July Reading Wrap-Up

Posted by on Jul 31, 2015 in Blogging/Reading | 0 comments

July was all about the graphic novels and comic collections for me. I just wasn’t in that much of a mood for anything else. It was a busy month of family events and vacation so my reading time was in short random intervals. I ended up having a great month of reading and enjoyed my binge quite a bit.

Comics and Graphic novels
Stumptown Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka
Bone Vol. 5: Rock Jaw, Master of the Eastern Border by Jeff Smith
Bone Vol. 6: Old Man’s Cave by Jeff Smith
Bone Vol. 7: Ghost Circles by Jeff Smith
Bone Vol. 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith
Bone Vol. 9: Crown of Horns by Jeff Smith
Bone Handbook by Jeff Smith
Rose by Jeff Smith
Bone: Tall Tales by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski (my combined review of this series and spinoffs was posted yesterday)
Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka
The Country Nurse (Essex County Vol. 3) by Jeff Lemire (Review coming next week)

Novels
After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson
After the Armistice Ball by Catriona McPherson

Non-Fiction

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris

The League of Regrettable Superheroes by Jon Morris

Audiobooks
Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood
Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood

I usually list a favorite in each category but since I only read one novel, one non-fiction, and one audiobook that’s kind of pointless. As for the comics and graphic novels I really enjoyed them all so let’s just call the month of July an all around win for reading.

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A Binge through the Bone series by Jeff Smith

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in 2015, 4.5 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Jeff Smith | 0 comments

A Binge Through the Bone Series by Jeff Smith

Bone Volumes 5 through 9 plus a couple of extras makes for a long post. You have been warned.

One nice thing about taking a vacation in which you drive to your destination is that you can take a giant pile of library books with you. As I mentioned before we left on vacation I was purposely planning on reading mostly comic collections and graphic novels on this trip and that turned out to be a perfect plan. I read a bunch of books on my TBR list and still had plenty of time to stop and stare at the ocean.

I finished up the remaining 5 volumes of Jeff Smith’s outstanding Bone series. So I’m just going to wrap this all up in one post. I really could wrap it up in a couple of sentences. This series is wonderful. If you haven’t read it you have missed out.

(Note: publication dates are for the reissued colored Scholastic editions.)

These were the essentially the second half of the series. It’s a mix of fantasy, adventure, magic, and humor, along with tinges of politics, romance and revenge. While marketed and shelved as juvenile fiction these are absolutely just as much fun and perhaps more for adults.

After finishing the completely satisfying final volume I picked up the companion volume the Bone Handbook. It contains summaries of each of the 9 books. There are character profiles of most of the major cast. Be warned, however that you don’t want to read these before you’ve finished the series because they do talk about the entirety of the story. It has a fun little extra comic story. I enjoyed the bit of background history about the places and characters that talked about things that happened before the beginning of the series. I really enjoyed the interviews with the author and the artist who did the colorization of the Scholastic editions. All in all it was a fun follow up to the series and I’m glad I read it.


Next up were a couple of additional books that aren’t part of the main storyline of Bone. Rose is a prequel about events that took place long before the beginnings of Volume 1 of Bone. The artwork by Charles Vess is different from what Jeff Smith has done in the rest of the series but for a prequel it works. It was good to get more of the history after finishing the main series.

Tall Tales is a follow up collection of stories written by Jeff Smith and Tom Sniegoski. This one delves into a bit of history of Boneville and the Bone cousins (which may or may not be accurate). As with the rest of the series, it was simply fun and entertaining.

Seriously, if you haven’t read these, you should.

This is a series that I want to own and I plan to purchase them so I can read them again and get The Hubster to read them too. In the meantime there is a spinoff trilogy of prose novels with illustrations called Quest for the Spark written by Tom Sniegoski who worked with Smith on Tall Tales. My library has them and they’re on my wish list.

4.5 stars Rating 4.5/5 for the whole shebang

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Nutshell Review – Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka with art by Carla Speed McNeil

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #5 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 5 is a compilation of issues 16-20 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

When an agent dies in the field, it’s their fellow spies that are always hit the hardest. When the agent that doesn’t make it home is an ex-lover, “hard” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Tara Chace and the rest of the department reel over the demise of one of their own, a ghost from Director Paul Crocker’s past has him sending his Minders into danger yet again. But will this operation free Crocker from his ghosts or merely create new ones?

My Thoughts:
I really thought this story arc was well done. When one of the agents under Paul Crocker dies, the entire unit is affected. At the same time events in the country of Georgia have the intelligence communities in Europe on edge. In particular, Paul Crocker is affected because there is a connection to a case he handled in his early days as an agent.

The life of a spy is never an easy one but it’s worse when fellow agents die.

Tara Chace is put in a difficult situation by her boss and things do not go well.

As usual with this series, each new story arc is illustrated by a different artist. While not my least favorite so far, I was not enthusiastic about Carla Speed McNeil’s in this one. I’m fine with characters looking different than in previous volumes because of a different artist. My issue with this volume was that the three of the main male characters (and a few of the secondary characters) looked far too much alike. I often had to use cues from the dialog to figure out which of them was in the particular panel I was reading.

This was one of the better volumes in this series in terms of story but one of the weaker in terms of artwork.

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Weekend Update – The Vacation at the Oregon Coast Edition

Posted by on Jul 26, 2015 in Fun, photos, Weekend Update | 3 comments

Weekend Update

We spent last week on vacation on the Oregon Coast and it was glorious. We’ve been going to the same place for a week every summer for nine years. I think this was the best ever week in terms of weather. It was simply spectacular.

Some of these are repeats if we’re linked on Instagram or Facebook but I love them so I’m posting them here too.

The place we stay has an amazing cove right off the back deck. The waves are an ever changing view. This year I played with the slow motion video on my phone and was so happy with the results. Wait for the second wave on this one. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Thor’s Well is a place on the coast where a deep hole in the rocks fills and drains when the tide is high enough. I’ve been wanting to see (and photograph) this for a few years. This time the timing and the tide worked out perfectly. I’m so glad I finally got there. This is definitely something we’ll do again. (go to the full screen view for this one)

Morning walks with a view are my favorite

 

Yachats, Oregon

Yachats, Oregon
Seriously – I never get tired of watching this.

Yachats Waves

Yachats Waves

Sunsets are nice too.

Yachats Sunset

I really don’t want to go back to work tomorrow.

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

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Nutshell Review – Stumptown Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Stumptown Vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs by Greg Rucka with art by Justin Greenwood

Stumptown Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka

Genre: Crime Fiction, Comics
Format: eBook
Series: #3 in the Stumptown series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 147
Source: Purchased


The Book:

From the publisher:

Greg Rucka’s fan-favorite P.I. is back on the case in this new hardcover! When one of investigator Dex Parios’s dearest friends is brutalized following a Portland Timbers match, Dex is determined to get to the bottom of the attack no matter who stands in her way! Join Eisner Award-winner Rucka and new series artist Justin Greenwood (Image Comics’ THE FUSE) as Dex kicks more than just soccer balls in her pursuit of the assailant.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoy this series featuring Portland P.I. Dex Parios. She’s the classic tough yet vulnerable heroine. Greg Rucka is very open about the TV show Rockford Files being a major influence on his work in this series. I enjoy that feel to the series and I love that it’s set in Portland.

I was a little concerned when I heard about the artist change with this volume and that Justin Greenwood doesn’t live in Portland. He’s done a magnificent job however, of maintaining the feel of the city and recreating familiar landmarks and neighborhoods of Portland in his art. There is naturally a bit of change in how characters are drawn but he’s stayed true to the Dex (and other characters) that I’ve become familiar with in the earlier volumes.

This story arc is wrapped around the soccer crazed world of the Portland Timbers and their fans. It’s got some good pieces about the Portland vs. Seattle rivalry. It was fun so see something I’m so familiar with become part of a story like this.

I liked the way that Rucka surprised me with some hints and insights into Dex’s history and I’m hoping that we’ll be seeing a volume four in the near future.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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