Book Reviews: Erotic-tock

“Wow! Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
“Marine Corps.”

Fallen
A vampire hunter is captured by his prey, but rather than killing him they turn him into one of them. After finally escaping their torture he goes for revenge. . . then meets his supposed soulmate.
There’s long chapters with the antagonist and his wife, as though trying to humanize him, make him seem like he’s just protecting his family rather than a monster deserving of his fate. From what I gather he was the protagonist of the first in this series, so that’s probably for the new readers like me. For a rich girl Cassie is quite likeable, as is the wife, but the guys were mostly unlikeable; the antihero/deus ex machina was the most interesting, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s featured in the next book.
All in all, an okay fantasy story, erotic in very small does.
3/5

His Human Slave
The title says it all: Earth girl is chosen as the perfect mate for the leader of an almost annihilated race. He expects complete obedience, she’s not built for that, so they clash while he teaches her to enjoy the sex and the punishments.
I enjoyed the anthropological aspects of an alien learning to deal with a human female, and having even worse luck than human males. There’s a few instances where I chuckled, “Dude. . .” The shower scene was both erotic and hilarious.
I’ve reviewed enough master/slave stuff to be bored by it, so I concentrate on the story and the characters, both of which are excellent here. Especially pleasing to find an author who knows her craft so well; I can definitely see why Zander fell in love with Lamira.
4/5

One Week in Greece
It seems like the new in-thing in erotica is ménages, though oddly enough it’s almost always multiple men with one woman. Wonder if it should be called reverse Mormon.
Businesswoman goes to Mykonos to close a deal on a hotel for her father’s chain, and runs into “the guy” from her past, except he’s now in a homosexual relationship. Turns out they’re both bisexual and they both want her, but make up dumb excuses in their heads to leave her alone, not counting on her own desires.
Early on there’s some inner monologues, and even conversations, that lasted too long, making me want to skip. Thankfully that disappeared as it went on, but all three of them—more so the guys—do way too much thinking. And oddly enough for something listed under erotica rather than romance, there isn’t much sex going on. I would call it a romance—albeit between three people—with some sex rather than a romantic work of erotica.
Once they’ve finally gotten out of their own way, I loved the relationship between the three of them. Unlike most books, I can read about them talking as they take in the sights for as long as they want, because it all sounds so fun. The humor and good cheer carried this story.
4/5

The Last Resort
A child bounty hunter—she kidnaps kids that were abducted by parents who didn’t have custody, so she’s a good guy—gets stuck in a snowstorm after her latest mission and, after being crashed into, is rescued by a couple of brothers who are renovating a hotel, along with about twenty construction workers. Love ensues between her and one of the brothers.
She’s an ex-Marine with abandonment issues. Not a typical heroine. (BTW, I was a Marine and I don’t worry about that “always a Marine” nonsense.) He’s never met anyone like her and can’t stay away, which either annoys or concerns his brother—or both. It may be because I just got through watching the series again, but she reminds me of Wynonna Earp: a giggly badass. So of course despite all her issues and quirks I love her. She’s a complex character—maybe a little too complex—so I’m enjoying the game between them, while realizing in real life they’d probably piss each other off so much. Even better, this is one of those rare situations where I actually like the male character too. Not that I usually hate them, I’m just indifferent, concentrating on the female lead. This guy I would like as a buddy.
Obviously if she hadn’t been trapped this story would have never happened, so as a plot device it’s fine. Interesting to think of a baby as a wild card, both drawing them closer and driving them apart. And it has to be said, that little toddler is probably the best character in the entire book!
4/5

;o)

Book Reviews: This Blog Is Graphic

Sometimes a cigar is just a cancer stick.

Savage
A David Beckham-ish soccer star—he’s even moving to the States to continue his career—and his rather shrewish wife, along with their latest baby, crash on a deserted island and have to survive against—gasp!—dinosaurs! And bad humans, with access to a portal. The soccer player’s last name is Sauvage, hence the title; cute.
There’s a brief clip of the present before flashing back to original crash, which is a lot funnier than I would have thought: as the crash occurs and stuff is flying around, including the two adults, there’s a shot of the baby looking all kinds of concerned, and it’s hilarious! Later the kid looks right at the “camera,” also really funny. Not that the rest was bad, but that was such a high point I couldn’t help but feel a little let down after that.
A few complaints, such as all the British-isms, and not familiar ones at that. The way the writer got rid of one of the main characters struck me as abrupt and unnecessary. It’s interesting that while the kid grew up without any schooling or even jungle training, he’s smarter than the other semi-humans on the island. And as always, it’s not the dinosaurs that are the most dangerous.
Not so much a cliffhanger ending as a jump point for his next adventure.
Each issue has author/artist commentary at end; the first has side-by-side versions of the same page showing the first draft, the inked version, and the colored. Interesting in a DVD extra kinda way.
Some vivid colors, maybe even go as far as bright, others muted. At times the artwork was a little too realistic, as in gory, but this is probably the most detailed I’ve ever seen dinosaurs drawn (not that there’s a huge pool to wade through on that). The colorist, in the last interview, says he wanted to make the setting “alarmingly beautiful,” a character in itself, and I think he succeeded.
3.5/5

Kiss: The Elder V.1: World Without Sun
“A world without heroes is like a world without sun.” Nice tag line, and lyric.
In a dystopian future where war has destroyed the surface of the planet, four kids explore where they’re not supposed to and change the course of history (there, got the requisite cliché out of the way).
What sets this apart from most other graphics is how well written it is. You know the government is up to no good when they call the society a “collective.” But once I saw how far in the future this was set, I wondered how the author was going to get KISS to be relevant. That worked out okay, though in the end I realized they didn’t need to be there at all to make the story work, so that was a little disappointing.
There’s some cool touches, like the Sphinx wearing sunglasses; just imagine how big those things must be. The “educational” (brainwashing) videos for the citizens remind me of the FedNet from Starship Troopers. Adi was my fave of the four main characters; the way she uses her butt to open the secret door is awesome. And most of all the dystopian story and setting were well made.
A couple of nitpicks, though. The robot battle was too confusing, couldn’t tell which side was which. And there’s an oopsie medical-wise; one of the characters sprains an ankle but is running fine a little later.
The artwork was okay in the old underground city, but once the story gets to the forbidden levels it really takes off. Much brighter in the garden, for example.
Bonus starts at 116 of 154, with the first two pages being congratulatory notes from two members of KISS. After that comes the expected early designs and alternate covers.
If only they could have worked Detroit Rock City into it. . .
4/5

Battlestar Galactica: Folly of the Gods
Original Galactica, not “reimagined,” so don’t whine about getting the wrong one.
Adama’s injured getting the fleet through a black hole, and his concussed mind has him thinking about Baltar and reliving the past. In the real world the Cylons are still following the fleet until they encounter the last enemy you would expect, and then Baltar shows up for realsies; this guy’s like a thousand bad pennies! In fact, the writers brought absolutely everyone they could think of back for this. . . except Athena!
Not happy with the deus ex machina that ends it. In fact, the story wasn’t much good from plenty of perspectives. There’s a lot of borrowing from other places; there’s even some Borg overtones in these new Cylons. For someone who was a huge fan of the original series, and who’d enjoyed previous graphics, this is really disappointing.
The artwork is watercolor-y, but the humans are drawn very strangely; it’s them in the general sense, like you might recognize someone at a distance, but in the close-ups it doesn’t look anything like the actors. Apollo in particular looks horrible. Oddly enough, Iblis is the one who looks most lifelike.
About a dozen pages of variant covers.
2/5

Betty Boop
She’s listed as “The most famous female cartoon star of all!” and I don’t know if I can argue with that.
Betty is a waitress and wannabe star trying to keep her grampy from losing his house, but not doing a good job of it; perhaps grampy shouldn’t waste all his time and money buying tiny jet engines to put on turtles. Despite there being numerous stories, they all have that same plot: bad spirits want the house.
The first thing you see is the cover art, and it looks kinda surreal: her pose, her clothes. . . the fact that’s a clown behind her. . .
An orchestra made of bones seems like a good idea. Not so great when a little dog has a crush on you. The double-headed blonde is creepy. There’s a shot from behind that shows just how little Betty’s dress is, but later we see she looks better in her winter skating gear. So does Sally, for that matter.
Some fun lines:
“Ain’t that a kick in the head?”
“Mephistopheles Metamorphosis!”
“Every member of the clown’s guild is required to carry a crowbar with them at all times.”
Best moment: the clown making the nightclub owner literally smile is awesome.
20 pages of extra stuff. Mostly alternate covers, with a sketch of her on a rolling log, for some reason.
3/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Suns, Violins, Planets, and Song

Sunrise, Sunset
A Florida woman with balcony views shoots the sunrise and sunset. Her boyfriend and then other people add poems or words to the photos. Simple premise, elegantly done.
Enjoyed the story of each sunset being done by a famous painter, trying to figure out which one it looked like. No surprise that one went first.
“I never met a sunset I didn’t like. It means dinner’s almost ready.” Nice.
As expected, there’s a lot of rebirth and “life goes on” with the sunrise, while sunset is an opportunity to reflect. Other themes include gratitude and, of course, religion.
I’m sure most people would find these photographs great. As a professional photographer for over 25 years, I could quibble about that, but what would be the point?
Yet despite the preeeety pictures I found myself getting bored halfway through. Don’t try to read/look at this in one sitting.
3/5

Violin
Rather than a history of the violin, this is ten essays on various subjects, some a lot more fun than others.
Starts right off with how the violin was widely considered an instrument of the devil; now we know where Charlie Daniels got that idea. Another chapter talks about the violin in fiction—Sherlock Holmes made the list!—but probably because I was looking forward to it so much it didn’t live up to expectations.
Then the real problems start, with chapter 4. To understand anything that’s been said here you need a ton of knowledge about violin playing, or even music in general, particularly notation. Is this really intended for a general audience? Because I’d say there are a lot more people interested in music who don’t know anything about playing it than those who do. Because of this, entire chapters are of absolutely no interest at all. I’d just seen one of Mozart’s concertos the day before I read about it, and still had no idea what this was talking about. What should have been informative became only boring.
So there’s some interesting tidbits here, but so much of it talks in musical terms that leave us non-musicians in the metaphorical dust.
2.5/5

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do… But You Could’ve Done Better
Stories about how people broke up or were broken up with, obviously not edited, with the author including drawings to punctuate the story. That’s it. It’s like one of those Facebook links that take you to Reddit or some such.
The funniest parts were before and after the main event, like the dedication: “To that one dude, for being such an inspirational dick.” And in the blurbs, “Oh my god, you have a book!” – Hilary’s Mom.
But does she really? Other than some drawings that only highlighted the story—without adding anything original—this was all stuff sent to her. But even the stories weren’t that great. The author states in the forward that she drew a doodle in response to her own breakup, and it made her laugh and feel better; great thought, but I didn’t find much that was funny here. Sure, there were a few laughable instances, but most were either sad or simply mean.
2/5

Planet Song
An advanced long-lived race of fish base their entire civilization and economy on music, particularly sounds made by living beings. Having found the ultimate song—humpback whales—they come to Earth to take some home, in a story obviously inspired by the fourth Star Trek movie. (With a small touch of Harlan Ellison’s original draft of City on the Edge of Forever, where sound could be addicting.)
This is written on a huge scale, taking place over hundreds of years and having around thirty points of view. The main character seems to be one of the very few females of the Fahr species, who manages to work her way into a position of power and then just as quickly loses it. There’s a lot of political wrangling, both within the alien ship and the humans who finally figure out there’s trouble out there. Telescope technology is a fun running theme.
But for such a huge scope there isn’t all the much that takes place; most of it is talking. Thankfully there’s a lot of small touches of humor, and while it never gets boring I wish there could have been more to it. There’s an appendix that explains some of the aspects of the Fahr race that seemed incomprehensible while reading this book, so it might have been more helpful at the beginning.
There’s no actual ending, but since at the start it tells you this is the first of a trilogy, I didn’t mind.
3.5/5

Improper Conduct
The rich daughter of a Chicago politician runs to her first love to help her find her runaway sister. He cons her into having sex with him, not that she’s at all reluctant. In addition to that he makes her live the life of the homeless people she’s encountering—well, he cheats a bit—rather than go right out and find the sister, who’s in danger. He’s a bit of an ass, but then she’s no prize either. By the end they understand each other better, show they regret the times they acted like jerks, and come together. . . and oh yeah, remember about the sister in danger.
This was kinda bland. Can’t think of much to say about it. Actually a good story frame for the silly romance, but they spent so much time denying their feelings I got exasperated.
3/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Loud Comic Strips in Stitches

Lunarbaboon: The Daily Life of Parenthood
This turned out to be a collection of strips about a strange man—or is he really half baboon?—who does his best to raise his three-year-old son and baby with the occasional help of his almost-as-strange wife.
The strips I read usually make me chuckle; a few of these did actually—not metaphorically—make me laugh out loud. Some border on brilliant. My faves:
“Your belly is so silly.”
“Ask that guy!”
“#1 Trekkie!”
“How much do you love mommy and daddy?” Less than last time.
“The floor is made of lava!”
The realization that if you look like your dad did, you’re gonna look like him. . .
“Junk food night!”
But if I had to pick one fave, it would have to be how ice cubes can cure a booboo.
This is likely the funniest strip I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying a lot. And now that I’m checking it out every morning, I wish it came out more often.
5/5

Stitched #1: The First Day of the Rest of Her Life
A stitched-up girl is reborn, with no memory of her previous life, in a strange cemetery, where she meets friends and foes. As she’s running away from the tomb where she woke up she barrels into a mansion where ghosts are having a to-do, and they don’t mind her dropping in. But when a ghost tells you to run from another ghost, you should run. Fast.
Always love a character who says “Yikes!” and “What the little apples was that?” But my fave line of Crimson’s is “Saving my stitched butt.” I am loving how easily she makes friends, but Wisteria, the shy non-confrontational werewolf, is my fave.
The win here is with the great writing, both dialogue and characterization.
“You only live once! I think.”
“I am not a witch. I’m a ‘magic technician.’ Way cooler.”
“It smells like mold and lavender and. . . mad things.”
The artwork is fun, the colors amusing, but it’s the writing that really shines here. Even the character bios at the end are funny. It’s not a stretch to say this is an early contender for graphic novel of the year.
(There’s also 20-page previews of other books, which seems excessive.)
4.5/5

The Loud House #1: “There Will Be Chaos”
Apparently this is a TV show on Nickelodeon, so no surprise I missed it. The main character is the middle child, which is really saying something when there’s 11 children. . . all girls but you. And everyone’s name starts with L.
This starts with something more books should: “Meet the Loud Family.” With this many characters it’s definitely a necessity. Thank you!
It turns out to be a choose your own path adventure thingie. . . not fantastic on digital. It’s really just a bunch of short silly vignettes featuring the various sisters. The good stuff here is in the small touches, like the poster of a band called Smooch; awesome. I like that the sister with the most feminine name—Lana—is the tomboy/wrench wench. But under no circumstances should handshakes, even funny ones, take double-digit panels.
A few pages of an interview with the creator and previews of other comics round it out.
Some funny stuff, but unlike most, there’s not much for adults to laugh at here, strictly for kids.
3.5/5

Pearls Hogs the Road
It’s a Pearls Before Swine collection. Nuff said; I’m there.
Starts with a cool intro to say that Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes) wrote three of the strips. But as to the comics themselves, all I can tell you is that if you love puns, this is your jam. Even if they make you groan, it’s still a good time.
So what makes this different than reading them in the newspaper or online? Besides having them all in one place and not having to click? Author commentary! It’s just as funny, like throwing your kid in the water to test out the theory that nurse sharks are the most harmless breed. And of course there’s an “except for you, reader” line in there.
Some of the best:
Close up of a lemming, his widdow hands curled into fists. . .
Sweater-neckers; yes, totally agree.
Elizabeth Hurley and Ron Cey in the same strip? Wow. . . even included the mustache. (On Cey, not the lovely still-crush-worthy Ms. Hurley.)
“Please don’t criticize my wheelhouse.” Been there.
Abraham Lincoln tweets!
“To infinity and bed, bath, and beyond!”
“Everything happens for a raisin.”
“Bombast cable!”
Definitely agree on the oyster thing. Eerie how sometimes Pastis and I are in telepathic communication. . . not to mention we’re about the same age and grew up in the same area. We probably met as kids.
End with a special extra: Pearls Without Rat. And then Pig. And Goat. And others. It’s surreal and funny in a completely different way.
Public Service Announcement (more of a warning): on the back cover—or last page if digital—do not look at the tramp stamp! For your own sanity!
5/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Berlin, Virginia, Canada, and fantasy

Federico Fellini: The pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.

Night Train to Berlin
The wife of a top cop in Paris is approached by a stranger quoting Scarborough Fair. That starts a chain of events that leads to a possible terrorist attack in Berlin on the Ides of March.
Though the plot, especially where it eventually lands at the end, is intriguing, the getting there was a lot tougher. There’s quite a few boring info dumps, and I skipped a whole section that was clearly an ill-disguised author diatribe. The end-of-chapter foreshadowings were annoying and amateurish. The thing about ventricles was cute, but the author had to keep going and make it boring. And once the big thing happens in the middle of the book, it slows down quite a bit.
Good plot, some amateurish touches. Author should get better with more experience.
2.5/5

LaCour’s Destiny
An accountant investigates some shady money stuff at her company, which leads her to search for a disappearing employee. Things get dangerous.
Early on it had the feeling of a romantic comedy about to explode, but it never really settled into a particular genre. That’s not necessarily bad, but it made this story feel unfocused. For someone who claimed never to have done anything worse than walking out on a few blind dates, she sure took to lockpicking, and breaking and entering, easily; no moral qualms at all. She also recovered awfully quickly after almost being killed. And wow, she maced herself. Butt monkey much?
The mystery was too convoluted, and I hate it when the protagonist doesn’t figure it out. Kinda cheap to have the killer go off the deep end and basically confess. Felt like it was longer than it needed to be. Enjoyed the main character most of the time—though it was hard to get past her choice for favorite football player—but the plot and the large amount of suspects was confusing.
2.5/5

Sam in Winter
A 9 year old kid who still likes being read to in bed—he particularly enjoys the vampire rabbit stories—can read his dog’s mind, or at least his howls.
Sam is a pretty weird dog. I’ve trained a lot of canines, but I’ve never seen one like this. Then he disappears and Kix can’t think about anything else. It’s hard to believe this book can be so big with a really simple premise, but then the scene where they search in the snow went on forever. There’s an interesting bit on doggie dementia, but even though I mostly enjoyed this, I feel it dragged too much. There were a couple of times when I almost gave up on it, because other than the walking around parts, everything was Kix’s thoughts.
Where this story takes place is never really told, and the fact the author is Dutch doesn’t help. There are too many places in the world that get so cold and snowy. Finally First Nations told me it was Canada, and then I remembered what a Chinook was from when I went to Calgary for the ‘88 Olympics. Wish they would have simply said so, though.
There’s a few simple sketches amongst the text. The photo at the end, with the author and the dog who inspired this story, is a great touch.
3/5

A World Away
A bookish academic finds a sword that glows, and while studying it one snowy night she’s trapped in the museum with some thieves. She gets knocked out and ends up in another world where she gets to play Red Sonja, when she’s not the sexual plaything of the local general as they fight demons and dragons and such like.
There’s not much style to start, and probably in an effort to make it different it’s told in present tense. It felt like typical 80s escapist fantasy, where the disenchanted end up in another world via a magic gate, magic cupboard, etc. Unlike those, this one doesn’t bother to explain how she switched realities; no magic portals, just the sword.
Not great by any means, and a bit Mary Sueish with a British accent, but I did find myself enjoying the fish out of water aspects. This could have easily turned bad. The writing got better, but I was never comfortable with the present tense; didn’t see any need for it at any point.
3/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Children’s by the Dozen

Question of the Day
“Did you say Snickers or sneakers?”

The Big Adventures of Tiny House
A sleepy farmhouse finds its fields urbanized, but rather than be torn down human hands save the good stuff and turn it into a small home on wheels; the bed loft is my favorite part. Of course it needs to make new friends to get anywhere, and a truck with a hitch is a good start. They travel the country and see the sights, though I wonder why a house feels the need to order tacos.
The rich arrogant mansion is the bitchy one, of course, but to counter that we get Shiny, whom I love, and not just for the Firefly connection. Best moment is the cute little otter photobombing. . . er, would you call this painting-bombing?
These are big bright paintings with rhyming text. Some of the other small houses have really funky architecture. (Not much you can say when it’s only about 30 pages long.) Fun for kids to look at, though probably better for an adult to sing aloud than let the kid flounder and ruin the rhythm.
4/5

Free as a Bird
A boy wants to be a bird, so he makes a costume, climbs up a tree, and waits for something to happen.
Nothing does, until he comes down and finds his suit was really good enough to fool. Luckily, because he’s a human with a brain, nothing bad comes out of it. . . and it ends.
Nothing much really happens. Everything is so passive amongst the sparse watercolor and one line of words on a white background.
3/5

Tucker Grizzwell’s Worst Week Ever
A young bear is dreading his coming of age test, and his smart mom, dumb dad, and surprisingly friendly older sister aren’t much help.
I did not know this was a comic strip, and when I found out I realized it was incredibly continuous. This is like the book version of movies like “Airplane!” where the jokes come fast and furious; if one doesn’t make you laugh, or groan, there’s another one coming in the next panel. A lot of these made me groan, but are probably right in the wheelhouse of the kids in the age range this is shooting for.
Some of my favorites include the face he makes when he sees the Tarantula condo is empty; he’s not the only one who breaks the fourth wall with that “yeah, right” look. When Fauna asked for something to cover the zit, her non-specificity is her own fault.
“We all consider you inadequate.” Saw it coming, but still nice.
Detest—new definition, just as good as the first.
“The following program is made possible by a general lowering of standards.”
“My dad said I’d never amount to anything.” “That must’ve taken a lot of the pressure off you.”
“Do clouds ever touch the ground?” “Haven’t the foggiest.”
10 pages of bear facts to end it.
3.5/5

It’s Hard to be Good (Ellie the Wienerdog series)
A purple weinerdog tries to not screw things up for her human, but doesn’t seem to give it 100% effort. Her main motivation is wanting to hear “What a good dog!” but apparently it’s not enough to keep her from giving in to all the temptations she smells, as told in rhyme. Finally at the end she earns her reward, and provides the moral of the story.
I liked the artwork, which isn’t anything particularly special but does the job perfectly.
4/5

The Little Mermaid
The youngest of six mermaid sisters—hard to tell them apart when they’ll all got blue hair—has a statue of a human boy hidden away. She longs to reach her 15th birthday, at which time she can go up to land and check out the rest of the world. Her longing gets even worse when she comes across a ship in trouble and helps one of the passengers, who happens to look a lot like the statue. . .
If you’ve only seen the movie, forget it; this follows the original story. Especially forget the ending.
My main problem here is that the prince isn’t all that likeable, especially at first. After all, it’s not “Women, children, and princes first!” A nice part was when she loses consciousness and the page goes black.
The artwork is gorgeous. The colors are somehow rich and muted at the same time, as a lot happens underwater or at night, albeit with a full moon.
3.5/5

The Tragedy of Macbeth
Obviously a kids’ version. Starts with character sketches, which is always nice even when you’ve read it before. After that it’s basically some simple sketch drawings between pretty bland plot explanations. There’s a lot of repetition.
As a recap it’s okay, though rather dry. Thankfully it’s short, so it may not bore the kids too quickly.
3/5

Quite a Mountain: A Fable for All Ages
A bear and a frog are on a walk—I imagine the bear is walking slow and the frog is jumping fast to keep up—when they’re stopped by a mountain. Now what?
Bear thinks he can climb it. Frog is skeptical. “I’m not going to tell you that you can’t do this, because that would be discouraging.” Most people—or animals—would end there, but not Frog. “But I’m thinking it. I’m thinking it pretty hard.” Probably the funniest moment in the book.
They come across a goat—like Pearls Before Swine, they don’t seem to have names other than their species—who not only has a microwave, but somewhere to plug it in. I can accept talking animals, but this is too much! Especially when they have such a tough climb but end up living in a cave with all the amenities; how did they bring them up?
Done in very simple sketches; some pages are completely blank except for one line of text, which shows how this made it to 68 pages. Then there’s “The end. Kind of.”
He is not like any other fictional bear you’ve ever seen.
3/5

The Rhyming Diary of Jason Smith
The title says it all, doesn’t it? There’s all the chapters you’d expect, though occasionally a surprise comes on that forces me to remember this was actually written by an adult. One chapter deals with the death of the family dog; even trees and flowers get entries. He makes an adventure out of getting pens from the storeroom. A lot of them take place at school, which explains why the author at the end noted: These verses are born of 30+ years of teaching 11-year-olds.
The best chapter is likely where the schoolkids realize the graves are of people their age, providing a sobering lesson. On the other end of the scale is the one about dentures. A few were humorous and entertaining, but just as many missed the mark. As might be expected, some of the rhymes are forced. More than that, it was hard to find a flow, as I found myself able to read only a few chapters at a time. But probably the worst problem is that American kids, and even adults, will have trouble with the Britishisms.
3/5

Chow Mein and Potstickers (May also be known as Prawn Crackers and Satay)
A little boy moves from China to. . . somewhere else, it’s never said, but it must surely be a fantasy land, since everyone on the block is from a different country and they all get along.
The first thing you see is him waving at you from his front door; notice the cat is also waving. From there he goes from house to house meeting other kids, none of which are in school and all let strangers in despite their parents being at work. After each “day in the life” of kids from other cultures there are a few words in the language of the new friend, mostly “hello,” “goodbye,” and food. Bosnia, Indonesia, Poland, Afghanistan, Turkey, Belgium, Suriname, England, South Africa, and Italy are all represented.
It’s really simplistic, but I suppose for this age group it’s to be expected. It’s formulaic to the point where in every story they say hi, play, get tired, and eat, so it might get a little boring.
3/5

I’ve Got to Go
A dog, who by the way carries a personal roll of toilet paper, has to go potty. His sister is happily sitting on his, which looks just like a dish a dog would be eating or drinking from! Don’t get those confused! From there it becomes a chain of progressively larger animals using the smaller one’s toilet dishes; the funniest is the elephant, who squashes them. The whole thing is designed to get Dog to use the human toilet.
Nothing wrong with it in particular, but doesn’t seem all that engaging either. Even a three-year-old can go through this in less than five minutes.
2.5/5

Looking for Colors With Lily and Milo
Incredibly colorful, as one would expect from the title, and incredibly simplistic. Readers look for the objects in the correct color that the narrative tells them to.
Milo is extremely accident-prone.
Quick refresher quiz at end.
This is for really small kids, but feels like a good way to teach them colors.
3.5/5

Race Car Drivers and What They Do
Right at the beginning I have a small quibble with the author, who as a European claims F1 has the most famous races; she’s apparently never heard of the Indianapolis 500. Not that I think the kiddies reading this will care, but if this is how sloppy the research is. . .
Thankfully she does get most of the stuff right, though on the list of flags she forgot the white. The writing is typically simplistic, as it should be, although I wonder if kids of the age this is intended for know what a mechanic or gas is. “Tune the motor?” Hope mom or dad are prepared to answer that question.
3/5

;o)

Book Reviews: Put some Graphic in Your Pencil

Overheard at Coffee Bean:
“She’s the poster child for high maintenance. . .”

Lady Mechanika V.2: Tablet of Destinies
In the first volume I mentioned the heroine is a half-mechanical steampunk Lara Croft; should have saved that description for this one, as the plot starts with a search for an ancient artifact in secret caverns in Africa. Unfortunately she’s hunting abominable snowmen in the Alps with dilettantes while this is going on, but after a brief stop in London she eventually gets out there.
The first thing shown is a jewel-encrusted mechanical messenger bird, which tells the reader what they’re dealing with right away, in case they hadn’t gotten it from the cover.
For all her baddassery and proneness to hiding her feelings, she’s surprisingly good with little girls. Unlike the previous collection, where the girl was mean to her and called her a liar, this one goes as far as to dress up as her. Even better, “I kicked him in his trinkets just like you taught me.”
But then I love every moment where she shows her human side, like the rare times she laughs, or says something like, “Cheeky little bugger.”
There’s a beautiful shot of the desert’s desolation, with Mechanika and Fred looking tiny. Even better is the one where they’re silhouetted against the sun that reminds me of Star Wars. As before, the artwork is superb and the highlight of the book.
At the end is a cover gallery where Mechanika again reluctantly plays model.
Didn’t like it quite as much as the first, but still wonderful, and well worth the read.
3.5/5

Motro V.1
A tiny motorcycle—I was hoping it was the main character—is in telepathic communication with a boy who has the power of ten men and even survives a direct blast from a tank. He has to save them all, according to his nightmare. He doesn’t want to fight, but has to, and eventually becomes the ruler’s new son. (Don’t ask what happened to the old one.)
Fifteen years later he’s basically in charge and wants to go on a quest, no matter how many of his soldiers die. Thirty-four years later, the world has turned to black and white, where reptiles are kidnapping babies. Yep, it gets that weird.
There are some fun touches. The bad guys’ tanks also communicate telepathically, but only in pictures, so they must be dumber than the motorcycle. This time it’s the frog that licks you to make magic, not the other way around.
But I found both the plot and the character development lacking. He says he doesn’t want to fight, but when he has to, he kills—no middle ground. Leads his men to icy death, but that’s okay, because he gets what he wants.
Strange ending. If there was a point to all this, I didn’t get it.
2.5/5

The Flintstones Vol. 1
Puns abound—even more than on the original show or the movie—in these six stories that have a common thread: Fred and Barney are now war veterans, which works out for the best at the end.
Wilma is now an abstract artist. Fred’s words of love: “You were worth every goat.” I think Fred got a bargain with her less-than-impressive dowry. You can see why the guys from Red Dwarf were so hot for her.
The puns are the best part. Andy Warthog! David Rockney! Then the author unleashes a pun hurricane on the mall: Bloomingshale’s, Oscar de la Raptor; plenty of shoes I don’t know enough about, though there are original Ugghs. Starbrick’s. Foot Licker! Outback Snakehouse! And don’t forget Falcon Crest, the official toothpaste of ancient birds.
The local god’s name is the lovely-sounding Morp. “You can’t enter heaven unless Morp enters you.” Sounds about right. But Morp’s priest screws up and has to come up with something better. . . and the choice is awesome! The astronomer looks suspiciously like Carl Sagan, even though he thinks the earth is riding on the back of a giant turtle.
“Monogamy destroys!” Domestication of animals and marriage. . . I get where you’re going with that. And a lot of stealth jokes in the vein of Adam and Steve. And in addition to the David Bowie quotes, the mayor is Bruce Campbell!
Could have made the Vietnam analogy a little more obvious. . . wait, no.
14 pages of covers, mostly of Fred getting nuzzled by either Wilma or Dino.
Fun, and funny. Don’t worry about the plots and just enjoy the moments.
4/5

Rick and Morty, V.4
I’ve read one graphic novel in this universe, though at a bit of a tangent to this one, so I like Summer and I’m glad there’s no walking talking poo this time. Other than that I didn’t know much about this, and had no idea Grandpa Scientist was going to be such an ass; he’s like Back to the Future’s Doc Brown without a soul, or any type of morals.
There are no punches pulled here. At one point they club baby seals. One character is described as “why women walk around with keys between their fingers.” Then there’s the robobros, as though human bros aren’t bad enough. And the cops: “Well, we zipped this case up. Let’s do zero more investigating nor consider any other suspect.”
“The vanquishing of my enemies has engorged my genitals with blood!” Means a lot more coming from a woman. And you should always wear a sexy outfit when you friend-zone an alien who thinks he’s hot stuff.
So there’s plenty of funny moments, but not enough to justify the words they bandy about in their publicity blurbs. Every page I think it’s not possible to hate Rick more, but he’s definitely a go-getter in that category. I think the creator uses this comic to get all the stuff out of his head that he can’t say on his TV shows.
3/5

;o)