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

Hawki

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Doctor Who: Sin Eaters (4/5)

A graphic novel collecting Ninth Doctor issues, all of which take place sometime between Empty Child and Boom Town. Ergo, the crew has Nine, Rose, Jack, and Tara...someone (yeah, she doesn't feature much).

Concerning plot, there's not much to say, as the graphic novel really covers the end of one arc (the titular sin eaters - beings made from someone's Id, which resutls in body horror as Nine has to deal with a hulk-esque duplicate), and the start of another, when a slitheen wants to extract the Doctor's memories of the Time War to sell to the highest bidder. None of these plots are particularly original, but certainly work. That, and as a comic, it's able to make the most of its format by giving some well drawn locations.

The Good Son (5/5)

So, to be clear, despite what the ranking would suggest, this isn't a masterpiece of WWI literature (I mean, it's classified under JF). Still, I'm giving it a rare 5/5, as there's absolutely nothing I could suggest to improve it. It certainly treads over familiar ground in the genre, but apart from that? Yeah.

The main claim to fame is that the story is told almost entirely through miniatures, with bits of text that drive the story forward. Nor is it told chronologically, as it centres on a French trooper, Pierre, as he waits to be executed for desertion. Christmas, 1914 has come and gone, he slipped away for a few days, but that's enough to warrant execution. After all the promises that the war would be over by Christmas, and with said war not over, morale is plummetting, hence why Pierre needs to be made an example of. Thus, he uses his last night talking with his friend and a lieutenant, writes a final letter to his mother. Interspaced with all of this are various events - enlistment, initial patriotism, carnage of the battlefield, meeting German soldiers and realizing they're just ordinary people, comradeship, winter settling in, etc. Like I said, the book isn't doing anything new, but what it does, it does very well. That, and the miniatures, despite being, well, miniatures, actually lend a great sense of humanity to the piece. In part because of how they're arranged in various scenes, in part because of the writing. For instance, the line (paraphrased), "they called it the Great War, but it was little soldiers who won it."

So, yeah. Pretty well done.
 

Hawki

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...well I can tell you what I'm not reading. 0_0
 

TheMysteriousGX

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I mean, I kinda want to know "The most important trends in the automotive industry and recommendations for experienced motorists" and "How to clear a car through (Russian) customs"

Anyway, Harrow the Ninth is a direct sequel to Gideon. It's lighter on the memes, lulling you into a false sense of security before hitting you like a sledgehammer. The actual plot starts with Harrow getting stabbed to death shortly before the God Emperor is murdered, then winds itself back to catch us up to that point. It details the reasons why the Lyctors exist, what existential threat would require beings of that power, lots of fun info on necromancy in general, and an atmosphere that's cranked up to eleven. Plus, toxic relationships abound and it's very fun watching any of the half-dozen slow moving trainwrecks. Ianthe is a very fun almost co-protagonist

And it's written almost entirely in second person. It's an...interesting literary choice and does have a payoff, though whether or not the payoff is worth the style is up to you.
 
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Hawki

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Read some stuff:

-Star Wars: The High Republic - Light of the Jedi (3/5)

-Neverwinter Saga: Neverwinter (2/5)

-Sonic the Hedgehog: Volume 13 - Battle for the Empire (4/5)
 

Hawki

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Star Wars: The High Republic - Jedi's End (3/5)

This is a weird one to review - the bulk of the graphic novel contains four issues in the High Republic comic series, and two issues dedicated to Marchion Ro. I say weird, because I managed to read the first four, but some time passed before I was able to come back to it and read the other two. So much so that I've largely forgotten a lot of what happens in said first four issues. Basically, the Jedi finally move against the Nihil, only it ends in disaster. Stuff happens, can't really remember much beyond that.

The two Marchion Ro issues are a bit better in that it goes into the backstory of the Nihil, in addition to their predecessors. Liked these ones a bit more since it delves into actual in-universe mythology (in a sense). But overall, comic is fine. Can't say much beyond that.
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: The Stones of Blood (4/5)

Similar to The Androids of Tara, this is a novelization of the 4th Doctor serial of the same name (not the original novelization, the more recent one). Similar to AoT, I enjoyed it overall - more, in fact, than I'd probably have enjoyed the episode if I watched it, since it's pretty clear by now that I'm really not fond of OldWho bar a few exceptions. The writing is witty, the characters are enjoyable, and it's bonkers enough to be a Doctor Who story, but not so bonkers that I was uninvested.

Anyway, the 4th Doctor and Romana (the original), plus K-9, go to Earth to recover the next component to the Key to Time, ending up in what I assume is 1970s Britain (in as much that's when the episode was aired). There's a stone circle, some crazy druids, archeologists, rock monsters, floating orbs that are galactic police officers, and so on. I'm not going to do a step-by-step recount of the plot, and TBH, the plot itself didn't leave much of an impact on me, but rather, it's the moment-to-moment interactions that are fun, plus the writing as a whole.

So, yeah. Fun read.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Star Wars: Darth Vader – War of the Bounty Hunters (2/5)

Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla – Forgotten Myths (3/5)

Doctor Who: Empire of the Wolf (3/5)
 

Hawki

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Star Wars: The High Republic - The Heart of Drengir (3/5)

The drengir root-mind is wiped out.

Yes, other stuff happens, I can barely remember what, let's move on.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Star Wars: The High Republic – Balance of the Force (4/5)

Batgirls: Bat Girl Summer (4/5)

Rivers of London: Cry Fox (3/5)
 

TheMysteriousGX

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Nona the Ninth is the third book in the Locked Tomb series, starring Nona and her two housemates and caretakers Pyrrha Dve, Camilla Hect, and Palamedes Sextus; as she goes to school as an unpaid teacher's aide and hangs out with the members of her gang; Hotsauce, Honesty, Born in the Morning, Beautiful Rudy, and Kevin. She's trying to figure out who she really is, and if her slight, black haired, golden eyed body is really hers.

The book picks up about 6 months after the events in Harrow the Ninth, and beautifully continues that story from a more mundane perspective by being in the body of a child on an imperiled refugee planet instead of as a major player and hand of the Necrolord Prime.

Gideon is probably the best story for an independent read, if you continue with Harrow and Nona you're pretty locked in to having to read Alecto the Ninth to get the complete story. Not to say the book isn't *fun*, but it's 100% part of a series.
 

Hawki

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Doctor Who: Ghost Town (3/5)

Thirteen and "Team TARDIS" (yes, apparently that's an in-universe term) find themselves in a state where time doesn't move, or something. Yeah, it's pretty vague on that. Anyway, they end up travelling to a Texas oil town gone bust where some eccentric scientist guy is building a spaceship to...sigh, take Earth's garbage into the sun, using electrons (the basic idea being that quantum mechanics means that a sub-atomic particle in one place will link to another particle across great distances). I know, it's a kid's book, but I can honestly barely even remember the plot. Still, as kid's books go, it's okay, if only because "Team TARDIS" has a psychic diary (similar to the Doctor's psychic paper) which has a mind of its own, which provides running comentary.

Anyway, it's fine.
 

Hawki

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Read some stuff:

Doctor Who: Time Out of Mind (3/5)

Rivers of London: Detective Stories (3/5)

Warhammer 40,000: The Horus Heresy – The Lost and the Damned (3/5)
 

Hawki

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (3/5)

I'll be honest, I didn't like this book much.

That might come as a surprise to you, since I regard Blade Runner as a 10/10 (or at least a 9/10) film, and Dust to Dust, Vol. 1 (the comic prequel to the novel) as a 5/5 graphic novel, but when it comes to the actual book itself? Just couldn't get into it. Maybe it's because these other works spoiled things for me, maybe it's because of the issues I have with the novel regardless, but regardless, didn't like it much.

The story takes place in the grimdark future of, um, 1992, after an event called World War Terminus. How the war started (and by whom) is never explained, but regardless, the fallout has coated the Earth in radioactive dust that constantly falls, resulting in the extinction of most animal life. Owls started dropping from the sky, and it's steadily worked its way down to the ground (literally). What few animals are left are highly valued, and humans are encouraged to get animals, even electric ones, as pets. Nation-states such as the US and USSR still exist, but the UN is encouraging off-world colonization, be it to Mars or other star systems, with the added benefit of android slave labour. Bounty hunters are employed by various police agencies to hunt down any android on Earth, detecting them through Voight-Kompf

If you've watched Blade Runner, chances are that a lot of that will sound familiar, even if it's not 1:1. To the novel's credit, one thing it does very well is its worldbuilding. Not so much in terms of details (a lot of the details of the world are left vague), but rather the sense of the world itself, how unmitigated bleakness runs through everything. Everyone who can get off Earth has already done so. Those who are left behind have to deal with a grey, dying world, represented in not just the annihilation of the biosphere, but the breakdown of human society as well. Not literal breakdown (there's no riots or anything, opera still exists, police forces still operate), but rather the overwhelming sense of decay. Entire appartment blocks have been abandoned, and while I don't think this is ever outright stated, there's at least the implication that the dust has hindered human emotional intelligence (for lack of a better term). Mood simulators are used, people watch assinine daytime TV (Buster Friendly), and Mercerism (a new religion) promotes humans tending animals as displays of empathy. From an in-universe standpoint, again, the implications are that the dust has damaged everyone severely, to the extent that human emotions aren't functioning properly. So while it's demonstrated that androids lack emotion on the level of humans, with empathy being entirely absent in some cases, the line between man and machine is thus blurred due to the damage humanity has inflicted upon itself.

So with all that being said, why don't I like the book that much? The reason is that when it comes to the character-to-character interactions (e.g. dialogue), a lot of Dick's writing is...not exactly pedestrian or bare bones, but it feels like it's lacking something. Some 'spark' in the dialogue that's missing. You could attribute that to what I've said above, about the characters being emotionally stunted, and while that explains some of the dialogue stuff, it doesn't explain all of it. And even if it did, even if there's a reason for stilted dialogue, we're still left with, um, stilted dialogue. That, and the actual plot of the novel is thin. Deckard has to assassinate six androids, he succeeds, that's really all there is. Again, this isn't a novel that's really focused on plot in the same way as worldbuilding or themes, and while that's fine, the plot is still thin regardless.

Overall, I respect the novel, but I think this is a case where an average novel was adapted into a much better movie, which went on to form a much larger franchise. Like numerous works, the adaptation has overshadowed the original work, but here at least, the original work is more of a foundation than a stellar work in its own right.
 
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Hawki

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The Hero's Journey: Doctor Strange (3/5)

Like previous entries in the Hero's Journey series, I barely have anything to say about this. Like the others, it briefly recaps past films prior to Infinity War (or "film," in Strange's case), and has him and Wong defeat some creature whose name I've already forgotten. Bleh.

The Hero's Journey: Iron Man (4/5)

The only genuinely good entry in the Hero's Journey series (well, relatively speaking at least), that for whatever reason, was bundled in the Doctor Strange one rather than its own standalone entry. Not sure why, but it's the best in that it's the most introspective and character driven, with Tony and Happy reflecting on past events, how Tony's psyche works in the context of what he's seen and done, etc. Nothing groundbreaking, but what it does, it does well.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (3/5)

I'll be honest, I didn't like this book much.
You should try Neverwinter Chronicles: Neverwinter Wars. Slow start but the Neverwinter Edda (vols. XXVIII-LXIV) are *chef's kiss*, especially once they get to Neverwinter.
 

Drathnoxis

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You should try Neverwinter Chronicles: Neverwinter Wars. Slow start but the Neverwinter Edda (vols. XXVIII-LXIV) are *chef's kiss*, especially once they get to Neverwinter.
Is this a novel series? Google isn't turning up anything, which is strange for a series with over 60 volumes.
 

Hawki

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Overwatch: Shockwaves (4/5)

...huh.

By all rights, I shouldn't have enjoyed this as much as I did, as it's got a number of things going against it. It focuses on Sojourn (one of the least interesting heroes in terms of personality, even if she's technically one of the best flehsed out), and is basically a case of "24 hours in hell." Or to be less dramatic, the story takes place over roughly 24 hours focusing on Null Sector's invasion of Toronto, taking place between Sojourn's cinematic short and Liberation (the second mision from OW2's campaign). Don't know if you've noticed this, but I'm not really one for action-based stories, be they reading or writing, and coming off the second Siege of Terra book and having started the third, I wasn't really in the mood for more action.

Still, it might be the case that the short length helps it, but for whatever reason, this short story worked for me when others followed. In terms of plot, there's little to right home about. Null Sector attacks, Sojourn finds herself leading a hodgepodge of Canadian Army and Toronto police forces through the streets, as part of the wider battle that's going on through the city. By the end of the story, the 100 has been reduced to 20, Sojourn's all alone, and Null Sector has control over the city. That in of itself is nothing to write home about, but what it does, it does well, in that it does a good job of conveying how deadly Null Sector can be, but also just how horrific urban warfare is. Nothing special in of itself, but with everything from collateral damage to Sojourn grimly reflecting that it's taken hours just to move down a few blocks, to the battle shifting from a battle, to evacuation, to eerie silence the next morning...yeah. It also helps that part of the story shifts into New Queen Street (as in, the actual map from the game).

Still, there's a downside to all this, namely that all of the poor nameless saps Sojourn loses along the way are, well, nameless saps. Not a single trooper is ever named, and while you might be able to point out that it's a short story, and ergo there's only so much time to flesh out tertiary (at best) characters, it still feels like an oversight.

Still, relatively minor point. As an urban warfare ficlet, it's pretty decent.
 

BrawlMan

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Spider-Gwen: Gwen Stacy - A really good, self-contained, Spider-Woman/Person story. It contains Edge of Spider-Verse #2 as an introductory, and the entire Spider-Gwen (2015) run. It's amazing what the Spider-Verse movies took from this. The use of pastel blue and neon pink being the main colors. They use other colors highly effectively of course, but pink and blue are the obvious main color theme. Especially when it comes to scenes at night.

This is a good revamp of the character, and a cool AU story telling. How Gwen acts here and how she acts in the Spider-Verse are almost near neck and neck. Though comic Gwen is not as much as a loner, SV_Gwen claimed to be. I also enjoyed the different takes and alternate interpretations of old and legacy characters. Captain America is black woman in Earth-65, Frank Castle is a (rabid) cop, Harry Osborn becomes Green Goblin and takes the Lizard formula, and Mary Jane has an all girl-band rock group that Gwen is a part of (on and off).

The action is drawn well, the drama keeps you reading without being melodramatic and overbearing, and expressions are on point. I can't say much else than read this if you're into Spider-anything, or something your kids or teenagers want to read.

@CriticalGaming, I know you mentioned that you're a fan of Spider-Gwen. If you have not gotten this collection, then I highly recommend you get it. I don't know if you have a Books-a-Million in California, but they have this on sale for $12.99. On Amazon, it's a bit pricey. Costing about $25+ new.
 
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TheMysteriousGX

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Dune (1965) (Abridged Audiobook)

You know the drill: hugely influential sci-fi classic, dozens of sequels, product of it's time, deserved spot in the annals of history, etc.

It also lives up to its name: the abridged audiobook is still 22 hours long, it's as dry as a lesbian at a frat party, and only gets slightly more action. If you're wondering why all the adaptations are *like that*, it's because Dune is 75% inner monologue by volume, with another 20% being tediously drawn out conversations. The climax is a knife fight between 2 guys who have never seen each other before. Paul Atreides is like, 6 different flavors of Very Special Boy and the book cleverly subverts the White Savior trope by having most of those be the end result of Machinations with the future result (covered in sequels but set up here) being Very Bad For Everybody in the short and medium term, which was very much *not* the goal of said Machinations.

I'm not certain Frank Herbert was trying for this, given that a lot of the gender politics are bio-essentialist, but it's super funny that the ultimate Bene Gesserit plan is to create the Galaxy's Strongest Femboy. (I'm going to get assassinated for this take some day, but it's the truth) Or maybe he did, he was on a *lot* of mushrooms
 
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