Cross Ion Review

The Cross Ion gel pen was my absolute favorite for a long time, and it still would be if the ink cartridges were reliable. As a teacher who is constantly moving around the room, I wanted a pen I could stick in my front pocket and not notice it was there.  I also wanted a gel pen that laid down a nice, smooth, and dark line.  The Ion was perfect.  There is even a red ink cartridge that lays down a nice bright red ink.

The pen has a triangular ergonomic grip.  It feels very natural in my hand, but it is a unique feel.  A coworker used it once to sign something and didn’t like the way it felt.  He said it didn’t feel like a “real pen,” which I took to mean it wasn’t skinny and long.   Although, people have always been impressed when I pulled it out of my pocket to use it. The pens I have came with lanyards and a clip that attaches to the tip of the pen.

I was so impressed with these pens I bought several and a bulk lot of the ink cartridges in different colors.  Once my original cartridges ran out, I quickly found that the replacement cartridges were not reliable.  It is difficult to get the ink to flow in the cartridges.  I have to scribble for what seems like an eternity to get the ink to start.  Some fade in and out unexplainably.  The ink stops flowing in others when the cartridge is half full.  I thought maybe I got a bad batch, so I bought some individual replacement cartridges and had the same problems. I can’t stand it when I need a pen and it doesn’t work.

Bottom line: I love everything about the pen, but the unreliable ink cartridges ruin it for me.  Cross does not makes these any more, but they still make the replacement ink cartridges.  If anyone knows of a cartridge that will work in these, I would greatly appreciate you letting me know.

Into the Volcano by Don Wood (Early Reviewer Book)

I’ve been trying to think of unique ways to describe this graphic novel without using “visually stunning” and “breathtakingly beautiful,” but I can’t do it.  Every panel is a work of art.  The scenes where the lava meets the ocean are perfect.  It’s just ink on a page, but Wood captures the light, the hiss, and the heat.  The graphic novel not only stands up to artistic scrutiny, but also has a gripping story.

It’s a mystery- adventure that appeals to a younger audience, but I found myself engrossed. Brothers, Sumo and Duffy, are pulled out of class unexpectedly by their father to be shipped off to an island with a mysterious cousin they’ve never met.  The whole enterprise is shady, and when the boys meet Auntie, it gets even more suspicious.  The book twists and turns, so the reader is never quite sure who’s good and who’s bad.  The boys have to do some self-reflection.

Wood’s artistic portrayals of the characters captivated me.  I was shaken by overweight Auntie with her greenish-pink skin and broken foot.  I immediately knew something wasn’t quite right with her.  You can almost smell her.  The boys have a  pugish Hawaiian look, which made me not fall for them right away.  That’s a good thing.  Most books aimed at younger audiences try to win the reader over to the protagonist’s side with sentimentality too soon. Wood’s style and scope gives the book a cinematic depth that I have rarely seen in graphic novels.  One panel you’re in the boat with the characters, waves pounding; the next you have a bird’s eye view.  It sets a fast adventure pace that young readers will love.

Overall, I’ll be shocked if Into The Volcano doesn’t win some awards.