Monday, December 31, 2018

Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland

My brother got me Judge Dredd: the Complete Brian Bolland years ago as a gift.  I loved the movie with Karl Urban and was really excited to get this, having never read any Judge Dredd comics before.  I don't know why, but I put off reading it for years, finally deciding to read it as what will probably be my last book of 2018.

Judge Dredd was created as a character for 2000 AD.  I don't think he was expected to be as popular as he became; he ended up becoming the cover character for the comic.  Brian Bolland did the art for a lot of the stories (and some of the covers, too).  What I didn't realize until I started reading this collection was that Bolland didn't always illustrate entire storylines: some multi-part stories had different illustrators, so this collection doesn't contain the entire plot.  Which was a real shame because a lot of the stories were super fun and interesting. 

Other than that, this collection is a lot of fun.  Bolland's art is fantastic, and the crazy world of Mega-City One is a lot of fun to read about.  After reading through this collection, I think I'm definitely going to need to rewatch the movie soon!  ;)

Friday, December 28, 2018

More Harley Quinn

My local library will no longer be subscribing to Hoopla. :(  Hoopla was where I read the majority of the Harley Quinn series last year.  With service ending, I decided to download Rebirth volumes 4-6 and binge through them before the end of the year.  Unfortunately I didn't realize there was one more volume I could have downloaded (they changed the numbering on the series so the newest graphic novel is "Volume 1" but it collects Harley Quinn issues 43-49; I used my last Hoopla download for a random other book before I realized what had happened).

So Volume 4 starts off with a visit from Harley's parents.  Things of course go wrong, but her parents end up really cool people who support her and are proud of her.  Then in Volume 5, Harley decides to finally take on the mayor of New York City by hitting him where it really hurts: she runs for election opposite him!  And what makes it all the more infuriating, pretty much every time she does something the city of New York loves her for it!  Then in Volume 6, Harley is dealing with the aftermath of the election (she lost someone she really cares about) and just wants to be left alone so her friends aren't put into more danger from her being around.  Unfortunately the Penguin takes that opportunity to invite many of the Gotham super villains to Coney Island in an attempt to take over!

I really enjoyed reading Harley's adventures again, and I'm sad that the library hasn't been getting these graphic novels outside of Hoopla.  :( 

Blame Master Edition Volume 1

I'd never heard of Blame until a friend of mine got me the first volume for Christmas. Flipping through it, I noticed there were very few words so I decided to read through it tonight.

Blame follows Kyrii on his journey to find a human with the "Net Terminal Gene." So he goes through a decrepit but futuristic world, battling people both biological and silicon, in an attempt to track down someone with the gene.

The story is extremely sparse, both in how it is told and in the details that the reader knows. I know that the gene will allow a human to communicate with the Administration. I have no idea why Kyrii needs to find someone with this gene or what he's trying to tell the Administration. Heck I don't really know anything about Kyrii. I found I had far more questions than answers as I was reading this book, questions that were never answered.

The artwork is gorgeous (it actually reminds me a bit of Low, which I read a few graphic novels of but didn't actually write about on here), but I had a hard time following a lot of the action (also similar to Low I believe). But the world is very intriguing; I would not be opposed to learning more about Kyrii and what the heck is going on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business

I remember buying Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio's The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business years ago, when I had dreams of starting my own Etsy shop (which I never actually did).  That was probably around the same time that I bought The Anti 9 to 5 Guide.

The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business is in many ways similar to The Anti 9 to 5 Guide.  Both deal with forging your own path (although The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business does more, while The Anti 9 to 5 Guide explores different options including flex time and telecommuting), and both books are rather dated (The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business actually reminded me of Will Write for Food in this regard - websites are treated as a new thing, no mention of social media or blogs, and lists of websites that are most likely out of date now).

But unlike The Anti 9 to 5 Guide, I honestly enjoyed reading The Girl's Guide to Starting Your Own Business.  Sure, some chapters were a slog (like the one on technology).  But the majority of the book was full of very helpful advice and interesting stories from (mostly) women entrepreneurs (that's another reason this book reminds me of Will Write for Food I guess). Friedman and Yorio provide an excellent overview of all the different aspects of running your own business, including the people you should have on your small business team (a lawyer and an accountant for sure) complete with the questions to ask them, dealing with tough stuff like hiring and firing employees, why you need a business plan (even if it isn't a formal plan), and common business writing you will need.  The key word here is overview though: if you're looking for an in-depth discussion on these topics, you might want to look at a more focused book.

The one issue I had with the earlier part of the book is that it is American; Friedman and Yorio talk about things like taxes and retirement plans, which were not at all applicable for people from other countries (plus there's a good chance that a lot of that information may be out of date even for Americans since the book is thirteen years old).  But other than that, I thought this was an excellent overview on how to go about starting your own business, particularly for women.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Tyke & Dusty: An Authorized Biography of Two House Cats

A few friends of mine keep giving me hilarious and random cat books for my birthday and other special occasions (that's how I ended up with Rhubarb).  That's how I ended up with Bill MacDonald's Tyke & Dusty: An Authorized Biography of Two House Cats.  Hilariously, Tyke & Dusty is not the first book I read by MacDonald; I picked up Vive Zigoto! Travels Through the South of France with a Lady Journalist and Her Cat many years ago (before I started this blog!) MacDonald was a local author who was very prolific; I believe the local library has around thirty of his books!

Tyke & Dusty goes through the lives of MacDonald's male cats Tyke and Dusty.  He and his wife, Cathy, got Dusty first; they talked MacDonald's aunt into taking the kitten on a trial basis, but after that didn't work out Dusty went to live with MacDonald.  A few months later (MacDonald and Cathy thought he might be lonely and unhappy at the time, though in hindsight they realize this probably wasn't the case), they adopted Tyke.  Where Dusty was a laid back, mellow, and friendly boy, Tyke was a tom cat through and through who was very athletic and liked to pick fights with other cats.

Tyke & Dusty details the lives of these two cats, from living in an apartment, moving to a bungalow, and spending their summers out at Silver Islet.  Their adventures are wildly entertaining and unique to each cat because of their wildly different personalities (and athletic abilities).  Despite running free out at Silver Islet every summer, both boys lived to very respectable ages: Tyke passed away at 16, while Dusty lived to be 20!

MacDonald gives the cats dialogue through the book (he mentions it in his foreword; it is what he believed the cats might have said under the circumstances).  I found most of this was completely unnecessary because MacDonald's writing while describing whatever situation the cats were in made it pretty clear what the cats might be thinking (particularly to anyone who lives with a house cat, who I think is the main audience for this book).  Sure, some of the dialogue he wrote for them was clever, but overall it was rather unnecessary. 

I also found it interesting that MacDonald also notes that he read The Cat Who Came for Christmas by Cleveland Amory.  Within the book, Amory says that he doesn't like how most animal books end with the animal dying, so he ends the book before the animal dies.  Unfortunately MacDonald does not do the same within Tyke & Dusty; he goes right to the end of both their lives (and I cried a lot during the last few chapters).

I wouldn't be opposed to reading more of MacDonald's writing.  From reading Tyke & Dusty (I don't really remember Vive Zigoto!) I quite liked his writing.  :)

As a side note, for some reason I keep pronouncing Tyke as "Ty-kee," even though I'm pretty sure it's supposed to be just "Tyke" (rhyming with "trike" or "bike").

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Will Write for Food

I wanted to write a recipe for an upcoming blog post on another blog.  I realized I had no idea how to write a I read an entire book on food writing!!! lol

I've had Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Restaurant Reciews, Articles, Memoir, Fiction and More... by Dianne Jacob for years now.  I believe I bought it back in university, when I used to wander into the bookstore to see what interesting writing books they were selling (I'm guessing that was around ten years ago or so...).  I'd never really thought about specifically writing about food, so this sounded like an interesting read.  Then it sat on my shelf for years because I don't really write specifically about food all that often.

Will Write for Food goes through quite a few topics in such a short book.  As the subtitle suggests, Jacob looks at restaurant reviewing, writing cookbooks and recipes, food memoirs, other nonfiction books, and fiction. She also has some chapters for getting started, freelancing, and getting your book published.  The book focuses on food writing, so in terms of these more general topics she includes advice and a starting point, then gives suggestions of other books you should read to learn more.  Will Write for Food is also packed full of discussions and advice from other food writers, chefs, and even editors and agents.  I should note that I have the 2005 edition of the book; there's an updated 2015 edition that will be less dated than this one was (I think the 2015 edition includes writing for blogs, which would have been handy for me).

If you want to write about food, this is definitely the book for you.  Jacobs is a teacher who wanted a reference book available for people trying to break into the industry, and her knowledge and passion for the subject clearly shows.  I also really liked how she brought in other expert's perspectives to all of her topics. 

Even if you're not planning on writing about food, learning about how it is done is rather fascinating.  The chapter on restaurant reviewing was particularly eye-opening in explaining how often reviewers must eat out (some even have to schedule their meals into their calendar just to keep track of where they're going!) and the lengths some of them have gone to try to remain anonymous.  I admit I have no interest in such a thing after reading this chapter!!!

I did find the initial chapters to be a bit of a slog though.  I didn't pick this book up to learn about becoming a writer; I was more interested in the nitty-gritty details about actual food writing (and Jacobs discussion of passion made me wonder why I was even reading this book because I'm not particularly passionate about food). But once I got through these chapters I thoroughly enjoyed reading Will Write for Food.