📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Saga Volume 5, by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan

Still reading, still enjoying! It’s interesting to watch the stories and themes play out (sometimes slowly) over time.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Saga Volume 4, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I still love so much about this series and am looking forward to continuing it. Vaughan is blending together characters and plot threads in interesting and new ways, and I’m eager to see where he goes with it. This didn’t get as high as a review from me as the last volume, though. Maybe it’s because there was some more of the gore that’s my least favorite part of this, or maybe it’s because I don’t like media about couples going through rough patches, even if it’s well done.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Saga Volume 3, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

Okay, no more caveats. I’m really into this series now. The themes (the difficult love of family and the creeping destruction of war) are more clear, and the art and weirdness continue to be excellent.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Saga Volume 2, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

You know, I still feel like Saga leans into being a comic for adults by putting adult material in there just because it can. That said, I’ll admit that I have a certain amount of inherent prudishness that may be coloring my thinking there. More importantly, I enjoy the art, the story is getting better and more interesting, and I’m eager to keep reading.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Saga Volume 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

I gave Saga a try a few years ago, but it didn’t quite work for me (or my prudishness), so as good of a reputation it had, I didn’t stick with it. I just got the first ten volumes through a Humble Bundle, though, and so it’s time to give it another try. I’m no longer bothered by swearing and sex like I was a decade (or whatever) ago, though I’ll admit that casual gore is not something that endears me to comics.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

This is my third time reading this book—I couldn’t resist coming back to it for the “epistolary novel” square of my library’s “Books and Bites Bingo” challenge this year. The print book is amazing, the audiobook manages to adapt a book that shouldn’t be adaptable, and I enjoyed this read as much as the last two. The language and worldbuilding are subtle but effective, it’s morally complex without trying too hard to be, and the characters are a good mix between believable and, well, archetypal characters in a YA novel.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Nigerians in Space, by Deji Bryce Olukoton

I picked this up after hearing about it in the show notes of an EFF podcast the author appeared on. This is not the book that I expected to read, I’m not sure I entirely got it, and it even feels a bit like a shaggy dog story at the end. I still enjoyed it, though, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s neat to read fiction from deliberately African perspectives, the shaggy dog-ness is probably the point, and the characters are compelling.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson

What a wild listen! I started this right after finishing Doctorow’s Little Brother because it’s recommended in the supplementary materials. It’s a bit odd to read in 2023: The idea of cryptocurrency has been tainted with recent news, it spectacularly fails the Bechdel test, and it seems to me to use more casual racial slurs than the chapters in the Pacific Theater might allow for in the name of realism. Yet, it’s intricately plotted, well written, just absurd enough to make it better, and technical without being overwhelming.

📺 tvblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for The Sandbaggers (series 3)

I love the premise and the characters of this show, but it felt like it was running out of steam by the third series (though I’ll admit I don’t know how much the mysterious disappearance of its creator had to do with this—I’d like to read the book on the subject). Burnside got less and less likeable as the show went on (though this might be the point!), and I got tired of how many plots boiled down to “Burnside doesn’t care and goes rogue.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Chroniques de jeunesse, by Guy Delisle

J’ai déjà lu la traduction anglaise de cet album magnifique—Delisle est assez connu aux États-Unis pour paraître (en traduction) dans les bibliothèques près de chez moi. Pourtant, il y a toujours quelque chose de decevant quand je sais que j’aurais lu le lire en français. Quand une ami a visité Bruxelles récemment, je lui ai donc demandé de m’acheter l’album en français. Ayant passé quelques étés dans des usines, l’expérience de Delisle m’a beaucoup marqué.

🍿 movieblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

I loved the first Black Panther and am kind of bummed to be disappointed by the sequel. Obviously, Chadwick Boseman’s tragic passing made this movie an uphill battle to begin with, and its wrestling with that loss within the movie is one of its strongest parts. There are also other individual parts of the movie that are really interesting on their own: international intrigue with strong Françafrique overtones! Riri Williams! turning a goofy 1940s comic book character concept into something compelling and decolonial!

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Top 10, by Alan Moore

There’s a lot to love about Top 10, which is why I read it for what is at least the third time (likely more). The story is well-crafted, the concept is interesting, it riffs on superhero tropes while breathing new life into them, and the art is full of so many easter eggs for the savvy reader (my favorite is probably the Astérix and Obélix cameo, but there are lots of other great ones).

📺 tvblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Sandbaggers (series 2)

I’m not sure I enjoyed the second series as much as the first, but over time, it grew on me. The finale nicely tied things together and helped me see how Burnside’s hubris was a running theme of the series (rather than a character derailment). Interested to see what happens in the final series!

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Mech Cadet Yu (Volume Three), by Greg Pak

Still a fun series, and I’m glad it’s short enough that I could go ahead and finish it out. It continued to get more interesting as it went along, but it also didn’t give any of its twists and turns enough time to feel deserved.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Mech Cadet Yu (Volume Two), by Greg Pak

I liked Volune Two more than Volume One: The story breaks free of simple troping and the characters become a bit more interesting. That said, none of this is enough in my mind to really set the series apart. I wonder if this would be better as a long-ish YA novel than as an ongoing comics series.

🍿 movieblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Everything Everywhere All At Once

I put off watching this movie for a while, despite a number of recommendations. I think it’s fitting that I finally watched it so soon after listening to the audiobook of Walkaway, a very weird Cory Doctorow novel about finding hope despite things going very badly. This movie is far, far weirder than Walkaway, and yet it also does a much, much better job of getting that same message across. I feel like it spoke to many of my current anxieties, but in a healing and helpful way.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Mech Cadet Yu (Volume One), by Greg Pak

The premise is fun, and I liked (most of) the art, but I felt like the story moved too fast to move beyond recycled tropes—or let the characters be more than flattish archetypes. It probably won’t stop me from reading the next volume, but I think it’s aimed at a younger audience than me.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Little Brother, by Cory Doctorow

To my own surprise, I’ve been getting into audiobooks recently, and having listened to Doctorow’s “Walkaway,” I decided to revisit his Little Brother series in audio form. Parts of the first book haven’t aged well (including some language that was bad enough to be edited out of the print version I have), and while I enjoy Doctorow’s opinions, they sometimes overwhelm the story here. That said, to quote TVTropes, some anvils are worth dropping, and the messages about privacy, surveillance, and civil liberties are as relevant as ever, I don’t know if I enjoyed the book as much as I did my first time through, but I still like it enough to give it four hearts.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Shelley

I haven’t read this in over a decade, so I recently decided to listen to an audiobook version and see how I liked it this time through. The overall story is excellent! I found particularly compelling the question of scientific (and technological) responsibility, and the creature’s railing against his creator at Chamonix in the middle of the book struck me as almost Job-like. I wasn’t expecting the Chamonix scene to resonate with me as much as the tech allegory, but it will also stay with me, I think.

🍿 movieblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Sky High

By the time this movie came out in 2005, I was already deep into superhero media, and I love using recycled tropes to tell an interesting story. This does an excellent job, and it was a favorite for my whole family when it came out. (In fact, I hadn’t remembered until rewatching it that one of my family’s shared verbal tics comes from a running gag involving Ron Wilson, Bus Driver).

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Swisstory: The Untold, Bloody, and Absolutely Real History of Switzerland, by Laurie Theurer

Swisstory wasn’t awful, but it’s pretty clear it’s written for kids: Lots of playing up the bloody and gross, and not as detailed as I would have liked. I own a French-language accessible history of Switzerland with illustrations by the late Swiss cartoonist Mix & Remix, and I wish I’d reread that instead.

📺 tvblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Sandbaggers (series 1)

I only learned about The Sandbaggers last weekend, on an episode of The Incomparable, but I watched the entire first series this week—and loved it. It isn’t perfect: There’s too much 1970s casual misogyny for it to be self-critical in the same way that a modern show set in the 70s would be, and the brown face in one episode is also embarassing. Not setting those aside, I was still impressed with the way the show combined the bumbling hypocrisy of Yes, Minister; the self-serving internal politics of Slow Horses; and the cynical despair of Le Carré into a single, compelling show.

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

I bounced pretty hard off of Walkaway a year or so ago, but I recently decided to give it another try. I felt like I needed a boost of hopeful thinking, and I’d seen Doctorow post about the book as being hopeful. Did it ever deliver! Walkaway is hopeful on a nearly religious level, and it was exactly what I needed. The book is not naïvely optimistic but rather tenacious in its belief that we can still make this a better workd.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for The Handbook to Lazy Parenting, by Guy Delisle

I’m a big fan of Delisle’s comics, but in the past, I’ve skipped his series on parenting. This morning, though, a friend visiting Brussels offered to bring me back a copy of Delisle’s « Chroniques de Jeunesse », so when I went to the library later in the day, I couldn’t help but pick up something else he’s done. His art is great, and his stories are funny and sweet. My only complaint is that I couldn’t read the original French edition (though I should be glad Kentucky libraries carry the English translations!

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Terms and Conditions, by R. Sikoryak

Reading an actual Apple terms of service document can only be so interesting, but at least creating a graphic novel version helps. The sheer audacity of the project is most of why I liked this comic, but it’s also quite fun to see Sikoryak’s homages to different comics, always with a Jobsian twist. It’s weird, and I don’t see myself rereading it, but I think it’s great.

🍿 movieblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Look, I’m not a cinema connoisseur, and I’m sure this doesn’t hold up in ways that I don’t know. Conversely, I appreciate Weird Al, but I’m not the kind of megafan that would pick up on every joke. All I know is that this movie is delightful for the way it just leans into the absurdity and doesn’t apologize for it. I loved it, and even the dumbest parts made it better.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for Heike's Void, by Steven Peck

What a weird, profound, and beautiful book. This is a very Mormon novel, and in all the best ways. It takes Mormonism seriously—even literally—but not uncritically. I’d wager that Peck has read Grant Hardy, and my favorite bit in an amazing book is a throwaway joke about farewell expressions in French in a way that only someone who knows and loves the Book of Mormon would do. More than all of that, it is a profound and optimistic (but never naïve) story about redemption knowing no bounds.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Superman: Earth One (Volume One), by J. Michael Straczynski

I’ve read this a couple times before, so I knew it wouldn’t be great, but it was on sale for a dollar at a used book store, and I have a soft spot for it (including its sequels), so I picked it up and gave it another go. I think this retelling makes big mistakes about Superman (believing that destructive fights and interstellar intrigue are what makes the character interesting) and about origin story retellings (gesturing to the reader and including shocking plot twists), but it also asks the important questions about power and responsibility that make Superman stories good.

📺 tvblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Slow Horses Season 2

I’ve been looking forward to this since the first season ended. Midway through watching the first season, I’d already begun reading the series, and I may have already finished the second book by the time I saw the trailer for the second series. This season did a great job at making use of the source material while changing and improving things as needed. It’s a fun book series, but I think it’s shaping up to be a better show.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Belonging, by Nora Krug

What a beautiful book! Krug’s story of exploring both what it means to be German and her family’s connection to Nazism is moving, and her multimodal approach—combining text, photos, and drawings—really helps the story come alive. It was sometimes hard to follow all the names and threads, but that’s largely my own fault. I’d been meaning to read this for a while and was pleased to randomly find it on a library shelf.

🍿 movieblog: ❤️❤️❤️🖤🖤 for Strange World

I enjoyed this movie, so I kind of want to give it four hearts. The visuals were interesting, it tackled important themes, and I appreciated its board game love and its leaning in to pulp sci-fi weirdness and just not caring. The more I think about it, though, the more I remember its clunkiness, the way it often moved too quickly, and the lazy bits. I liked it, and I’m glad we watched it as a family, but I doubt it would hold up over time.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ for A Short Stay in Hell, by Steven Peck

I’ve read this short novella at least four times already, but I received a physical copy for Christmas and couldn’t help but give it another read. Despite being existentially horrifying, it’s one of my favorite books of all time. The protagonist is a Mormon man who dies and wakes up to his surprise in hell. This hell is specifically promised to be finite, but it’s a vast kind of finite: It’s a Borges-inspired library that consists of every possible book (as if written by monkeys on typewriters), and once you find the book that tells your life story, you get out of hell.