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2017 Goals: Update!

In early January I used a Top 5 Wednesday writing prompt to share my 2017 goals. While some relate to the blog, others were for my personal life. Let’s see show I did! My updates will be in bold.

1) I need to get my sh*t together on posting! I’m always typing away on the day the post is due, I never have any in queue like Kathleen does! Usually I worked ahead of time on my alternating Wednesday posts, but my Friday posts were another matter. Friday is my day off, so I would block some time out in the morning to get it done, but often my Fridays fill up with a dozen other commitments, so I wouldn’t have the time I thought I would after all. But…my grad classes are ending, so I truly will have more time soon. 

2) Write more guest posts! I reviewed two books, Ink and Bone vs The Alex Crow, for the 2016 Tournament of Books through my Young Adult Services Forum committee that I belong to and reviewed Eleanor & Park for The Green Onion in November (2016). Plus, I have one half written for Just Dread-full, for I enjoy the challenge on writing on other subjects than just graphic novels and geek life. I managed this! I finished my post for Kalie’s blog, Just Dread-full about My First Fright, reviewed YA books Ghosts vs The Star Touched Queen for the 2017 Tournament of Books, shared my feelings about the movie Logan on Michael’s My Comic Relief site and schooled Rob on My Side of the Laundry Room on awesome 80’s toys for girls

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3) Hike more! My husband and I completed the 52 Hike Challenge last summer, and after a year of consistent hiking we fell out of the habit. Some of it can be attributed to raising three fabulous kids, work and grad school, but….  Cliff & I did hike more consistently. Not every week as we had during our challenge, but an improvement. As stated above, I will have more time since I will be done with school!! 

4) I like to take pictures of the outdoors, so I’d like to build my Instagram account with my nature pictures. I can take more pictures, IF I hike more! If you care to take a look at the less geeky part of my life, my account is nancyandnature. Success! I enjoy taking pictures and was followed by some nature and tourism sites, and had several pictures picked through out the year to be featured on the sites Only in Illinois, Midwest Snaps and Illinois Shots.

5) Live life with less regrets. I have a habit of looking backwards and second guessing myself. I must remember- no amount of anxiety can change the future, no amount of regret can change the past. Ugh- I will always struggle with this. But I am making progress! When I had a paid writing gig fall through, I was initially crushed. But I picked up the pieces and moved on with little second guessing. It wasn’t the right situation, and there will be future opportunities for me. So look, I am improving on this trait! 🙂

All in all, I met most of my goals, and feel proud of myself. I’m thrilled that I am graduating from Dominican University this month, and am hoping that brings some new career opportunities my way. In a few weeks, I hope to share my 2018 goals, so be on the lookout for those!

-Nancy

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Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book Ten

It comes to the attention of Snow and Bigby that there is a villain out there who has the power to wipe away the entire universe – and rewrite it as he sees fit! The source of their information, is of course, unreliable… it’s Jack we’re talking about, after all. But for once, he isn’t playing around. He’s got backup to prove it too. They call themselves the Literals, and they are the embodiment of the literary devices. Kevin Thorn, the embodiment of storytelling, is the one causing trouble. The Fables, the Literals, and the Page sisters (the three embodiments of library sciences) have to find a way to stop him before he erases them all out of existence! Meanwhile, Jack makes his way back to the Farm. He has some unfinished business with Rose Red, and someone has some unfinished business with Jack himself…

This arc is called “The Great Fables Crossover” because it crosses over with Jack’s spin-off comic. This one didn’t do much for me. Mostly, I was confused on the characters outside of Fabletown. The Literals are many, and they weren’t well-introduced. They finally gave a cast of characters spread in part 8 – of 9. By that time I was almost through and didn’t bother going back to see who had said what or done what. Besides, just like Nancy said in her review of Jack of the Fables, Jack really is a huge jerk!

The next arc contained in this book, “Werewolves of the Heartland” was back to just Fables: a story about Bigby and an old friend from his WWII days. The art was really cool in this one! It looked almost like woodcutting or hatching. A good, spooky read for a cold and cloudy day ;D

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Matthew Sturges, Mark Buckingham, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Jim Fern, and Craig Hamilton. Fables (The Deluxe Edition): Book Ten. 2015.

Spider-Man/Deadpool: Isn’t It Bromantic

I have a habit of being enthusiastic about things. My family and friends know that if I like something, I will not shut up. I will mention it again and again and again. For example, do you know how many times my cameo in the graphic novel Revival (volume 8) can be brought up? Quite a lot in fact. Quite a lot indeed. It all started in college when I fell in love with Star Trek TNG. I could not stop talking about the episodes and characters. This is when I truly outed myself as the geek I am. My sweet husband has many of my interests, but I often want to talk about bookish things more at length than he does.  That reason was the genesis of this blog, as I wanted to find a community of like minded individuals. So what does this long introduction have to do with this Spider-Man/Deadpool book?

As I stated above, I get enthusiastic about books I like, and when I discovered and fell in love with the horror graphic novel series Locke & Key written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez I mentioned it several times in this blog, and was eventually able to hound Michael, my friend who writes the awesome blog  My Comic Relief to read and review it. He felt the review would have a better audience match on his beloved Kalie’s blog Just Dread-full. His response after completing the six book series was to say “Nancy knows what she’s talking about and I should just read everything she suggests.” Damn straight- more people should do what I say (especially my three children)! Anyhoo- to finally get to this book review, I agreed to read a book of Michael’s choosing since he read mine. This book was his choice, as he is a huge Deadpool fan (he wrote a guest post for our blog this summer on guess who?) and although I am a Marvel fan, our blog’s lone Spider-Man review is Kathleen’s.

Both Spider-Man and Deadpool are known for their snappy banter, but it is Deadpool’s endless musings that get real raunchy. That’s why he’s known as the merc with a mouth and he has an obvious crush on the webbed wonder. The book starts out with the two entwined in villain’s Dormammu’s grasp, but of course the two escape after much verbal sparring. 

Spider-Man is up to here with Deadpool’s shenanigans, but Deadpool is trying valiantly to impress him and has turned over a new leaf (kind of) since he is now supposedly on the Avenger’s team.  However, he’s still a mercenary at heart and isn’t above accepting a kill contract on Peter Parker by another mysterious villian, as he he has been tricked into thinking Parker is evil and deserves to die. Deadpool justifies the contract, not understanding that he has sentenced Spider-Man to die if he goes through with the killing of Spidey’s alter ego.

In the meantime, Spider-Man and Deadpool have crazy bromantic adventures together, with Spidey softening towards Deadpool. A funny dance off between the two men ensue after Lady Thor and a cousin of Deadpool’s wife battle, and the women decide the men must dance for their pleasure to end the fight. During another segment we are introduced to Deadpool’s daughter, and while I wanted more backstory on that, that want will push me to read more stories about her origin and their daddy/daughter relationship.

But hanging over all this, is knowing that Deadpool is planning on killing Peter Parker. While I do want to avoid spoiling what happens, let’s just say nothing goes smoothly for these two heroes to establish a bromance. Knowing that Deadpool’s wife is Shiklah, Queen of the Undead, might give you some clues as to what happens next, but you didn’t hear it from me…

Is the book’s tagline “hijinks and hilarity ensue!” true? Definitely yes! Did the story always make sense? Definitely not! Taken in small doses, I think the dysfunctional “friendship” between these two men is hilarious. I loved the Deadpool movie, and like the cinematic’s most recent Spider-Man, but in the movies the age difference would stand in the way of a bromance. So it’s in print form that their team-ups should continue, for they just make such a cute couple!

My mind is so expanded after reading this story for now I know where to look for inappropriate jokes should I ever need them. Thank you Michael for this suggestion! This book helped me understand you a bit more, and your unique sense of humor. Now if I can just get you (and others!) to read the Revival series next. Don’t forget your own words, when I give you that suggestion 😉

-Nancy

Kelly, Joe & Ed McGuinness. Isn’t It Bromantic. 2016.

Top 5 Wednesday: Bookish Things You’re a Grinch About

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes.

I had a really nice post scheduled for today, but I had to reschedule it when I saw this prompt. I laughed pretty hard. Grade A Grinch right here. I hate the holidays. I hate the stress of gift-giving, I hate that we spend a literal entire day baking every year, I hate that my mom has 17 boxes of decorations that ALL have to get put up EVERY YEAR, and most of all, I hate how materialistic it all is.

But I know no one wants to hear me be a Grinch about the holidays because I’m apparently a total killjoy, so y’all can hear me be a Grinch about book things instead!!! (It’s my gift to you. Enjoy)

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5. Boring starts

My reading time is severely limited. I have two part-time jobs, art commissions to keep up with, and now a wedding to plan. I don’t have time to waste on boring books! I used to stick ’em out, but I don’t have the patience anymore. My new rule is, if it doesn’t grab me within 3 chapters, I’m done!

4. Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow moving

This goes hand in hand with the first one. I actually don’t mind slow-moving novels. It’s when graphic novels are slower paced that I start chomping at the bit. This is probably because I’m so used to reading superhero comics that, by nature, are fast-paced. Slow-moving graphic novels seems like an oxymoron to me!

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3. Formulaic plots

I hate guessing how the plot is going to go, then being right. Some plots you see over and over and over again. Shake it up, people!!!

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2. Poorly designed covers

Like… did you even try???

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1. Mainstream fiction

You know what I mean. Those authors who put out 3 books every year and whose names take up half the cover. I read one Danielle Steele novel and that was more than enough for me. Call me a hipster, but I hate reading what everyone else reads!!!

So there you have it! A gloriously Grinchy post =P What are you a Grinch about?

– Kathleen

Batman: Earth One (Vol. 2)

A lot of people believe the Batman is responsible for the death of Mayor Oswald Cobblepot. There are some, though, who believe he is not, and that he might be a force for good instead. There have been a number of murders since the death of Mayor Cobblepot, though. Someone has been killing random groups of people after they have failed to solve riddles. He leaves a calling card: a green question mark. To stop him, Batman needs help. Bruce is sure he can trust Commissioner Gordon, but Alfred warns against trusting any of the police. When Mayor Jessica Dent, twin sister to District Attorney Harvey Dent and former flame of Bruce’s, asks him to become a public beacon of hope for Gotham, Bruce is conflicted. How does he help Gotham? In the shadows, or the light?

… Wow. Just wow. Volume 2 was so much better than Volume 1! Again, no one is quite who you think they are, so it keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to figure it out. My favorite part of this volume was actually Killer Croc. They really humanized him, and you feel sorry for him instead of fearing him. It’s also refreshing to see Batman asking for help instead of being an insufferable know-it-all. Again, the art is nothing to sneeze at, but you keep coming back for the story anyway. I am very much looking forward to Volume 3!

– Kathleen

Johns, Geoff, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, and Brad Anderson. Batman: Earth One (Vol. 2). 2015.

Secret Path

When I heard of the graphic novel Secret Path drawn by one of my favorite artist’s, Jeff Lemire,  I knew I wanted to read it, not understanding that it was so much more than a book. Secret Path is a ten song concept album written by Gord Downie paired with a graphic novel that tells the story of Chanie Wenjack.

Chanie was  a twelve year-old Anishinaabe boy who died in 1966, trying to escape from  the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School in Ontario, Canada. Chanie, often called Charlie, was trying to walk approximately 400 miles home by following the Canadian National Railway but perished of hunger and exposure.

Lemire’s interpretation of Chanie’s last journey is wordless, but with lyrics of Downie’s songs alongside the pictures. The residential school and Canadian wilderness are shown starkly with white, grey, black and blue colors representing his loneliness and isolation.  Only when Chanie is thinking of his family are his memories shown in contrasting warm hued colors. This is similar in how Lemire told another story about a First Nation’s family in his recent book, Roughneck.  Lemire also effectively frames Chanie’s sad memories of the school in an off-kilter method that keeps the adults heads out of the panels and draws his trademark black bird as part of the imagery.

While the graphic novel is excellent, it should be read in tandem to listening to the ten songs that were written by Downie before he even contacted Lemire to illustrate the accompanying book. Afterwards watch the video that combines the graphics and music into a haunting montage. Sadly, Downie died in October, but his music and the Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund will be a lasting legacy.

While this tragic story highlights one individual, Chanie truly represents the hundreds of thousands of native children that the Canadian government took from their homes and sent to residential schools.  Canada doesn’t stand alone on trying to eradicate native culture, the United States government did the same to native families- ripping family and cultural connections from them and trying to get them to assimilate into what government and religious officials felt was appropriate. Kudos to Downie and Lemire for bringing attention to this shameful part of Canada’s (and America’s) history, for only through a truthful reflection can positive change and reconciliation be established.

-Nancy

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Downie, Gord & Jeff Lemire. Secret Path. 2016.

 

 

Fall Book Tag

It’s still November! We can still legit do the Fall Book Tag! We were tagged by Zezee With Books to do the Apple, Pumpkin Book Tag (which was a combo of two tags for her) and by Dani of Perspective of a Writer to do the Fall Time, Cozy Book & Manga Tag (in which she embellished). While they were quite different, they both had to do with fall, so we decided to combine the two into our own awesome mash-up! We alternated answering- can you figure out who answered each question?

From ZeZee’s Tag:

Granny Smith: An overbearingly sweet work or character

Faith is a kick ass heroine that also is super sweet. You go girl!

Red Delicious: A book that would be perfect if it was only judged by its cover

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Darkness Becomes Her. Man, the cover is beautiful and the synopsis was so good. But don’t be fooled. It’s a hot mess inside.

Golden Yellow: A book with yellow on the cover

Hark! A Vagrant has awesome riffs on history and literature, and is done so in an intelligent and hilarious manner.

McIntosh: A writer that has influenced or would influence your writing

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Isabel Allende! She definitely has influenced my (fan)fiction writing.

Honeycrisp: A book you have read that is in great demand

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Written in 1986, this dystopian tale seems so very timely during our current political climate, and still is checked out regularly.

Gala: A work that fits under many genres

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Can’t talk enough about it – the Dark Tower series! An intoxicating mix of fantasy, Western, horror, and sci-fi.

Ambrosia: A long work that was easy to follow

The six book series Locke & Key kept me enthralled the entire time. Hoping for more books from this duo and the upcoming Hulu series.

Pumpkin Soup: A work that you first enjoyed, but then lost interest

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The Mistborn series. The first book was great! I could not make it more than a quarter of the way through the second book, though. *yawn* Booooring.

Pumpkin Picking: Within the last year, in which genre did you purchase the most books

Ummm….hello….what is the name of our blog? Graphic Novels of course!!!!!! Pictured is the graphic novel shelves at my library that I do all the purchasing for.

Pumpkin Painting: A book with magnificent illustrations

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Need I say more? (Actually, I did. In my review of TSS.)

Pumpkin Ice Cream: The most random work you would recommend

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I just finished this photography book by Gregory Crewdson.  Filled with surreal photographs that are dark and disquieting. A fascinating book that I looked at over and over again.

From Dani’s Tag:

Crunching Leaves 

The world is full of color Choose a book that had reds/oranges/yellows on the cover!

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson. Not a bad YA novel. Bonus because it takes place in part in autumn =P

Cozy Sweaters 

It’s finally cold enough to do warm cozy clothing  what book gives you the warm fuzzies?

This is my crazy favorite YA book. Young love in the 80’s…

Fall Storm

The wind is howling & the rain is pounding  Choose a book that you like to read on a stormy day…

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Man, if I’m in the mood to get spooked on a stormy day… this book is it. Beautifully unsettling.

Cool Crisp Air

Makes you breath freely  What’s the coolest character you’d want to trade places with?

Tyleet from the ElfQuest saga is my favorite elf! She’s kind, patient and steady. She’s not a flashy character but the kind of person/elf you’d always want by your side.

Hot Apple Cider

Warm autumn drink What under-hyped book do you want to see become the next biggest, hottest thing?

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*SLAMS FISTS ON THE TABLE* GIVE ME AN 8 SEASON TV SHOW ON THIS SERIES

Coat, Scarves, and Mittens

The weather has turned cold & it’s time to cover up   What’s the most embarrassing book cover that you’d like to keep hidden in public?

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This was an awesome book, but it just screams that I’m a geek for reading it.

Pumpkin Spice

Time for some Starbucks  What’s your favorite Fall time comfort foods (i.e. genres) and a book/manga that represents them.

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Fantasy ❤ Autumn is the best time to read fantasy, imo.

 

Thanks ladies for choosing us! We are not choosing to tag anyone, because fall is almost over, and our tag is a hopeless muddle of our favorite questions from the tags above. And now that this autumn tag is complete, we are ready for winter- bring it on!

(Okay, Nancy is obviously ready for winter, but I DEFINITELY am not… can’t wait for it to be over!!! I’m so sad autumn is almost finished 😭😭😭 )

-Nancy & Kathleen

Star Trek Continues: To Boldly Go

Star Trek Continues has come to an end. This webseries was a true labor of love from all involved, especially Vic Mignogna, who created and starred in this wonderful tribute series. If this blog was on paper, you would notice blotch marks- from my tears, now that it is over!!

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Vic Mignogna who payed homage to Captain Kirk, but never fell into a cheesy William Shatner impersonation.

Episodes 10 and 11 were a two parter, which really was essential to give them enough time to adequately wrap up the series. As the episode begins, Captain Kirk is reflective as the five year mission is coming to an end, and he mourns the crew members that have died under his command. He hopes for a smooth end to the journey, but is directed to enter Romulan space by Star Fleet Command. He, Spock and a red shirt beam down to a planet to investigate a scientific outpost.  They beam aboard the lone scientist still there, not knowing her secret abilities, plus the Vulcan that attacked them there. Spock then takes this opportunity to secretly send a message to a Romulan commander that he had a connection to from The Enterprise Incident. The commander is played by Amy Rydell, the daughter of TOS original actress Joanne Linville, and it is amazing how Rydell looks likes her mother.

The scientist Lana proves to be hiding her motives, and her connection to the Vulcan is revealed. Turns out that that the scientists are now ESPers, who have developed the ability to read minds and have powerful new telekinetic powers. Drunk on her newfound power, Lana plans to rendezvous with the others ESPers on the USS Congo, a ship that they took over near the galactic barrier. The Enterprise crew take action to thwart the renegades who plan on conquering mere humans with their more evolved powers. Some crew members make the ultimate sacrifice, and their losses are heartfelt, as they were integral characters on the show.

The Enterprise crew ultimately limp into space dock, victorious, but at a high cost. I was glad for the lengthy finale, which tied up plot lines and gave it a poignant conclusion. I loved the touches of continuity that they established to build a bridge from this supposed end of the five year mission and the first movie. There was a reference that the doctor had a daughter that he hadn’t seen in years, there was a joke about how the uniforms would be changing soon and about the pilot program of having a counselor on board which is a connection to TNG crew.

I do have a significant complaint though- if you have read any of my previous posts about this series (Episodes 1-6, Episodes 7-8, Episode 9) you know that I really liked the actress Kim Springer who beautifully portrayed Lt. Nyota Uhura. I complained that she (plus Sulu, Chekov & Scotty) was not given enough character development due to the series giving more screen time to the big three and actress Michele Specht who played Counselor Elise McKennah. Unfortunately, that happened again. I truly feel bad harping on that, because Specht is a fine actress, but as a true fan of TOS, I wanted the core seven to be featured, not a newcomer.  While Uhura had two significant moments of helping in the last mission, it wasn’t enough.  Obviously, I love this webseries, but this issue was a constant thorn in my side.

This isn’t even from this episode, but Kim Springer/Uhura is in it!

This was a fantastic webseries that truly felt like canon to TOS. The replication of the sets and uniforms were outstanding, and the guest stars that often had a Star Trek or other sci-fi connection helped elevate the episodes. When ever I find a new Trekkie fan I always share this series with them, as it was a perfect continuation of the original television show and felt incredibly authentic. I am sad the series is over, but can enjoy watching reruns of it, as I have enjoyed watching and then rewatching other Trek episodes. I certainly hope to see these fine actors and actresses involved in other projects.

Until then…live long and prosper, my friends!

-Nancy

Pashmina

Priyanka Das – or Pri, as she likes to be called – is an Indian-American teenager who has a lot of questions about her roots. Her mother doesn’t like to answer her questions about India, however. The question of her father is especially off-limits. Her Uncle Jatin is the closest thing she has to a father. But once his wife becomes pregnant and her baby cousin is born, he has no more time for his niece. One day, the lonely Pri finds an old suitcase in her mom’s closet. Inside is a beautiful shawl that transports her to India whenever she puts it on. She follows her visions to India, to her family, and to her destiny.

This is an adorable little graphic novel. It’s aimed at middle-grade readers, with language that’s a little easier and simple panel sequences. The characters are so expressive and lively. The majority of the art is in black and white, but the parts where Pri puts on the shawl and is transported away are in full, stunning color. At the heart of the story is discovering who you are and learning to follow your heart and the choices you make. I quite enjoyed it as a young adult, but pre-teens will love it.

– Kathleen

Chanani, Nidhi. Pashmina. 2017.

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