I’ve previously said that March was the month in which I finally read all the comics I had out from the library. Yeah, that wasn’t strictly accurate. But I read some novels too – honest!
John Constantine, Hellblazer, Volume 14: Good Intentions – Brian Azzarello et. al. Even for Hellblazer, this was dark. Constantine in America has never really worked for me, but this run sees him locked up in a maximum security prison. Nothing good happens – for or to anyone – but, man, is it a good read (that’s sadly let down by the poor interior art).
John Constantine, Hellblazer, Volume 15: Highwater – Brian Azzarello et. al. Can we take a minute to discuss the terrible cover art? So far in these collected volumes the cover art has been gorgeous (see Volume 14 for example) so what the fuck happened here? There’s some weird neo-Nazi stuff in here, and I remain unconvinced by the mere idea of John Constantine in the US of A, but it was a solid enough read.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 04: Original Sin – Brian Michael Bendis, Ed McGuinness & Valerio Schiti. Not having read a lot of Guardians of the Galaxy before, I had no idea about anything this volume referred back to. Cancerverse? Everyone died? No clue. And once that was all dealt with, the story moves on to Flash Thompson who I’ve never heard of before in my life. So that was all very confusing. But, hey, Venom was there and it turns out there’s a whole planet of Venoms so that was a bit fun. Which sums up my experience of this volume – confusing but a bit fun.
Guardians of the Galaxy, New Guard, Volume 01: Emperor Quill – Brian Michael Bendis & Valerio Schiti. I was vaguely aware that Kitty Pryde had been dating Peter Quill, but I didn’t realise it was still a thing. And I certainly didn’t realise she’d left the X-Men to go galavanting about the galaxy. And the Thing is there too, an initially confusing addition until you’re reminded that way back in the day he worked with experimental spacecraft. So, okay, two random characters and the remnants of the Guardians. Odd. There’s pretty much no set-up to the New Guard and the Spartax storyline is dull as dish water, but, hey, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read.
Guardians of the Galaxy, New Guard, Volume 02: New Galactic Order – Brian Michael Bendis and Valerio Schiti. Hey, look, there’s Angela! And she’s up to stuff. Just like the rest of the Guardians. So Gamora decides to punch her. Obviously. And do you know something? I remember absolutely nothing else about this volume, so that’s probably not a good sign.
Marvel Universe Guardian’s of the Galaxy, Volume 03 – Joe Caramagna and Various. Even allowing for the fact that this is stills from a cartoon turned into a comic aimed at kids this was dreadful.
Norse Mythology – Neil Gaiman. I’m going to say upfront that this book didn’t suit my mood when I read it, which is why I only gave it three stars on Goodreads. That said, it’s an excellent introduction to Norse myths and legends, split into stories that give us an overview of the Norse gods from their beginning to their end. Gaiman manages to keep all the characters and locations separate and distinct, and retells events in an almost lyrical way that harks back to the oral tradition that transmitted these stories in the first place. It would be a glorious thing to read aloud, I think.
Inhumanity – Matt Fraction, Olivier Coipel et. al. With the exception of Medusa’s excellent hair, I have no interest in the Inhumans. Marvel are determined to make me take an interest, but I’m not falling for it Marvel, and this volume hasn’t changed my mind. It has increased my interest in Spider-Girl though, who has an interesting arc in the middle of all the madness, so it wasn’t a totally wasted read.
X-Men, The Hidden Years: Worlds Within Worlds! – John Byrne and Tom Palmer. I love these little pocketbook reprints. I’ve read so many storylines I would have missed otherwise thanks to them, and this is no exception. I’ve read a handful of Hidden Years issues before but nothing major. To be fair, I don’t think I was really missing out on anything but that’s not the point 😉 This volume features Polaris, a Dazzler who’s not the Dazzler and Kraven the Hunter (who I’ve only ever been able to take seriously in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl). So, something for everyone basically.
Earthling – Aisha Franz. A dark, melancholy look at the lives of two sisters and their mother, Earthling is beautifully illustrated but something about the writing never fully connected with me (which could be a translation issue).
All We Shall Know – Donal Ryan. <3 <3 <3 After reading his debut novel The Spinning Heart, Donal Ryan was catapulted into my favourite authors list. All We Shall Know has elements in common with The Spinning Heart – broken lives, broken dreams, a broken economy – and it’s just as good, if not better. Ryan takes a simple story (a woman carrying a child that’s not her husband’s) and drills down into it, revealing complicated characters that aren’t always sympathetic but who keep you turning the page compulsively. There’s a lot of sadness in All We Shall Know, and a lot of humour. There’s defiance and perseverance. And there’s the realisation that sometimes we can never really know everything about ourselves, never mind anyone else. Recommended!
Ink and Bone – Rachel Caine. Despite picking this up after reading some really good reviews of it, I was still surprised by how much I ended up loving it. I’ve been burned by a lot of books about books that people have raved about but that I ended up finding underwhelming. (Poor me, I know.) But this one? Take one part Egyptian mythology, one part steampunk, one part giant world-controlling library, one part revolution, one part heart-shattering scene that is about war and how awful and terrible and pointless it is, and, like, fifteen parts awesome and you have Ink and Bone. PLUS, it has LGBT representation which isn’t even blinked at/made a big deal of/noteworthy in the world the characters inhabit. If I could draw pink sparkly hearts around this review, I would.
Paper and Fire – Rachel Caine. Luckily, having put off reading Ink and Bone for so long, I had the sequel available to dive right into. It’s almost like I planned it, right? To sum up Paper and Fire, I present to you the following sentence – THE WELSH ARE COMING!!!! Having previously lived in Wales (and in England), I have a lot of love for this storyline. But even if you totally don’t understand why it’s exciting in any way, Rachel Caine uses the advancing Welsh army to show us the horror and futility of war. She doesn’t mess around with it either. People die. Mistakes are made. Is there such a thing as a good guy? And all of that is really just a secondary plot. Although it’s not quite up to the standard of Ink and Bone, please imagine more pink sparkly hearts here.
The Women in the Walls – Amy Lukavics. And then there’s this book. This book gets no pink sparkly hearts. The Women in the Walls has a fantastic concept and a blurb that promises SO MUCH. Unfortunately, the characters (both main and secondary) are so painfully unbelievable that I still cringe thinking about it. The horror elements are all there but due to a few things (terrible characters, nonsensical activities, a truly underwhelming denouement) they never come together. Avoid.
The Darkest Part of the Forest – Holly Black. I know a lot of people don’t enjoy Holly Black but I always find her spin on YA tropes entertaining as hell and The Darkest Part of the Forest is no exception. Hazel and Ben live in a town that’s unremarkable in every way. Oh, except for the guy in a glass coffin in the forest. And sure, sometimes tourists go missing, but tourists will be tourists, right? Probably best not to look into that one too deeply. Featuring a fairy prince, a knight errant, and a teenage girl who (bet you didn’t see this one coming) just might be more than meets the eye.
The Lost Work of Will Eisner – Andrew Karl (ed.). A really well produced and researched book, but not one that I found particularly interesting.
The Rules of Civility – Amor Towles. Once I got over my judgemental disbelief at the main character being called Katey Kontent (I mean, c’mon), I raced through this tale of the roaring ’20s. I honestly don’t know what to say about this but click on the link, read the blurb and read it. You probably won’t regret it.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald. Let’s get this out of the way immediately – The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is not a believable book. The whole storyline is based on a series of events that are outlandish, to put it mildly. But it doesn’t matter because The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is so fucking charming my heart is clenching (with joy) just thinking about. Sara travels to America to meet her penpal Amy, but the welcome she receives isn’t quite what she expects. And then there are lots and lots of books, and awkwardness, and more books, and a romance, and a bookshop. If you’re looking for a fun, funny and charming book, look no further.