Saga: Volume 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #8)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 7                                                                                                               Saga: Volume 9–>

*******Spoilers for all the prior volumes.*******

Title: Saga, Volume 8
Series Title:
Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: July 2, 2017
Date Started: February 4, 2018
Date Finished: February 8, 2018
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera, LGBTQ+

Saga, Volume 8Pages: 146
Publication Date: December 27, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


After the traumatic events of the War for Phang, Hazel, her parents, and their surviving companions embark on a life-changing adventure at the westernmost edge of the universe.


You are anyone who has ever existed, and that makes you exactly like everyone who has ever existed. -Petrichor

It’s either bitter irony or cruel coincidence that I’m reviewing what could be considered the “pro-choice” volume of Saga.  Alana and (now) Earl Robot arrive in a place that’s literally called Abortion Town in order to get her a termination at eight months.  I should try not to be preachy, but fuck it tbh; it’s not like people listen to women anyway.  Chances are, anyone seeking a termination at eight months isn’t doing so because they suddenly decided against it.  It occurs in the wake of tragedy, and Alana’s plight mirrors so many.

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Stone & Iris by Jonathan Ballagh

Title: Stone & Iris
Author: Jonathan Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: May 25, 2017
Date Started: July 1, 2017
Date Finished: July 5, 2017
Reading Duration: 4 days
Genre: Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction

Pages: 32
Publication Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Self
Media: Paperback

Shares Paradigms With: SOMA, The Matrix


A mysterious breakthrough brings Alison Shaw to the edge of her vanishing world. Everything she knows will soon be gone—everything except the memory of an unlikely friend. But is their bond strong enough for her to hold on to? And is a memory worth living for when nothing else is left?

This book was gifted to me personally by the author, but I still write my review with critical awareness and in good faith, though I suppose it remains entirely possible, if not probable, that I have some unconscious biases based on our cordial rapport and friendly correspondences.  I believe writers need to support one another, giving critiques when necessary and giving credit when and where it’s due.
I had to read Stone & Iris twice in order to understand it.  This is one of the best things any story can force me to do in regards to being ingenious enough to require knowledge of the end in order to comprehend the underlying intricacies of the plot.  I hesitate to divulge too much detail, since uncovering the truth about Alison, Jeremy, and David is the core revelation that leaves you reeling, and it more than likely will require at least two reads.  Since the story is only 32 pages, it’s not a lengthy foray per se, but if you want to understand what really happened, it will require more than just a pondering skim.
Though it doesn’t take place within Ballagh’s Quantum Worlds Series, Stone nevertheless lays a foundation for it, and it could be considered the precursor to the artifex (the androids in his fore mentioned Quantum Worlds duology) and AI technology.  The narrative appears to be confusing, because it’s supposed to be.  Certain characters switch roles in seemingly nonsensical ways that nevertheless have valid reasons.  Writing a story that is purposely haphazard is no easy feat, because you’re seeking to deliberately confuse the reader so that they will wonder why they’re confused.
The author told me that Stone & Iris is the work he’s most proud of, and that pride is more than warranted.  It’s a calculated yet bittersweet story about consciousness and reality that shows the lengths to which we will cling to what we truly love.
5 stars.

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Saga: Volume 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #7)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 6                                                                               Saga: Volume 8–>

*******Spoilers for all the volumes prior.*******

Title: Saga, Volume 7
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: June 11, 2017
Date Started: June 24, 2017
Date Finished: July 2, 2017
Reading Duration: 8 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera, LGBTQ+

Pages: 152
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


From the worldwide bestselling team of Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan, “The War for Phang” is an epic, self-contained Saga event! Finally reunited with her ever-expanding family, Hazel travels to a war-torn comet that Wreath and Landfall have been battling over for ages. New friendships are forged and others are lost forever in this action-packed volume about families, combat and the refugee experience.


Be warned, this volume of Saga is absolutely devastating.  When I reached the final pages, I just sat there, turning them with my mouth agape and tears streaming from my unblinking eyes.  Image and word combined into heartbreaking artistry, and I’m thankful the author promised the next volume will be more upbeat.  I don’t think I could take another story line like “The War for Phang.”

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Saga: Volume 6 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #6)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 5                                                                               Saga: Volume 7–>

Title: Saga, Volume 6
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: June 11, 2017
Date Started: June 17, 2017
Date Finished: June 22,, 2017
Reading Duration: 5 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 152
Publication Date: June 29, 2016
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


After a dramatic time jump, the three-time Eisner Award winner for Best Continuing Series continues to evolve, as Hazel begins the most exciting adventure of her life: kindergarten. Meanwhile, her starcrossed family learns hard lessons of their own.


I think I’m going to do this review in bullet points and pretty much just copy and paste from my notes, because I’m lazy, and I just added two more books to my review pile.  So here goes:

  • Blue (Wreath’s tongue) is definitely a Romance language.  I can kind of understand what they’re saying.  Thank you junior high to college level French.
  • Hazel is combination of colors just like Hazel (Alana and Marko’s daughter) is a combination of worlds.  Also holy shit *spoiler* she has four wings. *end spoiler*
  • The two reporters, Doff and Upsher, actually did pick up that obscure Oswald quote Alana says on the Circuit when she can’t remember her lines.  Someone warned her that that might happen, and she completely brushes off and then gets high.
    • Speaking of the reporters, Doff (the green-skinned one) recognizes the similarities between Alana and Marko’s story and him and his partner, which is a double entendre because they’re gay, but homosexuality isn’t accepted on their planet Jetsam.  Upsher, though, is too caught up in getting the story and refuses to see it.  His argument is that them kissing won’t send shock waves through the universe like Alana and Marko’s relationship and offspring will, but he’s missing the point Doff is trying to make.  They all just want to live their lives free of persecution based on whom they love and whom their family is.
    • Upsher (blue) is also kind of an asshole.  Doff actually has a heart and cares more about others over just getting a story.
  • Only the royal robots have colored screens.  I didn’t notice this until a character mentioned it, but then I remembered that Dengo the janitor only had a black and white face.  Also at least the royals literally have blue blood.
  • Again this series kicks ass with its inclusion.  Petrichor (which refers to smell of rain) is a trans woman from Wreath who *spoiler* accidentally finds out Hazel’s secret. *end spoiler*  She (Petri) is someone who 100% understands having to keep certain parts of your body secret to protect yourself and possibly your family.  I think it’s an awesome parallel, though I’d love to hear a trans person’s perspective at some point.

If you’re not yet reading Saga, and you enjoy science fantasy, space opera with brilliantly written characters, amazing artwork, and a story that will both keep you on your toes and make you think, I’d highly suggest you buy or borrow it.  I’m lending my Volumes 3-7 to my friend next week, because no one should miss out on this story because they’re currently short of funds.

And so it goes on…

<–Saga: Volume 5                                                                               Saga: Volume 7–>

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Saga: Volume 5 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #5)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 4                                                                               Saga: Volume 6–>

Title: Saga, Volume 5
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: June 6, 2017
Date Started: June 12, 2017
Date Finished: June 15,, 2017
Reading Duration: 3 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 152
Publication Date: September 9, 2015
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback


Multiple storylines collide in this cosmos-spanning new volume. While Gwendolyn and Lying Cat risk everything to find a cure for The Will, Marko makes an uneasy alliance with Prince Robot IV to find their missing children, who are trapped on a strange world with terrifying new enemies.


The volume reveals a Hunger Games vibe when it’s discovered that Landfallian soldiers were originally chosen by lottery, but as the war raged on, it moved away from the original progenitors whose descendants never know its horrors, and the commentary here is brilliant.  How many super powers have started or ordered wars that will never touch them?  Also, it’s never made clear (at least not yet) who started the conflict between Landfall and Wreath, and even if this knowledge is never revealed, it doesn’t matter.

We don’t know why the wings and the horns are at each other’s throats besides the symbolic Paradise Lost/war of Heaven vs. Hell motif, which brings up some interesting questions about the narrative’s take on that.  Obviously, the prevailing notion is that Heaven/God were right and Hell/Satan were wrong, but to look at it objectively, it was really a battle of free will vs. determinism; knowledge vs. belief (or if we want to be harsher, ignorance).  Having the Landfallians own the wings whereas their moon is populated by “horns” whom they’d dubbed the derogatory “moony,” implies there might have been uprising and revolution on the satellite’s part.

It’s not like slavery, especially of the sexual sort, isn’t tackled in the most horrific way in this series, and again, Saga blurs the lines between hero and villain.  The “heroes,” Alana and Marko, don’t always perform the most virtuous deeds, and the “villains,” The Will and Prince Robot IV aren’t always the most nefarious monsters in the room.  There is always someone or something far worse.

And it goes on…

<–Saga: Volume 4                                                                               Saga: Volume 6–>

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Saga: Volume 4 by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples (Saga #4)

Saga

<–Saga: Volume 3                                                                               Saga: Volume 5–>

Title: Saga, Volume 4
Series Title: Saga
Authors: Brian K. Vaughn & Fiona Staples
Date Added: May 29, 2017
Date Started: June 8, 2017
Date Finished: June 11, 2017
Reading Duration: 3 days
Genre: Graphic Novel/Comic, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Space Opera

Pages: 152
Publication Date: December 17, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Media: Paperback

From the Eisner Award-winning duo of Brian K. Vaughan (The Private Eye, Pride of Baghdad) and Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, Thor), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the universe. As they visit a strange new world and encounter even more adversaries, baby Hazel finally becomes a toddler, while her star-crossed parents Marko and Alana struggle to stay on their feet.


Relationships are hard.  They’re even harder when you’re raising a child together and trying to maintain a steady income.  Sometimes you need something to take the edge off, and sometimes you have coworkers who are more than willing to share and provide.

Most stories give you the happily ever after when the couple is together, but Saga is not most stories.  It begins with Alana and Marko, goes backwards and forwards, in and out, and there’s more danger to their family unit than just the people trying to kill them.

There is no gender role bullshit in this epic.  Alana finds a job in the circuit, a sort of superhero soap opera (that’s her on the cover), and Marko stays home to take care of Hazel.  They both do not-so-wise things in order to deal with the stress.  Both of these things jeopardize their relationship.

And it continues…

<–Saga: Volume 3                                                                               Saga: Volume 5–>

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The State of the Reader: 3/8/17

<–The State of the Reader: 3/1/17          The State of the Reader: 3/15/17–>

A weekly post updated every Wednesday detailing my current reading projects and where I am with them in addition to what new titles I’ve added to my to-read list.  Title links go to Goodreads to make it easier for interested parties to add any books that might strike their fancy.  I attempt to use the covers for the edition I’m reading, and I’ll mention if this is not the case.  If you have a Goodreads account feel free to friend me!  I’d love to see what you’re reading and/or planning to read.

Books Finished This Week: 2

Title: The Dream Thieves
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: January 23, 2017
Date Started: January 26, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017
Reading Duration: 37 days

The second book in the series was a bit slower and just a tad weaker than the first.  This is not to say there weren’t parts that sent a chill down my spine and a thrill through my heart, but Ronan is a tough character to follow.  He does reckless things that are both hard to explain and difficult to understand even knowing his situation.  You feel bad for him, but then you grow exasperated with him due to his acerbic nature and cutting attitude.  He’s of “beg for forgiveness instead of ask for permission” crowd, acts on impulse, and doesn’t seem to care about the fallout.

I’m going to try to review this by next weekend.  That will give it time to marinate in my mind so I can better express my thoughts.

Title: “Beta Reading”
Author: High School Friend/Fellow Author
Date Added: N/A
Date Started: February 14, 2017
Date Finished: March 4, 2017
Reading Duration: 18 days
Media: PDF/Kindle

I finished my friend’s wonderful novel and am now left with an issue.  I have nothing bad to say about it.  You’re probably thinking this is a good thing, but as I said last week, writers thrive on constructive criticism and I don’t have any to give.  Besides some minor typos, there’s nothing I’d change about the narrative.  The only thing I can possibly question is his audience.  I believe this is supposed to be a YA, but there’s some language and one particularly graphic scene.  However, The Dream Thieves is also apparently YA and it has strong language, too.  Regardless what I’m going to say, I’m happy and honored I was able to read this, and I can’t wait to see it on bookshelves.

Update: I sent him my feedback through FB messenger, and he was genuinely delighted.  This is a polished edition of the story, so he was quite happy that I didn’t find any major issues.  He also sent me the companion book to this one, which I’m excited to read so I can get the other side of the story.


Books Purchased This Week: 2

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Purchased: March 4, 2017

Media: Kindle
Price: $5.99
Retailer: Amazon

Title: The Lies of Locke Lamora
Series Title: Gentlemen Bastards
Author: Scott Lynch
Date Added: October 11, 2012
Date Purchased: March 7, 2017

Media: Kindle
Price: $1.99
Retailer: Amazon

I was going through my downloaded-prior bookshelf on GR just to see if anything was on Amazon (Kindle) for cheap.  I almost bought another book that was $2.99, but decided to keep my limit at under $2.00.  There are still some situations where a physical copy is less expensive than Kindle.  In this case though, the price was more than right for a book that’s also on my really-want-to-read shelf.


Books Currently Reading: 5

Title: Blue Lily, Lily Blue
Series Title: The Raven Cycle
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Date Added: March 4, 2017
Date Started: March 5, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 12%

In karaoke there’s a concept called “sing and bring.”  It entails bringing up the next song you want to sing when you’re name is called to sing the last song you put in.  For some reason, I’m thinking about that as I read and add these books.  In all honesty, I consider this series just one long story.  As I finish the last, I immediately buy and add the next.  I’m hoping this installment delves into Blue’s origins.  We were given drips and drops about it in the first; absolutely no mention of it in the second (since that concerned Ronan), so I’m hoping we discover more about her elusive father with the ridiculous nickname.  I have my own theories about him, but we’ll see if I’m right when I read it.

Title: The Quantum Door
Author: Jonathon Ballagh
Illustrator: Ben J. Adams
Date Added: February 18, 2016
Date Started: March 3, 2017

Media: Kindle
Progress: 20%

This novel reminds me great of Strange Things.  Power outages, parallel universes, strange girls.  The main characters are two brothers, and I’ve found that sometimes if characters are too similar, it can be difficult to keep track, but Brady is the elder and more cautious, while Felix is the adventurous child prodigy.  I’m excited to see where this goes.  The tension just keeps tightening.

Title: Prospero Lost
Series Title: Prospero’s Daughter
Author: L. Jagi Lamplighter
Date Added: June 19, 2016
Date Started: February 11, 2017

Media: Hardback
Progress: 34%

I’m kind of in a stride with this book.  It doesn’t overly excite me to read it, but I don’t dread when it’s in the rotation, and it’s kind of a “Hm, I wonder what the Prospero siblings are up to now.”  It’s like catching up with friends who have hobbies that aren’t your interest, but you care about them, because they’re their hobbies.  Like The Quantum Door, the author manages to differentiate the siblings so that I don’t have to constantly remind myself who’s who, though so far there have only been two others introduced besides the main character Miranda.

Title: The Illustrated A Brief History of Time/The Universe in a Nutshell
Author: Stephen Hawking
Date Added: June 25, 2016
Date Started: January 2, 2016

Media: Paperback
Progress: 34%

I have a bit of a confession…I’m starting to lose interest in this book.  I know. I know.  I’ve been talking about studying astrophysics and quantum physics, so how dare I falter a book about the same.  It’s certainly not a slight on Professor Hawking’s writing, but he has such a brilliant mind that I have to concentrate fully in order to absorb all of the information, and for many reasons, my mind tends to wander, and concentration can be a difficult beast to catch.  I do wonder how I would do with this topic in a classroom setting.  I’m going to keep reading especially since I’m almost finished the first part.  What I may do is read that, which I’d count as one book (this version just happens to have both), and then I’d read another reference book in the interim (The Hyrule Historia.  I already know) before returning to read The Universe in a Nutshell.  I’d figure out the logistics on Goodreads later.

Title: The Mabinogion Tetralogy
Author: Evangeline Walton
Date Added: August 24, 2014
Date Started: July 31, 2016

Medium: Paperback
Progress: 67%

So the king found out what his asshole nephews did, but it was at the end of a chapter.  The poor handmaiden told him, and he not only believed her, but made her his own queen and promised vengeance.  I cannot wait to read the next chapter.  Oh, you have no idea how much I love righteous vengeance (if you’re reading myThe Broken Rose fanfiction, you’ll find out in a later chapter.  Shit.  Gets.  Real).


Fanfictions Finished: 0

Fanfictions Currently Reading: 1

Title: I’m the Darkness, You’re the Starlight
Author: runicmagitek
Fandom: FFVI
Pairing: Celes Chere/Setzer Gabbiani

No chapter updates for a while, per her last reply to my comment.  She has to take care of some personal shenanigans (which I totally understand) so like I do to so many of my readers, I shall have to wait.

Fanfictions Added to TBR List: 0


Books Added to Goodreads TBR List This Week: 4

Title: Traitor’s Blade
Series Title: Greatcoats
Author: Sebastian de Castell
Date Added: March 5, 2017

There’s a kick ass review of this over on Cupcakes and Machetes’ blog, and it was so, er, explosive (you’ll understand how dirty that joke was if you go to her blog.  I’m a mess…hahaha *gross*) I had to add this book.  Plus the series is called Greatcoats.  I love greatcoats aka long coats aka badass longcoats.

Title: Descendants
Series Title: The Arete Series
Author: Rae Else
Date Added: March 5, 2017

I had the honor of being asked by another author to beta read their work, this one in the form of an eArc.  I downloaded it on my Kindle this evening and am going to try to get to it before release date April 12.  Either way, I’m going to purchase to support the author whose blog (and the post about the book in question) can be found here!

Title: Gathering Blue
Series Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Date Added: March 7. 2017

I had no idea The Giver had a sequel and was a series (I think there are least four books in it).  I read the series opener a long time ago back in high school, and I have not seen the movie.  I liked the book’s ending.  It was ambiguous, bittersweet, and made sense for the type of novel it was.  I heard the movie went a different direction, because people tend to like happy endings.  Since I haven’t seen it, I can’t really judge whether or not this was a good move.

I was going through all of the books I’ve marked as read on Goodreads, and it’s less than 400!  I’ve read many more books than that, but memory is not always kind to the Shameful Narcissist, so while I’m pretty sure I’ve read over a thousand books, fucked if I can remember what they are.  I can envision my high school’s library, and I’m trying to imagine myself walking through the sections I used to haunt in an attempt to recall the books I found and read there.  I’m trying the same thing with my old local library and bookstore.  What I could do is look at the books I’ve read on Amazon and see what the recommendations are in an attempt to jog my memory.  This will have to be another organizational project though.

Either way, I added a bunch of Ms. Lowry’s Anastasia series, which I read ad nauseum as a teenager (if you haven’t read her Autumn Street do it.  It’s a book about racism as seen through the eyes of a child), and that’s when I noticed this unknown series for a book I read years ago.

Title: Hunted
Author: Meagan Spooner
Date Added: March 8, 2017

A Beauty and the Beast retelling that comes with high acclaim, or at least one of my Goodreads’ friends gave it high marks.  It’s average rating is above 4.00, which means quite a few people found it worthy.  I love fairy tale retellings, and I use fairy tales a lot in my own works both fanfiction and original, so finding one is almost always an insta-add.  I like to see how other authors shuffle the well known narrative and tropes around, and I’m obviously not above doing a bit of shuffling myself.


Total Books on Goodreads TBR List: 443
Change from Last Week: +3


A Sample Question

So I download samples to my Kindle and decide what to keep, what to put on my really-want-to-read shelf, and what to put in my passed-based-on-sample shelf.  I don’t include these because I generally don’t talk about books I’ve removed, and anything I put on an additional shelf is already on my TBR list.  I could start including what samples I’ve downloaded if you’d be interested in that.  Since I’d be talking about what either attracts me to or repels me from a book, it could make for some interesting conversation.  Let me know your thoughts down below!


What are you currently reading and/or what’s on your radar to read next?  What would you recommend based on my current and recently added?  As always I look forward to your comments and suggestions!

<–The State of the Reader: 3/1/17          The State of the Reader: 3/15/17–>

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