Throwback Thursday – The Sandman: The Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters
By: Neil Gaiman (writer); Yoshitaka Amano (artist)
Release Date: November 1, 1999; (This Edition) 2000
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd.
Series: The Sandman
Award: Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative (2000); Hugo Award Nominee for Best Related Work (2000); Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Comics-Related Book (2000)

Have you ever heard of The Sandman: The Dream Hunter by Neil Gaiman and Yoshitaka Amano? Yeah, I hadn’t either. I discovered this book tucked away in the graphic novel section of my local library between two volumes of The Sandman graphic novel. The story set within the Sandman universe. This is a novella, though, not a graphic novel. Even better, it’s filled to the brim with one and two page art spreads by none other than Yoshitaka Amano, famed artist for many a Final Fantasy game.

Review – God Country by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw

God Country
By: Donny Cates; Geoff Shaw
Release Date: August 2, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Received From: Publisher
(All reviews are our own, honest opinions.)

I am always game for a story about a giant Final Fantasy styled ridiculously oversized sword. Look, I just like them. They look cool. And they look cool in artistic formats like video games and graphic novels. When I found out God Country by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw was about an older gentleman who finds an enormous sword, I knew I needed to read it.

The story follows Emmett Quinlan, an older man who suffers from Alzheimer’s. His children and the local law enforcement are having an increasingly difficult time handling Emmett’s violent outbursts. When a storm sweeps through his Texas town, leveling his home. But when Emmett emerges from the storm, he is a different man, a man that his son thought was lost to disease. A magic sword has granted him a sound mind and great powers. But the sword belongs to someone else, and they will stop at nothing to get it back.

This was a bit of a roller coaster of a graphic novel for me, and not necessarily due to the plot. The book was one of highs and lows for me. The opening pages of God Country hit hard. The opening scene shows the sherriff of a small town in Texas returning an Alzheimer’s ridden father to his home and son turned caretaker after sneaking out of the house without anyone’s knowledge. The sheriff tries to tell the son that it’s time, that the Alzheimer’s is too advanced, and that they should really consider a nursing home. This scene hit hard, having been in similar situations and discussions with family members. The heartbreak, the questions with no good answers, all of that felt very real. Everyone’s experiences are different, of course, so not everyone who has cared for an Alzheimer’s patient will be able to relate to this scene the same way, but it did add a lot of realism to the story.

However, this hard hitting emotion didn’t quite carry through to the rest of the graphic novel for me. Overall, this is a very action packed story. There’s plenty of fighting scenes. More emotional scenes are also prevalent. But none of them had the same sort of impact that the opening scene managed to convey. Scenes that, for all purposes, were supposed to be gut wrenching never quite left me feeling that way.

There were some interesting questions posed in this graphic novel. Emmett had a real second chance, a chance to say the things he never said or never had a chance to. Yet, nothing changes. He is the same person he always was for better or worse. The relationship with his son doesn’t change very drastically despite the young man trying rather desperately to get Emmett to say something, anything. This brings up some really fascinating questions. Many other stories with similar themes play off of the concepts of things left unfinished or what could be changed if there was a second chance. In a lot of ways, God Country subverts that, with Emmett being very much the same person he was before Alzheimer’s took hold. This is something I haven’t seen a lot, and it was rather interesting to see play out.

I have some mixed feelings about the art, too. The fight scenes were a strong point, with all of the flashiness one would expect when a character fights with a greatly oversized sword. While we don’t see a terrible amount of the Kingdom of Always, this was also rather fascinating, and I dwelled on these images, along with the battle scenes, the most. The characters, however, were entirely unappealing from a visual perspective. I really didn’t like how any of the characters were drawn. Faces looked sort of mushy and lumpy. Noses were pointy and eyes tended to be squinty. Color palates used fit the settings well. Bluish tones were used in Always while Texas had more yellows, browns, and reds, highlighting the grassy landscape.[/parapgraph]

This isn’t a story with a happy ending. Even so, the ending was very satisfying and fitting for the story being told. I won’t say too much more on this due to spoilers, but the story wrapped up extremely satisfactorily.

Despite a good ending, the story was, overall, forgettable. I only read God Country three days prior to sitting down and writing the review, but already details are fuzzing over. I think it’s worth a read. The premise is quite original. I like seeing heroes and main characters that are so out of the norm. Going into this I expected to rate it extremely highly. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to initial expectations. Still, if this sounds even a little interesting to you, I do encourage you to read it.

Review – A Silent Voice Volume 1 by Yoshitoki Oima

A Silent Voice Volume 1
By: Yoshitoki Oima
Release Date: (Original Japanese) November 15, 2013;(English Translation) May 26, 2015
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Series: A Silent Voice

I’ve recently been getting more manga from my local library than I used to. (They won’t acquire more if no one’s reading them, after all). But while they have a rather comprehensive who’s who of 1990s manga, more modern titles are often missing. Luckily, one of the series they’ve made sure to put on the shelves is A Silent Voice by Yoshitoki Oima.

Despite having a rather famous movie adaptation, I went into this series pretty much blind. I haven’t watched the movie and knew nothing of the plot beyond the very basics. A Silent Voice is the story of two middle schoolers – a boy named Shoya and a girl named Shoko. Shoko is a new transfer student and deaf. Shoya suffers from nothing greater than perpetual boredom, and begins to bully Shoko. The entire class joins in on Shoya’s bullying, with Shoko ultimately switching schools. Yet Shoya shoulders the blame of her dropping out of their school alone. Years later, at the end of high school, Shoya meets Shoko again.

Review – The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo

The Language of Thorns:
By: Leigh Bardugo
Release Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Imprint
Series: Grisha Verse

The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic is, at heart, a book of fairy tales. These stories are set in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha universe, the same world in which The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows duology are set. Instead of high stakes adventures, we are given several fairy tales that take place in unspecified times within this world.

Tome Topple Round 5 TBR

Happy first day of Tome Topple, everyone. That’s right. It’s this time of year again already. Time to pull out all of the amazing sounding yet physically terrifying books we’ve been neglecting because they’re just too damned long. Honestly, I have more of those than I’d like to admit.

Yep, I was surprised too. I knew another round of Tome Topple was coming up fast, but this really snuck up on me. I always have a stack of tomes to get through, though, including some books I picked up earlier this week as well as all the titles I didn’t quite make it through during the last round of Tome Topple.

For those who may not know, Tome Topple is a readathon originally created by @thoughtsontomes. The goal of this particular readathon is to read books that are 500 pages or longer. The readathon runs for two weeks. It begins today, November 17th, and ends November 30th.

For the goal oriented there are some challenges that can be completed. Because who doesn’t like a little extra challenge with their readathons?

Here are the challenges:

1. Read more than one book.
2. Read a graphic novel.
3. Read a book in a series.
4. Buddy read a book.
5. Read an adult novel.

I’m hoping to get through a number of books this time. I’m not sure how much reading time I will realistically have this week as Thanksgiving is being hosted at my house this year, but I’ll try anyway, damn it. Without further ado here are the books that I’m planning on reading over the next two weeks.

Tome Topple TBR:

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service by Eiji Otasuka and Housui Yamazaki (640 pages)
Arcadia by Iain Pears (510 pages)
New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (615 pages)

Who else is participating in Tome Topple? Are you reading any of the same books? Let us know below!

Throwback Thursday Review – Alichino Volume 1 by Kouyu Shurei

Alichino Vol 1
By: Kouyu Shurei
Release Date: (Original Japanese) November 1998; (English Translation) February 8, 2005
Publisher: TokyoPop
Series: Alichino #1

Sometimes we pick manga we never heard of up at the library. Sometimes this a turning point, a time when we discover older or more obscured series that we collect the boxed sets of and treasure forever. This is not one of those times.

Alichino Volume 1 by Kouyu Shurei is not the most excellent manga on my library’s shelf. However, it is one which they’ve collected all of the volumes of and that was enough for me.

Review – Puella Magi Madoka Magica Volume 1

Puella Magi Madoka Magica Volume 1
By: (story) Magica Quartet; (art) Hanokage
Release Date: (Original Japanese) February 12, 2011; (English Translation) May 29, 2012
Publisher: Yen Press
Series: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

I think its safe to say that Puella Magi Madoka Magica is an international phenomenon. The story is written by Magica Quartet with the art done by Hanokage, and I cannot recommend this series enough.

A new student transfers into first year high school student Madoka’s class. The girl is familiar, a person from something Madoka knows must have been a dream. It being anything else was impossible. Cats don’t offer magical powers in exchange for your deepest wish. Yet here this girl, Homura, is and she’s fighting a rather familiar looking cat. The offer is again given. If she speaks her deepest wish, she will be granted both magical powers and her wish. But it isn’t all fun and games. The world of magic is a world of high danger and seemingly little personal reward. The lost are not mourned here, and evil stalks the innocent.

Review – Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

By: Annalee Newitz
Release Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books

A book I had my eye on for some time was Autonomous by Annalee Newitz. This is a book about autonomy, what makes someone autonomous, and a race across the globe as an illegally distributed drug begins to rack up an unexpected death toll.

Autonomous is, in a lot of ways, very dystopian. Or it wanted to be. I can’t help but feel that everything wrapped up much too nicely to be considered dystopian. (In the traditional sense of the genre and not counting the Young Adult Dystopians that relate more closely to dark fantasy/sci-fi than to adult dystopian).

Review – Snotgirl Vol 1 by Bryan O’Malley

By: Bryan Lee O'Malley; Leslie Hung
Website: ;
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Image Comics
Series: Snotgirl #1

A graphic novel I’d heard about on booktube (that’s book based youtube videos for any who aren’t familiar with the term) and decided to pick up is Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley (creator of Scott Pilgrim) and Leslie Hung. While having a slight air of mystery about it, this graphic novel doesn’t fall into the usual science fiction, fantasy, or horror genres I normally read. This is both a blessing and a curse. I like stretching out of my comfort zone, but at the same time I am often reminded why I enjoy those genres to begin with.