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September in Review: What I Read

The month of September has been a slower month for me. Having lowered my reading goal from one hundred and fifty-six to one hundred and fifty, it gave me time to breathe and not feel like I was falling far behind. That said, I am making progress and am on track.

For the month of September, I have read four books, four comics, and one manga. Totaling out to nine books this month. These are those books and my general thoughts on them.

Epic Tales: Celtic Myths and Tales/Celtic Myths and Tales: Epic Tales by Various

This collection of Celtic tales has been sitting in my Currently Reading shelf since March. It was originally going to be the “bigger/more in depth book” that I would read in March as well as fitting into the Ireland theme I had planned for the month (Note: I will sometimes dedicate a month for a specific topic, theme, or what have you for a particular month. For instance June, I read mostly LGBTQ+ centered books in honor of Pride Month. It’s a way for me to expand my reading and maybe find a book I like that I might not have thought of previously). The only reason it took me this long was because of other books I had to read, the fact I wanted to take my time with this book, and my motivation to read it being hit or miss.

So for the month of September, I decided to sit my butt down and finish it. Overall, I would say that I enjoyed it. All of the tales were really neat and were divided into sections. It’s also a really nice collection of tales, and a number of which, if any, might not appear in the Irish Fairy and Folk Tales leather bound book I own. This book is also apart of a series of “epic tales” which include other tales from other mythologies, Mary Shelley, Black Sci-Fi stories, and more. A number of these are included on my to read list, including the Black Sci-Fi stories, Epic Tales: Norse Myths and tales, Epic Tales: Persian Myths and Tales, African Myths and Tales, and Epic Tales: Japanese Myths and Tales.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Essential X-Men Volume 11 by Chris CLaremont

I’ve been making my way through the Classic X-Men comics via the Epic Collection and their respected Omnibuses. This is the last of the Essential X-Men Collection that I needed to read before hopping into the run starting in the 90’s (Either through regular paper backs or their respected Epic Collection). I’ve been enjoying this run of the X-Men, some issues and volumes a little more, but this has been a fun run. This one was one that I enjoyed, but maybe not as much as others. However, I do think it was still worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

Death: At Death’s Door by Jill Thompson

The Sandman has been on my to read list since at least the beginning of 2022. I managed to get through the first two volumes before the release of the Netflix adaptation and read the Deluxe Edition of Death last month. I also ended up reading the two Little Endless Storybooks (The Little Endless Storybook and Delirium’s Party). I checked this out on a whim as well as for a quick read since I was a little behind on my reading total.

I’m kind of mixed on the story as a whole, however, it was a fun read. The art and the story did remind me of some early 2000’s manga tie ins like Kingdom Hearts 1, 2, and Chain of Memories, which were all fun and whimsical reads. If you are looking for a fun and slightly different story within the Sandman universe, I would give it a shot.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Unmasking Autism: Discovering the New Faces of Neurodiversity by Devon Price, PhD

One topic I have an on and off interest with are nonfiction books on Autism. As someone who has been diagnosed with Autism (Asperger’s when it was used a little more frequently), I’ve had an interest in reading upon it over the last few years. Mostly because, like a number of people who fall on the spectrum, I had a hard time coming to terms with it due to some perceptions out there and feeling disheartened by it. These days, I am more comfortable with it, but I want to better understand Autism where I previously didn’t.

Reading Unmasking Autism has helped me. In fact, it is set up in a way that I connect with. A lot of what this book covers touches on things that I had felt when I was younger, the conflicting emotions and having to mask that side of myself in order to appear normal. This is probably the first book on Autism that resonated with me on a personal level. And for that, I appreciate it and am glad that I bought it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

Ziggy, Stardust, and Me by James Brandon

This one I picked up on a whim on one of my Barnes and Noble trips. It was one I was considering, but I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the hardcover or wait until the paperback was released the following Tuesday (Sundays are my Barnes and Noble days since it’s a day I don’t work on and is the one day out of the weekend that right for me). Towards the end of this trip, I was looking at the LGBTQ+ section in the YA area, looking for Loveless by Alice Oseman, when I spotted it. And as luck would have it, there was one copy of the paperback copy available before it was even supposed to hit shelves (Goodreads said the paperback was set to release that Tuesday, September 13th). Which coincidentally, was the second time that has happened to me, with the first being the Essential Legends Collection release of Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter, which I got my hands on the Sunday before it’s release date that Tuesday (August 2nd). And had this been on my radar in June, I might have read it along with the other LGBTQ+ books I read that month (I do wish I read one or two more fiction books that month honestly, but I digress).

Taking place in the 1970’s and right around the time the events at Waterloo broke, it focuses on a young man trying to find his place in the world, when he meets Web, a Lakota teen, who in some ways is his total opposite. This is a coming of age story that deals with how people perceived the LGBTQ+ at the time and two young men whose lives are changed forever. Note: This book does cover some sensitive topics like racism towards Native Americans and how being gay was seen as a mental disorder.

Rating: 4.4 out of 5 Stars

Wolverine Vol 2 (1980’s) Issues 45-47 by Larry Hama

These are here since I needed to read them before hoping into Essential Wolverine Vol 3. On Goodreads, I counted these issues towards the Essential Wolverine Vol 2 since, due to me not being able to get my hands on volume 2 through my library. Plus, I would rather have these issues act as one entry, so lumping it in with Essential Wolverine volume 2, I felt made sense since technically, I already read most of it with the second and third Epic Collection volumes. Which I noted when I finished.

Overall, I though these were solid enough issues. Not sure if I would go back to them, but it was neat to see Logan and Jubilee teaming up.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

X-Men Red (2018) Vol. 1 by Tom Taylor

I wanted to read this series before I inevitably get into the 2022 X-Men run. From my understanding this, X-Men Gold, and X-Men Blue, were a sort of trio run with each one focusing on the Scott/Jean/Logan trinity. Scott is Blue, Jean is Red, and Logan is Gold. I read Gold, which had Nightcrawler as a mainstay and was a reason why I picked it up. And I enjoyed it. I don’t know if I will jump on Blue, at least at this time, but I may eventually.

As for the first volume of 2019’s X-Men Red, it was alright. The story itself made sense with the direction they wanted with Jean (focusing on her being a sort of spokesperson for the X-Men, the brief discussion on the Phoenix Force, and Jean seeking out alliances with Namor and T’Challa). I just wasn’t as invested/interested in this one compared to X-Men Gold. I’ll still read the second volume though. It was just kind of average for me personally.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Almost There by Farrah Rochon

Disney’s Twisted Tales are some really neat books. Acting as what if for the movies there based on, they generally have one question in mind. What if a different choice or event happened in the story? For instance, in Go the Distance, it asks, “What if Meg Had to Become a God?”

This one focuses on Tiana and Princess and the Frog. And personally, this is one of my favorites. Reflection is my favorite thus far, but Almost There is right up there with it. It was a good spin on the Princess and the Frog and it was interesting to see what direction it took. my only critiques, which I go over in my review, were one or two little things, but other than that, I thought this was a good read.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Trial of Magneto by Leah Williams

I finished off September with Trials of Magneto. I was looking for a quick read and I kind of wanted to check this one out. Mostly because of the mixed reception and it no longer being a comic on my to buy list. So I checked it out through my library and gave it a read.

Now, I don’t now if it’s because I am slowly inching my way into the Krakoa Age, or if this is something others believe too, but this story kind of felt all over the place. One minute it’s about Magneto going on trial for possible killing Wanda, the next she’s not dead and interacting with her past, present, and future selves. And there is some kind of resolution at the end.

That said, I wouldn’t say it’s terrible enough for one star. And if I can give it anything positive, it would be that the art was nice and that there was potential for a good/interesting story. Other than that though, I just didn’t enjoy it.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Conclusion

Nine books for the month of September. Some good. Some bad. Some average. What were some books you read in September? Thoughts?

Almost There by Farrah Rochon: A Review

The thirteenth book in the Disney Twisted Tales series, Almost There asks the question: What if Tiana Made a Deal that Changed Everything? A question that this novel looks to answer.

When I first heard that this book was coming out, I was intrigued. Though 2009’s Princess and the Frog didn’t catch my interest when it was initially released, it is one that I have revisited and really enjoy. The art and music were really good and the direction it took the story was interesting. This is also the movie that introduced us to Tiana, Disney’s first black princess. All and all, I would say that The Princess and the Frog was a solid movie and deserves the appreciation and enjoyment it has received in the years since its release.

Almost There is the thirteenth book in the Twisted Tales line and was the one I had the most curiosity for after the last two books. Go the Distance was a nice one and What Once Was Mine wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when I read it (loved the concept, wasn’t fond of certain decisions). And while I had an inkling for what they might have gone with in terms of twisting the story (Tiana taking the deal), how it was executed was neat.

And having just recently finished the book, I thought it was time to review it. Note: I will try to avoid as many spoilers as possible, but as always, Possible Spoilers Ahead.

Synopsis

The story begins with a few scenes from Tiana’s past. A lot of it being about her father and establishing moments from the movie and built off of it. Readers then jump to the present where Tiana makes a deal with Dr. Facilier that will give her her father back in exchange for an elixir his friends from the other side want her to use.

When she agrees, with one little detail missed, she gets what she had always wanted. Her friends safety, her own restaurant and her father. However, when eerie things begin to change. And when Dr. Facilier comes back a year later to collect and follow upon that missed detail, Tiana finds herself thrown into a world of trouble, and it’s up to her, Charlotte, and Naveen to reverse what the Shadow Man created.

Positives

What I thought was really good about this book had to do with the story, some of the characters, and the setting. It was also interesting to see how it worked off of the established connection Tiana had with her father and their love for cooking. It was also really nice to see these two bonding and how it eventually dealt with Tiana’s love for her father and the grief that comes along with it.

For the story, the direction they went with made sense. I did speculate that Tiana would take the offer Dr. Facilier gave her, but where such an offer would go, I wasn’t sure. That said, it does feel like a logical direction for it to go the way it did, and I think it was executed well for the most part.

As for characters, I did enjoy how this story developed Charlotte a bit more. While Charlotte would be a sort of iconic character in the movie, she only had so many scenes. Here, readers get to see more of her and Tiana’s friendship and Charlotte having some development. Naveen also got a little development too. Like him reflecting on possibly going back to Maldonia after receiving an invitation back, and what that would mean for him. Of course, Tiana got quite a bit of development as the protagonist, which includes how she handles Facilier and the restaurant. As well as how she approaches Naveen now that everyone is back to “normal”.

The setting of the story is also pretty neat too. It still takes place in 1920’s New Orleans which is nice. And while holding onto the music, food, and character the movie had while set in this time period, it does have a moment where it seems to address (if only in an implication sense) about the climate at the time in regards to race. While the movie has that scene with Tiana and the investors at Charlotte’s party with how they present her not getting the building she had her sights set on, Almost There has a scene involving Charlotte and Tiana at a clothing store where one of the workers states Tiana isn’t allowed to shop there (Charlotte does try to defend Tiana in this situation to her best ability while Tiana doesn’t want to start a conflict because of it).

Negatives

As for negatives, while I wouldn’t want to say it feels like it is formulaic, but I suppose the ending could have been a little different. On the one hand, I did like how it was a sort of psyche out. On the other, I kind of saw something a little different (like Facilier “running out of time”). But that’s just me.

One other thing I think they could have done was more scenes with Mama Odie. They do go to see her, but I feel like there could have been more scenes with her. Especially since there was a whole scene with Charlotte being perplexed that everyone but her knew who Mama Odie was. I just felt they could have done more with it.

Conclusion

I would probably give this book a 4.25 out of 5 stars. It’s certainly one of my favorite of the Twisted Tales series and I love how it approached the story. From the characters to how it addressed the plot and setting. I only wish they had done one or two things differently.

The next book in the series is one I heard might be a possibility. That being a Pinocchio set book. The title is When You Wish Upon a Star and is written by Elizabeth Lim, who previously wrote the Mulan Twisted Tale Reflection. When You Wish Upon a Star will focus on the Blue Fairy and asks: What if the Blue Fairy wasn’t Supposed to Help Pinocchio? and is expected to be released on April 4th 2023.

Planned Reading for October.

With October right around the corner, I thought I would give you a sneak peak into what I plan to read for the month. I don’t know if I will review every book I read, though I may do a post on October in review, but I do have a few books that I would like to get done for October.

My currently reading goal for the year is one hundred and fifty books this month. It may bounce back to one hundred and fifty six if I am on track, or above, since I am a fast reader in general (however, I do try to take some books slower).

The goal this month will be for twelve books since I would have to read twelve and a half books a month to keep up with my goal. If possible thirteen. This will include books and graphic novels, the later of which I find quick reads that help me catch up if needed.

The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi

I actually started reading this book in September, but since I want to take my time with this book, which is six hundred plus pages long, I didn’t want to rush through it. Because, while I am a fast reader, there are instances where I want to take my time with books. This book being one of them.

It’s synopsis on Goodreads reads as followed:

Red is the blood of the elite, of magic, of control.
Blue is the blood of the poor, of workers, of the resistance.
Clear is the blood of the slaves, of the crushed, of the invisible.

Sylah dreams of days growing up in the resistance, being told she would spark a revolution that would free the empire from the red-blooded ruling classes’ tyranny. That spark was extinguished the day she watched her family murdered before her eyes.

Anoor has been told she’s nothing, no one, a disappointment, by the only person who matters: her mother, the most powerful ruler in the empire. But when Sylah and Anoor meet, a fire burns between them that could consume the kingdom—and their hearts.

Hassa moves through the world unseen by upper classes, so she knows what it means to be invisible. But invisibility has its uses: It can hide the most dangerous of secrets, secrets that can reignite a revolution. And when she joins forces with Sylah and Anoor, together these grains of sand will become a storm.

As the empire begins a set of trials of combat and skill designed to find its new leaders, the stage is set for blood to flow, power to shift, and cities to burn.”

This sounds like an interesting read and takes some inspiration from African and Middle Eastern lore. Which I feel might not get as much spotlight when compared to Greek and Norse mythology. I’m already about fifty or so pages in, and am enjoying it so far.

The Dawn of Yangchen by F.C. Yee

I was going to read this around the time it came out. However, motivation and the other books I had read that month got in the way. I enjoyed the Kyoshi duology by the same author, and was curious to see what they are going to do with Avatar Yangchen, the airbending Avatar before Aang.

This novel will be highlighting Yangchen’s time as the Avatar. She also finds it difficult to trust her predecessor, Avatar Szeto, due to the turbulent state of how trust and loyalty are earned in the era she is living in. When she gets pulled into the politics and corruption of the Earth Kingdom city of Bin-Er, she finds herself working alongside and befriending an informant named Kavik. Along the way, Yangchen will have to learn how to trust herself and the wisdom she has, as she embraces what it means to be the Avatar.

I’m not sure if this book will get a second one like the Avatar Kyoshi, though on Goodreads it does have it listed under the author’s Chronicles of the Avatar series tab and an Avatar Yangchen Novels tab. So it might get a second book, or maybe the Avatar Yangchen Novels tab is there to separate it from the Avatar Kyoshi novels. It might be too early to tell.

Wild and Wicked Things by Francesca May

In an attempt to expand my fantasy reads, this book has caught my eye. It’s a story taking place in the 1920’s where magic is rumored to exist on Crow Island.

Annie Mason doesn’t care for magic, real or faux. That is until she meets her neighbor, Emmeline Delacroix, a rumored witch, and witnesses a confrontation between Emmeline and Bea.

This sounded like an interesting read with the 1920’s as a backdrop. It’s also looks like it will deal with LGBTQ+ relationships.

The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope (L. Penelope)

Another 1920’s set fantasy novel, The Monsters We Defy, was another novel that entered my radar while looking for fantasy books. In 1925 Washington DC, Clara Johnson is a young African American woman who can communicate with spirits. A skill she had developed when she was in jail during the darkest moment of her life. Given the opportunity to be free from her debt, Clara is tasked with obtaining a magical ring from the richest woman in the district. Joined by a ragtag team including a hypnotic jazz musician and and aging vaudeville actor who can change his face, it’s up to them to find this ring while also dealing with conflicts that are seeping from the spirit world into the human world.

Where the previous book will appear to focus on LGBTQ+ characters, this book will focus on a diverse group with a black leading lady.

Deadpool Samurai Volumes 1 and 2 by Sanshiro Kasama

Lumping these two together since they are two parts of a series. This was a series I went back and forth on until I ultimately decided to purchase it. And while maybe not what I had in mind when looking for a new manga to try, it sounded fun. Essentially, this manga series seems to drop Deadpool in Japan where he builds a team called the Samurai Squad. And while it seems that the Merc with a Mouth will be doing what he does best, he will be going up against characters like Loki and Thanos.

These will be quick reads that I can have done in a day or two (I know I can get through books pretty easily, but manga are the books I get through the quickest).

Rebel Rose by Emma Theriault and Feather and Fire by Livia Blackburne

Lumping these to together since, much like Deadpool Samurai, these two books are part of a series. But unlike DP Samurai, these are part of a young adult series called the Queens Council. This series seems to be set up in a way similar to the Twisted Tales series, where each book is about a particular Disney movie/story. But instead of it being a twist on the movie it’s based on, each book blends the movies they’re based on with historical events of the time and original stories they were inspired by. With each picking up after their “happily ever after”.

Rebel Rose is based on Beauty and the Beast and focuses on Belle after breaking the curse. Set in 1789 France, Belle is trying to grapple with becoming royalty and her life as a commoner. The revolution is looming over her provenience, and when she finds a magic mirror with a dire warning, it is up to Belle to protect everyone she loves and become the queen she was born to be. Feathers and Fire focuses on Mulan. After saving her country, she is brought to the emperor, who decrees that she will be his heir. As she prepares for this new challenge, she finds that not everyone is thrilled with her new stature, and trust is called into question as treachery creeps it’s ugly head. It’s up to Mulan to use the strength and wisdom of those before her to protect her kingdom.

When I saw Feathers and Fire I knew I was going to check it out. Especially since Mulan is one of my favorite princesses. Beauty and the Beast is also one of my favorite Disney movies, and since Rebel Rose is the first book, I felt it will be worth a read. Even if they don’t need to be read in order and can be read as standalones. There is a third book that will be focusing on Jasmine, though I am uncertain as to when it will be released.

Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff

If I get the chance, I will try to have this book done in October. Much like The Final Strife, this is a bit of a doozy page wise. Totaling at seven hundred and thirty-nine pages, Empire of the Vampire tells the story of a nearly three decade long darkness where vampires rule. Gabriel de León is the last silversaint, someone tasked with defending the realm and church from vampires. And when the Silver Order falls, he is imprisoned by the very creatures he was tasked with defeating. This is his story.

I do not know if I will finish this book before the end of October, but I will try. If I start it early enough I might. But if I don’t, it could be finished in November.

Essential Wolverine Vol 3

Similar to the Classic X-Men runs, I have been reading quite a bit of Wolverine’s comics. I’m slowly but surly making my way through the Essential Collection, I just need to read issues 45-47 before I can jump into this one. That’s mostly due to the fact that I am checking out the Essentials through my library and the second volume wasn’t available, so I had to use the second and third Epic Collection volumes that correlated with this Essential volume. Unfortunately, those two Epic volumes only included issues 17-44, but I do have Marvel Unlimited, so I can use that for the three issues I need.

This will be one of my comics for the month. And the one I will be taking a bit more time with (I tend to take a little time with epic collections and omnibuses). It covers issues 48-69.

Sabretooth (2022): The Adversary

This five issue limited run will be released in a singular volume on October 4th. I already have it preordered, so it’s a matter of waiting. I didn’t know that it was even a thing until I was working on a Wolverine centered TikTok that I found out. That said, I’m intrigued. Though I would consider Magneto as my favorite X-Men antagonist (if he even counts as one currently), Sabretooth would be a close second. Plus I really enjoy the dynamic he and Logan have.

In summery, The Adversary will be telling Sabretooth’s story after he was banished to the pits of Krakoa for his crimes. What he has been up to might not be what everyone expects.

Loveless by Alice Oseman

I had binge read Alice Oseman’s Heartstopper series back in June. It was a series recommended by a few librarians, so I thought I would check it out. Loveless I caught when it was returned I want to say in July or August. It wasn’t a top priority read when I checked it out, so I ended up buying it (that way people could check it out if they wanted to).

Taking place in the same universe as Heartstopper, Loveless tells the story of Georgia, a young woman who had never been in love. She didn’t even had a crush. But when she goes to university, she believes now is the time she’s ready to change that. However, when things don’t go as planned, she wonders why it’s so easy for other people to fall in love and what exactly Asexuality and Aromatic means. And what does it all mean for her?

I have a feeling this will be a book that I enjoy. Not only because I enjoyed Heartstopper, but because it sounds like a coming of age story from the perspective of someone who might have these questions about themselves.

Conclusion

As you can see, my plans for October are pretty all over the place in terms of genre. This is one of those months that I don’t have a set theme for. What are your reading plans for October? Do you have any new releases you can’t wait to read? Will you be doing a theme or genre you may plan to read in October?

Release Dates, Dragging, and Repetition: Why I Have Some Reading Fatigue With the Mercy Thompson Series

I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ two major series, Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega. I’m also slowly, but surely, working on reviewing the main books of the latter (Outside of Alpha and Omega, I don’t really want to review the other short stories. They’re nice, but not stories I want to review at this time), which may lead me to a third read through of the series (second read through for Wild Sign and probably the fourth for Cry Wolf) since, outside of Cry Wolf, which I’ve read the most, my memory is a little foggy in regards to the others.

Anyways, this isn’t about reviews and rereads. This is about the Mercy Thompson series. I’ve previously gone on record, a.k.a. blogged about, how I prefer the Alpha and Omega series over the Mercy Thompson. However, I haven’t really gone in depth into why. I know I’ve stated how I like Anna as a female lead more than Mercy in terms of personality, how I prefer Charles and Anna’s relationship more than Mercy and Adam’s, and that the length of Alpha and Omega (as it currently stands) doesn’t bother me as much as Mercy Thompson’s. Some of those are more of a preference type thing, but there are a few thing that stop me form enjoying Mercy Thompson more. Nowadays especially, which is unfortunate since I do enjoy Mercy Thompson.

In an attempt to discuss the series, I thought I would take the time to breakdown some of the criticisms I have with the series. As well as why I may feel a bit more fatigued with the series. These will include how the series at times feels like it drags, some repetition, and the release dates.

What I Enjoy About the Mercy Thompson

Before I jump in to my criticisms, I thought I would take a moment to discuss what I consider positives of the series. Because, despite the criticisms I have, and the preference for the other series, I do enjoy this series. Maybe not to the same level as Alpha and Omega, but enough to say that I do genuinely enjoy the series.

One thing I enjoy is the relationship between Mercy, Adam, and Jesse, Adam’s daughter. I like the relationship they were able to build over the years and it’s neat to see how well Jesse and Mercy get along. I know that there are a few tropes with stepparents and stepchildren in media. A few examples include, the evil stepmother trope, the stepparent who tries so much to win their stepchildren affection and/or trust, and the child who dislikes the change that comes with a new stepparent which may sometimes include hating the stepparent.

Mercy and Jesse don’t really seem to fit into any of the previously mentioned tropes. More than anything they appear to enjoy each other’s company with Jesse not too bothered by Mercy getting with Adam. The major conflict that they would have comes with Jesse’s mom. But it’s mostly between Mercy and Christy and how the latter treats everyone around them.

Another thing I enjoy is how Mercy isn’t a werewolf. While she was adopted by Bran Cornick, the head of the North American Wolf pack, Mercy herself was not a werewolf. Rather, a coyote Walker (she can turn into a coyote). So while the series may follow a trope of mostly werewolf and vampire characters, the lead is not one, which is neat. It’s a neat way to give it a somewhat different avenue.

With that out of the way, I’m going to get into what issues I have with the series.

Repetition

When it comes to repetition, it’s not so much that each book feels like the another so much as elements and dialogue. Obviously, each book has it’s own story to tell with it’s own conflicts and resolutions. However, this is an ongoing series with thirteen book as of this post, there are bound to be elements that feel familiar.

For me, aspects that felt repetitive have to do with internal dialogue, perspective, and plot points. Internal dialogue and perspective kind of go hand in hand, but I felt were distinct enough to separate. While some of the world building plot point at times feel repetitive.

In the case of perspective, it has to do with the fact that it is written in the first person (I/we). As such, there may be a limited amount of perspective from the world as far as other characters. That’s not to say that first person is necessarily bad, since I do enjoy first person when don right. However, first person can really go off of what the character knows as opposed to third, which could be a little more flexible in terms of perspective, emotion, and input.

For instance, in book eight, Night Broken, it deals with Adam’s ex-wife, Christy, getting into trouble. She knows that the pack sees Christy differently than she does due to the fact that she was apart of their pack a bit longer (Mercy had left the Bran’s pack as a teen and had been living on her own for years by the time the series started). We also know that she isn’t Christy’s biggest fan in terms of trust and what she did when she was with Adam. Mercy is also aware of how the pack sees her (Mercy) differently. That’s something that does get brought up once or twice in the book. And since we only really get to see her perspective, readers can only get so much as far as what people think about Christy and Mercy. Whereas third person, there would probably be the opportunity to get perspectives from everyone, or a select few characters in a more broader sense. Because of that, Mercy’s perspective may come off as repetitive and limited.

Moving on to internal dialogue, what makes it a bit different from the first person perspective of the series, are things that Mercy herself brings up. Vocally, through her thoughts, and how she experiences the story. One such example is how she refers to Bran and Samuel, Bran’s eldest son. There are a few times where she expresses how and why she that she left his pack, in the broader sense, how she knows certain traits about Bran, and how she perceives Bran. For Samuel, she mentions how they were a couple but separated and reflecting back on it. There are also a few times where she reflects on being on her own, how she felt she was fine not being in a pack prior to joining Adam’s, how she worries about Adam and how she doesn’t always know what he’s thinking. For me, it feels like these topics do come up several times throughout the series, and feels rather repetitive.

My third and final area that feels a bit repetitive is how it reminds the readers about aspects of the world. How vampires don’t really like werewolves, save a few like Stefan, is one such instance. How the fae shouldn’t be taken lightly and always tell the truth is another example. While I get why these aspects are important, it doesn’t need to be as frequently reiterated as it feel like it is.

These aspects to me are what make the series feel repetitive at times. The perspective and internal dialogue reiterate what Mercy knows several times throughout the series. While the reminders of the world and it’s characters is another.

Dragging

When it comes to the series dragging, I’ve narrowed that down to how long it has been running and the stories not always being as engaging. I know series that have long runs can be good, but that doesn’t mean a long running series can feel like it’s dragging on. For example, Naruto. I still have yet to finish the series (What is motivation, am I right?), but I do have a general idea for how this series ends. The manga runs for seventy two volumes or seven hundred chapters. On the one hand, it probably needed that much to get where it wanted to end, so it running that long theoretically could be fine. However, whether or not it felt like it dragged with certain arcs and/or could have ended sooner is a discussion that can be had.

In the case of the Mercy Thompson series, I am not sure how exactly it’s overall story is meant to end, if there is a planned ending at all at this time. It’s still ongoing either way, but if you asked me, “What is the end goal for the series” I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’ll be with Mercy and Adam settling down and having a child (since a walker and a werewolf having a kid wouldn’t be as fatal as a werewolves having a kid with another werewolf like it was with Charles’ mother). Or maybe it’ll end with Mercy, Adam and Jesse leaving the North American pack. But that’s just speculation on my part.

What makes the series drag for me does have to do with the later books. For me, the later books don’t seem as engaging. I think I started feeling this around book nine or ten. That won’t stop me from reading the series, since I am on, and own, book thirteen. However, I’d be lying if I said that the last few books haven’t been as engaging for me.

If I had to give it a set reason, it probably has to do with the stories themselves. Since it doesn’t have an endgame at this time, it feels like the series is rolling with conflict after conflict in a way that feels like there isn’t much direction overall. That might be just me, but may be why it feels like it drags on.

Release Dates

For my final, and more so external, critique with the series is how frequently the series has been released. Something I have come to realize is just how frequent Mercy Thompson is updated when compared to Alpha and Omega. This is probably a slightly personal one for me, but I do feel it’s one worth mentioning.

Because I am keeping tabs on release dates for both Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega, mostly for the latter, I’ve come to realize a pattern with their release dates. I initially noticed this book five of Alpha and Omega, Burn Bright (though technically since book two, Hunting Grounds, but I realized this when I was waiting for book six, Wild Sign to be released) and really picked up on this trend recently.

I’ve noticed that every three years an Alpha and Omega book will be released and in between those released, two Mercy Thompson books will be released. With short stories sprinkled in as Patricia Briggs chooses. An example of this is when books five and six of Alpha and Omega were released. Burn Bright was released in 2018 and Wild Cards was released in 2021. In between these two books, the Mercy Thompson series saw the release of books eleven and twelve: Storm Cursed in 2019 and Smoke Bitten in 2020.

According to the page on released books on Patricia Briggs’ website (https://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/), there is a timeline for the seventh book of Alpha and Omega and the fourteenth book for the Mercy Thompson series, both of which are untitled at this time. The fourteenth book of Mercy Thompson series, is set to be released sometime next year (2023) and the seventh book of the Alpha and Omega series is set to be released some time in 2024.

Because of how consistently the Mercy Thompson series is released, I do feel that this could be a contribution to why I’m feeling a bit more tired with the series. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a series having a set release date between books, but getting a book almost yearly feels a little over the top (I’m not even sure how to refer to it’s release cycle to be honestly whereas Alpha and Omega come out with a book triannually). At least for me anyways.

Conclusion

While the Mercy Thompson series is one that I enjoy, I’ve come to notice a few reasons why I’m not as fond of it as I am with the Alpha and Omega series. Some repetition, release dates, and some stories feeling like they were dragging have hindered some of my enjoyment. Regardless, I am still going to continue on with the series, with the thirteenth in my possession currently.

Have you read the Mercy Thompson series? What are your thoughts on it? Are there any critiques you have with the series?

Sandman (2022): A Review

For the first time in a long time, I found myself enjoying a new series. That series being the recently released The Sandman series on Netflix. Going into this series, I was pretty hopeful. And having read the first two volumes, which this season covers, I can honestly say it was a pretty faithful adaptation.

Since this show is still relatively new, I will avoid spoilers as much as possible. But in any case, POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Synopsis

When Morpheus, better known as the Sandman and Dream, is captured in an attempt to resurrect a man’s son, he spends the better part of a century (one hundred and five years to be exact) trapped and without his tools. Upon his release, Morpheus is on a mission to retrieve what was stolen from him and get revenge.

Along the way, he will return to his home in the Dream World, meet Matthew, his new raven companion, and visit Lucifer Morningstar as he retrieves what was once lost. And as the dust settles, he will be reunited with his sister, the ever charming and insightful, Death and learns of someone known as The Vortex, which could prove catastrophic if not approached accordingly.

This first season covers the first two volumes of The Sandman series, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Dollhouse.

Positives

When it comes to positives, I think there are quite a few. The most significant for me being, the story, the characters, the casting, and how it translated as an adaptation.

I also like the darker fantasy tone it had. As someone who enjoys fantasy, it’s always nice to fins a good series, book, or what have you in this genre. And The Sandman does that really well for me.

Its also worth noting that Neil Gaiman, the creator of The Sandman comics. So while I do think they did really well adapting it, it’s neat that Neil Gaiman did have a hand in the production. So I would hope he enjoyed how the show came out.

The Story

As a story, The Sandman is an intriguing one. The idea of the personifications of things like dream, death, desire, despair, delirium, destiny, and destruction living among us is a concept that can certainly create some interesting and philosophical story. And it was.

In general, what I think this season did really well was the approach and set up. It sets up the world and characters well. It knew what it wanted to do with it’s story and setting and did it in a way that I felt was well executed.

As an adaptation of the first two volumes of the comic, I think it did really well. While Neil Gaiman had a hand in it’s production, it was able to, not only tell the story pretty accurately, but have necessary changes and additions that worked.

The Characters

The characters were also interesting. Each one having their own story to tell. There’s Rose, who’s looking to find her brother after they were separated when they were younger, Doctor Destiny (a.k.a. John Dee), who, after escaping an Asylum, wants “everyone to live with their truth” and for a “more honest” world, and Corinthian, who wants to be his own person and prevent Morpheus from stopping him. Though not all of the characters we get to see outside of The Endless, these are just a few examples.

While only four of the seven Endless (the group of entities that Morpheus is apart of) appear in this season, they were all unique and fit what they personify well. Morpheus takes his job as the ruler of dreams very seriously, knowing how it effects the waking world and how destructive the lose of it can be.

Desire, though not appearing as often as Morpheus, makes a great impression and sets up what to expect with their relationship with Morpheus. As well as their twin Despair, who does make a brief appearance. Should a season 2 get green lit, which I’m confident will happen, I feel that these two will get a lot more attention and development.

And then there’s Death, the oldest Endless introduces thus far, and the second eldest over all. She was the one that Alex Burgess was looking to capture when he got Mopheus instead.

Casting

I do believe that the casting choices were great. I know casting can cause debate on initial reveal and sometimes after, but I think that the casting choices were good. Some of my favorites include Mason Alexander Park as Desire, David Thewlis as Doctor Destiny, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, and Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. Tom Sturridge also pulls off Morpheus really well. Not only in appearance, but in voice too. He sounded how I would expect Morpheus to, so I really enjoyed his portrayal.

And of course, there are other casting choices I thought were really well too. Even in voice work like Patton Oswald as Matthew the raven and Mark Hamil as Merv Pumpkinhead.

Overall, I do think that the casting choice was good. It’s also pretty diverse, which I think is pretty cool. I also think it works. For instance, with Desire being very ambiguous as far as their identity (in the comics Desire is often referred to as sibling). So casting Mason Alexander Park (They/Them) in the role, I feel was a good choice. Plus, I really think they bring a real charm to the character, and I can’t wait to see how the character develops from here (Death too, because I really want to see more of her too).

Critiques

I don’t really have that many negatives for this season. However, while I might think this show is really good and a great adaptation, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flawless. That said, my critiques are very minute.

One being that I feel like it could have been an episode or two longer. It might not need it, but I feel like another episode or two would be a nice way to help develop things a little further. That’s not to say I think it’s rushed, which I don’t. I just feel that there could have been an episode that made helps explore Desire a little (without giving too much away), and maybe an episode that explored Rose and Jed Walker past a little more. Again, not exactly necessary, but something. Plus, Desire will probably get more development and screen time in later seasons.

That’s all I can really think of as far as critiques. I suppose upon a rewatch, I might find something else. However, I don’t really have many critiques of the show at this time.

Conclusion

I would give this show a ninety percent. I do think they did a great job adapting the first two volumes of Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic. The casting and characters were great, the story was told really well, and it has an aesthetic that really fits this gothic, horror fantasy. The effects were also really good too. And while it might have one or two flaws in the form of maybe being a little longer, overall, I think this is a really good show and I would recommend it.

Of course, I know it might not be a show for everyone, which is fine. The comic and the Netflix adaptation are a bit dark (I’ve heard that the diner scene was kind of unsettling for one or two people), so I wouldn’t expect it to be for everyone. However, if you are looking for something a little different and/or a dark fantasy, I would recommend it.

With that said, I leave you with the following questions: Have you seen the show yet? If so, what were your thoughts? Are you planning to watch it? Since it’s pretty much a guarantee that a second season will be made, what are some of your hopes going into it? Do you think it will, or should, cover the next two volumes (Dream County and Seasons of Mist)? If you have read the comics, do you think it was a good/faithful adaptation?