A Hollywood Double Feature – Tarantino Style

Disclaimer I guess??? This review contains language relevant to Tarantino’s body of work. Sorry if cursing offends you.

I don’t typically pick up novelizations or tie-ins for movies I’m not diehard in love with. And I never pick up novelizations of movies from directors I don’t particularly enjoy. However, when I heard that the novelization of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood was not only going to include the “director’s cut” of moments that weren’t in or just couldn’t be included in the film but that Quentin Tarantino himself was going to write it, I was intrigued. Throw in the face that it was only being published as a vintage-style mass market paperback, and I was buying it immediately on release day. What can I say, pulp novels are an aesthetic joy of mine.

But then I started reading it and well… I was not expecting any of the thoughts it would bring to me. I was not prepared for the emotions I brought back that I haven’t experienced since film school graduation left me bitter, broke, and jaded as all hell. I wasn’t ready to literally feel LOVE radiate out of a fucking Quentin Tarantino movie-turned-book.

T H E F I L M

Seemingly pitched to viewers as a movie of the Manson Family (especially considering it was released the summer of ’19 – the 50thanniversary of the Tate-LaBianca murders), Quentin Tarantino’s movie was anything but. Following actor-on-the-downfall, Rick Dalton, and his stuntman-turned-personal-assistant, Cliff Booth, the movie Once Upon A Time In Hollywood gives us an entirely realistic view of how the Golden Age of Hollywood was. Of course this is still Tarantino, though, so this reality is still slightly-to-the-left as the ending gives us a happier conclusion of what happened on the night of August 9th, 1969. 

The movie is fun, goofy, and heartfelt while still keeping to the ridiculous Tarantino bloodbath ending. The scale of the cast alone is magnificent to see as huge actors play the smallest roles – a feat I truly think only Tarantino is capable of doing. Over the last two years I kept my opinion on the fact that it was a good enough movie, but my dedication to true crime and the many research projects I’ve done on Charles Manson and his girls kept my head out of the point. I could tell it was a homage to old Hollywood, a salute to what came out of it, but I didn’t think too much more.

Rewatching the movie after reading the “novelization” was a treat and a half. I noticed far more of the details, appreciated what Tarantino was doing far more. Leo DiCaprio’s subtlety as vulnerability as Rick is sublime and every scene with Mirabella (Trudi) made me tear up. Naturally it’s still a bit of a let down we only see Damon Herriman as Charlie for like two seconds (he’s an amazing actor), I know I can still get more of him in the role by watching Mindhunter. It’s difficult to keep on track with talking about the movie because there’s just so much going on in it, but I can happily say I adore it to it’s core at this moment.

T H E     N O V E L I Z A T I O N

Many millennial and gen-x readers will be familiar with the concept of novelizations, books that came out after a successful film that was a direct adaptation of screen to page. Sometimes they were fun and sometimes they were terrible, but they were always the story we expected. These days, move-to-book adaptations are less of an adaptation, and more of a tie-in, adding more dialogue or context and nuance to better convey the story and add more depth to scenes that were potentially shortened in the editing room or by producer demands.

When it comes to Quentin Tarantino’s own novelization of his film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, this is not a novelization in the conventional sense, and that point needs to come with something of a disclaimer.

If you do not give a flying fuck about the history of film and television production during the 40s through the early 70s then this book is not for you. Doesn’t matter if you love the movie, you have to love the boring parts of cinema as well, the important details in production, to give a shit about this book.

I’ve always loved the little details in film and my obsession with true crime and pulp novels means I have a soft spot for this “golden age” of Hollywood. Having fallen even more in love with production details while in film school, the fact that the first 100-or-so pages of this book reads like a text on critical film theory regarding genre films and international arthaus as political commentary made me so happy I was basically giggling like an idiot while reading. Sans for the part where Cliff says he liked Breathless (I hate this stupid French film so much), I agreed with just about everything that was being said.

As the novel goes on, in Tarantino’s typical non-linear fashion, it becomes less and less a story of Rick Dalton fighting against the Manson Family, and more a story of how Hollywood has always torn down it’s icons at every chance. It’s a character study of men hitting middle age and learning where they went wrong and trying to do better for themselves. As Rick’s role on Lancer starts eating at him, the way Tarantino weaves together the story of the pilot with the story of Rick’s self-hatred, it’s a beautiful thing to follow along.

If you’ve ever wanted to be a fly on the wall of a Hollywood set, this is a book that does that. While I have had my own reservations about Tarantino’s work in general, this “novelization” has shifted so much of how I think of him. No matter what your opinion is, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: A Novel is the biggest love note to cinema that I have ever come across and it is slap-you-in-the-face clear just how much Tarantino cares about his movies, others’ movies, others’ shows, and every one of the actors that takes place in them. 

Did this book make it any more of a Manson story than the bit pieces in the movie? Absolutely not. Was it any more accurate? Hard no. But it was a bigger realization that this wasn’t a Manson story. This isn’t about Charlie or the girls. This is about a period in time and you can’t ignore what was going on just to tell a story about a failing Western super star. You can’t mention the collapse of Spahn Ranch without mentioning Charlie.

Absolutely not for everyone, this is a book I know I will be reading again and again. This is a book that reminded me why I loved film, why I pushed myself through film school despite how hard it was to bear, why I still care about film without working in it anymore. 

A few days ago I said I would fight Tarantino in a Denny’s parking lot with joy, that I was giving him a chance to truly impress me with this book. And I’ll be damned if he didn’t do just that. He impressed me and reminded what it is to love art. Cheers, Quentin. You bastard.

Saying “No” To Book Blogging

Hi everyone. It’s been a minute since I’ve posted a review and I want to take this time to explain why.

I’ve been involved with the social media side of loving books and reading for nearly five years now. I’ve worked hard to take photos and read books and post reviews for the sake of being noticed by other bloggers as well as publishing companies in order to gain more followers and therefore be able to take part in more blogging opportunities. When I first started in the community, it was a lot different. Everyone was more or less reading the same books, the drama was kept to a minimum and mostly just involved spoilers, outrageous demands for ARCs wasn’t really a thing I was aware of. These days it seems like there is nothing but drama between authors and reviewers and publishers. Every day someone has messed up (sometimes intentionally, sometimes not) and my feeds are flooded with vague tweets that require at least an hour to dig through to find any names, or call-outs for bigotted people to be cancelled, or more and more things that I just can’t keep track of anymore.

With all of the civil unrest regarding Black Lives Matter as a movement and an organization turning a human rights issue into a political one, with the harmful transphobia of a once-beloved author that will lead to the deaths of transgender children being brushed aside in the name of nostalgia, with statistics from both COVID and police brutality numbers being skewered in the name of “pro-life” religious bigotry, there is so much going on and it is hard to have the strength to keep up with everything. It is hard to find the mental and emotional and physical capacity to continue moving on when there is nothing but awful on all sides.

But you’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with the book community. Allow me to explain.

As all of these civil rights movements gain more and more ground, those who oppose them are doubling down on their bigotry and becoming just as vocal about why the minorities involved shouldn’t be listened to. Within the book community, there are people who don’t see the point in “forcing” Black authors’ works onto other – or other racial minorities for that matter. There are people who don’t want to listen to trans folks who are directly hurt and harmed by the foul words of J.K. Rowling because they would rather cling to their nostalgia for a series that has always been riddled with racist, anti-semitic, homo- and transphobic depictions. There are people who side with a bigotted book-themed Etsy shop owner who was using statistics listing how many people have been killed by police in 2020 to ask where the outrage was for “how many babies have been murdered” and using religion to force right-wing anti-abortion (or as I prefer to say, anti-choice) views on people. This latter example also called for her supporters to report Instagram accounts who were speaking out against her.

What hurts the most is that many of these people who I have unfollowed and/or blocked on social media have huge followings within the book community and many of these people have publishing companies among their follower counts even after months of horrible statements. Several of these people are constantly receiving ARCs for massive releases or even finished copies or several copies of both ARCs and finished copies.

There are 200 people following this blog. I have less than 200 people following my Twitter. I have 875 followers on Instagram. Compared to bloggers I look up to as well as these hurtful bloggers, these numbers are barely a fraction of what they have. Perhaps this is a selfish opinion, but every time I have worked with a publishing company, I have jumped at every opportunity, I have worked hard on blog tour posts that involve interviews as well as book reviews. I have accepted ARCs out of my preferred reading genres to prove I can and will read whatever I’m offered and do my best to put out some positive content with which the company can use to promote the book in question.

Bloggers big and small do all of this work for free that vast majority of the time.

But no matter how hard I work, my counts aren’t nearly as big as the huge accounts and therefore my time is worth even less. This means that while accounts spouting off bigotted views will still receive specially packaged exclusive ARCs for the biggest titles of the year while bloggers like me are left with the scraps.

So with all that has been happening, I have made the decision to stop being a part of blogger teams until I can be sure that these teams are properly vetted to ensure that everyone will be respected. Will I continue to just email companies directly for the bigger ARCs I would love to read? Yes. Will I continue working with the smaller authors for release posts? Yes. Will I still apply for ARCs on NetGalley? Yes. But when it comes to the publishing companies directly, I plan on saying no far more often than I plan on saying yes.

Before I learned about how to get ARCs and before I got sucked into hype holes, I just read what I wanted, when I wanted and enjoyed myself. I think we all need to get back into that kind of thinking. I think we need to remember how to care about each other.

Do I Have To? A reluctant reader’s guide to The Grisha Trilogy

With the excitement surrounding next week’s release of King of Scars, I’ve seen a number of people asking “Do I need to read The Grisha Trilogy first?” As a huge fan of Nikolai, my answer is yes, but the series is definitely not for everyone. So here’s an abridged guide to the books.

Shadow & Bone

Book one starts with soldiers Alina and Mal, best friends from their childhood in an orphanage, as they head towards a nightmare in the land of Ravka called “The Fold”. The Fold is a dark, dead sea of sand that’s populated by monsters called the Volcra literally made of shadow. When the army is attacked, Alina discovers she is actually one of the beings in Ravka known as The Grisha, people who have control over very specific elements of the world, but her power is the only of it’s kind. Alina can control light.

With her power being so incredible, it attracts the attention of The Darkling, head of the Grisha army. Their powers are the polar opposites, light and darkness, but Alina quickly becomes smitten with life as one of the Grisha and with The Darkling. The fantasy is broken, however, when Alina becomes aware that The Darkling’s only wish is to use her power to take over the world. She flees the castle and only narrowly avoids being caught when she re-crosses paths with Mal and he saves her.

This is where a fairytale comes to Alina and she decides to track Morozova’s beasts – rare creatures all over Ravka said to be amplifiers of unimaginable power to those of the Grisha. It takes forever, but Mal and Alina finally find Morozova’s Stag…only to have Alina decide against killing such a beautiful creature. Her mercy does not last long, however, as Mal and Alina are ambushed by The Darkling and his men. The Darkling kills the beast and makes Alina an unremovable collar, therefore putting her powers under his control.

Forced to follow The Darkling, Alina is brought back sound and into the Fold where her power is used to protect the ship from the Volcra. While inside, The Darkling uses his own powers to destroy the towns on the other side by expanding the Fold as well as pushing Mal off the ship to his death. In Alina’s pain, she realizes that by sparing the Stag, it has granted her the strength to break free from The Darkling’s hold and rushes to save Mal, destroying the ship as she does so.

Narrowly escaping The Fold, Mal and Alina seek to escape for good, using golden pins in Alina’s hair to buy their way across the True Sea to freedom.

Siege & Storm

Siege & Storm is Alina’s fight to really be-rid of The Darkling as she continues to hunt for the rest of the Morozova beasts. It is within this book that Alina learns The Darkling’s powers have changed since he was left at the mercy of the Volcra and he can now create Volcra-like creatures that can only be killed if Alina uses her power is a very specific form called The Cut. She and Mal are found and kidnapped by The Darkling and taken aboard a ship owned by the infamous pirate, Sturmhond, and his crew. The pirates have been hired and instructed by The Darkling to go into the icy northern seas to hunt for Rusalye, a dragon like sea serpent said to be the next amplifier.

After the dragon is caught, The Darkling is overthrown by Sturmhond and they are able to escape his grasp. Sturmhond then has one of his Fabrikators make a cuff out of the scales for Alina. The group then make their way back across the Fold and into Ravka, crashing near where the First Army has made camp. It is here that Sturmhond reveals himself to actually be Prince Nikolai Lantsov, the rumored bastard of the throne. Having achieved Saint status, it is a long journey back home to the castle for Alina, Mal, and Nikolai – who keeps saying that a marriage alliance between himself and Alina would be a wonderful thing and unite the First and Second (Grisha) armies. Clearly this is where Mal does not approve of Nikolai.

Returning to the capital ends up being not as easy as Nikolai planned, his elder brother being more determined to hold the throne than expected. Vasily’s true intentions come out during Nikolai’s birthday as he has made a deal to relax security posts around the nation of Fjerda and therefore giving The Darkling – who has been hiding there – the perfect moment to attack. Even as the two princes fight, The Darkling attacks, ruining any chance they had at fighting him off.

Nikolai escapes with the few people he can, while Alina stays behind to fight The Darkling and protect the remaining Grisha, things come to an explosive face-off that results in Alina using a power called merzost. While saving far more people than she could otherwise, merzost drains her of the majority of her power and turns her white. The loss of power weakens her body greatly and she is brought, along with other Grisha, underground to the White Cathedral where a cult-like leader known as the Apparat also holds his followers.

Ruin & Rising

The final book, we follow Alina on her hunt for the firebird as she seeks out revenge on the Darkling and hopes to restore the world alongside Nikolai, Mal, and a handful of other Grisha who escaped the attack. The hunt is a lot of walking around aimlessly on Alina’s part once she finally escapes the overbearing Apparat. At one point in their journey, The Darkling attacks the group and, as revenge for rescuing Alina, he uses merzost to infect Nikolai from the inside out, turning him into a Volcra-like creature himself.

In the aftermath, Nikolai is rushed back into uniform and brought to the remnants of Ravka’s First Army. He is able to take control and finally return to Os Alta to claim the throne, while a story spreads that he had been kidnapped and tortured by the Darkling. This is used to explain the dark scars on each of his fingers – actually marks left from where his talons had grown. After the rest escape, they make a plan to destroy The Darkling.

Alina and her group travel to the Fold to face The Darkling, but Alina knows she can’t defeat him without all three amplifiers. To be blunt here, I honestly can’t remember when, but at one point Alina realizes that the firebird is actually Mal and he would need to die for her to have the third amplifier. He convinces her to kill him and Alina’s power leaves her to manifest in any normal person surrounding her (think like how Buffy made a bunch of other Slayers at the end of the the show). While The Darkling is pissed that he no longer has his Sun Summoner, Alina uses the same knife she killed Mal with to kill The Darkling.

The new Sun Summoners destroy the Fold and Nikolai returns to normal at the death of The Darkling. Mal is brought back to life by two Heartrenders and Alina denies Nikolai’s final alliance proposal before “faking her death” and running away with Mal to live happily ever after while Nikolai – who everyone believes to have been tourtured and scarred by The Darkling – assumes the throne of Ravka.


So there you have it. You can also find more in depth information on Tor.com as they did a Grisha reread not too long ago.

The most important information about Nikolai can also be found on the Grishaverse Wiki page but I think I got most of the important details in there.


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REVIEW: Moon of Crusted Snow

Ever since I was a kid I have loved learning about the different cultures of Indigenous people across Canada and as I’ve grown up, I’ve become more and more heartbroken by the hardships those who live on the rez have had to deal with. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an interview with author Waubgeshig Rice about his new release, Moon of Crusted Snow. In the article, Rice describes how he “wanted to offer up the perspective of people who had experienced apocalypse already” and pay “an homage to the everyday people on reserves across Canada”.

Right from the get-go this book had me hooked. The Anishinaabe community of the novel is full of a wide range of characters, both likeable and not, prepping for the coming winter when all of their utilities go out. No electricity, no satellite, no cell service. Having never had reliable services from the get go, no one thinks twice… until two of their own return from the city and tell them what’s really going on.

On it’s own, the story is a terrifying concept alone, but the stakes are truly raised when an intimidating, survivalist, white man manages to make his way to the community and kicks them all when they’re down.

What I enjoyed most about this story is that not only is it an incredibly atmospheric end-of-the-world story, but it is a great framing of how hard life is for those in Native reserves as well as the racism First Nations peoples still face. The character, Justin Scott, even goes as far to say “the white man saves the day” as he is clearly taking advantage of the hospitality of the community.

Mixed into the everyday narrative are dream sequences and stories from the elders of the community that bring in warnings and foreshadowing from the tribe’s folklore adding an extra layer of intensity and knowledge.

This is definitely an incredible story with so many layers behind each sentence that I truly hope people pick it up and learn something from it. I look forward to the movie deal that Rice should definitely be offered for this novel.

REVIEW: Pillow Thoughts II

Thank you to NetGalley and Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book.


I have said it before and I will say it again, I have a difficult relationship with poetry. I was never really fond of it in school and often have a difficult time relating the words to what I feel of what I have experienced. That being said, I had absolutely no trouble relating to Courtney Peppernell’s words with her latest collection: Pillow Thoughts II.

We have all experienced loss. Whether it’s a friend you lost touch with, an ex-partner, or the very physical loss that comes with the death of someone close. But this isn’t a collection about loss. It’s a collection about healing.

I honestly don’t know enough about poetry to accurately discuss the structure of Peppernell’s poems but what I can say is you can find comfort in her words and they give the feeling of understanding and compassion. The feeling that you’re not alone in your pain. A truly wonderful collection.


 

Author: Courtney Peppernell
Published: August 7, 2018
Pages: 224
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN: 9781449495084

Synopsis: Following the smash success of her best-selling book, Pillow Thoughts, Courtney Peppernell now returns with the follow-up sequel Pillow Thoughts II: Healing the Heart.

Peppernell understands that healing is a process, and Pillow Thoughts II eloquently captures the time and experience that one goes through on their journey to peace through restoration.

A collection of inspirational and comforting poems for anyone who is mending from a broken heart.

REVIEW: When Katie Met Cassidy

Yet another Book of the Month Club suggestion, I got Camille Perri’s When Katie Met Cassidy on my Kobo as some light-hearted reading that I felt I needed. Plus, when I read this towards the end of June, it was a great way to send off Pride Month.

The story focuses on Katie as her social life is crumbling around her. Her fiance has left her, having had an affair with her best friend, and taken everyone in their friend group with him. Her apartment is a depressive episode brought to life, and she is still struggling to keep her head up in her firm as a lawyer. But then Cassidy, a no-fucks-given, proudly gay lawyer with an opposing firm.

Quickly Katie’s life in back on track, if only a very different one, as she learns to things about herself and what her life in New York can mean.

I really enjoyed this story despite it’s flaws and it was honestly just a fun, queer story about fun, queer people. As someone who is a part of the LBGT+ community, I found my experiences relate a lot to Cassidy’s. I have also known people who are very much like Katie in which they have never before questioned their sexuality until that one person comes into their lives. It’s those things that really stood out to me in this book is that the main characters felt like real people I know and love.

For the most part, I enjoyed Cassidy’s friends and appreciated how Katie’s struggle with such a new part of her life was handled. But all of that being said, I found some moments to be more than a little bi-phobic or even gatekeeping against bisexuals who have only recently discovered that part of themselves. It made me uncomfortable but I did keep reading as that section of the story didn’t really come into play until more towards the end of the book.

Was it my favourite read of the year? Not quite. But it was a lot of fun to read and I would still recommend it to my friends looking for some wlw stories that don’t end in someone dying. I’ll certainly be checking out Perri’s other books in the future.


Author: Camille Perri
Published: June 19, 2018
Pages: 272
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
ISBN: 9780735212817

Synopsis: Katie Daniels is a perfection-seeking 28-year-old lawyer living the New York dream. She’s engaged to charming art curator Paul Michael, has successfully made her way up the ladder at a multinational law firm and has a hold on apartments in Soho and the West Village. Suffice it to say, she has come a long way from her Kentucky upbringing.

But the rug is swept from under Katie when she is suddenly dumped by her fiance, Paul Michael, leaving her devastated and completely lost. On a whim, she agrees to have a drink with Cassidy Price-a self-assured, sexually promiscuous woman she meets at work. The two form a newfound friendship, which soon brings into question everything Katie thought she knew about sex—and love.

REVIEW: Ace of Shades

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Considering the hype that surrounds this upcoming book, I was very excited to be approved for the ARC on NetGalley. Although it lost me here and there, I found it to be a fun story with interesting characters.

The Story

Enne Salta is looking for her mother in New Reynes, aka. The City of Sin. After be chased down the street by the thugs who act as a sorry excuse for law enforcement, Enne meets Levi Glaiyser, Lord of the Irons street gang and master of gambling. As Levi helps Enne on the search for her mother, things only get worse in winding mystery of lies and secrets.

I had fun with this story. I’ve been hearing many comparisons to Six of Crows (which I have not read) but I know that if Six of Crows is as much fun as this one, I’m sure I’ll love that book too.

The Characters

Enne is sweet and naive, a proper Lady with a capital “L”, thrust into a world where she isn’t nearly prepared enough to handle the things ahead. I love her tenacity and her unwavering need to keep moving forward when all signs are telling her to just give up and go home. She is kind, brave, and intelligent without being unbelievable and she’s just a delight.

Levi is my favourite. He’s a badass gay-leaning bisexual who does what he can for his people. Things get tight but at the end of the day Levi just wants to be a beacon for his people that they’ll be safe, successful, and happy. He can be arrogant, rude, and selfish but deep down that’s not who he is. He looks out for his own, making him the best kind of leader in my mind.

There are a ton of other characters who I fell in love with in this book (specifically Lola who is probably now one of my favourite side characters of all time) but I don’t want to give more away. Just note that even the bad guys and the smallest of side characters have depth which can be so hard to find these days.

The Issues [ spoilers / trigger warning ]

I don’t have many issues with this. I found I got a little bored around the mid-way point, but I pressed through and am so happy I did. There aren’t any major triggers in this novel, but it’s implied that Sedric is the biggest pervert ever and I’m quite sure if his “interests” imply that he just likes younger women or if he’s a legitimate pedophile. Either way he gets what he deserves after a scene that doesn’t go on very long but I felt the need to mention it anyway.

Conclusion ★★★★

This was a fun book. I enjoyed reading it and it felt fresh to me. I love the 1920s prohibition gangster vibe it gave off since that is entirely an aesthetic that appeals to me. I liked the diversity of the characters and how no one questions Levi’s sexual orientation. Definitely worth reading despite a slow down in the middle of act two. Just keep pushing through and you’ll be in for a wild ride. I look forward to the sequels.


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Author: Amanda Foody
Published:  April 10, 2018
Pages: 416
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
ISBN: 9781335692290

Synopsis: Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.

Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems.

Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…

And she’ll need to play.

REVIEW: Saga Volume 1

Continuing once again with the graphic novel binge, I’m here today with Saga Volume 1!

The Story

Something of a Romeo & Juliet story between rivals in war, Alana and Marko are fugitives in love who only want to find a peaceful, safe life, for their new child. While running from their respective worlds the couple face bounty hunters, ghosts, and even their old friends who all want them and Hazel dead.

To me, Saga is so far a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy combined with the gorgeous artwork of Fiona Staples. There’s more sex in this than I was expecting, but that’s what I get for going in blind. It’s a wonderful story so far and I look forward to reading more.

The Characters

Alana is a total badass and Marko is a sweetheart who is very willing to mess people up for hurting his family. Neither of them are perfect, but it’s clear right from the start how much they love each other.

I’m also a huge fan of The Will (one of the freelancers after Alana and Marko) and his magnificent cat, Lying Cat. He seems like he’s a bit of a prick, but he doesn’t seem to be a bad person. And let’s be real, his partner is a giant cat to hisses “LYING” when people are full of shit. They’re amazing.

Lastly, there’s Prince Robot IV. It’s interesting to see that there’s a whole race of royal people with TV heads and he’s definitely an asshole, but I’m curious enough to learn more about him that I don’t entirely hate him.

The Issues [ trigger warning ]

The only big thing in this comic that made me feel gross is the Sextopia planet where The Will is essentially looking for a “slave girl” to have sex with. It’s gross and yucky on it’s one, but the man leading him through the planet to find someone good, the “slave” chosen for him is a six-year-old girl. Now The Will immediately kills the pimp and tries to escape with her but it’s still gross.

Conclusion ★★★★

In the end, I give it a four out of five. If it wasn’t for the nasty sex planet, I’d be ranking this up there with The Wicked + The Divine but, who knows, maybe it’ll earn my love entirely with the next volume.


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Authors:  Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Published:  October 23rd 2012
Pages: 160
Publisher: Image Comics
ISBN: 9781607066019

Synopsis: When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan, Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

 

REVIEW: Star Wars: The Perfect Weapon

The Perfect Weapon is a short story set before Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens by Delilah S. Dawson regarding a mysterious mission given to the mercenary, Bazine Netal.

It’s a quick read at only 60 pages long, but is more or less enjoyable. There isn’t much to say about this one to be quite honest. The Perfect Weapon is a nice bit of fun in the Star Wars universe, although I can’t quite place how it ties into Ep. VII other than Bazine’s appearance as a First Order spy in the film. It also ends in a fairly open manner that makes me want to re-watch The Force Awakens to see if I’m forgetting a detail.

Bazine_reporting

All in all, this story gets ★★★ from me. It felt like an episode of Clone Wars or something and that’s not at all a bad thing in my mind.


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Author: Delilah S. Dawson
Published:  November 24, 2015
Pages: 60
Publisher: Del Rey
ASIN: B016GRO8R6

Synopsis: An anonymous client has hired Bazine to track down an ex-stormtrooper and recover the mysterious package he’s safeguarding. Payment for the mission promises to be astronomical, but the obstacles facing Bazine will prove to be formidable. And though her eager new sidekick has cyber skills crucial to the mission, only Bazine’s razor-sharp talents will mean the difference between success or failure—and life or death.

REVIEW: Wonderblood

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Wonderblood is a unique novel of three interwoven narratives, full of magic, mystery, and violence. Written in gorgeous prose, Julia Whicker’s debut novel is winding and strange and wonderful. Note that this book does contain some triggering content around a character who is a minor, including sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse, and Stockholm syndrome.

The Story

Hundreds of years in the future, America has become overrun by a Mad Cow-like disease called Bent Head, pushing society back into living conditions similar to the Dark Ages of Medieval times. The story follows a girl held captive by her abusive brother in his carnival only to then be held captive by a man claiming to be the True King, the current king’s astronomer, and a Hierophant struggling with his faith.

I found this story fascinating as, according to this world, a dystopia has once again lead to an archaic form of patriarchy. One would think that “the future” is always spaceships and technology, even if it is a little dated, but in this world, all knowledge of science has been long forgotten and even practicing medicine is outlawed and considered heretical. Even the magic of the world is complex and Whicker does a brilliant job of winding coincidence with the examples of magic, making to so it’s hard to tell if magic really does exist within this world of if it’s all merely happenstance.

 

The Characters

The characters of this story are hard to get into since this is a narrative entirely driven by character motivation. I don’t want to give spoilers, so instead I’ll give a sum-up.

If I’m being honest, I didn’t like any of the characters in this story, but all for incredibly different reasons. Some of the characters are not meant to be liked – such as Orchid, an angry woman who wants to be queen and who reminds me very much of Cersei Lannister – but I also had a hard time feeling sorry for the characters who were meant to be liked because they did very little to escape their predicaments.

Now, even though I didn’t like the characters, that wasn’t enough to make me stop reading and please don’t let this discourage you from picking up this book, because – believe me – it’s worth reading.

 

The Issues [ spoilers / trigger warning ]

 

Now, my issues with this book are minimal, but I do hope that Whicker writes a sequel to fix these problems. The only big issue that comes to mind is the open ending and the loose ends. Will we learn the girl’s name? What will happen to her and Orchid? Will Tygo learn that he has a little sister? Will David figure out that he should be in Kansas and not Cape Canaveral? So many questions come up at the end of this book that I am honestly praying that there is more coming.

Next up, let’s get into the triggers. This book contains implied incestual sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, gaslighting, physical abuse (branding), and Stockholm syndrome all to the same 15-year-old character.

It is heavily implied that the girl’s brother has been raping her since she joined his carnival and then her husband turns around and attempts to rape her as well. Not only that, but she has been branded twice – once by both men – in a claiming ritual of sorts. She is heavily gaslighted by David and often verbally abused by his first wife, Orchid. Despite all of this, she is convinced that David loves her and through this grows to love him back.

What bothers me more than anything about all of this, is that is all happens to the girl. The 15-year-old girl. Of course it doesn’t happen all at once and the majority of these moments are quick to skim through, but the context of it all made me uncomfortable.

Conclusion ★★★★

This novel has it’s problems, but if anyone reading this review has knowledge of Game of Thrones, it’s nothing people haven’t seen/read before (although that doesn’t make it okay). Having read this book right after going to see the film Annihilation (based on the Area X series by Jeff VanderMeer), it was just what I was looking for. It kept me incredibly entertained and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a sequel to this one. This isn’t a book for everyone, but if you’re looking for something weird and unique, I recommend this book wholeheartedly. Julia Whicker is definitely an author I will be keeping my eye on.


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Author: Julia Whicker
Published:  April 3, 2018
Pages: 304
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
ISBN: 9781250066060

Synopsis: A mad cow-like disease called “Bent Head” has killed off millions. Those who remain worship the ruins of NASA’s space shuttles, and Cape Canaveral is their Mecca. Medicine and science have been rejected in favor of magic, prophecy, and blood sacrifice.

When traveling marauders led by the bloodthirsty Mr. Capulatio invade her camp, a young girl named Aurora is taken captive as his bride and forced to join his band on their journey to Cape Canaveral. As war nears, she must decide if she is willing to become her captor’s queen. But then other queens emerge, some grotesque and others aggrieved, and not all are pleased with the girl’s ascent. Politics and survival are at the centre of this ravishing novel.