June 27th, 2012
Morning Glories has been a consistently thrilling and tantalizingly mysterious comic book read. Said to be “One of the most involved, demanding of sci-fi thrillers.” Part of what makes the series so relatable is the fact that it is set in current time with realistic teen characters. Volume One (which is a collection of issues 1-6) was released in February 2011 to much fanfare and critical acclaim. Six seemingly random teens are offered scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. When they arrive at the school they learn that they have more in common they initially realized, including the fact that they all have the same birthday. We get glimpses of a cover-up and conspiracy that the kids were somehow chosen to participate in. Volume Two (issues 7-12), was released later in the year and managed to both deepen the intensity of the mystery and reader’s interest as the six primary characters are introduced. We learn secrets about their lives and observe their struggle to understand their environment, question who they can trust and discover how to behave. Current Mood:
Current Music: Holographic Universe ~ Thievery Corporation
Volume Three P.E. (issues 13-19) was released today! I haven’t had the opportunity to read the book yet so my review is forthcoming. It is described on the official website as such:
The book is available from local comic shops 8th Dimension Comics and Bedrock City Comics.
“The first days were just the beginning - when the faculty cancel classes and send the
students on an outing in the nearby woods, all hell breaks loose -
sending the Glories on a mysterious journey through time and space.
Nothing is what it seems to be as Academy's hold on the
kids collapses and new threats emerge!
December 16th, 2011
Current Music: Vagabond- Beirut
1) Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.
What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?
Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again. (summary from GoodReads.com).
*I cannot say enough good things about Beauty Queens. If I were a millionaire, I'd buy cases of it and give a copy to anyone that showed genuine interest in reading it. As a mother of a tween and a teen daughter I couldn't have asked for a better resource to share with them to open discussion of the pressure that they feel to fit into a thin description of beauty. It opened discussion about their sexuality and the choices that lie ahead of them, and that's just what we got out of some of the funny bits. Now include a hilarious yet chillingly plausible plotline of political conspiracy and a reality TV show pirate ship full of handsome pirates colliding onto the island all culminating in a live broadcast of the intended pageant which changes the lives of all participating forever. Not a shabby read. Ms. Bray has an undoubted gift for interlacing levels of story so that most of your emotions are touched at once while simultaneously tickling your brain. Fear, confusion, frustration, passion, beauty, survival, ethics, friendship, loyalty the list goes on and on. Although it deceivingly looks like a "girls" read from the cover, most teen boys would also appreciate the read which is full of excitement, humor and yes sex. This would make a fabulous choice for a book club selection for high schoolers and adults as it is chock-full of discussion worthy subject matter. Please look at my previous writings by following the tag above to learn more about this incredible book. I love what you are giving to the world of Young Adult Libba Bray! THANK YOU!!!
2) Morning Glories by Nick Spencer Illustrated by Joe EismaMorning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country... but something sinister and deadly lurks behind its walls. When six gifted, but troubled, students arrive, they find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives as the secrets of the academy reveal themselves! (summary from GoodReads.com)
*The summary fails to mention the flawless fusion of narrative with illustration, the complexity and balance of each character, the underlying tension of fear and survival instinct that the students deal with in each new challenging situation and the deep seeded mystery of what the academy is and why these students were chosen to be a part of it. This book is engaging from the first moments and encompasses all of the qualities of finely crafted storytelling which is only made more rich by the fabulous illustration of Joe Eisma. What makes his work stand out from many other illustrators is the respect that he gives to each characters look. They each have a noticeably distinct style of dress, hair and their bodies are realistic yet sensually drawn while still respecting that they are teenagers. All of this before I mention the creepy bald prisoners, the super collider and a room filled with water to test the student's survival skills. As smart as it is stylish, this is just a perfect read. A graphic novel clean enough for high schools and compelling enough for adults. Impeccable. (please follow the tags above to read more about Morning Glories.)
November 9th, 2011
Although I promised to write about Morning Glories vol. 2
in September, somehow I've failed to post about it!
Sorry: IT ROCKS. My review on GoodReads was short and sweet: Love this series. It is as near to perfection as any graphic novel series that I have read. volume 2 does not disappoint. It delves into the backstory of many of the characters and introduces new connections between them. The wit, humor, blood, lust, passion, fear and tension from the first book are still running full throttle
as this volume also leaves us with a WHAAATTT???!!! It does answer some questions, but it begs us to ask as many more.
The official description of book one is: "Morning Glory Academy
is one of the most prestigious prep schools in the country... but something sinister and deadly lurks behind its walls. When six gifted, but troubled, students arrive, they find themselves trapped and fighting for their lives as the secrets of the academy reveal themselves!"
It's won awards, praise and is recomended all over the place.
READ THESE BOOKS.
There are many activities going on in Houston this weekend but one that is definitely worth checking out is The Cinema Arts Festival Houston. http://cinemartssociety.org
There are numerous events being held at locations across the city some are FREE but most run about the cost of a regular movie ticket. There is also an option to buy all day passes or passes good for multiple days. Events begin today 11/09 and run through Sunday 11/12.
Some of the highlights include a documentary about the painter and architect Eames, Koyannisqatsi and The Woman in the Fifth:
EAMES: THE ARCHITECT AND THE PAINTER
Directors: Jason Cohn, Bill Jersey
Cinematographers: Ulli Bonnekamp, Andrew Dryer, Vicente Franco, Thomas Hurwitz, Ed Marritz and more.
Editor: Don Bernier
Composer: Michael Bacon
Cast: James Franco
Running Time: 83 minutes
Charles and Ray Eames, husband and wife, respectively, are widely regarded as America’s most important designers. Perhaps best remembered for their midcentury plywood and fiberglass furniture, the Eames Office also created a mind-bending variety of other products, from splints for wounded members of the military during World War II to photography, interiors, multimedia exhibits, graphics, games, films and toys. However, their personal lives and influence on significant events in American life — from the development of modernism to the rise of the computer age — has been less widely understood. Narrated by James Franco, Eames: The Architect & the Painter is the first film dedicated to these creative geniuses and their work.
Run Time: 86 min. | United States | Language: English
With filmmaker Godfrey Reggio
Trailer Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=546AUDxeHKs&feature=related
Director: Godfrey Reggio
Screenwriters: Michael Hoenig, Rob Fricke, Godfrey Reggio and
Cinematographer: Ron Fricke
Editors: Ron Fricke and Alton Walpole
Composer: Philip Glass
Running Time: 86 minutes
Almost 30 years ago, Koyaanisqatsi blew audience’s minds with its spectacular concert of visually arresting cinematography and pulsing, hypnotic music. Critic Leonard Maltin called it a “spellbinding [film] so rich in beauty and detail that with each viewing it becomes a new and different film.” The photography was by Ron Fricke, the music by Philip Glass, and the conductor was Godfrey Reggio, who will present a beautiful new 35mm print of Koyaanisqatsi on the big screen of the MFAH Brown Auditorium. He will also present an advance look at a clip from his upcoming collaboration with Philip Glass, titled The Holy See.
The Woman in the Fifth
Run Time: 83 min. | France, Poland, United Kingdom | Language: English
With Ethan Hawke
France/Poland/United Kingdom, 2011
Director: Pawel Pawlikowski
Screenwriters: Pawel Pawlikowski, Douglas Kennedy
Cinematographer: Ryszard Lenczewski
Editor: David Charap
Composer: Max de Wardener
Cast: Kristin Scott Thomas, Ethan Hawke, Joanna Kulig, Samir Guesmi
Running Time: 83 minutes
American novelist Tom Ricks (Ethan Hawke) moves to Paris to renew his relationship with his estranged wife and daughter. The reunion does not go well, a thief steals his money, and Tom lands in a seedy hostel. To pay for his room and board, he agrees to work as a night guard for the proprietor (Samir Guesmi) in a warehouse with strange goings-on. One evening, at a literary gathering, Tom meets Margit (Kristin Scott Thomas), a worldly and enigmatic translator who transfixes him. Their passionate affair coincides with a series of inexplicable events, and Tom’s sense of reality becomes increasingly deranged.
“Befitting a filmmaker whose life saw him move from his native Poland to Germany, Italy and then finally England as a youngster, Pawel Pawlikowski’s sensibility is a unique blend of Eastern and Western European culture. After making two highly impressive, solidly English films — the neorealist Last Resort and the lyrical My Summer of Love — Pawlikowski has set The Woman in the Fifth in Paris, and given it a strange, discombobulated feel that owes much to Kafka. Here that most-filmed city takes on the unsettling mood and tone of an Eastern-European metropolis; Pawlikowski’s camera shoots both the streets and the apartment interiors in a distinctive way … Pawlikowski pushes his material in a surprising way, pulling the rug out from underneath his audience and forcing us to readjust to a series of startling revelations. Hawke and Scott Thomas are note-perfect, while Paris acts as a character in its own right” (Piers Handling, Toronto Film Festival).
October 14th, 2011
Current Music: No music cuz no phone ~ Still in Argentina!
The vibrant, volatile, violent and vicious world inhabited by Tony Chu is unpredictable and full of eccentric, enigmatic characters. The place is the US in the not-so-distant future. Thousands have died of an epidemic that the FDA declares was the bird flu. Therefore the selling and eating of chicken and other poultry becomes illegal. Gangs form, speak-easys (illegal poultry restaurants) are established and the ultimate score is chicken. With a style that is part Saturday morning cartoon, part Mad Magazine Rob Guillory's illustrations add great detail and emotion to the story. This is definitely for 14+ the writing has a political underbelly that is layered with humor, a bit of romance and tons of gore and violence. A great, entertaining and thought provoking read.
Morning Glories Issue 13 came out this week and if you haven't already started this
dynamic surprising and mysterious series now is the perfect time to start. There are currently 2 volumes (vol 1 contains issues 1-6, vol 2 issues 7-12). Each one adds depth not only to the characters but also to the history and mystery of the school that
they attend and why they were called to attend there.
September 20th, 2011
Current Music: Dot Gain ~ Deerhunter
“We don’t have to be so anxious about everything. We can just be.”
My very favorite kind of read is a book that lingers with you when you finish it. These are usually the same books that keep you thinking about them and longing for them in between reads and if you’re really lucky, the same book will also engage you to dig deeper into it and glean meaning not only of the book itself, but how the ideas in the book fit into your world. I had this multi-layered experience reading Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. As soon as I finished I flipped to the beginning and started again. With multiple characters and two seemingly separate storylines that diverge in an unpredictable and thrilling way, it’s difficult to believe that so much Oomph could be delivered in a comfortable, easily accessible relaxed voice in just over 200 pages.
The story is about seventeen year old Cullen Witter and begins with him identifying the corpse of his cousin. An ominous start to the book helps to set a tone of underlying intensity that Whaley uses to his advantage at the climax of the book. Cullen’s personality has a strange mix of pessimism and hope, sarcasm and directness that makes him authentic to the reader. He lives in fantasies, often imagining the people around him as zombies and keeps a journal of possible book titles. While his life seems to be rolling along with the normal teenage dating issues and excitements, he is jolted to attention when he wakes up to find that his brother Gabriel is missing. There is no note, no signs or clues as to where he might be. On the same day the story that there might be a Lazurus woodpecker in their town is announced on National television and the entire community’s attentions become based on searching and finding. Searching and finding the boy and searching and finding the bird. As is often the case with people at the time of change or crisis, many behaviors are surprising and annoying to Cullen and he becomes so disgusted with the entire situation that he says: “If I had a gun, I would shoot the Lazarus woodpecker in the face.” “Isn’t it exciting to think that things can just come back like that?”
Storyline two centers on Benton, a failed missionary that was abused as a child. He befriends new college roommate Cabot Searcy (which is quite possibly my favorite name in fiction). Benton becomes obsessed with the Book of Enoch, a Jewish work that he was introduced to by way of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. The main theory that fascinates Benton is that the fallen angels were banished to Hell after watching their children be murdered as a punishment for introducing humans to astrology and the arts. After an unfortunate turn of events Cabot also becomes engaged in the Book of Enoch which brings about startling results. I hate to say too much more about the story for fear of giving away some of the twists and connections that are revealed in a nonchalant and yet un-ignorable manner. The book holds dozens of interesting characters including Cullen’s brooding Aunt Julia, his best friend Lucas, who is not as happy as his “toothpaste smile” suggests and John Barling, the man that suggests that he saw the Lazurus woodpecker and presents himself as an expert on the manner. “…your mind has a way of not letting your forget things you wish you could. Especially with people. Like, you’ll always try your best to forget things that people say to you or about you, but you always remember. And you’ll try to forget things you’ve seen that no one should see, but you can’t get it out of your head.” John Barling talking to Cullen Witter
This is a book about missing sons and brothers and how people react to the loss. This is a book about religious influence and questions how literally passages should be taken and what the effect of such readings might be. This is a book that questions how one finds love, how and if it lasts and what it means. Most of all, this is a book about second chances. If we have them, how we use them and the belief that they exist.*A book trailer is coming soon! I’ll add a link to it as soon as it is available!
I'll leave you with some pics of The Antlers show - Fitzgerald's 9/19/11- Come back tomorrow to read about Morning Glories vol. 2 and the band Clams Casino!
June 27th, 2011
Summer is the perfect time to pick up a "different" kind of book to read. There are few working authors as unique and original as Libba Bray. She is a punk-rock, pop-culture enthusiast with keen observational skills and a sharp edged humor. Her latest book Beauty Queens centers on a handful of Miss Teen Dream Pageant contestants who are the only survivors of a plane crash onto a deserted island. While Bray takes pokes at the beauty industry, the unreasonable appearance standards set for women by society and media in general, she also has fun fully developing her surprisingly diverse characters. There is Miss New Hampshire Adina Greenburg who is only in the contest because her Mother forced her to be a part of it. Miss New Mexico has a tray lodged into her forehead, Jennifer is a survivor of a family with traditions of alcoholism and dysfunction. There is even a trans-gender contestant with a surprising background and although the girls are unaware of it, there is an illicit espionage experiment taking place on the island. Funny and smart, this is written as a "Young Adult" book but any reader will enjoy the experience. I'm waiting for this one to be made as a film; the writing suits the medium beautifully. Current Mood:
Current Music: Alive ~ Daft Punk
Morning Glories is hands down one of the most articulate, well illustrated, well paced and exciting Graphic Novels of the year. It was released in February with book two due early in the Fall. We meet each of the six main characters as they prepare to go off to a prestigious prep school. In order to go to the school they must agree to completely separate from their parents and families. They soon realize that although they are all from different lifestyles and parts of the country, they all share the same birthday. As is the manner in any good graphic novel series, only pieces of the ultimate plot are revealed. We can tell that there is a strange cult like power at work which is attempting to brainwash the kids. There are repeated sayings such as " FOR BETTER FUTURE" and "THE HOUR OF OUR RELEASE DRAWS NEAR". We also are introduced to a mysterious collider type cylinder and are informed that it is powerful and dangerous but we are not told of the ultimate goal for its use. As if the story itself with complex characters, including pop culture references from Star Wars to Bladerunner is not good enough, add the rich illustrations with emotionally drawn characters, lush colors, sensual curves, and one of a kind hair and attire styles that make each character easy to identify and engaging to journey with. The book ends with a huge cliffhanger and those three evil words; TO BE CONTINUED...I recently blogged about this cool ZEN poster art that I found in the Montrose area of Houston. Only days later, the piece was covered up by a gaudy mural. Thankfully the mural spared the 10 foot DUAL and the small Coolidge dinosaur but I'm sad that it spared those at the expense of the ZEN piece. So is the way of Street Art...You've gotta enjoy it while its there! (Please click on the tag for ZEN above to read more about this piece).
(don't be mislead by the "teen high drama" cover, this series has plenty of suspense, mystery and blood!)