Saturday, September 9, 2023

Graphic Novel Interlude

I have a pile of graphic novels that a friend lent me.  While I really want and need to read some of the books I own (I'm going to be moving in the nearish future), I decided it was a good idea to get through the books that people have lent me first (so I don't accidentally pack and/or lose them).

So I started with Godzilla vs The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which was a pretty ridiculous romp. Rita finds a magical stone that lets her travel to another world without the Power Rangers, but finds Godzilla instead!  Tommy was brought along with her, and tries to stop Godzilla from destroying the world, mistakenly thinking Godzilla is one of Rita's monsters. The other Rangers come to help, and after failing to take down Godzilla, they realize that he is their best bet in stopping Rita and an alien race called the Xiliens who keep summoning more and more monsters to destroy them!

Next up was Sonjaversal. I'm not familiar with Red Sonja at all, but I still enjoyed this graphic novel. The different Sonjas of the multiverse all pray to their god or goddess, and gain power but in exchange for keeping to a condition.  The gods or goddesses are all different, the conditions are all different, but that is the essence of their power.  Saint Sonja is the only one who can commune with the gods or goddesses directly.  It is her job to keep everyone true to their oath.  When they break their oath, she has been pitting the oathbreakers against each other, with the winner being forgiven.  But no matter how many Sonjas she sends after Red Sonja, they all die!

This was a very interesting graphic novel which seems to open up so many story possibilities for the many different Sonjas (and honestly just for coming up with all kinds of creative takes on Sonja).  I also really liked how the Sonjas were all so different.  While they were (almost - shout out to Lacrosse Sonja!) all great at killing, they killed in different ways. Some were futuristic Sonjas, others were more modern, and yet others were more fantasy-esque.  Even the devil was a Sonja!  

While I admit that I probably won't specifically go looking for more Red Sonja stories, I did enjoy reading this one.

Next up was Die!namite Volume 1, which was an insane story bringing various Dynamite characters together into a zombie apocalypse that threatens the entire universe! I didn't know who some of the characters were (like Project: Superpowers), but I did recognize Red Sonja, Vampirella, and John Carter (from Edgar Rice Burroughs' books). No one is safe as the zombie plague spreads from world to world and throughout time! 

While this one started out rather interesting, it really shone at the end.  Our heroes have retreated to the last safe place and are being assaulted by zombies.  They realize that the whole cause of the plague is that Hel is looking for her assassin who forsook her and is hiding there from her.  With the help of Hel's super-powered zombies (members of Project: Superpowers who succumbed to the zombie outbreak almost immediately), they manage to take down Red Sonja.  But rather than becoming a zombie, she ends up assuming the mantle of Hel's assassin.  And in an even crazier twist, she murders Hel and assumes command of the undead army herself!

While I was expecting at least one of the main characters to become a zombie by the end, what happened with Red Sonja took me by complete surprise!  

Prior to that moment, I was on the fence about reading more of this story.  But now that this happened, I would definitely like to read Volume 2!!!

Finally, my friend lent me Operation Dragon. Have you ever wondered what WWII would have been like with dinosaurs?  This graphic novel helps to answer that question!

A disgraced ex-cop named Rick and a mobster trying to escape his past named Tony cross paths in the Pacific Theater.  Despite hating each other from when they previously met, the two end up working together with an intelligence officer on a mysterious mission.  Her mission brings them to a hidden island where the Japanese have been raising and training dinosaurs as their super-weapons!  

Operation Dragon is a lot of fun.  It takes a little bit for the story to really get going (the book holds off on revealing the dinosaurs, even though thanks to the cover and the book's blurb, the audience is well aware of what is happening. But once the trio get to the island, and the US Rangers show up and attempt to rescue them, things really get going.  How will the US forces escape?  And how will they stop the Japanese from shipping dinosaur eggs out to the rest of the Pacific Theater?

I also really liked the interplay between the three main characters, especially Rick and Tony. How they went from absolutely hating each other to being able to work together made this story that much more interesting. 

So there we have it - the pile of graphic novels I got through over the last few days!  

I'd also like to note that previously on this blog I missed talking about was Crossover Volume 2.  My friend who lent me these four graphic novels lent me that as well.  I reread the first volume and then read the second one awhile ago. Unfortunately I forgot to post about it here at the time, and now I don't remember what I thought of it.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Sonic the Hedgehog: Scrapnik Island

I haven't read a Sonic the Hedgehog story in a long time, but saw this one at work and wanted to give it a shot!  Sonic and Tails take refuge from a storm on one of the old Death Eggs, which crashed in the ocean. There they discover the Scrapniks - old, discarded badniks which Sigma-117, himself a badnik, has rebuilt so they can be free from Robotnik's programming. The Scrapniks help Sonic and Tails rebuild their plane. But while looking for a part that they need, Mecha Sonic's old programming is triggered!  

I really enjoyed this story about second chances and building the life you want to build.  Your future is in your hands, even if you start out as a badnik - you can change your programming and live the life you want.  It's a very cute story, and I very much recommend it for all Sonic fans!

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

To Tell You the Truth

 I don't know where I got Gilly Macmillan's To Tell You the Truth from (I suspect an aunt gave it to me), but after it had been sitting on my shelf for some time, I randomly decided to give it a read.  I was in the mood for something different from what I normally read, and boy did it deliver!

To Tell You the Truth tells the story of Lucy Harper, a very successful author who has penned a series of novels about Detective Sergent Eliza Grey. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, Eliza is Lucy's childhood imaginary friend who has been in her head since forever and now manifests for Lucy, thanks to the strength she has gotten from the novels. While penning her latest novel, Lucy's husband, Dan, has secretly purchased a house for them right by the woods where Lucy's brother disappeared when she was a child. When Dan disappears too, Lucy's past comes back to haunt her, all the more traumatic because she is in the public eye. Lucy is left confronting the past while also trying to discover what happened to Dan. Did she kill him?  Did she kill Teddy?

While I admit it was a little odd at first having Eliza present along with Lucy, it made the book that much more interesting, especially when Eliza first takes over for Lucy, or when Eliza first disappears. That really adds to the suspense, as now you have no idea what's going on!

The book is interspersed with small snippets of what happened to Teddy years ago.  I really liked how that came together into the present of the book (it turned out to be a manuscript that someone was writing about Lucy's life - I totally did not see that coming!)

I also really liked that I did not see the ending coming at all!  To Tell You the Truth really kept me guessing right to the end.

To Tell You the Truth was a really fast read, and the perfect "something different" that I was looking for!  I will definitely keep Gilly Macmillan in mind for the future when I feel the same way!

Sunday, August 27, 2023

House Poor No More


I started reading Romana King's House Poor No More back in mid July, and just finished it today. Because of the time it took to finish, it derailed my reading plans a bit, but that's okay - I think it was an important book to be reading right now.  I'm at a point where I'm considering home ownership, and didn't want to go into it unprepared.

King's book is not what I originally thought it would be - a book for new homeowners getting into the market.  Instead, it is about homeowners of all types being smart about owning a home.  I admit that, as a potentially first-time homeowner, I found King's book rather intimidating.  It's front loaded with all the things that can go wrong with a house, which honestly scared me quite a bit.  Yes, I know that all of these things might not happen, and that it's good to be aware that they can.  But as someone thinking about getting into the market, it's a rough start!

That said, King gives a very good overview of what home-ownership entails, looking at everything from repair costs, upgrade costs, insurance, mortgage and debt management, and taxes.  This is a Canadian book, so it looks at everything from a Canadian angle, which I was really happy to see as I am Canadian.  It's also structured in such a way that you should be able to use the book in the future even if the prices of things continue to go up.  

House Poor No More is a fairly dense read though.  I found that I couldn't just sit and read it the way I can with some other nonfiction books.  I had to read a chunk, then kind of let that settle in before I could continue reading more.  That being said, it was very much worth the read!  I got this book from the library, but am considering picking it up for myself in the future as a reference!

Monday, August 14, 2023

In An Absent Dream

While at the library, I noticed Seanan McGuire's In An Absent Dream and it sounded really interesting.  I brought the book out with me to camp last weekend, and, though it is a short book, I just finished it today.

 In An Absent Dream is the story of Lundy, a young girl who finds her way to the Goblin Market when she is eight years old. After having many adventures, she stumbles back home again to her strict father, who himself had found the Market when he was younger, but chose to remain in this world. Over the next few years, Lundy finds her way back to the Market several more times despite her father trying to stop her.  But she has to decide before she turns eighteen whether she will stay here like her father did, or return to the Market for good.  And a choice like that can be far more difficult to make than first meets the eye...

Overall, I really enjoyed reading In An Absent Dream.  The book is written much like the narrator is telling a story to an audience, which is a fun and very fitting choice for a tale like this.  I enjoyed many of the characters, but they often felt a bit flat; it works though because it fits with the fairy tale aesthetic of the story (in many fairy tales, the characters are fairly one-dimensional). I was also a big fan of how the actual world of the Goblin Market worked.  Everyone has to give fair value for goods and services, and the actual Market would punish anyone who didn't - people would get bird-features until they were turned completely into birds.  You can work off your debts though and revert back, even from full bird form (if you want - some people remain as birds).

Hilariously, the thing I liked the least was the epilogue - I felt like the book ended far better without it, though I do understand why it was there: In An Absent Dream is part of McGuire's Wayward Children series (I believe a prequel), and the epilogue tied it in with that. It just meant nothing to me because I haven't read any of the other books in the series, and had no idea who the character that showed up at the end was.  And without knowing what's really going on or who that is, the book ends on a really incomplete-feeling note which I really didn't like.

But as I said, overall I enjoyed In An Absent Dream.  It is an interesting and fast (mostly) standalone novel that is worth reading if you like fantasy books with a fairy tale feel!

Monday, July 24, 2023

The Vampire Slayer, Volumes 1 and 2

I haven't really been keeping track of my graphic novel reading lately, but I really wanted to talk about The Vampire Slayer Volumes 1 and 2 because they were awesome and I really want to remember what happens for when more volumes come out!  So this is going to be super spoilery.

In The Vampire Slayer, Willow and Giles cast a spell in an attempt to heal Buffy from the trauma she is carrying around as the Slayer.  But the spell ends up taking all of Buffy's Slayer powers and memories and transferring them to Willow!  Now Willow is the Slayer, and Buffy is a normal person who remembers nothing of her past.

Willow, Giles, and Xander have been trying to come up with a fix, but nothing is working.  So Willow has to go out and fight evil, even though she's had no training.  All the while she's struggling with her magic, which seems to be getting more and more out of control.  Faith arrives to help train Willow, and Xander ends up making friends with Spike in what started out as a way for Spike to learn about the Slayer, but what seems to be a genuine friendship by volume 2.  But all of this is pushing Buffy away because she knows something is up, but no one is telling her what happened or what is going on (plus her friends are all busy with other people now).

Volume 2
ended with Buffy going missing because Hungrus the Slayer-Eater has captured her.  Her friends didn't notice until 5 days later when they track her down at the park where she was captured.  They're going to go after her and hopefully save her from Hungrus (who still went after her, even though she isn't the Slayer, so Giles took that as good news that the spell can be reversed).

I thought this was a super fun story, and I can't wait for more!  Volume 3 is due out sometime next month and I can't wait!

Friday, July 21, 2023

Give Me a Sign

I saw Anna Sortino's Give Me a Sign at work the other day and was intrigued. Give Me a Sign is about Lilah, a 17 year old girl who suffers from hearing loss. She feels like she's caught in the middle between hearing and Deaf - too hearing for the Deaf community, but too hard of hearing for the hearing community. With summer approaching, she reaches out to a friend she met a few years previously at Gray Wolf, a camp for kids who are Deaf or blind, to see if she can work as a counselor at the camp for the summer. While there, she is immersed in Deaf culture, ASL, and maybe even finds some time for romance with Isaac, the cute Deaf counselor who is helping her learn ASL.

Give Me a Sign is a really charming young adult book. I liked all of the characters - they were a very diverse and fun bunch. I also liked how everyone grew through the story - characters learned from their mistakes and even in some cases changed their views (like Mackenzie, the hearing YouTuber who hadn't really realized that how she branded herself on the channel was hurting people in the Deaf community).

I really liked how Sortino wrote the dialogue, omitting words that Lilah either couldn't hear (orally) or didn't understand (in ASL), and spelling them out when they were finger spelled for her. 

While the plot line about the camp needing money wasn't great, I did like the interaction Lilah had with the potential donors - it was a great way for Sortino to show the kinds of insensitive comments and questions that people with disabilities (in this case, specifically those who are hard of hearing or Deaf) are asked. I hope that hearing people who read Give Me a Sign will at the very least be more aware of 

I also really liked the message that Sortino had in the book: it is okay to be yourself and ask for or use the accommodations that you need. This was best showcased through Lilah's younger brother, who was told by a doctor that he needed a cochlear implant. Lilah says to him that it is okay if he wants one, but he should be the one to make that decision for himself. I think that is a very important message that everyone needs to hear - no one should feel pressured into doing something just to fit into what the world wants you to be.

I also liked how Give Me a Sign showcases the importance of summer camps for children, especially children with disabilities, are. Having a place where other people are like you, and have similar experiences to you, can be a huge help for people who experience the world in different ways from the majority. It can be a really nice bonding experience, having other people your age who can relate to your experiences!

Overall, I really enjoyed Give Me a Sign, and I am looking forward to whatever Sortino is working on next!!!