Book Review: Black Hammer Vol. 2: The Event by Jeff Lemire

This volume of Black Hammer answer’s a lot of the questions I had in the first volume, mainly since the comic is called Black Hammer, what happened to Black Hammer? this is answered and we get a really good flashback of how he became the hero Black Hammer. I picked this graphic novel up because I was looking for something new too read and this volume was nominated in Goodreads Reader’s Choice awards where it made it to the semi finals.

The Plot: Five heroes are stuck in a small town, after a hellacious battle to save Spiral city. The heroes don’t know why they are placed out in a rural town and spend most of there days on the farm, the ones who can be seen act like a family to not have suspicion arise. When we meet the heroes they have been trapped for 10 years. Abraham Slam is the leader and a hero of the bygone era He is over fifty and still strong as an ox he is the father figure, Golden Gail has the power of regeneration and flight, the purgatory of the town has stopped her regeneration, leaving her a fifty year old trapped in the body of a 12 year old, Colonel Weird comes straight from pulp as he is a former astronaut stuck between two vortexes, leaving his body and mind like a ghost not familiar with dates or time since they are relative to him. Madam Dragonfly is a witch that took a bad deal to save her daughter, and watches over a mysterious cabin, that was also transported to the town. Barbalien is a shapeshifting alien from Mars, and Walkie Talkie a female robot that Colonel Weird met on a mission. At the end of the first volume the Black Hammer’s daughter joins the heroes in purgatory, Madam Dragonfly erases her memory quickly before the other’s arrive, and just like the left she is stuck and can not remember how she got there. She ask important questions that gets some of the members of the team motivated to find a way out of there, but another member sabotages when to many questions are asked, but did the member do it out of malice, or did they preserve the event they’re going to witness soon?

What I liked: the Black Hammer backstory about how he became the hero and what happened on the farm that they can not escape. We got Walkie Talkie’s origin which was surprisingly very captivating. There’s two really good twist in the story lines, both that will involve the next volume. I liked the reveal that the majority of the heroes gave up on humanity and were ready to give it all up be for they were sent to purgatory.

What I disliked: It was too short! I wanted so much more, I still have so many questions about the town they live in, because I’m watching The Good Place it makes me think of that. I felt this volume took too much teasing the cliffhanger than exploring the characters. A little of the originality was gone as it borrowed plot lines from Marvel’s Inhumans.

Recommendations: I liked this volume a lot more than the first one, so if you read the first one you should definitely pick up this one, it’s a very easy read I read this volume in an hour. If you like the art form of graphic novels then this should be on your TBR. I rated this 4 out of 5 stars.

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Book Review: The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Wow, what a fantastic debut for Peng Sheperd with Book of M. This book was a grippy bloody post apocalyptic nightmare, that also at it’s heart is a love story full of magic. This book is a wonderful journey that Shepard masterfully takes the reader on, I questioned where this book was going and couldn’t imagine how it is going to end. The final twist is super powerful and took me a second to figure out, then was blown away with what the author chose and how mush I was wrecked inside. As the character’s move forward on their physical journey so do their ideas as they constantly evolve. This book reminded me of the best moments of Stephen King’s The Stand mixed with Joe Hill’s The Fireman, which is great company in my opinion.

The Plot: People all over the world are losing their shadows, and with that they start forgetting things, little things at first then big things. The forgetting leads to magical powers that can change reality. Know one knows how it happens or why some are selected and others are not but it sweeps the world like a plague, putting shadowed people against the shadowless. We meet the married couple Ory and Max, who after a friends wedding have been hiding out and surviving at a resort and are the only ones left. Max has just lost her shadow, they know she will soon start to forget and she starts caring around a small recording device . As Ory goes for food Max decides she can no longer be a burden and runs away joining a traveling group of shadowless like her. Ory is then determined to find her, and starts heading to there old apartment in DC, but Max is heading to a rumored sanctuary in Neo Orleans. Max originally set out to not be a burden, then she journeys for a hope for a cure, before she forgets the love of her husband Ory. This is the heart of the story the bounds that this couple will go for a chance. We meet two other figures Naz who is an archer from Tehran on a work visa to train for the Olympics in archery, and we meet a car crash victim who can’t remember his past at all and doesn’t regognize his name and refers to himself as the visitor and later as the one who gathers, he seems to be immune to the shadowless because he has no memories to take away. It’s a very cool story that is about love, paranoia, and memories.

What I liked: The scope of the Book of M how it starts so small and expands to the whole world. The love Ory and Max have is beautiful. The One Who Gathers is my favorite character so mysterious and did not except where his story was going. There a really good twist that we’re given hints of but when it happens I was blown away, I noticed some details that felt off but after reading the twist i put them all to together and was blown away. Actually all the little twists in story telling are written really well, and there are a few. The author makes the novel international with staying mainly in America, with a very international cast of characters. The history of the elephant pack and the elephant that paints was really interesting and made sense the the story.

What I disliked: After one twist we only get one perspective, we see how the others act though one persons eyes but I wanted to hear the thoughts of others. That’s it there’s a couple nit picky things, but for a debut author this is strong.

Recommendations: For people who love post apocalyptic stories, love stories with separated loves. If you want to read a great debut author, for a book that makes you think. This book made it to the semi finals in the goodreads choice awards for horror in 2018, but not to the finals. I don’t know if horror was the right category horrific events occur but the novel is almost more Science Fiction in nature. I rated this book a rare 5 out of 5 stars.

Book Review: Black Hammer, Vol. 1: Secret Origins by Jeff Lemire

Black Hammer by Dark Horse Comics is a throw back to pulp in style and characters, but it takes these characters into the modern world through ideas and feelings. I read this because I saw the second volume of Black Hammer get nominated for Goodreads best of 2018 in the Graphic Novel and Comics section. I enjoyed this first novel a lot of off the surface references that will surely add up to tension.

The Plot: Five maybe six heroes are stuck in a small town, after a hellacious battle to save Spiral city. The heroes don’t know why they are placed out in a rural town and spend most of there days on the farm, the ones who can be seen act like a family to not have suspicion arise. When we meet the heroes they have been trapped for 10 years. Abraham Slam is the leader and a hero of the bygone era He is over fifty and still strong as an ox he is the father figure, Golden Gail has the power of regeneration and flight, the purgatory of the town has stopped her regeneration, leaving her a fifty year old trapped in the body of a 12 year old, Colonel Weird comes straight from pulp as he is a former astronaut stuck between two vortexes, leaving his body and mind like a ghost not familiar with dates or time since they are relative to him. Madam Dragonfly is a witch that took a bad deal to save her daughter, and watches over a mysterious cabin, that was also transported to the town. Barbalien is a shapeshifting alien from Mars who is accompanied my his robot that looks very pulp, they work to send probes to try to find some way out of this hell. Black Hammer the name that the series is named for is not really explained, the hammer is seen in the rural town but no mention of him currently existing, there’s a lot of underneath tension and questions of what happened to Black Hammer?

What I liked: The art is great, I will say I did not like the way faces are drawn but it fits with the era the artist was going for. Madam Dragonfly’s background story is really great and heartbreaking, her character is mysterious and I can’t wait to learn more. The romance between Abraham Slam and the waitress seems really real and well done. The Gail and Barbalien love tension was done well. Colonel Weird’s background and how he see’s the world was really interesting, and I can’t wait to see more.

What I disliked: too many thing were teased not enough was concrete, with get glimpse of the epic battle that lead them to the town but it was too fast. We get no flashbacks to the first days in the town and how they even know they’re trapped. I hope the next volume answers these questions and more.

Recommendation: To people who enjoy comics of today and appreciate the pulp comics that got us here. This is a throwback to those characters, but this comic attempts to give them the three dimensions that they always needed, and for the most part it succeeds. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, I think it was a great debut and now that the introductions are out of the way looking forward to the second volume.

Book Review: The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Dead Zone was just an okay Stephen King novel. This was my King of the Month for October. The major problem was pacing and filler. I’ve called King the master of filler before, where he makes the filler and background so interesting that you love it anyway. This novel the filler wasn’t as interesting as others.

The Plot: When Johnny Smith was a little boy he slips on a frozen lake where others are playing hockey and injures his head, the majority think maybe he is dead, but he comes out of it appearing unscathed, but he picked up an ability to predict things. 16 years after that Johnny takes Sarah out for a date at a local fair. Sarah and Johnny are in love, Sarah has decided tonights the night for sex she’s only given her self to one other person before. At the fair Johnny plays a game called Wheel of Fortune not like the TV show, but like the roulette wheel at a casino. Johnny gets on a hot streak and is connected to the game, Sarah starts to feel ill, but Johnny can’t pull himself away. Eventually he returns to Sarah and takes her home, because of the sickness and a little fear of what his eyes were doing while he was at the wheel, she sends him home. He calls a cab and is almost home when the cab is struck by a drift racer who was driving on the opposite side of the road. Everyone dies but Johnny, who ends up in a coma that know one believes he will pull out of. When he does eventually wake up it is 6 years later and everything has changed, Sarah is now married and has a son, His mother is a crazy religious zealot, and he has a physic connection to people and objects he touches. He saves a nurses child by having her call the police to confirm a fire, he tells his doctor that his mother who he thought dead was still alive, and many others.

What I liked: The ending made sense and it ties in to his first prediction, The character of Johnny Smith is a great one, he really gets good as his morals are questioned. I like Johnny’s dad herb and how rational he and his reactions are. The bad guy is used really well and I did enjoy what happens in the finally. I really liked the interaction between Sarah and Herb. They did have part where while e was in the coma that the phone system changed to using area codes instead of going through the operator for long distance, I liked that it had that little piece of history that we totally take for granted.

What I disliked: Johnny is in a coma for over a hundred pages, that is far, far too long. This goes with the pacing it was really hard to get past the being in a coma point. The filler was not always interesting, when yo have your main character away for 100 pages you’re going to have a lot of filler. We never get the full aftermath of the bad guy, we do get a small glimpse, but I wanted a to more.

Recommendations: If your a King fan then you have to check this out, if now I would recommend you check out other King books first. If You have seen the television show and the movie starring Christopher Walken you know the basics but the book adds a lot of religious theology that was not in the movies and TV show that I found really interesting. Whole characters and sub plots are missing from both as well, so I recommend reading the book to see all the differences.  This is more psychological horror than straight horror. I rated this book 3 out of 5 stars.

Monthly Wrap-up: October Book Reviews

This was a bit of a slow month for me as the personal life didn’t allow me to read as much, But I did see three plays The Phantom of the Opera 30th anniversary, Disney’s Newsies, and The Play that Goes Wrong, which were all excellent and highly recommended.   Back to the books, I did read fewer then most months but I read some great ones.

Four Star Reviews:

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher – This was my Nonfiction of the Month.  A memoir by the one and only Carrie Fisher.  I thought this book was honest and uncensored. About the life and struggle of a bipolar manic depressive.

Book Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher – Vox was an important read, a Science Fiction that looks at a society that is taken over by men who want women to not have a voice and be more subservient.  A device is attached that gives women shocks increasing in volume after they speak over 100 words.

Book Review: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay – This is a horror novel that ask the question, If strangers showed up to your family vacation in a remote cabin, determined your family was the key to saving the world all you have to do is willingly sacrifice one member.

Book Review: The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson – This was by Nonfiction of the Month for September that I wrapped up in October. This book was super interesting and I was captivated about the bizarre nature of the crime. A 19 year old American Breaks in to the British Museum of Natural History to steal feathers.  The feathers are worth millions to a special set of collectors.

Book Review: Scooby Apocalypse Volume 3 by Keith Giffen – This Volume gets back to being more focused like the first Volume.  They fianally have the confrontation of the Scooby Gang vs. The Scrappy Gang that the authors have been teasing over the last volumes and it was epic.

Three Star Reviews:

Book Review: Scooby Apocalypse Volume 2 by Keith Giffen – This Volume dropped the ball a little and was unfocused on the main storyline.  There’s some good moments here and there, mainly Scrappy.

Not Finished Books:

The Dead Zone By Stephen King – is my Stephen King of the Month for October. I’m halfway through it and a little shocked how different the beginning is from the film and TV show.

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff – This is an intense horror short stories about a group of African Americans friends and family in 1950’s that mixes Racism with supernatural horror.  I’m halfway through it and keep reading a short story in between each novel. The racism is pretty intense and need to take a break.

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

This book is great, this was a reread for me, my library cleverly celebrated the acquiring of Vengeful, which all copies were already borrowed out, with a display featuring V. E. Schwab’s and I wanted to revisit the first novel I read of her’s.  This book is amazing very dark, featuring misunderstood characters.  I’m so glad this is the first book in a trilogy, even though this book has a definitive end there’s still a lot more to explore in this world, or worlds.  Since I have read the series this book is the perfect first step into the ever expanding world that keeps growing.

The plot: Kell is a traveler of Worlds there is the real world which is referred as Grey London, which is the London of the early 1800’s London, where magic is only a myth,  The there’s Red London where magic exist to enrich lives, there’s White London the uses magic to corrupt, and then there is Black London that is now barred because the magic grew so powerful it imploded, they shut all the magical doors to Black London and destroyed all magical artifacts. The trouble starts when a Black magic artifact is smuggled in to Grey London by an unknown Kell who sells safe magical items from other London’s to magic aficionados, all hell breaks lose when a pickpocket named Lila steals the black magic artifact and starts infecting people all over London, the only way to get rid of it is to head to Black London, now that Lila is apart of this she must venture with Kell through the different London’s. The plot thickens as we learn who set Kell up and there plans to rule all the Londons.

What I Liked: Kell and the relationship with his brother and Lila.  The creations of all the different London’s.  The ending left me floored on multiple levels.  The character of Lila, is some of Schwab’s best character work, she’s good at writing these great antihero character’s like Lila and Victor from Villainous, but she adds this third layer of androgyny which really separates how this character deals with the world and those around her.  I do like that in the story King George the third is mad because he’s exposed to magic and no one will believe him. Kell’s job and side job are really interesting.

What I Disliked: I wanted to understand the magic a little bit more until it comes to the shit hits the fan moment. Prince Rhy is a character that does develop over the series but I wanted a lot more from him as a character. All we really get is he’s charming and he does love Kell.

Recommendations: This book has a fast moving plot and was very easy to read, I really enjoyed it, and where it took my imagination, I recommend this book for Young adults who want more adult subject matter, it is a good transition book. There is light cussing and a good deal of blood shed. This is one of my rare 5 out of 5 star reviews.

 

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher

“You know how they say that religion is the opiate of the masses? Well, I took masses of opiates religiously.”

Wishful Drinking is the memoir of actress and writer Carrie Fisher. This is my Nonfiction of the Month. The novel is a very interesting, no holds barred honesty about addiction and fame. She says her reason for writing this novel was that had electric shock treatment and had to remember parts of her life. She opens up about sex, addiction, family, and death. The novel is filled with vintage pictures of family life and acting life.

Stories you’ll here in this memoir: Her family life growing up with her famous mother Debbie Reynolds, who is most famous for starring in Singing in the Rain, and her father Eddie Fisher who was a famous crooner and her brother. Eddie Fisher was never into life and was father in name only. We get the story of how he cheated and married Elizabeth Taylor. We get the story of her mom smoking pot with her. We get Star Wars stories of the audition process and George Lucas’ directing. There is a funny anecdote about how there’s no underwear in space. We get a lot of stories of addiction, rehab, and mental institutions. stories about how she got with both her husbands and the break ups. The birth of her daughter Billie who is an actress in American Horror Story. One of the most surreal stories is her waking up to the dead body of one of her good friends.

What I liked: The writing is so good and witty, I could have chose plenty quotes to best represent this novel. it is that type of novel to have a highlighter handy. As a fan the of Star Wars the stories are really great. The pictures are amazing and really compliment the novel. The cover is amazing and really captures the novel.

What I Disliked: it was too short! way too short. I would’ve liked to hear more about her other movie experiences like Harry met Sally and the Burbs.

Recommendations: If you’re a fan of Star Wars. If you know someone diagnosed as a manic depressive and who has a bi-polar disorder then this is a great book to get, because it is so honest about the highs and lowest of the lows. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars because it was just too short.