Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: Scaling Mt TBR in Graphic Novels…and a TOP BOOK OF 2015!

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I’ve been circling these four titles for months now and finally, FINALLY I’ve been able to round them up and drag them off my TBR stack! And as it turns out, one of them ended up being a TOP BOOK OF 2015 pick.  Bonus!

So today I’ve got two graphic novels, one graphic biography and one fully illustrated early-reader type novel.  Two I purchased aeons ago, one I was lucky enough to receive in a goodie bag from my recent HarperCollins BTCYA event and one I received unexpectedly from the publisher via Netgalley.  Let’s saddle up and ride on in!

Nimona (Noelle Stevenson)

Two Sentence Synopsis: nimona

Ballister Blackheart, reluctant villain and archnemesis to Sir Goldenloin has his cosy life interrupted by the unexpected arrival of a young, shape shifting sidekick, Nimona.  As if maintaining reluctant villainy and working to subvert the sinister Institution weren’t trying enough, Ballister now has to deal with a kill-happy teen monster busting down his doors and working outside the rules.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is one of my TOP BOOKS OF 2015, that’s why!  It’s not often that I become absorbed in the plot of a graphic novel, or feel particularly connected to the characters, but reading Nimona felt much like dipping into a complex, twisty novel, except with lots of pictures.  The characters are fleshed out and we’re given wibbly-wobbly glimpses (by way of flashbacks!) into their histories to provide some hint as to motivations and hidden connections.  Nimona is the quintessential, risk-taking teen (or is she?!) and the early scenes between her and Blackheart are laugh-out-loud material.  If that weren’t enough, there are dragons, explosions, hapless minions, fake limbs, poison apples and questions about what Sir Goldenloin keeps down his codpiece to keep it looking so…healthy.  Nimona is the full package – an exciting story with interesting characters, presented in an eye-catching format and topped off with humour and feels.  Yes, I said feels.  If you only read one YA graphic novel this year, make it this one.

Brand it with:

Haters gonna hate; big-hearted villains, fun with flame-throwing

Andre the Giant: Closer to Heaven (Brandon Easton/Denis Medri)

*I received a digital copy of this title from the publisher via Netgalley*

Two Sentence Synopsis: andre the giant

From his childhood on the family farm to hitting the big time in the wrestling world, this book charts the life story of Andre Roussimoff.  Focusing mostly on his time as a famous wrestler, the book gives an insight into the man behind the legend.

Muster up the motivation because:

It’s like the author saw The Simpson’s joke about Troy McClure’s appearance in the celebrity funeral “Andre the Giant, We Hardly Knew Ye” and decided to right that wrong. If you have any interest at all in Andre the Giant either as a wrestler or a film star, this book will provide plenty of information that is a surprise to you.  The book starts out with Andre’s idyllic childhood in France on his family’s farm – the only time he ever felt “normal” – and progresses through the ups and downs of his wrestling career to the end of his life. His vices aren’t shied away from, and even though my interest in the man came more from his movie appearances, I found it quite interesting to see the world behind the action and showboating of professional wrestling.  Seeing Andre’s struggles with acromegaly, especially toward the end of his life, was quite moving – particularly as he was still wrestling despite being almost unable to move for long periods of time.  This might well be a niche read, being as it is a graphic format and a biography, but I quickly became drawn in to the interesting story behind the “giant” we all know and love.

Brand it with:

Bigger than Ben Hur, Let’s get ready to rumble, Hulk Hogan’s a big girl’s blouse

Salt Water Taffy #3: The Truth About Dr True (Matthew Loux)

Two Sentence Synopsis: salt water taffy

In this third outing for Jack and Benny, forced to spend their summer holiday in tiny Chowder Bay, Maine, the boys stumble across an old bottle and with it, a murder mystery that cuts to the heart of the town.  But will they solve the mystery before the townsfolk do something they’ll regret?

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a fun, quick read for middle graders who like a bit of mystery and adventure in an easy-to-digest package.  I hadn’t read the two prior stories in the series, having chosen to start with number three because the blurb sounded more like my cup of tea than the other two stories, but the book works well as a standalone anyway.  While I wasn’t overly excited by the story itself – the answers seemed to be provided to the boys via verbose townspeople or excessively helpful spirits rather than through the boys’ endeavours – there is enough adventure here to satisfy middle grade readers looking for a brain-break and a bit of escapism.  The book is nicely presented too with the front and back covers bearing vintage-looking ads related to the story and the cartoon style art is eye-catching and easy to read.

Brand it with:

Summer holiday, message in a bottle, angry mobs

The Yeti Files #1: Meet the BigFeet (Kevin Sherry)

Two Sentence Synopsis:

meet the bigfeet

A charming and hilarious easy-read chapter book for kids, somewhere in-between Fly Guy and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  The Yeti family, who were forced into hiding after the release of a photo by George Vanquist, the ruthless cryptozoologist, decide to risk it all and meet up for a cracking family reunion.

Muster up the motivation because:

You ain’t never gonna find a nicer bunch of mythical creatures anywhere.  Apart from being packed with illustrations and interesting fonts to aid young readers, our narrator, yeti Blizz Richards, is just a big ol’ marshmallow that you’ll want to invite round to your house for a game of backyard volleyball.  The humour alternates between slapstick and dry and there are plenty of interesting non-yeti characters to liven things up.  While this technically isn’t a graphic novel, the illustrations are an integral part of the story and will draw in reluctant and confident readers alike.  I’m interested in finding out what happens in the later books in this series and will try this out as the first “read-over-a-few-sittings” book for the oldest mini-fleshling in the dwelling.  I’d highly recommend this for youngsters aged 6-9 who are up for adventure and a good laugh.

Brand it with:

Status set to public, outdoorsy fun, family reunions

 *I just knocked FOUR books off my TBR stack!*

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What a relief to actually make some headway into the old TBR shelf!  And with such a fun and engaging set of reads, too.  I hope there’s something in the bunch that has set your eyes alight and encouraged you to add to your (no doubt overflowing) TBR stack. 

Until next time,

Bruce

 

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