Year in Review 2018

December has been a dearth of posts, regrettably, though I think that has a lot to do with the year just winding down and my desire to just chill out a bit more until the New Year, as far as reading goes and then writing about it goes. I even missed WWW Wednesday yesterday, though that had much more to do with how busy I was over the holidays. I just couldn’t find the time to put one together. I should have done it ahead of time, but I usually write it the morning of and that was a tough habit to break. Nevertheless, with 2018 coming to a close in less than a week I wanted to take some time to reflect upon my year of reading and writing a bit.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Tomie by Junji Ito

Tomie

Tomie by Junji Ito is a deluxe hardcover edition collecting every chapter of the horror manga of the same name. These comics were originally published serially in the manga magazine Monthly Halloween from 1987 to 2000. High school student Tomie has met a tragic and brutal end at the hands of an unknown killer, with only pieces of her body having been recovered for cremation. Her classmates gather for her funeral, mourn her loss, and consider the dangers that might await them with a killer on the loose. That is, until Tomie walks into class the next day as if it were all nothing more than a bad dream. The entire school is shaken, authorities are baffled, and her classmates and teacher begin to feel a creeping dread, having been more involved with her death than anybody else realizes. This is the stage set in the first chapter of Tomie that ignites a saga of obsession, vanity, and brutality around one beautiful young woman who just can’t stay dead.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – December 19, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

BloodlineI’m just over 100 pages into Bloodline by Claudia Gray and I can already see why it is highly regarded among the new Star Wars novels. Set decades after the fall of the Empire, the book follows Princess Leia Organa at a time of great divide in the New Republic Senate and burnout with politics for her personally. I love how focused this book is on Leia’s perspective, deviating to other characters sparingly to help establish them in their supporting roles. Many of the other new Star Wars books I’ve read, even those meant to focus on a specific character, would jump between too many different plotlines for my liking. This is just so well-written, evocative of Carrie Fischer’s performance, and streamlined with its perspective that I’m eating it up.


Recently Finished

Reaper ManAt the end of last week I finished reading Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, the 11th novel in the Discworld series. Please check out my full review here! I really liked this novel, though in the trio of storylines it followed one of them felt a little too tangential and filler-y for me. At any rate, I really enjoyed reading Death’s experiences as Bill Door, the name he takes for himself as a farm hand, and the way that it sort of mirrors Windle Poons’s experiences as a newly undead thanks to Death’s imposed retirement. I especially liked the way Death’s story ended. It was touching and made it clear that his experiences really changed him rather than things ending up back to the way they were before.

TomieI also read Tomie by Junji Ito over the weekend, collecting the serial series of the same name that follows a beautiful young woman named Tomie who is continually murdered by men that become unnaturally obsessed with her, yet she never stays dead. Though this is a little hyperbolic, the experience reading this kind of floored me. I’ve been enjoying Ito’s work a lot over the last year, but this book has reminded me for the first since reading Uzumaki that he really his a brilliant horror writer. I should have a review up by the end of the week.

 


Reading Next

Berserk 17The year is almost wrapped up for me as far as reading is concerned, though I’ve unsurprisingly (to myself) a little behind on what I want to get finished. I intend to read two more comic books before Christmas Eve, as well as finishing Bloodline, to end my yearly reading list at a nice even 60 books. Hopefully I can actually do it within my self-imposed timeline. The two comics I will read are Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola et al and Berserk Vol. 17 by Kentaro Miura. The latter I’m picking up after a hiatus from reading the series that has lasted for something like 6 years. A friend has motivated me to pick it up again.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

Book Review – Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett

Reaper Man

Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett is the 11th novel in the comic fantasy Discworld series and the second book in the Death subseries. The Auditors of Reality, godlike beings that act as bureaucrats for the cosmos, have decreed that Death (the being) of the Discworld has developed too much of a personality, which they believe is improper for his position. As such, Death is suddenly issued a new timepiece counting down to his impending demise. Officially retired, with the populace left to sort out manifesting a new reaper to fill his shoes, Death decides to do what he’s never been able to before; spend Time. Meanwhile, the Wizards and other citizens of Ankh-Morpork must deal with the consequences of excessive life force filling the world during this transitional time when passage to the afterlife for all living things has been interrupted.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – December 12, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Reaper ManI’m within the last 100 pages of Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett and aspects of it are among my favourite of all the Discworld books I’ve read so far. Death’s experiences as Bill Door, an alias he’s adopted while a farmhand in a very small town, have me hooked. He’s been learning the simple ins and outs of mortal life as well as trying to cope with the unending march of time, which never used to effect him. It’s fascinating to see such a usually insightful character become confronted with very commonplace truths like mortality that he has trouble dealing with emotionally. What I’m not so sure about is the story around the Wizards dealing with the overflowing life force in the world while Death is retired. It’s been entertaining, but has dragged a bit and is going in weird places that I’ll have to see through to the end before I know how I feel about. I should be done with the book in a few days.


Recently Finished

Sadly, nothing this week. I’m going to have to kick myself in the butt a bit to get some more graphic novels read, especially since I want to take a break from reading for the last week and a bit of December, starting on Christmas Eve.


Reading Next

TomieThough pretty far from a read fit for the season, one of the graphic novels I intend to read next is Tomie by Junji Ito, the largest book of the author’s I have in my collection. The stories within follow the travails of a beautiful young woman named Tomie who is frequently murdered by men who obsess over her. That’s just the thing though; she’s killed, yet she always comes back. Though an apparent victim of toxic passions, there’s something darker lurking behind her beautiful visage. That’s as much as I can surmise from my limited exposure to it, anyway, and I’m eager to dive in.

Until next week, thanks for reading!

WWW Wednesday – December 5, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

Reaper ManLast night I started reading Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, though I’m only about 25 pages in so far. Auditors of reality have deemed the Death of the Discworld to have developed too much of a personality, which they view as an issue for an anthropomorphic personification meant to perform an important function in the physical world. As such Azrael, a being who seems to oversee Death, has given him his own timer that counts down to his end. Death shall die, and though the prospect is grim, it’s fascinating to see his initial jubilation. He has time now, and he means to spend it like anything else with life. I love how this ties into aspects of his character explored in his first book, Mort, and I’m excited to see where his story goes. Discworld is great all around, but I especially love the Death books.


Recently Finished

aftermathempiresendThe other night I finished reading Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig. Check out my full review here! I liked this book, there were some good twists and turns for the characters and some solid action. I especially liked that while the story does take us to different worlds characters were more cemented in one place. It gave a sense of gravity to their situation. It was the end of the line, for better or worse. Something about this book just left me a little underwhelmed though, despite my enjoyment. I don’t know if it’s the fact that one of the lead characters just never clicked with me or that the book has to reckon with so many different perspectives in one novel to tie events together. I still liked it, I just can’t help feeling ambivalent that it’s all over.

Battle of Jericho HillI also completed the final prequel graphic novel to The Dark Tower, which is Battle of Jericho Hill by Robin Furth et al. The art continued to be wonderful and it was as atmospheric as ever, but now that I’m done I’m not so sure I wanted these prequels, at least in the form they’ve taken. For one, they don’t really coalesce with the books. The way John Farson and Marten Broadclock are so doggedly trying to kill Roland and his companions I wonder why he’s left largely alone in the novels. On reflection I’m not so sure these were a good idea, since what they’ve mostly done by the end is spoil some of the mystique to Roland’s past and how he ended up alone, rather than creating something that flows perfectly into the story I already know.


Reading Next

BloodlineThe final novel I have planned to read for this year is Bloodline by Claudia Gray, which is a standalone Star Wars novel following Leia decades after Return of the Jedi at a time of a lot of political turmoil in the New Republic and a growing threat at the fringes of the galaxy. I’ve also heard that some of it deals with Leia coming to grips with Darth Vader being her father, which I’m excited to see some insight in to. To be honest, part of why I pushed myself to read the Aftermath trilogy was that I wanted to have them done as a primer just for this book. It is especially well-received among new Star Wars books and I’m hopeful my expectations have not set me up for disappointment.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Book Review – Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

aftermathempiresend

Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig is the final novel in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, which take place after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Norra Wexley and her crew of Imperial hunters have been tracking hunting down a lead on Grand Admiral Rae Sloane for months after her flight from the New Republic planet of Chandrila, where a devious attack by the Empire killed many officials and nearly ended the life of the Chancellor Mon Mothma. Their search leads them to Jakku, a world at the edges of known space, where they discover a massive Imperial fleet of Star Destroyers. Determined to track down Sloane, Norra launches herself to the surface in an escape pod, accidentally taking bounty hunter Jas Emari with her. Her son Temmin’s droid Mister Bones is sent in a pod after her to protect her, while Temmin and ex-Imperial Sinjir evade TIE fighters and return to Chandrila to report the Imperial presence to the New Republic.Read More »

New Books & Novel Discoveries (November 2018)

Book purchases ended up being a little more numerous than I expected this month, which is something I feel like I say here often. One was for sure planned, having preordered it months ago. Most of the others sort of just happened and I have no regrets about that. Other than one impulse they were books I’ve been meaning to get for a long time anyway.

That’s enough vagueness, onto the books!Read More »

WWW Wednesday – November 28, 2018

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Currently Reading

aftermathempiresendI’m still in the thick of Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig, a little under the halfway point in the book. I’m really enjoying the way it’s ramping up on pretty much all character fronts so far. I’m surprised by how much I’m into some of the political stuff around the New Republic and Mon Mothma. Someone else already means to take her place as Chancellor in an election and despite the Empire still being a huge threat there is a lot of subterfuge and backstabbing at play. The occasional interlude chapters have been rather interesting too, especially one that offers a glimpse into the fate of one of the franchise’s most infamous characters: Jar Jar Binks. I’m going to have to push myself especially to finish this, since November is all but finished, but I should hopefully have it done by next week so I can stay on track for the rest of the year.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1952Over the weekend I read Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1952, which is the first volume in a more recent Hellboy series showing his earlier years with the Bureau. This book tells the tale of his first ever field mission to a Brazilian village where a lot of people have been turning up dead under mysterious circumstances. This story unfurls into encounters with ape-like monstrosities and Hellboy’s first ever confrontation with Herman von Klempt, the twisted Nazi scientist. It is his successes during this mission that result in him being granted honorary human status by the United Nations, which was a nice touch. I do wish it had looked a little harder for the big red guy, however. Despite looking like an adult, he’s less than 10 years old at this time and could have been made to look a little less experienced at the whole fighting Nazis thing.


Reading Next

Battle of Jericho HillMy plans are still fairly carefully laid out for reading Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett next, but Battle of Jericho Hill by Robin Furth will likely be the next thing I finish, either before or after Empire’s End. It will feel really good to have caught up on another comic book series. It has felt too much like my progress with comics had slowed down since I finished the Star Wars backlog I was working on most of this year.

Until next week, thanks for reading!

Movie Review – The Sisters Brothers

TheSistersBrothersPoster

The Sisters Brothers is a 2018 Western dark comedy directed by Jacques Audiard. It is based on the novel of the same name by Patrick deWitt (which I have a review of here). The story follows Charlie and Eli Sisters (Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly), two brothers and hitmen who work for the rich and powerful Commodore (Rutger Hauer), hunting down people who “steal” from him. The two are tasked with finding Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed), a chemist heading to California to prospect for gold. John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal) is already tracking the man as a scout, leaving postage behind so the Sisters brothers can pursue. What follows is a humorously strange odyssey through the West, during which their relationship as brothers is tested and they wonder if they can expect anything more from life than danger and death.Read More »