Category Archives: Reviews

Top Ten Graphics of 2018

Here are some of my favorite comics read in 2018. They may or may not have been published this year. Also, a few have more than one volume and I have not designated a particular volume if I would recommend the whole series.

My picks are listed in alphabetical (rather than rank) order.

4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss

Dig it, Stranger Things meets The Usual Supects! Four misfit kids try to help out one of their number’s father. He is being forced into pulling a bank heist with his recently released former partners in crime. The four plan to pull the heist off first so that he won’t have to do it…and then all hell breaks loose.

 

Anarchy Comics: The Complete Collection, edited by Jay Kinney

Exactly what it says, man…comics about Anarchy! Or rather Anarchism, both historical and speculative. This classic Underground Comix has finally been given the omnibus treatment it deserves.

 

Bat-manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan by Juro Kiwata

Best thing ever! The entire run of the 1960’s manga version of Batman, organized by graphic designer extraordinare Chip Kidd. Thrill to these far-out tales, especially as the Caped Crusader faces down the infamous Lord Death Man!

 

Bookhunter by Jason Shiga

Don’t try to steal that book or stiff the library on money you owe or else the intrepid Bookhunters squad will hunt you down! Set in Oakland, CA, in 1973, Shiga’s Library Police take us on a thrill a minute adventure.

 

The Don Rosa Archives, vol. 2: Captain Kentucky by Don Rosa

Meet Lance Pertwillaby as he he gains super-powers and embarks on crazy adventures, such as battling a Godzilla-sized J. Fred Frog threatening to destroy downtown Louisville. This volume collects local cartooning legend Don Rosa’s comic strips which ran in the Louisville Times back in the day.

 

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan

It’s 1953 and Snagglepuss is a renowned playwright who gets called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (H.U.A.C.). At the same time, long-term friend Huckleberry Hound has been found in a compromising situation that has ruined the fellow playwright’s career. Snagglepuss’ testimony will help make Huckleberry Hound’s problems go away but will he sacrifice his artistic integrity?

 

Kill or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Loser tries to kill himself but manages to survive…thanks to a DEMON! All he has to do in exchange is kill one bad person a month.  Or could it be his mental illness manifesting now that he stopped taking his meds? Author Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips once again collaborate, this time on a psychological crime comic. You won’t be able to stop turning pages till the end!

 

Maximum Minimum Wage by Bob Fingerman

Classic Gen-X comic about the struggles of a cartoonist and his hothead girlfriend as they try to get by in New York. Will they find the job of their dreams? Will they even be able to pay rent? 

 

Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? by Geof Darrow and Dave Stewart

One man’s fight to survive the revenge attempts of his undead and supernatural foes. Crazy awesome detailed art from Geof Darrow is worth the price of admission alone!

 

William B. DuBay’s The Rook by William B. Dubay, Budd Lewis, and Luis Bermejo

Restin Dane is the Master of Time. Follow him, his faithful android man-servant Manners, and his cranky outlaw grand-pappy Bishop Dane, as they travel through time battling the forces of evil.

 


 

All of these works can be checked out from LFPL. Each title has a “Check Our Catalog” link that will take you to where you can view the location and status of the specific item in our system.

After taking a look, if your selection is not available at the branch you wish to go to, you may have the item shipped there by placing a hold request (using the “Place Request” button on the right hand side of the item’s catalog entry).

 


 

If you are interested in discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join LFPL’s Graphic Novel Discussion Group. Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 6:00 PM.

Our next meeting is this upcoming Monday, December 10, 2018. We will be discussing DC’s Aquaman.

 

 

 

 

Bearskin by James A McLaughlin

Wherever I go, so goes a book I am currently reading. For this reason, booklists have become part of my search of good reads. Many lists marketed by publishers focus on popular fiction and well-known authors; it was a bit of a surprise when I came across James A. McLaughlin’s debut; the gritty novel, Bearskin.

Rice Moore is on the run. After barely escaping with his life from an Arizona prison, he took a job as a Wildlife Protection officer. Tucked away on a forest preserve in Virginia’s Appalachian Plateau, it seemed like a good place to lay low while he hid from men in a Mexican cartel, until the day a mushroom forager led him to a mutilated bear carcass. Poachers. Now the hunt was on, and Rice would have to leave his mountain sanctuary to go in search of the killers. And this is just the beginning.

Rice gets help in his pursuit of the poachers from his predecessor, Sara Birkeland. In his pursuit of the poachers, he draws too much attention to himself. There are clashes with the locals, the police are looking at him and now he finds himself fighting with drug runners instead of running with them.

This action-packed, gritty tale starts out as a man trying to put his life back together after prison but finds you can’t always run from your past and doing the right thing may be harder than just looking the other way. Told in third person, there are flashbacks that help the reader get a better understanding of this man who refuses to back down. McLaughlin’s words and story draw the reader in, with life in Appalachia in all its tough, beautiful, rugged, dangerous glory. Readers looking for a rocky adventure, tough terrain, and heroes with flaws will be drawn in and will stay to find out who will prevail.

Format Available: Book & Downloadable Ebook

Review by Micah, St Matthews

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

The pool has been a place where many women have spent the last minutes of their life, whether by suicide or by force; maybe even murder. Nel Abbott tries in vain to reach out to her little sister, who ignores her until she receives a call that Nel is dead.

When Jules Abbott receives news that her older sister, Nel, has been found in the drowning pool, she drives back to the town that she had vowed never to return to. With Nel’s fifteen year old daughter, Lena, who believes that her mother has committed suicide and a town that she vowed to never return to, Jules is forced to relieve experiences that she’d rather forget. Lena is angry with her aunt for ignoring her mother for so long and doesn’t even want her around.

 

I picked up this book because Paula Hawkin’s last title, The Girl On the Train, was intriguing to me. Into the Water was fine. It’s very hard to follow a blockbuster like Girl, which had national success. It reminded me of when I rushed to read Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger after the huge success of The Time Traveler’s Wife. I was very disappointed. I felt like the author built you up so high and then left you there to dangle without ever knowing if you would sink or float.

I will not say that the book didn’t have its moments but it’s so hard to get invested in characters that you don’t even like. For argument’s sake, you can say that the title is intriguing, and it is, but…it was all over the place. There were too many characters to count. There were too many back stories to remember. There were too many time hops and not enough real story. To top it all off, the ending felt almost like an afterthought.

I really suggest that you check it out and prove me wrong. Maybe I missed something. Let me know your thoughts. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than I did.

– Reviewed by Damera, Newburg Branch

The Willing Murder by Jude Deveraux

The Willing Murder by Jude Deveraux is a light romantic mystery with intrigue, family trauma, and interesting characters that make you care about a 20 year-old murder.

It all began with murder. The dirt had been shifted, moved from beneath. Were one of them still alive?  Once the tree was in place and dirt filled in around it, it would all be over.

Straight out of college, two years ago, Kate Medlar started selling real estate, a job she loved. However, selling the same suburban type homes left her feeling like she wanted to do more. Life at home, too, was becoming more than she could take. Most of her life she had been dealing with her mother’s nerves and fears, as well as her overbearing and interfering uncles. It was time for a change.

In the middle of one her mother’s rants she accidentally mentioned an aunt, her father’s sister, that Kate had never known existed. Sara Medlar was a famous writer who lived in Lachlan, Florida. From what Kate read about the town there was also realtor trying to bring the town back to life. Locating old houses that just needed to be fixed up and put on the market, was just the kind of challenge that Kate needed and a good excuse to finally leave home.

Lachlan, was a town divided by the affluent families on one side and the improvised families on the other. Jack Wyatt had grown up on the wrong side of town and had been tied to the bad reputation of his father for years.  It had taken time, help and tough love , but he was determined to make a difference for both him and the town. With Sara Medlar, as his silent partner, he formed a construction company focusing on rebuilding some of the run down homes. But as rumor would have it, talk said, he was living with Sara Medlar, using her, taking money from and sleeping with a woman old enough to be his grandmother.

The minute she stepped into town Kate heard all the gossip surrounding her Aunt and Jack Wyatt, while a pillar of Lachlan’s community, Alistair Stewart, found the young woman just the right diversion he needed. After all the years she had taken care of her mother, she would now help Aunt Sara and put a stop to Jack Wyatt using her.

She was in for a surprise. Jack and Aunt Sara were nothing like the gossips would have her believe.

Kate, Sara, and Jack just can’t seem to leave the mysterious death of the two women alone. They go in search of answers, while a murderer tries to stop them. Jack has another problem, he is drawn to Kate who seems to have eyes for the debonair, smooth talking Alistair Stewart.

Although the book is written for adults, older teens could also enjoy this murder mystery as well see several of the main characters in their teens.

Format Available: Book, eBook, Audiobook

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen

What would you do if you discovered a skull while working in your garden? Well, that’s what happens to Julie Hamill in The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen. Finding that skull causes a whole of drama for Julie when the forensic team finds the rest of the skeleton. But there’s good news the skeleton according to the forensic anthropologist has been there for at least two hundred years; meaning Julie garden and yard isn’t a crime scene. However, this discovery leads Julie on a quest to find a relative of the previous owner. Once she meets him she gets sucked into trying to solve a two-hundred-year-old mystery surrounding her house and the family of the previous owner.

What Julie discovers leads her to another mystery in 1830’s Boston, this time a series of murders. When Irish immigrant Rose Connolly witnesses a murder not realizing that it is tied to her own sister’s death in childbirth. That seems eerily like Jack the Ripper has crossed the Atlantic. A group of medical students including Oliver Wendell Holmes and the fictional Norris Marshall realizes that Rose could be the next victim, Norris does everything he can to protect her. After “meeting” Rose Julie is determined to find out what happened to her as well as solving the mystery of the skeleton in the garden.

Tess Gerritsen does an awesome balancing both mysteries the murders in the 1830’s and the mystery of the skeleton and the house in the present. Each mystery is given the right amount of book time, and unlike other novels, with dual time periods, The Bone Garden doesn’t switch time periods with every chapter. They switch when the narrative needs the switch and it just flows into the next time period. She blends the historical characters such as Oliver Wendell Holmes in with fictional characters allowing them to co-exist in a fictional mystery.

Fans of Tess’s other books – as well as fans of the history, science, and mysteries in general – will enjoy this tale.

Formats Available: Regular Type, Large Type, Paperback, Audiobook, eBook

Reviewed by CarissaMain Library

“We didn’t know it then, but our fairy tale was about to begin.”

“In those first few weeks, I had no idea that our story would be one so full of love.  When I adopted Juniper, I thought she needed me, but every time I see her snaggletoothed smile, I realize I need her, too.” – Jessika Coker, author of Juniper

The world presents before us a dichotomy: the good and the bad.  While this may well be a grossly oversimplified view of our world, my point is that we experience in our lives both good and bad, highs and lows, etc., and it seems far too easy to become focused on those less pleasant aspects of our lives here on earth.

With this in mind, I felt it appropriate for my review this month to be of a book whose focus is the pleasant, a simple “feel-good” story.  And why not?  It is immensely satisfying and uplifting to read about the wonderful things of which people are capable, and Juniper, the Happiest Fox is a book that very much accomplishes this.

To begin, I must place before you an admission: due to the literature of my youth and of conventional folklore, the fox is an animal towards whom I have always felt a certain level of disdain.  Despite not owning fowl or other animal stock vulnerable to the fox, I have always felt a great sense of mistrust toward them.  And then there is the fact that I am the proud owner of a Wire Fox Terrier, who, as her breed name implies, finds as primary quarry the fox.  Well, Ms. Coker and her slim book have revised my feelings regarding this widely-decried “beast.”

Ms. Coker is a person who has since childhood felt a great love for all animals, and as she aged and collected experiences in veterinary clinics and animal rescue organizations, the fox became an especially beloved creature for her.  One day, she received word that there was a litter of kits in need of a good home.  When she arrived, the runt, who was no larger than the hand of a small child, called to her heart, and since in Native American culture juniper is employed to keep negativity at bay, it seemed the perfect name for this tiny ball of fur with an unforgettable snaggletooth that added to her perfection.

Thus, the adventures, filled with trials and tribulations, began for Ms. Coker and her Juniper.  This is a short read filled with anecdotes and lovely pictures that depict the love and affection that is possible between man and “beast.”  I would recommend this for anyone in need of a pick-me-up in a world that, perhaps, offers too many opportunities for pick-me-downs.

“Juniper gives me hope.  She is my constant reminder that there is still, goodness, purity, and unconditional love in this world.  The world can be heavy, but there’s still a little bit of magic if you know where to look.” – Jessika Coker, author of Juniper

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

This book left me with so many questions. I’ve come to believe the power of this story is in the larger questions it fosters.

If you could know the exact date of your death would you want that knowledge? What would you do with it?  How would you live your life?  And even if you didn’t really believe the old woman when she gave you your date would it still haunt you?  Follow you?  Even chase you through the years?  Would you inadvertently attempt to cram as much as you could into your short time here on earth?  Or would you give in to the futility of it all?

Do our personally held beliefs play a significant role in shaping our destinies?  It is destiny?  Fate?  Free will?  Providence?  Doom?

How do our families shape us and change us and what roles do we play in their fates?

Is it better to live with uncertainty or foresight?  Which gives us the greater path?  The greater freedom?  Or are either capable of giving any freedom?

Predictable and yet surprising at the same time, a novel completely centered on death but full of life at the same time. Add a dash of magical realism and you have The Immortalists.

Formats Available: Regular Tyle, Large Type, eBook

Review by Heather, St. Matthews

Stressed? Anxious? A Little Blue? Go Forth and Forest Bathe…

“When was the last time you strolled in a forest or walked through woodland so beautiful it made you stop and marvel? When did you last notice the spring buds unfurling or look closely at the frost patterns on a winter leaf? I wonder, instead, how many hours you spent looking at a screen today…”  —  Dr. Qing Li

Dr. Li, Associate Professor at the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo and Chairman of the Japanese Society for Forest Medicine, has recently authored Forest Bathing: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness, a charming book that details Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing, which in Japan has become a widespread preventative therapy to assist in promoting one’s optimal health.

The human, regardless of nationality, is becoming increasingly disconnected from nature and more involved with technology, as indicated by the following statistics mentioned in Forest Bathing:

     ‣ “The urban population worldwide grew from just 746 million in 1950 to 3.9 billion in 2014…”

     ‣ “By 2050, 75 percent of the world’s projected 9 billion population will live in cities.”

     ‣ “…the average American now spends 93 percent of their time indoors…That makes only one half of one day spent outdoors in a week.”

     ‣ “…people in the US spend as much as ten hours and thirty-nine minutes a day consuming media.”

In reaction to these trends, Dr. Li sets before the reader the case for increasing one’s exposure to and time within a forest and includes scientific and well-documented research on the benefits of forest bathing that includes, among other things, a reduction of blood pressure, increased energy, the strengthening of the immune system, and heightened concentration.

And one need not spend countless hours in a forest; rather, an excursion of as little as two hours is sufficient time to reap some health benefits, which is welcome news considering the hectic nature of everyday life in the world today.

Interspersed among the book’s pages are wonderful pictures depicting beautiful trees and forest scenes, an addition that adds considerably to the beauty and appeal of this book.

The following is a selection of titles owned by the Louisville Free Public Library that provides ideas of where one might go locally and in the region to enjoy forest bathing:

Formats Available:  Book, eBook

Reviewed by Rob, Crescent Hill

Digital Comic Books at LFPL

Do you like digital comic books (also known as e-comics)? Or would you like to give them a try but don’t want to have to pay for a subscription?

Well, true believer, LFPL is here for you!

Click on any of the following links to view the Library’s current selections:

Biblioboard‘s offerings are primarily comics of the Golden Age (1938-1954) and biographical works of artists and writers. There are also some interesting public domain works from before the Golden Age.

 

Overdrive‘s collection is primarily composed of modern, up to the minute comics from publishers such as BOOM! Studios, DC Comics, Image Comics, and Top Shelf Productions


RBdigital offers comics from Marvel Comics and IDW Publishing.

LFPL has over 1,200 comics you can browse on your home computer, tablet, or smartphone!

Keep checking in, too, as we continue to expand it’s digital comics collection.


If you are interested in learning how to make comics/graphic novels or other aspects of illustration and graphic design, check out these free classes you can take through Lynda.com.

(242 classes are available!)


To have access to all this great content, all you need is a valid library card number and to know your library card’s password. If you are not sure what your library card number or password are (or need a replacement), please stop by one of the 18 library locations and we’ll get you set up.

Is This Guy for Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman by Box Brown

Andy Kaufman skirted the line between nonsense and reality in his performances where during his comedy career; he brought many unique characters to life.  Two of the most recognizable are Latka Gravas, a lovable kook on the TV series Taxi, and Foreign Man, a character he created for Saturday Night Live. Kaufman and his work  were immortalized in a film called Man on the Moon, where Jim Carrey portrayed him.. Author Box Brown has now brought Kaufman’s life to another generation in a biographical graphic novel, Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman.  

The novel follows his life beginning as child and his appreciation of performing arts, music and wrestling.  He enjoyed wrestling so much that he created parodies of his favorite stars bit of humor to the violent world of pro-wrestling. For a time, he put his dream of becoming a wrestler on hold while honing his showman skills with improvisational comedy and television appearances.  However, he felt this was not the direction in which he wanted to go. He finally jumped into the wrestling ring, putting on amazing acts and stirring up trouble along the way. His most notable appearance was the controversial debacle with former wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Box Brown’s simplistic pencil drawings and limited color illustrations capture the story of a young man who was sensitive, thoughtful, and very funny. He uses traditional boxed-in scenes throughout the entire book which reads like an original comic strip. The nostalgic style draws (pun intended) you into the story, while moving swiftly through Kaufman’s short life.  Brown has made this book more than a biography of Kaufman by including footnotes about the world of professional wrestling without interrupting the flow of the story.  There is also an in-depth bibliography of references, websites, television episodes, and personal interviews, as well as a list of books by people in the wrestling industry.

If you enjoy this journey into the life of a comedian turned wrestler, check out Brown’s book about another famous wrestler, Andre the Giant.  

Format Available: Graphic Novel

Review by Micah, St Matthews Branch