How to Survive the Titanic The Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by billba tagged historynonfiction

Unshelved comic strip for 10/14/2011
Berona's War Volume 1: Field Guide by Anthony Coffey, Jesse Labbé

Link to this review by snow tagged fantasygraphic novel

“This is the Land.”

“This is the group who claimed the land and started Berona’s War.”

“These are the warriors who knew what they wanted and took it in Berona’s war.”

Each chapter of this illustrated field guide tells a little bit about the land of Berona and the horrific war fought by her two peoples: the Ele-Alta and the Cropones. Though they look like small guinea pigs and teddy bears, their battles are serious and devastating and by the end of the book, readers are left with no doubt of the full cost of war.

Why I picked it up: My eye was caught by the drawings of cute, but ferocious creatures. Then I was intrigued by the idea of a fake field guide as a story itself, rather than as the companion to a novel.

Why I finished it: Many little details gradually put together built a complete picture of a conflict which was started for no particular reason and soon spiraled out of control.

I'd give it to: Ed, a Marine turned librarian-peacenik, because his snarky political side will laugh at the ever-escalating militarism of the two forces. Plus, he still takes plastic army men with him on camping trips (so he can melt them in the campfire) -- he’d love that some of the drawings used army men as models.

Marzi A Memoir by Marzena Sowa; Illustrated by Sylvain Savoia

"I am Marzi, born in 1979, ten years before the end of communism in Poland. My father works in a factory, my mother at a dairy. Social problems are at their height. Empty stores are our daily bread. I’m scard of spiders and the world of adult’s doesn’t seem like a walk in the park."

Structured as a series of vignettes that build on one another, MARZI is a compelling and powerful coming-of-age story that portrays the harsh realities of life behind the Iron Curtain while maintaining the everyday wonders and curiosity of childhood.

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Blood Red Road by Moira Young

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged science fictionthriller

Saba’s family has lived in the dust-choked regions for as long as she can remember.  Then, during a giant dust-storm, a cloaked group of mercenaries kills her father and kidnaps her twin brother. As soon as she can gather her things, Saba sets out with her little sister to find him. 

Why I picked it up: Nominated for my ALA book list committee.

Why I finished it: Kick-butt, cage-fighting female Saba has a gruff exterior, but her relationships with friends that she makes on her journey to save her brother show she is a softy inside. Plus the thrilling scene where she attempts to escape a stadium full of crazed pit-fighting fans who want her blood.

I'd give it to: Jessica, who shares Saba’s determination, though she uses it to play soccer. Alia, a big fan of other post-apocalyptic books like Enclave and The Maze Runner which are also fast-paced and bloody. 

Saltwater Taffy by Eric DelaBarre

Endorsed by 9 Teachers of the Year, Saltwater Taffy is set in the seaside town of Port Townsend, Washington. The adventure follows the lives of five friends as they uncover a treasure map that once belonged to the ruthless New Orleans pirate, Jean Lafitte. The discovery thrusts them from one treasure hunting adventure to the next as they try to out-wit, out-think and out-maneuver everyone from a one-legged junk yard man and an overbearing town bully, to the creepy old man living at the top of the hill. Saltwater Taffy is a race to the finish adventure that will capture your heart, again and again!

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Feynman by Jim Ottaviani, Leland Myrick

Link to this review by billba tagged biographygraphic novel

Graphic adaptation of the unusually colorful life of an unusually colorful physicist. Richard Feynman won a nobel prize, figured out the Challenger explosion, played the bongo drums, and was a devil with the ladies.

Why I picked it up: Richard Feynman is one my personal heroes, and I wanted to see if this could escape the usual curse of graphic novel biographies: boringly literal illustrations, copious narration, very little dialog.

Why I finished it: Feynman was a guy who liked to talk about himself, so everything in this book is in his words. As a result it does escape the curse: there's plenty of dialog, even thought bubbles! But the authors aren't afraid of wordlessness either, resulting in wonderfully silent sequences illustrating the death of his first wife, Feynman sneaking his sister a book on science, and the creation of a new theory.

I'd give it to: Zach Weiner, who loves reading about science, and whose simple cartoony style this book often reminded me of.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

The first book in the internationally-bestselling series, Ruby Red has everything to offer: a witty and sarcastic narrator, her frustratingly good-looking partner in crime, a centuries-old mystery and of course, time travel. 

Fast-paced and addictive, Ruby Red jumps from one era to another as Gwyneth and Gideon try to discover who they can trust and how they can keep ahead (or behind?) of their enemies - all while maneuvering those hoopskirts and powdered wigs, of course.  Where’s a girl to hide her pistol?

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The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats Sell Out by A. Koford

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged comic stripshumor

A collection of single panel comics featuring the adventures of those lovable cat hoboes, Kitteh and Pip.

Why I picked it up: I've been following Koford's excellent genre-bending comics for a while. It was lovely to read vintage-style online comics in old-fashioned paper format.

Why I finished it: As delightful as the anachronistic combination of old movie style hoboes and kitties and Internet memes and nerd culture is, Koford is excellent when playing with (and breaking) the rules and limits of the comics format.

I'd give it to: Jen, who explains music and TV trends to me while I introduce her to goofy stuff like lolcats because all of the odd web sites I’ve showed her will pay off in the jokes in the book which she wouldn’t understand otherwise.

How to Date in a Post-Dating World by Diane Mapes

A compendium of observations, advice, and historical tidbits on everything from good grooming to bungled breakups, social networks to naked speed dating.

Taking up where Emily Post and Miss Manners left off, Diane Mapes counsels the dating-distressed on today's new rules of courtship. This smart, savvy etiquette guide addresses both nuts-and-bolts questions (Who asks? Who pays? Who brings out the condoms?) as well as the more puzzling aspects of modern romance (Do I really need to tell my new girlfriend that I had her investigated?). From how to avoid dating a serial killer to what to do at a snuggle party, How to Date provides single men and women, gay and straight, with a step-by-step road map for navigating today's romantic quicksand with humor, grace, and aplomb.

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Lewis and Clark The Greatest Adventure in American History by Nick Bertozzi

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged graphic novelhistory

Lewis and Clark lead the Corps of Discovery west of the Mississippi River, through the Louisiana Territory and the disputed Oregon Country, to try to discover a water route to the Pacific Ocean.

Why I picked it up: I find most book-length nonfiction unreadable. After a bad high school history class, I get most of my information from TV, movies, and friends. But I was willing to try a graphic novel, especially one by Bertozzi, who drew Houdini: The Handcuff King.

Why I finished it: Sections are told from the point of view of Native Americans, not just the expedition. It’s apparent how they see the expedition and what they think of the trinkets they brought to trade.

Amazing two-page layouts like pages sixteen and seventeen. The men are burying Sergeant Floyd when they see buffalo in the distance and then commence to hunting -- on the top of the picture, the men are mourning in the distance atop the hill. They are speaking in small panels, and descending the hill to shoot the buffalo in the foreground.

I'd give it to: My wife, Silver, who probably already knows more than I do about the expedition, but I think she’d enjoy the humor in the book, like when President Jefferson tells Lewis to button his pants before starting the expedition and Sacajawea repeatedly gets the better of her idiotic husband.

The Power of Six (I Am Number Four #2) by Pittacus Lore

Link to this review by danritchie tagged science fiction

Sequel to I Am Number Four.

EDITOR’S WARNING: This review contains spoilers for the first book.

When the planet Lorian was destroyed, nine very special children were sent to Earth. They were to blend in and relocate frequently to avoid detection by those sent to find them. These children develop special abilities as they mature, and each has several charms with powers that they can use. The idea was the nine would reunite, return to Lorian, and restore their civilization. But the first three have been hunted down and killed, and Number Four’s location was recently discovered. 

After an epic fight, Four escaped with the help of Six and a school chum, Sam. They are now on the run, hunted by the government as terrorists.

Marina is Number Seven. She has been living in a convent since her arrival on Earth. Marina is desperate for guidance. Her abilities are developing, and she finds comfort in an orphan new to the convent. Marina reads about events involving Four and wonders if he might be one of the Nine. She also notices a strange man watching her and this only increases her desperation to locate the others.

Intense, high-energy action ensues on both sides of the Atlantic as these teens struggle to survive and find one another.

Why I picked it up: I was smitten by the first book in the series and counted the days to the release of the sequel.

Why I finished it: I was intrigued by the changing relationship between John, Six and Sam -- Six is attracted to both boys, and they to her -- and it begins to affect the dynamics of the group.  And I loved the alien allies that help Marina escape the convent.

I'd give it to: Ezequel, because the pace was riveting. There was always something unexpected coming just like in the Nicholas Flamel series, which he loved.

Two-Step by Warren Ellis, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged fantasygraphic novelscience fictionthriller

Rosi Blades is a camgirl. She’s covered with cameras that show the world around her, and subscribers are constantly watching her and listening to her commentary. Despite all that this future London has to offer (fantasy creatures in nightclubs, robots fighting in the streets, blue people singing Bollywood numbers), she’s bored.

Enter Zen Gunman Tony Ling. His path crosses Rosi’s when he’s hunting a member of the Quarry Gang. The stylish gunplay, high-speed scooter chase, and explosions that follow are the most fun Rosi has had in months.

Contains Two-Step #1-3 and includes the script for issue #1.

Why I picked it up: I love comics by Warren Ellis. Plus the art looks alarmingly shiny.

Why I finished it: It had me at Rosi’s first line: “I am so bored I could fart blood.” Ling later describes her as having “the personality of a weasel with paint stripper on its nipples.” But that doesn’t mean they don’t have chemistry.

I'd give it to: Flemtastic. I’ll give it to him during our next book review meeting so I can watch the horror on his shiny, innocent face as he reads about Reg, the gang enforcer who has an uncontrollable urge to shag cars.

Your Pinkie Is More Powerful Than Your Thumb And 333 Other Surprising Facts that Will Make You Wealthier, Healthier and Smarter than Everyone Else by Mark Di Vincenzo

Link to this review by flemtastic tagged nonfictionscience

Strange fact-finder Di Vincenzo is making a career out of collecting facts and grouping them together in bizarre categories like “Underdogs, Stocky Marathoners and Diving Goalies” and “Monkey Stalkers, Giant Dust Clouds and Chicken Feathers.” Among the facts he found were the last words said by convicted killers before they were executed. (“Love,” “thanks,” and “sorry” led the list, with “love” being said over twelve times more than “innocent.”)  Also, the human body cannot survive a fever of 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit or a loss of 40% of its blood supply. Each fact is carefully explained in a short paragraph.  Di Vincenzo includes his references in the back of the book.

Why I picked it up: I long ago exhausted the Uncle John’s Bathroom Readers

Why I finished it: The Rhinoceros Beetle is the strongest animal in the world, pound for pound.  The equivalent strength in a 154 pound human would allow her to lift an M1 Abrams tank or an empty Boeing 737. 

I'd give it to: That weird little science nerd who followed me around my library at school all last year, spouting nonsensical “facts.” After reading this, at least he could annoy me with true (but mostly useless) information. 

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