Swallowed by pirates…

Saga #56 by Brian K. Vaughan (Author) (Writer), Fiona Staples (Illustrator), Fonografiks (Letterer)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Good. Quick as well at 31 pages. Classic oh-shit-cliffhanger. Really good artwork, good story. Next, please!

Trouble with shadows…

Shadecraft #1 by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist)

A new offering from Joe Henderson, the showrunner of the Netflix series Lucifer and writer of the excellent comic Skyward Vol. 1: My Low-G Life. Apparently Netflix has preemptively picked up Shadecraft as well.

16-year old Zadie is not afraid of the dark. That is quickly remedied when shadows start chasing her.

Good artwork, diverse cast of characters, amusing. Some teenage angst. Nice twist at the end, I liked it! I might pick up more issues at some point.

Can be read for free at Image Comics.

Here is the video trailer. It shows some light spoilers, so don‘t watch it if you want to go into the comic with a fresh look:

My favourite books of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted over at That Artsy Reader Girl. The current Top Ten is MY TOP TEN FAVORITE READS OF 2020, predictably so. Let‘s see, how many 5-star reviews I can scare up for this year… no particular order, I listed them as they popped up.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)
by Patricia Briggs

I re-read the whole series, plus Alpha & Omega spin-off, at the beginning of this year. Still good and still one of my favourite UF series of all time. I am looking forward to the new Alpha & Omega in March 2021.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer
by Robert Kirkman,  Charlie Adlard,  Cliff Rathburn

I am slowly working my way through The Walking Dead, the ultimate zombie graphic novel, that spawned an ever increasing horde of books and TV series… this volume was a very good ones. I am still at it, currently reading Volume 13.

To The Center Of The Earth
by Greig Beck

As pure escapism goes, this was an excellent choice. Cavers go down to find the centre of the Earth. And things they did not bargain for. Reminding you of Jules Verne? Yes, indeed.

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan,  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator)

Paper Girls is another excellent graphic novel by Vaughan, that I really should continue. Good story, great colouring, fun!

Dune (Dune, #1)
by Frank Herbert

Another re-read, in a pretty Deluxe hardback edition. The book shows its age and author‘s bias in the treatment of women and LGTBQ representation, but if you can look past that it is still one of the best SF novels out there.

The White Dragon (Pern, #3)
by Anne McCaffrey

This seems to be my year of re-reading old favourites, because I also read the first Dragonriders of Pern trilogy again. And I still like it a lot, phew. The treatment of women in this one is even more problematic than in Dune though. Odder still, the author is a woman. However, if dragons are your thing, this series should be on your list.

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu,  Sana Takeda (Artist)

Another graphic novel series that is still going strong. The plot thickens though in this horror/fantasy story full of demons and gorgeous artwork.

Red, White & Royal Blue
by Casey McQuiston

My winner in the romance genre for this year. Good sense of humour, believable and not cringe-worthy amounts of drama and angst, blessed lack of the most stupid romance tropes. 

Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers, #1)
by M.C.A. Hogarth

Finally I picked up something by Hogarth again, after a longer break. Very chilled, very relaxing, a nice amble through her unusual universe. Let’s call it Pastoral Science Fiction. A slow book with mellow drama and a slowly building asexual romance. Uplifting. Another reviewer called it a cozy, finding-one’s-place story and that sums it up nicely.

Emerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5)
by Ilona Andrews

Ilona Andrews, well… I would rate their shopping list with five stars.


Not a very sophisticated list with a lot of literary merit, but I had fun. I could list a few more graphic novels. In terms of novels there were no massive highlights this year. Plus the longer I review books, the stricter I seem to get with my ratings.

The Siege of Ravenna

No, not the real one. The other one…

Monstress, Vol. 5: Warchild
by Marjorie M. Liu (Goodreads Author),  Sana Takeda (Artist) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We are back in Constantine, briefly… at the beginning of each chapter. Finally we are being told what really happened six years ago, in very small doses.

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Back to present day: War is about to break out! The siege of a city looms in the distance. There is quite a lot of bloodshed eventually and some gruesome scenes. 

Maika shows her true colours and does what needs to be done. Consequences be damned. However, she is barely there through large stretches of this volume.

Chapter #27 has a very pretty cover!

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Several good scenes with Kippa. Ominous! And the ending of that chapter was… a flashback? Very strange.

The witches are pretty and creepy. I like how these sister-soldiers are drawn and coloured. Quite a lot happens in chapter #28. Not everything is immediately clear and it feels a little rushed after all the slow build-up of the previous three chapters.

Kippa as central figure on the cover of chapter #29 is fitting — she is the one making this volume shine. The artwork of the flashback to Constantine at the beginning of this chapter is outstanding, with really great panels.

My favourite is probably the flashback at the start of chapter #30 — nice! Our characters are coming full circle… A great scene, very emotionally powerful. And great artwork.

The plot thickens! Some interesting revelations in the last chapter. We keep on going…

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I realize that I am not really talking about the story itself or the ongoing struggles of our characters. But I really do not want to give anything away. If you‘re a fan, you know the broad strokes and themes anyway. And if you are new to this series, go away and read the first volume! 🙂

Playlist:
– Edwin Starr, War (what is it good for)

Books I am looking forward to in 2021…

I try not to buy too many new books. Therefore I tend to avoid all these lists of upcoming books or just have a very quick glance at them, but refuse to add anything to my want-to-read-pile. I dream of the day, when I have no books piling up on my kindle or my living room table… Alas, I have middling success. Here are a few books I want to read in 2021. It’s a pretty short list, yay!

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Black Magick, Vol. 3: Ascension (Paperback)
by Greg Rucka

Expected publication: February 2nd 2021 by Image Comics

The black-and-white artwork of the first two volumes was excellent. Beautifully drawn, rich details, just very nice. The story was good and has lots of potential.

URBAN FANTASY

Blood Heir (Aurelia Ryder, #1)
by Ilona Andrews (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: January 12th 2021 by NYLA

From award-winning author, Ilona Andrews, an all-new novel set in the New York Times #1 bestselling Kate Daniels World and featuring Julie Lennart-Olsen, Kate and Curran’s ward. 

I refrained from reading this on IA‘s website, aka the weekly serialized chapters. In fact, I think that is still ongoing. The fact that there is no cover artwork yet makes me feel a little dubious about the planned publishing date of January 2021… And I am wondering if Julie will be as good as the original Kate Daniels stories.

Wild Sign (Alpha & Omega, #6)
by Patricia Briggs

Expected publication: March 16th 2021 by Amazon Digital Services

Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear—before it’s too late

I have been reading the Mercy Thompson books and this spin-off for years. It is still one of my favourite UF series, almost as loved as Ilona Andrews‘ Kate Daniels series. I actually spent the first few months of this year with re-reading all of these books in preparation for a new release of the main series.

SCIENCE FICTION

A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
by Arkady Martine (Goodreads Author)

Expected publication: March 2nd 2021 by Tor Books

An alien armada lurks on the edges of Teixcalaanli space. No one can communicate with it, no one can destroy it, …

I really liked the first book and I can‘t wait to find out what Mahit Dzmare and Three Seagrass are going to face in this sequel to A Memory Called Empire.

Fugitive Telemetry (The Murderbot Diaries, #6)
by Martha Wells (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: April 27th 2021 by Tor.com

Yes, the unthinkable is about to happen: Murderbot must voluntarily speak to humans!

What can I say… Instabuy! Although the last installment dragged a bit in the middle…

Untitled (The Expanse, #9)
by James S.A. Corey (Goodreads Author) 

The much awaited 9th and final installment of The Expanse series.

Oh boy, oh boy. No proper cover yet, no title yet and no publishing date… O.o <— that‘s my anxious face. It will be the end of an era… and if we‘re unlucky, it might not even happen in 2021… who knows!? Meep.

CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

One Last Stop (Hardcover)
by Casey McQuiston (Goodreads Author) 

Expected publication: May 6th 2021 by Piatkus

From the New York Times bestselling author of Red, White & Royal Blue comes a new romantic comedy that puts a queer spin on Kate & Leopold.

I really liked Red, White & Royal Blue. And Kate & Leopold is a fun movie…

Bad science

Black Science #1
by Rick Remender,  Matteo Scalera (Illustrator), Dean White (Illustrator) 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Forbidden science. Think of Lost In Space with a twist. A group of scientists are thrown off course and seem to be jumping dimensions or alternate realities, trying to get home. Sabotage might play a part.

Wild guess though, as for half of this issue all you get to see is a guy running from aliens and lamenting how it was all his fault and everybody else didn‘t deserve this. Yeah, yeah, got it. Pop-psychology, running, screaming, one-dimensional and bland characters. The rest doesn‘t offer a lot of insights or meaningful developments of any kind. I was left with a big „Whatever!“ 

The artwork had its moments. I didn‘t like the look of the faces, they looked very old-school. And that human with the negative attitude had really weird ears.

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Oh, another reviewer raised a very good question: Why would a fish woman have boobs?

Not continuing.

Fantastic space creatures and where to find them…

Sea of Stars #1
by Jason Aaron,  Dennis HopelessStephen Green (Cover Art) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Dad is a space trucker, hauling goods from A to B. Mum is gone, there is no handy babysitter, so the kid comes along for the ride. And is bored, whiny and bratty. Ok, yes, he lost his mom.

The artwork is ok. Colourful. And then disaster strikes and the artwork becomes more interesting and the brat less bratty. 

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Dad and son get separated in the ensuing fight…

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A dad, a son, a whole lotta space between them… you get the idea of where this is going. Might be worth having a look at the next issue, not sure yet. It has a middle-grade feel to it.

Fix the end of the world!

Skyward #13
by Joe Henderson,  Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It was ok. It felt like a filler chapter. Willa reached another waypoint, some dots were connected and now we are prepared for the finale.

The art was good. I especially loved that star-filled night sky.

I am not terribly happy with the introduction of Willa‘s mother and their relationship in general. I still don‘t buy that she never tried to find the way back to her husband and child and just continued with a different life. And now that Willa shows up, it‘s all like „oh hey, nice to finally meet you“ and then it‘s back to business as usual.


Skyward #14
by Joe Henderson,  Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist) 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Big plot holes. And the situation with the diminished gravity wasn‘t resolved in a satisfying manner either. And for a pivotal fight at the end of a series this wasn‘t too spectacular. A little disappointing?

The artwork is still good.

I wonder what will happen in the ultimate issue?


Skyward #15
by Joe Henderson,  Lee Garbett (Cover Art), Antonio Fabela (Artist) 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The end of this series. Did this issue deliver? Well, not really.

Was the story arch of these last few issues a good one? This last story arc was the weakest for me. Maybe. To be fair, I think I should re-read all 15 issues in one sitting at one point. The beginning of the series was definitely the most exciting.

I was a little underwhelmed by the plot of these last few issues.

Heavy on the uplifting message. Let‘s all be friends and things will turn out for the better. Willa riding off into the sunset. Sony movie deal?

Bonus for the artwork. ★★★½☆

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The past, the future…

Saga flashback on page 4!

Paper Girls #1
by Brian K. Vaughan (Goodreads Author),  Cliff Chiang (Illustrator), Matt Wilson (Illustrator) 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Confusing start. Love the artwork. I am pretty sure I flipped through the beginning of this comic before and didn‘t like it much at the time. But I can’t find any record of it. Time has passed, I have read a lot more comics and I like this!

Had to double-check: this is set on November 1, 1988. I can‘t tell you without spoiler tags, why I confirmed that date. So I am not telling you. Instead I will now read the collected Volume 1, which I managed to get for free in German. 

Alternate reading:
– H. G. Wells, War of the Worlds