Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Wondeful (wonderful! wonderful!) Wizard of Oz

Graphic interpretation of classics is nothing new, but this interpretation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young stands out. The art is beautiful, the characters are cute, and the writing is well done. I loved the colors; they are stunning and perfect for Oz! Opening the book is like taking the first bite of a piece of cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory: rich and delicious.

I'm somewhat a novice to graphic novels, and it took me awhile to get used to the pacing of it. Once I got the hang of it, though, I really enjoyed reading it. I hope I'll get a chance to read more graphic novels this year.

The end notes included were an interesting look at the process of styling characters and the trial and error it takes to get a graphic novel right. They are very informative and valuable.

If you'd like to revisit Oz, this graphic novel is the way to do it.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Make Lemonade

Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff is a beautiful little novel.

(Spoilers... sort of...)

This book is a story of the human spirit. Sometimes we live our lives half-way; we go to work unengaged... not really caring whether we are great at it, we wash the dishes but never dry them, we don't bother to make the bed, we turn the TV on for lack of a better thing to do, we allow the center of our lives to be something insignificant. In Make Lemonade, LaVaughn tells us of her encounter with someone who is chronically living half-way: Jolly. Jolly is seventeen, has two babies under the age of three, and has no income. It takes the influence of fourteen-year-old LaVaughn for Jolly to start changing. LaVaughn has big goals and takes the babysitting job to help her save for college. Under LaVaughn's influence Jolly goes back to school and starts take control of her life.

This story is one about making the best of things, but also about making things better. Nothing can change unless you make it change. Jolly had to get to the bottom before she would allow change in her life, but when she put her mind to it she took hold of her life and made it better. The truth is, we all can do that if we want. We are totally capable. There is always hope, always a way.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comfort Books

What week am I on?

Well, January is not even over and I've lost count. I do know that I haven't finished a book since the beginning of the year. And I don't really have great excuses. So, there you have it.

Do you have comfort books? A book you always turn to when things are bad, or you're tired, or whatever? I do. Harry Potter. But also, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.

If you haven't read it- run out and get it. Now. Seriously. It is a wonderful book. Written in letters, it takes place right after WWII and follows the correspondence of a writer named Juliet. It's a lovely book about changing times, friends and relationships, and love. It ended the way all comfort books should end- tied up nicely, with nothing left to chance and everything in its place.

During this time while I haven't been reading new books I've been rereading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I pick it up and read a letter or two, starting anywhere I open it. If you haven't gathered this yet, I love this book. While reading it I feel like I'm getting a hug or holding a warm cup of coffee in both hands. Simple coziness, that's what it gives me.

Readers, if you're out there, what are your comfort books?

In other book news: the awards have been announced and so my list of books to read has grown. I was delighted that When You Reach Me won the Newbery, I really enjoyed that book. I'm happy for Libba Bray who won the Printz award for Going Bovine, I loved her Gemma Doyle series. Here's the official press release for all the winners. Make sure to add a couple to your reading list. They're the best from 2009.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Just a quick update...

Okay, so I've missed a few weeks. The truth is I've decided not to finish Flygirl and, while it's within my rights as a reader to not finish a book, it doesn't help for this goal. Flygirl was good, but it lost my attention- I'm sorry to say.

I was hoping to get some reading done this weekend, but had my wisdom teeth out on Friday and I've been sitting around half awake watching Veronica Mars, season one.

I've also decided to add graphic novels/manga to the list of things that I need to read this year. I'm starting with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that Marvel recently published. So far it has been super enjoyable. I love the colors they used.

Anyway, this is just an update. Tomorrow is a big day and will add a bunch of books to my list. Which books will be the new Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz medal winners??

Monday, January 4, 2010

Angels and Demons

Well, I finished Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Being that I've read the other two Robert Langdon books, this was sort of more of the same. But it was nice to get some background knowledge of how this normal Harvard professor becomes something more akin to Indiana Jones, than an actually professor... hey, wasn't Indiana Jones also a professor?

All three of the books has a girl, and I liked this one a lot- more than the Da Vinci Code girl, but less than the Lost Symbol girl. It sort of bothers me that none of these girls last more than one book. They are smart, awesome people- why can't they be the sidekick for more than one story?

But anyway, the book was mostly a page turner (as it was designed to be) and I would probably read another one, if Dan Brown writes one.

Honestly, I feel like there's not much more to say about Angels and Demons. It was good. I wanted to continue reading. I found myself looking up the artwork so I could understand what Robert Langdon was babbling on about. Ultimately, I think all of those things are the mark of a highly readable book that many have obviously already devoured.

What's your take on these books? Who's your favorite girl sidekick? Let me know in the comments!

Currently reading: Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Books left: 49
Weeks left: 52

Saturday, January 2, 2010

An introduction of sorts...

Long ago, I registered this blog name... unsure of what I was going to do with it. But last night I had a brilliant idea half inspired by the movie Julie and Julia and half inspired by caffeine. I am going to read 50 books in 52 weeks and blog about them. I'll review them, try to provide read-alikes, and in general discuss what I thought. Now, I'm fully aware that this may not be interesting to any one else but me, and that's fine. This blog will hopefully help me stay on track and keep a record of what I've read this year.

First, maybe I should introduce myself. I'm Rachel. Hi.

I go to school online through University Wisconsin-Milwaukee in hopes of becoming a world-class librarian someday. I'm turning 26 this month.

I will try to always warn you about spoilers, I promise.

So... here's a short list of books I'm looking forward to reading when they come out this year:

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
The Hunger Games, book 3 by Suzanne Collins

Also, whatever wins the Newbery and the Printz awards... if I haven't already read them.

My reading philosophy has a lot to do with The Rights of the Reader:

I particularly like #6: the right to mistake a book for real life. Because I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.

Oh yeah, in the comments- this week, leave book suggestions. What's your favorite book? I'm dying to know!

Currently reading: Angels and Demons (don't judge-- it was an airplane book...)
Books left: 50
Weeks left: 52