Thursday, February 11, 2016

Marilyn's Top Five Single Issue Comics of 2015

Finishing out our Best Comics of 2015 is Marilyn! Check out her favorite single issues below, then be sure to check them out of the library!

Lazarus #15 (February 18, 2015)
Found in Lazarus, Book 3: Conclave 
If I were to pick a theme for this trade it would be loyalty. The families are in conclave and alliances are being formed behind closed doors. Forever has already her loyalty tested after being ordered to kill her traitorous brother Jonah, but that won’t be the end of it. In one of the most emotional issues in the series, Forever is forced into a heartbreaking battle to the death against her friend and fellow Lazarus, Sonia.

Batgirl #45 (October 28, 2015) by
Found in Batgirl, Volume 2 
Babs Tarr is one of my favorite artists working today, and Batgirl issue #45 gave her a chance to really show off her talents. In this issue Barbara’s former roommate Alysia is getting married and Barbara is the maid of honor. This means plenty of fantastic fashion on Tarr’s part, including two stunning bridal outfits, Luke in formal-wear, several panels of Barbara running across rooftops in her bridesmaid dress, and flashback to a young Barbara and Dick Grayson being adorable in their old costumes. The wedding photo booth cover was just the icing on the cake. This finally felt like a wedding issue of a comic for a reader like me.

Saga #32 (December 23, 2015) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Trade Not Out Yet, Start From the Beginning with Trade #1
In recent issues the Saga story has felt rather scattered, which makes sense considering that the cast is scattered across the galaxy. But issue #32 finally felt like it was pulling the story back together. I can’t tell you how happy I was to finally see Alana and Marko back together. The first few pages of this issue made me feel like I was right back reading issue #1 all over again.

Silk #1 (February 18, 2015)
Found in Silk, Vol 1, The Life and Times of Cindy Moon 
A lot of the comics I have in my pull have been going on for a while, so I was excited to start a new series with Silk this year. I can happily say that Silk came as a breath of fresh air. A lot of the other Spider series that Marvel has going feel weighed down by their Spider status, like Spider-Gwen.  But I don’t get that feeling with Silk. She has her own story to tell, and I am loving it.

S.H.I.E.L.D. #2
Found in S.H.I.E.L.D. Volume 1, Perfect Bullies 
One of the things I love about the new Ms. Marvel is that she’s a comic nerd, just like us! In S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 she has to team up with one of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to save her school from destruction. The whole issue I just kept thinking, “Man, I hope she gets to meet Coulson. I just want to see the two of them geek out over superheroes.” Well I was not disappointed.


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Crushes

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is book crushes (either couple crushes or single crushes). Who is your book crush? 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

My book "couple crush" is Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morely from One Day by David Nicholls. Dexter and Emma meet on July 15th, 1988, the night of their college graduation, and Nicholls reveals their 20 year relationship with snapshots from July 15th each year. Dexter and Emma are my favorite book couple because they feel genuine and realistic. Although their relationship is far from perfect and they are very different people, their strong love keeps them coming back to each other.

My number one book couple crush is Kate and Curran from the Kate Daniel Series by Ilona Andrews. (Book 1 is Magic Bites). Take one kick-butt lady mercenary with serious magic skills and the were-lion Beast Lord of Atlanta, mix them together and you are in for one steamy, laugh ridden time. It may take them 4 books to get together, but the couple is still just as fun (and hot) in book 8.
~Mary P.

My favorite book "couple crush" is Lincoln and Beth from Rainbow Rowell's Attachments. They are far from perfect, but I love their chemistry and quirkiness. The two of them have a very strange start to their relationship (he's hired to secretly read her emails), but in the end they are just so right for each other. It is awesome, nerdy, and flawed in a good way. 


My favorite book couple crush is Josey and Adam from Sarah Addison Allen's The Sugar Queen. This is still one of my favorite books and I think it's probably because I see a lot of myself in Josey. Adam is her mailman who she pines over, never having the courage to say anything to him. I also like that he's a mailman because that seems like the kind of profession someone would have in a Hallmark movie like, "Quirky Cupcake Bakery Owner" or "Ruggedly Handsome Architect."

Bill McDonagh from Bioshock: Rapture by John Shirley
This book covers the rise and fall of Rapture, the underwater city from the video game Bioshock, so SPOILER for those of you who haven’t finished the game *cough, cough, John* Bill is a hardworking man looking to make an honest living as a plumber. He gets rewarded for his efforts with a sweet gig as Andrew Ryan’s general contractor in Ryan’s new city, Rapture. Bill’s relentless optimism and hardworking attitude make him such a sweetheart. And as Rapture starts to crumble around him he still looks for the best in everyone and tries to save everyone he can. I’ll just pretend that the ending of the book never happened.

I have always had a major crush on Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings. She’s tough and beautiful and fearless and refuses to do as she’s told. At one point Aragorn asks her what she fears, and she responds, “A cage. To stay behind bars until use and old age accept them and all chance of valor has gone beyond recall or desire.” In the battle before Minas Tirith she steps between her fallen uncle and the Lord of the Nazgûl, an enemy so terrifying that none can bear his presence.
Lord of the Nazgûl:  Thou fool. No living man may hinder me!
Eowyn: But no living man am I! (Commence the stabbing).

Later she ends up marrying Faramir, which is really alright in my book because you know that he will be good to her, but also respect that fact that she is completely awesome.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

John's Top Five Single Issue Comics of 2015

Week two of our single issue top fives from last year! This week is John's selections.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
In terms of a single, free standing graphic novel, this was the best thing I read all year. Normally I don’t do in for jagged drawing styles, but Noelle Stevenson is very much an exception. Nimona features one of the most innovative storylines I’ve ever read in a graphic novel. I will just say that Noelle Stevenson is just about the most interesting thing happening in comic art today.

Copperhead #10 by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski
With the exception of Velvet (about which I’ll have something to say in my Honorable Mention section), Copperhead was my favorite series of the last two years. Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski have combined to produce a sort of Wild West in space series about a woman sheriff in a frontier mining town. Well written and beautifully drawn, it ticks a lot of boxes for me. The final issue in the arc was superior, and really moving.

Black Widow #18 by Nathan Edmonson and Phil Noto
Pretty much all of Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto’s run of Black Widow was excellent. That said, the last volume was not the strongest, but the next to last issue was among the best in the whole series. It looked back into Romanov’s past with some really eye-opening panels. Phil Noto’s art is expressively beautiful, using color to express mood to excellent effect. This particular issue highlighted Noto’s skills in their greatest possible range.

Death Vigil  #8 by Stjepan Sejic
The final issue of Stjepan Sejic’s stellar Death Vigil title. An interesting story and Sejic’s (typically) compelling artwork made this whole series one of the very best that I read all year. The finale was startling, both in its artwork and its storytelling. It left room for another run, and this is something to look forward to.

Rat Queens #10 by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Stjepan Sejic
Yes, I have one of the same ones as Meredith on my list. It was that good. One of the last issues before this series was taken over by a different artistic team (with a rather unfortunate effect on overall quality). This issue was all you’d ever want from this title. The brilliance of the whole product is that it rejigs the traditional, dude-centered swords and sorcery conventions with excellent effects.

Honorable Mentions: I might have included Velvet by Ed Brubaker on this list, as it’s pretty much the best thing I’ve read in, oh, the last decade, but I couldn’t really pick out an individual issue and I didn’t want to slight any of the ones not selected. For similar reasons I didn’t pick out any of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s Saga. This title has kind of lost its way, but the early issues were too excellent to pick just one. Finally, I might have picked an issue of Vaughan’s new title Paper Girls, but I didn’t start reading the individuals until after New Year’s, so there’s that.

Next week we'll have Marilyn's top five picks, so check back to see what made her list!


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Meredith's Top Five Single Issue Comics of 2015

I think it’s fair to say that 2015 was a pretty good year for comics. Marvel rebooted a lot of their titles, DC cut away a lot of dead wood (although by no means all), and smaller imprints like Image and Dark Horse kept up a steady supply of interesting things. Those among you who are interested in this stuff are fortunate that the library has some real obsessives looking after these matters for you. We thought it might be interesting to knock together lists of the best things that we saw last year. As it happens (and with only one exception I can think of) you can read this all here at the library.

So enjoy part one of three of our favorites from last year. This week: Meredith's favorites.

Jem and the Holograms #1 (Kelly Thompson & Sophie Campbell) – This year saw the relaunch of the 80s cartoon series as both a movie and a comic series. The movie was abysmal, but don’t let that dissuade you from checking out this comic. Thompson and Campbell have managed to bring Jem into the modern era while keeping the spirit of Christy Marx’s original cartoon. It’s consistently one of the best written and drawn series I read. Find this issue in Jem and the Holograms Volume 1: Showtime.

Rat Queens #10
Rat Queens #10 (Kurtis J. Wiebe & Stjepan Sejic) – The quality of Rat Queens has diminished so thoroughly in recent months, I’m not even sure why I still read this book. It’s unfortunate as this used to be my favorite comic. Issue 10 wraps up the second story arc in spectacular fashion with the Rat Queens taking on the mystical N’Rygoth in an attempt to protect their city from complete destruction.
Find this issue in Rat Queens Volume 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth.

Batgirl Annual #3 (Cameron Stewart & Brenden Fletcher) – I don’t usually care for comic “annual” issues. They’re more expensive and the stories often make little sense in the context of the comic. What makes Batgirl Annual #3 great in my opinion are the characters that are included. Over the course of this comic Barbara crosses paths with her ex-boyfriend Dick Grayson, Batwoman, Maps & Olive at Gotham Academy, and most importantly – Stephanie Brown. Spoiler makes her first appearance in Batgirl with a giddy enthusiasm that warms my black soul.
Find this issue in Batgirl Volume 2: Family Business.
Batgirl Annual #3

Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D.
50th Anniversary #1
Agent Carter: S.H.I.E.L.D. 50th Anniversary #1 (Kathryn Immonen & Rich Ellis) – Immonen is one of my all-time favorite comic authors writing one of my all-time favorite characters. Even better, Immonen draws on her history of writing Journey into Mystery and chooses to include the Asgardian warrior, Lady Sif. It’s a team up of my dreams
Find this issue in S.H.I.E.L.D.: 50th Anniversary

We Are Robin #4
We Are Robin #4 (Lee Bermejo & James Harvey) – This is a new series about a group of teenage vigilantes who all take on the identity of Robin. I picked issue four because of how absolutely stylish it is. Batgirl crosses over this issue to mentor teen hero, Riko. What makes this a stand out issue is how Harvey eschews typical comic panel layouts and instead creates this incredible pop art collage look that often bleeds out to the end of the page.
Find this issue in We Are Robin Vol 1: Vigilante Business

What do you think? Keep an eye out next week for John's favorites!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter Blues Book Bingo!

Need to shake up your reading during these gloomy months? Come in to the Main Branch of the library and pick up a Book Bingo sheet from the Reference Desk. From February 1 through March 31, you can earn entries into a prize drawing by filling out your Bingo card. Read books to get a BINGO! Mark each space you’ve completed, and bring it to the Reference Desk when you’ve received a BINGO. For each BINGO you get, you get an entry into the prize drawing. If you fill in the whole card, you get an extra entry into the prize drawing! Winners will be pulled April 1!

Need help getting started? Here are some suggested titles:

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (Read a book with a sad ending) – Lou Clark gets a job caring for a young man who has recently become paralyzed. Neither realizes the impact each will have on the course of their lives.

Voracious by Cara Nicoletti (Read a cookbook) – Nicoletti, a Brooklyn butcher, complies a list of recipes inspired by books that have had an impact on her life.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Read a graphic novel) – Stevenson’s tale of a villain’s henchgirl was recently shortlisted for a National Book Award. The accolades are well deserved, she turns a silly premise into a moving story of identity and acceptance. 

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Read a memoir/biography) – Krakauer chronicles one of the most dangerous Everest expeditions in recent history.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain (Read a book about a war) – Billy is on leave for a “victory tour” after his unit faced fire during the Iraq War. He and his fellow soldiers are used a PR props to drum up support for the war during election season.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (Read a classic) – Set in the 1930s, Cassandra Mortmain recounts tales of her eccentric family in diary entry form.

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (Read a sci-fi book) – 11 year old Julia must cope with growing up while also dealing with the slowing of the earth’s rotation; an unexplained phenomenon that throws life into disarray.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten Picture Books of 2015

Happy New Year everyone! I’m happy to say that I read a lot of great books in 2015, and I’m excited to see what wonders await me this year. But for now, let’s take a look back at my favorite picture books published in 2015.

The Princess and thePony by Kate Beaton
I was overjoyed to hear this year that Kate Beaton was going to be writing and illustrating a children’s picture book. The Princess and the Pony features the fan favorite fat pony, who is presented as a gift to the young Princess Pinecone. Beaton is as hilarious as always, and I eagerly await any picture books she may make in the future.

Is it Hanukkah Yet? by Chris Barash
I was drawn to this book not because of its holiday theme or beautiful illustrations but its content. I was surprised to find a picture book that focused more on the winter season then it did the holiday itself. It was a nice combination of the signs of winter mixed with an explanation of Hanukkah traditions.

Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall
If there’s one book I would recommend you reading to your kids this year, it’s this one. Red is going through a bit of an identity crisis; he’s a red crayon who can only color blue. Try as he might, he just cannot be red. It’s a powerful story of self-acceptance and probably my favorite picture book of the year.

Shake to Assemble by Calliope Glass
This book was not so much my favorite as it was a story time favorite. I’m a sucker for an interactive picture book and the kids love anything with superheroes, so this was a perfect mash up of the two.

Now this was a fun book. Beginning as a comic, it eventually turns into a multi-dimensional seek and find adventure. Apparently I’m all about the combo books this year.

I Don’t Like Koala by Seam Ferrell
Young Adam doesn’t like Koala, but I sure like this book. The illustrations border just on the edge of creepy, which fits perfectly with the story.

Star Wars: Epic Yarns by Jack and Holman Wang
This series of board books pair simple words with elaborately constructed yarn recreations of famous star wars scenes. The pictures are absolutely stunning, and I would recommend any literature loving parents to check out the Wang brothers' cozy classics board book series as well.

The Little Gardener by Emily Hughes
Sometimes it can feel as though your actions have no impact. The Little Gardener tries his very best to complete the daunting task of creating a beautiful garden from the plants that tower over him. And while he cannot complete this task on his own, his work serves as an inspiration to others.

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin
As I’ve stated before I am a huge fan of Adam Rubin. His books are guaranteed to make me laugh out loud, and his latest book as no exception. Halfway through the book the narrator turns into a robot after coming into contact with the dreaded robo-sauce and the reader is tasked with turning the book into a robot as well.

I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems

Mo Willems, you just get me. Sometimes you just need to take a nap, and the world is determined to prevent that from happening. I’m happy to say that the latest book in the Elephant and Piggie series did not disappoint.

What were your favorite picture books of 2015? Do you agree with my picks?


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Librarians' Line-Up: Best Books Read in 2015, Part 2

This week we are continuing our previous Librarians' Line-Up topic, here are the remaining staff favorites of 2015. See part one here.

My favorite book of the year was Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. Who wouldn’t love an alternate reality where the library is the supreme power, knowledge is treasured, and books are owned by the rich and powerful? Well, people like Gutenberg (who was killed by the people in power because he wanted to bring books (and power) to the masses)… Awesome story.

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver

While this book uses many of the usual children's fiction tropes (an obvious mix up, snooty adults, an impossible journey, and powerful adversaries) the writing really soars above the usual. Lisel and Will, the two children at the center of the adventure are passionately crafted to feel just like real children - no preciousness or super-precociousness. The adults are just serious enough in their ridiculous ambitions to read as threatening without being a cartoon of evil. The supernatural aspect, the ghosts and the other side, are clever and smart and touching. I especially loved the crankiness of Po for most of the book - I never realized that I always wanted ghosts to be impatient and cranky with the living, but now that I have seen it done, it makes total sense. This is one of the finest children's stories I have ever read.
~John P.

My favorite book of the year was Aziz Ansari's book, Modern Romance. Anybody who is familiar with his comedy or new Netflix show knows that Aziz loves talking about and analyzing relationships. Because of that, his book about romance in today's world felt like an inevitability. I'm happy to say that I was not disappointed. Several times I found myself laughing out loud. I would definitely recommend it to any fan of his comedy.

My favorite book read in 2016 was The Martian by Andy Weir. It was such an unexpected book to me. I found the main character of Mark Watney to be very approachable, even though he was hyper-intelligent and able to grow potatoes on freaking Mars. The book was smart, engaging, suspenseful, and surprisingly funny. The movie was pretty decent, but as is usually the case, the book was better.