Life During the Black Death by John M. Dunn

As morbid a topic as this is, I find it fascinating.  Historians say that as many as 30-60% of Europe’s population may have been reduced during this time period. (Wikipedia). This book chronicles not only what happened during the actual plague, but what ordinary life was like before and after.  Theories are discussed as to how the Black Death was brought about, and what people believed back then was the cause. 

This was an interesting glimpse into the 14th century; illustrations are prominent throughout.  Quotes from other historians and observers from that time period are featured.

Although this book is listed as Juvenile/Teen, people interested in natural disasters/history of all ages may find it intriguing.

Review by: Angie

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Truer Than True Romance: Classic Love Comics Retold by Jeanne Martinet

This graphic novel takes classic romance comics from the time period of the 40’s and beyond and parodies them.

The artwork reflects the time period well, the captions take a story in a hysterical direction. This is a light read, full of unexpected turns, and laugh out loud humor.

I highly recommend for both comics and romance readers.  Almost anyone who needs a laugh will find this a quick, easy way to accomplish that goal.

Review by: Angie

The Notebook Girls: Four Friends, One Diary, Real Life by Julia Baskin, et al.

This is a true diary, shared by four girls who were in high school in NYC and witnessed the September 11 attacks.  They also documented their daily struggles; such as crushes, parties, drugs, homework, family life, etc.

I really enjoyed it.  It was a difficult read emotionally at times, especially around the Sept. 11 attacks.  Having been a teen girl myself many years ago, I could easily relate to some of the angst that they were going through.  It was also an eye-opening account of experiences of an urban high school setting, which I did not experience myself.

Overall, a very good read.  Very blunt, in their own words, uncensored, with drawings and photos. I would recommend for almost anyone not afraid to relive the stress of high school, but this time at your own pace.

Reviewed by: Angie

Blackest Night by Geoff Johns

 

This is one of the latest crossover epics published by DC Comics.  The dead heroes and villains of the DC Universe are brought back to life as Black Lanterns, thanks to the villain, Black Hand.  Told in multiple volumes and graphic novel series, this event heralds the return of several superheroes, thought to be forever gone.  The typical good vs. evil fight is presented in gory but not over the top detail.  The Green Lanterns unite with the Red, Orange, Blue, Indigo, and Star Sapphires to create a White Lantern which attempts to destroy the evil havok created by the millions of Black Lanterns from all over the universe.

As I am a huge DC fan, I enjoyed it, but it was a bit confusing as I didn’t know the order in which to read the graphic novels.  There is the main story of the Green Lanterns, as presented in Blackest Night, and then several other graphic novels which present the stories of other heroes and the struggle to survive against the undead.

Here are the Graphic Novels in this series as of now:

Blackest Night
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol 1 & 2
Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps

I would recommend highly to most regular Graphic Novels readers, with the caveat that it does get confusing with some heroes’ backstories. As I am not a huge fan of undead/paranormal/zombies, I did not read too close to bedtime, but I did highly enjoy them.

Reviewed by: Angie

The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz

This book also came with “Standing Small: A Celebration of Thirty Years of the LEGO Minifigure” by Nevin Martell.   That particular book gave us the history of the different LEGO characters; from generic people about town, to specialized characters, such as Star Wars and Harry Potter.

It was interesting to read about the history of LEGOS, both the building blocks, and the company that created it.  There were plenty of photographs of different sets, and it was amazing to me how they had changed over the years.  As I had grown up in a LEGO household, it was a trip down memory lane.  It was also fascinating to see what they are still doing, for babies all the way up to the technically challenging.  Of course what LEGO book would be complete with behind the scenes photographs and info on the Legoland amusement parks?

It’s a very easy to read, fun, engaging book.  Perfect for a summer vacation break.

Reviewed by: Angie

Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron

On the coldest night of the year  in Iowa, the librarian of the local library in Spencer, Vicki, discovered a small surprise.  Someone had placed a tiny, cold and frostbitten kitten in the bookdrop.

This is the story of how Dewey Readmore Books came to belong to not only the library patrons, but a whole community.  He endeared himself to both young and old alike.  He not only survived his long, lonely night, but thrived with his new friends at the library.

I usually avoid animal stories because they usually end the same, sad way, but I could not resist this one.

Possible Spoilers:

SPOILER

SPACE

Prepare yourself with a box of tissues by your side as you read.  This heartwrenching book will grab a hold of you right from the start, and not let you stop until you finish the book.  The ending is inevitable, but even though I knew what was coming, I still couldn’t stop the tears.

As an epilogue, the library board has since decided not to have any more cats, at least for the time being.  Vicki Myron has retired.

Reviewed by: Angie

Marvel 1602 by Neil Gaiman

This was an alternate history of the tale ending the Elizabethan reign in England. Combining supernatural occurances, with historical references, the plot revolves around Virginia Dare returning to England from the New World.  Bizarre weather occurances concern Queen Elizabeth and her court magician, Dr. Stephen Strange.  Assassination attempts, warfare, and chaos ensues as characters try to figure out a connection between the strange occurances.  Gaiman presents the Marvel characters in a unique light, 400+ years in the past.

I loved this book.  The combining of history, sci fi, and superhero action is a trifecta of reading bliss. Although I am not a huge Marvel reader, it was a great read, and I was able to figure out which superhero (or villain) the 1602 characters represented.  The X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, DareDevil, and more are featured here.

Highly recommended if you have a basic knowledge of Marvel characters.  If not, try brushing up on the basics first, before tackling this otherwise tough read.

Reviewed by: Angie