September 2022 Wrap-up

My first two weeks of September I spent with hideous headaches and nausea. I finally went to see my doctor and she leaned towards what I has suspected already: my new night brace was too tight and made my bruxism worse. Not wearing the brace at night obviously didn‘t help. I had my brace redone, got pretty heavy pain medication for my headache and aching teeth and face. The right side of my face still hurts, but I‘m doing some exercises and I hope that I can stop with the pain killers soon. I am supposed to get manual therapy for my jaw muscles, neck and shoulders, but none of the local therapists have free slots until January. Oh well. We have a great manual therapist at work who did some work on my neck and stuck me under an infrared lamp. That helped a lot.

I was on a conference in Bremen for four days and my Corona App turned dark red for all of those days. Fabulous. So far I feel fine, disregarding my other pain…

Despite feeling pretty crap for most of September, I still managed to get some reading done…

Sword Dance ★★★¾☆ ebook, m/m romance and mystery in a greco-roman fantasy world.
– Eversion ★★★★¼ audio, Gothic steampunk time-travel space-exploration mystery.
– Ruby Fever (Hidden Legacy #6) ★★★★☆ ebook, another one with Catalina.
– The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2) ★★★★★ ebook, great continuation of Ship of Magic
– Defender (Foreigner #5) ★★★★½ audio, blast-off!
– The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes ★★★½☆ audio, finally finished this one. Some known stories, like The Speckled Band, some more obscure ones as well.
– The Cool Aunt (Hidden Legacy #5.1) ★★★★☆, short, online, set after Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy #5)
– The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles #4), DNF at 45% in August. Finally decided to dump it.
– The Girl Beneath the Sea (Underwater Investigation Unit #1) ★★★¼☆ audio, police diver with treasure-hunter dad chases down drug traffickers in South Florida.

Short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)
– TUNNELS by Eleanor Arnason. This was a pretty wacky story. Lydia is in a pickle and needs to rescue herself… I loved the alien and the world was definitely interesting. Hoot hoot hoot! ★★★★½ For free here: https://www.asimovs.com/assets/1/6/Tu…
– TEST 4 ECHO by Peter Watts. AI and illegal propagation? ★★★★☆ For free here: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fi…
– UMA by Ken Liu. Our hero uses an avatar to save some people… This one was fun! ★★★★★ For free here: https://web.archive.org/web/202009251…

Comics:
– Lunatic (Moon Knight 2016-2017) by Jeff Lemire ★★★★★ eComic. Wacky! Loved it.
– The Bottom (Moon Knight 2006, Vol. 1) by Charlie Huston ★★★★★ eComic. Much darker and grimmer, a lot of blood and gore…

Currently reading:
– Midnight Sun (Moon Knight 2006, Vol. 2) by Charlie Huston, eComic

Carry-over:
– How the Earth Works, audio
– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– She-Hulk, Attorney at Law, S1, Eps 3-5 ★★★☆☆ it‘s ok, I don‘t feel compelled to continue.
– The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, S1, Eps 3-4 ★★★½☆ nicely done, but leaving me untouched so far. Meh.
– Jurassic World Dominion ★★½☆☆ Oh my, what were they thinking? The plot was a mess and so much stuff was regurgitated.
– Day Shift ★★★☆☆ vampire action comedy with Jamie Foxx, entertaining enough.

Crime Noir meets Moon Knight, slasher style…

The Bottom (Moon Knight, #1)
by Charlie HustonDavid Finch (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is a much grimmer Moon Knight than the version by Jeff Lemire. That one was lighter, entertaining action. Here the world is darker and much grimmer. Moon Knight has lost a fight, was badly injured and ceased being a hero. The title seems to indicated where Marc Spector is at the beginning of this comic—the bottom. 

The artwork is darker as well, with a very plastic look. Which I like. Although we are a bit over the top anatomically and occasionally slightly off with the proportions. Which I don‘t like. The look of that first villain is also pretty creepy. So quite a different kettle of fish to Jeff Lemire‘s Lunatic. Violent and bloody.

Chapter #1 shows us Moon Knight in his prime and then Marc Spector at the bottom…

Chapter #2 shows us how he got there. He is badly injured in a fight and gives himself up. Lost faith, maybe? In Konshu and/or himself?

Frenchie, Marlene and Crawley make an appearance, so I guess they are recurring characters.

We get some backstory, mixed with Spector struggling away from that bottom. Well told. Oh, and there seems to be a Batcave-type deal…

I have never read anything by Charlie Huston. I might take a look at Already Dead. Crime Noir with vampires in New York sounds tempting. 

This was good, in quite a different way to Jeff Lemire. Collects issues #1-6. Onwards to volume 2.

Egypt, the Moon and Beyond… This is nuts!

Lunatic (Moon Knight, #1)
by Jeff LemireGreg Smallwood (Illustrator)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Yes, I‘ve seen the mini series on Disney+ in June 2022. This is what I wrote in my June Wrap-up: S1, Not bad, but a lot silly. ★★★½☆

And yes again, that‘s why I got this comic. Everybody seemed to read it after watching the TV adaptation. To be honest, my days of superheroes seem to be a thing of the past. So, uphill struggle! On the plus side, I am a Lemire fan. I loved the Descender/Ascender comics.

Ok then, let‘s start… in Egypt! Which is a location in the TV series as well. Excuse my ignorance, if fans of the series are rolling their eyes now, in case this is a doozy. Never read any of the comics before!


Then we go off on a weird tangent… Bertrand Crawley, anybody? *shrugs* 


Oh, hold on, we are in a hospital in the TV series as well, right? Here we start with it though.

What is real, Egypt or the hospital? Marc Spector doesn‘t know. We don‘t either. He seems to have been institutionalized since he was 12 years old… or maybe not? Time to find out, with a little help… or maybe it doesn‘t actually matter, what is real?


Good sense of humour, good pacing, likable characters, well plotted. 

Unexpected ending to issue #4! And then it really got wacky in issue #5! Wut? Cool 2-page spread! Nice artwork! Surprising change in style. And then again… and again… huh? Rollercoaster ride!

I really like the different technique used to portrait Konshu. Too bad I don‘t like the guy. I was gonna say Nice Finish! And then I was screwed again. What on Earth were they smoking when they did issue #5? The heck? I am so confused! That was bloody brilliant. Is there another volume? 

Collecting Moon Knight (2016-2017) Issues #1-5.

August Wrap-Up

August 2022: …stop it for a moment… August already, goodness me, wasn‘t it just January?

Ship of Magic (Liveship Traders #1) ★★★★★ paper, I unexpectedly really liked this. Took me 4 weeks to read it, but the characters and the world really came to life! Enjoying the sequel so far. Seamless continuation.
– Soul Taken (Mercy Thompson #13) ★★★★¾ ebook, entertaining brain candy with werewolves, vampires and fae. Maybe getting a little tired now, Ms Briggs?
– Inheritor (Foreigner #3) ★★★★☆ Audio, my second try and this time I had fun. Yay!
Precursor (Foreigner #4) ★★★★½ audio, Atevi in space! Even better!
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain (Singing Hills #2) ★★★★☆ ebook, our cleric Chih has to narrate themself out of a prickly situation with three tigers.
– The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Engineer‘s Thumb / The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor ★★★☆☆

Ongoing short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: 
– TEXTBOOKS IN THE ATTIC by S.B. Divya — climate change has flooded towns, antibiotics are rare for those less privileged. A mother searches for a way to save her son. ★★★★★ More on tor.com: https://www.tor.com/author/s-b-divya/
– SEEDING THE MOUNTAIN by M. L. Clark — I am definitely not a fan of sentences running pages long, stuffed full of superfluous adverbs and adjectives. Hard pass. ★☆☆☆☆
– KNOCK, KNOCK SAID THE SHIP by Rati Mehrotra — Deenu works on a trading ship with a slightly disturbed AI. When the ship is attacked, she has to decide where her loyalties lie. ★★★★★
– STILL YOU LINGER, LIKE SOOT IN THE AIR by Matthew Kressel — Gil is a priest of Muu, a alien intelligence, who has „abilities that seem to defy known physical laws of nature.” In other words, Muu is a god. Gil lost his pupil and lover and struggles to come to terms with his loss and his entrapment by Muu. ★★★★☆ Can be read for free here: https://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fi…

Comics:
– All Out War Part 2 ★★★★☆ The Walking Dead 21, eComic, StoryGraph #1 October
– The Walking Dead: All Out War AP Edition ★★★★☆ Done in raw pencils, without the ink. I like it a lot, it shows the artist‘s skill much better.
– Redlands Vol. 1, eComic, DNF after the first 2 issues (54 pages). Witches take over a town of misogynistic racists. Didn‘t like it.

Currently reading:
– The Mad Ship (Liveship Traders #2), ebook. Going slowly, as I keep reading shorter stuff in between. This will take me most of September for sure.

Ongoing:
The Tale of the Body Thief (Vampire Chronicles #4), paper, on hold, not enjoying it.
– How the Earth Works, audio, it‘s so-so. Sometimes very good, then again a bit slow and drawn out. It‘s lectures though, not a coherent book, which might be the problem.
– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry: #3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the rest. Long book is long.

Specfic Movies & TV watched:
– For All Mankind, S3, Eps. 4-10, completed ★★★★★ Mars!
– The Sea Beast, animation ★★★★★ Excellent swashbuckling adventure with sea monsters. So much fun!
– Prey (Predator) ★★★★☆ 
– The Sandman, S1, Eps 1-5 ★★★☆☆ I massively disliked episode 5, not sure I‘ll continue. Not really my cup of tea.
– Morbius ★★★☆☆ No big surprises, pretty predictable. Made me discover Leto’s band 30 Seconds to Mars though, which I love.
– Westworld, S1 ★★★★☆ Slow start, but developed nicely. Might continue, if I can get S2 at a reduced price.
– She-Hulk, Attorney at Law, S1, Eps 1+2, ongoing. Fun so far.

Unlikeable witches in a nasty town

Redlands Vol. 1
by Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey (Illustrator)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Chapter 1 introduces us to a town in Florida and a failed lynching. The tree burns, the hangman‘s nooses swing empty in the blaze… Witches survive, kill a bunch of people and take over the town.

Chapter 2 introduces them some more, there is violence, nudity, pointless swearing and obnoxious male characters. It didn‘t do anything for me, I disliked all of the characters. The art was meh. Not continuing.

All out war, finally done…

The Walking Dead: All Out War AP Edition
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Creator)

This special Artist Proof edition collects the monumental ALL OUT WAR story arc all in one volume as seen through artist CHARLIE ADLARD’s raw pencils. Read the story in a whole new way, never before collected together in one single volume. Collects THE WALKING DEAD #115-126.

Part 1 — Rick versus Negan with a little help from everyone else. Things do not go well.

Part 2 — The quiet before the storm. Our bunch of heroes draw back and consolidate in the Hilltop and prepare… They don‘t have to wait long for Negan to show up. Kaboom, boss fight!

In my review of the first part of All Out War I wrote that maybe the artwork was getting sloppier. Flipping through the pages of this artist‘s version, purely done as pencil sketches, I have to say that the sketches are very good and I might actually like this better than the inked version.

I wonder what comes next? Well, I have a vague idea from peeking at some episodes of the later TWD seasons. We‘ll see.

Another story arc comes to an end

All Out War Part 2 (The Walking Dead, #21)
by Robert KirkmanCharlie Adlard (Illustrator), Stefano Gaudiano (Illustrator), Cliff Rathburn (Illustrator)

The quiet before the storm…

Our bunch of heroes draw back and consolidate in the Hilltop and prepare… They don‘t have to wait long for Negan to show up. Kaboom, boss fight!

Motherfuck, there is a lot of god damn swearing in this fucking thing. I don‘t generally mind, but even I think that this is a bit over the top.

This volume collects The Walking Dead #121-126. 

This is now all past the point where I stopped watching the TV series. I am tempted to go back and pick it up again in… season 6, I think.

And now what? Before I delve into A New Beginning, I will skim through The Walking Dead: All Out War AP Edition:
“This special Artist Proof edition collects the monumental ALL OUT WAR story arc all in one volume as seen through artist CHARLIE ADLARD’s raw pencils. Read the story in a whole new way, never before collected together in one single volume.“

July 2022 Wrap-up

My July 2022:

Severance by Ling Ma ★★★½☆ audio, a millennial‘s coming of age, literary fiction with a touch of zombies.

Black Tide ★★★★¼ audiobook, horror. End of the world, alien invasion meets creature feature. I had fun, couldn‘t put it down. Looking forward to everybody else‘s comments.

The Empress of Salt and Fortune ★★★☆☆ ebook, novella, magical China, the life of an empress in very broad strokes, didn‘t do much for me.

– The Iron Duke ★★★★★ paper, StoryGraph #1 August, officially marketed as PNR, but much more steampunk-pirates-zombie-swashbuckling fun.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry:

#1) A Study in Scarlet, Watson meets Holmes. And Mormons. ★★★½☆ 

#2) The Sign of Four, Watson meets Mary. And we take a trip to the Andaman Islands. ★★★★☆

#3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, A Scandal in Bohemia, Holmes & Watson meet The Woman / The Adventure of the Re-Headed League / A Case of Identity / The Boscombe Valley Mystery / The Five Orange Pips / The Man with the Twisted Lip / The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle / The Adventure of the Speckled Band ★★★★☆


Short story anthology The Best Science Fiction of the Year: Volume Six: (ongoing)

– YELLOW AND THE PERCEPTION OF REALITY by Maureen F. McHugh ★★★★★ how do we perceive reality? For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/07/22/yellow…

– EXILE’S END by Carolyn Ives Gilman ★★★★☆ The painful process of repatriation of stolen art. For free here: https://www.tor.com/2020/08/12/exiles…

– INVISIBLE PEOPLE by Nancy Kress — parents find out that their adopted daughter has been genetically altered as an embryo. Besides the ethical questions this throws up, it‘s a well-written thriller. Great character development for a short story, I was with them every step of the way. ★★★★★

– RED_BATI by Dilman Dila — a conscious pet robot fighting for its life and meaning on a mining ship. Read this before in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora and found it a bit blander this time around. ★★★☆☆


Comics:

– Copra: Round One, DNF at 42 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #1 July, rip-off/homage of Suicide Squad, messy art, no plot.

– We Stand On Guard ★★★★★ eComic, StoryGraph #1 September, Canada is invaded by the US in a war for water.

– Saga #60 ★★★★★ eComic, the end of this arc. I cried.

– They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young, DNF at 47 pages, eComic, StoryGraph #2 September, teens with psychic powers, took too long to get going, didn‘t like the artwork.


Currently reading:

Ship of Magic, paper, I am about halfway and like it. Doorstopper of almost 900 pages, very dense, so this will take a few more weeks.

– How the Earth Works, audio, Great courses lectures.

– Sherlock Holmes: The Definitive Audio Collection, narrated by Stephen Fry: #3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, all the other stories…


Specfic Movies & TV watched:

– Dune, new movie ★★★★★ re-watch. Part II end of 2023, why???

– Obi-Wan Kenobi, S1, Ep 6, season completed ★★★★☆ hard to come to a satisfying ending, when you know that they all live to fight another day.

– Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ★★★★☆ Entertaining, a little silly, a little absurd. I think I like my entertainment to be a little less wacky. Pretty forgettable, actually.

– A Discovery of Witches, S1 completed ★★★½☆ Meh. Read the blurb of books 2 + 3, most likely a pass.

– Resident Evil, S1 completed, Netflix series ★★★★☆

(- Night Sky, S1, Eps 3… not sure if I am all that interested in continuing….

– For All Mankind, S3, Eps. 1-3 ★★★★★ OMG, I wish this was real. So cool.


And last, but not least — I finally finished my Lego tree house…

Some statistics:

Just noticed—the format page only seems to be counting the finished books. Oh well…

This black hole did not suck me in

They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young
by Eric StephensonSimon Gane (Illustrator)

Rating: 1 out of 5.

DNF at 41 pages. Didn‘t like the artwork. The story didn‘t do anything for me, could not be bothered to continue for long or pick it up again after putting it down. It took too long to get interesting. Teens with psychic powers?

We all have advantages over one another, but what if you were capable of things most of us can only imagine? What would you do – and who would you be? A doctor? An athlete? A soldier? A hero? Everyone has to make a choice about how to use the abilities they’re born with… but they’re not like us. 

Another saga comes to an end… for now.

Saga #60
by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator), Fonographiks (Letterer)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Our found family keeps on ticking…

Happy times, joy and fun, before…. You guessed it…. Everything goes to sh*t.

Wow, what a sucker-punch. I am ugly-crying here! And we‘ll have to wait till January 2023 for the next story arc, dang it.

P.S.: next year I‘ll wait until all 6 issues have been released. The waiting between issues is not good for my health.