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review 2017-09-02 12:25
Hockey Karma by Howard Shapiro
Hockey Karma (The Forever Friends Series) - Andres Mossa,Howard N. Shapiro

Genre:  Friendship / School / Drama / Drugs / Sports


Year Published: 2016


Year Read:  7/11/2017

Publisher: Animal Media Group 

Series: Forever Friends Trilogy #3

Source: eARC (NetGalley)

 

 

Hockey

I would like to thank NetGalley and Animal Media Group for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

4.5 stars 

Introduction: 

YAY! NetGalley has sent me the final volume to Howard Shapiro’s hit series “Forever Friends Trilogy” called “Hockey Karma” and I must admit that after I read this graphic novel, it was a worthy conclusion to this series!

What is this story about? 

In this volume, Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson is now thirty-two years old and is known as being the best hockey player in the world. Unfortunately, because Jake is getting older now and he is starting to lose his edge, especially to new and upcoming star teammate Barclay Pedersen, his family life and career is starting to rapidly come apart. Meanwhile, Tom Leonard has got his own issues to deal with as he is trying to get a project that would help improve their city off the ground. But Jake refuses to help out with the project due to dealing with his addiction to some medical pills to keep him in the game and Tom is wondering if he would ever get the project off the ground. Also, Tom’s old high school crush, Jaelithe returns to town and Tom rekindles his relationship with Jaelithe and the two are thinking about staying together. But unfortunately, Tom will soon discover that he may have to sacrifice his current lifestyle just to maintain a long-lasting relationship with Jaelithe.

Will Jake be able to get his life back together and will Tom soon discover what he really wants for his future?

Read this graphic novel to find out!
 


What I loved about this story: 

Howard Shapiro’s writing: Howard Shapiro’s writing continues to amaze me in this volume as all the characters are written extremely well and I just enjoyed the character development that each character goes through in this story. I loved the way that Howard Shapiro portrayed Jake’s condition as he is still recovering from his alcoholism from the last volume, only this time, he is dependent on pain medication and it realistically shows that even though Jake is trying to get help for his dependence on drugs, he is still struggling with trying to overcome his drug addiction. I also enjoyed the relationship shared between Tom and Jake as Tom is still trying to help Jake become a better person by helping him deal with his drug abuse and trying to help him mend his relationship with his family. I liked the way that Howard Shapiro also gave some focus to Tom in this volume as we finally get to see Tom have some of his story arcs resolved in this volume (him reuniting with his high school band “The Stereotypical Freaks” and him trying to rekindle his relationship with his high school crush Jaelithe) and I enjoyed seeing how much growth Tom goes through when he reunites with his old high school friends.

Andres J. Mossa’s artwork: Andres J. Mossa’s artwork is extremely gorgeous in this volume as all the characters are drawn realistically and seem to glow off the pages. I also loved the fact that Andres J. Mossa’s artwork is much more detailed in this volume than in the previous volumes as it greatly reflects the growing maturity in the stories and as the stories become more mature, the artwork becomes more detailed and realistic in tone.

Hockey

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

The reason why I gave this book a four-and-a-half-star rating was because I felt that pacing was a bit too slow in some places and there was a lot of dialogue going on in this book that sort of slowed down the story a bit. I often had to speed through the dialogue just to get to the meat of the story and I kind of wished that some of the heavy dialogue was trimmed a bit so I could get to the more essential parts of the story.

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Hockey Karma” is a great conclusion to Howard Shapiro’s “Forever Friends Trilogy” that really cemented the importance of true friendship and I hope to see more works from Howard Shapiro soon!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-07-09 01:44
The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro
The Hockey Saint by Howard Shapiro (2014) Perfect Paperback - Howard Shapiro

Genre:  Friendship / School / Drama / Drugs / Sports


Year Published: 2014


Year Read:  6/3/2017

Publisher: Animal Media Group 

Series: Forever Friends Trilogy #2

 

Hockey

I would like to thank NetGalley and Animal Media Group for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


Introduction: 

After I had finished reading Howard Shapiro’s previous graphic novel, “The Stereotypical Freaks,” I was excited to find out that “The Stereotypical Freaks” was a part of the “Forever Friends Trilogy” and I was even more excited to find out that I was approved of the second book in the series “The Hockey Saint” by NetGalley! After reading this graphic novel, I found this story to be just as memorable as “The Stereotypical Freaks!”

What is this story about? 

Tom Leonard is back once again as he is now a college sophomore who is a part of the school’s hockey team and he now has a new dilemma to face! The story starts off with Tom’s parents being killed in a car accident and Tom is still trying to deal with this tragedy. Also around that time, Tom has been offered a scholarship for his talents in hockey and Tom is striving to get that scholarship as much as possible. One day however, Tom ends up meeting his favorite hockey player, Jeremiah Jacobson, who is known as the world’s best hockey player. Tom then quickly becomes good friends with Jeremiah and the two of them started spending a lot of time with each other. But later on, Tom discovers that Jeremiah has a terrible secret: he is a heavy drinker and a smoker and Jeremiah refuses to acknowledge that he has this problem.

Can Tom help Jeremiah with his drug addiction before it is too late? 

Read this book to find out!
 


What I loved about this story: 

Howard Shapiro’s writing: 
Howard Shapiro’s writing is as usual a delight to read as the characters are written extremely well and I loved the real-world plot of this volume as it addresses the dangers of drug addiction that has rarely been addressed in many comic books. I loved the fact that we actually have a comic book that details drug addiction in a realistic way by showing that Jeremiah is in denial about his addiction and how it was difficult at first for Tom and his loved ones to try to get Jeremiah to understand about the severity of his drug addiction. I also loved the way that Howard Shapiro wrote the relationships between the characters, especially between Tom and Jeremiah as I loved the fact that Jeremiah shows Tom that there is more to life than just playing hockey all the time and Tom cares enough for Jeremiah to go out of his way to help out Jeremiah with his drug addiction. 

Maricia Inoue and Andres Mossa’s artwork: 
Maricia Inoue and Andres Mossa’s artwork is beautifully done as the characters look truly realistic and I loved the way that the characters glow off the pages. Now, I will admit that there were some facial expressions on the characters that looked a bit odd, especially regarding Tom always smiling during some serious moments; but other than that, the artwork really captures the raw emotions that the characters feel during this serious situation that deals with drug addiction.

Hockey

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

The reason why I took off half a point from this rating was because I felt like the pacing was a bit slow at times, especially at the beginning and I sometimes wished that the plot moved at a much faster pace to get to the main point of the story.

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “The Hockey Saint” was a truly heartwarming and realistic story about drug addiction that anyone who wants to read about the consequences of drug addiction and the importance of true friendship will truly enjoy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-06-30 00:00
The Stereotypical Freaks
The Stereotypical Freaks - Howard Shapiro Book – Stereotypical Freaks (Forever Friends Trilogy #1)
Author – Howard Shapiro
Star rating - ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 140
Cover – Great!
Would I read it again – Yes
Genre – Young Adult, Comic


** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **


Personally, this was a tough one to read, so I have to start off with...

** There may be spoilers ahead. **

I don't know if what I'm about to talk about is meant to be a spoiler or not, so I'm being extra careful. The story deals with child/teen cancer and I found this difficult to read, having been a teenager with cancer. However, I can say that the topic was handled with care, sensitivity and respect. The way it was spoken about, dealt with and placed into the story was so realistic and genuine that I cried. A few times.

Beyond that, I loved the biographical format within the POV, leading us through the information we needed to know at the start, while delving straight into the plot and letting us know who the cast were. I also really liked the 'recommended listening' though I'm not so familiar with most of the bands/songs included. I'm more of a Classic Rock gal, so I wasn't really up-to-speed with the offerings or the favourite songs mentioned by the characters.

There were some small editing issues, but they didn't impede the understanding of the story or interrupt the telling.

Overall, this was a great story with a beautiful message. It made me cry multiple times, I loved the characters and the explorations of them, as well as the 20 year later Epilogue. It was a really well put together story that I just know kids will love, along with some brilliant illustrations.
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review 2017-06-30 00:00
The Hockey Saint
The Hockey Saint - Howard Shapiro Book – Hockey Saint (Forever Friends Trilogy #2)
Author – Howard Shapiro
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 133
Cover – Great!
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – Young Adult, Comic, Sports


** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **


It was a little strange going from teen Tom to adult Tom, but I think it worked well. It didn't have quite the same emotional impact as book 1 in the trilogy, but it was a really great story.

Again, I loved the illustrations and the way the story was paced. It had a nice undercurrent of good will and teaching a lesson, this time about appreciating what you have because others have it worse and helping out those who really deserve it. I did think, for a moment, that Tom might have mentioned Jacoby when they were at the Children's hospital, so I missed that when it didn't happen.

Tom has really grown a lot, since the first book, but I did feel that he was a little too over-eager, too naive and easily led compared to before. I found it a little weird the way he met Jeremiah, only because it was kind of stalker-ish and there was no real reason for Jeremiah to continue to hang out with Tom. I didn't really believe in their friendship, much, because it felt superficial. Jeremiah wasn't a good guy and he wasn't a great role model, he seriously affected Tom's social and educational lives, in a negative way, and that wasn't great. But I did like the way that Tom tried to help him, once he knew there was a problem.

Again, there were some serious issues tackled – drinking, death, excessive smoking etc. They all had their impact on the story, the characters and the way the plot flowed from one part to another.

Overall, a decent follow-up, but it failed to have that emotional tug on the heart-strings that book 1 had.
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review 2017-06-30 00:00
Hockey Karma (The Forever Friends Series)
Hockey Karma (The Forever Friends Series) - Andres Mossa,Howard N. Shapiro Book – Hockey Karma (Forever Friends Trilogy #3)
Author – Howard Shapiro
Star rating - ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 160
Cover – Great!
Would I read it again – Maybe
Genre – Young Adult, Comic, Sport


** COPY RECEIVED THROUGH NETGALLEY **


Again, I find myself missing that real emotional connection of book 1. Maybe it's because there is so much of the story dedicated to Jeremiah that it didn't feel as great, but I definitely felt that there was something missing.

The story was a great continuance of the previous book, but after reading it, book 1 feels more like a prequel than a start; it didn't connect with the later two books as much as I'd hoped. I had thought maybe they would all be about this gang of rock loving friends, but Tom's friendship with Jeremiah was interesting enough to carry this story, especially with the added drama.

It was great to see some of the old characters back again, to have that realism of not staying in touch with high school friends and wishing you had. It was also nice that Tom was able to manage both while keeping his current friends, without anyone feeling alienated.

Again, the story managed to pack some pretty serious topics into a young adult story, without overdoing it or crossing the line into adult material – relationships, death, drug abuse etc. They were all handled sensitively and made a real impact. I also love that Tom really focused on his entrepreneurial work, which Jeremiah introduced him to.

For me, books 2 and 3 are the perfect fit together, with a great ending. But, book 1 will always be my favourite, despite how good the other two are in their own right. I do love a good Hockey story, so this one really played on that part of me that loves the sport, while maintaining the story and characters that had begin in the previous book.
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