awesome authors

Reading Challenge 2010 – Midpoint Rally

I spent all weekend at the fabulous Wordcamp Chicago and feel shamed by everyone else’s awesome blogs to get mine in gear and not treat it like a red-headed stepchild. I swear litfromthewastland if it wasn’t for you I’d be nothing, even though I forget your name all the time.

Last year in honor of my spiffy new Goodreads account I decided to challenge myself to read 100 books in a year.  I limited myself to chapter books, aka no picture books although graphic novels counted and were relied heavily upon toward the end.  I made it, barely with 109 that included a few DNFs – did not finishes.  Hey, it’s a readers right to abandon books.

This year I didn’t have a specific number but I wanted to beat my 109.  As of today I’m at 79, well on my way to 100+.  Yes there’s a picture book or two in the mix but there is also some really good stuff, some very mediocre stuff and yes, a DNF.  But for today, we’ll stick with the good, specifically the graphic novels.

I have read some fantastic graphic novels this year, maybe of all time. I continued with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series and read my favorite so far, A Game of You.  It had everything a good books should, it transported me, it captivated me, it damn well broke my heart, never apologized and then said, call you in the morning.  And I answered the phone.  The Dream Hunters was written as stand-alone story to mark Sandman’s 10 year anniversary.  More of an illustrated story than a graphic novel it still worked its delicious, tempestuous, bittersweet and ultimately redemptive magic.  Yoshitaka Amano’s art is even more devastating and haunting than Gaiman’s words which should be impossible.  But what can I say, Gaiman owns my soul.

George O’Connor decided to start a graphic novel series based on Greek gods and myths and he made a good call.  Zeus, King of the Gods has incredible art that let’s you see the immensity of the Titans, the vastness of Gaia and the terrible violence in creation of the world.  O’Connor also had some sly moments of humanizing Zeus, turning him into a kind of super star quarterback making this a great read for YAs suffering through Survey Lit – Greek Gods.  He also hits home just how much of our modern language and literature is rooted in Greek myth.

Speaking of myths and magic, Cairo.  With so much story going on and characters everywhere its hard to describe how this works, why it works or even what it’s about.  Just know it’s great piece of storytelling, a (cliché upcoming) modern fable, fantastic as it is realistic.  Like I said, it’s beyond explanation, only experience.

And Kirkman continues to go there in his Walking Dead series.  The AMC show looks like it will be fabulous and not sucky.  Thank you AMC for not FOXing this one.

Other Top Notable Graphic Novels – Mercury by Hope Larson, Nightschool series by Svetlana Chnakova, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by way of Eric Shanower and Skottie Young, and lastly but not leastly, Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale and other assorted Hales.  Please, if you do anything, read Rapunzel’s Revenge and Calamity Jack.  Too much fun and too much awesome.  Hope the Hale team is thinking of another set of traditional folk rhymes to make into fabulous graphic novels.

I’ll save the good, bad and ugly textual books for another day.  Soon, I promise.  Don’t look at me like that blog!  I love you.

A comment

So I got my first comment after yesterday’s post and it is a big one.  Author of Burned Ellen Hopkins left a message after I admittedly did not write a great response to her book.  I am totally amazed and appreciative that she took the time to write a comment.  Reaching out to readers of your book, even not so nice ones, is fantastic and says alot about the writer.  Since I was pressed for time and didn’t write a long review of Burned I’ll post my response that I sent off to Ellen.  I’m still awed that she commented.  So cool. 

Dear Ellen,
Thank you so much for commenting on my blog.  I write it mostly for my benefit so I have a record of my readings.  I never have expected anyone to comment, let alone an author.
I want to say that I did like Burned up to a point.  I’m not a fan of novels written in verse but Burnednever felt overly contrived and read easily, like a novel.  And I loved Pattyn and her messed up life.  She’s a very real and honest character and I really felt what she was going through.  She goes through a huge change in the novel that many people can relate to.  The ending didn’t feel tacked on just unfinished.  If you do decide to write a sequel to BurnedI’d love to read it because having a character make such a huge decision and then not show the consequences felt unfinished and unsatisfying.  What bothered me the most is not that she contemplates going on a rampage, but that as a reader I didn’t make that leap with her.  Maybe it’s just me and my experiences but I didn’t think Pattyn would do something like that.  I didn’t get enough time with her from the accident to the last pages to know. 
When we discussed your book in class quite a few people disagreed with me and thought it was great.  That to me is big sign of a good book, when there’s something to talk about.  I would not hesitate to recommend your book if someone asked my opinion but probably with a spoiler-free warning. 
Thanks again for commenting, I think it’s really awesome.