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Monday, August 14, 2017

Reader's Diary #1636- Sevim Ak: Moving to a New House


Sevim Ak's "Moving to a New House" is, in a word, strange.

The plot, of a boy who resents getting the smallest room in their house and decides to hide away from his parents out of spite, is reasonable enough. However the telling of it and the resolution are very odd.

The dialogue is stilted and rings untrue (possibly a poor translation?) and the ending seems to have no rhyme or reason. The author typically writes stories for children and perhaps with the right illustrations this would appeal to a child's imagination. As for me, I just didn't get it.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reader's Diary #1635- Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz (writers), Dan Jurgens (artist): Booster Gold Vol. 1 52 Pick-Up

My first exposure to Booster Gold was with the Death of Superman comics and at the time I read it (just last year), I was not impressed. For a character as important as Superman, it felt odd that DC Comics wouldn't have sent in the other big guns as supporting characters; instead of Bat Man, The Flash, and Wonder Woman, we got Maxima, Bloodwynd, and Booster Gold.

To be fair to Booster Gold, I've since heard more about him and though he may not be the biggest name in DC Comics, he's got his share of fans. I was willing to give the guy another chance.

And though I'd not go as far as saying that the character has become a favourite, I didn't dislike him this time around. He's meant to be a bit of a laughing stock, but this time around Johns and Katz have infused him with more humility. He's been known (rather annoyingly, in my opinion) as being a bit of a fame whore, so it's kind of perfect that this time around, as a guardian of the "real" time line, Gold has to save the world behind the scenes. He's also made more likeable by his inability to get over the loss of his best friend (some argue, more than best friend): the Blue Beetle. Making him care deeply about someone other than himself was quite necessary.

Booster Gold is somewhere between a humorous character and an action character, but the writers, combined with Jurgens' expressive characters, find the balance admirably.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Reader's Diary #1634- Ryan North (artist), Erica Henderson (writer): The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe

Any fan of Squirrel Girl can tell you, she may have the super powers of a squirrel but she's not to be messed with. She's beaten up the biggest of the baddies before (Thanos, Galactus, and Dr. Doom) so how does she top herself? By clearing the entire Marvel Universe. Sort of.

Actually, there's a bit of a cheat. It's not the original Squirrel Girl but rather her evil misguided clone. Nonetheless, she joins the ranks of the Punisher and Deadpool as the few who have taken on the rest of the Marvel heroes and survived (interestingly both of these guys also fall to her this time around).

It's a typical wonderful Squirrel Girl tale with Ryan North's irreverent brand of humour and Erica Henderson's balanced complimentary goofy art.

I'm still longing for Squirrel Girl to show up in something that feels like canon, but I'll take these fun stories in any case.

Monday, August 07, 2017

Reader's Diary #1633- Tiana Reid: Stories From Saint-Martin


Early on in Tiana Reid's collection of "Stories From Saint-Martin," I found myself questioning the way I read. This constant comparing and contrasting to myself. At first I almost gave myself an easy out: it's just human nature. She talks about body insecurities, I think about my own. This is the way we read, I told myself.

But if it's truly human nature, why do schools spend so much time trying to teach it? Clearly it doesn't come natural to all readers. Maybe it doesn't natural to anyone, maybe it's all learned. Strong readers, we're told, make personal connections.

This makes the story all about you in a sense. I began to wonder, does this make us bad listeners?

Race, or more specifically racism against black people, comes up a few times in Reid's stories. As a white male, this is clearly not something I can truly relate to. I suppose that's where the "contrast" comes in (vs. "compare"), but I don't know, when I was reading those parts, I wondered if it wasn't wrong that I couldn't shut my brain off and just listen for once.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Reader's Diary #1632- Jeff Lemire (writer), Dustin Nguyen (artist): Descender Volume One Tin Stars

I don't know why I keep being surprised by Jeff Lemire's work. I'm a diehard fan and it's like I forget that every time I sit down to read one of his books, only to be blown away by his talent once again. The man tells a story like nobody's business.

Descender is a superb piece of sci-fi with a richly developed world, emotionally resonant characters, and a plot that sees a surprise around every corner. Even the structure is creative. No where was this more clear than the second chapter when the robot boy Tim-21 is trying to escape from the villainous scrappers while every other page is a flashback in the form of his memories being slowly uploaded. Non-linear storytelling can be a difficult thing but it's achieved wonderfully here, the memory interruptions help build the tension yet are too beautiful to be frustrating.

Dustin Nguyen's watercoloured art helps gives depth to the story, especially playing up the more emotional angles. Try not to love Tim-21. It's impossible.

I cannot wait to read the next volume in the series.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Reader's Diary #1631- Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner (writers), Frank Stack (artist): Our Cancer Year

I was surprised to find, as I began Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner's Our Cancer Year, that so much of the story was not about Harvey's cancer, as the title would imply, but rather the Gulf War and how it affected the lives of Joyce's young friends.

This would soon change, moving these folks and this moment in history to the background. The cancer, not surprisingly, became all-consuming. This change in pacing and focus was brilliant. Harvey and Joyce's struggle was almost palpable.

I wasn't completely taken by Frank Stack's art, however. The settings were bleak, scratchy and inky, fitting the tone of the book wonderfully. I was less taken with his caricatures, or rather the inconsistency in his caricatures. Later in the book it made more sense that Harvey's look varied from panel to panel as the cancer and treatment took its toll on his physical appearance. It doesn't however explain why there was so much variation with other characters.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Reader's Diary #1630- Jim Starlin (writer), George Perez and Ron Lim (artists): The Infinity Gauntlet

I'll admit being super excited for the Avengers: Infinity War movie coming out next year. (Even more so since the trailer leaked online.) In the meantime, I'm trying to familiarize myself with the stories that inspired the movie and perhaps no comic has done more so than The Infinity Gauntlet story line by Jim Starlin back in 1991.

Of course, the comics are far less caught up with character usage rights as the movies and so, stories will be far from a perfect match. Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Dr. Doom, and Cyclops for instance, are all in the comic but will definitely not appear in the movie as their rights are tangled up in Fox and Sony.

Furthermore, the MCU has yet to really unify its television and big screen properties. And as disappointed as it makes me, it's unlikely the television characters will join the Avengers in fighting Thanos next April. On that note, the comic does perhaps provide a clue as to how the movie will handle the fact that it would be rather weird that superheroes such as Daredevil, Cloak and Dagger, Quake, Black Bolt, and so on would be sitting on their thumbs. Early in the comic, Thanos simply wields his new awesome powers to blink half of the universe's life out of existence. (Later, Nebula returns everything to normal, so no lasting harm done.)

That was actually one of the more interesting plot lines in the collection and one that I think could have stood on its own. The impact of such an action should be huge and explored. We get hints here: pilots disappear causing planes to crash, Krees blame the Skrulls for tragedy and vow vengeance, and so on. Instead, however, the focus remains on Thanos.

Not a terrible problem, as he's a pretty interesting character, but the superheroes themselves though they are many remain pretty irrelevant throughout. You can bet that Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and the rest will NOT be irrelevant in the movie.

One reasonable concern in such a movie or book is whether or not it will feel bloated with such a giant cast. The comic handled handled it well by selecting a few for focus (besides Thanos, Warlock, Doctor Strange, and Silver Surfer get more page time), and I suspect the movie will just swap in the aforementioned big wigs. Though the rest will also be there in the perimeter and so, just as I don't think the comic was a good jumping on point for newcomers, the movie will assume a lot of familiarity with the MCU. It will be a fans-only affair for sure.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Reader's Diary #1629- Jan Kaneen: Breaking Windows


Jan Kaneen's flash fiction story "Breaking Windows" reminded me of the "Shut Up and Dance" episode of Black Mirror in that both use our fears of being spied upon by hacked webcams to create a compelling piece of fiction.

While the Black Mirror episode is more fully realized and vastly superior to Kaneen's story, I did enjoy the teasing of the reader:
I sneak my requests in on free downloads - movies or short stories. People never check the links they check. Have you any idea what you agreed to, when you started reading this? For all you know, my RAT just ran up your digital drainpipe, and is taking control of your webcam and microphone at this very nanosecond. 
Nice touch.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reader's Diary #1628- Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio (writers), Audrey Mok (artist): Josie and the Pussycats Volume One

After enjoying the more modern, mature, and acclaimed titles from Archie Comics lately (Archie, Jughead, and Sabrina), I had high hopes for Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio's Josie and the Pussycats.

Unfortunately I couldn't get into this one at all. Largely it was due to the humour. Sure there were lots of jokes but they seemed to land with a thud, shoe-horned into the story without really adding to it. And I'll acknowledge up front that humour is a personal taste, maybe this just wasn't for me. It just seemed that the punchlines, by and large, weren't punchlines at all but rather references to something in pop culture, as if that alone made it funny.

I also didn't come to care for the characters. Josie gets more development than the other two Pussycats, and while her character grows, she's still not exactly charming, seems to want fame for fame sake. Her friend Valerie thankfully gets a little spotlight toward the end, but her other friend Melody is woefully neglected except for supposed comic relief. She's also a confusing character; is she supposed to be an airhead or a genius or what?

Audrey Mok's art is fine, balancing realism against cartoonish expressions, and it's coloured wonderfully by Andre Szymanowicz and Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reader's Diary #1627- Doug Urquhart: Eyes of the Husky

I'll be honest; the only reasons I chose to read Doug Urquhart's Eyes of the Husky was the fact that it was a) comics and b) written by a northerner. I wasn't particularly impressed by the art on the cover and the example of humour shown was of the "men are [insert stereotype here] while women are [insert stereotype here]" variety.

I adapted more quickly to the art, which is better than the cover would suggest. Also, Urquhart provides side notes to all of the strips, and many times these explain his artistic technique. He clearly knew very well what he was doing.

As for the stereotypes, yes, those remained bountiful throughout. He seems to think that true northerners, especially the men, are all great outdoors people. He'd probably be disgusted that a homebound dandy like myself have managed to live happily in the north for 15 years. In any case, the stereotypes are usually used to show humorous contrasts (between scientists and bushmen, men and women, man and beast, northerners and southerners) and though grossly generalized all seem to be in good jest. And I'll even concede that often I found some kernels of truth. More importantly I did remain amused.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reader's Diary #1626- Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Stefano Caselli (artist): Riri Williams / Invincible Ironman Ironheart Vol. 1

Not that I don't enjoy many DC Comics, but I'm definitely a Marvel man. One of the sticking points for me for DC was the Teen Titans, most of whom were just teenage versions of existing superheroes. Perhaps it's my Marvel bias, but I'm not, however, opposed to the new versions of classic Marvel characters, most of whom are also teenage (Spider-Man, Ms. Marvel, the Hulk, etc). One reason I'm enjoying them more is because— and it's about time— they're not white.

Of course, the stories need to still be good. It needs to feel organic, not forced. By and large, Riri's first turn as Ironman's replacement, Ironheart, is a success. She's a rich character with brains and just enough emotional baggage to keep her interesting without being over the top. There are a couple of moments where she (or Bendis) are arguably proselytizing progressive attitudes but the case could also be made that Riri is just meant to be a very woke character (fitting for her age).

The art is pretty decent; standard superhero-brand realism, but great character expressions and colouring.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Reader's Diary #1625- Nicole Mullen: Read This If Your Child Was Eaten By a Pelican


I stumbled upon Nicole Mullen's "Read This If Your Child Was Eaten By a Pelican" last week and because of the title, I just had to read it.

I was enjoying it quite a bit; it was as funny and bizarre as the title promised, plus it's got great description and a modern voice. Then I came upon the line,
I should have known that those dock pelicans, emboldened by the generosity and passivity of the sockless, boat-shoed and pancake-breasted weekend warrior sailboat fags that populate the docks, would not only see my son as non-threatening, but delicious even.
Yeah, that word "fags" jumps out. Clearly an offensive word, it's distracting to say the least. It also makes the narrator far less likeable. That's okay, I rationalized, I don't have to like a character to appreciate a good story. And maybe making her a bigot makes her more believable?

Then I came to end and saw the two sentence author bio: "Just a fun mom and a teacher at a retarded school. I like recipes and my kids."

Hmmm. Retarded school? Does this woman still have a job?

So I clicked on the link to her Twitter page and it turns out that Nicole Mullen is a pen-name of comedian Nick Mullen. And Nick Mullen, it turns out, is no stranger to controversy. I'm not going to weigh in on that as I don't want to expend the energy going through his work. (I can appreciate off-colour humour if done right.) But back to story at hand, I'll say that the 2 words in question above add nothing to the otherwise good story and unfortunately even detract from it. Negative shock value.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Confession Redux

It was ten years ago that I confessed to not having read some pretty major titles, books that no self-proclaimed bibliophile should have skipped:

1. Harper Lee- To Kill A Mockingbird
2. Jane Austen- Pride and Prejudice
3. Joseph Conrad- Heart of Darkness
4. Bill Bryson- A Short History of Nearly Everything
5. Joseph Heller- Catch 22
6. Vladimir Nabokov- Lolita
7. Gabriel Garcia Marquez- One Hundred Years of Solitude
8. J. R. R. Tolkien- The Hobbit
9. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- The Hound of The Baskervilles
10. Charles Dickens- A Tale of Two Cities
11. Louisa May Alcott- Little Women
12. Ian McEwan- Atonement
13. Douglas Adams- The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
14. Don Delilo- White Noise
15. Carson McCullers- The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
16. Richard Adams- Watership Down
17. Scott O'Dell- Island Of The Blue Dolphins
18. Salman Rushdie- The Satanic Verses
19. Madeleine L'Engle- A Wrinkle In Time
20. Katherine Patterson- Bridge To Terebithia

It was shocking. I could barely show my face in public. But now, 10 years later (at an impressive rate of 2 books per year!), I can finally say I am well-read.

What's the sound of tires screeching while a record scratches?

Yes, apparently my ranking as a reader has only risen to amateur. To be a professional, I will have to commit to reading the following:

1. Geoffrey Chaucer - The Canterbury Tales
2. Thomas Pynchon - Gravity's Rainbow
3. Jonathan Franzen - The Corrections
4. Anne Brontë - Agnes Grey
5. Ayn Rand- Atlas Shrugged
6. Charles Darwin - On the Origin of Species
7. Albert Camus - The Stranger
8. Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter
9. Henry Miller - Tropic of Cancer
10. Dante Alighieri - Divine Comedy
11. Unknown - Beowolf
12. Ralph Ellison - Invisible Man
13. Nalo Hopkinson - Brown Girl in the Ring 
14. Chinua Achebe - Things Fall Apart
15. Charlotte Brontë - Jane Eyre
16. D.H. Lawrence - Sons and Lovers
17. James Joyce - Ulysses
18. Frank Herbert - Dune
19. John Kennedy Toole - A Confederacy of Dunces
20. Marshall McLuhan - Understanding Media

So, yes, a few doozies in there, but I'm guessing that by 2042 I'll have knocked them off of my list. In the meantime, I call on all authors to put a freeze on writing anything important so I'll have a chance to catch up.

How many of this 2nd list have you read?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Reader's Diary #1625- Various writers, various artists: Spider-Man Maximum Carnage

In some ways Spider-Man Maximum Carnage reminded me of Sam Raimi's infamous Spider-Man 3. Just as that movie was killed by bloat, so was Maximum Carnage. But just as there were kernels of good stories in Spider-Man 3, there was potential here as well.

For those still unfamiliar with the necessary Spider-Man lore, in the late 80s the world was introduced to one of his now legendary archnemeses: Venom. An alien symbiote that originally bonded with Spider-Man, it later did so with one Eddie Brock. Proving to be a quite popular character, Marvel kept him around and somewhat in the vein of the Punisher, made him an anti-hero. Yes, he went after bad guys, but his brand of justice was cruel and most often outright murder.  A few years later, however, Venom spawned a new symbiote that attached to a serial killer to create the psychotic Carnage. He was no hero, nor anti-hero, but a straight up murderous villain.

Having three characters in one book then should be a great way to explore the lines of vigilantism; where does heroism begin and end? But while this is touched upon in Maximum Carnage, it is sadly underdeveloped. Likewise, attempts at a debate regarding ends justifying the means were woefully inadequate.

Instead, the writers seem to just constantly toss new characters in and and out of the battle between Spider-Man and Carnage, often with little rhyme or reason. Spider-Man allies himself with no less than Black Cat, Cloak and Dagger, Firestar, Morbius, Captain America, the Iron Fist, Deathlok, Nightwatch, and Venom, while Carnage partners up with Shriek, the Spider-Man Doppelganger, Carrion, and Demogoblin.

Now I say the problem is one of bloat, but that's not entirely accurate. I don't think it's impossible to do a good story with an abundance of characters (Captain America: Civil War was pretty great), but quantity needs to be matched by quality for it to work. Sure I liked hearing the names of unfamiliar characters (I hadn't been aware of Carrion, Nightwatch, or Firestar before), but I don't feel that I really got to know them at all. They simply added to the noise.

As for the art, it was the early 90s, so it wasn't spectacular, but not terrible. A couple of exceptions that crossed the line into crap: Black Cat's impossible falling-off suit and this panel:



Monday, July 17, 2017

Reader's Diary #1624- Mary Hallock Foote: A Cloud on the Mountain


Mary Hallock Foote's "A Cloud on the Mountain" is one of those stories that would make for great classroom discussions.

It involves a woman named Ruth Mary who's destiny seems largely out of her hands, due largely to the sexism of the times. Analyze this story from a feminist perspective. Her family, who doesn't seem to really understand her at all (or make any efforts to), has pretty much arranged a marriage for her. But Ruth Mary is rather preoccupied with a traveling stranger who, in the end, remains somewhat indifferent to her. Is this stranger the "cloud" on the mountain?

So, yes, I did enjoy the food for thought. I was, however, left with a few stray observations. The beginning is odd and lead me to believe that it would be a story of a missing, perhaps kidnapped, child. (It's nothing of the sort.) Speaking of odd, there's a bizarre character named Angy whose slight unexplained, idiosyncrasies are distracting to the story. Finally, the perspective seems to follow Ruth Mary but suddenly switches to the stranger. The change is jarring at the moment, but makes a little more sense in the end.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Reader's Diary #1623- Sterling Gates and Rob Liefeld: Hawk and Dove Volume 1 First Strikes

I first picked up Hawk and Dove: Volume 1 First Strikes as they were a couple of DC Comics characters I hadn't heard of before. That's when I noticed Rob Liefeld's name on the cover.

Where had I heard that name before?

Checking back over the blog, I hadn't read anything by him, but I soon discovered the online vitriol directed at his art. Yep, I'd definitely come across this article before. And while I do feel somewhat bad for this self-taught artist, his critics aren't wrong.

This Hawk and Dove collection came out in 2012, a few years after the linked article above, and sadly there were few improvements (less of an aversion to drawing feet, at least). Perhaps it's knowing his reputation that's the problem. The art is undeniably bad, but worse when you're intentionally on the lookout for it though the perpetually glowering, lipless, sphincter faces would be hard to miss regardless. And that asinine costume of Hawk's with the weird appendages sprouting out and back from his chest? What the hell are they supposed to be? Move over Dagger, Vampirella, and Hawkman; we have a new contestant for the worst superhero costume award.

If the story was stronger, I suppose, it would be easier to look past, or at least forget the shitty art. (Not that one should ever separate them in a comic.) But while the story in Hawk and Dove isn't terrible, it's just lackluster. It's marginally interesting, I suppose, that despite complementing each others' powers (she's an avatar of peace, he's an avatar of war); they are not a romantic couple, barely even close friends. Still what they and their villains are suppose to be, and what motivates them, is pretty ill-defined beyond a convoluted bird motif.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Reader's Diary #1622- Barbara Honigmann: Double Grave


Barbara Honigmann's "Double Grave," a story about a Jewish woman visiting a gravesite in Germany with a Jewish scholar.

It's a deft tale of the way horrific and traumatic events (such as the holocaust) tend to split a person's identity. Still, it does not advocate for choosing one identity over another but rather acknowledging them as new parts of a whole.

Obviously not a light-hearted story, it is at least a thinker.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Reader's Diary #1621- J. T. Krul (writer), Freddie Williams II (artist): Captain Atom Volume 1 Evolution

While reading Geoff John's Hawkman collection last week I was pleasantly surprised to see a cameo from Atom, DC Comics' answer to Marvel's Ant-Man. Wanting to read more about him, I picked up J.T. Krul's Captain Atom: Volume 1 Evolution.

Wow, I thought, Krul's version of this character is a pretty wild and different interpretation. When's he even going to get small?

So, here's your comics lesson for today kids: Captain Atom and Atom are not the same person. Yes, they're both DC, but the latter is more Ant-Man while the latter is more Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan. And here's the second lesson: Doctor Manhattan was based on Captain Atom, not the other way around.

Captain Atom is blue and had godlike powers. He can basically rearrange atoms to whatever he desires. He turns jet fighters into feathers, he cures cancer.

Unlike Doctor Manhattan, this version of Captain Atom is made more personable as he's new to the powers and still learning how to control them, as well as dealing with how this will drastically who he is as a person.

This particular collection is very much an origin story and so the stakes are necessarily high. Still, the story is just interesting enough to encourage a further commitment.

This all said, I wonder how DC Comics will deal with him now that the Watchmen characters are being added to their regular universe. If having Captain Atom and Atom characters isn't confusing enough, will readers now also need to deal with two pretty much identical characters?

Friday, July 07, 2017

Reader's Diary #1620- Geoff Johns (writer), Gary Frank (artist): Shazam! Volume 1

So here's another character that Geoff Johns has helped rescue from obscurity: Shazam (actually Captain Marvel, but as that's also a Marvel Comics character and makes more sense for them, DC hardly ever refers to him by that name anymore.)

And he's done a remarkable job with this one. Billy Batson is a street-wise orphan, a young teenager, whose bitterness leads to some pretty poor choices. But when he's given the opportunity to become Shazam, his better side starts to shine through.

It works so well because you root for Billy and his newly adopted family. Plus, reminiscent of Tom Hanks' Big (Shazam's body is of an adult male), there's a fun tone.

Gary Frank's art is great (you can totally see the same features in the teen/adult faces) and it's coloured beautifully by Brad Anderson (check out the glow around the Christmas lights).

Small issue with how easily the villain, Black Adam, is overthrown but there's a sense that it's only a minor setback for him and I look forward to his return.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Reader's Diary #1619- Tom DeFalco and Fabian Nicieza (writers), various artists: X-Men Gambit The Complete Collection Vol. 1

You hear so much about how badly Channing Tatum wants to play this Marvel character on the big screen, comparable to Ryan Reynolds passionate push to finally get Deadpool off the ground, and it's hard not to be at least a little curious about Gambit. But where does one begin?

Sigh. Not with the Tom DeFalco and Fabian Nicieza collection.

I really didn't enjoy this one. The plots were convoluted and sloppy. Especially annoying were these "interludes" involving a character named Fontanelle who is trespassing into people's dreams trying to investigate Gambit. This is a huge collection and throughout, it's all Fontanelle ever does. Over and over, with nothing to gain.

Set largely in New Orleans, this at least should have been a great selling factor. Alas, it's terribly underutilized. In fact, I just finished Geoff John's Hawkman Book One, set in the New Orleans doppleganger St. Roch, and that book far better captures the cool vibe of the place.

Now that I think of it, every opportunity is lost in this book. Gambit should be an intriguing character. He comes from a criminal past, has trouble (some through poor choices) having the X-Men trust him, and his powers are pretty unique (he can infuse objects with explosive energy; his favourites are playing cards). But Gambit is also a bit of a guarded fellow, which might be fine, except from a story-telling point of view someone at some point should be able to break through and deliver the goods. However, he remains a bit of a tight-lipped dud throughout.

Even the art is bad. And I say even because it features artists whom I've admired elsewhere (notably Steve Skroce who also worked on Brian K. Vaughan's We Stand On Guard). Typically it comes across as a very rushed collection. Backgrounds are too often minimal. Explosions are overdone, obliterating any details. And poor Gambit. I hear he's supposed to be handsome. Too bad that he looks like a horse throughout these pages.

This was painful to get through. I hope Channing Tatum is able to find better source material.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Reader's Diary #1618- Geoff Johns (witer), Rags Morales (artist): Hawkman Book One

I'd never taken DC Comics' Hawkman all that seriously before. Having one of the most ridiculous costumes, he's always seemed a bit of a joke to me.

Still, Geoff Johns is usually a safe bet and so I wondered if I could come to appreciate Hawkman under his pen.

On that front, yes. When a writer can make you accept the unbelievable, I'd say he's been successful. I was caught up with this character, his history, his new challenges and by and large I was into this book.

There was a scene though that essentially ruined it for me. It involved Hawkgirl, a character who was so vital to this book it should have been called Hawkman and Hawkgirl. She's seen having a nightmare, recalling a repressed memory of when a couple of police officers had attempted to rape her (as a child) and her mother. It's dark. And the debate about whether or not rape should be used as a plot device notwithstanding, the larger issue (for me) was the fact that Rags Morales decides that this is an appropriate time to depict the adult Hawkgirl topless and in a pair of undersized underwear. It's so tone-deaf it's absolutely gross.

I was all set to praise the creators for breathing new life into Hawkman, on selling such an outlandish idea. But if I'm being honest, Rags Morales' tasteless choice will be the scene I'll unfortunately remember from the whole collection.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Reader's Diary #1617- Helene Stapinski: Murder in Matera

My wife Debbie read Helene Stapinski's Murder in Matera book before I did and at first was enjoying it to the point of raving about it. You have no idea how much this pleased me.

She is the hardest person in the world for me to successfully recommend a book. As a librarian, it's hard not to take it personally when your reader's advisory skills cannot even pair a book to the person I know the most. To add insult, others— even slight acquaintances— seem to be able to do so with no problems. 

I got her Murder in Matera as she leans towards non-fiction and we're planning a trip to Italy (Matera included). 

But her enjoyment came to a sudden and specific halt as she neared the end of the book. She made note not only of the page but even the sentence that did her in.

Finding that line for myself then became an obsession for me. 

Obsessions, it turns out, could be a secondary theme of Murder in Matera. Stapinski is obsessed with uncovering the truth behind a long rumored murder in her family tree, a murder that ultimately led to her great-great grandmother Vita immigrating to the United States. Stapinski travels to where it all began, Italy's Matera province, and starts digging.

To hear her tell it, this murder has potentially devastated the family tree that followed, leading to many-a crime-ridden branch. Stapinski, a mother, fears that the legacy will continue. 

I wasn't buying this last bit. As anyone who's done any research into their own family tree or has a family that passes down its own stories can tell you, there are bound to be dark and sinister tales. First off, just the law of averages suggests that you'll hit a crime eventually and secondly, the stories that get passed down are often the ones with the juiciest details, often exaggerated for effect, and like a game of telephone, winding up far from what actually happened. I suspected very early on that Stapinski's fear of genetic corruption was a facade; a way to draw in readers (or perhaps her publisher), a hook beyond typical travelogue.

Not that I cared too much. I was enjoying the rich descriptions of Matera and as someone who's researched his own family tree, Stapinski's sleuthing was something I could relate to. It's true, it can become an obsession.

Hopefully by now I've convinced some of you to give the book a shot. Go read it and remember to come back. But stop reading this post now as I have to discuss the infamous sentence that did the book in for my wife and therefore spoilers are unavoidable.

After almost an entire book, Stapinski finally has some answers. Vita was not a murderer after all. However, the man she'd mistakenly believed to be her great-great grandfather, Vita's husband, was  murdered. He goes to prison for his crimes and after being let out, he soon dies (without ever having gone to America himself). Stapinski has found his death certificate 

No cause of death was listed. I wondered if heartbreak really could cause someone to die. Or maybe Grieco killed him. Or maybe he died in a card game. Maybe Vita killed him. [...] I was finally ready to leave the dead in peace. 

Did you spot the offending line? I'll admit, even after my wife told me the page, I still had trouble finding it. It's the flippant way Stapniski throws out the line "Maybe Vita killed him." She has spent the book describing how afraid she was that she and her children may have inherited some sort of criminal gene, followed by a very audible sigh of relief that Vita wasn't a murderer; the murderer was someone she wasn't even related to as it turns out. This whole premise then falls apart when she casually throws out the possibility that Vita may have murdered someone after all and whatever, she's ready to go home.

So yes, Debbie had a good point.

That said, I wasn't buying that whole criminal inheritance bit anyway, so I'm more forgiving it considering I enjoyed a lot of other aspects.


Monday, July 03, 2017

Reader's Diary #1616- Peter Jordan: Broody


Peter Jordan's "Broody" is a flash fiction story about a man who's checked into a hotel to brood after an argument with is wife.

It's a subtle story in a way, but I suspect the gist is that the narrator-protagonist is comparing himself to an overweight gentleman in the pool in order to feel better about himself and situation.

I'll admit though that I was very distracted by all the swimming cap references. The narrator is concerned at first that the overweight man is about to swim with a cap (until he pulls one out). Then the caps of others in the pool are described. Is this a British thing? I've never seen or heard of so many caps in a Canadian pool and in fact, unless they've been on professional swimmers, I don't recall ever seeing a swimming cap.

That aside, a nice quick piece of observation if nothing else.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

The 10th Canadian Book Challenge - Final Recap

Happy 150th Canada Day!

It's been a wonderful 10 years hosting this challenge and I want to say thank-you from the bottom of my heart to all of the participants who have made this a real love for me that I will miss. I am especially happy to note how many Indigenous writers were read for the challenge this year and as Melwyk takes the Challenge moving forward, I hope we discover and read even more from the plethora of talented First Nations, Inuit, and Metis writers. Considering the mixed emotions felt this Canada, I think this would be a small but significant step in the right direction. May it not take another 150 years for true Reconciliation to have happened.

A few stats about the 10th Canadian Book Challenge:
  • We've read and reviewed a total of 614 Books!
  • The grand total for all 10 years combined in 7646.
  • Of the 25 people who signed on, 18 people finished
  • Irene, for the 3rd year in a row, read the most with a whopping 242 (again beating her old record)
  • Margaret Atwood and Louise Penny tied for the most books read (14)
  •  There was a tie for the most read book: Alan Bradley's Thrice The Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd and Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door each had 5
Abbott, Victoria
- The Wolfe Widow (RIEDEL Fascination)

Adderson, Caroline
- Eat Leo, Eat! (Irene)
- Ellen in Pieces (Melwyk)
- I Love You One to Ten (Irene)
- Jasper John Dooley (Irene)

Adkins, Samantha
- Suspiciously Reserved (Sharon)

Ahlers, Sonja
- Fatal Distraction (Pooker)

Akkad, Omar El
- American War (Shonna)

Alexie, Robert Arthur
- Porcupines and China Dolls (Buried in Print)

Alexis, Andre
- The Hidden Keys (Melwyk)

Amato, Mirella
- Beerology (LisaN)

Anand, Madhur
- A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (Melwyk)

Anderson-Dargatz, Gail
- The Cure for Death by Lightning (Eric)
- A Recipe for Bees (Irene)
- The Spawning Grounds (Heather, Melwyk, Irene)


Andrew, Suzanne Alyssa
- Circle of Stones (Pooker)

Anstey, Cindy
- Love, Lies and Spies (Heather, Sharon)

Armstrong, Kelley
- Betrayals (Jules)
- City of the Lost (Jules, Pussreboots)
- A Darkness Absolute (Luanne, Heather)
- The Gathering (Nicola)
- Led Astray (Irene)
- Omens (Irene)

Ashby, Madeline
- Company Town (Melwyk)

Atwood, Margaret
- Angel Catbird illustrated by Johnnie Christmas (John, Melwyk, Kate)
- The Edible Woman (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Hag-Seed (Melwyk, MaryR, Raidergirl)
- The Handmaid's Tale (Darlene)
- The Heart Goes Last (Kate, Irene)
- The Penelopiad (MaryR)
- The Robber Bride (MaryR)
- Stone Mattress (Swordsman, MaryR)

Awad, Mona
- 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl (Kate, Melwyk)

Barclay, Linwood
- Broken Promise (Shonna)
- Far From True (Shonna)
- Fear the Worst (Lisa N)
- Never Saw it Coming (Pooker)
- A Tap at the Window (Raidergirl)
- Too Close to Home (Lisa N)
- The Twenty-Three (Teena)

Barfoot, Joan
- Getting Over Edgar (Raidergirl)

Barwin, Gary
- Yiddish for Pirates (Kate)

Bauslaugh, Gary
- The Right to Die (Irene)

Beaulac, Michel
- Les Loup-Garous (RIEDEL Fascination)

Beck, Leslie
- Heart Healthy Foods for Life (Irene)

Becker, Helaine
- You Can Read illustrated by Mark Hoffmann (Shonna)

Bergen, David
- The Age of Hope (Raidergirl) 

Bezmozgis, David
- Natasha and Other Stories (Eric)

Biasotto, Linda
- Sweet Life (Melwyk)

Bidulka, Anthony
- Set Free (Mysteries and More)

Birney, Earle
One Muddy Hand (Eric)

Bissoondath, Neil
- The Soul of All Great Designs (Eric)

Blair, Peggy
- Umbrella Man (Melwyk)

Blais, Marie-Claire
- Tete Blanche (Melwyk)
- These Festive Nights (Irene)

Blondal, Patricia
- A Candle to Light the Sun (Mysteries and More)

Blum, Vicki
- The Land Without Unicorns (RIEDEL Fascination)

Blumhofer, Edith L.
- Aimee Semple McPherson: Everybody's Sister (Sharon)

Boone, Ezekial
- The Hatching (Luanne, Darlene)

Bowering, George
- Burning Water (Eric)

Born, Paul
- Community Conversations (Melwyk)
- Deepening Community (Melwyk)

Boyden, Joseph
- Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont (BuriedInPrint)
- Wenjack (Kate)

Bozak, Nadia
- Thirteen Shells (Melwyk)

Bracuk, Diane
- Middle-Age Boys and Girls (Melwyk)

Bradley, Alan
- A Red Herring Without Mustard (Mysteries and More)
- The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Nicola, Luanne, Melwyk, Pussreboots, MaryR)

Brender a Brandis, Gerard
- A Gathering of Flowers From Shakespeare (Melwyk)
- A Wood Engraver's Alphabet (Melwyk)

Britt, Fanny
- Jane, the fox and me illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Melwyk, Irene)

Brooks, Carellin
- One Hundred Days of Rain (Melwyk)

Brouwer, Sigmund
- Thief of Glory (Sharon)

Brown, Chester
- Louis Riel (BuriedInPrint)

Buchanan, Dan
- Murder in the Family (Teena)

Burrows, Steve
- A Pitying of Doves (Sharon)
- A Siege of Bitterns (Sharon)

Butala, Sharon
 - Where I Live Now (Melwyk)

Callaghan, Morley
- The Many Coloured Coat (Bill)

Cameron, Claire
- The Last Neanderthal (Melwyk, Luanne)

Campbell, Colin
- Free Days with George (Teena)

Campbell, Marissa
Avelynn: The Edge of Faith (Stephanie N)

The Canadian Press
- Canada's Olympic Diary (Irene)

Cardinal, Tantoo and Others
- Our Story: Aboriginal Voices on Canada's Past (BuriedInPrint)

Carson, Anne
- Short Talks (Melwyk)

Castree, Genevieve
- Susceptible (John)

Chapman, Brenda
- Butterfly Kills (Teena)
- Cold Mourning (Teena)
- The Hard Fall (Teena)
- In Winter's Grip (Teena)
- A Model Death (Teena)
- My Sister's Keeper (Teena)
- Second Chances (Teena)
- The Second Wife (Teena)
- Shallow End (Teena)
- To Keep a Secret (Teena)
- Tumbled Graves (Teena)

Chartrand, Lili
- Taming Horrible Harry illustrated by Roge (Sharon)

Chief, Arthur Bear
- My Decade at Old Sun, My Lifetime of Hell (Pooker)

Cho, Michael
- Shoplifter (Lisa N)

Choi, Ann
- Kay's Lucky Coin Variety (Eric, Melwyk)

Choy, Wayson
- The Jade Peony (John)

Clark, Pam
- Kalyna (Melwyk)

Clark, Sally
- Moo (John)

Cliff, Tony
- Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant (Pussreboots)

Clunis, Devon and Pearlene Clunis
- The Little Boy From Jamaica (Sharon)

Code, Devon
- In a Mist (John)

Cohen, Joel
- How to Lose a Marathon (Teena)

Cohen, Marina
- The Inn Between (Pussreboots)

Cohen, Leonard
- Beautiful Losers (Eric)

Coyote, Ivan
- Tomboy Survival Guide (Melwyk)

Craig, Jennifer
- Gone to Pot (Melwyk)

Crate, Joan
- Black Apple (Melwyk)

Creighton, Helen
- A Life in Folklore (RIEDEL Fascination)

Crewe, Lesley
- Amazing Grace (Teena)

Crosbie, Lynn
- Queen Rat (Eric)

Cross, Kady
- Vigilante (Heather)

Crozier, Lorna
- Small Mechanics (Kate)

Cusk, Rachel
- Transit (Shonna)

Czerneda, Julie
 - To Trade the Stars (Jules)

Daher, Anita
- Itty Bitty Bits (Pooker)

Dandurand, Anne
- Deathly Delights (Melwyk)

D'Aoust, Christiane
- Gem-Bem and the Mystery of the Ball of Branches illustrated by Brock Nicol (RIEDEL Fascination)

Davis, Aubrey
- Sody Salleratus illustrated by Alan and Lea Daniels (Sharon)

de Castell, Sebastien
- Saint's Blood (Swordsman)

Delany, Vicki
- Elementary, She Read (Mysteries and More)
- In the Shadow of the Glacier (Sharon)

de la Roche, Mazo
- The Master of Jalna (Pussreboots)

de Lint, Charles
- The Blue Girl (Barb in BC)
- Memory and Dream (Pussreboots)

Demers, Charles
- The Prescription Errors (Eric)

deWitt, Patrick
- The Sisters Brothers (Eric)

Dickinson, Arlene
- All In (Melwyk)

Dion, Lise
- Secret of the Blue Trunk (Melwyk)

Doherty, Christal
- How Raven Returned the Sun illustrated by Carla Taylor (Melwyk)

Donoghue, Emma
- The Wonder (Melwyk)

Downie, Gord
- Coke Machine Glow (Eric)
- Secret Path illustrated by Jeff Lemire (Kate, John, LisaN, Melwyk)

Dumont, Dawn
- Rose's Run (Melwyk)

Dumont, Marilyn
- Green Girls Dreams Mountains (BuriedInPrint)
- The Pemmican Eaters (BuriedInPrint)
- A Really Good Brown Girl (Melwyk, BuriedInPrint)
- That Tongued Belonging (BuriedInPrint)

Duncan, Sara Jeannette
- On the Other Side of the Latch (Barb In BC)

Dupre, Louise
- Memoria (Melwyk)

Dvorkin, Gary
- Ransom's Voice (Pooker)

Eagan, Rachel
- What Do I Want? What Do I Need? (Irene)

Echlin, Kim
- Inanna (Irene)

Eddie, Christine
- The Douglas Notebooks (Melwyk)

Edwards, Peter
- Hard Road (Teena)

Elliott, George
- The Kissing Man (RIEDEL Fascination)

Ellis, Deborah
- The Girl from Turtle Mountain (RIEDEL Fascination)

Ellis, Sarah
- Waiting for Sophie illustrated by Carmen Mok (Shonna)

Emery, Anne
- Lament for Bonnie (Melwyk)

Engel, Howard
- A City Called July (RIEDEL Fascination)

Engel, Marian
- Bear (Eric, Melwyk)

Epperly, Elizabeth Rollins
Imagining Anne (Melwyk)

Faber, Alyda
- Dust or Fire (Kate)

Fagan, Cary
- Thing Thing illustrated by Nicolas Debon (Sharon)

Fernandez, Vince
- Little Sister (Swordsman)

Fielding, Joy
- Now You See Her (Sharon)

Fields, Leslie Leyland
- Crossing the Waters (Irene)

Filey, Mike
- Mount Pleasant Cemetery (Teena)

Findley, Timothy
- Not Wanted on the Voyage (Eric)
- You Went Away (Raidergirl)

Fishbane, Melanie J.
- Maud (Melwyk)

Florence, Elinor
- Bird's Eye View (Melwyk)

Foster, Dorothy (editor)
- In Praise of Cats (RIEDEL Fascination)

Fox, Michael J.
- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future (RIEDEL Fascination)

Fraction, Matt
- Sex Criminals Volume One: One Weird Trick illustrated by Chip Zdarsky (John)

Fradkin, Barbara
- Fire in the Stars (Melwyk)

Fraser, Frances
- The Bear Who Stole the Chinook: And Other Stories (RIEDEL Fascination)

Frolick, Gloria Kupchenko
- The Green Tomato Years (Melwyk)

Fu, Kim
- For Today I Am a Boy (Pussreboots)

Gadd, Ben
- The Canadian Hiker's and Backpacker's Handbook (Irene)

Gallant, Mavis
- From the Fifteenth District (Jules)
- Home Truths (Melwyk)
- The Moslem Wife (Eric)

Gault, Cinda
- This Godforsaken Place (Melwyk)

Gay, Marie-Louise
- Princess Pistachio and Maurice the Magnificent (Shonna)

George, Kallie
- Clover's Luck illustrated by Alexandra Boiger (Pussreboots)
- The Lost Gift illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Luanne)

Gilman, Phoebe
- L'Arbre Aux Ballons (RIEDEL Fascination)

Gladwell, Malcolm
- David and Goliath (Raidergirl)
- Outliers (Raidergirl)

Goldstone, Gabriele
- Red Stone (Shonna)

Gonsalves, Rob
- Imagine a World (Pussreboots)

Gordon, Alison
- Safe at Home (Mysteries and More)

Gordon, Mary
- Roots of Empathy (Irene)

Gosselin, Laura and Jake
- The Pinkaboos: Belladona and the Nightmare Academy illustrated by Billy Kelly (Nicola)
- The Pinkaboos: Bitterly and the Giant Problem illustrated by Billy Kelly (Nicola)

Gould, Nora
Selah (John)

Govier, Katherine
- The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel (Melwyk)

Goyette, Sue
- The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (Kate)

Graham, Genevieve
- Promises to Keep (Melwyk)

Graham, Gwethalyn
- Swiss Sonata (Barb In BC)

Grant, Vicki
- Short for Chamleon (Heather)

Gray, Charlotte
- The Massey Murder (Raidergirl)

Greer, Darren
- Advocate (Teena)

Griffiths, Doug 
- 13 Ways to Kill Your Community (Melwyk)

Grimaldi, Jeremy
- A Daughter's Deadly Deception (Teena)

Guay-Poliquin, Christian
- Running on Fumes (Melwyk)

Guttman, Naomi
- The Banquet of Donny and Ari (Melwyk)

Hadfield, Chris
- The Darkest Dark illustrated by The Fan Brothers (Heather)

Halle, Karina
- Racing the Sun (Shonna)

Hallendy, Norma
- An Intimate Wilderness (Shonna)

Hamilton, Ian
- The Scottish Banker of Surabaya (Mysteries and More)

Hamilton, Lyn
- Etruscan Chimera (RIEDEL Fascination)
- The Thai Amulet (RIEDEL Fascination)

Harnois, Suzanne
- The Perfect Woman (Melwyk)

Harris, Michael
- Solitude (Shonna)

Harrison, Teva
- In-Between Days (Melwyk, John)

Hartt-Sussman, Heather
- Noni Says No illustrated by Genevieve Cote (Sharon

Hawley, Jerron; Hurley, Graham; Sackett, Steve
- Into the Fire (Teena)

Hebert, Anne
- The Silent Rooms translated by Kathy Mezei (Melwyk)

Hebert, Bertrand and Patric Laprade
- Mad Dog (Teena)

Heine, William C.
- The Swordsman (Barb in BC)

Heinztman, Andrew
- The New Entrepreneurs (Irene)

Hellman, Michel
- Nunavik (John)

Helm, Michael
- After James (Mysteries and More)

Helmer, Marilyn
- That's What Bears are For (RIEDEL Fascination)

Henry, Sara J.
- Learning to Swim (Sharon)

Hicks, Faith Erin
- The Nameless City (Pussreboots)
- The Stone Heart (Pussreboots)

Hiebert, Carl
- This Land I Love (Pussreboots)

Hill, Karen
Cafe Babanussa (Eric)

Hill, Lawrence
- The Book of Negroes (Eric)
- The Illegal (Kate)

Hines, Anne
- Come Away (Melwyk)

Holdstock, Paula
- The Hunter and the Wild Girl (Melwyk)

Hollingshead, Greg
- The Roaring Girl (Bill)

Hopkinson, Nalo
- Falling in Love with Hominids (Melwyk)

Hosking, Jay
- Three Years with the Rat (Nicola)

Howe, Ken
- Cruise Control (Eric)

Howgate, Bernie
- Journey Through Labrador (Pooker)

Hughes, Clara
- Open Heart, Open Mind (Melwyk)

Humphreys, C. C.
- Fire (Swordsman)

Humphreys, Helen
- The Evening Chorus (Melwyk, Shonna)

Hutchins, Donna and Nigel
- The Maple Leaf Forever (Irene)

Izzo, Kim
- Seven Days in May (Sharon)

Jarratt, Melynda
- Captured Hearts (Raidergirl)


Jennings, Maureen
- Except the Dying (Pussreboots)
- Night's Child (Sharon)

Jepsen, Tim
- Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies (Irene)

Jewel, Sara
- Field Notes (Raidergirl)

Jocelyn, Marthe
- One Some Many illustrated by Tom Slaughter (Sharon)

Johnson, E. Pauline
- Flint and Feather (John)

Johnson, Liz
- The Red Door Inn narrated by Amy Melissa Bentley (Sharon)

Johnston, David
- The Idea of Canada (Mysteries and More)

Johnston, E. K.
- Exit, Pursued by a Bear (Shonna)

Jones, Amy
- We're All in This Together (Pooker, Teena, Melwyk)

Jones, Gordon K.
- Defending the Inland Shores (Teena, Swordsman)

Jordan-Fenton, Christy and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
Fatty Legs (Pooker)

Joseph, Eve
- In the Slender Margin (Irene)

Juby, Susan
- The Fashion Committee (Melwyk)
- Republic of Dirt (Melwyk)

Kaur, Rupi
- Milk and Honey (Melwyk)

Kay, Dr. Jenny Kay and Kathy Kacer
- I Am Not a Number (Irene)

Khan, Ausma Zehanat
- Among the Ruins (Shonna, Melwyk)
- The Language of Secrets (Melwyk)

Kearsley, Susanna
- The Rose Garden (Irene)
- The Splendour Falls (RIEDEL Fascination)

Keating, Jess
- How to Outswim a Shark Without a Snorkel (Pussreboots)

Kerr, Melanie
- Mary Green (Melwyk)

Kilbourne, Christina
- Detached (Teena)

Kindzierski, Lovern
- Shame illustrated by John Bolton (Nicola)

Kingsmill, Suzanne F.
- Crazy Dead (Nicola)

King, James
- Inward Journey (Irene)
- Jack: A Life with Writers (Mysteries and More)

King, Thomas
- The Inconvenient Indian (Kate)

Kinsella, W. P.
- Dance Me Outside (Pooker)
- Red Wolf, Red Wolf (Eric)
- Russian Dolls (Eric)

Kirby, Peter
- Open Season (Mysteries and More, Melwyk)

Kishkan, Theresa
- Winter Wren (Pooker)

Klassen, Mari
- Another Hannah (Sharon)

Klerks, Cat
- Emily Carr (RIEDEL Fascination)

Knowles, Mike
- The Buffalo Job (Teena)
- Darwin's Nightmare (Teena)
- Grinder (Teena)
- In Plain Sight (Teena)
- Never Play Another Man's Game (Teena)

Kositsky, Lynne
- Rachel: A Mighty Big Imagining (RIEDEL Fascination)

Kovalyova, Irina
- Specimen (Melwyk)

Kroft, Michael
- On Herring Cove Road (Teena)

Kutsukake, Lynne
- The Translation of Love (Melwyk, Irene)

Laboucane-Benson, Patti
The Outside Circle illustrated by Kelly Mellings (John, Irene, Pooker, Melwyk)

Lapena, Shari
- The Couple Next Door (Luanne, Nicola, Melwyk, Heather, Teena)

LaPorte, Danielle
- The Fire Starter Sessions (Melwyk)

Larsen, Sonja
- Red Star Tattoo (Melwyk)

Larson, Jonarno
Down in the Bottom of the Bottom of the Box illustrated by Alec Dempster (Shonna)

La Rue, Mabel Guinnip
- The F-U-N Book for Canadian Boys and Girls illustrated by Maud and Miska Petersham (RIEDEL Fascination)

Laukkanen, Owen
- Kill Fee (Teena)
- The Forgotten Girls (Teena)
- The Stolen Ones (Teena)

Laurence, Margaret
- The Diviners (Melwyk)
- The Olden Days Coat (RIEDEL Fascination)
- The Prophet's Camel Bell (RIEDEL Fascination)

Laurin, Nina
- Girl Last Seen (Luanne)

Lawson, Julie
- White Jade Tiger (Teena)

Leach, Maria
- The Thing at the Foot of the Bed and Other Stories (Nicola)

Leavitt, Sarah
- Tangles (Melwyk)

Ledwell, Patrick
- I Am An Islander (John)

Lee, Dennis
- Civil Elegies (Eric)

Lee, Jen Sookfong
- The Conjoined (Melwyk, Irene)

Lemire, Jeff
- Black Hammer Volume 1: Secret Origins illustrated by Dean Ormston (John)
- Descender Vol. 1 Tin Stars illustrated by Dustin Nguyen (Lisa N)
- Essex County (LisaN)
- Justice League Dark Vol. 2 The Books of Magic illustrated by Mikel Janin (John)
- Old Man Logan Volume 1: Berzerker illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino (John)
- The Underwater Welder (Pussreboots)

Lemire, Jeff and Ray Fawkes
- Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Death of Magic illustrated by Mikel Janin (John)

Lennox, Doug
- Now You Know Canada (Teena)

Lennox, Matt
- Knucklehead (Raidergirl)

Leroux, Catherine
- The Party Wall (Melwyk)

Leth, Kate
- Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat! Hooked on a Feline Vol. 1 illustrated by Brittney L. Williams (John)
- Vampirella: Hollywood Horror illustrated by Eman Casallos (John)

Lin, Harper
- Macaron Murder (Heather)

Lindberg, Tracey
- Birdie (BuriedInPrint, John)

Lipchenko, Oleg (selections)
- Humpty Dumpty and Friends (Sharon)

Lisson, Lisa
- Resilience (Teena)

Little, Ashley
- Niagara Motel (Teena)

Lloyd, Tanya
- Niagara (RIEDEL Fascination)

Lunn, Janet and Christopher Moore
- The Story of Canada (Irene)

MacDonald, D. R.
- Lauchlin of the Bad Heart (Shonna)

MacDonald, Janice
- Hang Down Your Head (Mysteries and More)

MacDonald, Kendall James
- Patrick the Diesel (RIEDEL Fascination)

Maclear, Kyo
- Birds Art Life (Pussreboots, Melwyk)
- The Specific Ocean with Katty Maurey (Pussreboots)

MacLennan, Hugh
- Voices in Time (Eric)
- The Watch That Ends the Night (Eric)

MacLeod, Elizabeth and Sydney Smith
- Canada Year by Year (Teena)

MacNeill, Ian
- The Beginning Runner's Handbook (Teena)

MacPherson, Charles
- The Butler Speaks (Teena)

MacPherson, Jay
- The Essential Jay Macpherson (Melwyk)

Maharaj, Rabindranath
- The Amazing Absorbing Boy (Irene)

Maine, Sarah
- Beyond the Wild River (Luanne)
- The House Between Tides (Luanne)

Major, Alice
- Standard Candles (Melwyk, Irene)

Mallick, Heather
- Cake or Death (Shonna)

Mandel, Elizabeth St. John
- Last Night in Montreal (Jules)

Manuel, Pte. A. W.
- A Boy From Botwood (Teena, Swordsman)

Marlatt, Daphne
- Liquidities (Eric)

Marsen, William
- Fool's Rule (Irene)

Martinez, Buck
- Change Up (Swordsman)

Maskalyk, James
- Life on the Ground Floor (Shonna)

Mastai, Elan
- All Our Wrong Todays (Melwyk)

May, Elizabeth
- How to Save the World in Your Spare Time (Melwyk)
- Who We Are (RIEDEL Fascination)

Mayr, Suzette
- The Widows (Melwyk)

McFarlane, Leslie (as Franklin W. Dixon)
- The Secret of the Caves (RIEDEL Fascination)

McFetridge, John
- One or the Other (Melwyk)

McKay, Ami
- The Witches of New York (Luanne)

McKenzie, Catherine
- Fractured (Shonna)

McLean, Stuart (editor)
When We Were Young (Irene)

McLean, Stuart
- Home From the Vinyl Cafe (MaryR)

McMillan, Rachel
- Conductor of Light (Sharon)
- The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder (Melwyk)

McMillen, R. J.
- Green River Falling (Shonna)

Mersasty, Joseph Auguste
The Education of Augie Merasty (Sharon)

Michaels, Anne
- The Adventures of Miss Petitfour illustrated by Emma Block (Melwyk)

Michaels, F. S.
- Monoculture (Melwyk)

Millar, Margaret
- An Air That Kills (Melwyk)

Miller, Scott Gregory
- Black Thursday (Mysteries and More)

Milne, A. A.
- A House is Built at Pooh Corner for Eeyore (Sharon)
- Roo's Big Adventure (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Un, Deux, Winne A Le Ventre Creux illustrated by E. H. Shepard (RIEDEL Fascination)

Milner, Donna
- A Place Called Sorry (Shonna)

Mistry, Rohinton
- Family Matters (Raidergirl, Eric)

Mitic, Jody
- Unflinching (Swordsman)

Montgomery, Lucy Maud
- Along the Shore (Sharon)
- Anne of Green Gables narrated by Colleen Winton (Sharon)
- Christmas with Anne and Other Holiday Stories narrated by Susie Berneis (Sharon)
- Mistress Pat (Melwyk)
- Pat of Silver Bush (Melwyk)
- Rainbow Valley narrated by Grace Conlin (Sharon)
- Rilla of Ingleside (Raidergirl)
- A Sandshore Wooing (Sharon)

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia
- Certain Dark Things (Corey)

Morrissey, Donna
- The Fortunate Brother (Melwyk, Mysteries and More)

Morritt, Hope
- Bohunk Road (Melwyk)

Motter, Dean
- Mister X: The Modern Age (Nicola)
- Terminal City illustrated by Michael Lark and Mark Chiarello (Nicola)

Motum, Robert
- Kitchener Waterloo (Pussreboots)

Munro, Alice
- The Progress of Love (Eric)

Munro, Jane
- Blue Sonoma (Irene)
- Dear Life Stories (Irene)

Munsch, Robert
- La Princesse À La Robe De Papier illustrated by Michael Martchenko (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Wait and See (RIEDEL Fascination)

Murphy, Angela C.
- Bathroom Book of Canadian Trivia (RIEDEL Fascination)

Myers, Mike
- Canada (Raidergirl)

Mylnowksi, Sarah; Myracle, Lauren; Jenkins, Emily
- Showing Off (Pussreboots)
- Sticks and Stones (Pussreboots)
- Upside Down Magic (Pussreboots)

Naked, Bif
- I, Bificus (Melwyk)

Nappaaluk, Mitiarjuk
- Sanaaq (Melwyk)

Nason, Riel
- All the Things We Leave Behind (Melwyk)

Nawaz, Saleema
- Bone and Bread (Kate)

Nelson, Colleen
- Blood Brothers (Teena)

Neuvel, Sylvain
- Sleeping Giants (Melwyk, Swordsman)
- Waking Gods (Melwyk)

Nichol, Barbara
- Beethoven Lives Upstairs illustrated by Scott Cameron (RIEDEL Fascination)

Nicholson, Hope (editor)
- Moonshot (Buried in Print)

Nicole, Rebekah
- The Crashes of Waves (Ittybittyturtlepiggy)

Niedzviecki, Hal
- Trees on Mars (Irene)

North, Ryan
- The Best of Dinosaur Comics 2003-2005 (John)

Oickle, Vernon
- Strange Nova Scotia (John)

O'Malley, Bryan Lee

- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life (Pussreboots)
- Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World (Pussreboots)
- Seconds (Melwyk)
- Snotgirl: Green Hair, Don't Care Vol. 1 illustrated by Leslie Hung (John, Melwyk)

Onstad, Katrina
- The Weekend Effect (Melwyk)

Orchard, Eric
- Bera the One Headed Troll (Nicola)

Osborne, Louise
- The Satan Stone (RIEDEL Fascination)

Osgood, Lawrence
- Midnight Sun (John)

Paddon, Susan
- Two Tragedies in 429 Breaths (Melwyk)

Palahniuk, Chuck
- Fight Club 2 illustrated by Cameron Stewart (John)

Palka, Kurt
- The Piano Maker (Irene)

Palmisano, Richard
- Overshadows (RIEDEL Fascination)

Pare, Arlene
- Tale of Two Mountains (Melwyk)

Parisien, Dominik (editor)
- Clockwork Canada (Sharon)

Patridge, Elise
- If Borderlands (Eric)

Patterson, Freeman
- Photography of Natural Things (Pussreboots)

Patterson, Pat
- Accepted (Teena)

Peacock, Molly
- Alphabetique (Melwyk)
- The Second Blush (Melwyk, Irene)

Peacock, Shane
- The Dark Missions of Edgar Brimm (Nicola)
- Double You (Nicola)

Penny, Louise
- The Brutal Telling (Lisa N, Pooker, Sharon)
- Bury Your Dead (Lisa N, Sharon)
- The Cruellest Month (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Dead Cold (RIEDEL Fascination)
- A Great Reckoning (Mysteries and More, Sharon)
- The Hangman (Lisa N)
- The Long Way Home (Sharon)
- The Nature of the Beast (MaryR)
- The Nature of the Beast narrated by Robert Bathurst (Sharon)
- Still Life (RIEDEL Fascination)

Petterson, Genevieve
- The Goddess of Fireflies (Melwyk)

Pflug, Ursula
- Mountain (Melwyk)

Phillips, Kevin
- The Bologna Cookbook (Swordsman)

Pitoniak, Anna
- The Futures (Teena)

Pool, Annelies
- Free Love (John)

Potrebenko, Helen
- Taxi! (Melwyk)

Poulin, Jacques
- English is Not a Magic Language (Melwyk)
- Translation is a Love Affair (Melwyk)

Powning, Beth
- Measure of Light (Melwyk)

Price, Stephen
- By Gaslight (Nicola)

Proulx, Monique
- Aurora Montrealis (Melwyk)

Pryde, Duncan
- Nunaga (John)

Pyper, Andrew
- The Only Child (Luanne)

Quarrington, Paul
- Whale Music (Eric)

Rainfield, Cheryl
- Scars (Darlene, Teena)

Reichs, Kathy
- 206 Bones (MaryR)
- Bones Never Lie (MaryR, LisaN)
- Bones on Ice (LisaN)
- Break No Bones (MaryR, LisaN)
- Deja Dead (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Seizure (Heather)

Reid, Iain
- I'm Thinking of Ending Things (Melwyk)

Reynolds, John Lawrence
 - A Murder for Max (Nicola, Shonna)

Richardson, CS
- The End of the Alphabet (Raidergirl)

Riche, Edward
- Today I Learned It Was You (Melwyk)

Richler, Mordecai
- Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang (MaryR)

Rivers, Karen
- The Girl in the Well is Me (Pussreboots)

Roberts, Clea
- Augeries (Melwyk)

Roberts, Jillian
- What Happens When a Loved One Dies (Irene)

Robertson, David Alexander
- The Ballad of Shawnadithit illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (John)
- Sugar Falls by Scott B. Henderson (John)

Robinson, Eden
- Monkey Beach (Pussreboots)
- Son of a Trickster (Melwyk)

Robinson, Gillian (Editor)
- Isuma: Inuit Studies Reader (Pooker)

Robinson, Peter
- An Irish Country Courtship (Sharon)
- An Irish Country Doctor (Sharon)
- When the Music's Over (Luanne)

Robson, Jennifer
- Goodnight from London (Teena, Sharon)

Rolfe, Helen
- Women Explorers: 100 Years of Courage and Audacity (RIEDEL Fascination)

Ross, Sinclair
- As for Me and My House (Eric)

Ross, W. E. D.
- The Haunted Garden (RIEDEL Fascination)

Roy, Gabrielle
- Street of Riches (Melwyk)
- The Tine Flute (Melwyk)
- Where Nests the Water Hen (Sharon)

Sands, Kevin
- The Blackthorn Key (Pussreboots)

Saucier, Jocelyn
Twenty-One Cardinals (Melwyk, Irene)

Savage, Doug
- Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy (Nicola)

Sawyer, Robert J.
- Flashforward (John)

Scarrow, Kristine
- If This is Home (Teena)

Schoemperlen, Diane
- This is Not My Life (Teena, Melwyk)

Scofield, Gregory
- Louis: The Heretic Poems (BuriedInPrint)
- Love Medicine and One Song (BuriedInPrint)
- Thunder Through My Veins (BuriedInPrint)
- Witness, I Am (BuriedInPrint)


Scrimger, Richard
- The Wolf and Me (Nicola)

Sellars, Bev
- They Called Me Number One (BuriedInPrint)

Seesequasis, Paul
- Tobacco Wars (Buried in Print)

Semley, John
- This is a Book About the Kids in the Hall (Teena)

Ser Adventures En Tete
- Mimi Finfouin Et La Mère Crochu (RIEDEL Fascination)

Shadd, Adrienne
- The Journey from Tollgate to Parkway (Teena)

Shaw-MacKinnon, Margaret
- Tiktala illustrated by Laszlo Gal (RIEDEL Fascination)

Shields, Carol
- Dressing Up For the Carnival (Eric)
- Unless (Eric)

Shields, Carol and Patrick Crowe
- Susanna Moodie: Roughing it in the Bush illustrated by Selena Goulding (Nicola)

Shrier, Howard
- Buffalo Jump (Heather)

Sileika, Antanas
- The Barefoot Bingo Caller (Teena)

Singh, Lilly
- How to be a Bawse (Melwyk, Irene)

Smart, Carolyn
- Careen (Melwyk)

Smith, Larry
- No Fears, No Excuses (Melwyk)

Smith, Sherri
- Follow Me Down (Luanne)

Sprigg, Cindy
- Is It a Ghost Story You Want? (RIEDEL Fascination)

Steele, Peter
- The Man Who Mapped the Arctic (John)

Stevens, Chevy
- Never Let You Go (Teena)

Stewart, Molly
The Tartan Unicorn (Sharon)

 Stinson, Kathy
- Marie-Claire: Dark Spring (RIEDEL Fascination)

St. James, Simone
- Lost Among the Living (Shonna, Irene, Melwyk)
- The Other Side of Midnight (Melwyk)
- Silence for the Dead (RIEDEL Fascination)

Stratten, Scott
- UnSelling (Teena)

Strube, Cordelia
- On The Shores of Darkness, There is Light (Melwyk)

Sun, Amanda
- Storm (PussReboots)

Sutherland, Kate
- How to Draw a Rhinoceros (Melwyk)

Swingle, Mari K.
- i-Minds (Irene)

Sydor, Colleen
- Timmerman Was Here illustrated by Nicolas Debon (Sharon)

Sylvester, Kevin
- Neil Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders (Heather)

Taitz, Jennifer L.
- End Emotional Eating (Irene)

Tamaki, Mariko and Jillian Tamaki
- Skim (Melwyk)
- This One Summer (Melwyk)

Tardif, Cheryl Kaye
- Submerged (Heather)

Taylor, Drew Hayden
- Me Funny (BuriedInPrint)
- Take Us To Your Chief (Melwyk)

Taylor, Joanne
- Making Room illustrated by Peter Rankin (Sharon)https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1853921282

Taylor, Kate
- Serial Monogamy (Melwyk)

Taylor, Timothy
- The Blue Light Project (Jules)

Teevee, Ningeokuluk
- Alego (Melwyk, Irene)

Thatcher, Colin
- Final Appeal (Mysteries and More)

Thibault, Vincent
- Parkour and the Art of Deplacement (Nicola)

Thien, Madeleine
- Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Melwyk)

Thomas, Joan
- The Opening Sky (Melwyk)

Thompson, Hunter S.
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas illustrated by Troy Little (John)

Thuy, Kim
- Ru (Melwyk)

Timmer, Julie Lawson
- Untethered (Shonna)

Toews, Miriam
- All My Puny Sorrows (John)

Torres, J.
- Jinx illustrated by Rick Burchett (John)

Toten, Teresa
- The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Heather)

Trahair, David
- The Procrastinator's Guide to Retirement (Irene)

Trainor, Kim
- Karyotype (Melwyk)

Tremblay, Michel
- The Fat Woman Next Door is Pregnant (John)

Trites, Lesley
- A Three Tiered Pastel Dream (Melwyk)

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada
- The Final Report (BuriedInPrint)

Tucker, K. A.
- One Tiny Lie (Shonna)
- Until it Fades (Teena)

Tucker, Heather
- Clay Girl (Melwyk Shonna)

Urquhart, Jane
- The Stone Carvers (Eric)

Usher, David
- Let the Elephants Run (Melwyk)

Vaillant, John
- The Jaguar's Children (Melwyk)

Van Camp, Richard
- Angel Wing Splash Pattern (BuriedInPrint)
- A Blanket of Butterflies illustrated by Scott B. Henderson (John)

Vanderhaeghe, Guy
- Daddy Lenin and Other Stories (Eric)

Vardey, Linda and John Dalla Costs
- Being Generous (Irene)

Various authors
- A Christmas to Remember (Sharon)

Vaughan, Brian K.
- We Stand on Guard illustrated by Steve Skroce (Swordsman)

Vassanji, M. G.
- Nostalgia (Melwyk)

Vermette, Katherena
- The Break (Melwyk, Heather, Kate)
- North End Love Songs (Melwyk)

Vij, Vikram
- Vij (Teena, Swordsman)

Viva, Frank
- Sea Change (Pussreboots)

Vo, Dzung X.
- The Mindful Teen (Irene)

Voskamp, Ann
- The Greatest Gift (Sharon)

Wagamese, Richard
- Embers (Melwyk)

Ward, Christopher
- Is This Live? (Teena)

Warren, Dianne
- Liberty Street (Melwyk)

Watt, Erin
- The Paper Princess (Heather)

Watterson, Bill
- Yukon Ho! (John)

Wees, Frances Shelley
- The Keys of My Prison (Melwyk)

Weinzweig, Helen
- Basic Black with Pearls (Melwyk)

Whittall, Zoe
- The Best Kind of People (Buried in Print, Melwyk)

Wiebe, Kurtis J.
- Rat Queens Vol. 1 Sass and Sorcery illustrated by Roc Upchurch (John)

Wiebe, Sam
- Invisible Dead (Teena, Melwyk, Mysteries and More)
- Last of the Independents (Teena)

Wild, Elle
- Strange Things Done (Teena)

Wilkins, Mike
- Je Suis Un Canard (RIEDEL Fascination)

Wilkshire, Nick
- Escape to Havana (Teena)

Williamson, Dave
- Dating (Pooker)

Wilson, Eric
- The Emily Carr Mystery (RIEDEL Fascination)
- Escape from Big Muddy (RIEDEL Fascination)
- The Inuk Mountie Adventure (RIEDEL Fascination)

Wilson, Robert Charles 
- The Affinities (Melwyk, Irene)
- Last Year (Melwyk)

Winters, Kari-Lynn
- Best Pirate illustrated by Dean Griffiths (Shonna)

Wolfe, Inger Ash
- The Night Bell (Melwyk)

Wright, Eric
- A Question of Murder (RIEDEL Fascination)

Wynne-Jones, Tim
- Zoom Upstream illustrated by Eric Beddows (RIEDEL Fascination)

Yahgulanaas, Michael Nicoll
- Red: A Haid Manga (John)

York, Alissa
- The Naturalist (Melwyk)

Yoshimaru, Abe
- Shaku of Wondrous Grace (RIEDEL Fascination)

Young, Huguette
- Justin Trudeau: The Natural Heir (Teena, Irene)

Young, Scott
- Murder in a Cold Climate (Heather)

Young, Wm. Paul
- The Shack (Darlene)

Younge-Ullman, Danielle
- Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined (Shonna)

Zdarsky, Chip
- Jughead Volume One illustrated by Erica Henderson (John)

Zipp, Steve
- Yellowknife (Eric)

Zoehfeld, Kathleen W.
- Pooh Welcomes Winter (RIEDEL Fascination)

Zorn, Alice
- Five Roses (Melwyk)

Congratulations to Buried in Print for winning the Grand Prize: books from each province and territory. The bulk of these were very generously donated by Brick Books, Publishing New and Established Voices in Canadian Poetry Since 1975:

Joanna Lilley - The Fleece Era (Yukon)
Steve McOrmond - The Good News About Armageddon (Prince Edward Island)
Stephanie Bolster - A Page from the Wonders of Life on Earth (Quebec)
Lynn Davies - The Bridge That Carries the Road (New Brunswick)
Elizabeth Philips - Torch River (Saskatchewan)
Ann Shin - The Family China (Ontario)
Noah Gould - I see my love more clearly from a distance (Alberta)
Lorri Neilsen Glenn - Lost Gospels (Nova Scotia)
Jane Munro - Blue Sonoma (British Columbia)
Méira Cook - Monologue Dogs (Manitoba)
Michael Crummey - Hard Light (Newfoundland)

Of course, you may have noticed two very important territories missing. On that front, author and friend Annelies Pool has donated a copy of her novel Free Love as our Northwest Territories pick:

And to represent Nunavut I have thrown in a copy of the delightful Sweetest Kulu by Celina Kalluk and illustrated by Alexandria Neonakis:


And finally, let the 11th Canadian Book Challenge begin! Head over the brilliant and wonderful Melwyk's TODAY!