📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 15, Silver Sable, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

There’s some interesting stuff here, including Bendis’s riffs on power and responsibility and how that relates to secret identities. However, there’s too much welding to the broader Ultimate universe, including introducing characters I just don’t care about. I also still feel like Peter’s attitude toward MJ is more low-level misogyny than anything justified.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 14, Warriors, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Definitely not my favorite of the series. Lots of crossover nonsense with characters I don’t really care about. Way too much casual misogyny (Peter toward MJ and creators toward the women they put in impractical fanservice costumes). Starting to question my commitment to this series binge.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Queen & Country Definitive Edition: Volume 02, by Greg Rucka

This volume was excellent. Much more of the Sandbaggers vibes and less saving the world spy fiction. I ordered the third volume today!

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Queen & Country Definitive Edition: Volume 01, by Greg Rucka

I’ve been wanting to read this since binging all three series of The Sandbaggers, since I’ve seen it repeatedly referred to as a spiritual sequel. They weren’t kidding—the first story arc feels like a remix of the show! The third story arc was the least interesting to me (and probably the reason this didn’t get full marks). The first two deal with the cynicism of espionage and the brokenness of spies in the way I expected the series would, whereas the third arc felt more like a traditional spy story with maybe some furniture moving for future arcs.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 13, Hobgoblin, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Peter and MJ’s relationship is one of my favorite things to follow this series, and that makes this volume a real disappointment. It seems like so much of the story is built around forcing drama and idiot balls into these two characters for the sake of adding twists and turns to the plot. Plus, it really comes through in this volume how often MJ is treated as an extension of Peter instead of a character with her own depth and agency.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol 12, Superstars, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

This is mostly crossover nonsense, but it’s actually kind of good? The Doctor Strange issues feel overly dramatic at points, but Peter’s nightmare is classic Spider-Man responsibility angst, so I’ll give it a pass.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 11, Carnage, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Gwen Stacy gets done dirty in the Ultimate continuity, and I have even less interest in Carnage than I do Venom. What saves this volume for me, though, is the throughline of the classic Spider-Man theme of power and responsibility.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 10, Hollywood, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

This is a shameless attempt to profit off of whatever Spider-Man movie was coming out at the time, but it’s still a pretty fun story. It continues to strain credulity that this kid could keep up superhero hijinks without Aunt May finding out, but it’s enough of the mythos that I can deal with it (mostly).

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 9, Ultimate Six, by Brian Michael Bendis

This story is interesting, but it suffers from too much of superhero continuity bloat. I also miss Mark Bagley’s illustration—this artist’s faces all look alike, whereas Bagley’s characters are distinct and familiar to me. It’s just meh.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 8, Cats & Kings, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

The first few issues of this are just about peak Spider-Man, and I came very close to giving this full marks. By the end, though, there was too much treating female characters as fanservice—and I have never liked temptation to infidelity as a plot device. So, some ups, some downs.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 7, Irresponsible, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I finally got access to my spouse’s hoopla password so that I can continue my binge of this series without waiting for my loans to refresh in December. There was a lot that I don’t like about this volume: 2000s language that doesn’t age well, oversexualization of costumes and characters, and crossover nonsense. I like the characters, though, and the issue with Aunt May in therapy was good enough on its own to bump my rating up a heart.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for The Book of Herbal Teas: A Guide to Gathering, Brewing, and Drinking, by Sara Perry

I like herbal tea, but there’s only so much interest I can show in a cookbook on the topic. The only reason I read this was because reading a cookbook is one of the squares on my local library’s 2023 reading challenge. It could be interesting to grow my own herbs and make my own blends, but I just don’t see myself doing it.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Lost Cause, by Cory Doctorow

I’ve read a LOT of Doctorow in 2023—including Walkaway twice, Red Team Blues twice, and relistening to Little Brother—so I can’t help but place this hopeful solarpunk novel in the context of these others. Even though The Lost Cause touches on some of the same themes as Walkaway, I like the latter book a lot better, though perhaps because it feels less “real” than a book about paramilitary Maga Clubs and impending climate catastrophe.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 pour Power from on High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood, par Gregory A. Prince

Rereading this book after a few years, and it continues to be great! The organization could be more clear, and it sometimes feels repetitive, but it provides important historical detail that allows the reader to understand Latter Day Saint priesthood in new ways.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for The September Six and the Struggle for the Soul of Mormonism, by Sara M. Patterson

This is an excellent, thorough book on the purity system of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the excommunications of the “September Six” and many others for their violations of that purity system. I bought the book out of personal interest, but I think it will be professionally valuable as well. I knew much of what was in the book, but what I didn’t know was important, and I am grateful for the volume and hope that many will read it to learn about this important period in Mormon history.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 6, Venom, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I keep going back and forth on whether I’m going to rag on these comics for having silly comicbook logic, and now’s the time I’m really going to do it. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really cared about Venom, but this reinvention of the character feels especially silly. There’s a great conversation between Peter and Nick Fury that feels like it really gets at teasing apart superhero stories in fascinating ways, but as a whole, this was just not my favorite story in the run.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 5, Public Scrutiny, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

Superhero stories continue to be kind of silly, but this one continues to be fun, so I’m going to keep reading. I’m starting to realize just how little of this series I’ve read, and it’s fun to catch up with things I’d heard about but never actually seen myself.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 4, Legacy, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

This volume emphasized some of the parts of the series that don’t hold up, like casual schoolyard homophobia and damseling Mary Jane. Without dismissing those problems, though, there’s still a lot to like here. I have no recollection of this volume, and it’s interesting to get into new territory for the series.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 3, Double Trouble, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I’ve decided I don’t need to critically analyze these books anymore. They’re fun, I like Bagley’s art, and I think I’m starting to get into issues I haven’t read before. Hooray for hoopla and easy access to this whole run.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 2 Learning Curve, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

There are a lot of reminders in this volume of how dumb superhero comics can be (how is a 15-year old going toe to toe with a crime boss?), but it’s also fun in a lot of ways, and I know I loved reading this when I was a teenager myself. It continues to be a fun series.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Ultimate Spider-Man: Vol. 1, Power and Responsibility, by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley

I don’t know how many times I’ve already read this volume, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Ultimate Spider-Man. I know the earlier stuff better than the later stuff, though, so I’m hoping to make it through the whole series this time.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Spider-Man Life Story, by Chip Zdarsky

I stayed up too late reading this, but it was fun. It’s a bit dumb in parts, but I love the effort to weld together all the major Spider-Man stories into a single lifetime of an aging Peter Parker. I love this kind of comic, the kind that reimagines established canon in interesting ways. Fun read.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for God is in the Manger: Reflections on Christmas and Advent, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I did not read this book as one is supposed to. It’s a collection of daily Advent and Christmas reflections, but I listened to the audiobook well before Advent started and with no pauses in between individual reflections. I’m sure that takes away from the experience, but I enjoyed what I heard and plan to read more Bonhoeffer.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Red Team Blues, by Cory Doctorow

I’ve been meaning to reread this since I first listened to the audiobook, which I started as soon as it was released. It’s not my favorite Doctorow, but it’s still him at his best: The book is opinionated, exciting, and full of specific, compelling details. I like it a lot.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️🖤🖤🖤 for Warlords of Appalachia, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson

I don’t know what this book is supposed to be. It feels like too much worldbuilding and too little plot; I would like to see more of the Kentucky I know, but it also feels vaguely exploitative of Eastern Kentucky; it feels like an excuse for violent storytelling and wants to be something deeper without quite getting there. I wasn’t a fan.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Long War, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

This series continues to have a really interesting premise, and I’m giving it some grace for how much it runs with that premise and treats it seriously. It took me a long time to get through this volume, though, because it’s getting a bit weird and the authors tend to fetishize the American frontier uncritically. I may come back to the series in the future, but not any time soon.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Restorations: Scholars in Dialogue from Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by Andrew Bolton and Casey Paul Griffiths

This was an interesting read, and there are portions of it that I expect to come back to later. However, I was surprised by how often I felt like I already knew what was being covered. Given my familiarity with both faiths, I expect that I’m not the target audience (anymore) for this volume.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 pour Josephine Baker, par Catel & Bocquet

Comme d’habitude, je suis impressionné par le nombre de bd francophones disponible en traduction chez ma bibliothéque municipale, mais j’aurais préféré lire cet album en français. En tout cas, je connaissais le nom Josephine Baker, mais je ne connaissais pas vraiment le personnage. J’aurai appris beaucoup plus en lisant une vraie biographie, mais une bd, c’est quand-même sympa !

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Long Earth, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

This was a Jason Snell recommendation on a recent episode of The Incomparable that I nearly skipped; I’m glad I didn’t, though, because this was a fascinating book. The premise—that humanity suddenly learns about and how to access parallel worlds to either “side” of Earth—is a fascinating one. In fact, this is the kind of great science fiction that starts with a wild concept and plays with it as long as it can.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 pour Civilizations, par Laurent Binet

J’aime bien l’uchronie, et cet exemple offre beaucoup d’idées intéressantes, mais j’avoue que je ne vois pas en quoi il mérite un grand prix du roman de l’Académie française. Si je connaissais mieux l’histoire européenne, peut-être que je serais plus impressionné. En tout cas, c’était assez intéressant même si je n’ai pas tout suivi.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Archie 1941, by Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid

I am only passingly familiar with Archie, but the concept behind the miniseries was compelling, and I love a reimagining of familiar characters to make a point. Even more compelling was the treatment of World War II in a way that emphasized how awful war is instead of cheerleading the U.S. entry into the conflict. Really enjoyed this.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book Two), by Bill Willingham

Reading a second volume hasn’t changed my impression of this series: It’s an interesting premise, but there’s not really enough substance to it to be worth my attention. There’s more out there, but I don’t feel any completionist tendencies about it.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Fables: The Deluxe Edition (Book One), by Bill Willingham

As promised, I’m reading this in honor of Bill Willingham’s badass public domain antics earlier this week. I think the concept of his series is fun, but I’m not sure if I think it’s as great as its reputation. The idea of fairy tale characters living in the real world is full of potential, but the story seems pretty superficial. Will probably keep reading, though.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Dendo: One Year and One Half in Tokyo, by Brittany Long Olsen

It’s weird to rate this so highly given how much anxiety it gives me to read it. Reading it four years ago is what forced me to confront how much baggage I had from my own Mormon missionary experience, but I know the author has her own complicated feelings about the book, and that helps some. At any rate, the book is so well done that I can’t help but rate it highly.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for A Legacy of Spies, by John Le Carré

I didn’t love this when I first read it after its publication, but it has grown on me since! It’s fanservice, franchise-oriented writing at its best, and even if some of its details strain plausibility (just how old is Smiley?), it’s fun to see behind the scenes of Leamas’s narrative in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and to weld that narrative to characters we know from the Karla trilogy.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Walkaway, by Cory Doctorow

I just read this earlier this year, but it was too good not to revisit and it’s just as good in epub as it was in audiobook. Love this book.