Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Volume 3: Dream Country by @neilhimself

One of the most popular and critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time, Neil Gaiman’s award-winning masterpiece The Sandman set the standard for mature, lyrical fantasy in the modern comics era. Illustrated by an exemplary selection of the medium’s most gifted artists, the series is a rich blend of modern and ancient mythology in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven.  

Four unique episodes form the tapestry of Dream Country: “Calliope,” “A Dream of a Thousand Cats,” “Façade,” and the acclaimed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”—the only comic book story ever to win the World Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction. Also included is Gaiman’s original script for “Calliope,” with annotations from both the writer and the artist. Collects The Sandman #17-20.

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I don’t have any idea.

PROLOGUE

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(@vertigo_comics, 18 December 2018, ebook, 158 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I really enjoyed Dream Country. I’ve become a massive fan of The Sandman and can see what all the fuss is about. This is a bit shorter than the previous volumes which disappointed me because I got lost in the book and didn’t want it to end so was disappointed when I turned the page to find the original script for Calliope. I wanted more. I thought Calliope was the best episode in this volume, by far, very dark at times, a real delight. I also discovered a much easier way to read the book on my kindle rather than peering at quite small text. Yeah me! I look forward to volume four.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman

The Sandman Volume 2: The Doll’s House by @neilhimself

The second instalment of Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, THE SANDMAN VOL. 2: THE DOLL’S HOUSE, celebrates its 30th anniversary with all all-new edition!

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

During Morpheus’s incarceration, three dreams escaped the Dreaming and are now loose in the waking world. At the same time, a young woman named Rose Walker is searching for her little brother. As their stories converge, a vortex is discovered that could destroy all dreamers, and the world itself.

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There are tales that are told many times.

PROLOGUE

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(@vertigo_comics, 20 November 2018, ebook, 224 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I enjoyed this even more than the first volume and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I get why people rave about The Sandman so much. I don’t read a lot of graphic novels but may need to read more in future if the standing and quality is anything like this. This would be fantastic to read in hardback as the kindle version was a little clunky to read at times and I had to mess around with the page view and setting a couple of times. More characters are introduced in this volume and I look forward to seeing how they develop. I thought this was great.  

Posted in 2021, Barry Windsor-Smith, First Read, Graphic Novel, historical fiction, library book, Novel, thriller

Monsters by Barry Windsor-Smith

The year is 1964. Bailey doesn’t realize he is about to fulfil his tragic destiny when he walks into a US Army recruitment office. Secretive, damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, Bobby is the perfect candidate for a secret US government experiment, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany nearly 20 years earlier in the waning days of World War II. Bailey’s only ally and protector, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes, which sets off a chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone’s control. As the monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, the story reaches a crescendo of moral reckoning.

A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters‘ narrative canvas is copious: part familial drama, part thriller, part metaphysical journey; it is an intimate portrait of individuals struggling to reclaim their lives and an epic political odyssey that plays across two generations of American history.

Monsters is rendered in Barry Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling, with its sensitivity to gesture and composition, the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. There are passages of heart-breaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, of redemption and sacrifice, and devastating violence. Monsters is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.

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Bobby?

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(@JonathanCape, 29 April 2021, hardback, 365 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)

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This is a new author for me. Monsters is a graphic novel which uses black and white ink drawings. I’ve read a few graphic novels but I want to read more books in this style as I’ve found them to be just as well-written and enjoyable as a standard novel with added visuals to really bring the book to life. Monsters focuses on the US Government experimenting on a naïve young man using Nazi technology – you know how that’s going to turn out. Monsters reminds me a lot of Frankenstein and Bobby becomes physically very similar to Mary Shelley’s creature. I enjoyed how the book explores the past of Bobby and his father highlighting key moments that led to Bobby becoming a lab rat. I was also impressed by the fact the author didn’t go down the obvious route, turning Bobby into a freak or a killer but really humanised him. Monsters is a terrific read.

Posted in 2021, Comic Book, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Graphic Novel, Neil Gaiman, Top Books

The Sandman Volume 1: Preludes & Nocturnes by @neilhimself

Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, THE SANDMAN, celebrates its 30th anniversary with an all-new edition of THE SANDMAN VOL. 1: PRELUDES & NOCTURNES!

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series THE SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.

This book also includes the story “The Sound of Her Wings,” which introduces us to the pragmatic and perky Goth girl Death.

Collects THE SANDMAN #1-8.

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Wake up sir, we’re here.

JUNE 6TH, 1916, WYCH CROSS, ENGLAND (SLEEP OF THE JUST)

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(@vertigo_comics, 30 October 2018, ebook, 237 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite writers. I’ve wanted to read The Sandman for ages. I’m glad I finally got round to starting the series. I loved Volume 1: Prologue and Nocturnes and can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I don’t often read graphic novels / comic books but tend to enjoy them when I do so I plan to branch out a book and read more. This has everything I’d expect from a Nail Gaiman book, a dark, dazzling delight. I loved it.

Posted in 2021, Alison Bechdel, First Read, Graphic Novel, library book, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Popsugar 2021

Are You My Mother? by @AlisonBechdel

Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home was a literary phenomenon: ‘an extraordinarily intimate account of family secrets that manages to be shocking, unsettling and life-affirming at the same time’, as Sarah Walters wrote in the Guardian. The Times said it was ‘incontestably the graphic book of the year’, while the Observer recently chose it as one of the ten best graphic novels ever published.

While Fun Home explored Bechdel’s relationship with her father, a closeted homosexual, this new memoir is about her mother – a voracious reader, a music lover, a passionate amateur actor. Also a woman, unhappily married to a gay man, whose artistic aspirations simmered under the surface of Bechdel’s childhood… and who stopped touching or kissing her daughter goodnight, for ever, when she was seven. Poignantly, hilariously, Bechdel embarks on a quest for answers concerning the mother-daughter gulf.

It’s a richly layered search that leads readers from the fascinating life and work of psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott to one explosively illuminating Dr Seuss illustration, to Bechdel’s own (serially monogamous) love life. And, finally, back to Mother – to a truce, fragile and real-time, that will move and astonish all adult children of gifted mothers.

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While engaged in some sort of home-improvement project, I inadvertently block my exit from a dank cellar.

1, THE ORDINARY, DEVOTED MOTHER

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(@vintagebooks, 28 March 2013, ebook, 304 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs, #popsugarreadingchallenge, book in a different format than what you normally read)

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I’m familiar with the author’s work as her comic strips appeared in Diva magazine many years ago when I used to read it but I’ve never read anything full-length. This is a memoir with a difference, a graphic novel. I’ve read a few graphic novels over the year’s but they’re not something I’d normally read. I really enjoyed this. Alison explores her relationship with her mother and her father and her own relationships over the years as well as her own identity and insecurities. I found it fascinating. I’ve never read a memoir in this format before and found it very refreshing. Alison is a fan of psychoanalysis and psychology in general and there is a lot of interesting information about her reading of well-known psychoanalysis’s as well as many pages which detail her own sessions with various therapists. Are You My Mother? is very different and refreshing.

Posted in 2020, Comic Book, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Graphic Novel, Prime Reading, Tara O'Connor

#Roots by @TaraOComics

SHE WENT BACK TO THE OLD WORLD TO FIND HER ROOTS, NEVER SUSPECTING THAT SHE WOULD LAY DOWN NEW ONES.

After a messy year of heartbreak and setbacks, Tara sets off to Ireland in search of clues to her family’s ancestry, but what she found wasn’t at all what she expected. Some of it has to do with the lack of records, but a lot has to do with John, the charming cartoonist she met on Twitter.

Wrapped in real family history and set amidst the natural beauty of the Irish countryside, Roots is a classic romantic-comedy adventure and a page-turning account of a young woman finding herself.

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I’m sorry. I care about you, and I don’t want to hurt you, but I’m just not in love with you anymore.

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(@topshelfcomix, 22 November 2017, 154 pages, ebook, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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I’d never heard of the author before. I occasionally read graphic novels / comic books and I enjoy doing this on kindle. Roots sounded like something a bit different from the stuff I usually read. I had a good time with Roots. It’s black and white and I usually read full-colour comic books but black and white worked really well for the story told in Roots, which you can tell from the title is about identity, family and finding where you fit in the world. I enjoyed this aspect of the story. There is a love story as well which was a bit twee for me but still enjoyable. What can I say; I’m a romantic at heart. Love makes my insides melt. I finished Roots very quickly because it’s not the same as reading continuous prose and felt quite sad when I finished it. I might check out other books by the author.

Posted in 2020, Aoi Makino, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Graphic Novel, NetGalley, YA Fiction

#NotYourIdolVol1 by Aoi Makino

A psychological suspense series about a girl who has given up her life as an idol after being assaulted by a fan.

After that day, she stopped being a girl.

In the wake of an assault, Nina Kamiyama, a former idol in the group Pure Club, shuns her femininity and starts dressing as a boy. At high school she keeps to herself, but fellow student Hikaru Horiuchi realizes who she is. What secrets is she keeping? The shocking drama starts.

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[What? You bought 50 cds? Wow]

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(@VIZMediaUK, 5 May 2020, 176 pages, ebook, #ARC from @VIZMediaUK via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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So, I really wanted to read this when I read the blurb, much darker than I’d expect for Manga. I was intrigued. I really enjoyed this and found the subject matter while dark, very original and very different from the norm. The only real issue I had is that the #ARC was dotted with watermarks throughout which made some of the text hard to read. The author handles the rather grim subject matter with delicacy and ticked all the boxes for me. I was worried it would be very clichéd or mocking but the subject matter is handled with real sensitivity. I would highly recommend this and plan to read the rest of the series.

Posted in 2020, alice oseman, Contemporary Fiction, Graphic Novel, library book, Novel, Top Books, YA Fiction

Heartstopper Volume One by @AliceOseman

Charlie, a highly-strung, openly gay over-thinker, and Nick, a cheerful, soft-hearted rugby player, meet at a British all-boys grammar school. Friendship blooms quickly, but could there be something more…?

Charlie Spring is in Year 10 at Truham Grammar School for Boys. The past year hasn’t been too great, but at least he’s not being bullied anymore, and he’s sort of got a boyfriend, even if he’s kind of mean and only wants to meet up in secret.

Nick Nelson is in Year 11 and on the school rugby team. He’s heard a little about Charlie – the kid who was outed last year and bullied for a few months – but he’s never had the opportunity to talk to him. That is, until the start of January, in which Nick and Charlie are placed in the same form group and made to sit together.

They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance. But love works in surprising ways, and sometimes good things are waiting just around the corner…

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[Charlie, that was only the first bell]

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(@HachetteKids, 7 February 2019, first published September 2016, 263 pages, paperback, borrowed from @GlasgowLib)

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I loved Heartstopper Volume Three when I read a #ARC a few weeks ago. I fell in love with Charlie and Nick and wanted to know their whole story. So I was delighted when I managed to pick this up in the library. I enjoyed this as much as Volume Three. Charlie and Nick are adorable. I loved learning how they met and became friend despite being so different. It made me want to go aww like a million times as I read about their friendship developing into romance. I’ve reserved Volume Two as well. Oseman has written books as well which I need to check out. Rabid fan girl alert!  

Posted in 2020, alice oseman, amazon vine, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Graphic Novel, Top Books, YA Fiction

Heartstopper Volume Three by @AliceOseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the third volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.

‘Absolutely delightful. Sweet, romantic, kind. Beautifully paced. I loved this book.’ RAINBOW ROWELL, author of Carry On

Charlie didn’t think Nick could ever like him back, but now they’re officially boyfriends. Nick’s even found the courage to come out to his mum.

But coming out isn’t just something that happens once – there’s Nick’s older brother, and a school trip to Paris, not to mention all the other friends and family – and life can be hard, even with someone who loves you by your side. As their feelings get more serious, Charlie and Nick will need each other more than ever before.

Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

‘The queer graphic novel we wished we had at high school.’ Gay Times

This is the third volume of Heartstopper, which has now been optioned for television by See-Saw Films.

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[So, I came out as bisexual to my mum]

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(Hodder Children’s Books, 6 February 2020, 384 pages, paperback, copy from @AmazonUK #AmazonVine)

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I really loved this book. However, I’ve came in somewhere in the middle and need to read Volume 1 and Volume 2 or the online cartoon to get the full picture. I look forward to the TV show whenever it surfaces. The structure is very simple and Oseman uses simple black and white cartoons to tell a lovely, powerful queer story. I loved Nick and Charlie, they’re so cute together. I was rooting for them from the first page. Their experiences are so realistic and I could relate to a lot of what they went through even though I was a lot older. You don’t just come out once, you come out so many times in different situations as you meet new people or your circumstances change. I came out to my family almost twenty years ago and have come out several more times since, the most recent about 18 months ago when I started a new job. Everything about this delightful book rang true.

Posted in 2020, ARC, Graphic Novel, Review Copy, Stanley Donwood

Bad Island by @StanleyDonwood

Bad Island is an extraordinary, unsettling document: a silent species-history in eighty frames, a mute future archive. I can imagine it discovered in the remnants of a civilisation; a set of runes found amid the ruins. Stark in its lines and dark in its vision, Bad Island reads you more than you read it.’ Robert Macfarlane.

From cult graphic designer and long-time Radiohead collaborator Stanley Donwood comes a starkly beautiful graphic novel about the end of the world.

A wild seascape, a distant island, a full moon. Gradually the island grows nearer until we land on a primeval wilderness, rich in vegetation and huge, strange beasts. Time passes and things do not go well for the island. Civilization rises as towers of stone and metal and smoke, choking the undergrowth and the creatures that once moved through it. This is not a happy story and it will not have a happy ending.

Working in his distinctive, monochromatic lino-cut style, Stanley Donwood carves out a mesmerizing, stark parable on environmentalism and the history of humankind.

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(Hamish Hamilton, 13 February 2020, 144 pages, hardback, #ARC from @PenguinUKBooks and voluntarily reviewed)

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I wasn’t sure what to expect with this. I thought it was your average graphic novel and it seems to be marketed as such. It’s not really though. It’s a collection of stark yet beautiful black and white images about the end of the world. The only real issue I had is that the book doesn’t contain any text, at all, not even one word. Call me old fashioned but a book needs to have some text in it for me. I’ve read a lot of graphic novels and they tend to have plenty of words in them. Picture books for children, by their very purpose only contain images. This is not a picture book for children. It’s marketed as a graphic novel for adults. It’s clearly not. A novel has prose in it and Bad Island has none. You flick through the images and you get an impression of a sequence of events. That doesn’t make it a novel in my book. The illustrations are well done and impressive but for me, this is not a novel, graphic or otherwise, it’s a collection of images, a piece of modern art. Also, there is not enough detail in the images to create any kind of emotional connection or response.