Review: Quince

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From Goodreads.com

Quince by Sebastian Kadlecik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Really cute and sweet and heartfelt. I loved the theme that being a superhero doesn’t mean that you need superpowers–sometimes, you just need to be there for someone. My favorite superhero is Superman for that very reason: At the core of those comics, he’s just a guy trying to help in the ways that he can. (The ways that he can just happen to be catching meteors and such, lol.) But sometimes the “ways that you can” mean volunteering, or being a friend, or just spreading a bit of happiness rather than hate. This book ends with the idea that sometimes the “cheesy” things can also be true–and I love this comic for saying that! Thank you for reminding us that our favorite characters are superHEROES. So yes, sometimes the cheesy things are true: That we can all put a little positive into the world. (Flying and bulletproof skin not necessary.)



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Review: Thornhill

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From goodreads.com

Thornhill by Pam Smy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A expected this to be a spooky story… but it was, in actuality, a very tragic one. The art-half the diary-half complemented each other perfectly. The end result meant that, while there was some creepy imagery, the story itself was a sad one about what happens when people are cruel to each other. I’d definitely recommend it; it’s a fast read, but it it packs a powerful punch.



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Best Books of 2021!

I did this on my personal Facebook page, and… well, I thought it would be fun here, too! But there will be one change: When I did this at the end of last year (you know, two weeks ago), I just listed the books, no order. This time, I’m totally going to rank them!

I love lists, and I love books, and if you’re on my blog, I’m guessing you do, too!

These are my top 20 books of last year. Did you read any of these? If so, what did you think? What were your favorite books of last year! I’d love to hear!


20. 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

19. The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink

18. Green Arrow (Rebirth) graphic novel series by Percy Benjamin, Julie Benson

17. The Flash by Mark Waid: Book Six

16. Green Lantern Corps (New 52) graphic novel series by Peter J. Tomasi

15. Library Wars: Love & War manga series by Kiiro Yumi

14. Blue Beetle (New 52) graphic novel series by Tony Bedard

13. Green Arrow/Black Canary: ‘Til Death Do They Part by Judd Winick

12. Fantastic Four graphic novel series by Dan Slott

11. Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest by Brad Meltzer

10. The Flash: United They Fall by Gail Simone

9. Spy Family manga series by Tatsuya Endo

8. Action Park: Fast Times, Wild Rides, and the Untold Story of America’s Most Dangerous Amusement Park by Andy Mulvihill, Jake Rossen

7.  Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Vol. 1: Hero of Metropolis by Robert Venditti

6. Resident Alien graphic novel series by Peter Hogan

5. Batman: The Dark Prince Charming by Enrico Marini

4. Lore Olympus, Vol. 1 by Rachel Smythe

3. Common Grounds by Troy Hickman

2. The Woods graphic novel series by James Tynion IV

1. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6: Review

From Goodreads.com

Library Wars: Love & War, Vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sweet and fun with lots of moments that make you smile. Plus, it’s a manga about why books shouldn’t be censored–which was particularly interesting in this installment since the story’s library actually decided to not include a magazine in their collection (one that specifically broke the law by printing the name of a minor serial killer). Yeah… talk about shades of gray and some interesting fodder for a debate/discussion. In short, this is a book that makes you think while also being a nice, sweet little rom-com. Not an easy balance to achieve, but it somehow manages it perfectly–which is saying something coming from someone who does not typically enjoy rom-coms.



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The Fade Out, Act Three: Review

From Goodreads.com

The Fade Out, Act Three by Ed Brubaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*This is the final book in a three-part graphic novel series.*

A pretty solid read. If I’m being honest, it was more “mature” than I usually prefer, but the story was still engaging. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how the mystery would be solved–and if justice would be served. I won’t answer that question because… spoilers… but I will say if you want a gritty tale of ’40s Hollywood that deals with everything from murder and conspiracy to PTSD and alcoholism… well, then this is a book that will give you that in a well-written–albeit at times uncomfortable–way.



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Ms. Marvel: Review

I’m planning on adding reviews to Word-Maleerie! I write them anyways–because when you read over 200 books a year (not as impressive as it sounds; a lot of them are graphic novels), you need SOMETHING to help keep the stories straight. And I figured… what better one to start with than my library’s most recent Comic Book Club read!

From Goodreads.com

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This was a re-read for my library’s Comic Book Club. And… yeah, I loved it just as much as I did the first time. Maybe even more, since it was really fun to go back to where these characters first began and compare them to who they are now. I love a good character evolution, and Ms. Marvel is full of that! Plus, lots of emphasis on family and community, while still being a story about finding your own identity and…. well, just a darn good superhero origin. Seriously, if you haven’t read Ms. Marvel, I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND.
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I’ve been wanting to read Ms. Marvel for ages, and now I finally have. In short, I found the entire graphic novel… delightful. I LOVE KAMALA. She is nerdy and fun! I feel like she would be most readers if we lived in the Marvel Universe and got superpowers. (But not in a Mary Sue way. She is totally her own person and unique–which was kind of the whole theme of this particular volume–but just also very relatable.) I can’t wait to see what other adventures are waiting for Ms. Marvel!



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A bit of escapism, a bit of comradery… and a whole lot of fun!

I promise I haven’t fallen off the face of the Earth. (Yet, at least… with how crazy the world has been the past couple of years, I wouldn’t be surprised if gravity spontaneously stopped.)

So why haven’t I been writing? Well, like I said previously, I’ve been working on some new ideas for how the blog will be organized. But mostly… the past few weeks were spent enjoying a little bit of escapism. (Because we all need some of that these days, right?)

Recently, I attended the Cincinnati Comic Expo. My husband and I have a tradition of going every year, and after having to skip 2020 (for obvious reasons)… boy, were we excited to go back!

But attending a comic convention isn’t as simple as just… you know, going to to the convention. Oh no. If you’re a comic collector, like me, and if you have a nice little room that you’ve dubbed “nerdvana” specifically for nerdy memorabilia… well, you have to plan.

So the week prior was spent analyzing my collection and pinpointing which classic comics would be a part of my search. (Which also involves checking various prices, because a FAIR comic and a FINE comic have very different values… and if you don’t want to overpay–because who does?–then you need to really know the cost spectrum.) Then there was figuring out which Funko Pops I would search for, if I wanted to look for any action figures… etc., etc.

If you didn’t believe I was a nerd before… well, there’s no going back now, is there?

After the con, there’s time spent re-organizing collections (and wishing you had more shelf space) and updating Excel spreadsheets (because I’m not just a nerd… I’m also a dork… AND PROUD!)

So, yes, while I’ve been working on my plan for Word-Maleerie, Phase 2… I’ve also just been… well, being wholly and unabashedly nerdy.

Which I would recommend. 5/5 stars.

If you’ve never wandered through a convention hall filled to bursting with all things comic, fantasy, sci-fi, and anime; if you’ve never wandered through crowds, elbow to elbow with fellow nerds dressed in quippy t-shirts or decked out as their favorite characters; if you’ve never sat in a hall as costumed fan after costumed fan strode onto the stage, with the audience cheering and applauding their skills; if you’ve never haggled over a comic right after a long conversation over DC and Marvel’s movies….

In short… if you’ve never let yourself just totally be among other people who are also just letting themselves be themselves… then please do. The first chance you get.

And it doesn’t have to be at a comic convention. It can be at a sporting event. Or in a gym. Or at a restaurant. Or in a theme park. People tend to think that nerds only exist “in a galaxy far, far away” or in Gotham City.

But we don’t. “Nerd” is really just a word that means passionate. I’ve met my fair share of sports nerds. Or roller coaster nerds. Or food nerds. They just tend to go by different titles: Jocks, or adrenaline junkies, or foodies.

But it all means the same thing: Loving what you love. Being who you are. And loving other people who are also just being who they are.

We need more of that. I’d say “especially these days,” but let’s be real: Humans have always had a tendency toward selfishness, or arrogance, or violence–or a million other pitfalls.

The good news is, we also have a tendency toward comradery and kindness.

And believe me: When you’re watching a costume contest, and every single person in the audience is showering the person on stage with love and with applause that says: “Wow, you made that yourself? You look incredible!”

That moment there is when a little bit of faith in humanity comes back.

So, yes, these past few weeks have been a time of escapism. But they’ve also been a time of so much more.

I’ll be writing more soon. I haven’t forgotten this blog or all of the wonderful people who read it. Truly from the bottom of my heart: Thank you.

But in the mean time… here are some Comic Expo pictures! (Specifically the costume contest because… yeah, that’s the most fun part. Also, please forgive if the photos are blurry…. You’d be surprised how fast people move on a stage!)

The Fastest Librarian Alive

Today’s nerdy blog is a little bit different…. A while back, my library’s writing group all drew random prompts. Fate was with me as mine was: If you could have any superpower what would it be? *cracks knuckles* I’d been preparing my whole life for a prompt like this. Today, I thought I’d share that story, mostly because: (A) It’s super nerdy; and (B) It was a ton of fun to write.

We’ll skip the origin story. As a dedicated comic nerd before I became an actual superhero—and, yes, I know how crazy that sounds, but hear me out—I know that origin stories are everyone’s least favorite. I mean, don’t get me wrong: You can’t have Batman without Crime Alley or Spider-Man without great power and great responsibility.      

          But we all know those stories. We want to get to the action, to the grit, to the “How will they save the day” and the “Does the day even deserve to be saved?”

          The latter is for edgier comics, though, and if my real life ever became a comic book, I doubt it would be all that edgy. I don’t think a 4’11” librarian can pull off the angst that, say… Daredevil can.

          That’s not to say I haven’t had some hard times in my life. But everybody has. Everyone has had wracking sobs and shaking fists. We’ve all been heartbroken and we’ve all been furious. The difference is whether we let those moments be our molds or our ladder rungs: Do they define us or do they lift us higher?

          I tend to lean towards the latter, because… well, like I said, I can’t pull off the doom and gloom.

          And besides the past is in the past… in the origin story. And this isn’t really an origin story. This is how Sarah Davidson became the fastest librarian alive.

          You wouldn’t think being a librarian has that many occupational hazards. (Though we tend to joke that the compulsion to take home a new book at the end of every work day is a real danger.)

          And, yeah, except for the occasional pulled muscle or papercut, things are pretty quiet.

          Minus the freak accident that gave me my powers: an early morning storm, a lightning bolt, and me working on the computer. I don’t know how, but somehow the electric shock that surged through the computer and into me… gave me super-speed!

          Super-speed is by far the best power. No more driving—because now running is actually faster! Plus, there are technically no speed limits for running. (But who would have guessed anyone would ever be hitting Mach 3?)

          Not that I can go my fastest. The speed would tear up the sidewalks.

          People are starting to talk about a strange blur throughout this normally quiet small town though. No one’s suspected superpowers… mostly because that idea is crazy.

          But super speed also comes with speed brain—which means I can think as fast as I can move. That comes in handy whenever I’m typing—those two books I’ve been wanting to write? I finished them last week.

          Now I just have to edit them….

          Unfortunately, super speed did not come with super motivation.

          Plus, I can vibrate my molecules fast enough to go through solid objects. Locked myself out of the house? No problem!

          I can also vibrate quickly enough that I appear invisible… though I haven’t experimented with that much… yet.

          But that’s not even the biggest plus to super speed. The best part? Superfast metabolism. This speed is always a part of me, even when I appear to be still. And that speed needs fuel—10,000 calories per day fuel. I can lose the weight I want, and then eat whatever I want just to maintain my new figure!  

          And that is especially good news for a chocoholic.

          It’s been a couple months since I got my speed, and I’ve grown pretty accustomed to it. I mean, there was definitely a learning curve (namely passing out a few times because I needed to eat and then there was that one time I meant to go get my mail, but I ended up in Fiji….)

          I never had any patience, but now with super-speed always itching at me, I find it’s nearly impossible to be still. I get up earlier in the morning and then I get three times as much done as I used to. Dishes, no matter how high they’re stacked, take only 5 minutes.

          I spend the rest of my free time writing (and wearing out my keyboard) and reading (I’ve already read 200 books this year!) And at work, I can put books away in a blink of an eye. I’ve also already scheduled all the employees for the next five years! And I’ve outlined programming for the next ten!

          Huh… maybe speed brain doesn’t mix well with being a planner….

          Of course, most of the time there are fellow librarians around. And that means I can’t use my speed (which is like asking a seven-year old with a water pistol not to shoot it). But I manage. I think I’m doing a pretty good job of hiding my powers (as long as no one looks at the floor under my desk—there’s a pretty good sized hole from my incessant foot tapping).

          About a week ago, I started wondering how else I could use my super speed. I’ve gotten ahead at work, at home, and with my hobbies. I’ve helped around the house at my parents’, and I’ve even let my engineer brother run some experiments on me.

          But today, as I was sitting at my desk, double-checking the schedule for October 2022 for the tenth time, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could do something more.

          I’m a pretty… normal person. I’ve never been one to rush into danger. I’m more than a bit squeamish, and I’m very introverted. Even when just reading comic books, I would find myself wondering how the characters could take such colossal risks.

          But then I started paying attention to the sirens. This might be a pretty small town, but it’s surprising how often sirens blare.

          And that’s when it hit me: Every comic I’d ever read: “With great power comes great responsibility.” “Life doesn’t give us purpose. We give life purpose.” “It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me.”

          What reason is there to have abilities if you don’t use them? And as I ran to the siren, I realized that was true of any ability, not just this strange super speed that had miraculously come my way. If you have the ability to write a story or give a speech that moves people, if you have the ability to open up young minds to the world around them, if you have the ability to make people laugh and forget their troubles—whatever it is, how can you not use it?

          This particular siren was just for a domestic dispute. Nothing I could help with. But there will be others—fires, or robberies, or who knows what—where my speed might be helpful.  

          I’ll keep an ear out, and my running shoes nearby. And in the meantime, I’ll keeping putting away books at lightning speed….          

Because I’m Sarah Davidson. And I’m the fastest librarian alive.


Note: I do not own any of the references to DC comics. I am simply referencing them in this parody work.

Welcome to the Wonderful(ly Insane) World of Comics

So… you’ve decided to start reading comics.

Ha.

Haha. Haha

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Welcome to insanity, my friend. You have over 80 years of material spanning various continuities in universes where science and magic coexist and death is like a common cold.

It’s a wild ride that will have you confused, frustrated, lost, angry, and a million other emotions….

And you’re going to love it.

Seriously, you will never run out of reading material. You’ll see favorite characters grow and evolve. You’ll learn about humanity in a way that could only be exposed in the outlandish plots of super-antics. You’ll develop preferences for certain styles and gain a real appreciation for this perfect marriage between words and art.

Plus, if you don’t like how a story is going, just wait long enough and either: (A) A new writer will take the reins, or (B) The universe will reset.

In short, reading comics is like when Ron tried to read Harry’s tea leaves in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: “You’re gonna suffer, but you’re gonna be happy about it.”

Wise words, Mr. Weasley.

But where to start? Like I said, there’s over 80 years of material. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to read everything. Comics in the ’40s, while good for nostalgia, aren’t exactly riveting.

If you want exciting stories that have equal parts action and character development, then you’re going to want to start with something more recent. Of, course, with comics, that means since about the ’80s (give or take). Personal taste will vary.

But, where to start? Here are some tips:

(1) #1s

I’m talking more about graphic novels here, which are several comic issues bound together. I recommend these because you can get an entire story arc in one sitting. Keep in mind, these #1s are not like first books in a series. For example, if you get started with Harry Potter, reading Sorcerer’s Stone is where you start, period. There’s nothing before or after. But, like I said, these characters have been around for decades. #1s represent a good starting point for a new “chapter” in these characters’ lives. Events and relationships that happened in the past will be referenced, but you’ll get some exposition along with it.

(2) Crisis Events

These tie directly into #1s. One of the reasons graphic novels may start over is because a crisis event is taking the universe in a new direction. (Other reasons may be more internal within the comic industry. But I’m sticking with more story-based restarts.) A “crisis event” is exactly what it sounds like. A terrible, universe-shaking something happens and the repercussions of it will shape all stories going forward. Here’s an example: DC’s New 52 started after the Flashpoint story line (during which the Flash royally messes up the timeline and then attempts to fix it). From then on, the next volumes were the result of the changes in the timeline. If you start at a crisis event and then go forward, you’ll have a pretty fluid story. (And these events are nothing new–Crisis on Infinite Earths is one of the most famous and it was published from 1985-1986.)

(3) Iconic/Hallmark Issues

Of course, there are some stories that, regardless of where you are in the continuity, will always be referenced. These issues or story arcs are ones that were historic in the comic community–whether because they tackled a serious, real-world issue, or because the stories deeply impacted how fans viewed the characters and their worlds. A few examples of these include:

Batman: “A Death in the Family”

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: “Snowbirds Don’t Fly”

Iron Man: “Demon in a Bottle”

Batman: “The Killing Joke”

Teen Titans: “The Judas Contract”

X-Men: “Days of Future Past”

Warning: These comics do tend to be heavy reads. If you want a crash course in how comics can be just as intense as a traditional novel, with psychological or societal themes,then these are solid places to start.

Alright… now you know what to look for, and while that criteria certainly narrows your options, you still have a veritable ocean of comics left. So now it’s time to start thinking critically. Ask yourself these questions:

(1) What characters do you want to read?

You can’t read everything. Believe me, I’ve tried. You have to figure out what characters most catch your interest. Start out with a few, and then, as become more comfortable with the format and world of comics, add some more. (Believe me, you’ll end up finding favorites you never thought you would. For me, Green Lantern ended up being a very happy surprise.)

(2) How involved do you want to be in the universe?

So, now you know what characters you want to read… but how involved in their world do you want to be? How tied into the overall universe? One of the many cool things about comics is that everything is connected. You might decide you want to focus on Spider-Man, but I guarantee you he’s going to cross paths with the Fantastic Four. Does that mean you start reading FF, too? Maybe. You might find out you like the team. (Johnny Storm and Spidey actually have a pretty funny friendship.) Or maybe you just stay a Spidey purist and just enjoy the FF when they show up. Either way is totally fine. But it can get a little more complicated than that… what about the rest of the Spiders? Miles Morales Spider-man? Spider-Gwen? Venom? Their stories will often directly affect what’s happening with good ole Peter Parker, or at least add interesting layers to who the Spidey character is. Honestly… there’s not right or wrong way to do it. Like with traveling, there’s nothing wrong with exploring one corner of the world and then adventuring outward as you get more comfortable. Maybe you start with visiting different places in your state, then you start taking road trips, then you try traveling abroad. Similarly, you can start with Spider-man titles (because there are multiple: Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-man, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, etc.), and then maybe you decide you’re going to read more of the “Spider Family.” And then maybe you branch out into some of Spidey’s other super-friends. Of course, if you decide to just stick with the original, that’s perfectly fine, too–you’ll certainly never run out of stories and adventures with everyone’s favorite wall-crawler. Above all, just remember: This is supposed to be fun.

(3) Are you more of a DC fan or a Marvel fan? Or do you prefer independent comics?

Now, this third tip is up to personal preference; it might not apply to you at all. It is totally possible to love all comics equally–Marvel, DC, and independent titles. But chances are, the more you read, you’ll start to develop a preference. I’m more of a DC fan. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have my Marvel comics I check out as soon as they hit the shelves. (Doctor Strange, Fantastic Four, and Spidey are all favorites.) If you do find, however, that you prefer the characters, worlds, or writing styles of one company over another, that will actually help. Continuities, parallel universes, clones, etc.–this all all happens within both Marvel and DC. It’s easier to be “dedicated” to one or the other. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to keep it all straight (the more you read, the easier it will be to balance all the many, many stories), but if you’re starting out, it’s helpful to have a focus. It’s kind of like picking a concentration for a major. If you’re majoring in communications, studying both journalism and media production will probably make your brain explode. But if you choose one, you can really dive into it. (Of course that, doesn’t mean you can take an elective or two in the other course–or you know, read certain comics from the other company.)

Remember: All of these tips are just general. I’ve been reading comics “seriously” for about five years now, and these are all things I wish someone would have told me. I didn’t know much going in except: (1) I like the MCU movies, and (2) Batman is cool. Honestly, picking books felt a bit like being plopped down in a foreign city and just having to choose streets at random.

My hope is that, if you’re new to comics, these tips will give you a bit of a map.

After all, you’ve got one fun journey ahead of you–and it’s full of people who love to share it! (Are there trolls? Yes. But most of us just like to “nerd out” over our favorite characters.)

So… dive in, find what you love, and then spread some love in the comic community. We’re excited to welcome you to this wild, crazy world.