Gruesome folk(ish) tales in comic form.

The Saint's Eyes and other stories by C.Frakes is a collection of stories that all share one thing in common, they are all weird in the original sense of the word. They have something out of the ordinary, something slightly mystical and sometimes gruesome to them. My favorite of the stories is a woman talking about her life and the curse that she's been placed under. At first you don't notice anything strange but as the panels progress you get a better understanding of just who the woman was.

The artwork is simple, but it works with the style of stories that are being told. The simple lines and lack of shading in the comics give it a whimsical feel that plays well with the stories and creates something that is great.

If you enjoy short stories told in comic form and folk tales then The Saint's Eyes and other stories is definitely for you!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #568

The Improbability of Love * * * is film director and documentarian Hannah Rothschild's debut novel, spinning "a dazzling tale--both irreverent and entertaining--of a many-layered, devious world where, in the end, love triumphs."

The novel opens on a blistering July day when all of London (and the world) turn out at the auction of THE painting - "the first time that a painting has been marketed with a world tour, a biography, an app, its own website, a motion picture and a documentary film", a painting rescued from a junk shop only 6 months before, after languishing behind a rubber plant for 50 years. 300-years ago, an unheralded Antoine Watteau created an homage to his unrequited love, entitled The Improbability of Love. Along the way, it passed through the hands of emperors, popes, and kings before finding its way to Nazi Germany.

Annie McDee, recovering from a long-term relationship, relocates to London and works as a chef for owners of Winkleman Fine Art. On impulse she buys a lovely little painting as a gift for a new and unsuitable boyfriend, and innocently sets off an art-world and geopolitical cataclysm.

"An opulently detailed, suspensefully plotted, shrewdly witty novel of decadence, crimes ordinary and genocidal... the book is at its best when delving into the lives of the many people affected by the Watteau."

"Rothschild packs the narrative with vivid details, especially about art and food (she is a Trustee of the Tate, and in 2015 became the first woman to chair the National Gallery, London). For readers who particularly enjoy the blend of art, mystery and intrigue, as in Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch; Nicole Kruass' The History of Love ; and B.A. Shapiro's The Art Forger.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

You Want Cute? I'll Give You Cute!

And I mean it. If you're looking for an adorable manga to read, Wish is the series for you. This short 4-volume series is written and illustrated by CLAMP, a publication company known for their all-female staff and famous for series such as xxxholic, Tsubasa Chronicle, and Chobits.

In Wish we meet Kohaku, an angel who has come to Earth to find one of the missing Angel Masters. Kohaku isn't necessarily the best angel for the job though. She's clumsy and a little dense, but she has a pure soul and is considered one of God's favorite angels! Luckily for her, she meets Shuichiro at the beginning of her journey when he saves her from a raven. In order to repay his kindness, Kohaku promises to grant Shuichiro one wish, but when Shuichiro says there's nothing he'd wish for, Kohaku stays at his place until he can come up with one. During her stay, Kohaku and Shuichiro have to deal with the demon Koryu, who loves picking on Kohaku. And lets not forget Kohaku's mission! God has only allowed Kohaku to come to Earth for a short period of time, so can she find the missing Angel Master? And put up with Koryu's teasing? AND deal with Kokuyo, the son of Satan? AND what about these odd feelings she has when she's with Shuichiro?! Poor Kohaku... Anyway, check it out if you're wanting a cute series with angels, demons, and of course, love.

Fantastic Fantasy Graphic Novels!

There's a lot of great fantasy graphic novels being published and the library has a lot of great trades, but sometimes you want more than just "great" you want to read a fantasy graphic novel that is, well fantastic. So here's some of the most fantastic fantasy trades that the library has for you to check out.

Telos follows Young Jarek and his companions, an anthropomorphic Tiger named Koj, a swashbuckling pirate named Serra, an anthropomorphic fox thief named Rikki, Rikki's companion Hawke an Elf and .a Genie that is bound to protect only Jarek. Read as the companions try to discover the mystery behind Jarek's origin. The artwork in this is very vibrant with lots of bold color choices. The character development in the story is wonderful and you really get a feel for the fantastic world that these companions live in.

Pretty Deadly is a hard comic to describe, it's a western, fable, fantasy, adventure, mystery, art piece. It starts off with a butterfly and a bunny talking about the day they met, the day that bunny was afraid and the day that a young woman, Sissy, shot him. Fantasy westerns are not that common and so when one comes along that is lyrical, in the sense that it focuses on symbols rather than plot to develop the story, and beautifully illustrated. You can tell that each page, each panel is carefully drawn with great attention to the small parts that make a greater whole more solid. If you are at all intrigued by the idea of a western fantasy narrated by a bunny and a butterfly then this is most definitely the graphic novel for you.

The Mouse Guard are a group of mice who protect their lands in a world where almost everything else is their enemy. The story has an epic feel and often deals with subjects such as fate, destiny and what it is to be a hero. The artwork in this is deeply moving and unlike many other fantasies with animals as the protagonist the mice are not overtly anthropomorphized but instead still look and feel like mice, even if they walk on two legs. This is not the first time I've recommended this series and it won't be the last it is a fantastic graphic novel series and worth every minute it takes to read them!

Here's three of the most fantastic fantasy graphic novels that we have at the library. Keep watch for more fantastic fantasy blogs for even more fantastic fantasy!

The Best of 2015

It's that time of the year. Avid readers are eager to see how their favorites in the past 12 months stack up against other great reads. Many will depend on them for gift-giving inspirations. Or simply use the lists to jump start on the titles you have been meaning to get around to.

If you are flummoxed by the massive New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015, you are not alone. I suggest you take a look at some of the more focused Best of the Best lists. Let's start with their 10 Best Books of 2015.

Goodreads Choice Awards is the only major book awards decided by readers. Very democratic and organized in 20 categories: Fiction, Mystery & Thriller, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance... etc. as well as Nonfiction, Memoir & Autobiography, Science & Technology, and Humor.

The site that gives us top ten books published each month that librarians across the country love, just released LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites 2015. Not many surprises there but what a strong list! (and three of them debut novels).

I also like Publishers Weekly's Best Books 2015; BuzzFeed's The 24 Best Fiction Books Of 2015; The Washington Post's The 10 Best Books of 2015 (if you scroll down this last list, you will see a list for the Best Audiobooks as well as Best Graphic Novels).

Happy Reading.

PreK Bits - "1" Stands Alone

Ms. Rachel told stories about the number one in storytime.

PAPA PLEASE, GET The MOON For ME ... there was one little girl, one person she called "Papa", one thing she wanted ... the moon.
Banjo Betsy and Ms. Rachel led the action song "Faster, Faster, Faster, Faster" by Jim Gill.
There was a birthday story about ... “One Lonely Candle”. An original story created by StoryLaura.

Please enjoy more singular stories as follows:
ONE DUCK STUCK by Phyllis Root.
ONE BIG BUILDING: a counting book about construction by Michael Dahl.
ONE COOL FRIEND by Tony Buzzeo.
ONE MORE HUG For MADISON by Caroline Church.
ONE TOO MANY: a seek & find counting book by Gianna Marino.
ONE DROWSY DRAGON by Ethan Long.
ANOTHER BROTHER matthew Cordell.
ONE PUP’S UP by Marsha Wilson Chall.
ONE DOG CANOE by Mary Casanova.
ONE LIGHTHOUSE ONE MOON by anita Lobel.
"1" stands alone ... among many more.

It Ended Badly: a fun winter read

New to the AADL collection is It Ended Badly, a fun book by Jennifer Wright detailing thirteen of the worst breakups in history. The book spans centuries: from medieval Rome to the Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher-Elizabeth Taylor saga of 1950s-60s Hollywood, the breakups in the book are carefully chosen for their drama, their absurdity, and, of course, for the heartbreak they caused. This book is no downer though, despite its technically sad subject matter. Wright describes the characters vividly and throws in amusing anecdotes to keep the overall tone light. “If he was unhappy,” she writes about Timothy Dexter, who told everyone his wife was a ghost while she was still alive, “it seems it would have been easier to divorce than to pretend your wife does not exist, especially when she was still living in your home and throwing things at you.”

The introduction suggests that this book is intended for those who have just undergone a rough breakup (“If you are lying in bed right now, a pint of ice cream in one hand, a bottle of Scotch in the other, and this book clenched between your teeth, with tears streaming down your face over how much you loved, loved, loved your ex, let me commend you on how well you are coping. You could be doing so much worse.”), but I think it’s a fascinating read for anyone. Readers will learn a great deal about the individuals that Wright focuses on in the book, and about the time periods that they lived in, AND feel entirely equipped to answer trivia questions with obscure historical romance themes/have something at least moderately interesting to talk about with anyone at upcoming holiday parties. It Ended Badly is a great book to burrow under a blanket with on a chilly December evening, accompanied by a warm winter beverage.

100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know

HammerHammer

Perusing the new books downtown, I found this "Family Handyman” book, 100 Things Every Homeowner Must Know: How to Save Money, Solve Problems and Improve Your Home, which looked interesting since I am knee deep in several DIY home improvement projects. Maybe I should have read this before I started.

Best used as a starting point for many different lessons about maintaining the comfort, safety, efficiency and beauty of your home, all of the articles are short, well-illustrated, and very to the point, highlighting the salient facts and considerations for each project. You might need other books to go in depth on tiling your bathroom or drying out a wet basement. This book is more of a homeowner’s checklist of what to be aware of when keeping house. Home Maintenance 101. Understanding Your House for Dummies.

A sampling of topics includes: everything related to heating and cooling and saving money while doing both; maintaining your roof, lawn mower, water heater, drains, and appliances; fixing a leak, a flood, a wall, a door, a furnace; painting properly, washing windows winningly, applying grout appropriately; everything about fire prevention, fighting pests, using tools, and preparing for multiple mini-disasters (storms and smoke, mold and mildew, burglars and blackouts).

Do you know where your shut-off valves are?

There's nothing more Exquisite than a good graphic novel.

French graphic novels translated into English are beginnning to become more popular with titles such as Blacksad taking the comic world by storm. It's not surprising then that Exquisite Corpse has found its way across the Atlantic.

The story follows Zoe, a promotional model for motor shows and other such industry events, as she expresses disinterest in her life and the direction that it's going. One day, on her lunch break, she notices a man looking out at the world from his apartment, and needing to use the bathroom, she barges into his life. The man turns out to be a famous author Thomas Rochard who supposedly died several years earlier. Zoe must navigate living with a "dead" man, as well as his former wife and current editor Agathe.

The artwork is exquisite, if you'll excuse my use of the word to describe this book, and lush with meaning. Whilst reading it you can almost forget that this was originally French, the translation is that good, and you might find yourself shocked when a city scene that is so obviously French appears.

This book is a fascinating read, from the subject matter to the almost meta nature of a book about an author, and it's well worth adding to your "to read" list.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #567

The Boys * * is the first of Toni Sala's books to ever be published in English. The recipient of the 2005 National Literature Prize awarded by the Catalan government, Sala also received the Premis de la Crítica (The Critics Prize for Fiction Catalan) for The Boys in 2014.

In the sleepy Catalonian village of Vidreres, at the foothills of the Pyrenees, two teenage boys, sons of a powerful landowner, were killed in a horrible accident. Overnight, the grief changed the lives of everyone in town, including our four narrators: Iona, a teenage girl who narrowly escapes the same fate by refusing a ride, now she is left to wrestle with survivor's guilt; Ernest, the local banker heads out to the crash site and seeks solace by visiting a hooker; brutish trucker Miqui, no stranger to mayhems, is quietly touched by the deaths; and Nil, an unhinged artist is in pursuit of Iona.

"Long recognized among Catalonia's leading authors, Toni Sala is at his dark, mischievous best, delivering a sinister, fast-moving tale laced with labyrinthine meditations... From Internet hookups and face transplants to tense standoffs, sexual fantasies, and the loss of the ones we hold most dear, Sala offers us a frighteningly contemporary vision of how alone we are in an age of unparalleled connectivity."

Will appeal to fans of Javier Marias, Horacio Castellanos Moya; Michael Ondaatje; and Michel Houellebecq.

* * = 2 starred reviews

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