The Sculptor (Scott McCloud, 2015)

sculptor

Why did you choose this book?

My office-mate purchased this graphic novel and said he couldn’t put it down.  As he started telling me the plot I became more and more intrigued until I had to read it for myself!

What’s it about?

David Smith is a struggling artist, who runs into his favorite uncle in a diner.  As they talk, he remembers that his uncle died years ago.  It turns out that his uncle is Death.  David makes a deal with Death and is suddenly able to sculpt any material with his hands as though it were made of clay.  The catch?  He only has 200 days to live.  And in those 200 days, many things go wrong, but some also go right (such as meeting the love of his life).

Categories?

Graphic novels, fiction

Other recommended reads?

This is a challenge, because this is the first graphic novel I’ve read for adults that is fiction rather than autobiographical.  I think you’d enjoy this novel if you are part of the art community or like superhero-type comics.

Review

The story did draw me in, but I don’t know that I loved it as much as my coworker did.  There were parts that I wish had taken a different path, but there were also some twists that I loved.  I didn’t find David’s sculptures as impressive as I wanted to – they were kind of weird.  I also think that there were some philosophical underpinnings that I missed and in order to fully grasp the story I would need to read it again.  My favorite part was a scene at the end where a person’s life flashes before their eyes.  The artwork is stunning, as scenes start slowly and then fly by more and more quickly.  It was breathtaking and beautiful.

Up next?

We have several options.  It could be A June of Ordinary Murders by Conor Brady, Deep South by Paul Theroux, or All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani.  Guess you’ll just have to check back and see!

In Bitter Chill (Sarah Ward, 2015)

in bitter chill

Why did you choose this book?

I read a synopsis and was intrigued.  I’ve been in the mood to read a lot of thrillers and mysteries lately, though I’ve tried to temper that in order to be a more well-rounded librarian.

What’s it about?

There are a couple of stories here.  In 1978, Sophie and Rachel were abducted on their way to school.  Later in the day, Rachel was found wandering with no memory of where she had been.  Sophie was never found.  Parts of the story are told from Rachel’s perspective during this time.  Flash forward to the present.  Sophie’s mother has committed suicide and one of the teachers from the girls’ school is found in the woods and has been strangled twice (once with hands, once with a garrote).  This brings Sophie’s case back to the fore.  This part of the story is told from either Rachel’s perspective, or that of the inspector in charge of the investigation.

Categories?

Suspense or mystery – it’s kind of a fine line here.

Other recommended reads?

Anything by Mary Higgins Clark

Review?

Sometimes I found the pace a bit slow, but I thought the story was compelling, the cover art was beautiful, and I didn’t figure out what happened to Sophie before the characters did (which to me is always a sign of a mystery or suspense novel well-plotted).

Up next?

The Sculptor by Scott McCloud

The Marvels (Brian Selznick, 2015)

the marvels

Why did you choose this book?

I thought it was about time that I read one of those giant Selznick tomes.

What’s it about?

This story can be roughly divided into 2 sections.  The first is substantially longer (about 400 pages) and is entirely composed of sketches.  The second is about 200 pages and is written as a traditional novel.  The sketches tell the story of a young boy who stowed away on a ship where his older brother was a crewman in 1766.  The two boys put on a play but the ship is caught in a storm and the ship breaks up, with the older brother falling from a very high perch.  Though they both reach land, the older boy dies and the younger one is eventually rescued.  The family is traced through 3 subsequent generations of actors in the same theater, which boasts a picture of the deceased brother as an angel on the ceiling.  The story section tells of a young boy who runs away from school to the home of his uncle in the 1990s.  His uncle, though, is quite the character and lives in a manner befitting the 19th century.  Do these two stories relate?

Categories?

Graphic novels, jfiction

Other recommended reads?

The acting family, to me, echoed a theme of circus families that has been present in books for both young readers and adults recently.  Examples include The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley and The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler.

Review

I wasn’t expecting so much of the novel to be graphic, but those portions drew me in more than the text-based sections did.  I also couldn’t put this book down, finishing it after a marathon reading at about 1:30 AM.  In its defense, I didn’t start it until around 10:30.  I wanted the resolution of the novel to be more magical than it was, but it was still a satisfying read.  I don’t want to spoil anything, but let me know what you think if you read it!

Up next?

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

Cooking as Fast as I Can (Cat Cora, 2015)

cooking as fast as I can

Why did you choose this book?

Primarily due to my obsession with Food Network and celebrity chefs.

What’s it about?

This is a memoir of Iron Chef and TV personality Cat Cora, best known for her take on Mediterranean cuisine.

Categories?

Memoir, food, celebrity chefs

Other recommended reads?

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson

Review

This is one of the best-written and most enjoyable memoirs I have read in a very very long time.  I learned a lot about Cat (like that she is a lesbian, was sexually abused as a child by a family friend, was adopted and has a good relationship with her birth and adoptive families, and has 4 boys (2 biologically hers) with her partner).  Cat is honest about the stress of celebrity life and the negative impact it has had on her family, and about her struggles reaching the place she is now.

Up next?

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

Reykjavik Nights (Arnaldur Indridason, 2015)

reykjavik nights

Why did you choose this book?

I honestly don’t remember, but it sounded like an intriguing suspense novel.  Since it was touted as the prequel to the series, it seemed like a good place to start.

What’s it about?

Inspector Erlendur is new to the police force and working the night shift.  One night, a homeless man named Hannibal (who Erlendur has become acquainted with) is found drowned.  It is assumed to be nothing more than an accident, probably occurring when Hannibal was drunk.  But Erlendur feels like something isn’t right, and begins to investigate.  Years ago, a woman went missing in the same area.  Could the two cases be linked?

Categories?

Mystery, suspense?, Icelandic fiction

Other recommended reads?

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward, Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight

Review

This book was a very fast read.  I enjoyed it, but at the same time I feel like some of the linguistic flow was lost in translation.  I was also distracted by my complete and total inability to pronounce Icelandic names and place names.  To me this novel was billed as suspense, but since Erlendur was never in danger of bodily harm, I would call it a mystery instead.

Up next?

Cooking as Fast as I Can by Cat Cora

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures (Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, 2015)

pip bartlett

Why did you choose this book?

Any good librarian will brush up on literature for every age group.  This is a JFIC pick for middle-grade readers and I think younger me would have snatched it up and devoured it immediately.

What’s it about?

The story takes place in a world just like ours, except that in addition to normal animals, magical creatures roam the world.  Pip Bartlett is a young girl who loves these creatures, but seems to be the only person who can communicate with them (no adults believe her, however).  The majority of the book involves issues with Fuzzles, small fluffballs considered pests due to their ability to burst into flame at the slightest provocation.

Categories?

Juvenile fantasy

Other recommended reads?

The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede.  A very different premise, but an equally intriguing series for kids with a love of magical creatures or just creatures in general.

Review

I thought it was a good read, though I personally will not read the rest of the series.  Pip was an enjoyable character and I really liked the fact that the magical creatures she encounters don’t fit the mold.  For example, the unicorns were not the wise and majestic figures they are in so much other literature.  Instead they were either completely vain and self-absorbed or paranoid and anxiety-ridden.

Up next?

Reykjavik Nights by Arnaldur Indridason