Sunday, May 28, 2017

Metal May Volume 3

Lady Mechanika Volume 3 by M.M. Chen

In this Volume we collect the stories of the The Lost Boys of West Abbey.  I was somewhat surprised in the length of this collection as compared to the first two volumes.  It felt incredibly punctuated and short.

The adventure and intrigue were over in the blink of an eye and had little meat to the story.  Though it had the typical stereotypes of Holmesian crime and steampunk, it utterly lacked the flair I had noticed in the first two volumes to poke fun at its obvious use of those stereotypes.

There just wasn't room in this overly condensed story for any of the banter and mystery.  Right from the start you know exactly where this story is going and you almost want to give up from there, but then I realized it was so short I might as well carry out to the end.

I really saw the potential in the story line but was mostly left with a shake of my head at the cliche.  This doesn't make me lose hope on the whole franchise, but it certainly put a damper on this experience.

I'll try again with La Dama de la Muerta this fall.  But fear not, Metal May will continue tomorrow with a different steampunk story.  My reading appetite is back!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Metal May Volume 2

Lady Mechanika Volume 2 by M.M. Chen

This volume collects the story of The Tablet of Destinies.  As the title alludes, we are getting ready to set forth on an Indiana Jones style adventure.  Secret societies, cryptology, imperial territory, dirigibles; all the perfect tropes for Lady Mechanika to go on a Victorian adventure to, the dark continent ... Africa!

Mr. Lewis returns as Lady Mechanika's steadfast, if inebriated, mechanic, inventor, mad genius extraordinaire.  The good doctor has vaguely vanished and been replaced with an archaeology professor on a quest for whatever secrets archaeologists are hoping to uncover.

Of course, they end up finding it and it ends up being cataclysmically horrific.  Then enter the secret societies and cryptology and you have another smashing adventure with Lady Mechanika.  

While everything is an overdone stereotype in this series, I like it's over the top nature and honestly found a compelling revelation at the ending.  These comics have some substance underneath all the pomp and steampunk.  I also really enjoy the art and typeface.  

Friday, May 26, 2017

Metal May

Now that I'm back in the reading game, I decided to keep it light.  I don't want to knock myself back down in the doldrums with some heavy hitting fantasy, so I kept it simple with some steampunk comics!

Lady Mechanika Vol. 1 by Joe Benitez

My mom started doing her version of LitCube for me this year.  This month was Metal May, an all steampunk themed box.  It seems only appropriate that I also happened to unknowingly get the Lady Mechanika series on Netgalley for the big May release of Volume 3.

This first Volume collects together the comics of the Mystery of the Mechanical Corpse.  Lady Mechanika introduces you to some pretty standard steampunk tropes with a cyborg woman dressed in Victorian gear running around solving Holmesian crime dramas.  The kicker is I actually find these escapades interesting and her surrounding cast of characters enjoyable.

The mystery is also entwined with the greater saga arching mystery of who made Lady Mechanika.  Surprisingly, I actually want to stick around and found out who-dun-it.

I think I have finally found a comic that I don't begrudge $3.99 per episode, though I'm still not willing to pay it.  I'm cheap and comics will never be a thing for me for that exact reason.  But this one almost makes me cave in.  Almost.  Instead, I'll wait for the collected volumes at a cheaper price and one shot couch potato reading.

So stereotypes abound and lead on, for now, you can get a taste of Lady Mechanika for free with The Demon of Satan's Alley prelude chapter, here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Worst reading slump ever

I have been reading for well over 2 decades now and this has to be one of the worst reading slumps I have ever hit.  I just couldn't pick up anything that felt like I had to read it.  Even perusing Netgalley was drawing a complete zero.  

When that happens, I usually try to go to the library or my massive Kindle stockpile for out of genre works to really shake it up.  Usually I do that with Clive Cussler.  I picked up at Raise the Titanic! and even tried Vixen 03.  Both books just left me wanting to find his address and chuck the books in his face.  They were trash.  That's my official review there.  

I felt disappointed that I had nothing new to put online.  Then I remembered I hadn't finished the "Septimus Heap" series.  I looked them up on Amazon and found that for some fortuitous reason they were on sale for $3 each.  How am I going to say no to $3 paperbacks?

Welcome to my review of the books that saved my reading slump.

Darke by Angie Sage

This is the darkest of the entire series as the title aptly suggests.  Merrin has reached a level of nefarious that strikes fear into the hearts of all characters; princesses, witches, wizards, scribes and jinees alike.

I truly appreciate that this series has an amazing amount of growth to it.  While the events of the story are in a rather compacted timeline, the overall character growth seems very realistic. 

There are many reasons these novels could be compared to the "Harry Potter" series, but I have to say they stand far apart from each other.  I love them both dearly for what they bring to the table in my own personal terms.  As for writing and story, I think "Septimus Heap" is actually edging out for the better series.

Fyre by Angie Sage

This was a very satisfying conclusion to the series.  There was a definitive wrap up to all story lines.  All the characters received some form of happily ever after and brief segue into what their futures would hold.  

AND... it set up the next series in the "Septimus Heap" universe focusing on a whole new set of characters with a brand new dilemma to overcome.  I look forward to the series.  

These novels were witty, entertaining, heartbreaking, endearing and absolutely cherished.  They have always perked me up when I need something to read for enjoyment.  And yet, at the same time, I have managed to reflect and learn with them.  That was a heck of a reading slump and the Heap crew knew just how to cure it.

Here's to some FizzFroot and Magyk.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Luck of the Irish to you all on this fine St. Patrick's Day.  As a special treat, I have many reviews that have stacked up since the holidays.  

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

23844254This is an alternative fiction that has a purpose for being alternative.  I can back that kind of fiction.  Irene works for the Library collecting specific writings from all the worlds and timelines.  They are a coalition that exists outside of time and space yet inside all time and space.

The story was a lot of fun and had a decent pace.  Some parts dragged a little but I have a feeling that will get ironed out as the series progresses.  The characters didn't aggravate me, which is a huge plus from me since most do. 

I think I enjoyed most the smattering of all my favorite genres into one excellent fiction stew.  There is fantasy with dragons and sprites.  There is a light touch of steampunk with automatons of crocodile proportion.  There is sci-fi with travel to alternate universes.

As much as I enjoyed this novel, it is not even remotely close to the list of $11.99 (for a DIGITAL copy no less.  Please refer back to every rant I have ever made about publishers overcharging for digital books.), let's just ignore the ridiculous $36.99 for hardcover.  Wait for it to hit Amazon's 99 cent sale or see if your local library has it.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

28862387I have really been intrigued by fairy tales from the Russian/Slavic area lately.  It all started with Mistress of Solstice in 2013.  Every time I get a recommendation from Netgalley that even hints at Russian/Slavic folk stories, I rush to request it.

Every one that I have read, I have loved.  This one is no exception.  This is a story of East meets West and they, of course, collide.  Vasilisa is the daughter of a prominent lord in the north of Russia.  She is a very special girl with some very special friends.

An upstart bishop from the city gets sent out to the tundra to curtail the wildness.  His Orthodox doctrine is not welcome by all who live in the cold grip of the Frost King.

This is such a great story, and you really should go read it.

The Devil You Know by Erin M. Evans

28503767The absolutely stunning conclusion to the "Brimstone Angels" series.  I would have never guessed that I would get so drawn into the world of D&D before Netgalley offered me "The Sundering" series.

I am truly grateful that Netgalley was able to turn me towards an author I would have completely missed out on.

Farideh and Havilar are great characters with some very real problems.  I'm enthralled by their story.  The final novel in the six book series is an absolute roller coaster of deception and intrigue and what actually makes someone evil.  Is it wise to take down the king of the Hells, the God of Chaos?

This whole series has been about legends and gods.  Is there really one belief that is better than all the rest?  Is one faction entirely good or evil? It is a fantasy that entertains and makes you think.