Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
I’d say March is off to a decent start. I had a slower reading week this week, but now that I’ve gotten my library haul, it’ll definitely get better/faster soon. I also went to the comic shop (safely, of course) with my family and picked up some single issues and a trade, got a preorder in the mail, and another Kindle hold, so there’ll be lots to read this month, for sure!
I also finished the first draft of my short story! I’ll probably devote next week to self-editing, so we’ll see how it goes. I also finished WandaVision, rewatched another episode or two of season 3 of Fargo, drew a bit, and had my weekly shift at the library. For the past…month or so, I think, it’s snowed either the day before or on the day of my volunteer shift, so it’s always freezing…but hey, at least the library is warm, and it’s always a peaceful image to see snow falling outside the window while I’m surrounded by books.
Also OH MY GOD ST. VINCENT CAME OUT WITH A NEW SONG AND IT’S S O G O O D I CAN’T STOP LISTENING TO IT
MIDDLE SCHOOL MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY AND PRESENT MADELINE IS VERY HAPPY
Yeah, everybody has a different definition of happiness, but can we really deny the universal giddy joy of finding out that your preorder has reached the shipping department? SKYHUNTER WILL BE IN MY HANDS VERY, VERY SOON…[incoherent screaming]
Anyway, I put this on my TBR at the beginning of this year, but remembered it from Amie Kaufman’s recommendation of it in an episode of Amie Kaufman on Writing. Since it was available on the Kindle library, I decided to check it out, and I am SO glad I did! I didn’t think that anything would ever fill up the B.P.R.D.–shaped hole in my heart, but All These Monsters very nearly did it.
For nearly a decade, the Earth that Clara knows has been decimated by the Scrabs, burrowing monsters that have popped up in cities all over the world and prey on any humans that stumble into their paths.
Clara feels confined in her home, considering dropping out of high school and trapped by her abusive father and absent mother. But when an opportunity to join an international scrab-fighting task force arises, she sees it as exactly the kind of escape she needs. Leaving her home behind, she joins the fight, but soon realizes that fighting monsters is more deadly–and lifechanging–than she ever imagined.
After B.P.R.D. came to a close last year, I thought that there wouldn’t be anything that could ever measure up to it. I didn’t even go into All These Monsters thinking that the two were all that similar, but somehow, this novel partially filled up the B.P.R.D.-shaped hole in my heart–and seeing how close those comics are to my heart, that’s seriously high praise coming from me.
First off, All These Monsters has some great representation–our protagonist Clara is half white, half Latinx [INTENSE HAPPY NOISES], and we have Black, Asian American, and Indian-American side characters. I loved Clara, and the team dynamic Tintera creates with her, Patrick, Edan, and all the rest is lovely! Those of you who have been following my reviews for a bit know that I’ll take found family any time of day, and All These Monsters portrayed it wonderfully.
And monsters. MONSTERS! I loved the scrabs–they gave me major Hell on Earthvibes, and I had so much fun going along for the ride with Clara and the rest of the gang. Not only does Tintera give us baseline physical descriptions of the scrabs, she goes in-depth to explore the international/political implications of them laying waste to the world. It’s certainly a lived-in kind of setting, so…come for the monsters, stay for the worldbuilding.
Beyond that, All These Monsters isn’t just about misfits fighting monsters–it’s a very raw exploration of abuse and toxic relationships. I’ll be clear–it’s not an easy read, but Tintera handles all of these tough topics with grace and aplomb, making you sympathize with some of the characters and hate some of the others with an appropriately fiery passion.
All in all, a dystopian sci-fi that delivers in both diversity and good old fashioned monster fighting. 4 stars!
All These Monsters is the first in the Monsters duology, concluding with the forthcoming All These Warriors, which is scheduled to come out in July 2021. (I got an eARC of it and read it over the weekend, so expect that review soon!). Tintera is also the author of the Ruined trilogy (Ruined, Avenged, and Allied) and the Reboot series (Reboot and Rebel).
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Family legacies are always a chore to live up to. Just ask Mary, a surly girl who comes from a long line of women writers–starting with the one and only Mary Shelley, the mother of science fiction and the author of Frankenstein. But Mary has no intention of becoming a writer, despite her mother’s persistence. But she soon discovers that there’s more than one career runs in the Shelley family; not only was Mary Shelley a masterful writer, she also had the ability to heal monsters.
For the rest of her family, it’s a curse. But for Mary, it might present some new opportunities.
When a strange, pale boy shows up on her doorstep asking for aid, Mary must put her abilities to the test. With the help of Rhonda, her best friend (and proud witch), Shirley, a ghost trapped inside a stuffed bunny, and Polly, a disgruntled harpy, Mary must master her newfound ability–and pass all her classes, while she’s at it.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and Ingram/Six Foot Press for sending me this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
Ever since reading Frankenstein freshman year, Mary Shelley has been something of a personal hero for me. So when I saw this graphic novel pop up on Edelweiss, I knew I had to at least take a chance on it. I was afraid that they might deal with the concept sloppily, but to my delight, Mary pulled out all the stops to make a darkly funny and spooky graphic novel!
Let’s start off with the art: SO CUTE! I loved Li’s art style, and it translated well to all of the people and the various strange creatures that we encounter throughout the story. I had no idea that she had previously worked on B.P.R.D., which got me so excited, not gonna lie. The muted color scheme also meshed flawlessly with the general atmosphere with the story.
I can’t stress enough how perfect it is that Mary will be released in October. It’s the perfect Halloween graphic novel, filled with all sorts of spooky goings-on–and more than a little goth. It simultaneously manages to be a lighthearted, fun story and a poignant tale of living up to family legacies, handling both with aplomb. The cast of characters was absolutely delightful; Mary was the perfect, angsty goth without being overly whiny, and I loved Rhonda, Shirley, Adam, and the rest of the gang. I especially loved Polly. Her lines always made me snicker.
All in all, Mary was a joy to read, with a lovable cast of characters and a poignant story–perfect for SPOOKY TIME! 4 stars!
Expected release date: October 6, 2020
That’s it for this eARC review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I don’t know why, but writing this feels so surreal…I’ve had the idea to write this one since last year, but I’ve all but put it off until now. So here you go, fellow bibliophiles…
No movie adaptation can capture the true essence of a character, not really in full. Sometimes, they’re so wildly different–whether it be in looks or personality–that your perception of them is all but tainted when you re-read the source material. But sometimes, these differences make for an interesting examination of the character themself–and they might even work better for the plot set in the film adaptation.
I know I’ve mentioned Johann here a fair amount of times on this blog, but for those of you who aren’t super familiar, here’s the rundown of his character:
Johann’s from the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. universe. After a supernatural accident rendered his physical body all but dead, his incorporeal body was kept in a containment suit to that he may live and move about again. A longtime member of the B.P.R.D. (after Hellboy quits), he specializes in communicating with those who have passed.
He’s been in the B.P.R.D. comics for quite a while (since about 2001), and he appeared on screen for the first (and so far the only) time in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, voiced by Seth MacFarlane. I saw HBII before I started reading the comics, but once I started reading them, I realized that there is a major discrepancy in terms of Johann’s personality between the comics and the film. But this is one of the rare instances where it isn’t all that bad.
Nothing quite exemplifies the purest form of these differences than their separate entrances in the comics and the film.
In the comics, Johann first appears alongside the rest of the team in the first volume ofthe B.P.R.D. comics, Hollow Earth and Other Stories.For most of the first scene where we see him, we only see him from the back as Kate shows him around the B.P.R.D. headquarters. He’s clothed in a heavy trenchcoat and a large hat, and it isn’t until she leaves him to the tutelage of Dr. Manning that we see him take the hat and trenchcoat off, revealing his containment suit–and the fact that he’d taped sunglasses to his helmet to further disguise himself. (sneak 100)
In the film, there’s a lot of hubbub that surrounds Johann’s arrival. He’s been assigned to this division of the B.P.R.D. to keep Hellboy in check. All of the main cast is gathered out in the lobby as Dr. Manning reads off his file. Johann eventually arrives in the elevator, flanked by a bevy of B.P.R.D staff. Once he steps out of the elevator, in all his steampunk-suited glory, he proceeds to CLICK HIS HEELS, TAKE A BOW, and THEN introduce himself. He’s even got his own little Danny Elfman theme in the background as this all goes down. What a guy.
So, you can probably already see the major differences.
In the comics, Johann is a far more subdued character. For most of the earlier B.P.R.D. run, he most often defers to the wisdom of the other agents. He’s still confident in his skills, but he knows that he’s the new guy, and that he’d best leave the work to more experienced agents like Abe, Liz, and Kate. He asks a bit too many personal questions, he stumbles quite a bit, but there’s no question that when Johann gets on the job, he will get it done with a unique, psychic prowess.
In Hellboy II, however, we see a version of Johann who has already built up a sort of reputation. After being enlisted to Hellboy and his team, he immediately assumes command of them, inserting himself as their unofficial leader in all their further missions. He’s a bit of a martinet, in a way, but mostly when it comes to Hellboy, still resentful towards Manning for assigning Johann to watch over him. They’re the antitheses of each other, really; Hellboy prefers to play by his own rules, while Johann is, as Hellboy says, “Mr. ‘By-The-Book’.”
But for once, I don’t really mind the change. Not only are Johann’s interactions with the other characters (Hellboy especially) sometimes hysterical, it works seamlessly with the plot. Johann is almost a vehicle for Hellboy’s character development, someone to challenge him like Dr. Manning never could. His influence makes Hellboy begin to realize that his actions have consequences (wHEn wIlL you lEARN). Liz also begins to question Johann’s actions, but comes to realize that he’s had his fair share of hardships in the past as well. (In the case of the movie, Johann lost his wife in the supernatural accident that caused his predicament with the containment suit.) It’s a different interpretation of the character, to be sure, but leave it to Guillermo del Toro to pull it off flawlessly. Can I get a WHOOP WHOOP?
Despite these differences, though, Hellboy II managed to stay true to the character in most other respects–he’s incredibly intelligent, unafraid to speak his mind, and can even be quite philosophical at times. Plus, there’s all the possible shenanigans that can go down when Johann’s ghostly form can slip out of the containment suit…
Strangely enough, though, Johann’s Hellboy II personality does begin to show up in the Hell on Earth run of B.P.R.D., once he’s gained more experience; the Johann that isn’t always understanding towards his teammates, and the Johann who becomes something of a disciplinarian, at his worst, mostly with the likes of Fenix. He’s still reserved at heart, but often hides in the face of the other agents.
But the only other key difference I see between the comics and Hellboy II is simple: Johann and Hellboy never even meet each other in the comics. By the time he comes to the B.P.R.D., Hellboy’s packed his bags. Which begs the question, really: how would they get along in the comics in some alternate timeline? I wonder about it quite a lot, but I still don’t have an answer.
Johann’s always been one of my favorite characters in the Mignolaverse, up there with Abe Sapien and Liz, for me. There’s so many possibilities with him, and he’s a continually complex character, not to mention the design of his containment suits. Whatever your takeaway from the comics and the film may be, there’s no doubt that he’s an absolutely fascinating character.
Hope you enjoyed this post, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Comfort food. We all have it. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and no matter how deep into the dark places we may become entrenched, it will always bring immeasurable joy to us. So this is sort of an appreciation post, but more just musings on a few books and movies that not only help me get through it, but are just fun to read/watch over and over, and they never get old.
BOOKS AND COMICS
Heart of Iron–Ashley Poston
Ever since I read Heart of Ironfor the first time on a magical trip to Chicago, it’s been my go-to whenever I reach a reading slump, or just need a little bit more sci-fi fun in my life. Also, Jax. ‘Nuff said.
Pumpkinheads–Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
This one’s a more recent addition to my list, but no matter the time of year, Pumpkinheadsis especially good for curing all that ails you. I mean, it helped me recover from the initial speechless shock after seeing Joker in theaters, if that’s any proof. (And that was a seriously rough movie…so well-done, though)
B.P.R.D. vol. 2: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories–Mike Mignola
Let me make myself clear: in the grand scheme of all things B.P.R.D., The Soul of Veniceis nowhere near the peak of mastery that this comic series has achieved. But that’s not at all to say that it isn’t a ball of spooky, paranormal fun from cover to cover. Part of why this is one of my most frequently re-read trades is for a few reasons, but the most important one is that, like Heart of Iron, is that it brings back some of my fondest memories, those from when I went to Sequoia National Park one spring break. We stopped in LA before the drive there, where I got this at a comic shop just about a month before it closed. I spent almost the entire trip reading and re-reading that trade, even though I had…oh, three or four books loaded up on my Kindle?
One of the first major comic series that I came to love (and collect in its entirety), Courtney always manages to dredge up so many happy memories for me when I go back and re-read any of the separate volumes. Of course, I end up crying (*coughcough THE COVEN OF MYSTICS coughcough THE FINAL SPELL coughcough*) every time, but it’s worth it. [sniffles] I swear…
Hellboy II: The Golden Army
I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH HOW FANTASTIC THIS MOVIE IS. Aside from being one of the rare sequels that surpasses its predecessor, it speaks to me as a person. I mean…a bunch of misfits and weirdos just trying to get through life. (And trying to take down an invincible, supernatural army, but, y’know, that’s just part of the job.) Over the past three or four years, it’s played such a big role in my life, and I know for a fact that I will never grow tired of it.
X2: X-Men United
Again. Misfits just trying to get through life, with some world-saving on the side. After all the criticism these films have gotten over the years (mostly for The Last Stand, that first Wolverine solo, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix), it’s so sad that they’ve been pushed aside in the grand scheme of superhero films. For if you think about it, these three two original X-Men movies (we don’t talk about The Last Stand) set the standard for the modern superhero movie. For lack of better words, the X-Men movies walked SO THE ENTIRE MCU COULD RUN. There. I said it.
Anyway, X2 was what rekindled my love of X-Men a few years ago, and in the span of about a year and a half, I’ve been able to watch it a good 5 times, and it will never. Get. Old.
All of the Star Wars movies (minus The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, you know what you’ve done…)
Star Wars. Need I really say any more?
I’d already heard a few songs off of Strange Mercy before, but I downloaded the rest of the album a few days ago, and I am STUNNED by how phenomenal it is.
So what’s your comfort food? What books, comics, films, and more will you never be able to stop re-reading/watching? Let me know down in the comments!
That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
I figured that today would be a good day for a tag, and in lieu of the announcement that the Netflix Shadow and Bone/Six of Crows show has wrapped up filming, I figured this one would be fun to do. (I’m kind of scared for how the show will turn out, because some of the Grishaverse books are kind of my babies, but that’s a story for another time). I found this tag over at SMELLFOY CAN READ?
Since I should probably give this post a little pizzazz, here’s some Six of Crows art from one of my favorite comic artists/book cover artists, Kevin Wada. (Same guy who drew the covers for Carry On and Wayward Son, actually!)
Let’s begin, shall we?
The Thief • Kaz Brekker: A Layered or Complex Character
One of my first thoughts here was Art from Like a Love Story. Definitely someone who presents a tough exterior, but is deeply wounded on the inside.
The Wraith • Inej Ghafa: A Book With a Twist You Didn’t See Coming
Without question, the end of Thunderhead. The ending came out of nowhere…I think I still bear the scars from having to wait almost two years to see how it all turned out…
The Sharpshooter • Jesper Fahey: An Author that Never Misses the Mark
Though I haven’t read any of his adult works, Jay Kristoff has never disappointed me. With his signature wit and heartrending writing, I’ve never read any book by him that I didn’t like.
The Heartrender • Nina Zenik: A Book that Broke your Heart or Gave you All the Feels