Category Archive – Reading Lounge

Week of Geek: Ani-May, My exploration continues…

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Hiya again Geeklings!  Hope your May is going great.  I mentioned before it’s MerMay, but did you know it’s also Ani-May?  A celebration of all things Anime and Manga?  It’s true!  And with Anime North coming up this weekend I thought I’d check back in with my Part-Time Otaku status and see what else is out there apart from my usual go-to series; Sailor Moon, Black Butler and Yuri on Ice.  Still love ’em all, but… what else we got?

A lot, it turns out.

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So, what’s new?  Well, as a teen librarian, I try to pay attention to new teen books coming down the pipelines (makes sense), and one I keep hearing about is a new (at least to North America) manga series called Isekai Izakaya “Nobu”.  The description immediately caught my attention.  It’s set in an Izakaya, which is basically the Japanese equivalent of a pub.  But it’s front door opens onto a parallel world, some sort of European-esque fantasy type realm (there are two moons in the sky, so it’s not here).  So the people who live there get to try these Japanese dishes they’d never get access to otherwise.  I haven’t read the manga yet, but there is an anime version of the series on Crunchyroll, Isekai Izakaya: Japanese Food From Another World.  I watched the first two episodes; the actual animated part is pretty short and the episodes basically consist of a couple of guys losing their minds over the food and drinks at this pub.  But the way they describe the food is delightful, especially from the perspective of people who’ve never had these kinds of dishes before. I’ve talked about food before on this blog, but really is there ever a bad time to talk about food and fandom?  I think not!

And in honor of that I’ve updated my Geek Cooking list.  Plus, we’ve got a ton of books on Japanese food.

I’ve also started a series called Magical Girl Ore (or Mahou Shoujo Ore).  This is a weird one, but a totally tongue-in-cheek and hilarious play on the Magical Girl trope.  It centers around Saki, a 15 year old girl who discovers that her mother was a Magical Girl, and is passing the torch on to Saki (along with a gruff Yakuza-type ‘sidekick’).  But when Saki transforms for the first time she… well, she turns into a guy.  A very muscular guy still dressed in frills and bows.

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That’s just one of the many ways this series subverts it’s own genre.  I’m five episodes in and I’ve discovered it also plays with love triangles, cute demons, things with tentacles and even making anime itself.  I’ve laughed out loud quite a few times and I’m loving the characters.  (A couple words of warning though; I haven’t been able to find a rating on this series, but from what I’ve watched there’s swearing, some violence and it can get pretty suggestive, so head’s up.)

And for manga, I’ve started reading Blue Exorcist.  This one’s got more of a horror element to it, as it features a boy named Rin who discovers that he is literally the spawn of Satan.  But, deciding he wants none of that, he agrees to train to become an exorcist so he can defeat the demon within.  That alone would be enough to peak my curiosity, but as I’ve been reading I’ve discovered there’s also family secrets, a really elaborate and quirky school and interesting characters.  Colour me sold.  (Funny though, I’ve had to re-read a couple of parts because I’m still getting used to the right to left style; ‘Oops, wrong order, try again’).  It also has an anime series if you want to give that a try (Crunchyroll has both subtitled and dubbed versions).

So in the spirit of all of this I decided to look at some sources online and find some great anime series and manga titles that teens (you guys!) can start out with if you’re just dipping your toes into the format.  I’ve compiled two lists.

Any favorites of yours, Geeklings?  Post away in the comments or on WriteIt.

Here at VPL we’re hard at work on year 2 of Vaughan Fan Con, so keep an eye out for that.  Have a great week everybody, and until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: For when you’re too young to see Deadpool 2…

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Hiya Geeklings!

So, let me guess what some of you may be thinking.  The big geek news this week is the release of Deadpool 2, which is obviously the sequel to the smash hit Deadpool, a film finally worthy of the Merc with the Mouth (the less said about X-Men Origins: Wolverine the better).  BUT, for anyone out there younger than 18, there be a problem; the movie, like it’s predecessor, is rated R.

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Yup, sorry guys, you gotta be 18 to see it unaccompanied by a guardian or parent.  And as a full-fledged adult who has seen the original, let me tell you, that R rating is well earned and the sequel is not going to be any more sanitized, so I have to agree.  And I also agree that to give the character anything less than an R rating would not do him any justice.

Quick history: Deadpool is actually a total ripoff of a DC character.  He was ‘inspired’ by Deathstroke (not to be confused with Deadshot, from the Suicide Squad), a villain from New Teen Titans, and at least in the beginning both of them were pretty interchangeable.  Same style of costume, same MO, same skills, same superpowers, just… same, same, same.  Even their alter-ego names are similar; Wade Wilson (Deadpool) and Slade Wilson (Deathstroke).  If you look at them side by side the comparisons become painfully clear.

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But as the character developed, we discover that Deadpool has one extra superpower over his predecessor; comedy.  Deathstroke is a pretty humorless guy, but Deadpool is not only hilarious but also completely off the wall, often speaking to the audience or having full on conversations with the voices in his head.  It’s these qualities that helped him become his own character, one that’s fairly divisive but to his fans he’s the bomb.

Though you may be too young for the films, fear not!  We have stuff for you to read that will tide you over until the day comes.  We have some YA graphic novels that, while still violent, don’t quite cross the line into ‘only for adults’ stuff.

Deadpool Deadpool Vol. 1: Dead Presidents – “Dead United States presidents, from George Washington to Gerald Ford, have been resurrected – and that’s bad. The Marvel heroes can’t be the ones to stop them… Someone is needed with the reputation, skills and plausible deniability to take out these com-monsters in chiefs. Be here as Deadpool de-un-deadifies ex-Presidents left and right…matching wits with Tricky Dick Nixon, fighting a grudge match against Honest Abe Lincoln, and battling Ronald Reagan – in space! COLLECTING: Deadpool 1-6.”  The first volume in the Marvel NOW! era of Deadpool is as wacky as that summary suggests.

Deadpool Deadpool Vol. 5: The Wedding of Deadpool – “The day of Deadpool’s wedding has arrived! It’s the biggest wedding since that one guy married that other guy as Deadpool and his mysterious bride tie the knot in a tale by Gerry Duggan, Brian Posehn & Mike Hawthorne. Featuring stories by every writer to ever pen Wade’s series to celebrate this magical occasion! Then, the Deadpool Annual answers the most asked question since Deadpool’s new series began. Whatever Happened to the White Caption Boxes?’ Collecting: Deadpool 26-27, Deadpool Annual.”  Who is the mystery bride?  Read to find out!

Deadpool Deadpool: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly – From Goodreads; “It begins with a lost Deadpool adventure from the groovy seventies as DP hits the streets with Power Man and Iron Fist! But when the threat the Trio-For-Hire faced resurfaces in the modern day, Deadpool must track down his old pals for a rematch!
Then, when Deadpool’s past in the Weapon X Program returns to haunt him, he recruits fellow Weapon Plus alums — and reluctant allies — Wolverine and Captain America! In the heart of the enemy’s clutches, the three get sucked deeper into the mysteries they uncover — but when the heroes learn that Deadpool’s past has been weaponized, can they unite to take this new threat down in time?”  One of my favorite Deadpool storylines is when you throw his antics in with the other Marvel characters.  It makes for great dynamics.

Spider-Man/Deadpool - Kelly, Joe Spider-Man/Deadpool Vol. 1: Isn’t it Bromantic? – “The Webbed Wonder and the Merc with a Mouth are teaming up for their first series EVER! It’s action, adventure and just a smattering of (b)romance in this episodic epic featuring the WORLD’S GREATEST SUPER HERO and the star of the WORLD’S GREATEST COMICS MAGAZINE. Talk about a REAL dynamic duo! COLLECTING: SPIDER-MAN/DEADPOOL 1-6”.  The first volume in a series where the two most quippy superheroes ever team up?  Count me in!

Hawkeye Vs Deadpool Hawkeye vs Deadpool – “Meet Hawkeye: ladies man (‘ladies man’ because the ladies love to hate this man), mighty marksman and, most importantly, Avenger. He’s the only guy on the team without any powers, though. Then there’s Deadpool. He can be shot, stabbed and punched in the face, but nothing can keep him down. What do they have in common? Halloween in Brooklyn, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. espionage mystery that has both heroes racing the clock! But will Deadpool and Hawkeye kill each other before they figure it out? Collecting: Hawkeye Vs. Deadpool 0-4”.  Another great dynamic to be had here.

Any books I missed?  Are you bummed about the rating for the Deadpool films?  Sound off in the comments or on WriteIt!

Have a great week Geeklings, whip up some chimichangas, and until next time End of Line!

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Week of Geek: Happy MerMay!

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Hiya Geeklings?  How’s your May going so far?

In addtition to all the other fun stuff happening this month (like AniMay, more on that in a couple weeks), today let’s talk about a seldom seen side of the month… MerMay!

What the heck is that, you may ask?  Simply put, it is a month-long celebration of mermaids and it encourages artists to draw their best under sea dwellers and post them online.  As you can see, the results are super cool!  It tickles that tween me who fell in love with The Little Mermaid and wanted to swim with Ariel under the sea.

So in honor of the occasion, here are a few Mermaid-themed YA books to get you reading and dreaming… and not all happy pretty dreams, either.

The Seafarer's KissThe Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember – A heady mix of mermaids, Vikings and Norse mythology.  “Having long wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the merfolk’s fortress. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: Say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from the divine Loki. But such deals are never straightforward, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.”

Deep BlueDeep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly – Book one of the Waterfire Saga.  “When Serafina, a mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea, awakens on the morning of her betrothal, her biggest worry should be winning the love of handsome Prince Mahdi. And yet Sera finds herself haunted by strange dreams that foretell the return of an ancient evil. Her dark premonitions are confirmed when an assassin’s arrow poisons Sera’s mother. Now, Serafina must embark on a quest to find the assassin’s master and prevent a war between the Mer nations.”

FathomlessFathomless by Jackson Pearce – “Celia Reynolds is the youngest in a set of triplets and the one with the least valuable power. Anne can see the future, and Jane can see the present, but all Celia can see is the past. And the past seems so insignificant — until Celia meets Lo.
Lo doesn’t know who she is. Or who she was. Once a human, she is now almost entirely a creature of the sea — a nymph, an ocean girl, a mermaid — all terms too pretty for the soulless monster she knows she’s becoming. Lo clings to shreds of her former self, fighting to remember her past, even as she’s tempted to embrace her dark immortality.  When a handsome boy named Jude falls off a pier and into the ocean, Celia and Lo work together to rescue him from the waves. The two form a friendship, but soon they find themselves competing for Jude’s affection. Lo wants more than that, though. According to the ocean girls, there’s only one way for Lo to earn back her humanity. She must persuade a mortal to love her . . . and steal his soul.”

The Twice LostThe Twice Lost by Sarah Porter – “Mermaids have been sinking ships and drowning humans for centuries, and now the government is determined to put an end to the mermaid problem–by slaughtering all of them. Luce, a mermaid with exceptionally threatening abilities, becomes their number-one target, hunted as she flees down the coast toward San Francisco.  There she finds hundreds of mermaids living in exile under the docks of the bay. These are the Twice Lost: once-human girls lost first when a trauma turned them into mermaids, and lost a second time when they broke mermaid law and were rejected by their tribes. Luce is stunned when they elect her as their leader. But she won’t be their queen. She’ll be their general. And they will become the Twice Lost Army–because this is war.”

The Vicious DeepThe Vicious Deep by Zoraida Cordova – “He was gone for three days. Sucked out to sea in a tidal wave and spit back ashore at Coney Island with no memory of what happened. Now his dreams are haunted by a terrifying silver mermaid with razor-sharp teeth.  His best friend Layla is convinced something is wrong. But how can he explain he can sense emotions like never before? How can he explain he’s the heir to a kingdom he never knew existed? That he’s suddenly a pawn in a battle as ancient as the gods?  Something happened to him in those three days. He was claimed by the sea…and now it wants him back.”

HannahHannah by Kathryn Lasky – “Hannah Albury is not like other girls in the turn of-the-century Boston orphanage where she grew up. Instead of seasickness, she gets land-sickness. Billowing waves exhilarate her, but flat plains away from the ocean leave her dried out, parched, and ill. She leaves a ring of salt in the tub when she bathes, and sometimes she sees a faint tracing of scales on her delicate feet. It’s freakish, horrifying and deeply thrilling.As Hannah becomes a young woman, she can sense that a powerful change is coming. A choice lies ahead, and Hannah must discover if she is a creature of the land–or of the sea.”

Tangled TidesTangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper – “Yara Jones doesn’t believe in sea monsters–until she becomes one. When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious. Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people–until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process–or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans.”

Between the Sea and SkyBetween the Sea and the Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore – “Esmerine can’t wait to become a siren-the highest calling for a mermaid-just like her sister, Dosinia. But then Dosinia goes missing, and it’s up to Esmerine to find her. On the way, she runs into her childhood friend Alandare, a handsome, winged man. Will forbidden love conquer all in this dreamlike fairytale?”

So there’s a few to get you started.  A lot of romance, some danger and so much water.  Any really good books or movies or TV shows I left off?  Sound away in the comments section or post away on WriteIt.

Thanks guys!  Happy MerMay!  Until next time, End of Line.

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Week of Geek: Let’s get Digital!

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Hi again Geeklings?  Everyone make it through the ice storm OK?  That was exciting, wasn’t it?

Now, this week I thought I’d shift gears and focus on the technological side of being a geek or a nerd or whatevs, and to do that I thought today we’d talk about VPL’s digital resources.  I always think it’s a good idea to remind everyone that the 21st century library is NOT just about books.  You guys already know that if you’ve signed out a movie or a video game, but by ‘not just about books’ I mean traditional books, the kind printed on paper and bound in an easy-to-read package.  Those still exist and are great and every single one of our locations is FILLED with them.  But it’s not the only option for the modern reader (which is you).

With your humble library card and pin number, you have access to so many digital services, often in handy-to-download app form.  Our two big ones are Hoopla and Overdrive, but not too long ago we added Libby, another Overdrive app which is super easy to use.  She walks you right through signing up and then you can read or listen to the books (or comics) right on the app.  We also have RBDigital and AudioBookCloud for more options.

I’m a big fan of Hoopla.  Easy to use and has a ton of options.  The only thing is that you’re limited to 5 check outs per month, but you have so many options.  eBooks, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, music and comics.  Yes, comics!  So many comics!  You can get Marvel comics on there now!  You can stream the videos or you can download them to your devices.  If you have a streaming box like Apple TV you can watch stuff on there with Hoopla!

Going back to digital books, one big reason I’m a fan of such is purely practical.  Sometimes you just can’t carry a whole book with you, either ’cause the occasion doesn’t call for it, or your bag is too small or you don’t even have a bag or whatever.  BUT, digital books can fit… wait for it… on your phone!  You know, the device that’s basically an extra appendage to the average person.  You’re more than likely going to have your phone on you at any given time, so if you find you’ve got a minute or you’re bored or you’re just dying to finish that page turner, all you have to do is find a comfy spot, pull out your phone and open the app.  Easy.  Bonus: those kinds of books take up no space in your house.

Now I know there are purists out there who enjoy a paper book.  I get it, I’m right there with you, and don’t worry; print books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.  The digital ones are just a bonus, a 2nd option.  And as far as I’m concerned, they’re both good options.

So if you guys are looking for a certain book but can’t find it readily available in print on our shelves, give the apps a try.  What do you think Geeklings?  Are you cheering for the new age of reading options or do you prefer nice solid book?  Post away in the comments or write it up on WriteIt.

Have a good week guys, let’s hope spring comes sooner rather than later and until next time, End of Line.

Week of Geek: Ready Player 1 and when Fandom goes too far…

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Hiya Geeklings!  How was the long weekend?  Relaxing and delicious, I hope.

So this last Friday the film version of Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One was released in theaters, to good reviews and a number one spot at the box office.  Check out the trailer…

It’s got that heavy dose of nostalgia that seems to be so in vogue nowadays, but mostly it just looks like a ton of fun.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m halfway through the book and I’m liking what I’m reading so far.

But I read something recently that kind of put the whole thing in an interesting new light.  I’m not going to link to the article here because a) spoilers and b) swears, but the gist is that the release of RP1 is a really good time to talk about what they referred to as ‘Toxic Fandom’.  The article pointed out that a lot of sites that praised the book back in 2011 are not so keen on the movie now, and that may be because we’ve now had a few years to see how extreme and unhealthy some fans can get with their chosen fandoms.

Without giving too much away, RP1 centers around Wade, who is living in a very difficult and unhappy future and who, like everyone else, escapes into the online virtual reality system that’s basically replaced the internet.  The OASIS sounds AMAZING, if you ask me.  There are whole planets dedicated to fandoms and themes (there’s a Firefly planet!  A FIREFLY PLANET!), and just about anything is possible in it.  But things ramp up for Wade when he participates in an online competition for control of the OASIS.  The system’s founder was BIG into 1980s culture, so Wade and other ‘gunters’ (egg hunters) become experts in 80s pop culture in order to give themselves a leg up to win, hence all the 80s nostalgia you’ve been seeing in the trailers and commercials (the 80s were a… special decade; I can’t blame the interest).

So why the backlash online?  Well, in the last few years after being a geek became cool (it is cook, dang it!), things like Gamergate, Fake Geek Girls and riots over condiments have shown us that some people take their hobbies and fandoms too far.  While for most of us geeks and nerds, things like video games, movies, TV shows, comics and all the trivia around them are delightful, fulfilling hobbies, for some it becomes their entire lives.  It becomes the only thing with which they identify themselves with and they become obsessed and aggressive over it.  They become gatekeepers and lash out at anyone who even looks at their favorite game or TV show the wrong way (or what the obsessed fan perceives as the wrong way), saying absolutely shocking and horrible things online.  Rather then let these things just be fun for everyone, these toxic fans declare you’re not a ‘true’ fan unless you can do something like name every single iteration of Batman’s batsuit, in chronological order (the tests vary from fandom to fandom).

Now, it’s not quite the same thing to declare Wade a toxic fan.  His situation is quite different from ours, and he does not lash out at people for not knowing Duran Duran‘s entire discography.  But the article I read merely pointed out that people who love a fandom can, like anything else, tip over into unhealthy and destructive tendencies, and we’re starting to really see that these last few years.

Now you all know I’m a geek and proud of it.  It is one of my distinguishing characteristics.  But in my most humble of opinions, fandom love should be something that enhances your life.  It should never be your WHOLE life.  And it most certainly should never be the cause of other people’s unhappiness.  Because, as much as we may love something, it really is just a game.  Or just a movie.  Or just a book series or a TV show.  It’s not as important as people and it’s not more important than all the other joys that come with living.  It should just be something that we can bond over, we can squeal over and we can enjoy.  And if you can’t name every single Avengers film in order, that’s OK.  You can still be an Avengers fan in my book and we can still hang.  Fandoms should unite people, never divide them.

So there’s my thoughts.  What do we think Geeklings?  Post away or write it up on WriteIt.  Enjoy RP1 and any other fandoms you love, and until next time, End of Line.