November Wrap-Up (2013)

I didn’t really feel like reading books in November, so I ended up going through a lot of graphic novels. I did finish a couple of very short novels, though! Here’s what I thought of this month’s reads.

Rating system
1 out of 5 – I didn’t like it: badly written or just got on my nerves
2 out of 5 – It was okay: other people might enjoy it more
3 out of 5 – I liked it: a fun/enjoyable read
4 out of 5 – I really liked it: good characters & plot, maybe some theme that spoke to me
5 out of 5 – It was amazing: I consider it a favorite and will probably re-read at some point

My favorite post of the month

Character names I love

This post is linked at “Best of the Bunch”, a monthly recap meme hosted by Always Lost in Stories. All the links take you to GoodReads.


Books

Fortunately The Milk
Fortunately, the Milk…

By: Neil Gaiman & Chris Riddell (UK edition)
First published in 2013
Genre: Time travel adventure for children
My copy: Borrowed from my sister

Dad has to go get milk for his kids’ breakfast cereals, and the trip to the corner shop turns into a quest of sorts that ends up taking him a very, very long time.

My sister bought this book from our trip to London. I ended up reading it first and I enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s not earth-shattering, but it is a fun adventure, and I bet kids will like it. The dad in the story faces dinosaurs, vampires and pirates, but fortunately, the milk manages to stay in his grasp. Or does it? Read the book to find out!

Chris Riddell’s illustrations bring the story to life. The US version has illustrations by Skottie Young, which no doubt suit the story as well, but from what I saw on Google I might prefer Riddell’s style. There’s no way to know for sure without reading both, though.

Fortunately, the Milk… will no doubt work even better if read aloud to your kid. Especially by you Dads out there. 4/5

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

(Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #4)
By: Douglas Adams
First published in 1984
Genre: Science fiction comedy (with a bit less science fiction this time)
My copy: From the library

Arthur Dent finds Earth and the girl of his dreams.

I continued my re-read of the Hitch-Hiker’s Guide series. I already have the fifth and final book out from the library, so I’m going to finish this re-read round soon. I’m reading them in Finnish, hence the strange title in the cover pic.

I was very surprised to find that Arthur Dent manages to have a pretty good time after all the troubles he has faced in the preceding novels. The story takes place predominantly in Earth, and is pretty heavily focused on Arthur. It’s always a shame when Zaphod isn’t present, since he is my favorite, but his absence enables the book to have a different, calmer tone from the previous ones. It is still fun, though, but more toned down.

So, it’s quite different from the rest of the series, and not my favourite, but still very good. Fenchurch is a likeable character, and I enjoyed her interactions with Arthur. And of course, there’s the biscuit story. And Marvin. 4/5


Graphic novels

Runaways Vol 1 Best of the Month sticker
Runaways, Deluxe Volumes 1-3
(issues #1-24)
By: Brian K. Vaughan, Adrian Alphona
First published in 2004
Genre: Superheroes

A group of teens finds out that their parents are supervillains, and run away from home.

I’ve been meaning to read Runaways for the longest time, and I finally did! I limited myself to reading only Brian K. Vaughan’s run, because I heard that the quality dramatically drops after the original creator team (Vaughan & Alphona) left the comic – characters acting out of character etc. But these originals were excellent, and ended in a good place to stop reading the series.

I fell in love with pretty much all the characters! Characters are a big deal for me in stories, so this was a large factor in me liking the series. Xavin was perhaps one of my favourites. But I also really liked Victor. And Nico. And Chase. And Gert. You get the idea.

Runaways was somehow such an easy read, I just breezed through the series – although the stories were anything but easy for the characters! There were also the lovely covers by Jo Chen to admire. Each one of the three volumes gets a whole-hearted 5/5.

(I also read a couple of one-shot mash-ups – Civil War: Young Avengers/Runaways and Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers – with Civil War having by far the better story. These weren’t written by Vaughan, but I mainly wanted to learn about the Young Avengers and how they interacted with our runaways, and that’s why I picked them up.)

Invincible
Invincible, Ultimate Collection vol.1

(issues #1-13)
By: Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker & Ryan Ottley
First published in 2005
Genre: Superheroes
My copy: My boyfriend’s collection

Mark Grayson’s dad is the planet’s most powerful superhero. Now Mark’s own powers start emerging, and he can join his dad.

So, after reading Runaways, I started to read about more kids whose parents have superpowers. Mark’s dads powers aren’t a secret in the family, though. In fact, it’s part of the fun to see the superhero goings on as part of the family routine. I really liked the art, and especially loved Walker’s lines. Walker just managed to capture so much with such few, simplified lines! I did grow used to Ottley after a while, though, and his art is not far off style-wise.

Invincible is the usual “young superhero learning about his powers and his responsibilities” story, but with some really unusual and unexpected twists. It has to be experienced. If you start to read the series, I highly recommend reading at least as far as issue #13 to get to all the madness.

This series manages to be at times a light-hearted story of a young boy with superpowers, while at other times it’s very dramatic and dark. I really enjoyed it. 5/5

The Unwritten Vol.1
The Unwritten, Volumes 1-3

(issues #1-18)
By: Mike Carey & Peter Gross
First published in 2010
Genre: Urban fantasy/horror/myth
My copy: From the library

Tom Taylor is tired of constantly being compared to the protagonist of his father’s hugely successful Tommy Taylor fantasy series. But is he the wizard boy made flesh?

Unwritten is about stories, and literature, and myths. It’s at times very gory, at times fantastic, and filled with great thoughts about how stories shape us and the world around us. And I didn’t like it.

The premise was very good and I was intrigued. Once I started to read, though, I wasn’t captivated. I wanted to like it, but something rubbed me the wrong way. I really couldn’t get into the story, and I didn’t care. The ideas were great, but I couldn’t care less if all the characters died. And if I’m not interested in any of the characters, I’m usually not able to stay interested in the story. I did like the third volume a bit better than the first two, but not by much.

If you like strong ideas, and perhaps don’t need the characters to carry it, you might like this. A lot of people adore the series. It’s just not for me, and I won’t be continuing with it. 2/5

The Walking Dead Vol 1
The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye

By: Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore
First published in 2004
Genre: Zombies
My copy: From the library

Zombie apocalypse. Survivors surviving.

I haven’t actually watched the TV adaptation of The Walking Dead past the first two episodes. I just wasn’t that into the characters, so I didn’t continue. What made me pick up the graphic novel was the fact that I was at the library downtown waiting for someone to come and meet me. To kill time, I decided to see how the original compared to the TV series.

It just so happens that the first volume of the graphic novels covered about the same part of the story as the few episodes I’ve seen. This definitely made the story lose some part of its allure for me, because I pretty much knew what was going to happen. I did find the original illustrated version of Rick Grimes to be much more likeable than his TV counterpart, though! I also liked the art style; I really dig b&w/grayscale. I wasn’t any more drawn in to this story than the TV series, though, so I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the series. 2/5

A Brides Story Vol 3
A Bride’s Story, Vol. 3

By: Kaoru Mori
First published in 2013
Genre: Historical fiction
My copy: From the library

Mr. Smith, the English researcher, finds himself as a house guest of the young widow Talas.

Kaoru Mori introduces us to a new set of characters in this third installment. Mr. Smith is still around – in fact we are now following him on his journeys to study the culture of the people around the Silk Road. There are ome cameos from familiar characters later in the book, though.

Kaoru Mori’s artwork is as lush as detailed as ever, and it alone would make this manga worth your time. But perhaps surprisingly, this volume also has the strongest storyline of the series. The previous ones did have an overarching storyline, but they were more focused on little scenes in the every day life of the characters. But volume 3 has a strong, bittersweet, romantic and quite sad story, and I was surprised that I was as taken with it as I was. 4/5

Saga Vol 2
Saga, Vol. 2

(issues #7-12)
By: Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
First published in 2013
Genre: science fantasy
My copy: From the library

Marko and Alana are still on the run with their newborn baby, this time joined by Marko’s parents.

I’m torn… I still couldn’t care less about Alana and Marko, but I just can’t get enough of Prince Robot IV and the other people hunting the main duo! Especially Prince Robot IV, whenever he’s on the page I love the comic – those parts add one star to my rating! The coloring of the book is also very, very good. I don’t really know what to say! At times I love this, at times I’m indifferent. Will definitely be continuing with the series, though. I have to find out what’s next in store for my beloved Prince! :) 4/5

And that’s it! My, this is a huuuuuge post. I hope you enjoy it, and find something amidst all the reviews that fits you.

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2 thoughts on “November Wrap-Up (2013)

  1. I can’t wait for volume 3 of Saga! And I’m so excited to start Runaways! I’ve been thinking about rereading the Hitchhiker series, and now I’m even more tempted. What a great reading month you’ve had! :)

    • Yes – it didn’t feel that great back then, because I didn’t feel like reading any books, but now that I look back on it I did read a ton of graphic novels, and enjoyed most of what I read! And I’m definitely enjoying my re-read of Hitchhiker’s.

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