Staying at home is the norm... What are you reading?

Hawki

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Predator: If It Bleeds (3/5)

This is a collection of Predator short stories. Gave it a 3/5 as an aggregate, as the quality runs the full spectrum. So too does the timeframe, as we get stuff in the 9th century, the 29th century, and everything in-between.

Honestly, can't say I enjoyed this much. Never really been interested in the yautja (more a xenomorph guy), and while some stories do a better job of making them interesting, it's not really enough to shift my view on things. I will say that as a general trend, the historical stories tend to be more interesting than the others, as you have a case of yautja going against Vikings, as well as samurai. Get to 20th/21st century stuff, however, and things become more rote.
 
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Hawki

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The Hobbit (4/5)

To clarify, this is the graphic novel adaptation of The Hobbit. As such, probably don't need to spend much time summing up its plot. However, while this graphic novel is "good," that's a statement that isn't free of caveats.

The thing that irritated me most here is that despite being a graphic novel, a lot of material from the original novel is just taken verbatim. Not just in dialogue, but in narrative. As in, text boxes appear in panels summarizing events that are happening, even when those same things are depicted on the page. For instance, in the scene where the company is in the tree hiding from wargs, the text box summizes what the wargs are saying, rather than having speech bubbles have those things said in real-time. And sure, you can claim that the reason is faithfulness to the original text, but it's such a waste of this being in a different medium.

Still, that aside, the work itself is solid, since it's built off a solid foundation. Of note, I like the art style - it's far removed from the Jackson films (that's not a slight, just an observation), and remains consistent. For instance, there's far less difference between humans and elves physically here, everything is more colourful in general, etc. Visually, the work is solid.

There's also another thing that I noticed for the first time here, and that's the sense of melencholia that runs through this work. Now, this isn't really a grand revelation, Thorin arguably sums up the theme in his last breaths ("value friendship over wealth"), and this is even further present in Lord of the Rings. Still, reading it like this, I noticed that when you look at the world the Hobbit presents, it isn't actually that great. There's countless references to things being better in the past (Gondolin, the sundering of the elves, the loss of Erebor/Dale to Smaug, Lake-town is kind of a shithole, Mirkwood's gone all murky, etc.), while the present can be pretty grim (orcs/goblins seem to be everywhere, and/or are referenced as being everywhere). As far as I'm aware, there was no set plan from Tolkien to continue from the Hobbit, and that Lord of the Rings was written as a (kind of) sequel at all was never a given, but when you consider the themes of LotR, based on this reading, there's a clear antecedent with The Hobbit that I didn't appreciate before. I mean, everyone who's read both The Hobbit and LotR is aware of the massive shift in writing style (among other things), but perhaps the two works have more in common than I gave them credit for.

Anyway, good read, I prefer the novel overall, but still a good read.
 
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Hawki

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Read some stuff:

How Good is Scott Morrison? (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance – Part 1 (3/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance – Part 2 (4/5)

Avatar: The Last Airbender: Imbalance – Part 3 (4/5)
 

BrawlMan

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Get to 20th/21st century stuff, however, and things become more rote
That's because they've been overdone to death. The modern and future settings only work when there is great character interaction and building involved. Otherwise, it's same old same old. These stories are more interesting whenever it's the past usually. Because the riders have to change it up and mix it up.
 

Thaluikhain

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Just finished "The Night Land" by William Hope Hodgson, best known for being a pre-cursor to Lovecraft.

A man from slightly before our time wakes up in the body of someone zillions of years in the future, where the sun has gone dark and (somewhat) cold, and the remnants of humanity live in a giant pyramid fortress/city, and the rest of the world is overrun by horrible monsters. Which is quite unusual.

The writing style is deliberately hard to get into, and the writer has weird issues about gender roles which takes up the latter half of the book, but the strange monsters and stuff are interesting.
 

Specter Von Baren

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Just finished "The Night Land" by William Hope Hodgson, best known for being a pre-cursor to Lovecraft.

A man from slightly before our time wakes up in the body of someone zillions of years in the future, where the sun has gone dark and (somewhat) cold, and the remnants of humanity live in a giant pyramid fortress/city, and the rest of the world is overrun by horrible monsters. Which is quite unusual.

The writing style is deliberately hard to get into, and the writer has weird issues about gender roles which takes up the latter half of the book, but the strange monsters and stuff are interesting.
Lovecraft himself talked about the author and story in his book Supernatural Horror in Literature.
 
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Thaluikhain

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Love raft himself talked about the author and story in his book Supernatural Horror in Literature.
As an aside, on an old paperback copy on The House on the Borderlands by the same author, there's part of a review by Lovecraft, where he says "a diamond of the first water". In the original quote the word "almost" is in front of that, but they left it off.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Outsiders (3/5)

Brixton’s Burning (2/5)

Blak Cook Book: New Cultural Perspectives on Cook’s Cottage (3/5)

Saga of Seven Suns: Metal Swarm (2/5)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (guide) (3/5)
 

Hawki

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Avatar: Tsu'tey's Path (3/5)

I didn't have much enthusiasm going into this. Much as I like Avatar, I've never found Tsu'tey that interesting of a character, and have always found the popularity of said character baffling. Having finished said comic series, I have to say that my opinion is entirely unchanged.

Anyway, the series entirely takes place during the timeframe of the film, and is about 60% extra scenes, to 40% depiction of those scenes from Tsu'tey's POV, its timeframe ranging from the day before Jake is captured to the aftermath of the assault on the Tree of Souls. There's nothing new in terms of lore here, and if anything, raises certain questions (Eytukan mentions that Jake is the first "warrior dreamwalker" that they've seen, which raises all kinds of questions with other EU material). Tsu'tey spends most of his time with a group of hunters, none of whom are really interesting. One of them has the hots for him, while he's pining for Sylwannin (which is actually well handled, further exploring how the na'vi store memories and how said memories operate), but this sub-plot just stops short, and doesn't progrss any further. I think one of said hunters also appears in 'The Next Shadow', but if so, I don't remember.

So, yeah. "Meh," mostly.
 

Hawki

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Dawnshard (2/5)

Honestly, reading Sanderson's works seems like an abusive, parasocial relationship right now, because I keep reading them, and keep being disappointed.

Anyway, this story is set in the universe of the Stormlight Archive, about some ship going to some island hidden behind a maelstrom, and discovering treasure, and, well, other stuff. If that's a thin description, it's that I don't particuarly care to describe more, as I was just bored with most of it. Granted, that could have earnt a 3/5, but at the end, things get really silly, with a protagonist and antagonist sorting things out in accordance with "the rules" of the setting...yeah, it kind of lost me.

I read Part 1 of Book 1 of the first Stormlight book, and commented that while it was good on worldbuilding, it was just too slow for me to get invested in. This is faster, but lacks worldbuilding, and I didn't care about the characters. I don't know if it's the books, or more likely, it's just me.
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Read what's out for SHWD by Sono.N on the doujinshi site lilyka. Psychic monsters from the war occasionally pop up to terrorize the populace, to the specialists from the Special Hazardous Waste Department have to go in and take them out. The monsters aren't super tough on their own, but they tend to pop up in unexpected locations and cause psychic damage with proximity, which causes most people to break down mentally and start attacking people themselves.

Good premise, great story, the main character ladies are all damaged in fun and exciting ways, 'cause nobody who can fight these things is entirely sane to begin with. Good mix of combat, office relationships, and trauma. Doing well enough as an independent to get a formal publication, which comes out in the States August 30th

Solid character design as long as Noi or Nikaido from Dorohedoro don't scare you off. So naturally it's formal publication is selling like crap in Japan. Hopefully does well enough over here to compensate, I'd hate to lose these characters just because there isn't Standard Weeb Waifu Bait.

Not to diss on the doujin art, but the extra budget for the formal release definitely shines. Actual budgets vs passion projects tend to do that
 
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Specter Von Baren

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Can We Be a Family


Manhwa about a girl on her ninth and final life after multiple lives of being mistreated and killed by the people of a noble household. On her final life she decides to abandon any attachment to people and do whatever it takes to survive. Lots of intrigue and revenge involved with this one. I'm rather happy with how this one is going as it's a bit different from the usual stories I see on the site.
 

Hawki

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The Chronicles of Prydain: The Book of Three (4/5)

So I've been curious about CoP for awhile, ever since I saw The Black Cauldron honestly, and lo and behold, it's now in stock in the libraries I work at (well, the first three books at least). So, picked up the first book, and it's...good. Not great, but good.

I may as well compare it to the Disney film, and say that the characters from said film are here, except, y'know, not terrible. Taran dreams of being a hero at the start, but isn't obnoxious about it. Gurgi (who's more of a bi-pedal hedgehog here) goes on about munchings and scrunchings, but isn't something I want to strangle, and is actually fairly sympathetic. Fflam is similarly more sympathetic, and is probably closest to his film counterpart, but still handled better - someone who knows he's a fraud and a coward, but comes through at the end. Doli's well handled, and Eilonwey? Eilonwey's frankly a crazy girl and probably the best character in the book, and not...whatever she was in the film (a doormat?)

Anyway, references to the film aside, the book's based on Welsh mythology, though I can't really say how accurate that is. Certainly some of the terminology comes off as Welsh, so to speak. It actually sort of reminds me of Lord of the Rings in a sense, in that there's similar tropes (hero in rural area, goes on quest, develops, dark lord is threatening the land), but also slightly similar terminology (e.g. the "race of Men"), yet arguably feels more mythological, or 'prototypical'). For instance, there's dwarfs, but they're part of the Fair Folk that live underground the land, that does remind me of Irish mythology, so I wouldn't be surprised if there's shared sources, so to speak - I assume the Celts had influence/presence in both Ireland and Wales, for instance.

Still, I said "good," rather than "great," in that at times things can feel a bit rote, and when it relies on action, it's dull, but that's arguably due to my general dislike of action scenes in non-visual mediums. But despite being junior fiction, I never once felt that it was talking down the reader or intentionally dumbing things down. It doesn't do anything new, arguably not even for the time, but what it does, it does well.
 

Bartholen

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Blazed through all of the Attack on Titan manga in just 2 days. After checking out the final two volumes and watching a full spoiler review of the ending I just had to find out what the journey was like. Because holy moley the apocalyptic imagery in the final 10 or so chapters is something else. An endless horde of skyscraper-sized giants trampling the land, lead by a proper eldritch abomination. As far as end of the world scenarios in fiction go, this is definitely one of the most original ones I've seen.

I had no idea the manga was this fucking great! Just about every chapter leaves you wanting more, the art in the action scenes is phenomenal and the lore is really interesting. The story feels for the most part thoroughly thought out, and there's next to no filler. And this is a bit back-handed, but it's wonderful to see a really popular manga for once feel like it's actually aimed at adult audiences. Both in themes and complexity, but also the complete absence of fan service. But dear god is it grim and depressing. I'll just say it: this is even bleaker than Berserk. Which is quite something considering there's not even the slightest allusion to anything sexual-related in all 139 chapters. But you can only take so much despair, slaughter, torture, anger and nazi parallels before it gets too much. I guess that's partly on me for not spacing it out though.

There are problems though. The art, even though it improves quite a lot over the series, often left me confused about the characters. Many characters look exactly the same, and many of the characters aren't that dissimilar from the titans in the sense that they also lack sexual characteristics. With multiple characters I was often confused what sex they were even supposed to be. Which is fine in a sense I guess, this is a remarkably egalitarian story after all, but not being able to tell characters apart is still a problem.

But the big thing here is the ending I suppose. They certainly stick the landing in certain respects: the end spectacle is genuinely terrifying, awe-inspiring and world-ending. The sense of escalation the series goes through feels natural and smooth, and not like "hey, everybody's a titan now". But in other ways the ending is pretty bungled: Eren's justification for his actions is total horseshit, and dangerously close to your typical "man, if the world started over from scratch it'd be so much better" edgelord fantasies. The way the series seemingly presents him as a sort of martyr figure at the end when he's literally the worst person to ever exist feels pretty icky. And then there's the celestial centipede that's the catalyst for the entire story, but is never properly explained. Oh, and also the fact that apparently killing Eren just conveniently erases titans from the world without harming the people.

But it was one hell of a ride even if the ending kind of coughs and sputters itself over the finish line. 8/10 overall. 5/10 for the ending.
 

Bob_McMillan

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After checking out the final two volumes and watching a full spoiler review of the ending I just had to find out what the journey was like. Because holy moley the apocalyptic imagery in the final 10 or so chapters is something else. An endless horde of skyscraper-sized giants trampling the land, lead by a proper eldritch abomination.
The Rumbling is what almost made me commit to watching the whole anime. It indeed looks fucking horrifying. I resolved instead to just watch cool bits on YouTube when it comes out. Like you, I find the ending dogshit and that really saps any enthusiasm I have for finishing either the anime or the manga. I'm sure I've said this before, but I despise stories that clearly never had an ending in sight when they started. AoT does better than most, but it's still obvious that the author was making it up as he went.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Aladdin: Jasmine's New Rules (3/5)

RWBY: Volume 2 (3/5)

RWBY: Volume 3 (4/5)

(I liked something involving Team Kangarooby? I'm as surprised as you are.)
 

Hawki

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And read more stuff:

Avatar Free Comic Book Day 2022 (3/5)

Apex Legends: Overtime (2/5)

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Into the Void (4/5)

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi – Eruption (3/5)
 

Hawki

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What Abigail Did That Summer (3/5)

This is a novella in the Rivers of London series, but I was generally able to appreciate the context. Overall, though, mixed on things.

I'd say for about 80% of the book, the predominant tone is tongue in cheek, to the extent that the tongue has bored through the cheek and is flapping around on the pavement. Focuses on a tweenaged girl named Abigail (nah, really?), and the fox spy Indigo, as they track down missing children in the Heath. Abigail's mostly a hoot to read, given her snarkiness, and Indigo's adorable. However, for the last 20% of the book, the tone and context shifts as we're confined to a single location (basically a haunted house), and things really slow down.

Anyway, it's okay.