to be apolitical. Fiscal conservatives will likely feel that Goodwin is being too liberal with in his estimation of the these power structures, but I personally felt that this was an excellent introduction to a very hotly debated topic.

04. October 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Memoirs

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel, read by Courtney, on 09/22/2012

We’ve heard about Alison’s father in her other memoir, “Fun Home”. Now it’s her mother’s turn. Bechdel uses this book to explore her relationship with her mother who is an interesting character in and of herself. Both mother and daughter are writers and intellectuals and their relationship is as complicated as you might expect from such individuals. Bechdel uses a variety of psychological theorists to explore the nature of the mother/daughter bond.
This is not a graphic novel for lightweights. It’s something of a ponderous tome, with extensive reflection on child psychology, feminism and the writing process. This book could keep a Women’s Studies class busy for quite awhile. Plenty of food for thought, particularly for mothers and daughters.

17. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Biographies, Children's Books, Graphic Book, NonFiction

Around the World by Matt Phelan, read by Angie, on 09/16/2012

Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days inspired many adventurous souls to take up the challenge and circumnavigate the globe. Matt Phelan tells the stories of three of these adventurers.

First we have Thomas Stevens, former minor, who decides to travel around the world on a high wheeler, the predecessor of the bicycle. It takes him two years, but he travels the world and introduces the bicycle to many who had never seen it.

Next is intrepid reporter Nelly Bly, who with the support of her newspaper decides to travel the world in less than 80 days. She meets Jules Verne, has several delays, but manages to make it home in 72 days.

Finally is Joshua Slocum, a retired sea captain, who fixes up an old boat and sails around the world alone. He has storms and pirates to contend with but in three years he makes it back home.

These were all real people and their stories were interesting to read and see. I thought Phelan did a particularly good job on the Stevens chapters. The illustrations really brought the story to life. I wasn’t as impressed by the Slocum section. I guess it was much darker and more introspective than the previous chapters; it had a lot of flashbacks to his previous journeys. I guess I didn’t feel it had the same feeling of joyous adventure as the others. But this is a great graphic read on people who have traveled the world.

05. September 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, Informational Book

The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the media by Brooke Gladstone, read by Courtney, on 08/23/2012

It’s pretty rare that I read non-fiction, but when it’s packaged up all nice and comic-like, it’s much easier for me to be willing to pick it up. And this book is well-worth picking up. Brooke Gladstone of NPR takes the reader through an extensive investigation into journalism and the media. If you think you know the media, you likely don’t even know a fraction of the story. Gladstone not only tells us of the history of media, particularly American-style reporting, she also reveals the biases of both the media and the consumer. When all these pieces are put into context, we begin to realize just how ingrained our assumptions and biases are.
In spite of coming to the difficult conclusion that completely unbiased and transparent journalism is next to impossible, the book does end on a hopeful note. Gladstone’s aim is to help us all become better consumers of media and ends by noting “We get the media we deserve.” An important book that should become required reading for anyone who creates or consumes media, which is to say, all of us.

03. July 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Angie, Children's Books, Graphic Book, Memoirs, NonFiction

Smile by Raina Telgemeier, read by Angie, on 07/03/2012

Smile is the true story of Raina Telgemeier’s journey through orthodontia. It was not a pleasant or a short journey. It began with an overbite and a fall resulting in the loss of her two front teeth. The journey consisted of false teeth, braces, surgeries, headgear, and four years worth of visits to various dental professionals…all during junior and high school. Poor Raina! Throughout it all Raina is also dealing with boys, pimples, friends, mean girls, and all the other trials and tribulations of high school. She comes through it stronger and happier, but it is not an easy journey.

As someone who has had braces and retainers (thankfully not four years worth) I completely sympathized with Raina. They are an invented torture to make our teeth look perfect. They work but are definitely not pleasant. I winced with her when her braces were being tightened and when all she could eat was mashed potatoes. I think Raina definitely remembers this time of her life perfectly and she really captured it on the pages of Smile. The story and illustrations embody the torture of braces and the agony of middle and high school. I would recommend this to just about anyone.

19. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Cats, Graphic Book, Tammy · Tags:

Cats with Attitude by Nicole Hollander, read by Tammy, on 04/14/2012

This book is a compliation of 2 comic and joke collections: My Cat is Not Fat, He’s just Big Boned and Everything Here is Mine. Not as funny as I’d hoped. There were a few pages I laughed out loud on and shared with my husband since he has the joy of sharing our home with 3 indoor cats too. But a lot of it seemed to repeat the same joke in a slightly different way.

26. March 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 13: 1975-1976 by Charles Schulz, read by Tammy, on 02/02/2012

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 13 1975-1976Part of the Complete Peanuts Collection with all the dailies and Sunday comic strips from 1975 to Dec. 1976. I remember reading some of these in little paperback book collections I bought in elementary and junior high school. It was a nice trip down memory lane plus several new stories for me to read about Charlie, Snoopy and the rest of the gang.

 

 

 

 

09. February 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Graphic Book, NonFiction, Tammy · Tags: , ,

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 10: 1969-1970 by Charles Schulz, read by Tammy, on 02/07/2012

The Complete Peanuts, Volume 10 1969-1970In this collection of comics…. He turns up first as Snoopy’s secretary, then becomes a good friend whom Snoopy helps to fly South… but it is not until June 22, 1970 that the little bird gains a name, in a perfect salute to the decade that ends this volume: Woodstock.

Also Frieda is a prominent character
, Snoopy becomes “The Great Beagle” Charlie Brown’s baseball team has a winning streak and the little redheaded girl moves away.

27. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Graphic Book, How To's, Memoirs, NonFiction

Picture This by Lynda Barry, read by Courtney, on 01/26/2012

I had a good feeling about this one. You see, I loved Lynda Barry’s earlier work, “What It Is”, the ground-breaking, mold-shattering, genre-defying and above all, inspiring, book about creative writing. I had a sneaking suspicion that she might have adapted the same format with visual art in mind. And I was right. “Picture This” does for art what “What It Is” did for creative writing. They encourage letting go of preconceived notions of “good” and “bad” and promote experimentation. The format is highly unusual, combining full page works of art, comics and activities to get the mind operating in new and different ways. Barry never makes the reader feel as though they can’t do something; in fact, that is one of the best elements of her work. Her exercises do not intimidate. They are not pretentious. They make you realize you had the artistic streak in you all along; you just thought you were somehow doing it wrong and therefore had no talent. Barry wants you to know that you’ve had it in you all along. If readers of this book don’t feel like grabbing a paintbrush (or their art-related weapon of choice)upon finishing this book, said readers may not be human.