Comics February Week One (and a half)

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Here’s what I read in the first week (and a half!) of Comics February. I really meant to post this earlier but I couldn’t stop reading.

 

  
 The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew

I may not know much about comics but I do know this, when I see Sonny Liew’s name, I know it’s going to be a great read.

Liew has chosen a  Singapore comics pioneer as his subject and there are surprisingly political comics. And this book on his life and art has also found controversy after Singapore’s National Arts Council abruptly pulled its grant over what it deemed “sensitive content”. And just one day before the launch too. (That’s Singapore for you.) But in spite of that – or because of that – the first printing sold out almost immediately and it led to additional printings in Singapore. The book will be published internationally by Pantheon Books this year.

This is one amazing book. As a Singaporean, it made me rethink what I was taught in school about Singapore’s history, and how we had this watered down, one-sided view of things. I hope more young Singaporeans read this book. I even had the thought, what if this were taught in schools? Of course that wouldn’t happen, because it’s Singapore.

As a (sometimes) comics reader, I loved the different layers, Chan’s comics, Liew’s occasional commentary and appearance in the book, interspersed with Chan’s struggles in his career and his life (real or made up – it doesn’t really matter). I loved the idea of an alternative universe in which Barisan Sosialis won the political battle (in reality, the People’s Action Party took the vote and the Barison Sosialis leaders were accused of being communists and detained without trial). The mock posters of Singapore’s many campaigns were a hoot.

Perhaps you might be wondering whether a person who hasn’t the faintest clue about Singapore’s past can read this book, and yes, no worries. I think Liew explains things and issues pretty well, and I’m guessing that the Pantheon version may have a bit more explanation for international readers. But isn’t that what reading is about – to explore, to learn, to dive into the unknown. And in Sonny Liew’s capable hands, you’ll do fine.

 

 

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(This one also counts toward #readmyowndamnbooks and the Diversity on the Shelf challenges)

 

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A Wrinkle in Time graphic novel – adapted by and illustrated by Hope Larson

I am never quite sure why adaptations of books, especially classics like this one, are made. To attract a new audience? To have those who once loved the book as a child buy another copy?

Well, I never read this as a child, but I really did love it when I finally read it as an adult, a few years ago. And as with movie versions, I was hesitant to read this graphic novel version. In the end, I was just glad I did. Hope Larson has done a really fabulous job with this adaptation. It felt just right – not too modern and weird, not too truncated or too long.

In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Larson said:

My concern was never making more work for myself, but doing the story justice. It is like a house of cards–so delicate, most of it resting on L’Engle’s dialogue. I didn’t want to end up with an adaptation that felt truncated, or relied heavily on caption boxes to get you from point A to point B in the most economical way. There’s no way to tesser through A Wrinkle in Time. If you take shortcuts in a book like this, you damage it.

Indeed!

 An Age of License – Lucy Knisley

While I like Lucy Knisley’s very cute drawing style, sometimes her constant worrying and anxiety gets to me. Here she is about to embark on a vacation to Europe and she really gets so stressed out about it, that it is a bit painful to read. I kept thinking, it’s a holiday! You’re not moving there! So good thing she finally gets on the plane and those worries fly away and she instead lets us armchair travel with her as she ventures around Sweden, Norway, France. I think I was expecting more from a title like “An Age of License”, like there was something more… substantial. In the end it was a decent read, not very memorable.

Bad Houses -Carla Speed McNeil,  Sara Ryan

I was surprised by this one. First of all, estate sales seemed like a rather niche business to be making a graphic novel out of. One of the main characters works with the family’s estate sale company. They manage estate sales, you know, when people die, they organize belongings and sell those the family doesn’t want. The other, the girl with the camera, Anne, just likes to visit estate sales, listening to stories and taking photos. Sometimes taking things as well. It’s not really a meet-cute but a meet-weird I guess. The guy and the girl meet at an estate sale, get together, figure out their relationship, figure out their own families and their own selves. It’s a coming-of-age story in a small (failing) town and with estate sales. It’s a bit eclectic, at times a bit depressing (one mom works in a nursing home), but in the end, a different, absorbing read.
  
Apocalyptigirl : an aria for the end firms – Andrew MacLean

I really wanted this to work. I mean, a main character who’s a tough female, the end of the world, a cat named Jelly Beans nSounds fun. But in the end it wasn’t anything to shout about. Nothing very memorable. She’s searching for something but to be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what it was. 

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Harbinger (Volumes 1 to 6) – Joshua Dysart

So the only reason I finally read this is because of the new Faith series out from Valiant. And Faith was originally from the Harbinger series by Joshua Dysart.

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I had added Harbinger to my Scribd library a few months ago but whenever I glanced at that cover, with that angsty kid on it, I just never felt interested enough to try it out. Then I read about Faith somewhere and thought that maybe Harbinger was worth a try. And you know what, I read the whole series in two nights. Thankfully it was all available on Scribd. Confusingly, this is a reboot of the series which was first published in 1992. I haven’t decided whether I want to read the original one yet (also on Scribd).

The only problem is how to describe this series. They have superpowers. Faith can fly, Peter, well, he is just powerful all around. Others have superhuman strength, or can harness fire, a variety of things. They are pretty much misfits who have come together and are fighting against some sinister powers. It’s always a good versus evil thing, but I like how things are slightly different here. And that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m looking forward to reading Faith!


Ah comics, taking me to estate sales, traipsing across Europe, going back in time to Singapore’s tumultuous years, and changing the world, one plus-sized superhero at a time. 

It’s Monday and it’s the Year of the Monkey!

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

Please note that they were excited to wear their “Chinese outfits”
 
Happy New Year! It’s the first day of the Lunar New Year which is traditionally celebrated for 15 days. Of course it’s just another Monday here in California, but I’ll be dressing up the kids in their Chinese outfits for preschool. They attend a bilingual Mandarin-English preschool so they’ve be learning the Chinese New Year songs and the school has been all decorated for the New Year.

  

   
 

We had reunion dinner with two families who have kids around the same age and the boys have played together since they were babies. But this is the first time we’ve celebrated the new year together. We had potluck and our contribution was sushi and a bottle of Riesling. The kids had the best of times running around and playing and it was way past bedtime when we finally got home and put them in bed. On a Sunday night! Oh well. This happens just once a year. 

Also, I spent a bright and sunny Friday morning indoors at the library. Priorities!

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

Comics and more comics!

  

 The Makioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki

It’s taking me a while to read this partly because I’m reading lots of comics as well. And also because I’m really liking it and just wanting to take things really slowly with this book. Funny that it’s taken me several years to finally get to this but all I want to do is read it slowly, savouring it. 

 

Watching:

Grey’s Anatomy! 

Eating:

 

  
We tried out a new Mediterranean eatery, Yalla, on Saturday night. Take out that is. I had a fattoush salad with falafels. Pretty tasty! 

Drinking:

Lots of water 

Cooking:

Slow cooker pork belly with rice and vegetables

A baked fusilli with sausages and some vegetable. Maybe cauliflower. 

Hamachi Kama or yellowtail cheek. I bought some frozen ones at the Asian supermarket and they are so easy and so tasty. About 25-30 minutes in the oven with some salt. Then squeeze lemon juice over before eating. Serve with rice and vegetables. Perfection! 

 
Browsing:
Snow artist stomps awesome fractals with just his two snowshoes

How (& Why) To Avoid the Second Cheapest Bottle of Wine (Food52)

Added this to my list of picture books to borrow: Snappsy the Alligator (Design of the Picture Book)

I really want to eat these Chocolate Stout Truffle Mousse Bars with Pretzel Crust. And since it’s not like I can run out and buy it from somewhere I guess I’m going to have to figure out if it’s something I can make!

A list of epistolary novels from Paste magazine

Last week:

I read:

The Making of a Marchioness – Frances Hodgson Burnett (thoughts on this soon!)


  
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew

Bad Houses

Apocalyptigirl

(I hope to do a weekly summary of the comics of February. Stay tuned!)


I posted:

Weekend Cooking: Happy Lunar New Year!

Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

A Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin

 

Weekend Cooking: Happy Lunar New Year!

What do you immediately think of when I say Lunar New Year?
Dragon dances? Lion dances? Firecrackers? Red packets?
Lots of loud colourful festivities to chase away the bad luck and welcome in the new year.

And a big part of all this is the eating.

It all begins with New Year’s Eve, with a big reunion dinner, which in my family has traditionally been hotpot. Our families all live in Singapore so we typically have a quiet affair for just the four of us. But this year, as my mum was here in California until just before the Lunar New Year, we had an extra-early reunion hotpot dinner.

Hotpot is fantastically easy to make. Just start off with a simple broth, a suitable hot pot (mine is split in two for two different broths) and portable gas stove (or buy an electric hotpot), wash and cut up your vegetables and buy all the goodies. Oh and it will help if you have those little hotpot handtools like those netted ladles, long wooden chopsticks for picking up the ingredients with, and some soup ladles. We have about six netted ladles and two small soup ladles as well as several pairs of long chopsticks to share. Individual saucers also are recommended so that you can mix up your own dipping sauces.

Basics
Use the common long chopsticks and netted ladles set at the table to pick up food and gently place it in the soup to cook it. Use the ladles or common chopsticks to place it in your bowl or plate. Then use your own chopsticks to dip it in your own sauce and eat.

Try not to splash all over! Raise your bowl or plate to the hotpot when you’re picking up your food from the soup

Also, just common sense here, if you’re using a gas stove, crack open a window!

If I didn’t have kids, half of the hotpot would definitely be a spicy broth! Yes, it does have a separation, but I think it’s a bit tricky ensuring that things are separate, someone is bound to use a ‘spicy’ ladle for the non-spicy side!

 

Ingredients

This time we had:
– fish tofu (a kind of fish cake premade from the Marina supermarket)
– fish balls
– thinly sliced beef from Mitsuwa supermarket (we prefer to pay a little more for some better quality meat! I think this may have been wagyu)
– fresh prawns (shells still on as it adds to the flavour of the stock)
– fresh squid (this is more for my mum as she loves squid)
– imitation crabsticks
– sausages (the husband likes those canned vienna sausages, don’t ask me why)
– napa cabbage (chopped up)
– caixin or other green leafy vegetables (chopped up)
– a variety of mushrooms including shiitake and trumpet
– a chicken stock with roughly chopped carrots and daikon that I started on the regular stove about half an hour before dinner began
– another stock made from dashi powder and miso paste

Other things that we like but didn’t include this time:
– tofu (we prefer a medium firm one so that it won’t get lost in the soup!)
– tunghoon or rice vermicelli
– corn on the cob (more for the kids)
– kabocha squash

Growing up in Singapore, my paternal grandparents would go all out with their new year eve hotpot which sometimes included:
– abalone
– crab
– fresh fish slices

Dipping sauces:
– sesame dipping sauce from the supermarket (this is more of a Japanese style)
– satay or peanut sauce (which we can no longer do as my older son has a nut allergy)
– chili sauce

There are packaged stock bases, sometimes with herbs, sometimes really spicy ones, available at Asian supermarkets. But I think a simple chicken or vegetable stock works fine as the ingredients add to the flavour as the meal goes on. And save the leftover soup to eat with your instant noodles the next day!

New year is also about visiting friends and family. And each family provides a variety of snacks and treats for their visitors. My mum brought these from Singapore. On the left is what we call “love letters” often they are rolled but these are folded into quarters. They’re light and buttery and prone to shattering into tiny pieces. In the middle are kueh bangkit which are made from eggs, tapioca flour, pandan flavour. They’re also very delicate and have a powdery texture. On the right are pineapple tarts.

Unfortunately US customs restrictions means we can’t bring in bak kwa which is the best thing ever. Minced pork is pressed into flat sheets marinated in some soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar and grilled for a gorgeous sweet-salty porky treat. Because it’s made for ground pork it’s more tender than jerky. I love it between white bread.

Of course it’s not just about the eating and the festivities, it’s about the people.  It’s about being together, eating together, snacking on treats together.

Happy New Year!

新年快乐!

 

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Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

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What I loved:

The premise: The moon has blown up. But the why doesn’t matter. Instead it is what is going to happen to Earth and the human race when the parts of the moon collide and keep colliding. The Earth is going to be on fire. And the survival of the human race is at stake. They have two years to figure it out.

The entire surface of the Earth is going to be sterilized. Glaciers will boil. The only way to survive is to get away from the atmosphere. Go underground, or go into space.

Outer space: Ah I love me a book set in space. And while I enjoy books set in made-up planets or completely futuristic settings, I really liked this one for utilizing things that are already present, like the International Space Station.

The characters: And the fact that many of them were women. A female President of the United States. A female commander of the International Space Station (who is by the way, Chinese-American). A female engineer/miner on board the ISS. Women are more essential in this story. It is after all called Seven Eves.

“…there was an understanding, widely shared but rarely spoken of, that men were not the scarce resource. Women – to be specific, healthy, functional wombs – were.”

The tech: It isn’t too far fetched, and I could easily see a lot of it happening today or at least in the near future. They still use Facebook (although it later became Spacebook). Also there is a billionaire space entrepreneur.

The first two-thirds of the book: It was exciting and dramatic and full of puzzling out of things to do to save (wo)mankind. Figuring out what cultural treasures can be saved. The preservation of embryos and ensuring the diversity o fate species. I liked how some everyday necessities were mentioned, not just how to cultivate food up in space, but also spectacles. A machine that could produce spectacle lenses had to be sent up to the ISS. Just a lot of things that we take for granted.

seveneves2

What I didn’t love

The tech: A lot of it went over my head! I appreciate that he didn’t dumb things down but woah that’s a lot of science.

The final third of the book: I won’t talk too much about it as I don’t want to spoil it for you if you’re planning to read it. What I didn’t love may not be the right way to put it, I did like reading parts of the final third of the book, it answered many questions that I had, but also generated many more. I think partly because while Stephenson has great story ideas and all, here the characters (different ones from the first two-thirds) aren’t given much of a chance. It’s hard to explain it without really talking about the story though!

 

(You can read the first 26 pages of Seveneves on Neal Stephenson’s website)

 

Bibliography

  • The Big U (1984)
  • Zodiac (1988)
  • Snow Crash (1992)
  • Interface (1994) with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury”
  • The Diamond Age: or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (1995)
  • The Cobweb (1996) with J. Frederick George, as “Stephen Bury”
  • Cryptonomicon (1999)
  • Quicksilver (2003), volume I: The Baroque Cycle
  • The Confusion (2004), volume II: The Baroque Cycle
  • The System of the World (2004), volume III: The Baroque Cycle
  • Anathem (2008)
  • The Mongoliad (2010–2012)
  • Reamde (2011)
  • Seveneves (2015)

A Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin

 

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A Manual for Cleaning Women – Lucia Berlin

Lucia Berlin had quite a life. She was brought up in mining camps in Alaska and the Midwest, lived in Texas, Santiago, New York City, Colorado, Oakland and more. Her stories are drawn from her life. The story about the dentist pulling his own teeth, that’s inspired by her grandfather. Those stories set in the hospitals – she worked as a hospital ward clerk. That thing about cleaning women, well, she was one herself, among the many other jobs she took up over the years. And there are stories of death and dying, because her sister died of cancer and she spent those final years with her.

She has a very direct way of writing, that it often feels like she’s there talking to you. Her observations about life are sharp and sometimes funny, other times just painful and sad.

 “But what bothers me is that I only accidentally noticed them. What else have I missed? How many times in my life have I been, so to speak, on the back porch, not the front porch? What would have been said to me that I failed to hear? What love might there have been that I didn’t feel?”

I think her friend Elizabeth Geoghegan put it best in an article in the Paris Review:

To read her is to get lost in her voice. Her stories make you feel like you’re gossiping with her at her table.

Lucia Berlin died in 2004 and it was in 2015 that this collection of her stories was published. It has outsold all her previous books combined.

Bibliography

  • A Manual for Cleaning Ladies. Illustrations by Michael Myers. 1977.
  • Angels Laundromat: Short Stories.  1981.
  • Legacy.  1983. Illustrated by Michael Bradley.
  • Phantom Pain: Sixteen Stories. 1984.
  • Safe & Sound. 1988. Illustrated by Frances Butler.
  • Homesick: New & Selected Stories. 1990.
  • So Long: Stories, 1987-1992. 1993.
  • Where I Live Now: Stories, 1993-1998. 1999.
  • A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories. Edited by Stephen Emerson. Foreword by Lydia Davis. 2015.

It’s Monday and I’m all ready for #ComicsFebruary

 

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

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Well, would you look at that. It’s a brand new shiny month! February is an important one for us this year. There’s Chinese New Year coming up later this week. And also, kindergarten registration happens today! I cannot cannot cannot believe that my boy is going to be a kindergartener! (insert comment about time flying). And it’s also Comics February! A month dedicated (informally) to comics comics comics. And you know, graphic novels.

 


  

We had a lovely time at the Seymour Marine Discovery Center in Santa Cruz on Sunday. The day started out grey and chilly but by 1130 it was nice and sunny. The centre is quite small with some touch pools and some tanks but they were really well geared towards kids, starting with a worksheet for a little scavenger hunt around the aquarium spotting different sea creatures and ticking them off. And a little prize upon completion. They even had sea life jigsaw puzzles and a fishing game. I loved that the volunteers and staff were so patient with them, explaining about swell shark egg sacs which attach to kelp, showing how the giant sea anemone moves, looking for the hermit crabs and explaining how they move homes. This was also partly because the place wasn’t too busy for a Sunday and so there was plenty of time to learn and look around. Or maybe everyone was in the city doing Super Bowl-y things – the Super Bowl will be at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara this year. About half an hour from my house. The husband’s office is making everyone work from home on Thursday and Friday as they anticipate traffic chaos!

Currently…

 

Reading:

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The Mankioka Sisters – Junichiro Tanizaki

Sadly the library version I’ve borrowed doesn’t have this pretty cover! But I’m quite enjoying this Japanese classic.

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The Making of a Marchioness – Frances Hodgson Burnett

What do you know, two classics! That’s a first for me. But I am really liking both of them. Also perhaps a first. I am reading the gray-covered Persephone one.

Watching:

Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 7.34.05 PM

Did you hear that Netflix is bringing Gilmore Girls back? I am incredibly excited but also, will it be as good?

 

 

Listening:

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I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes and I am happy now

This one is repeating in my head. I heard Ace of Base’sThe Sign on the car radio today and it is STUCK. But it is the Pitch Perfect one that is on repeat!

Eating:


Nothing now but we just had homemade sushi and sashimi for dinner.

Drinking:

Asahi.

Cooking:

I’ve been thinking of making paella!

And a mushroom risotto.

 

Browsing:

Taking literature to the streets – The Atlantic 

Top 12 Australian books – Savidge Reads

Best novels from Australia – Reading Matters

Barnes and Noble’s 2015 Discover Great New Writers Awards Finalists

After reading this post from Food52 about what it’s like to take the Certified Sommelier Test, I watched Somm on Netflix, a documentary on these sommeliers taking the Master Sommelier Test, supposedly one of the most difficult tests in the world, with a pass rate of about 10%! I skipped some parts of the documentary here and there but it was overall quite interesting, how they crammed and crammed for this test!

Last week:

I read:

Island of a thousand mirrors – Nayomi Munaweera
Little Plum – Rumer Godden
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson

I really hope to write something about all three books soon. But they were pretty great reads!

 

I posted:

Library Looting comics because #comicsfebruary

On rereading a childhood favourite

Reading Alberto Moravia’s Conjugal Love

What are you reading this week?

 

Library Looting comics because #comicsfebruary

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.


I put in holds for some comics last week and they’re here! I also had time to browse the comics shelves and grabbed a few more. I am however extremely disappointed to note that most the comics and graphic novels here in this post are by white authors. I do have some comics by POC authors up for Comics February (including the excellent Sonny Liew) but obviously not in this library loot. I’ll have to do better next time!

 

Above the dreamless dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics – edited by Chris Duffy

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As the Great War dragged on and its catastrophic death toll mounted, a new artistic movement found its feet in the United Kingdom. The Trench Poets, as they came to be called, were soldier-poets dispatching their verse from the front lines. Known for its rejection of war as a romantic or noble enterprise, and its plainspoken condemnation of the senseless bloodshed of war, Trench Poetry soon became one of the most significant literary moments of its decade.

The marriage of poetry and comics is a deeply fruitful combination, as evidenced by this collection. In stark black and white, the words of the Trench Poets find dramatic expression and reinterpretation through the minds and pens of some of the greatest cartoonists working today.

With New York Times bestselling editor Chris Duffy (Nursery Rhyme ComicsFairy Tale Comics) at the helm, Above the Dreamless Dead is a moving and illuminating tribute to those who fought and died in World War I. Twenty poems are interpreted in comics form by twenty of today’s leading cartoonists, including Eddie Campbell, Kevin Huizenga, George Pratt, and many others.

Bad Houses – Sara Ryan ; illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil

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Lives intersect in the most unexpected ways when teenagers Anne and Lewis cross paths at an estate sale in sleepy Failin, Oregon. Failin was once a thriving logging community. Now the town’s businesses are crumbling, its citizens bitter and disaffected. Anne and Lewis refuse to succumb to the fate of the older generation as they discover – together – the secrets of their hometown and their own families. Bad Houses is a coming-of-age tale about love, trust, hoarding, and dead people’s stuff from award-winning creators Sara Ryan (Empress of the World) and Carla Speed McNeil (Finder).

Bandette Vol 1, In Presto! – Paul Tobin; Colleen Coover

Suckered by the font.

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She is ALLURING

She is MYSTERIOUS

She is BANDETTE!

The world’s greatest thief is a costumed teen burglar by the nome d’arte of Bandette! Gleefully plying her skills on either side of the law alongside her network of street urchins, Bandette is a thorn in the side of both Police Inspector Belgique and the criminal underworld. But it’s not all breaking hearts and purloining masterpieces when a rival thief makes a startling discovery. Can even Bandette laugh off a plot against her life?

Bandette Vol 2, In stealers, keepers! Paul Tobin; Colleen Coover

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THEFT done well is not CRIME it is ART!

Bandette returns to steal readers’ hearts once again! The teenaged master burglar has thrown down the gauntlet with the Great Thieving Race, and friendly rival Monsieur has stepped in to take the challenge. This second charming collection of the Eisner Award-winning series sees the two competing to steal the most priceless artifacts from the criminal organization FINIS and turning over whatever they learn about its plans to the long-suffering Inspector B. D. Belgique. But FINIS’s response could make this Bandette’s final crime spree!

Marble Season – Gilbert Hernandez

Have had my eye on this for a while.

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Marble Season is the semiautobiographical novel by the acclaimed cartoonist Gilbert Hernandez, author of the epic masterpiece Palomar and cocreator, with his brothers, Jaime and Mario, of the groundbreaking Love and Rockets comic book series. Marble Season is his first book with Drawn & Quarterly, and one of the most anticipated books of 2013. It tells the untold stories from the early years of these American comics legends, but also portrays the reality of life in a large family in suburban 1960s California. Pop-culture references—TV shows, comic books, and music—saturate this evocative story of a young family navigating cultural and neighborhood norms set against the golden age of the American dream and the silver age of comics.
Middle child Huey stages Captain America plays and treasures his older brother’s comic book collection almost as much as his approval. Marble Season subtly and deftly details how the innocent, joyfully creative play that children engage in (shooting marbles, backyard performances, and organizing treasure hunts) changes as they grow older and encounter name-calling naysayers, abusive bullies, and the value judgments of other kids. An all-ages story, Marble Season masterfully explores the redemptive and timeless power of storytelling and role play in childhood, making it a coming-of-age story that is as resonant with the children of today as with the children of the sixties.

Ruins – Peter Kuper; edited by Dan Lockwood

ruins
Found this while browsing the comics shelves. Looked interesting.

Samantha and George are a couple heading towards a sabbatical year in the quaint Mexican town of Oaxaca. For Samantha, it is the opportunity to revisit her past. For George, it is an unsettling step into the unknown. For both of them, it will be a collision course with political and personal events that will alter their paths and the town of Oaxaca forever.

In tandem, the remarkable and arduous journey that a Monarch butterfly endures on its annual migration from Canada to Mexico is woven into Ruins. This creates a parallel picture of the challenges of survival in our ever-changing world.

Ruins explores the shadows and light of Mexico through its past and present as encountered by an array of characters. The real and surreal intermingle to paint an unforgettable portrait of life south of the Rio Grande.

 

ApocalyptiGirl – Andrew MacLean

Sorry, no idea who Andrew “underground sensation” MacLean is. But I just like the idea of cat named Jelly Beans.

apocalyptigirl

The premiere graphic novel from underground sensation Andrew MacLean (Head Lopper), ApocalyptiGirl is an action-packed sci-fi epic!
Alone at the end of the world, Aria is woman with a mission! Traipsing through an overgrown city with her only companion, a cat named Jelly Beans, Aria’s search for an ancient relic with immeasurable power has been fruitless so far. But when a run in with a creepy savage sets her on a path to complete her quest, she’ll face death head on in the hopes of claiming her prize and, if all goes according to plan, finally returning home.

 

An Age of License – Lucy Knisley

Yeah, so it’s another Lucy Knisley!

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Midnight picnics at the Eiffel Tower; wine tastings paired with blowgun lessons; and romance in cafés, cemeteries, and at the Brandenberg Gate–these are just some of New York Times best-selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley’s experiences on her 2011 European book tour. An Age of License is both a graphic travelogue and a journal of her trip abroad. Fans of Knisley’s food-focused autobiography (French MilkRelish) savor her mouth-watering drawings and descriptions of culinary delights, seasons with cute cat cameos. But An Age of License is not all kittens and raclette crepes: Knisley’s account of her adventures is colored by anxieties about her life and career, depicted with fearlessness, relatability, and honesty, making An Age of Licensean Eat, Pray, Love for the Girls generation.

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer – Sydney Padua

I kept seeing this around the book blogosphere. Can’t remember exactly who read this one, so hands up if it was you!

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THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

What I hate from A to Z – Roz Chast

I enjoyed, well enjoyed isn’t quite the word for it, perhaps I should say I was moved, by Chast’s Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? a graphic memoir about her elderly parents. So am curious about this one.

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The pages of the New Yorker are hallowed ground for cartoonists, and for the last thirty years, Roz Chast has helped set the magazine’s cartooning standard, while creating work that is unmistakably her own- characterized by her shaggy lines, an ecstatic way with words, and her characters’ histrionic masks of urban and suburban anxiety, bedragglement, and elation.
What I Hate is an A to Z of epic horrors and daily unpleasantries, including but by no means limited to rabies, abduction, tunnels, and the triple-layered terror of Jell-O 1-2-3. With never-before-published, full-page cartoons for every letter, and supplemental text to make sure the proper fear is instilled in every heart, Chast’s alphabetical compendium will resonate with anyone well-versed in the art of avoidance- and make an instructive gift for anyone who might be approaching life with unhealthy unconcern.

 

Gold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins

Hey look! Not a comic!

I’ve been in the hold queue for this one for a bit so am glad to finally get it. May be hitting a bit too close to home what with the drought and all. But I’m typing this on a cloudy slightly drizzly day so there’s still hope.

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In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

For the moment, the couple’s fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins.

Immensely moving, profoundly disquieting, and mind-blowingly original, Watkins’s novel explores the myths we believe about others and tell about ourselves, the double-edged power of our most cherished relationships, and the shape of hope in a precarious future that may be our own.

The kids’ loot:

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