The ongoing Saga

Saga Volume 5 by Fiona Staples and Brian K Vaughan

So I read this months ago, but it’s so great so I wanted to write about it, even though I don’t remember any intelligent things to say about it.

Alana and Marko have been separated. Alana is with Hazel and her mother-in-law, kidnapped and Marko is searching for them, hell bent on getting his family back. The Will is in a coma and a crew of people are looking for a cure to save him.

The illustrations are stunning, the story is full of sex, drugs and swearing but all of the beautiful intricacies of love, grief, loss, addiction and parenting.

The last movie I watched:

Mulan. Love it.

Last TV show I watched:

Outlander episode one. So far, I’m sold.

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.

The other side of the Second World War

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielson

This is an amazing older children or young adult book about Berlin after the end of the Second World War. Now, previously my history on that subject is a little dicey. As I recall it went something like “And then the Allies won the war and divided up Berlin with a wall, which was eventually torn down but we’ll cover that later in the semester”. We didn’t.

Gerta’s Papa and brother cross the into West Berlin one night to see if there’s a job for Papa there, away from the censorship and depression of East Berlin. That night, the Soviets  put up a fence, cutting Gerta off from half her family. Slowly over the next few years it turns from a fence to a wall to a manned wall and an overbearing state presence that controls every part of her life. One day she sees her father watching from the other side of the wall and he’s trying to tell her something, a way to bring them all back together. But it will mean becoming an enemy of the state and risking not just her life, but her family and friends as well.

This story is an incredibly moving depiction of a young person dreaming in a world that crushes dreams. Obviously the subject matter is a little complicated and if you’re not reading it with your child or your class you should still be prepared to have a talk with your young person about the historical context and the effects of war more broadly. This is a serious story, with only the lightest touch of humour in it  but a really moving and genuine, particularly focusing on the strength of relationships between people in hard times and that keeps it from being totally depressing. Also, the writing is very on point – if you’re not feeling nervous for the whole last half, I’m not sure you’re a human.

I strongly recommend this book (seriously) and I would recommend it even if it didn’t seem quite timely, given the current political climate. In today’s context, I think it’s even more important as a study in empathy, sympathy and for its unwavering conviction that people who do bad things are not always bad people but desperate ones and that people will defend their families no matter what the risk. This power shouldn’t be underestimated.

Last movie I watched: I have no idea. It might have been Home. It might not have been.

Last TV episode I watched: Smallville. I missed the season finale for this season (8 I think). I have to say, it’s very edge of your seat excitementy.

 

 

My first ever Korman

On the Run: Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman

The On the Run series is the stories of two children who’s parents were arrested for treason and they were sent to a detention farm but they know they have to escape to find a way to prove their parents are innocent. So they’re forced to become fugitives and head out on a quest, without an adult.

It’s a really short, easy read, clearly a step into chapter books kind of story. But it’s fast paced, fun and almost certainly a good choice for kids who like adventure and are looking for the chapter books that will help them move to reading at a higher level.

Lucky for them there are like 800 million Korman books, so if this makes a good impression, your kid is set for reading material until high school.

Last movie I watched:

Might have been Die Hard 2. Also might not have been.

Last TV show I watched:

A bit of the Crown. It’s really slow, but somehow completely captivating.

Way Better Than the Day After Tomorrow

The Dark Gravity Sequence: The Arctic Code by Matthew J Kirby

This book takes takes place in not so distance future when half the world is covered in ice and snow. It starts in Phoenix, with a young girl named Eleanor. Most of her friends are refugees, who fled to Phoenix from the rest of the United States when it became too cold for people to live, and live in cramped, underpowered apartment towers but because her mother works for one of the biggest oil companies in the world she and her uncle Jack have their own house. Eleanor never feels like she fits in, so when she receives a strange message from her mother, who then goes missing in the Arctic, Eleanor doesn’t overthink going north to look for her mom. But her mother is involved in something much bigger than anyone ever realized and nothing less than the fate of the world is at stake.

This is a really great book. Eleanor is a plucky, lovable hero who’s impulsive decisions regularly cause problems but it makes her more real, more interesting and more relatable. One of my favourite things about her is she has no father – her mother wanted a child, didn’t have a spouse and used a sperm bank. The reality of the world is that there are lots of children with families that look a little different, and it’s great to see them represented in a casual, realistic way. The group of adults who support and protect Eleanor and later the other kids do a good job of not showing up being all knowing vestals of wisdom, just slightly older people who don’t know how to protect what they love, exactly the same as the kids.

It’s a great children’s adventure book, it moves quickly and builds towards a very exciting climax that sets up the next books pretty well. I’m excited to read them.

Also there’s a mammoth. You can’t really go wrong with a mammoth.

Conclusion: recommend. Also love.

Last movie I watched:

Might still be Victor Frankenstein. Ugh.

Last TV show I watched:

Touch! It’s getting more Heroes-esk every episode but I’m already on the 2nd session and it’s not notably worse than the first, so it’s better than Heroes in a lot of ways.

A dud. They have to happen sometimes

The Black Stallion and the Lost City by Steven Farley

I picked up this book years ago after the series was withdrawn from the library I was working in at the time. The library usually couldn’t keep serial horse fiction on the shelves they were so popular, so I was surprised this one was withdrawn. Until I read it, and then it made sense.

This book wasn’t really bad, it just wasn’t really anything. The story starts with the Black and Alex, his rider, in Greece filming a movie about Alexander the Great. Shooting is disrupted one day so the Black, Alex and a friend go out on a ride, come across a beautiful white mare and end up following her into a mythical city were people drink magical water that keeps them young and healthy for a very long time, and spoiler alert, at the end of their lives are fed to the sacred fleshing eating horses from Greek Mythology.

The story is fine I suppose but unoriginal. The writing style is flat and uninteresting. The characters are generally characterless and the mystery of the city is ruined by the flap on the cover, so as a reader it’s just a matter of time before the story unfolds. It’s not even bad enough to real blog critically about.

There is no chance of me recommending this book. I’m not sorry I read it, even though it took forever because there was no narrative drive, I’m just probably never going to think of it ever again.

Last movie I watched:

X-men Apocalypse I think? If so, it was way better than I thought it would be.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Fosters. It’s a great show. I love it. They might be getting a little extreme about creating enough drama for this to go on as long as it has, but I love it anyway.