Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Thoughts:

I had heard so many wonderful things about Hyperbole and a Half. It has been on my radar for so long. I felt like getting myself a copy recently. When it arrived, my first thought was ‘It’s so HEAVY!’  It’s such good quality, colourful and a real beauty of a book. In my opinion, it should be experienced in ‘real’ format to truly appreciate it. The memoir inside is witty and at points moving.

Hyperbole and a Half, comes from Allie Brosh’s blog. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Allie’s blog. I didn’t think I’d ever seen anything about it. However, I knew when I came across ‘ALL THE THINGS!’ it was familar to me! I’d definitely seen that meme around the internet. Her illustrations are wonderful. There’s something about Hyperbole and a Half that completely captured my attention and kept it throughout. It barely took me long to read at all and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

It follows Allie as she recalls some moments of her life. These include her relationship with her two dogs- Simple Dog and Helper Dog. It also follows her experience of depression. There’s moments that seem completely ridiculous but that’s the charm of Hyperbole and a Half. Even though it touches on her struggle with depression it’s not deeply sad. That wouldn’t fit with the nature of the memoir.

I loved reading the funny anecdotes from Allie’s life. She has such a self deprecating nature and the stories she tells certainly do fit the ‘hyperbole’ title. I think there’s something to be enjoyed by everyone in this story. Allie really is a wonderful storyteller.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful book. So unique, funny and warm.

Banned Books #46- Saga Volume 3

Welcome to this month’s edition of Banned Books. This month we read Saga, Volume 3 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Saga, Vol. 3 (Saga, #3)

First published: 2014
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: Saga is one of the very few times when we have a book in our Banned Books feature where I can actually see where *some* of the challenges are coming from. To be perfectly honest, I did find that there were more potentially shocking images/text in Volume One and Two (which we’ve also covered here on BB), but there were still incidents in Volume Three that could be quite controversial, depending on your sensibilities. One thing I really don’t agree on, and I think I might have mentioned it before, is the “anti-family” reason behind banning this graphic novel. I can’t see where this has come from and if anything, I think Saga actually promotes family i.e. the loving parents of baby Hazel, the sadness of Marko losing a parent and finally, the way his mother steps up to support her son and his partner Alana, despite her reservations about the relationship.

CHRISSI: Like Beth, I can see why this book has been challenged. It’s quite explicit in places and the language is a bit…colourful! It doesn’t offend me at all. As for the age group thing, that confuses me. I don’t know who Saga is aimed at, but to me it’s for the higher range of YA and adults. I don’t think this book is aimed at children, so I don’t get that challenge at all.

How about now?

BETH: As a relatively new release with volumes still being released there hasn’t been time for any change/shift in attitudes regarding Saga. I would say if you’re easily offended, this probably isn’t the series for you. It DOES have offensive language with a few mentions of the “c” word (which I know my sister is going to cringe over!) and at points, it is quite sexually explicit both in images and in language. I didn’t find it as explicit as the other volumes in the series but there are still things that are a bit risque and perhaps not entirely appropriate for younger readers. If I was going to suggest an age range, I would tentatively say 16+? I don’t really agree with saying it’s inappropriate for the age group as to be fair to it, I don’t think it’s marketed for youngsters! It’s definitely an adult read.

CHRISSI: Yes you’re right, Beth. I did cringe. I can’t stand that word! I don’t think the attitudes towards this book will change for a while. It’s still going to offend some, some will absolutely lap it up at the same time. The language in this book does offend me, but I don’t think it’s out of place in the story. It’s the sort of story where language like that does fit. It’s not bad language for bad language’s sake.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I’m starting to enjoy this series more and more. In Volume One, I enjoyed it but was still a little bit confused as to what was going on. By Volume Two I had got my head round what was happening a lot more and by Volume Three I’m now fully invested in the story and am eager to see what happens next with the characters. I still think there’s some shocks and surprises in store for the reader but I’m pleased with the direction it’s taking so far.

CHRISSI: It’s a quick read and definitely captures my attention when I am reading it. I’m enjoying seeing where the series is going but I wouldn’t say that it was one of my favourite graphic novels. However, the illustrations are beautiful and well worth pouring over.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course! (with caution for the sensitive!)

CHRISSI: Yes!

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

Thoughts:

Oh my goodness. I didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I was absolutely captured by this stunning book. It’s such a beautiful reading experience. Brian Selznick has created such amazing illustrations and a captivating story line. I’m sure any child would get something from this book. It’s one I’m going to be recommending to my school ASAP.

The Invention Of Hugo Cabret is about a little boy who looks after clocks in a station. He is left alone and carries on working on the clocks and also something that was a mystery to him… It’s also about a man who had a dream and his dream disappeared before him. I absolutely loved how much emotion was captured in this story. Even though it is essentially a story for children, it can be enjoyed by so many more people. It captures France at the time beautifully.

I loved that each character had something different to give. They weren’t your conventional story characters. I appreciate diversity in literature, particularly children’s literature. It’s so important to represent a range of people.

This is one of the most unique books that I’ve read and that’s down to Brian Selznick’s approach to storytelling. The story is half told through beautiful illustrations. I spent so much time pouring over the illustrations and looking at what they were telling me. The story itself is very simple but it’s engaging. I loved the balance between illustrations and written word. The illustrations really helped me imagine where the story was set. It was like a movie.

I do think there’s something for everyone in this book. It’ll work for you if you’re into graphic novels, films, and a touch of magic.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A unique reading experience. I highly recommend this book!

Coraline (Graphic Novel Review)

Coraline (Illustrated/Graphic Novel Edition)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

When Coraline steps through a door in her family’s new house, she finds another house, strangely similar to her own (only better). At first, things seem marvelous. The food is better than at home, and the toy box is filled with fluttering wind-up angels and dinosaur skulls that crawl and rattle their teeth.

But there’s another mother there and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go. Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and all the tools she can find if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life.

Thoughts:

Perhaps I’m not the best person to review this graphic novel or the original book. I haven’t seen the movie yet either. But do you know what? Based on this graphic novel, I’m going to read the original and watch the movie. I liked the graphic novel that much!

It centres around Coraline who steps through a door in her family’s house to find another house which is incredibly similar to hers… only slightly better. Every single thing seems better in the other house. The toys, the food… Coraline thinks she’s got it good! There’s another mother and another father there though. They look like her actual parents, but they aren’t. They want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They’re determined to change her, but Coraline is fighting back. She wants to be with her true family and return to her normal life.

I enjoyed the illustrations from P. Craig Russell. I thought it was beautifully drawn. The other mother in particular really freaked me out. She really was an unforgettable character. I can still see those black button eyes when I close my eyes!

I thought this graphic novel was super creepy. I hear that the original is too, so I’m excited to read that as soon as I can fit it in.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thoroughly enjoyed this graphic novel and will be checking out the original for sure!

Banned Books #36 Saga: Volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

banned books

Welcome to the 36th Banned Books post which means we’ve been reading Banned Books for 3 years now! Awoohoo! Go us! Celebrations aside, this month we took on Saga: Volume 2 by Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples.

Saga, Vol. 2 (Saga, #2)

First published: 2013
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2014 (source)
Reasons: anti-family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit and unsuited for age group.

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: As a relatively recent release my answers for this and the next question are going to be pretty much the same. This month, like last month we’re looking at a book where the focus is mainly on illustrations with few words in comparison. UNLIKE last month, this graphic novel is very, very different. Let me get this straight. I don’t agree with banning or challenging books on any level. I love to get angry about why books are challenged/banned especially when the reasons for doing so are just damn stupid but you know when you read something and you can kind of see why some people might have had issues or been offended? This is the wonderful world of Saga. It doesn’t offend me at all (I’m not easily offended!) but I have been slightly taken aback at some of the images, although I must insist that the art is absolutely stunning and something I can look at for a long time (erm…perhaps unless it’s a very naked, quite terrifying giant monster).

CHRISSI: I actually laughed out loud at Beth’s comment about the naked, giant monster as I nearly took a picture of it to send to her as I was reading it. I agree that it’s easy to see why Saga is challenged. There’s some quite graphic pictures and some very strong language. I don’t think you’d expect that when you pick it up, if you go into it not knowing the controversy surrounding it. I’d totally agree that it has some beautiful images though. The illustrations are stunning… it’s just not for the easily offended (or children!)

How about now?

BETH: Most of the reasons for challenging Saga are completely correct, I hate to admit. Yes, it has explicit sexual content, nudity and offensive language. However, I don’t really agree with the anti-family message. Our two main characters have a small baby, Hazel and are very much together even though they are all “on the run.” Plus in this volume, the grandparents come into play which does show quite a strong family unit, especially when I consider the role of the grandfather in this volume. Also, unsuited for age group. Hmm. Well, it just depends where you make this graphic novel available to be perfectly honest! If it’s in the primary school library that’s a different kettle of fish entirely and completely inappropriate I agree. But if it’s in the local library adult section for teenagers to find for themselves I don’t think that’s too terrible.

CHRISSI: I understand why it’s challenged. I do. I don’t like admitting that, but I do understand why it is offensive to many. I think there should be the opportunity for it to be found in the right places. Like Beth said, a local library would be fine but in a education setting…not so much!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: We looked at the first volume of Saga in our Banned Books for 2016 – please find our post HERE. It had been a while since I read the first six chapters so I did re-read them before embarking on Volume Two and I remembered just why I enjoyed it the last time. As I mentioned before, the art is simply gorgeous and really intricate but the story is also intriguing and makes me want to keep on reading. I’ll certainly be continuing the series and am looking forward to Volume Three!

CHRISSI: Unlike Beth, I didn’t reread the first volume. I went into it cold and luckily remembered a lot from the previous volume. I really enjoyed this volume, possibly more than the first. The artwork is beautiful and I’m intrigued by the story. I can totally see why so many readers are lapping up this series of graphic novels.

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

This One Summer

This One Summer

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Every summer, Rose goes with her mom and dad to a lake house in Awago Beach. It’s their getaway, their refuge. Rosie’s friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and when Rose and Windy seek a distraction from the drama, they find themselves with a whole new set of problems. It’s a summer of secrets and sorrow and growing up, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

In This One Summer two stellar creators redefine the teen graphic novel. Cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, the team behind Skim, have collaborated on this gorgeous, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful story about a girl on the cusp of her teen age — a story of renewal and revelation.

Thoughts:

I am steadily getting into graphic novels and This One Summer is one that kept on popping up when I mentioned a growing love of graphic novels. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was going to be a cutesy read, but it wasn’t. It had much more depth than I had anticipated.

This One Summer is about a summer friendship. Rose and Windy only really see each other in the summer. They have grown apart over time. Windy is a little younger and still wants to have a lot of fun, whereas Rose is maturing and wouldn’t mind talking about guys she likes. Despite them changing, they’re determined to stay friends. They hang out together and watch some scary films. Rose is dealing with some family issues and this makes her holiday destination not as special as it used to be.

I enjoyed how This One Summer deals with issues that so many teens and adults are going through. There’s sexuality, miscarriage, body image and adoption to name a few. As you can see from some of the topics, it really wasn’t the summer read you might expect from the title.

I enjoyed the illustrations and devoured this book. It may not be my favourite graphic novel that I’ve read but it was a fantastic read nevertheless.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A deeper than you might expect graphic novel!

Honor Girl

Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir

How did I get it?:
I received it from Walker Books, many thanks to them!

Synopsis:

Maggie Thrash has spent basically every summer of her fifteen-year-old life at the one-hundred-year-old Camp Bellflower for Girls, set deep in the heart of Appalachia. She’s from Atlanta, she’s never kissed a guy, she’s into Backstreet Boys in a really deep way, and her long summer days are full of a pleasant, peaceful nothing . . . until one confounding moment. A split-second of innocent physical contact pulls Maggie into a gut-twisting love for an older, wiser, and most surprising of all (at least to Maggie), female counselor named Erin. But Camp Bellflower is an impossible place for a girl to fall in love with another girl, and Maggie’s savant-like proficiency at the camp’s rifle range is the only thing keeping her heart from exploding. When it seems as if Erin maybe feels the same way about Maggie, it’s too much for both Maggie and Camp Bellflower to handle, let alone to understand.

Thoughts:

I have really got into graphic novels over the past year or so. When I had the opportunity to get my hands on a copy of this book from Walker Books, I jumped at the chance. I was especially intrigued because it was a memoir. That’s another one of my favourite things in a book. It didn’t take me long to read this book at all and I really appreciated that it wasn’t a happily ever after ending.

Honor Girl is all about summer camp and crushes. It’s totally adorable. I really enjoyed following Maggie’s story. It feels odd to say that when this is actually Maggie’s memoir. The graphic memoir pinpoints a moment at summer camp when Maggie had just realised she’s gay and she’s got a major crush on a camp counsellor called Erin. Maggie is trying to work through her feelings and spend some time with Erin at the same time. It’s ever so cute and a little frustrating at points. One of those moments when you just want to force two characters (people?) together. I liked that Maggie had a supportive friend that teased but supported her at the same time. The friendship was adorable and relatable.

Honor Girl is as funny as it is heart-warming. I finished it wondering what Maggie would get up to next!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Whilst this book didn’t blow me away, it didn’t take long to read and will really appeal to many readers!