Category Archives: 2015 Reads

Flashpoint – One Moment Changes Everything

flashpoint

Flashpoint

One day, Barry Allen is completely surprised to see that his mother is still alive. Everything in his universe has changed. No one has ever heard of The Flash. There is a huge war threatening the whole planet. And worse still, Allen doesn’t have his speed anymore.

Convinced that the Reverse Flash has altered the timeline somehow, Allen tries to recreate the conditions of the accident that turned him into The Flash in the first place. He gets his speed back and tries to restore the timeline.

This is a heart-breaking story that affects the entire DC universe. That is why there are some companion books and tie-ins to it as well.

flashpoint - superman

Flashpoint – Superman

The world has not heard of Superman in this universe either. That is because the government captured him as a baby and has kept him locked up for years. He is a scrawny kid who has never seen the sun, and therefore never developed all of his super-powers.

The Flash knows that he needs Superman to help him set the timeline straight and stop the brutal war that is waging between the Aquaman and Wonder-Woman’s people.

But this is not the Superman he knew in the original timeline and things might be a bit harder than he thought to get him on side and fighting the good fight.

flashpoint - the flash

Flashpoint – The Flash

In the new timeline, Captain Cold is the hero of Central City and he is known as Citizen Cold. He gets his own story in this trade paperback.

Cyborg, ex of the Teen Titans, is Earth’s mightiest hero. It seems that he has taken the place of Superman in this new darker world. He does his best to keep the peace, but just can’t seem to mobilize all of heroes into one team.

But with Flash’s help, he gets Batman on side and they are set to get the world back to how it should be.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed the original graphic novel of this story. It was a great tale that was both heart-breaking and heart-warming.

I’m not sure the companion books were really all that necessary, but they are worth the read for die-hard DC Comics fans.

My List of 2015 Reads – with links to every title I have read this year

 

Record Collecting for EVERYONE!

Record Collecting for Girls

Record Collecting for Girls by Courtney E. Smith

Why would I read a book entitled, Record Collecting for Girls?

Because Record Collecting is for Everybody!

Just like feminism.

feminism_is_for_everybody_bell_hooks

Both of these are great books and while the former isn’t necessarily about feminism, it does touch on some major issues. Courtney E. Smith explains . . .

“I felt it was important to make each week’s show a 50/50 split of male and female artists, and I was amazed by how difficult it was to achieve gender balance.”

I know that struggle all too well. I want Word is Bond Rap Radio to feature female voices on it regularly. I do my best to play at least one female track an episode, and every International Women’s Day is dedicated to the Women in Hip-Hop. But maybe, that’s not enough.

Smith talks about how many of the female popular musicians seem to fall into the same category. For some reason, they all take the same lane. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. She sums it up like this . . .

“I don’t want another Rihanna. I want to know this: Where’s the female equivalent of the Foo Fighters?”

Great question. And there is no easy answer to it. We’ve had only had a handful of female rap groups that have many any sort of noise. There is one group on the horizon now, Heresy. I hope they bring back a resurgence of female rap groups. We need this voice in hip-hop.

I enjoyed reading Record Collecting for Girls and will be writing more posts about it soon. I want to look at how Smith explores soundtracks, Top 5 lists, guilty pleasures, and break-up songs.

Keep it locked to this blog for more.

My List of 2015 Reads – 40 books and counting

Divine Styler – The Story of a Hip Hop Zine

Ryan Somers - Divine Styler

In Search Of . . . Divine Styler by Ryan Somers aka Fritz the Cat

Before the Internet made it possible to easily publish and distribute content, and before the popularity of blogs and social media, there were independent, do-it-yourself publications known as zines.

Zines were a labour of love for would-be journalists who simply wanted to share their passion with the world. Fritz the Cat was one of the best to ever do it.

His humble photocopied mini-magazine travelled far and made a lot of noise. It got reviewed and mentioned in mainstream magazines, song lyrics, and radio interviews. Now the story is being told in a book that features some of the content from the zine as well as commentary and special features.

It’s obvious that Fritz the Cat is a underground hip-hop aficionado. He managed to get exclusive interviews with Ras Kass, Abstract Rude, MF Doom, Aceyalone before many mainstream publications did so.

He even fulfilled his mission to bring Divine Styler back to the hip-hop realm. Maybe that was all due to the magazine and its huge influence. Perhaps things were already in motion for that to happen. The cool thing is that Divine Styler himself discovered the magazine and Fritz the Cat was able to meet him and get a guest article in this book.

I also like the fact that Fritz the Cat was a big proponent of the local hip-hop scene. It was before my time in London, Ontario, but the scene is still strong today thanks to the foundation he helped lay.

This book is a nice trip back in time to the mid to late 1990s featuring artwork, original zine pages and covers, and commentary about the entire journey.

My List of 2015 Reads – my detailed reading log

 

Hawkeye – An Avenger or a Weapon

Hawkeye Vol 1 - My Life as a Weapon

Hawkeye: Volume 1 – My Life as a Weapon

When I first heard of this title, I really had no interest in reading it. After all, he is probably the least exciting member of The Avengers. But the praise for the book has been strong, so when I saw it on the shelves of the public library, I had to pick it up.

I must say that I really enjoyed this read. The humour in it is priceless. It’s along the lines of what was done in The Avenger films as well. If you loved those, you will probably enjoy this book too.

This looks like it will continue as a solo title. The library had the next several volumes as well. They are now on my to-read list.

Maybe you can find something you’d like to read on one of my annual reading lists.

My List of 2015 Reads

My List of 2014 Reads

My List of 2013 Reads

A Hard Read About Bullying (Book Giveaway Contest)

Santa - Nicola Mar

Santa; by Nicola Mar

This book centres around the character of June, a high school student who is bullied physically, emotionally, and even online. She starts to lose faith in humanity and question everything. She doesn’t see a way out or a reason to continue.

While this is a work of fiction, the tale feels like it is torn directly from the headlines. We’ve heard stories just like this on on the news. They are tragic tales that need to stop happening.

I think Nicola Mar wrote this story to influence people on either side of bullying. She is donating proceeds from the sale of the novel to Project Semicolon. The title makes more sense knowing that as well.

This could be a present for a lot of people.

You can find out more by visiting www.projectsemicolon.org.

Want to Read This? 

You can win my copy. This contest is open to residents of Canada or U.S.A.

All you have to do is . . .

Follow me on Twitter, or Instagram

and post a message like “I just entered to win @NicolaMar’s book from @chasemarch at http://chasemarch.com”

You can use this image as well. Make sure you tag / mention me in your post.

Book Give-Away

I will select one lucky winner at random by the end of the week.

Good Luck!

The Walking Dead – Finally Home?

I just finished watching Season 5 of The Walking Dead and saw these graphic novels in the public library. Pretty soon, the television series will be completely caught up with the books. I wonder what will happen then?

I try to write my reviews without spoilers, but if you are a big fan of the books, you might not want to read any further today. (Spoiler Alert)

Walking Dead Volume22

The Walking Dead: Volume 22 – A New Beginning

The survivors of the zombie apocalypse have rebuilt society. They have a village that is reminiscent of the pioneer times we learned about at school. It’s incredible to see things starting to come together.

There is still work to be done, however. Giant heards of the undead travel en mass. A team has been dispatched to steer them away from the village. Unfortunately, they drive a heard directly towards another group of survivors.

Walking Dead Volume23

The Walking Dead: Volume 23 – Whispers Into Screams

Carl wants a job in the new society, but he wants a very specific one that will have him working quite a distance away from his dad. Rick is very reluctant to let him go. He is a little unweary of the new settlement and falling into a life that seems to be returning to normal.

Meanwhile, on a mission outside of the village walls, a team swears that they hear the walking dead whispering. They seem to be smart and communicating with each other. It is absolutely terrifying, more so than usual.

They also welcome a young lady into the village and Carl is completely taken by her. But is there more to her than what he sees?

I am really enjoying this series, both on television and in the graphic novels.

My List of 2015 Reads – 40 titles and counting

Harriet’s Big Adventure (Children’s Book Review)

Harriets Big Adventure

Harriet’s Big Adventure by Glenn S. Guiles and Raymond J. Whalen

Guiles is a fellow educator who believes in the power of a good story to enrich the lives of children and to help them learn. To that end, he has crafted a series of picture books featuring a miniature donkey by the name of Harriet.

The series is based upon the animals that he has on his very own farm in Adirondack State Park. In this second book, Harriet notices that her owner forgot to secure the latch to the gate. She wanders off in search of an adventure.

She comes across creatures she has never seen before including a squirrel, a porcupine, and two deer. Just when she begins to realize that her trek through the woods has taken her far from home, she notices that the trail looped up and brought her right back home.

She is thankful for her adventure and for her nice home.

This is pretty standard fair when it comes to illustrated children’s books. The story isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the water-colour paintings really make it come to life.

I think students can identify with their yard always being the same and wanting to travel beyond the school grounds. As such, it would be a great read-aloud for a primary classroom.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – Great tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiration for classroom teachers

Rich Writer, Poor Writer

I am illiterate.

I have two university degrees, am an avid reader, have been writing fiction, novels, and blog posts for years, but when it comes to money . . .

I am financially illiterate.

Other writers probably feel the same way. We focus on our craft and our daily lives. Money doesn’t seem to be all that important. And yet, we chase the dream of becoming best-selling authors.

Rich Dad Poor Dad book

I am currently reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki because I want to get in better control of my finances.

Poor Writer

I almost put the book down though. The opening paragraph was so bad that I laughed out loud. I swore and got ready to throw the book across the room. For some reason I didn’t.

I stuck with the book and laughed again when the author admitted to being a poor author.

He was talking with an newspaper columnist at the time as he was being interviewed for an article. The columnist wanted to branch out into fiction, but hadn’t been able to crack into that industry. She kept her day job at the newspaper but still had her eyes set on becoming a best-selling author just like Kiyosaki.

That’s when, Kiyosaki simply replied, “I’m a terrible writer, you’re a great writer.”

Rich Writer

So why did he succeed and she did not? He suggested that it all boiled down to the concept of sales. She just needed to become a better sales person to take her work to the next level.

Perhaps that is true. Maybe it’s more complicated than that. All I know is that, Kiyosaki has made an interesting observation . . .

Got Talent?

I’m constantly shocked by how little talented people earn.

Talent isn’t enough. I know some amazing musicians and artists who can’t seem to make their art marketable. Why is that?

One Skill Away From Great Wealth

Most people only need to learn and master one more skill and their income would jump exponentially.

That skill could be salesmanship. It could be marketing. It could be learning about how money works and becoming financially literate.

Be a Life-long Learner

Whatever that skill is that you are lacking, educate yourself.

Learning is a life-long journey and I’m still learning. Are you?

This Box Shows Why We Broke Up

WhyWeBrokeUpbookcover

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

Objects can hold so much power. Something as simple as a ticket stub, a folded piece of paper, and even a sugar shaker can help call up memories of long ago.

This novel centres around a box of keepsakes and memories that a teenaged girl decides to return to her boyfriend when their relationship comes to an end. She also writes him a rather lengthy letter detailing the real reason why they broke up.

Each object in this box has its own story. In the afterward to the novel, we find out that the art work actually came first. The two creators had previously collaborated on a picture book entitled 13 Words. And Moving forward, they decided this time around that the art would inspire the story.

I have had girlfriends that have collected the most insignificant things as keepsakes. I’ve never had them thrown back at me when the relationships dissolved though. It’s an interesting idea for a book.

Sugar

The illustrations add a nice touch to the items in the box. They help us understand why a highschool junior might keep these things.

There are a million reasons why some couples don’t work, and it feels like that was exactly the case for this couple. As such, the novel got a little slow in the middle for me. I almost put it down.

I think may people can relate to the story however. This is one of my favourite passages. In the middle of a fight, her boyfriend tries to compliment her by saying that she was different. To which, she replies,

“And the truth is that I’m not, Ed, is what I wanted to tell you. I’m not arty like everyone says who doesn’t know me, I don’t paint, I can’t draw, I play no instrument, I can’t sing. I’m not in plays, I wanted to say, I don’t write poems. I can’t dance except tipsy at dances. I’m not athletic, I’m not a goth or a cheerleader, I’m not treasurer or co-captain. I’m not gay and out and proud, I’m not that kid from Sri Lanka, not a triplet, a prep, a drunk, a genius, a hippie, a Christian, a slut, not even one of those super-Jewish girls with a yarmulke gang wishing everyone a happy Sukkoth. I’m not anything, this is what I realized … I like movies, everyone knows I do — I love them — but I will never be in charge of one because my ideas are stupid and wrong in my head. There’s nothing different about that, nothing fascinating, interesting, worth looking at.”

I think that is a sentiment, we can all relate to.

My List of 2015 Reads – a detailed reading log with links to every title I read this year

The Great Machine Rules the City

Ex Machina Vol 7

Ex Machina: Volume 7 – Ex Cathedra

The mayor of New York is an ex-superhero. He fights the good fight in politics now instead of being a vigilante. He still has his powers though and is able to communicate with machines. Unfortunately for him, someone has figured out how to reverse the lines of communication. Now, they will try to use him as a pawn. Could the Great Machine become a machine for someone else? No spoilers here. All I will say is that it is a good chapter of this on-going series.

Ex Machina Vol 8

Ex Machina: Volume 8 – Dirty Tricks

The first story in this collection is a stand-alone that has a long-deceased ancient civilization trying to communicate with the mayor. It’s a great story that deals with racism in our modern age. I loved it.

After that, we have a five issue arc that focuses on a mysterious woman who seems to have her own political agenda and tries to take a page from The Great Machine’s history.

Ex Machina Vol 9

Ex Machina: Volume 9 – Ring Out The Old

This issue is priceless. The mayor is getting his own graphic novel biography and it stars the writer of this series, Brian K. Vaughan. He pokes fun at the convention of comics and a few fellow creators.

exmachina3

I also love that one of the characters mistakes him for Brian Michael Bendis. It’s hilarious.

Ex Machina Vol 10

Ex Machina: Volume 10 – Term Limits

The saga of The Great Machine comes to an epic conclusion in this volume. I really wasn’t expecting that.

I don’t think the mayor was expecting to put his old costume on again either. It turns out though, that The Great Machine was needed for one final mission. It feels a little too final though. Mayor Hundred completely abandons the costumed hero game and continues to set his sights on the political realm.

I would love to know what happens next, but this is the final story of this graphic novel series. It’s too bad too, it was a great read.

My List of 2015 Reads – an online reading log with links to every title I read