DNFs of 2022

I don‘t DNF a lot of books. I used to be one of those people that did not DNF books at all. I HAD to read them to the end, even if it took me months. Eventually I came to my senses and started to occasionally DNF a book, if I did not enjoy it after 50-100 pages (depending on allover length) or it took me more than a few days to get that far. I still never DNFd more than perhaps one book per month or less. And these days I tend to rather skim heavily rather than DNF, because I often want to know how it ends. I just read about the rather tempting idea of “…will DNF a book if it takes me more than 2 days to read 50 pages.” That would mean that I would have DNFd my current eye read days ago. I finally made it halfway and there are some fascinating ideas in the book, but it is still not a gripping read.

So, what books did I DNF last year, because not even heavy skimming could take me to the end? Well, there were some comics.

I bounced off hard of Sin City by Frank Miller. Some classics probably only work for men. I disliked the art. The story was too offensive to finish it. I can only take a certain amount of sexism, before it really puts me off.

Copra by Michel Fiffe was a big disappointment. I have read some superhero comics, mostly Marvel, but it‘s not my favourite genre. Here I had ti deal with Unlikeable superheroes to boot. I am not a big fan of characters that are just mean for no obvious reason and don‘t seem to have any redeeming features. If I don‘t like the characters or they don‘t interest me in another way, why bother?

They’re Not Like Us, Vol. 1: Black Holes for the Young was another disappointment. Essentially another superhero comic, with teenager developing psychic powers. 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.

I started to re-read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice with some reading buddies last year. I liked my re-read of Interview with the Vampire. However, by the time I got to book #4, The Tale of the Body Thief, I was throughly fed-up with it. There were some scenes I remembered fondly, namely the part in the Gobi desert—which I had attributed to another part of the series. But overall, it felt dated and lacked tension. Knowing the plot wasn‘t helping, obviously. Too much detail, repetitive bla-bla and over exposition of almost everything. I skimmed quite a bit to get to the body swapping part, but was willing to plod on. Then the rape happened—I had no recollection of that scene from previous reads. Or maybe I didn‘t understand and didn’t consider it rape before—it had been several decades since I read this last. That scene pretty much killed the book for me. The callousness really bothered me. Maybe this was done intentionally by Rice, but I couldn’t get past it. Don‘t get me wrong, I get that this is fiction and authors explore all kind of things—I just re-watched four seasons of Dexter, who is a sociopathic serial killer and I love the series and Dexter. But I couldn’t deal with Lestat raping that waitress. Killing her and drinking her blood, no problem…. I get how nuts that it.

How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper… *sigh*. UF leaning towards PNR. A decade ago I barely read anything but UF. I was oversaturated. So I stopped, with very rare exceptions. PNR was always a gamble. The heroines tend to be TSTL. I can‘t tolerate that. Why do female authors write these stupid cliches of their own gender? Anyway, back to this particular book. The love interest is a dragonshifter and the town’s sherif. The couple has zero chemistry, there is no decent world building. Nothing of consequence happened in the first 40% and I was to disinterested too listen to more of the audiobook.

Polaris Rising by Jesse Mihalik was another book in the same direction. I had that trilogy on my TBR shelf for a while and quite a few of my buddies love Mihalik. Yep. So not my cup of tea. Brain Candy in space with a romance sub-plot. Insta-love, too many blond people, thin world building, a Mary Sue, two people great at hiding that keep getting captured and then proceed to repeatedly free each other. Sounds all pretty daft, right? It was.

Gallant by Victoria Schwab was more unexpected. A haunted house, relatives with a mysterious past and a hostile cousin, a vaguely creepy and gothic atmosphere. No romance elements. I didn‘t find the story as such terribly suspenseful, although it is definitely well written. It was too straight forward for me and too predictable. I liked the story, but started to drift off around the middle—there was just not enough tension or interest for me to keep going.

There was another comic, two Clarkesworld magazines and a Great Courses Lecture series that I broke off. Oh yes, and an autobiography by a German TV presenter who loves camping. I mostly got that one for my mum. It was ok, just not my kind of thing.

How about you, what was your most disappointing DNF of 2022?

Some classics probably only work for men.

Sin City 1: Stadt ohne Gnade (The Hard Goodbye)
by Frank Miller

Rating: 1 out of 5.

“It’s a lousy room in a lousy part of a lousy town. But Marv doesn’t care. There’s an angel in the room. She says her name is Goldie. A few hours later, Goldie’s dead without a mark on her perfect body, and the cops are coming before anyone but Marv could know she’s been killed. Somebody paid good money for this frame…“

This was my third attempt at reading this and I got a third through it. I don’t care. There might be a good story in there somewhere, but I doubt it. I can‘t get past disliking the art. Blocky, black-and-white, flat. Add to that an unlikeable main character, objectified women, pointless violence. Nope. To be honest, after having seen the movie (and disliking Mickey Rourke, as usual), I more or less expected all of that to some extend. I get that this is considered a classic… by men, presumably. I really tried, but I find the whole thing too offensive to finish it.

Messy and incoherent Moon Knight

Midnight Sun (Moon Knight, #2)
by Charlie HustonDavid Finch (Illustrator), Mico Suayan (Illustrator)

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Three months since the events of Vol. 1. Spidey pays a visit!

And in issue #2 we get to meet Captain America. I didn‘t recognize him at first and had to go back to the start of the chapter to make sure. Pretty ugly guy and not nice. But neither is Spector. It took me longer to get to this point than in volume 1. It felt very episodic and it wasn‘t terribly enamored with the artwork either.

The artwork of volume 1 was much better. Here it‘s messier, coarser and anatomically more over the top. I don‘t like the look of Marc Spector. Issue #9 was the point when I thought „Wow, this is really ugly!“

The plot didn‘t do it for me either. Well, there wasn‘t really much of a plot. By issue #10 I had lost interest and started some light skimming. Very disappointing after the fun and wackyness of the first volume. Besides David Finch we have several other illustrators that were not part of volume 1. Maybe that made the difference?

I took a break, then started issue #11. After the first few frames I started to skim heavily. I didn‘t like the artwork or the confusing plot. Skimmed past issue #12 and #13.

Annual 1 (the last issue) was not really my cup of tea either in terms of artwork, but it was well drawn. And this issue had a coherent story. Well, the beginning of a story. It didn‘t really get past the introduction.

So, after an excellent first volume this was a massive let-down and I will definitely not get the next volume. Disappointing.

Collects Moon Knight #7-13 & Moon Knight Annual #1.

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…

– 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

– 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…

– 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.

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.“