Spring Graphic Novel Roundup

Spring Graphic Novel Roundup

It’s been raining in Sacramento for the last several days, and we have the COVID-19 quarantine going on. It’s times like this that beg for book lovers to settle in with a hot drink and an exciting new read. If your eyes are begging for something with more than just words, why not give a graphic novel a try? Whether you’re a “traditional” comic book fan, a lover of fantasy worlds, an artist, or even someone who just enjoys a well-written story, this season has some great new ones on offer. Need a recommendation? Check out some of our top picks below.

In these pages you will find fantastic stories told with both words and amazing artwork.

Archaia, 208 pages, $26.99

A chilly winter day just begs for book lovers to settle in with a hot drink and an exciting new read. If your eyes are begging for something with more than just words, why not give a graphic novel a try? Whether you’re a “traditional” comic book fan, a lover of fantasy worlds, an artist, or even someone who just enjoys a well-written story, this season has some great new ones on offer. Need a recommendation? Check out some of our top picks below. In these pages you will find fantastic stories told with both words and amazing artwork.

DC Comics, 224 pages, $24.99

Fans of The Magicians trilogy by acclaimed author Lev Grossman absolutely love the world of magic and secrets that these books introduced them to. Now readers can delight in a new addition to the canon, a graphic novel that offers parts of the story from the perspective of fan-favorite character Alice Quinn. Fantastic artwork by Pius Bak helps really bring to life these selected scenes from the story, and the characters they revolve around, giving readers who may not have seen the television show some amazing visuals. While there is not much added to the actual story readers already know and love, fans will still love this comic.

Image Comics, 528 pages, $49.99

Monstress has been a highly acclaimed comic book series since its debut, and it is the recipient of numerous prestigious awards in the fields of graphic art. Now readers both new and old can celebrate the first eighteen issues of this amazing series with a gorgeous omnibus-style book; while all of these issues have previously been available as single comics, or in three smaller graphic novels, there’s something inherently satisfying about being able to binge a series like this. Readers will love the art deco-style, steampunk feel of the illustrations, and the fast-paced story will keep everyone on the edge of their seats.

Fantagraphics Books, 332 pages, $29.99

In 17th century Rome, a female painter named Artemisia Gentileschi lived and rose to prominence, despite living in a country and a culture that excelled in keeping women down. Very few people today know her name, outside of art enthusiasts, but Artemisia is getting her story told now in this vivid and breathtaking graphic biography. Author and artist Gina Siciliano gets deep into the details of Artemisia’s life, and many of her most beautiful works of art are reproduced, in a sense, in these pages. This is a story that is sure to remain in readers’ heads long after they’ve finished the book.

First Second, 320 pages, $17.99

Bea has a lot of things to run from, so it’s not surprising that now, finally, she’s on the move. What she wasn’t expecting was to run into Lou. And she definitely wasn’t expecting the amazing journey that this unanticipated encounter would lead to. Together, Bea and Lou explore an increasingly unfamiliar West Texas landscape, befriend a mysterious cat, and try to outrun their own demons. Readers interested in a unique tale of heartbreak, loss, past sexual assault, and, ultimately, human connection will fall in love with this graphic novel written and illustrated by Tillie Walden.

Dynamite Entertainment, 128 pages, $14.99

Seventeen-year-old Nancy Drew thought she had left her hometown behind, and has since been trying to embrace the illusion of a perfectly in-control life. But after she garners media attention for solving a crime, it seems like her hometown isn’t done with her quite yet. When Nancy receives a threatening letter, she knows she has to return to the city she left behind. Reunited with her old friends, Nancy, Bess, George, and the Hardy Boys will encounter a dead body and an unsolved case. Can they follow the clues and solve this mystery before the danger catches up with them? Whether readers grew up with classic Nancy Drew mysteries or are completely new to the teenage sleuth, this story is engaging and action-packed, and a true pleasure to read.

Fantagraphics, 232 pages, $29.99

Who was Maria M.? Fans of author Gilbert Hernandez’s previous work will remember her well, but readers of all stripes will be intrigued by this tale of her twisty, turny life. Maria first came to America in search of a better life, like so many immigrants, but instead found herself married to a mob boss and lost in a world of drugs, sex, and violence. This volume collects the tales of Maria (originally published years ago and now out of print), mother of Luba and a fascinating character in her own right. The gritty black and white illustrations perfectly complement the story.

Stuck Inside? Let’s Cook!

Stuck Inside? Let’s Cook!

It seems inevitable that many of us will be stuck inside during the Corona COVAD-19 outbreak. Whether you find that happening to your family – and you feel well enough to cook – take the opportunity to dive into a new cookbook. You can order groceries to be delivered. Heck, we’ll even ship a cookbook you’d like to order. If you’re local, mark your order COVAD-19, and we’ll toss the book onto our doorstep like a paperboy.

Whether you’re trying out a dietary shift to lose a few pounds, going vegan for “Veganuary,” experimenting with new tools and techniques, or simply trying to incorporate more real cooking into your life, there are, thankfully, plenty of fantastic new cookbooks out there to help you meet your goals and find inspiration. Read on for some of our picks for exciting recent cookbooks for the home chef, whether you’re new, experienced, or somewhere in between.

Vegetables Unleashed: A Cookbook
by José Andrés
Anthony Bourdain/Ecco, $39.99, 368 pages

Chef and humanitarian José Andrés is on a mission to get people to eat more vegetables, and to appreciate the many versatile ways they can be prepared and served. It’s a mission he’s been working towards for years, with his many restaurants and a non-profit that works to reduce hunger and poverty. Now, the next step for him is this new cookbook, which offers plenty of tips and tricks to help readers develop or fine-tune their love of the plant kingdom, not to mention a wealth of recipes. This cookbook is a game changer for any at-home chef who is looking to incorporate more plants into their rotation.

Knives and Needles: Tattoo Artists in the Kitchen
By Molly A. Kitamura
Schiffer, $29.99, 224 pages

For a different kind of inspiration, check out this book, which features a number of tattoo artists who also happen to be big on food and cooking. The pages contain both an eclectic array of recipes and beautiful color photography of the food–and of the body art. The recipes are mostly simple enough for anyone to prepare and cover a wide range of tastes and eating styles. And the photographs give readers a close-up view of all kinds of beautiful tattoos, large and small, all tastefully photographed. This is not a cookbook to pick up if you’re looking for a specific recipe, but it’s one that is sure to be enjoyed by both foodies and body art enthusiasts. 

 

Rustic French Cooking Made Easy: Authentic, Regional Flavors from Provence, Brittany, Alsace and Beyond
By Audrey Le Goff
Page Street Publishing, $25.00, 176 pages

Many people have the impression that French cuisine is fussy and complicated, and that certainly is true of some well-known dishes. But that is definitely not the case for all French food. Recipe developer, photographer, and blogger Audrey Le Goff was born and raised in France, and she’s worked hard to introduce countless readers to the delightful fare she grew up with; this cookbook is simply the logical next step for her. Le Goff explores the many regions of France and offers up delicious, relatively simple recipes that celebrate the flavors and culture of each area. 

 

Half Baked Harvest Super Simple: More Than 125 Recipes for Instant, Overnight, Meal-Prepped, and Easy Comfort Foods: A Cookbook
By Tieghan Gerard
Clarkson Potter, $29.99, 288 pages

If your New Year’s resolution is to find more balance in the foods you cook and eat, there’s no better place to look than Tieghan Gerard’s newest offering. This beautiful cookbook features a selection of delicious eats from her popular blog, Half Baked Harvest, all of which are intended to make preparing food quicker, easier, and more delicious than ever. To that end, Gerard focuses on dishes that can be prepped ahead of time, that come together overnight, or that use time-saving tools like the Instant Pot. Readers will find a truly balanced mix of recipes in these pages!

The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook
By Nisha Vora
Avery. $22.00, 320 pages

Whether you’re a new vegan, an experienced vegan, or not even a vegan at all, readers agree that blogger Nisha Vora’s beautiful new cookbook is worth adding to your collection. With plenty of recipes to choose from, Vora excels at making healthy, flavorful cooking as simple as can be. Those who have been using the Instant Pot, or a similar pressure cooker, already will delight in having some new meals to add to their repertoire, while newbies will appreciate the many tips and tricks Vora has to offer. This wonderful cookbook includes delicious recipes for all times of day, including dessert. 

The Farmhouse Culture Guide to Fermenting
By Kathryn Lukas & Shane Peterson
10 Speed Press, $35.00, 368 pages

In recent years, the art of fermenting foods has been getting its time in the spotlight, and with good reason. Fermented foods are packed with health benefits, and bright, bold flavors appeal to a wide range of taste buds. But many people don’t know where to start, and they may be wary of trusting blogs or older, dated-looking books on preservation. This beautiful, expansive book delves into every facet of fermenting, from history to safety and everywhere in between, and includes a wide variety of recipes to get readers started. You’ll be making pickles, kimchi, hot sauces, and even mead in no time!

 

South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations
By Sean Brock
Artisan, $40.00, 376 pages

There are certain foods and flavors that are strongly associated with the South, including grits, corn bread, fried green tomatoes, and okra. Readers who love southern food–or who simply want to learn how to cook it–will delight in this cookbook from chef Sean Brock, who breaks down these classics one at a time into their essentials so that they can be mixed and matched into a complete meal or simply enjoyed one at a time. Readers will also enjoy simply learning the important skills inherent in southern cooking, including how to care for cast iron and how to successfully fry foods. This cookbook covers it all!

Cedar and Salt: Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field, and Sea
By DL Acken
Touchwood Editions, $35.00, 320 pages

Vancouver Island, off the western coast of Canada, is home to a unique food scene all its own, and the artisan goods, heritage grains, and wild foods prevalent in the local cuisine make this island home to a paradise of delicious foods. Readers both familiar and unfamiliar with the area will love this gorgeous cookbook that is packed full of one-of-a-kind recipes that utilize the foods this area is known for while still honoring the local culture and the producers who work to sustainably produce these ingredients. Beautiful photographs and sumptuous dishes are guaranteed to make food lovers hungry.

 

Children’s Books About Friendships

Children’s Books About Friendships

What makes you happy? Rainbows, puppies, hearts, stars, unicorns? How about having a good friend by your side. These wonderful childrens’ books are focused around making friends and what it means to be a good friend to others.

Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color
By Andree Poulin
Pajama Press, $18.95, 32 pages

Tickled Pink: How Friendship Washes the World with Color” is a heartwarming tale about a pink flamingo named Filippo who seeks to find himself after his black and white friends reject him. Filippo is the only spot of color in a black and white world and as his confidence starts to grow so does the vibrant color in the book. This book about acceptance, feelings, and friendship is a wonderful addition to any childrens’ library.

A Friend for Bear
By Steve Smallman
Tiger Tales, $17.99, 32 pages

What a cute story A Friend For Bear is. This little Bear can’t wait to make some new friends. But Bear starts learning lessons about the true meaning of friendship when he stops paying attention to the needs of his friends because he is moving so fast to get from one thing to another. A great lesson in paying attention to those around us and stopping to enjoy the roses.

Ellie Makes a Friend
By Mike Wu
Disney-Hyperion, $16.99, 40 pages

Ellie the Elephant and Ping the Panda are new friends! And they are both artists living at the zoo. But as Ping’s paintings become more popular and praised, Ellie starts to question whether she herself  is really talented or not. She must learn some real lessons about friendship and learn that everyone is different with their own special gifts.

The Girl Who Spoke to the Moon: A Story about Friendship and Loving Our Earth
By Land Wilson
Little Pickle Press, $17.99, 40 pages

This book teaches young ones about friendship and learning how to love and preserve the Earth we are living on. Little Sofia dreams about going to the Moon and learning that people are hurting the Earth. This book is an inspiring book to save our planet and even gives tips on how to do so. Beautifully illustrated with a wonderful theme.

With a Little Help from My Friends
By John Lennon
Little Simon, $17.99, 40 pages

This book is a gorgeous illustration of John Lennon and Paul McCartney’s song “With a Little Help from My Friends”. The vivid pictures capture the lyrics of this masterfully written song. A book for children and adults (especially those who are fans of The Beatles) to enjoy.

The Friendship Book
By Mary Lyn Ray
HMH Books for Young Readers, $14.99, 32 pages

This adorably illustrated book tells young readers how there are many types of friendships that are formed in different ways. Having fun and being a friend lets readers understand how companionship is really a wonderful thing.

Great Books for Baking

Great Books for Baking

There’s just something about homemade baked goods isn’t there? The warm, buttery crusts right out of the oven. The delicious fruit fillings made with real sugar. From apple pie to freshly baked bread, these delightful cookbooks will bring you back to your childhood when you came home to Mom’s chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk.

The Great British Baking Show: The Big Book of Amazing Cakes
By The Baking Show Team
Clarkson Potter, $27.99, 288 pages

If you’ve ever watched The Great British Baking Show you will know just how extravagant and wonderful the confections the bakers make are. In this Big Book of Amazing Cakes, expect no differently as we fall down the rabbit hole and into a land of cakes that explode like pinatas or curtsy like princesses. This is the ultimate cake-baking bible that will show you how to make every cake imaginable. Fun and delicious rolled into one!

365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking
By Meike Peters
Prestel, $40.00, 448 pages

With a down home feel, 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking is a wonderful collection of heartwarming recipes from weekend stews to cozy cakes. Author Meike Peters’ signature style of cooking rooted in German and Mediterranean flavors makes this cookbook special as she teaches the modern chef how to use seasonal produce and ingredients in her recipes. Easy to make recipes that will make your tastebuds sing.

Bread on the Table: Recipes for Making and Enjoying Europe’s Most Beloved Breads [A Baking Book]
By David Norman
Ten Speed Press, $35.00, 256 pages

Featuring recipes from author David Norman’s time spent exploring bread traditions in Europe and North America, this book explores a vast selection of recipes from French rye to the Italian ciabatta. The book also has recipes for dishes to accompany the breads which is wonderful since the baker can then prepare whole meals set around the delicious breads. Filled with detailed instructions and wonderful photographic images, this book is both pleasing to the eye and to the palate.

Gluten-Free Baking At Home: 102 Foolproof Recipes for Delicious Breads, Cakes, Cookies, and More
By Jeffrey Larsen
Ten Speed Press, $30.00, 288 pages

This cookbook proves that you don’t have to suffer on taste when it comes to converting to a gluten-free diet. Jeffrey Larsen’s Gluten-Free Baking At Home includes customized flour blends and inventive flavor combinations that make these recipes work. Over one hundred recipes for cookies, cakes, tarts, brioches, pies, and so on. The recipes are also designed to cut out other common allergens such as dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs. A step-by-step guide into the world of gluten-free baking.

The New Pie: Modern Techniques for the Classic American Dessert
By Chris Taylor
Clarkson Potter, $30.00, 272 pages

So beautiful you may have trouble cutting into the first slice of these immaculate creations. In The New Pie, Authors and Bakers Chris Taylor and Paul Arguin, winners of more than five hundred awards, combine modern techniques with classic techniques to reinvent the art of pie making. Wonderful mind blowing creations such as Blueberry-Maple Pie and striped chocolate Pie of the Tiger, dance along the pages of this artfully done pie cookbook.

Inspiring Women to Read About

Inspiring Women to Read About

Roundup by Holly Scudero

December is traditionally a time for looking back, hopefully with fondness, on what the previous year has brought. We think of what we’ve accomplished, the state of the world, the good and the bad, and analyze. And December is also a time for looking forward, with hope for a promising future. We think of what we’d like next year to bring, the dreams we’d like to see realized, the beautiful twists and turns life may take. A good book can help us with both of these goals, letting us both think on history and dream for the future. Read on for some of December’s best biographical offerings.

Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years
By Julie Andrews
Hachette Books
$30.00, 352 pages, Hard

Beloved performer Julie Andrews has continued the story of her life in Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years. In it, Andrews discusses her life as an actress, going into detail about how she quickly became famous from some of her earliest and most enduring films and the challenges that brought to her life. Andrews also talks about motherhood, the end of her first marriage, adoption, and her love for Blake Edwards. Fans of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music will love getting this in-depth look at the wonderful Julie Andrews and her fascinating life.

Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life
By Ali Wong
Random House
$27.00, 240 pages, Hard

Comedian Ali Wong captured the national spotlight with her recent Netflix comedy special, and her momentum continues with Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets & Advice for Living Your Best Life. Ostensibly a series of letters addressed to her own daughters, these pieces will resonate on some level with nearly anybody who picks up Wong’s book, as she talks very candidly on a wide variety of topics: parenting, marriage, her own ethnic background, and the pains of being a working mom. This hilarious and insightful collection is a must-read.

The Education of an Idealist: A Memoir
By Samantha Power
Dey Street Books
$29.99, 592 pages, Hard

Anyone who has followed politics over the past decade or so will likely recognize the name Samantha Power. While she may be most widely known for her work as US Ambassador to the United Nations, she has a long history of activism, and The Education of an Idealist takes readers along on the journey of her life. We hear about her childhood Dublin, her time spent in Bosnia, and her eventual rise to a position in the White House. It’s a fascinating story, and really brings home the idea that one person really can do a lot if they’ve got the drive to do it.

Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For
By Susan Rice
Simon & Schuster
$30.00, 544 pages, Hard

Scholar and diplomat Susan Rice is perhaps most closely associated with Benghazi in the minds of most Americans, but she has been a political force for the past three decades, and has been involved with a number of incredibly complex issues that the United States has had to deal with. In Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For, Rice gives readers fresh insight into these issues, telling her role in the political front line with vivid clarity. Readers will emerge from the pages with a fresh drive to keep American from falling victim to domestic partisan squabbles.

The Mutual Admiration Society: How Dorothy L. Sayers and her Oxford Circle Remade the World for Women
By Mo Moulton
Basic Books
$30.00, 384 pages, Hard

Novelist Dorothy L. Sayers is famous for her detective series starring Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but this early-twentieth-century author made waves in British society long before that by daring to enroll at Oxford University. As one of the few women to have been admitted, Sayers naturally gravitated toward her fellow female classmates, and together they formed a club of sorts known as the Mutual Admiration Society. This book explores the lives of Sayers and her friends, and the many ways in which they fought to change women’s place in the modern world.

AOC: Fighter, Phenom, Changemaker
By Prachi Gupta
Workman Publishing Company
$14.95, 144 pages, Trade Paperback

Before her name was a nationally-recognized abbreviation, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was a bartender, as the stories go. But what drove this fierce, outspoken women to run a wildly successful Congressional campaign powerful enough to defeat a ten-term incumbent and become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress? In this book, author Prachi Gupta explores AOC’s roots, from her childhood in Westchester County, New York, through her education at Boston University and onward.

Sontag: Her Life and Work
By Benjamin Moser

Ecco
$39.99, 832 pages, Hard

In twentieth century America, Susan Sontag was a force to be reckoned with. From her first major essay in 1964 until shortly before her death in 2004, Sontag wrote and wrote and wrote about a wide variety of topics, primarily in the form of essays and novels. Sontag especially focused on controversial topics like war, popular culture, human rights, illness, and sexuality, and she also wrote extensively about photography. Sontag: Her Life and Work offers readers the most in-depth vision of Sontag ever published, examining her body of work in detail while also providing context about Sontag’s life via interviews and photographs.

If cold, gloomy winter weather has you down, the time is right to pick up a great book on an interesting, influential woman. These selections offer great opportunity to learn about people from our past and present, and to be inspired for the future. Have you read any of these biographies? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Hot Graphic Novels Roundup

Hot Graphic Novels Roundup

Roundup by Thomas Rojek

The last few months brought us some wonderful graphic novels. I’ve taken the liberty of creating this roundup of my favorites and providing a summary of each book and why I loved each of them.

Midnight Radio
By Iolanda Zanfardino
Lion Forge, $14.99, 160 pages, Trade Paperback

In Midnight Radio, four strangers in San Francisco grappling with various life struggles from sexuality to PTSD, are unexpectedly brought together by a mysterious late-night radio message that changes their lives. Artist Lolanda Zarafardino’s style is beautiful and captivating, its color palette warm and striking, and the story feels personal, topical, and important. The characters put us affectingly in their shoes, making the issues they struggle with feel raw and real. It’s an important work and a compelling story done in beautiful style.

Blackbird Volume 1
By Sam Humphries & Jen Bartel
Lion Forge, $16.99, 168 pages, Trade Paperback

Blackbird is the story of Nina Rodriguez, a young woman who lost her mom at a young age and become obsessed with the idea of a secret society of Paragons, or wizards, and is treated as if she is crazy for it. All that changes after a giant monster kidnaps her sister and she is thrust into a world that she had always hoped to find, but nothing is as it seems, and she soon finds that everything that she knows has been a lie. Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, and the rest of the team behind Blackbird have given us a fantastic and beautiful story full of intrigue, and I cannot wait to see what comes next in the series.

Milo’s World Book One: The Land Under the Lake
By Richard Marazano, Christophe Ferreira
Lion Forge, $12.99, 120 pages, Hard

Richard Marazano and Christopher Ferreira bring us the story of young Milo, a boy who stumbles across a magic goldfish that brings him to another realm where he must help stop an evil sorcerer. With the help of a thief, a goldfish, a grumpy villager, and his aunts, he will help to restore peace to a world on the other side of the lake. Milo’s World is a very sweet story with a charming cast of characters with an adorable art style that draws you into the story. Marazano and Ferreira do an amazing job with what is sure to be a beautiful and charming story.  

Old Souls
By Brian McDonald, illustrated by Les McClaine
First Second, $24.99, 256 pages, Hard

Brian McDonald and Les McClaine have brought us Old Souls, a story about a world in which you can unlock and live through your past lives by using a form of hypnosis, and, for Chris, it very quickly becomes something of an addiction. After meeting an elderly homeless man named Jack, who claims to have known him in a past life, Chris is dragged into a world in which he gets to re-live everything and everyone he has been, but he soon starts to slip further and further away from his family and those that care about him, and an unhealthy obsession begins to develop. Both McDonald and McClaine are masters in their respective fields and together they have created something truly beautiful.

BTTM FDRS
By Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore
Fantagraphics Books, $24.99, 288 pages, Hard

BTTM FDRS by Ezra Claytan Daniels and Ben Passmore is an important narrative and stylistic entry into the graphic novel cannon, which currently lacks in the area of Afrofuturism. But more than offering a stellar instance of Afrofuturist style, BTTM FDRS, much like Jordan Peele’s Get Out, explores the horror/comedy of everyday social injustices–gentrification, in this instance. The symbolism of an insidious force drawing evil power from the oppression of a vulnerable group is intentionally evident–and it becomes the source of both biting satire, absurdist comedy, and genuine, well, horror. Brilliant, striking, unique, compelling, and just a damn good read, BTTM FDRS is a triumph. 

Monstress Book One
By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda
Image Comics, $49.99, 528 pages, Hard

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda have won multiple awards and received high praise for this beautiful graphic novel already, and I can see why. The story follows Maika Halfwolf as she hunts for a link to her past, and those that hunt her for the crimes she has committed in an attempt to find freedom. Accompanied by a talking cat, a fox-child, and an eldritch abomination, they are continuously and viciously pursued as they try their hardest to stay one step ahead of everyone. Anyone looking for something new and unique needs to pick this up; the artwork is beautiful, the story is full of beautifully done characters and environments and features a matriarchal society, and the world building is staggeringly deep. Do yourself a favor and get a copy as soon as you can.

The Magicians Original Graphic Novel: Alice’s Story
By Lilah Sturges
Archaia, $26.99, 208 pages, Hard

If you are unfamiliar with The Magicians series by Lev Grossman then you should probably go pick the series up (it is basically Harry Potter goes to college). Unlike the original series of books and the tv show, this one focuses on Alice’s perspective. We get to see her as she forces her way into Brakebills to try and join, her own struggle, and ultimately her own decision that saves the known universe. Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak do a fantastic job of breathing new life into the story from Lev Grossman. Well worth a read for any fans of the series.