Showing posts with label print book. Show all posts
Showing posts with label print book. Show all posts

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Peep by Maria von Lieshout


Rating: WORTHY!

This is another in what appears to be a series of confidence-building books by this author. I have no idea how many there are in the series. I know there are at least three and this author, who is Dutch by birth, has published over a dozen children's books on various empowering themes. I just happened on them by accident in my local library while checking out a display of kid's books the librarians had set up. Unlike the Goodreads 'librarians' for example, who don't appear to do a damned thing, the librarians in my local libraries are fun and inventive and hard-working, and their efforts pay off.

This one concerns a young chicken name Peep, who is following her brothers and sisters, who are in turn following mom, line-astern, on an outing, but when they reach the curb it seems to be so very high for a little Peep who wouldn't say Bo to a sheep. Mom and the siblings seem to have no trouble with it, but Peep can't handle this at all. However, with encouragement, pluck and determination, Peep makes the leap and does not regret it - that is until she reaches the other curb and has to figure out what to do next - which is delightfully where this tale ends.

I really liked this story. Just like the previous volume I read by this author, this one is also colorful, simply but competently drawn, amusing, and playful. I liked the humor and the lesson, and I commend it as a worthy read for young children.


Splash by Maria von Lieshout


Rating: WORTHY!

This playful and amusing little book for young children tells the story of a seal who can't seem to do much and feels very disappointed in itself until one day the sun falls into the ocean and it's up to the seal to replace it. The seal discovers that it can do things when those things are very important to it, and this leads to reconnecting with its friends. Fortunately for small and delicate flippers, the sun is only the size of a small beach ball and not too hot (it was cooled off by the ocean no doubt!), so this task isn't too arduous.

This is a colorful book (not all the seals are navy, for example...) and proved inventive and quite entertaining. The author appears to have a series of these, and I shall be reviewing one other like it by the same author. I commend this one as a worthy read.


Pelé the King of Soccer by Eddy Simon, Vincent Brascaglia, Joe Johnson


Rating: WORTHY!

Written by Eddy Simon and translated by Joe Johnson, with illustrations by Vincent Brascaglia, this was an enjoyable graphic novel about the remarkable career of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better known to the world as Pelé, who was an outstanding Brazilian professional soccer player.

He played for a club team at the tender age of fifteen and for his national team at the age of sixteen; at seventeen, he put in a sterling performance at the 1958 World Cup, the first of three in which Brazil won with him on the team. He's the only player to have been on three world cup winning teams, and he scored 77 goals in 92 games during those competitions. He averaged almost a goal a game throughout his career, scoring some 650 in 694 professional club appearances.

There was a less stellar side to his life in his multiple marriages and multiple affairs outside of those marriages, some of which brought offspring. The story doesn't delve very much into those or his son's conviction for money laundering. It keeps the focus mostly on soccer, recounting his career almost game by game.

This graphic novel tells the story well, with lively, colorful, and well-crafted illustrations, from his barefoot, ball-made-of-rags street soccer days of his early age, to this triumphs as a professional (in soccer boots and with a real ball!). His hero was his father who was also a professional player until he got a bad leg injury and could play no more, but he encouraged his son to excel and Pelé did not let him down. I commend this novel as a worthy read and a piece of sports history that's well-worth learning.


Madame Cat #1 by Nancy Peña


Rating: WARTY!

I went into this not really knowing what it was, but it had seemed appealing. In truth, it wasn't. What it was, was one of the most boring graphic novels I've ever read. Some authors, particularly those of the newspaper cartoon variety seem to think people will find hilarious nothing more than a drawing of an everyday activity. I don't. And that's what this was - the lifeless recounting of the mundane day-to-day experiences of a woman and her cat.

The author's illustrations were simplistic, but not bad, although her two main human charcters (the woman and her boyfriend) seem to have only one expression ever on their faces. It was the dumb stories which were tedious. This cat talks to its owner, and seems hell bent on total destruction of the owner's home, but there are never consequences, and some of the antics are just plain stupid. The biggest problem was that there was nothing funny here: nothing original, nothing new. This was, essentially, a waste of a good tree. I do not comend it and I resent the time I wasted reading it. This book makes a great case for ruthless DNF-ing.


My Amazing Dinosaur by Grimaldi


Rating: WARTY!

Translated by Carol Klio Burrell, this was a kids comic about a cave family's child named Tib and his absurd and anachronistic dinosaur playmate, Tumtum. Playing into the idiotic creationists hands by allowing that humans and dinosaurs co-existed (they did not, by some sixty million years or more) is only acceptable if the story-telling makes it worthwhile by being informative, and/or educational, and/or entertaining, and these stories were none of the preceding.

If I'd known Kirkus had praised this I would have avoided it and thereby saved myself the time it took to read it! The stories were trite, predictable and of the Sunday not-so-funnies quality, which is dismal at best and even more dismal at worst. I'd recommend steering clear of this Tyrannosaurus wreck.


Sun and Moon by Lindsey Yankey


Rating: WARTY!

This tells of the envy of the Moon wanting to have a chance to be the Sun for one day. The sun is harsh though and will only agree to swap if the Moon agrees to make the swap permanent. The Moon has one night to make the decision. Paying extra attention to everything that takes place in the night, the Moon of course realizes that nighttime has many charms, and in the end decides not to swap.

Normally I cut children's books some slack, and let them get away with more than I would a book written for older children or adult audiences, but this one didn't impress me at all. The first problem is that the Moon was a 'he' when the Moon has typically and traditionally been associated with femininity and goddesses. The sun's gender wasn't made clear, so conceivably it could have been female, but I couldn't help but wonder why the Moon was masculinized here.

On top of that, the story suggests how stupid the Moon is - having failed to notice all that beauty which 'he' notices on that one night; the observations lead to the Moon resolving to stay. What bothered me about this was that it suggests that a person should be content to 'stay in one's station in life' and never strive or hope for more. I don't think this is good advice to pass on to children.

Admittedly, this would have been worse had the Moon been given a female gender which would then suggest that the masculine sun was dictating what the feminine Moon should do: stay below that glass ceiling as it were, because it couldn't handle a tough day job. I don't have any idea if the author saw it that way, but it still doesn't change the point about ambition. Too much ambition, or ruthless or blind ambition is a bad thing, but healthy ambition - a desire to improve one's station and an aim be the best one can be at something is a good thing, and this book seemed intent upon slapping that down.

I think this same story could have been much better written: for example as a joint decision by the two to swap for a day/night, and then by mutual agreement decide to return to their original stations, having learned they are both happier where they were. I just did not like the way it was handled here. For this reason, I cannot commend this one as a worthy read.


The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant


Rating: WARTY!

Set during the Renaissance, this book was a pretty much a non-starter for me. I did start reading it, but quickly lost interest because the main protagonist is writing in first person voice and it seemed so utterly inauthentic that I couldn't take it seriously. I quickly took to skimming, hoping things would become more interesting once the author had got the period info-dumping out of her system, but she never did and they never did and all I could think was "Well, I never!"

The novel ought to have been interesting because initially I had thought it was - as far as I could make out (which was nowhere near as far as this woman could make out) - about main character Alessandra Cecchi being the model who posed for Sandro Botticelli's famous Nascita di Venere (Birth of Venus) painting from the mid 1480's, which I parodied in my children's book The Very Fine-Art Rattuses and which is a part of the only series I shall ever write, rest assured. It turns out that it has nothing to do with Botticelli or Venus as far as I could see, which begs the title. It's entirely possible I missed something, but I really didn't miss it in any meaningful sense!

Alessandra is married-off to a much older man who turns out to be the lover of her brother. She has an affair with this nameless young painter her father hires to paint murals and inevitably becomes pregnant, moron that she is and irresponsible jerk that he is. She was lucky a baby was all she caught from him.

The story is supposed to be set against the backdrop of the Savonarola-Medici struggle, the one side supposed to represent scuro, the other, chiaro, with the rest left to canvas for themselves, but Savonarola really wasn't very active for that many years and he was burned at the stake in 1498, so that felt a bit like it was stuck in there precisely because the rest of the story was so boring. However, since I didn't read the rest of the story, I escaped this pitfall.

While I cannot commend this, I do suggest that the author keeps taking the Medici and calls no one in the morning.


Verdi by Janell Cannon


Rating: WORTHY!

This young children's book was hilarious. A hardback with glossy colorful pages and limited text, it tells the story of a young snake by the name of Verdi, who loves his yellow coloring and doesn't want to mature to the usual green scales. He tries to fight this, but in the end he loses and realizes that change isn't necessarily a bad thing.

As far as I can tell, Verdi is Indonesian - supposed to be a green tree python (Morelia viridis) based on his coloring, his life in the trees, and his residence on an island. These pythons are actually under threat because of smuggling to feed the pet market, and pythons like these do not travel well - many die before they ever reach the pet store.

What impressed me about this book was the beautiful artwork which manages to be colorful and realistic without looking like it belonged in a biology book. What amused me was the text and the snake commentaries from various other members of the local Pythonidae family. Verdi isn't impressed with these adults and decides to strike his own course, but no matter what he does he doesn't seem to be able to stop the spreading o' the green! He is determined, but nature beats cherchez.

His antics are amusing, especially the way he catapults himself off the top of a tree by holding a branch in his mouth and tightening his coils until he lets go and springs into the air. I laughed out loud at that. His 'spa treatment' with the mud was also amusing. I liked this book very much and commend it as a worthy read for young children - and even a few adults!


How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food by Jane Yolen, Mark Teague


Rating: WORTHY!

I'm not a huge fan of this author, but this short, amusing, and colorful pasteboard book for young children was a worthy read I thought, and the art by Mark Teague was great.

I think Dinosaurs are overdone these days, but this was a different take: working on the assumption of something which never happened in real life - that humans and dinosaurs existed together. This book amusingly takes that farce one step further by turning dinos into fellow citizens, who have lives and like to go out to eat - which seems to be true based on fossil evidence. Their al fresco dining habits are well documented.

Unfortunately their manners leave a lot to be desired and this is not so well-attested by fossil evidence, which is why this book is important! I found it entertaining, especially for the intended audience, and I commend it as a worthy read.


Hair by Leslie Patricelli


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an amusingly written and colorfully illustrated young children's pasteboard-style book about hair, which I found amusing. I can't speak to whether young kids will find it the same, but my best guess is they will enjoy it. It's the perfect read when you're readying to take them to the hairdresser for the first time. It was actually in a hairdresser's that I found this in a rack for the very purpose of entertaining young visitors. It covers several aspects of haircare and hair interests and I thought it was fun and a worthy read for the intended audience.


The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a story first published in 1958 and was recommended to me by a friend and while it wasn't the most original or entertaining story, it was one that was engrossing enough and made for a worthy read, although it's not one I would have picked up had it not been recommended. It is commendable that the author chose to set this in a different country than the USA where lamentably, far too many authors seem to think is the only place any story can be set!

It takes place in Paris, France, and is of this single-mom family which is on its uppers, as they say, and is homeless. The family is befriended by a somewhat cantankerous homeless guy who knows his way around the system, and though he's initially resentful of the family invading his turf, he starts to take them under his wing and is instrumental in helping them get back on their feet again.

So, it's a bit trite and simplistic, and somewhat overly optimistic, but it does tell a short and meaningful tale that can be used to educate young children about how bad luck can strike at any time through no fault of the family concerned, and that homelessness does not involve only those 'strange adults' who live on the streets in the seedier parts of town.

I commend this as a worthy read for young children.


All My Darling Daughters by Fumi Yoshinaga


Rating: WARTY!

The story was supposed to be about this woman, Yukiko, who lives with her mother, who frankly is a bitch, but when her mother marries a guy who is younger than her mature daughter, Yukiko decides to move out. The problem was that while the first chapter laid all that out perfectly well, when I started on the second and third chapters, they seemed to have nothing whatsoever to do with the first chapter!

Then the fourth chapter seemed to pick up with this daughter moving in with a friend, but the next chapter was again way off in left field, so I gave up on this in grave disappointment. I couldn't tell if the odd chapters were supposed to a continuation of a different part of the story or what. It quite literally made no sense to me because nothing in the next two chapters seemed to be remotely related to the first one!

It was one of these deals that you have to read backwards, which is always annoying to me, but with which I can at least cope if the story makes sense. I began to think if I'd read it the usual way around it might actually have made more sense! It also had indifferent artwork. The cover illustration was wonderful, and while you know for a fact that you're not going to get that level of art inside, you do hope it's harbinger of something good. It wasn't.

The art inside felt like it was by a different artist and sometimes it was hard to tell one character from another, especially when it switched in chapter two. If they were they simply acquaintances of the main characters as the blurb suggests, then what the hell did they have to do with the main story? I had no idea whatsoever and no interest in doing the author's work for her. I rate this a fail.


We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C Alexander London


Rating: WARTY!

This novel for middle-graders sounded like it might be interesting. It certainly seemed like it promised to be different. Instead of having children chomping at the bit for an adventure with their explorer parents, these children wanted nothing more than to be left alone to watch TV, but somehow end up on adventures anyway.

I discovered after starting reading this one that this isn't the first book in the series, but once again there's is absolutely nothing whatever on the cover to warn the reader that this is a story already in progress. It's like buying a book which has the first five chapters missing. This is why I do not have a lot of time for series or for Big Publishing who quite obviously simply do not care about the reader.

That I might have been willing to overlook had the story been worthwhile, but while it did have its moments, it had far too many boring sections to make it a worthwhile read, and I DNF'd it. The point I did this was when the father and his son and daughter, on an adventure trying to find their missing mother, were expelled from a plane in mid-air (without a single person on board objecting) over a snowy mountain range, and they ripped a page quite literally straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, by managing to escape with a life raft. Barf! Let's forget that at thirty thousand feet they would suffocate before they ever landed, so what they had to land in was irrelevant.

I cannot support a novel which when it's not boring is ridiculous and the ridicule is unleavened by plagiarizing a movie for an escape.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Luisa Now and Then by Carole Maurel


Rating: WORTHY!

Published in French originally as Luisa: Ici et là (strictly speaking, Luisa Here and there), with this English version adapted by Mariko Tamaki and translated by Nanette McGuinness, this oddball time-travel fantasy brings a younger Luisa to the future to meet her older self, and neither is well-pleased with the other.

Teenager Luisa sets off on a bus trip and ends up falling asleep. When she awakes she's at the end of the line and gets out to discover she's nowhere near where she thought she was, not in space or time. A young, but mature woman to whom Luisa is loosely attracted helps her and slowly it dawns upon Luisa that this woman lives across the hallway from her own older self, so to the outside world, the younger Luisa feigns being a cousin of the older until they can sort out what happened and how to put it right. It's a learning experience, and not a pleasant one, given how prickly and persnickety the two of them are. Or should that be 'the one of them is'?

The young Luisa refuses to believe that she ends up as this 'spinsterish' older woman whose life is unadventurous and downright boring. Yeah, she lives in Paris, but whoa, is this second-rate job the one young Luisa dreamed of getting? No! Older Luisa has tried to make her life pain-free, and appears to be in serious disagreement with Socrates that 'The unexamined life is not worth living'. In arranging her life thus, she's failed to realize that she's attracted to females and in particular, the very one across the hall that younger Luisa finds so appealing.

So far so good, but the longer they spend together, the more alike the two of them become and they realize that it's urgent that they split up before they become indistinguishable from one another. Young Luisa must return to her original time and place. This book is done as a fine art piece, with entrancing line work and watercolor painting, and it was a pleasure to read: fun, engaging, and overall a worthy read. I commend it.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki


Rating: WORTHY!

This was a passable story of Rose, a girl beginning to venture into womanhood, told in graphic novel form by the Tamaki cousins.

Rose has been vacationing in a rented seaside cottage with her parents every summer since childhood, and each year she hangs out with her friend, Windy, who also vacations there. The two of them have fun, chat idly about all kinds of things, begin to notice boys, and realize they're much more observant of adult drama now than ever they were before, and much less able to discern any sort of role model in those grown-ups they see. And there seems to be a lot of drama in this particular vacation spot.

I've become a bit of a fan of the Tamakis lately, but their work can be very patchy. This was a cut above the patchwork and while the artwork was nothing spectacular, it was perfectly serviceable. The story wasn't exactly glittering, but it was enjoyable for a one-time read, and so I commend this as a worthy read.


Ghetto Klown by John Leguizamo, Christa Cassano, Shamus Beyale


Rating: WARTY!

Written by Leguizamo based on his earlier one-man stage plays about his life, and illustrated really well by Cassano and Beyale, this graphic novel failed to impress me favorably.

The biggest impression was just the opposite: that the author was arrogant at best and a bit of a jerk at worst, and that he's really learning nothing from his life experiences. I could well be wrong on both those scores, but I can only gauge him by the impression his story leaves me with. It started out quite well, but the more I read, the less I liked the author.

No one is perfect, of course. We've all done dumb, regrettable, ill-advised things to one extent or another, and behaved improperly in one way or another. It's part for growing up, testing boundaries, learning rules and figuring out how to fit into a civilized society, but that's where the problem lay for me: in that he seems to learn nothing from his experiences, which are diverse and considerable.

Like Brett Kavanaugh (don't get me started!), he seems to be in a state of complete denial that he's ever done anything wrong. Yes, he had a lousy childhood and this haunted him throughout his life, so I can cut him (Leguizamo, not Kavanaugh!) slack for that. He deserves it, but for him to suggest this book might offer guidelines for others who might be going through what he did is stretching it, because it implies that he has some life lessons to offer, and none were in evidence as far as I could see.

Balanced against that are the amazingly lucky breaks he got that he squandered shamelessly. He's been spoiled, and I'm really tired of this implication that we should somehow idolize if not worship the bad boy made good, like they're some sort of gold standard of achievement. I want to see stories about the good boy making good because he was good, and hard-working, and grateful, and not abusive and intolerant. Why do those guys not get the credit they deserve? Because they're not as arrogant as some others? I think so. I can't recommend this novel.


Silk Sinister by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Veronica Fish, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Okay, one more and then I'm done with this disaster! This was one more in a trilogy of Silk graphic novels I had from the library and they were universally disappointing.

The story was pathetic and the plot non-existent, but talking of sinister, as in left-handed, the artwork was even worse. It had so many hands all over it that it was itself all over the place from simplistic, but passable art to downright juvenile efforts that a child might have drawn - or at least that you expect to see in children's books, not graphic novels at this level. I don't consider myself to be an artist by any means, but having seen this work I now believe I could do a graphic novel if I chose to and not feel inferior - not to these artists anyway! For someone as critical of me as I am, that's saying something.

In the extra pages at the back, which feature variant covers and which I normally have little time for because they're so self-indulgent, I was arrested by a portrait done by Woo Dae Shim. It was listed as a 'hip-hop variant' although I didn't get the connection, but it was nothing short of amazing and if that had been the art standard for the entire graphic novel it would have been awesome even as the lackluster writing and the sad plot let it down. And you have to wonder about a comic book that has people work on it by the name of Fish and Herring. Do they work for scale? Just asking!

In this story Silk is working for villain Black Cat, but you know she really isn't, so no surprises there. The thing is that Black Cat really isn't evil here, so no surprises there, either. Of course petty Peter Parker has to poke his prying proboscis into her affairs yet again despite her telling him to leave her alone - and more than once. So, uninventive, unoriginal, and creepy in parts: nothing to see here folks. I DNF'd it and didn't look back. It's more sick than silk and not in a good way.


Silk The Clone Conspiracy by Robbie Thompson, Irene Strychalski, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

Given what a huge clone Silk is of Spider-Man and all the other spider 'heroes' Marvel has cloned, is this title an in-joke at Marvel?

I've pretty much said all I had to about this trilogy of graphic novels written by Thompson, illustrated by Strychalski and Ford, and colored by a Herring. This particular novel was about people being cloned, so there's nothing new there. I couldn't figure out why it was an issue. I mean I can see how it can be an issue in real life, but I'm talking about why it was so in this comic book world, because the only one whose story was gone into was J Jerk Jackass Jamison, and he was thrilled to have his wife and kid back.

I readily admit that I was not paying sufficient attention because I was bored with the comic, so maybe I missed something, but I finished the comic without feeling like I missed nothing but he time it took me to page through it. It wasn't inventive, fresh or new and it offered nothing to excite the senses. I saw this as another good reason why this series was cancelled. The only Clone Conspiracy here is the cloning of Marvel heroes instead of inventing new ones, and the regurgitating of tired Marvel villains instead of creating new ones.

Silk is Spider-man with tits, period (that too, which never seems to affect female super heroes does it?!), and even then the real Spider-Man is stalking her all over the place. If you're going to give a series to a female hero, then for goodness sake let her have her own series and don't keep pointing out how weak she is by showing how she has to be shored-up, demeaned, and validated by peter parking or the Spastic Four.

And finally, if you're going to draw an Asian, make her look Asian! I have no idea if Silk, aka Cindy Moon, actually is Asian, and the reason for it is that she looks so westernized that the pretense that she's in some ethnic group other than your standard comic book Caucasian super hero, is farcical. The Chinese are a sixth of the Earth's population! The Indians are another sixth. Non-whites are the overwhelming majority of Earth's population! Deal with it Marvel (and DC)!

I do not recommend this series at all. And there's still one more volume to go!


Silk, Volume 0: The Life and Times of Cindy Moon by Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Annapaola Martello, Tana Ford, Ian Herring


Rating: WARTY!

This was a classic example of Marvel's cluelessness in comic books. While building a powerhouse of a movie industry, in their comic books, once a sterling example of inventiveness and original story-telling, they have faltered and slipped, and tripped and fallen. In my opinion, the reason for this is simple, and it's the same problem DC has: that inventiveness and original story-telling has gone. Instead we get the same villains over and over and endlessly over again, matched up against a different super hero to the one they originally danced with, like this is somehow going to make everything new and fresh. No, it really isn't. It doesn't help at all that none of these collections have anything on them to identify in which order they should be read.

Worse, Marvel is introducing ridiculous new characters with no originality whatsoever. Instead of coming up with brand new super heroes, they present clones of existing ones which are warmed over cookie-cutter non-heroes and which offer nothing for the reader that hasn't been done to death already.

Did Marvel's universe really need yet another spider character to add to the half-dozen spider characters already out there? No! Yet regardless, Marvel brings us Silk, which I am happy to report has been cancelled, and deservedly so because it's a classic and shameful example of Marvel's increasingly rampant self-cannibalization. The blurb tells us that writer Thompson "fills this new story with his unique blend of antics and feels" No. He doesn't. He gives us the same warmed-over garbage.

Here's how clueless Marvel is: Marvel's senior vice president of print, sales, and marketing, David Gabriel reportedly said, "We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against." Let's not get into his own inability to create intelligent dialog as judged by that mangled sentence, and note that he also said, "That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked." There's a reason for that: the characters are not really new, David, and the stories sure as hell are not! Then he lied: "And let me be clear, our new heroes are not going anywhere!" - except into the trash can as this series has proven!

New? No! Exciting? No! Ideas? No! Silk is Spider-Man with tits and that's all she is. How is she different from Lady-Spider...or SP//dr...or Spider-Girl...or Spider-Girl of Earth-11...or Spider-Gwen...or Spider-Ma'am...or Spider-Woman...or the Jessica Drew's Black Widow spider character? The short answer is that she isn't. So she lived in a bunker for ten years. Was it ten? Who knows! It's hard to say with comic books.

She was bitten by the same Spider that bit Peter Parker. Wait, wasn't he bitten in August 1962? That would put Cindy Moon, aka Silk, in her sixties, but instead, the decade-in-a-bunker seems to have rejuvenated her so she looks like a seventeen year old! But wait, if she's seventeen now, that would have made her seven when she was bitten! How then could she had been on the school field trip with Peter Parker who was in high school? Or is she twenty-seven now? See what I mean? It's an insanely confused world and it contributes nothing to original story-telling or to original super-heroics.

As if that wasn't bad enough, instead of getting a female writer to write this, we get the usual white male writing an ethnic female and IT. DOESN'T. WORK. MARVEL! That's not to say that no white guy can ever write about women of color or vice-versa, it's just to say that having a house rule (which is the only explanation I can think of that fits the facts) that their comics are almost exclusively written by white nerds is a recipe for disaster - a disaster that Marvel is reaping with the failure of titles like this one.

Getting the same old guys to write the stories means we get the same old stories. Getting new writers with new perspectives and original ideas means better stories - we would hope. It would certainly mean more original stories. You can't judge by looks admittedly, but Robbie Thompson, the writer here, I have to say looks exactly like a stereotypical comic book geek! At least the artists were women so that helped avoid hyper-sexualized female characters. Instead we just got sexualized ones.

And the story was tired. We got old villains in this series (yes, Doc Ock, I'm looking at you, when I'm not looking at Black Cat), and Peter Parker poking his peck of pickled perspectives in every few pages which stunk of stalking. Can you not let the girl be? Oh, and how original, new and exciting this is: it's set in New York City! Where all the other Marvel heroes are.

I have to ask, seriously, how can there possibly be any crime at all in NYC, home of Doctor Strange, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, the Fantastic Four, Hellcat, Sam Wilson, She-Hulk, Captain America, Wasp, Cloak and Dagger, Misty Knight, Moon Knight, Hawkeye, Silk, Punisher, Daredevil, Iron Fist (I'm surprised Deadpool hasn't weighed in on that name), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, et al? Even Howard the Quack lives there. It has more super heroes than ordinary people. There can be no hope for a villain there. Why are all the villains not going to Miami or Chicago where there are no super heroes whatsoever?

What's that I hear? It sounds like crickets, Marvel. Now there's an idea! Cricket Girl! She lives in Tucson and is an Eskimo woman. Her Nemesis is Termite Tomboy and she hails from South Africa. No, wait, a cricket versus eusocial insect story was already done in A Bug's Life....

I can't recommend an unoriginal story like this. Unfortunately, I got three of these volumes from the library so I still have two more to plow through. Wish me luck!


Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve, Sarah McIntyre


Rating: WORTHY!

This was an hilarious middle grade (or lower) illustrated sci-fi chapter book about Astra, the only child of a space-traveling family who were put into cryogenic sleep for the 199 year trip to Nova Mundi, the planet where they will live. Philip Reeve, better known for his Mortal Engines series (the movie for which is due out this year - 2018), does a fine job with the writing, and Sarah McIntyre goes to town on the charming, somewhat sepia-tinted illustrations which literally run riot through the story.

Unfortunately, Astra was a bit peckish before settling down, so she headed off to the dining hall to request that the AI there bake her the most scrumptious cake ever - a cake unequalled. It did exactly as she requested. As passengers slept, it experimented with making cakes and eventually created ravenous cakes - not cakes that you want to eat ravenously, but cakes that will eat you! These cakes begin roaming the spacecraft, and poor ardua ad Astra, who wakes early, has to do battle with them.

As if that wasn't bad enough, the spacecraft is drifting off course and is overtaken by multi-eyed pirates who are seeking to rob it of all its spoons. Yes, spoons. Don't give me that - like you have no idea how valuable spoons truly are. You're fooling no one with your feigned ignorance. Can Astra save the day?! Of course she can. Why even ask such a dumb question? Well, to tell the truth, I'm working on my blurb writing skills and they consistently ask ridiculous questions like that. You have to really disrespect the reader to be a successful blurb writer, and treat them like morons, so how did I do?

But seriously, I thought this book was a joy! Some readers might find it a bit trite or silly, or caked with sugar, but I'm guessing the readership at which this is aimed will love it. I did, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! I commend this as a worthy read, and I promise you it's not half-baked.