Five Graphic Novel Releases For June.

If the list below is anything to go by, it looks like June is a big release month for DC Comics and that will be good news for their fans.  As for me, I’m rather intrigued by ‘Bodies’, so I will be aiming to pick up a copy; check back later in the year for my review.

batgirlTitle ~ Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside (The New 52)
Author ~ Cameron Stewart
Illustrator ~ Babs Tarr
ISBN ~ 978-1401253325
Publisher ~ DC Comics; 52nd edition
Binding ~ Hardcover
Page Count ~ 176 pages
Series ~ New 52

Release Date ~ June 16, 2015

Description: Barbara Gordon’s ready for a fresh start. She’s packing her bags, crossing the bridge, and heading to Gotham’s coolest neighborhood: Burnside. And when a freak fire burns up her costume and gear, Babs has the chance to become a whole new Batgirl!

But she barely slips on her new DIY costume before Batgirl starts trending as Gotham’s first viral vigilante — and attracting a new wave of enemies who want her social-media spotlight for themselves. Meanwhile, the girl beneath the gear’s got a whole new crew of friends, college classes that are kicking her Bat-butt and a dating scene that can make anyone want to swipe left on life.

This bat’s done living in the shadows. But will the bright lights of Burnside burn her for good?

Red-hot creative team Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr reinvent Barbara Gordon from the boots up in BATGIRL: THE BATGIRL OF BURNSIDE (collects issues #35-40 and a story from SECRET ORIGINS #10).

bodiesTitle ~ Bodies
Author ~ Si Spencer
Illustrator ~ Tula Lotay and Phil Winslade
ISBN ~ 978-1401252755
Publisher ~ Vertigo
Binding ~ paperback
Page Count ~ 208 pages
Series ~

Release Date ~ June 16, 2015

Description: LONDON, 1890. As Jack the Ripper stalks the streets, Inspector Edmond Hillinghead-the city’s most diligent detective-applies his skills to an even harder case. The victim is an unidentified male. The killer may have powerful allies. And Edmond’s darkest secret may be exposed if he gets too close to the truth….

LONDON, 1940. As the Blitz rains bombs down on the city, Inspector Charles Whiteman reigns over its streets. He escaped the Nazis in Poland only to run the very rackets he’s supposed to shut down. But when he discovers a mysterious murder victim, his double life may be destroyed…

LONDON, 2014. As racist rioters wreak havoc in the name of their prejudiced patriotism, Detective Sergeant Shahara Hasan leads the fight against them. As a Muslim cop, she’s English to the core. But the corpse she’s uncovered may reveal something rotten deep below the surface…

LONDON, 2050. As the mind-scrambling pulsewave plagues the last survivors of a terrifying techno-apocalypse, the amnesiac young woman known only as Maplewood can barely understand the body she’s discovered. But this ritual killing is identical to those from decades past-and the link between them all is stronger, and stranger, than anyone could dream…

In BODIES, writer Si Spencer teams up with Meghan Hetrick, Dean Ormston, Tula Lotay and Phil Winslade-four incredible artists, one for each era-to slice open the modern murder mystery and uncover the strange secret heart within!

aquamanTitle ~ Aquaman and the Others Vol. 2: Alignment: Earth (The New 52)
Author ~ Dan Jurgens
Illustrator ~ Lan Medina and Allen Martinez
ISBN ~ 978-1401253318
Publisher ~ DC Comics
Binding ~ Paperback
Page Count ~ 176 pages
Series ~ New 52

Release Date ~ June 30, 2015

Description:  Aquaman and his teammates, The Others, are a mysterious group of outsiders who have put aside past vendettas and personal histories to work together. However, when the secrets of their past are used against them and threaten their lives in the present day, can they keep their tenuous union intact? In facing deadly villains like the KGBeast, the King of Atlantis and his allies may not live to ask that question!

black canaryTitle ~ Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell
Author ~ Paul Dini
Illustrator ~ Joe Quinones
ISBN ~ 978-1401255497
Publisher ~ DC Comics
Binding ~ Paperback
Page Count ~ 144 pages
Series ~ Black Canary and Zatanna

Release Date ~ June 23, 2015

Description:  Black Canary. Zatanna Zatara. Two of the DC Universe’s brightest stars join forces to combat a deadly new threat-a chilling supernatural foe that preys on their weaknesses and unleashes their awesome powers against each other.

A year ago, Black Canary infiltrated a gang of female criminals set to pull a dangerous heist at a Las Vegas casino. Its leader was skilled in hand-to-hand combat and with more than a passing interest in the occult, specifically black magic, one nasty customer. Rather than be taken by Canary or the law, she went to her death, vowing she would get revenge on Canary and her own former gang members. Now, a year to the day later, death stalks those gang members, and Canary must turn to her friend Zatanna to help investigate.

he manTitle ~ He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Vol. 5: The Blood of Greyskull
Author ~ Dan Abnett
Illustrator ~ Pop Mhan
ISBN ~ 978-1401253394
Publisher ~ DC Comics
Binding ~ Paperback
Page Count ~ 144 pages
Series ~ He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

Release Date ~ June 23, 2015

Description:  She-Ra has the power!

One thousand years ago, when Hordak first invaded Eternia, King Grayskull forged the mighty Sword of Power in the very fires of Eternity. The magic weapon defeated the monstrous conqueror, but could do nothing to stop a mutinous overthrow by the King’s closest allies. Though Grayskull had rescued his realm with a blade of peace, his blood was spilled that same night with a crooked blade of betrayal.

Now, Hordak’s hordes have returned and seized control of Eternia. With King Randor dead, He-Man steps forward to lead Eternia back to glory. Newly transcended as the Sorceress, Teela has told him of a secret on the forbidden island of Anwat-Gar that could turn the tide of the war. To retrieve this mysterious advantage, Adam must convince his long-lost sister Adora that she has a place amongst the Masters of the Universe, and the two will have to fight through the perilous Fright Zone… together!

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‘And now for something completely different’

“Let’s face it, writing is hell.”
~William Styron

writers almanacI thought it was about time to take a break from the book reviews, and my attempts at writing articles I think may interest people, and hand today over to those who actually know what they are about.  Today, Wednesday August 28, 2013, I am turning my blog over to “The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor”.  For those of you reading who may not be familiar with this web site, it contains daily poems, prose, and literary history from Garrison Keillor, and other Authors.  Not only do these great folks keep this website full of wonderful tidbits, they also produce a podcast for us to listen to as we go about our day.  So, without further ado, take it away “The Writer’s Almanac”:

“Song of Smoke
by Kevin Young

To watch you walk
cross the room in your black

corduroys is to see
civilization start—
the wish-
whish-whisk

of your strut is flint
striking rock—the spark

of a length of cord
rubbed till

smoke starts—you stir
me like coal

and for days smolder.
I am no more

a Boy Scout and besides,
could never

put you out—you
keep me on

all day like an iron, out
of habit—

you threaten, brick—
house, to burn

all this down. You leave me
only a chimney.

“Song of Smoke” by Kevin Young, From Jelly Roll © Knopf, 2003. Reprinted with permission.

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It’s the birthday of the father of German literature, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , born in Frankfurt, Germany (1749), the author of the epic drama Faust.

He moved to Italy in 1786, and when he returned to Germany two years later, he fell in love with a woman from Weimer, Christiane Vulpius, a 23-year-old who was 16 years his junior. That year, he wrote her an epithalamium, a wedding poem, but he didn’t actually marry her; instead, the couple lived together for 18 years unwed. That is, until one night, Christiane saved Goethe’s life by driving off a band of Napoleon’s soldiers who had broken in their home. Goethe went down to a church the very next day and married her, his live-in girlfriend of 18 years.

In 1806, the same year of the home invasion and marriage, Goethe published a preliminary version of Part I of his great work, Faust, the story of a brilliant scholar named Heinrich Faust, who makes a deal with the devil. The great epic has it all: seduction, murder, sleeping potions, an illegitimate love child, a stray poodle that transforms into the devil, contracts signed with blood, imprisonment in dungeons, heavenly voices, and even redemption. Faust is often called a “closet drama” because it’s intended to be read, not performed. Goethe spent 50 years working on this two-volume masterpiece, finishing it in 1832, the year of his death.

Christiane survived for only a decade after her and Goethe’s wedding. In later life, after recovering from a heart disease that nearly killed him, the 73-year-old Goethe fell passionately in love with an 18-year-old woman, Ulrike von Levetzow, and was devastated when she turned down his proposals of marriage.

Goethe, who said, “One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.”

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It’s the birthday of poet Rita Dove , born in Akron, Ohio (1952). Her father had a master’s degree in chemistry but had to work as an elevator operator because he was black. He eventually became the first African-American chemist to work for Goodyear Tires.

He encouraged his daughter to take advantage of education, and she was at the top of her class. She was chosen as one of 100 of the best high school students in the country to visit the president of the United States. Her parents assumed that she would go on to become a doctor or lawyer, so when she announced that she wanted to be a poet, they weren’t sure what to make of it. She said, “[My father] swallowed once and said, ‘Well, I’ve never understood poetry, so don’t be upset if I don’t read it.'” Her teachers at college told her that she was throwing her education away if she didn’t study something more practical.

But with her poetry collection Thomas and Beulah (1986), based loosely on the lives of her grandparents, she became only the second African-American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and she went on to become the first African-American national poet laureate.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Guest Host: Billy Collins
Host: Garrison Keillor
Writers: Betsy Allister, Holly Vanderhaar
Technical Director: Thomas Scheuzger
Engineer: Noah Smith
Producer: Joy Biles
Permissions: Kathy Roach
Web Producer: Ben Miller”

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‘You are NOT allowed to read that!’

bebelplatz-berlin-memorial-to-burned-books

Bebelplatz Book Burning Memorial

 ‘The fact that anybody wants to burn a book shows you how powerful the physical object is, both as itself and as a symbol’ ~ Chuck Wendig.

Until I married my American Husband I was not fully aware of the fact that there are people out there who want to restrict my access to the types of book I read, not just fiction but non-fiction as well.  I was also naive in thinking that book burning was a thing of history; for example the May 10 1933 book burning in Berlin, the monument to which I have visited.  Book burning is also a thing of the 21st century and takes places in America for various reasons; Non-approved Bibles, books and music in Canton, North Carolina in 2009; Tolkien’s works publicly burned in Alamogordo, NM, in 2001 as satanic.  Really?  In the 21st Century, here in America, intelligent people would fail to celebrate Tolkien’s masterful achievement and, instead, find it threatening enough to burn it?

I feel it would be amiss of me as a lover of the printed word not to write about this form of censorship and, how we are slowly creeping towards a more complete ‘Nanny State’ where we are told what is good for us, and how much of it we can consume.  I understand that there needs to be checks and balances in place for some things, but when it comes to art, and to me writing is an art form, personal choice needs to be allowed to run free.  If, after reading the synopsis of a book on a fly-leaf, we feel uncomfortable or it may be against our beliefs, we have the choice to put the book down and find something more to our tastes.

jailed-book1If you are completely confused by this topic, I’m referring to the upcoming Banned Books Week.  Whether you may be blissfully unaware, or choose to pretend it doesn’t exist, it does with challenged and banned books spanning all genres and reading age groups.  But what is Banned Books Week?  It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read that is typically held during the last week of September and highlighting the value of free and open access to information; it brings together the book community, from reader to publisher, like nothing else can as they share their support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some may consider unorthodox or unpopular.

By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship, and all of the books featured during this week have been targeted with removal or restrictions in libraries and schools, by individuals or groups. While books have been and continue to be banned, the fact is that, in a majority of cases, the books have remained available, unless you happened to be in Alamogordo NM, where not only Tolkien but the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling were committed to the flames.

banned-book-week-pic-1

Although we are still a month out from Banned Book Week, I strongly feel it is an issue that needs to get publicity not just for one week of every year but all the time.  However, I know how difficult this would be so, in my attempt to stand up for an art form that gives me great pleasure, as well as broadening my mind and horizons, I am going to focus all of my posts for the week of 22-28 September 2013 with books that have been challenged since the beginning of the 21st century.  I will be choosing four books and proudly showcasing them on the blog.

I am giving you all advance warning of this, in case there are some people out there who would rather not see these books blazoned across their computer screen, and they will know to give my reviews a miss for that week.  I will not just be showcasing the books that week, but also listing why these books were challenged and also giving a little background on the Authors.  List of nominees for this week of challenged books are:

2001 – Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers
2002 – Harry Potter (series)*, by J.K. Rowling (because I have never read any Harry Potter books)
2003 – The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1), by Jonathan Stroud
2004 – The Alice Series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
2005 – Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
2006 – The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood
2007 – The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier
2008 – His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
2009 – Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story, by John Berendt
2010 – Running with Scissors, by Augusten Burroughs
2011 – The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier, by Alan Moore
2012 – The Glass Castle: A Memoir, by Jeanette Walls
*Please note, where books are part of a series, I will only be featuring the first.

One last thing to bear in mind, and an indication of just how out of hand some of these book challenges are becoming; in 2010 in the Menifee, Calif. Union School District pulled the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary because a parent complained when a child came across the term ‘oral sex’.  Officials for the District said, at the time it was pulled, that they are forming a committee to consider a permanent ban of the dictionary; whether they went ahead with this is not known.

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