Hello! This blog hasn't been updated in forever! Mainly because I've been busy with things I haven't told you about: VanCaf (two thumbs up! It was unbearably lovely), a trip to Houston (too hot, typical family visit, although I did go to NASA and that was cool), friends' wedding (lovely and beautiful and in a place with no cellphone or internet so ridiculously and surprisingly relaxing) and finally, a trip to San Diego to visit a dear friend (the week before SDCC so it actually WAS relaxing and we sat and watched people on the beach and watched half of The Flash season one and it was great.) So yes, I've been bouncing around the West Coast of North America (with a dash down south), getting not too terribly much done. I'm currently working on a rough draft of a project which I will talk more about when it's further along so look forward to that!
I do feel bad, though, because I want this blog to be more active and so, I've decided to try a weekly Friday update with a short review of the various books I've read in the previous week. I tend to read a lot (although not as much as I used to back when I had a commute and work at a bookstore) and although I do talk about them on Twitter a bit, I'd like to actually set my thoughts down on a blog and give you guys a space to see my actual opinions. Some weeks I might only get through a single book and some weeks I might get through several but at least it gives me an excuse for weekly updates. So, on that note, here goes!
This week features: several comics and trades as well as a great YA
Writer: Kurt Busiek Artist: Benjamin Dewey
I'm horrible, HORRIBLE at reading floppies so I tend to wait for trades before I actually sit down and read ongoing series. I'd been really looking forward to this, though, as I'm a huge fan of Ben Dewey and his art and this looked SPECTACULAR. I, of course, would not be let down by him. His art is phenomenal and engaging, pulling you right away into this magical, unfamiliar world. That's helpful as, as interesting as the story is, Busiek's writing isn't the easiest to parse and it is even off-putting at times, to the point where I felt encouraged to skim because there was no way I was going to understand what he was going for. I understand using technical jargon and world building through not explaining and I admire it when done correctly but this felt too much too soon in the earlier chapters. Once you get past the first chapter, however, and you feel more in pace with the characters, it's easier to fall in line and it's no longer a fight between you and the author. The danger felt real, the pacing was right and the character design was flawless. I only look forward to see where this goes next.
Writer: Kieron Gillen Artist Jamie McKelvie Colorist: Matthew Wilson
For some reason, I'm constantly surprised by how much I love WicDiv. Music usually isn't my thing; I was never that kid in high school that felt a connection to the music and sat alone in my room listening to albums. I've always been much more connected to books and narratives and thus, stories about peoples' mystical connection to music have always been difficult for me to empathize with. The mystery aspect of WicDiv, though, engages me so much that I think it makes up for everything else. I'm constantly impressed by the way Gillen manages the twists and turns of his plot and he is one of the few writers that can still surprise me over and over again. I honestly don't know where he's going half the time and that impresses me. McKelvie's art fits the story like a glove, his clean lines and perfectly posed figures. It'll be interesting to see the next arc with guest artists because, as exciting as it is seeing new people drawing these characters, a part of me can't imagine WicDiv without McKelvie. Normally, I'm not one to notice small details but in WicDiv, I don't think you can get away without praising the colorist, Matt Wilson. His work is the ribbon that pulls this whole thing together. It's one of the few ongoing comics that I actively look forward to and this second trade blew me away as much as the first.
Writer & Artist: Michael Cho
I grabbed this at the library mainly because I thought the art looked lovely and I can confirm: after reading the entire book, the art is, indeed, lovely. I love the toning with black, white and pink. I love his style and the way he draws his characters. I love the way sections of the book are blocked off by lovely cityscapes. The art is lovely and I would definitely look for more from him. Unfortunately, the story is quite cliche and I found myself giving a little disappointed 'oh' at the end, when I realized it was going to end exactly as I figured it would from page two. There were some great bits in the middle where it had the potential to go down roads less travelled in narratives like this but, ultimately, it stuck to the safe path. Uplifiting if you've never read that kind of story or you need that message in your life at the moment but read as more of the same to me. Still, Cho's art was great and I definitely would like to track down more from him and see if he's tackled anything else with more finesse. He's got the potential.
A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin
When I heard the synopsis for this on BookRiot a few months ago, I knew I had to track it down once I got the chance. It sounded so far up my alley, it potentially lived at my house. A bunch of girls in Regency England training to be spies? Yes, please. Our heroine is engaging and likable, our hero is easy to root for and it introduces characters that I'll be happy to read about in books to come. You could tell while reading that Tess is going to be the heroine of book two and I'm interested in that, for sure, but I think the girl I'm most excited to hear more about is Jane, the other girl who stood out to me as less 'typical YA heroine' than the rest. I'd also love to hear more about Miss Stranje herself, who seems to have her own very interesting backstory. Not to mention that this book did not end with your stereotypical, all the ribbons tied up and all's well ending so it'll be nice to see what Georgie and Sebastian have coming up for them. It's also one of the first YA series I've read to tackle alternate history, something I'm very excited to explore. A great first book that introduces a series that I'm sure will only increase in popularity as more people discover it. I cannot wait for book two, myself.