Comic Book Review – Smashed by Junji Ito

Smashed

Smashed is the newest English translation collection of short horror stories by manga artist Junji Ito, bringing together 13 chilling tales. Most of them are one-shot stories, with the exception of trio that focus around a strange haunted house attraction that pops up in abandoned buildings near the outskirts of towns, charging outrageous prices but promising to scare you out of your wits. I didn’t know much about the stories collected in this book going in. I saw there was a new collection coming out, and that’s pretty much all that was needed to get me to commit to picking it up.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – April 24, 2019

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly book meme run by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. Check out her post and other people’s over on her blog! Feel free to leave a link to your own down below as well.

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

Witches AbroadLate last week I started reading Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, the 12th novel in the Discworld series. I’m enjoying it quite a bit so far: the idea of a fairy godmother so invested to the literal power of story that she turns an entire kingdom into a dystopian nightmare is both hilarious and compelling to me. Citizens must fulfill all the storytelling tropes associated with their vocation/role in society or meet an unpleasant fate. I’m excited to see where this goes once the trio of witches arrive. I’m not sure if I had this problem with Wyrd Sisters, but Granny Weatherwax seems more indignant about things than I remember. She’s one of my favourite characters so I hope this doesn’t stick too much.

On Earth as it is in HellI also started reading On Earth As It Is In Hell by Brian Hodge, which is the third Hellboy novel. This is the first of the novels not written by Christopher Golden and so far I’m really liking Hodge’s approach to the story. I’m not very far yet, but so far there has been an attack at the Vatican Archives, seemingly by seraphim of all things, who have unleashed heavenly fire upon a whole area of the library. What I’m liking about Hodge’s approach is the story so far is told through straightforward narrative as well as reports written by B.P.R.D. consultant Kate Corrigan after the fact, which helps to exposit details more elegantly.


Recently Finished

SmashedNot long after last week’s post I finished reading Smashed by Junji Ito. It hasn’t wound up being my favourite collection, but I’m happy to report that despite the shaky start with the earlier stories things did start to pick up for me. There’s almost always an element of weirdness to the horror he writes, and most of the collection wound up being weird and creepy in a way that worked really well. The art continues to be great too, though I’m finding that I’ve now read so much of his stuff that it does not have the same effect on me it once did. I’m not sure how to feel about that. The titular story was the one that closed it out and it had a great balance of body horror, suspense, and mystery.


Reading Next

Planting Gardens in GravesThe other day I got some new books, and among them was the poetry collection Planting Gardens in Graves by R. H. Sin. Lately I’ve been wanting to read poetry again, especially as a palate cleanser from the novels I’ve usually got my nose buried in. I like the look of it and the feelings the title evokes, so I decided to pick this book up. I’m particularly excited to start it because I’ve decided I don’t want to review any of the poetry books I read. I’ll still share my thoughts and feelings in these posts, but for the time being I’d like poetry to be something I read only for the pleasure of it.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – April 17, 2019

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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

SmashedOver the weekend I started reading Smashed by Junji Ito, the newest English translation collection of some of the author’s horror manga stories. I’ve only read three of the stories so far, and I’m finding myself notably struck by how ridiculous Ito’s writing can be sometimes. I’ve sung his praises many times before, and I stand by all that I’ve said before, but it’s becoming increasingly apparent to me how hit-or-miss his short stories can be. The opener, which involves dieting and vampire bats, was more perplexing than it was horrific or creepy, and I hope the tone that it has set for the collection is not maintained.


Recently Finished

Fragile ThingsI finally finished Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman last night. Even though it’s only been a little over a month, I’m disappointed with how long this actually took me. I could have finished it in a much shorter amount of time had I put my mind to it. Oh well. The book closed with the story “The Monarch of the Glen,” which takes place after American Gods, catching up with Shadow Moon two years after the conclusion of that novel. I really enjoyed reading about that character and world again, especially with the surprise appearance by two other characters from another story in this collection. I went back and read the introduction after I’d finished too, which as I expected was a lot more meaningful that reading it as an actual introduction to the collection.


Reading Next

On Earth as it is in HellAs I’ve been saying for a few weeks now I’m going to start reading Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, since all the prose I’ve been reading has been finished up. I feel like I ought to pick something else up to read concurrently as well though. I’ve been a few books behind schedule for a while and would love to catch back up. With an apparently not-very-good Hellboy movie in theatres now, perhaps I will pick up On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge, the next of the Hellboy novels I need to read. We shall see.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – April 10, 2019

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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

Fragile ThingsYep, still in the midst of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, though it’s not from lack of enjoyment, just lack of focus on it. I did manage to read a few stories since last week though, one of them being “The Problem of Susan,” which was nice to revisit. I first read it online soon after I read all of the Narnia books years ago. I appreciate how Gaiman’s approach to the subject is a short narrative that both tries to reckon with the unfair treatment Susan received by that series’ end while also giving a warped representation of Narnia that is open to interpretation. I really enjoyed “Locks,” a little poem about a father reading stories to his daughter at bedtime.


Recently Finished

LXGvol.2Over the weekend I read through volume two of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Oh my goodness, I’ve wound up with a lot of mixed feelings about this book. First of all, I thought the graphic novel itself was outstanding. I do wish the war against the Martians was a tad more involved with the main plot, but the directions the characters were taken in was excellent, especially developments around Mr. Hyde. On the other hand, an epilogue section called “The New Traveler’s Almanac” is jam packed with literary references, giving a prose Atlas of the bizarre world they inhabit, telling further story along the way. Despite my enjoyment of it conceptually, it was so densely packed with walls of text that it took FOREVER to get through and more than once I wanted to scream at it.

The WonderI also finished The Wonder by Emma Donoghue last night, which I wound up enjoying quite a lot despite my mixed feelings last week, when I was wondering the direction the story would take. I must say, the ultimate narrative became very compelling indeed, as it becomes apparent that there really isn’t anything miraculous about the girl’s purportedly long fast, yet the situation is a lot more complicated than a family conning their community. The mounting sense of anxiety and urgency was exceptionally palpable and the length was just right for the story being told. My desire to finish this book was actually why I got so mad at volume two of The League. I expected that to be a brief departure, but I stubbornly didn’t want to sideline it when the almanac got too long.


Reading Next

SmashedMy preorder for Smashed by Junji Ito arrived for me on Monday, though it’s still a little while yet before it officially releases. It’s the newest collection of Junji Ito horror manga translated into English and I’m quite eager to read more of grotesque, macabre tales. Other that, I still fully intend to start Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett as my next novel, but I’m going to make sure I finish Fragile Things first. It’s hung around the periphery long enough. It’s time to go home.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

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!

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 – October 24, 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

House of LeavesI’m currently in the midst of House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. Last week I thought to myself “I can read this before the month is over.” I honestly don’t know what I was thinking. It’s the size a textbook and nearly 700-pages long, though goodness knows how long it’ll actually take me considering the formatting, which includes both walls of text and like 19 words to a page, depending. I am enjoying the book so far, though reading it feels more like a project than a leisurely experience. I find myself compelled by each new footnote that leads me down a different narrative passageway before I must double back. It’s a lot to take in, but uncovering the mystery is fun and I like the core premise a lot too.


Recently Finished

Frankenstein Junji ItoOver the weekend I read Frankenstein by Junji Ito (check out my review here). The featured story was an excellent adaptation. While it is abridged by the medium, I was surprised with how closely he wrote the story to the original novel by Mary Shelley. It’s one of my favourite books, so it was more than welcome. If you’re familiar with the novel it is almost precisely that story, with a few unique twists and artistic flares to help it stand out on its own. The latter half of the book was a collection of stories about a 14-year-old boy named Oshikiri who lives alone in a massive house and frequently has supernatural experiences. I liked the connective narrative about other selves invading from parallel worlds, but as a collection it was a bit too disjointed for me at times.


Reading Next

BloodborneWhile I think it’s unlikely I can finish off October with a House of Leaves review, I am excited to read Bloodborne: The Death of Sleep by Aleš Kot and Piotr Kowalski. It is a new graphic novel based on the video game of the same name. I played through it over the course of the summer and loved the Gothic imagery and cosmic horrors. Seems a perfect Halloween read to me. Hopefully it will confirm some of my wild speculations about the lore of the game too, as well as shed some light on any unknowns.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

Comic Book Review – Frankenstein by Junji Ito

Frankenstein Junji Ito

Frankenstein is the latest English translation of collected stories by horror manga artist and writer Junji Ito. The featured story of this collection is unsurprisingly an adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the classic tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who discovers the secret to creating life. Putting his discovery to the test he stitches together a humanoid being of giant proportions and imbues it with life. It is only when the grotesque giant stirs with life that he realizes he was so obsessed with whether or could that he didn’t stop to consider if he should. Following this tale is a collection of episodic stories about a 14-year-old boy named Oshikiri who lives alone in a large, disorienting house and is constantly beset upon by supernatural experiences and otherworldly intrusions.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – October 10, 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

Alien Out of the ShadowsI’m still in the early phases of Alien: Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon, though Ripley has since made an appearance and joins the crew of the Marion, the ship that serves as the primary setting so far. As a general concept Ripley’s presence is still a bugbear for me because of how it tampers with her story across the films (a problem I’m aware is not unique to me). Nevertheless, I think Lebbon has captured Ripley’s voice very well; it’s easy for me to imagine Sigourney Weaver speaking these lines in character. I continue to be pleased with how quickly things move as well. I’m really not far at all, but already the stage has been set with very little dawdling with introducing the aliens as a threat and getting Ripley involved.

TreacheryI’ve also been reading Treachery by Robin Furth and Peter David et al, which is the third prequel graphic novel for the series The Dark Tower by Stephen King. I’m enjoying it just fine, though I’m finding myself a little miffed with how redundant it has been as someone who as read the novels already. I am enjoying seeing Cuthbert and Alain a little more fleshed out as characters though, their presence in the novels being limited to the flashback story line in the fourth book. The introduction of Aileen Ritter, a young woman who wishes to be a female gunslinger (which is forbidden), has been interesting so far too, though I’m waiting to see if her story follows a more cliched path or goes to some unexpected places.


Recently Finished

The Haunting of Hill HouseOver the weekend I finished reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. Please check out my full review here! As much as I enjoy horror with violence and gore, I do have a particular place in my heart for effective terror and atmosphere, which this novel had in spades. I grew a strong attachment to the core group of characters and the relationships forming between them. Eleanor Vance was especially fascinating. I loved how believable it felt as a ghost story too. I didn’t have to suspend my disbelief very much at all. There were plenty of supernatural occurrences that cannot simply be attributed to the psychosis of a particular character, yet nothing is spelled out or confirmed for the reader. It begged for speculation, never showing its hand too clearly.


Reading Next

Frankenstein Junji ItoMy progress with spooky reads for October is going better than I anticipated, so I’m actually not sure what I want to pick up once I’m finished with the Out of the Shadows. There is the forthcoming Junji Ito collection Frankenstein, but I don’t anticipate having it for a couple more weeks. I’ve always got some Stephen King books to choose from though. White Tears by Hari Kunzru is apparently a horror story of sorts as well, so I may crack open that book from my list open if nothing else grabs me.

Until next week, thank you for reading!