More #weirdathon comics like Faith and Starve!

 

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Friends with boys – Faith Erin Hicks (via Scribd)

A sweet story about a girl who’s starting high school after years of homeschooling. She is terrified and lonely, and she doesn’t really have any friends other than her three older brothers. It’s a charming story about growing up, figuring out who you are. But weird also because there is a ghost following her around, something to do with an artefact at a local museum.

Faith Vol 1 (via Netgalley)

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*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

She’s a superhero! She flies! She was one of the original members of the Harbinger team. She’s also sweet and funny and loves comic books! Faith (her superhero name is Zephyr) is now on her own, living in LA and working a regular office job as a content writer for a Buzzfeed-like site. The best thing about this plus-sized superheroine is that it’s not about her being big-sized, she doesn’t agonize about the way she looks. She’s just Faith. And that is awesome.

Fiction Squad – Paul Jenkins and Ramon Bachs

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I guess it’s kind of like Jasper Fforde’s Nursery Crimes series but in comic book form. This one draws from so many childhood stories – from Alice in Wonderland, Snow White, Humpty Dumpty, Oz and more. The detective is Frankie Mack, apparently from an unfinished novella. Fun to see all these storybook characters collide.

Renee – Ludovic Debeurme (via Netgalley)
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*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Renee is the sequel to Lucille, a painful coming of age graphic novel about a girl with anorexia. This one is now more of Renee’s story and it is more uncomfortable and surreal than the first. Lucille has now moved back home with her mother and her boyfriend Arthur is in prison. Renee is a student who has an affair with a married jazz musician. It isn’t clear until much later how their worlds collide but it is a twisted merging of their stories. There is a bit of a nightmarish quality to this tale, one told in simple line drawings, panel-less, border-less.

 

Starve Vol 1 –  Brian Wood, Danijel Ĺ˝eĹľelj (Illustrations) (via Netgalley)

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*I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

So Gavin Cruikshank used to be a world famous chef but he went into self-imposed exile in Asia and in those years he was away, his cooking show exploded into Starve, a cooking competition, arena and all. But Chef Gavin is back in the game and back on the show.

I wasn’t a big fan of the illustration style, as the whole look was a bit too jaundiced for me. But the story turned out to be a bit more interesting than I expected, with not just the cooking show at stake, but also his relationship with his family, that is, his daughter and his pained ex-wife. But sigh it is an evil bitch of an angry ex-wife kind of story. That part was a bit much.

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Lantern City –  Paul Jenkins, Matthew Daley, Carlos Magno (Illustrator) (via Scribd)

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I love the look of this comic. An underground world where the lower class live, the elite live in soaring skyscrapers above. Sander Jorve’s brother-in-law Kendal, an activist, persuades Sander to infiltrate the Guard, who always wear these funky masks, and he is whisked into a different world, hoping to make a difference for his family. The steampunk world, especially its buildings, is fantastic. The story was ok enough. I wanted to know more about the wife of the guard captain whose identity he assumes, but they don’t really say too much about her.

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The Gwaii – Sean Patrick O’Reilly, Grant Chastain (Editor), Pedro Delgado (Illustrator)

A charming story with sasquatches! Tanu, the young sasquatch in orange, is lost in the Canadian wilderness but with the help of his best friend (some kind of cat), he searches for his mother who has been taken by horrible humans. Meant for a younger audience, but may be a bit scary for younger kids (like my under-5s), as there are guns and talk about killing the mother.

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Jim Henson’s The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow – Jim Henson, Jerry Juhl, Roger Langridge (via Scribd)

Apparently this was drawn from a forgotten script that Henson had written a long time ago, and he had even made puppets for it! It was so cute but a little bit forgettable. And sadly, music doesn’t translate well into pictures. I kinda felt this need for an actual soundtrack.

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Memetic – James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan (via Scribd)

Perhaps my favourite of the recent Scribd reads. Also here I should mention that Scribd’s new policy has taken effect and subscribers are restricted to just 3 ebook ‘credits’ a month. Some comics and books are still ‘free’ to read though, so I am still on the fence with this new Scribd. So much for being the Netflix of books! If Netflix said I could only watch 3 shows a month, I would so cancel it!

Anyway, back to Memetic. It is a social media comic! Sort of! That adorable sloth picture on the cover? It is spreading across the planet, via Facebook, Twitter, whatever you use. But there’s something rather weird about this meme – something evil, something destructive. It seriously was such a fun and a bit terrifying a read! Terrifying because, could this really happen one day??

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(See more #weirdathon stuff at Outlandish Lit)

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#weirdathon – Gold Fame Citrus and other books with cults

 

 

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Gold Fame Citrus – Claire Vaye Watkins

“Levi was their north. Their compass needles quivered in his direction. His stance was wide, as though he were readying himself to shoulder a great burden, a burden he would lug willingly and with grace, his little teeth winking all the while.”

The word ‘cult’ isn’t used in this book set in a future California that has no water, instead it is called a ‘colony’, but really, with a charismatic leader who dowses for water and has a harem, I think that is a cult. And Luz, a half-Mexican model, once known as ‘Baby Dunn’, the baby adopted by the Bureau of Conservation as its ‘golden child’, is caught up in this colony, this cult-like community following their dowser Levi with his dark secrets. He uses what they call “brute root”, essentially a sedative of his own making, to placate his followers, and is captivated by Luz, whom he recognizes as Baby Dunn.

Apparently, Watkins may know a thing or two about cults, as her father was once Charles Manson’s right-hand man (!).

“She was drawn to him with such simple urgent magnetism that it was impossible to attribute her feelings to trauma, circumstance, or the context of emotional catatonia into which he entered. One seemed to have nothing to do with the other.”

It’s especially relevant to me, reading this book about a future California in California, where in the past year we have had to cut lawn-watering, used bath water to flush toilets, water that I use to wash fruits and vegetables to water the plants. Thankfully it has been a rainy week, after a very dry February, so it doesn’t feel so imminent, this bleak water-less future. But it is still an exceptionally scary read for me, to think about a future like this.

“Nature had refused to offer herself to them. The water, the green, the mammalian, the tropical, the semitropical, the leafy, the verdant, the motherloving citrus, all of it was denied them and had been denied them so long that with each day, each project, it became more and more impossible to conceive of a time when it had not been denied them. The prospect of Mother Nature opening her legs and inviting Los Angeles back into her ripeness was, like the disks of water shimmering in the last foothill reservoirs patrolled by the National Guard, evaporating daily.”

 

 

As I read Gold Fame Citrus, I wondered what other books with cults there are. It is easier to find a ‘cult book” (see Flavorwire; The Telegraph; and a whole page of Goodreads book lists about cult books!)  than a book that happens to have a cult in it. There are some book lists, like this one by Bustle, another via Guardian. A lot of these books though are non-fiction, nothing wrong with that, but I was hoping for a list of novels with cults in them. So here is my own.

The Leftovers – Tom Perotta

I love Tom Perotta’s books, He has a way with small town America and this one is no different, except that this time, most of America has disappeared, and when this kind of thing happens you know a cult is going to make an appearance.

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

Not exactly a cult, but cult-like perhaps? These kids do the weird rites and there’s a murder (ok not saying all cults murder, but you know). So definitely cult-like.

Station Eleven – Emily St John Mandel

Ah, the end of the world novel is sure to have a cult. Although in this case, a bit of a forgettable one.

Other books that seem to have cults but I can’t say for sure since I’ve not read them yet:

Kraken – China Mieville

Arcadia – Lauren Groff

 

For more, here is a Book Riot list of YA novels about cults

Some crime fiction that has religious cults (Reactions to Reading)

And a Library Thing list of novels with cults.

Do you have a novel that features cults to recommend? 

#weirdathon #comics – The Last Broadcast

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I think it’s interesting how some comics get talked about (at least by those I follow on social media) and some others, equally deserving, don’t. Like this one by writer Andre Sirangelo and artist Gabriel Iumazark, who are from Brazil. I had never heard of this one before, and only found it while I was browsing through Scribd’s comics collection.

And was immediately drawn in by its moody illustrations.

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It is set in San Francisco, and is a bit dark and magical. As in, it has to do with a magician, a 1930s stage magician who was apparently killed on stage during his Russian Roulette gun trick.And there are some people looking for his secrets, convinced that he didn’t die on stage, that there is something in the strange underground bunkers.

It’s all rather curious and well, I hate to use the word but it does describe this book best, ‘edgy’. The switching back and forth timeline confuses me at times but in the end it was a fun read, full of codes, even one hidden within the comic itself, by its creators.

 

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Fishtown – Kevin Colden
Ugh did not like this one. Apparently inspired (?) by a true tale of teenagers killing another teen to get money to buy drugs and random things. I didn’t really see the point in it. It was really just off-putting – maybe it was that none of these kids were likable, that I didn’t feel anything for them, maybe more of a back story was needed? I’m not sure. How is this weird? Well, teens murdering another teen for kicks, for one thing, but also weird because I didn’t really see the point in this story. Also, it was a really ugly yellow throughout. It was a let down.

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Hacktivist – Alyssa Milano, Jackson Lanzing, Colin Kelly
Yeah that Alyssa Milano, who according to her statement at the back, was inspired by Jack Dorsey of Twitter, imagining him going home and fighting for what’s right (eh, really?). Anyway just to clarify, she came up with the idea (she’s credited as a ‘creator’) and there are actual writers writing this thing, so I do wonder what exactly she ‘created’. It’s an interesting idea, these Silicon Valley bigwigs who founded a Facebook-like empire, who also are hacktivists, using their knowledge and techie stuff to help spark revolutions in Tunisia. The only thing is that I wasn’t sure if that was something billionaire CEOs and CIOs would want to do. And also why were they so good-looking? Maybe Alyssa said so.

 

 

butterflyButterfly – Arash Amel, Marguerite Bennett, Antonio Fuso

What do you know? Someone else involved in Hollywood. It doesn’t say anything about him in the Goodreads page but Arash Amel is a screenwriter, responsible for Grace of Monaco starring Nicole Kidman. I hadn’t a clue who he was, nor have I seen the movie, but I was attracted to that cover art. A butterfly made up of a lot of guns. It made me think of that Smashing Pumpkins song Bullet with Butterfly Wings. Anyway, the comic turned out quite ok, one of those deep undercover agents who gets set up for a murder and somehow lands up finding her father, who disappeared years ago. But it didn’t have anything in particular that stood out, other than that image of a young girl being trained to shoot and that cover art.

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Thomas Alsop Vol 1 – Chris Miskiewicz, Palle Schmidt

Yet another comic I had heard nothing of before spotting it on Scribd. But it was a haunting (but not in the creepy look-over-your-shoulders, don’t-read-it-at-night way, see Wytches for more on that) read, one that has its heart, New York. For the story is about “the Hand of the Island”, a role of sorts, passed down through the Alsop family through generations, the task is to protect Manhattan from evil. Somehow he senses these things and there is a bit of magic involved. But he’s not your typical do-good-er, when he first meet him he’s naked save for a guitar and his tattoos. He does quite look like the slacker. 

  
It is a bit of a love song to New York I reckon. 

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Wytches Vol 1 – Scott Snyder ; art, Jock ; colors, Matt Hollingsworth ; letters, Clem Robins ; editor, David Brothers

GAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I really didn’t want to have to write about this one, because it was SCARY!!!! Man, this book needs to come with a READ THIS IN DAYLIGHT sticker. At first I thought, oh a comic about witches, should be interesting. But man I did not realize how creepy this book would be. There are curses and pledges, and things that grow out of trees and underground, and a family caught up in all of this sh*t. It is a prime example of things weird and grotesque and freakish. If there is going to be a movie made out of this (and you know there will be), I am going to stay the hell away from it.

 

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A very #weirdathon read: Memoirs of a Porcupine

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I really do have to thank Julianne and her #weirdathon for pushing me towards this book. It has been in my Scribd library for a while. An interesting looking book, a weird attractive enough cover, an African setting, a translated book. Lots of things going for it, but as it tends to be, once I add things to my TBR list, I just look elsewhere and end up reading other books.

But in Julianne’s list of achievements for the Weirdathon was to ‘read a book with a talking animal’. And there it was, that push to read this book.

Memoirs of a Porcupine is as its title suggests, narrated by a porcupine. But not any ordinary porcupine, this porcupine is the animal double of Kibandi. At the age of 11, Kibandi’s father takes him out into the night and makes him drink something vile that somehow triggers this bond with his animal double, a “harmful double”, the “liveliest, scariest kind of double”.

“the humans of whom we become the animal incarnation will cease to feel emotions like pity, understanding, empathy, remorse, compassion, night will enter their souls, once transmission has occurred, the harmful double must leave the animal world and come to live close to the initiate, performing his assignments without protest”

The porcupine soon becomes his master’s murder weapon, of sorts. He orders it to kill fellow villagers, those who wrongly cross his path, for the slightest of reasons.

The porcupine is telling this story to a baobab tree, some days after its master’s death, certain that it is due to die soon too. This porcupine is a rather amusing narrator, and it is a more readable book than I expected it to be. It does have some rather rambly bits, especially since the sentences are broken up by commas instead of full stops, and capitalizations at the start of sentences are nonexistent. But I got used to that (and I did read this as an ebook, which I’m not sure if that makes it worse) and quickly finished this quirky little book.

Is it a fable? I’m not entirely sure. Does it have a moral? Perhaps it is “don’t have an animal double”. But what I do know is that it was quite entertaining, pretty dark, somewhat comic and yet an uncomfortable read. A book that isn’t for everyone, but that drew me in with its strangeness, its different nature.

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Ten Books To Read If You Are In The Mood For Weird

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Ten Books To Read If You Are In The Mood For ________

WEIRD!

Sorry, I’m not just yelling that for fun but I figure that since it’s the first of March and the start of the #Weirdathon hosted by Julianne at Outlandish Lit, I might as well go pull out some great WEIRD books for the WEIRDATHON.

So I might have already written up my TBR list for the #weirdathon, but this is a list of weird books I’ve already read – and enjoyed – and hope you might too.

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And the books are (links to my thoughts):

The Vegetarian – Han Kang
I really don’t know where to begin with the weirdness of this Korean book. Perhaps the best way to describe this book is that it has to do with obsession and dreams.

Delicious Foods – James Hannaham
Crack takes on a voice! (That either makes you go “ooh!” or “UGH!”)

The Serial Garden – Joan Aiken
This is a kind of delightful, sweet but also dark, British weird. The Armitage family sure has a lot of weird going on in their life. But I ADORE it!

Binti – Nnedi Okorafor

This is weirdness in space. But Okorafor is always amazing like that.

Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho
This is fantasy/Regency romance but with a twist. I know a lot of fantasy is weird and sure, this has a dragon and what not, but it’s weird (in a good way) because it has a wonderful diverse cast – a freed slave as the Sorcerer Royal, a powerful mixed-race woman, and then there is Mak Genggang, an elderly witch from Malaysia.

Beauty is a Wound – Eka Kurniawan
It opens with a woman emerging from a grave. It sounds like it’s a ghost story, but it’s far more than that.

The Good House – Tananarive Due
Creepy house. Lots of people dying. Voodoo. For me, that is weird.

The Fifth Season – NK Jemisin
Actually, all Jemisin’s books are a little weird. But that is why she is so awesome. If you are new to her, I would highly recommend her first series, which begins with the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The White Bone – Barbara Gowdy
A book written from the perspective of elephants.

Supernatural Enhancements – Edgar Cantero
Full of secrets and surprises!

I initially thought of putting comics together in my list above, but there are too many weird and wonderful comics that I decided a second list was in order!

Fox Bunny Funny – Andy Hartzell
The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage – Jen Van Metee, Robert de la Torre

Faith #0 – Joshua Dysart, Robert Gill
A plus-sized superhero!
The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye – Sonny Liew
Now it’s weird because, is Charlie Chan Hock Chye a real person or just a figment of Liew’s wonderful imagination?

Bandette – Paul Tobin; Colleen Coover
Bandette is a teenaged, world-famous, thief!

Bitch Planet – Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine de Landro, Taki Soma
Non-compliant.

Zombillenium – Arthur de Pins
A theme park staffed by otherworldly creatures

Shinya Shokudo – Yaro Abe
A Japanese manga about a late-night diner with no fixed menu and an unusual clientele of strippers, yakuza, salarymen, celebrities, sportspeople and more.

Underwater Welder – Jeff Lemire
A son is haunted by his father’s disappearance many years ago.

Punk Mambo – Peter Milligan
A punk voodoo priestess!

What are your favourite weird books?

 

Weird reads for the #weirdathon

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Julianne at Outlandish Lit is hosting the month-long Weirdathon!

She says:

Read as many weird books as you can during march! You can set your goal low or high, it’s completely self-directed. To help you along, there will be achievements to give you more giveaway entries. Every week there will be an optional link-up for your progress.

Here are some I’m thinking of reading:

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Vacant Possession – Hilary Mantel

I think Mantel herself is this really weird person. Have you ever heard her speak? She has this kind of creepy voice. And she does write some weird books.

Lock your doors, barricade your windows: Muriel Axon is back in town. It’s been ten years since she was locked away for killing her mad old mother. Now she wants to lay Mother’s ghost to rest and find her missing child. But above all, she wants revenge. Her former social worker and her old neighbours have made new lives, but Muriel, with her talent for disguise, will infiltrate their homes and exploit their talents for self-destruction, until at last all her enemies are brought together for a gruesome finale. Hilary Mantel’s razor-sharp wit animates every page. This malevolent black comedy has as many twists and turns as a well-plotted thriller.

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The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick

I had already planned to read this for the Back to the Classics challenge. But it works great for this too.

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names. In San Francisco the I Ching is as common as the Yellow Pages. All because some 20 years earlier the United States lost a war, and is now occupied jointly by Nazi Germany and Japan.

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Man Tiger – Eka Kurniawan

Kurniawan’s Beauty is a Wound was a gloriously weird book that begins with a woman emerging from her grave. So I have high hopes for this one, originally published in 2004.

A slim, wry story set in an unnamed town near the Indian Ocean, Man Tiger tells the story of two interlinked and tormented families, and of Margio, an ordinary half-city, half-rural youngster who also happens to be half-man, half-supernatural female white tiger (in many parts of Indonesia, magical tigers protect good villages and families).

I am sure I have plenty more weird reads to uncover but this will do for my own reading list for now.

However, if you’re looking for more weird reads, boy, do I have some (that I have already read) for you!

Lots of good reads there. All of them have a bit of weirdness in them.

 

Are you taking part in the Weirdathon? What are your favourite weird reads?