Top Ten Graphic Novels for Summer Vacation

Top Ten (1).jpg

Joining in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday again. This week’s theme is Summer Reads!

When the days turn warm and the sun starts shining, it’s time to put away comics filled with horror, dystopia, and darkness and turn to lighter fare. Tales of friendship, adventure, and mystery can be a welcome relief from all the monochrome and murder–especially when illustrated in radiant pinks, yellows, and blues.

If you’re looking for something to tuck into your beach bag or read at the park on a sunny day, these ten graphic novels suit as well as any breezy beach read.

Top Ten Graphic Novels for Summer Vacation   

  • Archie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Veronica Fish, and Annie Wu ~ If you’ve never read Archie Comics before, The New Riverdale is the perfect place to start. The art is breathtaking and the writing is guaranteed to make you giggle. This sure isn’t Riverdale–which makes it perfect sit in the sunshine reading.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh ~ Brosh’s comic deals with heavy topics like depression, but it’s also sprinkled with HILARIOUS stories about her childhood and awkward misadventures. Warning: Do Not Read This Book In Public Unless You Are Comfortable Getting Weird Looks From Strangers Because Of Laughter.
  • Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kenneth Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau ~ Do you like magic girls? Yes? Then read Zodiac Starforce! It’s about teen girls saving the world with their magical abilities–all while wearing cool outfits and being BFFs!
  • Patsy Walker a.k.a Hellcat Vol. 1 by Kate Leth,  Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, Joe Sabino, and Clayton Cowles ~ Patsy Walker, unfortunately, wound to a close a couple of weeks ago, but it’s a series that’s highly worth checking out if you’re up for female friendship, cat jokes, and butt-kicking.  
  • Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk ~ If you like how awesome Bobbie is in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this is a series for you. It’s funny, bright, and features a strong female character who breaks that now-traditional mould. There’s also Hawkeye in a swimsuit, if that suits your fancy.
  • Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton ~ One rule of recommending comics is to always recommend Kate Beaton. Her work is the perfect mix if you’re drawn to pop culture nerdery and riffs on history and literature (i.e. if you majored in History or English).   
  • Groot by Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger ~ You shouldn’t need a reason to read a Groot comic, but the selling point for this volume, in particula,r is that it contains art by Brian Kesinger–an animator who worked at Walt Disney Studios. The art is very Disney-fied as a result and absolutely adorable.
  • Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by by Tom King, Tim Seeley, Jeremy Cox, Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney, Guillermo Ortego, Juan Castro, Jonathan Glapion , Carlos M. Mangual ~ A little something for the ladies! Grayson is an action, adventure spy comic written by the fabulous Tom King (check out his current run on Batman and his work on The Vision for non-Summer appropriate fare), but of course, the writing isn’t what’s most memorable about Grayson. It’s the art. The very, very nice art.  
  • Green Arrow Vol. 1 by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt ~ Green Arrow is one of the most memorable DC Rebirth titles. The art, in particular, is lovely and Black Canary absolutely rocks as she goes toe-to-toe with Ollie once again.
  • Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams ~ Goldie Vance is a modern Nancy Drew with mad driving skills and a nose for trouble. Basically, there’s nothing to dislike about this fun romp of a series.

What comic would you recommend reading this Summer?

{Animated Adventures} Gravity Falls

{Animated Adventures}.jpg

There can be benefits to having insomnia. Occasionally, you stumble across a gem while scrolling through Hulu Plus at 2 A.M..

Last month, I had a run of sleepless nights so I quickly exhausted my backlog of New Girl and The Mindy Project episodes. I needed to fill another hour of sleeplessness so I decided to take my friend’s recommendation and try a little show called Gravity Falls.

I am so glad I did.

Gravity Falls is an X-Files-like show that aired on The Disney Channel from 2012-2016. (Don’t let that four year gap lean you on. There are only two seasons of this show.) It follows the adventures of twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they visit their Grunkle Stan in the titled town.  

Like many fictionalized towns in the Pacific Northwest, Gravity Falls has its share of secrets, mysteries, and quirky characters for the twins to encounter. Grunkle Stan also happens to run the Mystery Shack–which unsurprisingly is the center of a fair bit of weirdness itself. Over the course of the series, Mabel and Dipper encounter gnomes, unicorns, a self-aware dating game, and a triangle bent on world domination. These misadventures are often reminiscent of classic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror stories–making this series perfect viewing for the pop culture nerds of all ages.

Along with these homages and otherwise wacky stories, Gravity Falls boasts of amazing characters with depth and originality. Mabel is adorable, loyal, and adventurous while her brother is more cerebral and curious. As for Stan, well, he might be a con man on the outside but he loves his family more than anything deep down. It really is amazing how these characters always manage to ground Gravity Falls in reality even when they’re dealing with monsters and the end of the world.     

The animation and voice-acting are also first rate. Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal are particularly amazing as Dipper and Mabel, but I adored Nathan Fillion, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s guest appearances as well. Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls’ showrunner, is even more brilliant as Grunkle Stan. Seriously, him being able to create this show and voice-act so well is beyond impressive!   

Now, you should know that your preference for the first or second season of Gravity Falls will entirely depend on whether you are partial to serialized or episodic storytelling in your animated shows. Personally, I prefer episodic so it’s not surprising then that, while I enjoyed the second season, I loved Gravity Falls’ first season so much more. I adored the humor in the stand alone episodes, the quirky homages, and the gradual character development of Dipper, Mabel, and Grunkle Stan. Once the story switched gears in Season Two to build up to the grand finale (Alex Hirsch knew he was ending the show after Season Two), most of the humor’s lost and the homages nearly disappeared (except for one notable Dungeons and Dragons episode). Of course, none of that stopped me nearly giving into tears when the finale wound to a close. Gravity Falls always excelled in creating memorable, complicated characters so that, even when the tone and storytelling style of the show changed, I was still incredibly invested in their stories.

While I wish Gravity Falls could have developed its weird world in future seasons, I’m glad that the creator got to tell Dipper, Mabel, and Stan’s story on his terms. Gravity Falls is a perfect snapshot of a show. It left me wanting more, but I am completely satisfied with the two seasons I was given.

I highly, highly recommend checking out Gravity Falls if you love wacky stories, engaging characters, and animated pigs.

What is your favorite animated television show?

Image Source: Kiss Them Goodbye 

My Top 7 Picks for the 13th Doctor

My Top 7 Picks.jpg

It’s been official for awhile now, but Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who during the Christmas Special later this year. I’m sorry to see Capaldi leave. . .this season. I would have liked him to stick around one more year with the new showrunner Chris Chibnall so we could see what he could do with a competent head writer. He had so much potential as the Doctor, but I feel like he’s been wasted more often than not during his tenure.

In spite of that, I can’t be truly upset that it’s time for a new Doctor. The nature of the show is change and it’s always exciting to get someone different in the TARDIS. According to some gossips, the new actor in the role is Kris Marshall. I, however, prefer to believe that’s all guesswork and supposition (at least, until the show releases anything official). To top that off, Kris Marshall reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby Doo–which is not a selling point in his favor.

Like everyone else, I have top picks for who I’d like to see in the role. Many are the same actors I was dreaming of when Capaldi was cast all those years ago, but who knows, maybe this time they’ll get the role!

My Top 7 Picks for the 13th Doctor  

sue.gif

Sue Perkins ~ If I had to choose, Sue Perkins would be my top pick for the Doctor. Obviously, she was fantastic as the co-host of The Great British Bake Off, but she’s great in Supersizers Go. . . as well. Sue could definitely bring madcap humor and heart to the role.

miranda.gif

Miranda Hart ~ Miranda is my second choice, but only because her humor primary rests on her awkwardness (physical and otherwise)–which could make dealing smoothly with aliens and all that running difficult! Still, it might be nice to have a Doctor who’s not totally savvy for once.    

hal2.gif

Damien Molony ~ As will become increasingly evident as this list goes on, I’m a huge fan of Being Human, and Damien Molony as Hal was one of my favorite things about that show. As an actor, he can balance being charming, frightening, and awkward in just the right degree to make him a perfect Doctor (and he’s quite young and cute–which could be nice switch up from curmudgeonly Capaldi).

moss.gif

Richard  Ayoade ~ Of course, Ayoade’s an obvious choice for Doctor. He’d be hilarious in the role, but he doesn’t top my list solely because we’ve just had an emotionally reserved Doctor. I feel like it’s time to have someone with a bit more heart a.k.a. more along the lines of Tennant or Eccleston.

russell.gif

Russell Tovey ~ Another Being Human alumi, Russell Tovey spent the past television season being surprisingly buff on Quantico. He’s got the goofiness, dialogue delivery, and general quirkiness to make him an excellent Doctor too. . .and isn’t it about time we had a Doctor with abs?

hayley.gif

Hayley Atwell ~ Another obvious choice. Hayley was fantastic as Agent Carter, and she deserves another chance at a big role. I *doubt* she would seriously ever be chosen for the Doctor, but it is fun to imagine what she could do with the role.  

tom1.gif
Tom Mison ~ You know who’s free now that Sleepy Hollow is cancelled? Tom Mison. If nothing else, Sleepy Hollow proved that Tom could be excellent at soliloquising and being endlessly curious about new surroundings. He was actually one of my choices to replace Matt Smith, and I’d definitely wish him to be in the running once again.

Who would you like to see at the 13th Doctor?

Gif Sources: X, X, X, X, X, X, X

{Book Review} A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin

Victoria's best.jpg

It didn’t take me quite as long to read A Feast for Crows, but my enjoyment level between it and A Storm of Swords can’t even be compared. Once I struggled through the first three hundred pages of A Storm of Swords, I reached the wonder that was simultaneous road trips and Jaime and Brienne BFFing all over the place. A Storm of Swords quickly became my favorite book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series thanks to the antics of Jaime, Tyrion, and Brienne so it came as a shock to find the next book such a trudge.

A Feast for Crows focuses on the stories of the Lannisters (sans Tyrion), the female Starks, the Grejoys, and the Martells. There’s a handful of other characters and families in the mix, but A Feast for Crows keeps it’s eyes on Cersei and her struggle to keep Tommen on the Iron Throne. There’s plots concerning Myrcella, Greyjoys restless for power, Littlefinger playing the long game, and discord in the Lannister House.  The familiar characters plot and scheme while the rest struggle to stay alive.

It’s the same old game of thrones–expect nothing earth shattering happens until the last fifth of the book.

While A Storm of Swords was filled with character development, forward plot momentum, and lots of main character deaths (bye, Joffrey), A Feast for Crows seemed content to drag itself along like a half dead auroch. I struggled and struggled through chapters concerning the Greyjoys (Dear George, please kill these characters off forthwith), and nearly threw the book against the wall whenever Jaime and Cersei’s viewpoint chapters failed to move the plot along whatsoever (I love you, Jaime, but fulfill the prophecy and kill you sis already). It was ridiculous the level to which the plot kept being bogged down with endless characters giving endless history lessons and no one doing anything.

To me, Samwell Tarley’s storyline was the only one with proper character development, emotional stakes, and a plot period. Sam’s never been one of my favorite characters, but I found myself longing for his chapters in A Feast for Crows because I wanted to know what happened next to he and Gilly on their journey to Oldtown. I can’t say I looked forward to reading any other character in this entire book and that’s a shame.

What A Feast of Crows really needed was a heavy hand when it came to editing. So much of this book felt unnecessary and indulgent. I understand that some fantasy readers might love the breadth of his worldbuilding, but George R. R. Martin allowed backstory to bog down his actual story and it was problematic. If George R. R. Martin had cut a significant chunk of this book or simply consolidated chapters (which he absolutely could have done), it could have combined with A Dance of Dragons–which I can only assume has it’s fair share of filler too.  I’ve always been of the opinion that splitting one book or movie into two leads to trouble (hello, The Hobbit films and Connie Willis’ All Clear series), and A Feast of Crows did not change that opinion.

Now, it might sound like I absolutely loathed A Feast for Crows, but I didn’t. I still fangirled over Jaime even when his story went nowhere and I worried about Sansa, wishing for her to be reunited with Tyrion. I even adored the last one hundred pages and whooped with joy when Cersei finally got some comeuppance. I love these characters and their stories so much that I would absolutely struggle through all manner of Greyjoy chapters for their sake. I just wish I didn’t have to.

Who is your favorite Game of Thrones character? Do you struggle through these books for their sake too?

Top Ten Most Anticipated Summer Movies

Top Ten.jpg

It’s that time of year again. It’s time for blockbusters and superheroes. . .with some sword and sorcery thrown in! While April was a deathly slow movie month, a whole load of exciting movies are gracing the big screen between now and Fall. I know I’m going to be racking up those Regal Movie Rewards thanks to all the films that look AH-MAZING. . .and those others which look just bonkers enough to be worth seeing.

I’ve put together a top ten list of my most anticipated films (in no particular order). Be sure to tell me which movies you’re most looking forward to in the comments!

Top Ten Most Anticipated Summer Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming ~ I never thought I’d be excited to see a Spider-Man film, but thanks to Captain America: Civil War, I am thrilled to see the webslinger on the big screen again (this will be my first time seeing Spidey since that fateful day I took my cousin to see Spider-Man 3).

War for the Planet of the Apes ~ The new Planet of the Apes films are my favorite Science Fiction movies of all time. (Yes, I love them even more than Star Wars and not just because the second one has Jason Clarke.) I cannot wait to see Andy Serkis knocking it out of the park for the third time in this franchise. It all looks absolutely glorious!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ~ I’ve seen every Pirates of the Caribbean film in the theater, and Dead Men Tell No Tales is not going to be an exception. While I am keeping my expectations in check after the mess that was On Stranger Tides (a movie I forget exists more often than not), I do hope Jack, Will, and the gang will pull it together for one more movie.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ~ The Fifth Element bring me joy so there’s no way I’m not psyched about Luc Besson’s new Sci Fi project. It looks just as bonkers as Jupiter Ascending–which is definitely a selling point for me.

Wonder Woman ~ Wonder Woman, oh, Wonder Woman, I’m so pleased to see you headlining your own movie (with a female director to top it off)! The trailers for the DCEU’s new flick are so promising that I hope, for once, positive reviews will come to the DC Comics’ universe. It’s about time this franchise had a proper win.  

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ~ Let’s be real: This movie looks wackadoo. . .so it’s obviously on my list of must-watch movies. I remember reading that there are giant elephants in King Arthur (rather like Oliphaunts, perhaps?). Between that and Jude Law as the villain, I need no more reasons to pay for a ticket.

Alien: Covenant ~ While I’m nowhere near brave enough to see this on the big screen, I’ve been scarfing down the trailers and featurettes. Sadly, I will be holding off on viewing this until the DVD release, but that doesn’t quell my excitement at there being not one but two Michael Fassbender androids in one film.

Baby Driver ~ Confession time. The only Edgar Wright film I’ve seen is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. I plan on remedying that soon by FINALLY watching the Cornetto Trilogy (a decision made solely after seeing the trailer for Baby Driver–which looks absolutely divine).

The Mummy ~ While Legendary’s MonsterVerse is more my speed, I figure I should check out Universal Monsters from the get-go. To do so, I’ll have to get over my extreme dislike for both Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe–but hey, at least, they’re be rampant destruction and one angry mummy to distract me!

Dark Tower ~ This is one of those films that seems made for me. It’s got everything: Cowboys, inter-dimensional travel, Idris Elba, and a weird fantasy setting! The trailer was breathtaking and 100% gave me an excuse to pick up Stephen King’s series once again.

What films are you most looking forward to this Summer?

Ten Comics to Grab On Free Comic Book Day

Ten Comics.jpgThis Saturday, May 6th, is Free Comic Book Day a.k.a. one of the best geekified days of the year!! I look forward to Free Comic Book Day every year because it’s an awesome way to load up on comics to read for weeks (or months depending on how many you score) to come. Yet again, I’ll be mostly unable to take part in the festivities. I intended to ask for May 6th off work, but of course, I forgot to mark our department’s calendar until too late.

Sigh. Next year, I’ll get to take part. Next year, for sure.

As it is, my very kind mother will be checking the local comic book shop for me since the best I’ll be able to do is run to the downtown shop on my lunch break. (The downtown shop is not my local comic shop so it doesn’t really count in these matters.) If I have time to take pictures, I will–otherwise just expect a comic haul next week.

In case you–unlike me–are able to check out your local shop this Saturday, I concocted a list of ten of the coolest comics to keep an eye out for. (Also, if you don’t know where to find a shop hosting an event, check out this handy-dandy Store Locator.)

Ten Comics to Grab On Free Comic Book Day

freecomicbookday2017.jpg

freecomicbookday20172.jpg

Betty & Veronica #1 / Boom Studios Summer Blast / I Hate Image / Doctor Who / Fresh Off the Boat / Buffy the High School Years/Plants Vs. Zombies / Briggs Land/James Cameron’s Avatar / All New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 / DC Superhero Girls Summer Olympus / Tokyo Disney’s Descendants (Manga)

There’s quite a variety of comics this year, but as always, I’m most excited for Boom! Studios Summer Blast. I adore compilation comics, and theirs always has a fantastic assortment of short stories. I’m also weirdly psyched about the Disney’s Descendant‘s manga. I still haven’t watched the TV movie (something I’ll have to remedy soon), but there’s no way I’m going to miss that issue.

As for a comic that might be suspiciously missing from my list, well, I think I’ll just stick with avoiding Secret Empire like it’s a rotten banana for now.

You should also know that, according to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ Twitter account, there will be a new Valerian comic tomorrow. It’s not listed on the Free Comic Book Day website so I’m not entirely certain how easy it will be to find (which is why I didn’t include it in my list). If you do come across it, I highly recommend picking that up too!

Oh, one more thing before you go, here’s my list in a shiny and simple image in case you need a little reminder tomorrow!

Betty & Veronica #1Boom Studios Summer BlastI Hate ImageDoctor WhoFresh Off the BoatBuffy the High School Years%2FPlants Vs. ZombiesBriggs Land%2FJames Cameron’s AvatarAll New Guardians of the Galaxy #1DC Superher (1).jpg

So what are you hoping to pick up on Free Comic Book Day?

{Book Review} Eligible: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Retelling

Your Visual Travel Guide (7).jpg

Mhairi McFarlane’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice spoiled me. I read Here’s Looking at You two years ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about how perfectly it updated Jane Austen’s most popular work to modern day sensibilities. McFarlane impressively managed to keep the spirit of Jane Austen’s writing–the romance, humor, social commentary–without keeping every plot point of the novel in place. Too many of Jane Austen’s revisers slavishly stick to the source material without wondering whether the plot points transition believably to a story set in the 21st century.

One such revisionist is Curtis Sittenfeld, but even as Jane Austen acolytes go, I don’t think I’m completely off-base in calling her Pride and Prejudice retelling, Eligible, a particular train wreck. Unlike McFarlane, Sittenfeld forgoes the spirit of the novel in favor of transcribing the plot and inserting unnecessary twists for shock value.

In Eligible, Liz Bennet and her sister, Jane, leave New York City for Cincinnati after their father has a heart attack. Liz and Jane–the only vaguely respectable and responsible ones in the Bennet family–are forced to take over their father’s care and the maintenance of their parents’ crumbling house since their three sisters and mother claim to be unable to help.

Liz, a writer-at-large for a feminist beauty magazine, spends her days in Cincinnati trying to get an interview with icon Kathy de Bourg, sorting out her father’s astronomical medical bills, and trying not to dwell on her married boyfriend, Jasper Wick.

Jane, on the other hand, has bigger worries. She’s nearly forty and still single so she’s been trying to get pregnant from via artificial insemination. This may or may not have complicated repercussions when she begins falling for the star of a Bachelor-like reality show, Chip Bingley.

With Jane more than preoccupied with her own drama, Liz struggles to keep the family afloat while trying not to get too distracted by the pompous neurosurgeon, Fitzwilliam Darcy–who just so happens to know more about her boyfriend’s past than he’s revealing.

Things go from bad to worse for the Bennet clan over the course of Eligible as couples are ripped apart, spiders infest their already declining home, and Lydia runs off with her boyfriend, Ham–who has a Secret with a capital “S.”

Spoilers Ahead.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible has many problems, but the greatest of these is Liz Bennet herself. Somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make one of the most vivacious heroines in English Literature pitiful and annoying. Mostly, this is because she chooses to have Liz pine for scumbag Jasper Wick (our Wickham stand-in) for FOURTEEN YEARS. Unable to move on with her life during that time, Liz allows Wick to string her along through his various marriages until he finally notices her a decade and a half later(!!). They then begin an affair. For me, lead characters having affairs with married men is an absolute deal breaker, but somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make my standard deal breaker even more repellent by having the affair be really, really sad for Liz. She waited for this guy–who is the ABSOLUTE WORST, by the way–for so long. What does that say about her? Nothing good. It makes her come across as weak and pitiful–two words one wouldn’t generally think of as describing Elizabeth Bennet.  

To top that off, Liz is super sarcastic and mean about her sisters. She speaks ill of them to Darcy in a way that I *suspect* is supposed to be self-deprecating but is actually just awful. There’s shockingly none of Elizabeth’s wit present in Liz. Instead, her snarkiness is simply uncomfortable to read and makes her seem like a fifteen year old rather than someone who is thirty-eight.

While on her own Liz’s characterization is enough to make me loathe this novel, it didn’t help matters that I also hated how the other Bennets were presented (so cliched and predictable), the entire Bachelor plotline, and the incredible boringness of Darcy. As a Jane Austen retelling, Eligible is really one of the worst, but it doesn’t help matters that it doesn’t work on it’s own as a Contemporary Romance either. Dull Darcy and Elizabeth simply have no chemistry. I sincerely doubt their relationship would last beyond the last chapter of the novel–which isn’t the feeling I want to have at the end of a romance novel.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend picking up Eligible unless you are in the mood for a hate read. It really was only my rage and morbid curiosity that kept me going to the end of this book. If you like being fueled by rage, by all means, read this book. Otherwise, give it a hard pass and read Bridget Jones’s Diary or Here’s Looking at You instead.

What are your deal breakers in romance novels? Do you have a favorite Jane Austen retelling?

{Short Takes} Three Graphic Novel Reviews

Your Visual Travel Guide (6).jpg

Secret agents, fairy tales, and high school drama. It’s been a good reading week for graphic novels!  

28963593.jpg

Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain

Writer: Chelsea Cain

Artists: Kate Niemczyk & Ibrahim Moustafa

Bobbi Morse, ace S.H.I.E.L.D agent, struggles with nearly constant doctor checkups. She’s been dosed with both the Super Soldier Serum and the Infinity Formula, and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s worried she might develop negative side effects.

They’re right about the side effects. Not so right about the negative part.

Bobbi doesn’t let any of this effect her in the field or keep her from saving her ex (Clint Barton), her new “boyfriend” (Lance Hunter), or protecting teenage girls from other themselves.

Bobbi’s story in Mockingbird Vol. 1 is a blast to read. Chelsea Cain brings humor and adventure to the comic while the artists, Kate and Ibrahim, bring eye-popping action and the female gaze. I loved that Bobbi was the type of snarky, capable hero you don’t often see in female characters. It was such a relief to read a comic with a female lead that was sexy, angst-free, and fun. It’s a shame that this series was cancelled. I am glad, though I still have one more volume of Bobbi’s story to read. It’s definitely high on my TBR.

 

30073153Jim Henson’s Labyrinth Tales

By Cory Godbey

Labyrinth Tales collects three stories set within the universe of the 80’s film.  The stories are short, sweet, and make perfect bedtime stories (which just so happens to be when I read them). Some might be familiar to you from Free Comic Book Day or the Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Comic released last year, but in spite of their familiarity, I think Labyrinth Tales is worth the purchase. It’s hard covered–and so more durable than a floppy comic–and Godbey’s breathtaking art looks fabulous and glossy on the page. Definitely a must-buy (or, at the very least, a must-read) for Labyrinth fans.

 

25852959 (1).jpgArchie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale

Writer: Mark Waid

Art: Fiona Staples, Annie Wu, and Veronica Fish

Archie and Betty broke up. The cause has something to do with a certain “lipstick incident,” but no one at Riverdale knows exactly what that means. Unfortunately for the rumor mill, the ex-golden couple refuses to say anything. Thankfully, when the theories begin to run dry, drama arises when new girl, Veronica, turns Archie into her errand boy. Will Betty and Jughead be able to save Archie from her clutches or is he truly lost to his newest crush?

Archie Vol. 1 is my first introduction to the world of Archie comics, and surprisingly, I loved it. I somehow missed out on reading Archie as a kid, but Mark Waid and Fiona Staples’ work has gotten me curious as to what I’ve been missing all these years. I know this rebooted Archie isn’t exactly the same thing as old-school Archie, but I’m going to delve into it all the same. I loved the humor, drama, and wackiness of The New Riverdale, and I have a feeling that that is what’s been carried over from the older Archie comics.

Besides, I want more stories about these teens–especially Jughead!
What comics or graphic novels have you been reading lately?

Five Books About Fascinating Women in History

Your Visual Travel Guide (5).jpgGoing back through my Goodreads categories, I discovered something surprising. Once upon a time, I’d read non-fiction regularly–particularly non-fiction of the ladies-in-history sort. Mostly, I picked up these types of books right out of college when I was missing all my History and English courses and looking to expand my horizons. I wasn’t drawn to the dry stuff though (I had gotten enough of that in school). I preferred histories with some scandal and lushness to them.

I blame watching a lot of biopics on the Tudors for this.

So, if you’re looking to expand your horizons and read more about prominent (and not-so-prominent) ladies in history, these books are a good place to start. Especially if you don’t mind a bit of outrageousness.

Five Books About Fascinating Women in History

Elizabeth and Leicester by Elizabeth Jenkins

Funny story time: In college, I was sitting on a bench reading this book about the scandalous romance between Elizabeth I and Dudley when some random dude walked up and told me I was beautiful. Me, being the very picture of tack, said “Thanks” before promptly returning to my book. (I was that girl in college who sat on benches and read and had to listen to people walking past me whispering in horror “Is she reading a book?!?!?” Basically, I am Rory Gilmore.) Gossipy historicals are completely my thing and so a book about one of my favorite historical couples (thanks entirely to Anne-Marie Duff’s Elizabeth miniseries) was pretty much un-put-downable. While it is more about the relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley, there is a lot of information about the early years of Elizabeth’s life to be had within its pages. Sadly, this book is ancient, but you just might be able to find it through the library. If not, there’s a book of the same name by Sarah Gristwood that might be worth checking out.

Bride of Science by Benjamin Woolley

Speaking of gossipy non-fiction, Woolley’s biography of Ada Lovelace is gloriously chatty about all the scandalous goings on of Ada’s life. I started reading this book entirely thanks to the webcomic Lovelace and Babbage and I wasn’t disappointed. While there might not be as much of a focus on the science-y aspects of her life, it was interesting to get a picture of what she was like as a person. I especially remember there being some focus on the relationship between Ada’s mother and Byron–which really is fascinating in and of itself.

Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie

There are plenty of books out there compiling biographies of kings, queens, bad marriages, and scandal. (Surprisingly, I don’t read as many of those as you might think.) Princesses Behaving Badly was one book of that sort I couldn’t pass up. Just reread that title! It’s so easy to overdose on toned down princess stories, but this was definitely not toned down. If you want stories of princesses who murder, cheat, and rule countries with an iron fist, this is the book to check out.

Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff ~ While not heavy on the melodrama (for once), Cleopatra’s a fascinating read. (Except maybe the parts about agriculture and the economy.)  I loved taking courses on world history in college and Schiff’s book totally satisfied that longing for more information about the ancient world. I’m really looking forward to reading Schiff’s new book about the Salem witch trials. How interesting will that be!

Wild Romance by Chloe Schama ~ Back to the melodrama for a moment. If you want to get mad about the plight of women in Victorian England, this is the book to read. It reminded me of the book/miniseries He Knew He Was Right because it was all about marriage, divorce, and who’s telling the truth. Theresa Longworth isn’t famous–like most of the others on this list–but her story was cool to read none-the-less.

What are some of your favorite non-fiction books? Any slightly gossipy histories to recommend?

Cozy Period Pieces for Winter Evenings

Your Visual Travel Guide (4).jpg

Winter is my season to watch Period Pieces. I’m not sure if that’s influenced by the return of Masterpiece Theater or the fact that I drink buckets of tea when it’s cold out, but come January, I inevitably start in on British, historical dramas.

Last year, I binged the first five seasons of Downton Abbey while simultaneously watching the sixth on PBS (which was a tad confusing, I’ll admit). In 2015, I watched The Paradise–which was alternately legitimately enjoyable and legitimately hilarious depending on which season I was watching (the second season definitely falls into the “So Bad It’s Good” category). Unfortunately, I haven’t settled on which Period Piece I’ll watch in 2017 (I had to finish Alias before I could tempt myself with any such question), but I thought I’d recommend some of my favorite Winter-y Period Pieces to you.

May they keep you feeling cozy and entertained this frosty season!

Cozy Period Pieces for Winter Evenings

Bleak House

I’ve watched Bleak House in both the Summer and Winter, but it feels so much more appropriate watching this particular Dickens’ adaptation when cuddled under a blanket with coffee in one hand and a plate of cheese and crackers in the other. The setting of Bleak House is chilly, damp, and desperate and the entire story peopled with bizarre characters than one can quote at any moment (“Brimstone beast!”). I’ve seen this miniseries about once a year since it aired and I’ve not gotten tired of Esther, Mr. Guppy, and the gang yet.

The Way We Live Now

It took two viewings of The Way We Live Now for me to properly fell in love with this political satire. You might thinking “Political satire doesn’t sound like something Melissa would like,” and you’d be right. The characters, however, make this mini series for me. Between Matthew McFadyen and Shirley Henderson’s performances are reason enough to watch this Trollope adaptation (also, Miranda Otto’s horrible American accent).   

North and South

I don’t feel like I need to sell watching North and South to you. If you’ve seen it before, there’s probably not a moment when you don’t feel like rewatching it, and if you haven’t seen it before, you should just go watch it immediately. It’s like all of those Pride and Prejudice adaptations you’ve adored but better. Trust me.

Our Mutual Friend

It may have taken me two viewings to fall in love with The Way We Live Now, but it took me at least three to fall in love with Our Mutual Friend. Again, it’s the bizarre characters that finally made this mini series for me, and yes again, I have found myself quoting this film with the one other person I know will recognize my references (my mom, basically). If you ever found Colonel Brandon attractive in the 2008 version of Sense and Sensibility, I’d recommend not watching this. You will never look at him the same way again. Everyone else, enjoy Eugene Wrayburn and Lizzie.

Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen

Anne-Marie Duff plays my favorite Queen Elizabeth I in this biopic mini series. She’s fierce and perfect, and I like to pretend this is the sequel to the TV series, The Tudors–in spite of the fact that Michael Hirst wrote the Cate Blancett version. On top of the impeccable Duff, Tom Hardy plays Dudley and dances the volta. To me, that’s all the reason you need to give this a watch.

What Period Pieces Do You Like to Watch in the Winter?