Thursday, February 24, 2011

Walking Dead Vol 2

As the graphic novels continue, I like them less and less. The plots are good but the black and white design confuses me. Characters come and go and I can't figure out who is who. There are random images and I can't determine what their significance is.
The plot is already different from the tv show which is nice because I don't know what to expect. In this volume, the group arrives on a farm after a shooting accident. The farm is a strange experience. There are a lot of themes here - in a disaster like this one can we demand help from those who can offer it? Are we allowed to judge those who do give us help? And when is it time to move on?
I can understand both sides of the arguement. The group is lost and desperately wants a "home" that is safe. They are looking for something resembling the life they had before the zombies.
The family on the farm wants to protect themselves. They want to be good people and do the right thing. There is a terrible price to pay for helping strangers sometimes and it wasn't anyone's fault.
Like I said I really like the plot but the design/layout of the graphics make it difficult for me to read the story.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Book of Time Outs by Deb Lucke

I, occasionally, peruse the juvenile section of the library but I rarely count those books towards my 100 goal (I think if I did I'd be reading 200 before long). Even though I am not counting this towards my reading goal, I felt I needed to share it.
The Book of Time Outs is a collection of historical people who got time outs for a variety of "bad" deeds. It's an interesting concept.
The sections are really short and can be enjoyed by small readers (or listeners who are being read to). I am not certain how historically accurate they are but I can see them creating a spark and a love of history. Each segment is written in a humorous light but tries to show what sort of behavior got each person their time out.
I can't say for certain which is my favorite but I did enjoy the one about Isabel from Spain who refused to bath. She was sentenced for rebellious acts but Deb Lucke infers that it had more to do with her stinkyness than her attitude.

Courtney Crumrin's Monstrous Holiday by Ted Naifeh

I love the Courtney Crumrin graphic novels. These are very reader friendly. This is the fourth book of the series (in double checking I noticed that there are several versions of this book with different names and I don't know why but this one is the official vol 4 of the series).
Courtney Crumrin is a great character that should be loved by all. She's a young girl who is sent to live with her uncle who is a great "wizard" and she discovers she has magic as well. More importantly she has curiousity and a sense of justice that pulls her into the most amazing adventures.
In this volume, Courtney goes with her uncle to Romania and encounters werewolves and vampires. It's an interesting group of stories.
The werewolves are gypsies and are being hunted by the local men of the area. Courtney risks everything to save the werewolves in the name of love and what's right.
Her uncle takes her on the second part of their journey where Courtney meets a lonely young man. It doesn't take the reader long to understand what this young man is but Courtney is so lonely and sad that she doesn't care that the boy may kill her so long as she has just one person who understands how she feels.
It was a touching story about life and risk. What are we willing to risk for love and/or affection.
The book is not a fairy tale with a moral but I can see how one can easily turn it into a discussion of humanity. You get a real sense of Courtney's pain in this book that you didn't see in the others but you also see a slightly different side to her uncle.
The great thing is that this book can stand alone. But I highly recommend reading them all.

Dorothy of Oz by Son Nee Joon

Dorothy of Oz is a serial graphic novel from Korea. It was a nice change of pace to read a Korean book instead of a Japanese - not that you could really tell the difference. Son Nee Joon has a wicked sense of humor that shows in his works. They are done in black and white which can inhibit a reader from completely escaping into the world but Son Nee Joon made the lack of color work (even included a joke about not being able to tell the difference between blood and ink because everything was black and white).
Dorothy of Oz is the story of Mara who finds a yellow brink road in an alley in her hometown in Korea. The road takes her into Oz where people believe she is Dorothy. The first book starts kind of in the middle of the story and goes back to explain how Mara came to Oz.
The second book is more flashback starting from Mara meeting the Witch of the East to when she finds the Scarecrow.
That is the only two books our library has at this moment so I can not comment any further.
The books are entertaining but may not be suitable for younger audiences. Mara gets a pair of boots from the Witch that turn her into a witch when she clicks the heels together - the transformation causes her to be nude for a moment. The drawings are discreet but in her Witch form Mara is quite sexual in her appearance. There is violent fights and deaths but because of the nature of this type of book - the violence is very subdued.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Walking Dead Vol 1 - Days Gone By

I picked up the first three books of this graphic novel series because I enjoyed the television show so much. I knew the show deviated from the books because the writers and creators wanted to offer something new - other possibilities.
The start of this book was quite similar - Rick wakes in the hospital to find that everything and everyone he knew had changed. The area was over run by zombies and his family was gone. He goes to Atlanta to find the city is a waste land. He is saved by a young man, Glenn, who takes him back to a camp where Rick's family happens to be with Rick's best friend Shane.
The graphic novel moved much faster and had far fewer plot details than the series. Most of the series is book 1 which is not that big of a book. There were some differences - there's no plot about the brothers (one of them is left handcuffed to a pipe in the city in the show) and at the end of book 1 Shane is killed. That shocked me the most (and sorry for the spoiler but what's more interesting is who kills him).
Other than those two the book and the show are neck and neck.
I enjoyed this book and have already started book 2. My only complaint would be that the book is drawn in black and white which makes details a little difficult sometimes. It's not as distracting to have it in black and white but I think I would have liked some color - some dramatic art to go with the plot (but then maybe that's why we have the tv show).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Would Buddha Recycle? by Rosemary Roberts

I can't say this was a great book but I can't say it was a bad book either. The book was just okay. If you have never read a book on going "green" or "green" living then this is a really good book, if you have you'll find this book just okay. That's where I was - it was just okay.
Rosemary Robert's book came highly recommended and I can see why. It's a great introduction to becoming more environmentally friend but she didn't really have anything new to add and I think her book is nearly outdated. The print date is 2009 but many of her statistics talk about 2007 and refer to 2010 as if it's some futuristic year. That was a little off putting but not enough to ruin her points.
I was disappointed that she didn't really include more Zen principles or Buddhism into her book. It really felt like a gimmick - with that said I will recommend the book.
The chapters stand alone which if you sit and read the whole thing cover to cover is not always a good thing. The chapters are short and deal with a different aspect of going "green" but she repeats some information. I am sure this is to catch those who will only read the chapters that appeal to them.
Rosemary includes some websites but I would have liked to see a page or two dedicated to all the websites in her book - something that prevented me from having to go through the whole book to find a particular website.
I found her book to cover a lot of information that got me thinking. I like to think of myself as green and she pointed out ways that I hadn't really considered. I don't really think about shoes when I think about buying more environmentally friendly clothes. Even though her chapters are short, they really take the time to explain all the aspects (good and bad) of each particular point. For example, she talks about cotton and how it's processed. How cotton farms impact the environment from water usage to chemicals. She went on to how the cotton becomes clothes and the impacts there as well as shopping concerns. We may buy something that's organic but if it had to travel 2000 miles to get to the store is it really an environmentally friendly item. So many good points. I like that she plays a sort of Devil's Advocate as she writes the book.
Don't let the title fool you - this is all environmental with no religion thrown in. There are short quips about how environmental living can be Zen and a few comments about Buddha at the beginning of the book but it's really just another environmental book.
So be environmentally friendly (and economical) and get this book from your library. There is something for everything - I didn't know there was a humane society program for teens. I know what my son is doing this summer.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

20th Century Ghost by Joe Hill

Years ago I read something by Stephen King about his sons and their literary careers. I rushed to the library and picked up both boys' books. I was not overly impressed with Owen King but that may have more to do with his genre than his ability to write. Joe Hill, however, had my attention. His Heart Shaped Box had me from page one. As time went on, I forgot his name (happens to me far too often) and then dear ole dad mentions him again. This time in praise of his Locke and Key Graphic novel series. I head back to the library and get the first L&K book and 20th Century Ghost.
20th Century Ghost starts off with an introduction written by another author (who's name escapes me now) who was asked to write this intro but had never read anything by Joe. His reaction was the same as I had reading Heart Shaped Box - this man is awesome. There was a slight mention of where the various short stories that filled this tome had come from but mostly there was an awe of Joe's incredible talent.
20th Century Ghost consists of 15 short stories. Knowing Joe's previous works I was not surprised by the tone of the first story Best New Horror which followed an editor as he tracked down a new horror author only to find himself in the worst kind of story. The story was expected but it was still good.
However, none of that prepared me for the rest of the book. The second story 20th Century Ghost was a ghost story but more so - a wonderful romance between a man, a movie theatre and a ghost. It was sweet and subtle.
I'm not going to give you a blow by blow of each story in the book because I want you to have your own surprising experience. I will say that I think my favorite story was Better Than Home, a beautifully written story about a boy who has some sort of mental disability and how his family deals with him. There was no real ghost in this story nor was there any horror to be detected. It was just a beautiful story (I am running out of adjectives). I wish there was a way to just share that story with everyone I know (not that the entire book isn't worth sharing).
The stories are so varied that each one touches on a different genre. Joe Hill's ability to weave a story makes him more than a writer - he's an artist.