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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Reader's Diary #1998- Shea Fontana (writer), Yancey Labat (artist): DC SuperHero Girls Search for Atlantis

Late last year I read and wasn't greatly impressed with Shea Fontana and Yancey's DC SuperHero Girls: Date with Disaster but I've given the series another shot with Search for Atlantis.

I still didn't love it but it was better. The story for one was tighter, more focused. This time around Atlantis has gone missing and the girls must find it while a subplot involving jealousy and friendship plays out. Once again I enjoyed reading about some characters I'm not greatly familiar with (Braniac, Raven, Beast Boy, and Miss Martian in particular) and, unfortunately, I haven't come around on Labat's Bratz-doll styled characters. It was entertaining though.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Reader's Post #1999- Arun Budhathoki: Fighting the Cold

Arun Budhathoki's short story "Fighting the Cold" begins on a very negative note: "This village makes me sick."

But it's powerful and a good indication of the strong voice employed throughout. Before long, however, we see scattered hints that this may not be his usual demeanour but rather a man spiraling down after a tragedy.

Thankfully(?) there is a reprieve toward the end.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Reader's Diary #1998- Peter J. Tomasi (writer), Sara Duvall (artist): The Bridge

I went to see and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge when I visited New York so it's maybe hypocritical of me to suppose that a book about the creators of the bridge would be boring. In the end, it wasn't so bad.

It certainly started off meeting my negative expectations but largely that was due to the original bridge designer's rather uptight personality and his restrained relationship with his son. However, once he died and his son took over and also married a woman who was a lot more personable, the book seemed to come alive a little more. There's some excitement and danger, especially when workers started dying or getting ill due to accidents and air pressure, but I've read books about mining, about the building of the Basilica in St. John's, and so the stories weren't completely unique or unexpected.

The art is bright and crisp, reminding me of 80s/90s era Disney or perhaps closer to home, Scott Chantler's work.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Reader's Diary #1997- Alan Doyle: Where I Belong

I found it remarkable reading Alan Doyle's memoir Where I Belong that I'd find the life of a Catholic, musician and hockey player so similar to my own. In some spots, I'd suggest that if I ever feel the need to write my own memoirs, for some chapters I can simply refer people to his book.

Most similarities came from the fact that we both lived in outport Newfoundland as children. He cut cod tongues, I cut cut cod tongues. He picked capelin, I picked capelin. His father would pseudo-scald him with his hot tea spoon, my father would pseudo-scald me with a hot tea spoon.

Of course similarities aside, it's also wonderful read and even those with remarkably different upbringings will likely find it engaging and enlightening. Doyle has a witty charm that would likely appeal to readers of all stripes.

Where I Belong, subtitled Small Town to Great Big Sea ends just as he's about to find success with the folk-rock band that made him famous. Given how much I enjoyed this one, I'll definitely give his follow-up A Newfoundlander in Canada a go.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Reader's Diary #1996- Jerome Stueart: For a Look at New Worlds

Jerome Stueart's short "For a Look at New Worlds" was an instantly engaging piece of sci-fi with a well-developed and entirely plausible world involving Mars colonization and holograms. Plus it has a rich emotional story preventing it from being all bells and whistles. I did wonder how others might feel about a character's comparison to her personal situation to the bombing of Hiroshima: is this akin to ill-advised comparison of unlikeable people to Hitler? Or is it fair game/ appropriate in this story?

Monday, December 31, 2018

My Year in Review 2018 - Fiction and Nonfiction

The FICTION ranked from least favourite to favouite: Novels, Novellas, Short Story Collections, Plays, Picture Books, and Poetry (Graphic Novels recorded separately):

33. Thomas Mann- Death in Venice
32. Herbert T. Schwarz- Tuktoyaktuk 2-3
31. Michelle Knudsen- The Evil Librarian
30. Edward Albee- Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
29. Cherie Priest- Agony House
28. Raymond Yakelaya- The Tree by the Woodpile
27. Moshe Sakal- The Diamond Setter
26. Tanya Davis - How to Be Alone
25. Rupi Kaur- Milk and Honey
24. Richard Van Camp- When We Play Our Drums, They Sing
23. Chief R. Stacey Laforme- Living in the Tall Grass
22. Rosemary Clewes- The Woman Who Went to the Moon
21. Rebecca Hendry- One Good Thing
20. Leanne Shirtliffe- Saving Thunder the Great
19. Tanya Tagaq- Split Tooth
18. Elle Wright- Touched by You
17. Mario Puzo- The Godfather
16. Geoffrey Chaucer- The Canterbury Tales
15. Terry Fallis- One Brother Shy
14. Dante Alighieri- The Divine Comedy
13. Carlo Collodi- Pinocchio
12. Monique Gray Smith- Lucy and Lola
11. Joanne Lilley- The Birthday Books
10. Louise Penny- A Fatal Grace
9. Thornton Wilder- Our Town
8. Tess Gerritsen- Playing with Fire
7. Alootook Ipellie- Arctic Dreams and Nightmares
6. Kenneth Oppel- Silverwing
5. Joseph Kesselring- Arsenic and Old Lace
4. Tom Rachman- The Italian Teacher
3. Joshua Whitehead- Full-Metal Indigiqueer
2. Kerry Clare- Mitzi Bites
1. Ethel Wilson- Swamp Angel

The NON-FICTION ranked from least favourite to favourite:

20. Stephen Elliott- Sometimes I Think About It
19. Niccolo Maciavelli- The Prince
18. Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter, and Caprice Crane- Happily Ever Esther
17. Frederic Wertham- Seduction of the Innocent
16. Laura Sarkadi- Voice in the Wild
15. Ian Lendler- One Day a Dot
14. Elise Gravel- The Mushroom Fan Club
13. Bill Braden- Aurora Up!
12. Libby Whittall Catling- The Mundane and the Holy
11. Christian Klengenberg- Klengenberg of the Arctic
10. Catherine Lafferty- Northern Wildflower
9. Bev Sellars- They Called Me Number One
8. Jordin Tootoo- All the Way
7. Dave Bidini- Midnight Light
6. Alison McCreesh- Norths
5. Sean Howe- Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
4. Sharon Butala- Where I Live Now
3. Roxane Gay- Hunger
2. James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales- Live from New York
1. Angela Hovak Johnston- Reawakening Our Ancestors' Lines

My Year in Review 2018 - Comics, Manga, and Graphic Novels

Whoo-boy! So this is a lot of graphic novels. Too many graphic novels. And yet, I still didn't meet my goal. Each year I take part in a Graphic Novels and Manga Challenge and my goal this year was to reach 208: Diamond Age. Actually, I didn't really set out to reach that level, but when I reached my earlier goals, decided to keep going. I'm not really disappointed.

My mix this year is a lot of Asian comics (largely discovered through Paul Gravett's Mangasia), crossovers, photo-comics, and thanks to becoming a judge for the CYBILS Awards this year, YA and Juvenile titles. Of course, there's also a fair share of superhero titles in there.

I've ranked them from my least favourite to favourite, though I will say that I enjoyed far more than I didn't and so you'll still find some pretty great books with a high number.

I wouldn't expect this number to be as high next year. While I love comics (clearly), I also pride myself on being a well-rounded reader and this year my balance was way off.

199. JinHo Ko- Jack Frost 1
198. Scott Adams- I Can't Remember if We're Cheap or Smart
197. Spike Steffenhagen, Joe Paradise, Larry Nadolsky- Joan Jett and the Runaways
196. Martin Powell- Jungle Tales of Tarzan
195. Mairghread Scott, David A. Rodriguez, Max Dunbar- Transformers G.I. Joe: First Strike
194. Trigger, Yoh Yoshinari, Keisuke Sato- Little Witch Academia 1
193. Various writers and artists- Archie Crossover Collection
192. Kalman Andrasofszky, Leonard Kirk- Captain Canuck: Aleph
191. Nate Evans and Vince Evans- Tyrannosaurus Ralph
190. Jomny Sun- Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too
189. Manuro Gorobei- Hocus and Pocus 1
188. David F. Walker, Sheena C. Howard, Ray-Anthony Height- Superb 1: Life After the Fallout
187. Zun, Moe Harukawa- Forbidden Scrollery 1
186. Sergio Ruzzier- Fox + Chick: The Party and Other Stories 
185. Kris Bertin and Alexander Forbes- The Case of the Missing Men
184. Rodney Barnes- Joshua Cassara- Falcon: Take Flight 1
183. Isabel Quintero, Zeke Pena- Photographic
182. Duncan Tonatiuh- Undocumented: A Worker's Fight
181. Shea Fontana, Yancey Labat- DC Super Hero Girls: Date with Disaster
180. Pab Sungenis- I Can Has Empire?
179. Sholly Fisch, Igor Lima- Mighty Mouse: Saving the Day
178. Christopher Dominic Peloso- Tiny Ghosts: Suicide is the Highest Form of Art
177. Joey Comeau and Emily Horne- Anatomy of Melancholy
176. Kanako Inuki - School Zone Vol. 1
175. Ashley Spires- Gordon: Bark to the Future!
174. Rob David, Larry Goldfine, Freddie E. Williams II- He-Man / Thundercats
173. Antony Johnston, Sam Hart- Atomic Blonde
172. Teresa Radice, Stefano Turconi- Violette Around the World 1
171. Jaime Hernandez- The Dragon Slayer: Folktales of Latin America
170. Will Henry- Wallace the Brave
169. Ian Boothby, Nina Matsumoto- Sparks!
168. Ashley Spires- Fluffy Strikes Back
167. Olivia Burton, Mahi Grand- Algeria is Beautiful Like America
166. Warren Ellis, Stuart Immonen- Nextwave Agents of H.A.T.E: Complete Collection
165. Naoko Takuchi- Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon 1
164. Tom Taylor, Stephen Byrne- Justice League/ Power Rangers
163. Mike W. Barr, Diogenes Neves- Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Katana
162. Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle- Moonstruck Vol. 1: Magic to Brew
161. Luke M. Molver- Shaka Rising
160. Rudolph Dirks and Harold H. Knerr- Katzenjammer 
159. Brian Jones, Brent Anderson- Ka-zar: Savage Dawn 
158. Mark Evanier, Steve Uy - Grumpy Cat / Garfield
157. Adam Rapp, Mike Cavallaro- Decelerate Blue
156. Kazuki Ebine- Gandhi
155. Cassandra Clare, Cassandra Jean- The Mortal Instruments 1
154. Nathan Hale- Raid of No Return
153. Various writers and artists- DC Meets Looney Tunes
152. Kentaro Miura- Berserk Vol. 1 
151. Warren Ellis, Gerardo Zaffino, Roland Boschi- Karnak: The Flaw in All Things
150. Michael Avon Oeming, Mel Rubi- Spider-Man/ Red Sonja
149. Chynna Clugston Flores, Rosemary Volero-O'Connell- Lumberjanes / Gotham Academy
148. Brenna Thummler- Sheets
147. Ru Xu- Newsprints
146. Kate DiCamillo, Harry Bliss- Good Rosie!
145. Ngozi Ukazu- Check Please Book 1: #hockey
144. Sam Sykes, Selina Espiritu- Brave Chef Brianna 
143. Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton, Mitche Weiss- Noodleheads Find Something Fishy
142. John Schnepp, Guiu Vilanova- Slayer Repentless
141. A.J. Lieberman, Riley Rossmo- Cowboy Ninja Viking: Deluxe Edition
140. Joris Chamblain, Aurelie Neyret- Cici's Journal Vol. 1
139. Hamish Steele- Deadendia: The Watcher's Test
138. Takashi Hashiguchi- Yakitate!! Japan 1
137. Penelope Bagieu- Exquisite Corpse
136. Gail Simone, Aaron Lopresti- Wonder Woman / Conan
135. Sabrina Symington- First Year Out
134. Dav Pilkey- Dog Man: Lord of the Fleas
133. Julia Kaye- Super Late Bloomer
132. Maggie Thrash- Lost Soul, Be At Peace
131. Jillian Tamaki- Boundless
130. Tove Jansson- Moomin
129. David Jesus Vignolli- A Girl in the Himalayas
128. Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Boya Sun, Matt Rockefeller- 5 Worlds: The Cobalt Prince
127. Jerome Ruillier- The Strange
126. Jeff Lemire- Roughneck
125. Caitlin Major, Kelly Bastow- Manfried the Man
124. Zac Gorman, CJ Cannon- Rick and Morty Volume 1
123. Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones- America: The Life and Times of America Chavez 1
122. Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibanez- Jean Grey Nightmare Fuel 1
121. Joshua Corin, Todd Nauck- Deadpool: Too Soon?
120. Jeff Lemire, Lewis Larosa, Mico Suayan- Blood Shot Salvation: The Book of Revenge Vol. 1
119. Mi-Kyung Yun- Bride of the Water God 1
118. Mana Neyestani- An Iranian Metamorphosis 
117. Ivy Noelle Weir, Steenz- Archival Quality
116. Various writers and artists: Tales from the Crypt
115. Grant Morrison, Jae Lee- Fantastic Four: 1234
114. Joe Flood- Sharks
113. Molly Brooks- Sanity and Tallulah
112. Various artists and writers- Milk Wars
111. Dav Pilkey- Dog Man
110. Raymond Briggs- Gentleman Jim
109. Luke Healy- How to Survive in the North
108. John Layman, Chris Mooneyham- Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens: Splice and Dice  
107. Eleanor Davis- You and a Bike and a Road
106. Lorina Mapa- Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos, and Me
105. Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti- Iceman: Thawing Out Vol. 1
104. Tony Isabella, Trevor Von Eeden- Black Lightning 1
103. Abhishek Singh - Krishna: A Journey Within
102. Duane Swierczynski, Michael Gaydos- The Black Hood: The Bullet's Kiss
101. Nicole Perlman, Marco Checchetto- Gamora: Memento Mori
100. Mariko Tamaki- She-Hulk 1: Deconstructed
99. Kelly Thompson, Sophie Campbell- Jem and the Holograms 1: Showtime
98. Various writers and artists- Kraven's Last Hunt
97. Jay Disbrow- Monster Invasion
96. R. Sikoryak- The Unquotable Trump
95. Various- Gumby: 50 Shades of Clay 
94. Sarah Graley- Kim Reaper 1: Grim Beginnings
93. Faith Erin Hicks- The Nameless City
92. Ian Lendler, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb- One Day a Dot
91. Dan Slott, Michael Allred- Silver Surfer: New Dawn 1
90. Various- Marvel Generations 
89. Various- Native American Classics 
88. Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Boya Sun, Matt Rockefeller: 5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
87. Inhae Lee- My Milk Toof
86. Penelope Bagieu- Brazen
85. Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss- 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank 
84. Neil Gaiman, John Romita Jr.- Eternals
83. Sina Grace- Nothing Lasts Forever
82. Mairghread Scott, Robin Robinson- The City on the Other Side
81. Kohei Horikoshi- My Hero Academia
80. Brigitte Finakly, Lewis Trondheim- Poppies of Iraq
79. Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora- Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman 
78. Vera Brosgol- Be Prepared
77. Mark Waid, Alex Ross- Kingdom Come
76. Jeremy Whitley- The Unstoppable Wasp Vol. 2: Agents of G.I.R.L.
75. Matt Dembicki- Trickster
74. Wei Dong Cheng, Chao Peng- Monkey King: Birth of the Stone Monkey
73. Archie Bongiovanni, Tristan Jimerson- A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns
72. Meredith Gran- Octopus Pie: Volume 1 
71. Herve Bouchard- Harvey
70. Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin, Giovanni Rigano- Illegal
69. Ben Clanton- Peanut Butter and Jelly
68. Art Baltazar and Franco- Itty Bitty Hellboy 
67. Simon Hanselmann- One More Year
66. Roger Langridge, Gisèle Lagacé- Betty Boop 
65. Hope Larson, Jackie Ball, Elle Power- Goldie Vance Volume 4
64. Ed Piskor- X-Men Grand Design 1
63. Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale- Batman: The Long Halloween
62. Lisa Hanawalt- Hot Dog Taste Test
61. Amir, Khalil- Zahra's Paradise
60. Liz Prince- Coady and the Creepies
59. Marc Andreyko, Jeff Parker, David Hahn- Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77
58. Michael Deforge- Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero
57. Marguerite Abouet, Mathieu Sapin- Akissi: Tales of Mischief
56. Wilfrid Lupano, Gregory Panaccione- A Sea of Love
55. Aron Nels Steinke- Mr. Wolf's Class
54. Whitney Gardner- Fake Blood
53. Jacob Seger Weinstein, Vera Brosgol- Lyric McKerrigan, Secret Librarian
52. Iasmin Omar Ata- Mis(h)adra
51. Cheah Sinann- The Bicycle
50. Jeff Lemire- Royal City
49. Jacqueline Jules, Dave Roman- Pluto is Peeved!
48. Tetsu Saiwai- The 14th Dalai Lama
47. Gabrielle Bell - Everything is Flammable
46. Sebastian Kadlecik, Emma Steinkellner- Quince Vol. 1
45. Ben Clanton- Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt
44. Hope Larson- All Summer Long
43. Eric Grissom, William Perkins- Gregory Suicide
42. Nidhi Chanani- Pashmina 
41. Laurie Halse Anderson, Emily Carroll- Speak
40. Mel Tregonning- Small Things
39. Cecil Castelluci, Marley Zarcone: Shade The Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy
38. Jarrett J. Krosoczka- Hey, Kiddo
37. Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones- Supergirl: Being Super 1
36. Paul Jenkins, Jae Lee: The Sentry
35. Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, Nate Powell- The Silence of Our Friends 
34. Paul Karasik and Mark Newgarden- How to Read Nancy
33. Tom Gauld- Baking with Kafka 
32. Melanie Gillman: As the Crow Flies
31. James Robinson, ACO- Nick Fury Deep: Cover Capers
30. Li Kunwu and P. Otie- A Chinese Life 
29. Tee Franklin, Jenn St. Onge- Bingo Love
28. Don Brown- The Unwanted
27. Elaine M. Will- Look Straight Ahead
26. Jesse Jacobs- Crawl Space
25. Sonny Liew- The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye
24. Tillie Walden- Spinning 
23. Tony Medina, Stacey Robinson and John Jennings- I Am Alfonso Jones 
22. Claudia Gray, Yusaku Komiyama- Star Wars: Lost Stars
21. Mariah Marsden, Brenna Thummler- Anne of Green Gables
20. Kwanza Osajyefo, Tim Smith 3- Black
19. Salva Rubio, Efa- Monet, Iterant of Light 
18. Paul Gravett- Mangasia
17. Saladin Ahmed, Christian Ward- Black Bolt: Hard Time Volume 1
16. Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda- Monstress 1: Awakening
15. Yusei Matsui: Assassination Classroom 1
14. Molly Knox Ostertag- The Witch Boy 
13. Debbie Tung- Quiet Girl in a Noisy World
12. Tom Neely- Henry and Glenn Forever and Ever
11.Inio Asano - Goodnight Punpun 1

THE TOP 10!!!

10. Nick Drnaso- Sabrina
9. Malik Sajad- Munnu
8. Keiji Nakazawa- Barefoot Gen Volume One
7. Hiroya Oku- Inuyashiki 1
6. Thi Bui- The Best We Could Do
5. Aminder Dhaliwal- Woman World
4. Ari Folman, David Polonsky- Anne Frank's Diary
3. Chad Sell- The Cardboard Kingdom
2. Kurt Busiek, Alex Ross - Marvels
1. Jen Wang- The Prince and the Dressmaker

Reader's Diary #2001- Neil Gaiman (writer), John Romita Jr (artist): Eternals

Like most fans, I was excited to hear that Marvel Studios was finally getting the rights back to their X-Men and Fantastic Four properties. However, I did have some reservations. I'd always been happy with Marvel Studios constant introducing of new characters. The Guardians of the Galaxy for instance were not household comic book names before the movies. Would a focus on the X-Men and Fantastic Four put a halt on that?

Not so, at least according to studio head Kevin Feige. In particular he seems committed to an Eternals movie. I've read a lot of Marvel comics these past few years and I was not familiar with these characters. I'm excited to see how these relatively obscure characters will come across on the big screen.

Created by Jack Kirby, I was unfortunately not able to get a hold of one of his collections. However, I did get find one from 2007 written by Neil Gaiman. Not bad.

I feel like I've gotten a good sense of the characters while still having gotten a plot beyond a simple origin story. I can see how there could be use for them in the MCU. Almost taking things back to the beginning in its mishmash of science and religion, there's room to help explain why so many aliens across the universe are humanoid and even speak the same language. Is that necessary? Probably not, as we've all taken to Thor and Guardians of the Galaxy, agreeing as it seems, to suspend our beliefs. But such explanations certainly wouldn't hurt and if they could be tied to larger, exciting stories, all the better.

I do hope, however, the casting is much more diverse than in this book. A bunch of godlike aliens from the beginning of time, and they all happen to be white? That's pretty racist.

As for John Romita Jr's art? I've always found his work to be good technically if not the most creative. This looks like a typical superhero comic. But the Eternals are not meant to be typical and I feel like this should have been more "out there."

The 2018 Book Mine Set Short Story Online Anthology

One short story (online and available for free) every Monday. There are 53 stories for 2018's anthology as there happened to be 53 Mondays this time around, so consider it a bonus. I hope you'll find a mix of well-known and obscure authors, stories from around the world with lots of unique perspectives, classic stories and modern tales, and from a gamut of genres. I've ranked them here from my least favourite (something lost in translation, offensive, incomplete, etc) to my favourite (compelling voice, provocative message, complete, etc). Feel free to disagree in the comments! Each link below will bring you to a few brief thoughts I had on each story and within those posts you'll find direct links to the stories themselves.

Care to join me in 2019? Consider participating in Short Story Mondays!

53. "Seven Brothers in the Sauna" - Aleksis Kivi
52. "The Day Rock and Roll Changed the World" - RaisinGirl
51. "The Going of the White Swan" - Gilbert Parker
50. "'He, I Say, He' or 'A Flash of Black Light'" - Roberto Monti
49. "Bernie Goes to the Vatican" - JoAnn Chateau
48. "The Gentleman from San Francisco" - Ivan Bunin
47. "The Boy Who Dreams" - Susan Hill
46. "Creole Democracy" - Rufino Blanco-Fombola
45. "The Ghosts of Many Christmases" - Henry Lawson
44. "The Pumpkin Patch" - C.A. Verstraete
43. "Christmas Eve" - Ray Waddell
42. "The Trench" - Erri de Luca
41. "A Gravedigger's Daughter" - Anonymous
40. "Rudolph" - Mabry Hall
39. "Pythonesses" - Rene Novella
38. "The Spirit of the Bank of Lower Canada" - Michael Sheldon
37. "Your Misery, Then Mine" - Katlynn Chrans
36. "The Dinosaur" - Augusto Monterroso
35. "Division" - Jake Waller
34. "Idiot" - Camy Tang
33. "The Bicycle" - Keith Harris
32. "The Audition" - Gary Beck
31. "Bade Bhai Sahib" - Premchand
30. "A Soldier's Short Story of Battle" - Benjamin Paige
29. "The Music of Erich Zann" - H.P. Lovecraft
28. "A Canadian Summer" - Kate Harty
27. "Turning Point" - Safia Moore
26. "Wood" - Mitch Findlay
25. "Blondie" - Manuel Gonzales
24. "Too Dear" - Leo Tolstoy
23. "Down Feathers" - Linh Nguyen
22. "Semper Fi" - Andre P. Cramblit
21. "Rocks in the Pond" - Maryam Atoyebi
20. "Fifteen Lakota Visitors" - Taqralik Partridge
19. "Damage" - Anonda Canadien
18. "The Wanderers" - Guadalupe Nettel
17. "If She Were to Lay Down" - Molia Dumbleton
16. "Half as Much" - Katherena Vermette
15. "These Deathless Bones" - Cassandra Khaw
14. "Sigrid Under the Mountain" - Charlotte Ashley
13. "Eleven" - Sandra Cisneros
12. "New Year's Eve Party" - Wayne Scheer
11. "Hot Pink" - Ren Watson

THE TOP 10!!!

10. "August Heat" - W.F. Harvey
9. "Shooting an Elephant" - George Orwell
8. "Lost and Found" - Sinead Moriarty
7. "A Cup of Tea" - Katherine Mansfield
6. "The Gun" Philip K. Dick
5. "Happy Birthday Africa President" - NoViolet Bulawayo
4. "Poetry by Keats" - Eleanore D. Trumpkiewicz
3. "Mother of Invention" - Nnedi Okorafor
2. "Best Practices for Time Travel" - Doretta Lau
1. "Living Will" - Alexander Jablokov

Reader's Diary #2000- Wayne Scheer: The New Year's Eve Party

I know I've said it many times here on my blog, but this time of year, Christmas and New Year's always puts me in a good mood because I see it as a hopeful time.

In Wayne Scheer's "The New Year's Eve Party" he too captures this feeling without getting overly sentimental. Even more remarkable is that the hopeful note revolves around finding love while nearing the end of one's life.

Scheer has painted a realistic picture with wholly authentic characters.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Reader's Diary #1999- Nathan Hale: Raid of No Return

Not being a big fan of media about war, I didn't have a lot of enthusiasm going into Nathan Hale's graphic novel Raid of No Return, but I wound up enjoying it.

First off, though Hale is American, I didn't find the story of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour to be as unfairly depicted as it could have been, nor was the subsequent story of the U.S.'s first air raid on Japan (before the horrific atomic bomb drops) to be as propaganda-ish as I'd feared.

In some regards it reminded me of Pierre Berton's history books in how Hale had the ability to succinctly summarize and use strong characterizations to make facts not only easier to understand but even entertaining. More impressive, he managed to inject a lot of humour without coming across as disrespectful to what is clearly a heavy topic.

One feature I found less successful was the frame story. It's being told by a real-life historical figure, also named Nathan Hale, just before being executed. It was unnecessary and a bit odd. Fortunately it wasn't so intrusive that I couldn't get into the World War II parts.

Reader's Diary #1998- Nate Evans (writer) and Vince Evans (artist): Tyrannosaurus Ralph

I'm certainly not finishing the year off on a high note with most graphic novels I'm finishing being complete duds. Nate Evans and Vince Evans' Tyrannosaurus Ralph is no exception.

It feels like someone sat down and said, you know what boys like? Dinosaurs, aliens, and fighting. Let's write that. Easy dough.

When it began there was a bully introduced and I though this theme would carry through out. And while it does get mentioned here or there again, it too began to feel contrived. Mention bullying a bit so schools will buy it but don't really have anything to say on the matter.

It's about a boy who gets turned into a t-Rex by a mad-scientist who needs him to fight off aliens in a gladiator-style competition. Oh and if he wins, he also saves a girl from being a slave/bride. Let's add casual sexism to the issues.

The art was marginally better with some fun alien designs. However, the mad-scientist guy was exceptionally odd and always drawn with an angry expression on his face, even when he's not meant to be angry, even when he's being supportive; it was very jarring.

Reader's Diary #1997- Zun (writer), Moe Harukawa (artist): Forbidden Scrollery 1

For some reason I've found the past few manga books I've read to be confusing and oddly, I believe the biggest problem comes from too much left out in the gutters. When the scenes changed, there too often seemed to information missing to help readers follow. Imagine cutting out every other or every third paragraph in a regular book and expecting to understand what's going on.

I at least got the gist of the premise of Zun's Forbidden Scrollery 1; it's set in a book store that carries a lot of books with magical properties, but the plots themselves are a mess and the characters all seem to blend together.

Moe Harukawa's art at least is a step up from the last manga I read, with occasional glimpses of some lovely outdoor scenery, but they are too few and certainly not enough to salvage the book.

Reader's Diary #1996- Manuro Gorobei: Hocus and Pocus 1

I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid and while Manuro Gorobei's Hocus and Pocus 1: The Legend of Grimm's Woods isn't of that particular brand name, but rather Comic Quests, the idea is mostly the same.

Of course, the CYOA books were comics, but it should have been an easy enough idea to adapt to comics. But Gorobei attempts a few modifications that I'm not sure were all that successful. First off, rather than have the choices go to a page number, they go to a panel number. And the choices aren't always spelled out the same way, but rather some numbers appear in a panel and you must choose to "go there" with the choice somewhat implied. This took some getting used to but eventually I did.

Another feature was the use of three helpful animals that you could take on your journey, each with unique attributes that could be useful in particular situations. However, if you use them, they go to sleep and I was never clear on whether or not you could wake them again. I think Gorobei wanted to add a game-type element, but I found the additional complication unnecessary.

Perhaps it was the time it took for me to adapt that detracted from me getting really invested in the plot or characters. Fortunately, I just watched the Black Mirror "Bandersnatch" episode and I'm reminded that character development and compelling plots are still achievement with such a format.