Barrier (Brian K. Vaughan’s New Mini-Series!)

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One of the comics I had been most excited to get my hot little hands on during Free Comic Book Day was the first issue to Brian K. Vaughan’s new miniseries, Barrier. I literally knew almost nothing about it other than that it is written by BKV, and that was good enough for me given how much I (along with the rest of the universe) have been loving Saga. ❀

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I started reading the first issue to Barrier this morning, assuming it would be a very quick read, and that I would soon be on my merry way doing other things with my day. Boy, was I wrong. This proved to be a much longer read, because I spent about half of it using Google’s translator so that I could understand all the parts in Spanish. Which is fine, I just wasn’t expecting it. And because I’m a Super Pal, I even wrote down the translations in case anyone else *cough cough Cupcakes and Machetes cough* or my boyfriend also wanted to read it, but didn’t feel like doing the leg work to translate it. πŸ˜›

(Or if any of you guys are planning on reading it and don’t want to go through and translate it yourself, let me know and I’ll hook you up!) πŸ˜‰

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ANYWAY, onto the story itself. Barrier follows two main characters from two very different walks of life. On one hand, we have Liddy, an American rancher who feels threatened after finding one of her horse’s decapitated heads, skinned and missing its eyes. Talk of “El Chupacabra” and even UFO-related cattle mutilations is quickly dismissed by Liddy who is confident that this is a warning from the cartel that plans on using her land to run their drugs. On edge, she begins exploring her options to protect her land, her animals, and herself. Our other main character, Oscar, is a Honduran young man who is attempting to make his way over the border into the United States. We don’t learn a whole lot about him in the first issue, but we do get a hint that he has something very important in his notebook, and that he may know more about what’s really going on than it originally seems.

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The two cross paths on Liddy’s property when Oscar is injured and she is armed and ready to shoot as their respective languages create a barrier (heh, I see what they did there) between them. Just then, SOMETHING pretty crazy happens, but we’ll leave that on a fairly vague note. Let’s just say, that I am definitely ready to check out the rest of this miniseries that will be released in single issues throughout the month of May in five total installments. πŸ™‚

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I look forward to seeing these two characters forced together by bizarre circumstances will interact with one another, how they will be able to communicate, and what is going to happen to them. I also want to learn more about what Oscar seems to know already. Brian K Vaughn is amazing at creating characters who you want to keep reading about, so I am really looking forward to seeing what he does with Liddy and Oscar the more we get to know them. Marcos Martin (the artist) and Munsta Vicente (the colorist) do a great job bringing the story to life with their illustrations and vivid colors, from the characters themselves to the rough landscapes. I can’t wait to see what they do in the next installments since I think things are really about to take a turn for the crazy.

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I know some people may be put off by not being able to understand part of the dialogue if they don’t speak Spanish or are unwilling to look up translations, but I think the language barrier actually adds to this story. BKV knows what he’s doing as a writer, so I trust what he has in mind for this project. Blending science fiction with the often-debated topic of immigration, I think we’re in for a really interesting story. Like Saga, this one is for mature readers only. I heard some parents getting pretty heated during Free Comic Book Day because there’s some adult content in this, so just something to keep in mind. This one is not intended for the kiddos! πŸ˜‰

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May The 4th Be With You!

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Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!! ❀

After several super-busy weeks, I’m finally all moved and ready for things to start settling back into something vaguely resembling normalcy. I’ve missed all you fine and fancy folks and your snazzy blogs, so I’m looking forward to playing catch-up this weekend with plenty or reading and commenting. πŸ™‚

Hoping to start posting much more frequently again now that I’m getting more settled into the new job and new place. And what better day to hop back into things than Star Wars Day?? πŸ˜€ That said, let the memes commence!!

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Happy Valentine’s Day / Book Tag! xoxo

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Woo! Happy Valentine’s Day, luvvies! ❀ ❀ ❀ I’ve decided to participate in the Valentine’s Day Book Tag I’ve been seeing pop up all over WP lately. No one tagged me, but I thought it looked like fun, so let’s have at it!

1.) Standalone book you love

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Hmm . . . I’ve suddenly come to realize that I don’t read very many standalone books. Unless it’s a non-fiction one, of course, but that just felt like it didn’t count when I considered those titles. Animal Farm was probably my favorite assigned reading from school, and it’s just a great book in general.

2.) Dystopian book you love

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This series is just SO good! I’m currently picking away at the third in the series, and it’s been so good right off the bat. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it after completing Golden Son.

3.) A book that you love but no one else talks about

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It’s so fun getting to talk about books with people, but this is one title I have yet to get to discuss with anyone else.

4.) Favorite book couple

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I’m cheating. I’m going with my favorite comic book couple. πŸ˜› There just really aren’t a lot of books where I am 100% invested in the actual couple presented, but I am all about Alana and Marko from Saga.

5.) A book that other people love but you haven’t read yet

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I have seen SO MANY good reviews for this book. It sounds amazing and I feel all the shame for not having read it yet. “SHAME . . . SHAME . . . SHAME” *rings bell* πŸ˜›

6.) A book with red on the cover

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7.) A book with pink on the cover

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8.) You were given a box of chocolates. What fictional boyfriend or girlfriend would have given them to you?

Honestly, not a lot of the guys in the books I read really seem like the chocolate-giving sort. I think the sweetest fictional male character I’ve read about recently would be Lazlo Strange from Strange the Dreamer, but I mean, he just seems like a thoughtful and good-hearted guy in general, so I guess we’ll go with him. Although, with his brilliantly imaginative mind, I think he could come up with something wayyyy cooler than chocolates! πŸ˜›

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9.) You are single on Valentine’s Day. What book would you read? What TV show would you watch? What movie would you watch?

Pshhh, like I’d have to be single to want to read a book on Valentine’s Day! I don’t really have anything that comes to mind that would be Valentine’s-specific, so we’ll just go with stuff I am reading and would watch today whether it was Valentine’s Day or not.

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This collection features 15 of Edward Gorey’s morbid little works. I’d previously read Gorey’s The Gashlycrumb Tinies, which features 26 ill-fated children, the name of each starting with a different letter of the alphabet, so it has been interesting reading more of his dark and twisted short stories and poems.

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My boyfriend and I have slowly been chiseling away at this Hulu show, Future Man. It’s hilarious, and over the top with its violence, gore, and inappropriate humor. I wish we had more time so we could just binge-watch it to completion!

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I’ve really been wanting to watch this one. With Guillermo del Toro at the helm, how could I not?

10.) All of a sudden you get shot by Cupid’s arrow. What new release will you love?

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There is no doubt in my mind that I will love this book just as much as I have loved Pierce Brown’s other books. ❀

Oh, and since it’s already Valentine’s Day I’d just say consider yourself tagged if you think this looks fun. πŸ™‚ Life has been a complete ball of chaos and madness lately so I waited til now to do this, so have at it if you’d like to be a last minute participant, too. Slackers Unite!! πŸ˜€

A Smattering of Mini-Reviews

How in the heck is the first month of the new year already almost over?? Where is the time thief that is responsible for this madness? I demand answers! Seriously, though, every year that goes by makes me feel like time just keeps slipping by quicker and quicker.

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I noticed that I’ve been slacking a bit in posting reviews for some of the stuff I’ve been reading and watching lately. Time’s really been getting away from me with everything that’s been going on, but I still want to shine a little spotlight on some of the stuff I’ve been enjoying in the past few weeks, so I bring you this post of mini-reviews! πŸ˜€ It’ll be like a little sampling rather than a full course of reviews, but I think it’ll certainly get the job done. πŸ˜‰

The Plucker, by Gerald Brom:

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This illustrated novel was a real treat. I’ve been a fan of Brom’s work for quite some time. Growing up, my mom had multiple books featuring his artwork and I was hooked from a young age. I loved the dark and twisted aesthetic he had going on. One of the things I like about Brom’s novels, is that he carries over his wonderful artwork and includes tons of illustrations, sketches, and paintings to accompany the story he is telling.

When a young boy’s father unwittingly brings him a gift containing an evil spirit known as the Plucker, it quickly makes itself at home and decides to claim the boy’s life for its own. It begins its reign of terror by going after the boy’s toys, the very things the child has poured so much of himself and his love into. Thus, the toys in this book have a life force all their own, one the Plucker is keen on taking to build up the needed strength to claim the soul of the boy and take over his body. What the Plucker has no way of realizing, is that aside from his toys, the boy also has one badass little old lady for a nanny. One who knows some things about magic herself. It’s a good story with fantastic artwork. I gave it 4/5 stars.

Stranger Things 2, on Netflix:

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Remember when I mentioned how busy I’ve been and how fast time has been flying by? That’s the only explanation I have for why it took me sooooo long to finallyΒ  finish watching the second season of Stranger Things. I (and countless others) love this show and the awesome 80’s dose of nostalgia it’s been rocking. Season 2 was awesome. We met some new characters, got to see older characters continue to grow, and learn some more about “the Upside Down”. The horror element of the show continues to grow in a really satisfying slow-burn sort of way, but it never feels dull and boring because you love the characters so damn much. This was a solid second season to a great show, and I may have even liked it more than I liked the first season, which is really saying something. I would give it 5/5 stars. Can’t wait for season 3!

Phantasmagoria and Other Poems, by Lewis Carroll:

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One of my reading goals for this year is to read more poetry books since it isn’t really something I’ve read a whole lot of. Since I have always been a fan of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, I definitely wanted to check out this book of poems from Carroll. I’ll admit, I wasn’t as smitten with this as I thought I was going to be. I liked the titular poem Phantasmagoria the best of the lot, finding that it had the most character to it. It tells the tale of a little ghost who has mistakenly come to haunt the wrong house. Carroll has a certain easy-to-read quirky charm to his poems, but this book wasn’t my favorite of his works. 3/5 stars for this one.

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur:

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Another book of poems! πŸ™‚ This was a quick and moving read. I admire Rupi Kaur’s ability to pour her soul out onto the pages of this book. Divided into different categories, the poems contained cover topics like love and loss, surviving after trauma, and the power and unity of femininity. I think many of us will be able to find something they can identify with or relate to somewhere in Milk and Honey. 4/5 stars.

The Bear and the Nightingale, by Katherine Arden:

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I can’t believe I somehow never got around to reviewing this one. I read The Bear and the Nightingale with my book club ladies in December, and it made for the perfect winter read. It was both enchanting and addicting. Much like how the main character Vasilisa is enthralled with the fairy tales she is told growing up, you will become enthralled by the one she winds up living. Russian folklore and mythology enrich the story, and the backdrop of winter is capable of being both cruel and kind, with moments that are cozy and heartwarming, and others that are harsh and bitter. 4/5 stars.

 

A Look at Low, Volumes 1 through 4

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Sebastian the Crab was dead wrong when he said everything was better under the sea. It’s not a bunch of dancing fish and singing crustaceans like Disney would like for you to believe.

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No, it’s nothing quite so nice as all that. It’s more like hordes of deep sea pirates out for your blood, aquatic abominations that want to eat your face, and corrupt leaders who want to keep hope and morale, well, “low”. (You just knew that pun was gonna be used somewhere in this review. May as well get it out of the way now.) πŸ˜‰

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So, for something a wee bit different, I’ve decided to go ahead and review the first 4 volumes of Low in this one post, rather than review them each separately. The main reason for this, is that I experienced very mixed feelings while reading this series. As I’ve mentioned before, Low wasn’t one of those reads that I was head-over-heels in love with upon finishing the first volume. In fact, if my boyfriend hadn’t already bought the three other volumes, I probably would have ceased reading this series altogether. I hate to say that because I had really been looking forward to reading it and I enjoyed the overall concept, just not the execution, I suppose. It’s always a bummer when you feel like you wanted to like something so much more than you actually did, and that’s exactly how I was left feeling. Fortunately, this series improved dramatically as I continued reading it. Volume 1 may have been a rough start, and definitely my least favorite of the four volumes, but I’m glad I carried on and continued reading the story.

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Low, Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope introduces us to a grim future for humankind where, due to the sun’s lethal radiation, humans have been forced to live in the dark abyss of the world’s oceans. It’s been a very long time since humans left the surface behind, and resources are dwindling to the point of no return as we meet our central characters, the Caine family. This is a very busy volume with a LOT going on, and also the longest of the four installments. So, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of it and talk pros and cons regarding this particular volume.

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PROS:

  • A really cool concept. The whole post-apocalyptic science fiction set in the deep, dark vastness of our oceans had me completely psyched to read this.
  • The artwork and colors are lovely. Greg Tocchini (the artist) and Dave McCaig (the colorist) do a good job bringing to life the beauty and oftentimes horror of the world and characters that Rick Remender (the writer) has created.

CONS:

  • This series does have some decent character development overall, but I wasn’t feeling it whatsoever in this first volume. One character in particular has a complete moral shift in gears and character change over the course of a time hop so we’re given like no actual evidence of him growing or changing, he just does so between his last appearance and the next, and it’s honestly quite jarring.
  • Okay, I’m certainly no prude, I’ve generally got no issues with sex and nudity, but this was just . . . a bit much. Tons of female nudity and abuse, women being used for sex and then having extreme violence inflicted on them immediately after, orgies everywhere, etc. A lot of the outfits the female characters wear seem like they were designed that way simply because “tits” and “ass”. Again, this complaint is coming from someone who doesn’t typically shy away from mature content, but the male gaze was sooo prevalent in this one.
  • There’s an overall β€œalways have hope” message in Low, and it felt especially preachy in this volume. It left me feeling like I’d had it hammered in my face over and over and over again. I get that it’s a good message to put out there, but the sheer repetitiveness of it was maddening at times.

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Low, Vol. 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us is where the series begins to get get a little better, in my opinion. In this installment, we see some of the bigger complaints I had with the start of Low slowly begin to simmer down. I also began feeling more invested in the characters and what was going on. The stakes are getting higher, and we get to learn more about different characters and different places with their own big bads. I found myself going from not liking Low by the end of the first volume, to liking it by the end of this one. Was I in love with the series at this point? No, but I did like it.

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Low, Vol. 3: Shore of the Dying Light is, without a doubt, the volume that I liked the most. Tensions are on the rise and there’s a lot at risk in this installment. Also, it is hands down the volume with the least blatant overuse of pointless female nudity which, I’m sorry, has been a real issue for me through this series. You can tell the intentions are for several of the characters to be represented as strong female characters, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little undermined when you randomly have one of those characters in a fight scene in volume 2 where she’s suddenly totally topless because reasons. I mean, come the hell on. Volume 3 was a nice reprieve from this sort of thing.

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Low, Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes takes us back to some of the events that went down in volume 1 and reveals something pretty interesting and story-changing events that unfolded. There’s plenty of action in this one and some trickery and surprises. It leaves off on a point that has me curious to see where the story will go when volume 5 comes out. It’s not going to kill me to wait for it like it does with some other stories from Image.

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All in all, this series grew on me the more I read of it. I was curious to see what others were thinking of Low overall, so I looked up other reviews and they really varied. Some people loved volume 1 the most and felt it never really reached that high again, but I felt volume 1 was the worst of the lot and that it only improved from there. A lot of people felt the same way I did about all the gratuitous female nudity. Yes, there was some male nudity as well, but it was like a light breeze compared to a hurricane. Most people, like myself, were fans of the artwork, but some found it muddy and hard to follow at points. So, it seems this series is a real mixed bag for people. Have you read Low? Do you have plans to read the series? I’d absolutely love to see what you think of it. πŸ™‚

If I had to give a star rating for each volume of this series it would go as such:

Volume 1: The Delirium of Hope: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Volume 2: Before the Dawn Burns Us: 3 out of 5 stars

Volume 3: Shore of the Dying Light: 4 out of 5 stars

Volume 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes: 3 out of 5 stars

Books + Winter = BLISS.

As much as I grumble about the bitter cold and snow and ice of winter, even I can admit that there is a special kind of coziness to winter reading. Being all bundled up with plenty of blankets and something warm to drink while you read makes for a pretty cozy bit of relaxation.

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I’m juggling a few different books/comics at the moment. One I’ve slowly been chiseling away at is Strange the Dreamer, and it is utterly amazing. I tend to read it before work every day (as long as I haven’t wasted too much time rebelling against adulting that particular morning by refusing to get out of bed.) It’s the kind of book that could easily be devoured quickly, but I’ve been enjoying picking at it here and there and savoring the experience. I love Laini Taylor’s writing and indulging in this beautifully imaginative story each day before work helps start my morning off on the right foot. ❀

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Another thing I’ve been reading as of late is the comic series Low. It’s one I had been really excited to get into, and since my boyfriend is a fan of Rick Remender’s writing, he went ahead and bought the first 4 volumes for us to read. I’ll admit, I wasn’t really feeling this series upon finishing volume 1. In fact, if my boyfriend hadn’t already purchased volumes 2, 3, and 4, I probably would have stopped reading it. However, I decided to continue on and it is slowly getting better. Some of my major complaints have been resolved mostly (for now at least). We’ll see how it goes as I continue reading these first 4 volumes. Because of my conflicted feelings regarding the series so far, I’ve decided to wait and do a review of the first four volumes rather than doing them 1 at a time. I hope it continues to improve the further I get into the story because there are several elements to it that I do really enjoy.

The other story I’m currently reading is Gerald Brom’s book,Β The Plucker. First off, this book is a pretty one, so we have to talk about that. It’s a big lovely hardcover book filled to the brim with Brom’s dark and twisted artwork with a story to match. At first glance, one may take it for a “children’s book” since it is full of illustrations, but with the swearing, crass humor, and elements of horror throughout, it is certainly not intended for children. Unless the children involved are literal demons. Then maybe. The story is centered around a young boy and his toys and the dangerous predatory spirit now plaguing them. It’s sort of like if you mixed Toy Story or The Nutcracker with Evil Dead 2 and The Exorcist. πŸ˜› It’s a fun read so far.

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Other recent reads of the new year include Saga, volume 8 (which I just recently reviewed), and Lewis Carroll’s Phantasmagoria and Other Poems. This weekend I intend to start reading Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, which I am really excited about.

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So, what recent books have you been enjoying? Have you read any of these stories yet? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on them!

Saga, Vol. 8 (No-Spoiler) Review

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Woo! First review (and post) of the New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year’s Eve and an amazing start to 2018 so far. ❀ My boyfriend helped assure that much for me by stopping by our local comic book store New Year’s Eve and picking up this delightful title that just came out at the end of December. Needless to say, I about screamed with joy when he pulled into the parking lot and revealed his master plan.

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Brian K. Vaughan (the writer) and Fiona Staples (the illustrator) continue to weave their outlandish space opera of epic proportions in this volume, but add in some of the fun of the Old Wild West along the way. I don’t want to get into any spoiler territory, so we’ll keep things fairly vague as I talk about my feelings on this volume. And trust me, I got plenty of the feels for this series. ❀

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One thing I really like about the series as a whole is that it has a lot of heart, but not in a corny, mushy, or preachy sort of way. This volume is no exception. It continues to explore the theme of family, and what exactly family means when you really get down to it. It challenges convention at every turn and makes no apologies, and I utterly love it for that. ❀

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We see old and new faces alike in this volume and are presented with some pretty interesting “what-if” moments. It confronts deep-rooted feelings of both tragedy and hope head-on and still continues to surprise the reader with just about every turn of the page. This is a series that can make you cry one moment and then laugh another.

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Volume for volume, Saga makes for a quick, intense and often-times hilarious and utterly random emotional roller coaster. The characters are so well-written and full of their own troubles and flaws that it makes them feel completely human despite, ya know, the whole televisions for heads, and having horns and/or wings thing.

I honestly feel that just about everyone can find SOMETHING they can relate to somewhere in this series. So, if you have yet to hop on the Saga bandwagon, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???! Do yourself a favor and GET. ON. THAT.

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5/5 Stars.