DeConnick, et al. – Bitch Planet

Bitch Planet, Book One:: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, et al.

Date read: 10 July 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of DeConnick, et al. Bitch Planet, book one: Extraordinary Machine

Paperback, [156 pages]
Published 2015 by Image Comics [Originally published in single magazine form as Bitch Planet #1-5]
Source: Deschutes Public Library via Jefferson County [GRAPHIC Bitch V.1]

I enjoyed this quite a bit and would like to see where it goes but the next volume does not come out until 8 November. I will have no idea who the characters are anymore or what happened up till now in the story by then. Perhaps when a few more volumes come out (assuming they do) I will come back and revisit it.

Rated Mature as contains nudity, cursing, and violence. Its themes and subject headings are Women prisoners and Penal colonies. So think, Women in prison (exploitation) films and novels but within an exclusively patriarchal corporate political system.

As I said, I quite enjoyed it but personally I prefer there be more of a story published before I get into it.

There is already a fair bit of social commentary but these first 5 issues contained in this volume are still background for the story so not as much as would be possible in a developed world/context.

Recommended for fans of feminism, women in prison exploitation films, social commentary, and so on.

This is the 34th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

 

Toboso – Black Butler III & IV

Black Butler III and IV by Yana Toboso; translation by Tomo Kimura.
Date read: 06 June and 7-10 June 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image for Black Butler IIICover image for Black Butler IV

Paperback, 194 pages each
Published 2010 by Square Enix Co., Ltd. [First published in Japan 2008, same publisher] and 2011 [First published in Japan 2008, same publisher]
Source: Jefferson County Library via Deschutes Public Library [YG Black Butler (v.3) and [YG Black Butler (v.4)]

I wrote about I and II here.

My prediction was correct. I read III in one sitting but IV took almost 4 days; life did interrupt but I also simply was not motivated to finish it.

Via Goodreads:

Description of III:

“Terrorizing its populace, Jack the Ripper has shaken London to its very core. But when Sebastian Michaelis, singular butler of the Phantomhive house, lays bare the madman’s true identity, all that is left for him to do is eliminate the perpetrator in the name of the Queen and Phantomhive. But inhumanly efficient skills don’t guarantee victory when the opponent is just as supernaturally gifted! And though Sebastian may be able to save Ciel from physical harm in the battle that ensues, will the young earl ever recover from the emotional scars it will leave on his heart? “

Description of IV:

“London – the capital of the Great Empire – is once again under siege, as a string of bizarre attacks on British citizens returned from India sends rumours flying and casts a pall upon Queen Victoria’s rule. Sent in by Her Majesty, young Earl Phantomhive and his most capable butler, Sebastian, follow a trail that collides head-on with an Indian youth who claims to be a prince. And this prince possesses an extraordinary butler of his own! As an intense rivalry between the two butlers begins to form, will the kitchen be the dueling duo’s final battleground?!”

There are at least 7 more in English and more after that possibly only in Japanese still. Not worried abut it. It might be for you. Got repetitive—almost “monster-of-the-week” for me.

Sorry this isn’t really much of a review. Not caring about these much especially a week or more later.

This is the 32nd and 33rd book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 11th and 12th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader, which means I have “completed” it. The max is 11-12 books for “Linguist.” I personally consider this a seriously low number but whatever. I hope and intend to read more translations but this gamified portion of my motivation no longer drives at this point.

Love – Bayou, volume two

Bayou, volume two by Jeremy Love and Patrick Morgan
Date read: 06 June 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Bayou, volume two by Jeremy Love

Paperback, unpaged
Published 2010 by DC Comics
Source: Summit request [Portland Community College]

Based on what I can tell from both Goodreads and Amazon there are only 2 volumes of this, this being the last and published in 2010. That’s a shame as the story certainly wasn’t over. I would definitely read more of this story.

From both GR and Amazon:

“South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters; a world parallel to our own, born from centuries of slavery, civil war, and hate. Lee Wagstaff is the daughter of a black sharecropper in the depression-era town of Charon, Mississippi. When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee’s father is accused of kidnapping. Lee’s only hope is to follow Lily’s trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues singing, swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee’s father from being lynched. BAYOU VOL. 2 collects four new chapters of the critically acclaimed web comic series by Glyph Award nominee Jeremy Love.“

I really like this story and I like that it has mostly African-American characters and that most (all?) whites that show up are bad people. But Lee’s trying to save her white friend and her father. Life is fucking complex. I wish there were more.

My review of the first volume is here.

Recommended.

This is the 31st book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Love and Love – Shadow Rock

Shadow Rock by Jeremy Love and Robert Love
Date read: 06 June 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

LoveLoveShadowRock

Paperback, 80 pages
Published 2006 by Dark Horse Books
Source: Deschutes Public Library [J Graphic Novel LOVE JEREMY]

This is a cute book by various members of the Love family that I requested from my public library, due to looking for the Bayou books.

This is certainly for a younger audience than the Bayou books. It is a paranormal murder mystery that while perhaps missing some nuance as such has African American characters including one of the main ones, and class and race issues, along with other important topics being brought in. Life is complicated even if the mystery aspect of the book is not.

The artwork is solid and always supports the story quite well.

Highly recommended for 10-years or so on up.

This is the 30th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Dunegan – Best Hikes Near Bend

Best Hikes Near Bend (A Falcon Guide)( Best hikes near series) by Lizann Dunegan
Date read: 6 April 2015 – 5 June 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016nfc

Image of the cover of Lizann Dunegan's Best Hikes Near Bend

Paperback, viii, 223 pages
Published 2014 by FalconGuides
Source: Own

This one took me a while, primarily due to one or two very long reading breaks. It is actually a fairly quick read, if one were to read it cover-to-cover like I did.

Bottom line: Highly recommended for hiking in the vicinity of Bend.

The book is “endorsed” by the American Hiking Society, as their emblem is on the cover, but I can find no other info in the book regarding such agency. No idea if they are the premier US hiking organization or fall somewhere else on the spectrum. http://www.americanhiking.org/

The book contains 40 hikes around the Bend area. And, yes, Pilot Butte is hike #1, as it should be [Haven’t talked about the butte here in a while, have I?].

Here is the map used to show you what that means:

Image of the map showing region covered as near Bend.

There is also a short introduction with some [but not much] information on weather, flora and fauna, wilderness restrictions/regulations; a how to use this guide section; a trail finder which covers waterfalls, great views, for children, for dogs, streams, lakes, nature, and history.

Next comes the 40 hikes and then a 23-page section called the Art of Hiking, which covers the following: trail etiquette, getting into shape, preparedness [water, treating water, food, shelter, finding a campsite], first aid [general, sunburn, blisters, insect bites and stings, ticks, poison ivy, oak and sumac, snakebites, dehydration, heat exhaustion, hypothermia, frostbite, altitude sickness (AMS), Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS)]; natural hazards [lightning, bears, mountain lions, other considerations]; navigation [maps, compasses, GPS, pedometers]; trip planning with checklists for day hikes and overnight trips; equipment [clothes, footwear, hiking poles, backpacks, sleeping bags and pads, cellphones; hiking with children, hiking with your dog; and an index.

Each hike has an overview which covers why you might be interested, what else you will see, etc. Then there is a big box with all of the important info summarized (start, distance, hiking time, difficulty (and why), trail surface, best season, ….

Then there is a more fleshed out description and photos, followed by a clear map of the hike, miles and directions [turn-by-turn, if you will], options and hike information.

I found the format to be clear and highly useful. I have done a few of these hikes but I look forward to doing several more; hopefully soon for one or two. The author also does a good job in the text of telling us where we need mosquito/insect repellent.

Highly recommended if looking for a hiking guide book of trails “near” Bend. Use the scan of the map above to determine whether they are near enough to Bend for you.

This is the 19th book in my Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Stevenson – Nimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Date read: 01-02 June 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image from the graphic novel Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Paperback, 266 pages
Published 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic Novel STEVENSON NOELLE]

A supervillian and a sidekick. Institution. Good vs. evil. But which is which?

An entertaining story that demonstrates the moral complexities of life, and of the labels we use in that arena of thought.

My wife requested it from the public library for some reason and thought I might like it. I most certainly did!

The lettering borders on tiny frequently, but it otherwise is readable and legible. The drawing style is not extremely nuanced or detailed but almost always tells the story extremely effectively. There are only a very few panels where I’m like, “Not sure what that was …,” unlike say the two manga by Toboso that I read right before it where it frequently happened (and other manga, and other graphic novels). So while I would’ve preferred the lettering just a bit bigger most of the time (old eyes with slight astigmatism and serious shortsightedness), I found the text and images worked extremely well together to tell the story with neither getting in the way or being all flashy and attracting attention to one or the other.

I found this a rather endearing and morally complicated story which I think is a great story for teens (and adults). There’s plenty of negativity and broodiness and Nimona is just a girl (or is she?) and such a bad-ass with a go-getter, in-your-face attitude. Circumstances made Lord Blackheart a supervillian but his heart really isn’t in it. Who is the villain or hero, and who is the sidekick? And does that imply that the sidekick is neither villain or hero?

There are nemeses, dragons, science and symbolism and many other exciting things in this endearing tale of friendships.

The author’s bio:

“Noelle Stevenson has been nominated for Harvey Award and was awarded the Slate Cartoonist Studio Prize for Best Web Comic in 2012 for Nimona. A graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, Noelle is the cowriter of Lumberjanes. She lives in Los Angeles.

Visit her online at www.gingerhaze.com.“

I have heard great things about Lumberjanes and it appears she has several webcomics available—although only a part of Nimona is still—if you wanted to check her work out for free. Also there’s the library which we used.

This the the 29th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Toboso – Black Butler I & II

Black Butler I & II by Yana Toboso; Tomo Kimura, translation; Tania Biswas, lettering
Date read: 01 June 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars each
Challenges: 201gnc 2016transl

Image of the cover of Yana Toboso's Black Butler I

Image of the cover of Yana Toboso's Black Butler I

 

Paperback [manga]: I = 186+ pages; II = 180+ pages
Published I = First Yen Press Edition 2010 [Kuroshitsuji Vol. 1 © 2007] by Yen Press [Square Enix co., Ltd.]; II = Yen Press 2010 [Kuroshitsuji Vol. 2 © 2007] by Yen Press [Square Enix co., Ltd.]
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Jefferson County Lib. district] [YG Black Butler (v.1) & YG Black Butler (v.2)

These were a quick, sitting in the sun in the backyard read yesterday. There are many more but I will probably try just a few more and then get bored. So many others out there. I did already request III and IV, though. They are manga so read from back to front for us Westerners.

From the back cover of I:
“Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant … and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true … or at least, too good to be human …”

If you understand the genre of blurb writing, then you realize that that story synopsis is mostly, but not entirely, true, and the story is certainly a bit more complicated than that might suggest.

Incompetent servants as additional, but mostly harmless, foils to the butler. Demons, evil geniuses, kidnappings, billiards, dinner parties, martial arts, and much more. What’s not to love?

These are the 27th and 28th books in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

These are the 9th and 10th books in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader

Dysart, et al. – Neil Young’s Greendale

Neil Young’s Greendale by Joshua Dysart (writer), Cliff Chiang (artist), Dave Stewart (colorist), Todd Klein (letterer)

Date read: 30 May 2016
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Neil Young's Greendale by Joshua Dysar

Hardback, unnumbered
Published 2010 by Young Family Trust and DC Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Teen Graphic novel DYSART JOSH]

I greatly enjoyed this. It went places I hadn’t imagined and it’s far more complex than it needs to be as if there are more Green family stories out there still to be told. Almost makes me tingle.

Let me back up. I heard and acquired this album when it came out in mid-2003 and listened to it many, many times. I was fully immersed in Greendale lore as either directly elucidated or as hinted at on the album. I truly wanted to have a serious “book discussion group” about this album as a text, as a narrative. I was at university at the time and was well-integrated into a couple of those sorts of discussion groups then so it made some sense. Sadly, it never happened. The album truly is that complex. There is one other album from around the same time that I believe merits the same treatment, Poe’s Haunted.

Greendale (the album is Young’s twenty-sixth studio album and his ninth with Crazy Horse. My copy was one of those which “… was originally released with a DVD of live “Neil-only” acoustic performance of the Greendale material from Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland.” So this was another interpretation.

At some point I also got the movie, which gave another spin on the story. Clearly, Greendale was a rich mental ecosystem for Young.

This graphic novel adaptation by Joshua Dysart and others, with a short intro by Neil (and supposedly some direct involvement) really expands the world while keeping the story the same. It really is pretty brilliant. I honestly think I want to own a copy of this. As I said above, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Greendale on a fairly serious level.

Highly recommended whether or not you know the album or even if you can’t stand Neil Young (I know those people exist; I don’t hold it against them.).

I really wish there was more of this world, perhaps exploring more of those members of the family who barely made a complicating appearance.

Description from Vertigo website:

“Legendary singer-songwriter, musician and activist Neil Young brings one of his most personal albums, GREENDALE, to comics. Overseeing the work of acclaimed writer Joshua Dysart (UNKNOWN SOLDIER) and fan-favorite artist Cliff Chiang (HUMAN TARGET), they compose a graphic novel that explores a whole new dimension to the album that Rolling Stone voted as one of the best of its year.In the Fall of 2003, as the nation gallops into war, a politically active teenage girl named Sun lives, loves and dreams in a small California town named Greendale.Sun’s always been different. There’s been talk that the women in her family have all had a preternatural communion with nature. And when a Stranger comes to town – a character whose presence causes Greendale to, well, go to hell – she’ll find herself on a journey both mystical and mythical. To face the Stranger, she’ll unearth the secrets of her family in a political coming-of-age story infused with its own special magic.”

This is the 26th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Love – Bayou, volume one

Bayou, volume one by Jeremy Love

Date read: 29 May 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc

Cover image of Jeremy Love's Bayou, volume one

Paperback, unpaged
Published 2009 by [Zuda Comics] DC Comics
Source: Deschutes Public Library [Graphic Novel LOVE JEREMY]

No idea where I heard of this one; has been in my Goodreads list since June 2014 and I failed to mention why. Hints at from Goodreads itself then, but who knows?

Excellent! And not your typical fare either. African-American magical realism in the swamps of Nawlins. I am hoping to get the second volume soon but I had to go a different route. Deschutes Public Library only has the first. I am hoping I can get it via Summit and Portland Community College. I have a request out.

Not for the young due to explicit and overt racism, violence, and other forms of pointing out the ugly truth of US history.

Not a nice place but it seems to be a magical place. I truly hope I get to read more.

 

This is the 25th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

Tezuka – Apollo’s Song

Apollo’s Song by Osamu Tezuka
Date read: 07-08 May 2016
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Challenges: 2016gnc 2016tranls

Cover image of Osamu Tezuka's Apollo's Song

Paperback, 541 pages
Published 2007 by Vertical (originally serialized in Japanese as Aporo no Uta in Shukan Shōnen Kingu, Shōnen Gahōsha, 1970
Source: Deschutes Public Library

I wish I had more to say about this. I quite enjoyed it but looking back through it today (14 May) there are large bits I simply do not remember. [I also have the flu right now and am not quite in my right mind and I read it a week ago so….]

Due to a bad upbringing, a young man unknowingly pisses off a vengeful goddess who condemns him to the eternal pain of (the eternal) loss of love.

The back cover says it for Ages 16+

Description from the inside back cover:

“Apollo’s Song reaches Olympian heights of tragedy as the story proceeds from a Nazi concentration camp to a dystopian future where human beings are persecuted by an ascendent race of their own clones. Will Shogo ever attain redemption, or, like the human race itself, will he have to relearn row lessons of love forever? Is it better to have loved and lost if the heartbreak must recur eternally?

Love, propagation, nature, war, death—Tezuka holds his trademark cornucopia of concerns together with striking characterizations, an unfailing sense of pacing, and of course, stunning imagery.”

I also read the author’s Ode to Kirihito back in January. 

This is my 24th book in this year’s Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge [I got to 24 last year by mid-March but that was almost all I was reading then. I’ve read vastly differently this year so far] which completes the middle level of the challenge for me. The last one is Silver Age with 52 books. Even at this pace—which has not been strenuous—I would be past 52 by the end of the year. So, onward! And if I don’t quite make it I read other things and/or had no time to post reviews.

This is the 24th book in my 2016 9th Annual Graphic Novel/Manga Challenge Sign-Ups

This is the 8th book in my Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader