Nino's Picks

Staff Pick Badge
A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return By Zeina Abirached, Zeina Abirached (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Zeina Abirached, Zeina Abirached (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781575059419
Availability: Backordered at least 2 weeks or possibly unavailable.
Published: Graphic Universe (Tm) - August 1st, 2012

Anxiety thrums through this short graphic memoir. The story is set in Beirut in 1984, during the fifteen-year long Lebanese civil war. Zeina and her younger brother have been left at home by their parents, who have undertaken the dangerous journey to visit the children’s grandmother: one by one, they are joined by their neighbors, who share food, whiskey, and stories to pass the time. Absence becomes a running theme in both the art and the story. Abirached makes excellent use of negative space in her art, with her characters shown to be small and helpless against circumstance. Without ever showing a dead body or a pool of blood, Abirached manages to portray the horror of war: bomb blasts, sniper fire, grief, death, and fear.

Staff Pick Badge
Robopocalypse: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) By Daniel H. Wilson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307740809
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage - April 17th, 2012

Let's get something straight: Robopocalypse is not great literature. There are books that delve into the darker side of the human psyche and its tendencies towards self-destruction, and then there are books where robots kill everybody. Daniel Wilson is not the Steinbeck or Hemingway of the Apocalypse-du-jour subgenre, but he is a nerd who's both knowledgeable and enthusiastic. Wilson earned his PhD in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University, and his comfort with the subject gives his writing and imagery more weight than it would otherwise have. If, like me, you prefer your beach reading to include a trail of corpses, some fun "What if? scenarios, and a light exploration of heavier themes (artificial intelligence! transhumanism!), Robopocalypse is a great, entertaining read for summer.

Staff Pick Badge
Tomorrow, When the War Began (Tomorrow #1) By John Marsden Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439829106
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - May 1st, 2006

At a loose end now that you've finished The Hunger Games? These books, about a group of teenagers facing a military invasion of their home, are one of my perennial favorites, and they've recently been re-released by Scholastic. It follows a core group of characters throughout an entire war and beyond, charting their progress from ordinary teenagers into guerilla fighters. The Tomorrow series is fast-paced and provocative, has a tough and articulate heroine, and doesn't shy away from the exploring darker aspects of war.

Staff Pick Badge
The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel By David Levithan Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250002358
Availability: Not in stock. Usually arrives in 2-7 business days
Published: Picador - January 17th, 2012

How do you distill a love story? How do you portray everything about a relationship, from the first meeting to a tumultuous meltdown, using a minimum of words? In The Lover's Dictionary, YA author David Levithan has written an adult novel that is both sparse and richly detailed. Each vignette is inspired by a particular word, and the story of two nameless lovers is told in alphabetical rather than chronological order. It's an idea that could have been twee or trite in the hands of another author, but Levithan has created something simple, beautiful, and devastating.

Staff Pick Badge
Big Questions By Anders Nilsen Cover Image
ISBN: 9781770460478
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - August 16th, 2011

A big book starring tiny birds, Big Questions is a fable that examines the existential quandaries in which we all find ourselves mired: why do we suffer? How do we deal with the unexpected and unexplainable? What happens when we die? Are our lives meaningless, or is there some kind of plan? Despite its length and heavy themes, the book moves along quickly, with its meandering philosophizing grounded in a plot that twists and curves in surprising, sometimes surreal, ways. Nilsen's art style is simple and organic, with a light and patient hand. As his cartoony gray finches ponder deep philosophical questions, the story and art toe the line between wryly humorous and strikingly evocative.

Staff Pick Badge
What It Is By Lynda Barry Cover Image
ISBN: 9781897299357
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - May 13th, 2008

Part graphic memoir, part treatise on creativity, What It Is examines memory, images, words, dreams, play, and thought. With her distinctive drawings interspersed with lush collages, Lynda Barry pulls apart and recreates the creative journey of an artist.

Staff Pick Badge
Transmetropolitan Vol. 1: Back on the Street By Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Warren Ellis, Darick Robertson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781401220846
Availability: Backordered at least 2 weeks or possibly unavailable.
Published: Vertigo - March 17th, 2009

First, imagine that Hunter S. Thompson and Bill Hicks, through some awful accident of science, managed to produce offspring. Give that offspring a two-packs-a-day smoking habit, numerous tattoos, a fondness for guns, a deep sense of justice, and a drug-fueled writing habit. Add a supporting cast of half-alien pimps, strippers-turned-bodyguards, two-faced cats, corrupt K-9 police, and evil politicians. Then, place them all in a setting that is somewhere between Disney World, Amsterdam's red light district, pre-gentrification Wicker Park, and the inside of Phillip K. Dick's mind. Add some politics and a lot of scatological humor. Then stand back and watch it go boom.

Staff Pick Badge
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen By Lucy Knisley, Lucy Knisley (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Lucy Knisley, Lucy Knisley (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781596436237
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: First Second - April 2nd, 2013

Memory and taste are also at the heart of Relish, a graphic memoir by Lucy Knisley. A collection of stories of her life interspersed with recipes, Relish takes us from New York to Chicago and back again, with stops in Rome, Mexico, and Italy. Each chapter uses a particular food as a gateway to a memory, or vice versa. Knisley's art is bright and cartoony, with colors popping off the page, and extra detail is given to the drawings of her food. I'm not gonna lie, I drooled a little while gazing at her illustration of apricot jam-filled croissants.