First Line Friday #41

Today’s First Line Friday is a suggestion from Kim. It has piqued my interest and is perfect for Halloween!  This is one I will have to get! The chapters are short and you know what that means: I won’t want to put it down!!

The first thing I notice is that my blanket is gone.

Madeline Usher has been buried alive. The doomed heroine comes to the fore in this eerie reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s classic short story “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Gothic, moody, and suspenseful from beginning to end, The Fall is literary horror for fans of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Asylum.

Madeline awakes in a coffin. And she was put there by her own twin brother. But how did it come to this? In short, non-chronological chapters, Bethany Griffin masterfully spins a haunting and powerful tale of this tragic heroine and the curse on the Usher family. The house itself is alive, and it will never let Madeline escape, driving her to madness just as it has all of her ancestors. But she won’t let it have her brother, Roderick. She’ll do everything in her power to save him—and try to save herself—even if it means bringing the house down around them.

With a sinister, gothic atmosphere and relentless tension to rival Poe himself, Bethany Griffin creates a house of horrors and introduces a whole new point of view on a timeless classic. Kirkus Reviews praised it in a starred review as “A standout take on the classic haunted-house tale replete with surprises around every shadowy corner.”

Star Trek: Spock Reflections


Author: Scott Tipton and David Tipton
104 Pages
Published: July 19, 2012

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 Stars

Description from Amazon: A Vulcan, on Romulus? Absurd! Or is it? In the follow-up collection to the smash hit Star Trek: Countdown movie prequel, we discover what could drive a man to abandon all he knows and go to live with the Federation’s sworn enemy, his real motivations, and how he looks back at what brought him to this place in his life.

Kim’s Review:

My second graphic novel and I do believe that I am now a fan! I never used to think that graphic novels were “real reading,” but I was wrong! Of course they’ll never replace novels, but graphic novels are a fun easy way of enjoying a story. I saw Spock- Reflections at a pawn shop for only $3, so I said, “what the heck” and bought it. I read it in one sitting and was nearly in tears by the time I finished. I’ve been a life-long trekkie. My dad started us on the original series back when we were in elementary school and I as I grew up, the other parts of the franchise, movies, TNG, DS9, etc., seeped in and expanded my fandom. Then I married a Star Wars fan who had never seen anything other than the remake movies . . . yeah that has been interesting! 😊

I really loved this book. Spock has always been my favorite character and I was devastated when Leonard Nimoy passed away. As dramatic as this is going to sound, Spock Reflections actually gave me some closure. I got to see many different portions of Spock’s life that I hadn’t actually known before. And this story was centered around the death of James T. Kirk and Spock’s reaction to it. Spock has always struggled to reconcile his human half with his Vulcan half and this book showed that reconciliation in such a beautiful way. I don’t think this is the graphic novel to start with if you’re not a Star Trek fan, I would definitely recommend watching the original series and, at least, the first three original Star Trek movies before reading this book. But, for the Trekkies out there, this is an awesome graphic novel, even if you’ve never tried them before.

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El Deafo


Author: Cece Bell
Published: September 2, 2014
233 Page Graphic Novel

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 11-12, 2017
Jessica’s Rating: 4.5 stars

Book Description from Goodreads
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?

This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.

Jessica’s Review:

I don’t read or review many children’s books. I don’t have children so I feel I can’t give a proper review of them. Until I come across a book (or graphic novel in this case) like El Deafo! This is also my first graphic novel to review. This is a very important graphic novel that is also the semi-autobiographical story of Cece Bell and her experiences of going to school as the only deaf student in her class. Cece wrote and illustrated this graphic novel and she also came up with the name El Deafo herself when she was a child.

El Deafo begins when Cece is four years old; she contracts meningitis and loses her hearing. She uses a hearing aid, but sometimes the words she hears she can’t understand and she must rely on visual clues and lip reading. The graphic novel takes place over several years, so we get to see Cece grow up. We see how Cece adjusts to the hearing aid and over time she overcomes her insecurities.

Bell does a great job giving us Cece’s feelings of insecurities over the course of the novel. I felt everything Cece felt as I was reading it. It is portrayed so well as these were her feelings as a child. You also begin to understand what a deaf person goes through to try and communicate with the hearing world. It can be different for every deaf person, but I felt I learned something reading this graphic novel. It is great for adults too!

I can see this being a great book for younger children. El Deafo can help kids realize that everyone is different and how insecure and lonely others can be. This book could represent any disability that is out there. I did struggle with the ending of the book where Cece becomes the ‘class hero’, as it is not the best situation. I had issues with the teacher leaving the classroom without any adult supervision. That just begs for trouble. But it helped Cece to achieve what she needed.

There is an author’s note at the end where Bell explains some about the Deaf community which is also known as the Deaf culture. Every deaf person is different and there are many levels of deafness.  This is a graphic novel I think everyone should read. We need more novels like this out there to help children with whatever disability they have feel some empowerment.

El Deafo is a graphic novel geared towards children and the illustrations are simple, but the characters are expressive. There is a lot of detail given in each panel. The drawings help with the range of emotions Cece feels throughout the novel. Bell’s characters are rabbits and I found her explanation of this on Goodreads:
Because rabbits have big ears. I thought it would be a perfect visual metaphor to portray myself as the only rabbit in a crowd of rabbits whose ears do not work. Also, as a kid, I felt very conspicuous with my hearing aid cords going up to my ears…and showing those cords going way up over my head into my rabbit ears is pretty close to how I thought others must be perceiving me. Finally, you can’t top rabbits for cuteness!”

El Deafo is recommended.

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