Blog Tour Book Review: Spot 12 by Jenny Jaeckel

Spot 12 coverAbout Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU

Spot 12 delivers the gritty details of a new mother and her newborn daughter, Asa, during a five-month stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in this visually gripping graphic memoir by Jenny Jaeckel. A routine prenatal exam reveals a dangerous problem, and Jaeckel and her husband find themselves thrust into a world of close calls, sleepless nights, and psychological crises. Surrounded by disagreements and family tensions, death, and questions of faith, Jaeckel struggles to maintain a positive frame of mind.

Against the antiseptic, mechanical reality of the NICU, the dedicated doctors and nurses are drawn as sympathetic and wry animal characters. Doctor Eyes and Nurse Gentlehands are two of the caring individuals who do all they can to save Baby Asa. At times Jaeckel and her husband battle feelings of helplessness and despair, but their determination, hope, insight, bravery, and connection ultimately helps keep their little girl alive.

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Praise

“A memorable and beautifully executed memoir of a newborn’s difficult first months.” —Kirkus Reviews

“It’s a sad, lovely, tragic story. It reminds us how close we are to tragedy at any moment in our lives…” —Tom Hart, author of Rosalie Lightning

“Spot 12, the novel, a unique combination of text and remarkable drawings, was able to completely hold my interest. The topic of parenting a critically ill newborn in the NICU is not a new one…But Spot 12 was matchless in its comic book format associating pictures with feelings….It is very impressive.” —Anita Catlin, for Advances in Neonatal Care

Spot 12 is a graphic memoir that follows a couple who go into the hospital for an ultrasound and find out that there are complications with their baby. These complications lead to an unexpected delivery followed by months of surgeries and stress.

This was the second graphic memoir that I have read. Interestingly both are told using animals (specifically mice). I really like this aspect of it as I feel like even kids can read this book and be both interested by it but it also feels like that makes it easier for them to understand.

I thought the narrative itself was really affecting and rather beautiful. I loved the illustrations…the use of black and white only to illustrate this story was essential I think to relaying the kind of emotion that the story has. Put together I felt that the story and the illustrations both complemented and fit together so well. They made the story so easy to follow and understand and really drove home the emotion. I am not a parent myself, but I do feel as though the illustrations and narrative did a really good job of pulling me into the raw emotions of the situation. It was heartbreaking and painful seeing this child and her parent’s suffer in this book,  I can’t begin to imagine how it felt in real life.

I am giving this book a five star review, it was definitely sad in some parts and heartwarming in others. It is a super light read and I think also a thought provoking one. Graphic memoir fans may enjoy this title!

Note: I received this book from the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review of it. Thank you for the chance to read and review this book!

Jenny JaeckelAbout Jenny Jaeckel

Jenny Jaeckel holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and a Master of Arts in Hispanic Literatures from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is a certified interpreter and translator (Spanish) and teaches illustration. She lives in Victoria, Vancouver Island in British Columbia with her husband and daughter.

Jaeckel is the author and illustrator of three graphic memoirs: Spot 12: Five Months in the Neonatal ICU, which won a 2008 Xeric Grant (printed in Canada, to be released in the US in 2016 in both English and Spanish), Siberiak: My Cold War Adventure on the River Ob (published in 2014), and Odd Pieces: Memoir of a Childhood (to be published in 2017). For the Love of Meat: Nine Illustrated Stories is her first collected fiction (2016).

Find out more about Jaeckel at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

 

Graphic Novel Review: Uncanny X-Men: The Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont(Author), Jo Duffy(Author), and John Byrne(Illustrator) 

61DwIoQr52L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Uncanny X-Men: The Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont(Author), Jo Duffy(Author), and John Byrne(Illustrator).
Genre: Fiction – Superhero
Length: 200 pages
Format: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: April 25, 2012
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Rating – 5/5

An epic tale of triumph and tragedy! When the Dark Phoenix rises, suns grow cold and universes die! Gathered by Charles Xavier, the X-Men have dedicated their wondrous abilities to protect mankind – even those who hate and fear them. one of their own, Jean Grey, has unwittingly attained power beyond conception – and been corrupted, absolutely. The X-Men must decide: Is the life of the woman they cherish worth the existence of an entire universe? This touching tale of ultimate power and the triumph of the human spirit has been a cornerstone of the X-Men mythos for over three decades.

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I have wanted to read The Phoenix Saga for awhile now. I vaguely remember this from when I was a kid but since Dark Phoenix is my primary cosplay I wanted to go back and refresh my memory. I was definitely not disappointed.

The Phoenix Saga collects issues 129-138 of the Uncanny X-Men which consists of Nightcrawler, Wolverine, Storm, Phoenix, Cyclops and Colossus. This particular arc is just what the title of the trade suggests. Basically The Hellfire club, a secret club within a club that seeks power and dominance wants to capture the X-Men and use them and their powers to create an army of mutants. Through the use of Mastermind’s illusions they gain control over Jean which serves as a catalyst to unleashing the über deadly Phoenix force which once again sweeps through the galaxy leaving devastation in her wake.

There is actually so much more to the story than that but that’s a very broad description. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this arc. I thought it was fun to read. Anytime I get to spend with the X-Men is always a great time and this one is definitely one of my most favorite arcs ever.

There is a lot of detail in this story and a lot of back references that are more or less explained or there is a small note referring the reader to the number of a past single issue that includes a particular event or character. I love that and found it to be super helpful.
Originally the issues collected in this trade were published in the late 70s and continuing into the 80s so the artwork is classic and still beautiful to this day. I absolutely love the depiction of the Phoenix force.

I just really love this whole story. It was super hard for me to put it down and it was easy to lose myself in it. I highly recommend this trade to anyone who is an X-Men fan and hasn’t read this. You will enjoy it!

And just because this is my favorite character to cosplay, here is a pic of my Dark Phoenix cosplay!

For more superhero pics like this check out my Comic Con Pics page!

I have been super into reading graphic novels lately and have gotten to read quite a few new ones and am reading some older ones in the upcoming weeks. If you have any recommendations for me, I would be thrilled! Thank you everyone and have a happy Thursday!

Happy Reading!

Graphic Novel Review: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan & Niko Henrichon

105703Title: Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Niko Henrichon (Artist)
Genre: Fiction – Historical Fiction
Length: 136 pages
Format: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: January 2, 2008
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Rating – 5/5

From one of America’s most critically acclaimed graphic novel writers – inspired by true events, a startlingly original look at life on the streets of Baghdad during the Iraq War.

In his award-winning work on Y THE LAST MAN and EX MACHINA (one of Entertainment Weekly’s 2005 Ten Best Fiction titles), writer Brian K. Vaughan has displayed an understanding of both the cost of survival and the political nuances of the modern world. Now, in this provocative graphic novel, Vaughan examines life on the streets of war-torn Iraq.

In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escaped from the Baghdad zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live life in captivity?

Based on a true story, VAUGHAN and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Barnum!) have created a unique and heartbreaking window into the nature of life during wartime, illuminating this struggle as only the graphic novel can.

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Good morning everyone! I am excited to share with you yet another graphic novel review. I know that I have been reading quite a few in the past week but after I read the last full length novel I reviewed I found myself in a little bit of a reading slump. I find that this sometimes happens to me when I a) read a really good book, b) read a really bad book, or c) when I’m a little stressed out with work or just life in general. I’d say that this particular occurrence of the dreaded “reading slump” occurred due to a little bit from column a and a little bit from column c. One way that I work through my reading slumps is to read some graphic novels or listen to some audiobooks so that is why you have seen a few more graphic novels than normal and why you will see a review later in the day tomorrow on an audiobook! Anyway, enough about that and onto my review of The Pride of Baghdad.

The Pride of Baghdad is a standalone graphic novel that is based on a true historical event thus satisfying the “Read a comic about a real life historical event” requirement for the Panels 2016 Read Harder Challenge. In 2003 during a bombing raid in Baghdad, four lions escaped the Baghdad Zoo. This graphic novel is the story of their escape and their short struggle to survive after it in a world that is hostile and war-torn…ultimately one that they don’t understand.

Going into this graphic novel, I really had no idea what to expect other than that I am a fan of what I have previously read from Brian K. Vaughan so my expectations were pretty high. I also could guess that seeing as how it was a perspective on war and it’s affects, the story would be somewhat sad and maybe tragic. Since I love animals so much, I knew that the possibility of my being pretty affected by it myself was pretty high as well.

The artwork was beautiful. I thought the landscapes were nicely done. The hope and then also, the devastation translated through the art so clearly. The facial expressions of the animals were all so detailed and striking, I found that they affected me profoundly which was really unexpected and some of that will stay with me forever.

For a large piece of the story I was convinced that I was going to give this a four star rating because I was enjoying it and there were definitely parts that impacted me a lot and made me think, it wasn’t until some of the last scenes that I knew that this would end up being a five for me. Only one other graphic novel has EVER moved me to tears (The Complete Maus) and this one is the second one to do that. It is really rare! I found myself crying and with a heavy heart. It was tragic…it was. It made me really sad and it just made me think about a lot of things like the impact of war, the value of life both human and animal, what animal liberation actually means and the impact of humanity’s ugly side on the rest of our nonhuman family living in the world with us. I can’t even handle this story.

I never knew that this was something that actually happened and I’m glad that I was able to experience the story, even if it is historical fiction and we may never know what those animals actually did or thought in the aftermath of their escape from the Baghdad Zoo. All I know is that the ending for me was just gutwrenching, but when it comes to kids or animals, I am a big baby.

I recommend this to anyone who loves graphic novels in general and is looking for something to read other than the standard superhero stories. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and if you do read it and it gives you sad feels like it did me, PLEASE come back here and let me know about it so we can be sad together.

Anyway, you will be seeing some posts in the upcoming days, probably an audiobook review tomorrow, a Top Ten Tuesday post and a few book reviews as well! I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday full of rest!

Happy Reading everyone!

Graphic Novel Review: Descender Book One: Tin Stars by Jeff LeMire and Dustin Nguyen

24970339Title: Descender Book One: Tin Stars by Jeff LeMire (Writer) and Dustin Nguyen (Illustrator)
Genre: Fiction – Science Fiction
Length: 160 pages
Format: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: September 9, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Rating – 5/5!

Ten Years after planet-sized robots called Harvesters appeared and wreaked havoc across the galaxy, a young android named TIM-21 wakes to find that all robots have been outlawed. But TIM may hold the secrets to the Harvesters in his machine DNA and he quickly becomes the most wanted robot in the universe. With bounty hunters and threats lurking at every turn TIM embarks on a mind-blowing adventure through the stars along with his robot dog, Bandit, and the lumbering mining droid, Driller.

images I have been wanting to read this graphic novel for what seems like forever! I have had it on my wish list ever since I first saw it before it was actually released. I don’t know exactly why it took me so long to finally order it and read it but I am glad that I did.  I didn’t really start exploring the science fiction genre until a few years ago when a close friend of mine gave me a copy of Ender’s Game for Christmas and ever since then I have fallen in love with the genre in pretty much all formats so naturally, a science fiction graphic novel totally appealed to me.

I can’t recall whether I have read a graphic novel with watercolor illustrations but I really enjoyed the watercolor illustrations in this one. I felt like it was really easy to understand the story due to the use of color changes from past events versus current events. I appreciated that distinction and thought it  was overall just really well done.

I feel like I hyped this one up for myself SO much. When I first read the synopsis online, I knew it was something that I might enjoy and boy, did I ever! There were parts of this graphic novel that made my heart just so sad and it was just really gripping all the way through.

I feel like the amount of hype I gave myself for this graphic novel was pretty well deserved. I ended up giving it a five star rating on Goodreads as I ended up really loving it. The story is interesting and really affected me. Throughout the story we follow Tim-21, a young robot boy who lived with a human boy and his mother as the boy’s robot companion. Although Robot’s are understood to not exist quite like humans do emotionally and mentally, Tim-21 becomes a part of the family. Something goes wrong and he awakes to find himself alone in a world that is hostile to robots, especially his particular type of robot and he just may be the key to solving the mystery of what went wrong while he was asleep.

I don’t even think that begins to sum up the plot but I didn’t want to reveal too much about it. There is alot going on below the surface and there seems to be alot of politics and interplanetary relations involved, as well as some character background that plays really vital roles in the plot and everything that has happened up to this point. It also goes deeper and brings forth the question of whether artificial life forms can have souls and dreams. Also, questions like whether they can love or feel human motions or also, what would happen to their soul when they expired. Do they even have souls? Super, super good! I cannot wait to continue this graphic novel series…I am definitely highly anticipating the second volume which is being released April 19, 2016. You better believe I have that baby on pre-order! I thought that the writing was thoughtful and engaging…I loved that each issue ended on a really great cliffhanger, especially the last one! This series is so good already but has SO much potential…I can’t wait to see what happens with the Harvesters, the resistance, Tim-21 and just literally everything and everyone that we have encountered so far. I highly recommend this to every one!

(p.s. Isn’t the cover just gorgeous?)

Happy Reading everyone!

Review: The Wicked + The Divine (Volume 1) by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles

Title:  The Wicked + The Divine (Volume 1) by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson and Clayton Cowles
Genre:  Graphic Novel – Fantasy
Publisher: Image Comics
Length: 144 pages
Format: Trade – Volume 1
Publication Date: November 12, 2014
Rating – 3/5

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

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Good evening! Today I am reviewing the first volume in The Wicked and the Divine: The Faust Act. This was recommended to me by one of the sales guys at my local comic store. This is a fantasy/science fiction graphic novel. The story is about a group of Gods that are reincarnated every   ninety years and that live in human form for two years before dying again. In this incarnation they have been reborn as rock/pop stars with their devoted fans as their worshippers. One such worshipper/fan meets the Gods and when one of them, Luci, is framed for murder, resolves to help explore the mystery of who actually committed the crime.

I ended up giving this first volume three stars. I didn’t love it but I did however like what was given to us of the story. After reading it I wasn’t completely sure whether I still wanted to continue reading this series but I think I just might because I’m interested enough to see where this is going to go. I am wondering whether my enjoyment of the story would be impacted if I had read volume 2 immediately after finishing this one,  I may actually go back and give this another read before reading that one. There was a character that I found really interesting and that was Luci. This volume more or less revolves around her.

The story was interesting and I think it could be going in a pretty promising direction. I wasn’t too into this first volume but I am hoping that the story picks up and we get more information on the world and the characters. I did find myself recognizing some of the Gods mentioned here and that was pretty interesting. It was also interesting to draw parallels to real life in this story as far as how young people, even some adults, treat celebrities like pop stars and actors/actresses as veritable Gods in their eyes. I also found myself trying to draw connections between this series and Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus which I assumed upon reading the title it may be based on. I can definitely see a connection in the storyline in this volume and interested to see more. It ended up being something that I enjoyed and depending on how the story develops, I can see myself enjoying it more and more.

The thing that most stood out most to me about this graphic novel was most definitely the artwork. The artwork is absolutely stunning and I would actually pick up the next one just for the artwork alone.

If you read this graphic novel and loved it please let me know what you loved about it or even if you didn’t love it. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Overall I liked it and will pick up the next volume.

Review: Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack

18527488Title: Cleopatra In Space #1: Target Practice by Mike Maihack
Genre:  Graphic Novel – Children’s
Publisher: Scholastic
Page count: 167 pages
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: May 2014
Rating – 3/5 – liked it

When a young Cleopatra (yes, THAT Cleopatra) finds a mysterious tablet that zaps her to the far, REALLY far future, she learns of an ancient prophecy that says she is destined to save the galaxy from the tyrannical rule of the evil Xaius Octavian. She enrolls in Yasiro Academy, a high-tech school with classes like algebra, biology, and alien languages (which Cleo could do without), and combat training (which is more Cleo’s style). With help from her teacher Khensu, Cleo learns what it takes to be a great leader, while trying to figure out how she’s going to get her homework done, make friends, and avoid detention!

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Hello everyone! I fell into sort of a reading slump this last two weeks and had been unable to get into a book that I am going to be reviewing after this one! I went to visit my niece over the weekend and she ever so kindly lent me this cute little graphic novel, Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice. My niece has previously had a hard time with reading so it’s awesome to see her finding a medium that she feels comfortable reading and is able to get into. I’m all for that so I think I’ll be looking into more graphic novel titles along the same vein as this to purchase for her so if you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments!

This graphic novel is about a young Cleopatra who is just days shy of celebrating her fifteenth birthday where she will take on more responsibility as the future ruler of Egypt. She is rambunctious and ballsy and into having fun and not taking life so seriously. During an afternoon at play with her best friend, she happens upon a tablet and relic that transport her into an Egypt of the future where it has been foretold that she will save her people from the Xerx, a brutal and tyrannical people who seek to take over and destroy a nation’s culture, history, etc. This first book is about her adapting to her new surroundings and struggling with taking on more responsibility, basically growing up.

I  liked this graphic novel, I thought it was really cute. I thought the story behind it was interesting and the characters were all really cute. I loved the illustrations and what little dialogue there was in this book was fun and cute. I recommend this for maybe ages 9-14. My niece falls within that range so I can definitely see how this story was super enjoyable for her.  I enjoyed reading this as an adult but I tried to read it as my eleven year old self would and I definitely think this is something I would have enjoyed reading. While I didn’t absolutely love this graphic novel, I would definitely continue reading it to see where the story goes. I have heard that the second one is progressively better which I think is understandable as this laid just a short, simple foundation for the story and what is going on the world. I want to see more detail though about the Xerx and the world.  I would like to see the ways in which Cleopatra grows, I think there is ALOT of room for her to grow within this series as she is very “I want to do my own thing and not listen to anyone else” in this book. That lands her in a bit of trouble sometimes so I think it’s good for kids to see that as well. I think she’s also a good character for young girls to read about because she is definitely strong, opinionated and independent which was really great to see in a young female character. I think she has so much potential, as does this series.

Review: Mind the Gap (Volume 1): Intimate Strangers by Jim McCann, Rodin Esquejo, and Sonia Oback

Mind the GapTitle: Mind the Gap (Volume 1): Intimate Strangers by Jim McCann, Rodin Esquejo (Illustrator) and Sonia Oback (Illustrator)
Genre:  Fiction
Publisher: Image Comics
Page count: 168 pages
Format: Graphic Novel
Publication Date: October 17, 2012
Rating: 4/5

Elle Peterssen is young, wealthy, and beautiful – and there is a reason someone tried to kill her. Only, Elle doesn’t remember any of this.

Mind the Gap, the new series by the Eisner Award-winning writer JIM McCANN (Return of the Dapper Men), is a mystery with a paranormal twist.

Elle, in a spirit form detached from her comatose body, must not only unravel the mystery of her attacker’s identity and motive but her entire life as well.

Who can she trust, in both this word and in the gap she exists in that lies between life and death? Filled with twists and turns, Elle’s life isn’t the only one turned upside down by the attack on her life.

Deceit, secrets, and hidden agendas are everywhere in a story where everyone is a suspect, and no one is innocent.

Collects Mind the Gap #1-5.

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I discovered this graphic novel while I was browsing through Listopia on Goodreads one day, something I can do for hours on end. When I came across this and read the description I was instantly intrigued. Most of my experience with comics and graphic novels has been in the form of the superhero genre. The only non-superhero comics I had read to date so far were Fables, Maus, Elfquest and other miscellaenous comics throughout the years. I decided to take part in the graphic novel challenge this year because I wanted to challenge myself to, not only read more comics like I did when I was a kid, but to branch out into the different genre’s that make up the comic and graphic novel formats. I haven’t been wildly successful at it so far this year but for this second half of the year I hope to hit this format with a vengeance.

Mind the Gap definitely caught my eye and when I received it in the mail I was super excited to dig into it. It’s about a young girl, Elle Peterssen who is attacked and ends up in a coma. The story is about her trying to remember what happened to her and really trying to even remember who she is. It’s interesting because it is also about unraveling the mystery of who hurt her by exploring her relationships and the various dramas begin to unfold casting suspicion upon pretty much everyone in the story.

Mind the Gap so far definitely has my interest piqued. This graphic novel only collects comics 1-5 so there is a large chunk of the story that I still have yet to read and I will definitely be doing that in the future. I liked being suspicious of everyone I have met so far in the story. At times I felt l was sure who could have done this to her but a page later my opinion on that would take a hit and I’d second guess someone else in the story. That is a truly fun aspect of reading this graphic novel. I gave it a four out of five because it was confusing at some parts and a little hard to follow but super interesting and wholly unique. I love the illustrations and the colors that are used. I think this is definitely a beautiful work both in the storytelling but also in the illustrative aspect. It’s literally just so beautiful and pleasing to the eye.  I definitely recommend giving Mind the Gap a read. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds, it really could go in many different directions at this point! If you have read further into this series or if you have any recommendations on graphic novels please leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!