Monday, April 24, 2017

Review: Recorder and Randsell


     As a long-time manga fan, I have to say that I am extremely confused by Meme Higayashi's Recorder and Randsell. The premise sounded cute when I picked up the book: a typical Japanese brother and sister have adventures, but the sister, who is high school, looks to be about 8 years old, while the brother, who is in 5th grade, looks like a fully grown man. 
    However, this is a style of manga that left me scratching my head. Instead of being a complete story about the siblings, it is done in a style similar to Sunday funnies - where each "episode" is a 5-panel "joke." After about three pages, the joke wears VERY thin: "oh how funny, the brother keeps getting arrested because the cops think he is trying to kidnap a little girl, but it's his sister." (I guess Japanese culture still things pedophiles are funny. Ew.). "Oh, haha! the sister can't get into the movie because the ticket man thinks she's not old enough." "And now a sexy lady is hitting on the poor, frightened 5th grader."
    It goes on like this for over a hundred pages. The same jokes over and over and over and over.
    The books only redeeming qualities are the lovely artwork and the genuinely warm and loving relationship between the siblings. Even the title is weird and confusing.

Final Review: 2/5 bookmarks.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Mer


     Joelle Sellner's newest offering, Mer is made up of all basic the elements of a teen title: an angry teen, a hot hunk, teen jealousy, shape-shifting and even an evil stepmother.
     Aryn, our lead character is an anxty teen who has just moved to a new town with her dad and sister after the death of her mom. Aryn is basically mad at the world, and takes it out mainly on her dad, and marginally on her little sister. School doesn't make it any better, as it's full of snooty rich kids. But, Aryn quickly makes at least one friend who seems decent, though the friendship quickly (and predictably) unravels when Aryn's friend falls for a boy who falls for Aryn.
    Of COURSE, the boy in question is a shape-shifting merman who is only on land to find a mate (at  age 16, because why not). At the same time, there is a second plotline happening involving a beasty that is hunting down Mer people and eating their hearts. Stuff happens, people die, and Aryn needs to make a choice whether to stay with her family or leave for the Mer world.
    Yawn.
    The story itself is pat and formulaic (and I am bothered by the fact that only SOME of the Mer people speak weird broken English... why only some?) but what saves it and will make it appeal to the target audience is the absolutely gorgeous art by Abby Boeh. It's totally worth picking up just to look at her gorgeous work.
   Mer hits shelves today, April 17th, so check it out, if only for the art.

Final Review: 3/5 bookmarks (it got an extra bookmark because of the art).

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Lost Girls



     Alan Moore has written some of the best graphic novels of the modern age. Watchmen and V for Vendetta are nothing short of classics, and even The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is worth a read. Because of these I picked up Lost Girls, thinking that a story told from the point of view of grown-up versions of Dorothy Gale from Oz, Alice from Wonderland and Wendy from Neverland as written by Moore would probably be great. 

     It's porn.

     I'm not saying that in the way that some people call nude paintings porn, or taking the term lightly. I know porn when I see porn, believe you me, and this...is...PORN. 

    There is nothing in this graphic novel that has any redeeming quality other than sex for the sake of sex, and explicit, ugly, graphically rendered sex at that. It's not, as it pretends to be, an exploration of sexuality, or a commentary on Victorian repression of women. It's stuff that was CLEARLY created for someone's own personal spank-bank. This makes some sense when you realize that Melinda Gebbie, the artist, was Moore's wife. and at the time they conceived this they were both dirty, hairy, free-lovin' hippies. 

    I'm not saying don't read it, or condemning it in any way, I am just warning anyone who is a fan of Moore's other works that if you expect this to be anything like those others, you will be grossed out and disappointed. 

     Also, the artwork is kind of creepy, and no one in it looks good, so it's not even GOOD porn. 

Final Review 2/5 bookmarks, because it's still Alan Moore so I couldn't hate it all the way. 


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Librarian Post: So You Want To Build An Escape Room.

    Because I am a stupid, STUPID person I decided it would be a great idea to create an Escape Room experience in my library for the Summer Reading Program under the very thin explanation that it's TOTALLY a Build a Better World program (Build a Better World Through Teamwork).
   For those of you not familiar, Escape Rooms are a huge trend right now. They're basically a puzzle room. You go into a space, which is usually themed, and have to complete the challenge and "escape" the room by solving a series of puzzles in the allotted time, usually with a group of strangers, which forces you to meet new people and work as a team. My boyfriend and I are totally obsessed with these (because we are nerds who like puzzles) and I've been dying to do one for a while now.
    The reason this makes me a STUPID person is that Escape rooms are hard. REALLY hard. Especially for one lone librarian trying to build one all by herself.
    There are, of course, businesses that are out there that do the rooms for you. My library district's teen department, for example, uses the services of Breakout EDU to do a monthly mini escape room challenge for the teen patrons. However, these are tabletop games, more than an actual room setup and are geared more for younger audiences than the all-ages group I am aiming for. So I started from scratch, which is hard and has already made me want my mommy more than once.
    I figured the easiest thing to do would be to avoid a complex theme for the room, so I made the premise very simple: your group has all been called to an old mansion because a distant and eccentric relative has died and left you a fortune. However, you only get the fortune if you can solve all his puzzles and escape his room. I am aiming for a 30 minute room for a group of 6 people at a time (8 might work, but is stretching it, due to the size of the room I have to work with, which is one of our smaller conference rooms.
    Like any good librarian, I started by doing a lot of research, and one of the best pieces of advice I saw was that for a 30-45 minute room, you should pick 10 objects that would fit in with your room's theme and make these the focus of your puzzles or clues. I decided to theme my room as a study or reading room and picked out my 10 objects:
A man's hat
Several books
A tin of cookies
A tea service (tea cup, spoon, saucer and teapot)
A sugar and creamer set
A box of tissues
A lamp
A small snow globe
A crossword puzzle book (I made this one myself because I needed it to be really specific).

Here are a couple of pictures of what some of my props look like so far.



Next time I'll talk about how I'm putting some of the puzzles together and how the props work into the room setup as a whole.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Milk and Honey



   Rupi Kaur's Milk and Honey is very far outside my scope of normal reading preferences. I read this little gem on the recommendation of a super hipstery coworker who is always into some interesting and unusual things, and since it is SO far outside my norm, I jumped at it, because if you will recall, reading outside my normal boundaries was one of my goals this year.
   I am very glad that I picked this little book of poems up, because I found it strangely moving and powerful.
   The poems here are not traditional in any sense. They don't have a lot of rhyme or even a lot of structure really. Some of them even seem like tweets gone sideways, but Rupi Kaur does manage to pack an enormous amount of gravitas into each of her short works.
   This is not writing for the squeamish, either. Themes of abuse, molestation, rape and sexuality are on every page. This is very much the diary of a young woman trying to cope with some really dark and heavy times in her life, and trying to figure out what it means to her to be a woman, and especially a woman of color in the modern world.
   Milk and Honey is definitely a small but mighty book. A book that will kick you in the crotch, punch you in the face and leave you wanting more. One of my favorite reads so far this year.

Final Review: 4/5 bookmarks.