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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 2017-04-18 00:00
The Hockey Saint
The Hockey Saint - Howard Shapiro This is perfect for young adults. The Hockey Saint is relatable and covers real life issues. It also has a friendship between a hockey sports star and an average kid, the everyday and something that would be a fantasy for many. The artwork is great, and the message a good one.


***Copy given in exchange for an honest review***

Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

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review 2016-12-17 10:53
The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro
The Stereotypical Freaks - Howard Shapiro

Genre:  Friendship / School / Drama / Illness / Music


Year Published: 2012


Year Read:  11/6/2016

Publisher: Animal Media Group 

Series: Forever Friends Trilogy #1

 

Freaks

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:

Now, Howard Shapiro’s graphic novel “The Stereotypical Freaks” has been around the comic book scene for years now, but I never had the chance to get around to reading it because of two reasons:

1. I was too busy reading other books at the time.
2. I was not interested in the book when it first came out.


However, when NetGalley recommended me this graphic novel, I decided to give this graphic novel a try and I was seriously surprised by the different genre that this graphic novel explored compared to most other graphic novels that I had read that were either adventure, action or fantasy genres and I was pleasantly surprised by the results of this unique graphic novel!

What is this story about?

Tom Leonard was your average high school senior who was pretty unpopular at his high school, his best friend Dan Roberts was considered a geek and he has a crush on a girl named Jaelithe, who does not even know he exists. Fortunately, Tom is an extremely smart boy and he is a talented rocker in his basement band. One day however, the school decides to hold a battle of the bands competition and even though Tom was reluctant at first to enter the contest, he eventually decides to enter the competition, along with Dan. But, there is one problem: Tom and Dan are the only members of their band and they need two more people to make their band complete. So they ended up recruiting Mark Bennett (formerly known as Marcel), who was Tom’s childhood friend until Mark’s football career caused him to break off his friendship with Tom and a shy quiet boy named Jacoby Nukik, who is a foreign exchange student from Canada who seems to be hiding a big secret from the band. Luckily, forming the band together caused the four boys to become fast friends and they decided to call their band “The Stereotypical Freaks!” Later on however, when one of the boys reveals a big secret that could tear the band apart, the four friends now make it their ultimate goal to win the competition to fulfill one of their friends’ wishes.

What I loved about this story:

Howard Shapiro’s writing: Wow! Howard Shapiro’s writing was simply beautiful and emotional! I never would have thought that I would read a graphic novel that was not focused on fantasy or action, but more focused on the developing friendships between the main characters and about how one school event brought them all together. I loved the way that Howard Shapiro wrote each character, as they did not act according to their stereotypes (Tom the Genius, Dan the Geek, Mark the Jock and Jacoby the Quiet Guy) and their growing friendship to each other felt so natural as they had to go through some hurtles in their relationships to become close. My two favorite characters were probably Tom and Jacoby as both characters tried to keep the group together despite the obstacles all of them had to face together. I loved the fact that Tom gave Mark and Jacoby a chance to prove themselves to be a part of the group since it shows that he bears no ill will towards anyone, no matter what their ranking in school is. I especially loved Jacoby as he is the quiet kid that I can relate to the most with since I was the quiet kid in high school; but once we learn about his tragic backstory, I really started to feel for his character and hope that he gets his wish fulfilled. I also loved the fact that Howard Shapiro was able to write a graphic novel that was about the normal everyday life of a high school student, instead of writing about superheroes or fantasy characters as it gives this graphic novel a unique tone and it was nice reading a graphic novel that was mostly an ordinary high school series.

Joe Pekar’s artwork: Joe Pekar’s artwork is gorgeous to look at as all the characters are drawn realistically and the black and white colorings of the artwork contribute greatly to the graphic novel’s mundane tone of the story. I also like the way that Joe Pekar does the characters’ facial expressions as they greatly convey the different emotions that the characters go through such as happiness, anger and sadness.

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story:

The reason why I took off half a point from the rating was because I felt that the pacing of the story was a bit slow at some points and there were times where I was struggling with finishing the graphic novel because there was too much exposition on the dialogues that tend to slow down the story.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, “The Stereotypical Freaks” is a great story for anyone who wants to read about the true power of friendship and who wants to read a good old fashioned graphic novel about the trials of high school.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2016-12-13 22:54
Book Review of Hockey Karma (The Forever Friends Series) by Howard Shapiro. Illustrated by Andres Mossa
Hockey Karma (The Forever Friends Series) - Andres Mossa,Howard N. Shapiro

The highly anticipated sequel to the award winning “The Hockey Saint” taking place ten years after “Saint” ends. The legendary Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson, now thirty two, has been the world’s best hockey player over his fourteen year career because of his out of this world talent and his smart play. But he can’t stay on top forever, and when he starts making mistakes on the ice, his career and family life start to crumble.

 

At the same time, Tom Leonard, his agent and best friend, is completely overwhelmed by a project that he and Jake were supposed to be working on together. A project that could have a huge impact on people throughout their city in need of a helping hand. As Jake sinks deeper into a funk over his lost status due to his deteriorating play and the emergence of teammate and rookie phenom Barclay Pedersen, Tom realizes he’s on his own. At the same time he rediscovers someone from his past who he never thought he’d see again. In that burgeoning relationship, Tom discovers the importance of taking chances and starts to believe in himself.

 

Can Jake break out of his downward spiral and Tom finally find the courage to step out of Jake’s shadow?

 

Review 4*

 

I am not a huge reader of graphic novels. But, having previously read The Stereotypical Freaks by this author, when he contacted me and asked if I would be willing to read this graphic novel, I quickly agreed. He sent me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson is a very troubled character. I felt for him as he dealt with issues that affect us at one time or another. Unfortunately, I didn't like him as much as I thought I would. Being a professional ice hockey player, he has had to deal with his fair share of injuries and pain. However, he is now faced with dealing with his potential replacement, who is a lot younger and eager to prove himself, which makes him jealous.

 

His best friend and agent, Tom Leonard, meanwhile, has problems of his own. I really liked him. He really wants to make a difference to the local community, but when he meets an old flame, he must decide whether to follow his head or his heart.

 

Because I hadn't read The Hockey Saint, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to follow the story. However, I needn't have worried as it takes place ten years later. As I mentioned above, I am not a huge reader of graphic novels, nor am I a follower of ice hockey. I must admit that it took me a while to get into this story, as I am out of practice reading this genre of books, which includes comics. However, I enjoyed the story as it unfolded. The author has included a play list to listen to whilst reading this book. However, I didn't have any of these songs available to read to on hand, so persevered without them.

 

The illustrations are excellent and show the progression of the story; this made it easy for me to picture the scenes. I did find the story a little lacking dialogue wise, but this is because I am used to reading novels written in text, where the author has to use words to describe things in more detail and there is more interaction between characters. The story, once I got into it, gripped me and I found myself emotionally involved. I felt for Tom as he wrestled with his commitment to a community project and his love for an old flame. However, I didn't have the same emotional tug with Jake, even though he's going through a tough time himself. Maybe this is because, although I could empathize with him, I haven't been through the same problems he faced.

 

I congratulate Howard Shapiro on a fantastic tale that touched me deeply. Because this is a graphic novel, his writing style is difficult to judge but I would say it's evenly paced. The flow is also difficult to judge, though the illustrations made the scenes flow seamlessly.

 

Although I enjoyed reading Hockey Karma, I find that graphic novels are not my cup of tea. However, I highly recommend this book if you love reading them, or are an ice hockey/sports fan. - Lynn Worton

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