Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Review: We Lived in a Little Cabin in the Yard: Slave Narratives from Virginia ed. by Belinda Hurmence

Synopsis: Based on the Slave Narrative project funded by the Works Progress Administration during the early 1930s. Researchers, paid by Federal funds, traveled across the South and collected the stories of slavery as told by those that lived it. The stories come from many states. This collection is particularly to Virginia, and only encompass stories from those over 80 years old. This ensures the stories come from actual slaves and not the children or relatives. There are 21 stories, 11 females and 10 males.

Review: This is a slender volume whose simplicity belies the nature of the narrative within. Hurmence presents a carefully curated collection of the some 600 plus tales gathered during this Project. The only words that are her own is the introduction where she explains her criteria and editing choices. For the most part, she has maintained the voice of the speaker, keeping vernacular, vocabulary, exclamations, and descriptions. By doing this, she has preserved the authenticity of the voices, giving the reader a true glimpse into the life of these people.
One thing that surprised me what how well most of the narrators spoke about their masters. Given the horrors of slavery, I would have expected more to depict this travesty. And yet many did not. One speaker noted that owners in Virginia tended to treat slaves better become freedom was so close – merely a few hundred miles away. I wonder if this is accurate or if this is a product of the fact the people collecting the stories were white and sought out “white people aren’t so bad” stories. Perhaps reading this authors other works (collections from North and South Carolina) would help solve this question.
The language is simple enough for younger readers, but the subject matter may require adult guidance to process. Still, I would highly recommend for educational purposes.  This is a slender volume who's simplicity belies the nature of the narrative within.

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-89587-118-3
Year Published: 1994
Date Finished: 4-15-2018
Pages: 103

Review: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time, Book Two)

Synopsis: The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of th Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of...Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages. And it is stolen. (online description)

Review: I dated this boy who loved The Wheel of Time and in an effort to impress him, I read the first and second book of the series. I hated them. Turns out, I don’t particularly enjoy High Fantasy.
Fast forward over a decade, and I’m married to that boy and I’m reading it again, this time because it continues to be important to my husband and I want to share in the story that means so much to him
Perhaps it is age or perhaps it is because “reading” it via the audio book, but I find I know enjoy the story immensely. Intricate, with one of the most complex and complete worlds I’ve ever entered. The level of detail is astounding. This gives the story of richness unlike anything I’ve read. One might be worried the characters or plot would get buried the excessive details – and yet, they don’t. In  fact, the details give the characters depth and the plot a realness that makes it hard to put the book down.
I don’t need to laud this series, to be sure. The amount of fanfiction and still-active fan forums attest to the longevity of this story. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-812-51772-5
Year Published: 1990
Date Finished: 4-13-2018
Pages: 705

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Review: Hinterkind by Ian Edginton, Francesco Trifogli, Cris Peter (Volumes 1-3)

Synopsis: Told across three volumes, this story concerns that end of humans - and the rise of the Hinterkind. After an unnamed plagued kills most humans, the Hinterkind came out from hinding - the Sindhe, the goblins, vampires, fairies, the ghouls and ghosties, the magical creatures only heard about in legends. And they are here to make sure humans never rise again.....

Review: I picked this up based on the cover of volume one. I read the entire set because of the dark and grim nature of the stories. 
This is not a pleasant story. Humans stand on the brink of extinction. From all sides they are hunted, living among the broken remnants of the modern world.
The story follows Prosper Monday as she sets out on an adventure. It quickly escalates into a fight for her life, the life of those she loves, and for the very survival of the world.
It is a dark story. Death haunts them and not all the characters make it out. Bold, classic colors and dynamic lines tell a bloody and creepy tale. I wasn’t prepared for the intrigue, the violence, or the level of creepiness of the narrative. However, that only made me want more story. With excellent world building, complex characters, and twisted plot, this is well worth reading.
Many have complained the third volume wrapped up the story too neatly and too quickly. While I agree about the too quickly, I actually like the neatly part. I detest stories that leave loose ends. It did feel a bit rushed. I think they could have stretched the story for another volume with more satisfactory results. But in the end, I still enjoyed the story and would recommend. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5 / 4 of 5 / 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4012-4518-4 / 978-1-4012-5070-6 / 978-1-4012-5-4353
Year Published: 2013 / 2014 / 2015
Date Finished: 4-7-2018 / 4-11-2018
Pages: 128 / 132 / 115

Monday, April 23, 2018

Review: Bloodshot Reborn: Colorado by Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan, Raul Allen, David Baron

Synopsis: Bloodshot’s nanites made him a nearly unstoppable killing machine. His enhanced strength, speed, endurance, and healing made him the perfect weapon, and he served his masters at Project Rising Spirit — a private contractor trafficking in violence — very well. Now, Bloodshot is a shadow of his former self. He lives in self-imposed exile, reeling from the consequences of his past life and the recent events that nearly drove him mad. But when a rash of shootings by gunmen who appear to look just like Bloodshot begin, his guilt will send him on a mission to stop the killers, even if it means diving head-long into the violence that nearly destroyed him. This collects Bloodshot Reborn issues #1–5. (from the online description)

Review: I knew nothing about this character before reading this graphic novel. I chose it as the Library because of the imprint – I enjoy most of the works produced by Valiant Entertainment.
Told with dynamic, bold illustrations using bloody coloring and shadows, this follows Bloodshot, after he escapes from the nanites that controlled him. Seeking to forget, he hides as a handyman in a seedy hotel, spending his nights drunk and high.
But when someone who looks similar to him guns down innocents, he is compelled to seek out this person and find answers. Along the way, he encounters the demons of his past and the dangers of his future.
It took me a bit to get into the story, but once I did, I enjoyed the story. It’s grisly and dark and bloody and violent. Bloodshot is not a likeable character and yet, you want him to find peace and healing.
It you enjoy the grimdark and the brutal, this is the story for you. 

Bookmarks: 3.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-939-346674
Year Published: 2015
Date Read: 4-7-2018
Pages: 130

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Review: Dragon's Fat Cat by Dav Pilkey

Synopsis: Dragon adopts a stray cat despite knowing nothing about cats. Adventure and learning ensue.

Review: With cute colorful illustrations and simple language, the reader follows Dragon as he learns to care for his new pet cat. Warmth and humor pervade the story. Perfect for young readers (and cat lovers!)

Bookmarks; 4 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 0-534-07068-9
Year Published: 1992
Date Finished: 4-4-18
Pages: 18

Friday, April 20, 2018

Review: The Legend of Wonder Woman: Origins (Volume One) by Renae de Liz and Ray Dillon

Synopsis: On the hidden island of Themyscira, the Amazons, led by Queen Hippolyta, live in a kingdom of peace, protected by the gods. But the balance is upset when Hippolyta is granted what no immortal may have: a child, given life from the clay of the island. She is the princess Diana, who alone can sense the evil that is infesting the Amazon’s home. But when a man from the outside world is brought to Themyscira as part of a conspiracy to overthrow its queen, Diana will risk everything to save his innocent life…and lose everything in the process. Soon, the Amazon princess finds herself in a world she never knew existed—America, a land of untold wonders that also finds itself threatened by a great war abroad. In order to get back home, Diana and her new friends Steve Trevor and Etta Candy must head into the war zone and find the Nazi agent known as the Duke of Deception, who wields a powerful artifact that belongs to Hippolyta. And in order to defeat this powerful enemy, the princess of peace must become the hero she was meant to be. She must become Wonder Woman! (online description)

Review: Being that Wonder Woman is one of the most popular superheroes, her origin story has been told many times over. This version has a unique take on the story. Told with bright bold drawings that have a lovely vintage tone, we follow Diana as she grows from child of Themyscira to Wonder Woman, hero of World War II. This is a lighter retelling than your usual story but it has enough depth and sorrow to give it weight. There is a warmth and humor to the story, particularly in the friendship between Etta Candy and Diana.
Still, I didn’t like it as much as I probably should have. But I can’t point to one particularly aspect. Perhaps it is because I enjoy the darker telling of Wonder Woman.
All that being said, I think this is a valuable contribution to the Wonder Woman lore. It is particularly suitable for a younger audience (older elementary age at the youngest) as it doesn’t contain excessive violence or sexuality. There are references to zombies and murder, but the drawings often shaded and vague. Read it first to be certain, but it is worth noting it might be suitable. 

Bookmarks: 3.5 of 5

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-1-4012-6728-5
Year Published: 2016
Date Finished: 4-2-2018
Pages: 132

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Review: Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia by Greg Rucka, Dave Stewart, J. G. Jones, et al

Synopsis: Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia is a modern Greek tragedy of duty and vengeance. When Wonder Woman partakes in an ancient ritual called the Hiketeia, she is honor-bound to eternally protect and care for a young woman named Danielle Wellys. But when Wonder Woman learns that Danielle has killed the sex-slavers/drug dealers who murdered her sister, she suddenly finds herself in battle with Batman, who is searching for the fugitive. Caught in a no-win situation, Wonder Woman must choose between breaking a sacred oath and turning her back on justice. (from the Wikipedia description)

Review: Rucka stated he wanted to write a Wonder Woman that showed more of the darkness and depth in Diana. He achieved that in this work.
Diana, alone, is different from the one in the limelight. She bares the weight of her responsibility, but it is more than that. She bares the weight of the gods and their rules. In this story, Diana’s life as a member of the Justice League and her position in the Greek Pantheon collide.
What makes this story excellent is the conflict Diana experiences. Her devotion to her gods and her ways bring her both comfort and pain. She is a woman caught between worlds.
And the aftermath is sorrow. Always sorrow.
As for the art, it is bold, dynamic, rich, and dark. And Batman – he cannot beat Wonder Woman, for all he is Batman. The iconic panel where Wonder Woman presses her boot into Batman’s face ad tell him to stay down – it is the best of many excellent panels.
A must-read for any Wonder Woman fan. 

Bookmarks: 4 of 5

Awards: TBD

ISBN: 978-1-56389-914-0
Year Published: 2003
Date Finished: 4-1-2018
Pages: 90