Category Archives: 2015 Reads

2015 Reading Challenge – How’d I Do?

I found this reading challenge at the start of the year and thought it was a great idea. Truth be told though, I never glanced at it a second time throughout the entire year.

I already blog about every book I read, and manage to put up a new post every week. So, finding books according to a list seemed a little restricting to me. So, now that the year is over, let’s see what I can knock off of this list.

2015 Reading Challenge

20/50

Not too bad, I guess, since I didn’t actively choose books according to this checklist.

Although, it seems I didn’t read as much this year as I did since starting my annual reading log 4 years ago.

Here are the stats,

2012 – 65 Books
2013 – 61 Books
2014 – 78 Books
2015 – 60 Books

That’s a pretty good amount of books read in four years. And it is quite varied as well. I read memoirs, novels, comics, teaching books, writing books, books about music, and a fair bit of non-fiction.

Let’s see how I do in 2016!

Psycho-Cybernetics

Psycho-Cybernetics

Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz

I read this book when I was a teenager and it blew me away. I decided that I needed to brush the dust off it and give it a re-read.

This book was written by a plastic surgeon who noticed something interesting in his practice. He would operate on people who might have had a disfigurement or small flaw. And after the procedure, some people were ultimately happier, and others still saw themselves the same way.

He sums it up this way, “You act, and feel, not according to what things are really like, but according to the image your mind holds of what they are like.” 

In other words, our thoughts have way more power than we usually consider. Did you know that your body can’t tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real one?

We can even hold false truths that hold us back from achieving what we want to. Maltz says, “every human being is hypnotized to some extent, either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others, or ideas he has repeated to himself or convinced himself are true.”

There are chapters in this book that deal with creativity and where it comes from. He tells us how we can nurture ideas and even shares with us his “Five Rules for For Freeing Your Creative Machinery”

He believes that we are machines and within each of us is a success mechanism. He shows us how to unlock that, how to get what we want in life, and how to be happy. And that all comes down to our thoughts.

Abarham Lincoln said it best, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Maltz says . . .

We can acquire the “habit of success”; we can build into our gray matter patterns and feelings of success at any time and at any age.”

This book is so full of wisdom. I highly recommend it! I’m glad I re-read it, but most of his lessons stuck with me over the past twenty years. It truly was a game changer for me.

I hope you enjoy it too!

My List of 2015 Reads – my annual reading log (now complete)

Wit’s End – The Line Between Fiction and Reality

Wit's End

Wit’s End by Karen Joy Fowler

This novel revolves around a successful author who values her privacy. She has a unique way of planning her mysteries. For each book, she builds a diorama in a doll house. This allows her to plan out the murder scene in detail. She never lets anyone see these, however.

Her detective character has spanned several books and television shows and everyone is eager for the next chapter. It had been several years since her last book.

He granddaughter comes to visit her and discovers something interesting about the books. Fans have written letters to the fiction characters, as if they were real. And to complicate things, her father is a character in one of the books. There is quite a similarity between the fictional character and her real life kin.

This book explores the relationship between fiction and reality, the way people feel about fictional characters, and how they can become a part of our lives.

My List of 2015 Reads – detailed personal reading log with links to each title

 

Little Brother – A Great Read!

Little_Brother

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

I love reading Young Adult fiction. Maybe we don’t need this distinction when it comes to novels. A great story is a great story no matter who it is aimed at. And this one definitely fits that.

There is a passage in this book from the main character’s point of view that suggests everyone should learn how to code. We all use computers everyday, but most of us have no idea how they work.

I haven’t had the time or desire to learn a computer language since the old school days of BASIC. But I see how it could be beneficial.

Of course, knowing computers so well, gets our main character into trouble. He is also able to use those skills to get himself and his friends out of trouble and help reshape a society crippled by terrorist attacks.

It’s a thriller, mixed with a lite bit of science fiction. It deals with the issue of how the Internet should be free and accessible to all. To further hammer home this point, the author has made this book available to download for free.

This was  a real page turner and I highly recommend it.

My List of 2015 Reads – very nearly complete now (Stay tuned)

 

 

The Last Graphic Novel Reads of 2015

Hydra Ascendant TPB

All New Captain America: Hydra Ascendant

Sam Wilson aka The Falcon has taken on the mantle of Captain America. Although, he still has his wings and hasn’t quite mastered how to target the shield effectively.

His first mission doesn’t go exactly as planned either. He’s unsure that he deserves to be Captain America. He knows he needs to soldier on though. But when he learns that Hydra has affected all of the super-hero teams, including The Avengers, he is not sure who to tun to for help. And to make matters worse, Hydra has a plan to sterilize all of humanity.

This was an interesting read and a fairly good start to the new title and hero. I felt a little out of the loop at points, not having read the Marvel Now version of Captain America before, but it does seem to tie into what has happened in the cinematic and television universe.

I’m not completely won over by Wilson as Captain America. He’s a good hero, but he is also good as The Falcon. I guess time will tell how long he holds the mantle and the shield.

Peaceful Warrior Graphic Novel

Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Dan Millman wrote a screenplay for the movie version of his popular book, Way of the Peaceful Warrior. That script, however, was not used for the film. This graphic novel is pretty much the same as the movie and story we all love. It is the vision for the film that Millman originally planned. And he gets to share his love of comics with us too. It’s a win-win.

Secret Origins

Secret Origins: Volume 1 – The New 52

Origin stories are a staple in comic books. They get told again and again. Sometimes, necessarily so. I really love how Frank Miller retold the origin of Daredevil and then how Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale told the same origin to explain the yellow costume. Brilliant stuff.

For people unfamiliar with some of these characters, it’s a nice starting point. But if you already know the stories of Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Aquaman, Green Lantern, and Green Arrow, you can skip this one.

They do have an origin of Harley Quinn though. That can get us all prepped for the Suicide Squad movie that comes out next year. There are several other origin tales in this trade paperback as well.

My List of 2015 Reads – now up to date and complete

Are We All Zapped?

Zapped

Zapped: Why Your Cell Phone Shouldn’t Be Your Alarm Clock and 1,268 Ways to Outsmart the Hazards of Electronic Pollution by Ann Louise Gittleman

In this day and age we are inundated with electronic devices. It’s almost impossible to get away from them. Most of us wouldn’t want to either. These modern conveniences are not only comforting but essential.

So, why should we not use our iPhone as an alarm clock?

According to the author, the human body is susceptible to energy from the environment. This includes wifi, radio waves, and the signal your phone gives off all the time.

I am a big proponent of keeping my cell phone out of the bedroom. First off, it is just too easy to check in the middle of the night if you wake. I remove that temptation by keeping it in the other room. Secondly, getting a break from the electronic pollution at night is an added health benefit.

Gittleman suggests going through your environment to clean up or reduce the EMF waves given off by our electronic devices. It makes sense to me in a lot of ways.

She even talks about dirty electricity. There is pollution there that we never even think about.

This was an interesting read. I think that the effects of wireless devices and electricity is something that needs a lot more scientific study. in the meantime, there are things we can do to reduce the harm that these things may cause.

Dimmer switches for lights are problematic. They produce “electronic fields in the RF end of the spectrum.” She suggests removing the dimmer switch or getting a de-buzzing coil.

Apparently there are filters you can buy to protect against dirty electricity as well. They are expensive but have proven to help people who are susceptible to these harmful effects.

Zapped is the first step-by-step manual for fortifying your body, detoxifying your home, and protecting yourself and your family from invisible electronic pollution.

My List of 2015 Reads (detailed reading log for the entire year)

Life is Great . . . Even When It Sucks

Life is Great Even When it Sucks
Life is Great Even When It Sucks by Ellen Nyland

It’s hard to have a positive attitude when things are going poorly for you. But if you take a moment, it is hard to argue that Life is Good . . . Even When it Sucks.

I am always amazed at how books that are not written for teachers, can have a lot to say about education and help us improve our practice.

That being said, we can all work on personal development and learn from the teachings that Ellen Nyland shares in this book.

Gain Perspective

“The challenge in teaching anyone is that we tend to teach from our own perspective. We don’t consider the person we are teaching. We teach others from our toolbox, our view on life, our circumstances, our failures, and our personal fears instead of modifying our teaching to the toolbox of the individuals we are teaching.”

Nyland suggests that failing to take into account other people’s perspectives might be the cause of all of the trouble in the world. Very interesting theory.

Teach Listening Skills

She goes on to say that we rarely teach our children the art of listening. I wholeheartedly agree. Teaching the art of listening and conflict resolution is just as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Understand People’s Levels of Readiness

I like the Feedback Checklist that the author shares with us. We can use it to see if someone is in the right place to hear our message. She believes that if we all used it, “Everybody would be paying attention to others and waiting to discuss issues until the receiving party was ready, willing, and able. What a utopia that would.”

Make Friends with Failure

Nyland writes, “When you take the opportunity to learn, not shut down, you often emerge a better person with a new skill set”

Own Your Mistakes 

She adds, “By owning up to your mistakes, parents show their children the power of personal responsibility and teach, through example, that kids can own their responsibilities.”

More Life Lessons

These are just a few of the notes I took while reading this book. I didn’t agree with everything she had to say, and there were parts of the book that dragged a bit, but overall, it was a good read that has given me some perspective and things to think about next time I get in a classroom.

My 2015 Reading Log – with links to every title I’ve read this year

Sound Unbound- Sampling Music and Culture

soundunbound_cover

Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Edited by Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky

The basic tenet of this book is . . .

Technology enables creativity, community, art, and love. Crippling it to save someone’s outmoded business-model is a crime against humanity.

Sampling is perhaps one of the least understood concepts about modern music, and, in particular, hip-hop. But believe it or not, some very respected musicians have worked with this form and even helped develop it. Artists that you would be surprised to hear about. Artists like The Beatles.

I took tons of notes while reading this collection of essays, articles, and creative pieces. I plan to blog about it over the next few weeks in detail. Suffice it to say, I truly believe that musicians should be allowed to steal, borrow, sample, and take sounds from everywhere to create new works.

Human culture is always derivative, and music perhaps especially so. New art builds on old art. We hear music, process it, reconfigure it, and create something derivative but new – folk melodies become Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies; Roy Acuff’s “Great Speckled Bird” becomes Hank William’s “Wild Side of Life:’ and Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” becomes a John Coltrane classic. 

And that passage didn’t mention hip-hop once. This is how music works. Hip-hop might be know for sampling more than any other genre but it didn’t invent the practice. Not by a long shot. Although, we might have perfected it.

This was a great read and I recommend it for serious music scholars, hip-hop DJs, music producers, artists, and fans alike.

My 2015 Reading Log – now almost complete

“Empty” is Full of Adventure, Thrills, and Chills

0-545-17278-0

Empty by Suzanne Weyn

This book is set ten years from now and things are pretty bad. Oil has become a scarce resource and society is starting to fall apart because of it.

Stores shelves are bare because shipping has pretty much come to a halt. When gas is $50 a gallon very few people can afford to travel far. Food prices tripled, electricity bills have soared, and all of the things we take for granted, are getting harder and harder to come by.

Here is a great passage from the novel that pretty much sets the scene . . .

“Well, we all should have seen it coming,” Mrs. Curtin said, “We’ve been heading down this road for a while. I guess no one – including me – thought the oil would really run out. We had no idea that everything is made from oil – plastic, insecticides, cosmetics – everything. Shampoo and soap are made of hydrocarbons, linked and processed from oil. Bricks and concrete are made with oil. The shingles on our roof. Carpet. Fertilizer. The asphalt we use to pave our roads – that comes from the bottom of the tank after oil’s been refined. When there’s no oil, the bottom of the tank is empty.”

Gwen Jones takes things in stride. She doesn’t know what else to do. Her mom left a few years ago and since then, her older brother and her have managed to survive on their own. School still operates, even though the buses don’t. Things go on like everything is normal. Unfortunately, everything is not normal. A super-storm complicates matters as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed  this book and had a hard time putting it down. Part of me, though, realized that while this is a dsytopian thriller, it is a little close to home. Perhaps we need to think about moving away from our oil dependence before it is too late.

Or maybe this is just a story to enjoy.

Maybe.

My 2015 Reads – my (almost) complete reading log for the year.

A Graveyard, An Ocean Planet, and A Lost Space Shuttle

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The story starts out with a baby escaping more than just his crib. He wanders into a cemetery and is taken in by the ghosts who live there. They keep him safe from the killer who murdered his family.

As the only living being that resides in the graveyard, he is given the power to see and converse with all of the spirits who reside there. He learns how to fade, to generate fear, and to pass through objects.

It’s a coming of age tale unlike anything I have ever read. That is probably one of the reasons it won the Newbery Award for Children’s Literature. I really like the afterword by the author as well. I enjoyed this read and hope you will too.

Ocean

Ocean / Orbiter: The Deluxe Edition

The first story is this graphic novel takes us to one of the moons of Jupiter. It is essentially an ocean under a very thick coating of ice. A moon that is compatible in size to that of the Earth. And one that has something sinister hiding under its icy surface.

The second story gets a little creepier. A long lost space shuttle returns to earth after an unexplained ten year absence. The ship seems to have had some alterations made to it. A team tries to make sense of the whole thing.

Both stories deal with exploration and the dangers involved. But there is also potential and a glimmer of hope in each. The last tale has me wanting more. I wonder what happens next. That’s the question that drives exploration after all, isn’t it?

Want to Explore More Books?

Check out My 2015 Reading Log (50 books and counting)

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.

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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