November 23, 2011

Reviews...just because

Powers: The Definitive Collection vol 1 & 2 by Brian Michael Bendis & Mike Oeming - This was an impulse pickup from the Sharonville branch. The second volume was on the shelf, so I went ahead and reserved vol 1,3,4. I'd heard of but not much about Powers before so I came in pretty blank. The plot can be summed up as a simple enough two-detectives-investigate-super-powered-homicides. The main characters, however, seem to have a whole lot more in their backgrounds than we're initially lead to believe, and their ties to the Powers community become a significant part of the storyline.

The book strikes a tone that is a combination of detective noir and quick-paced,knowing police drama, with the characters speaking to each other in quick, clipped half sentences, requiring the reader to catching the meaning amidst the patter. That combination along with the deepening plot as to the growing dissatisfaction of the common public with their superpowered protectors and a slowly-revealed governmental conspiracy makes for an engaging read illustrated in perfect, drastically cartoon style.

How Baking Works by Paula Figoni - I'm always on the lookout for books that might work for my chemistry extra credit assignment in which the students read a non-textbook chemistry book and answer some questions, make a video, present a project, do sumpin'. I didn't really know what this book was when I grabbed it from the PLCH shelves, but it turns out that this textbook - used in culinary and baking programs - is perfect. The chapters are filled with rockin' science written at a level that is imminently approachable and connected with examples and exercises that the students can perform in their own kitchen.

Great choice and one I'm going to see if I can swing through for the school to buy.

(At this point, I'm going with quick thoughts as I've been writing this post for a week now and haven't gotten it finished...)

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel...

All-Star Batman and Robin...

Superman/Batman: Night and Day

Tangent Comics: Reign of Superman

All are awful. Avoid them.

Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson - book of infographics from online designer, baseball fan, and all-around British can check out his work here...some overlap, lots of unique stuff on each side (book/website)...surprisingly, book isn't all infographics (which I would have also enjoyed)...also interesting stories about Robinson's journey to baseball as a British guy who has lived in Germany, New York, Toronto, and England...seems a nice guy who's open to wandering the US on a trip to various baseball parks and making friends along the way (but not so saccharine that he's above a little mocking of some of those 'friends')...good read...quick, too...lots of info packed into beautifully-designed infographics...

The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures by Dave Stevens - I don't get what the big deal is. Yes, he draws Betty Page as being dead sexy, but that's not really a raison d'ĂȘtre for an entire eight comic book issues. The plot is thin. The characters are one-dimensional...there's no real resolution...check out the visual highlights at the link above but let the rest pass...

The Science of Good Food by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss - This one doesn't work for my EC project as there isn't any sort of thematic chapter.  It's mostly just an encyclopedia listed alphabetically by food type. Some of the entries are interesting, and it might be a useful reference tool for cooks who want to know some of the science behind various ingredients, but it's nothing I want or need.

Luther (season 1) - fascinating stuff...only six episodes in the first BBC season...makes for a compressed storyline...great lead from Idris Elba (Stringer Bell of The Wire)...interesting morality play with the titular Luther growing an odd friendship with a killer from episode 1...certainly worth a watch even though the six-hour running time doesn't allow for subtlety or slow character development...second season (only four episodes) came in at PLCH yesterday...looking forward to seeing where this one's going to go as the lead is about as self-destructive as can be...

Batman: Under the Red Hood (DVD) - adaptation of DC's "Under the Hood" storyline with Jason Todd's return from the beyond...the story's good enough, even doing fair justice to the flashback to "A Death in the Family"...the characters work, the storyline interesting, the conflict works...the voices don't work for me...I missed the Batman and Joker that I know, Kevin Conroy and Mark was a noticeable loss for me, and I just couldn't get past it...well done but not right for me...

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - This one's the find of the week. Novel set in twenty or thirty years in a dystopian future in which the entire world spends the majority of their life jacked into Oasis, an entirely immersive online world with thousands of worlds and billions of people. Our protagonist is a gunter (egg hunter) searching for the Oasis's creator's final Easter Egg - billions of dollars and total control of the Oasis. The character quickly - in our story, anyway, it takes nearly a decade, most of which happens before the book opens 0 - moves from nobody to Oasis-wide celebrity when he becomes the first player to unlock step one of the three steps to the Easter Egg. Along the way, of course, our lead falls in (and out of) love, runs up against the great evil of the Oasis (a murderous corporation), nearly loses, comes out on top thanks to his devotion to the hunt, and ultimately learns the value of friendship and the real world.

The real fun here comes from the 1980's references that are the gist of the hunt. Apparently the Oasis's creator's obsessions were with the 1980's and the secrets of the Egg hunt can only be unlocked by obsessively watching the movies, listening to the music, viewing the television shows, and playing the video games of the 1980's. The book is crafted almost entirely of references to Atari and Commodore 64 games, Michael Jackson and Hall and Oates tunes, Family Ties and the anime of the decade.

The book doesn't feel like it's of high quality, but it certainly was an enjoyable read. I strongly recommend it for anyone who remembers early Dungeons and Dragons modules, Adventure on the Atari, or computer games on floppy discs.

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