Monday, August 22, 2016

Stan Lee makes a Chinese restaurant placemat

I have read several graphic novels and mangas at this point, and thoroughly enjoyed them, I thought it was time I attempted comics again.  You may remember I previously mentioned wanting to get into the nerd culture of comics as I am a fan so many other nerd cultures staples.  I dipped my toes in the manga market with series I was familiar with through anime; a pretty safe starting point.  Then, I received a couple of graphic novels from Netgalley, and they have been utterly fantastic in their stories -- even if the art wasn't my match.  This go around I requested something by a true, blue comic king -- Stan Lee.

The Zodiac Legacy #1 by Stuart Moore

Stan Lee created a new universe of comic characters with writer Stuart Moore.  They wanted an edgy Asian twist to their superheroes.  Each character has the power associated with an animal of the Chinese zodiac.  There are a series of books and a set of matching graphic novels.  I picked up the graphic novel from Netgalley. I like East meet West kind of literature.  Let's give is a shot.

My impression -- Captain Planet meets a fortune cookie.  The story line wasn't completely horrible, it was just super cheesy like Captain Planet. A group of random teenagers out to make the world a better place.  It just screams 90s cartoon.  Plus, the art kept my mind there too, bright colors and clothing styles all inspired by the era that put  fluorescent accents on everything.  The artwork was actually the piece I liked best about this novel.

Maybe that should be my indicator.  If I like the art style, I'm going to be in for a flop of a story.  The previous two graphic novels I've read have not been visually to my liking, but I really enjoyed the character development and plot.  Here the artwork plays to my nostalgic sensibilities, but the story liked any character depth.  All we learn about the gang our their powers.  Which don't get me wrong, they are super cool, but I want to know more about the characters.  Their individual stories just seemed to be lost but very important.

Honestly, if I need an Asian flair mixed in with my very Western mindset, I'll stick to my all time favorite Avatar: The Last Airbender.  This series really just did not engage me.  Now, other people may absolutely not feel the same way towards this series.  It might be right in the wheelhouse of what they are looking for in their East meets West agenda. To those, I say pick it up and try it out.  But maybe at your local library first.  The price tag is a little hefty for the risk of not enjoying this graphic novel.  To get more hyped up for the series, check out their website.

Monday, August 15, 2016

2-for-1 make up post

My, my. I've done it again. I've vanished for quite some time this time, but I promise I have a good reason. I got a job. A very cool job. A full-time copy editor job. This means my posts will become sporadic again as my time for reading becomes divided even further. I promise I'll make the reviews that do get posted count.

I also have been reading some non-fiction books that don't fit the review style I have built on this website. These books weren't about enjoying them or wanting to pick them up time and again. They were about learning and expanding. If you would be interested in the same kind of discovery, I'll give you some information and let you on your way.

Becoming Worldy Saints by Michael Wittmer

The first of the non-fiction books I read to help with some clarity. I find a strong pull to study the different religions of the world to understand where each side of the argument is coming from.  This piece highlighted some good points on Christianity. A worthwhile read for sure. The author wasn't preachy which could easily be over achieved in a religious text. The information was provided to guide you to your own conclusions.

I have some people in mind who need to read this. It was quick to get through and really left a lasting impression.

The Norse Shaman by Evelyn Rysdyk

I just ended up having too many personal issues with this book. I can't recommend it. Never will. 

But some information for those who may not be so inclined. It is a source book for shamanic journeys of the 21st century. There is some history sprinkled in there to instill an appreciation for such an old belief system and in-depth guidance on shamanic practices.

But I found the focus of the dissertation to be all wrong. I picked it up based on a description for learning how the old became the new. I ended up very disappointed and 25% unfinished.

Again, two non-fiction pieces I spent with the last month. I'm back on track to reading some light fiction and will have two good reviews for you hopefully this week, but don't hold it against me if I miss my deadline. I will get them posted before another month goes by as summer is winding down, and my mountain requires a lot less attention.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Because Gold Cat just wouldn't sound as good

I hope everyone had an excellent Independence Day, and the digit count remains at 20. I know we had a blast (hehe, pun) here attempting to make more noise then our neighbors. Living on the top of a mountain has some serious perks. Cleaning up from the celebrations the next day made me a little late for the release of The Copper Promise by Jen Williams. Catch the review below.

The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

I clicked request without really knowing much about the premise of this novel for two reasons. 1.) Angry Robot Books--I have really enjoyed every author I have read from them so far. Their selection for publication is pretty top notch. 2.) The description included mages, monsters, and gods. My kind of fantasy.

Now, when I started to read the novel, I felt an instant disconnection. I'm not really sure why. The story just didn't seem to fit the description for the novel I had requested. Maybe I was in a completely separate mindset from when I hit the request button. This does not make the book terrible; it just meant I had a loss of interest to overcome. And I did--when a giant dragon popped out of the ground. Not what I was expecting from the rather vague depiction of "monsters" in the teaser.

We go adventuring with Wydrin (aka The Copper Cat), Sir Sebastian (the exiled knight), Gallo (the charmer), and Lord Frith (the dead prince who isn't quite dead). A pretty typical gang for an epic fantasy quest. While the crew is pretty textbook, there are some interesting elements to the magic that keep it in the house of epic fantasy without being completely overplayed. There are creatures with an intriguing dynamic (hello brood army, I'm talking to you). And then there were some elements I could have completely done without for purely personal reasons. 

The novel has a clear conclusion to the misadventures of the epic questor, but the story has clearly been left open for some sequels. The plot has movement and multiple points of climax which sort of turned anti-climatic for me. You really can't go wrong if you are looking for some swashbuckling, magic-ridden fun. Overall, 3 stars for the initial effort; let's see what book two brings to the table.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Like sands through an hourglass...

It is July. The heat is rising. The fireflies are out in droves to the accompaniment of a cricket orchestra every night. Corn on the cob. Grills. The summer season has really begun. Click on the Book Giveaway tab to grab yourself what I would consider to be the perfect summer read-- Lady of Devices by Shelley Adina. The tenth novel in the series is due this fall so get started now.

White Sand by Brandon Sanderson

It is no secret that I am a massive Sanderson fan. A friend of mine recommended the "Mistborn" trilogy back in high school, and I have been reading ever since. When I first began the books, it was not apparent that all the different series and stand-alones he was producing would be connected. A decade later and readers have been informed by Sanderson that there is a bigger picture--Cosmere. It is all connected. The lands and magics. They all come from something larger than any individual series. That scope--that is amazing.

He has written middle grade fiction, young adult fiction, fantasy, epic fantasy, and he even completed the "Wheel of Time" series. Now, he is trying his hands at graphic novels. It seems impossible that any reader could not be a fan of Sanderson. He has a format for anyone. White Sand enters the graphic novel scene with a new set of characters plus some others previously introduced--but don't worry, you won't need to know any of it as all of his stories can stand alone despite their unity. 

I'll be honest; it is not my favorite of his endeavors. Sanderson builds a mighty picture. He is a man of words. Graphic novels just do not have the space for the kind of set up I expect out of Sanderson. BUT; I was very aware of this when I requested to read the Advanced Copy. 

The overall read was not disappointing. 5 stars for the layout, graphic style, color palette, and all that artsy stuff. The introduction of the characters and conspiracy were just a little crunched for me. For what is there, it is Sanderson level 100% and certainly worthy of 3 stars. Sanderson magic systems just hook you in with their depth and viability--sand mastery included. Total package is 3.5 stars and certainly on my recommended reading list. An absolute must for Brandon Sanderson fans.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Half the year has flown by fast

It is astounding to think that half the year has already gone by so quickly. There has been a lot of growth and change on the website packed in that little space. I hope you have appreciated all the new book goodies. Please leave me feedback for how to improve. I'm really working to make a go of this website.

Highland Raven by Melanie Karsak

I am patiently, yet excitedly, waiting for the third novel in the Lily Stargazer series to publish. While I wait, I thought it would be nice to check out some of the other works by Melaine Karsak. She has a horror series about zombies and a Shakespearean romance series available. I'm not one for zombies in this over-crazed phase of fad, so I picked the fiction based from the play Macbeth. (Who doesn't love some Scottish tales right now? Is one fad really better than another? Maybe I'll try out those zombie books next after all.)

This is not the original title or cover art of the novel. It has been through some rebranding in its year or so since publication. I felt those marketing pains as I had some hurdles in the first couple of chapters. I persevered, though, and am thankful for the growth in the latter half of the book. 

The idea of seeing from Lady Macbeth's viewpoint after hundreds of years living in the shadow of Shakespeare's most frightening woman was interesting speculation. There are plenty of nods to Shakespeare for the discerning reader as well as a good bit of historical research, but these novels are always more a fun game of what-if. This is one of the better done character sketches in historical fiction, but maybe not in terms of Lady Macbeth.

The other characters that make an appearance are gems and make this story complete. They really help to flesh out the concept of Lady Macbeth being a living, breathing piece of history in a way the play just didn't capture. I especially loved Sid. Oh, Sid, you belong in Wonderland. Another area of interest is the realm of the three witches, and I hope will be present in the next books with some more detail.

This novel certainly has a graphic nature and would not be recommended for teens.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Happy 200th Post!!

In honor of my 200th post, I have a fantastic day for you! 

1. The blog has undergone a complete overhaul and turned into a fully fledged website. All the interesting extras I have been adding on over the years are now allotted their own space. Please leave all feedback on how this site can be of use to your bookworm endeavors.

2. On the Author Interview tab, we have an interview with Anna Kashina about her latest release, Assassin Queen. We talk about the "Majat Code" series and how she put the whole trilogy together. We also get an insight into what she does to step away from the writing table.

3. Shelley Adina has provided an autographed copy of her introductory novel, Lady of Devices, in the "Magnificent Devices" series. If you are new to this site, you will need to know that this is my all-time favorite steampunk series. This is a giveaway not to be missed out. Head over to the Book Giveaway tab to enter for chances to win.

4. A new review from another amazing author, Charlie Holmberg. Just scroll down to read my thoughts on Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet

I know I had been away from the blog for awhile with no hints or allusions as to what was happening. The first half of the year was a chaotic hodge podge of life events and reading. An evaluation of all of it put the dedication into revamping this into a full scale website. Now we are back for a killer second half of the year.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

She has done it again!

Magic Bitter, Magic Sweet by Charlie Holmberg

Charlie Holmberg has done it again. She has written an amazing book. Like all the novels to come before this one, we get a story of immense depth. There is a reason for everything even if it isn't obvious at first glance. I had inklings throughout the novel that I knew the ending, but I was never really sure and kept turning the pages. The characters are realistically dynamic. You want to know what happens to them.

I was slightly hesitant at the start because the description and cover left me unclear on the direction. (This seems to be a hurdle I really need to overcome with Holmberg's books as they are proving to be quite unmerited.) The opening was all sweet and endearing, and then, you are smacked in the face with the bitter. It is not what I was expecting at all and had my attention held fast. There are some lovely easter eggs during the middle for fans of fairy tales. With the current fad for rewriting the classics of literature (much to my twitching eyebrows distaste), I am happy to see an author nod to the tales of yore without trying to overtake them. And then comes the ending you are expecting yet still surprised that it all happened. That is a good book.

Holmberg writes some of the most thought-provoking fiction I have ever read. When I close that final page, I end up reflecting on everything I have just read for some time. The stories give me entertainment and value. I love them. Plain and simple, they are amazing. They are not perfectly written and certainly have their faults that some people may not be able to get over. I say: read them again--with an eye to learn a lesson, not merely to escape into a good story.

Pre-order your copy today over at Charlie Holmberg's website. There is a giveaway over at Goodreads for a copy until June 28th.