Sunday, October 30, 2016

My September Reading: Monsters, Assassins and Magical Swords

My September reading is introduced to you by Stone Owl Duo (there's a smol owl hiding inside ^^).

  • Marjorie M. Liu “Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening” [USA] – art by Sana Takeda
  • Мигель Гаярдо “Мария и я” (Miguel Gallardo “María y yo”) [Spain] 
  • Sarah J. Maas “Throne of Glass” [USA] 
  • Darcie Little Badger, T. Hueston “Shining Ascension” Issues #1 and #2 [USA] – art by Nick Robles 
  • Kati Närhi “Saniaislehdon salaisuudet” (Agnes #1) [Finland] 
  • H.G. Wells “The Invisible Man” [UK] 61
  • Noriko Ogiwara “Dragon Sword and Wind Child” (Tales of the Magatama #1) [Japan]  
  • Takako Shimura “Wandering Son” vol.4 [Japan]  

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening
“Set in an alternate world of art deco beauty and steampunk horror, Monstress tells the epic story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage survivors of a cataclysmic war between humans and their hated enemies, the Arcanics. In the face of oppression and terrible danger, Maika is both hunter and hunted, searching for answers about her mysterious past as those who seek to use her remain just one step behind...and all the while, the monster within begins to awaken...”

I loooooved it! Gorgeous art, the art was gorgeous, also have I mentioned gorgeous art? The story is very dark, lots of violence but it didn't feel gratuitous. It has a large cast of intriguing characters including talking cats. Usually not enough happens in one volume of a comic for me, but this book is packed with adventures and intrigue. Sometimes it was even a bit overwhelming how much happens on every page (but in a good way). Can't wait for the second volume!

Мария и я (María y yo)
“«Мария и я» – это автобиографическая рисованная история о каникулах двенадцатилетней девочки Марии и её отца. В ней воссозданы бытовые случаи, с которыми сталкиваются сотни семей с ребёнком-аутистом. Но на самом деле это целое приключение, где приходится преодолевать трудности оттого, что мир вокруг нас плохо приспособлен для таких, как Мария, и далеко не все, кого она встречает на своём пути, готовы её понять. В 2008 году это произведение было удостоено Национальной премии Правительства Каталонии, а в 2010 году по книге был снят одноименный полнометражный документальный фильм.”

A sweet Spanish comic about an autistic girl and her father and how they spend a vacation together.

Throne of Glass
“In the dark, filthy salt mines of Endovier, an eighteen-year-old girl is serving a life sentence. She is a trained assassin, the best of her kind, but she made a fatal mistake. She got caught.
Young Captain Westfall offers her a deal: her freedom in return for one huge sacrifice. Celaena must represent the prince in a to-the-death tournament—fighting the most gifted thieves and assassins in the land. Live or die, Celaena will be free. Win or lose, she is about to discover her true destiny. But will her assassin’s heart be melted?”

When the action was shown instead of summarised (so many plot summaries in this book!), it was quite entertaining. It's just the “I'm soooo very beautiful oh look there are two handsome guys who do I choose they are both sooo handsome?!” thing was tiring… There is a murderer on the loose, you need to train for the challenging competition but you spend your time dressing up, flirting and eating candy (sent anonymously so it could be a poisoned gift from that murderer but she isn't cautious at all), and I just… This was supposed to be the best assassin in the world, right? But she doesn't behave like a competent killer. People walk into her room while she's sleeping and she just doesn't notice. Now I can't say I didn't enjoy the book at all, the plot was at times intriguing, but I didn't like the heroine and how her abilities were described but rarely shown.

Also this part. She supposedly remembers little yet a lot is described from her PoV. Consistency!

Shining Ascension Issues #1-2 
Ongoing fantasy webcomic with beautiful art and cute characters. Also many wonderful animals! And look at that cast! Main characters are dfab feminine genderqueer person, a cis woman and a trans man. That kind of cast is PURE JOY. I need more issues of this! You can read Shining Ascension here.

Of course, I livetweeted my reading: 

Saniaislehdon salaisuudet
“Orpotyttö Agnes asuu mummonsa luona Plankton-nimisessä kaupungissa, jonka sievien kulissien taakse kätkeytyy kaikkea perin salakähmäistä. Omaperäisellä otteella Agnes paljastaa niin apteekkarin salaiset harrastukset, humppaa rakastavan isoäitinsä pienet paheet kuin alusvaateliikkeessä harjoitettavan elinkaupan. Vaan ratkeaako mysteereistä suurin: kadonneiden vanhempien kohtalo? Useimmiten paljastukset saavat maailman näyttämään entistäkin kummallisemmalta.”

A quirky comic about a curious girl who investigates stuff. I wish it was a bit longer!

The Invisible Man
“This masterpiece of science fiction is the fascinating story of Griffin, a scientist who creates a serum to render himself invisible, and his descent into madness that follows.”

Is this the book (and its ecranisations) where the Evil Albino trope started in books and movies? :/ I found the main character annoying. He's awful! He invents a cool thing and what does he do with it? He harrasses people. Meh.

Dragon Sword and Wind Child
“In the land of Toyoashihara, the forces of the God of Light and the Goddess of Darkness have waged war for generations. But for 15-year old Saya, the war is far away and unimportant--until the day she discovers she is the reincarnation of the Water Maiden and a princess of the Children of the Dark. Raised to love the Light and detest the Dark, Saya must come to terms with her heritage even as she is tumbled into the very heart of the conflict that is destroying her country. Both the army of the Light and Dark seek to claim her, for she is the only mortal who can awaken the legendary Dragon Sword, the weapon destined to end the war. Can Saya make the dreadful choice between the Light and Dark, or is she doomed like all the Water Maidens who have come before her?”

Most of all I liked the worldbuilding. I liked some of the characters too, but majority of the cast was a bit bland. The book has too much telling instead of showing, for example emotions were often described instead of shown which made it harder to feel them as a reader. The heroine was very passive… But at least there were a pretty androgynous person and a guy who turned into a raven. ;)

Wandering Son Vol.4
“Wandering Son has garnered extensive praise (from the GLBT community, from manga fans, and from comics fans in general) for its uniquely funny, warm, and sensitive treatment of the travails of two Japanese tweens who find themselves coping with the knotty issue of gender identification, as they slowly realize that maybe they aren't who they were meant to be.”

The cute story of two trans kids continues! In this volume there were many romantic things happening. Poor kids. ;-D

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