In this post I’ll be talking about the things that I read in June 2020. If you want to see what I had planned to read (and there are a fair few discepencies, I really am a mood reader!) please check out my June 2020 TBR here. The below list starts with the books that I finished first in June, and slowly works towards what I am carrying over into July (TBR to be posted soon!). The page for each book’s Goodreads entry is linked, and I would love to hear your thoughts!
- Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction – Mike Mignola, John Byrne, Mark Chiarello, Dave Stewart. Read 01/06/2020-08/06/2020.
- This is the first book in the (semi) recently collected Hellboy chronology, and is pretty much the best starting place for enterting the world of creator Mike Mignola. You can check out the reading order that I will be following here. This first book collects the first key stories in the Hellboy series and I think it was excellent. The writing isn’t as good as Mignola’s later works (let’s be fair, I think most series improve in quality as the story progresses) but the artwork is second-to-none and uses a mixture of bold colours and shadows to really drive home the gothic feeling of the stories and create a distinct atmosphere. The characters that we are introduced to are an interesting bunch (unfortunately they aren’t terribly well explored here – they are later though!) and the stories here are all entertaining. We meet Hellboy and co., learn a little about his origins, and are thrown right in at the deep end in terms of fighting supernatural beings including vampires and gods. It’s cracking stuff, and you only have to look at how wildly successful the series has been to know that this is a world you should not be sleeping on.
- 2. Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 1 – Mike Mignola, Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo, Mick McMahon. Read 09/06/2020-14/06/2020. Hellboy: The Complete Short Stories Volume 2 – Mike Mignola and (many) others. Read 15/06/2020-21/06/2020.
- I’ve less to say about these than the above as there is no need to repeat myself. The art is more of a mixed bag as there are more illustrators working on them, and the stories aren’t all that central to the main storyline. Having said this, there are a few standout entries (including Hellboy in Mexico, Hellboy: The Midnight Circus and broder explorations of mythological creatures such as the Baba Yaga and The Crooked Man) which have both absolutely fantastic art and engaging stories, which make these volumes worth picking up. As with your standard shorter fiction, there isn’t much in the way of lasting development in any single story here, but taken together they really help to flesh out Hellboy and the wider cast of the Mignolaverse and I recommend them. I’m less keen on these than the above ‘main’ omnibus, so I think I’ll leave these as digital copies on my ipad instead of filling up my bookcase with them.
- 3. Moving Pictures – Terry Pratchett (narrated by Nigel Planer). Read 31/05/2020-14/06/2020.
- Part of my Discworld adventure (reading the novels in release order, including a few re-reads here and there, this being one such re-read), Moving Pictures follows the Discworld’s exploration of Hollywood, with Pratchett’s classic humour, satire, and downright excellent storytelling throughout. In my opinion the early Discworld books largely fall into ‘good’ or ‘not good (almost bad)’, and for me this is definitely in the former category (an example of the other category being The Light Fantastic). It is also more of a social commentary than your typical fantasy adventure e.g. Guards! Guards!, for example focusing on the Hollywood dream, typical tropes, cut-throat business practises, the invention of advertising within movies etc., but there are certainly pretty core fantastical ideas and I definitely think that this is worth a read. If you are interested in the Discworld books but don’t want to commit to one specific strand or group of characters to follow (the novels can be read in multiple different orders without too much negative impact on your experience), this is a solid starting place. The narration is decent, too, if you’re after an easily consumable audiobook.
- 4. Chew: The Omnivore Edition, Vol 1 – John Layman and Rob Guillory. Read 13/06/2020-19/06/2020.
- June saw me really dive into the deep-end of the graphic novel pool. Having read comparatively few pieces before the start of June, I spent far too much money purchasing nice editions of certain comics – Chew being one of them but I certainly don’t regret the purchases I made. The artwork is clean and detailed (amongst some of my favourite), and the story is entirely unique. The world was struck by avian flu which killed loads of people and thus chicken is now illegal in the US, our main character has a special ability that lets him follow a kind of psychic link back in the food’s timeline – how it was grown/produced – including sensing the animal’s fear if applicable. But… well let’s say that the ability isn’t exclusive to food being consumed, and draw attention to the fact that this volume (which collects the first two trade paperbacks) focuses on murder investigations. The story is gross, but in a fun way, and I’ve already ordered the next in the series. The art, tone, and pacing are all spot-on. Highly recommended.
- 6. The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison.
- This is one that I’m carrying forwrad into July, currently being over 70% of the way through.I’ll keep my thoughts brief as I’ve already discussed the basics in my June 2020 TBR, but in effect I found the book to slow down way too much at around the 40-50% mark (after some pretty seexciting stuff happened) and kinda put the book down for a while. Having powered through a bit more, I’m back into enjoying my listen through (switched to the audiobook as I was neglecting the ebook in favour of The Way of Kings, below), and hope to finish it in the next few days. I’m not yet entirely convinvced as to why people love it so much, but at the moment I’d rate what I have read at 3.5/5, though this could very well change (hopefully positively, once completed).
- 7. The Way of Kings – Brandon Sanderson.
- Massively enjoying this, the worldbuilding is excellent, the cahracters (and multiple viewpoints, changing on the Part you are in) keeps the reader entertained and interesting, the pacing is a little mixed, but by the time Sanderson changes to teh next viewpoint, you’re always left wanting him to return to the character you’ve just left. Kinda like working your way up a gear, then having to re-build steam before your interest is fully garndered again. I have spotted a few nods to other Cosmere elements, and I arlready know that I am going to love this series. It’s a chunker for sure, but it’s easy to read and it’s kept me interested all the way through.
- 8. Hellboy Omnibus Volume 2: Strange Places – Mike Mignola, Ricahrd Corben, Gary Gianni.
- This is a return to the main storyline of the Hellboy omnibuses – and I can’t wait to see some proper narrative and character development. The short stories above were fun, but they don’t add much in the way of depth (there are, of course, exceptions), and as I know what is about to come in the series, I am buzzing to get there.
So there we have it. I think I got through a fair amount of stuff in June 2020, and will most likely be doing a mixed media wrap up (including movies, games, soundtracks, TV shows and so on) at the end of July or August. The next few months will be filled with the next few Stormlight Archives novels, but hopefully by Christmas I’ll be able to read a bit more widely again!