You are here: Home > Blogs > Readers' Nook

Latest Posts

On Line

Select another pool to see the results

    Book Club in a Bag

    The Light and the Heavy… of Comics

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Think a comic doesn’t have the weight to deal with some heavy issues? Carry the idea that comics are just for boys and never deal with relationships? In fact it can be a light way to highlight and inform you without weighing you down and turning you off. They might even make you laugh… and cry and want to throw the book across the room. (We here at the library do NOT advocate this action, just saying).

    Try these on for size:

    Fat Free by Jude Miller & Illustrated by Mary Wilshire – “The Amazing All True Adventures of Supersize Woman! “ Memoir of one woman’s journey to self-esteem and fat acceptance and fitness. This book probes cultural questions and doesn’t hide truths or contradictions nor promote the fat phobia that is so pervasive in our culture. For instance, the story shows how we can often help others when we still need help ourselves and that often we can change our mind and redefine what recovery and health are as we go along.

    Yakuza Moon by Shoko Tendo (adapted Sean Michael Wilson by illustrated by Michiru Morikawa). The true memoirs of a gangster's daughter illustrates how significant rites of passage, such as getting a full body tattoo, can empower us to make life altering positive changes in our lives. As well as being a gripping fast-paced read this story shows human strength of spirit and honesty. Shoko says that “Getting tattooed, from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes, with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth, was an act that empowered her to start making changes in her life. She quit her job as a hostess. On her last day at the bar she looked up at the full moon, a sight she never forgot. The moon became a symbol of her struggle to become whole, and the title of the book is an epitaph for herself and her family.” Tendo has also written a full length memoir continuing the story of her recovery on to include the birth of her daughter.

    Dragonslippers (This is What an Abusive Relationship Looks Like) by Rosalind Penfold. This graphic novel is actually pretty accurate in depicting how twisted emotional manipulation can be. No surprise since it’s actually Penfold’s memoir and based on her real life. If you’ve ever wondered or had a friend in this situation I would highly recommend this book but it DOES come with a trigger warning. On the plus side it also shows how Penfold managed to leave and recover.

    And on the lighter but no less relevant side:

    The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means/MK Reed and illustrated by Joe Flood. A fun book about 20-somethings, dating and following your own impressions of people rather than stereotypes, gossip and peer pressure.

    My Most Secret Desire by Julie Doucet. Julie is the queen hipster girl from Montreal who originally got me into comic books… way back in art school, perhaps actually because she writes about being in art school. Dark and funny, this lady pulls no punches in detailing her life as a punk growing up in Montreal through art school and various boyfriends. I briefly forgot that Doucet first converted me to comics years ago with HER tales of adventures and misadventures. It’s been an on again off again relationship. ;)

    Edmund and Rosemary Go To Hell by Bruce Eric Kaplan. Last but not least this comic is a fun, uplifting, simple fast read. It is satirical take on modern living, our search for meaning and a journey into appreciating the good things we have in life.

    For more great comic books check out my previous posts Great graphix: Not Your run of the Mill cominc Books and Words in Beige.

    Words In Beige

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Though there are many graphic novels and books in our collection that bear beige covers I thought I would highlight a few of our gems. Why beige? Isn’t beige boring, un-flavourful and well, um … boring? Well, for the sake of neutrality I will write, you can read; and draw your own conclusions.

    Unspent Love, or Things I wish I told You by Shannon Gerard. Poignant moments of longing, regret, reflection and joy in regards to love illustrated with sparse prose. The images don’t necessarily match the text which gives space for untold ambiguities and contradictions to exist, like they do in life. This technique lends a richness and depth to what in essence are very short clips of lives.

    Let That Bad Air Out - Buddy Bolden’s Last Parade: a Novel In Linocut by Stefan Berg. Would you explain Jazz with words or without?? Well Berg has chosen the silent but strong approach in his Porcupine Quill Publication. PQ press has also publish several beige covered graphic novels done in linocut including George A. Walker’s The Mysterious Death of Tom Thomson and Book of Hours : a Wordless Novel Told in 99 Wood Engravings, which was reviewed in a previous post. They come equipped with short introductions which you can read to enhance your viewing experience, though I find it fun to see what I can glean from just reading the pictures first and then going back and “seeing if I’m right” by reading the introduction last…

    An Invisible Flower by Yoko Ono is a poetry book also covered in beige with very sparse words accompanied by rich, scrawly drawings done in charcoal and chalk pastel. Like a homemade art picture book for adults. Made 10 years before she met John Lennon and discovered and published by their son Sean as his first Chimera Press publication it eerily foreshadows Ono’s and Lennon’s relationship as well as references Yoko’s experiences in a refugee camp in WW2.

    Body of Text by David Ellignsen & Micheal V. Smith is another poetry book that blurs and marries the categories between images and text. And, okay, the cover isn’t beige but it is black and white, hence carrying some level of neutrality so I thought I could sneak it into this post. Smith is a writer, performance artist and occasional clown. In this book he is photographed by the award winning Ellignsen in various poses, distortions and yoga positions to make his body resemble letters. These are placed throughout the pages in numbers one to three making you “read” the characters created by his body as if it was a poem. The effect is mesmerizing and lyrical, enticing much flipping backwards and forwards – of pages that is ;).

    Hall of Best Knowledge: [all ideas, seminal & harmonious, complete & boundless] by Ray Fenwick. Flipping through this book, it can be hard to tell what it is about as Fenwick has geniously invented his own form of storytelling perhaps best quipped as 'typographical comics'. This consists of short one-page frames, each with a different topic humorously detailing what he thinks is best for you to know about each subject and slowly but surely building a narrative that comes together piece by piece. My favourite is the one about libraries which says, "... times have changed... When a guest views your library, the effect should be akin to the speechless awe inspired by the primitive hunter tearing off his animal skin to display glistening, sustenance-providing muscles. If the viewer is not left trembling before your impressive selection of books, then there is work to be done! ". Enjoy!

    Picture Books… for Adults

    by Adrienne - 0 Comment(s)

    Last week I shared five Graphic Novels about unexpected subjects with you in Great Graphix: NOT Your Run of the Mill Comics. Here now are five complex, mature, and unexpected… picture books. There's something for everyone.

    Ever heard of book spine poetry? Well, pile up some books, look at the titles on the spine and make a poem.

    Sorted books by Nina Katchadourian has some great book spine poems including highlights such as: "A Short Guide to Writing about Art / Criticizing Photographs / This is Not a Photograph" and "Primitive Art / Just Imagine / Picasso / Raised by Wolves."

     

     

    The Da Vinci Cod : and Other Illustrations for Unwritten Books by Christopher Riddell (a Sunday times cartoon columnist and children’s book illustrator) is wittier than an earful of mice. Each one-pane comic reframes titles from famous literary classics such as “Jane Ear” with hilarious, detailed, one-frame illustrations. Some examples are: "Anglicanism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (featuring a priest riding a motorcycle), "Apes of Wrath" (featuring Apes…), "The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe Assistant" (featuring a Queer fashion designer). For further fun check out his website which has three additional sets of illustrations to unwritten books.

     

    The Adventuress by Audrey Niffenegger (enjoy The Time Traveler’s Wife??) is her first (self) published book. Before becoming an author Niffenegger went to art school (the Art Institute of Chicago), and made her first book out of a series of dry-prints (etchings); before deciding to turn them into a story. The resulting book brings together a series of prints she did for her graduating thesis. It’s a Frankenstenian love story involving a captured woman morphing into a moth, having Napoleon as a lover, complete with a creepy yet comforting conclusion to love lost, amongst other things. This is classic Niffenegger and echoes themes explored in The Time Traveller’s Wife. You might also want to check out The Three Incestuous Sisters.

     

    About Love – 3 Stories by Anton Chekhov. Three classic short stories by the Russian author translated by David Helwig. A former poet laureate of Prince Edward Island and an Officer of the Order of Canada, he has written twenty volumes of fiction and fourteen volumes of poetry. Comfily illustrated by Seth the book invites curling up with a loved one and reading it together over a cup of cocoa.

     

    The Dot and the Line - a Romance in Lower Mathematics by Norton Juster is a great illustrated story that is allegorical and philosophical while remaining quite simple and downright funny.

    There are many other gems embedded in our Art, Graphix and Children’s book collections. Stay tuned for future recommendations!

     

      

    Not all Hearts and Cupids - Part II

    by Jasna - 0 Comment(s)

    There are a few famous love stories less tragic than the ones featured last week, of course. Still marked by challenges, sacrifices and obstacles of all sorts – that is, after all, what makes them timeless – these at least didn’t claim the very lives – or body parts – of the parties involved.

    Odysseus and Penelope

    Their love was put through one of the most difficult tests – waiting. After he fought in the Trojan War for 10 years, it took Odysseus as much time to return home. In the meantime, Penelope had to turn down 108 suitors, anxious to take her husband’s place. On his long voyage home, Odysseus himself was tempted by everlasting love, eternal youth, and many other hard-to-resist promises, but stayed devoted and loyal to his wife.

    Napoleon and Josephine

    They are proof that a marriage of convenience can nurture true love and passion, if only temporarily. At age 26, Napoleon married Josephine, a prominent, wealthy (and six-years-older) widow and they fell deeply in love with each other. Napoleon, as we know, wasn't a homey type - like Odysseus, he found war games way more interesting. Unfortunately, unlike Penelope, Josephine wasn’t big on waiting. While Napoleon was busy campaigning far away from home, his wife got lonely and found solace in a string of lovers, starting with a handsome Hussar lieutenant. Napoleon retaliated with the wife of his junior officer, and so on… Infidelity aside, they were unable to produce a much-needed heir for the Emperor, so they divorced. Napoleon married Marie Louise of Austria and had a son with her. Josephine remained single, but stayed on good terms with her ex.


    Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler

    “Rhett, Rhett… Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?”

    “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn…”


    Jane Eyre and Edward Rochester

    She is plain in appearance, poor, and lonely. He is also not easy on the eyes, rich and lonely. They grow closer, revealing a tender heart beneath his rough exterior (Edward) and budding self-confidence (Jane). The roadblock this time is no less than polygamy, not an easy stunt to pull off, even in the times of more flexible morality that was England at the turn of the nineteenth century: on her wedding day, Jane discovered Edward was already married to a mentally incapacitated wife. Jane ran away, only to return later to find Edward’s mansion destroyed by fire, and Edward himself blind yet conveniently widowed... This time there were no barriers for their love to triumph.


    Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy

    Finally, here is one happy love story: the end of the novel found Miss Pride and Mr. Prejudice alive, in love and in possession of all their body parts. We were left to believe they married and lived happily ever after... or did they? (wink)

    On the 200th anniversary of this novel (a couple weeks ago), it's the perfect time to revisit the classic love story.

    ...And if you find you're in the mood now for some sugar-coated romance and a box of chocolates, have a browse through our Next Reads newsletters for recommended Romance titles!

    Happy Valentine's!

    Love is in the air

    by Sonya Guha-Thakurta - 0 Comment(s)

    Cupid

    Well, it's that time of year again... cupid (or Hallmark) strikes, and romance, chocolate, or heartbreak ensues. In honour of LOVE, lovers, romance, and heartbreak, we'd like to recommend a few timely reads for Valentine's Day. Whether you're in the mood for sweet romance, bitter heartbreak, or steamy erotica, you can find something new to read from our list!

    April and Oliver

    Tess Callahan

    The sexual tension between April and Oliver, the best friends since childhood, has always been palpable. Years after being completely inseparable, they become strangers, but the wildly different paths of their lives cross once again with the sudden death of April's brother. Oliver, the responsible, newly engaged law student finds himself drawn more than ever to the reckless, mystifying April - and cracks begin to appear in his carefully constructed life. Even as Oliver attempts to "save" his childhood friend from her grief, her menacing boyfriend and herself, it soon becomes apparent that Oliver has some secrets of his own--secrets he hasn't shared with anyone, even his fianc . But April knows, and her reappearance in his life derails him. Is it really April's life that is unraveling, or is it his own? The answer awaits at the end of a downward spiral... towards salvation.

    The Forbidden Rose

    Joanna Bourne

    Falling in love is the last thing an English spy and a French aristocrat who heads up a covert network helping guillotine-bound victims escape should do. But when William Doyle discovers Marguerite de Fleurignac hiding in her burned-out chateau and realizes she is key to his goal, they head for Paris and are swept into a whirlwind of violence, treachery, and revolutionary fanaticism that threatens their missions and their lives, as well as their impossible but unavoidable love. Verdict With exceptional characters, brilliant plotting, a poignant love story, and clear, realistic descriptions, this engrossing, provocative romantic adventure could easily make revolutionary France a more popular setting than it has been recently. Intriguing, refreshing, and rewarding. Bourne (My Lord and Spymaster) lives in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.

    Beauty

    Susan Wilson

    Revisionist fairy tales with a message are definitely a '90s thing, and Wilson's lightweight but strained debut is a retelling of the classic story of Beauty and the Beast. The latter is Leland Crompton, a rich recluse who lives on a remote estate in New Hampshire's White Mountains, writing mysteries under the nom de plume of Harris Bellefleur and hiding his grotesquely deformed face. Yet family tradition dictates that his portrait must be painted, and Alix Miller, aka Beauty, is the latest of her family of artists to accept the commission. Of course, Alix, who narrates, has an unworthy boyfriend-oblivious and selfish photojournalist Mark. And, of course, she is ready for true love. Wilson spins her tale with some skill, but her stilted dialogue is clunky with platitudes ("You know that the friends of adversity are friends forever"). Leland is an appealing character, however. With his generosity and his gracefulness as he skates, he demonstrates that real beauty is active, found in movement and deed, not in the static medium of a portrait. His self-effacing humor is refreshing: When posing for Alix, he quips, "As you can see, I have no bad side." In opting for a weeper of an ending, however, Wilson pushes her love story over the brink into the kind of bathos that only romance addicts will embrace.

    Dangerous Pleasure

    Lora Leigh

    Abram Mustafa faces the test of his life and his heart when his terrorist father kidnaps Paige Galbraithe, the one woman who has always been able to touch Abram's soul. With Paige's life now in danger, Abram knows that his plans for escape from the only home he has ever known have suddenly become more imperative than ever.

    Paige has always wondered if the dark, cool and mysterious Abram el Hamid Mustafa is hiding a wicked side. . . . a wicked side that will allow her to explore the kind of pleasure she has dreamed of. But when she is kidnapped by his father, she finds that she must trust Abram with more than her fantasies. Paige must trust him with her life... and her heart.

    Secret, dangerous desires will bind Abram and Paige together as the forces surrounding them try to tear them apart.

    What I Did for Love

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    How did this happen? Georgie York, once the costar of America's favorite television sitcom, has been publicly abandoned by her famous husband, her film career has tanked, her father is driving her crazy, and her public image as a spunky heroine is taking a serious beating.

    What should a down-on-her-luck actress do? Not go to Vegas . . . not run into her detestable former costar, dreamboat-from-hell Bramwell Shepard . . . and not get caught up in an ugly incident that leads to a calamitous elopement. Before she knows it, Georgie has a fake marriage, a fake husband, and maybe (or not) a fake sex life.

    It's a paparazzi free-for-all, and Georgie's nonsupporting cast doesn't help. There's Bram's punk-nightmare housekeeper, Georgie's own pushy parent, a suck-up agent, an icy studio head with a private agenda, and her ex-husband's new wife, who can't get enough of doing good deeds and saving the world-the bitch. As for Georgie's leading man, Bram's giving the performance of his life, but he's never cared about anyone except himself, and it's not exactly clear why.

    Two enemies find themselves working without a script in a town where the spotlight shines bright . . . and where the strongest emotions can wear startling disguises.

    Happy Valentine's!

    Tags: