Hugo read: The Unwritten Volume 4

I’ve now officially read the first of the Hugo nominated graphic novels and I have to say, it was very good and I can see why it’s on the list.

45. Unwritten Vol. 4: Leviathan – Mike Carey
This may be my favourite volume yet of this series. It continues some of the plot points from previous issues, gives equal page time to all of our heroes and has some wonderful thoughts on where and how the characters can move between the different books they’re negotiating. I am particularly fond of the idea that the ocean is the same ocean in all books featuring oceans and so it can be used to travel between certain books. Tommy was initially a fairly selfish character but he’s grown a lot and I’m getting very intrigued about the hints that are coming through about his background and why he is Tommy Taylor. A couple of things were sort-of tied up but the volume left me itching for the next one to find out what happens next.

Finishing books has not happened

It’s turning out to be an excellent thing that I got a significant amount of reading done over the last few weeks because this week there hasn’t been a single finished book. Nope, not one. At least with all that reading I’m still way ahead of all my goals for the year.

The fact that I’m reading the third George R. R. Martin book probably isn’t helping there. 978 pages. Gulp.

My discovery of Tumblr and my massive consumption of LiveJournal and Dreamwidth is probably not helping either.

This weekend there should be some finished stuff, though. For a start, I have The Unwritten Vol. 4 out from the library and I need to finish that before I leave for England (in one week!). It’s my first Hugo nominated graphic novel so I’m quite excited.

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Hugo pre-read: Fables (volumes 2 to 4)

Um, I’m still stuck on the Avengers squee. So have some Fables reviews that I wrote over the last couple of weeks. Having to read most of the Fables back catalogue in order to read the Hugo nominated volume is definitely not a chore!

Fables Vol. 2: Animal Farm – Bill Willingham
Revolution is fomenting on the Farm and at the same time, Snow White decides that Rose Red’s punishment for her scam in the first volume is that she will have to accompany Snow on her annual Farm inspection. The Farm is where all the fairy tales that cannot easily blend into the city live and they are fed up. The prominent involvement of the pigs – and their communist leanings – echoed the George Orwell book but this is definitely a Fables story. I enjoyed the glimpses that I got of the different non-human societies and it was fun to play spot the fairy tale as I read. The deeper ideas were handled well, there was some great humour, and the final resolution was satisfying and fun.

Fables Vol 3: Storybook Love – Bill Willingham
This volume collects a couple of stand-alone stories along with the Storybook Love arc. It was the main arc that I enjoyed most and I think that is because it focused heavily on Bigby and Snow, two characters that I’ve quickly grown to love. Bluebeard has finally had enough of their interference and with one character from Animal Farm still on the run, puts together a plan to quietly get rid of Bigby and Snow. As with any cunning plan it backfires somewhat and Prince Charming, oddly enough, also becomes involved in protecting Snow. Charming is rapidly growing into a character that you love to loathe: he’s selfish, vain and greedy. At the same time it’s easy to see how he fooled beautiful princesses into marrying him! One of the things that I’m enjoying about this series is the way that our expectations for fairy tale characters are turned upside down regularly It’s fun installment in a series that gets better as it goes on.

Fables Vol 4: March of the Wooden Soldiers – Bill Willingham
War comes to the Fables in this book and the reader gets some more hints about the Adversary and how he/it operates. There are a couple of seemingly disconnected stories at the beginning of the volume and they pay off midway through. This was a more serious story than the previous one and it left a lot of questions unanswered. I found the final two or three ‘chapters’ completely compelling and I couldn’t put it down as I worried for the characters I’ve become attached to. Willingham is not afraid to kill his characters when necessary for a story.

I believe my reaction was ‘squee’

I am an enourmous dork. And a huge geek. I know, it’s a shocker. Nobody was expecting that.

That would explain why I was rather incoherently squeeing all over Twitter Saturday evening after seeing The Avengers. Hint: I loved it rather a lot. I’m even considering a second viewing, which is something I rarely do (I’ve only done it for Star Trek in 2009 and Return of the King, which I racked up 4 trips to).

It is also why I have spent the last two days in a whirl of LJ, Tumblr and Twitter rather than actually doing any useful reading.

It’s also why there are several Avengers books on hold at the library (I suspended them until June 1st when I sobered up and remembered that I’ll be going on vacation just as they arrive) and why I conducted a small Comixology raid for Avengers stuff. Oops? At least they were on sale?

Comixology: one of my favourite iPad apps. This week there are new issues of Batgirl and Demon Knights, by the way, so my poor iTunes account will be getting another workout.

Normal service will resume when my Avengers squee has worn off a bit. Hopefully.

Hugo nomination watch: Captain America

The new Avengers movie comes out in less than a week and somehow I had managed not to see any of the lead-in movies, so over the last month I’ve watched Ironman 1 and 2, Thor and Captain America. I was assured by many people that the Hulk movies were unnecessary so I skipped them 🙂

Of them all, Captain America was the one I was least excited about. A movie about a hugely patriotic American comic book character? Yeah, no. Not for me.

Then I saw that it had been Hugo nominated and I started to think that maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. Hugo voters are relatively sensible people, they wouldn’t nominate something terrible. OK, somehow X-Men: First Class didn’t get nominated and I thought it was a great film, but I figured that Captain America couldn’t be that bad.

Honest opinion: I enjoyed it a lot and I think that I liked it better than Thor. The Ironman ones are still definitely my favourite of these movies, but Captain America was a lot better than I expected. The main character was likeable and definitely not overtly “Hoo yeah, America!”. The secondary characters – particularly Bucky, the assorted other sidekicks and the sort-of love interest – were developed nicely and I could have quite happily watched another movie with that group having adventures. The villain was over the top in a uniquely comic-book way (well done, Hugo Weaving) and it was a lot of fun spotting all the ways that the 1940s action and characters fitted into the continuity with the modern characters.

It even had an origin story that vaguely made sense and I didn’t spot that pre-Cap Steve Rogers was CGI’d to eight stone wimpiness until I started working it out in my head afterwards. Well done that FX team!

It’s not perfect: the ending felt rather awkward, a way to get Steve Rogers into modern times for the Avengers movie rather than a coherent part of the story, and there was some uneven pacing at times.

It is definitely a better movie than I expected, though, and I had a lot of fun with it.

I still think X-Men: First Class is a better movie, though 😀

Book update (not just Hugo reads!)

Somehow, despite not feeling like I’d read a vast amount over the weekend, I finished the March issue of Asimov’s and got halfway through Agatha H and the Airship City. I’ve still got a couple of Asimov’s issues on my Kindle to read, but I got myself started on one of my pre-Hugo reads instead.

Pro tip: never check the page length of a just-started novel.

The third George R. R. Martin book is 973 pages long. I’m trying to persuade myself that this isn’t as close to a thousand pages as it sounds. I’m also trying to remind myself that this won’t be the first time I’ve read novels this long – I have read most of David Eddings’ books after all, even his sub-par ones, and some of those were equally long.

The good thing is that A Storm of Swords gets right into the action so I consumed the first thirty pages very quickly.

I’m trying to get Mount TBR (the stack of unread dead tree fiction books) down to under 130 by the time I go to England. Hence the Agatha H. It’s turning out to be a fun romp, not exactly taxing but not too fluffy either. Unfortunately Mount TBR is not helped by my book buying habits. Spy Glass by Maria V. Snyder arrived last week because I needed to add something to an Amazon order to get free shipping.

Why do I always do that when the $12 book is definitely not cheaper than the $2 shipping for a DVD? 🙂

Anyway, when Agatha is finished I think that I’ll need to read several quick children’s books in order to get Mount TBR under 130 before May 18th. This is primarily so that I don’t feel so guilty when twenty books follow me home from England…

Must go to the library this week. My hold on The Unwritten: Volume 4 has come in, which will by my first Hugo graphic novel read.

I’ve watched my first Hugo nominated film, so that review will be coming up tomorrow. Or the day after, maybe.

Hugo nomination read: Among Others

It’s good to start my Hugo reading with a fantastic novel. If the other works are anything like the quality of this one then I’ve got a fun few months coming up.

Among Others – Jo Walton

I picked this up a couple of weeks before the Hugo nominations were announced as a result of the discussions around what works were eligible. It sounded interesting and just my kind of thing so it was great to see that it was on the Hugo list so I didn’t need to put it aside. I can honestly say that I loved it and it has gone onto my “top reads of 2012” list. There was so much to like. It is told as the journal of a girl who has run away from her mother and social services have placed her with her father, who sends her away to boarding school. From the beginning we know that something terrible happened that killed the girl’s twin and left her with a crippled leg, but we pick up as she starts at school so most of it has happened ‘off stage’. A lot of the intrigue comes from trying to piece together the hints and brief mentions in her journal to work out what happened and what *really* happened.

Mor is a sympathetic character and a huge reader. With her leg putting her out of commission for many school activities she has lots of time for books and one of the things that I loved about this book was Mor’s thoughts on what she’s reading. The book is set in 1979/1980 and she reads primarily SFF, so some of the things that she reads and discusses are familiar and some are books and authors that are classics of the genre that I haven’t got around to yet. I’d love to find a list of all the book references in this so that I can read them all and then re-read Among Others.

There are hints of magic and the development of thoughts on responsible magic-usage, which is where the SFF angle plays in, but because we see everything from Mor’s point of view I was always wondering whether the magic was real or a coping mechanism. It added an extra layer to the story and kept me thinking long after I put it down at night.

Despite the journal format, there are some great secondary characters that are developed nicely. Mor’s thoughts on the world and people around her are fascinating. It’s a book that I think is going to stand up to re-reading and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Hugos addendum

Comics! How could I have forgotten the graphic novels/comics section?

I’m determined to read everything this category as well. Two of them appear to be single volumes so they shouldn’t be too taxing to read. I’ve read the first three volumes of Unwritten so reading the fourth is no problem at all.

Then there are Locke and Key and the nomination for Fables, which is for its fifteen(!) volume. I’ve read volume one of Fables and loved it, never touched Locke and Key. That’s a lot of reading that I need to do.

Thankfully everything (except Digger by Ursula Vernon) is available through my local library so extensive use of the holds system should cover me.

After all, it’s only fourteen volumes of Fables, four volumes of Locke and Key and one each of The Unwritten, Schlock Mercenary and Digger. I can absolutely read twenty-one volumes of graphic novel by July 31st along with all the other novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories.

Um.

I’ll just head over to the library’s website right now, shall I?

Time to catch up…again. Starting with Hugo Awards!

You know those times when you have lots of things to post about and say, but the motivation to actually log in and write them down evades you? Yup, that’s me.

The big important piece of news is that the Hugo Award nominations were announced a couple of weeks ago:

2012 Hugo Award nominees

As I’m a voting member of Chicon 7, I’m going to be voting in the awards and I’ve vowed to myself that I’m going to (at the least) have read all nominated fiction works and watched all the dramatic presentation works. I’d like to think that I’ll get through the related works category too, but that looks unlikely.

I’m also planning to listen to at least one or two episodes out of all the fancast nominees.

I’ve made my task rather large because several of the novels are parts of series and I feel that I need to have read the preceding works in order to fully appreciate the nominated works. Thankfully I’ve read two George R.R. Martin books, but that does mean that I’ve got another two to read before I reachA Dance with Dragons. When you add in the Mira Grant, that means that I’ve got three longish novels in my Hugo pre-reading before I can even start on the nominated works!

I’m excited about it, though. I’ve read a Seanan McGuire book and loved it, so I’m excited about reading her books as Mira Grant even though I’ve always avoided zombie novels in the past. It feels like I’m going to be expanding my horizons 🙂

I’ve read one or more of the works in the novella, novelette and short story categories already thanks to my Asimov’s subscription so that makes it slightly less intimidating. Really, it does. Yup.

Helpfully I’ve watched pretty much all the short form dramas already and of the long form, only one thing (Source Code) wasn’t previously on my list of “things that I want to watch this year” so it shouldn’t be too bad. And I watched the Harry Potter at the cinema, which reduced the list slightly even though Game of Thrones is 13 hours of viewing.

I’ll be chucking a bunch of the books onto my Kindle for my trip next month and I’m considering buying GoT from iTunes rather than on DVD so that I can throw some of the episodes onto my iPad for the airplane and the car trips.

My deadline for voting is July 31st. I can do it. I’m determined. It’s only eight novels, six novellas, five novelettes, five short stories, four films and a 13 hour mini-series after all. Eep?

If I can do it without hinting at which way I’m voting, I shall document my Hugo watching/pre-reading/reading here under the “hugos” tab. So excited about this!

Weekend cooking and reading plans

My weekend plans were originally rather busy and I’d been planning to treat myself to lunch somewhere while I was out and about.

Then all my appointments got moved (not my idea) and initially I was very woe about my lack of excuses to treat myself to nummy food. Thankfully I’ve found an excuse: I need to take my PVR into the store for my cable company at the mall because they’re upgrading something in their system and my current box won’t work after April 1st. As I need to see Once Upon a Time and Grey’s Anatomy (don’t judge me!), I’m taking the box in to get it swapped for the spiffy new one that I need.

And so I have an excuse to get some sushi for supper on the way home, which is one of my favourite food treats ever. I think that I’ll also watch Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers tomorrow evening, as I seem to be on a bit of a LotR rewatch kick. It will be perfect.

There will still be some cooking tomorrow. Project Freezer Restock needs to continue so I’ll make a big pot of chili. I’ll also make and freeze some cheese and lentil loaves as a quick veggie option. Finally I need to make some granola because I’m distressingly short and I need my granola. Need it, I tell you. Muesli breakfast day is all kinds of awesome, but I need my granola days.

Hopefully I’ll find some time for some reading because I’ve got a lot to pack in over the next week. I want to finish The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells because it’s my current Kindle book and I need to finish it before I read the final two Hunger Games books, which are also on my Kindle. I’ve got a week to read those because I’m seeing the movie with my movie buddy next weekend.

Do you like the way that I’ve logic-ed myself an entire week of gleeful Hunger Games reading?

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