‘Through the Woods’ by Emily Carroll

My rating: 4 stars

Gone are the days when I never pondered picking up a graphic novel. Nowadays I know that I can enjoy them, as long as they feature some of the characteristics that I relish – splashes of colour, elaborate drawings, and panels in an array of sizes and formats. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll caught my attention because of its mix of bright and dark colours and the promise of it being unnerving. In general, it really lived up to my expectations

This graphic novel is more of a collection of short stories, which all have in common being spooky and presenting a storyline that encompasses a forest. It starts with an eerie introduction where readers are warned that, at night, there may be something hidden beneath our beds. The following five stories carry on conveying the frightening feeling crafted during the presentation.

My favourite tale was ‘A Lady’s Hands Are Cold’. It tells the story of a girl who married the man she was promised to by her father. She went to live at his manor house, where at night she could hear a singing voice escaping from the walls. I particularly appreciated the melancholic and alarming atmosphere present throughout, as well as the colours used in the evocative illustrations. Continue reading

Graphic Novels, Comics and I

Many children and young adults seem to love comics and graphic novels. But I wasn’t much of a fan when I was younger. I recall buying Disney comics in the summer to read on the beach and almost always never finishing them. If I remember correctly, my main problem was having to read the dialogues on the speech balloons, maybe because the font and the panels were too small. I much preferred reading illustrated novels.

However, some graphic novels and comics have been catching my eye since the beginning of last year, and I even ended up reading two in order to realise if my feelings towards this way of telling a story had changed. The first one I read was The Black Project by Gareth Brookes. Its main character is a really ingenious boy who wants to create his own girlfriend. I was a bit disappointed by the ending and the lack of colour, although it was rather funny at parts. Afterwards, I decided to read The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg and quite liked it. This graphic novel about the power of love and storytelling made me appreciate much more the conveying of ideas through images combined with text and other visual information.

I discovered then that there are various genres of graphic novels, including fiction, non-fiction and anthologies, and that they differ from comic books, because these are periodicals, while the first ones are single works. I was also wrong to think that all pages featured the same amount of small squared panels with drawings and speech balloons inside. Many graphic novels and comics have drawings occupying full pages, or panels in a variety of sizes and formats. Furthermore, the illustrations can be much more appealing than I first thought. I’m not particularly tempted to read those with simple drawings in black and white. Instead, I prefer a wide-ranging palette of colours. Continue reading

‘The Encyclopedia of Early Earth’ by Isabel Greenberg

My rating: 4 stars

I’m fairly sure that in the future I’ll remember The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg as the book that put me on the path to read more graphic novels. This is a beautifully published book about love, storytelling, Gods, myths, and how traditional tales are passed on from generation to generation in various parts of Early Earth (the fictional planet that was at the inception of our own).

One day a Nord man and a South Pole woman meet and promptly decide to marry, as they believe themselves to be soulmates. However, they soon realise that they can’t get within two-foot radius of each other, because of a peculiar magnetic repulsion. That surprises even the wise man of the South Pole, since according to the laws of physics they should attract each other, being from opposite poles. They end up marrying nevertheless and spend part of their days telling stories to each other.

Throughout the graphic novel, we are told how the Nord man managed to get to the South Pole and why he decided to embark on that journey, as well as discover some of the people who inhabit Early Earth and their traditional tales. It all started when the three sisters of Summer Island found a baby boy on the bank of a river and some magic was added to the mix. Continue reading

‘The Black Project’ by Gareth Brookes

My rating: 3 stars

One of my resolutions for 2017 was to try reading graphic novels and comics again. I have never been much of a fan and hadn’t read one in a really long time. The Black Project by Gareth Brookes seemed like a good place to start reading them once more, because it doesn’t have many speech balloons, which is the element in graphic novels that has annoyed me the most since my childhood years.

Richard, the protagonist in this story, is a really creative boy. But the ways in which he uses that creativity are quite unusual – he creates his own girlfriends. The biggest problem is that it isn’t easy for him to keep them a secret.

The story being told is quite funny on occasion, especially in the way that Richard deals with sexuality and discovering how women’s bodies work. As the narration is done in the first person, all his doubts and misconceptions are unadulterated and sound real. I was expecting the story to have a more terrifying strand, though, which is definitely not the case. The ending was also a bit too simplistic in comparison with what the events were building to. Continue reading

Bookish Resolutions for 2017

2017 is here and I have established a few goals I would like to achieve this year both regarding my reading habits and this blog.

  • I will try to read graphic novels again. I have never been much of a fan, not even when I was a child, since having to read the text on the speech balloons annoyed me. However, there are graphic novels so beautifully illustrated that I am ready to give them another chance.
  • I want to read more non-fiction, because this is something I almost haven’t done since I finished my studies. Last year I read one book that was non-fiction, but unintentionally so, as I thought it to be a fictional story when I bought it. This year I’m even considering to take part in non-fiction November.
  • There aren’t many short story collections among my read books and I will endeavour to change that. I am currently reading Dubliners by James Joyce and will definitely read more short stories this year.
  • I have never established a goal regarding the number of books I wanted to read during the year. But in 2017 I thought about challenging myself and try to read 25 books. This may seem a small number of books for many, but for me it would be the highest number of books I would have managed to read in a year.
  • Finally, I will try to publish twice a week on this blog – on Tuesdays and Fridays – like I managed to do last week.

What are your resolutions for 2017? Tell me in the comments!