Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts
Showing posts with label humor. Show all posts

Friday, November 1, 2019

Princeless Raven the Pirate Princess by Jeremy Whitley, Rose Higgins, Ted Brandt

Rating: WORTHY!

Normally I would steer clear of a book, even a graphic novel, with a title like this, but I had come to this via its predecessor, the Princeless graphic stories about a feisty young princess whose self-appointed mission is to rescue all of her sisters who are distributed in various towers throughout the kingdom, the aim of which is to inspire princes to come and rescue them so the king can get them married off. I've given up on this entire series now not so much because it was so bad, although the stories were becoming rather monotonous, but because it was impossible to figure out in which order they should be read.

Take this one for example: it's listed as 'Book 2 Free Women', but it's not the second in the pirate Princess series. It's the first. I don't think it's even the second in the Princeless series, although at this point I'm not sure. For me this was the biggest problem with this - that the arrangement of these volumes is a total disorderly mess. I can't find a definitive listing, although I admit I did not search exhaustively because I was so tired of looking by then and my local library did not help because there was no consistent naming strategy for the volumes! Thanks librarians!

Anyway this volume, wherever it comes, deals with Raven and her crew of women setting sail to go after Raven's evil brothers. I read this a while back and only just realized I never reviewed it, so while I did want to say I found it a worthy read, it only just fell into that category, and my review will be a bit vague since I recall only the gist of it. Higgins and Brandt did the heavy lifting with the art which was pretty decent, while Whitley did a bit with the writing.

Raven has to deal with all manner of villains on this island they arrive at, and that's pretty much it! I do recall it was entertaining, but I started running into the law of diminishing returns, which is inevitable in any series, and which is why I tend not to read very many of them. It's rare for one to truly engage me because there's typically too much sameness, too much repetitiveness, and very little innovation once a writer has locked their self into a series. This is why I'll never write one! While this was okay, I read this and a companion volume, but didn't feel any urge to continue reading because it wasn't that great!

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Lulu-Grenadine Fait des Cauchemars by Laurence Gillot

Rating: WORTHY!

Continuing the international theme from the last review, There is over 20 Lulu-Grenadine books for children written by this slightly crazed-looking female author. This is the first I ever encountered her, and it was appropriately in French. I have only high-school French and most of that is forgotten, but I had enough to guess at what was being said and it was entertaining. I didn't know the word 'Cauchemars' but it became obvious that it means nightmare, of which a literal translation from English would be jument de nuit, except that the 'mare' in nightmare has nothing to do with a female horse, but is derived from an ancient European word related to oppressive feelings. So no more horses of the night! LOL! I have no idea what cauchemar actually means if translated literally.

In the story, this young girl, Lulu-Grenadine (that latter word meaning pomegranate) has a nightmare of little white dark-eyed ghosties floating around in her room, but eventually realizes they're nothing but her wild imagination. The book is entertaining and educational, usefully advising children that there really aren't any ghosts, and that an active imagination can be put to better uses than keeping you awake at night! I commend this book even though it needs no mending, except to maybe have it in the English version for better clarity for us English-speakers!

The Hole by Øyvind Torseter

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a highly amusing children's book written and illustrated by a Norwegian writer (don't worry - it's translated into English by Kari Dickson). The first name is pronounced a bit like Irvin with a 'd' on the end. Quite literally the central theme of the book is that it has a hole right through it, cover to cover. The hole takes part in the story. When this guy moves into a new apartment and discovers the hole in his wall, he also discovers that as he moves around, so does the hole! Eventually he manages to capture it in a box and take it to a research lab where they conduct various experiments on it - determined to find the hole truth no doubt.

On each page of this large format book, the hole appears in different locales. It's a lightbulb on one page, a traffic light on another, someone's eye in another, someone's nostril in another, and so it goes. How they ever managed to match the hole so well to the drawings in putting together this book I can only guess, but it was well done and the book was very entertaining. I don't know what a child will make of it, but hopefully they will be at least as fascinated with it as I was!

I commend this book as a worthy read.

Friday, August 9, 2019

The Return of Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a sequel to Zita the Spacegirl which I reviewed recently and loved. This one is equally loveable. Zita is irrepressible. I didn't know, when I read the first one, that Zita was actually invented by a fellow college student of the author's named Anna, who would go on to marry him. Paradoxically, Zita was older when she was first conceived than she is now, and the art was much more basic. She then transmogrified into an adventurer a bit like, I guess, a space-faring version of Jacques Tardi's Adèle Blanc-Sec. I'm not sure I would have liked her like that, because I much prefer Zita in the incarnation I first came to know her, which is this early middle-grade femme de feisty.

In this adventure, Zita, who we left thinking she had saved her friend and dispatched him home safely in the previous volume, is brought to trial in a kangaroo court which disappointingly isn't held by kangaroos, but by an alien villain and his hench-robots. His purpose is to recruit people by foul means (fair isn't an option with this guy) and set them to work in his mine in search of a crystal. He doesn't care that removing it will collapse the asteroid which bears the mine, and kill the indigenous life forms which look like lumps of coal with startling white eyes. Why a mined-out asteroid would collapse remains a bit of a mystery, but I didn't let that bother me! This is more sci-fantasy than sci-fi!

Zita meets her usual assortment of oddball alien friends - but even more-so in this outing, it seems - and she attempts to escape, but even when freedom is within her grasp, she can't help but go back and lend a hand to an alien she noted earlier who is being sorely-abused. Since this graphic novel was published just over four years after a Doctor Who episode titled The Beast Below, I have to wonder at the author purloining this idea from Stephen Moffat, but maybe the latter purloined it from elsewhere before that and so it goes. Writers can be a very derivative bunch can't they? Especially if they work for Disney. Remake much? But as long as suckers will pay, they'll be delighted to keep suckering them in won't they - innovation be damned?

But this story was amusing, entertaining, and made me want to read it to the end, so I commend it as a worthy read.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Bad Machinery Volume 5 The Case of the Fire Inside by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

This was one of the last two of this series that I had not read yet, although by no means the last in chronological order. Not that that matters very much with this series, but this one was published as volume five, and was the last one I read, and it's odd to think this grew on me so quickly after I had initially not liked one of these volumes when I read it a few years back and so never pursued the series! Now I'm sorry it's over, but I do understand Allison's desire to move on and try something new. I'm just sorry I didn't like what he did next.

In this volume, the author explores Selkies - mythological seal-like creatures that inhabit the ocean, but after casting-off their sealskin cloak, appear as human - and very pretty young girls some of them are, too. Due to Lottie's discovery of one of these cloaks on the beach, and her stuffing it into one of the boys' bags, the Selkie latches onto this boy and pursues him ardently, including enrolling at his school, where she poses a threat to the established swimming champion in the school, who is also threatened by her boyfriend dating one of the girls without telling her he doesn't want to date her any more. But wait, his ex is good-looking, and a great swimmer? What's going on here? Meanwhile the Selkie's dad emerges from the ocean in search of his lost girls and is immediately assumed to be a homeless guy!

Once again I was highly amused by this and I am sorry to see the series come to an end. I commend this as a worthy read.

Bad Machinery Volume 2 The Case of the Good Boy by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the second to last I've read in this series, but the second to be published chronologically. In the story, Mildred wants to win an enchanted pencil at the visiting carnival, so she can draw a dog - which the pencil will make real, and then she can have a pet. Meanwhile toddlers are disappearing, mostly from the baby care centre, and the police don't seem to be doing much about it ("Oh, they'll turn up!"). Meanwhile some sort of creature is lurking in the forest and a crazed animal hunter is called in to track it down.

So once again the boys and the girls are coming at a mystery from two direction and destined to collide, one way or another, in the middle. There's the usual off-kilter humor, and bizarre utterances from Lottie, my favorite character, and overall the story was hilarious and very much appreciated. I fully commend it as a worthy read.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Bad Machinery Volume 7 The Case of the Forked Road by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

Here I go reviewing the last volume before I've read them all. The others are on the way. This one, surprisingly, was actually in a regular comic book format - but slightly smaller. This made for easy reading, but disguised the fact that it was considerably shorter than the others I've read. Whether this was just because it's the closing volume, or this one was written for the print version rather than as a web comic, I do not know.

The story was just about the girls, too - which is fine with me because they've been typically far more interesting than the boys who barely were featured in this story. And by that I mean they were in the story hardly at all - not that they were in the story without any clothes on.

So Charlotte Grote, Mildred Haversham, and Shauna Wickle are on the case - once they discover what the case is, and in this case it's the curious wormhole in a cabinet in the chemistry lab at school, which they go through back to 1960, only to return and discover that the present is screwed-up, so naturally they have to go back and fix it now. Or then. Whatevs.

You know they're still going to screw something up, right?

I loved this story. It might be my favorite, but I still have volumes two and five to go, so we'll see. Meanwhile this gets a worthy!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Bad Machinery Volume 4 The Case of the Lonely One by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

Another outing for Charlotte, Linton, Jack, Mildred, Shauna, and Sonny, who are now in the second year at Griswold Grammar school and marveling at how tiny and young the new first years look. One new kid, Lem, is decidedly strange. He eats onions like they're apples and suddenly, everyone starts thinking he's a cool guy - including Shauna's previously disparaging friends.

But where are Shauna's compatriots? Why do they all seem utterly preoccupied with other things and uncaring about a "mystery"? Shauna, it seems, will have to go it alone, or recruit new people onto her team, because one by one, it seems, even her closest friends are being won over to Lem's onion-eating circle. What the heck is going on? One way or another, Shauna's going to find out.

After a weird start to this series several years back, and a hiccup several years back minus two, I finally got really into it over the last few days, and now I intend to check out the remaining three volumes.

Bad Machinery Volume 3 The Case of the Simple Soul by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

This is volume one of the graphic novel series for which I reviewed volume six yesterday. The volumes are, in order: The Case of the Team Spirit, The Case of the Good Boy, The Case of the Simple Soul, The Case of the Lonely One, The Case of the Fire Inside, The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor, and The Case of the Forked Road. The publication as print volumes, of the collected web comics began in 2013, and at least one was published every year through 2017. Since that was over two years ago, I'm thinking this series is done now.

When I posted the review of volume six yesterday, I couldn't get away from the idea that Bad Machinery was something I'd tangled with before - and I'm not talking about an old motor vehicle! So I looked back in my reviews and discovered that I'd reviewed two of these, one back in 2014 and the other in 2016, the first negative, the second positive, but I'd never got back with any volumes after that.

When I'd read it for the first time, volume 3 (which is this volume) I hadn't rated it very highly and I forgot about it, but now having read it again, I'm forced to change my view. I think maybe I've warmed to the characters and the story-telling in the meantime - or maybe before was a mean time and now isn't? I dunno! But no! This doesn't mean I'm going to return to previously negatively-rated books for the purpose of re-reading and re-rating all of them! Yuk!

When I initially read it, I was trading the thing back and forth with my son (and the format of these books is unwieldy!), each of us reading a section, and neither of us had been very impressed with it. This time I read it on my own and as part of these three volumes I'm reviewing today, so I think maybe I was on a roll.

In this volume, the usual crew, Linton Baxter, Sonny Craven, Jack Finch, Charlotte Grote, Mildred Haversham, and Shauna Wickle come at the same problem - a fire-starter - from different angles, and end-up solving the problem. One issue is a real live troll - who looks like a brawny, neckless human, is living under a bridge. The other issue is that empty barns are being burned down. Of course there are many other issues!

The gang get by with their usual wry and dry take on life, their usual weird situations, and their usual humor. Unlike in late 2014, this amused me this time around and I commend it as a worthy read.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Bad Machinery Volume 6 The Case of the Unwelcome Visitor by John Allison

Rating: WORTHY!

This graphic novel amused me from the outset, even more than I had hoped it would from a quick scan of it in the library. This is volume 6, which happened to be the first (and only one) I saw there, so now I've requested the first couple of volumes to start this from the beginning and see if I still like it when I don't arrive at it ass-backwards (or is it arse-backwards, since this is a Brit publication?).

This volume is centered on The Night Creeper, a grinning ghoul who seems to prey on the townsfolk of Tackleford leaving them gaga (in the old fashioned sense - they're not singing "Sh-sh-sha-a-low" or anything like that, understand...). All they're left with is vacant looks and a grin worthy of the amusing 1961 "horror" movie Mr Sardonicus.

This whole thing began as a web comic in 2009, and blossomed from there into over half-a-dozen hefty volumes now. I loved the sly humor - and being British-born, understood most of it despite also being a long-term ex-pat. It was very much my kind of humor though. The only thing I didn't like was the large format of the comic!

It was not only oversized as compared with most graphic novels, it was quite thick and in landscape format to boot, being more akin to a large place mat than a graphic novel, and it had the same lack of rigidity to it, meaning it was quite tiresome to try to hold while reading. You really need a table, a lap, or even a lectern to read one of these things. The struggle was worth it for the humor, though. I commend this as a worthy read.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Cellies by David Scheidt, Joe Flood, David Steward II

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Drawing very much from the 1994 Kevin Smith movie, Clerks for its inspiration, this graphic novel written by Scheidt (issue 1) and Flood (issues 2 - 5), and illustrated throughout by Steward, tells the tale of an evidently way over-staffed cell-phone store and the oddball events that occur there from day to day. Some are hilarious, others boring. The book does have the advantage of a diverse cast (which Smith's move was sadly lacking) and is well-written and illustrated, and while I enjoyed this volume and consider it a worthy read, there really wasn't anything in it to persuade me to read any more beyond these covers.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Cookie Eating Firedog by Lida Sideris, Joan Young

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I could not help but want to like this one because of the title which was so absurd, and in the end I did enjoy this young children's colorful and fun story about a naughty firehouse dog - which is of course the traditional Dalmatian.

This is a departure from this author's usual line of writing, which is aimed at a much more mature audience and tends toward murder mysteries. Also do not confuse her with Lisa Sideris who is also an author and an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University.

Based on a twenty-year-old story that came out of something her young (at that time) son said, the book was created rapidly, but found no publisher. Now it has one, which is an object lesson in never giving up. Those firefighters should never have given up on their dog either, because while he was a lazy little critter, much preferring to eat cookies than fight fires, even when out on the truck at a fire, he learned his lesson when a fire the station house! And with dogged determination, he came through! The Dalmatian escaped damnation! Give that dog a cookie!

I thought this simply yet sweetly illustrated (by Joan Young) story was a blast and I commend it as a worthy read for young children.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon, Cat Farris

Rating: WORTHY!

This is the third Pamela Ribon Graphic novel I've read and I've been entertained by all of them. Besides, how could you not want to read a graphic novel with a title like that? Especially since it's quite literal! I admire a writer who can take an absurd concept and treat it as though it's an everyday thing and get an entertaining story out of it. I found this especially refreshing after reading and negatively reviewing a rather poor children's book about a bear. This was the perfect counterpoint to that.

If you have some feelings of eeww over a girl dating a bear, you might want to reserve them instead for the girl's old boyfriend, who is a complete creep and thinks he owns her. He's way more eeww than the bear could ever be, trust me - I am not a bear-faced liar..... You might want to consider, too, that this is a commentary - a metaphor - as is exemplified if not outright spelled out, by the awful guys she lists as previous dates. If a bear makes a better partner than these guys, what does it say about male attitudes towards women? In this day and age, this is a seriously important topic and any way of getting that across is to be welcomed, because too few men are getting the massage.

The story begins with a history of bad relationships, and this woman (no, her name isn't Ursula unfortunately, it's Nora) isn't really in the market for anything new, when a forest fire pushes a bear out of the forest and into her back yard. The bear and Nora make a connection, and she realizes he's a lot sweeter than any guy she's been involved with recently, but how will he be accepted by her friends and the world at large? Well, he's perfectly integrated, apparently. The Japanese sushi bar staff love him! As does one of her two closest girlfriends. The other? Not so much. It's interesting that the most accepting one was a woman of color and the least accepting, a white girl who, I'm guessing, inexplicably voted for President Lowlife. Her parents are a bit skeptical too. Curiously, Nora's father is more onboard than her mother.

Of course, not everything is smooth sailing. Sometimes life is as rough as a bear's fur. There are breakages, and bear claw marks are worse than cat claw marks (unless they're the marks of Cat Farris, the artist, who did a great job. We'll always have Farris...), but the bear finds work and helps out around the house, and Nora learns to interpret bear speak, so it's cool. Even when winter approaches and the bear is feeding heavily trying to pack on the pounds for the upcoming hibernation, they manage to make their budget work. But when he leaves for his cave, can she expect him to return in the spring? Only time will tell. Either Time or Newsweek. One of them has to have the story, right? So bear with the author and enjoy. I commend this story.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The Cow Said Neigh! by Rory Feek

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a fun children's book aimed at getting kids to understand and experiment with sounds and to consider when the wrong sound is coming from somewhere. I can see it leading to a wider discussion - maybe even about what it means when the smoke alarm goes off. Is that the right kind of sound to hear? But it's not about that. It's about a very confused farm!

In a series of fun, bright, and colorful images, and some happy verse, we discover that several of the farm and domestic animals - and even the farmer himself, are getting some weird ideas about their station in life! The cow sees the horse and decides she would like to run free - so she starts neighing. The horse starts quaking, the duck starts baaing and this cascade effect ricochets around the whole farm! Will it ever end? Hopefully, otherwise it'll be a long night reading this to your little loved one!

I commend this for a fun and instructive read to young children.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Dog With Nice Ears by Lauren Child

Rating: WORTHY!

I've been in love with Charlie and Lola ever since my own kids used to watch this children's TV show. They're way beyond it now, but I still love these characters. They're a fictional bro and sis who were created by the very imaginative and inventive English writer and illustrator Lauren Child in 2000AD. This is one of the books. Until this, I'd seen only the TV show, but I have to say that this captured the show perfectly - or perhaps it's more accurate to say that the TV show captures the books perfectly since they came first.

There are several fun books to be had, assuming this one is anything to judge the rest by, but in this episode we're focused on Lola's desire to own a dog. Her parents are dead set against it. Shame on them, but I can understand a parent not wanting to get a dog for a very young child, because it's going to die on them when they're in their teens and that could be traumatizing, let's face it. I know it did me in.

Anyway Lola's perspective on what the dog should look like and how it should behave are predictably - knowing Lola as I do - bizarre. It's only when she gets her pet home that everything falls into place, and the result amused the heck out of me. Did I mentioned I loved the TV show?! And the author's name is Child for goodness sake!

I recommend this for any parent with a slightly off-kilter sense of humor and any kids who need to be nudged outside of their comfort zone once in a while. It's good for them. My kids lapped up the TV show, but then they're my kids, so what would you expect! LOL! I commend this book and I'll bet the entire series is a worthy read.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Love Letters to Jane's World by Paige Braddock

Rating: WARTY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

I requested this from Net Galley's 'read now' collection which is always a bit of a hit and miss affair, and this was a miss I'm sorry to report, because I really thought I'd enjoy it. I was thinking that it would be a fun and amusing read, but it was neither.

I became bored with it quite quickly, which surprised me, and I made it only a third of the way through by which time I honestly could not stand to read any more. It's just not my kind of humor I guess: too cheesy and simple for my taste.

Worse than this though was that for a book which claims diversity as one of its qualities, there was one - perhaps two - people of color in the entire thing, which doesn't sound very diverse to me given that most people on the planet are people of color, and a third of them are Asian. But talking of so-called minorities, I guess I'm in the minority in disliking this since it has done well for itself over the years and been somewhat groundbreaking to boot for a comic whose main character is LGBTQIA. For me she was more LGBTMIA, though.

The story is a highly fanciful 'autobiography' it would appear, given that the main character is quite obviously modeled on the author, but I hope the author is smarter than the character depicted here, who comes across as quite stupid and thoughtless. I didn't like her, much less respect her, which didn't help to like the comic strip stories.

The artwork was very much 'Sunday Funnies' style, but in black and white line drawings, so no color diversity here either, and sometimes the text was hard to read because it was also hand drawn and rather scrappily so - something I've never understood about comics. It was large enough to read okay (for the most part) on a tablet computer, but I sure wouldn't want to try reading this on a smart phone or in a badly printed copy.

It's yet another graphic novel which doesn't acknowledge that there are ebooks, and the print book margins made it quite wasteful of trees, too. This is another negative against this comic book since trees are the only entity which is doing anything concrete to fight climate change, and here is another author/publisher seemingly determined to decimate them. And so it goes.

I wish the author all the best in her career, but I cannot recommend this one.

Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears by John McNamee

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was an unexpected gem I found in net Galley's 'read now' selection, which is always a hit and miss affair. This was a hit. The graphic novel consists of simply-drawn cartoons - several panels and sometimes more than one page to each topic, illustrating humorous and unexpected outcomes to stories arising from assorted inspirations such as fairy tales, pop culture, religion and so on.

The very first one, for example, shows Goldilocks entering a room and unsuccessfully sampling various servings of porridge, and eventually revealing that the reasons she cannot find one to her taste is that this is hell and it's where porridge thieves are sent!

That's the kind of humor, and sometimes it's hit and sometimes miss. There were several of these I simply didn't get, or I did get (or thought I did!), but did not find funny, but there are enough here that anyone is bound to find something to their taste. The closest better-known example of this kind of humor that I can reference are the cartoons of The Far Side, although this is a bit different from that. I had the same feeling of hit and miss with those cartoons that I do with this, but this was, overall, funny enough and original enough that I consider it a worthy read.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Oothar the Blue by Brandon Reese

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This story was so tongue in cheek that that I had to go see an orthodontist after I read it. Oothar isn't literally blue, notwithstanding the book's cover. In fact, Oothar is not withstanding anything. He ignores bedraggled dragons. He can't be bothered with railing, wailing wraiths. And he certainly isn't interested in gouging rouge rogue ogres. Nothing seems to bring him pleasure until he finds, after a fit of constructive rage, that a career change is in order, and suddenly, everything is coming up roses!

I'm not sure exactly who this forty-some page graphic novel book is aimed at, but I think it would entertain anyone, especially barbarians with its Aryan barbs. It did me, anyway. I recommend it.

Tug of War by Naomi Howarth

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a sweet and fun story of how brains beats brawn. I'm not sure it was a good advisory on how to make friends though. The story is that the elephant and the hippopotamus both reject the friendship overtures of the tortoise because it's small and wrinkled and slow. The tortoise challenges each of them to a tug of war which they both accept, but what they don't know is that they're tugging against each other, not against the tortoise!

In the end they all become friends. I'm far from convinced that having friends that dumb and bigoted is worth all this effort, but who knows? Maybe the tortoise will be a positive influence in their lives. Hippos are known to be irascible; elephants, not so much, and they're really smart, too, so while on the one hand I resent the elephant being misrepresented, I also found the story entertaining for kids who aren't going to analyze it at all. Plus it teaches a lesson about teaching lessons, so on balance, I consider this to be a worthy read.