Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Cybils 2014


I'm pleased to announce that I'm a Round 1 Judge for the Graphic Novels category of the Cybils award this year.  I've been a judge two years in the past but it's been a while since I participated and I was just itching to get back into the excitement of it all.  Nominations for all categories open today and run until Oct. 15 so go on over and nominate your favourite children's and young adult books of 2014 in a variety of different categories.  All details can be found on the Cybils website.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zatch Bell!, Volume 17 by Makoto Raiku

Zatch Bell!, Volume 17 by Makoto Raiku
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Zatch Bell (17)

Major battle mode volume that ends a major story arc! The big battle with Demolt to free the human souls continues to its exciting conclusion. Then we switch to Sherry and Brago who had taken off by themselves to fight the evil leader Zofis and find her long lost friend. This is a great battle, Brago is a bad-*ss, but it also brings in the emotion with some flashbacks to Sherry's childhood with her friend. This takes up the rest of the volume and we're now left with the major story arc we've been following for almost the entire series. There have been some loses and now the remaining mamodos all return to their homes for well deserved rest knowing they will meet again soon to battle each other for the crown of the Mamodo homeworld.

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Creepshow by Stephen King & a RANT about an OOP Book

Creepshow by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my 2014 opinion of my first re-read of this since the original. I bought this when it first came out and am sure I read it multiple times then but haven't read it since. I have seen the movie though about 3 or 4 times. This is horror "cheese" and an homage to the old EC comic books such as "Tales of the Crypt". There are 5 short stories here and they are all enjoyable for the artform they represent. A great book that was written to coincide with the movie and a wonderful, unique addition to King's work at this stage of his career. I'd give the book 5 stars if it was in print.

I am currently (re)reading King's books in chronological order and I had just planned on purchasing this book for my shelves as a bit of fun, expecting an old backlist title to be about $12-$14.99. What a surprise to find that it is out of print! I thought the only title King had put a moratorium on was "Rage"; I thought *all* his book were in print and with the popularity of graphic novels today was shocked to find this not in print. So then I thought I'd just download the digital edition but, nope!, no digital edition either. Huh? So now I'm wondering is King ashamed of this book; did he have some shlock artist illustrate it and didn't want it on the shelves with all his new fancy graphic novels now? But again, nope! The legendary Bernie Wrightson illustrated this book, the co-creator of "Swamp Thing".

So now I'm going the used route and having been a used book dealer for ten years in the past myself found to no great surprise that the book was priced as a "collectible". $40 plus bucks, yeah, right. I want to read it not collect and preserve it. An inter-library loan request at my library came back negative. I live in SW Ontario, the most populated area of Canada, and there are no library copies of this book? Probably because they've all been stolen and are now for sale online at $40 plus! So now I'm looking for an illegal scan online, not something I do and not proud, but I want to read the damn book. Again nothing except one thing that looked fishy and was going to infect my computer with malware or something. So I gave up and knowing I'd have to skip it and move on to the next book certainly ticked me off but occasionally I'd plug in a search now and then. Then, finally I came across something on youtube which is a digitized, sound effect enhanced video adaptation of the original book. Not my ideal way to read a book but it contains the real book 100% so I read it. Now I don't know if there are enough changes to the original format for it to be "legal" or if King knows about it and lets it be or what. But I am just thankful that I was able to read the book. I'm going to post the link even though I'm afraid the extra traffic will get it removed from youtube but this guy could do like anybody else and find somewhere else to upload it.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

But the whole problem would be solved if they would just REPRINT THE BOOK! C'mon if the less than stellar "Firestarter" and "Tommyknockers" are in print, why not "Creepshow" which is a fine entry in King's canon.

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Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers by Dav Pilkey

Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion of the Potty Snatchers by Dav Pilkey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Super Diaper Baby (2)

This was a big disappointment for me. I loved the first Super Diaper Baby, finding it hilarious. Book 2 fell flat on its face for me. I just didn't laugh at all and found the story forced and really way below Pilkey's usual rib-tickling hilarity. I'm a huge fan of Captain Underpants and Dav Pilkey in general but this one just read like a slap-dash effort. Oh well, still looking forward to a new title from him now that I've completed his popular backlist.

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Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka

Lazarus, Vol. 2: Lift by Greg Rucka
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Lazarus (Vol. 2)

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Probably the best comic of the year! I'll keep this short or else I'll just end up gushing. This is a dystopian tale that is totally believable making it all that much more exciting. Reads like a spy story with a gripping plot and unexpected ending. The art is fantastic too. I'm addicted to Lazarus! Can't wait to see where it goes from here.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro

The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A well-written "issues" story for teens. The book has a hockey theme but except for the beginning is not really about hockey as such. As the book starts we are dropped into first-year college student Tom's career on the university hockey team but the story quickly turns to being about the characters rather than the sport. Tom meets his hockey idol and becomes involved in his life finding out that the man is not like what he is represented in the press at all. The book deals with many issues, and if it has any faults it would be that it tackles too many at once. Smoking, drinking, drunk driving, parental death, alcoholism, not losing touch with one's real friends on the way up and money/career are not the meaning of life. However when all is said and done the book's main theme is not idol-worshipping other people. It's a dramatic story that had me reading straight through. The art is a bit inconsistent, Tom's look becomes feminine at times, some facial expressions are downright ugly and while there aren't many female characters the young ones tended to have manga-looking eyes. Recommended for teens, especially boys, interested in hockey.

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Superman/Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule

Superman/Wonder Woman (New 52), Vol. 1: Power Couple by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

New 52
Superman & Family
Wonder Woman

I came into this not quite sure how I'd find. I'm not into Superman or anything Metropolis but I am a Wonder Woman and anything Justice League related fan so I had some good expectations. This presented a top-notch story that was equally owned by Wonder Woman and Superman. It felt like both got their fair share of time and each's world was explored. Diana spends time with her sister, takes Clark to meet some of her God relatives and takes a visit home to the Island. Clark is found at work and surrounded by his Kent-identity friends, a good portion of the story takes place in Metropolis and the overall plot of the book centres on returning villains from Superman's past. I like the dynamics between Diana and Superman and am loving them as a couple, Steve Trevor shows up in a scene with the JL of A which reminds us that his relational aftermath problems with WW were based on his immature behaviour, something not likely to happen if Supe and the Amazon ever call it quits. The plot itself was great; we have two of the strongest superheroes alive and they're confronted with their matches in villains with Doomsday and General Zod along with the plans to open up the gates of the "Phantom Zone", Krypton's prison dimension. Great stuff!

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