Books

Books

Mon
18
Jan

Superpowered Teens Focus of Multi-Climactic ZEROES

Scott Westerfeld Zeroes Simon Schuster Critical Blast

When I first started reading comic books, one of my favorite titles was TEEN TITANS. Not because they were the sidekicks of the heroes, or even that they were close to my own age, but that they were kids with powers, and were prone to getting into (and reacting to) situations the way kids would react. There was impetuousness, recklessness, infighting, crushes, jealousies, and the formation of lifelong friendships.

So when I learned that UGLIES writer Scott Westerfeld (joined by Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti) had released a new book, and that this book was about teenagers with superpowers, how could I possibley resist? Hence, this review of ZEROES -- they're like heroes, only not.

Fri
15
Jan

STORM BUDDIES helps us realize: We ain't afraid of no storms!

Storm Buddies

Fear is a part of life.  Whether you’re young, old, or somewhere in between, there's probably something you fear.  As we grow older, many of these terrors are outgrown, although some stick with us throughout our entire lifetimes.  Conquering fear is a buzzword of the modern world, but in reality, management is truly the best medicine for those things that frighten us.  

Sun
10
Jan

Young Bruce Wayne Investigates Ducard Academy in Scholastic's Study Hall of Justice

DC Comics Secret Hero Society Study Hall of Justice

There's a new kid in school at Ducard Academy this year. His name is Bruce Wayne, and he's a little too curious for his own good. But he can't stop himself from getting involved from investigating the strange happenings: the bullies led by Bane, the gang of clowns who roam the halls, the always-angry Coach Zod, and the ever-present shadowy ninjas who stick to the shadows of the school.

Mon
30
Nov

Philbrick's THE BIG DARK a Big, Realistic Scare

Big Dark Rodman Philbrick Scholastic Critical Blast geomagnetic shift power blackout

Perhaps the most frightening book you'll read this year is Rodman Philbrick's YA novel THE BIG DARK.

Imagine the worst power outage you can think of. Now add to this the fact that the power is just not out, but that the very basics of producing electricity have been stripped away -- no batteries, no generators, no hand-crank flashlights. Every modern mode of transportation, communication and commerce are simply gone.

Tue
17
Nov

The Day the Internet Finally Passed Me By: The Emoji-to-English Dictionary

Emoji English Dictionary Critical Blast RJ Carter

A long time ago, at a PC far, far away (it was an Excel x286, and I sprung for the extra good SVGA card and monitor), I logged into the fledgling cyberspace. In those days you had to have a sheet of paper with the phone numbers for local Bulletin Board Systems and dial into them. If you wanted to go to another one, you had to hang up your connection and dial the next one. Your phone line stayed busy during all this, so the house was peaceful as nobody could call you. There wasn't much in the way of email, but there were lots of discussion boards.

And then came the day things changed. In a simple discussion filled with barbed sarcasm that would become the de facto method of communicating online, I saw two characters.

:)

Sun
15
Nov

Zoonicorns are Coming for Christmas

Zoonicorns Critical Blast RJ Carter

By this point, your house and emails have already been bombarded with Super Spectacular Toy Catalogs, Door-Buster Sales Schedules, Black Friday Secret Deals and Cyber Monday Email Tips for you to get the most out of your holiday shopping. And you've probably already noticed that the toy market has already been defined as to which toys are the ones you have to go get.

Lost in the miasma of metamorphing robots and not-quite-for-real pets is one of the simplest yet most enduring type of toy: the stuffed animal. But for a market that's been super-saturated with everything from the zoological to the crytpozoological to even the microbial, it takes something unique if a plush is going pique a child's interest.

Fri
13
Nov

THE SNOOPY TREASURES will delight any PEANUTS fan, which is everyone right?

Snoopy Treasures Nat Gertler

THE SNOOPY TREASURES
Written by: Nat Gertler
Thunder Bay Press
$34.95

Thu
12
Nov

BURIED IN ANGST Fun, Fantasy on Elemental Level

Buried Angst David Pedersen Critical Blast Chryslaenor Unsel

(Not Quite) The Hero's Journey

Joseph Campbell helped us to define the classic Hero's Journey. It involved someone reluctant to take up the call but eventually forced into it. (It involved a bunch of other things, too, but that's the Cliff Notes of the Readers' Digest version. Just watch STAR WARS Episode IV and you'll have the gist of it all.)

Tue
10
Nov

Crocheting with the Force

Star Wars Crochet Activities Art Crafting SW Yoda

So, let’s start this off by mentioning I’m a seasoned art teacher who’s extremely crafty and can basically figure out anything with good instructions and supplies. However, one thing I’ve never learned (and not for lack of trying) is crocheting and knitting. I’ve bought books, I’ve watched videos, and have created nothing but a tangled mess of string and pointy, steel weapons for my cats to bat around the house. When the opportunity to review Star Wars Crochet came up, I was all hero-with-a-cape-standing-in-the-breeze! I shall take on this challenge, learn to crochet, and create adorable, pint-size Star Wars characters while doing it!

Mon
09
Nov

Brush, brush, brush! Brush, brush, brush! Shake your toothbrush with Flossopher!

My two-year-old son Nathan absolutely loves to brush his teeth.  I know!  It’s that awesome!  He will say “toothbrush” or “brush teeth” and then patiently wait while my wife or I get him started brushing.  He takes over for several minutes and absolutely loves every moment.  Granted, he mostly chews on the brush but he still enjoys the idea of what’s going on.  Sometimes we have to stop him from brushing the furniture or other items nearby.  You know, for the sake of being sanitary.  It’s wonderful to know that Nate’s already taken to brushing.  There are so many things to worry about as a parent, here’s hoping trips to the dentist because of cavities won’t be an added trouble.

Thu
29
Oct

The Truth is in There: THE X-FILES FAQ

X-Files FAQ Book Review Chris Delloiacono Critical Blast

Within the last year I've finally gotten into THE X-FILES with a vengeance. I'm not a complete noob to the seminal series, but I had never been a regular viewer either. I had seen some episodes and caught both films in theaters, but that's about it. My wife was an immense fan growing up, and I had other friends that swore by the series, so I was pretty aware of much of the mythology, the best episodes, and even the big baddies like Krycek and Cancer Man (i.e. Cigarette Smoking Man). I always planned on hitching my wagon to the series and watching it through. A while back I purchased the first few seasons on DVD, but I never went on a huge run. Finally, Netflix made it simple to digest each episode.

Now, I don't want to come on like the mayor's wife or anything, but aren't you excited for the six-episode event in January?

Mon
26
Oct

STAR WARS ON TRIAL--The Blog Tour Charges Star Wars with Dumbing Down Science Fiction

CriticalBlast.com prosecutes the charge of STAR WARS dumbing down science fiction with the STAR WARS ON TRIAL BLOG TOUR

The charge is "STAR WARS has dumbed down the perception of science fiction in the popular imagination." Jeff Ritter of CriticalBlast.com represents the Prosecution. 

The very notion of STAR WARS being somehow responsible for “dumbing down” modern science fiction seems preposterous. Of course, the notion is not entirely objective—how does one quantify merit or mediocrity in art, which by its very nature is subjective? How does one quantify the tangible effect of a film from 1977, that wasn’t expected to do much business itself, has had on movies, television, video games, novels, graphic  arts, American and even global pop culture more than 30 years later? I’m sure somebody with a better mind for statistical analysis could find numbers to crunch in this regard, but I find it to be less of a matter of arithmetic and more of a matter of personal taste. Since I can only speak for myself, allow me to take you on a little flashback to the halcyon days of my youth.

Mon
05
Oct

Pulp Heroes One of Many Discussions at Archon 39

RJ Carter AJ Matthews Van Allen Plexico Guy Anthony De Marco Archon

Half the fun of going to Archon is visiting with old and new friends, and sitting in on interesting panel discussions.

The other half of the fun is rushing around breathlessly to those panel discussions, lugging with you about a hundred pounds of books and visual aids, which you rush to get put up before the first guests arrive.

Mon
21
Sep

We wrap up our coverage of Star Wars: Journey to the Force Awakens with Lost Stars and Smuggler's Run

Today, we are wrapping up our coverage of JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS.  

Like the last two reviews I did, these books are both classified as Young Adult books. SMUGGLER’S RUN stars Han and Chewbacca. LOST STARS introduces two new characters that have a major impact on the STAR WARS universe. More on that later.

Thu
10
Sep

Luke and Leia join us on The Journey to the Force Awakens

We got another pair of JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS books to review today, with one featuring Luke Skywalker and the other with Princess Leia. As I mentioned in my review of AFTERMATH, the bulk of these books are set during the Original Trilogy, not in the JOURNEY TO STAR WARS timeframe.


Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens - The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry

Hardcover - $12.99
Kindle - $6.46
Published by Disney Lucasfilm Press
192 Pages

Tue
08
Sep

The Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens starts with Aftermath

Last Friday was Force Friday! As part of their build up for THE FORCE AWAKENS, Disney released a lot of new Star Wars merchandise, including boatloads of new toys. One thing that got a little lost was they also released several new novels set in between RETURN OF THE JEDI and THE FORCE AWAKENS, under the umbrella title of JOURNEY TO THE FORCE AWAKENS. There is also a comic mini-series coming out on Wednesday called SHATTERED EMPIRE that falls under this banner.

Sun
06
Sep

The Unintentional Futurist: Warren Murphy (1933-2015)

Warren Murphy Remo Williams The Destroyer Chiun obituary R.J. Carter Critical Blast

The machine-gun patter of clicks was interrupted rhythmically by the ding and zip of the manual carriage return, advancing the page another line and preparing for another string of text. The room was close, cloying with the June humidity of 1963. In a corner, the radio provided background noise with the help of The Chiffons. Over the writer's shoulder, his friend and partner leaned in, peering at the latest completed paragraph before grunting editorial approval. The writer continued at a feverish pace -- a few more strings of machine-gun clacking, a few more dings and zips, and he grabbed the top of the sheet, pulling it free with a whine of protest from the typewriter roller.

Wed
02
Sep

Review: REMEMBERING BRUCE LEE AND JON BENN'S OTHER ADVENTURES

Bruce Lee Jon Benn

What a book title! I mean to say, for those of an age, we will never forget the incomparable Bruce Lee. You didn't even have to live in Bruce's own lifetime to be one of his adoring fans. I was born four months after Bruce's death, yet he's one of my favorite cultural icons. Growing up, I fondly recall school recess periods spent "fighting" over who was Bruce Lee in our playground battles. Seriously, what were those lunch attendants doing while we played at karate? Through the years, Bruce Lee has continued to have an impact on me. I've visited his grave in Seattle, watched his film work repeatedly, read some of his writings, and met gentlemen that worked with him like Bob Wall, the late Jim Kelly, and John Saxon. One other such man I wish for an opportunity to meet is Jon Benn.

Wed
02
Sep

Review: STAR WARS FAQ is a detailed journey through the creation of a modern myth!

EVERYTHING LEFT TO KNOW ABOUT THE TRILOGY is the subtitle for the newly released STAR WARS FAQ. That's serious word choice when you consider how knowledgeable the fandom is that surrounds the original Star Wars Trilogy. I'm 41 years old, so I grew up with these films as a part of my life...scratch that, the Saga has become such a part of me, it's burrowed down to conjoin with the very depths of my soul. So much so, I've watched, read, and collected just about anything that was available to my greedy mind and body. And I've got to say, much to my surprise, Mark Clark delivered a well researched, in-depth exploration of the creative exploits of George Lucas and so many of the others that played in his sandbox.

Sun
30
Aug

Treachery, Deceit and Assassinations Essential Elements of DEMOCRACY

Democracy Graphic Novel Critical Blast Bloomsbury

In 490BC, in the early hours of the morning before the Athenian will go to war with the Persians, Leander recounts his life up to that point, and how he not only came to be where he is, but how all of Athens arrived at this point. It's a story of political intrigues, assassinations, and behind-the-scenes manipulation of information and advice, a morass of dirty tricks and dirty politics, all with the goal of slipping an idea into the consciousness of the masses: Democracy.

Leander's story starts when he is a younger man, just beginning to take on responsibilities in his father's business. At a political meeting held by the brothers Hippias and Hipparchus ends in bloodshed and the assassination of Hipparchus, the people react accordingly, assuming a rebellion is at hand. The DEMOCRACY creative team of Alecos Papadatos and Abraham Kawa put forward that there may have been another reason for Hipparchus' killing, but that the event was taken advantage of by Cleisthenes.

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