Reviews

Darth Vader Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen

Star Wars Darth Vader: Vol. 1 by Kieron Gillen fills in a necessary gap in the Star Wars canon, and could help fill the time before Star Wars: Rogue One arrives in theaters. Gillen’s Vader is trying to learn the identity of the young pilot who destroyed the Death Star, as well as regain the favor of Emperor Palpatine after failing to stop the Rebel Alliance. As Vader goes on these dual missions, he is forced to hire agents who can act as his public face. Navigating all of these situations and relationships, as well as his personal quest for vengeance against the Rebellion and suspicions about secrets in the Empire, create a world of intrigue and violence for this story to play out. Gillen balances all of these elements superbly and also unleashes Vader, using battle sequences and displays of the Force to remind readers why Vader is one of the most feared individuals in the galaxy.

The Six: the Lives of the Mitford Sisters

Having grown up in a family of six sisters (and two brothers), I understand the influences, cooperation and competition that six sisters often have for each other. The similar interests, wildly divergent ones, pet names shared, and shifting alliances.

The Mitford sisters:  Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity, Jessica, and Deborah were born between 1904 and 1920, so their youth encompassed the roaring and irreverent 1920s as well as the anxious, and violent pre-war period before WW II. The last of the Mitford sisters, Deborah, died only two years ago.

They had an idyllic childhood on a country estate, and were left mainly to themselves, a nanny and a tutor. They were almost totally home-schooled. They read deeply books from their parent’s library and were fascinated by the world of ideas. All except Pamela, who loved farming and developed close connections with animals and the land. Just before dying she sighed and said she wished only for one more hunt.

Heartless, Marissa Meyer

Heartless is set before the events of Alice in Wonderland and tells the story of Cath, daughter of a Marquess who has caught the eye of the King of Hearts, but really just wants to open a bakery. Cath is an unconventional lady already, but when the new Joker catches her eye and her heart, she finds herself moving away from quirky and unconventional to all out rebel. She is determined to make her own way in the world, but her need to please her parents and her King may hold her back.

Many characters and places throughout this story will be familiar to fans of Alice in Wonderland. However, since Alice is an outsider who finds herself falling into Wonderland and Cath is a member of the gentry who has always lived there readers are given a more inside view of this topsy turvey world. Nothing is as it seems in Wonderland and now that the legendary jabberwocky is roaming the land again, no one is safe.

Commonwealth

Fifty per cent of all North American children experience the divorce of their parents. Talented author Ann Patchett explores her own family’s divorce in this novel, altered, of course, as all fiction is.

A chance meeting at a 1960s christening causes two families to divide and then merge in new ways.  The novel jumps around in the lives of the Cousinses and Keatings. Fix Keating is a Los Angeles cop, and Bert Cousins, an attorney who moves to Virginia. When Cousins falls hard for Keating’s wife, Beverly, at the christening, two families are forever tied though they end up living across the continent from each other.

The novel proceeds from the perfectly realized christening—where many of the guests are cops and the families of cops, and many of the partiers get drunk including some of the children, to one lakeside vacation where the blended children of the two families seek their own adventures while their parent and step-parent laze away in bed until mid-afternoon.

Trying to Float: Coming of Age in the Chelsea Hotel

Can’t say when the last time I read a book written by a seventeen-year old, but this memoir by a high school student was touching and well-written despite Nicolaia Rips' youth. Growing up in New York’s famed Chelsea Hotel gives one a head start, at least when it comes to knowing interesting characters.

The Chelsea’s fame reached its ascendency in the 60s and 70s with noteworthy residents:  Leonard Cohen, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Patsy Smith, who wrote her own memoir about it, Just Kids.

First Nicolaia describes how she came into being. Her mom was a globe-trotting artist, and her dad had zero interest in raising a child, but somehow the artist got pregnant, and the couple began a new way of life. Though not immediately.

While pregnant, her Mom traveled through Europe and along the Silk Road in Asia. Her dad, a non-practicing lawyer and writer, stayed in New York and added a psychiatrist’s office to his daily rounds of coffee shops. He also denied that he was the father, accusing a gay friend for parenting the child. However, once Nicolaia was born, he came around and warmly embraced being a dad, but still the family remained footloose, decamping for several years in Italy, and then roaming North Africa and India, before returning to NYC and the Chelsea Hotel.

Inktober Reads!

Calling all artists! It's Inktober, which means it's time to challenge yourself to complete one ink drawing every day for the month of October. This is a great time to improve your drawing skills or to start a new habit. You never know if you might be the next Raina Telgemeier, Lucy Knisley, or Gene Luen Yang. The Ground Floor has drawing pencils, inking pens, and drawing paper. Stop by and create!Image

Need some inspiration? Try one of these amazing graphic novels! Happy Inktober!

El Deafo, Cece Bell

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