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Graphic Novelty²

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June 2018

Manifest Destiny: Volumes Two-Four

Two years ago when I read Volume One: Flora & Fauna of this series that reimages the Lewis and Clark expedition, I hated it. I was turned off by the historical inaccuracies and the crudeness of the characters. But I recently decided to give it another go and picked up the next three volumes.

Never say never.

Continue reading “Manifest Destiny: Volumes Two-Four”

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Mid-Year Freak Out Tag²

I’m freaking out again! Let’s check in and see how my reading and blogging year is going:

Best book you read in 2018 so far

Chosen by my book club, I picked up this book uncertain if I would connect with it. But it grabbed me immediately, and brought up incredibly strong feelings. The compelling audio narration made me reflect on my own troubled childhood, and gave me much food for thought. This family drama set in Alaska in the 1970’s was filled with very real characters,  and this beautifully told story of survival (both physical and emotional) has stayed with me. Read my full review on Goodreads.

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Best sequel you’ve read so far 

In the first volume A Well Regulated Militia, Brian Wood first gives us a lengthy portrait of the fictional character Seth Abbott and his journey from farm boy to one of the well respected leaders of the Green Mountain Boys. Then we are given shorter non-linear vignettes of other loyalists and patriots and their contributions to the war. This second historical fiction graphic novel follows suit. In These Free and Independent States, we revisit Vermont to find that Seth’s son John is a boat-making savant. Spanning the years from 1786 to 1816, John comes to age as the new nation faces several threats and a new Navy is commissioned

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

I ordered this YA book for my teen department, and it is a summer reading choice for the local high school that my library serves. I have an audio edition on hold and I look forward to listening to this fantasy novel that so many people seem to be raving about.

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Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I look forward to every Walking Dead volume and both the mystery-thriller Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers books by John Sandford.

Biggest disappointment

A big fan of Andy Weir’s first book The Martian, I eagerly looked forward to his next book and was pleased to find a heroine in his second novel. Imagine my dismay when my opinion of Artemis  plummeted chapter by chapter. I was hate reading it at the end.

Biggest surprise

Author Michelle McNamara was nearing completion of this true-crime novel when she unexpectedly died. Her husband and two co-writers were able to finish it, and soon after publication with the resulting renewed attention to the crime, the case was solved. It was a bittersweet surprise that McNamara’s book helped bring the killer to justice. Read my full review on Goodreads.

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Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)

M.A. Bennett wrote a twisty psychological thriller for teens that I found very appealing. Her debut novel was a strong start, so I’m willing to check out further work from her. Read my full review on Goodreads.

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Newest fictional crush

I’ve been devouring graphic novels written by Brian Wood- does that count as a crush?

Newest favourite character

Enna, Sven’s traditional wife, from the Viking saga Northlanders by Brain Wood. In the first volume I hated Sven but loved Enna. She truly redeemed his character.

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Book that made you happy

I love Star Wars! I love short stories! Together this anthology was a win-win for me. From A Certain Point Of View is a must read for all Star Wars fans. It strengthened and filled in gaps in the narrative and this new canon was a treat from beginning to end.

Book that made you sad

What Happened is an apt title, for truly, what happened in the 2016 election? In this book Hillary Rodham Clinton reveals what transpired behind the scenes in her election bid to be president. Spanning many years of her life, but concentrating mostly on the two years preceding the election, she shares her thoughts and experiences of what went on. She reflects on what went wrong, she owns up to her mistakes, and she gives the reader a fuller picture of who she is. I cried several times while I listened to the audio while I mourned for a future that did not happen. Read my full review on Goodreads.

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Favourite book to film adaptation you saw this year 

Ready Player One was a solid adaptation of the book, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It’s The Hate U Give that is coming out later this year that I think will end of being my favourite film adaptation. It’s first trailer looks fabulous!

Favourite review you have written this year 

Kathleen and I did a fun blog series about who is the best cinematic Chris with bloggers Michael of My Comic Relief and Kalie of Just Dread-full. My choice of Chris Pine was obviously the best, but the whole experience of writing for this series was enjoyable!

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Above The Timberline by Gregory Manchess is a unique book, that isn’t quite a graphic novel, instead it is a highly illustrated book, a so-called “painted novel”. Very reminiscent of the Dinotopia book series (minus the dinosaurs but add polar bears) by James Gurney, this large sized book has 240 pages of lush paintings that transport you to another time and place.The artwork is exquisite. He vividly creates a believable tundra landscape, and paints his characters, animals and interior backgrounds with precision.

What books do you need to read by the end of the year? 

I am a member of NetGalley and try to keep my book queue to a minimum so my ratio stays high. Right now the only book I have to get to is Other People by Joff Winterhart.

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Half way through the year and I’m on schedule for my Goodreads challenge of 100 books, as I’m at 54 with a few books almost done this week. So far, so good. Bring on the last half of 2018!

-Nancy

A Bride’s Story (Vol. 3)

In this volume, we catch up with Mr. Smith! He is a researcher from England who was a guest in the Eihon household for a long time. He departed in Vol. 2 to continue his research about the people who live on the Silk Road. He meets a young woman named Talas at the market in the next town, where he is waiting for his guide. Their horses are stolen, and upon their recovery, she invites him to stay with her and her mother-in-law. Talas had been married previously – to every one of her mother-in-law’s sons. Her mother-in-law soon gets the idea that Talas and Mr. Smith should marry! But they don’t feel romantically towards each other – or do they?

Talas’ story reminded me of Draupadi, a character in the Indian epic Mahabharata, who married all five of the Pandava brothers. The circumstances that befall their husbands are equally tragic, though both women display a certain tenacity to weather troubled times. Mr. Smith is a great character; as he learns more about the land and people as an outsider, we do too. He acts almost as a lens! The characters in this volume are drawn tenderly, and you can’t help feeling for them. The art is so detailed, intricate, and vibrant – there is a scene where everyone is eating at the public market, and my mouth was watering from the imaginary smells!

I feel like I’ve reached a record with manga – 3 volumes in and I’m still as engaged with it as when I first started! Woo hoo! Looking forward to the next volume ❤

– Kathleen

Mori, Kaoru. A Bride’s Story (Vol. 3). 2011.

Artemis

When I read The Martian, I was sucked into Andy Weir’s plausible science fiction story. His resourceful hero was funny and appealing and readers rooted for his survival. So I eagerly looked forward to his next book and was pleased to find a heroine in his second novel. Imagine my dismay when my opinion of the book plummeted chapter by chapter.

The book started off strongly, as Weir introduced Jazz Bashara, a Moon inhabitant since she was a child. Jazz is a young woman who is a porter for shipped in cargo, which enables her to smuggle goods on a regular basis. She hopes to curtail her hustling by passing an EVA certification that would enable her to take tourists on moon outings, but she fails. She is then open to an offer from a billionaire to sabotage some equipment of a competitor. She takes him up on it, ignoring all the red flags and moral issues about doing so, as she is only intent on the payoff. In typical Weir fashion, everything goes to hell, and Jazz veers from one catastrophe to another.

When Jazz was first introduced, her intelligence was established, and some diversity is added to the equation: she is a lapsed Muslim originally from Saudi Arabia. She has a sense of humor and her conversation is laced with obscenities and sarcastic quips. I thought she was refreshing at first, and I was amused at her attitude. She voices things that I sometimes think. Most people would be surprised at how salty my thoughts are about certain people or situations, but where I smile and keep my thoughts to myself, Jazz does not, and it got old fast. Real fast. I don’t have to completely like a main character to enjoy a book as a whole, but when you start to HATE the raunchy main character, there is a problem. In addition I did not understand why she had so many male friends willing to help her out of problems, yet she did not have a single female friend. Why do so many authors not know how to show authentic friendships between women? Why????

Despite my dislike of Jazz, there is strong world building with descriptions of the bubbled city of Artemis. A conversation occurs between two characters about the original TV series Star Trek, mentioning how it occurred about 100 years ago, which places the book’s events in the  near future of the late 2060’s. Weir certainly knows his science, as everything about the Moon colony seemed very authentic and credible. I listened to the audio edition that was voiced by Rosario Dawson, who delivered the narrative well. So considering how much I enjoyed his first book, I will try to balance my feelings about this one, and if he writes a third book I will certainly give it a go.

-Nancy

Kingdom Hearts III Release Date

Finally… we have a date! January 25th, 2019!!! Check out the E3 trailer below!

This game has been in the works for years, and rumored for even longer. They have totally ratcheted up the gameplay with new summons, drive moves, and, of course, worlds and characters. It all looks so polished and clean… I’m in awe. The world I’m most looking forward to Toy Story! My sisters and I all loved Toy Story when we were kids, so having it introduced in my favorite video game series is very exciting!

Even more than that, I am so ecstatic to see the return of Organization XIII!!! They are honestly my favorite part of the series. I love villains that are written as ambiguously as they are – they make you question whether or not they’re truly evil. I hope the writing for this installment is as good as it has been in the past, flashy features aside.

I know I shouldn’t complain, but… I am not amused by how many Pixar worlds they have chosen to include in the game. Call me old-fashioned, but I miss my traditional hand-drawn animation, dang it! As cool as showcasing all the new movies are, dusting off a few classics (besides Mount Olympus – been there, done that) would have been welcome, too *grumble grumble*

Despite my complaint, I am very much looking forward to it! GameStop is going to be taking a huge chunk of my money come fall… I’m gonna need to make more money! =P

– Kathleen

The Martian

Survival story on steroids!

Astronaut Mark Watney gets accidentally left on Mars during a mission that went haywire and needs to try to survive until a new mission can be launched to save him. Luckily as a botanist and all around problem solver he is just the guy to survive this catastrophe. Constant disasters abound, but no problem, Mark can handle it. Each chapter- Disaster! Crazy solution! Resourcefulness! Duct tape! Humor! Rinse, repeat!

Once NASA discovers he’s alive, then they too start the cycle of setbacks that can always be fixed, with lots of plausible sounding science thrown in to explain everything. I scoffed at how easily other astronauts, the public and other countries pitched in to help him (at such cost!) and how Mark never showed mental deterioration during his time trapped on Mars. Even though sex was just a quick mention, Mark is guaranteed some lovin’ when (and if) he gets back home due to the public’s rapt attention to his struggles. Taken in parts, the book has it’s weaknesses, but as a whole the story is great and I enjoyed listening to the audio edition.

Although I read this book by Andy Weir two years ago, I am currently listening to his second novel Artemis, and figure both sci-fi books match our blog’s theme of geeky awesomeness.

-Nancy

Blog Update

Hey everyone! We have been talking about our blog in conjunction with our personal schedules. The both of us have a lot going on right now, and we just cannot devote the amount of time we’d like to the blog. Therefore, we’ve come to a decision about how often we’re going to post.

Our regular Monday and Friday posts will continue, but we’re going to cut out most Wednesday posts. Even though we were trading Wednesdays off, we’ve found it a little more difficult lately to generate new content and keep up with the schedule. We’re great about communicating with each other about what we want to write, and when, so in the meantime we will do Wednesday posts on sort of a case-by-case basis.

For our regular Monday/Friday posts, we may also not post a graphic novel review every week. Fear not, though! Reviews will continue to make up the bulk of our content. Again, we’ve found ourselves in sticky situations with trying to read and keep up with the blog schedule and our personal schedules, so we may occasionally deviate from our normal reviews to write about other nerd things to give ourselves a break. We have done this in the past, and had great feedback from you, dear readers, so we hope you don’t mind too much.

This change – we hope – is only temporary, and the Twitter account will remain active. We may revisit the blog schedule at a later date when things calm down for the both of us. For now, however, we are saying goodbye to our regular Wednesday posts.

Thank you very much for your continued support, patience, and friendship! We’re both very grateful to have such a loving following ❤

–  Kathleen & Nancy

The dynamic duo!

Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 14)

Rose Red has finally decided what kind of hope she inspires in people. As a paladin of the goddess Hope, Rose inspires the hope of second chances. Taking her cue from her niece Therese, she orders a Round Table built at the Farm. She is rebuilding Camelot and recruiting knights who are in dire need of second chances. One such recruit, Brandish, is going to be her pet case. Snow White is outraged after what Brandish did to her and her family. If Rose Red sets Brandish free and recruits him to her cause – they’re done. No longer sisters, and Rose will no longer be an aunt to the cubs. Can Rose reconcile her calling with her only remaining family’s wishes?

Rose stepping up to the plate is really exciting! It’s fun to see that even in the Fable world, stories are recycled and refreshed. Different characters take on different roles in Rose’s new Camelot, including characters who were in the original! The extra stories were kinda “meh” in this one. They didn’t add much or elaborate on anything from the main story. The real action, as ever, is in Fabletown – and new Camelot! I don’t want to pick up the next volume – I don’t want it to end!!! 😭

– Kathleen

Willingham, Bill, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Russ Braun, and Barry Kitson. Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book 14). 2017.

Rebels: These Free and Independent States

I am having a love affair with Brian Wood this year! Having discovered Briggs Land last year, this year I have devoured it’s sequel Lone Wolves, volumes one-three of his Viking saga Northlanders, the first Rebels about the Revolutionary War, and now this companion piece about the War of 1812.

In the first volume A Well Regulated Militia, Wood first gives us a lengthy portrait of the fictional character Seth Abbott and his journey from farm boy to one of the well respected leaders of the Green Mountain Boys. Then we are given shorter non-linear vignettes of other loyalists and patriots and their contributions to the war. This second historical fiction graphic novel follows suit.

These Free and Independent States

In this continuation, we revisit Vermont to find that Seth’s son John is a boat-making savant. Spanning the years from 1786 to 1816, John comes to age as the new nation faces several threats and a new Navy is commissioned. John’s parents discover he has a fascination and an aptitude for building ships. Nowadays we might call these traits autism, but despite having no name for it, Seth and Mercy recognize his gifts and apprentice him to a master ship builder out of Boston. His careful work is integral when building the USS Constitution, which was later nicknamed Old Ironsides during the War of 1812. His work is so all consuming he is oblivious to Alice, a young woman he has known since childhood, who has taken a fancy to him. When the ship goes to sea he signs up to be a soldier on it, just so he can remain on the ship he has claimed as his own. His obsession proves to be his downfall, but luckily he has some allies who remain dedicated to him. The story ends with an improbable conclusion.

Image result for rebels these free and independent statesThe Virginian

A short story about George Washington when he was a Lieutenant Colonel and his actions in the Ohio River Valley in 1753. This portrayal shows him an an impulsive young soldier, who was worried about how he would be depicted, and how he was not always a man of his word. This representation certainly does not show him in a good light, as his foolhardy actions don’t match his later reputation as one of our founding fathers and the nation’s first president.

Brooklyn Heights

An orphaned brother and sister cling to their New York homestead from 1777-1783. These two plucky siblings discover a secret stash of gold that the British lost and offer it to the leaders at Valley Forge.The ending with it’s time jump defied logic. I wanted to like this story but couldn’t.

The Green Mountain Boys

Captain Ethan Allen gets the spotlight in this last short story. In 1775 he petitions the Continental Congress for recognition and funds for the soldiers he leads.  But the Battle of Fort Ticonderoga proved the Green Mountain Boys were worth every penny that the government reluctantly gave them.

The artwork throughout the entire novel is strong, although you can tell different artists are utilized in the last two stories. The drawing is sketchy, with a light green and yellow color palette. You can tell much research went into the panels to depict colonial life with impressive details of the ships in the first story. This is yet another example of the excellent historical work that I have come to expect from Wood and his team of artists.  I will absolutely pick up whatever he puts out next in any of the series I mentioned in this post!

-Nancy

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