Friday, December 26, 2008

Review: Bucky Katt's Big Book of Fun by Darby Conley

My brother gave this to me for Christmas... Thank you, brother!

Get Fuzzy is a daily comic strip featuring Bucky Katt the Siamese, Satchel Pooch the adorable Shar Pei/Yellow Lab mix, and Rob Wilco the slightly geeky owner of the apartment.

I'm a longtime fan of Get Fuzzy and it's one of the few newspaper comic strips that can actually get a belly laugh out of me. The art is cute and clear, and Darby Conly is great at depicting the animals' expressions and attitudes.

This strip is really accessible to everyone. Bucky's cattiness is hilarious whether you're a cat person or not, as is Satchel's clueless dogginess, because they're both SO cat and dog and everything they do is so recognizable!

This is the second big collection of strips, the first being Groovitude: A Get Fuzzy Treasury. You can also get a free daily fix here, via If you're already a Get Fuzzy fan, try out Pearls Before Swine.

Buy Bucky Katt's Big Book of Fun

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

Review: V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

This makes the fourth graphic novel I've read. (That's Watchmen, Sandman, Angel Season 6, and this. Watchmen and Sandman were reviewed here and here.) I saw the movie ages ago and adored it, but I didn't realize it was a graphic novel until I was looking for more stuff by Alan Moore, writer of my beloved Watchmen. Needless to say, the anticipation ran high.

I was not disappointed. V for Vendetta is much sleeker than Watchmen, more streamlined, and it suits the story very much. The story is as follows: A Guy Fawkes-ian terrorist, code name V, is targeting a post-WWIII totalitarian government. Hijinx ensue.

The art in this book was dark, which suited the mood perfectly, but I had trouble making out the pictures sometimes. Especially in the last third, I couldn't figure out which characters were which or remember what had happened to them. Luckily V's silhouette is very recognizable, and he was the character I was really interested in...

V is definitely insane. But a cold, clean, utterly sane kind of insane. He knows exactly what he's doing and he believes in it, totally and completely. His strikes are surgical, perfect, terrifying. He is the only man who could bring about the kind of changes wrought in the space of the novel... whether or not those changes should be brought about is the main course of the meal for thought. V is steeped in literature and culture, practically everything he says is a quote, and it makes him like a living metaphor, adding new dimensions everywhere you look. My favorite scene is a long conversation he holds with a statue of Lady Justice. Does he really believe the statue is talking to him? Does he just want it to be? Or is he just playing out the metaphor he sees? The scene distills the character of V perfectly for me, showing all of his intent and the different sides to his actions. You'll know it when you see it.

V for Vendetta didn't hit me quite as hard as Watchmen, but the punch definitely connected. I recommend it without hesitation, especially to fans of the movie. While it's been too long since I saw it to comment on any specifics, the atmosphere and gist of the movie and novel seem to be the same, and I certainly enjoyed both. If the Guy Fawkes thing is new to you like it was to me, I recommend your favorite search engine, Wiki, or the book Faith and Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot by Antonia Fraser.

Buy V for Vendetta

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Generosity

Do you give books as gifts?

To everyone? Or only to select people?

How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?

1) Most definitely! Mostly because I'm familiar with books more than other things. It's usually easier for me to think of the perfect book than the perfect something else.

2) To most people. If it's someone I don't know so well I may not get a book, because I don't know what they like, already own or have already read. But then again I don't usually give presents to people I don't know so well.

3) FEEEED MEEEEE!!!! I mean, um...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy

I totally adore Skulduggery Pleasant.

The protagonist, Stephanie Edgley, is twelve, but she's a very unique twelve-year-old. The writing is relatively simple, but the ideas are relatively tough. That means it can really appeal to everyone, right? Stephanie discovers after her Uncle Gordon's funeral that he was more than he seemed, and at that same funeral she meets Skulduggery Pleasant, a very thin gentleman... This is one of those rare finds in which I loved ALL of the characters, couldn't predict the twists and turns, and couldn't be distracted from the book for more than ten seconds.

Skulduggery has to be my favorite character. He's mysterious, suave, and otherworldly, while he's also very urbane and utterly hilarious. But Stephanie is a close second. She's practically my Mary Sue, in a really good way... Well, more like she's the character I always want authors to write but never receive. She's smart and brave, but she still struggles. She's twelve, but she still needs help from the adults (weird "but," I know.) She wishes for magic, and she's actually EXCITED when she gets it!

The magic and world are built on old themes, but the usages are fresh and new. It's written for kids and I know they'll love it, there's plenty of action and humor, but the subtleties were enough to blow my mind and give me things to chew over. The plot twists weren't the same old "surprises" I was expecting, but nothing was random or haphazard about the way it was put together.

Altogether this was a real treat for me, and I can't wait to read the sequel, Playing With Fire. My sister, the YA one, has read both books and says the second is just as fantastic as the first.

This is often billed as a Potter alternative, but that just means it's an urban fantasy book for kids... It reminds me a lot more of The Dresden Files for kids, or The Nightmare Before Christmas, with maybe even a hint of Zorgamazoo...

Buy Scepter of the Ancients

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Time is of the Essence

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read? (I’m guessing #1 is
an easy question for everyone?)

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

1) Definitely not.

2) All of the above? Is "etc." an option? I would be catching up on Mt. TBR, which contains a little of everything. (There's a myth about a dude perpetually pushing a boulder up a hill... it always reminds me of dear old Mt. TBR.)

Mm, short and sweet this week. Read more responses here!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Review: Capote in Kansas by Kim Powers

I have a small predilection for all things Capotean. (Is that a word? It is now.) I've read all the books about/by him I could find and seen at least three movies about In Cold Blood. I wrote a long paper on him last year. He just fascinates me. So I was understandably excited about reading this novel, a fictional account that focuses on his relationship to Nelle Harper Lee.

I was a little disappointed, honestly. It wasn't a bad book, it just wasn't as good as it could have been. The first half seemed like just a list of historical events, without much fiction to keep it interesting, and then the second half seemed mostly fiction without many facts to ground it. Powers warns in his author's note that he has long been preoccupied by the wonders of Capote and Lee, and it's apparent that this book is an ode to his preoccupation.

Truman and Nelle are done very well. They match the images I have of those two authors almost exactly... unfortunately that's not such a good thing. Nothing in the book made me consider them in any new light. The same goes for the storyline and events. The most interesting things are the things that can be found in any biography, and no new food for thought is presented.

This might do well as an introduction to the subject, or a summary or general reminder. The facts are mostly straight and it isn't a chore to read. But I would recommend reading the real novels and biographies. Why go to a secondary or tertiary source when the primaries and secondaries are incredible in their own right?

Buy Capote in Kansas

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: 5 for Favorites

1. Do you have a favorite author?

2. Have you read everything he or she has written?

3. Did you LIKE everything?

4. How about a least favorite author?

5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?

They WOULD pick author questions... For some reason it's much easier for me to group books together by subject, setting, tone, whatever, rather than author, so it's hard for me to think in terms of authors. But I'll do my best.

1) I have a lot of favorites. I mentioned some of the early favorites in my Thanksgiving post, but here are some others: Kevin Brockmeier, Derek Landy, Alan Moore, Maria V. Snyder, Jane Yolen, William Sleator, Oscar Wilde, Truman Capote, quite possibly Robert Paul Weston... and a host of others that just aren't crossing my mind right now. For the purposes of the next few questions I'm going to go with the great C.S. Lewis.

2) Not quite. I haven't been able to get some of his journal stuff or some of the poetry, I haven't had the money for the new Boxen book, and I'm sure I've missed some essays here and there, but I've read the grand majority of his work.

3) Heck yes. Especially Till We Have Faces.

4) Steinbeck.

5) I can't really think of one. So as a bonus: some authors I wanted to DISlike but didn't. J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and Jane Austen.

Read more responses here!