Southern Bastards Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1 by Jason Aaron, Jason Latour

Link to this review in the form of a comic strip by geneambaum tagged graphic novel

Unshelved comic strip for 7/15/2016

Includes a gallery of variant covers, a sketchbook, and a selection of readers’ recipes that includes fried apple pies and banana pudding. Yum.

Collects Southern Bastards #1 - #8

Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature

Why I picked it up: The owner of Pike Place Market’s BLMF Literary Saloon recommended it. He’s got great taste, particularly when it comes to noir crime novels. Sold.

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, Yuyi Morales

Link to this review by craigseasholes tagged picture book

Almost anyone could admire the cool things about this Native American youngster’s life. He's got a brightly painted, kid-sized guitar. Him mom rides a big motorcycle. He once touched a wild orca on the nose. He learned to ride a bike when he was three. He's a grass dancer at powwows. His parents love and play with him, and his little sister isn’t too annoying. The only problem: “Thunder Boy is not a normal name.”

Why I picked it up: Every librarian looks for books that reflect our diverse communities. I leapt the moment I saw Sherman Alexie’s name on the cover.

Why I finished it: Morales’ illustrations are clever, colorful and just plain amazing. When the siblings fight over a rubber ball, they see it struck by a bolt of lightning from their dad Big Thunder's scowl. Thunder Boy Jr., in bright yellow coveralls, stands behind a guitar, strikes a Johnny Cash pose, and declares, “Hello, my name is Thunder Boy Jr.” His gleeful little sister in pink pants bounces onto the next page to correct him: “Thunder Boy Smith.” Wishing he’d been called Sam like his mom wanted, instead he is saddled with a nickname he thinks “sounds like a burp or a fart.” With the combined fury of a howling coyote, an angry rattlesnake, and a roaring bear, Thunder Boy Jr. declares, “I HATE MY NAME!” and imagines several others that might better suit his interests and experiences. 

Readalikes: The beauty of Thunder Boy Jr. is how it addresses the call for fun books that reflect families' diversities. Three others that also do this are: Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet Wong, in which a Chinese American family celebrates the 4th of July with friends; Big Red Lollipop in which sisters have to navigate sibling rivalry en route to their first American birthday party; and The Favorite Daughter by Allen Say which shows how gentle counsel helped his daughter overcome racial teasing while embracing her bi-racial identity.

The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan

From the brilliant mind of Shaun Tan, Grimms' fairy tales as they've never been seen before!

Wicked stepmothers, traitorous brothers, cunning foxes, lonely princesses: There is no mistaking the world of the Brothers Grimm and the beloved fairy tales that have captured generations of readers. Now internationally acclaimed artist Shaun Tan shows us the beautiful, terrifying, amusing, and downright peculiar heart of these tales as never before seen.

With a foreword by Neil Gaiman and an introduction by renowned fairy-tale expert Jack Zipes, this stunning gallery of sculptural works will thrill and delight art lovers and fairy-tale aficionados alike.

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Breakthrough! How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever by Jim Murphy

Link to this review by sarahhunt tagged history

Babies born with heart abnormalities struggle to get enough oxygen into their bodies, so their skin and lips turn a pale blue. In 1944 no one thought anything could be done. Heart surgery was almost never attempted. Surgical tools were primitive, the machinery needed to keep a patient alive and thriving had not yet been perfected, and post-surgical care was almost nonexistent. Operating on a fragile infant was unthinkable.

Dr. Helen Taussig, a pediatric surgeon who had done extensive research in heart malformations, suggested a simple and logical surgical procedure to repair babies' hearts to Dr. Alfred Blalock, a doctor known worldwide for his study of shock. Vivien Thomas, an African-American researcher working for Blalock (who was often assumed to just be a janitor), performed experimental surgery on dogs to test the procedure. The three created a way to save lives that had never been imagined before.

Why I picked it up: Jim Murphy writes great medical stories that include discussions of social and ethical issues. His books always challenge my knowledge of history and medicine.

Why I finished it: Murphy does a stunning job not only with the drama of a lifesaving procedure, but the assumptions fellow medical researchers had about African-Americans, women, people with disabilities, and people without medical degrees. It all added up to the fact that this research had to be absolutely watertight to be accepted. Murphy even packed information into the changing ethical views on animal experimentation into a single, beautifully balanced chapter.

Readalikes: Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, another story of ethics and medical breakthroughs that also started at Johns Hopkins. 

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

From Raina Telgemeier, the #1 New York Times bestselling, multiple Eisner Award-winning author of Smile, Drama, and Sisters!

Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn't happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister's sake -- and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

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She's Not There by Joy Fielding

Link to this review by murphy'smom tagged mystery

Caroline Shipley and her husband Hunter always enjoyed over the top wedding anniversary celebrations. When their tenth rolls around, Hunter plans a surprise trip to Mexico for the entire Shipley family and the couple's closest friends, along with a romantic dinner in the resort's restaurant. But the babysitter never shows. Caroline and Hunter take turns every thirty minutes making sure their young daughters, Samantha (age two) and Michelle (age five), are safely asleep. Somehow Samantha vanishes without a trace.

Their marriage and their lives fall apart. Fifteen years later Caroline gets a call from Lili, a young woman who thinks she is Samantha. Lili has moved around her entire life, been homeschooled, and never had much to do with the outside world because of overprotective parents. Lili saw pictures of Samatha in the library and thought she resembled her. As much as Caroline wants to believe Lili is Samantha, she has her doubts.

Why I picked it up: I have been a huge fan of Joy Fielding's books ever since my mother bought a copy of See Jane Run for a quarter when I was twelve. I read that paperback cover to cover in just a day. 

Why I finished it: Was Lili scamming Caroline, or was this young woman really Samantha? Fielding flipped between past and present to create cliffhangers between chapters.

I knew if I didn't finish the entire story I would miss one of her famous, twisted endings. I always think I have Fielding’s plots figured out but then she throws a curveball I don’t see coming. This book was no exception. I couldn’t trust any of the characters because all of them could have had something to do with Samantha’s disappearance.

Readalikes: Heartstopper by Joy Fielding, which is told from the kidnapper's point of view. Shortly after Sandy Crosbie, a high school English teacher, arrives in a small Florida town, someone starts abducting and killing good looking teenagers. The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton, a novel about a young woman becoming re-acclimated to the world after being held captive by a sociopath who beat, raped, and branded her repeatedly.

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey

"Pilkey... has once again fired an arrow of joy straight at the fevered childhood psyche of millions of readers. An utter, unfettered delight." -- Booklist, starred review

New from the creator of Captain Underpants, it's Dog Man, the crime-biting canine who is part dog, part man, and ALL HERO!

George and Harold have created a new hero who digs into deception, claws after crooks, and rolls over robbers. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion are injured on the job, a life-saving surgery changes the course of history, and Dog Man is born. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound has a real nose for justice. But can he resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?

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Wuvable Oaf by Ed Luce

Link to this review by dawnrutherford tagged graphic novel

Oaf is a total sweetheart of a guy looking for love in San Francisco. But it isn't always easy for a guy like him to find dates; he’s massive, covered in body hair, and kind of stinky, though his twenty-one cats are crazy about his stench. He bides his time running Oaf's Home for Wayward Kitties Who are Really Cute and Need Lotsa Love and crafting odd little animals stuffed with his body hair. His life is full, but lonely. 

And then one day he sees him: a surly little beady-eyed bald man glowering from across the street. Oaf thinks "He looks like he could use a nice long cuddle!" A crush is born and then flamed when Oaf discovers this adorable wee fellow (Eiffel) is also the lead singer for a band called Ejaculoid.

Why I picked it up: At the American Libraries Association conference in San Francisco this summer, I met a man wearing a Wuvable BatOaf t-shirt. I asked what it meant. He immediately launched into a happy rant about this wonderful bear romance comic and how much he adored it, then pointed me around the corner to where Ed Luce was hawking his wares. When I saw the crazy cats on the cover of the hardbound collection I had to read it.

Why I finished it: There is so much to wuv in this book. I was dying to see if the incredibly awkward and kind Oaf would have a chance with Eiffel, whose first thought on seeing Oaf was "big ape," and not in a nice way. But I knew Oaf had it in the bag when, on their first date, Eiffel asks Oaf how he can afford a home in San Francisco on dolls and cat welfare, and Oaf confesses he was once the wrestler Goteblüd.

My favorite part of the book are the flashbacks of Oaf's Worst Dates (and Non-Dates) Ever (think broken teeth, severe cat allergies, and an unacceptable dissing of Morrissey) and finding out how Eiffel got his band together (mostly via realizations during sex that they would be better bandmates than boyfriends, such as the time his future drummer wouldn't stop pounding out rhythms on his butt during sex). 

Readalikes: While Wuvable Oaf is packed with sweetness and romance, it is also sprinkled with sexy hairy dudes, crude references, and the occasional nearly explicit sex scene. None of this bothered me one bit, and in fact it made the adorable love scenes even better. Some might find it a bit much, but for those who feel this book is just hinting at what they really want to read, I recommend Chip Kidd's beautifully designed, completely graphic anthology of Japanese bara manga Massive: Gay Erotic Manga and the Men Who Make It.

Nightmare Escape Dream Jumper, Book 1 by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom

Ben's dreams are all nightmares . . . And his nightmares are real!

Ben has a problem. When he sleeps, he dreams, and when he dreams, they're all nightmares! But he can also jump into other people's dreams. So when his friends start falling victim to an evil dream-monster that prevents them from waking, Ben knows he has to help them. Easier said than done when dreams can shift and the monster knows his way around the ever-changing landscape of the mind! With help from a talking rabbit-companion who has a mysterious past, Ben might just be able to defeat the monster and save his friends . . . if he can figure out how to use the power within him against his enemies.

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Kaptara Volume One: Fear Not, Tiny Alien by Chip Zdarsky, Kagan McLeod

Link to this review by geneambaum tagged fantasygraphic novelscience fiction

Keith, a gay and somewhat scrawny bioengineer, is on his way to Mars with a small group of astronauts. His aunt got him the opportunity because he didn’t really have anything worth staying at home for.  

After their ship breaks apart in a spatial anomaly, the crew members use their escape pods to crash land on a strange planet that is clearly not Mars -- it’s filled with plants, dangerous creatures, and has breathable atmosphere. After Keith is saved from a monster in the Murder Forest by a sword-wielding warrior, he is presented to Jinli, Queen of Endom, the fourth kingdom of Kaptara. He learns that an armada belonging to Skullthor, leader of the Dark Burroughs, has broken air and space treaties to travel to Earth and take it over. (Keith’s ship fell through the hole in space that Skullthor’s armada created.)  

The Queen’s son, the randy Dartor, and her trusted head of security, Manton, try to convince Keith to join their adventure to save our planet, but Keith doesn’t care. He doesn’t want to go back.

Publisher’s Rating: T+ / Teen Plus

Contains Kaptara issues #1 - #5.

Why I picked it up: Chip Zdarsky wrote it, and I love Sex Criminals, which he draws and co-creates with Matt Fraction.

Why I finished it: It’s a hilarious sendup of the He-Man universe, and a few other media properties I grew up with in the '80s. Dartor is always shirtless, though he does wear a cape, fur boots, and fur panties like any self-respecting barbarian warrior. (Keith seems to be lusting after him, but Dartor is so self-absorbed he hardly notices.) He tries to teach Keith to fight with a battlebroom, which doesn’t go well, and the vehicles he and Manton ride off in look like pig/pug hybrids with tank tracks attached. This is a minor spoiler, but Keith eventually decides to join them, tracks them down with the help of She-La, a zaftig squirrel woman whose insanely cool ride looks like it’s more "balding white guy" than horse. They’re all taken prisoner by the most amazingly off-color Smurf sendup ever, the Glomps, a group of disgusting, foul-mouthed, sexist cannibals who send them after a nudist shape-changing wizard. It’s completely entertaining insanity, and I haven’t even mentioned the bee people yet. 

It’s perfect for: Heather. She refused my offer to be her personal Stuart Smalley a while back, but I think she’d get the affirmations she needs from the two-armed floating orb that appears throughout the book. Via text that appears on its surface, it offers relevant advice to everyone like “Be the Best You You Can Be” and “Together Everyone Achieves More.”

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