Books

Books

Wed
19
Aug

James Burks' Bird & Squirrel Return for More Graphic Novel Fun

Bird Squirrel On The Edge Scholastic James Burks

When I first met Bird and Squirrel, they were on the Run. And my boy and I loved them! The pairing of the brave, cocky, devil-may-care Bird with the skittish, paranoid, defensive Squirrel made for the least likely of friendships, but they made it work. (They even made their own theme song.)

Now the pragmatic squirrel and plucky bird are back, in BIRD & SQUIRREL ON THE EDGE! They're trying to make their way back home, and they've made a new friend: a baby bear cub. They've also made a few enemies along the way as well, in the form of a pack of wolves who've got their hearts set on the taste of bear, with a little bit of squirrel appetizer. Fortunately for Squirrel and Cub, Bird is there to distract the wolves and send them running.

Mon
17
Aug

COMPLETE FUNKY WINKERBEAN, Volume 4, A Time Capsule to the 80s

Funky Winkerbean Volume 4 Tom Batiuk Critical Blast

Reading any of the COMPLETE FUNKY WINKERBEAN volumes is like opening a time capsule. Tom Batiuk brings the crew into the 1980s with this fourth volume, and the cultural references pervade the pages from cover to cover.

The advent of Space Invaders, Defender, and other arcade video games chews up a decent amount of space -- as it should in a strip focused on high school students. And the latest STAR WARS movie has its impact felt on not only the characters, but on the readers who were allowed to submit their own STAR WARS jokes to Batiuk and have them drawn into the strip.

Fri
14
Aug

WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT Worthy of a Family Movie

Watchmen Port Fayt David Fickling Books Conrad Mason Critical Blast

THE WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT from David Fickling Books, and available in hardcover on August 25th is the first novel by English author Conrad Mason and the first book in his TALES OF FATE Trilogy.

Conrad Mason is a graduate of Cambridge University and is an editor of children’s books. So while he's no stranger to children’s literature, THE WATCHMEN OF PORT FAYT is his first novel. Based in a mythical town called Port Fayt, inhabited by humans and elves, imps and ogres, trolls and fairies, goblins and dwarfs, Conrad weaves a well-constructed, thought-out story of mystery, intrigue, monsters, magic and mayhem. The book even has a rudimentary map displaying the town and surrounding oceans, islands and old worlds a la Tolkien and a glossary of many of the various beings mentioned above cleverly written as part of the book.

Mon
10
Aug

Review of "Galaxy Zack: Hello, Nebulon!" by Kira Maillaro (age 8)

Galaxy Zack Hello Nebulon Simon Schuster

Galaxy Zack: Hello, Nebulon! 

Written by: Ray O'Ryan
Illustrated by: Colin Jack
Published by: Simon & Schuster (2013)
Cover Price: $4.99

Kira: HELLO, NEBULON!  is the first book in the GALAXY ZACK series.  GALAXY ZACK is about a eight year old boy named Zack who explores space.  Zack used to live on Earth, and in this book, he moves to the planet Nebulon.

Mike: How does Zack feel about moving?

Wed
05
Aug

STEVE MCQUEEN FULL-THROTTLE COOL is the stellar graphic novel biography befitting an icon!

Steve McQueen Full Throttle Cool

I don't really do comic reviews that often these days. It's not that I don't read comics, they're still a staple of my pop culture diet, but after writing regular weekly reviews for many years, I prefer to write about other forms of entertainment. When I heard about the graphic novel STEVE MCQUEEN: FULL THROTTLE COOL from Motor Books, well, I needed to read it and write a review. In all my years of online journalism, I've never had the chance to talk about my passion for the filmography of Mr. McQueen.

After requesting the review material, I was a little worried. What if the book was horrible? I mean, I own his movies, a replica of his jacket from THE GREAT ESCAPE, several McQueen dolls, figures, cars, you name it. It would be a shame to have to write a scathing review about the King of Cool. Or worse, what if it was a mediocre mess that couldn't inspire any emotion whatsoever? Writing one of those reviews is just not fun, at all.

Thu
30
Jul

ROSES IN DECEMBER Will Grip Your Heart -- And Squeeze

Roses in December Alzheimer's Crankshaft Funky Winkerbean Tom Batiuk Chuck Ayers

There's a magic in the comic strip format that allows serious subjects to be broached with gentle humor and delivered in manageable bites. Tom Batiuk has tapped into this magic, both in his long running series, FUNKY WINKERBEAN, and with this collection of CRANKSHAFT strips entitled ROSES IN DECEMBER: A STORY OF LOVE AND ALZHEIMER'S.

Tue
28
Jul

My review of "Who is Stan Lee?" by Kira Maillaro

Who is Stan Lee Marvel Comics Geoffrey Edgers Critical Blast

WHO IS STAN LEE?

Written by Geoff Edgers
Illustrated by John Hinderliter
Published by: Grosset & Dunlap (2014)
Cover price: $4.99

Mon
27
Jul

THE YETI FILES Returns with MONSTERS ON THE RUN

Yeti Files Monsters on the Run Blizz Richards Critical Blast

Blizz Richards, the Yeti, is back for another adventure with his fellow cryptid friends. This time, it's to answer a lonely call for help from Vanessa -- Nessie, the Loch Ness Monster.

So Blizz, Gunthar the goblin, and Alexander the Elf head east to Scotland to see what can be done -- because when a cryptid becomes unhappy, there's an increased likelihood of being seen. Fortunately, Alexander knows exactly where to find more monsters like Vanessa. Unfortunately, they're all 65 million years in the past.

Sat
18
Jul

Happily Lost in ANGST

Angst David J Pedersen Critical Blast

Over the years, I've picked up more than my share of books at science fiction conventions -- usually the only place you could find them, because they were books being promoted by their authors. And, more often than not, there was a good, evident reason why the works weren't picked up by major distributors.

In the case of David J. Pedersen's ANGST, it's the distributors who are the ones losing out.

Fri
17
Jul

DEAD UPON A TIME Lacks Literary Life at Crucial Moments

Dead Upon a Time Elizabeth Paulson Scholastic

When Kate Hood is beset by a pack of wolves while taking a weekly load of groceries to her Nan's isolated house in the woods, it's just the beginning of a very creepy adventure. Narrowly escaping the creatures, she finds Nan's house empty, save for four tapestries of exquisite craftsmanship but showing surreal tortures: a girl in chains, holding a comb, her hair shaved; a boy and girl, huddled in a cell, sweating from surrounding heat; a young maiden huddled on the floor to avoid being pricked by walls lined with needles; and a quickly scrawled message: It should have been you!

Tue
14
Jul

IT'S A SEASHELL DAY is the perfect beach companion for your little one!

Seashell Day Dianne Ochiltree Critical Blast

My wife and I took our two-year-old son Nathan to the beach today. It was a beautiful day both for weather and general family fun, and memories. Nate played in the sand, wiled away in his little pirate tent, cackled as the waves crashed over him and dad, and he collected some shells for mom. It was the type of perfection that washes away the thoughts of traffic and parking issues in a tide of happiness. The shells will hopefully be the start of a collection that Nate will love for many years.

Mon
06
Jul

SCHADENFREEZERS! - Sadism on a stick!

SCHADENFREEZERS! by Jason Kreher and Matt Moore

Hardcover - $13.99 ($11.15 on Amazon)
Kindle - $10.37
Published by Adams Media
128 Pages

Mon
29
Jun

Wild Stars: Force Majeure Starts Slow But Delivers Staggeringly New SF Concepts

Wild Stars Force Majeure Michael Tierney Critical Blast

Your baby has been kidnapped by a force from an erased timeline. Your immortal father arrives moments after in a time-traveling spaceship to help you get her back from where she was hidden in time -- but only after she's been allowed to grow up into an adult, alone, because somehow during her new life she stops Earth from being annihilated.

What do you do?

Thu
25
Jun

Fold Up Some Fun with DC Super Heroes Origami

DC Superheroes Origami Superman Batman Wonder Woman Critical Blast

When I was a kid, I learned how to make paper airplanes. I can now make three different kinds -- the basic kind, the skinny basic kind, and the one that somewhat looks like a Star Trek scout ship. When pressed, I can make a paper sailboat (or maybe it's a hat), and once I made a swan. I don't think paper fans count.

That's me.

And then there's John Montroll.

John Montroll is the author and designer behind DC SUPER HEROES ORIGAMI. Which I absolutely had to have, because I'm a fifty-years-in-the-making fan of all things DC Comics. And I thought it would be fun to share this with my seven-year-old through art projects of origami.

I learned that I knew nothing about folding paper -- but that I could be taught.

Sun
21
Jun

Big Smo Presents Momma Smo's Kuntry Cookin'

Big Smo Momma Smo Kuntry Cookin Cookbook

I've been blessed by God with a GRITS -- a Girl Raised In The South. I've got the waistline to prove it. Which is why, when she asked me to write a review on her newly purchased cookbook, I was only a little disappointed.

It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the book itself. It's just that there were so many non-surprises for me in it, because they were things I have on a regular basis: things that were regular Sunday dinners, things that were made on a weekend that carry the family through to Tuesday -- with tupperware contained lunches to boot!

Of course, we're also familiar with Big Smo, the fledgling country singer, through his reality show, and the food from Momma Smo -- June Smith -- is as regular a character there as anyone else, as any viewer can tell you.

Tue
09
Jun

Stephen King's Finders Keepers is half thriller, half literary satire

Finders Keepers is part of a trilogy of Stephen King books that started with last year’s Mr Mercedes.  In Mr Mercedes, a madman named Brady Hartsfield drives a stolen car into a crowd of people waiting to get into a job fair at City Center.  Brady taunts a retired police detective named Bill Hodges to come out of retirement to stop him from killing again.  Hodges (along with his associates Jerome and Holly) manage to stop Brady, who ends up in a coma after Holly gives him a thorough ass kicking.  . 

Fri
05
Jun

Pyron's Lucky Strike Magical Story with Emotional Impact

Lucky Strike Bobbie Pyron Arthur Levine Scholastic Critical Blast

"Losers and weirdos stick together through thick and thin. Amen."

That's the unifying credo between brainiac preacher's daughter Genesis Beam and Nate Harlow, the unluckiest boy alive. Nate's notorious unlucky streak comes to a head when he's playing miniature golf -- on his eleventh birthday, on the eleventh of the month -- and he gets hit by lightning.

After his miraculous recovery, Nate's luck starts to turn around. It's little things at first, but it starts to grow and grow until people are simultaneously awed by him and afraid of him. And the more popular he becomes, the less time he wants to spend with Gen, cutting her off from the only friendship she ever shared.

Mon
01
Jun

Surviving Santiago will be a delight for readers this summer!

Surviving Santiago Miller Lachmann review Critical Blast

I can't deny, my childhood was pretty great.  My parents gave me everything I needed, and a lot of what I asked for.  Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a spoiled brat, but I was mostly happy.  That said, my teenage years were a bit of a mess.  There were years of ennui and general angst.  Much of it was from a lack of female companionship at a young age.  It took me time to grow into myself and develop enough confidence and personality to get out and meet people.  I grew up in the '80s and early '90s which was a time of huge changes in pop culture and politics.  In my mind, it's every bit as seminal a time as the late '60s.

Mon
01
Jun

The Art of Lying: YA Author Paula Stokes

Paula Stokes author YA Goodreads Liars Inc The Art of Lainey Critical Blast

Young Adult Literature. It's been officially a thing now for a handful of years, offering up stories that appeal to young and old alike, featuring young protagonists in a variety of plots.

Paula Stokes is carving out her own place among the pantheon of YA authors, with two novels, LIARS INC and THE ART OF LAINEY from Harper Teen. I first met Paula in St. Louis, and was glad to get in touch with her on the release of LIARS INC to discuss the YA market and get some insights into her own process.

I was fortunate enough to be one of the early proofreaders on LIARS INC, what feels like so long ago. What was going on back then that provided the inspiration of Max's story?

Mon
01
Jun

Liars, Inc. Autographed by Paula Stokes

Liars Inc Paula Stokes sweepstakes autographed Critical Blast contest

This contest has ended. The winner is:  ANN F. of WAPPINGER FALLS, NY.

 

For fans of Gone Girl, I Hunt Killers, and TV's How to Get Away with Murder.

Max Cantrell has never been a big fan of the truth, so when the opportunity arises to sell forged permission slips and cover stories to his classmates, it sounds like a good way to make a little money and liven up a boring senior year. With the help of his friends Preston and Parvati, Max starts Liars, Inc. Suddenly everybody needs something and the cash starts pouring in. Who knew lying could be so lucrative?

When Preston wants his own cover story to go visit a girl he met online, Max doesn’t think twice about hooking him up. Until Preston never comes home. Then the evidence starts to pile up—terrifying clues that lead the cops to Preston’s body. Terrifying clues that point to Max as the murderer.

 

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