Blog Tour ♦ Mating Rituals of the North American WASP

About the Book

Sometimes What Happens In Vegas … Follows You Home.

Peggy Adams is upset when she wakes up next to a strange man after a Vegas night she can’t remember … but she’s horrified when she discovers that she married him! Luke Sedgwick is WASP royalty, the last of the New Nineveh, Connecticut, Sedgwicks. He might also be perfect, if Peggy weren’t already “pre-engaged” to her live-in boyfriend of seven years (she even has a “promise ring” to prove it.) Peggy and Luke agree to get an annulment ASAP – and then receive an offer they can’t refuse …

Luke’s eccentric great-aunt Abigail offers the two the chance to make millions on the family estate: all they have to do is stay married for a year. Peggy is soon pretending to be one-half of the perfect couple among New England’s WASPy set on the weekends, while keeping her marriage a secret during the week. But she isn’t prepared for what might be her worst mistake of all – falling in love with her soon-to-be ex-husband.


Title: Mating Rituals of the North American WASP Genre: Fiction
Author: Lauren Lipton Type: Trade Paperback 356 pages
Publisher: 5 Spot Publication Date: May 2009

My Thoughts   
Some people may consider this book to be of the chick-lit variety, and I tend to steer clear of most obvious chick-lit type stories. But when I first read about Mating Rituals of the North American WASP I could tell it wouldn’t be the typical fluffy “single girl in the city finds perfect shoes which lead her to find Mr. Perfect, develop good skin and teach her how to become multi-orgasmic”. And I was right, Lauren Lipton has written a light and fun story for women that manages to still captivate the reader with characters who could be taken from real life and who deal with some of the same issues, problems and insecurities as everyone else may at some time or another.

The plot of Mating Rituals of the North American WASP focuses on the romantic and not-so romantic foibles of Peggy and Luke, who’ve found themselves married after a few too many drinks in Las Vegas. Sure not everyone ends up marrying a stranger after partying hard, but everyone’s heard a horror story about a person waking up next to a random guy or girl they hooked up with in a bar. So it’s a common enough storyline, but what makes the difference in this book is that the characters are so damn easy to like. When Peggy and Luke discover they are newlyweds and are presented with an opportunity to make some money from their union, you don’t feel like they are out only for themselves and their own selfish reasons. They each need the money for good, even respectable, things. So if suffering together through a charade will help them, you can’t help but feel for them.

What was especially good about this book is that it shows an excellent use of character and relationship growth throughout. On the surface the faux-couple seem so different from one another, but as their lives become more entwined you start to see how compatible they are as a duo. If they would only stop being such stubborn morons. From both their points of view you are presented with thoughts, feelings, doubts and hopes that are doing them no good kept to themselves – if only they could communicate better, things would start looking up and a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided.

I also enjoyed seeing how each of them viewed themselves in terms of their place in society. Peggy has a hard time because she feels out of place in Luke’s circle, but she also views that circle as being snobbish. At the same time Luke often seems to feel embarrassed of the people who surround him and their supposedly good social manners.

The biggest plus for me in Mating Rituals of the North American WASP was the character of Luke’s aunt Miss Abigail. She’s a 90 odd year old society monarch, who is sweet, but domineering, and seems to know a lot more about what’s really going on. Her feistiness and spunk were both hilarious and tragic and it was always a great time when she made an appearance in the story. Abigail’s inclusion in the book also gave Luke a very human aspect, and I think in the end she had the biggest impact on Peggy and Luke’s future.

There are so many good quotes to be found in this story, but this was one of my favorites, from an early scene in which Peggy first sets eyes on the Historical home she will be sharing with Luke and Miss Abigail:

Balanced high on a ladder in the front yard, a frail figure was sawing branches from an oranging maple.

Peggy’s breath caught in her chest. A low picket fence separated the front yard from the sidewalk, and she hurried through its gate and across the lawn, afraid of startling Miss Abigail off her unsteady perch. Why wasn’t Luke pruning the trees? Really, why wasn’t a Gardner doing it? A house this size would have a gardener.

At the tree, bits of wood rained onto the lawn. Peggy stopped between fallen branches, dodging another that was plummeting to the ground. “Should you be up there? Isn’t this considered strenuous – ”

Look out below!” Miss Abigail called. Another slender branch dropped near Peggy’s feet. Miss Abigail regarded it with a cold eye and nodded. “That should do for today.” She started down the ladder, disregarding the hand Peggy held out to her, passing Peggy the saw instead. “If Luke asks, our neighbor Mr. Fiorentino chopped off those branches, and I was not on that ladder!”

Mating Rituals of the North American WASP is a book that I would definitely recommend for anyone looking for an enjoyable, light read. It replaces the tired clich├ęs of common chick-lit with smart characters, clever dialogue and glimpses into issues that are much more important in life than clothing, money and careers. Although at times predictable, the story and it’s real-life topics are refreshing and make this book well worth the read.

About The Author

Lauren Lipton is the author of two novels, It's About Your Husband (2006) and Mating Rituals of the North American WASP (2009). She is also a freelance journalist who specializes in style, business and trend stories.  ♦♦♦  She is currently fashion, beauty and lifestyle editor at ForbesWoman magazine. She has also contributed features on society and media to the New York Times Sunday Styles section. A former Wall Street Journal staff writer, she reported on copycat brides who steal their friends' wedding ideas, pajama parties for grown women, and luxury homes with his-and-hers garages.  ♦♦♦  Her work also has appeared in Conde Nast Portfolio, In Style Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Best Life, Glamour, Marie Claire, Fit Pregnancy and Working Mother, and on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. She began her career at the Los Angeles Times♦♦♦  Born in Providence, R.I., Lauren grew up in the North County of San Diego and in Los Gatos, Calif., before moving to Los Angeles. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and anthropology from Occidental College and a master's degree in print journalism from the University of Southern California.  ♦♦♦  She lives with her family in New York City and in Litchfield County, Conn.

 
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2 Kids and Tired Book Reviews
A Book Bloggers Diary
A Bookworms World
A High And Hidden Place
All About n
Bermuda Onion
Bookin With Bingo
Booking Mama
Bookopolis
Books, Movies and Chinese Food
Booksies Blog
Bravehsgirl
Brimful Curiosities
Burton Review
Cafe Of Dreams
Carols Notebook
Cindys Love of Books
Confessions of a Bibliophile
Darbys Closet
Debbies World Of Books
Devourer Of Books
Diary Of An Eccentric
Donna's Book Reviews
Dreys Library
Foreign Circus Library
I ♥ Monster
In Bed With Books
Kylees 2009
Library Girl Reads
Linus's Blanket
Martas Meanderings
Morbid Romantic
My Friend Amy
Peeking Between The Pages
Poisoned Rationality
Popins Lair
Pudgy Penguin Perusals
Reading With Monie
Review From Here
S. Krishna's Books
Savvy Verse And Wit
She Is Too Fond Of Books
So Many Books So Littel Time
The Epic Rat
The Novel Bookworm
The Tome Traveller
This Book For Free
Thoughts From An Evil Overlord
UnMainstream Mom Reads
Wendys Minding Spot
Write For A Reader


© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Music Mundays ♦ Track 2

Okay, even though the title of this one is Track 2 it actually contains 3 songs. In keeping with the idea of music being able to tell a story much the way that books do, I’ve decided to reveal my hidden secret (well, aside from the My Little Pony thing that I’m sure Jill’s still laughing over) Normally, I would consider myself a full blown supporter of the Anti-Twang Movement aka Down With The Dixie Chicks. But I have a weakness for certain songs and artists which I prefer to think of as Southern Rock (it’s just an excuse but whatever.)

It was an old friend who turned me onto these songs back when we were teens, and they still pack an emotional punch when I hear them. Travis Tritt wrote three connected songs and made music videos for them that tell the story of Mac Singleton, played by Travis himself.


The first song is Anymore and is all about how Mac becomes paralyzed and how he feels about returning to his hometown and the love of his life Annie. Basically he’s battling with himself over how he could be with her now, and whether it’s right to want her to stay with him.

 

Following this is the second song, and my personal favorite, Tell Me I Was Dreaming. This song lets us know that things are well between Mac and Annie, she’s now pregnant with their child and their lives are perfect. But one day Annie has an accident on their dock, and Mac tries so hard to help her when she falls in the water. After help comes they get her to the hospital, but Annie can’t be saved and she dies while giving birth. But their baby survives and Mac is left with a beautiful little girl.
 


If I Lost You ends off Macs story, it’s now five years later and we find out how his life is going with his little girl. It seems to be sad but also really positive as Mac knows that even with all that’s happened he’s blessed to have his daughter with him.


So yes, sometimes country music can be excellent. And sometimes music videos tell stories worthy of being made into books – even if they may be tear-jerkers. Then again, maybe it’s all the cold medicine I’m taking that’s making me all sentimental and crap.

Huge thanks to Chris for creating the super-fabulous Music Mundays!



© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

TSS ♦ Playgrounds, Pictures & Perfect Get Well Gift

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Every weekend my oldest son goes to visit his girlfriend who lives about an hour’s drive away. Once we drop him off, we look for places to walk the dogs, or for some empty fields to play ball. Anything to tire out two very energetic dogs. Two weekends ago it was drizzling and I wanted to try to get some good rain shots with the camera.

We found an amazing school, with gorgeous fields for the dogs to run in, lots of great foliage. And the most fantabulous playground I’ve ever seen!! As you can probably tell I fell in love with the blue hippo above, which my son loved teasing me about. After that we came across this spongy-padded area with these uber-cool saucer swings. Son and I had a blast on them while the hubs laughed his ass off at us!

And finally, after playing ourselves out, I took a wander around to see what there was to snap pics of. I took a lot of pictures and like always I ended up with a lot of bad and a few good. It’s a great way to figure out how some of the settings work. I really like pictures of metal objects with raindrops on them. There is something so neat about the texture.

But what I really get a kick out of is when a photo comes out entirely different from how you pictured it. These two plant pics came out with strange colors compared to how they really look. I haven’t played with these in photo-shop at all!


This picture was the biggest prize for me that day. My son caught a glimpse of this while we were driving. Someone had set out their trash for pick-up and all three of us thought it was the perfect thing for a photo. I tried out a few settings, but this is the one I liked best using a mixture of superfine grain and ultra exposure with no flash. Yeah it’s just a pile of garbage but I love it!

Anyways, that was a wonderful and fun day, but being outside in the rain, along with my natural bad luck with spring viruses – I developed a cold that made me feel like I was breathing through cement. Turns out I had pneumonia :(  And I am quite possibly the biggest whiniest sick person ever! Having been on a horse-pill sized does of antibiotics I’m finally starting to feel better. And the hubs certainly helped me through the worst few days, especially the day he arrived home with flowers, all my library holds and a super-awesome-coolest cthulhu ever!!

Sorry for the crap picture but I’ve been living on the sofa for a week and it was covered in books, Kleenex, remotes, DVDs, blankets and other assorted crap. So I totally photo-shopped it out  :P

Here are the books, it’s so hard to see what they are from the above photo.



© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Review ♦ Cycler

About the Book

Jill McTeague is your average smart senior trying to get her dream date to ask her to the prom. Of course, those monthly blood transfusions aren’t exactly average – but it’s not like she’s got anything fatal.

What no one knows, except for Jill’s parents – who live in constant fear of the secret getting out – is that for the four days Jill is out of school each month, she’s not having blood transfusions. In fact, she’s not even Jill on those days. For four days of every monthly cycle, Jill becomes Jack, a boy – complete with all the parts – and Jack has to live out his days as a prisoner in Jill’s bedroom. But Jack’s personality has been gaining strength over the years since the cycling began. He is growing more rebellious and less content with his confinement, while at the same time his cycles are becoming more frequent.

Now Jill’s question about the prom isn’t simply who she will go with, but who will she be when the big night arrives?


Book Title: Cycler Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Author: Lauren McLaughlin Type: Hardcover 256 pages
Publisher: Random House Kids Publication Date: August 2008

My Thoughts  
Normally I would just blabber randomly about the book and how I felt about it. But Care over at Care’s Online Book Club recently reviewed a book using a format that I really dug – so I have borrowed her outline to use here. Thanks Care :)

MOTIVATION FOR READING:     I had read about Cycler on Westerblog.com the blog home of Scott Westerfeld (author of Uglies, Pretties, Peeps and assorted other cool YA books) and I thought it sounded like a really different idea for a teen book. And Scott Westerfeld did provide this blurb for the book: “Artfully fractured and wickedly smart. A brilliant screwball comedy about love, self knowledge, and the secret identities inside all of us.”

WHAT IT’s ABOUT:     If you read the top part of this post I provided the synopsis from the book jacket. A quick plot outline – Jack and Jill are two very separate personalities that share one body. Jill goes through monthly 4 day cycles where she stops being Jill and becomes Jack – with all the proper equipment and everything. Up until now Jack and Jill have maintained a good schedule and agree to some basic rules, but now their monthly cycles are becoming a bit erratic and they are both experiencing some emotional and psychological problems.

WHAT’s GOOD:     The idea behind the story was stellar. Unique, quirky and thought-provoking. Physical transformations in YA novels is pretty common what with all the vamp, were and other mythological type stories around – but the idea of a transformation being both physical and mental was something new to me. Another great thing is that although Jack and Jill are technically the same person, their personalities are completely and authentically individual. The way the book was narrated in turns was also a wonderful method of separating the two. It gave the reader a chance to see the situation from each perspective.

WHAT’s NOT so GOOD:    The language and the dialogue. This is probably the only book I’ve ever read that I cannot recommend if only because of the annoying over-use of slang. Cycler was a terrific story that (for me) was ruined by the choice of language used. It wasn’t even vulgar, it was just the repetitive and varied usage of the words “mal” and “deeply” – at first I thought it was just me being picky, but I had to laugh when I looked for other reviews to link to here and Becky of Becky’s Book Reviews actually listed the abundance of over-used words. It also kinda bugged me that the word “mal” is one that I don’t hear too often in teen-speak – again maybe that’s just me, but I do have 2 teenagers and I’m usually surrounded by their tribes of slang speaking friends.

FINAL THOUGHTs:    Definitely a good idea for a book, great character development, horribly, deeply mal* writing/dialogue. However much it bugged me though, I will read the upcoming sequel Re-Cycler because this idea is just too cool to not give it another shot. And maybe knowing about the slang style beforehand will make it less obvious.

*Keep in mind here that I have no idea what exactly mal means, I can only assume it’s not good.

 

About The Author

Lauren McLaughlin grew up in a small town in Massachusetts called Wenham, about twenty miles north of Boston. After college and a short stint in graduate school, she spent ten “unglamorous” years in the film industry, both writing and producing, before abandoning her screen ambitions to write fiction full-time.

She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her photographer husband and is currently at work on the sequel to Cycler. 

 
Other Reviews
Have you reviewed this book too?
Let me know and I’ll add your link.


© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Desire, Lust, Yearn, Crave … Covet

As part of the Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge Debi from Nothing of Importance is hosting May’s Mini-Challenge! Really I should have had this post up immediately considering I am always coveting books, but trying to narrow down the choices is harder than it sounds :P

As soon as I heard about the mini-challenge this scene (photo to the right) from The Reader popped into my head. It’s always fun to lust after new books, old books, or just rumors of books to come. But after reading The Reader and watching the film adaptation, it occurred to me that a readers enjoyment of books they are looking forward to is nothing compared to the anticipation that Hanna Schmitz must have felt when hoping to hear something read to her. This thought really made me thankful that I had people who taught me the wonder of reading, such a simple thing for me, that I never fully appreciated until I considered a life of illiteracy.

Anywhoo, here are the instructions that Debi has put forth for the May mini-challenge:

I don’t know about you, but I was literally addicted to Dewey’s blog. (Yeah, I’m pretty darn sure I wasn’t alone in this addiction either!) And some of my favorite posts were her Book Coveting posts. And there were her Reading Journal posts, I really loved those. Oh, and her monthly wrap-ups. And yes, of course, her book reviews. Okay, so I guess pretty much everything she had to say…

But for this mini-challenge, I thought maybe we could focus on Book Coveting. And seriously, this challenge really shouldn’t be much of a challenge at all! Because all you have to do is write a Book Coveting post of your own…and I know you all have books you’re coveting!

And here are some random chosen books I am coveting:


Rampant
by Diana Peterfreund

Killer unicorns! Seriously that’s all I had to know about this book to be desperate to read it. I’ll let you know a huge secret about me – when I was little my bedroom had shelves and shelves of unicorns, crystal, china, ceramic, silver, stuffed, and  My Little Pony unicorns. But as much as I loved unicorns I began to think they were kinda wussy (I blame this on our family’s new VCR player and Return Of The Living Dead) and that is when I left a lifetime of Team Unicorn behind and became a full-fledged member of Team Zombie. But evil unicorns = perfection!! 


The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

The Forest Of Hands And Teeth, which I reviewed here, is quite possibly my favorite young adult book so far this year. I’m a giant fan of teen books, zombie books and dystopian/post-apocalyptic stories, and Carrie Ryan brought all three together beautifully. A sequel to Forest Of Hands And Teeth seemed inevitable, but seeing the cover posted on her blog last month still made me squeal like a fan-girl.


Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

This book immediately caught my attention when Lenore of the awesome blog Presenting Lenore spotlighted Crazy Beautiful in her weekly feature Waiting On Wednesday. Lenore said: “A hot romance with with an Edward Scissorhands meets Captain Hook vibe maybe? I can't wait to find out.” And I cannot wait to find out either. Crazy plot, beautiful cover, I’m hooked!


Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow

This book (well the authors name actually) caught my eye when Wendi talked about it on her Mailbox Monday post a couple weeks ago. I’ve read some of Lillith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine series and love them. And the name Lili St. Crow turned out to be a pseudonym she’s using for this YA series. Awesome!


Undiscovered Gyrl
by Allison Burnett

While book trailers can sometimes be entertaining, I have never lusted after a book from seeing one. Until now. I followed a link from a Shelf Awareness newsletter and ended up at the Undiscovered Gyrl website, where I watched the video. Fascinated and intrigued I immediately added this book to my wishlist.


Pygmy
by Chuck Palahniuk

It’s Chuck, what more can I say? Even though I wasn’t crazy about his latest book Snuff, I have read, loved and adored all his other books. Normally I would have been first in line the morning this book hit the shelves, but this month has been crazy and I completely forgot. But with my birthday coming up very soon, this is the one thing on my list I must have!


Skin Trade by Laurell K Hamilton

Ever have an author that was a guaranteed great read for you? But then somewhere along the line their books started feeling kinda old … but you were powerless to resist? Well, for me that author is LKH. One of my bookish friends turned me onto the Anita Blake series around the time that book 9 was released and I literally devoured everything up to there. But then around book 10/11 the story started going downhill. Gone was the kick-ass Anita and she was replaced with a nympho-like shadow of the heroine I adored. Now Skin Trade is coming – book 17 – and I am still addicted. These books are like acid, even after a bad trip you keep trying again and again to experience that perfect sensory explosion.


Divine Misdemeanors by Laurell K Hamilton

Yeah, yeah, another LKH. But this is different, this is book 8 of the Merry Gentry series. The difference here is that the Merry series was always about sex, so the heroine getting hot and heavy with every mythical man around is no biggie. The main reason I like this series is because of the Faerie world it incorporates with ours. There’s lots going on between the seelie and unseelie courts and Merry will quite possibly change the entire history of the fey. Plus she’s pregnant with twins who have like 4 dads! It’s better than a Spanish soap opera.


The Year Of The Flood
by Margaret Atwood

Over at the blog A Certain Bent Appeal, I was reading the Fall 09 Sneak Peek post and saw that there was a new Margaret Atwood coming – Dude, that rocks! Then I read a little further and find out that it’s a prequel to Oryx & Crake – OMG! I was struck speechless because of the utter excitement that was going through me! Oryx & Crake is my favorite Atwood, and knowing that there is a prequel coming just blows my mind.


Hella Nation
by Evan Wright

My son is reading Evan Wright’s previous book, Generation Kill and I happened to be skimming through it and really enjoyed the writing. Then I came across the review blurb that said this: “His style owes more to Hunter S. Thompson than to any sort of political correctness” and I was sold. Plus I really enjoy essay style non-fiction.


© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Music Mundays ♦ Track 1

Today while reading blogs, I stumbled upon a Chris’s new feature for Mondays – Music Mundays – I think it’s awesome! Music and books are a big part of mine (and my family’s) life. So even though there was specific request for people to participate in this meme, I’m just going to go ahead and hope that was the idea :P

Here’s a bit of what Chris had to say about Music Mundays:

“Yes, I realize that Munday is misspelled, but that’s just fun, isn’t it? lol. So I know that the internet needs another weekly meme like I need a hole in the head, but I’m starting one anyway :p It’s not book related though (though it can be) so that counts for something, right? This idea was inspired by Nymeth of Things Mean A Lot after she did her books meet music post today which is fantastic if you haven’t read it yet!”

But you should totally head over and read his whole amazing post – right here!

Chris tied music and literature together by highlighting the beautiful and talented Tori Amos – and maybe I’m being difficult or contrary, but to me music is just as much a type of literature as books, be it fiction or poetry. To me literature is something that expresses an idea or feeling, it tells a story or provokes one to look for the meaning behind words.

Anyway, my choice for this, the very first Music Munday, is a song that has always moved me to look at life, people and the world differently. The first time I heard this song, while watching the movie Magnolia (yes, yes it does star Tom Cruise – but that was before he became Evil-Slightly-Demented-Tom) and it is Wise Up by Aimee Mann.


This song may seem like a total downer – especially considering that the last words are “So just … give up.” But for me this song and the words are saying that we need to wise up and learn to stop trying to make life go the way we think it should. If we continually fight against the way we feel, the way we think, the way we love – then it’s just going to continue being harder and harder. Going with the flow doesn’t mean giving in, for me it means embracing what makes us each who we are as individuals. Probably the song has a totally different meaning than how I interpret it – but isn’t that the beauty of music? 

am smilers 2008
@#%&*! Smilers
2008
One More Drifter In Snow
2006
The Forgotten Arm
2005
Lost In Space
2002


Wise Up

It's not
What you thought
When you first began it
You got
What you want
Now you can hardly stand it though,
By now you know
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up


You're sure
There's a cure
And you have finally found it
You think
One drink
Will shrink you 'til you're underground
And living down
But it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up


Prepare a list of what you need
Before you sign away the deed
'Cause it's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
It's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
'Til you wise up
No, it's not going to stop
So just...give up

- Aimee Mann -

Bachelor No. 2
2000
Magnolia Soundtrack
1999
I’m With Stupid
1995
Whatever
1993


© 2008-2010 Joanne Mosher of The Book Zombie. All rights reserved.

Comic Book? Graphic Novel? … Awesome Anyway You Say It!

Graphic novels are a reading format that I love. To me they are much more than comic books. It’s the ability to tell a story using words and pictures together and have it be that much more powerful. I like that so much thought goes into making the drawings speak what the words aren’t saying. And with graphic novels sometimes words come with space limitations, which makes me think the words, phrases and dialogue are chosen with that much more care. For me a successful graphic novel leaves me feeling satisfied that the words and pictures have been designed and combined to present the best possible story, with meaning and feeling perfectly visualized. Sometimes the stories are serious or sad, other times silly and fun, but also a good graphic novel is the best example of team-work and differing arts merging to create a whole new experience for the reader.


I found this snippet on wikipedia and couldn’t resist including it here:

Writer Neil Gaiman, responding to a claim that he does not write comic books but graphic novels, said the commenter "meant it as a compliment, I suppose. But all of a sudden I felt like someone who'd been informed that she wasn't actually a hooker; that in fact she was a lady of the evening."


Since I started blogging, I’ve come across so many fantastic graphic novels because of the terrific bloggers and reviews. This past Saturday I spent the entire day enjoying a few of them. It was so great and I’d like to thank all the amazing bloggers who share my love of the graphic novel – without you, I never would have gotten to enjoy all these great reads :)

Kat & Mouse
Volume 1
Teacher Torture


When Kat’s dad gets a job as a science teacher at a posh private school, things seem perfect – that is, until Kat’s rich, popular classmates shove her to the bottom of the social heap just for being smart. And bad turns to worse when an anonymous student blackmails Kat’s dad to give the class better grades! Can Kat and her rebellious computer nerd friend Mouse, find the real culprits before Kat’s dad loses his job?


Author: Alex de Campi Genre: Graphic Novel (ages 9+)
Illustrator: Federica Manfredi Type: Paperback 96 pages
Publisher: TokyoPop Publication Date: July 2006

My Thoughts
Thanks to Darla D. from Books & Other Thoughts I picked up this cute manga. I found it in the children’s section of the library and without Darla D's review I most likely wouldn’t have spotted it.

This isn’t the type of graphic novel that I would have come across on my own. Having two teen sons means I miss out on a lot of the girly type stuff. But I am so happy that I took a look for this after seeing Darla D.’s review. Kat & Mouse was so much fun! The main character, Kat, is starting grade seven at a brand new school where her dad is going to be teaching science. What I found most appealing about this first of a series is that Kat and her friend Mouse seem like normal teenage girls, also it was nice to see a character who doesn’t fall all over herself to impress the “in-crowd.” Kat comes across as a smart girl, who knows what is important in life. Working hard at school and also working at keeping a good relationship with her parents are things she cares about. And the relationship between Kat and her parents does seem very realistic – they argue, but they care about one another at the same time. Another really fun thing about this book was that the girls use science to solve the mystery, and included at the back of the book is instructions for conducting your own at-home science project with easy to find materials - giving you the chance to experience exactly what Kat & Mouse did. Fun with Science!

Oh and Kat & Mouse Volume 1 Teacher Torture can be read online at TokyoPop!

Other Reviews
Have you reviewed this book too?
Let me know and I’ll add your link.
 

Ethel & Ernest
A True Story


Utterly original, deeply moving and very funny, Ethel & Ernest is the story of Raymond Briggs’s parents from their first, chance encounter to their deaths, told in Briggs’s unique strip-cartoon format. Winner of the British Book Award for the Illustrated Book of the Year and acclaimed by the critics, Ethel & Ernest was a huge bestseller on first publication.


Author: Raymond Briggs Genre: Graphic Novel / Non-Fiction
Illustrator: Raymond Briggs Type: Hardcover 103 pages
Publisher: Jonathan Cape Publication Date: 1998

My Thoughts   
This one is thanks to Nymeth of Things Mean A Lot. Nymeth’s review was fantastic as always, but what convinced me I needed to read this was a particular quote she included. I’ve taken a photo of the page that this quote appeared on – it was just as touching and clever as I first suspected.

At first, I was a bit apprehensive about how well the premise of this graphic novel would play out. Ethel & Ernest is the true story of the couple’s relationship, from the first time they meet ‘til the day they die. But the apprehension quickly vanished as I realized that their story was going to be wonderful. Told in quick snippets, it perfectly illustrates a happy, hard and sometimes impossible seeming existence. Through the story of Ethel & Ernest we get to experience how time changes people, places and life itself. Things like war, technology, politics and culture are all examined from this couple’s first-hand point of view. By the end I felt like I had personally known these people and I had a hard time letting them go. Some people don’t think that graphic novels can be as emotionally involving as traditional novels, but I would have to disagree and suggest those people read this one. Reading about their life and seeing the happy moments along with the sad times touched me – and I am not normally a very sappy person. Knowing beforehand from the book’s description that the reader would follow Ethel & Ernest all the way through to their dying days was not preparation enough for the emotion their deaths would provoke – it was heart-breaking but still left a small smile on my face as I recalled how full their lives were. They were not famous, or rich, or extremely lucky – it was how they lived, how they conquered the everyday sadness to be a happy and loving family. We should all be so blessed to live such ordinary, yet remarkable, lives. 

 
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The Invention of Hugo Cabret

A Novel in Words and Pictures


Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks – like the gears of the clocks he keeps – with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who run a toy booth in the train station, Hugo’s undercover life and his most precious secret are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.



Author: Brian Selznick Genre: Childrens Fiction (ages 9+)
Illustrator: Brian Selznick Type: Hardcover 544 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press Publication Date: January 2007

My Thoughts   
This is a book I’d seen reviewed all over the blogiverse and I really didn’t think it would be something I would be interested in. So what finally prompted me to give it a read? Chickens! Yup, after reading Bethany’s review and seeing that she awarded Hugo Cabret a Stellar 5 Chicken Book Rating, I knew this would be a fantastic review. For more Chicken rated reviews, check out Dreadlock Girl Reads!

It feels as though I am the last person in the world to read The Invention of Hugo Cabret, and now I’m kicking myself for having waited so long to read this amazing story. So why did I wait so long? That old bad habit of judging a book by it’s cover! The cover seemed so garish to me that I never would have guessed there was a treasure between the covers. The basic plot is outlined above and I won’t bother going through it again here, and honestly I’m not sure that the story would have worked quite so well for me without the outstanding artwork. The illustrations are the exact opposite of the color explosion on the cover. Saying that they are black and white is impossible though, because I am certain the art contains thousands of shades of grey. The depth and detail to these illustrations is mind-blowing! The story would be perfectly magical for a child’s bedtime story, but be prepared to finish this book in one sitting, because it’s definitely a page-turner and make sure to spend lots of time examining the gorgeous pictures.

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The Tale of
One Bad Rat


Helen Potter lived a happy life until she got lost in a nightmare of sexual abuse. Now she's on a journey, a journey which takes her through urban and rural England along the same path that another Potter, Beatrix Potter, once took. Across the decades, two lives touch, and Helen discovers that the strength of two is far greater than one. Bryan Talbot constructs a very special story in The Tale of One Bad Rat which immediately endears the reader. The victim of child sexual abuse, Helen Potter becomes the armored knight before her own personal demons in this story of heroism and courage.


Author: Bryan Talbot Genre: Graphic Novel (ages 16+)
Illustrator: Bryan Talbot Type: Trade Paperback 136 pages
Publisher: Dark Horse Books Publication Date: October 1995

My Thoughts   
This one caught my attention when Kailana posted one of her awesome Dear Dewey reviews. I’d seen this around a few times, and I must be completely oblivious but it wasn’t until I read her review that I finally saw the connection this graphic novel has to Beatrix Potter.

The cover design, the title, even the color palate are so reminiscent of those beloved little Potter books I used to read constantly as a child. But my Beatrix books were full of happy little animals with not many problems, and The Tale Of One Bad Rat is quite the opposite. It’s a story of abuse, anger, sadness and loneliness. But it’s also a story that shows how a person can fight back against everything that might destroy them. It’s about self-discovery, renewal of the spirit and courageousness. It’s a book that really pushes home the idea that no matter how much you hate yourself, other people or the life you have – you are the only person who can make positive changes. But it also emphasizes that you don’t have to do it alone. By learning to trust the right people and by following the heroes you respect, happiness is possible. Motivational self-help books have never been my thing. Often I find that they hand out a lot of crap that confuses more than enlightens. With The Tale Of One Bad Rat, the reader follows a young woman who must search and battle to find herself and her happiness, while along the way she must learn to shed the guilt and hate she feels for herself. This, for me, was one of the most beautiful and motivating stories of survival. And another thing, which some might not find as fascinating as me, this book addresses the horrible fault that lies in judging things, whether by believing false stereo-types or misinformed beliefs. Rats are not bad creatures, I’ve seen rats who are family pets and are more loving, well-behaved and clean than other families human children. It’s all about the animals for me :)

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So there you go, four fantastic graphic novels! Originally I had planned to include 12 mini-reviews in this post, but I have the terrible habit of blathering on and this ended up being much longer than I’d planned. But if this is something anyone would like to see more of, I would love to continue highlighting my comic reading with these combined mini-reviews.

Oh and if you have any recommendations for great graphic novels that you’ve enjoyed or that you’re looking forward to reading – let me know!



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