What I’m Currently Reading & What’s Next

In typical librarian fashion, I am always reading a book or two, in addition to having a plethora of books sitting in various to-be-read piles in my house. Back in the days of spending time at my library office desk, I would always keep a book there to read during my meal breaks (stares nostalgically out window thinking of my desk…). Of course, now that I’m home most of the time I keep a book in the dining room to read during lunch breaks. There is always a book on my night stand (usually my Kindle hangs out there) as well and a book on my coffee table, so I’m prepared for reading at all times. Take a look below to see what I’m currently reading and what I have lined up for the next couple months!

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

I was so excited to snag an ARC of this book from NetGalley! I’m only about halfway through but it is great so far. After escaping a dangerously strict religious compound, where she was forced to marry the nefarious leader Reverend Sherman, teenage Vern escapes to the woods pregnant and alone. She gives birth to twins in the forest and tries her best to survive the harsh realities of this isolated life, all the while being pursued by a mysterious fiend, odd hallucinations, and experiencing uncanny changes in her body and abilities.

You can read a full review of this novel from my colleague Shannon by clicking here!

Something is Killing the Children: Volume 2 by James Tynion IV

Collecting issues #6-10 of this horror comic series, readers catch up with monster killer Erica Slaughter after she has slain the beast who was terrorizing the small town of Archer’s Peak. The only problem is that the monster had babies and now they are loose in the town. A mysterious man from The House of Slaughter arrives (is this the monster slayer version of a Watcher?) to help clean up the mess but seems to make matters worse.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

I am not usually an audiobook person, but every once in a while I check out an audiobook on Hoopla to listen to while I’m in the kitchen. I adore Shirley Jackson but have yet to read all her short stories and this audiobook has been a joy to listen to. Humorous, dark, and sometimes tragic, this powerful collection of haunting stories is read by a variety of voice actors making for an interesting and engaging experience.

What’s next for me? I have Tender is the Flesh by Agustina María Bazterrica, on deck, which was recommended by multiple authors in a recent Women in Horror author panel I viewed. It’s been on my want to read list for a while but after hearing some amazing authors highlight it as one of their favorite books of last year, I knew I needed to bump it up the pile! Another book that was shared in the panel and recommended to me by a friend is Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation. I just got the ebook loaded on my Kindle thanks to OverDrive and can’t wait to start it. Finally, I’m patiently waiting for a digital copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain to arrive for me!

What is on your to-be-read pile? What are you currently reading? Share in the comments and happy reading!

Love WandaVision? Read These Graphic Novels

Scarlet Witch has been a favorite character of mine since childhood. I’m sure there is still a late 90s era Scarlet Witch action figure at my parent’s house somewhere, in all her red and pink spandex glory. Disney+ recently launched a new streaming series all about Wanda (Scarlet Witch) and her love Vision, entitled WandaVision. The show is an entertaining blend of era-specific sitcoms, think I Love Lucy, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, etc., shrouded in mystery and ominous tones reminiscent of the best of The Twilight Zone.

Not since Game of Thrones (RIP Dany- you will always be my Queen) has a television show inspired me to read weekly AV Club articles, peruse the internet for other fan’s theories and predictions, and talk at length with friends about episodes. It is so much fun.

If you’re enjoying the show, but not well-versed in the comics history of this stellar character, I would highly recommend reading one or all of the graphic novels below! They are collected volumes of some of Wanda and Vision’s best story arcs and would serve as a great introduction to these two. Conversely, if you are an established fan like myself, re-reading these might give you a greater appreciation of the show, in addition to fuel for your plot theories. *wink wink*

The Vision: Little Worse Than a Man by Tom King

The Vision wants to be human and in this Eisner award winning series he decides that family is about as human as it gets. So he heads back to the beginning, to the laboratory where Ultron created him and molded him into a weapon. The place where he first rebelled against his given destiny and imagined that he could be more -that he could be a man. There, he builds them. A wife, Virginia. Two teenage twins, Viv and Vin. They look like him. They have his powers. They share his grandest ambition (or is that obsession?) the unrelenting need to be ordinary. What could go wrong?

Avengers: Vision and the Scarlet Witch- A Year in the Life by Steve Englehart

In a world full of heroes, villains, and monsters, there are few stranger phenomenons than the marriage of a mutant witch to a heroic synthozoid! As this unlikely couple settles into their home in Leonia, New Jersey, they find themselves at odds with the members of their complex families, including Ultron, the Grim Reaper, Quicksilver, and Magneto. When Wanda uses the power of a village of witches to make herself pregnant, the happy twosome becomes a happy foursome when twin sons William and Thomas are born, the future Wiccan and Speed of the Young Avengers!

House of M by Brian Michael Bendis

I read this story arc years ago but want to revisit it thanks to WandaVision and some sly Easter eggs that seem to point to this potentially being important to the show’s mysterious plot. In 2005, Bendis and Coipel created the world of the House of M storyline. This was one of the many times that Scarlet Witch changed reality with her powers. The Avengers are trying to determine what to do with Wanda, with some believing they need to kill her. Wanda creates a new world known as the House of M- she said “no more mutants,” and 98% of the world’s mutants instantly lost their powers. Oops?!

Avengers: The Children’s Crusade by Allan Heinberg

Another story arc I read years ago, The Children’s Crusade picks up following Wanda’s actions in House of M. Wanda has disappeared. While some knew where she was, the world soon learned that Wanda was still alive and well, and that sent the Avengers to find her and the X-Men to try and possibly kill her. Eventually, they take her back into the fold of the Avengers and the X-Men are held off for now.

Scarlet Witch: Witches’ Road by James Robinson, Vanesa Del Rey, Jordie Bellaire & Cory Petit

This is the first collected volume of this great series from some of my favorite writers and artists, like Jordie Bellaire (check out her Buffy reboot! SO GOOD.). Witchcraft is broken – and Wanda is on a journey across the globe to fix it. From the back alleys of Manhattan to the serene Greek Isles to the Irish countryside, the former Avenger will face myths and legends from ancient lore, cure curses, and discover there’s is even more to her complex family history than she knew. In Spain she will visit a church where witches like her were once burned at the stake – and be haunted by the ghosts of the Spanish Inquisition!

All the titles above are available via Hoopla or through our catalog! Are you watching WandaVision? Do you have a favorite Scarlet Witch or Vision comic? Share in the comments! Happy reading !

My Top 10 Favorite Horror Graphic Novels

As promised, I’m back this week to share some of my all-time favorite scary, spooky, and otherwise guaranteed to keep you up late at night books. It was so difficult narrowing this down, so I decided to share my top ten favorite horror graphic novels this week- saving my favorite traditionally formatted prose novels for next week.

Below you’ll find melancholy stories of hauntings and witches, disturbing tales of otherworldly creatures, horrific murder mysteries, and more tales that will leave you contemplating whats lurking in the shadows long after you close the book’s covers.

  1. Harrow County by Cullen Bunn
  2. Wytches by Scott Snyder
  3. Clean Room by Gail Simone
  4. Revival by Tim Seeley
  5. Coffin Hill by Caitlin Kittredge
  6. Black Hole by Charles Burns
  7. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina by Roberto Aquirre-Sacasa
  8. Outcast by Robert Kirkman
  9. Locke & Key by Joe Hill
  10. Redlands by Jordie Bellaire

Check out one of these great book today at the library or pop on over to Hoopla to read graphic novels without ever having to leave your couch!

New Graphics Novels to Read Now on Hoopla

Throughout the past few weeks I slowed down on my reading a bit to dive into some tv shows and films, but now that I’ve nearly finished all three seasons of Hannibal (an amazing show and noteworthy if for nothing other than truly disturbing and beautiful cinematography) I’m getting back to my lengthy to-read list.

Hoopla has gotten some really great new graphic novels that I am so excited to read! Here are my top recently released graphic novels you can read right now on Hoopla- some were new just in the past month and some are releases from earlier this spring that I missed during the chaos that was April and May. Better to read late than never is a mantra I often tell myself.

From sci-fi adventures to superheroes (sometimes hero-ish? looking at you Catwoman) to stories about adorable cats, there is something for everyone in the titles above.

I also just snagged the first five single issues of The Low, Low Woods, a newer comic series put out as part of the Joe Hill presents Hill House Comics of DC. I am quite delighted to crack open issue #1- the series is by the author of one of my favorite short story collections, Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado! If you haven’t read Her Body and Other Parties and you like weird feminist fiction- check it out now here on OverDrive! You won’t be disappointed. And since I generally love anything Joe Hill puts out or helps to publish, this should be a stellar series. Volume one is slated to be released this fall if you are more of a “wait for the collected volume” sort of reader *wink wink*.

Happy reading and stay safe out there!

Imagine Your Story- RiverCon Interview with Tony Isabella

Tony Isabella walking the red carpet at the Black Lightning premiere event, Washington DC, 2018. Photo courtesy of Tony Isabella.

Welcome back to our RiverCon interview series! RiverCon, our first annual mini-con at the library, was moved to at home activities to keep everyone safe this summer. We have also adapted our summer reading inspired RiverCon panel discussion to blog format so you can enjoy “meeting” amazing local comic artists and authors from home! Each Thursday morning from now until July 2nd you can read a new interview.

This week we hear from another fantastically talented Cleveland native, Tony Isabella. Tony is a comic book writer, editor, artist, and critic- notably creator of DC Comics’ first major African-American superhero, Black Lightning! You can check out his blog here or follow him on Twitter here.

What inspired you to pursue a career in comics?

Tony: Fantastic Four Annual #1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. I was an avid comics reader in 1963, but at the age when people thought I should outgrow them. Then and now, I think comics are a terrific way to tell stories. When I bought FF Annual #1, it suddenly hit me that making comics was a job and it was one I wanted. Within a few years, I was teaching myself how to write comic books.

Was there a favorite comic book you read in your youth?

Tony: Batman was my first favorite, probably because my idea was that I could become Batman if I worked at it. My other favorites as a kid included Challengers of the Unknown (non-powered adventurers created by Jack Kirby) and Cosmo the Merry Martian (lovable strange aliens that traveled the solar system). But I read pretty much any comic book I could get my hands on.

Why do you think storytelling, specifically in the comic or graphic novel format, is important?

Tony: Histories tell us what happened. Stories tell us why. I believe comics exercise our thought processes on several levels. The words add context to the pictures. The pictures force us to fill in what happens between the panels in our mind. So we engage the readers on the literary and the visual levels.
 
How have folk tales, fairy tales, or mythology influenced your work?

Tony: They’ve never been a noticeable influence in my work, probably because so many comics creators have gone to that particular well. My biggest influences come from the newspapers and magazines that I read and the world I observe.

Do you have a favorite folk tale, fairy tale, or myth?


Tony: Not a favorite per se, but a type. I like folk tales and such in which a protagonist contends with someone much more powerful than them and bests them. 

What is a favorite comic book or graphic novel that you have read in the past year?

Tony: I have three: Goodbye: A Story of Suicide, Superman Smashes the Klan and The Golden Age Sub-Mariner by Bill Everett – The Pre-War Years Omnibus.

A huge thank you to Tony for participating on our Imagine Your Story interview series here!

Image from Hoopla.

If you have never read any Black Lightning comics, I recommend heading over to Hoopla and starting with Tony’s 2018 Black Lightning Cold Dead Hands series- you can click here to jump straight to issues #1-6. The story addresses issues of police brutality, racism, and social justice, all set in Cleveland.

Thanks for reading!

New Books Tuesday @ RRPL

We have some new releases picked out for you to dive in for the following week. There is more adventure, humor, romance and suspense for you to enjoy!

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand – The best-selling author of Summer of ’69 presents a tale inspired by the film, Same Time Next Year, that follows a man’s discovery of his mother’s long-term relationship with the husband of a Presidential frontrunner.

Stranger Planet by Nathan W. Pyle – The sequel to the #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon Strange Planet, featuring more hilarious and poignant adventures from the fascinating inhabitants of Nathan W. Pyle’s colorful world. In this eagerly awaited sequel, Nathan takes us back to his charming and instantly recognizable planet colored in bright pinks, blues, greens, and purples, providing more escapades, jokes, and p h r a s e s.

American Demon by Kim Harrison – When the magical acts her friends and she committed to save the world inadvertently unleash a zombie epidemic, witch-demon Rachel Mariana Morgan considers a wrenching sacrifice in the wake of baffling murders and the arrival of a new demon. A thrilling return to the #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series, continuing Rachel Morgan’s story.

Hunted Again by Heather Graham – Feel the thrills and chills of this heart-pounding romantic suspense from New York Times bestselling author Heather Graham. A love rekindle or a deadly reunion? Even after a decade, Sarah Hampton is haunted by the night that nearly ended in a bloody massacre and destroyed her high school romance with handsome Tyler Grant. Now the horror has returned. It’s a reckoning from the events of that terrifying night and a love they never let go. Only this time Tyler must protect Sarah from the killer hiding in the darkness or lose her forever.

The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton – In 1935 three women are forever changed when one of the most powerful hurricanes in history barrels toward the Florida Keys. For the tourists traveling on Henry Flagler’s legendary Overseas Railroad, Labor Day weekend is an opportunity to forget the economic depression gripping the nation. But one person’s paradise can be another’s prison, and Key West-native Helen Berner yearns to escape.

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks – A modern retelling of the Bigfoot legend is presented as a gripping journal by a woman from a high-tech Pacific Northwest community who becomes cut off from civilization by a volcanic eruption before witnessing the flight of starving humanoid beings. The #1 bestselling author of World War Z returns with a horror tale that blurs the lines between human and beast, and asks, What are we capable of when we’re cut off from society?

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones – Approached by a secret half-sister they never knew, two close sisters turn against the stranger before uncovering difficult truths about their beloved late father. From Sandie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of the Hello Sunshine Book Club pick The Other Woman, comes The Half Sister; a compelling new domestic suspense novel about a family who is forever changed when a stranger arrives at their door.

Stephen King’s the Dark Tower the Drawing of the Three 4: Bitter Medicine by Stephen King/ Robin Furth/ Peter David/ Jonathan Marks/ Lee Loughridge – Enter once more the world of Roland Deschain and the world of the Dark Tower presented in this stunning fourth graphic novel of The Drawing of the Three story arc that will unlock the doorways to terrifying secrets and bold storytelling as part of the dark fantasy masterwork and magnum opus from #1 New York Times bestselling author Stephen King. 

New world sourdough : artisan techniques for creative homemade fermented breads; with recipes for pan de coco, bagels, beignets and more by Bryan Ford – New World Sourdough is your go-to guide to baking delicious, inventive sourdough breads at home. Learn how to make a sourdough starter, basic breads, as well as other innovative baked goods from start to finish with Instagram star Bryan Ford’s (@artisanbryan) inviting, nontraditional approach to home baking.

Fast. Feast. Repeat.: The Comprehensive Guide to Delay , Don’t Deny Intermittent Fasting: Including the 28-Day Fast Start by Gin Stephens – Diets don’t work. You know you know that, and yet you continue to try them, because what else can you do? You can Fast. Feast. Repeat. After losing over eighty pounds and keeping every one of them off, Gin Stephens started a vibrant, successful online community with hundreds of thousands of members from around the world who have learned the magic of a Delay, Don’t Deny® intermittent fasting lifestyle. Change when you eat and change your body, your health, and your life!

~Semanur