Browsing Tag:

Graphic Novels

Five Reasons to Read Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

 

Seconds by Bryan Lee O'Malley

I recently finished this fantastic graphic novel by Bryan Lee O’Malley, which is probably the longest graphic novel I’ve ever read too!  Though some elements were a little repetitive, the concept as a whole really inspired me, and I wanted to share five reasons why you simply must read this book:

  1. IT’S FANTASY!  Our protagonist, Katie, begins to consume magical mushrooms that allow her to fix mistakes of the past.  Set on creating a perfect world, Katie doesn’t notice that there is an unsettled shadow growing restless in the basement… I didn’t realise when I picked up the book that it would be of the fantasy genre (the cover is somewhat ambiguous).  House spirits and dark forces lurking?  I found it captivating!
  2. THE ILLUSTRATIONS ARE ADORABLE.  Although I haven’t read Scott Pilgrim (only seen the film, which is amazing), Seconds has the same flavour of weird and wonderful about it.  Every page is full of detail and colour, and I love the manga-esque style, particularly in Katie’s facial expressions.  Even the choice of layout and typeface really appealed to me.Seconds
  3. THE PROTAGONIST IS A STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN.  Katie runs her own business and knows how to stand up for herself, and her sass is the source of much humour.  It’s nice to read stories where the struggling female doesn’t need rescuing by a man!
  4. THE WRITING IS HILARIOUS.  Bryan Lee O’Malley seems to be some kind of comedy genius.  His characters are so funny.  There’s plenty of great little details, like Katie’s occasional sassy comments to the narrator of the story.
  5. IT MAKES YOU THINK.  Despite her strong nature, Katie becomes fixated on mending her relationship with her ex-boyfriend, leaving her own future and friendships on the verge of collapse.  It brings up the question of how far people are willing to go for love – is a relationship worth losing everything for?  How far would you go?

Want more info?  Check out Goodreads.

Want to buy?  Free shipping at The Book Depository!

Happy reading!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

April 21, 2017
/

Book Review: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

TITLE: The Gigantic Beard That Was EvilThe Gigantic Beard that was Evil

AUTHOR: Stephen Collins

GENRE: Fiction, Graphic Novel

Beneath the skin of everything is something nobody can know.  The job of the skin is to keep it all in and never let anything show.

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


Review

One day, on the island of Here, an enormous, unruly beard explodes from Dave’s face.  It disrupts society, throwing life into chaos as the beard begins to threaten the order of things.  It is too reminiscent of There, the dark unknown land beyond the edge of Here.  The people work together to contain the beard, but it just continues to grow and grow…

I have (almost) nothing but praise for this book.  What I expected to be just a funny story about facial hair ended up being something so much more.  Of course, it was still funny – a gigantic beard is a funny thing; the entire concept was hilariously far-fetched, but it was the message that really moved me.

In a safe, organised society, the beard represents the uncontrollable, the unknown: change.  And what do we do with these things that disrupt our sense of “normal” – we fear it, try to remove it.  Even if that means hurting people.

The question of where the beard came from is still unclear, but I don’t think that matters.  Change is inevitable.  It made me consider some of the current situations happening in the world today – perhaps with a little more flexibility, a little more tolerance, there would be less “Here” and “There”, less “Us” and “Them”.

For a book about a beard, it certainly was a thought-provoking read.  Was the beard really evil?  Personally, I don’t think so.  It just needed the space to grow.

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

March 8, 2017
/

Book Review: Gemma Bovery by Posy Simmonds

Gemma BoveryTITLE: Gemma Bovery

AUTHOR: Posy Simmonds

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Adult Fiction

FIRST PUBLISHED: 1999

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


Review

Set in France, Gemma Bovery is told from the perspective of a French baker, and follows his obsession with a young English woman who moves into the area with her husband.  A silent observer, Joubert lives voyeuristically by watching an affair unfold between Gemma and a local man, but is driven to hysteria as he believes her fate will be the same as the protagonist of Madame Bovary – ending in tragedy.

I really have mixed feelings about this book.  I was close to giving up on it, but I kept going because I was desperate to know how things ended – namely, whether Joubert’s Madame Bovary prophecy would come true.

On the plus side, I have never read a graphic novel like this one.  There is so much text that it read more like an illustrated book than a graphic novel, and I thought that was really exciting.  Although told by Joubert, the story also includes long quotes from Gemma’s private journals, and I think it was necessary to have these parts as text opposed to pictures (as long-winded as they sometimes were), so they can be read in their original form, without being skewed by Joubert’s perspective.

I also liked experiencing Normandy through Gemma’s eyes – it actually gave me itchy feet and made me want to visit (even though Joubert was so negative about English visitors).  There was a lot of untranslated bits of French conversation which did make everything really authentic but was also a bit of a pain as I didn’t know what anyone was saying…

On the whole though, this book just didn’t work for me.  I think ultimately I was left feeling disappointed, particularly by the ending, which was actually completely underwhelming.

I think one of the biggest problems was that I didn’t feel like I engaged with any of the characters.  Gemma’s life was so mundane for so much of the story that I just didn’t actually care for her future or her marriage at all, and the only exciting part really was the affair itself.  I didn’t care for her boring husband, or the annoying English family who holidayed nearby.  But in a way, that’s exactly the point – Joubert was blinded by his obsession, and found her fascinating regardless.

To an extent, I wonder if the reader is meant to feel disengaged on purpose.  One positive of this is how it gave me the opportunity to be objective about the unfolding events.  As an outsider, I could sense Joubert getting increasingly unhinged as the story went on.  I quickly sensed that he wasn’t actually a reliable narrator through Gemma’s diary entries, which in the end barely mentioned Joubert at all (a great example of perspective).

Star Rating: ★★ (2/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

February 22, 2017
/

Gra-fix Novel Week

Gra-fix* Novel Week

*I do not apologise for this pun

#GrafixNovelWeek

If you’re a regular to Wandering Words, you’ll know I’ve been really taken by the graphic novel genre for a couple of years now.  There’s something about them that I love, and I’m constantly reviewing them on here as I love sharing how varied the genre is.

So, without further ado, I’m thrilled to announce that the first Monday of February is going to be the start of the Gra-fix Novel Week read-a-thon!

I don’t know about you, but I feel like it is time for a graphic novel binge – I need my fix!  I’ve got so many titles lined up on my TBR that I’ve been meaning to read, and a whole week of indulgence is exactly what I need.

The idea is to put all other reading aside and enjoy seven days of comics and graphic novels.  I’ll be sharing my reading progress on Twitter with the hashtag #GrafixNovelWeek, and I’m inviting all you budding bookworms to join me!

Need some inspiration?

Here’s a list of graphic novels to get you started:

  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    Don’t read this collection of horror stories at night – beautifully illustrated and seriously scary.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
    One of the funniest graphic novels I’ve ever read, this witty read tells the story from the perspective of the villain.
  • Batgirl
    I only found out there existed a Batgirl recently, and she quickly became my favourite comic hero – I highly recommend her comics from the New 52 Series.

See you on Monday 6th February for day one of Gra-fix Novel Week!

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook

January 25, 2017
/

Book Review: Everything is Teeth by Evie Wyld

Everything is TeethTITLE: Everything is Teeth

AUTHOR: Evie Wyld, illustrated by Joe Sumner

GENRE: Graphic Novel, Non-Fiction, Memoir

I always hope the thing beneath the water turns out to be a man eater.  And it usually does.

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | Amazon


Review

This unique graphic novel tells of author Evie Wyld’s childhood and her increasing obsession with sharks following time spent in Australia.  Sharks plague her thoughts and she is haunted by her fear and intrigue of them.

This book was a really personal and fascinating look at obsession.  In some ways it was reminiscent of Lighter Than My Shadow by Katie Green, and I felt moved by the fear and anxiety in the same way – this is an honest memoir and Wyld has been open about how sharks really affected her childhood.  The depiction of how the sharks seemed to literally stalk her was very well done, and I felt it was a greatly accurate portrayal of what it feels like to have a mind buzzing with obsessive thoughts.

There wasn’t a plot, per say, more just a collection of moments and memories that were surprisingly cohesive when put together.  This is thanks in part to the style of illustration and the choice of a limited colour palette, which made the scenes of blood and violence all the more unnerving.  This isn’t a book for the faint-hearted – some of the images were very unsettling, but I thought it really showed how terrified Evie must have been.

If I think the worst, then the worst is unlikely to happen.

My one criticism is that I felt that Evie was very detached from the other characters in the book.  In some ways they could not have been there at all and I wouldn’t have noticed.  I couldn’t decide whether this was done on purpose, to emphasise how focused she was on the sharks (at the expense of relationships), or if it was a part of the story that was just neglected.  There was hope at times, like when Evie’s brother was getting beaten up and found comfort in her shark stories – but his hardships at school were never followed up, and I would have liked to have known more.

Star Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

November 16, 2016
/

Book Review: Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine

Killing and Dying

Title: Killing and Dying

Author: Adrian Tomine

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Short Stories

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


Review

Killing and Dying is a collection of six short stories about relationships, identity and loss – and indeed, the title can apply to all three at time.

It is quite an eclectic assortment of stories.  In the first story, A Brief History of the Art Form Known as “Hortisculpture”, a man puts his marriage on the line chasing his obsessive vision of selling plant sculptures.  In another, a girl who shares an uncanny resemblance with a porn star tells the story of how it has affected her life.  The stories are very different, but they all share a kind of rawness – real people dealing with real problems.

My favourite story in the collection was Killing and Dying – for whatever reason it seemed to impact me the most.  In the story, a cynical man’s daughter takes classes in stand up comedy.  He fears she will be humiliated, as she stutters under stress, but when her mother passes away he decides to support her nonetheless.  The ending in particular was very moving, and the story as a whole was certainly worthy of its name on the cover.

Go Owls, the longest story in the book, was also very powerful.  It is about a girl and older man who meet at a support group, which quickly develops into an abusive relationship.  It is easy to overlook the early signs of abuse, but reading it through a second time it is apparent from the start that the older man has some issues.

This is an almost flawless collection that approached the graphic novel in a whole new way.  I’ll definitely be seeking out more of Adrian Tomine’s work – I think he is a genius.

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

August 8, 2016
/

Book Review: Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona by Noelle StevensonTitle: Nimona

Author: Noelle Stevenson

Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, Young Adult

Format: Paperback

“Nimona!”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY| The Book Depository


review

Ballister Blackheart is a supervillain, and with his new shapeshifting sidekick Nimona in tow, they are an unstoppable force of evil, set on bringing down his rival Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution.  But with Nimona’s mysterious magic powers getting out of control, and the Institution not the lawful good they seem to be, friendships – old and new – will be tested, as the true villains are revealed.

This book is nothing short of fantastic.  Noelle Stevenson has managed to successfully write an extraordinary graphic novel with hilarious dialogue, gorgeous drawings and a gripping plot.  It’s a true talent to have readers laughing through some pages and to be on the edge of their seats through others!

The story features dragons and laboratories, perfectly combining elements of science fiction and fantasy into an engaging plot of some considerable length for the genre.  I found this allowed the relationships between the characters to be thoroughly developed, and I particularly loved the history between Ballister and Ambrosius – their rivalry, and Ballister’s inability to let go of the past were some of my favourite themes in the book.

But Nimona herself steals the show!  She is witty, mischievous, and the deliverer of some of the greatest lines I’ve read this year.  Her injection of humour in the story balances out the stern-faced Ballister perfectly.

I can’t recommend it enough – go, get your hands on a copy!

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

July 11, 2016
/

Book Review: Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya's GhostTitle: Anya’s Ghost

Author: Vera Brosgol

Genre: Graphic Novel, Fiction, Fantasy, Horror

“You may look normal like everyone else, but you’re not. Not on the inside.”

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


reviewFeeling lonely and unpopular at school, Anya isn’t too impressed when a ghost follows her home and wants to be her friend.  But maybe things aren’t too bad – Emily offers her boy tips and style advice, and even Anya’s grades are looking better.  When Anya swears to solve the mystery of the ghost girl’s death, she uncovers more than she bargained for.

The story was very enjoyable, though I think some parts of the plot could have been expanded.  For example, I think Elizabeth and Anya could have developed a friendship after their conversation at the party, but that all seemed to end quite abruptly.  I was surprised that the main theme of the book was more about Anya settling in at school and finding herself than of the supernatural – but I actually quite liked that.

I wasn’t as keen on the style of art compared to some other graphic novels I’ve read recently (Nimona, for example), but the drawings and colour schemes do seem to fit the mood of the story.  It also makes the scenes in the well and Emily’s ghostly presence pretty spooky.

Speaking of spooky, I actually found the ending quite scary as I read it alone at night; it certainly does its job as a horror story.  There are a fair few creepy scenes actually, and Emily’s wide empty eyes reminded me a bit of Coraline in terms of style.  Though these details were drawn well, I felt other parts, like the character Siobhan, looked sloppy in comparison.

Star Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

June 21, 2016
/

Book Review | Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Title: Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Author: Ben Clanton

Genre: Fiction, Children’s Book, Graphic Novel

Source: Net Galley (I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review)

Publication Date: October 2016

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_review

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea is a fun graphic novel aimed at children. It includes three stories following Narwhal and his new jellyfish friend, and a fact page for each character.

Narwhal is a carefree spirit who balances out the reluctance and scepticism of Jelly. He teaches Jelly to step out of his comfort zone and also shows him how to use his imagination.

My favourite of the three stories was Narwhal and the Best Book Ever!, in which Jelly quizzes Narwhal on why he is reading a book with blank pages. Narwhal explains that it is an imagination book and you have to pretend. I absolutely love the premise of this, and the story continues with Narwhal helping Jelly to conjure up some interesting scenes. I really think this would generate some interesting conversations between adult and child if read together.

The drawings are simple but really quite adorable, and would appeal to adults as well as children. This is a smart little book that gets the balance right between factual and fun, and as a twenty-something year old I can honestly say I had a very enjoyable ten minutes reading it.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ (5/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

May 18, 2016
/

Book Review: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Title: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

Author: Gerard Way and Shaun Simon (writers), Becky Cloonan (illustrator)

Genre: Graphic Novel, Science Fiction, Dystopian

First Published: May 2014

INFO | Goodreads

BUY | The Book Depository


_Summary

(from Goodreads)

Years ago, the Killjoys fought against the tyrannical megacorporation Better Living Industries, costing them their lives, save for one—the mysterious Girl. Today, the followers of the original Killjoys languish in the Desert while BLI systematically strips citizens of their individuality. As the fight for freedom fades, it’s left to the Girl to take up the mantle and bring down the fearsome BLI!

_review

Having no prior knowledge of the Killjoys, I read the book as a complete standalone.  I thought it was ok, perfectly average as a book, and thought nothing more of it until I read the afterword by the two authors.  I soon realised that this wasn’t just a book, it was a whole concept created by rock band My Chemical Romance.  For other readers like me, I implore you to first watch the music videos to ‘Na Na Na’ and ‘SING’ (posted below) before going anywhere near the book.  Knowing this now, it is very difficult to review the book as a story in its own right.

Since I missed out on these videos, it was only a chapter or two into the story that the plot finally clicked into place for me. Up until that point, things felt a bit disjointed – I felt that I was entering a world that had already established itself (and it had, as the members of My Chemical Romance were literally the original Killjoys).  However, there were actually a number of subplots within the story that I found more engaging than the overall plot. The story of Blue and Red, two droids from Battery City, were the most interesting, and I would have liked to have known more about them.

I quite liked the style of drawing – it fitted the genre. Some drawings of the characters were better than others, but I appreciated the effort put into bringing Battery City to life.  Again, having now watched the videos, I can see that a tremendous amount of thought has been put into recreating the original concepts.  For example, the girl’s attachment to Party Poison’s yellow mask in the book pays homage to the final scenes of ‘SING’.

Overall, not a spectacular read but for science fiction lovers like myself there were a lot of interesting concepts and a few plot twists (who the BLI spy turned out to be was a good one). It took me a little while to get through it, but it is easily a one-day read. In a way, it is a shame it isn’t longer – I would loved to have known what happened afterwards, and to have had more backstory on the Killjoys within the book.  I feel it isn’t very successful as a standalone, but fits perfectly into the world of the Killjoys, and in that sense it can’t be faulted.

Star Rating: ☆☆☆½ (3.5/5)

Emma

Follow me on: Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram

March 3, 2016
/