Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Thor: the Goddess of Thunder

When I read Old Man Logan the other day, I also attempted a couple of other Marvel books. I say "attempted" because I made it through a couple of pages of one and just flipped through the other. I didn't care and really couldn't get into them. So it was with some trepidation that I picked up Thor: the Goddess of Thunder. Apparently I liked the idea of a woman Thor enough to actually give it a shot though. Having just finished it, I'm really glad I did!

Thor has become unworthy of Mjolnir after Nick Fury whispered something in his ear. He remains on the moon pleading with the hammer which he can no longer pick up. But when Midgard is attacked by frost giants, he goes to defend the realm he loves even without his beloved hammer. But then a woman picks it up. Mjolnir has found her worthy and so bequeaths her the power of Thor (including a handy mask to hide her identity).

This was an awesome story and now I want to know who the new Thunder Goddess can possibly be!!! I'll have to keep my eye out for more of this story!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Broken Word

I got to interview Adam Foulds for a blog at work. During the interview we spoke a bit about The Broken Word. It sounded like a really interesting read so I picked it up, but only just got to it now.

The Broken Word is the story of Tom, who comes home to Kenya after high school when the May May uprising is happening. He is brought along to with the men (his father's friends) on a hunting party where he shoots an insurgent to the praise of the other men, who feel he has made it through a rite of passage. From there he finds himself a prison guard for the Loyalists, becoming more and more desensitised to violence. In the end though, he decides to go back to university. But he is changed, having become more brutal and violent as a result of his experiences with war.

The Broken Word is written in verse. When I first started reading it, I admit that I had a bit of a hard time following what was going on. But after getting to Chapter 2 or 3, I seemed to "get it," and started to really enjoy the book. Verse was an interesting yet fitting way to talk about the atrocities of war. The sparseness of the text really suited this tale.

I will admit that the ending felt a bit lacklustre. Up until that point I was willing to rate The Broken Word 4/5 stars on Goodreads. After the last chapter I felt like my rating would go down. But in the end I thought it deserved 3.5/5 stars, which I rounded back up to 4.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Saga: Volume 5

Well crap.  This is it.  The last Collected Edition of SagaSaga: Volume 5 ends with Chapter 33.  According to the Image Comics website, Saga #32 is coming out next week.  So even if I rush out tomorrow to get the comics, I can only get one more right now.

Anyway, I'm getting a little bit ahead of myself.  Volume 5 takes place a few months after Volume 4.  Marko and Robot Prince IV have been chasing after their families but haven't yet been successful.  Meanwhile, Dengo, the Robot janitor, has contacted the Last Revolution, a group of rebels who want to end the war.  Of course, the Last Revolution aren't good guys: they've blown up daycare centers and decapitated thousands of innocent civilians.  Alana and Klara (Marko's mother) try to warn him (while simultaneously trying to escape) but he insists on talking to the resistance.  Of course, as soon as they open their mouths, Dengo realizes Alana and Klara were right.

Meanwhile Marko gets high thanks to Yuma (Heist's ex wife), which puts his whole expedition at risk when Robot Prince IV is forced to call a doctor to help.  And Gwendolyn, Sophie, Lying Cat, and The Brand (The Will's Sister) have fun adventures trying to get the magical ingredient they need to save The Will: dragon semen. 

Things all come to a head when the Last Revolution makes a deal to exchange Hazel for hundreds of their people who are imprisoned.  Unfortunately the government they make this deal with is not the ally of the Robot people; they demand Dengo's death before a deal can be made.  Dengo and Klara manage to get away but are split up.  Klara (with Hazel) attempts to free Alana but is recaptured in the process.  Dengo and Alana escape the ship thinking Klara and Hazel were already off it.  The ship jumps away, separating Alana from the rest of her family.  But luckily Marko has made it to the planet, so she is reunited with him.  Unfortunately for Dengo, Robot Prince IV is there too.  He is reunited with his son.

So yeah, that's where Volume 5 leaves off.  So much has happened.  And there's still so much going on!  I want more like right now!  Unfortunately I'm going to have to wait though. :(

On a super awesome note, thanks to my Saga reading marathon, I have caught up with my Goodreads reading challenge!  At the beginning of the year my plan was to read 50 books off the List.  But that didn't happen (and honestly, not a whole lot of reading has been happening this year), so I decided to count all the books I've read this year, bringing me up from 24 List books to 48 total books (including all five Saga volumes).  I kind of feel like I cheated a bit, using graphic novels to inflate the numbers a bit, but realistically I've only got two weeks left to hit 50 books and I wouldn't have been able to do it without them.  I'm not quite sure what I'm going to read for the remaining two books yet, but at least I'm now on track! 

Saga: Volume 4

Wow.  Saga: Volume 4 takes place a bit after Volume 3.  Hazel is a toddler now.  Alana has been working for the Open Circuit, which seemed to be a television network.  The troupe wears costumes, so it was a safe place for Alana to make money.  Unfortunately the hours are long and she gets involved in drugs, pushing her further and further from her family.  For his part, Marko tries to give Hazel a normal childhood.  He signs her up for private dance lessons with a woman who likewise has a distant husband. 

Meanwhile, Robot Prince IV's wife has their son.  Not long afterwards, a Robot janitor kills her and takes the baby, intending to start a revolution.  Robot Prince IV is informed of his wife's death (although he seemingly has no memory of even having a wife).  He heads first to his father for help.  But getting none from that quarter, he gets help from an unlikely source: Special Agent Gale.  Gale sends him after his son.  Robot Prince IV arrives just in time for his son to blast off in the tree rocket along with Alana, Hazel, Marko's mother, and Izabel.  Marko and Robot Prince IV join forces to find their families.

Oh yeah, and Sophie and Gwendolyn have discovered a spell that might cure The Will!  Now they just need to go about finding the ingredients.

This volume was awesome!  I hope Volume 5 continues at this pace!  (But even if it doesn't, it'll still be good!)

Saga: Volume 3

Well here we are: Saga: Volume Three.  Some really crazy things happened in this one!  The Will, Gwendolyn, and Slave Girl landed on a planet to repair their ship before continuing pursuit of Marko and Alana.  But the planet's food infected them all, trying to get them to stay as hosts for some sort of parasite.  The parasite appears to The Will as The Stalk; he almost listens to "her," but at the last minute decides to continue pursuing Marko.  Or at least that is his plan, until Slave Girl stabs him in the neck by order of the parasite (appearing as her mother).  Gwendolyn, with the help of Lying Cat, figures out what's going on. Finding The Will almost dead, she realizes the only person who might be able to heal him is Marko.  So she heads to Quietus where she knows he will be.

But of course, Prince Robot IV has already beaten her to Quietus.  He arrives in the home of D. Oswald Heist, the author who wrote the book that inspired Alana in the first place.  Heist claims he wrote the book for a quick paycheck, trying to cover for the fact that the fugitives are already in his place (and have been for a week!)  Things go horribly wrong when Marko's mother tries to save Heist from the Prince and Gwendolyn and Lying Cat storm in. 

Volume Three is another interesting romp by Vaughan and Staples.  I can't wait to see what happens next!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Saga: Volume 2

So of course after finishing Saga: Volume One last night I went and put the other four volumes the library has on hold.  And luckily they were all in at the branch I work at!  So I now have volumes two to five to fly through!  :D

Volume Two picks up exactly where Volume One left off.  Marko's parents have shown up.  They knocked Izabel (the ghost teenager who helped them in exchange for going off world with them) onto a nearby planetoid.  So Marko and his mom go to find her.  Meanwhile Alana makes an alarming discovery about Marko's father - he has a terminal illness but refuses to tell his family (he doesn't want his last month to be full of pity). 

Meanwhile Freelancer The Will is off moping because the woman he loves, The Stalk, was recently killed.  But Gwendolyn, Marko's ex-girlfriend who works for the Secretary General of Wreath high Command, comes looking for him.  She agrees to help him save Slave Girl from Sextillion as long as he will stop moping and get back to his job (which is to kill Marko and Alana).

Volume Two is full of a lot more backstory than Volume One, which kind of made it not as good in my opinion.  But by "not as good," that basically means it's a 4 or 4.5/5 rather than the 5/5 I gave Volume One on Goodreads.  So yes, I am still excited to be reading this story and can't wait to see what happens next!!!

Saga: Volume 1

Wow! I was totally blown away by Saga! Volume 1 is about the birth of Hazel. Her parents are from opposing sides in a galactic war. Both sides know she has been born; they're hunting her little family in the immediate aftermath of her birth.

Hazel's parents come into possession of a map that will lead them to a rocketship forest on the mostly unexplored planet of Cleave. While avoiding the people pursuing them, they meet the ghosts of Cleave's natives. One of them offers to help them in exchange for taking her off world with them.

My explanation makes Saga sound kind of boring, but honestly it was anything but! It's full of all kinds of crazy creatures including the robot people and the cat who can detect lies. Hazel's parents are badasses who are willing to fight the galaxy to keep their family together and safe (well maybe not her dad, Marko, who is now a pacifist). This was an awesome story and I can't wait to read more!

Old Man Logan: Warzones!

I saw Old Man Logan: Warzones! at work last week. The idea of an old man Wolverine wandering around appealed to me so I put it on hold. (Personally I thought his healing factor means he stays pretty much unaging, but I guess that's wrong). Of course I didn't think about the rest of the premise of the book: Wolverine is in some weird dystopia that is the remains of other realms. I'm not a huge comic book reader, and I tend not to like getting caught up in comic multiverses (except for how it was handled in Supergirl - that was brilliant). And add to that how I found the artwork confusing in a few places (fights of course), and this really wasn't for me.
Logan is in some wasteland. After somehow killing the other X-men, he was peacefully living life with his family until the Hulks killed them. He retaliated, killing all the Hulks except a baby, which he took for himself to raise (I'm actually sad that we didn't get to see this - his Hulk battle would've been quite interesting to read). But then he started going on random other adventures (I have no idea why). When he finds an Ultron head from over the wall, he decides to investigate. This takes him on a crazy adventure to other worlds where people he thought were dead are still alive.

Unfortunately Old Man Logan: Warzones! is book 0. I had hoped that meant it was a standalone; it means it's the prequel story to a series. I will reiterate that this really wasn't a story for me; I will not be reading any further adventures of Old Man Logan.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Sleeper and the Spindle

I got The Sleeper and the Spindle out weeks ago from the library. I thought it was a graphic novel, but when I opened it to read, it actually is an illustrated prose story. So I put it aside because I wasn't in the mood for prose at the time (even Neil Gaiman's prose), and finally decided to read it tonight.
I knew The Sleeper and the Spindle was a Sleeping Beauty story. But I wasn't prepared for how Gaiman masterfully combined both Sleeping Beauty and Snow White (but looking back on it, it's a really obvious combination!)

The Sleeper and the Spindle starts with three dwarves travelling to the kingdom on the other side of an impassable mountain. There a group of people desperately asks for their aid in getting out of the kingdom because a plague of sleep is spreading. The sleep overtakes the people, but because the dwarves are magical they are immune. They return to their Queen to tell her what is happening.
The Queen herself had once spent an entire year sleeping due to magic. She and the dwarves agree that of all the bigger people, she has the best chance of also being immune. So she cancels her immanent wedding and goes with the dwarves to stop the plague.
The four of them journey to the other land and to the castle that is at the heart of the sleeping spell. There they find an old woman who remains awake in the castle and a beautiful young girl asleep. The Queen wakes the young girl with a kiss, only to discover the girl is the same kind of creature that the Queen's step mother had been. The girl stole the old woman's beauty, youth, and sleep years ago; the old woman was the young princess who had supposedly been sentenced to death when an evil fairy creature was slighted at her birthing ceremony seventy years ago. It was a fantastic twist to the Sleeping Beauty story that only Gaiman could have come up with (even though, like the combination of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, it's surprisingly obvious).

Chris Riddell's art suits Gaiman's prose beautifully. This is one book I would love to add to my own collection one day!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fifteen Dogs

I don't know what to really say about Andre Alexis's Fifteen Dogs other than the fact it was amazing! My brother was telling me about the book when it was on the short list for the Giller Prize and it sounded so-so. But then when I read the back of the book, even though it said the same thing as my brother had, it sounded amazing. So he lent it to me and I finished it yesterday.
Fifteen Dogs starts with a wager between Apollo and Hermes: if any other animal had human intelligence, they would all die in misery, too. So they wander into a veterinary clinic and give the fifteen dogs they find there human intelligence. What follows is the dogs' lives from that point on. They no longer fit into any world because they are physically dogs but mentally different.
And of course, right from the premise, this book is about their deaths.

I loved how the Greek gods kept intervening, too. Interference came mostly from Apollo and Hermes, but all the gods were interested in the outcome. And the Fates and Zeus had some sway in the outcome as well.
It was also interesting how no one was ever the bad guy in this book. Where one dog might seem to be in one chapter, you'd get to see things from their perspective in a later one.
While I admit that I haven't read any of the other books that were on the short list for this year's Giller, I'm glad Fifteen Dogs won. It was phenomenal!