Book Review – Hellboy: Odder Jobs edited by Christopher Golden

Hellboy Odder Jobs

My second book for Frighteningly Good Reads 2019 is Hellboy: Odder Jobs, the 2004 sequel to the first Hellboy anthology Odd Jobs, once again edited by Christopher Golden. This book collects 16 stories by a variety of authors including one by Frank Darabont and another co-written by Guillermo del Toro. Each story is accompanied by an illustration by Mike Mignola. My history with Hellboy anthologies has been a little out of chronology; when I first started checking them out I read Odd Jobs (1999) and An Assortment of Horrors (2017) within months of each other, the latter being the most recent release. I was excited to finally continue the “odd jobs” trilogy (as I’m dubbing it) properly, hopeful that my positive experience with the two books I’d previously read would continue.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – May 15, 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 others 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

On Earth as it is in HellI’ve read a little bit more of On Earth As It Is In Hell by Brian Hodge since last week, but admittedly it has not been very much. What I have read has begun to flesh out the predicament Hellboy and company are in a little more clearly though, which I’m continuing to find interesting. In a nutshell, a rogue element of the Roman Catholic Church has been using dark rituals to summon demons and the dead to inflict punishments and interrogations upon them in the name of the church, but in meddling in such forces they have become heretical. This faction has apparently found a way to summon seraphim, and is directing them to try and destroy an ancient document that challenges widely held truths to Christianity, which the BPRD is now tasked with protecting.


Recently Finished

Planting Gardens in GravesLate last week I finished reading Planting Gardens in Graves by R. H. Sin. In a number of ways I really did enjoy reading this collection of poems. I liked the little rhythm I got into as I went along, but the content of a the poems themselves left a lot to be desired. I think there’s a lot of ground to cover with the idea of investing feelings in the wrong people in life, but his poems typically manifested this sentiment in one of three ways: women are wronged by men in relationships, the poet is wronged by unappreciative women, or men generally don’t appreciate women. An unfortunately narrow set of viewpoints that seemed to dominate the collection.

TheAmazingScrew-OnHeadI also read through The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects by Mike Mignola over the weekend. I loved this book a lot more than I was expecting, especially the story featured in the title. “The Amazing Screw-On Head” is a tongue-in-cheek pulpy story about an android who serves President Lincoln and is charged, time and again, with saving the world. It was brimming with humour, yet played itself straight at the same time. Other stories in the collection took on a similar tone as well, while “The Magician and the Snake” was great to revisit, a tale that continued to be perfectly brief and poignant. The book is mostly just a collection of curious story ideas Mignola has had, but they were such fun to read. You really can be most surprised from unexpected places.


Reading Next

I’ve been visiting family for the past several days, so I must say I’ve given little to no thought on what I plan to read next. I promise that once I do make up my mind you’ll be the first to hear about it.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – May 8, 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 others 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

On Earth as it is in HellI’m only a quarter of the way through On Earth As It Is In Hell by Brian Hodge, but that’s a fair amount more than where I was at last week. As a Hellboy novel I’m enjoying it quite a bit. He’s taking his time to set the stage for something a little more intricate. I love reading about Hellboy clobbering monsters as much as anybody, but he’s more than just a brute. I did have a moment where I laughed at this book really hard though. You may or may not be familiar with posts going around social media poking fun at male authors clumsily writing female characters. I’ve encountered an example in the wild with this book and it had me in stitches for a good 5 minutes. Otherwise the writing has been pretty good, so I’ll try not to hold this against it.

On Earth As It Is In Hell Excerpt
Mystifies men, wears a choker, has periods…you know, a woman. Duh.

Planting Gardens in GravesI’ve also started reading Planting Gardens in Graves by R. H. Sin. I’ve only read about 50 pages, which is especially little considering it’s a poetry collection that I could power through quickly if I chose to do so. Reading it has been enjoyable so far; Sin’s style is very accessibly. The only misgivings I have about the book are what these poems collectively seem to be about. In a broad sense it so far seems to be capturing the feelings of investing yourself in people romantically who let you down. I don’t mind this necessarily, but so far there has been a weird line in the sand drawn between the sexes, when I feel most of these sentiments are pretty universal.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1955Over the weekend I finished reading Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1955 by Mike Mignola et al. I enjoyed it a lot more than 1954. This book managed to balance episodic adventures with a connective narrative really well. There were also some great little characters moments that helped this time in Hellboy’s life feel more distinct. Despite his appearance he’s only about 10 years old, after all, and his relative inexperience with life grates against his teammates in interesting ways. Despite this, he’s demonstrating how much he excels at his job as an agent too. I’m actually pretty excited to see what 1956 has in store for the characters now.

Witches AbroadI also finished reading Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett and I enjoyed this novel quite a lot. I should have a full review up soon. Discworld novels often have at least one moment that makes me burst out laughing, and I’m happy to report that this novel was not an exception. He just has such a way with words sometimes that it strikes such a cord with me. I know Lords and Ladies is not far off in my reading lineup, which is another Witches novel, but this book has got me excited to revisit these characters again so soon. The trio of Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, and Magrat Garlick might just be my favourite, second only to Death himself.


Reading Next

TheAmazingScrew-OnHeadI’m afraid I’m at a bit of a loss again regarding what novel I’d like to read next. I may deviate from my list for the year for my next one, but I’ve made no decision yet. I have finally gotten more digital Star Wars comics, at any rate, so it’s likely I read some of those next. I’d also like to read The Amazing Screw-On Head by Mike Mignola, which is a collection of stories by the creator of Hellboy. One story in particular is “The Magician and the Snake”, which he co-wrote with his daughter and I’m happy to have a physical copy of. It’s a lovely little story.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – May 1, 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 AbroadI’m well into Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett now, and the first thing I’m happy to report is I still love Granny Weatherwax as much as ever. I think my initial misgivings were more a result of how long it’s been since I read about the Witches. Her characterization in Equal Rites left a firmer impression on me too, but she did not have a dynamic with the other two witches in that novel. Along with the humour of the trio traveling through foreign parts, there has been a legitimately heart-wrenching moment as well that was doubly effective because I was not expecting it. This may be a comedy series, but Pratchett definitely has range as an author, and even in parody he always makes things surprisingly complex.

I’m still technically reading On Earth As It Is In Hell by Brian Hodge, but regrettably I’ve not picked it up once since last week. I’ve felt a little less motivated lately, but hopefully I’ll be out of that slump soon.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1954Slight slump notwithstanding, I did manage to read Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1954 by Mike Mignola et al, which I’ve been wanting to pick for a while. I read the first two books late last year, but haven’t had any of the follow-ups until recently. The stories in this volume were all right, but they unfortunately read a lot like filler. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, if not for the fact that these books also seem to be trying to have a narrative thread running throughout them all. This thread isn’t given a lot of attention though, so I’m vexed because I can’t tell if I should just read this as a collection of his early adventures or if it’s all leading to something.


Reading Next

Hellboy 1955I still have every intention of starting Planting Gardens in Graves by R. H. Sin soon, but I’m also going to crack open Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1955, so I can be fully caught up with the volumes that have been released so far. Other than that, I don’t really have any plans for novels as yet. I’ll likely keep to my scrappy list of books to read this year, but I have no idea what I want to pick up yet. I’m behind on reviews as well, for the first time ever I think, and that’s causing me to drag my feet a bit too.

Until next week, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – January 2, 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

I’m taking my end of year/new year break, so I haven’t started anything yet! Just want a brief reprieve before I dive back in.


Recently Finished

Hellboy 1953I missed last week’s post because of the holidays—lots of travel and visiting people—so I’ve got a few titles to bring up here. The first is Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1953 by Mike Mignola et al. It continues the adventures of Hellboy early in his career as a paranormal investigator, seeing him travel across England with his surrogate father Bruttenholm as well as with a team of other agents in the suburbs of America. I really liked how this book continued to balance his inexperience with his growing competence, as well as the nods to the fact that his very nature might be the reason significant confrontations are spurred in the first place.

BloodlineThe second I finished was Bloodline by Claudia Gray, which I have spoken highly of numerous times since: it received a 5 out of 5 in my review and was listed among my top five personal favourite reads of the year. I’ve enjoyed many of the new Star Wars books, but this one stands as the perfect example original story and tie-in to the greater franchise converging almost seamlessly. It offered a closer look into one of the franchise’s most iconic characters as well, having her face her demons concerning her parentage in a substantial way previously unseen. It also did a good job of providing some insight into politics and what we know is in store for the galaxy without bogging things down with too many details.

Berserk 17Lastly, I read Berserk Vol. 17 by Kentaro Miura as I planned to for my final read, though I didn’t actually get to it until I got back home (I wanted all these done before Christmas). I really enjoyed getting back into the series. There were a few things I had to re-familiarize myself with, but I was able to recall most everything quite well. This arc looks like it’s shaping up to be pretty interesting too, tying back into characters and events that took place during the extensive flashback arc that occurred many volumes ago. The only regrettable thing is manga volumes read very quickly and continuously; a volume is never really a complete story, just a big collection of chapters, so I’m going to need to pick up more of these regularly if I want to keep reading.


Reading Next

I, RobotI’ll likely start reading again this weekend, I’m already getting a little antsy to pick up a book again. On Boxing Day I went to a used bookstore in Toronto with my friends and picked up I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. For some reason I was convinced the book was hard to find. Turns out it really isn’t, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Don’t know what I was thinking. At any rate, the spark of my interest in it was started by a documentary series on science fiction and since I’ve got a copy now and I’m to kindle that interest while it’s still fresh.

Until next week, thank you for reading! I hope you all had a happy holidays.

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!

WWW Wednesday – 2018/09/12

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by 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

AftermathLifeDebtI started reading Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig, though I’ve only really just started. My impressions about these books have shifted a little bit since finishing the first one, due to some personal reflection and encountering how other people feel about these books. I stand by my review of the first one, but it is a little telling that my favourite parts of that book were the interludes. It seems this book will be just as focused on the characters introduced in this series. I’m not sure how I feel about that. At any rate, it has started out all right so far, though I’m noticing some negative points someone made about Wendig’s writing style I hadn’t noticed myself before. I shall maintain optimism, at an rate.

Ed the Happy ClownI’ve also been reading Ed the Happy Clown by Chester Brown, which came a little out of left field. A friend of my showed me their copy and offered to let me borrow it, which I accepted. Shortly after last week’s post I started reading it and it’s really bizarre. Apparently, Brown’s idea was to take the story in random directions with each strip, though there are twisted threads the story is following along at the point I’ve reached. It’s not completely non-sequitur throughout. I’ve read two books of his before this, though they were a biography and a memoir respectively, so this is quite a dramatic shift in content.


Recently Finished

Hellboy Bones Of GiantsOver the weekend I finished reading The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden, which you can check out my review for here. Unfortunately I didn’t not quite live up to my admittedly arbitrary expectations. I really liked the lore the novel introduced into the world of Hellboy, but a lot of the story ended up meandering, the characters dwelling on concern for one another repetitively without the plot escalating these issues much. I still liked it for what it was, since the novels are really only side stories to the series proper, but I’m starting to wonder if Golden is the negative x-factor for me.

Yon & MuI also finished reading Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu. I absolutely loved this book. The art was great, the stories in each chapter were well told, and most importantly it showed that Ito’s got surprisingly good chops as a comedy writer. It was just the right length too; not overdoing it yet short enough to leave me wanting more without being disappointed. I should have a review posted of it soon.

 


Reading Next

I’m really not sure what to read next. I’m starting to suspect Life Debt will take me longer than I think it will. It’s not a dense read, but it’s still 500 pages long. With October only a few weeks away I’ve started to think more about horror books to read, though I’ve no idea what I’ll start with just yet. I do think I should start one before September is over though so I can spread some reviews throughout the month.

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Book Review – The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden

Hellboy Bones Of Giants

On the frozen shores of Sweden, lightning strikes from a clear sky. The skeleton of a huge man is revealed, its fingers clutched around the handle of an iron hammer. No one who comes to see this marvel from Norse mythology can lift it—no one but Hellboy, who lifts the hammer just in time for lightning to strike again, welding it to his hand and leading him towards a bizarre series of visions and encounters.

The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden is the second Hellboy novel, written with the creator of the character and comic book series Mike Mignola, who also provided illustrations. There was always something about this book that appealed to me more than its predecessor The Lost Army. I did enjoy that book, but it felt fairly garden variety as far as Hellboy stories go. This second novel sported Hellboy on the cover wielding what is in fact Mjollnir, the legendary weapon of the Norse god Thor, promising something a little different for the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, who typically deals with less divine forms of the otherworldly.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/08/29

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by 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

Hellboy Bones Of GiantsLast night I started reading Hellboy: The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola, though I haven’t read further than the prologue so far. There’s something about the cover and the title that’s always given me a good feeling about this book (not the most reliable impulse) and this has been emboldened by the brief introduction in which Mignola states his belief that this book surpasses the previous novel, which he believes to have been great too. He’s probably just a little biased, but I’m looking forward to getting into it all the same. Gods have only occasionally been touched upon in Hellboy stories in the past so I’m especially curious to see how this incorporates the Norse pantheon.


Recently Finished

The Princess BrideOver the weekend I finished reading The Princess Bride by William Goldman. Check out my review here! I ended up liking this book quite a lot. The characters were excellent, it balanced some complex themes with fairy tale ideals rather well, and played with the medium in unexpected ways. It’s now no wonder to me that it’s considered such a classic. Inigo and Fezzik especially stole the show for me. They have a great dynamic together. I only wish there were more story. My edition included the first chapter of the “sequel” called Buttercup’s Baby, and it literally ends with a massive cliffhanger. Goldman sure is a cheeky fellow.

The Gunslinger BornI also started and finished reading The Gunslinger Born by Peter David et al, which is the first in the comic book adaptations of The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. While I think later volumes will cover details about Roland’s past that we have not seen before, this book specifically adapted his becoming a gunslinger from The Gunslinger and the story from Wizard & Glass when he fell in love with Susan Delgado. It was a pretty faithful adaptation, though I prefer the novel for how in-depth it goes. This felt a little bit like reading the cliff notes. I did however like getting a good visual look at the Crimson King and Walter, whose forms are often nebulously described in the books.


Reading Next

AftermathLifeDebtThe Bones of Giants should not take me too long, so once I finish that I’m going to get started on Aftermath: Life Debt so I can continue with that trilogy of Star Wars books. I’m hoping things pick up a lot more plot-wise with that book now that origins and introductions are out of the way for the characters. It also hints at including some of the core characters from the films more, which I hope is the case (it’s got the Millennium Falcon on the cover, dang it!!).

Until next time, thank you for reading!

Book Review – The Lost Army by Christopher Golden

Summary

525 B.C. The Persian King Cambyses sent fifty thousand soldiers across the conquered Egyptian desert to take an oasis city not far from where the Libyan border stands today. According to Greek history, a hurricane-force sandstorm struck near the end of their six-hundred-mile trek. The army—all fifty thousand men—vanished without a trace.

1986 A.D. A British archaeological team, sent to the edge of the Great Sand Sea to exhume evidence of the incident, has gone missing. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is sending the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, Hellboy, to find the missing team and discover what became of The Lost Army.

HellboyTheLostArmy

The Lost Army by Christopher Golden is the first Hellboy novel, based on the comic book series of the same name. The book includes illustrations by series creator Mike Mignola. While I’ve enjoyed prose Hellboy stories from a couple of anthologies by now, this was my first venture into a full novel about the character. Since this was published in 1997 there have been nine other Hellboy novels and four anthologies. Interestingly, only a handful of this material is considered to be in continuity with the comic book series proper, which understandably takes precedent. This novel, along with other books and stories by Golden, are considered within canon.Read More »