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26. Free Comic Book Day 2015: Read It! The Ten Best Comics

I’ve finished reading all fifty Free Comic Book Day titles for 2015!

This year’s been better than most… there were very few which made me wonder why someone spent time and money to produce something so lackluster.

Since most stores limit how many titles a customer can select, I have selected what I think are the best titles from this year.

To make it easier, I’ve selected two titles, one for adults, one for kids, which I think are the best of the lot.  They are:

FCBD 2015 HIP HOP FAMILY TREE 3-IN-1 FEATURING COSPLAYERS (MR)

and

FCBD 2015 COMICS FESTIVAL

Please realize that the best titles this year are all Silver sponsors, which means that some stores may have limited quantities available, or none at all.

Honorable Mention:

FCBD 2015 DARK HORSE ALL AGES AVATAR PVZ BANDETTE

 FCBD 2015 TERRIBLE LIZARD #1

FCBD 2015 STEAMPUNK GOLDILOCKS



FCBD 2015 MERCURY HEAT DEBUT (MR)

FCBD Mercury HeatPublisher: AVATAR PRESS INC
(W) Kieron Gillen (A/CA) Omar Francia
[No summary, age rating.]
Kieron Gillen also wrote Phonogram, and Über, which I recommended last year.
This is hard science fiction, set in a future where Mercury is used as a solar energy farm.  Luiza, deemed psychologically unfit to be a police officer on Earth, instead becomes a freelance cop on Mercury.
Half of the book is text and sketches, detailing the creation of this fascinating world.  (Did you know Mercury is habitable?  But you have to keep moving ahead of the sunrise.)  The trade is worth a read went it comes out.

FCBD 2015 MOTORCYCLE SAMURAI

motorcycle samuraiPublisher: IDW – TOP SHELF
(W/A/CA) Chris Sheridan
Look hard into the storm clouds. You may yet see her, mounted on her electric steed, streaking past. The last hero of the West… THE MOTORCYCLE SAMURAI! It’s been called “the new benchmark for indie digital comics.” Now discover the mad genius of The Motorcycle Samurai for yourself, as Chris Sheridan does the unthinkable: brings his creation to print! Top Shelf celebrates FREE COMIC BOOK DAY with 24 pages of full-color action, whetting appetites around the world for the future release of The Motorcycle Samurai graphic novel. Now saddle up and let’s ride!
Rating: Teen
Yup… the latest iteration of the American Monomyth!  Part Western, part Martial Arts, with a straightforward smile reminiscent of Scott Pilgrim.  This should appeal to younger and older readers.

FCBD 2015 SUPERMUTANT MAGIC ACADEMY STEP ASIDE POPS COMBO

FCBD15 Super MutantPublisher: DRAWN & QUARTERLY
(W/A/CA) Jillian Tamaki, Kate Beaton
Drawn & Quarterly celebrates its 25th year in publishing with this special edition all-ages FCBD previewing two of its biggest books for 2015.
Kate Beaton is back with Step Aside, Pops! her 2015 follow-up to her bestselling debut, Hark! A Vagrant, with more irreverent and hilarious comics on history and literature. Sharing the billing is Jillian Tamaki, best known for co-creating Skim and This One Summer – moody and atmospheric award winners. SuperMutant Magic Academy, which Jillian has been serializing online for the past four years, paints a teenaged world filled with just as much ennui and uncertainty, but also with a sharp dose of humor. Drawn & Quarterly’s FCBD showcases two of the best known women in comics today and is ideal for retailers looking to expand and diversify their customer base.
Rating: All-Ages

For all the cool kids who hang out in the school library!  Kate Beaton continues her Hark! webcomic, covering a wide variety of subjects!
Jillian Tamaki, one of the latest greatest cartoonists, offers samples from her new book, available NOW!  (Well done, D+Q!)

FCBD 2015 TEEN TITANS GO SCOOBY DOO TEAM UP

FCBD15 DC kidsPublisher: DC
DC Entertainment’s all-ages FCBD special edition has two tales for readers of all ages! The Teen Titans are back in Teen Titans Go! Chapter 10, and Scooby Doo Team Up! #6 features the Super Friends! Readers will want to follow the adventures of the Teen Titans in Teen Titans Go! Volume 1, and Scooby Doo’s adventure with the Super Friends will continue in the forthcoming collected edition of Scooby Doo Team-Up! Super-hero adventures for readers of all ages have never been so much fun!
Rating: All-Ages
Teen Titans Go! is very similar to the cartoon.  Scooby-Doo Team-Up is a guilty pleasure, as those meddling kids share adventures with other cartoon superstars!  (Superfriends! Johnny Quest!  Secret Squirrel!  The Jetsons!) If you don’t want to waste your pick on this title, then I STRONGLY  recommend you buy S-DT-U#6!  Were I editing a collection of the best DC team-ups from the past 75 years, this would be one of the stories included!
Yes, Batman is smiling. dun Dun DUNNNN...

Yes, Batman is smiling.
dun Dun DUNNNN…


FCBD 2015 2000 AD SPECIAL

FCBD15 2000ADPublisher: REBELLION / 2000AD
(W) Matt Smith & Various (A) Norm Breyfogle & Various
The galaxy’s greatest Eisner-nominated SF anthology returns to Free Comic Book Day with a 48 page zarjaz line-up of stories. In Through the Out Door, a brand new story from Matt Smith and Norm Breyfogle, Judge Dredd uses the iron fist of the law to settle a block dispute; in 3000 AD some jobs are murder, as proved by The Traveller from Mick McMahon; galactic frontiersman Ajax Bloodthirsty meets his match on the astronomical object of oblivion known as the Death Rock in a new tale from Ben Willsher and Barry Krishna; the Grand Master of Termight is sickened to find that his final resting place has been defiled by the legendary alien freedom fighter, Nemesis the Warlock in Tomb of Torquemada  by Pat Mills and Kevin O’Neill; wizened master of the occult, Doctor Sin returns to pass on his mantle (and battle a demon) in Don’t Call It A Comeback by Rob Williams and Luca Pizzari; pilot of the future, Dan Dare, discovers an alien satellite in Star Slayer by Dave Gibbons and Gerry-Finley Day; Celtic warrior Sláine acquaints more enemies with his axe in A Simple Killing by Pat Mills and Simon Davis; Judge Dredd upholds the law in some classic Dredd newspaper strips by John Wagner, Alan Grant and Ron Smith; and Prepare your mind to be melted by Tharg’s Alien Invasions from supreme craz-o-naut Henry Flint.If this wasn’t enough each strip comes with a FREE digital story attached!
Rating: Teen+
Wow!  What a stellar bang!  This is just like the weekly comic, with a variety of stories! Unfortunately, Norm Breyfogle suffered a stroke, so the lead story was reassigned. And as the summary above states, there are free digital comics available!  Just scan the Q-codes!

FCBD 2015 AVENGERS #1

FCBD15 AvengersPublisher: MARVEL COMICS
WHAT BETTER WAY TO CELEBRATE FREE COMIC BOOK DAY THEN BY ASSEMBLING EARTH’S MIGHTIEST-AND MOST POPULAR-HEROES?!
Iron Man! Captain America! Thor! Black Widow! Hawkeye! Hulk! Vision! Everyone’s favorite heroes take on a dangerous new threat!
Rating: All-Ages

They left out “Mark Waid!”  Judging from the advertising blurbs, this is part of the new Marvel Universe?  Part of Battleworld?  Doesn’t matter.  We have the camouflaged Spidey, Ms. Marvel, and teen Nova are on the Avengers, partnering with “Crystal” Iron Man (“Sam”?), Lady Thor, Vision, and the new Captain America.  Fun stuff!
The backup story is from the Uncanny Inhumans.  Beautiful artwork!  The story is a nice tone-piece, explaining the Terrigen cloud that is turning ordinary humans into Inhumans.  I’m a bit confused by some of the social dynamics, but I’m sure that will be detailed in the ongoing series.
There’s also a short preview of “Max Ride: First Flight”, and a two-page ad for the Disney Kingdoms titles.
My advice?  Grab this instead of the Secret Wars prologue.

FCBD15 Bodie TrollPublisher: RED 5 COMICS
(W/A/CA) Jay P. Fosgitt
With a mix of playfully irreverant humor, attention-grabbing art and incredible heart, BODIE TROLL is a perfect first comic to give to a non-comic-reader of any age. In an all-new exclusive adventure, things turn ugly for cute BODIE TROLL when he gets hijacked into that most agonizing of events – a little girl’s tea party! Plus, an all-new adventure from the world of DRONE and previews of 2015 Red 5 favorites and new faces.
Rating: All-Ages
Bodie gets drunk!  (On root beer, so it’s okay.)  Seriously… after you read this, you’ll want to buy the trade!  Jay P. Fosgitt is a master of cartooning, on a level with Jeff Smith. Humor, amazing figure drawing…  you almost wish it were a cartoon, but this is better, because you can linger over every panel at your leisure!
Oh… right…. there are two more stories!  “Drone” sets up an interesting premise…the military uses remote-controlled robot soldiers. The main protagonist is a gamer, not a soldier, and thus the misfit of the squad. This looks promising.  Also, “Creature Academy” has nice art, but the story is a bit lacking.

FCBD15 CBLDFPublisher: COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
(W/A) Various (CA) Dean Trippe
For over 25 years, the CBLDF has fought to protect your right to read, and that crusade continues with this light-hearted look at a serious topic. Defend Comics is a sampler of the great YA comics available, and explores the censorship of comics with some of today’s most talented creators!
Writers on Defend Comics include Andi Watson, Gene Yang, George O’Connor, Dan Parent, Larry Marder and Jorge Aguirre, with art by Watson, Sonny Liew, O’Connor, Parent, Marder, and Rafael Rosado.
Stories include “The Green Turtle Fights for Free Speech!” by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew, “Rabbids!,” “Princess Decompsia and Count Spatula” by Andi Watson, “Beanworld” by Larry Marder, “Archie Presents Kevin Keller” by Dan Parent, “Giants Beware!” by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado, and “A Tale of the Olympians: The Ears of King Midas” by George O’Connor.
Rating: All-Ages


Only the Archie story is a bit preachy (which is okay).  The rest nicely express the themes of the CBLDF.  I want to read more Princess Decomposia stories!  (And Beanworld, of course, but it’s worth the wait!)

FCBD 2015 COMICS FESTIVAL

FCBD15 Comics FestivalPublisher: COMICS FESTIVAL
(W/A) Various
It’s a Comics Festival! Continuing the tradition of featuring all-new short stories by some of the greatest comics creators in Canada! A wonderful showcase for existing and forthcoming comics & graphic novels! Here’s who’s inside:
* Cover by Isabelle Arsenault (Jane, The Fox, and Me).
* Back Cover by Dave Roman (Astronaut Academy, Teen Boat)
Plus:
* Lady’s Favor, by Kate Beaton (Hark, A Vagrant)
* The Boss, by Mariko Tamaki (Skim, This One Summer) and Gillian Goerz
* In Real Life: Con Game, by Cory Doctorow (Little Brother) and Jen Wang (Koko Be Good).
* Once Upon a Pony, by Svetlana Chmakova (Nightschool)
* Superhero Girl: The Death of Kevin, by Faith Erin Hicks (Friends with Boys)
* Costume Quest, by Zac Gorman (Magical Game Time)
Rating: Teen+









This comic is sponsored by the Toronto Comics Arts Festival (being held next week!)
Lots of good stuff in this one, for everyone!

FCBD15 Hip HopPublisher: FANTAGRAPHICS BOOKS
(W) Ed Piskor, Dash Shaw (A) Ed Piskor & Various (CA) Ed Piskor
Featuring Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree series and Dash Shaw’s Cosplayers! Piskor’s half features excerpts from all three existing HHFT volumes, plus the Rob Liefeld/Spike Lee commercial adaptation and exclusive pinups by R Crumb, Scottie Young, Jim Rugg, Ben Marra, and more…! Shaw’s side delivers an all-new, 24-page issue of his thoughtful and funny exploration of human endeavor and social interaction as seen through the lives of two cosplayers. Enjoy the works of two of the great contemporary graphic novelists of their generation! With exclusive wraparound cover by Piskor.
Rating: Teen+
Wow.  Excerpts from volumes 1, 2, and 3, mostly featuring Rick Rubin.  Also appearing: Russell Simmons, Ladies Love Cool James!
But wait…
Howabout pinups by Skottie Young, R. Crumb, Ben Marra, and Jim Ruff?  Not enough? How about Rob Liefeld and Spike Lee?
Not enough?  Sheesh.  Okay…  I know what will get you to read this!
Dash Shaw doing comics about cosplayers!  (And just because you were so reticent…JACK KIRBY!)

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27. Toni Morrison and David Baldacci Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

God Help the ChildWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending April 26, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #3 in Hardcover Fiction) God Help the Child by Toni Morrison: “At the center: a young woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life, but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #4 in Hardcover Fiction) Memory Man by David Baldacci: “Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #5 in Hardcover Nonfiction) Missoula by Jon Krakauer: “Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team the Grizzlies with a rabid fan base. The Department of Justice investigated 350 sexual assaults reported to the Missoula police between January 2008 and May 2012. Few of these assaults were properly handled by either the university or local authorities. In this, Missoula is also typical. ” (April 2015)

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28. Free Comic Book Day 2015: Read It Or Leave It? Part One: Gold Titles

Here’s how Free Comic Book Day works:
There are two sponsorship levels: Gold and Silver.
The Gold titles?  Every participating retailers must order these titles.  (Yes, stores BUY those FCBD titles that you get for free…so buy something at every store you visit!)
Twelve titles are offered this year.  Many of the publishers listed below also offer a secondary title in the Silver section, but those are less likely to be found at each comics shop.
Of course, since stores invest a lot of time and money in celebrating this great tradition, most will limit how many copies you can grab select during your visit.  To help you make the most of your Free Comic Book Day, I offer the following reviews.  These are my personal opinions, but I’ve read just about every single FCBD issue issued since 2002, plus I’ve been reading lots of comics since 1974, so I’m jaded and patinaed and  inoculated against most forms of hyperbole.  I’m also judging these as a new reader would, because that’s the whole idea of Free Comic Book Day…to gain new readers.
Don’t agree?  Feel free to comment below.

FCBD 2015 BOBS BURGERS

Layout 1Publisher: D. E.
(W) Mike Olsen & Various (A) Bradley C. Rader & Various
Bob’s Burgers, the hit TV show created by Loren Bouchard, is now a comic book! The Belcher family – parents Bob and Linda, and their children Tina, Gene, and Louise – appear in this special Free Comic Book Day edition that collects the “Best Of” in-canon stories from Dynamite’s first-ever Bob’s Burgers comic book series.  Thrill to Tina’s Friend Fiction, Louise’s Unsolved Mysteries and Curious Curiosities, Gene Belcher Presents: The Musical, and more! It’s an all-ages extravaganza that captures the feel of Bob’s Burgers perfectly – because it’s a comic 100% created by show writers and animators!
Rating: All-Ages
 I haven’t watched the show, so I don’t know much of what’s going on.  It’s kind of weird… but I did like the musical episode.

FCBD 2015 BONGO COMICS FREE-FOR-ALL!

Adobe Photoshop PDFPublisher: BONGO COMICS
(W/A/CA) Matt Groening
Get in line for the foremost Free Comic Book Day four-color giveaway of the year! When Bart brings one of Professor Frink’s recent discoveries to school, it leads to some hair-raising hilarity. Then, Lisa finds a doorway to an ancient past, CBG gets a hip -new girlfriend, and Homer tries his hand at some home improvement. And much more.
Rating: All-Ages
Yup… just like the blurb says!
Side note: are the characters on the cover canonical?  I love the symmetry!

FCBD 2015 BOOM STUDIOS 10TH ANNIVERSARY FCBD SPECIAL

FCBD15 BOOMPublisher: BOOM! STUDIOS
(W) Grace Ellis & Various (A) Vicki Scott & Various

2015 is BOOM! Studios’ Tenth Anniversary year, and to help us celebrate we’ve gathered short stories from several current and new all-ages titles for Free Comic Book Day, offering an oversized, full-color issue that showcases 10 all-ages-friendly titles from our Archaia, BOOM! Box, and KaBOOM! imprints. The BOOM! Studios Ten Year Celebration 2015 Free Comic Book Day Special features a cover illustrated by Mouse Guard creator David Petersen and will contain the following stories:

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth

“Wisdom and Idioms” Written and Illustrated by Cory Godbey
An all-new short based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. The Wiseman and his bird try to find some humor in the magical world of Labyrinth.

Iscariot

Written and Illustrated by S.M. Vidaurri
Young Carson discusses magic and time with a wizard in this special preview of the upcoming Archaia original graphic novel written and illustrated by Iron: Or, the War After creator S.M. Vidaurri.

Mouse Guard

“Service to Seyan”
Written and Illustrated by David Petersen
An excerpt from Mouse Guard: Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales. Gwendolyn learns about her mother Alma and the great warrior hall of Seyan.

Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake: Card Wards

Created by Pendleton Ward
Written by Jen Wang
Illustrated by Britt Wilson
A brand-new Fionna & Cake short from writer Jen Wang (In Real Life) and Britt Wilson (Adventure Time with Fionna & Cake)! Fionna and Cake are on the search for an opponent for Cake to play against in Card Wars.


Regular Show

“Coffee Shop Special!”
Created by JG Quintel
Written by Kevin Church
Illustrated by Coleman Engle
Based on the hit Cartoon Network animated series, Eileen and Margaret make Muscle Man his special drink.



Peanuts

“Dogstoevsky”
Created by Charles M. Schulz
Story by Charles M. Schulz
Pencils by Vicki Scott
Snoopy looks to finally become the World’s Greatest Author, but Lucy’s help may not be the helpful push he needs.



Garfield

“Fast Feline”
Created by Jim Davis
Written by Mark Evanier
Illustrated by Andy Hirsch
Nothing can keep Garfield from a good meal, even if it means having to beat the fastest cat to get it.



Lumberjanes

Created by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis
Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
Illustrated by Brooke Allen
When the Lumberjanes aren’t taking care of pesky critters or crazy demigods, they’re making fun crafts like friendship bracelets. Friendship to the max!


Munchkin

“Table of Contents”
Written and Illustrated by John Kovalic
Fight the monsters, steal the treasure, and backstab your buddy! A wandering monster table appears in this short from the illustrator of the hit card game Munchkin, John Kovalic.

Help Us! Great Warrior

Written and illustrated by Madeleine Flores
Based on the hit webcomic and new miniseries from Madeleine Flores. Great Warrior gets attacked on the road!

Rating: All-Ages

I really want to see a raccoon rodeo…


FCBD 2015 DARK CIRCLE COMICS #1 (MR)

FCBD15 Dark CirclePublisher: DARK CIRCLE COMICS
(W) Duane Swierczynski & Various (A) Michael Gaydos & Various (CA) Francesco Francavilla
THE BLACK HOOD! THE FOX! THE SHIELD! Get in on the ground floor of Dark Circle Comics and experience the cinematic and creator-driven reinventions of these iconic properties. Who is the new Shield? How did the Black Hood come to be? Can things get more unpredictable for The Fox? Learn the secrets of the Dark Circle universe from the creators themselves via sneak peeks at the new series, creator interviews and a first glance at the next Dark Circle series – all held together by an eye-popping cover from Afterlife with Archie artist Francesco Francavilla!
Rating: Mature Readers
Wow… they weren’t kidding!  There’s some blacked-out swear words!  We see the prologue to the Black Hood, a teaser of The Fox, and some sketches for The Shield.  Given the various incarnations over the years, I’m curious to see if this time is the charm!

FCBD 2015 DARK HORSE FIGHT CLUB THE GOON THE STRAIN (MR)

FCBD15 Fight ClubPublisher: DARK HORSE COMICS
(W) Chuck Palahniuk & Various (A) Cameron Stewart & Various (CA) David Mack
Dark Horse Comic’s most thrilling FCBD to date . . . Chuck Palahniuk and Cameron Stewart premiere Fight Club! Eric Powell with all-new tragedy in The Goon! And Guillermo del Toro presents an all-new chapter from The Strain! Need we say more?
Rating: Mature Readers
Fight Club…haven’t see the movie, so I don’t get what’s going on here.  The Goon…has vampires from the Confederacy.  The Strain… again, not familiar with the source material.
.

FCBD 2015 DC COMICS DIVERGENCE

FCBD15 DivergencePublisher: DC
A first look at upcoming storylines! DC Comics: Divergence features three 8-page previews for the June releases of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman, as well as Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s launch of the “Darkseid War” within Justice League featuring the biggest villains in the DCU – Darkseid and the Anti-Monitor, and Gene Luen Yang’s DC Comics debut with celebrated artist John Romita, Jr on Superman.
Rating: Teen
Three prologues… We discover what happened to Batman, Superman has gone underground, and we discover that Wonder Woman shares a birthday (and other traits) with an upcoming Justice League Bigbad.

FCBD 2015 DOCTOR WHO SPECIAL

FCBD15 Doctor WhoPublisher: TITAN
(W) Robbie Morrison & Various (A) Elena Casagrande & Various
Take a blistering trip through time and space with three stunning ALL-NEW short stories featuring Tenth Doctor, Eleventh Doctor and the brand-new Twelfth Doctor by the ongoing DOCTOR WHO creative teams – PLUS a sneak peek of the TOP SECRET Summer 2015 event! Be the first to get a hint of the epic that will shake the Doctor to his core! It’s an unmissable read for fans, and the perfect primer for anyone looking to jump on board the TARDIS!
Rating: Teen+
#10 does laundry.  #11 drives the narrative.  #12 breaks the circuit.
Nice stories, self-contained, and you don’t really need to know much about The Doctor to enjoy them.

FCBD 2015 PERFECT SQUARE PRESENTS POKEMON

POK_201502FCBD2015SolicitationCover.inddPublisher: PERFECT SQUARE
(W) Hidenori Kusaka (A) Various
All your favorite Pokémon game characters jump out of the screen into the pages of this action-packed comic! Legendary Pokémon Xerneas and Yveltal ‘s battle against each other is destroying Vaniville Town. Can X and Y save the town in Pokémon X o Y?!
Bonus Feature: More action in Pokémon Adventures and Pokémon Adventures Black and White!
Rating: All-Ages

Three introductory stories.  The new series about the reclusive Pokemon trainer seems interesting, but I’m not the target audience for this series.

FCBD 2015 SAVAGE DRAGON LEGACY

FCBD15 Savage DragonPublisher: IMAGE COMICS
(W/A/CA) Erik Larsen
The generational saga of Savage Dragon reaches a new milestone as Malcolm Dragon graduates high school and follows his father’s footsteps to the Chicago Police Department. Every young new officer has a lot to live up to, but for the son of a world famous figure as renowned as he is reviled, navigating the world of law enforcement is especially challenging. The cost of failure is high in a city becoming more dangerous by the day: Can Malcolm step out of his father’s shadow and become the hero Chicago needs, or is he doomed to make the same mistakes?
Rating: Teen+
So…Malcolm Dragon is the Savage Dragon’s son.   Sort of.  It’s complicated.  Larsen gets most of the exposition out of the way early, and I enjoyed his drawing style.

FCBD 2015 SECRET WARS #0

FCBD15 Secret WarsPublisher: MARVEL COMICS
Prepare yourself for the final days of the Marvel Universe as you know it as the march to the biggest comic event of the year continues! From the ashes of a decimated cosmos rises…Battleworld! Amid the strange, patchwork realm, refugees from thousands of obliterated universes struggle for survival. Even if they can endure the horrors of Battleworld – the home they knew has been destroyed! Time has run out, and the opening salvo of Secret Wars has been fired. But can anything restore the Marvel Universe that once was?
Rating: Teen+
Issue Zero, so this is another prologue.  Not much happens…  but I enjoyed the Future Foundation kids, especially their numbered jumpsuits.

FCBD 2015 SPONGEBOB FREESTYLE FUNNIES

Layout 1Publisher: UNITED PLANKTON PICTURES
(W/A) Graham Anable (CA) Gregg Schigiel, Rick Neilsen
This year’s SpongeBob Comics FCBD offering features a 22-page story by Boxtrolls director and Grickle cartoonist Graham Annable. In “Tangy!” Plankton’s new special sauce made from jellyfish jelly has strange effects on SpongeBob and Bikini Bottom’s residents. The only one unaffected, the only one who can save them all, is a very reluctant Squidward. Plus more undersea sequential stories by James Kochalka, Maris Wicks, Gregg Schigiel. and other awesome aquatic artists!
Rating: All-Ages
Fun stuff.  Nothing that knocks my socks off, just good old-fashioned cartoony comics!

FCBD 2015 TRANSFORMERS ROBOTS IN DISGUISE #0

FCBD15 transformersPublisher: IDW PUBLISHING
(W) John Barber, Tom Scioli (A) Priscilla Tramontano, Tom Scioli (CA) Priscilla Tramontano
OPTIMUS PRIME is gone-and DECEPTICONS are on the loose! It’s up to BUMBLEBEE and an elite crew of AUTOBOTS to track them down before their rampage spreads across Earth! TRANSFORMERS comics have never been hotter, and the excitement spreads to this all-original comic inspired by the all-new animated series! Plus: previews of IDW and Hasbro unbelievable publishing slate for 2015, including an exclusive TRANSFORMERS VS. G.I. JOE strip!
Rating: All-Ages
The coloring was a bit murky, as if the panels were photo-comics.  Otherwise, I liked the lead story with the cartoony style and characterization.  The Transformers vs G.I. Joe strip is fun, and if you loved the old 80s cartoons, or love crazy indy-infused pop culture, pick up this series NOW.  It was one of the highlights of last year’s FCBD, and for you Hasbro fans, it’s a bit of a prequel to the original Joe cartoon series!

1 Comments on Free Comic Book Day 2015: Read It Or Leave It? Part One: Gold Titles, last added: 5/2/2015
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29. This Changes Everything, Part Two

coverartClimate change is happening right now and it is only going to get worse unless we take drastic steps immediately. Yesterday was the bad news portion of Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. Today is the small ray of hope.

It is entirely possible to make the switch to 100% renewable energy for the entire world by as early as 2030. We have the technology to do this, what is lacking is the will and the money. The free market as it currently functions will not get us there nor will our politicians. What needs to happen, Klein says is a mass social movement. She believes it is the only thing that will save us now. There are precedents, remember the Arab Spring? The US Civil Rights Movement? The Women’s Movement? Granted, none of these brought about a complete revolution, but they made an impact and perhaps a world-wide social movement could take hold and save us all.

There are places where it is already beginning. Klein calls the movement “Blockadia.” Currently much of it exists in areas where people are trying to protect land from being fracked. In the United States and Canada there are arising coalitions between indigenous peoples and their traditional opposition: ranchers, hunters, large farming operations. There is also a growing movement begun in Totnes, UK called Transition Town. It is a community led project to build resilient, sustainable communities.

Then there is the divestment movement that seems to be growing rapidly especially among universities. Divestment is about large institutions getting rid of their investments in fossil fuels. Yes, someone else buys the shares when they are sold, however, the more places that divest, the more public awareness it gets, the more unacceptable it becomes to make money from fossil fuels.

The bad news is there is nothing we can do alone that will make a difference. The good news is that together we can make change happen. Klein understands the difficulty in this:

For most of us living in postindustrial societies, when we see the crackling black-and-white footage of general strikes in the 1930s, victory gardens in the 1940s, and Freedom Rides in the 1960s, we simply cannot imagine being part of any mobilization of that depth and scale. That kind of thing was fine for them but surely not us — with our eyes glued to smart phones, attention spans scattered by click bait, loyalties split by the burdens of debt and insecurities of contract work. Where would we organize? Who would we trust enough to lead us? Who, moreover, is ‘we’?

The key to it all is a change of mindset. We much let go of our extractivist thinking that allows us to believe we can take and take and take, that we can control and dominate nature. There must, as Klein says, be a “fundamental shift in power relations between humanity and the natural world.” We must give up taking and dominating and become caretakers focused on renewal and regeneration.

It won’t be easy, if it were, we would have changed our ways already. But it isn’t impossible and we shouldn’t give up. One of the great things about a mass movement is when you start to feel overwhelmed and like your work isn’t making a difference, you are surrounded by people who can help bolster and renew your spirit. So find a local group already active in your area, or if there isn’t one, start one. Talk to your neighbors, your friends, they probably feel the same way you do and are just waiting for someone to light the fire. You could be the spark that gets it going.


Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Reviews Tagged: climate change

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30. This Changes Everything, Part One

Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything was a seriously depressing book for me. It took a long time to get through because I could not bear to read more than twenty or so pages at a time. The book can be more or less broken up into two parts, the bad news and there is still a chance to do something news. This will be the bad news post.

Of all the things I have read about climate change, Klein’s book stands out for a number of reasons. First and foremost, she takes the economic angle and attacks capitalism, particularly the neoliberal kind we have been living under since the 1980s. Second, she presents a viable economic alternative that would not only save us from cooking the planet, but that would raise the living conditions of not only poor countries but also the poor in wealthy countries to a level where everyone had enough — food, decent housing, and good health care. Yes, this takes a massive redistribution of wealth and a good many people won’t like it, but such a move is part of a social justice issue that addresses many of the wrongs wealthy countries have perpetrated against poor, undeveloped and developing countries for hundreds of years.

Klein’s book is filled with lots and lots of facts and numbers. I won’t go into the details of those, if you want them, read the book or do some Googling or visit 350.org. I’m going to stay high level or else there will be more than two posts about this book. So let’s start where we are right now:

So we are left with a stark choice: allow climate change disruption to change everything about our world, or change pretty much everything about our economy to avoid that fate. But we need to be very clear: because of our decades of collective denial, no gradual, incremental options are now available to us. Gentle tweaks to the status quo stopped being a climate option when we supersized the American Dream in the 1990s, and then proceeded to take it global.

In other words, if we had begun immediately cutting emissions after the World Conference on the Changing Atmosphere in 1988, we’d be in pretty good shape right now because we could have gone about the whole thing gradually. But since we haven’t done that, in order to limit global warming to 2C (which is still huge and will cause, and is already causing as we move toward that number, untold disasters) we have to make drastic changes immediately and take less than a decade to get to the targeted reduction in emissions required. What kind of cuts are we talking about? Try 8-10% every year.

I was not surprised to learn about the horrors perpetrated by the extraction companies (coal, gas, oil) against the environment, people and even governments. I was, however, surprised to learn that some of the largest and most respected environmental groups take money from extraction companies and in the case of The Nature Conservancy, even have their own oil well on land that they are supposed to be protecting from oil drilling. I have lost all respect for them as well as WWF (World Wildlife Fund), World Resources Institute, the Environmental Defense Fund, and Conservation International. The Sierra Club was also extraction friendly for quite some time until a few years ago when they got a new president who put an end to that.

Unless we leave the oil and coal and natural gas in the ground there is at this point no “safe” emissions level. The free market is not going save us nor is technology. “Buying green” has become a thing, and yes, it is good to buy recycled products when you need them. The trouble is the free market tells us to buy in the first place. Buying green is not going to buy us into a livable environment. Not buying at all is what helps. But our economy is based on consumption and if we don’t buy, things go wrong. If we do buy, things go even more wrong.

Bill Gates (Microsoft) and Richard Branson (Virgin Group) among others are convinced technology will save us. They don’t think we should have to change anything we are doing at all and are funneling money into research that is looking for ways to suck carbon from the air. Still others are seriously considering geoengineering as a viable solution. Let’s make giant mirrors to reflect the sun away from our atmosphere! No, better yet, let’s go for the “Pinatubo option” and spray sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere! Problem is, while we know volcanic eruptions like Pinatubo had a cooling effect on the climate, we have no idea how it works and have no control over what happens up in the atmosphere and if we screw up there is nothing we can to about it. Not only that, climate models (and studies from the Pinatubo eruption) tend to reveal that such a maneuver would cause severe drought over a large area of Africa and South Asia. But somehow that is okay because why? The industrialized north will be saved and we can continue on our merry way without making any sacrifice other than then maybe sending food aid to all the starving millions. Of course, this is only a guess as to what would happen, we could also find ourselves suddenly in a Snowpiercer-like situation.

So if technology or the free market won’t save us, if the extraction companies refuse to cease operations and our politicians aren’t doing anything at all or not nearly enough, what can possibly be done? It looks pretty bleak but there is a small crack of hope. More on that tomorrow.


Filed under: Books, Nonfiction, Reviews Tagged: climate change

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31. Review of The Boy in the Black Suit

reynolds_boy-in-the-black-suitThe Boy in the Black Suit
by Jason Reynolds
Middle School, High School   Atheneum   257 pp.
1/15   978-1-4424-5950-2   $17.99
e-book ed. 978-1-4424-5952-6   $10.99

High-school senior Matt wears a black suit because he has a job at Mr. Ray’s funeral home (setting up chairs and food for services), but also — metaphorically — because he himself is in mourning, for the mother who died just before the book begins and the long-on-the-wagon father who has returned to drink. Although his work responsibilities end when the funerals begin, Matt finds himself sticking around to find “the person hurting the most,” hoping that his or her expression of grief will perhaps help him deal with his own. While all this sounds like heavy problem-novel territory, it isn’t. Matt is a good kid with a good best friend, Chris; their Bed-Stuy neighborhood is gritty but also a place of true community. There’s even a sweet romance between Matt and a girl he meets at her grandmother’s funeral. With When I Was the Greatest (rev. 1/14) and now this book, Reynolds writes about urban African American kids in a way, warm and empathetic, that the late Walter Dean Myers would have applauded.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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32. Review of the Day: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

The Jumbies
By Tracey Baptiste
Algonquin Young Readers
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616204143
Ages 9-12
On shelves now

“All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town.” So sayeth Leo Tolstoy (at least in theory). Regardless of whether or not it’s actually true, it is fun to slot books into the different categories. And if I were to take Tracey Baptiste’s middle grade novel The Jumbies with the intention of designating it one type of story or another, I think I’d have to go with the latter definition. A stranger comes to town. Not quite true though, is it? For you see, in this particular book the stranger isn’t coming to town so much as infesting it. And does she still count as a stranger when she, technically was there first? It sounds a bit weird to say, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a creature comes to a village where it is the people who are the strangers” but you could make a case for that being the tale The Jumbies brings to light. Far more than just your average spooky supernatural story, Baptiste uses the underpinnings of a classic folktale to take a closer look at colonization, rebellion, and what it truly takes to share the burden of tolerating the “other”. Plus there are monsters. Gotta love the monsters.

Corinne La Mer isn’t what you might call a superstitious sort. Even when she chases an agouti into a forbidden forest she’s able to justify to herself why it looked as though a pair of yellow eyes followed her out. If she told other people about those eyes they’d say she ran across a jumbie, one of the original spooky denizens of her Caribbean island. Corinne’s a realist, though, so surely there’s another answer. And she probably would have put the whole incident out of her mind anyway, had Severine not appeared in her hut one day. Severine is beautiful and cunning. She’s been alone for a long long time and she’s in the market for a loving family. Trouble is, what Severine wants she usually gets, and Corinne may find that she and her father are getting ensnared in a dangerous creature’s loving control – whether they want to be or not. A tale based loosely on the Haitian folktale “The Magic Orange Tree.”

A bit of LOST, a bit of Beloved, and a bit of The Tempest. That’s the unusual recipe I’d concoct if I were trying to describe this book to adults. If I were trying to describe it to kids, however, I’d have some difficulty. Our nation’s library and bookstore shelves aren’t exactly overflowing with children’s novels set in the Caribbean. Actually, year or so ago I was asked to help co-create a booklist of Caribbean children’s literature with my librarian colleagues. We did pretty well in the picture book department. It was the novels that suffered in comparison. Generally speaking, if you want Caribbean middle grade novels you’d better be a fan of suffering. Whether it’s earthquakes (Serafina’s Promise), escape (Tonight By Sea), or the slave trade (My Name Is Not Angelica) Caribbean children’s literature is rarely a happy affair. And fantasy? I’m not going to say there aren’t any middle grade novels out there that make full and proper use of folklore, but none come immediately to mind. Now Ms. Baptiste debuted a decade ago with Angel’s Grace (called by Horn Book, “a promising first novel” with “An evocative setting and a focused narrative”). In the intervening ten years we hadn’t heard much from her. Fortunately The Jumbies proves she’s most certainly back in the game and with a book that has few comparable peers.

My knowledge of the Caribbean would fit in a teacup best enjoyed by a flea. What I know pretty much comes from the children’s books I read. So I am not qualified to judge The Jumbies on its accuracy to its setting or folkloric roots. When Ms. Baptiste includes what appears to be a family with roots in India in the narrative, I go along with it. Then, when the book isn’t looking, I sneak off to Wikipedia (yes, even librarians use Wikipedia from time to time) and read that “Indo-Trinidadian and Tobagonian are nationals of Trinidad and Tobago of India ancestry.” We Americans often walk around with this perception that ours is the only ethnically diverse nation. We have the gall to be surprised when we discover that other nations have multicultural (for lack of a better word) histories of their own. So it is that Corinne befriends Dru, an Indio-Trinidadian with a too large family.

The writing itself makes for a fun read. I wouldn’t label it overly descriptive or lyrical, necessarily, but it gets the job done. Besides, there are little moments in the text that I thought were rather nice. Lines like “Corinne remembered when they had buried her mama in the ground like a seed.” Or, on a creepier note, “A muddy tear spilled onto her cheek, then sprouted legs and crawled down her body.” What I really took to, more than anything else, was the central theme of “us” and “them”. Which is to say, there is no “us” and “them”, really. It’s a relationship. As a local witch says later in the story, “Our kind? What do you know about our kind and their kind, little one? You can’t even tell the difference.” Later she says it once again. “Their kind, your kind, is there a difference?” This is an island where the humans arrives and pushed out the otherworldly natives. When the natives fight back the humans are appalled. And as we read the story, we see that we are the oppressors here, to a very real extent. These jumbies might fight and hit and hurt and steal children, but they have their reasons. Even if we’ve chosen to forget what those might be.

I have a problem. I can’t read books for kids like I used to. Time was, when I first started in this business, that I could read a book like The Jumbies precisely as the author intended. I approached the material with all the wide-eyed wonder of a 10-year-old girl. Then I had to go and give birth and what happens? Suddenly I find that everything’s different and that I’m now reading the books as a parent. Scenes in The Jumbies that wouldn’t have so much as pierced my armor when I was younger now stab me directly through the heart. For example, there is a moment in this book when Dru recounts seeing her friend Allan stolen by the douens. As his mother called his name he turned to her, but his feet faced the other way, walking him into the forest. That just killed me. Kids? They’ll find it nicely creepy, but I don’t know that they’ll not entirely understand the true horror the parents encounter so that later in the book when a peace is to be reached, they have a real and active reason for continuing to pursue war. In this way the book’s final resolution almost feel too easy. You understand that the humans will agree on a peace if only because the jumbies have them outnumbered and outmanned. However, the hate and fear is going to be lingering for a long long time to come. This would be an excellent text to use to teach conflict resolution, come to think of it.

In her Author’s Note at the back of the book, Tracey Baptiste writes, “I grew up reading European fairy tales that were nothing like the Caribbean jumbie stories I listened to on my island of Trinidad. There were no jumbie fairy-tale books, though I wished there were. This story is my attempt at filling that gap in fairy-tale lore.” And fill it she does. Entrancing and engaging, frightening but never slacking, Baptiste enters an all-new folktale adaptation into our regular fantasy lore. Best suited for the kids seeking lore where creatures hide in the shadows of trees, but where they’re unlike any creatures the kids have seen before. Original. Haunting.

On shelves now.

Source: Galley sent from publisher for review.

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Misc: Read several excerpts here.

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And here’s the book trailer for you:

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33. Monday Review: The SHADOWFELL Trilogy by Juliet Marillier

Summary: I want my epic fantasy to sweep me away but, at the same time, tantalize me with hints that this is a world that COULD be, a world that is tangible and believable and recognizable even if it isn't quite our own. Juliet Marillier does an... Read the rest of this post

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34. Review of Meet the Dullards

pennypacker_meet the dullardsstar2 Meet the Dullards
by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Daniel Salmieri
Primary   Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins   32 pp.
3/15   978-0-06-219856-3   $17.99

The tradition of Bottner’s The Scaredy Cats (rev. 3/03) and Allard’s Stupids books (The Stupids Die, rev. 8/81) lives on with the Dullards, a family of five engulfed in ennui. The Dullard parents are horrified when they catch their children Blanda, Borely, and Little Dud reading books, asking to go to school, and even trying to play outdoors. Though the parents try to nip this revolt in the bud by moving to an even more boring house, they are challenged when a welcoming neighbor brings over a cake made with chunky applesauce (“so unpredictable”) and speaks enthusiastically (“‘Please don’t use exclamation marks in front of our children,’ said Mrs. Dullard”). And so it goes until, while watching paint dry (a mix of beige and gray labeled “Custom Dull”), the children finally escape out a window and make their own fun. Close readers will no doubt notice that the books the children were reading in the first pages of the story inspire both their imaginative play and the final circus scene. Pennypacker’s droll, deadpan text is matched by Salmieri’s flat and hilarious illustrations; the characters, with their elongated limbs and prominent eyes, might remind readers of Gru in the movie Despicable Me. The big, wide world is painted in bright reds and blues, while the Dullard parents stick to their predictable oatmeal-colored world, “secure in the knowledge that their children were perfect bores.” Not.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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35. Monday Mishmash 4/27/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Campus Crush Reached 360 on Amazon!  Last week this happened and I nearly fainted. lol Totally unexpected and I'm thrilled. This book is perma-free so feel free to grab your copy here if you haven't already.
  2. Editing  I'm editing a book for Leap Books this week. :)
  3. Review of the Touch of Death Series  The entire Touch of Death series was reviewed on Hello Jenny Reviews. Jenn also interviewed me. You can check it out here.
  4. Marketing  I've made a new goal to do at least one thing a day to market my books. So far I've averaged about three things, whether it be contacting someone for a speaking engagement, reaching out to bloggers, or finding sites to promote my books. Hopefully these efforts will pay off.
  5. The Darkness Within ARC Giveaway  My ARCs have arrived! Yay! That means it's giveaway time. Enter on the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win a signed ARC.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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36. To Attack the Stack . . .

To Attack the Stack . . .

puppy stack booksMonths of health problems, of which rehabilitation and recovery have finally begun—”YEAH!”—a knee  injury, and now gout in the large (large and red) knuckle of my big toe—yep, all on the same leg—(conservatively) stopped 130 book reviews, not that the current TBR stack has anywhere near that number of books.

kids-sitting-on-booksNeeding—wanting—to get these books to local school kids, honor my commitments to several wonderful publicity/marketing directors, and give myself a smidge of breathing room, most non-publisher review and tour requests—meaning predominantly self-published authors—have been turned down or asked to request again at a later date. This means not helping deserving writers, and robbing my loyal readers—yes, you—of some excellent stories from these creative, on-their-own writers. Even though reviews are Robot_Dog-33currently free, I feel increasing guilt with each “request denied” reply written.

That said, whenever themes emerge or similar genres can be grouped, one post may contain two or, less often (except the next post), three reviews. My lower word count* goal is still my goal. The shared post, really a summary of my thoughts, will not devalue any title’s review simply because it must share the
stars. Each title will have its own post and you can choose which complete review(s) to read.

I hope you will also choose to leave your own thoughts, opinions, and humorously crazy comments. puppy pencilEach one is much appreciated, read, and will receive a reply. Mr. This-Kid-Reviews-Books is fantastic at replying that same day (a goal I cannot seem to reach), but honestly, each comment is read and I promise, each will receive a reply . . . though not at the speed of James Patterson’s pen.

Therefore, please, I beg you, er, don’t make me beg!? Leave your legacy! Write thy witty words. Post perplexing prose. Rooaar, hisssss, or SNAP if dis-grrrrunt-tled. Like everyone who writes, I wait with baited breath for your comments; your review of my work; your words of wisdom; your ona . . . onomate . . . onomatopeaa . . . onomatopoeia.

Tank you and take care,

concentradoestudiosox

Sue

x
(Dang it! I know, this salutation needs twicked; dare I admit, needin you’re assistance. Many of you wonderfully loyal and precise, uh, preshous—oh heck, you, reader are a much better writers than I, I meant, me? . . . I? . . . . wee? . . . . . (Ugh, does I need a superhero!)

Cute_Dog_Robot-13Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

*Word count = 392.


Filed under: Guest Post, HELP!, Review Blogs Tagged: appreciation, children's book reviews, commenting, Erik from ThisKidReviewsBooks, Kid Lit Reviews, reviews, Sue Morris, TBR, You the Loyal Reader

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37. David Brooks & Nora Roberts Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

Princess in BlackWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending April 19, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #1 in Hardcover Nonfiction) The Road to Character by David Brooks: “Looking to some of the world’s greatest thinkers and inspiring leaders, Brooks explores how, through internal struggle and a sense of their own limitations, they have built a strong inner character. Labor activist Frances Perkins understood the need to suppress parts of herself so that she could be an instrument in a larger cause. Dwight Eisenhower organized his life not around impulsive self-expression but considered self-restraint. Dorothy Day, a devout Catholic convert and champion of the poor, learned as a young woman the vocabulary of simplicity and surrender.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #7 in Middle Grade Readers) The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale: “Princess Magnolia is having hot chocolate and scones with Duchess Wigtower when…Brring! Brring! The monster alarm! A big blue monster is threatening the goats! Stopping monsters is no job for dainty Princess Magnolia. But luckily Princess Magnolia has a secret —she’s also the Princess in Black, and stopping monsters is the perfect job for her!” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #11 in Hardcover Fiction) The Liar by Nora Roberts: “Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning…” (April 2015)

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38. Review of the Day: On the Shoulder of a Giant by Neil Christopher

On the Shoulder of a Giant: An Inuit Folktale
By Neil Christopher
Illustrated by Jim Nelson
Inhabit Media
$16.95
ISBN: 978-1-77227-002-0
Ages 4-7
On shelves now

My daughter is afraid of giants. She’s three so this isn’t exactly out of the norm. However, it does cut out a portion of her potential reading material. Not all giants fall under this stricture, mind you. She doesn’t seem to have any problem with the guys in Giant Dance Party and “nice” giants in general get a pass. Still, we’ve had to put the kibosh on stories like Jack and the Beanstalk and anything else where getting devoured is a serious threat. Finding books about good giants is therefore an imperative and it walks hand in hand with my perpetual search for amazing folktales. Every year I scour the publishers for anything resembling a folktale. In the old days they were plentiful and you could have your pick of the offerings. These days, the big publishers hardly want to touch the stuff, so it’s up to the smaller guys to fill in the gaps. And no one stands as a better folktale gap filler than the Inuit owned company Inhabit Media. Producing consistently high quality books for kids, one of their latest titles is the drop dead gorgeous On the Shoulder of a Giant. Funny, attractive, and a straight up accurate folktale, this is children’s book publishing at its best. And as for the giant himself, my daughter has never run into a guy like him before.

“…if there is only one Arctic giant story you take the time to learn about, this is the one to remember.” Which giant? Why Inukpak, of course! Large (even for a giant) our story recounts Inukpak’s various deeds. He could stride across wide rivers, and fish full whales out of the sea. In his travels, there was one day when Inukpak ran across a little human hunter. Misunderstanding the man to be a small child, the giant promptly adopted him. And since the man was no fool he understood that when a giant claims you, you have little recourse but to accept. He went along with it. The giant fished their dinner and when a polar bear threatened the hunter Inukpak flicked it away like it was no more than a baby fox or lemming. In time the two became good friends and had many adventures together. Backmatter called “More About Arctic Giants” explains at length about their size, their fights, their relationship to the giant polar bears, and how they may still be around – maybe right under your feet!

I’ve read a lot of giant fare in my day and I have never encountered a tale quite like this. Not that the story really goes much of anywhere. The only true question you find yourself asking as you read the tale is whether or not the hunter will ever confess to the giant that he isn’t actually a child. But as I read and reread the tale, I came to love the humor of the tale. Combined with the art, it’s a lighthearted story. In fact, one of the problems is also a point in its favor. When you get to the end of the tale and are told that Inukpak and the hunter had many adventures, you want to read those immediately. One can only hope that Mr. Christopher and Mr. Nelson will join forces yet again someday to bring us more of this unique and delightful duo.

I’m no expert on Inuit culture so it doesn’t hurt that in the creation of “On the Shoulder of a Giant” author Neil Christopher has the distinction of having spent the last sixteen years of his life recording and preserving traditional Inuit stories. Having seen a fair number of books of Native American folktales where the selection of the tales is offhanded at best, the care with which Christopher chooses to imbue his book with life and vitality is notable. The book reads aloud beautifully, and would serve a librarian well if they were told to read aloud a folktale to a group. Likewise, the pictures are visible from long distances. This story begs for a big audience.

I’ve seen a lot of small presses in my day. Quality can vary considerably from place to place. Often I’ll see a small publisher bring to life a folktale but then skimp on the artist chosen to bring the story to life. It’s a sad but common occurrence. So common, in fact, that when it doesn’t happen I’m shocked out of my gourd. Inhabit Media is one of those rare few that take illustration very seriously. Each of their books looks good. Looks not just professional but like something you’d want to take home for yourself. On the Shoulder of a Giant is no exception. This time the artist tapped was freelance illustrator Jim Nelson. He’s based out of Chicago and his art has included stuff like Magic the Gathering cards and the like. He is not, at first glance, the kind of artist you’d tap for a book of this sort. After all, he works with a digital palette creating images that would seemingly be more at home in a comic book than a classic Inuit folktale. Yet what are folktales but proto-superhero stories? What are superhero comics but just modern myths? Inukpak is larger than life and, as such, he demands an artist who can bring his physicality to bear upon the narrative. When he’s fishing for whales I wanna see that sucker fighting back. When he strides across great plains I wanna be there beside him. Nelson feeds that need.

Since Nelson isn’t Inuit himself, the question of how authentic his art may be arises. I am willing to believe, however, that any book published by a company operating with the sole intent to “preserve and promote the stories, knowledge and talent of Inuit and northern Canada” is going to have put the book through a strict vetting process. It would not be ridiculous to think that Nelson’s editor informed him of where to research classic Inuit clothing and landscapes. I loved every inch of Nelson’s art on this story but it was the backmatter that really did it for me. There’s a section that is able to show the difference in size between a inukpasugjuit (“great giant”), a inugaruligasugjuk (“lesser giant”), and a regular human that does a brilliant job of showing scale. That goes for the nanurluit (giant polar bear) in one of the pictures, relentlessly tracking two tiny hunters in their boats. But it is the final shot of a sleeping giant under the mountains as people walk on to of him, oblivious that will really pique young imaginations.

I’m not saying that On the Shoulder of a Giant has the ability to single-handedly rid my daughter of her fear of giants as a whole. It does, however, stand out as a singularly fun and interesting take on the whole giant genre. There’s nothing on my library shelves that sounds or feels or looks quite like this book. It could well be the poster child for the ways in which small publishers should examine and publish classic folktales. Beautiful and strange with a flavor all its own, this is one little book that yields big rewards. Fantastico.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

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39. WWF Together app review

wwf together menuWith Earth Day‘s 45th anniversary celebration yesterday, it seems a good time to review the World Wildlife Fund’s lovely awareness-raising app WWF Together (2013).

The app introduces sixteen endangered species from around the world, each characterized with a quality emphasizing its uniqueness: e.g., panda (“charisma”), elephant (“intelligence”), marine turtle (“longevity”), tiger (“solitude”). Each animal receives its own interactive “story,” comprised of stats (population numbers in the wild; habitat; weight and length; and “distance from you,” the user, if you enabled your iPad’s location services), spectacular high-def photos, information on threats to its survival, and conservation efforts (particularly WWF’s). Tap an info icon at a photo’s bottom corner to trigger a related pop-up fact — did you know gorillas live in stable family groups, or that bison have been around since the ice age? Many of the stories also include “facetime” (close-up videos with narration) and/or educational activities. At the conclusion of each animal’s section is an opportunity to share it via email or social media and to explore symbolic adoption options.

wwf jaguar menu

wwf together jaguar stats

In addition to truly gorgeous photographs and video of these endangered animals, a cool animated-origami design element illustrates the text throughout. Disappointingly, every time I tried to access the (real-life) origami folding instructions from the app, it crashed — which may well be the fault of our iPad. But they’re easy enough to find and download (for free, although email registration is required) on WWF’s website.

From an unobtrusive menu along the left side, you can access a globe — also with a “folded paper” look — which shows locations of all of the featured species for a global perspective and supplies information on additional endangered species. A news section frequently updates the app with current information. Soothing acoustic music by Copilot rounds out this informative and moving app.

Available for iPad (requires iOS 6.0 or later) and Android devices; free. Recommended for intermediate users and up.

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40. IN TANDEM: HUSH, by JACQUELINE WOODSON

Welcome to another edition of In Tandem, the read-and-review blog series where both A.F. and I give our on-the-spot commentary as we read and team blog a book together. (You can feel free to guess which of us is the yellow owl and which of us is the... Read the rest of this post

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41. Review: Convergence #3, This Cold War Starts to Warm Up

CONVERGENCE #3

Convergence (2015) 003-000

Story: Jeff King

Art: Stephen Segovia

Colors: Aspen MLT

Inks: Jason Paz

Letters: Travis Lanham

Publisher: DC Comics

 

We’re about a quarter of the way through DC Comics event, Convergence. So far we’ve seen a lot of xenophobic worlds bent on destroying one another at the behest of Brianiac’s global caretaker Telos in all the satellite books. Seeing, literally, the exact same threatening words from Telos in multiple books is making that premise wear a bit thin. The event’s spine series has a little more going on than those titles, but we’re at a point where Convergence needs to punch it to fifth gear. So why is it starting to feel like it’s stuck in second?

After saving the mysterious Deimos in the last issue, the survivors of Earth-2 will follow him to the bowels of the planet in order to discover the key to stopping Telos evil multiversal Tijuana cockfight. Meanwhile, Dick Grayson and Thomas Wayne who, without spoiling events, are in for the fight of their lives against a small army of Bruce Wayne’s most formidable nemeses. It’s this part of the story that carries the tension and climax of this chapter to an ending that, while predictable, is so far the series biggest moment.

Sure there are a few problems with the pacing and dialogue in the issue. In fact, it feels like Convergence #3 is unintentionally a two-act book with it not introducing anything new. There’s a heavy sense of over explaining things in the front half of the book while the second half moves too quick to the dramatic finish. I can forgive most of these problems because Stephen Segovia’s art is lavish action. The fight scenes and scale of Convergence have been on point art wise for the series, but the plot needs to keep up or it runs the risk of becoming ineffectual.

Convergence (2015) 003-005

Convergence began with surprising promise from its zero issue. It played on the powerful force of nostalgia to get readers in touch with parts of the DC universe they’ve sorely missed. While powerful, nostalgia alone can’t carry an event. Issue three moves the narrative along more than any chapter thus far, but for being this far in, with this many orbiting tie-in books; the stakes need to have more weight by better defining the threat of Telos. If it’s not an Earth 2: Society post Convergence prequel, it needs to start showing it by actually having the different Earths start doing something.

1 Comments on Review: Convergence #3, This Cold War Starts to Warm Up, last added: 4/24/2015
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42. Review of Trombone Shorty

andrew_trombone shortyTrombone Shorty
by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews; illus. by Bryan Collier
Primary   Abrams   40 pp.
4/15   978-1-4197-1465-8   $17.95

In New Orleans parlance, “Where y’at?” means “hello.” As an opening greeting (repeated three times, creating a jazzy beat), it also signals the beginning of this conversational and personable 
autobiography. Andrews, a.k.a. Trombone Shorty, concentrates on his younger years: growing up in Tremé, a neighborhood of New Orleans known for its close-knit community and commitment to music; making his own instruments before acquiring and learning to play the trombone; practicing constantly; appearing onstage with Bo Diddley; and finally forming his own successful band. Collier’s expressive watercolor collages layer and texture each page, creating a mix of images that echo the combination of styles Andrews uses to create his own “musical gumbo.” Strong vertical lines burst from his trombone like powerful sounds, while circular shapes float through the pages like background harmonies spilling out of homes and businesses. Hot colors reflect the New Orleans climate, while serene blues are as cool as the music Trombone Shorty produces. An author’s note adds detail to the text; two accompanying photographs of Andrews as a child reinforce the story’s authenticity. Collier discusses his artistic symbolism in an illustrator’s note. Read this one aloud to capture the sounds and sights of Trombone Shorty’s New Orleans.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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43. Review of How Jelly Roll Morton 
Invented Jazz

winter_how jelly roll morton invented jazzHow Jelly Roll Morton Invented Jazz
by Jonah Winter; 
illus. by Keith Mallett
Primary   Porter/Roaring Brook   32 pp.
6/15   978-1-59643-963-4   $17.99

Much like jazz itself, Winter has created a book filled with ebbs and flows, rhythm and rhyme, darkness and light, shadow and sunshine. Opening with a dreamy spread set in a dimly lit New Orleans with the city on the right-hand page and a small house on the left, the hushed second-person narration begins, “Here’s what could’ve happened if you were born a way down south in New Orleans, in the Land of Dreams a long, long time ago.” Facts about Morton’s life are sprinkled into the gentle prose: a stint in jail — as a baby! — when his godmother was arrested (he would not stop crying until the incarcerated men “commenced to singing”); a disapproving great-grandmother; and later the audacious claim, by Jelly Roll himself, that he invented jazz. Textured acrylic-on-canvas illustrations are punctuated by musical notes that create rivers and roads of music, allowing readers to imagine the beats, blues, and marvelous improvisation that were such a big part of the birth of jazz. Performers in silhouette — cornet-playing Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll at different ages — add to the dreamy feel. An informative author’s note provides some (age-appropriate) background information and is written in the same loose conversational style as the book. This is a beautiful tribute to one of the parents of jazz (sorry, but Morton can’t claim sole ownership!) — and a fitting introduction for a new generation of jazz lovers.

From the May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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Invented Jazz appeared first on The Horn Book.

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44. Friday Feature: Perfect For You Review Quotes Video




Yes, I'm sharing my own book today. Well, actually I'm sharing readers' thoughts of my book. Check out this video where I share some of my favorite lines from reviews of Perfect For You.


Do you have a favorite review quote of one of your books? Feel free to share it in the comments.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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45. Review: the Netflix and Marvel team up push Daredevil “Into the Ring”

Daredevil-Netflix-Motion-PosterFull disclosure: I was hotly anticipating the premiere of the Marvel and Netflix team up on the Daredevil television series. Daredevil is a huge part of my comics origin story: I cut my teeth on the Guardian Devil story arc penned by Kevin Smith and expertly drawn by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. I fell hard for the Man Without Fear and soon discovered Frank Miller’s Elektra Saga arc, realized my childhood heroes of TMNT had written themselves into the Daredevil origin story and that was it: comics officially had my heart.

It’s a nice move to open on Matt’s origin and play it for all it’s horror and sadness. Little boy does the right thing, saves a man’s life by pushing him from a speeding truck and pays for it with his vision. The POV shot of young Matt’s vision slipping away while focusing on the face of his father was chilling and effective. Actor John Patrick Hayden strikes the right tone on “Battlin'” Jack Murdock, trying to do the best thing for his son while constantly aware of his own limitations.

Some of the early action was a tad stilted, in the way of pilot episodes since time immemorial. The human trafficking scene leaned heavily towards cliche and away from actual menace, but was saved by the beautiful fight choreography. Kudos to the fight coordination/stunt double team for their thoughtful work in representing both Daredevil’s radar and boxing background in his fighting style.

The heart of any Daredevil story, or most of them at any rate, is the relationship between Matt Murdock and his law partner and best friend Foggy Nelson. Both Charlie Cox and Elden Henson are well cast: they not only look their parts, but revel in the well-worn patter between the two old friends. An early scene in which the two shop for an office to open their law practice hits all the right notes in script and characterization. We’re meant to believe the events of The Avengers film have left Hell’s Kitchen in ruins, and therefore rents are cheap during reconstruction. This seems more of a stretch than supersonic hearing to me, after all there is a bit of real-life Daredevil in the work of Daniel Kish, but we go with it.

The entire tone of the series evokes the noir sensibilities of the Frank Miller work I was drawn to years ago, and we have veteran director Phil Abraham and showrunner Steven DeKnight to thank for it. While pitching Hell’s Kitchen as noir in present day New York again strains credulity, it’s just right for Marvel 616 and I was happy to see it. And let’s talk about Deborah Ann Woll as the beloved Karen Page. Woll brings goofiness and charm to her performance that’s just right for Karen, and her chemistry with both Cox and Henson is electric.

We get a sneak peak at the crime syndicate that will ultimately become Daredevil’s nemesis. I’m breathless with anticipation for the reveal of Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin. We’re only teased in the pilot by his voice commanding henchman Wesley via speakerphone Charlie’s Angel’s style.

There’s a great team of talent behind the scenes of Daredevil: Buffy and Angel veteran writers Drew Goddard and Doug Petrie loom large, and DeKnight’s work on the Starz series Spartacus is some of my favorite television of the last ten years. Pulling in directors like Abraham and Doctor Who vet Eros Lyn bodes well for the tone of the series going forward.

The final scenes wordlessly convey what Matt Murdock is up against as the crime fighting alter ego Daredevil: as Matt pummels the bag in his father’s old gym we see baddies literally laying plans to build their empire in DD’s beloved Hell’s Kitchen juxtaposed with further kidnappings and dirty deeds. The final image of Matt on the roof of his building, listening to the pain of his city before pulling his black mask over his eyes got my fangirl heart beating loud enough for Daredevil to hear it all the way from the Kitchen.

2 Comments on Review: the Netflix and Marvel team up push Daredevil “Into the Ring”, last added: 4/11/2015
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46. Review of the Day: Beastly Verse by Joohee Yoon

Beastly Verse
By Joohee Yoon
Enchanted Lion Books
$18.95
ISBN: 978-1-59270-166-7
Ages 3 and up
On shelves now

Poetry. What’s the point? I say this as a woman who simultaneously gets poetry and doesn’t get it. I get that it’s important, of course. I only need to watch my three-year-old daughter come up with an ever increasing and creative series of bouncy rhymes to understand their use. But what I don’t get is Poetry with a capital “P”. I have come to accept this as a failing on my own part. And to be fair, there are works of poetry that I like. They just all seem to be for the milk teeth set. With that in mind I was particularly pleased to see Beastly Verse, illustrated by Joohee Yoon. Full of fabulous classic poems and art that manages to combined a distinctive color palette with eye-popping art, Yoon’s creates a world that takes the madcap energy of Dr. Seuss and combines it with the classic printmaking techniques of a fine artist. The end result keeps child readers on the edge of their seats with adults peering over their shoulders, hungry for more.

As I mentioned, the resident three-year-old is much enamored of poetry. This is good because it makes her an apt test subject for my own curiosity. I should mention that my goal in life is to NOT become the blogger who uses her children to determine the value of one book or another. That said, the temptation to plumb their little minds can sometimes prove irresistible. Now Beastly Verse is not specifically aimed at the preschooler set. With poems like William Blake’s “The Tiger” and “Humming-Bird” by D.H. Lawrence, the verse can at times exceed a young child’s grasp. That said, none of the poems collected here are very long, and the art is so entrancing that the normal fidgets just tend to fade away as you turn the pages. My daughter did find that some of the more frightening images, say of the carnivorous hummingbird or the spangled pandemonium, were enough to put her off. Fortunately, each scary image is hidden beneath a clever gatefold. If the reader does not want to see the face of a tiger tiger burning bright, they needn’t open the fold at all. Not only is it a beautiful technique, it makes the book appropriate for all ages. Clever.

One might not associate Yoon’s particular brand of yellows reds, oranges, greens, and blues with evocative prints. Yet time and again I was struck by the entrancing beauty of the pages. Yoon’s traditional printmaking techniques can bring to life the hot steam that rises even in the coolest shade of a tiger’s jungle. Another page and Lewis Carroll’s “The Crocodile” lingers below the surface of the water, his innards heaving with “little fishes”. Yoon saves the best for last, though, with a poem I’d not come across before. “Dream Song” by Walter de la Mare is set in the gleam of “Sunlight, moonlight / Twilight, starlight” when the sun is just a sliver of a white hot crescent on the horizon. All the forest is lit by the orange and red rays, and out of a tree pokes the head of a single owl. The hypnotic verses speaking of “wild waste places far away” mix with the image, conjuring up the moment moviemakers call “magic hour”.

Mind you, there is always a nightmarish mirror image to each seemingly sweet picture. The eyeless caterpillar all maw and teeth is turned, on the next page, into a beautiful but equally unnerving butterfly. Only Yoon, as far as I’m concerned, could have brought us the horrific implications of “The Humming-Bird” and its existence “Before anything had a soul.” Even the last seemingly innocuous image of Captain Jonathan cooking himself an egg takes on a dire cast when you realize it’s that of a pelican (of the poem “The Pelican” by Robert Desnos) he’s about to devour.

This is by no means the first collection of animal poetry to grace our shelves. It was only two or three years ago that J. Patrick Lewis helped to collect the National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry. Many of the poems found in this book can be found in that one as well. However, while that book seemed to be going for sheer girth, Yoon’s selections here are carefully positioned. I was interested in the layout in particular. You begin with the aforementioned Carroll poem (which seems appropriate since a manic smiling cat graces the title page) and then transition into a nursery rhyme, a bit of typical Ogden Nash flippery (only three lines long), and then Blake’s best-known poem. Variety of length keeps the poems eclectic and interesting to read. They keep you guessing as well. You never quite know what kind of poem will come next.

Having read the deliciously multicultural Over the Hills and Far Away, collected by Elizabeth Hammill, it is difficult to pick up a collected work of poetry without hankering for a similar experience. Aside from artist Joohee Yoon’s own name and the fact that Robert Desnos was Jewish, there is very little in this collection that isn’t white and American/European. The reasons for this may have something to do with permissions. Every poem in this book, with the exception of a few, is in the public domain. None were commissioned for the book specifically. Mind you, it would have been possible for the book to follow Hammill’s lead and locate international public domain animal poems of one sort or another written specifically for children. It is therefore up to the reading public to ascertain if the book stands stronger as a collection of similar types of poetry or if it would have benefited from a bit of variety here and there.

In the end, it’s a beautiful piece. Children’s rooms are no strangers to beautiful art in their poetry collections, but Yoon’s distinctive style is hard to compare to anyone. The only poet/illustrator with the same energy that comes to mind (and that writes for kids) would have to be Calef Brown. And as debuts go, this is a stunner. A truly inventive and original collection that deepens with every additional read. Kids like it. Adults like it. It could have benefited from some diversity, absolutely. Overall, however, there are few things like it on our shelves. An inspiration.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews: A Year of Reading

Professional Reviews:

Misc: Years ago, it was Jules at Seven Impossible Things who alerted the children’s book world to Ms. Yoon’s presence.  Here is the post.

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47. (Review) Bloodshot Reborn #1: White Skin, Red Eyes, and some New Friends

bloodshot-reborn-1

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Mico Suayan

Colorist: David Baron

Letters: David Lanphear


Bloodshot has had difficulty finding his identity at Valiant since the relaunch of the company back in 2012. The title has switched writers a few times already along with art teams and general focus. The Valiant, a recent event series from the publisher changed the dynamic of the lead hero, directly affecting the events inside of Valiant’s newest relaunch, Bloodshot Reborn #1.

Identity is the major theme of this issue. How does a robot discover his (or it’s) own humanity? The opening page depicted by Mico Suayan immediately tackles the theme and takes the idea to task. The rest of the opening sequence preps readers for a quick retrospective, a wise decision for new readers jumping into the character. The issue goes onto validate Bloodshot’s important role in the Valiant Universe within Unity and The Valiant.

The book begins in Colorado and gives the comic a new tone. Does this new incarnation of the hero have a chance in avoiding the violence as he travels down to do some handiwork at a motel?

It’s Bloodshot…so the answer should be a given. With the protagonists’ life in such a deep dark pit evoked from recent events, it might be hard for new fans to find a reason to empathetically devote their interest into the character. Bloodshot isn’t the man that he used to be, but this new identity doesn’t seem to suit the hero either. Thankfully, unexpected whimsy is hiding within this comic that may change your mind on the story being told.

Suayan’s art evokes pain and suffering within the different characters via hyper-detailed linework. The style works particularly well for Bloodshot, serving as as a bleak militaristic drama. Suayan’s approach to the mundane is played up as a dichotomy between the differences of the stories being told within the book. The artist drapes much of this story in thick shadow to illustrate the gritty narrative depicted in the tale. A major art surprise is hidden in the first installment that will be sure to delight readers familiar with the past work of Jeff Lemire.

About halfway into the narrative of this first issue, the scenery changes based on one pivotal scene that alters the nature of this entire book. In order to get fans truly interested into the narrative of Bloodshot himself, something radical had to be introduced into the first chapter. To spoil the hook would be a crime, but it’s safe to say that this first tale really does offer the unexpected to readers in the form of a brand new character that will hopefully drive Bloodshot Reborn for the foreseeable future. This book can be defined by that welcomed piece of whimsy hinted at in this first issue — it pushes this story from boring Punisher analogue into…something else.

It’s clear that Lemire and Suayan are crafting a story with this character that can be defined as subversive, but this first issue still plays it’s cards close to the chest. The tone of this series is splintering off into numerous different places, to the point where this first installment may actually serve the comics world better as a prologue rather than an actual first issue. While recommending this tale to the already established Bloodshot fandom seems like a given, to see whether this story could reach an audience with much broader scope could be possible. If the promise of something that can bend genre in a completely different direction doesn’t drive you to pick up Bloodshot Reborn #1, you should still make sure to keep your opinion informed by following the press coverage. Valiant seems closer than ever to reimagining the concept for one of their greatest and most beloved superheroes towards sheer delight with the power of Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan, and some clever ideas.

1 Comments on (Review) Bloodshot Reborn #1: White Skin, Red Eyes, and some New Friends, last added: 4/17/2015
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48. Jo Nesbø & Roger Priddy Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

Jo NesboWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending April 12, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #8 in Hardcover Nonfiction) The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House by Kate Andersen Brower: “These dedicated professionals maintain the six-floor mansion’s 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, three elevators, and eight staircases, and prepare everything from hors d’oeuvres for intimate gatherings to meals served at elaborate state dinners. Over the course of the day, they gather in the lower level’s basement kitchen to share stories, trade secrets, forge lifelong friendships, and sometimes even fall in love.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #10 Hardcover Fiction) Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbø: “This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented \"fixer\" for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer.” (April 2015)

(Debuted at #12 in Children’s Illustrated) Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by James Dean and Kimberly Dean: “Pete’s glass-half-full outlook on life shines through as he adds his fun take on well-known classics attributed to luminaries from Albert Einstein to Confucius to Abraham Lincoln to Shakespeare and more!” (April 2015)

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49. Monday Mishmash 4/20/15


Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.

Here's what's on my mind today:
  1. Monroe County Book Expo  Thank you to everyone who came out to the Monroe County Book Expo. I had a lot of fun talking to the readers and other authors. 
  2. Mobile Websites  I hate mobile websites, and ALWAYS opt for the web view if it's available. But…Google is changing their SEO and now you pretty much have to have a mobile website, so I made that change over the weekend.
  3. New Adult Scavenger Hunt  The New Adult Scavenger Hunt begins on April 23rd, and I'll be participating as Ashelyn Drake. I'm really excited to be part of Team Blue! I'll be sharing an exclusive scene from Looking For Love, told from a different POV, which is always fun. I'm also giving away a paperback of Campus Crush.

  4. Reviewing  I have two books I agreed to review soon. One book I'm finishing up and another I have yet to start. So it looks like I'll be busy with that this week.
  5. Revisions  I'm working on revisions for one of my manuscripts. It's always fun to pull out a book you haven't looked at in a while. It adds a fresh perspective to the story.
That's it for me. What's on your mind this week?

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50. Review of Shadow Scale

hartman_shadow scaleShadow Scale
by Rachel Hartman
Middle School, High School   Random   600 pp.
3/15   978-0-375-86657-9   $18.99
Library ed. 978-0-375-96657-6   $21.99   g
e-book ed. 978-0-375-89659-0   $10.99

With the dragon civil war closing in on Goredd, Seraphina (Seraphina, rev. 7/12) begins an uncertain mission: she and Abdo, a fellow half-dragon, embark on a journey to recruit other ityasaari like themselves, hoping that if they can learn to thread their minds together, they will be able to defend Goredd by forming a trap to stop a dragon in flight. Seraphina has misgivings — what if the attempt leads to another ityasaari taking over her mind? Jannoula, a half-dragon whom Seraphina contacted telepathically in a time before she knew there were others like her, once usurped Seraphina’s consciousness, and it was only by great effort and luck that Seraphina managed to fight her off. However, as Seraphina and Abdo travel through the neighboring lands, they are horrified to learn that Jannoula already controls the other ityasaari. The author’s generous and self-assured world-building effortlessly branches out to the different cultures the pilgrims encounter, unveiling fresh customs and new folklore with consummate ease. A subplot involving Seraphina’s hopeless romance with Kiggs, the man affianced to her friend and monarch, Queen Glisselda, takes on a love-triangle twist that most won’t see coming. From graceful language to high stakes to daring intrigue, this sequel shines with the same originality, invention, and engagement of feeling that captivated readers in Hartman’s debut.

From the March/April 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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