Space Opera + Graphic Novel = wonderful

Saga Volume Four by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

As I have previously mentioned, I love Saga. It’s an amazing series which I’m getting depressingly close to being caught up on.

The general pitch for the series is two planets have been at war for generations when a soldier from each side fall in love, marry and have a child which should be impossible. Governments across the galaxy are frantic to get their hands on the baby. The series followed the family as they struggle their way through parenting, marriage and being on the run, but also the people who are hunting them.

If you haven’t read it and are going to, stop here with this recommendation: It’s amazing.

After this point there might be spoilers for the last three books.

Volume Four starts with Prince IV’s son being born, while he is off world wasting time on Sextillion (the sex planet), Alana struggling with her newly established acting career, Marko fumbling his way through being the stay at home parent and The Will’s sister The Brand looking for a way to wake him from his coma.

In addition to the beautiful graphics in this book, the complicated characters and intriguing plot there is also a very basic, human story too. What it means to in a relationship, how easy it for every day stresses to come between people who love each other. What being part of a family means, the good and the bad that love can drive you to. What it means to be a parent and have to put someone else’s needs before your own all the time.

Just a heads up – there’s a lot of mature and graphic content of all varieties – violence, sex, drugs  it’s all in there.

The series is amazing though. I really recommend it.

Last movie I watched:

Part of Deadpool. I love it.

Last TV episode I watched:

Smallville. It’s got a lot of evolution as a show. I think it’s a good thing.

 

Meta Fan Fiction

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Sometimes ago I read and loved (like really, really, really loved) Fangirl. So I decided to read Carry On which is not the sequel to Fangirl. In Fangirl, Cath is writing a piece of fanfiction for a series called Simon Snow. Carry On is not that piece of fanfiction. Nor is it the original Simon Snow story. It’s an original fanfiction for a fictional story. Even better, it’s a slash fiction.

So Simon (who starts out approximately as Harry Potter) is the prophesied savoir of a magical world that exists as part of ours. It’s his last year at Watford and the inevitable showdown between Simon, his friends and the Mage and the Insidious Humdrum. But what’s on his mind most of the time? How his relationship with his girlfriend Agatha doesn’t feel right and where on earth his archenemy/roommate Baz? But everything’s more complicated then anyone realizes.

This book is really hard to talk about without spoiling but here’s what I can say. You think at the start because the story is a little Harry Potter-esk that it will continue to be Harry Potter-esk and end with an epic showdown that is entertaining and a little cliched but you are wrong. I’m telling you the plot twists are pretty out of left field, which is awesome. The other great thing is the Baz and Simon relationship.  It’s so nice it is to see a same sex couple that aren’t there for tokenism but are actually well developed and interesting both as individuals in a relationship and the relationship itself.

I recommend it. Strongly.

And, yes, I checked, there is fanfiction for the fictional story made up for another fictional story’s fanfiction. It’s great.

Last movie I watched:

Still Karate Kid. I really liked it. Somehow I failed at being a child of the 80s. I’d never seen it.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers still. So fun.

How to start a family

Double Pregnant: Two Lesbians Make a Family by Natalie D. Meisner

This thin little novel is a rare piece of nonfiction for me. It’s the true story of a lesbian couple in Canada who decide they want to have a baby, and then a baby each and then because their doctors advise them that they’re too old to wait a baby each at the same time. Thus begins their quest to find a sperm donor, successfully inseminate, get through two pregnancies and survive two labours.  It is a love story and a relationship story and an LGBTQ story and parenting story and overall a great read.

Being a true story, Meisner doesn’t hide the dirtier truths about relationships, hurt feelings, miscarriages, grief, broken promises, uncomfortable situations and generally being directionless in your adult life and that makes the book striking and interesting. I also like how comforting it is to read stories about people who are like you – struggling with where they want to be but determined to fulfill their goals, in love but vulnerable and afraid sometimes and facing the unique challenges of being a lesbian couple.

The language is beautiful, particularly Meisner’s description of her wife and their children, both born and unborn.

All around loved it.

Last movie I watched:

The end of Star Trek Beyond. It didn’t get better. I’m disappointed.

Last TV episode I watched:

One of the final ones in Supernatural season 11. So they killed God I guess?

It’s getting more magical!

Cainesville Book 2: Visions by Kelley Armstrong

Everyone is really lucky I couldn’t figure out  how to spell the excited noises I shouted when I finished this book. Otherwise this blog post would have just been a string of crazy excited noises spelled out.

Because I want to encourage people to read these books (because they are awesome) I’m going to try not to spoil anything. But I’m pretty sure there’s no way to do this without spoiling a little bit of Omens, the first book in the series. So, if you think there’s the slightest change you’d enjoy this series (and if you don’t think you would, I’m sorry) leave now.Just go.

Visions takes place soon after the events of Omens, when Olivia returns to parent’s home to get some of her stuff . When she returns to her car she finds a dead body sitting in it. After this terrifying incident Gabrielle and Olivia are on the case again, not only trying to clear her biological parents of the six murders they are still serving time for but also investigating the death of this young woman. And it turns out, investigating the murder of this young women will bring them closer and closer to the secret of Cainesville, reveal some new enemies and lead them to some new allies.

Where the first book was a weird but exciting blend of science fiction and magic, this book is definitely leaning more to the magical side, and I’m pretty excited about it. The story draws on a lot of mythological history but also very subtly. As more of the residents of Cainesville start to show their real identities the mix of first person and third person narration makes it practically impossible not to speculate about who’s who and shout agitatedly at Olivia and Gabrielle as they fumble around the truth. Or maybe other people don’t talk to fictional characters. It made it nearly impossible for me not to anyway.

While I don’t necessarily advocate monitoring what children and teens are reading based on content  this book has a lot more sex than the last one, so it probably belongs in the adult section of the library. But if you are okay with the sex, like a little romance, a little mystery, a little science fiction, a little fantasy or a mix of any of these, I really can’t emphasis enough how much you’ll like this book.

That’s all I can say about that without telling everyone about all the amazing things i’m going to accidentally spoil for them.

Last movie I watched: About Time. Still a favourite

Last TV episode I watched: Love it or List It maybe? DAMN IT HILARY.

Fairy tale + detective genre = Fairly Good

Fairest: Of Men and Mice by Marc Andreyko and Shawn McManus

Fables is a graphic novel series that I have not read. I believe Fairest is a spin off series from Fables, and with the exception of Men and Mice, I haven’t read it either. I was just looking for something quickly in the graphic novel section and I grabbed it. Because that’s what I do.

Fairest focuses on the fairy tale princesses in a world that’s a mix of fantasy, gritty detective and modern. Cinderella is on the hunt for Fairy Godmother, whose being targeted by a bunch of half man, half rats. As part of a network of former princesses, Cindy has support from some other ladies, a few former lovers and the creatures from across stories and nursery rhymes.

I think it’s probably a really good story, although without the proper context it was a little hard to follow. The interesting fairy tale tie ins everywhere reminded me of a darker, grimmer, sexier Once Upon a Time.

Unfortunately that’s one of the downsides to it. Like most comics, the women are drawn in an overly sexy way, and seem to be very driven by their sexuality. I don’t really know what I was expecting but it was pretty obvious that, although it’s a graphic novel about women, it’s really written for straight men .

That’s okay I guess. I’m just a little disappointed.

Last movie I watched:

No idea. It was a long time ago.

Last TV episode I watched:

Most of  a Futurama. Which was hilarious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first experience with Kelley Armstrong

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

I met Kelley Armstrong once at the library I was working at. She came to do a book signing. She was really nice but I hadn’t read any of her books.

Now I have. And it was amazing.

Omens is a fantastic book about a wealthy young woman who has everything going for her. Olivia  is engaged to a man who will run for senator in a few years. She doesn’t have to work so she focuses her time on pursuing her interests in Victorian literature and volunteering. But despite it all, she doesn’t feel quite right. Then one day her whole world comes shattering down when she learns that she’s not who she thinks she is – she was adopted at age three and her birth parents are serial killers. Her mom doesn’t know how to deal with it. Her fiancee wants to postpone the wedding. The media is having a field day. Olivia bolts. Betrayed by the people she thinks she can count on she is determined to make it on her own. But it’s harder than it looks and she finds herself in a little town called Cainsville. The people are welcoming, the rent is affordable but something about the place is just a little creepy. There, with the help of a lawyer, Gabriel Walsh from Cainsville who also represented her birth mother, Olivia sets out to find out exactly who parents are and follows the leads to some unlikely places.

This book is really neat. It’s got just a slight hint of supernatural and science fiction in it and it’s pretty unlike any other series I’ve ever read because of it. Armstrong does a great job of mixing a creepy, superstitious tone in with an depressingly feasible science fiction plot and a mystery all in one. Olivia and Gabriel are realistic and cool characters. The supporting cast of Cainsville residents are charming. While most of the story is told in first person, there are some short chapters scattered through the story offer really interesting insights and hints about the story. While I normally don’t like inconsistency in narration, in this book it just teases a little and makes the story very compelling.

Because there are so many potential spoilers and I enjoyed it so much, I’m having a hard time talking about the story. I’m reading the second one now, so I suppose tune in later for a more comprehensive (and spoilers) discussion of this book.

Last movie I watched:

Still probably the Back Up Plan

Last TV episode I watched:

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I can even deal with how funny that show is. Fancy ceiling lamp. Hilarious.

 

 

 

Simply the best, possibly ever

The Story of Owen Dragonslayer of Trondheim by E K Johnston

There’s pretty much nothing about this book that I didn’t one hundred percent love.

Owen’s aunt Lottie is the most famous dragon slayer in Canada, possibly the world. But when she’s injured in  massive fight on the Burlington Skyway, trying to protect a few foolish reporters, that all changes. After her injury she and her family retreat to a small town called Trondheim where Owen starts high school and meets Siobhan, a very ordinary teenage girl. But Lottie has bigger plans for Owen, Siobhan and the rest of the high school that will change the country and the tradition of dragon slaying forever.

There are a couple hundred reasons this book is amazing. Due to time restrains, I’ll settle four, or five maybe. Six? I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes.

  1. It’s a true and proud Canadian story. It’s a nice change to see our geography and culture reflected in a book. Sure, when you live in New York, you see your hometown all the time, but if you live in rural Ontario – not so much. It’s kind of fun to think “oh yeah! I too have been stuck in traffic on the Burlington Skyway!” “I also have struggled with the frustration of waiting for things to come from Queens Park!” So, yeah that’s a good point.
  2. Incredible world building. It is completely solid, answering the question of what our world would look like if it was exactly the same, but if there were also dragons. A good two thirds of the book is basically really detailed, funny world building.
  3. Lottie and her wife Hannah are seamlessly integrated into the story. Generally,  LGTBQ characters are few and far between, and generally when they make an appearance they’re there as LGBTQ people, so I’m always excited to see gay characters who are well rounded actual characters, with their sexuality making up part of them, but not their whole identity. Add in a happy, stable relationship and it’s pretty much the best thing ever.
  4. Zero romance between the two main characters – how unusual and refreshing is that in a YA novel? Teens get really caught up in the romance aspect of books, even books that aren’t about romance, so I always get excited when I see a friend relationship develop, because they are equally important.
  5. I have always loved the point of view of the sidekick. Not that the hero isn’t great, but I think it adds a level of complexity  to the story.
  6. Empowering teens to change their world. Challenging traditions. Questioning the corporate control of resources and people. All interesting and great, particularly in YA lit. Plus – dragons.

There’s a second one. I haven’t read it yet but I’m so excited.

Last movie I watched:

Inside Out. Still so many feelings

Last TV show I watched:

Game of Thrones. Ouch. Major ouch.