Archive | April, 2013

The Adventures of Superhero Girl

29 Apr

Faith Erin Hicks’s Superhero Girl comic strips were originally published in black and white in Halifax’s free alternative weekly newspaper, The Coast. Many fans of the comic artist likely first read these comic strips online at, where they are still available in the original black and white. For those who prefer reading in book form and who like a little color in their comics, Dark Horse recently released the strips in digest form with vibrant colors by Cris Peter. Covering the full Superhero Girl run of comic strips, The Adventures of Superhero Girl is one fabulous and fun book.

As you might have guessed by the name, The Adventures of Superhero Girl is about the trials and tribulations of a young female superhero. As she explains to a comics fan (who she calls “skeptical boy”), her super powers are like superman, except she can’t fly. She’s very strong, she can leap very high, and she is a mighty fighter. She saves the day many times, whether it is beating up ninjas, stopping bank robbers in their tracks, throwing a monster into space, or saving a kitty from a tree. The trouble is, there’s not much crime in her city and it’s hard being a superhero without any super villains to fight. Sure there are plenty of ninjas, including King Ninja (a ninja who wears a crown), but they aren’t quite arch-nemesis material. The lack of arch-nemesis isn’t her only problem though. She also has everyday life issues to deal with. Superhero work isn’t exactly paying the bills anymore, not since her federal grant dried up. Job searching is made more difficult when you have no prior work experience, except, you know, fighting ninjas and wearing a cape. Her roommate, who is in on her secret, tries to get Superhero Girl to do normal people stuff, like go to parties and date, though with little luck. And then there is her brother, Kevin. Everyone loves beautiful, strong, superhero Kevin. It’s super annoying.

Anyway, you get the point. She has adventures. Some are of the superhero-y variety and some are more of the it could happen to anyone variety. Above all, it’s a fun and funny read. Because it was a weekly strip, each page has it’s own punch line or special feel, but the strips also tie into the larger story. Superhero Girl runs into many obstacles: skeptical boy, ninjas, Canadian winter (all the villains head South, because they’re smart like that), sun exposure while wearing a mask (yikes! mask-lines!), a hipster who wants to shrink-ray her brother, bad hair days, and so on. While she’s skilled in many special ways, these skills are not really helpful in landing her a job, fitting in at parties, or finding a sense of purpose. Her relationship with her brother is sweet. He’s annoyingly perfect and she moans and groans when he’s around, but he’s also someone she can relate to and, well, he’s family (the flashback to when they were kids is adorable). Oh, she also has a cute cat. Bonus points there.

Em’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Publisher: Dark Horse (February 2013)
Note: Review copy received from publisher for honest review


16 Apr

Tabitha, Moe, Elodie.

The princess, the rebel, the nobody.

Classmates. Deviants. Shoplifters.

Kirsten Smith is no stranger to stories of adolescence and in her debut novel, Trinkets, she once again captures the hearts and hurts of America’s teenage girls. Tabitha, Moe and Elodie have no more in common than the school they attend but when all three wind up in Shoplifter’s Anonymous together an unusual relationship unfolds.

Smith’s screenwriting credits include 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde. The dialogue and storyline that make those scripts uniquely identifiable are just as present in her novel. Just like real adolescence Trinkets is punctuated with emotional breakdowns and breakthroughs. None of the main characters come from a stable home – their mothers are passive and 2 of the 3 fathers are absent. The boys they date are abusive and distant. The girls in their peer group are superficial or mean. In 275 pages Smith manages to examine some of the most serious issues facing teenage girls and yet the book is never too preachy or depressing. These girls are no victims of circumstance.

Tabitha, Moe and Elodie are smart and savvy offering insightful reactions to their situations. Each is motivated to steal for different reasons and they each come to discover themselves in very different ways. I was particularly drawn to Tabitha, whose perspective is loaded with cultural implications of being a girl. Watching her friends get ready she notes: “That’s what sucks about Mirror Face; you make it because it’s how you want other people to see you, but you’re the only person who actually gets to.”  And, in response to her own boyfriend, she observes, “Sometimes it seems like guys really hate girls, with all the little things they say and do to try and get us to hate ourselves.” I also loved how she moves away from popularity for her own self-maintenance and, in doing so, inspires her mother to reconsider her own choices.

!!! The book’s cover features a photograph by 18 year old Petra Collins !!!

Alicia’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Kirsten Smith
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (March 2013)
Note: received from author for honest review

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen – Review + Giveaway

2 Apr

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, the latest comic book memoir from Lucy Knisley, recalls her childhood growing up in New York City and New York’s Hudson Valley, her foreign travels, and her college years in Chicago, surrounded by delicious food. Knisley’s mother was a chef (and farmer’s market champ), her father was a culinary connoisseur, her uncle owned a gourmet food store in New York City, and many family friends were also deeply immersed in the culinary world. Not surprisingly, Knisley has strong taste-memories and in Relish: My Life in the Kitchen she explores various moments from her 28 years of life as framed by her diverse culinary experiences. These memories are interspersed with recipes (about one per chapter) for “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies”, Huevos Rancheros, Shepard (Fairey) Pie, and more tasty sounding meals and treats (and one alcoholic beverage) that connect with the stories/moments shared in the given chapter. It’s not just taste-memories explored here, though they are plentiful, but also memories of changing relationships, getting used to a new home and new way of living, and how our experiences shape us.

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen made me feel nostalgic for all my own taste memories. There were several experiences shared in Relish that resonated particularly strongly with me—being the kid who never got to eat “junk food” at home but managed to get it elsewhere, wanting desperately to recreate a favorite food and failing miserably. I also love that a good portion of the book is set in the Hudson Valley, where I’ve spent 15 years of my life – even my favorite indie book store and theater make appearances! While there isn’t much of a story arc, more of a general age progression, Knisley still managed to pull me in and keep me engaged with her food-centric coming of age stories and her humorous and heartfelt visual storytelling. Her brightly colored illustrations are warm and inviting, and each page offers much to explore both visually and textually.

Graphic novel memoirs and food memoirs seem to have solidified their places in the publishing world. With Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, Knisley ties these two popular areas of storytelling together effectively and rather joyously. This is the second First Second release that I have read that included recipes, but it is the first that made me realize how much I would love a graphic novel cookbook. More please!

Em’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Author: Lucy Knisley
Publisher: First Second (April 2, 2013)
Note: Review copy received from publisher

And now for the giveaway! I just so happen to be going to a stop on Lucy Knisley’s Relish Book Tour later this week, where I’m planning to pick up at least three signed copies (one for me, one for my library, and one for YOU!). Enter to win a copy below!

One winner will be chosen at random on April 9, 2013 to win a copy of Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley. One entry per person, US mailing addresses only, 15 years of age or older (I’m going with the publisher’s suggested age range for this one). Winner will be contacted by email.

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