Skrulls and More!

It's been a good week. I hope y'all are doing well also. Onward!

DMZ Vol. 1
Picked this up on strong reccommend from a fellow co-worker as well as Comic Geek Speak. It definitely lived up to my expectations as a very thought provoking read. The story involves a future where the US has going through a civil war. The two sides have agreed to create a DMZ out of NYC which has become a scary hell as a result. An intern Matt finds himself abandoned in NYC with only his camera equiptment, press pass, and survival skills. Writer Brian Wood and artist Riccardo Burchielli use strong post-9/11 overtones as well as striking imagery to shock the reader. This is not for the weak. I found myself highly invested in poor Matt's hellish situation as he descends into a modern Dante's Inferno. I also like how it showed a very positive view of the role of the press in our society. Matt decides to tell the real stories of what is going on in the DMZ outside of war-created propaganda. I definitely reccomend it to those looking for a mind-turning read.

Secret Invasion #1
Prince of Marvel Comics writer Brian Michael Bendis has been given the reigns to this major 2008 event and he delivers! I was swept up in this issue that kicks off an 8 issue arc that involves the Skrull infiltration of Earth. FYI Skrulls are a race of shapeshifters who can also absorb the powers of the person that they imitate. There is no known way to tell who is real and who is not. In the history of the Marvel Universe Skrulls have attempted to take over Earth several times but have been stymied. It looks like this time they might have a shot. The action is definitely kicked off in this issue. My favorite panel has to be the blowing up of the Baxter Building and the arrival of the spaceship full of superhero doppelgangers. Can't wait for the next issue.

What's in My Bag

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned
Dealing with Difficult People
(look for a review on Thursday, I know, can't wait!)

The Goon #23

Comics Now!

Check Out Count: Crazy

Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Better late than Never

Hey, apologies for the lateness of this post. Sometimes the words aren't a-flowing as much as they should. So today's topic: Graphic Novels and Libraries.

In the library where I work I have come to love our graphic novel section. It has a wide variety of titles, several different genres, and is currently the second highest circulating items (behind AV materials, like DVDs, CDs, etc.). When I was first employed, I admit that my knowledge was somewhat limited. Due to this inexperience I dedicated myself to reading at least 10-12 a year. As I dug in further that number tripled. I also decided to look into the benefits of graphic novels when it comes to those who have reading difficulties. Kids with limited reading skills benefit from the combination of art and words. This helps with comprehension. Also the fact that these books are usually 100-150 pages long. As the reader is able to get through a series there confidence grows and they decide to raise the stakes quicker.

Let's also not forget that these stories are fun. Yeah I said it. The links to sci-fi and fantasy are obvious, however there is also an escapism. Entire new worlds are developed and histories created. Kids and adults can easily lose themselves in these stories. On the other hand, recent graphic novels have expanded their storytelling to the autobiographical. Modern classics along these lines include Persepolis, American Splendor, and Blankets. So readers get the best of all worlds.

I also decided to work on my fellow librarians to give graphic novels a shot. There was some resistance. At least one librarian told me "I will never read those (graphic novels) I don't have time." I'm still working on that one. However I was ecstatic this week when an older librarian told me she was going to try her first graphic novel: Persepolis. I had given this same book to my mom for Christmas as her first graphic novel and it was a success. So I now consider Persepolis a great gateway reccomendation.

Anyway I've assembled an "If you like..." list here for anyone's whose interested:

If you like mysteries such as those written by Sue Grafton or the "V.I. Warshawski" series try Whiteout written by Greg Rucka.

If you like apocalyptic tales like I am Legend or The Road try The Walking Dead written by Robert Kirkman.

If you are looking for books for the tween girl inside try Spiderman Loves Mary Jane written by Sean McKeever.

If you like autobiograhical romance try Blankets by Craig Thompson.

If you like true crime try From Hell by Alan Moore.

If you like adventure and classic british literature try The League of Extraordinary Gentleman written by Alan Moore.

(Okay well basically anything by Alan Moore)

If you like crazy cosmic anarchy try The Invisibles written by Grant Morrison.

If you like political thrillers try Ex Machina by Brian K. Vaughan.

If you like fables with a modern twist try Fables written by Bill Willingham.

If you like Children of Men try Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan.

As you can see there really is something for everyone. It's not just super-hero stuff. Have a great weekend! Book Slave.


Book Binge-ing

Hello cyber-world,
I have been on a wonderful book binge lately. Hopefully you all will benefit from the results. It's hard to turn down the books when they are being sold at discount, y'know what I'm saying? Anyway on with the show!

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1
After reading the Alan Moore interview book last week I decided to reread this great work. Moore takes characters from classic literature, puts them into a team, and throws them into an adventure in 1898. This is great adventure, sci-fi, mystery and humor. Murray and Quatermaine are the Nick and Nora of this book and I love it! I also love the hilarious opportunist jerk that is the character of the Invisible Man. I heartily reccommend this book. (BTW Avoid the film like the plague, it is horrible and not even close to the book. Don't cause yourself this pain.)

Wolverine #64
The "Get Mystique" storyline continues as we follow Wolverine and Mystique through their shared past and the present. In this installment Wolverine is conflicted when Mystique hides amongst American soldiers. Will Wolverine risk their lives to get to Mystique? This internal dillemma and the way it plays out is why Jason Aron is great. While Mystique cares about no one but herself. Wolverine has always been about the conflict between his humanity and his animal nature. I especially like his writing of the confrontation scenes between Logan and Mystique. Awesome art and splash pages from Ron Garney.

Detective Comics #843
This issue written by Paul Dini featured a team up between Batman and Zatanna to take down the Ventriloquist. Zatanna has been hired to do a magic show at the opening of a new night club. Bruce Wayne attends and is kidnapped by the Ventriloquist who is taking advantage of a gang war. While the action and villians stuff is great, I think that actually my fave scene was between Bruce Wayne and Zatanna. It touched upon their relationship, the will they or won't they that Dini introduced last year. Dini definitely writes the best Detective issues and this one was worth checking out.

What's In My Bag

Entertainment Weekly

Secret Invasion #1

Dealing With Difficult People
Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
(crazy4novels thru down the gauntlet on getting this done, It will be done, oh yes it will be done)

Checkout Count: Crazy, but not insane.

If you are interested in more of my pithy pop culture opinions I point you to Never Enough Time. Check it out, enjoy have a good weekend, Book Slave.


Library 2.0 and the future

Hello folks,
Today I am going to discuss a general topic that libraries are taking to heart at the moment. A new idea has slipped into library philosophy called "Library 2.0." Library 2.0, as I understand it, involves the idea that technology can bring information to patrons. With information being more easily available it's questionable where libraries physically fit. It's a scary idea to those in the profession that there will be no need for librarians because patrons will look up everything on computers. Alarmists also like to scream that there will be no need for books in our future paper-less society.

I call BS on these fears, but I understand the existential angst. In terms of technology encroachment, the only options libraries have is to evolve. Let's face it, you can't push back the tide, man. Librarians need to train themselves to use these technologies to help patrons better. Technology does not equal extinction. Patrons, and human beings in general, will always want human contact. They trust human beings to answer there questions, or at least confirm what they already know, more than machines.

As a reader I believe that there will always be printed books. Haven't had the chance to use the new Amazon Kindle. However there's nothing new about digital ebooks, just visit Project Gutenberg. I think that digital representations of books lack a major psychological pull: the turning of the page. In this way the reader is physically able to move forward and feel accomplishment. It's not the same reading off a screen and clicking forward. Plus books are smaller, and don't need batteries or a power outlet.

So in the end Libraries/Librarians need to evolve and learn new technologies. It's hard to keep up, but I'm glad that I've had the chance to learn some new things. In the future I'm sure there will be a Library 3.0 where we can learn even more.

Have an awesome weekend. Book Slave.


Death and Taxes

Hello Tax Paying Citizens,
Yes it's tax day! As the Beatles said:
"If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

Perhaps I should get involved with capital gains. Then I'll get a tax cut. Well at least I have a rebate coming! (Even though it really borrowed from the chinese) OK I'll stop. This is not the "Complain about Taxes" blog is it? Let's lose ourselves in fantastical worlds. Are you coming?


The Invisibles Vol. 1
I picked this up on the recommendations of a co-worker (shout-out to awesome DJ Strange) and the podcast Comic Book Queers.
The story follows an angry young punk who is thrown out on his own in London. He discovers a crazy alternative universe that exists below the surface. In this alternative universe a gang called The Invisibles battles weird/psychosexual villians. As expected Grant Morrison brings on the weird and trippy. This kind of comic is not really my bag. I found the first three issues to be drastically different than the next 4 issues in tone. The philosophical and psychosexual undertones were way over my head. Warning: This book is not for the meek. I will give the book props for it's gay subtext which is uncommon in comics. However, I think I'll be sticking to Morrison's more mainstream fare.

Tales of the Batman
This collection of Batman stories, all drawn by Tim Sale, is awesome. I found the stories incredibly entertaining. Amazingly the majority of these stories barely even include Batman as a character. These tales are more about the world that Batman inhabits. In most of the stories it is the villians that take center stage, especially one story that centers around Arkham Asylum. These are all drawn/written in a classic style but with a dark edge. I also loved the three-parter Blades, written by James Robinson. Don't miss this collection.

Alan Moore on his Work and Career
Confession time: I love Alan Moore. I worship at his feet. So I picked up this interview book and gave it a read. Moore rarely does interviews and hasn't been at a comic-con since 1986. I think that he likes to create an air of mystery/magic around his own personal image. (This also stretches to his appearance, check it out here.) Unfortunately this interview book is pretty dry. It's a straight interview which I think could've benefited from being broken up. Also some panels/pages from his works would've been great too. Interesting but again it was kinda exhausting.

What's In My Bag
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Graphic Novel
League of Extraordinary Gentleman Vol. 1


Countdown to Final Crisis #5

Checkout Count: Insane!

"You say you want a revolution..." Enjoy the week! Book Slave


Wonderful World of Podcasts

Today I'll be talking about one of my favorite new obsessions: Podcasts!

Podcasts are awesome!
Yes, hello everyone. I am a podcast addict. It's true. I started learning about podcasts in 2005 although my fanaticism did not really begin until Spring 2007.
If you aren't convinced yet, here are the awesome pros of podcasts:
*They are FREE! yes FREE folks!
*There is a podcast on every subject under the sun.
*Multi-national. Listen to viewpoints from other countries!
*Uncensored. Sometimes crazy and freewheeling.
Like the internet itself.
*Listen on your Ipod, MP3 player, or computer anywhere!

I've found that there are several different types of podcasts. Some are highly commercial and slick, others are pretty banal. As I've said in a prior post, I prefer podcasts that are a group of friends talking about a common subject. There are also some great interview shows.
A fair warning: Just like with webpages the internet is a graveyard of dead podcasts. Oftentimes without warning a podcast will just disappear. It's sad, but I just go out find some new podcasts.

Enjoy audiobooks? Well now you can download them for free. Yes folks FREE! I myself am not a big audiobook person, however I know many who are. I think portability is the biggest positive here. No more changing CDs or big bulky packaging. All one needs to do is download into a device and your good to go. So now it becomes a question of content. Netlibrary needs to open itself to more than just the classics. But I guess that will come with time. Another downside is that Netlibrary does not like my Ipod. That needs to change since Ipods are the #1 mp3 player.

Libraries can take advantage of these free internet offerings. Libraries can create download stations and offer checkout playaways. This can be used to save space and allow for more collection development. With a ton of holds on one book like Harry Potter perchance, we can offer people the chance to download it online rather than waiting.

So enjoy your weekend and pay your taxes. Book Slave.


It's far too late to be posting...

Hello out there!
Having a good week? I hope so. Me? oh thanks for asking. I'm doing swell. I should be sleeping more but there's too much to read!


Coast of Utopia Vol. 3
This is the end of Stoppard's epic trilogy about the development of philosophy in 19th century Russia. Let's just repeat it: This is not for everyone. It's dense and talky. The main characters, except for Marx and Turgenev, are little known outside of philosophy circles. It's Stoppard's ability to mix the high-brow intellectual ideas with real human ability that makes him one of the best playwrights writing today. I became wrapped up in the strange love square that became Herzen/Ogarev/Natalie/Mary. The fact that these men are so passionate and messy emotionally makes these characters incredibly human. I dream of seeing these plays performed live. (Are you listening SLAC?)

Green Lantern #29
I'm not a fan of Green Lantern. In fact I don't know anything about Hal Jordan's story. Last summer I heard a lot of praise for the Green Lantern Sinestro War comic series, so I plan on picking that up once the library gets their copy. In preparation I decided to pick up this Origin story issue and I really loved it. The writing was wonderful, as we learn about his family history. Although his story fits the classic heroes journey mold, I didn't find it predictable. I found myself emotionally caught up, especially in the birthday scene, and the conflict between Hal and his brother Jack. Also the art was amazing. The splash pages were drop dead gorgeous.

What's In My Bag
Graphic Novel
The Invisibles Vol. 1

Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao


Countdown to Final Crisis #5

Check Out Count: Getting Better!

Have a great week! Book Slave.


Wonderful World of Online Apps

So today I'm going to write about the new wonderful world of online web applications.

Populist Technology for the Masses
In fact I am currently writing this on Google Docs. This web based word processing program functions about exactly like my Microsoft Word program. Now I could curse myself and pine for my money already lost in Bill Gates coffers. However I do believe this is the new evolution of internet technology. Google Docs, as well as technology like Open Office and Lulu.com, allow anyone anywhere to type a document or spreadsheet and save it and publish it. I applaud the populism of this new accessibility because in my opinion I think basic software should be free. Let's face it hardware is nothing without the software to support it. And don't get me started on upgrades.
However as I looked through Google, Google Labs, as well as the Web 2.0 winners, I noticed a proliferation of mainly business applications. I can see the influence of capitalism and "the man" and it worries me. I want the Internet to maintain it's freewheeling, sometimes insane, independent nature. However then again maybe what's good for the goose is good for the gander. In this circumstance Google is allowing access to anyone who can hook up to the internet which is great. I hope it stays that way.

Google Labs
So a brief word here on this. Isn't it great how transparent Google is? Putting these little experiments out there and taking the hits when they don't work. I applaud the idea. Of the group currently up I think the best of the lot is the Google Web Page Creator. I remember the painful early days when creating a simple web page could make one lose hair. HTML! Ahh! This app with it's built in WYSIWYG nature is awesome for quick easy use. As for the rest well it was cool to look at Mars and find out when/where I can get a cab. I also a move toward phone based technology which reinforces my belief that I seriously need to upgrade my phone.

Web 2.0 Awards
If you're looking for a great list of web sites here they are. Of course there's Amazon and Google up there, but it was good to see some of the new ones like Lulu.com. I also like that it was set up by categories with the top 3 choices. Worth checking out here.

Anyway I think there is a lot of library applications here. Using online apps our patrons can write their papers, type up resumes, and be able to collaborate on group projects. Again technology has converged to make our lives easier. What a great world. Book Slave.


If only I could teleport away...

Hello virtual ladies and gentlemen,
Apologies for the lateness of this post. Last night I was tired and my internet service was weak, however you do get another book review today. Perhaps that will make up for it. (Don't judge me! I'll be better, I promise!) Onward!

This young adult novel of an abused teen who discovers he can teleport was recently made into a film that appeared on movie screens last month. The idea intrigued me and I thought I'd give it a go. I found the book really divided itself into two parts. The first half I got really involved in as the main character David Rice tries to make it on his own after running away from his abusive dad. David goes through the typical heroes journey, discovers his powers, meets a girl, and tries to resolve his issues. Oddly I found myself rooting for David's survival, although he's quite whiny. The reader has to remind themselves that this is an underdeveloped teen who has no guidance. The second half of the book is more like a Tom Clancy novel as David decides to take on terrorists (yeah pre-9/11 too) and is being chased by the scary NSA. This half I found less interesting and more like an action movie. It is oddly prescient to our current situation. Ultimately though I did find it a satisfying read.
(BTW I've heard that the movie is terrible and not really like the book at all)

Wonder Woman #18
Gail Simone continues to spin an interesting tale. Unfortunately I was less interested in the odd courting rituals of the Amazons, then the wonderful jokes regarding celebrity. I like how Simone is using a big part of her story for societal satire. The panel with a Wonderwoman Sphinx statue was priceless. I will continue reading although I don't trust these Khund's, their intentions can't be good.

Fables #71
Awesome issue. I love the mixture of Fables and great spy-like action. Cinderella kicks ass in this issue as she continues on her secret mission. Meanwhile Prince Charming manipulates himself into becoming the head of the upcoming war against Gepetto's forces. This subplot is mainly set up for the next story arc but I really enjoyed seeing PC be a master manipulator again.

Goon #22
I enjoy Eric Powell's unique view on comics. He continues to use a balance of gross humor and violence to spin your expectations. Warning: I would not read this at night or before eating. Anyway this one has a lot of set up for a new arc but I did enjoy a look into the Goon's past.

What's In My Bag
Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Coast of Utopia Vol. 3

Entertainment Weekly

Dock Walloper

Check Out Count: A Little Better, But Still Insane!

Have a great week! Book Slave