81. Girl in Dior
Winner of: YALSA 2016 Great Graphic Novels for Teens.
You only have to look at the cover to know that the art is beautiful. It is so lovely that I flipped through this graphic novel several times. Given the lovely art the lackluster story is doubly disappointing. It reads like a boring memoir or biography of a woman whose life intersects with Christian Dior (yes, that Dior), but then at the end you read that this woman, the main character in this story, is a figment of the author's imagination, and was inserted into Dior's life to illustrate what? I'm not sure. The text is uninspired and without passion, and given that we are immersed in the fashion world, among models, and a creative genius, it just does not make any sense that it is so. Still, I would recommend that fashionistas and artists pick up a copy from the library so you an feast your eyes on the wonderful art in this one. Rating: 2 stars.
82. Coffin Hill Vol. 2: Dark Endeavors
This is the second volume in the Coffin Hill graphic novel series, and the art continues to be good, the story interesting, and I really like the local (Boston area) setting. However, there are even more timelines and flashbacks in this volume, and it is sometimes hard to keep it all straight, and I for one have no idea what that ending was all about. Still, I liked it enough that I'll continue with the series.
If you are in the mood for a paranormal horror (is there any other kind?) story with multiple timelines, give this one a try. Rating: 3 stars.
83. A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
The premise of this novel is wonderful and I was really looking forward to it, so I'm disappointed that I did not love it as much as I expected to.
In this fantasy novel, there exists four versions of London: Grey, Red, White and Black. Each one is different in a myriad of ways, the most important being how magic is regarded by the locals. In earlier times moving back and forth between the Londons was done with ease, but in the current time, there are walls between them that are impassable for all but Antari, and there are only two of those left. Kell, the lead protagonist, is one such Antari, and he calls Red London home. Meanwhile in Grey London there lives a thief named Lila, and their paths are destined to cross.
I really liked the setup of the Londons and the magic system, however, the characters had little depth, and the story while fast paced was all tell and no show. I listened to the audiobook in a couple of days as the book flies by quickly, but ultimately it felt rather like watching a long car chase scene in an otherwise lackluster movie - lots of things happen, but its way more fun for the actors than the viewers. Is this targeted for young adult readers and I missed that? I wanted more complexity, more depth, and more meat on the bones, so while I liked this story am not sure at this point whether I care enough to read the sequel.
The audiobook is narrated by Steven Crossley, and I did not like how he reads this one. His voices are annoying and distracting, so would not recommend the audiobook. Rating: 3 stars.
84. Two Brothers
This graphic novel is an adaptation of Brothers, a novel written by the popular Brazilian writer Milton Hatoum. I had not heard of either the book or the original author, so was interested to get my hands on it.
The story revolves around the relationship of twin brothers, Omar and Yaqub, and the people in their circles. I really liked that the Brazilian setting and that the Lebanese angle, however I did not connect to the story in any way. I did not love the sketchy black and white art, and the story failed to resonate with me. I enjoyed most the relationship of the twin's parents, and there are some wonderful moments of inter-generational angst, but overall, this one just did not work for me. I might see if I can get my hands on the original novel to see if I was simply lost in translation. Rating: 2 stars.
85. The Grownup
This is a short story. A really short one. The audio takes a little over an hour, and it can be read in one sitting. If you've read anything by the author, you know that you are about to be taken for an interesting ride, and this one does not disappoint. There are loads of reviews out there, but I really think that going cold into this one is the way to go, as the less you know going in the better. A really fun ride, and I would highly recommend the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Julia Whelan. Rating: 4 stars.