Friday, January 29, 2016

Amazing Fantastic Incredible by Stan Lee

Title: Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir
Author: Stan Lee
Pages: 192 pages
Published: November 3rd 2015 by Touchstone
Source: Borrowed
Links: goodreads,

In this gorgeously illustrated, full-color graphic memoir, Stan Lee—comic book legend and cocreator of Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, the Incredible Hulk, and a legion of other Marvel superheroes—shares his iconic legacy and the story of how modern comics came to be. Stan Lee is a man who needs no introduction. The most legendary name in the history of comic books, he has been the leading creative force behind Marvel Comics, and has brought to life—and into the mainstream—some of the world’s best-known heroes and most infamous villains throughout his career. His stories—filled with superheroes struggling with personal hang-ups and bad guys who possessed previously unseen psychological complexity—added wit and subtlety to a field previously locked into flat portrayals of good vs. evil. Lee put the human in superhuman and in doing so, created a new mythology for the twentieth century. In this beautifully illustrated graphic memoir—illustrated by celebrated artist Colleen Doran—Lee tells the story of his life with the same inimitable wit, energy, and offbeat spirit that he brought to the world of comics. Moving from his impoverished childhood in Manhattan to his early days writing comics, through his military training films during World War II and the rise of the Marvel empire in the 1960s to the current resurgence in movies, Amazing Fantastic Incredible documents the life of a man and the legacy of an industry and career. This funny, moving, and incredibly honest memoir is a must-have for collectors and fans of comic books and graphic novels of every age.
Honestly.. this book was never on my radar.  I may or may not have heard about it. A friend of mine loaned it to me though since he knows I like comics so of course I had to read it.  I do think this is a perfect memoir for Stan Lee.  The comic reads very friendly, and of course as I read it I read it in Stan Lee's voice.   The comic talks about Lee's young life which wasn't the easiest.  Though... I do think he was in the right place right time to get his comics written. I thought that sometimes the comic was too light hearted for me to really care about Lee's life.  At the same time though I don't enjoy non-fiction or biographies and this one I did enjoy.  So I suppose this format was perfect for me.

 I did learn a lot from this comic... one of the biggest things I learned was that he doesn't write his comics.  WHAT you say????  I say the same thing.  Apparently Stan Lee just comes up with the idea of a character, someone else actually writes the story.  This is Marvel's style (DC does it different I guess). Let me explain this a little more.  At Marvel someone gives the illustrator an idea and the ILLUSTRATOR draws the story out. Then someone comes a long and writes the story.  I did a little more research in this and it turns out a lot of people are upset with Stan Lee from the early days when he was at Marvel.  In this story Lee mentions a lot of people (perhaps to make up for not giving these people credit in the past) including someone named Jack Kirby.  Kirby has the most complaints with Lee.  Kirby's family actually took Marvel to court saying he owns the copyright to quite a few of the characters.  It almost went to the supreme court but the case was settled by Marvel in 2014.

I think that the comic book industry drama of the early days is what most people who are long time Stan Lee fans want to read about and it was avoided.  I was supposed to see Stan Lee once at the Denver Comic Con but he canceled a week or two before he was supposed to be there.  Still bummed about that. Great illustrating in the comic. It's really neat to read about someone's life in comic form. Colleen Doran drew it (also known for the Sandman series) and does a fantastic job.  In the end, it really is too bad that comic books writers/illustrators don't make a lot of money.  It's like people who write songs for music artists.  You just don't get the appreciation you should.  All in all this was a fun read.

This counts for 5 comics towards my 2016 Graphic Novels Challenge.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Austen and Grahame-Smith

Title: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Author: Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
Pages: 319 pages
Published: May 1st 2009 by Quirk Classics
Source: Owned Book
Links: goodreads

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.
I'd been wanting to read this book for a while... and now that the movie is about to be released soon I went and grabbed it out of my bookcase and got started.  The book is supposed to be funny... but it's not my sense of humor.  I didn't find it funny but I did find it entertaining.  I do like Austen's books, so what intrigued me about this book was the fact that I had heard that it was the exact text of Austen's book (Pride and Prejudice) with some zombie action added in from Seth Grahame-Smith.  I think that  there are a few things you should know 1) you don't need to read the original before reading this edition, 2) if you don't like Austen or the original Pride and Prejudice then you won't like this book and 3) if you love Pride and Prejudice and are a purest then you will not like this book. 

This novel adds in a little story where the men and women of the time get sent to Japan or China to get lessons on how to basically be ninjas and kill zombies. Honestly I was a little more interested in reading the Austen parts then the Grahame-Smith parts.  Those got old and little odd.  There were some odd sexual plots added which was just weird with the period the book was written.  Another example of some oddness in the book is a line like this one: She remembered the lead ammunition in her pocket and offered it to him. “Your balls, Mr. Darcy?” He reached out and closed her hand around them, and offered, “They belong to you, Miss Bennet.” I re-read that line like 4 times wondering if I had read it right! 

I think that if someone has always been afraid of reading this classic then they should probably just skip this original and only read this edition.  Of course then if they are quizzed about Pride and Prejudice they might say a character dies from being a zombie and be completely wrong.   But it's not this zombie killing great horror book.  There was finally a battle of some sort at the very end, but otherwise not a lot of zombies at all.  There are illustration in the book that are really just amazing and fun.  Those put a smile on my face. 

I am looking forward to seeing the movie next week.  I think it's going to be cheesy campy fun. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Pages: 292 pages
Published: December 29th 2009 by Harper
Source: Borrowed from my cousin
Link: goodreadsThe Happiness Project Blog

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. “The days are long, but the years are short,” she realized. “Time is passing, and I’m not focusing enough on the things that really matter.” In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. In this lively and compelling account—now updated with new material by the author—Rubin chronicles her adventures during the twelve months she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier. Among other things, she found that novelty and challenge are powerful sources of happiness; that money can help buy happiness, when spent wisely; that outer order contributes to inner calm; and that the very smallest of changes can make the biggest difference.
I'd been wanting to check out this book ever since I heard about it.  I mean.. who doesn't want to be happier.  If you are as happy as you could possibly be well lucky you.  I was at my cousin's house a few months back and saw she owned the book and asked if I could borrow it.  I like these little suggestive help books.  I read through them and get ideas and I'm proud to say I have already been doing quite a few things this book mentioned.  Seriously... I think this women did a lot of research for this book.  Who knew there were so many sources out there to find happiness.  Two references she mentioned in this book are St. Therese's The Story of a Soul and Dalia Lama The Art of Happiness both I have never read so I put immediately on hold at the library.

The author takes on this Happiness Project for an entire year, each month focusing on something different in her life.  For examples marriage, kids, work, (I skipped those two chapters), a chapter about eternity (though she is not religious) friends and other topics.  Really what I found most promising in the book was a section about getting rid of clutter.  Most of the reviews I read on this book also liked that part.  She must've just written it so well it inspired all of us. I've personally been working on my own happiness project for about 10 years now.  I suffered from a bad depression in my early 20s and ever since then I try to do things that make me happy.  A lot of what the book talks about I figured out on my own.

Some people have commented that the author really has nothing to be unhappy about. She comes from wealth has a great marriage, a great job, and all that.  I think though it's unfair to judge someone for these reasons.  I remember one time there was a huge wildfire in the city I live in.  It went through a wealthy area of homes (over 400 burned) and I just kept hearing people talk about the fact that it wasn't a big deal because it happened to wealthy people.  These people lost everything in the fire as far as possessions.  I'm talking about photographs, keepsakes, pets, things that mattered to them.  It shouldn't have mattered how much money they had.  Unhappiness can happen to ANYONE.

I think this was a positive book and a good read if you really are looking for happiness.  One of the parts of the book that annoyed me was that she was talking about being in contact with friends more. Apparently she is one of "those" friends who just got too busy with their lives to bother to stay in touch with people and thinks that by sending a birthday card each year to her friends that is going to solve that.  I totally disagree.  I tried to reach out to friends who were just like her.. and honestly I got tired of trying to get them to be my friend.  If they reached out to me after 10 years and then just think we are going to chat on the phone every weekend it's just not going to happen.  Rubin was upset that one of her friends didn't really respond to her trying to reconnect after 10 years.  Huh.

It was an good read... though I won't take a year to try to do what she did.  And like the book Eat, Pray, Love it must be nice to be able to do this project and get paid to try to be happy.

3 out of 5

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray - Review

Title: Lair of Dreams
Author: Libba Bray
Pages: 613
Published: August 25th 2015 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Libray

The longing of dreams draws the dead, and this city holds many dreams. After a supernatural showdown with a serial killer, Evie O’Neill has outed herself as a Diviner. With her uncanny ability to read people’s secrets, she’s become a media darling, earning the title “America’s Sweetheart Seer.” Everyone’s in love with the city’s newest It Girl…everyone except the other Diviners. Piano-playing Henry DuBois and Chinatown resident Ling Chan are two Diviners struggling to keep their powers a secret—for they can walk in dreams. And while Evie is living the high life, victims of a mysterious sleeping sickness are turning up across New York City. As Henry searches for a lost love and Ling strives to succeed in a world that shuns her, a malevolent force infects their dreams. And at the edges of it all lurks a man in a stovepipe hat who has plans that extend farther than anyone can guess…As the sickness spreads, can the Diviners descend into the dreamworld to save the city? In this heart-stopping sequel to The Diviners, Printz Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Libba Bray takes readers deeper into the mystical underbelly of New York City.
I had been waiting for this book, the sequel to The Diviners for a long long time.  Like two years!! The books in this series are quite long so it's no surprise that I had a hard time remembering a  lot of the details from the first book and I searched the internet for a synopsis of The Diviners to help me remember and there was pretty much nothing out there.  So I had to just go off memory when starting this book (and my memory isn't great).

This book pretty much follows the format of the first book in the series.  Long... lots and lots of words.  It is slow to read, but I really liked it.  But I really enjoyed it. I love that this book takes place in the 1920s.  It is full of jazz, speakeasies, flappers, and ghosts.  Yes that's right ghosts.  This book is sort of in the horror genre.  The atmosphere in the book is spot on.  When you read it.. you read from the perspective of different characters in each chapter.  Their stories are pretty much going on simultaneously so you get information on what is going on with so many people. There are a few new characters added into this book that weren't in the Diviners and I look forward to see what they all end up doing in the final book (which may not come out for another 3 years).

I like how now the Diviners are so main stream in society. Evie has her own radio show where she shows off her Diviner skills.  I was a little disappointed that in this book we don't get to spend as much time in the Museum of American Forklore.  I wish that the characters spent more time together too.  The really don't all meet up and work together till the very end of the book.

I don't know why the cover had to change.  The original Diviners cover was really neat and what drew me to that book.  Then when the cover for this book was revealed you could tell a new illustrator was hired because the Diviners cover changed to match this book.

I would recommend this book to you if you enjoyed the Diviners.  Plus.. if you enjoy horror.  I love horror and it's always fun to discover it in young adult books.  I am sure you won't see my review for the third book for another 3 years.  Seems a lifetime away doesn't it??

4 out of 5

Monday, January 4, 2016

Comic Adventures Issue #34

I read a lot of comics and rarely review them here on the blog. That's because I really don't have a lot to say for an entire post.  So I thought I would review several comics on one post.  I will still review graphic novels on their own now and then, but this is where I will talk about super-hero type comics (DC/Marvel) or sequels to some that I have already reviewed.

This issue I talk about Ms. Marvel Vol. 3, Aquaman Vol. 6, Batman vol 7 Endgame, and Arkham Manor.

I am still really enjoying this series.  I think that this is a perfect series for young girls and totally what the whole DC New 52 Batgirl revamp was going for but failed at. There are a few tie-ins to this comic.  Loki makes and appearance and so does SHIELD.  I am guessing it is the SHIELD from the show since those characters were the ones we read about here. The artist changes here so we lose some of those cool little funny drawings that happen in the backgrounds of the panels.  Loki's part in this book is kind of funny.  He tried to help Kamala's friend Bruno ask her out to a dance at their high school.  Apparently there is a big story going on during the publication of this comic called Secret Wars so this is one of those comics stuck in limbo until that is over.  Then I'll have to try to figure out what is happening after the Secret Wars.  DC does this too.  Ugh.  I wish I knew a little more about the Marvel universe but alas there are just too many comics to keep up with.

3 out of 5
I have enjoyed the Aquaman series so much.  I started reading it as soon as the New 52 relaunched all the comics and I think it is still wonderful. In this comic we read about how Atlantis has been rejecting him.  There have been many earthquakes and whatnot.  This is because Arthur is half human and have Atlantian. He is trying to figure out how to fix this.  In this issue the Martian Manhunter, Solovar and the flash villain Gorilla Grodd all make an appearance. Mera is such a strong character in the Aquaman comics, she isn't made some sort of sidekick.  She is pretty much a main character. I really love the art work too.   There is a great villain in this comic too, the Chimera, who is a good match for Aquaman especially since the Chimera can also speak to and control sea life. 

4 out of 5
I have really enjoyed this Batman series.  This one I was a little confused at the beginning.  Where did Alfred's daughter come from ( I think I read that this was in Batman Eternal I just can't keep up). At the beginning of the comic BOOM the Justice League shows up and starts attacking Batman.  Who then reveals that the Joker is back.  He has sent out a toxin to all of Gotham.  (It is never revealed how the Justice League is given the toxin).  So this comic takes everything you know about the Joker and throws it out the window.  MAJOR SPOILERS COMING.  I wouldn't normally put the spoilers in my comic reviews but we've got to talk about this.  The Joker is now out to kill Batman (he never was before) and actually manages to do it by the end. Alfred loses a hand....  Joker's face is grown back on.  There is a lot going on in this book.  Plus I just read that there is a Batman vol. 8 coming up.  So is Batman coming back from the dead already?? What happens to other comics in the Batman series when the main character dies off???  3 out of 5

OK... I really had no idea what this was going to be about when I first checked it out from the library.  Turns out that Arkham was destroyed in the Batman Eternal Comics (I haven't been reading those) so Wayne Manor is now Arkham because of martial law. So... Batman goes undercover as a patient in Arkham in his own house. He goes all detective mode because as soon at Arkham Manor opens patients are dying. I thought this was a good Batman detective comic.  We don't have him running all over Gotham, we get him running around the mansion the entire issue figuring things out.  Though it does concern me about the future Arkham Manor comics.  Will they all be taking place in the mansion with Batman running around trying to figure things out???  I liked this comic but there are just so many Batman titles out there I am not sure if this one can hold up. 

4 out of 5 

This counts for 4 comics towards my 2016 Graphic Novels Challenge.

Bout of Books 15

Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 4th and runs through Sunday, January 10th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 15 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Here we go!!  

Goals:  Read 5 books, Comment on participants blogs, Do some Challenges, Write Reviews

Monday: January 4th
Number of Pages I've read today: 120
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0
Books: The Happiness Project

Updates:  I got a little behind on reading because I am addicted to this Netflix documentary called Making a Murderer.  Everyone is talking about it so I had to get on Netflix and get to watching.  It reminds me a lot of the podcast called Serial.  

Tuesday: January 5th
Number of Pages I've read today:
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Wednesday: January 6th
Number of Pages I've read today: 
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Thursday: January 7th
Number of Pages I've read today:
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Friday: January 8th
Number of Pages I've read today: 
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Saturday: January 9th
Number of Pages I've read today:
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Sunday: January 10th
Number of Pages I've read today: 
Number of books I've read today: 0
Total number of books I've read: 0

Sunday Post

Let's chat about what's going on this week... on my blog.. on other blogs... on the internet... and just everywhere!    I link up my post to Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Reader.

Hello all!!  Well the holiday season is over.  I had such a nice time this Christmas because I got to go home to Utah and visit my parents.  There was snow and cold the entire time  which was perfect since some of my family that was there was from Texas.

This week I finally got on my blog and started looking around at it.  There was a post I did a while back in October I think, about a mystery package I received in the mail. As a book blogger of course I did a post about it.  I really had no idea what it was and honestly thought it was some sort of book campaign.  So I did what I thought was a fun and great post.  I thought it was a post where others who got the box could come and share what they discovered about the package.  Well apparently there must've been quite a few people who were given this package over Christmas because the comments on the post went crazy.  There was some commenter who said I ruined the experience for everyone... and blah blah.  They were reporting me to the company and that the company was going to sue me.  I don't know.. people were going bananas over my little book blog's post so I just deleted the post.  I don't know if I should've or not but honestly I don't care enough.  Plus these aren't my followers or anything they are just random people on the internet (unlike us book bloggers of course).  So that happened.  I am sorry to those who felt like it ruined the experience.  I really would've never done that ... I HATE spoilers.  In fact... I think in the past I have done entire posts on spoilers and how terrible they are.  Guess that mystery package shouldn't be gifted to us "personal blogger" as I was called.  The company (the Mysterious Package Company) didn't make me pull it down or anything I just did it on my own.

I am looking forward to 2016.  Getting more posts up and more books read.  I really don't have any big goals for 2016.  I don't think I have ever really made some sort of huge resolution or anything.  It would seem like most of the time they don't work anyways. This year I will be spending my birthday and Valentines day alone (they are back to back).  Not sure how I feel about that.  I guess in the past 15 years I haven't been alone for it so I am really not sure what to do with myself!

Hope you all had a fabulous 2015 and that 2016 brings you many blessings.

In 2016 I am participating in the 9th Annual Graphic Novel Challenge.  More info:

designed by Nicola Mansfield

It's time to start signing up for the 2016 challenge.  No changes this year, but if anyone has any ideas for the big 10-year celebration next year get in touch with me.

  • Please write a sign-up post on your blog and then sign-up below with a link to yourspecific sign-up post (NOT to your home page).  

  • What counts:  graphic novels, collected trade editions, manga, comic strip collections, comic books or combinations of text and bubbles all in the same book. In print or digital. Anything else you feel is suitable.  My personal criteria is if it has either frames OR speech bubbles it counts.  I'm not going to be the comic police but if you are unsure, ask me in the comments any given month.

  • You must write a review and link to it for it to count towards the challenge. Reviews may be posted on your blog or goodreads or similar places. Several reviews may be gathered and posted in one link on your blog, but each book must be linked back here in the monthly linkies to count. Come back every month to record your progress.

Here is how the Challenge plays out:

runs from Jan.1 - Dec. 31, 2016


Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year (that's only 1 book a month)

Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year (Can you handle 2 books a month.)

Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year (Are you up to a book a week!)