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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-03 10:56
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — June Edition

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 3, 2018.

 

 

2018

 

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Soulless: The Manga, Vol. 1 by Gail Carriger

 

Oh, this was such a pretty book! It stayed true to the story from the novels, making me laugh and fall in love with the series all over again. The art is just so manga-ey that you can’t help but like it.  My initial thoughts on reading it can be found here.

 

2015

 

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The Dresden Files: Storm Front, Volume 1: The Gathering Storm by Jim Butcher

 

Another novel converted to graphic novel format. While Ms. Carriger’s humor shines through in both novel formats, I didn’t find the same to be true for Butcher. Even so, if I can stick to this series with its problematic treatment of female characters, I can stomach the graphic novels too. Did that sound like somebody was forcing me to read them? Lol

 

2013

 

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Undead and Unwed by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Betsy came into my life when I needed a reprieve from the real world. She might be shallow and it might take her like 9 books to realize that, but she still makes me laugh. Her magnetic ability to attract trouble no matter where she goes reminds me of Mercy of the Mercedes Thompson fame. Her tenacity has shades of Kate Daniels from another favorite series of mine. But most of all, I love her for the way she sticks up for those she considers family!

 

 

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The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

 

This is one book that I wish I had found when I was a kid — or had been written back then. I think I’d have appreciated it more? Anyway, it has the charm of the Dahl books but there is a dark undercurrent to them that makes them scary. But in a good way. Fine job I’m doing of explaining why I like this series, right? But I do!

 

 

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

 

Gaiman’s books either wow me or they don’t i.e. there is no middle ground. But I never not like them. Does that make sense? For instance, I wasn’t a fan of American Gods but I loved Coraline and this one. TOATEOTL had this surreal feel to it that never let up. Despite being a short story, I felt like I connected with the characters in it too.

 

 

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Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon by Spider Robinson

 

This book has an old-timey sci-fi-ish feel to it that instantly resonated with me. I am also a fan of anthologies and short story compilations. To me, they present a varied meal where I sample different dishes and decide which ones i loved. Like most books of its genre and time, it isn’t overly long. Another plus in my case! I also reviewed the second book in this series.

 

2012

 

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The Emerald City by J.A. Beard

 

** spoiler alert ** This was such a refreshing book! Another YA novel that I’d recommend to those of us who aren’t too into them. The book had everything: a teenager who acted her age was smart and kicked butt-not dumb enough to dismiss the strange ongoings in her school like most YA protagonists would have done.characters that kept me interested throughout — Nick’s zombieness made him all the more fun and Lydia was cute. It had the right beginning and a balanced ending — the book wasn’t too long either.there were some spelling mistakes, yes.the humor was done just right. It was fun, witty and a quick read — I just couldn’t put the book down till I was done reading.

 

 

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Undermountain by Eric Kent Edstrom

 

** spoiler alert ** I got this book from Making Connections for free, in exchange of an honest review.The action started from the get-go and it never stopped.


It has been so long since I enjoyed a YA novel this much and didn’t end up wanting to hit every character over the head-well, maybe Shiv, at times!


My favorite character was Grizz for obvious reasons. TogYip were cute too.


The transformation that each teenager goes through by the end of their journey (as Harvin was kind to observe for us) made the story even better.


The romance or sprinklings of it was just the right amount.


There were a few spelling mistakes which I noticed though.


The descriptions of the city of Bigfeet were sufficient without being boring.I loved every bit of it!

2011

 

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The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

 

Sadly, I don’t remember much about this one, just that I loved it. It was a simple, touching story about a family. That much I do remember!

 

So those were my faves from various Junes of various years. Hope you had fun reading about it!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-10-02 19:27
September 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on October 2, 2018.

 

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Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

 

Like the two previous books in this series, this one was hilarious! Pratchett continues to amaze me by dealing with huge issues like gender discrimination in his own unique way:

“I can see you’ve been getting ideas below your station,” said Granny coldly.

 

As always, the humor was exquisite. Consider the following quote:

However, it is primarily a story about a world. Here it comes now. Watch closely, the special effects are quite expensive.

 

And this one:

“You’re wizards!” she screamed. “Bloody well wizz!”

 

I mean who even thinks of what a character would think if they were turned into an old palace. Pratchett, that’s who:

For the first time in her life, she knew what it was like to have balconies.

 

And then there was this one:

The light was misty and actinic, the sort of light to make Steven Spielberg reach for his copyright lawyer.

 

I also learned a new delicious word:

 

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Oh, and the writing was beautiful and witty, which is also characteristic Pratchett:

There should be a word for words that sound like things would sound like if they made a noise, he thought. The word ‘glisten’ does indeed gleam oilily, and if there was ever a word that sounded exactly the way sparks look as they creep across burned paper, or the way lights of cities would creep across the world if the whole of human civilization was crammed into one night, then you couldn’t do better than “coruscate.”

 

Granny was my favorite character. She dealt with sexist snobbish wizards with such aplomb and scolded sense into anyone who dared act crazy! More Pratchett love here.

 

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Undead and Unfinished by MaryJanice Davidson

 

Okay, okay. So it took Betsy almost ten books to realize how selfish she was. But at least, she owned up to it and then did something about it.

 

The book was funny:

And I was self-aware enough to realize that if I thought someone was being immature, it was time for them to reexamine their life.

 

It also had dark foreshadowing, which will form the plot of the future books. I am confident though if Betsy can survive her evil step-mom, dying, becoming a vampire, ruling over the bloodsuckers, marrying a selfish power hungry vampire and get him to fall in love with her, be sisters with the Devil’s daughter, adopt her own step-brother, prevent an all-out war with the shifters, and take down a villain or two, then she can handle whatever’s coming her way. Right?

 

 

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Time Travelers Strictly Cash by Spider Robinson

 

The good things about this compilation first. It had nuggets like this one:

One of the major agonies of reviewing is that you cannot recall an opinion which later reflection reveals to be fatheaded. There isn’t enough time for anything but snap judgments, and often you end up regretting them, and there’s no practical way to retract them.

 

I’m pretty sure seldom has a reviewer been this honest about their job and its drawbacks. Anyone who goes back and reads their reviews from before will agree with this point of view.

 

Then there were the stories with such beautiful one-liners, which is why I love the Time Travelers series:

And-and funny men are nicer lovers. They know about pain.

 

Not to forget brutal truths thrown in for good measures, like this one:

Of course one of the first concerns of a colonizing country is to properly condition the colonists. To ensure their loyalty. Because a colonist is supposed to give you the things you want to have in exchange for the things you want him to have, and for this golden opportunity he is supposed to be properly grateful. It wouldn’t do for him to get any treasonous ideas about his own destiny, his own goals.

 

Now for the bad part. This book doesn’t just contain the Callahan stories. It includes some reviews written by Robinson, a defense of Robert Heinlein, and other short stories not from the Callahan series. The so-called defense is long and drawn out and full of sexist, homophobic, and other negative comments. I skipped most of it.

 

The Callahan stories included:

 

Fivesight

The title is a play on the word foresight and is a sad but uplifting story about a character whose husband can see a few hours ahead into the future.

 

Dog Day Evening

This is the story of a German Shepherd, Ralph von Wau Wau, and it is exactly Callahan-tastic!

 

Have You Heard The One…?

This story is about a new character who comes to visit the saloon, Al Phee, and reveals the true nature of one of the regulars, Josie Bauer. Another fun one!

 

Mirror / rorriM Off The Wall

This story describes the events that befall Robert Trebor and how Callahan and the narrator, Jake, help him out.

 

The non-Callahan stories were:

 

God is an Iron

It is a story about how a thief and a drug addict save each other.

 

Soul Search

A woman tries to reawaken her mate to life from a cryogenic sleep. Things don’t go so well. The story’s focus is on what could make reincarnation possible

 

Local Champ

This represents Robinson’s rare attempts at writing a fantasy story. It is about a warlock who becomes all-powerful and immortal and how he meets his demise.

 

Serpents’ Teeth

Kid emancipation and parenting are the focus of this story. It was a miss for me.

 

 

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Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

 

Exhaustingly descriptive and maybe dated to some extent. I think if the pages spent by the author describing Manderley were removed, the result would be a fast-paced thriller. I didn’t mind that the author took her time unraveling the secrets surrounding the first wife’s death. It made the story exciting but I did mind when she spent pages and pages telling me about the garden and the rooms of the mansion. How awkwardly the second Mrs. De Winter tries to fill Rebecca’s shoes and her trials were described very well. It made you feel for her while remaining in awestruck by the glamorous creature Rebecca had been. How Rebecca’s nurse mentally tortured the girl and the rambling man by the beach only deepened my enjoyment of the mystery. But when De Winter finally confessed, I wanted to smack him hard. It took him this long to say that? Why did he make his wife suffer so much? The idiot! And when Manderley finally burned now, I was like good riddance!

 

 

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Nightlight by The Harvard Lampoon

 

A parody of the Twilight series. It had its laugh out loud moments, not because they were funny. They made me laugh because they accurately described how nonsensical certain things were in the original series. Bella looking after her parents instead of it being the other way around. Her thinking that all the guys were falling for her. I could go on and on, but I won’t…

 

 

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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

 

If I was to name one pompous, pretentious book that glorified one era and was elitist as shit, I’d probably name this one! The protag is a geek, which made him better than everyone who met him. He is also a Mary Sue. He was singlemindedly solving the riddle when he suddenly just had to fall in love. The girl he fell for was introduced as an independent woman but by the end of the book, she had been successfully Hollywood-ized. There were dei ex machina of all kinds and the last one was obviously the worst. The villain’s character was cardboard thin and just in it for the money. He worked for an organization that was supposedly the worst, right? Then how come he kept failing and they never replaced him? What pissed me off, even more, was the fact that the book was marketed as YA. None of the targeted audience would have even existed in the eighties. Why add all those obscure references? Just to show off how knowledgeable the author is? Then why not write a non-fic about the subject? A quick read if you can ignore the glaring faults with this one!

 

 

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Megalodon & Prehistoric Sharks by Various Authors

 

Fun, informative book that made me thank my stars that I wasn’t born back then! Some of these bloodthirsty giants even counted the land amongst their hunting grounds. Yeesh! Check out some of the hair-raising illustrations below:

 

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Once Upon a Time Machine: Greek Gods and Legends

 

Icarus

A father-son team on a space voyage; guess which one doesn’t survive the trip?

 

Theseus and Metrotaurus

Theseus needs to board a train to meet his beloved. The metrotaurus isn’t having any of it!

 

Pandora

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The Slaying of the Pseudors (Odysseus)

Odysseus returns home to find aliens have taken over and turned his family into pterodactyl-like creatures. The rest, as they say, is history!

 

Footsteps (Hermes)

The divine messenger cannot survive going digital. Or can he?

 

Arachne

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Persephone

An alien heroine tries to convince her mother she loves Hades. A sad ending!

 

Hyperion

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Flying Horse Style (Pegasus)

Why even a chimera isn’t a match for Pegasus!

 

Aphrodite

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Daphne

Even a modern-day Zeus doesn’t know when to give up!

 

Minotaur

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Hades

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Andromeda

Andromeda isn’t going home and Perseus can go hang himself.

 

Eurydice

He tries to bring Eurydice back with a software.

 

The Muses

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Game Changers (Athena and Poseidon)

Game developers try to bring back their creation to order.

 

Away Mission (Actaeon)

A friendship that survives several alien transformations until it doesn’t!

 

The Twelve Labors of Mech-Detective Heracles

She doesn’t know how to give up!

 

Pygmalion

The classic tale, except this time, Galatea returns the favor!

 

A Heavy Stone for all the Peoples (Sisyphus)

A tale as old as time, but with a twist!

 

Eros

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Jason and the Argonauts

Gang wars break out over the golden fleece err jacket.

 

Metal Illiad

Achille’s exploits at the Battle of Troy turned into a comic strip.

 

Cerberus

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Cosmogony (Uranus)

The dominant species always ends up wrecking the world!

 

Ares

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The Long Bow (Telemachus)

Is it set in Ancient Greece or the modern times, who can tell? But Ulysses comes through for his son!

 

Zeus at Large

A comic strip about Zeus’ sexcapades.

 

Riddle of the Sphinx

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I loved all the illustrations and most of the stories in this comic compilation.

 

 

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Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

 

I read this book for the Hispanic Heritage category in Book Bingo. It started off beautifully. The descriptions of how subtly — and not so subtly — different life was on both sides of the border were juicy and well written. I loved reading about the different generations of a family and how circumstances shaped their lives and nature. When the book began, the narrator calls her grandma, the Awful Grandmother. By the end of the book, she drops the awful, and you can see why. What turned me off was how the book dragged on needlessly when it could have been wrapped up at least 100 pages earlier. I realized early that there wouldn’t be a twist and I was right. Still, the story left me wanting.

 

 

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 

 

I have always wanted to read this book but haven’t been able to woman up for this task. Once I had bought a physical copy, I even picked it up. Got as far as the first page, which sets the tone of the book, and explains that it is going to be epistolary. The book found its way back on my bookshelf and languished there, it did. Until Book Bingo because I am friends with this kooky group of girls. We all have different reading tastes so any attempts at starting a book clubs have met with a failure of the bitchy sort. What we flock towards is Bingo because it allows us to read whatever the heck we want – provided it matches the description of a Bingo square. After several months or so, one of us – usually, this person of ill-repute – wails about Bingo. The rest of us say aye and so it begins like it began this time.

 

I read The Color Purple for my Banned Book square. A perfect choice because it has been banned many times and for various reasons. It is a book that breaks your heart but also reaffirms your faith in familial love. After all, it was the sisters’ love for each other that helped them survive the cruelties of fate. You’d start reading thinking that this book recounts a tale that isn’t unique in any way. You’d be right too if the author hadn’t used clever devices like broken grammar and failed to establish Celie’s voice. Besides the writing, I also liked that Celie didn’t get back with her husband. They remained friends but she had outgrown him, so it seemed right that she didn’t go back.

 

Another thing I liked was that this book showed women behaving like women usually do: being generous and compassionate, raising other women’s kids as their own, leaving home to fulfill their dreams, being stronger than the men, and refusing to give in when it mattered.

 

A few quotes from the book:

If he (God) ever listened to poor colored women the world would be a different place.

Shug: Why any woman give a shit what people think is a nystrey to me.
Grady:  A woman can’t git a man if peoples talk.
Shug look at me and us giggle. Then us laugh sure nuff.

 

I finished the book in a few hours. It was the perfect length!

 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

 

Two pages into the book and Christopher’s autistic nature made me fall in love with him. We might find his life complicated by certain behavioral quirks. But to him, life was quite straightforward. A particular number of red cars meant a Good Day and yellow ones meant a bad one. He had plans in place for a bad day and he followed them to the letter. What did throw him off were how people said one thing but meant another. Since he couldn’t lie or bluff, he found it difficult to interpret others’ behavior when they did that. It took a lot of work for him to match a person’s expression with past experiences stored in his mental database. An animal’s life held as much value for him as a human’s, which is why he decided to work out who murdered the neighbor’s dog. His parents loved him as best as they could but they were human and lost their temper at times. This book made me realize the importance of patience. The next time I run into someone who isn’t like everybody else, I hope I have the presence of mind and the compassion to exercise some patience and accept them for who they are!

Some Christopher wisdom for us all:

I think prime numbers are like life. They are very logical but you could never work out the rules, even if you speny all your time thinking about them.

If only we were all this smart, all the time!

 

So, that was my September in a nutshell. How was yours?

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-09-23 12:34
August 2018 — A Wrap-Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on September 23, 2018.

 

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Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas

 

This series is light, entertaining, and satisfies all my once-in-a-blue-moon romance cravings. I know the setting and the characters are familiar. While they may be cut out from the same stencil: the guys are manly and stubborn and the ladies are quirky and non-traditional. These books are still fun to read! Here is my review of the previous book in this series.

 

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Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

 

This was supposed to be a steampunk book but I didn’t see much of that genre in it. Besides that, I really enjoyed reading it and will definitely be picking up the next one. My only quibble with it is the same one that I have with the graphic novel, Saga. The inclusion of colored, queer, etc. characters for the sake of inclusion seems artificial to me. I dunno, maybe I’m not used to reading about them, which is why I feel this way. The solution would be to read more off-the-path books and see if I still feel this way. Don’t see anything wrong with having more books to read. Do you?

 

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Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy

 

Ugh, this book frustrated me to no end. I don’t get why it was written in the first place. It wasn’t even interesting the way Tooth and Claw had been! If the story isn’t interesting but the characters are, that usually makes it up to me. When the characters are just plain boring or annoying too, nothing can redeem a book. It was true for this one. Fortunately, it was a small book!

 

So, I didn’t get much reading done in August and was late to post the wrap-up. Switching jobs will do that to ya!

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-24 14:12
Reading Anniversaries & First-in-a-Series — May Edition

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 24, 2018. 

 

2017

 

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The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris

 

My review said it all but if it didn’t, check out my love for Loki here!

 

 

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

 

My review can be found here.

 

 

2015

 

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The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

 

Find the review here!

 

2013

 

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The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

 

The Percy Jackson series remains a favorite. Here’s why

 

2012

 

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Urban Shaman by C. E. Murphy

 

My review of this series is here.

 

 

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Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

Loved the book.

 

The humor was just my style-the way the Yherajk communicated was a hoot.

 

What I also liked was that even though the MC was a smartass, he wasn’t made out to be a jaded guy or an agent who took advantage of other people to survive.

 

I was expecting a romance between Tom and Michell but Miranda was a far better choice.

 

The book wasn’t too long but just the right length which always wins points with me. Joshua was my favorite character.

 

Loved how the ending/unveiling was handled, as well as how the whole Holocaust movie was dealt with.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-08-19 20:41
July 2018 — A Wrap Up

 

Originally published at midureads.wordpress.com on August 19, 2018.

 

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Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs

 

“Silver”

I finally learned how Samuel and Bran became werewolves. The story is dark and violent but that seems fitting.

 

“Roses in Winter”

Asil, an aging werewolf in the Marrok’s pack is more man than beast. An innocent girl, Kara, begins to change all that.

 

“Redemption”

Ben has always been an interesting character in the Mercy series. He is misogynistic and can’t say two words without cursing. He also has a lot of baggage to deal with due to an abusive past. Yet he redeems himself in this story!

 

“Hollow”

I don’t really remember much about this one, except that it felt incomplete. Funny thing is that this one featured Mercy and I loved the one before this and the one before that.

 

“Fairy Gifts”

This is the story of Thomas the vampire who comes back home to repay a favor. I found it boring.

 

“Gray”

Elyna Gray is a vampire who must face the consequences of her actions when she killed the man she loved. Sad but interesting story.

 

“Alpha and Omega”

I have never really cared about the other series. This story takes us back to the first time Marrok’s son Charles met his wife Anna. I found it okayish. You can see the author’s uncertainty about the whole concept of Omega werewolves. She hasn’t gotten there yet and the story suffers for it.

 

“Seeing Eye”

A werewolf Tom meets a witch Moira. Gruesome things happen in this one but I liked it anyway. One thing that bothers me is why the author looks down on witches’ magic and the whole concept that it comes from pain and blood sacrifice. Even when she is describing white magic, it feels as if she is against it. Why though?

 

“The Star of David”

David Christiansen gets a family reunion that gives him a reason to continue living. Scary as heck but a feel-good story.

 

“In Red, with Pearls”

We are allowed to peek into the relationship that the werewolf Warren has with his boyfriend Kyle. While I love em both and together, I wasn’t a fan of this one. Warren was too overprotective of Kyle and not in a good way. I solved the identity of the person who hired the hit as soon as they were mentioned, which took the fun out of the story even more.

 

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Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vols. 1 & 2 by Al Ewing

 

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Classic Loki antics. Plans within plans within plans. I wasn’t crazy about this one but it wasn’t bad either. As usual, Loki is trying to do the right thing in the wrongest of ways and for worse reasons. We see a glimpse of the Avengers in the first one. The second featured Doctor Doom.

 

 

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Ms. Marvel, Vol. 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson

 

The humor characteristic of the series is seen in this volume too. Red Dagger shows up in Kamala’s playground. She celebrates Eid-ul-Azha. Kamala also runs away and finds out more people are supporting her and rooting for her than she thought. Captain Marvel makes an appearance and they patch up. In all, a fun installment. Can’t wait to read what happens next! Find my review of the previous volume here.

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The Wilds #1 & 2 by Vita Ayala

 

So, the premise is good. The U.S. plays host to a plague that is slowly turning people into plants. The art is beautiful and the confrontations with those human-plant hybrids are adequately terrifying. Of course, there is a government conspiracy going on that I suppose we’ll find out in about in the next issues. But there seems to be something missing. Mostly though, I couldn’t bring myself to care for any of the characters. That means I dunno if I will be picking up the next in the series.

 

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Moonshine, Vol. 1 by Brian Azzarello

 

A man who works for the mafia is sent to convince a rustic moonshine-maker. His boss wants to be the sole distributor of the amazing liquor. But when the poor guy reaches the place, strange things begin to happen. I liked the dark feel of the comic and the art too. Even so, like The Wilds, the something that would make me rip into the following issues eagerly isn’t there!

 

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Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

 

The wittiness of the TV series is missing from the graphic novel. It was short and the end came abruptly. The artist translated the facial features of all characters with accuracy, except for Inara’s. She didn’t look right! I am still glad I bought this book because it came with an introduction by Nathan Fillion.

 

It seems I didn’t get much reading done in July and still managed to delay blogging about it. Shit happens! How was July for you?

 

 

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