Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

May 2021 Wrap-Up 🦊

Happy Monday, bibliophiles!

May was equal parts relaxing and stressful (scratch that – more stressful, definitely), but it was a better reading month for sure, so let me elaborate…

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

As with April, I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted to because of finals and AP testing. Doing three of the latter in the span of only a week turned my soul to mush, but I think I’m more of a sentient being now. And I’m finally done with school! Online was nothing short of a soul-crushing experience, but I’m proud of myself for weathering an entire year of it.

Reading-wise, I actually managed to have a better month! A whole bunch of holds from the library came that I’d been waiting a while for came, and I caught up on a lot of nice sequels. I had a lot of fun re-reading the Six of Crows duology as well. 🙂

Unfortunately, I also had my first 1 star book of the year… [sad harmonica noises]

I really hate to say it, but Wings of Ebony was a big letdown for me. I don’t think I’ll do a full review, but my quick thoughts are as follows: I really appreciated the unapologetic approach to colonialism and racism (which is why I added on the half-star), but the worldbuilding was sloppy at best, the time jumps were too frequent and made no sense, and the writing felt like it desperately needed an editor. Yikes.

Other than that, I’ve continued to do my volunteer work back at the library, and we’re starting to slowly go back to normal! Mask-wearing around there is encouraged but not required for fully vaccinated people (I still wear mine, don’t worry), and we’ve gotten rid of these little stickers we used to track the amount of patrons in store. Oh, and all three seasons of Fargo that have come out on DVD are all on the shelf…nature is healing…

Nicole Canada - Librarian – Alicia Canada – Tomball Junior High

And if you’re wondering about the fox emoji, I put it on to commemorate the fact that we found a family of foxes near our house! We saw all five fox kits on Mother’s Day 🥺

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 23 books this month! I don’t think I had any 5-star reads this month, but I did read several that came close!

1 – 1.75 stars:

Wings of Ebony (B&N Exclusive Edition) by J. Elle, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®
Wings of Ebony

Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony, #1) – J. Elle (⭐️.5)

2 – 2.75 stars:

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas
Lost in the Never Woods

Scavenge the Stars (Scavenge the Stars, #1) – Tara Sim (⭐️⭐️)

Lost in the Never Woods – Aiden Thomas (⭐️⭐️.5)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) by Julie C. Dao
Broken Wish

Aug 9 – Fog – Kathryn Scanlan (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Hellboy: The Lost Army – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Velocity Weapon (The Protectorate, #1) – Megan O’Keefe (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Prison Healer (The Prison Healer, #1) – Lynette Noni (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Hellboy: The Bones of Giants – Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Broken Wish (The Mirror, #1) – Julie C. Dao (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Be Dazzled – Ryan La Sala (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know by Samira Ahmed
Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within (Wayfarers, #4) – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Elysium Girls – Kate Pentecost (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann (read for school) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

I Love You So Mochi – Sarah Kuhn (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Summer Bird Blue – Akemi Dawn Bowman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Magnificent Ms. Marvel, vol. 3: Outlawed – Saladin Ahmed and Minkyu Jung (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya, #2) – Hafsah Faizal (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

The Infinity Courts (The Infinity Courts, #1) – Akemi Dawn Bowman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Love, Hate & Other Filters – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) – Leigh Bardugo (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (re-read) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Sanctuary – Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Love, Hate & Other Filters4.5 stars

Amazon.com: Love, Hate and Other Filters (9781616958473): Ahmed, Samira:  Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS THAT I’VE ENJOYED:

This whole album (Green) is PHENOMENAL. the sheer power that the first four tracks hold…
There’s not a single bad song on this album, but this is hands down one of my favorites
(FIRST OFF: PLEASE DON’T WATCH THIS MUSIC VIDEO IF YOU HAVE PHOTOSENSITIVE EPILEPSY) I think I like this even better than the Oingo Boingo version…
I still don’t like this one as much as the other tracks on this EP, but it’s been growing on me big time
I forgot that this song existed?? And I love it???

DID I FOLLOW THROUGH ON MY MAY GOALS?

  • Take some time away for the AP exams and finals: that I did. Barely posted until the second half of the month, so…
  • Take care of yourself: …I think I did, at least.

GOALS FOR JUNE:

Bannerboy.com by Erik Brunner | Dribbble
  • Make a list with some Pride Month recs!
  • Read at least 20 books
  • Enjoy the first month of summer!
  • ACTUALLY start that first draft of the sci-fi WIP

At last! Summer!!

Today’s song:

That’s it for this month in blogging! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Monthly Wrap-Ups

April 2021 Wrap-Up ☔️

Happy Friday, bibliophiles!

Whew, April was definitely…a month…

So let’s elaborate:

GENERAL THOUGHTS:

I didn’t get to blog as much as I wanted to this month, but I did have (and still have) lots of tests to study for, so you can probably expect a similar amount of activity next month as well. I got the SAT out of the way, though! Pretty proud of myself for that. I just got an email saying that the scores are coming next week, so…

Mr. Krabs Mad Blank Template - Imgflip

And I’m so done with precalc. SO DONE. ONE MORE MONTH…

But other than that, I’ve had a pretty good reading month! I didn’t get to read as much as I wanted to, but I got to read a whole bunch of my most anticipated reads of the year, and found a whole bunch of 5-star reads! All of my preorders seemed to arrive in the middle of the month, I’m happy to say.

I watched a whole bunch of good stuff this month as well, movie and TV-wise; we watched Ex Machina and Shin Godzilla (hands down the scariest version of Godzilla, my mind will not be changed), I finished up Falcon and the Winter Soldier (hit or miss, but it got good in the end), and last but certainly not least, Shadow and Bone! I’m super excited about the latter; I finished it last night, and it was so faithful to the book, for the most part! I’ll try and do a review soon, because man, I have some Thoughts™️

no mourners, no funerals in 2021 | The grisha trilogy, Six of crows, Crow
Everyone’s favorite bisexual sharpshooter supreme

Also, this will come in later in the post, but I think I’ll start doing a fixture in these wrap-ups with songs or albums I’ve listened to over the course of the month, so see below…

READING AND BLOGGING:

I managed to read 21 books this month! Just barely, though…like I said, not as much reading time as I wanted to have (why, why, WHY did I take THREE AP classes this year), but I read so many amazing novels!

2 – 2.75 stars:

Amazon.com: This Golden Flame (9781335080271): Victoria, Emily: Books
This Golden Flame

This Golden Flame – Emily Victoria (⭐️⭐️.5)

3 – 3.75 stars:

Amazon.com: You Should See Me in a Crown (9781338503265): Johnson, Leah:  Books
You Should See Me in a Crown

Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky, #1) – Rebecca Roanhorse (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Salvaged – Madeleine Roux (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Empress of All Seasons – Emiko Jean (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Victories Greater Than Death (Unstoppable, #1) – Charlie Jane Anders (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Verona Comics – Jennifer Dugan (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

Finding Yvonne – Brandy Colbert (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

These Violent Delights – Chloe Gong (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

You Should See Me in a Crown – Leah Johnson (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

Heartless – Marissa Meyer (⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

4 – 4.75 stars:

Amazon.com: Sword in the Stars: A Once & Future Novel eBook: McCarthy,  Cori, Capetta, A. R.: Kindle Store
Sword in the Stars

Pan’s Labyrinth: The Labyrinth of the Faun – Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Iron Heart (Crier’s War, #2) – Nina Varela (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Tales From the Hinterland (The Hazel Wood, #2.5) – Melissa Albert (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

A Conspiracy of Tall Men – Noah Hawley (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.25)

Sword in the Stars (Once & Future, #2) – A.R. Capetta and Cory McCarthy (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.75)

5 stars:

Amazon.com: The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country  (9780593465271): Gorman, Amanda, Winfrey, Oprah: Books
The Hill We Climb

The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country – Amanda Gorman (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Internment – Samira Ahmed (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars, #2) – Leigh Bardugo (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Mike Mignola: The Quarantine Sketchbook – Mike Mignola (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

Aurora Burning (Aurora Rising, #2) – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (re-read FOR BOOK CLUB I SWEAR SHH) (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

FAVORITE BOOK OF THE MONTH (NOT COUNTING RE-READS): Rule of Wolves5 stars

Amazon.com: Rule of Wolves (King of Scars Duology, 2) (9781250142306):  Bardugo, Leigh: Books

SOME POSTS I’M PROUD OF:

POSTS I ENJOYED FROM OTHER WONDERFUL PEOPLE:

SONGS/ALBUMS I’VE ENJOYED:

This whole album is INCREDIBLE, depressing but there’s some top-tier sci-fi vibes going on
Another album from one of my favorite artists that I listened to in its entirety
I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR THIS ALBUM NEXT MONTH
Yet another album that I’m very excited for
Discovered them through Consequence and I think I’m hooked!
Listened to this for most of this week, major Sparklehorse vibes

DID I ACTUALLY FOLLOW THROUGH WITH MY APRIL GOALS:

  • Read at least 20 books: 21!
  • Take some time to study for the SAT (you got this!): Did that! Of course, now I need to do the same for AP exams…

GOALS FOR MAY:

GIF studying - animated GIF on GIFER
  • Take some time away for the AP exams and finals
  • Take care of yourself!

One more month, and then it’ll be summer…

That’s it for this monthly wrap-up! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday

Book Review Tuesday (4/13/21) – These Violent Delights

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

A bit of good news before I begin; for one, I got the SAT over with today! I actually feel fairly confident on the math portion, for once. And this afternoon, I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! I’ll be getting dose 2 in a few weeks, and I’m so relieved.

Anyway, this book has been on my radar for a while, what with it generating mountains of hype before and after its November 2020 release. It finally came to the library recently, and I’m so glad I got to read it! Not 100% worth the hype, but a truly inventive retelling.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Amazon.com: These Violent Delights (9781534457690): Gong, Chloe: Books

These Violent Delights (These Violent Delights, #1) – Chloe Gong

My library copy ft. a cool filter and one of my bookshelves

Shanghai, 1926. A war between the Scarlet Gang and the White Flowers is brewing, and a gruesome illness and rumors of monsters run amok in the city. Caught in the middle are Juliette Cai, heiress of the Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, her ex-lover and sworn enemy. As members of both gangs fall ill to the gory malady, they must set aside their pasts and work together before they fall prey to it.

Fever Ray Rose GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

TW/CW: graphic violence, body horror, abuse, gruesome descriptions of illness, substance abuse, blood

The hype made my expectations for this one pretty high, but I’m glad to say that These Violent Delights lived up to a good portion of it! Not a perfect novel, but one I enjoyed a whole lot.

First off, can we give a round of applause to Chloe Gong for putting such an inventive twist on Romeo & Juliet? I LOVED the setting, first off; it’s both a time period and a place that don’t usually turn up in YA, and the descriptions made me feel as through I was walking in Juliette’s footsteps. The discussions of racism and colonialism gave another layer of darkness to the setting as well, which made it feel a lot more authentic, especially when we saw it through Juliette’s eyes. The gang rivalry set the perfect scene for an R&J retelling, and a lot of the related scenes gave me some slight Fargo (Year 4) vibes, which is always a resounding YES in my book. And to top all that wondrousness off, supernatural vibes! The fantasy element of the plague and the monster in the river were woven in seamlessly with the historical setting, making for a world that felt lush and wonderfully fleshed-out.

As for the characters, Juliette was probably my favorite; she had a refreshing amount of agency, and she was full of drive and wit. I didn’t like Roma quite as much, but his backstory seamlessly fed into his character and made him feel more authentic. And I LOVE LOVE LOVED Benedikt and Marshall! They had such lovely chemistry, and Benedikt especially (my favorite behind Juliette) had such distinct qualities that truly set them apart in this story. It was also loads of fun to make connections back to Shakespeare’s original work, although…I had one problem: Tyler. I get it that he was supposed to be the Tybalt-surrogate, but…Tyler doesn’t seem like a 1920’s name at all. I get it that most of the Chinese characters in the novel had Westernized names, and I get that Tyler and Tybalt are very similar, but when I think of the name “Tyler,” I think more of 1990’s-2010’s, not 1920’s. I looked it up, and it seems like it was a fairly uncommon name at the time, but I could suspend my disbelief a little bit.

My other problem with the novel was with a certain aspect of the writing. For the most part, it was stellar; like I said, lush descriptions, gripping action, amazing prose. Thing is, there were a lot of metaphors that got stretched out far beyond their use. If some of the metaphors remained at one sentence, it would’ve been fine. However, some of them got dragged out to…entire paragraphs, which…mmm, nope, not my cup of tea. [gets out a pair of gardening shears to trim the purple prose down] Lots of drama in the writing department, but it fit with the story, for the most part. It was a lot to handle sometimes, but given…well, everything about the plot, I can see the point of most of it.

All in all, a high-stakes, high-drama retelling of Romeo and Juliet full of action and authenticity. 3.75 stars, rounded up to 4!

rabbi milligan Tumblr posts - Tumbral.com

These Violent Delights is Chloe Gong’s debut novel, and is the first novel in the These Violent Delights duology. Its sequel, Our Violent Ends, is slated for release in November 2021.

Today’s song:

NEW DANNY ELFMAN ALBUM IN JUNE THIS IS NOT A DRILL

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music, writing

Writing Soundtracks: Songs and albums I listen to while I write, and tips for making writing playlists

Ooh, would you look at that! A new header!

Happy Wednesday, bibliophiles!

I got a notification this morning, and apparently I’ve had this blog running for…5 years? WHOAAAAA, OKAY, I FORGOT ABOUT THAT

I didn’t start semi-seriously book blogging until about a year ago, but thank you to everybody who has supported me along the way! (And for those of you who had to witness what this blog was like when I was in middle school…I’m terribly sorry for the horrors you experienced.)

ANYWAY, I figured I should start doing writing-related posts more frequently, so here’s my first(ish?) stab at it.

Many members of the writing community use music in a number of ways in the process of creating their WIP, be it picking specific songs or albums to listen to while writing, or creating book or character playlists. Music is an integral part of my life, and I’ve managed to weave it into my writing life as well. I always listen to music when I write, so I thought that I would first share some songs, albums, and scores that I like the most to get me writing my WIPs.

INSTRUMENTAL SCORES

I think there’s been several studies about how instrumental scores help with studying, but for a lot of people, music without lyrics is helpful to focus on their writing, and is less distracting than music with lyrics. I use a mix of music with and without lyrics in writing, but for those of you who are strictly instrumental, here are some of my favorite albums–mostly film scores, mind you–that I use when writing:

Danny Elfman - Hellboy 2 (OST) - Amazon.com Music

Hellboy II: The Golden Army original score–Danny Elfman

Yes, yes, I know I blab about this masterpiece quite a lot, but hey, it’s Danny Elfman doing the score–what’s not to like? The score ranges from whimsically spooky to action-packed to tear-jerking, so it’s perfect for writing scenes of all kinds.

Radiohead for Solo Piano | Josh Cohen

Radiohead for Solo Piano–Josh Cohen

Even if you aren’t familiar with Radiohead, this is a spectacular collection of their pieces adapted into instrumental, piano form. I particularly like “Motion Picture Soundtrack” and “Black Star.”

Trent Reznor / Atticus Ross: Watchmen (Music from the HBO Series ...

Watchmen original score–Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Much of this one is electronic, but with a wide range of moods; either way, it’s always catchy, and perfectly cinematic. Also, there’s a gorgeous instrumental cover of David Bowie’s “Life On Mars?”, so of course I’d recommend it.

Anything by Jeff Russo, really

Russo has such a wide range, composition-wise, and every single score I’ve come across by him is nothing short of stellar. Some of my favorites include his scores for Legion (FX), and The Umbrella Academy (Netflix), but he’s also scored everything from Cursed to Lucy in the Sky and Fargo (the TV show)

NON-INSTRUMENTAL SONGS AND ALBUMS

I cram loads of music onto my writing playlists, but there’s several particular songs and albums that get me more focused/motivated/immersed in my writing than others, so here goes nothing…

Kid A Cover - How Radiohead's Most Alienating Album Got Its Cover

Kid A–Radiohead

Besides the fact that one of my WIPs features a character who is obsessed with this album, the sheer range of emotion in this album is stunning. Though it’s chiefly electronic, I’ve used these songs from everything from battle scenes to a funeral scene.

Recommended tracks:

Mitski: Bury Me at Makeout Creek Album Review | Pitchfork

Bury Me at Makeout Creek–Mitski

Another very emotional album, this one’s always great for writing scenes associated with any form of love, whether it’s the promise of it, being in the throes of it, or being apart from it. Then again, you’re talking to somebody who has had zero (0) experience with any sort of relationships, so take this as you will.

Recommended tracks:

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot By Wilco Album Cover Location

Yankee Hotel Foxtrot–Wilco

Apparently they called this album “the American Kid A” when it came out, so…did I cheat and put Kid A on here twice? If so, I don’t regret it.

Ranging from punchy, classic rock songs and dreamlike, melancholic hazes of emotion, I highly recommend this album for scenes charged with emotion–doesn’t matter what emotion we’re talking about, because there’s easily a song or two on here for everything.

Recommended tracks:

Phoebe Bridgers: Stranger in the Alps Album Review | Pitchfork

Stranger in the Alps–Phoebe Bridgers

Though I don’t like every song on the album, I’d say about 3/4 of it is positively stellar. Definitely on the sadder side, but it’s perfect for channeling strong emotion in your writing.

Recommended tracks:

David Bowie - Hunky Dory - Amazon.com Music

Hunky Dory–David Bowie

Besides being, y’know, the pinnacle of music, this one is chock-full of tracks that not only help me bring emotion and heart into my writing, but with songs that motivate me to write.

Recommended tracks:

GENERAL WRITING PLAYLIST TIPS

I saw a piece of advice the other day about making two writing playlists: listen to one of them while writing it, and a different one when you’re editing or making the second draft, so that you’re put into a different mindset while re-reading it.

For making the playlists themselves, I usually just dump several songs I like, and go through songs as I write. If there’s a song that takes me out of the writing or has been in circulation for a few times too many, I take it off and replace it.

Just for fun, here are snippets of mine:

And yes, I did color-coordinate the album covers. It’s fun…

(Or, alternatively, “the one that I accidentally dumped all the Weezer on” and “the one without any Weezer at all”)

I also like to cobble together playlists for each of my WIPs: here, I include songs with lyrics that relate to the story, or that just have the general vibe of the WIP. For some of them, I also create character playlists going off of the same rule. For my sci-fi book, there are six different perspectives (or, I’m going to make it that way once I get around to editing it), so I have a playlist for each of them. For my current WIP, however, there’s only one perspective, so I just keep it at the protagonist.

What do you think? What are your musical techniques for writing? What’s your favorite music to write to?

Since there’s a boatload of music in this post, consider the entire thing “today’s song.”

That’s it for this writing post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books

Book Review Tuesday (6/23/20)–Fourth World

Happy Tuesday, bibliophiles!

I hope you’re all having a good day. I had a lovely hike yesterday, and just a spectacular day in general…and I FINISHED THE FIRST DRAFT OF MY WIP.

I FINISHED MY FIRST DRAFT! THIS IS THE FIRST OF MY IDEAS THAT I’VE ACTUALLY BOTHERED TO WRITE OUT IN FULL!

vince mcmahon excited gif on Make a GIF

So that was certainly a bright spot.

Now, back to our scheduled program…

I found this book on Queer Books for Teens, and the fact that it was a) sci-fi and b) had great LGBTQ+ representation ultimately hooked me. I quickly found it on the Kindle library and read it. But while it boasted great representation, Fourth World failed to meet its ambitious premise.

Enjoy this week’s review!

Fourth World (Iamos Trilogy, #1) by Lyssa Chiavari

Fourth World (Iamos trilogy, #1)–Lyssa Chiavari

2073. Isaak Contreras struggles to go through the motions of his life on a Martian colony. Two years ago, his father disappeared, leaving him to long for him back in his life. But when he finds an artifact hidden among his father’s old possessions, he stumbles upon a conspiracy hidden by the Martian government–one that may answer the question of the humanoid skeleton that the archaeology team dug up on Martian soldier. What they’ve hidden? A portal to another world, and one that may not be as alien as they believe it to be.

Now stranded in this foreign, dystopian world, Isaak is taken in by Nadin, a girl struggling with an oppressive society of her own. But what they both don’t realize is that the ground beneath their feet is not so different as they thought. Will they be able to save both of their worlds?

David Rose Schitts Creek GIF - DavidRose SchittsCreek Eh ...

Let’s start off with the good aspects. Our cast of characters is incredibly diverse–virtually all of the characters are POC (Isaak is Latinx, Nadin is POC, and several other POC side characters). Additionally, Isaak is demisexual, and Nadin seems to be on the asexual spectrum. So props to Chiavari for creating a wonderfully diverse cast!

Now…other than that…

[awkward silence]

Eh…

The main problem of Fourth World is that it seemed to get lost within itself. The plot became very convoluted far too quickly, and I found myself losing interest rapidly. There’s an interesting, almost cosmic-horror aspect of it (Remember what I said about the humanoid skeleton they dig up?) that was well-executed at the start, but failed to capture my attention as the book went on.

The concept of a past civilization on Mars is fascinating, but I found it poorly executed. There’s so much possibility for these kinds of societies, but alas, it fell into the trap that all too many sci-fi YA novels fall into…

Ah, yes, Aliens™️, but…they’re basically just humans with different hair/eye colors. NOT AGAIN…

Black Ink Crew Stop GIF by VH1 - Find & Share on GIPHY

[Luke Skywalker screaming] “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

And beyond that, this past civilization is the exact same, overdone, dystopian society. You’ve got your oppressive class systems, your tyrannical government, and your secret, underground resistance, and the realization to our naïve heroine that the world she’s grown up in is far worse than she imagined. At this point, the trope has become so overdone that it doesn’t get any emotion out of me anymore. Sometimes, it can creatively done, but in the case of Fourth World, it…just wasn’t. Nope.

Overall, Fourth World was an ambitious sci-fi novel, but while it scored points in the diversity department, it crumbled to pieces in most other places. 2 stars.

Sorry GIF by Michael Bolton - Find & Share on GIPHY

Fourth World is the first in the Iamos trilogy, followed by New World (book 2, 2018), and One World (book 3, 2020).

Today’s song:

Okay, Danny Elfman, I love you, but the fact that you decided not to release this is a crime. A CRIME.

That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Books, Geeky Stuff, Movies

The Nowhere Man: A Comic to Film Comparison of Johann Kraus

Three Portraits of Johann Kraus | this cage is worms

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.

johann krauss | Tumblr

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 of the 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)

B.P.R.D: Plague of Frogs Volume 1 TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics
from Hollow Earth and Other Stories (2001)

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.

johann krauss | Tumblr
The clip isn’t on YouTube, but man, it’s PRICELESS…

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’.”

Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (7/10) Movie CLIP - Hellboy Smokes ...

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?

B.P.R.D., Vol. 6: The Universal Machine by Mike Mignola

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…

johann krauss | Tumblr

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.

Johann Kraus (@Johann_Kraus32) | Twitter

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.

If you can be any dark horse comics character, who would you be ...

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.

Today’s song:

Hope you enjoyed this post, everyone! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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