Weekend Library Reading (9) — Mini Reviews & New Books

WEEKEND LIBRARY READING is a feature of Reading In Winter! If YOU make use of your local library, feel free to participate. I work in a library that has a HUGE selection of awesome books, and even when I’m not working I seem to come home with a TON of them, so it only makes sense to showcase some of the beauties I plan to read from my local library over a weekend. 

So far, so good with the weekly library visits! LO and I try to get there before his program so that we can look around for random reads, and also so we can pick up my requested books. I am TERRIBLE for requesting all the books when browsing through the new titles! And, as you’ll be able to see, I’m on a bit of a graphic novel kick — and trying something new!

Here’s what I got last week:

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My thoughts:

the complete persepolisThe Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Lots of people really seem to love this book and I can really see its appeal. I’m really not a history person — seriously, social studies was my nemesis in high school — so the idea of learning new things through a graphic novel as opposed to a dry textbook was very intriguing to me. Being well past the age where I learned about the Islamic Revolution, I didn’t have much of an idea of what I was getting into, though I did know certain things, like the veils and how men are perceived vs. women. Satrapi goes into detail about what it was like growing up in Tehran and it really was an eye opener. It’s hard to believe that the events take place only a few decades ago when compared to what life was like growing up in Canada.

The story was definitely good, though it seemed to be a lot more powerful in the beginning. I found myself wanting it to end about 3/4 of the way through. I don’t want to criticize Satrapi, since this is the story of her life, but I found there was a lot of I-did-something-stupid-and-I-must-change going on. I can recall at least three times. And, really, the book ends without a lot of hope, which was disappointing. Again, though, it’s based on a true story, so it’s not like I can be handed happily ever afters all the time. The graphics were simple, but still conveyed the story very well. I wouldn’t say they were exceptional, but they were clean, clear, and creative.

I can’t say this is a story I’d read again, but it was still good. Satrapi’s voice was honest and funny, making for a very readable account of her growing up. Even though it’s impossible to relate to her situation, it’s easy to feel a sort of empathy toward her character. I really like the idea of a memoir being told in graphic novel format and hope to read more of them in the future.

blanketsBlankets by Craig Thompson

This is another graphic novel that people have been raving about and while I feel (again) like I can see where they’re coming from, it fell just a little short for me. This was another story based on true events — something I didn’t realize until AFTER I finished reading. I expected something really light, like a love story, for this one, and while I did get some of that, there was a LOT of darker themes running throughout the book. While it wasn’t 5 stars for me, it was a book that I didn’t want to put down (although I had to — it was 582 pages long!).

I loved the story of Craig and Phil and the flashbacks that talk about their childhood throughout the story were probably my favourite. We also get the story of Craig and Raina, which takes up a large chunk of the book. Some of it seemed to drag a bit, the story of Craig and Raina, but it all served a purpose. Throughout the entire story, Craig is trying to find meaning in something. His entire life, he seemed to be under a rock and had a certain childhood naivite about him, mainly when it comes to religion. Be warned, there are STRONG religious themes in this book. I went in blind and had no idea. It’s not like they’re thrown at the reader — the author isn’t preaching — but they’re there and woven perfectly into the story. If you’re not used to religion in books, or if you’re against it, you might not like this one because it definitely is a driving theme in the story.

To me, it really was a story of how certain things happen for a reason. Some things might not have made sense at the time, or maybe they happened and I wondered why, but in the end it all worked out. I’d definitely like to try out some more Craig Thompson work, but after this one I might need a breather.

As for the Doctor Who book, I’m really not sure what to think about it. I did flip through some of it, mostly that of the newer doctors, since those are the ones I’m most familiar with, and it was okay. The chapter on Christopher Eccleston’s doctor seem to revolve around diary entries written by Mickey, accompanied by pictures and documents from his time. Afterwards, there were quotes from the writers and the actors. It was an okay read, but the format is different for each doctor and I think I wanted something different. But it’s Doctor Who, so I just spent most of the time flipping through the pictures and smiling because I love it all. 🙂

NOW … onto this week’s books!

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1. The Taker (The Taker, #1) by Alma Katsu is a book I have seen many good things for, mainly because the last book of the series was released this year. People have been RAVING about this series, so eventually curiousity got the better of me and I requested it. I had been trying to stay away from starting new series books this year, but this will be the exception.

2. Hot Gimmick, #1-4 by Miki Aihara — MANGA! I have never, ever read a manga book before, but I know they’re a huge thing lately (or were? I’m really not up on the genres and what the big “in” thing is now.) so I tried to search for manga for beginners and found this series on a blog. I ordered the first four from the library thinking that they were the entire series, but just now realized that there are TWELVE books in the series. I guess we’ll see if I like these ones. According to Goodreads (which I didn’t consult before requesting), lots of people gave it one star, but I refuse to read anything more until I finish. It looks kind of like a romance? I’m not really sure, but they look like quick reads, so I’ll find out soon!

3. Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Dave McKean) really needs no explanation as to why I got it — I mean, it’s Neil Gaiman and I love him. Isn’t that explanation enough? I know Neil has a huge back catalogue of books I haven’t read (I’ve really only kept up with his latest releases), so I’d like to try and work my way through it all. THROUGH. IT. ALL. Challenge accepted!

Other than reading these books, the Edmonton Book Bloggers are having a meetup, which means LO will have his first bookstore visit! It’s also supposed to get really cold, so I’m thinking we’ll stay in and read, make a fire, and just try to stay warm. Seriously, can spring come a little sooner? Oh, and we will also be watching the last of the Olympics this weekend! I was very gung ho in the beginning and watched a lot of it during the first week, but then tried to catch bits and pieces in the second. Canada is doing AMAZING and I’m so proud of our athletes!

Have you read these books? What are your weekend plans?

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8 thoughts on “Weekend Library Reading (9) — Mini Reviews & New Books

  1. I just fell in love with my library again! I started keeping a spreadsheet so I could also see how much money I was saving by using the library instead of just “knowing” I was saving money. In two trips I’ve saved a little under $125.

    I also just found manga too. I’ll have to check this series out. I started with the Sailor Moon series by Naoko Takeuchi. I’ve read three so far and have really enjoyed them. I hope you and LO are enjoying your library times!

    • That’s an awesome idea! I’ve been tracking my reading this year as well as the books I’ve gotten. It’s nice to see which books I got for free, or which are review books, and which I’ve actually had to pay for. It helps keep me accountable and then I think, “Do I really need this?” when I’m at the bookstore.

      I’ve never read the Sailor Moon series. Might have to try it. I know a lot of people have liked it!

  2. I have been wanting to read Blankets for AGES!!! Thank you for your review, it’ll make me keener to go find it.
    And I didn’t LOVE the Persepolis books either, though I did like them and I do think she did something quite original and unique with the format. I would have preferred slightly more subtle art, but that’s just me.

  3. I really like graphic novels every once in a while. 🙂 I haven’t read those two though, but I know a lot of U of A profs use Persepolis for first year English courses. I’m also excited for your thoughts on the manga you picked up! I’ve always wanted to try to read some, but I’ve never really known where to start. 🙂 And, Neil Gaiman! He has so many backlog books I’d like to check out, too, and there are still some of his more recent ones that I haven’t started yet.

    It was great to see you and LO at the meetup, too! Hopefully, LO enjoyed his first trip to the bookstore! 😀

    • Manga is … different. I feel like I’m used to graphic novels, but manga is like an entirely different beast! I followed a few blogs that told me where to start, but I wasn’t totally happy with it. I’ll keep trying!

      Since you want to try Neil, I might suggest listening to An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Might work well into your new music feature! And it’s completely awesome. 🙂

  4. I read Persepolis in university and remembered really enjoying it. And I’ve heard great things about Blankets.

    And I hope you enjoy The Taker! I love that series!

    • I did really like Blankets, but Persepolis was just okay for me. The Taker wasn’t bad — a little slow, but maybe I’ll check out the next one sometime. 🙂

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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