Beach Books February 21, 2017

TowerofthecomicbookfreaksThe Tower of the Comic Book Freaks

Ron Kasman

Caliber Digital Press

228 Pages

Reviewed by Lara O’Keefe

While I can’t pretend I’m any sort of comic book fan, I will admit that shortly after digging into The Tower of the Comic Book Freaks series, I was hooked. Does this mean I’ll be running to the neighbourhood comic book store in search of my next glossy book of illustrations? Probably not. But it does prove how stimulating, both visually and mentally, this particular graphic novel was.

Author, illustrator and former teacher, Roz Kasman does not follow what most would define as atypical in terms of comic books. There are no superheroes or villains in The Tower of the Comic Book Freaks – Batman did not fly out of the sky just in time to save a lady in distress, for example.

On the contrary, the comic tells the story of five average young men in the 1970’s who travel from Toronto to New York for a comic book convention in the hopes of gaining experience in two key categories: comics and women.

The story and its corresponding characters have been crafted in a way that draws the reader in by making it easy to connect with the storyline. It doesn’t take long to become invested in the future of the protagonist and self-proclaimed “biggest geek of all”, Harold Friedman.

Kasman’s combination of stunning illustrative work, engaging storytelling and humorous anecdotes will leave you wanting more.

DonMillsScottKennedyDon Mills: From Forests and Farms to Forces of Change

Scott Kennedy

Dundurn Press

246 pages

Reviewed by Anna Killen

“Have I ever walked around Don Mills?” I thought, thumbing through Scott Kennedy’s latest historical journey, Don Mills: From Forests and Farms to Forces of Change. I did not grow up in the city, and I’m not much of a shopper, or a suburbanite, so I don’t think I’ve had the pleasure, but reading about how the area used to be – productive farmland, lush green spaces – made me long for a time machine so I could traverse the land as it once was, perhaps in a horsedrawn buggy on route to a barnraising.

Luckily, Kennedy has it covered for those of us who do not remember the North York neighbourhood before it was paved. The Beach author and conservationist plots out the evolution of Don Mills, from its rural roots to Canada’s “first subdivision” with the same care and wit as his first book, also published by Dundurn Press, Willowdale: Yesterday’s Farms, Today’s Legacy. With historic photographs and maps entwined with detailed profiles of the people who tilled and shaped the land, Kennedy ensures that the area’s history will be remembered and celebrated for years to come – and, as he notes early on, “it’s quite a trip.”

WigfordRememberiesWigford Rememberies

Kyp Harness

Nightwood Editions

203 pages

Reviewed by Lara O’Keefe

Local musician, Kyp Harness introduces his debut novel with the same combination of grit and poetry one has come to expect from his music.

Set in a fictional small town in rural Ontario, Wigford Rememberies features a cast of unique characters whose lives intertwine to create an engaging storyline for the reader.

Harness uses his creative writing style to paint a clear picture of each scene, successfully drawing readers into the novel by making it seem as though they were  silent onlookers in the lives of the characters.

Evocative and thought-provoking, Wigford Rememberies takes us through the realities of love, loss and life while still managing to impart humorous interludes throughout.

Toronto Island Summers

Jim Sanderson

James Lorimer & Company Publishers

90 pages

Reviewed by Lara O’Keefe

Jim Sanderson’s nostalgic memoir, Toronto Island Summers, seamlessly transports readers back to a simpler time with a series of stories that are sure to resonate with many Torontonians who grew up during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Stories of childhood innocence such as the mythical golden carp, who turns out to be a bit of a recurring character, mixed with darker tales of death in the harbour make Toronto Island Summers as much a delightful read as a compelling one.

Black and white photography scattered generously throughout the book adds to the overall experience.

A great read for anyone who had the pleasure of experiencing this time in Toronto’s history firsthand, or those who are interested in learning about days past.

Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism

Joyce Nelson

Watershed Sentinel Books

164 pages

Reviewed by Anna Killen

Joyce Nelson’s deep dive into the economics of the Bank of Canada is an eye-opening account of the privatization of Canada’s public assets and the new economic reality.

Well-researched, provocative and impressive in its scope, Nelson’s research uncovers portions of the banking world the general public might not be aware of and gives alternatives to the financial world as we know it. It’s not all banking – the book delves into the impacts these policies and players have had on people and political movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Hydro One sell-off situation.

This is the author’s first foray into economics – she has previously focused on environmental issues – and this book neatly dovetails her experience in the latter and drive to understand the former.

How to Survive Your Death: An Autobiography Written Posthumously

Peter Fulton

168 pages

Reviewed by Anna Killen

How to Survive Your Death: An Autobiography Written Posthumously turns reality – and the classic vampire genre – on its head.

Set in the Beach and written by Beach author Peter Fulton, this self-published work of fiction tells the story of Emily and her undead mother, Sarah, in letter form. But this isn’t just a story about a mother and daughter – it’s also about the mother’s love affair with a vegetarian (NSFW scenes ahead) and a dose of history told through a vampire lens.

Global Governance: Heaven Ideal II & Policy Framework: Bird View II

Beizhan Liu

Reviewed by Anna Killen

Beach writer Beizhan Liu is hard to pin down, title-wise: his bio lists him as an entrepreneur, innovator and visionary, but the Chinese-Canadian also has a background in science research and software engineering, and has fun with photography and music in his spare time.

He is also keenly interested in global politics and economic issues and expands upon those themes in the wide-ranging weekend writing series he has been practising and later compiling in book form for several years.

His two latest collections, which he began working on in 2015 and build on his earlier books in the series, are available now through Amazon and other online retailers.

The first, Global Governance, aims to help others manage the world more efficiently and scientifically.

The second, Policy Framework, is aimed at those who are somewhat familiar with government, economic and social work and want concepts and theories to guide hands on work.

Liu’s intentions are to help build a more connected world, with the dedication in Global Governance reading: “For the United Nations, to be upgraded as a government of the whole world; For our management, to be clearly understood with two management main bodies, For our legislation system, to be improved with the content of management science; For our spirit, to be fully built up in every level of our society.”


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