What are my personal "norms" for reading?
- Manga (especially Shojo)
- Graphic novels in general (though I don't seem to have rhyme and reason in my choosing)
- Random contemporary novels I read about in Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal
So what have I read this past month that is outside my personal normal?
"But wait," you say. "Didn't you say above you already read graphic novels?" Yes, reader, you are correct. The Sandman is different, though. I've heard friends and fellow librarians tell me FOR YEARS how absolutely amazing and awe-inspiring this series is! This is "a classic" and I can't say that I've read a lot of classic comics/graphic novels.
So...is it living up to the hype? I appreciated the preface in the first volume letting me know that it could have been better and what I'm reading is a bit of a work in progress. I wouldn't say it's bad, but it hasn't "found itself" yet. For all that I did enjoy the short story arc within. The second volume, though. WOW. The story is great and I feel that it transitions more smoothly from each character's point of view/story. Even the ones that don't seem connected ultimately are.
If you enjoy dark, mysterious characters and genre-defying story you should also take the leap of faith and check these out.
Just Fall by Nina Sadowsky.
I'm not someone who seeks out thriller fiction. This was one of the books I read about that was reviewed and I've read a few books about husband/wife relationships this year and how you can never really know someone else. When I saw that the premise was "would you kill for your spouse?" I decided to give it a try.
This is one of the few novels that flipped between past and present that I thought actually did it well. There is a secret that the husband reveals on the day of their wedding, but you don't find out what exactly it is until near the end. There were a few things that I didn't think added up plot-wise, but this is the author's debut novel so overall I thought she did a good job of alternating between perspectives.
Yokai by Dave Ferraro.
This was a self-published book that Library Journal gave a self-published ebook award in fantasy. Other than graphic novels/manga I haven't been reading a lot of fantasy and I just about never read self-published works. Self-published has a bit of a bad rap. The fact that Library Journal spared me the trouble of wondering whether it was worth it plus the fact a lot of the fantasy material in here is also present in manga made me want to give it a try.
It's the story of Yumiko Sato who will be whisked away when she turns 18 to become "devoured body and soul" by a Yokai (supernatural demon-type creature) king. Due to unfortunate events she has no family and is cared for and trained by a yokai hunter. I adore Japanese folklore and so I was already familiar with tanuki, kitsune, and other aspects. Honestly, I think this would make a great manga! While some of the story was predictable and the characters could have been more developed, I think the author did a pretty good job with self-publishing. It's fast-paced and an enjoyable romp through Japanese supernatural landscapes.
The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon by Weina Dai Randel
I don't gravitate towards historical fiction and the last historical fiction set in Asia I read was Memoirs of a Geisha long long ago. The first book, The Moon in the Palace, was my vote for the Overdrive's Big Library Read (it didn't win). The story is about China's first and only female ruler, Empress Wu.
I found the character of Mei Wu to be very sweet at the beginning of the first book and we see her mature (both her personality and her body) and grow more clever inside the emperor's court as one of more than 100 concubines. The second book is full of sorrow as well as court intrigue with a satisfying ending. The writer did an amazing job researching a woman who historians sought to obscure and I highly recommend both of these books!