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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Four Shorts Read on the Plane Ride Home!


So now that I'm back home, I will fully admit - the reading spree I've been on lately has been while I was away on vacation.  The last 12 things I've read were all read while either in the airport or on a beach.  I even managed to read another four short pieces while I was travelling back home yesterday!  I wrote my thoughts down in a notebook after I finished each piece, so here is the edited versions of what I wrote.  :)

First I read "Legion" by Brandon Sanderson.  This was a super cool novella.  Stephen is a very special man.  He suffers from hallucinations of people, hallucinations which show up as he needs them.  Does he need the help of a historian?  Tobias is there for him.  Someone to help him defend himself?  There's J.C. the Navy SEAL.  Stephen has a mansion where each of these people have their own room because once they appear, they stay with him.

Stephen is approached by Monica, who works for a fancy research company. One of her employees, Razon, has stolen a camera that he created.  The camera supposedly takes pictures of the past.  So Stephen (and a few of his hallucinations) are recruited to track the camera down.  Their search takes them to Israel, where Stephen and company are convinced Razon has gone to either prove or disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

One of the coolest parts was when Stephen flipped through a book on how to speak Hebrew and a hallucination appeared who could translate for him.  So depending on how exactly everything works, Stephen may have in reality flipped through the book and actually learned Hebrew!  He just has the hallucination taking over that part of his knowledge!  It was so cool! :)  (And if that's how things work, it means he's a ridiculously smart man!!!)

The other really cool part was when we find out why everyone keeps J.C. around. ;)

This was a super fun story that i really enjoyed reading!  Sanderson writes excellent novellas!  :)

Also, I'm super pumped to discover there's a second Legion story!!!!  :)

Next I read another Shotguns and Sorcery short story that I got from Matt Forbeck's first 12 for 12 called "Friends Like These."  This story involves some of the same characters that were in "Goblintown Justice" (notably Max and Kai the orc), along with a bunch of others.  This time, Max's halfling friend Moira has been accused of murdering an elf.  It's up to Max to prove her innocence once again.  This time he has to travel up the mountain to talk to the elves Moria had dealings with, so we get to see a few different parts of the city.  I enjoyed "Friends Like These" well enough, but I kind of think I liked "Goblintown Justice" a bit better.

After that I read "Jewels in the Night" by Kevin O. McLaughlin.  I've never read anything by McLaughlin before and don't really remember why I got this short story on my Kindle.  It's about a small crew of soldiers boarding a Chinese spacecraft.  The Chinese ship just nuked the American lunar colony and was returning to Earth.  The Chinese ship was created in secret because the Chinese weren't supposed to have such a vessel.  The marines were the colony's defense but were too far away to stop the Chinese vessel when it attacked.  So the marines did the only thing they could do - they waited in suits out in space and attempted to latch onto the vessel while it came by to assault it.  There were seven marines attempting this; only four make it onto the ship.  No one has ever attempted such a thing before, so the Chinese crew were completely unprepared for the marines' assault.  The marines succeed in their attack, taking out the crew and sending the vessel back to Earth to detonate its remaining warheads on China.  It's a terrible choice, but the captain hopes it will end the war.

As terrible as this story was (specifically with all the nukes killing billions of innocent people), I really enjoyed McLaughlin's writing.  I'll have to look into his other work (or more of this series) in the future!

Finally, I read "The Colonel" by Peter Watts.  I don't remember getting this one on my Kindle either.  I have to say, this one was intriguing but I really wasn't a fan of Watts' writing style.  "The Colonel" takes place in the future of our world where people can band their brains together to create hive minds.  The Colonel of the title is very, very against them and has been fighting them for a decade.  As the story progresses, it is revealed that his son was sent out into space and was never heard from again.  So when one of the local hive minds gives him an unexpected clue, he decides to risk everything to find out more.

I assume this was some sort of prelude to a novel or something because that was where the story ended.  I was sad that there was no real resolution to anything as a result.  As intriguing as the world was, I highly doubt I'll read any more because I really wasn't very interested in it.

So that's the end of my vacation reading spree.  I managed to clean up a whole bunch of things on my Kindle, plus I read Witch World in the middle of everything, too!  And now we're at the end of 2016.  I don't have separate blog posts for everything (and I didn't bother writing a post here for a few books), but according to Goodreads I've read 73 things this year!  A good chunk of those things were either shorts (thanks to the last few weeks) or graphic novels (only 25 were actual books, be they short story collections, novels, or nonfiction).  I had hoped to make it through 20 of the anthologies/short story collections that I own this year, but that didn't happen (I think I read 4, and one of those was an accident; I've also got two others on the go but am not going to be finishing them any time soon).  But I just checked out this 2016 Reading Challenge which I printed off last December; it looks like I almost completed it!  Check it out! 

:)

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

"The Evil That Befell Sampson" and "Sins of the Father"

I think I got "The Evil That Befell Sampson" and "Sins of the Father" as part of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences Kickstarter that happened last fall.  I haven't read any of the books in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences books before, but I did like her Books of the Order and thought that if I ever did read the Ministry books it would be nice to have the later ones already.  So I had no knowledge of the characters whatsoever when I started reading these short stories.  Both stories seem to be prequels to the actual series.

"The Evil That Befell Sampson" follows Eliza D. Braun in New Zealand.  She is helping her fiance's mother with a suffragist matter.  Kate (her fiance's mother) has been the preeminent
suffragist in New Zealand.  Some of Kate's friends, who are also suffragists, have suddenly withdrawn their support.  Eliza goes to see one of the ladies and realizes that she has been mind controlled by a bracelet.  There's no time though to deal with that because Kate needs to get the signatures of hundreds of women to parliament in time.  But of course things don't go smoothly - the guy who mind controlled the older lady isn't going to let them get those signatures to parliament without a fight!  

I have to say, this story was just ok.  For one thing, I got annoyed with it because there were a lot of stupid spelling and grammar errors in it.  The story also didn't really grab me, especially since Eliza and company sort of just dropped everything to get the scroll of names to parliament.  I know that it is important that they did this, but it seemed to happen a little too abruptly within the story.  

While I didn't really expect it, I've now seen the motivation for Eliza moving to London.  I thought that was a really interesting event that really builds the character.

After that I read "Sins of the Father," which I thought was a lot more interesting.  "Sins of the Father" is written from Wellington's father's perspective.  The man had some grand design in mind for Wellington, but Wellington has turned his back on his father's plans and decided to forge his own path.  The father has some contingency plans that he will activate to bring Wellington back into the fold.

Honestly not a whole lot happened in "Sins of the Father," but that didn't matter because the story was so heavy with foreshadowing events yet to come.  This story, much more than the other, left me wanting to read the Ministry of Peculiar Occurences books at some point in the future (but definitely not now). 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Witch World

60's Fantasy is always an interesting read for historical value, but I often find it's a bit hard to get through.  That's exactly how I felt when I started reading Andre Norton's Witch World a few days ago.  I picked it up in a used bookstore not too long ago and decided to read it.

Witch World follows the adventures of Simon Tregarth.  Ready to make his last stand, he is instead given the chance to journey to another world, one where his mind and spirit will be at ease.  He finds himself on the moors of a magical world.  He helps a witch woman escape from some foes, and ends up joining her nation of Estcarp, where he fights in the Guards.  Unfortunately Estcarp has enemies on all sides.  Worst of all is the mysterious Kolder, who have some sort of Power too strong for the Estcarp witches to break through.  Kolder has been creating an army of zombie soldiers out of men.  How will Simon and Estcarp stop Kolder's advance?

One thing which I was sad about was how much Witch World jumps ahead in time.  The synopsis of the book had me thinking the plot would be about Simon finding his place in this world.  And yes, it's sort of that over a long period of time.  But when he first made it to Estcarp I was really interested in him trying to communicate with the other people.  But then it jumped ahead a few months to a point where he could communicate fluently with everyone; I thought that was a real shame. 

I was also rather sad that the book followed Simon.  I found him a lot less interesting than most of the people around him.  Part two confused me for a bit when it switched to a completely different character for a few chapters; once I got over that shock, I found that I really liked her story.  But then it switched back to Simon and I was quite sad, especially since it never left his perspective again.  Don't get me wrong. Simon's a fine guy.  But he was one of those special chosen magical protagonists who got rather boring because of course he will survive everything and of course he's the only man in the world with the witches' Power.  I thought people like Koris, Loyse/Briant, and the unnamed witch (well, she was unnamed until the end of the book anyway) were all very interesting people who I would have loved to follow along with more.

I did find the Witch World itself to be a very interesting place (although I really wish I'd had a map while I was reading).  The many different cultures of people were varied and, to be redundant, very interesting.  I wish the book had gone into a bit more detail on all of them.

Likewise, the plot of the book was rather interesting.  I liked how no one in the world knew what exactly the Kolder were or how they worked.  So rather than having characters keeping information from Simon (and you the reader at the same time), you got to follow along as everyone pieced together what was going on.

I did find the ending to be rather abrupt though.  Koris saw through Briant's disguise suddenly and they seem to be together now; I'm not entirely sure how or when that really happened.  And the witch, in a rather offhand way suddenly gives Simon her name, they kiss then fade to black.  Like I said, very, very abrupt.

So that was my adventure reading Witch World.  I enjoyed it well enough and am glad that I read it.  But I have no real intention of continuing on with the series.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Two Hearts

Wow do I love stories by Peter S. Beagle.

"Two Hearts" is a story that takes place many, many years after The Last Unicorn. A griffin has made its home near Sooz's village. It's a minor annoyance until it starts taking children. A few knights are dispatched, but they all die. After the griffin takes Sooz's best friend, she sets off to find the king. She meets Schmendrick and Molly Grue on her way; the pair of them take her to King Lir's castle. But Lir is an old man now who gets confused. Although he agrees to rid Sooz's village of the griffin, everyone fears that the king will not return, especially since he has to strike both of its hearts to kill it.

I apologize that I'm half asleep as I write this, and not feeling at all articulate. I really liked reading about the further adventures of Schmendrick, Molly, and Lir. And Sooz was a fun character as well. "Two Hearts" was an interesting yet satisfying epilogue to The Last Unicorn. I'm super glad to have read it.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Four More Short Stories

Today was a nice and lazy day which I spent reading more short stories on my Kindle. This time I read "Paladins of Shannara: the Weapon Master's Choice," "Fable: Theresa," and "The Keeper: a Short Story Prequel to Forbidden." The first two were stories I had been saving for some reason...(I think in the case of "Fable: Theresa," I was planning on playing through the original Fable game before reading it, but never did finish it). Like with After Life, I have no memory of "The Keeper" but that's ok, I read it anyway.

"The Weapon Master's Choice" was obviously a story about Garet Jax. A lady seeks him out, asking for his help saving her people from a warlock. The warlock is a dracul, draining the souls from her people. Jax agrees to help, and finds himself unexpectedly falling in love with the lady. It was an enjoyable story from one of my favourite authors.

I think "Fable: Theresa" was my favourite story of the three. The blind seer arrives in a town to find a young girl who is being overwhelmed by her dreams. Theresa knows the girl hasn't much time left. So she sets off on a quest to save the girl, seeking out the only person who may be able to help: the warlock named Raven. She needs the help of a Hero to get her there. Since time is short, the only one around is Elijah Stane, a washed up old Hero who is drinking his days away. He failed his last charge and so is reluctant to help anyone else, but reluctantly agrees to help the blind seer (because she is determined to go on her quest with or without his help). Theresa knows that they seek a miracle, and that even if such a thing exists, it will come with a price; will she be willing to pay it? I loved this story, but then again I'm a fan of Peter David's Fable stories so this wasn't at all surprising.

Of these three stories, "The Keeper" was my least favourite. But it is, as advertised, a prequel story. But more importantly, it's a prequel story to Forbidden, which I know nothing at all about. Two hermit brothers are approached by an unfamiliar man. He tells them that they and the world are dead, but that he can help them live again. I think he meant that they were emotionally dead, but it wasn't super clear until the end. This was by no means a favourite but it was interesting enough. Unfortunately it didn't make me want to keep reading the series right now.

Oh yeah, and yesterday I also read "The Boy With the Silver Eyes" by Bruce Coville. That takes place in his Unicorn universe. A Hunter makes his son eat the flesh of the Unicorn he had killed, which changes his son forever. The son's heart is restless and seeks some unknown thing. So he journeys out, finding the songs of Earth, Fire, Water, and Air in the hopes of finally putting his heart at ease.

After Life

I do not remember getting Simon Funk's After Life on my Kindle. I started reading it for the simple reason that it is apparently a novella (I only say apparently because it was far longer than the other novellas I've read at about 120 pages, but it is still a novella). When I rated it on Goodreads I discovered that someone at work had recommended it to me. While I still have no memory of this whatsoever, based on the fact that it is science fiction, I now have an idea of who.

Anyway, After Life is the story of Alexander, a PhD who finds himself in a bizarre world where humans live easy lives, gaining nourishment from a fountain that spews wheat. Prior to waking up there, he had been undergoing an experimental procedure to scan a brain; the procedure was his own creation. While living in the bizarre world (which he increasingly believes is real), at night he dreams of events that happened to other versions of him. It's a really odd story that becomes more and more compelling the more you read (and start to piece together what happened at about the same speed Alex does). I don't typically read tons of science fiction, so this wasn't a familiar kind of story for me at all. 

I've been reading bits of After Life over the last few days, and finally decided to power through the last 60% tonight. As I said, this is a bit of a longer novella and even though I enjoyed it, I was kind of ready for it to be over so I could start reading something else. I actually feel like I should reread After Life at some point in the future because it deserved a bit more thought than I was giving it (particularly since I've found myself rather tired over the last few nights and not able to concentrate on it super well). Of course, any reread won't be happening for a long while because I have many other books/stories I'll need to get through first!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"Goblintown Justice"

About 5 years ago, I backed Matt Forbeck's first 12 for 12 Kickstarter campaign. One of the stretch goals that got unlocked scored me the ebook version of Forbeck's short story "Goblintown Justice." "Goblintown Justice" is set in the Shotguns & Sorcery setting Forbeck had created earlier as a roleplaying game world (and which was the setting of his second 12 for 12 trilogy). To date I've only read his Brave New World trilogy out of the 12 for 12 stuff I backed. So while flipping through my Kindle stuff, I decided it was definitely way past time I read this.

"Goblintown Justice" finds Max Gibson embroiled in trouble. He leaves the Quill and discovers an orc he knows from his adventuring days standing over the corpse of a woman in the auxiliary city guard (whom both he and the orc knew from said adventuring days). The Dragon Guard arrives and arrests them both. The evidence is overwhelmingly against the orc. Max is released and instructed to find the killer fast if he wants to save his orc friend. So he heads down to Goblintown, the roughest neighbourhood in Dragon City, looking for answers.

This is my first experience with Shotguns & Sorcery; I was really liking the world. It's got crazy little touches, like the zombie horde outside the wall, that added to the already interesting mix of wild west and wizardry. The story itself was also rather entertaining, full of the crazy politics of Dragon City's diverse inhabitants. Honestly, I'm quite looking forward to reading the second 12 for 12 trilogy now (which I may get to in the near future...)

Friday, December 16, 2016

The 33, Episode 1: Pramantha, Part 1

It looks like the next few weeks are going to be dedicated to me reading a bunch of things I bought on my Kindle and never got around to reading. Today I just finished The 33: Pramantha, Part 1 by J.C. Hutchins. I believe I bought it around when it came out a few years ago. I didn't remember what it was about at all, but decided not to care and just dive right in.

Addisson Creel made some crazy deal a few weeks ago, that he would have his past debts forgiven if he agreed to be on call for the next 33 weeks to help someone called Mr. Ins. There's a chance Mr. Ins won't call on Creel; should that happen he'd be free to do whatever he wished. But of course that doesn't happen; Creel wakes up to a mysterious voice in his head, which brings him to a farmhouse halfway around the world. There he is introduced to members of the 33 and informed he will have to help them save the world. Part 1 ends after everyone sits down and explains everything that's going on.

I really like the idea of the 33. Hutchins wrote it to be serialized kind of like TV or the initial release of The Green Mile, which came out in small parts. And there's a lot of interesting things going on in the story. What is Creel's secret? Who is Mr. Ins? What caused those people at the beginning of the book's weird suicide game? But I found that I didn't really connect with Creel, which is a shame; I'm honestly in no hurry to read more of the series. It is quite possible it will get better as it goes though, so I'm not completely against reading more in the future. It's also got a pretty good rating on Goodreads, so that may help to sway me in the future.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope

I've had William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope for a rather long time now on my Kindle. Life's been so busy though that I forgot it was there. I finally had some time to read it earlier today though; because it's written like a Shakespeare play I managed to get through it in a day.

So first, the good: this is Star Wars: a New Hope written in iambic pentameter. That's awesome!!! The dialogue was pretty amazing, and I loved a lot of the asides; the asides were super fitting and made what people said out loud much more interesting. Also, R2 D2 purposely pretending to only speak in beeps while being a Puck-style character was hilarious!

The bad: I did not like how Ian Doescher went out of his way to copy other Shakespearean plays. For example: at one point Luke starts talking to a Stormtrooper helmet like how Hamlet talks to Yorick's skull. I thought that was stupid and did not need to be there. Also, the Chorus was the most annoying thing ever. It made sense to be there at say the beginning when you would normally get the title scroll. But it would randomly show up in the middle of a scene, taking away from the hilarious dialogue. I hated that because it dropped you out of the action (even though it was often there to set the scene for the action). Also, in the majority of Shakespearean plays I've read, you get along quite well without the chorus - generally there's a few minor stage directions and otherwise characters tell you what's happening in dialogue.

So overall I'm glad I read William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I love Shakespeare and I love Star Wars. Unfortunately the two together weren't quite as awesome as I expected them to be. :(

Thursday, November 24, 2016

The Call by Peadar O'Guilin

A friend from work recommended Peadar O'Guilin's The Call to me a little while ago.  I had it on hold and should have gotten it last week, but I didn't get it until yesterday.  But even though I was hoping to have it finished long before now, it was fine because I totally read the entire book last night.  I started it sometime between 10-11pm.  By about 3:30am I was thinking I should just stop and finish it tomorrow, but I kept going back to it, to the point of jumping into bed and picking it back up to finish it.  I think I was done sometime around 4:30am (so really, it's an easy read - over 300 pages in around 6 hours.  But it's YA, and YA tends to be easier to read).

The Call has a very interesting premise.  Teenagers in Ireland disappear for exactly 3 minutes and 4 seconds.  During that time, the Sidhe call them into the Grey Lands and hunt them.  What is 3 minutes here is hours there.  Only one in ten children return alive (which is greatly improved odds from the one in one hundred that it was before the whole country started training them to fight and survive).  

Nessa is one of the teenagers of an age when she will be Called soon.  No one expects her to live because her legs have been damaged by Polio.  But Nessa is determined to prove everyone wrong.  She will find a way to survive when the time comes.  And so she follows all the rules and learns EVERYTHING she can about the Grey Lands, the Sidhe, and the people who have survived their own Call.  She's determined that nothing will get in her way.  Not even her feelings for Anto, the cute boy she loves.  

The Call follows Nessa and her friends (and enemies in the case of Conor and his Knights) through a part year of school.  I really liked how when pretty much any of the teens gets Called, the book swaps to their point of view so we get to see what happens (and learn so much more about the Grey Lands than we would otherwise have).  There's a lot of Irish mythology in it, which made me want to read the Mabinogion (which I really should have just done years ago!)  I was also really glad I read The Tain back in school, as well as The Black Cauldron because characters like Cu Chulainn and things like the Cauldron came up in The Call (and I knew what they were!)

I have to admit, I loved when Conor got Called because that chapter read like an epic tale.  He was compared to Cu Chulainn with good reason, as he slaughtered Sidhe left and right.  Compared to all the other Calls, it was so different (and he was the only one who wasn't at all afraid).

I do wish I had a little more information about the Sidhe's side of things.  What was the treaty they signed that condemned them to the Grey Lands?  How did they manage to isolate Ireland from the rest of the world?  Hopefully we'll get the answers to all of this and more in the sequel that's apparently forthcoming!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Copperhead Volume 2

Soooo Copperhead Volume 2 ends on a cliffhanger.  The story is supposedly ongoing, but there hasn't been an issue published since #10 came out in October 2015.  Sigh.

Copperhead Volume 2 is a new arc involving most of the characters from Volume 1, but it felt like a little time has passed between the two arcs.  When Clara throws Nestor in jail, he warns her that she's making a big mistake.  Sure enough, Nestor's brother Zolo breaks him out of prison.  Zolo wants to hightail it out of town but Nestor insists on trying to make Clara pay.  So they set an ambush and capture Budroxifinicus instead.  They drag Budroxifinicus out to the Bastion, hoping to lure Clara into a trap.  For her part, Clara is right behind them with a posse!

Volume 2 was a super fun chase through the desert.  As I said though, it ended on a cliffhanger, which was super disappointing - I want to know what happens next!!!! :(

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Copperhead Volume 1

A friend of mine really recommended Copperhead to me (I don't honestly remember why though...we were chatting about things and it came up).  I was excited to find both collected editions at the library so I took them out a week or two ago and finally sat down to read them. 

Copperhead Volume 1 opens with Clara Bronson and her son, Zeke, travelling on a train to Copperhead where she is the new sheriff.  Right off the bat the story is great.  Some idiot tries to sit next to her on the train, and some other guy steps in to save her.  We don't actually see what happens, but she ends up kicking both guys off the train as they arrive in Copperhead.  From there, Clara and Zeke are picked up by Deputy Budroxifinicus (who Zeke calls Boo because he can't pronounce the name, even though Budroxifinicus would prefer Zeke NOT call him that).  Budroxifinicus is a hilarious character because he is super full of dry wit. 

Anyway, Clara and Budroxifinicus are called out to a domestic disturbance at the Sewells place.  Missus Sewell assaults Clara and ends up brought in to the jail.  Meanwhile, Zeke goes out to help his neighbour find her lost dog.  You're not supposed to go out at night because that's when the natives will get you.

I should clarify at this point: this is very much a science fiction western.  The natives are these bug-like monsters who clearly lived on the planet before humans came here.  Budroxifinicus is some sort of alien (I don't think the book actually said what kind).  And Clara and Zeke were posted here from some other planet.

So yeah.  Anyway, Zeke and his neighbour get rescued by an artificial human (an "artie" as Clara calls them - they were created for the war against the native creatures I believe and are pretty much killing machines.  Clara really dislikes them).  Clara was called back to the Sewalls because something tore through the house and murdered the father and the boys (well most of the boys - one was badly injured but managed to live). 

So the rest of the story ends up this sort of murder mystery with Clara and Budroxifinicus trying to figure out what exactly happened (while waiting for the one living Sewall boy to hopefully wake up and tell them).  Budroxifinicus does some great police work in the middle of this, and Clara starts to get over her prejudices for the non-human people.

I really, really enjoyed reading Volume 1 and can't wait to read Volume 2 (hopefully later tonight though - I don't have enough time right now).

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Aquaman: Volume 7

Well, Aquaman Volume 7: Exiled was a bit confusing at first. It opens with Aquaman fighting Atlantean soldiers on the surface. Then it gives us a bit of back and forth between what happened in the past vs what's happening now. And it takes quite awhile for everything to come together and make sense. But once it finally does, it gets pretty good.

Basically, another world is invading ours. The other world, named Thule, was once a part of Atlantis. But when King Atlan succeeded in uniting Atlantis, a sect of wizards escaped by creating their own world. But now whatever magic kept them apart is failing. But they knew this day would come and so have spent centuries preparing for it, with the intent of conquering our world.
Arthur went to fight this threat on his own, leaving Mera behind as Queen of Atlantis. But when he came back to tell her that there are many innocent people who would be killed if he outright destroyed Thule, she accused him of being a traitor. So Arthur has been been trying to rescue the innocent Atlanteans of Thule while fighting the dark magics of the wizard kings AND evading the team Mera has sent to capture him.

Of course, Mera isn't actually Mera; her shapeshifter sister has taken her place on the throne. I was thinking she'd been mind controlled or something because the angry Mera on the throne was obviously not the regular Mera.
So Arthur fights everyone on his own for awhile until Wonder Woman confronts him. Then he gets the rest of the Justice League to help him invade Thule and destroy it while making sure as many innocents as possible get out. Oh yeah and he takes a little time out before this to go save Mera (but it's ok, she manages to save herself in the meantime - Mera is awesome!)

So while confusing at first, overall Exiled is a pretty good read. Still no war of the Seven Seas though (which was totally alluded to at the end of Volume 4). But apparently there's a Volume 8 coming, so *maybe* it'll be in there?

Monday, October 17, 2016

Aquaman Volume 6

Well, Aquaman Volume 6: the Maelstrom was better than Volume 5.  But still nothing about the other kingdoms being reunited.  :(

This time, Aquaman has to fight the Chimera, the crazy experiment a Triton Base scientist cooked up using the brain of an Atlantean monster.  The Chimera was able to camouflage as things, and had all the super powers of all the predators under the sea.  He thought he'd be able to mind control Arthur (especially since he was able to control the minds of fish better than Arthur), but he totally failed.  But he lived to fight another day, so I guess we'll see the Chimera again sometime. 

After that, Arthur invited Dr. Shin, Daniel Evans, and the Martian Manhunter into Atlantis to help him solve a problem: why are the seaquakes happening?  It turns out, they're because Arthur is king, but he is part surface dweller, so the living kingdom (it absorbs the thoughts and feelings of dead Atlanteans) has not completely accepted him.  It should have been fine when his mother died.  Which leads to a bigger mystery: where is Arthur's mother?  Her body should have been in its tomb/casket.  But it is missing.  So Arthur and Mera go off hunting through gates to find her.  They make their way to Katangala, the land of psychic talking apes.  And eventually find Atlanna's trail leads them to the Maelstrom.  But Atlanna was told Arthur and his father were murdered by her Atlantean husband's hand.  Will Arthur be able to convince her that he is who he says he is?

Oh, we also got the origin story of Mera (of how she left Xebel and decided not to assassinate Arthur).  That happened nearer the beginning of the volume, but was pretty out of place with most of what happened. 

Like I said, this was better than Volume 5 though.  The stories fit together a lot better, rather than being random weird, almost unrelated things. 

So *hopefully* I get the story I'm waiting for in Volume 7!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Aquaman Volume 5

This....was not the story I thought it was going to be.  Aquaman Volume 4 left off with Arthur Curry's half brother being visited by the king of Xebel, who was reuniting the rulers of the seven sea kingdoms to take down Aquaman.  It had long been thought that Atlantis was the last one.  Turns out that's false.  So I was super excited to read that story. 

Hopefully it's in Volumes 6 or 7?

Aquaman Volume 5: Sea of Storms was kind of all over the place.  Aquaman discovers there's a human base in the sea.  He wasn't able to deal with it at the time though (for reasons).  The base is experimenting with a piece of the brain of an Atlantean monster that Arthur had to kill.  After that, Arthur and Mera attended his high school reunion (where he discovered that many of the people he went to school with are still okay with him, even though he ran off from high school).  While he was at the reunion, an archeologist stole Arthur's trident and used it to open a portal.  He thought it would go to Atlantis.  Turns out it just went to Hell, releasing the Giant children.  So Arthur and Wonder Woman dealt with most of them.  Mera and Wonder Woman dealt with the rest.  But then there was a giant algae monster that Arthur had to deal with because it was killing a reef.  He battled the green avatar for no reason (the green avatar kept telling him to stop, but apparently Arthur Curry is kind of dense like that).  Eventually the green avatar went and dealt with it (but was almost nuked by Atlantis in the process).

So yeah.  This was a super weird volume.  A different writer took over from Geoff Johns, so that might have made a lot of the difference.  Hopefully Volumes 6 and 7 will be more coherent!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Invader Zim: Volume 2

Well, no use in waiting.  I read Invader Zim: Volume 2 immediately after finishing Volume 1.  And Volume 2 seemed even crazier than Volume 1!

This time around, we had Zim applying for a loan in a human mech suit.  Gir is piloting the legs; when he sees popcorn, he sends the legs in an opposite direction, tearing the mech suit in half.  Hilarity ensues as Zim tries to track down Gir (and the legs).  Next, Zim and Gir crash land on barren planet.  They trigger something which causes millions of years of evolution to happen in mere moments.  And end up battling giant bugs to get their Voot Cruiser back.  Then we had the pants aliens conquering the planet at Zim's invitation, turning humans into pants zombies.  Next Dib became Zim's intern to try to get better footage of Zim's base.  And finally, Zim went on a hunting trip to bring something truly terrifying back to Earth to impress his classmates. 

Volume 2 is in some ways more wackier than Volume 1 was; I think it was by Chapter 2 that I felt "here it is, here's the show I loved."  I'm all Zim-ed out for tonight, which is fine because Volume 3 isn't out yet.  But I can't wait for when it is out - I think it'll be awesome! 

Invader Zim Volume 1

I've been buying a lot of comics lately.  I bought the first issue of Invader Zim thinking I'd give it a try because I am a big fan of the show.  Well the first issue was hilarious, so I bought the first volume (and second volume) because there were quite a few out and I didn't feel the need to buy each issue separately.

I didn't realize this at the time, but each issue (or chapter in the case of the graphic novel) is a separate story, rather like the cartoon (each cartoon episode had two stories in it).

I think the first story/chapter in Invader Zim: Volume 1 is probably the funniest.  Zim has been hiding in his house (in a toilet) for years, all as part of his nefarious scheme to make Dib fat and useless.  It works, but thanks to a training montage, Dib is back!

Chapter 2 is the second part to that story, where Zim is looking for the Gargantis Array.  After heading to every tacky tourist shop in the galaxy, he eventually finds the lady who will give him the codes.  But Dib isn't far behind (using Tak's ship!)

The remaining three chapters are all standalone stories.  First, Zim creates art installations around town to summon the Star Donkey.  Next, the Tallest send him their trash, telling him it is a super secret weapon that must be protected at all costs.  And finally, Dib unplugs Gaz's game.  She looks for a separate reality where non-gamers are punished for existing to get revenge against her brother (this one is weird, but has some fun game nods to things like Minecraft and the Binding of Isaac). 

This is a ridiculous collection of stories in true Zim fashion.  Can't wait to read book 2!

The Wicked + the Divine Volumes 3 & 4

I managed to get The Wicked + The Divine Volume 3: Commercial Suicide through interlibrary loans last week.  I can't remember the actual day that I read it, but I know it was around a week ago.  And I have to say, it was really, really hard to care about it.  After the crazy ending of Volume 2, Volume 3 felt like a big waste of time.  And it really sort of was.  With Laura, the main character, seemingly dead, this volume sort of waltzed around with no real meaning.  We had one Goddess commit suicide (with the help of Anake).  And a bunch of random other things that I can't really remember.  The only thing that had any impact on me was the ending, that a Persephone seemed to have a gig booked at some place.  It was a cliffhanger that was really too little too late in my opinion.

But then while wandering through Chapters aimlessly, I found Volume 4: Rising Action was already out.  So I figured, what the heck?  This would be the last chance I gave to the series.  And now I'm really not sure what to make of it.

Yes, Laura is not dead.  That was solved in the weirdest flashback scene ever.  Apparently Baphomet (who is really Nergal) didn't kill Inanna.  Instead the two of them went looking for Laura in time to see what was about to happen with Ananke.  Inanna saved Laura but died himself, and Baphomet brought Laura into the underground.  Ananke burned Inanna's body to make it unrecognizable just in time for Laura's parents to show up.  Laura has spent the last while moping in the underground with Baphomet, but finally got roused into action in time for this volume.

I have to admit, it was weird and kind of lame, but I knew something like this would be used to explain how Laura wasn't dead.

So now Laura and company are trying to unite the pantheon against Ananke.  For her part, Ananke seems dead set on murdering Minerva, the youngest member of the Pantheon.

This volume is really action packed.  The climax leaves off at a place where like anything can happen.  But I'm still left wondering if I care?  Laura murders Ananke (after it looked like the rest of the Pantheon talked her out of it) and says they can do whatever they want.  But it didn't seem like enough of a hook to keep me reading.  Of course I said that last time, so who knows what will happen when Volume 5 eventually comes out?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Maus II

Wow is Maus II a different animal from Maus IMaus I leaves off with Anja and Vladek arriving at Auschwitz.  While their journey has been tough, it is nothing compared to what they go through in the concentration camp.  For one thing, they are, for the first time ever, separated.  For another, death is EVERYWHERE around them.  We don't get to know exactly what happened to Anja, only that she survived thanks to Mancie keeping her close.  But we get Vladek's trials in great detail.  How he taught someone English which kept him out of hard labour for a few months.  How he managed to convince people he was a tinsmith or a shoe maker, which helped keep him alive.  How he managed to get food in exchange for other things (and used that food to bribe his superiors so they would do their best to keep him around).  How he got lucky and hid in the bathroom during an inspection when he was sick and would have been killed for sure.  How he was marched out of Auschwitz, left in a train car to die only to survive.  Escaping that train (near the end of the war), he was picked up by more Germans and thought for sure he was going to die before morning; only to wake up and the Germans had run off.  This happened twice.  And how he worked for the Americans near the end of the war before making his way back to Poland and Anja, who was waiting for him there. 

On the other side of this story is Vladek's story with Mala.  Mala leaves him, so he calls his son and daughter in law to come and stay with him.  How his health is deteriorating but he refuses to pay for a live-in nurse or enter a retirement home.  His son can't stand being around him for too long and doesn't want Vladek to move in with him and his wife; he keeps hoping that Vladek and Mala will get back together (which they do in the end).  Oh, and how Spiegelman's wife picks up a hitchhiker and Vladek is incredibly angry and racist because the hitchhiker is a black person - both Spiegelman and his wife point out how Vladek of all people shouldn't be racist after his experience (but he says, not in these words, that his experience with black people is why he IS racist towards them).

So yes, Maus II is a very different book than Maus IMaus II is a much darker story, which I found much harder to read at times (I had to take a break from reading after Chapter 3 because it was just so heavy).  While they are different books, they are both good in their own way.  I'm glad I finally made the time to read both Maus I and II.  I haven't read much Holocaust literature, but wow did these two books make the experience so human and personal.  They are definitely both worth reading.

Maus I

I've been meaning to read Maus for quite awhile.  Back in school, people recommended it to me, saying how good it is.  Later both my brother and dad read it and loved it.  My brother lent it to me and it's been sitting on my shelf since then.  But today, since I wasn't feeling great, I decided that reading Maus was a good use of my time. 

Maus is a Holocaust story.  The comic artist Art Spiegelman wants to get his father's Holocaust story down.  So he goes over to his father's house on a series of visits to hear the tale, later turning it into this comic.  He's made the people into animals, with the Jewish people of the tale mice (and the Gestapo are cats, which I thought was a nice touch). 

Spiegelman's father, Vladek, has remarried, so we see scenes from his new life interspersed around his Holocaust tale as a framing narrative.  Vladek is still very much in love with Anja, Spiegelman's mother who survived the war but later commit suicide. 

The story starts off before the war, showing what Vladek's life was like before the Nazis invaded Poland.  Vladek was a very eligible bachelor prior to meeting and falling in love with Anja.  Anja was from a wealthy family who lived in a nearby town.  The family prospered until the Nazis arrived; although they managed to stay together for quite a long time, they lost their fancy lifestyle and were slowly pulled apart. 

This Holocaust story is broken up by scenes from Vladek's present life.  He has remarried a woman named Mala who also survived the war.  The two do not get along.  Spiegelman ends up in the middle of their domestic fights: Vladek says they are always arguing (generally about money) and Mala says she feels like she is stuck in a prison with a very miserly man.  This argument is at odds with Vladek's earlier tale where he has been paying people off left and right in an attempt to keep his family alive and together.   

Maus I ends with Anja and Vladek, the last two of the family, trying to make it to nearby Hungary.  But they were sold out by the smugglers who were helping them and have been taken to Auschwitz.  But it's nearing the end of the war, so I'm very much interested to see where things go from here.

Oh, an important note: Vladek has just admitted to his son that he burned Anja's diaries after she died.  He found the memories too painful to deal with in the aftermath of her suicide.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me

I saved Tangles: A Story About Alzheimer's, My Mother, and Me when it was withdrawn from the library (along with several other books I really didn't need).  Tangles is a graphic novel showing the progress of Sarah Leavitt's mother's Alzheimer's disease.  Leavitt's mother was very young (in her early 50's) when she was diagnosed with the disease.  Leavitt herself wasn't around for the entire disease's progression because she lived across the country (she said it took a full day of flying to go home to visit her parents).  So she was only able to chronicle the times she went home for a visit.

Tangles is a very sad read.  Alzheimer's is, in my opinion, one of the worst diseases because it robs you of your memories (and as Leavitt shows, what makes you "you").  While there are some laughs along the way, Tangles shows the very sad, slow loss of an amazing woman who is gone far sooner than she should have been gone.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium

The local library didn't have The Wicked + The Divine Volume 2: Fandemonium. So I ordered it (and Volume 3) through interlibrary loan.

Fandemonium starts out pretty much where The Faust Act leaves off. Laura is trying to figure out what happened with Luci. Unfortunately her efforts are hampered by her being sick every time she even thinks about how Luci died.  But she teams up with Inanna in an attempt to find out exactly what went down.  Laura has also become famous in the aftermath of Luci, so she uses that fame to get her into speaking engagements at cons and the like to get closer to the other Gods.

There's a lot of things happening that are sort of drawn out (like the pages and pages of hard to follow party (of Dionysus I think?).  Cassandra (the journalist) turns out to be the 12th Goddess (Urdr, one of the three Norns).Laura is upset because she was hoping she would be the 12th.  Baphomet has decided to try going on a killing rampage to steal extra years for himself from the other Gods and Goddesses.

And then there's the ending....



...Laura IS one of the Pantheon.  She's the 13th member.  And she gets killed by Ananke!  What a cliffhanger!

I hope I can get my hands on Volume 3 soon to see the aftermath of this!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Birds of Prey Volumes 1, 2, and 3

Well I totally should have read these first to save the Aquaman graphic novels for last (because Aquaman was a lot better).  Black Canary and Starling are trying to start their team (Birds of Prey).  So in Volume 1 (Trouble in Mind) they invite Katana and Poison Ivy.  That was a pretty fun team, but then in Volume 2 (Your Kiss Might Kill) Poison Ivy betrays them.  In Volume 3 (A Clash of Daggers), the Dagger clan is after Katana; after dealing with that threat, Katana decides to stay in Japan, so the Birds of Prey (who also include Batgirl, who didn't really want to join them but I guess did?) need to recruit another member.  At the end of Volume 3, their team includes Condor, a guy in a flying suit they met in Japan, and Strix, an assassin from the Court of Owls that has been plaguing Gotham City (I've never heard of it before these books). 

The story jumps all over the place, even within a single volume, making it a bit hard to follow.  And even though I wanted to like these graphic novels, I really didn't care at all.  I almost didn't even bother reading Volume 3 because I just wasn't interested, but wanted to see the aftermath of dealing with Ivy (which I didn't get because they just sort of skipped ahead to the girls having been basically cured by Batman). 

So all in all, this just wasn't for me.  I'll go back to reading more Aquaman instead.

Aquaman Volumes 2, 3, and 4

I read them all back to back so decided not to write a separate review for each of them.

Aquaman: the Others was Volume 2, which seemed to start the whole Black Manta thing (Black Manta is a villain who has also appeared in the Aquaman rebirth comic series I'm also reading but not reviewing on this blog because I'm reading it issue by issue).  Black Manta has tracked down members of the Others, a team of super people Arthur Curry worked with prior to accepting his place in Atlantis.  His teammates were armed with powerful Atlantean artifacts, which is why they have been targeted by Black Manta.  It seems Black Manta is after a hidden seventh artifact which is more powerful than all the others.  I thought that the Others were interesting, but I wasn't given enough time to get to really know them as characters which was a real shame.  Arthur kept not wanting their help (which was apparently characteristic of him in the past) but his motivation had greatly changed - where previously he didn't care about them, now he didn't want to see them get hurt.  Black Manta was ultimately successful in getting the artifact (which is the scepter that was used to sink Atlantis) but he gave it to an unidentified third party.

Aquaman: Throne of Atlantis was Volume 3.  This one starts off when missiles from a surface world ship are fired at Atlantis (not by humans - they lost control of the weapons through mysterious means).  The humans think it's weird that the missiles fired themselves at empty ocean (because they didn't realize that's where Atlantis was).  But then the entire Atlantean war machine mobilizes with the intent of sinking Boston as retaliation.  This volume has members of the Justice League jumping in as Arthur must decide whose side he is on.  Volume 3 involves Arthur's half brother Orm, who is currently sitting on Atlantis's throne.  Arthur worries that Orm has the scepter that Black Manta took, but quickly realizes that's not the case when Orm orders charges laid in Boston to sink the city.  The staff is revealed to command those strange creatures from the Trench (Volume 1), who attack humans and Atlanteans en masse at the surface.  It turns out that Vulko, the first Atlantean Arthur met, was behind this.  Vulko wanted Arthur to resume his rightful place as the King of Atlantis, and felt that a war was the only way to get him to do so.  Vulko is brought back to Atlantis to await trial, while Orm yielded the throne to Arthur and so must stand trial in the surface world for killing so many when he attacked Boston.

Which brings us to Volume 4, Aquaman: Death of a King.  This one was my favourite of the bunch.  The original king of Atlantis, Atlan (the Dead King) was awakened from his tomb.  He moves to reclaim his rightful place as King of Atlantis.  First he follows Mera to Xebel.  She tries to get the people of Xebel to stand with her and Arthur against the Dead King, but to her horror they side with him.  The Dead King attacks Atlantis at the same time a submarine fleet led by Scavenger attacks as well.  In the fight, Arthur is presumed dead after trying to telepathically control a monster of the deep named Topo.  Vulko got him out and cared for him while he was in a coma for six months.  After learning some uncomfortable truths about his heritage, Arthur and Vulko retrieve the scepter and call forth the monsters of the trench to help him defeat the Dead King once and for all.

Volume 4 ended with an epilogue that really makes me want to read volume 5.  Nerus, the King of Xebel, was charged by the Dead King with finding a trace of the remaining four kingdoms of Atlantis which everyone has presumed dead.  Nerus has found Orm and wants to join forces with him.  Apparently Nerus lied to the Dead King and knows where the other missing kingdoms are!  He wants to unite all seven kings to take down Arthur!  I can't wait to read it!!!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Aquaman: the Trench

So I have recently discovered I am a fan of Aquaman.  I started buying the new comic issues because I was blown away by the story.  A friend of mine at work recommended I read the new 52 series because she really liked them, too.  So here I am, less than two hours after finishing Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and I've already finished the first of this series (called Aquaman Volume 1: The Trench).  Aquaman is being laughed at on land as a silly useless superhero.  But when some mysterious creatures from the sea attack a village near his lighthouse, Aquaman will overcome prejudice to save the day!  I was a bit confused by some of the things going on surrounding the mysterious creatures (what exactly are they?  Aliens?  I don't think so but I wasn't really sure), but hopefully these questions will be answered in the next four volumes, which I've already put on hold!

Seriously, these new Aquaman stories are a lot of fun!  I recommend you give them a try!  :)

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

So I finally did it.  I actually read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.  I honestly thought I would have read it years ago, like while I took Children's Literature courses back in University.  I'm not sure why, but that never really happened.  I remember when the books were coming out, I used to tell people who asked if I had read them that I was waiting for book 7 to come out so I wouldn't have to wait like all you suckers.  When book 7 finally did come out, I then told everyone I honestly had no intention of reading them (even though I do like fantasy books).  And I honestly didn't.  I was quite happy to go through my life without reading them.  But a few weeks ago, a friend of mine decided that I *needed* to read them.  That friend will pay me $1 for every one of them that I read.  (My brother thinks I should have held out for more money). 

The first chapter is sooooo boring.  I know, I know, it's boring on purpose.  As someone who has dabbled in writing (and knows literature quite well) I was able to see that.  But it's still sooooo boring that I had a really hard time getting into it.  So much so that the book, which by all rights thanks to its size should have taken me maybe two nights to read took over a week (to be fair, it's been a very busy week with both a funeral and a wedding).  I also found myself wanting to read so many other things.

But I got through it.  And after the first few chapters it picked up well enough.  Only to be hurt by the fact that I have seen the first movie years ago...and remembered exactly how this story ended.  As other people have told me, the first two Harry Potter movies or so follow the books very closely.  So none of the things that should have been a surprise actually were.  :(

So enough with me complaining.  I didn't want to read it, but I did.  And the first thing I have to say is that this book is very, very well written.  J.K. Rowling is very, very good at describing things.  I really did love some of the phrases she used, and routinely found myself admiring her wordsmithing.

This book is quite simple in its way, being written for about ten-year-olds.  Harry Potter is an orphan left with his aunt, uncle, and cousin, who treat him terribly.  He's very much a male Cinderella, having to make sure everything is perfect for his spoiled cousin.  But everything changes on his birthday when he finds out he's a wizard who has been invited to attend wizarding school.  Not only that, but he is famous in the wizarding world, having survived the attack of the biggest, evilest wizard who happened to kill his parents.

Harry has to navigate the school, making friends, avoiding bullies, and getting points for his house.  Oh and of course learning magic along the way.  But an evil that the wizarding world thought long vanquished is stirring.  And it's up to Harry Potter and his friends to stop it!

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone is a book I can see very much appealing to children.  I honestly wish I'd had a child of about 10 to read it with - I think I would have gotten more enjoyment out of it.  That being said, I honestly did enjoy it in the end.  Not enough to rush back to the library and grab book 2 - I'm definitely going to be reading some other stuff before I even think of grabbing book 2. 

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1

A friend of mine at work really liked Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1 and suggested I read it.  I took it out mainly because I'm honestly not that familiar with Wonder Woman.  The little I know of her is mainly from Batman things where she pops up.  I've certainly never seen the TV show with Lynda Carter.  So I figured I'd give this a shot.

Wonder Woman '77 is actually based off of the 70's TV show.  Wonder Woman in this series is modeled off of Lynda Carter.  So if you're familiar with the show, I'm sure you'll catch lots of nods to it (including the spin!)

Wonder Woman '77 Volume 1 is a collection of five stories where she battles villains in a disco, her nemesis Cheetah, art thieves, and others in her quest for justice for all.  Her ideals are very sound and it's fun to see how she solves the issues in the story (I had no idea her tiara works like a boomerang!)  Reading this definitely made me want to check out the show with Lynda Carter - hopefully I'll be able to at some point!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Uprooted

I've  been wanting to read Naomi Novik's Uprooted since I first saw it in Chapters. A friend bought it earlier this summer and gave it to me after reading it. He's been bugging me to read it ever since. I finally made time to start it yesterday (just after I spoke with him as a matter of fact). And I have to say, the endorsement on the back of it from NPR was correct - I didn't want to put it down once I had started!

Uprooted is about Agnieszka, a girl who lives in one of the villages in the valley. The valley is surrounded by the malevolent Wood, which is kept at bay by their wizard, the Dragon. Every ten years he chooses a girl from the valley who will serve him without question for the next ten years. Agnieszka (and everyone else) knows he will choose her best friend, Kasia. But when the time comes, he doesn't choose Kasia. He chooses Agnieszka instead! And so she is whisked away to his tower without even a moment to say goodbye to her family.

That is, in a nutshell, what the synopsis on the back of the book says. And it is what happens at the very beginning of the book. But honestly, Uprooted is so much more than this synopsis! Agnieszka is a witch, unknown to everyone else in her village. The Dragon ended up choosing her because he recognized her gift and had to train her. But she will not be trained easily. All the regular wizarding spells aren't working for her. But she discovers the text from a legendary witch of folktales and is able to use those spells just fine. Unfortunately, the Dragon didn't think that actually WAS a spell book because nothing in it worked for him! So Agnieszka has to fumble along and find her own way with the grudging help of the Dragon.

And then things totally change! Uprooted becomes this political story, where Agnieszka goes to the capital needing men to help her and the Dragon deal with the Wood. The two of them managed to save her friend from the Wood, which is completely unheard of. While doing so, they found a way to harm the Wood, and figured that they could deal it a death blow with some help. The Dragon remains in the valley, sending Agnieszka to go to the king for help. But Agnieszka is very much a fish out of water. Because she is a witch, she is automatically admitted to the court. But she has no head or patience for the games of the court. And ends up on the run, framed for kidnapping and murder by the freaking Wood!

That sounds so ridiculous as I reread it, but it's honestly the truth. And it was incredibly well done.

So after dealing with THAT, Agnieszka and the Dragon go to confront the Wood one final time. They don't really have a plan, but they'll try to stop it or die while trying. And that ended with a rather epic confrontation with the Wood, which in turn ended in a very interesting resolution. I'm trying to avoid major spoilers here, but the conclusion was quite satisfying.

I also loved the characters. I think some of the political stuff in the capital wasn't as good simply because Sarkin (the Dragon) wasn't there. I thought he was hilarious, especially the way he always interacted with Agnieszka. (He was routinely calling her an idiot, but as the book went further along it got really funny because he would basically be saying "You idiot, I don't know how you're doing this but whatever, I'm not going to ask for an explanation because you don't really know what you're going but it's working somehow.") He got annoyed by her pretty much no matter what she did because her magic (and really Agnieszka herself) defied the way he thought the world (and magic) should function. And their banter really, really worked.

Agnieszka herself was someone I was able to relate to. I found this to be especially true in the political segment in the middle of the book. I'm not someone who is big on decorum and stupid political games behind peoples backs. And she really isn't either. She always means well, even if she's going to take a rambly path getting where she's going. And don't expect her to get somewhere clean!

All in all, I thought Uprooted was a fantastic read. It was definitely the best fantasy book I've read in a long while (the best one this year so far for sure). I'm looking forward to reading more from Novik in the future!!! :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act

Continuing the graphic novel craze I have been going through (and unwittingly continuing reading stuff by Kieron Gillen), I've just finished The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1: The Faust Act.  I actually found the very first issue of The Wicked + The Divine in my comic box (I think I got it for free from my comic shop) and read it a few days ago.  I was super happy to see that the library had Volume 1, which meant I was able to read a bit more and see if I like it.  The very first issue was enough to interest me, but it wasn't enough to really explain what was going on.

In this world, every ninety years twelve gods come back.  They live for two years and then they die.  In the modern day, the gods are superstars for those two years.  And Laura is their biggest fan. 

She wakes up after a concert and finds herself face to face with Luci.  Luci, who just happens to be Lucifer, the God of Lies.  Lucifer brings Laura backstage to meet the others, who are giving an interview.  When snipers attack them, Luci uses her divine power to deal with them, landing her in the mortal courts.  While sassing the judge, his head explodes in much the same way that the snipers' heads had (what is it with Gillen and exploding heads???)  So Laura, convinced that Luci is innocent, sets out to find the real murderer.

Yes, this is ridiculously intriguing.  Apparently Mercury Heat was not a one-off; I find myself a very big fan of Gillen's writing.  I'll be looking for the next two volumes of this series (and volume 4 is coming out in the fall!!!)

Bombshells Vol 1: Enlisted

A friend of mine at work really recommended DC's Bombshells to me. The premise is that the DC superheroines and villainesses are recast into WWII era people. The men are off to war so it's up to the women to hold down the fort back home. Well, and to also go to war to stop the Nazis' mad scheme. Many of these women have new backstories (and nationalities), making for a very interesting take on the DC universe.

I think of all the new backstories, my favourite was Supergirl. In this world, Supergirl grew up in Russia with her human sister. The two enlisted in the army to eventually become Supergirl and Stargirl (the latter being a superheroine I am unfamiliar with). They're used for propaganda purposes by the Russians.

This was also my first encounter with Mera. I thought the was a lot of fun and was hoping she'd have her own comic (but it looks like she doesn't). :(

Unfortunately, I felt like this first volume of Bombshells was a little too all-over the place for me. Right when I was getting interested in something we'd shift to another character. I doubt that will happen as much in Volume 2 because most of the characters are together now. So maybe I'll keep an eye out for it in the future.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mercury Heat

And here's one more from the library: Mercury Heat.  I saw this go by several weeks ago and was really intrigued by the premise.  Mercury is ridiculously hot on it's sun-facing side, and ridiculously cold on the other side.  Between the two there's a temperate zone where it's right around Earth-temperatures.  So Mercury has been colonized by a nomadic workforce who has to keep moving to stay alive.  They're building solar panels to trap the sun's energy, which is then transported to Earth.

Meet Luiza Bora.  Her personality-type, 57B, made her dreams of being a police officer on Earth impossible.  So she's moved to Mercury.  Her first assignment is to investigate the death of someone.  It could have been an accident.  But as more and more people try to kill her the more she investigates, it suddenly strongly smells of murder.

If you like a strong, sensibly-dressed female-action hero and aren't offended by seeing people's heads kicked in, Mercury Heat is for you!  I honestly can't wait for volume 2!

Pretty Deadly Volume 1: The Shrike

I saw Pretty Deadly at work and decided to take it out and read it.  It's a really weird story that has rather weird art that suits it (although it's a bit hard to follow what's happening).  It's a Western story about Death and his daughter, Ginny.  There's a little girl with two different coloured eyes who is supposed to be Death's replacement for reasons.  And a bunch of other people who may or may not be reapers.  I don't really know what was going on.  It was an okay read.  Oh yeah, and a skeleton bunny is narrating the story to a butterfly.  Very weird, but strangely okay.  I probably won't be looking for Volume 2 though because I didn't think it was great.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hollow City

I just finished reading Hollow City and I'm not entirely sure what to say about it.  Hollow City picks up right where Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children leaves off: the children have Miss Peregrine, stuck in bird form, on their boats and are rowing away from the island towards the mainland.  But then disaster strikes and they lose pretty much everything, then spend the rest of the book either running (there's a lot of running) or fighting off hollows.

They manage to find a loop full of peculiar animals, who help point them in the direction of London and Miss Wren, who will hopefully be able to save Miss Peregrine (who is stuck as a bird).  They get captured by Wights, fight their way free (thanks to Horace and his bees).  Make it to London and another loop.  Find a pigeon to guide them to Miss Wren.  Find yet another loop where Miss Wren is hiding.  All while running from wights and hollows.  And encountering more peculiars along the way.

Honestly, by about 30% of the way through the book (it's a Kindle ebook that I was reading) I was bored.  But I persevered through to the end.  There's a crazy awesome twist at the end.
But it isn't enough to keep me interested or make me want to read more.  So at the very least I'm going to go and read something else.  Maybe I'll come back to this series and finish it in the future.  But then again, maybe I won't.

I should also add that the pictures, which made the first book more interesting,  really detracted from Hollow City.  Things that happened felt contrived to fit a picture.  And I felt like the book relied on the pictures too much to show you what things were like rather than leaving them to your imagination.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Knowing that Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children is going to be a movie soon, I got it out from the library at the same time as The Happiness Equation.  Both books had holds, so I decided to return Miss Peregrine and buy it on my Kindle instead (because it was the cheaper of the two on Kindle).  Of course, right when I returned it I discovered there actually weren't any holds on it anymore and I could have had it out for longer.  C'est la vie.

Miss Peregrine's starts out with a prologue where protagonist Jacob talks about the stories his grandfather used to tell about his childhood growing up on a mysterious island in Wales before going off to fight monsters.  According to his grandfather, the other children there all had peculiar talents.  Like the girl who could levitate.  Or the boy who was invisible.  He even had pictures to prove it.  But as Jacob got older, he stopped believing his grandfather's tales, especially when he found out that his grandfather had literally been fighting monsters - the Nazis who killed his family.  But then Jacob goes to his grandfather's place to find him dead in the back, torn apart by a literal monster.  Jacob is the only one who sees it and is deemed crazy (his grandfather must have been torn apart by wild animals, wasn't there a pack of dogs attacking someone last week?)  A series of coincidences happen which send Jacob to the island of his grandfather's youth, trying to find answers from the past.  And he finds more than he bargains for in the war-torn house that remains.

Miss Peregrine's was a somewhat hard read to get into at first.  I found myself wishing things would move along quicker more than once.  But after Jacob finds the Peculiar Children, things definitely speed up, making it difficult to put this book down.

The Peculiar Children were interesting, but I have to admit I had a hard time remembering who was who outside of the main three or four.  You had Emma who could light things on fire.  Enoch, who could reanimate dead tissue (or animate inorganic tissue).  Bronwyn who is super strong.  And Millard, the invisible boy.  There were a few other children mentioned repeatedly (Olive, Claire, Fiona, and Hugh) but I had a hard time keeping them straight (especially the girls).

Oh, I should mention Miss Peregrine herself, too.  She can change into a bird (in her case a peregrine falcon) and control time.  She keeps the time loop that the peculiar children all live in going.  Basically one day loops over and over again, keeping them all safe from the monsters who are after them. And, you know, safe from the ordinary people who won't understand them.

I want to add that the set up really, really reminded me of X-Men.  You had Miss Peregrine as a stand-in for Professor X, with a school of mutant children.  Just saying.

All in all though, I did enjoy reading the book.  I was sad that it ends at a spot that leads directly into book 2.  I wasn't sure if I was going to keep reading the series or not, but supposedly book 2 is better than book 1, so I just bought it on my Kindle, too.  Hopefully it will be!

Oh, I forgot to mention the pictures.  The book has lots of old-timey pictures showing the various characters.  That made it a whole lot more interesting to read!