September Reading Wrap-up

My personal favorites from each section are: The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry, Release by Patrick Ness, All Systems Red by Martha Wells, March: Book 2 by John Lewis, and Inuit Mythology by Evelyn Wolfson.

So-called Kids Fiction:

Princess Adventure Stories by the Walt Disney Company (4/5 stars)

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny: Volume 1 by Emma Carlson Berne (3/5 stars)

Smuggler’s Run by Greg Rucka (4/5 stars)

The Weapon of a Jedi by Jason Fry (5/5 stars)

Moving Target by Cecil Castellucci (2/5 stars)

The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling (4/5 stars)

So-called Young Adult Fiction:

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan (5/5 stars)

Release by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars)

So-called Adult Fiction:

Snowspelled by Stephanie Burgis (5/5 stars)


All Systems Red by Martha Wells (5/5 stars)

Taste of Marrow by Sarah Gailey (4/5 stars)

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell (4/5 stars)

The American by Henry James (4/5 stars)

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire (no rating)

So-called Comic Books:

The Wicked and The Divine: Imperial Phase I by Kieron Gillen (4/5 stars)

Mockingbird: My Feminist Agenda by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars)

Like I’m the Only Squirrel in the World by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

Black Butler volume 19 by Yana Toboso (4/5 stars)

Black Butler volume 20 by Yana Toboso (4/5 stars)

Batgirl: Beyond Burnside by Hope Larson (3/5 stars)

March: Book 2 by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

Buso Renkin volume 1 by Nobuhiro Watsuki (3/5 stars)

Buso Renkin volume 2 by Nobuhiro Watsuki (2/5 stars)

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop: Volume 1: Anchor Points by Kelly Thompson (4/5 stars)

So-called Nonfiction:

Inuit Mythology by Evelyn Wolfson (4/5 stars)


The History of Alexander by Quintus Curtius Rufus (3/5 stars)




Top 10 Tuesday: Manga Series

This week’s prompts was “All about the visuals” whether it be comic books, graphic novels, picture books, etc etc. After way too much thought and much too long of a list, I settled on my top 10 favorite manga. Please note: not the top 10 best manga I’ve ever read, simply MY FAVORITES. Tl;dr don’t fight with me about the quality, I like what I like the end.

  1. Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles!” Besides being a phenomenal story and brilliantly crafted, I want to hug it to pieces. Filed under: Science And Municipally-Approved Books, Found Family
  2. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya: It’s like a love story except there’s twelve of them and friendship conquers all also they turn into animals????? Filed under: Formative Literature, Squad Goals
  3. Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle by CLAMP: Time-travel space-travel adventure of my heart tbh Filed under: Too Many Clones, Too Many Feels
  4. Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori: It’s like a love story except there’s six of them and they think she’s a boy at first but then she’s not but they would die for each other and also they like to wear costumes and role play???? Filed under: It’s PG I Swear, Funniest Stories
  5. Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki: This one is really rewarding to reread – there is a lot going on and a lot of threads that are set up early and carry through. Filed under: I’m Upset About A Lot of Dead Historical Rebels, Found Family
  6. Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata: It’s like a love story except- oh wait no it’s not a love story, it’s a death story, Light, please stop, what, wait what are you doing no oh no that’s a lot of blood. Filed under: Hugs for All, Things I Shouldn’t Love As Much As I Do
  7. D.N. Angel by Yukiri: Fair warning, I’m pretty sure this series is on indefinite hiatus. But it’s still one of my favorite stories about teens. Filed under: Disguises Galore, Thieves With Hearts of Gold
  8. Tactics by Sakura Kinoshita: This is another one on indefinite hiatus. TokyoPop’s demise ruined my manga upbringing, basically. Everything I know about Japanese folklore I learned from this series. Filed under: Oh No I Love Everyone So Much, Why Am I Crying Again
  9. Tokyo Babylon by CLAMP: This one is set up as an episodic romcom and then suddenly Plot Twist and it turns into a murderous rampage leading up to the apocalypse and I love it with all the tiny black monsters of my tarred soul. Filed under: Why Am I Crying Again, Perfection
  10. Ghost Hunt by Shiro Inada: Sometimes I forget how much I love ghost stories, and then I read something like Ghost Hunt and experience pure joy while clever characters investigate hauntings and try not to get murdered. Filed under: Be Safe, That Guy is Probably Dead the Whole Time

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


Top 10 Tuesday: A Star War

This week’s prompt is a FREEBIE, so I am going to bless you all with my top 10 Star Wars books (canon, Legends, comics, whatever).

  1. Survivor’s Quest by Timothy Zahn (Legends): As you may know, I adore Timothy Zahn’s stories (Star Wars and other), so I’m not sure how to pick a favorite but it is probably this one. Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade go on a treasure hunt/quest/fact-finding mission to find a crashed Old Republic ship, in case it has Jedi artifacts on board. It turns into a very suspenseful mystery and of course they run into a shadowy military organization with sketchy motives and there’s fencing and fighting and torture and revenge and true love. Or whatever. Filed under: The OTP, New Stormtrooper Friends, Abandon Ship
  2. Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka (Canon): This is a miniseries comic about Poe’s parents and takes place during and after the Battle of Endor. Greg Rucka is another fave, the art is great, and the characters are wonderful. Filed under: Luke Cameos, Marry Me Shara Bey?
  3. Knights of the Old Republic: Commencement by John Jackson Miller (Legends): This is the first volume of the Knights of the Old Republic comic run. It went a little downhill after the first couple of volumes but this opening story is one of my favorite Star Wars stories. Filed under: Dream Team, Framed, Save The Dream
  4. X-Wing: Rogue Squadron by Michael A. Stackpole (Legends): Okay, I need to accept that this entire post is just me gushing about how much I love Star Wars. I LOVE THIS SERIES OF BOOKS but especially Stackpole’s volumes, starting with this one. He introduces a bunch of excellent characters like Corran Horn and Mirax Terrik, along with turning minor but awesome characters from the movies into great protagonists. Filed under: SPACE PILOTS, Wedge Antilles Is The Real MVP
  5. Star Wars: Year By Year A Visual History by Ryder Windham (nonfiction): This is a “coffee table” history/trivia book about the people behind the Star Wars movies and franchise. It’s really nerdy and interesting, and starts with George Lucas’s career and continues into the present. Star Wars events are laid out chronologically alongside “real world” events. Filed under: Did You Know, Fascinating!
  6. Republic Commando: Hard Contact by Karen Traviss (Legends): This is set during the Clone Wars and is a fast-paced military story about a squad of clone commandos and their baby Jedi general. Filed under: I Love Everyone In This Bar, Found Family
  7. Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover (Legends): I don’t understand why we don’t have more Luke books or movies like this.  This is the perfect Luke book, the rest of you can go home. Filed under: Star Wars Journalism, Space Adventures
  8. Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpshyn (Legends): I don’t like dark books very much, and I don’t like books about bad guys very much, but I really love this book about a decent guy who goes bad and it’s all pretty dark, so, I don’t know what to tell you. Filed under: Sith Lords Are Our Specialty, The Rule of Two
  9. Ahsoka by E.K. Johnston (Canon): I love Ahsoka and I love E.K. Johnston and this is a wonderful, small-scale story about one of the best Jedi ever. Filed under: Found Family, Rebels, I Love Everyone In This Bar But Mostly Ahsoka
  10. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher: I expected the Shakespeare Star Wars books to be gimmicky and shallow but the author put a lot of work into them and it shows. These books made me approach Star Wars in a whole new way, even though I’ve grown up on them and know them inside out. Filed under: Clever Words, Amazing Illustrations

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.


Bout of Books Daily Updates

Day 1 (in Ottawa): I read Black Widow: Deadly Origins by Paul Cornell. Yes, it’s a comic book. I regret nothing.


Day 2 (on a plane): I read a solid 100 pages of Blood and Iron, as well as five issues of Robin, one issue of The Immortal Iron Fist, two issues of Black Widow, and one issue of Ms. Marvel. I REGRET NOTHING AT ALL RIGHT NOW.

Day 3 (home at last!): I….have a few regrets about this day, haha. I read a LOT of comics, mostly issues that I bought at Comic Con. To name a few, a bunch of Midnighter (I was laughing so hard, omg, I don’t even know what they’re doing, ever, with this poor guy…also LOL THE ISSUE WHERE HE PUTS ACTUAL HEARTS ON APOLLO’S GRAVE OMG you just cannot predict this stuff), a couple of Jenny Sparks, Robin, Young Avengers (#4 AWWWWWWW YISS SO BEAUTIFUL ASDFGHJKL), Hawkeye (#10, I miss Aja’s art), some Secret Avengers, and a single-volume indie called Debris by Wiebe and Rossmo. The latter had gorgeous art and a cool story that ended abruptly.

Comics aside, I did read about 50 pages of The Age of Innocence. The protagonist started out obsessed with appearances and also misogynist but he has had a few epiphanies and I’m starting to grow fond of him. 🙂 I know he won’t marry Olenska but I WANT HIM TO.

17194568 midnighter04

Day 4: I finished reading The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, and read Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority.

TGoI was really, really excellent; lots of the themes have to do with social expectations but there’s a love triangle between a guy who is in love with a woman who is not his wife, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the guy’s wife is NOT portrayed as evil or stupid. She’s very smart and kind, in fact, but all three characters have flaws. Anyway, well-done! Four for you, Wharton!

Jenny Sparks is a comic spin-off of The Authority title, and it was fun to see the characters before they team up; I don’t think there’s any other comic that shows that. Funny story, though: The Authority was in the first big batch of comics I ever read, in spring 2012, and as I’ve read more and more comics, the more I’ve realized JUST HOW WEIRD and truly outrageous The Authority is, comparatively. I’m a little alarmed now to think of how I assumed most comics were like it, but maybe a little less violent. Ah well.

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I’ve also been visiting blogs but verrryyyy slowly. I hope to visit more of you soon! 🙂

Total pages read so far (not counting comics): 386

Books finished: 1

Comicbooks finished: 4

Day 5: I read Roverandom by JRR Tolkien and a big chunk of The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell. Roverandom was a weird little book, but it was fun to contrast the wizard with Gandalf. VERY DIFFERENT TOLKIEN WIZARDS. Cadet is growing on me. 🙂 I have a book-crush on Savoy.


Total pages read so far (not counting comics): 592

Books finished: 2

Comicbooks finished: 4

Day 6: I finished The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell, and read My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudestky. I enjoyed reading both of them, I might read sequels if sequels ever appeared, but neither really stood out as amazing. Ah well.

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Total pages read so far: 811

Books finished: 4

Day 7: I finished Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear, as well as Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brien. AWWWW YISS. I’m awesome.

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Total pages read: 1389

Total books finished: 6


Review: Sandman Volume 1: PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES by Neil Gaiman

sandman vol 1ISBN: 9781401225759

What You Get: The first eight issues of Neil Gaiman’s award-winning series (OR SO I HEAR), an introduction by executive editor Karen Berger, and an afterword by Neil Gaiman. Art by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III.

The Story: This series falls solidly into the horror genre, so it has blood, gore, violence, and scary and disturbing characters/scenes/plots.  The diner chapter, specifically, made me go ARGH DO NOT WANT the entire time. I still enjoyed this book but couldn’t whole-heartedly love it; for those who read and like horror, obviously, this would probably not be a problem.

Each issue has a mostly self-contained story, with the first seven issues comprising a “quest” format story arc. In the first issue, we’re introduced to an appropriately creepy cult that tries to capture Death for their own purposes, but being incompetent creepy cultists, they capture Dream instead. Eventually, of course, Dream escapes and sets himself to righting his wrongs and getting back all of his stuff. The eighth issue in the volume introduces us to a character important to Dream and is obviously a lull in between two arcs.

When he’s in the human world, he’s a scary-looking dude with awesome clothes, but in dreams and the dream-world he is extremely powerful. A large part of the fun (so to speak) in this story is watching Dream use his powers in different ways, using dreams to scare, punish, trap, or teach people. He’s a scary kind of dude, I think I mentioned. He visits Hell in one issue, which turned out to be one of my favorites, partly because of the fantastical (and terrifying, yes) depiction of Hell, and partly because of the conflict which pits Dream against a demon in a contest (to get his afore-mentioned stuff back).

The supporting characters are definitely a mixed bag. The ones I liked and hope come back are Dream’s clothing (obviously the best supporting character), Death, and John Constantine. John Constantine is the closest we get to a decent human sidekick who helps Dream out. The incorporation of Cain and Abel was very interesting, presenting them as archetypes of a sort who live their story over and over again, but that was disturbing and they were disturbing. There were various others who show up only to die horribly, of course.

I didn’t know ahead of time that this story takes place in DC’s universe, but then Arkham Asylum was there (because we needed more creepiness!) and some cameos from Justice League International characters (which made me really happy).


The Art: The different artists managed to make the overall style in this volume stay coherent, which I apprecaited. I liked Sam Keith’s style for Dream best. Dream’s clothing is my favorite thing about the art, as you might have surmised. I loved the three witches (or fates or whatever name they’re going by) and how they look like all the stereotypes of those archetypes combined. The art is creepy and the bad guys are really gross and there’s lots of goopiness everywhere always. I enjoyed seeing Martian Manhunter and Mr. Miracle in a book so completely different from anything else they’re in—the art made them seem like really different characters, even though their behavior was consistent. “A Hope In Hell” had the most fantastic backgrounds. I really loved the issue covers by Dave McKean. They’re not your usual “put random scenes on the comic so people will pick it up!” covers, but instead vague creepy portentous things.

My Rating: four out of five stars


Review: CAPTAIN MARVEL VOLUME 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick


ISBN: 0785165495

What You Get: The first six issues of Marvel Now’s new Captain Marvel series by Kelly Sue DeConnick with Dexter Roy and Emma Rios as artists. Ms. Marvel, aka Carol Danvers, is taking on the mantle of Mar-Vell, the previous Captain Marvel. There’s also a few pages of Carol Danvers’ biography in the back of the book, which is really handy for filling in all the gaps for new readers of this character (like me).

The Story: It successfully establishes Carol Danvers as the new Captain Marvel, and contains a fabulous time travel story that catches us up on her origin story, the people important to her, her powers, and what kind of a hero she is.

The first issue shows her reluctantly taking up Captain Marvel’s mantle, urged by Cap America (who is great). There’s a great fight scene where the two Captains team up, and it’s really fun seeing them work together so well (especially in “shielding” the civilians).

The rest of the volume explores Carol’s hesitancy in her new role by giving her the option of changing her life completely so that she isn’t a Captain Marvel or even a superhero anymore; but this personal journey is entrenched in a rollicking time-travel story with many kickass ladies as supporting characters. There’s a team of World War II pilots in issues 3-4 that I especially loved. Issues 5-6 focuses exclusively on the pasts of Helen Cobb, an important woman from Carol’s past, and Carol herself, and the two women find themselves alternately teaming up and fighting each other to work out all the flaws (or supposed flaws) in the timeline. Carol has to figure out whether or not she is who she is supposed to be, and whether what she wants matters. Helen and Carol have so much sass and swag that this is all endless fun.

Minor complaint: It’s clear that Burke and Carol have a strong, caring relationship, but there isn’t any explanation in the main issues of why that is. The biography answers questions but it still seemed odd that it isn’t shown or commented on in the main story.

from #1 by Dexter Soy

The Art: The art matches the tone and style of the stories being told perfectly. It is perfect and I love it. Dexter Soy’s art in issues 1-4 is colorful and dark and vibrant and full of movement, and it is pretty much my favorite comic art I have ever experienced. Issues 5-6, by Emma Rios, have a pretty different style, but it evokes Soy’s in certain ways. Plus it’s a little retro, with lots of sharp edges and sassy ladies in awesome 60s clothing, and fits the story it is telling perfectly. LOTS OF PERFECTION, HERE, ARE YOU GETTING THAT.

from #5 by Emma Rios
from #5 by Emma Rios

My Rating: five out of five stars


Review: Avengers Vs. X-Men PHC

14885892ISBN: 0785163174

Warning: mild and/or vague spoilers!

What You Get: 568 pages. Comic book collections generally contain 4-10 issues, but this one has 22.5. BAM. There are thirteen for the main AvX storyline, along with six “VS” match issues (pitting various X-Men against various Avengers) and three “Infinite Comics” issues, which were created for digital. So that’s cool.

The Story: Let’s face facts, the whole reason behind this storyline is so that the writers/artists could depict what happens when, say, Magneto and Iron Man fight each other, and the fans can watch. I had a hard time believing that various characters would actually react in a certain way (or so strongly), especially in the first few issues. But the writers did the best they could in showing how stressed out everyone is from the years of Intense Story Arcs and past trauma from the Phoenix. I also appreciated how certain characters went bad; if they’re going to go bad, even for just one decision or for the entire series, I thought it was in-character how they went bad. That is, the characters’ pre-existing flaws were what was emphasized when they behaved in dastardly ways, here.

 The Art: The art was really great. I’m not an art critic in any sense of the word, so I’m not sure what I should be allowed to say besides “IT WAS REALLY PRETTY AND I JUST WANTED TO MAKE OUT WITH SOME OF THOSE TWO-PAGE SPREADS.” I don’t think all Marvel should have the same art, but sometimes it makes me cry how some titles get such ross-awful art, while others get really special unique art (like Hawkeye or Captain Marvel) or simply high-quality art, like Avengers vs X-Men. Some of the “VS” and “Infinite” issues stood out awkwardly as less awesome. Olivier Coipel was my favorite line artist, overall, in this volume.

The Cool: I really liked how Nova was used (although I’ve never seen Nova before (I’m only a year old in comic years!)). I couldn’t help thinking that if this was a DC series, an even dozen of Green Lanterns would have to be maimed or killed for this story function. I’ve also been waiting for Captain America to hit Namor in the head with his shield since I started reading comics. There’s a one-page gag comic in which Captain America and Cyclops trade verbal abuse, and it was one of my favorite pages in the entire volume. This is also a good story for Hope fans (of which I am one most of the time). She’s one of a handful of characters who have fully-fleshed out, believable storylines, and hers is just awesome. So.

The Not-So-Cool: Some big couples may or may not break up in this storyline, and it may or may not seem ludicrously contrived. Some of the “Vs” issues didn’t really make sense in how the action panned out.

My Rating: three out of five stars