After Rabbi David Kahn died, his family and congregation found out that he had lived a lie for forty years. He was actually a con man who posed as a rabbi to get donations for a school that didn't exist. After he fell in love, he made the charade permanent. Now his wife and children must deal with the aftermath.
Why I picked it up: This graphic novel's black and white art uses a single gray tone for shading, and I love graphic novels that do this.
Why I finished it: Kahn's wife and children must deal with the consequences of the revelation about their father. When his widow is shopping, there is a moment in the grocery store that made the story real for me. Her friends check to see if she's still buying kosher food. Despite her grief and confusion, those women were enjoying the gossip.
I'd give it to: Bill, who normally dislikes comics that look "arty."
Tom and Emma used to be friends, but now boy/girl friendships aren't cool anymore. Besides, Emma is angry at Tom for pushing her away because she's a girl, and Tom hates that Emma hangs out with the Grrlzillas (the mean girls). Then they're paired up in a health class assignment on gender differences, real and perceived. They're supposed to study their partner and discover "how our gender creates differences in our lives." But Tom and Emma get a MUCH closer look than they were planning on, when, because of an ancient curse, they switch bodies.
Why I picked it up: Because my then 12-year-old daughter read it first and said, "You HAVE to read this."
Why I finished it: A hilarious and thought provoking book about gender, friendships, and the minefield that is middle school. Tom gets Emma's first period. Emma almost takes a baseball bat to her (Tom's) 'thingie' when she wakes up one morning with an erection and doesn't know what's under the covers with her.
I'd give it to: Every middle schooler I know, plus adults who still love potty humor mixed in with social commentary.
5 stories in comics format.
Why I picked it up: I love Jason's deadpan anthropomorphic animals. The noir setting and tone made these five stories even better.
Why I finished it: The pacing and progression of sexual favors in "Emily Says Hello" had me laughing as I wondered why I was laughing. My need for inappropriate giggles pulled me through the rest of the book.
I'd give it to: Fans of Usagi Yojimbo and the Far Side who like more dark, twisted stories, too.
The Redface Pox killed 80% of the men in Japan. Women assumed all traditionally male roles in society. Yunoshin, a handsome man from a poor family, receives an offer of marriage, but prefers to earn a stipend for his family by entering the Inner Chambers and serving the Shogun. The all-male society there has a strict hierarchy and many secrets. Yunoshin's good looks, plain tastes, and fighting skills seem to help him rise rapidly in the ranks, but there are ulterior motives for promoting him.
Why I picked it up: The cover is beautiful, and the interior art is equally clean and easy to follow.
Why I finished it: The closed all-male society of the Inner Chambers within a matriarchal Edo era Japan reminded me of Philip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle, where the Axis powers won World War II but within which there's a book, The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, about an alternative history in which the Allies won.
I'd give it to: Anyone who enjoyed Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, wants a beautiful "historical" Japanese manga without the sword fights, or who likes a little male-male romance but doesn't like the androgynous characters and over-the-top approach in most yaoi.
Queen Victoria, upon ascending the English throne, finds out that England is secretly at war with demons. But, not to worry, her guardian from the government's Demonic Protection Force is tasked to handle the threat.
After Victoria falls in love with Prince Albert, she learns from a seer that their marriage is fated to produce apocalyptic results. When Albert is abducted, Queen Victoria refuses to take a back seat and joins her protector in obliterating demons to get him back.
Why I picked it up: On the cover Queen Victoria sits in state in ermine-trimmed robes, a dagger in one hand, the severed head of a zombie in the other.
Why I finished it: It was irreverent and funny. A decorative axe is torn from the wall of the castle to cut off zombie heads. The axe-wielder then notes, "It was a night to dismember." Quimby, a dissolute, debauched English lord, and his loyal revenant manservant Perkins work together again and again to staple the latter's severed leg back on.
I'd give it to: Fans of the burgeoning classics-with-paranormal-activity genre a la Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Anne, who goes through a box of Kleenex every year while watching all six DVDS of Pride and Prejudice.
The book has lots of different stories of transformations. The first story is called "Bored Tom". Tom turns into a cat and the cat turns into him.
Why I picked it up: I would like to be a shape shifter like Bumblebee from Transformers.
Why I finished it: It wasn't like Transformers, but I wanted to find out what happened to Tom. I enjoyed that story so much I wanted to read the rest.
I'd give it to: Gigi because I think she'd like all the trickery, and she likes the same comic books I like.