Hallelujah. Holy shit. Where’s the Tylenol? It is #blogmas

Clark W. Griswold Jr.: I bet you like it here, huh?
Mary: I love it here. You don’t gotta put on your coat to go to the bathroom, and your house is always parked in the same place!

Happy Holidays all of you lovely people out there.

It is #Blogmas time and I’ll be participating this year. I have a line up of book-related posts, and reviews slated for the next 24 days.

God help me.

Let’s cheer each other on as we attempt this. 

I leave you with the greatest holiday scene from a Christmas movie ever. 



The “This Is My Genre Tell Me Yours Book Tag”

This is the part where I was poetical about graphic novels and you nod sagely.

The creator of this tag is Drew@TheTattooedBookGeek. A new and fab blog I came across recently. You should check it out.

  • Here are the rules
  • The “This Is My Genre. Tell Me Yours” Book Tag:
  • The Rules:
  • Credit Drew@TheTattooedBookGeek as the creator of the tag, either use the created tag name graphic or create your own and link back to my blog.
  • Answer the questions.
  • https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress.com

Tag as many people as you want. My Tags are as follows:

 Words and Stitches

@kalventure at https://readervoracious.com

@Amalee at https://imagineamalee.wordpress.com/

I haven’t ever done a tag, so let me know id I totally screwed this up 🙂

1). What’s your favorite genre?
I am a Graphic Novel Fan

I also unabashedly love Science Fiction and Fantasy. If I can get a Science Fiction Graphic Novel… ohhh nelly.

2). Who’s your favorite author from the genre?
Brian K. Vaughan or Neil Gaimon. Does anyone else say Neil Fucking Gaimon? Or is it just me. Their books are rich and lovely and build the most surreal pictures in my head and on the pages.

3). What is it about the genre that keeps pulling you back?
It is a mixture of beautiful art and great storytelling.

4). What’s the book that started your love for your favorite genre?

That is a hard question. I can tell you my favorite book most recently is a book called Daytripper by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Craig Thompson (Introduction), Dave Stewart (Colours), Sean Konot (Lettering)

The Premise is, “What are the most important days of your life?

Meet Brás de Oliva Domingos. The miracle child of a world-famous Brazilian writer, Brás spends his days penning other people’s obituaries and his nights dreaming of becoming a successful author himself—writing the end of other people’s stories, while his own has barely begun.

But on the day that life begins, would he even notice? Does it start at 21 when he meets the girl of his dreams? Or at 11, when he has his first kiss? Is it later in his life when his first son is born? Or earlier when he might have found his voice as a writer?

Each day in Brás’s life is like a page from a book. Each one reveals the people and things who have made him who he is: his mother and father, his child and his best friend, his first love and the love of his life. And like all great stories, each day has a twist he’ll never see coming…

In Daytripper, the Eisner Award-winning twin brothers Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá tell a magical, mysterious and moving story about life itself—a hauntingly lyrical journey that uses the quiet moments to ask the big questions.”

I haven’t read anything this beautiful and profound in a long time. 

5). If you had to recommend at least one book from your favorite genre to a non-reader/someone looking to start reading that genre, what book would you choose and why?

I think the Locke and Key series is a very good place to start. It has everything that you need. Fun story and beautiful graphics. 

6). Why do you read?
I breathe therefore I read. Reading is my happy place and my sad place. It is the place of excitement and education. The act of reading is such a part of me that I have to do it. It is who I am. I am a reader.
I tag:

And anyone else that wants to give this a go?

Graphic Novel Review – Lost Cat by Jason

Crime noir and lost animals.

Stats

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Hardcover, 160 pages
  • Published August 3rd, 2013 by Fantagraphics (first published June 19th, 2013)
  • Original Title “Savnet Katt”
  • ISBN1606996428 (ISBN13: 9781606996423)Edition Language English
  • URL http://www.fantagraphics.com/lostcat

Awards

  • 1995: Sproing Award, for Lomma full av regn 2000: Sproing Award, for Mjau Mjau 10: Si meg en ting
  • 2000: Urhunden Prize for the best translated graphic novel, for Vänta lite…
  • 2002: Inkpot Award 2002: Harvey Award, Best New Talent, for Hey, Wait…
  • 2005: Brage Prize, Open Class for La meg vise deg noe…
  • 2007: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for The Left Bank Gang 2008: Eisner Award, Best U.S. Edition of International Material, for I Killed Adolf Hitler 

About

From the publisher, “A detective is walking down the street. It is raining. He sees a “Lost Cat” poster. A minute later he sees the cat from the photo. He picks it up and goes back to the poster. He calls the number. A woman answers. He turns up at her place and gives her the cat. She invites him in from the rain for a cup of coffee. They talk and find out they have a lot in common: both are divorced and living alone. Some days later he invites her out for a dinner. She accepts. He shows up at the agreed time. She doesn’t. He calls her home and knocks on her door. No answer. He asks the neighbors. They haven’t seen her. She has disappeared. He makes some phone calls and investigates, but can’t find her. He gets a new client and has to start working on a new case. In his head, he continues their conversation. Lost Cat, the new graphic novel by Jason (after years of “graphic novellas” of less than 50 pages, arguably his first genuine graphic NOVEL) is both a playful take on the classic detective story, and a story about how difficult it is to find a sister spirit, someone you feel a real connection to–and what do you do if you lose that person?”

My Thoughts

An Anthropomorphized Sam Spade like character.

As “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker is crime noir at its finest,  as it “Lost Cat” by Norwegian writer Jason. Where “Criminal” concentrates on the more violent aspects of the crime noir genre, Jason concentrates on more human emotions and interactions all within the context of a crime caper. He is a master at delving into the loneliness and isolation of his characters and despair and you see that if you read some of his other works. However, as his characters wallow in despair his writing always has a glimmer of hope at the end of the day. 

“The Lost Cat” is about finding that perfect person, the person that understands you. That person that you connect with and what happens if you let that person go? What do you do with the yearning and unrequited feelings that you feel? His anthropomorphized lead detective character finds his person, lets her go, and seeks her out again. He searches her out and finds many other people all searching for that thing that completes them. Each of the characters at one point in time experience a form of loss; a person, a painting, and a lost world.  Each of them reacts to that loss in one way or another. Just like the real world, we are all different and we all search and react differently. Jason is that he is able to take that idea and create fully realized characters with minimal language that the reader can identify with. 

Here is the weird thing about this story, I have no idea what happened over the course of it. The characters interact, there is loss and despair and there is hope but I do not understand the ending of this story or how everything comes together. I’ll save the big reveal in case you read it. Maybe I don’t need to understand it? It could be an open-ended interpretation of human isolation and longing. 

I don’t know what Jason’s intent was when writing this, but I only know how I feel after having read it. I am affected by it. His writing affected my emotions and made me think. So in that, it was a successful book for me. But, with the lack of cohesive plot, it is missing something. Maybe in six months I’ll go back and try it again with a semi-fresh set of eyes and feelings. But as it stands, it is a solid three stars. 

Graphic Novel Review – Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness by Reinhard Kleist

“The first and only illustrated biography of “The Man in Black,” Johnny Cash, the most famous country singer of all time.

Stats

Five out of Five Stars
Paperback, 224 pages
Published October 1st, 2009 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 2006)
Original Title Cash – I see a darkness
ISBN 0810984636 (ISBN13: 9780810984639)
Edition Language English

Awards

  • Max Und Moritz Award –  2008
  • Sondermann Prize – 2007

About

“Never. Don’t believe everythin’ you read in the papers. But I tell you this Johnny Cash knows what it’s like to be behind bars. The man is a story-teller. He lives his songs.”

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness
by Reinhard Kleist

From the publisher, “The first and only illustrated biography of “The Man in Black,” Johnny Cash, the most famous country singer of all time Cash was a 17-time Grammy winner who sold more than 90 million albums in his lifetime and became an icon of American music in the 20th century. Graphic novelist Reinhard Kleist depicts Johnny Cash’s eventful life from his early sessions with Elvis Presley (1956), through the concert in Folsom Prison (1968), his spectacular comeback in the 1990s, and the final years before his death on September 12, 2003.
Already a bestseller and award-winner in Europe, Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness vividly portrays the unpredictable life of a loner, patriot, outlaw, and music rebel, making this unique biography a compelling read for multiple generations of graphic novel and music fans.”

My Thoughts

We open on a familiar scene. A man in black is facing mysteriously off into the distance. A guitar is leaning against his legs. A car driving furiously towards a sign reading, “Reno. Home of Gambling.” Already the reader is enticed by a shot of who we know as Johnny Cash fighting and shooting a man in Reno, being arrested and heading off to a foreboding prison. Anyone familiar with Johnny Cash’s music knows what this introduction is referring to.

“But I shot a man in Reno
Just to watch him die
When I hear that whistle blowin’
I hang my head and cry
I bet there’s rich folks eatin’
In a fancy dining car
They’re probably drinkin’ coffee
And smokin’ big cigars
But I know I had it comin’
I know I can’t be free
But those people keep a-movin’
And that’s what tortures me”

Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash

If you aren’t familiar with this bit of music history, it matters not. Kleist is building a mental image for you. Johnny Cash, the man, the brooder, the singer. While the movie “I Walk The Line (2005) concentrated on Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash’s romance, “I See Darkness” concentrates on a darker, more brooding, and drug filled Cash. All this happens before his days when he became clean and sober and a devout Christian. Whether this is an accurate portrayal of Johnny Cash during this part of his life is up to interpretation. Cash passed away in 2003 taking much of his mysterious life with him. Even though this is billed as an illustrated biography, Kleist is telling a story and building an image of the almost fictional music legend through selected pieces of Cash’s life. Occasionally to preserve the dramatic tone of the story, facts get skewed.

“Sometimes I am two people. Johnny is the nice one. Cash causes all the trouble. They fight.”

Johnny Cash

The story is told chronologically from Cash’s beginning up until his first kiss with June Carter Cash. Much of it is centered around Cash’s iconic performance at Folsom State Prison in 1968. There he met the narrator of his story, Glen Shirley. Later Sherley was made famous by Cash during Cash’s performance of Sherley’s song, “Greystone Chapel” at Folsom Prison. Throughout the novel, Music is used as a means to network and increase Cash’s social clout elevating himself from a poor cotton farmer to a famous musician known the world over. Also, it allowed Cash a vehicle and an audience of fans that Cash can exercise his proverbial demons on.

The imagery is cinematic in scope. Often the story depicts scenes that look as if they have been shot by a movie cinematographer. One of the earliest settings in the story is the Cash family attempting to drive to their new home in the south. The car is set akimbo to the road while rain that falls from the heavens splashes the ground like gunshots and in the foreground is a lonely gravestone marked with the letter 25. That level of emotional storytelling of  Cash’s life is wrung from every word and panel. We the readers are living these moments as much as John is. We are plowing through the rain leaky busted family car. Praying that we will make it to the new farm ok. Or we become enraged inside watching our beloved older brother Jack speak his last words, “A beautiful river… is flowing both ways.

No, I ain’t going that way…Ya, that’s the way I wanna go. Ma, can you see it?” Or later in the story when Johhny is attempting to become clean from all his drug use and his figure is torn and ripped apart by scraggly lightning bolts arcing from his boy. As a reader, I can feel that I can see that, I feel as if I know at that moment a little about how much that ripped John apart to do.
“In his review at Comics Bulletin, Jason Sacks describes another scene which demonstrates Kleist’s skill with a brush. “At the nadir of his drug addiction, (Cash) wanders blithely into a cave with just a flashlight that’s low on batteries. Using blacks almost as a second character in the scene, Kleist literally shows the blackness that has come to envelop Cash’s soul at that moment in time. When Cash literally and figuratively emerges into the light, that light seems to shine straight from Heaven — a deeply healing light that reflects Cash’s emergence to finding some measure of peace. (The Comics Journal)”

In walking out of the cave and into the light, Cash literally walks into the arms of his Momma and the love of his Life June Carter. Exemplifying Cash’s next stage of his life. Drug-free.
Finally, the story ends as it begins, with an adaption of one of Cash’s songs with him as the star. Ghost Riders of the Sky. A song about a lone cowboy facing down his demons. Much as Cash has been a lone cowboy faces his demons much of his life.

“An old cowboy went riding out one dark and windy day
Upon a ridge, he rested as he went along his way
When all at once a mighty herd of red-eyed cows he saw
A-plowing through the ragged sky and up the cloudy draw
Their brands were still on fire, and their hooves were made of steel
Their horns were black and shiny and their hot breath he could feel
A bolt of fear went through him as they thundered through the sky
For he saw the riders coming hard and he heard their mournful cry
Yippie yi ooh
Yippie yi yay
Ghost riders in the sky”

Riders in the sky – Johnny Cash

Kleist boils down Johnny’s story to the drama of being the man in black. It isn’t entirely biographical in nature as we do not get to know him as anything other than his persona. However, it is a very gratifying read, especially for the fan. If you are interested in getting a better picture of Johnny Cash, I recommend reading “Cash” by Johnny Cash.

Journal, The Comics. “The Comics Journal.” The Comics Journal Frank Frazetta Interview Comments, 17 Feb. 2010, classic.tcj.com/review/johnny-cash-i-see-a-darkness-by-reinhard-kleist/.

Tag – Book Beginnings

Superluminary and I See Darkness.

I saw this wonderful tag on a wonderful blog I follow called, Imagine Amalee. Someone you should follow too. This tag is pretty simple, “invites us to share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires.”  I tend to read a couple books at a time. Both of the ones I am currently reading are dope. But in seriously different ways. 

Superluminary

(Powered Destinies #1)

by Olivia Rising

This is a novel that I have gotten the opportunity to read through NetGalley. I have been really enjoying it. Once finished, I will do a proper write-up. The first line is:

“A thousand voices called out to the worlds only healer in a rhythmic chant.”

Superluminary by Olivia Rising

I had no idea how long this was, and at 970 pages this book is a whopper. It is taking me a bit to get through it. 

The second book I am currently reading is a check-off on my 1001 Comics to Read Before I Die list. 

Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness

by Reinhard Kleist

The Man in Black. Yeowwww. As I cannot include the first page easily, I will include one of the panels so that you can get a feel for it. It is drawn almost like Sin City, which is very fitting for the man in black. 

Folsom Prison blues all the way. My 1001 list has yet to let me down, I’ll keep you posted. 

Novel Review – Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….”

“Nobody’s perfect. Well, there was this one guy, but we killed him….” 
― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Stats

5 out of 5 Stars

  • Paperback, 444 pages

  • Published May 25th, 2004 by William Morrow / HarperCollins / Harper Perennial (first published March 1st, 2002)

  • Original Title Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

  • ISBN0380813815 (ISBN13: 9780380813810)

  • Edition Language English

  • URL http://www.chrismoore.com/lamb.html

About

From the publisher, “The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years—except Biff, the Messiah’s best bud, who has been resurrected to tell the story in the divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work “reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams” (Philadelphia Inquirer). Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healings, kung fu, corpse reanimations, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior’s pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there’s no one who loves Josh more—except maybe “Maggie,” Mary of Magdala—and Biff isn’t about to let his extraordinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.” 

My Thoughts

Christopher Moore enjoys poking ideas with sticks to see what leaks out. It is obvious in all of his marvelous works: Fool, The Island of The Sequined Love Nun, A Dirty Job, and more. What leaked out this time was the bawdy, heartfelt, and raucous retelling of the life and times of Jesus Christ told to us by his slightly careworn childhood best friend Biff. What better way to understand a mighty person and a mighty goal than to see them down, befuddled, pimple spotted, and hormone riddled?

Many authors over the years have taken a minor character and retold the story through their eyes. West Side Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Hamlet was retold through the confounded eyes of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Seeing a famous plot or idea from a minor character allows an additional level of gravitas. Basically, if you want to find out the merit of someone, don’t ask them directly. You ask their barber or their waiter that they deal with on a daily basis. Then you will know if they are an asshole or not. So, Moore asked Biff about Jesus. 

In this story, Moore seeks to fill in the missing years of Jesus’s life via his best friend Biff. Biff, newly resurrected by the Angel Raziel, whom we meet again in “The Stupidest Angel”, is set to narrate what the Son of God was up to in his formative years. In all the world, your best friend always has the real goods on you.  What happens is twenty years various interactions, debauchery, and foibles with deities from all religions and walks of life. They learn from the three wise men who are a magician, a yogi, and Buddhist respectively. They learn from Confuscious and chinese concubines. They encounter the last yeti and rescue children from Kali. In there is a demon too. I think most importantly we get to know Maggie, also known as Mary Magdalene, who through modern Christianity is sullied and besmirched as nothing but a sinful woman.  Here she is given a much better and more fitting role that ends on a wonderfully bittersweet note. It is brilliant for Moore to acknowledge a world full of information and chances to learn. 

Biff is a perfect counterpoint to Joshua. Oftentimes Joshua is pedantic, naive, and prone to arrogance, while Biff remains steadfast, humorous, and realistic. I enjoyed reading their travels and adventures as Joshua learned to become the true savior and son of God. Despite the sometimes adolescent level of humor, fart and dick jokes, Moore still retained a respect for the subject matter. Moore is not trying to make fun of Christian beliefs, I think that he is attempting to humanize a godlike character that in his biblical grandness loses what each of us mere mortals can relate to. Jesus had foibles, and acne, and all of that. Celebrate it.  He rose above it all to become the deity that is worshiped today and that is pretty damn awesome. Moore writing a story like this is both an admirable and successful endeavor while being terrifying at the same time. 

“He invented Kung Fu when translated to English

means method by which short,

bald guys can kick the bejeezus out of you.”

― Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

Holy hell this was fun to read. I laughed and laughed and laughed. I am a fan of taking something that is serious, turning it on its head and roughing it up a bit. If your beliefs can’t survive a good flogging, then this isn’t the story for you. Think Monty Python meets Mel Brooks meets Black Adder. The world is too serious right now. We need to be able to chuckle at our gods and know that we will come out on the other side no worse for wear. If I could recommend any living comedy/satire writers out there it would be Moore and specifically this book. It is a worthwhile read and if you need to not take yourself so seriously for a few hours, please read it.  

Bookshelf Scavenger Hunt Tag

This is fun. I have tagged some wonderful blogs that I follow.

 

A scavenger hunt for my bookcase.

All you need is access to your bookshelf. Tag 3 people when you’re done.
1. Find an author name or title with a Z in it.
     Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny
 
2. Find a classic.
     Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut.
3. Find a book with a key on it.
     Welcome to Lovecraft (Locke & Key, #1)  by Joe Hill
4. Find something on your bookshelf that is not a book.
     I have a LEGO pirate ship. 
5. Find the oldest book on your shelf.
   The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, John Gregory Betancourt 1834
6. Find a book with a girl on it.
   Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy (The Dresden Files #10.7) by Ellen Datlow
9727730.jpg
7. Find a book that has an animal in it.
     Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
8. Find a book with a male protagonist.
    Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)  by Jim Butcher
9. Find a book with only words on the cover.
   The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman 
10. Find a book with illustrations in it.
   Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
11. Find a book with gold lettering.
     I can’t find a book with gold lettering. 
12. Find a diary, true or fictional.
    Diary by Chuck Palahniuk 
13. Find a book written by an author with a common name (like Smith).

     Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1) by 

     Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen

14. Find a book with a close up of something on it.
   Woodworker’s Joint Book: The Complete Guide To Wood Joinery by Terrie Noll
2457613
15. Find a book on your shelf that takes place in the earliest time period.
     Soulless (Parasol Protectorate #1) by Gail Carriger
16. Find a hardcover book without a jacket.
     The Princess Bride by William Goldman
17. Find a teal/turquoise colored book.
     The More Than Complete Hitchhiker’s Guide (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1-4 short stories) by Douglas Adams
18. Find a book with stars on it.
    I cannot find a book with stars. I think I need to remedy this.
19. Find a non YA book.
    The Witness by Nora Roberts
I tag
Keep Reading!