I live in New York City and I'm surrounded by books all day and when I go home I have more books waiting for me. Read my "About" page on top to see what I mean. I just want to share my book experiences and my love of all-things-books, with hopefully the occasional review thrown in. If you wish to contact me, the address is polishoutlanderATgmailDOTcom

In My Mailbox (61)

So I have accumulated a lot of stuff over the course of the last five months, the majority coming from Boston Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con. But there is no way I’m going to list all the books that I’ve gotten. Just the really interesting ones. So here it goes:

The Bowery, 1883: Gamblers and thieves, immigrants and Street Arabs, Do-Gooders and charity houses, impossible dreams and impossible odds. This is the story of two “Bowery girls”-the pickpocket Mollie Flynn and the prostitute Annabelle Lee, young women without family or education who must fend for themselves. Two young women whose survival depends on each other. After a chance encounter with Emmeline DuPre, a “Do-Gooder” who has recently opened a settlement house, Mollie and Annabelle are given the opportunity to better themselves. But the city offers many temptations, and on the streets of the Bowery, you do whatever it takes to survive. (Misty had gotten this last week and I was intrigued by the fact that she said there was prostitution involved somehow. That was enough for me. And it was for less than 2 bucks on Amazon!)

Delia Truesdale has no idea her life’s about to change forever. She’s too busy enjoying the California summer. Her internet tycoon mother, T.K. Truesdale, is out of town, and that means Delia can spend all her time at the beach, surfing. That is, until everything unravels. Her mother suddenly goes missing, and everyone thinks she’s dead – excpet Delia, who knows T.K.’s way too organized to simply disappear. But Delia’s still sent to New York to live with her two aunts – a downtown bohemian and an uptown ice queen. And in case that’s not bad enough, she also has to deal with a snooty new school and trying not to fall for the wrong guy. Oh, and finding her mother. As she delves deeper into the tangle of conspiracies and lies surrounding T.K.’s disappearance, Delia begins to suspect that the wrong guy may be the right guy…and that some secrets – especially the dangerous ones – were never meant to be unraveled. (I feel like someone recommended this to me but I can’t remember who and when.)

When Oyuna was a baby, a horse accidentally crushed her foot, cursing her family with bad luck. Oyuna vows to restore good fortune to her family…but how? One fateful day, soldiers from the great Khan’s army invade her village to steal horses and gather new soldiers. In hopes of bringing honor to her family, Oyuna courageously disguises herself as a boy and joins the soldiers on their quest. With only her horse and her cat to keep her company, Oyuna sets off on an amazing journey across deserts and mountains-a journey that will change her life forever.

Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother Djoss, she hides out in their squalid apartment, living in fear that someday, someone will find out that she is the child of a demon. Corporal Jona Lord Joni is a demon’s child too, but instead of living in fear, he keeps his secret and goes about his life as a cocky, self-assured man of the law. The first book in the Dogsland Trilogy, Never Knew Another is the story of how these two outcasts meet. (This had been on my PBS wishlist for sometime. I think I saw it on tor.com one day and it sounded interesting enough to me.)

Daughter of a Norman robber baron, wife to an ambitious young knight, Maria is a courageous young woman struggling to find love, power, and her place in eleventh-century southern Italy. Bold as any of the knights in her husband’s castle, proud as a emperor, Maria pushes boundaries, she schemes, and she refuses to surrender in a world meant for men. (This I found in a store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, that sells used books and records. I had several books in my hand but then put them away. As Josh was paying for the records, I saw this in a box. I had never heard of it, although it looks like it had been reissued recently. Above, is the edition I got for just a buck!)

In Swann’s Way, the themes of Proust’s masterpiece are introduced, and the narrator’s childhood in Paris and Combray is recalled, most memorably in the evocation of the famous maternal good-night kiss. The recollection of the narrator’s love for Swann’s daughter Gilberte leads to an account of Swann’s passion for Odette and the rise of the nouveaux riches Verdurins. (Well folks, it’s back to class for me. This time I’m taking only one class and it’s called The Modern European Novel and this is what we’re starting with. Oy! I’m about 100 pages in and I just want to keep putting it down.)

“What strange new world, to have such creatures in it!” Forced into hiding by a global ecological cataclysm, humans emerge from their underground warrens half a millennium later to discover that the Earth has been totally transformed. All of the familiar flora and fauna are gone, replaced by a radically altered natural order populated by rampaging dinosaurs and strange, new creatures. It takes guts, grim determination, ingenuity and a whole lot of old-fashioned luck just to survive, much less thrive, in this alien wilderness-all qualities that ace mechanic Jack Tenrec, lovely scientist Hannah Dundee and their friends possess in abundance. But even the worthiest of these hardy souls are hard-pressed to surmount the obstacles presented by their new homeland. And when those trials are further compounded by the underhanded and selfish actions of the cutthroat human scavengers they encounter, even the best equipped and bravest among them might not endure. (This is a graphic novel I picked up while at SDCC. It looked interesting. Huge book though!)

The first of three volumes collecting the adventures of the spunky Maggie, her annoying best friend and sometime lover Hopey, and their circle of friends, including their bombshell friend Penny Century, Maggie’s weirdo mentor Izzy—as well as the wrestler Rena Titanon and Maggie’s handsome love interest, Rand Race. Maggie the Mechanic collects the earliest, punkiest, most heavily sci-fi stories of Maggie and her circle of friends. (I’ve read that this series is perfect for fans of Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, which, in case you didn’t know, I adore. I had been meaning to read this series for quite some time, and the creator was at SDCC so I snagged a copy there and got it signed.)

So those are the more interesting goodies that I’ve gotten recently. Been really trying to hold back. These comic conventions are not helping in that respect though. ;) And New York Comic Con is just over a month away!

*In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. Thanks Kristi!*

Five Months Later….

I emerge.

My grad school semester for Spring burnt me out. Every weekend, it was more papers! And as soon as that ended, the season of travel started for me!  So what have I been doing these last 5 months?

First I wrote a paper on werewolves. More like a paper claiming that the two werewolf characters in two separate medieval stories are not in fact werewolves. I read this fascinating book (Metamorphoses of the Werewolf: A Literary Study from Antiquity Through the Renaissance) about werewolves and part of me wished I had written in. I have a feeling this werewolf thing won’t be something I just toss aside. Oh, and I wrote a paper for my Critical Theory class too. Not as interesting though.

Right at the very end of the Spring semester came BEA. I was there to help out on the exhibit floor. A bunch of us were there in shifts so it still gave me a chance to walk around and see what was going on during those few days. Plus, I got to meet Hercules himself:

Kevin Sorbo

Let’s just say my inner 6th grade-self came out in these few moments that I met him. He is just as handsome as he was all those years ago, and he is big! We could see him walking over all the way across the floor, he was so tall. I also participated in BookBloggerCon, and I was on a panel with other publishers. As I sat down and saw all those people in front of me, I thought, What the heck am I doing? I hate public speaking. I am the shyest person. People said I was fine but as I was sitting there and trying to talk some sense, my heart just kept pounding.

So after all that, it was time for a much-needed vacation. Since both Josh and I were burnt out, we decided to go to Mexico. We had been there four years ago so we did a lot of touristy stuff then. This time, we did nothing. Well, we did one thing:

That was the only thing I had wanted to do while we were in Mexico. It was only for a few hours but that’s all I needed. The rest of the time we spent on the beach reading. And eating. Seriously, that’s all we did. We’d get up at 7am, get breakfast, go to the beach and stay there until like 6 or 7, have dinner, and go to bed. It was tiring! We were in bed by 10 every night!

Oh, and naps. There were definitely lots of naps. I only read one book while we were, but it was a beast of a book: The Passage. I’m glad it was a galley (from last year) because it got really beat up from all the sand and water and sunblock. I actually broke the spine towards the end of the trip.

So, soon after Mexico, I get back to work and I was off to another place. This time, New Orleans for ALA. It was my first time there and I told Josh that I would love to go back again. It definitely had its charms. Except for Bourbon Street. Even in the daytime, it felt a little skeevy. Some locals did say, “There’s New Orleans, and then there’s Bourbon Street.” The city had great food though. We had the bread pudding doused in whiskey sauce at one place and you could really feel the whiskey. It made you tingle all the way down to your toes. And of course, we had to make a trip to Cafe du Monde, for their famous beignets:

And of course the music. There was always some music being played on the street:

I didn’t get to go to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet this year so me and my two coworkers (who also didn’t go) went out for some food and rest. ALA was wonderful though. ALA always gets me re-energized about what I do every day at work.

So, after ALA it was off to San Diego:

This was an unexpected surprise for me this year. Back in May, I was asked if I would be willing and able to go to help out our graphic novel imprint and before they finished asking me the question I said YES! I was just happy to be there and see the sights and sounds of SDCC. But man, what a loooooong convention. So we get there on a Tuesday, set up our booth. Wednesday night is Preview Night from like 5pm to 9pm, and then it’s Thurs-Fri-Sat it’s 9am-7pm, and Sunday 9am-5pm. And fly back on Monday. I did get a chance to go to the San Diego Zoo on Wednesday before the convention started. I think I covered like 95% of it, all on my own. Later I thought, Why am I walking around on my feet all day when I will be on my feel every day for the next few days. But it was still worth it.

As for the convention, man there were so many people! Our hotel was right next to the convention center so every morning I saw the crowds going in one direction. I had never experienced crowds like that. And the lines! Everywhere I looked, there were lines for something! There were lines for tickets for next year’s convention and people were sleeping in the lines at night! Crazy! It didn’t help that our booth was underneath the air conditioning, cause it was freezing. I was in my hoodie every day and drinking hot tea and hot chocolate. My coworker had two or three hoodies on at once. Meanwhile, it was gorgeous outside.

I didn’t get to go to any of the panels but I did walk around a bunch of times, and managed to pick up some art and graphic novels. The night before our flight, I was sitting on my suitcase trying to close it. I can’t believe I fit everything into my carry on suitcase and my backpack. I can’t believe they didn’t have me check my luggage! I got to see some artists that I am a huge fan of and discovered some new artists/creators too. Now I just need to frame all the artwork I got. One day I’ll post all the comic art I have. I feel like Josh and I should open a mini comic art gallery or something in our apartment at this rate.

And thus ended my travels for the summer. I had thought about visiting my friends in Portland/Seattle, or going somewhere else but then I realized I needed to be home. I was tired of traveling and just wanted to enjoy being home before I went back to class.

I have to say, I had all these great plans to read a lot of books for pleasure this summer but it didn’t seem to work out that way with all the traveling. Plus, I found myself in a reading funk where nothing was appealing to me for at least a week.

I have missed posting here though. I’ve been to some author events too that I wanted to share with you, and share some other book-goodies! It’s just at the end of the day, I didn’t want to look at a computer anymore. This summer at work was unusually busy. I kept thinking I could never get ahead of myself with all that had to be done. So I hope to post more regularly and not be m.i.a. for five months! Yay Goodreads though! Helps me see what everyone else is reading :)

So, that was my summer in a nutshell basically! How was yours?

Please Stay Tuned!

I’m here! I’m still here! Watch this space… if you still are by any chance!

Waiting on Wednesday: Lady of the English

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Available September 2011 from Sourcebooks

Two very different women are linked by destiny and the struggle for the English crown. Matilda, daughter of Henry I, is determined to win back her crown from Stephen, the usurper king. Adeliza, Henry’s widowed queen and Matilda’s stepmother, is now married to William D’Albini, a warrior of the opposition. Both women are strong and prepared to stand firm for what they know is right. But in a world where a man’s word is law, how can Adeliza obey her husband while supporting Matilda, the rightful queen? And for Matilda pride comes before a fall …What price for a crown? What does it cost to be ‘Lady of the English’?

I’ve read two of her books so far, and have two more on the shelf to be read, but just based on the two that I’ve read (Daughters of the Grail and The Marsh King’s Daughter), I really like her style, and the time periods she focuses on. Plus I feel more aware of that medieval time period because of all the medieval literature that I’ve been reading for class.

Author website

Chapter Excerpt from Lady of the English

Castle Waiting (volume 1) by Linda Medley

The 456-page Castle Waiting graphic novel tells the story of an isolated, abandoned castle, and the eccentric inhabitants who bring it back to life. A fable for modern times, Castle Waiting is a fairy tale that’s not about rescuing the princess, saving the kingdom, or fighting the ultimate war between Good and Evil — but about being a hero in your own home. The opening story, “The Brambly Hedge,” tells the origin of the castle itself, which is abandoned by its princess in a comic twist on “Sleeping Beauty” when she rides off into the sunset with her Prince Charming. The castle becomes a refuge for misfits, outcasts, and others seeking sanctuary, playing host to a lively and colorful cast of characters that inhabits the subsequent stories, including a talking anthropomorphic horse, a mysteriously pregnant Lady on the run, and a bearded nun.

I got and read this about three years ago, while browsing the comic book store. I read and loved it. Now I reread it because volume two had recently come out and wanted to remember everything that happened.

There are so many stories-within-stories. It’s a cascade of stories!

The very beginning is a setup for why the castle is the way it is. It’s a retelling of Sleeping Beauty actually. And when Sleeping Beauty finally does wake up, after a hundred years, she obviously falls in love with the prince who wakes her and they decide to immediately leave the castle, leaving the entire castle completely dumbfounded. It sort of points out the ridiculousness of the whole awoken-by-true-love’s-kiss thing. I mean, how can anyone be your true love if you’ve never met him? I sort of liked this part more than when I first read it. I feel like I “got” the absurdity. Below is when Sleeping Beauty departs from the castle, leaving everyone…slightly shocked (it also gives you a sense of what the art looks like):

So the real story begins years later, and the only remaining people from Sleeping Beauty’s days are her three handmaidens. The castle has become a refuge for anyone who needs just that: a refuge. You have the steward (a beaky fellow), a Knight (whose name is Chess and is a horse), all sorts of sprites causing mischief, a silversmith with a heart made of steel (literally), and so on. Oh and a lady called Sister Peace, who is bearded. Her story by far is the most interesting. Wouldn’t you like to know how a scrappy bearded lady made it all the way to Castle Waiting?

Castle Waiting has been described as great feminist reading, and you can see why. There is a whole order of women who have beards and they are actually happy to have them. And not all men are disgusted by them; some are actually quite smitten with them. It’s all about being happy with who you are, whether you are woman, man, or beast. One of the ladies in Castle Waiting has a son, Simon, who is a bit, let’s just say, on the slow side. But no one gives him a hard time about it. He isn’t treated that much differently. The newcomer to the castle, Jain, actually helps him learn to read. Oh Jain….her story is one of great mystery. We see glimpses of her early life, but the real mystery unfolds when her baby is born! That’s a doozy!

Castle Waiting is also sophisticated, as it is funny and charming, and poignant. I’m sure this is intended for all-ages but part of me thinks an older person would appreciate these stories more. I have a feeling there are references in here that I don’t even get, but right now, it does not deter away from the enjoyment.

There’s also been comparison to The Canterbury Tales because of all these characters congregating in one place. And I can totally see that comparison. Castle Waiting combines fairy tales, religion, politics, and comedy, and it’s done right.

I’m sure there is complaint somewhere out there that nothing really happens at Castle Waiting. All you truly get is a lot of back story to the characters, due to the arrival Jain. But, I have no problem with that, cause I just think of the Castle as a good backdrop for all these stories to come together. I mean, they all ended up there somehow, right?

I guess you have to experience Castle Waiting for yourself to see what is really going on. And I hope you do!

The Fantagraphics site actually has a great preview of volume two on their website.

Room by Emma Donoghue

To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it’s where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it’s not enough…not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son’s bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work.

I read this for one of my book clubs at work. And when asked by others if I liked it, I (still) cringe at the use of that word. How can you “like” something when the subject matter is just so distressing? I can’t even rate it on Goodreads. It was such an uncomfortable read cause not only was it told from Jack’s point of view, but all I wanted to do is yell at the kid! Why? Cause he didn’t know better. He didn’t know there was a better life outside his world of Room. But then again, it wasn’t his fault. So the thing that I’m grappling with is this: would I have been just as uncomfortable if it was written from Ma’s point of view? Is it such a good or great read because of the subject matter? This was clearly based on the recent Fritzl case, and just the mere idea that someone could go through such an ordeal makes me scared and sick at the same time.

As for the story, the first part was slow and horrifying. But it’s understandable. We have to know what happens in Room. We have to find out about Sunday treats. And how Jack counts the sound of the creaks in the bed when Old Nick comes at night. And that Jack still breastfeeds. But we also find out how Ma tries to keep Jack fit and healthy with the little means she has. he controls how much TV he watched. And how she has them scream every day as loud as they can, hoping someone can hear them.

And the second part of the story is Jack in the Outside and how he, his Ma, and her family deals with it. For Jack, the Outside is no fun. He wants to go back to Room. Ma is depressed because she is finally free but all her son wants to do with his freedom is go back to where he came from. As I was reading this half of the story, I had three different ideas as to how it would end, and it actually didn’t end in either of those ways. Considering how hard of a time I was having reading this, I guess I had such pessimistic ideas. But, like Jack, can you blame me?

Because of the critical theory articles and books that I’ve been reading, a lot having to do with what makes us human and normal, and what is self, this book would be excellent fodder for philosophers and psychologists and academics. Instead of getting stories of children being raised in the wild by wolves, we get stories of a child being raised in a confined space. What are the psychological repercussions? Drastic, but different for each case, definitely. I mean, we see Old Nick as the monster. Jack just sees him as a fact of life, a fact of Room. It is what it is.

One of the things that bugged me, as I think about it, is the fact that this is written from five-year-old Jack’s point of view and when I look at the words, I feel like there is something wrong: Jack knows the words to songs, knows how to read (sort of, as they only have a handful of books in Room), watches TV almost everyday…but the way he describes stuff seem awkward. I don’t have a copy of the book with me (I originally it borrowed from a coworker) to show any specific examples. It’s as if my suspension of disbelief was not there and I couldn’t picture a five-year-old talking or writing like this. It’s a hard thing to so in the first place, to write from any five-year-old’s point of view. I mean, do you remember your train of thought when you were five? I guess I can’t fully explain myself as to what I’m trying to get at here in this paragraph, so I’ll just stop.

Not sure what else to say about this. I guess whoever reads it will have something to say about it, be it positive or negative. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it my book club’s discussion of this at the last minute due to an author lunch. But I am curious to know what other people think of it.

In My Mailbox (60)

Another accumulation post from Jan/Feb/March. But not that much actually, when I think about it. I’ve been really trying to hold back on the book-buying, which has been successful, so far I think. So there has been a lot of me going to the library and relying on PaperBackSwap….and the comic book store :)

So here we go!

From PaperBackSwap, I got:

We don’t want to tell you too much about this book. It is a truly special story and we don’t want to spoil it. Nevertheless, you need to know something, so we will just say this: — It is extremely funny, but the African beach scene is horrific. — The story starts there, but the book doesn’t. — And it’s what happens afterwards that is most important. Once you have read it, you’ll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don’t tell them what happens either. The magic is in how it unfolds. A haunting novel about the tenuous friendship that blooms between two disparate strangers–one an illegal Nigerian refugee, the other a recent widow from suburban London. (One of the marketing people I work with told me that because I liked The Help, I would definitely like this.)

Cinderella’s happily-ever-after isn’t turning out the way she expected. With her fairy godmother imprisoned in the castle and a mysterious stranger haunting her dreams, Cinderella is on her own to discover true love untainted by magic. (Found out about this book at Velvet’s blog. Looks to be self-published, but I am ok with that. Plus it’s a fairy-tale. I’m ok with that too!)

Saladin, a Muslim sultan, finds himself pitted against King Richard the Lionheart as Islam and Christianity clash against each other, launching a conflict that still echoes today. In the midst of a brutal and unforgiving war, Saladin finds forbidden love in the arms of Miriam, a beautiful Jewish girl with a tragic past. But when King Richard captures Miriam, the two most powerful men on Earth must face each other in a personal battle that will determine the future of the woman they both love—and of all civilization. Richly imagined, deftly plotted, and highly entertaining, Shadow of the Swords is a remarkable story that will stay with readers long after the final page has been turned. (Now I have two books by this author read. Eek!)

Aerin Renning is a scarred fugitive, Dane Madousin a rebellious son of privilege. On the surface, they have nothing in common. But the two most competitive freshmen at Academy 7 share an undiscovered bond. Both harbor a dangerous secret that threatens their own destruction. And while their safety depends on their staying apart, the two are inexplicably drawn to each other. Even as unknown forces conspire to separate them, their competition turns to friendship, and their friendship to romance. Now not only their lives—but their hearts—are at stake. To survive, the two must unite all their knowledge, skills, and gifts to uncover a secret bigger than either could have imagined. A secret as big as the entire universe…(I have Aurelia waiting to be read too. Do you notice a trend?)

From the lovely Misty, I got a book for my birthday in February. It was a nice surprise to come home to after getting back at 9pm from class. Once I get out of this reading-for-class funk, this will be one of the first things I’ll be reading:

In this enchanting historical novel, a nomad in nineteenth-century Iran takes fate into her own hands when her father promises her in marriage to a man she dislikes. Anahita convinces her father to let her hold a contest in which potential suitors must correctly answer the riddle she has woven into her wedding carpet. A diplomat, a schoolteacher, a shepherd, and a prince compete in Anahita’s battle of wits for the heart of this extraordinary girl. (Doesn’t it just sound lovely?)

Josh’s mom came to visit us in February for the long weekend and it turned out that I had never taken her to the Strand. She’s a big reader too so I personally found it hard to believe that I totally slipped on that! So, we remedied that situation and while I was holding back on some purchases, I did pick up this:

Ancient Egypt springs to life in this enthralling sequel to Sphinx’s Princess. As she did in Nobody’s Princess and Nobody’s Prize, author Esther Friesner offers readers a fresh look at an iconic figure, blending historical fiction and mythology in a heady concoction. (This is about Nefertiti, and even though I have the first book and have not read it, I still wanted this in hardcover to match my copy of the first. Plus, I loved what the author did with Helen of Troy in her other books.)

This past week, this book came out and the author was doing an event at the Strand on Tuesday. And I couldn’t make it because I had class that night, so I pre-ordered a signed copy and picked it up on Friday. Seriously, I am starting to see another pattern: grad school interfering with my social and reading life.

The conclusion to the Earth’s Children series. (’Nuff said. My god this is a massive tome.)

Now, here are some comic book store goodies that I think might interest some people:

Whimsical. Lyrical. Poignant. Adapted for the first time from the acclaimed and beloved novel by Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn is a tale for any age about the wonders of magic, the power of love, and the tragedy of loss. The unicorn, alone in her enchanted wood, discovers that she may be the last of her kind. Reluctant at first, she sets out on a journey to find her fellow unicorns, even if it means facing the terrifying anger of the Red Bull and malignant evil of the king who wields his power. (My goodness. That cover picture does not do any justice to the actual physical book.I hadn’t realized that the compilation had come out already. I had the first two issues before, but this whole book is just beautiful to look at and to touch. Can’t wait to revisit this story in illustrated format.)

An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months, society has crumbled: There is no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. Rick Grimes finds himself one of the few survivors in this terrifying future. A couple months ago he was a small town cop who had never fired a shot and only ever saw one dead body. Separated from his family, he must now sort through all the death and confusion to try and find his wife and son. In a world ruled by the dead, we are forced to finally begin living. (This is one massive compendium! Josh is tackling this at the moment, slowly but surely….)

Created in 1984 as a supporting character for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo is a perennial favorite amongst children, especially boys, and adult fans. Usagi Yojimbo chronicles the action-packed wanderings of a funny-animal ronin in feudal Japan. In honor of his 25th anniversary, Fantagraphics is releasing a deluxe slipcase set collecting the seven first Usagi books, including the earliest stories; the origin story, “Samurai”; a full graphic novel; and literally dozens more. (And this is the massive compendium that I am tackling at the moment. Because it is so huge, it’s my nightstand reading. But I am quite smitten by this samurai rabbit…)

And I think that pretty much covers it for these past three months. Not too, too bad I think. Now, back to reading about medieval monsters…

*In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. Thanks Kristi!*

The Vampire Diaries Parody by The Hillywood Show®

I came across this on a Vampire Diaries site and I have to admit, this is brilliant. Not only does it use one of my favorite Lady Gaga songs, but the parody is just so spot-on. So for anyone who’s watched the second season of TVD and seen their promos, you will totally appreciate and get this:

Waiting on Wednesday: We’ll Always Have Summer

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

My pick for this week is:

Available April 26, 2011 from S&S

Belly has only ever been in love with two boys, both with the last name Fisher. And after being with Jeremiah for the last two years, she’s almost positive he is her soul mate. Almost. Conrad has not gotten over the mistake he made when he let Belly go even as Jeremiah has always known that Belly is the girl for him. So when Belly and Jeremiah decide to make things forever, Conrad realizes that it’s now or never–tell Belly he loves her, or lose her for good. Belly will have to confront her feelings for Jeremiah and Conrad and face a truth she has possibly always known: she will have to break one of their hearts.

I rarely feature any children’s or YA books for WoW, for reasons some of you may know (conflict of interest and all that corporate jazz), but I have to make the exception here. Jenny Han’s books have got me hooked. If it wasn’t for book club, I would never have picked up the first book. I’ve become so pessimistic when it comes to romance in YA books, or even other books, that I just had given up. But something happened. I couldn’t wait to read book two, and fortunately, was able to read a galley of the third one. Not only me, but me and several other ladies that I work with (who are part of the book club) have also fallen under Belly, Jeremiah and Conrad’s spell. In anticipation of the third book coming out and her doing a signing event on release day in NYC, I’m buying all three in hardcover and going to the signing as a fangirl. Me and all my other book club friends too. :)

Graphic Novels in Brief

During this extremely hectic time of work and school, I find myself gravitating towards my stack of comics and graphic novels. For some reason, they are my therapy reading, in the midst of my medieval lit, werewolves, and critical theory. So, in brief here are some of the graphic novels that I’ve read over the course of the last few months:

Liberty Meadows is an animal sanctuary where the animals run the show! There’s Leslie the hypochondriac bullfrog, Ralph the midget circus bear, Dean the male chauvinist pig (who really is a pig!), and the beautiful animal psychologist, Brandy, among others. Follow along on their wacky misadventures as Brandy attempts to keep this motley crew out of trouble and within sanity.

In preparation for next month’s Boston Comic Con (it’s the same weekend as my high school ten-year reunion, but I clearly have other priorities), I started to finally read these, since Frank Cho will be attending. Part me thought “Why did I wait so long?” I read these as my nightstand books. And every night that I did, Josh would hear me laughing. Some of these strips had me in stitches. Who would have thought three or four-panel strips could be so funny. And yes it’s true, Frank Cho really knows how to draw beautiful women. It’s what he’s known for in the industry. I have to go get Books 3 and 4 quickly. Oh, and there are several references to Xena, which I am of course not opposed to :)

Robinson’s graphic novel follows the lives of six people – a reclusive rock legend, a heartbroken waitress, a counterfeiter, an obsessive crank, a lost daughter, and a backstabbing lover – whose lives are unconnected until an act of violence affects them all in different ways.

Remember the movie Crash? Yeah, well, this was much better. And this time, you see these six different characters in their own storylines, but their lives finally intersect at the end. I loved Box Office Poison when I read it only 2 or 3 years ago. Robinson has a very distinct style of drawing and his stories are very real. There’s one particular character in this story that you’re not meant to like and the drawing of him, and even the words, depict that spot-on. The whole time I was reading this, I thought I knew what act of violence it would be, but if course it didn’t turn out that way. I highly recommend this, even if graphic novels aren’t your cup of tea.

The Exile retells the original Outlander novel from Jamie Fraser’s point of view, revealing events never seen in the original story and giving readers a whole new insight into the Jamie-Claire relationship. Jamie’s surreptitious arrival in Scotland at the beginning of the tale, his feelings about Claire, and much more — up to the point where Claire faces trial for witchcraft and must choose whether to return to her own century — are brought to life in brilliant four-colour art.

I must admit, I was disappointed in this and I think a big part of it was the art. At times, Claire looked like some cartoonish Playboy bunny. And the ears on the men looked like elf ears! The story definitely brought me back to the original Outlander and it reminded me of a lot of the plot points (Jamie spanking Claire, ha!) but at the same time I know I would have “gotten” more of what was going on if the books were even fresher in my head. I will definitely be rereading this once I decide to reread all the books in preparation for the next (maybe final) book in the series.

Queen Country, the Eisner Award-winning and critically lauded espionage series from acclaimed novelist and comic book author Greg Rucka, is back in a new series of definitive editions collecting the entire classic series in just four affordable soft covers. In this first collection, readers are introduced to the thrilling and often-times devastating world of international espionage as SIS field agent Tara Chase is sent all over the world in service to her Queen Country all the while Director of Operations Paul Crocker walks a narrow tightrope between his loyalty to his people and the political masters that must be served!

One of the best things about being Goodreads friends with your fellow colleagues, is that we can talk about books. Which we do already, but this time about books we read for fun. An editor was reading this right before Christmas and I told her I had my eye on it so she lent me her copy over our holiday break. She warned me ahead of time that each chapter was done by a different artist. Kudos to whoever decided to do these using different artists, because it really makes you pay attention to the storyline. For the first two chapters, you get the impression that Tara is this lowly agent but in the third chapter she is suddenly sporting a high ponytail and huge boobs! It drastically changes your perception of the character and messes with you head. Since it’s been awhile since I read this, I can’t go into too much detail but I do know that I will be seeking out the next volumes. Plus, the subject matter is different from what I’m used to reading in general (I would never read anything involving such high espionage) so having it in a visual form helps a lot.

So there you have it. If I were to recommend just one from just these above, it would be Liberty Meadows. If you like reading the Sunday newspaper comics, then LM is definitely for you.