The third tale in George Rumbleroar Martin's Dunk and Egg series, in which the author remembers that political intrigue is his bread and butter. Still...moreThe third tale in George Rumbleroar Martin's Dunk and Egg series, in which the author remembers that political intrigue is his bread and butter. Still fun and full of daring and oh man it actually made me excited about the idea of watching a proper joust, but the heroism of the first two is tinged with a bit more of the Winter Is Coming sensibilities we've come to know so well from the Song of Ice and Fires.(less)
It's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong goin...moreIt's not John Dies At The End. And that's a good thing, trust me. As good as that opening salvo was, we really didn't need the nefarious Mr. Wong going that insane again. Instead you have This Book Is Full of Spiders (Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It), the logical progression to that first mish-mashed slag of Lovecraftian/Kevin Smith-style ultra goremedy, because somehow we managed to salvage some characters and setting and linear plot from that wonderful debacle.
This time around, Wong takes a swing at the currently-impossibly-popular Zombie Horror fad that has consumed the internet for the last half a decade or so, simultaneously lampooning it and nailing all the necessary uncomfortable spots. While significantly less authentically eerie than JDaTE (thank you Jim), it still has some masterful settings that turn the stomach and punch the brain. Overall though it's a more pure-hearted comedy than the first; in spite of a slightly weak opening, I found myself stopping every few minutes for an uncontrollable cackling fit the last 150 pages or so, and that deserves serious praise. Like any good book two of a trilogy, I both look forward to and dread book three for the closure it will bring. If you only read one book about the Satan spiders that live inside your face this year, make it this one.
This review was written primarily so I could use the phrase, "the nefarious Mr. Wong."(less)
Everyone's favorite two-fisted wizard detective is back in his 14th installment, and the stakes have never been higher! Again! It's actually kind of r...moreEveryone's favorite two-fisted wizard detective is back in his 14th installment, and the stakes have never been higher! Again! It's actually kind of remarkable how well Butcher manages to keep outdoing himself, book after book, in shoveling mountains of disaster on this geeky do-gooder's head... Anyway, we're 14 books in here by now. You know the guy's formula. If you like said formula, buy this! It's good! The ridiculous deus ex machinas and blatant male power fantasies are thicker and richer than ever! I believe it also actually answers more questions than it raises for once, though just barely. It's excellent popcorn fiction, easily capable of being polished off in a sitting or two.(less)
While Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyo...moreWhile Chew: Vol. 2 doesn't really play around terribly much with the series' bizarre premise, and while most characters aren't developed that far beyond were we left off at the end of Vol. 1, it's still a wonderfully-drawn, raucous, grisly, hilarious detective romp that caters to foodies of every stripe.(less)
Blacksad arrived on my front porch with little fanfare several days after a drunken Amazon.com splurge which netted me a weird pile of comics with ani...moreBlacksad arrived on my front porch with little fanfare several days after a drunken Amazon.com splurge which netted me a weird pile of comics with animal people in 'em. This is not the most dignified entrance a book which wants me to read it might provide, but eventually I sat down and gave this furry film noir detective short story collection a shot.
Things started off with as everyday a private eye tale as you can get: a gorgeous woman (with kitty ears) lying dead in bed, a single gunshot marring an otherwise perfect face, and the detective John Blacksad, an old lover of hers, hot on a case that's all too personal. The art was immediately top-notch, kind of a Goof Troop-style enhanced with a terrifically un-cartoony level of attention to shading, body language, and facial expressions, so I read on. And on. And on. I was technically on vacation that weekend with a bunch of friends, but the book was more compelling. What I expected would be an anthropomorphic run-of-the-mill Dick Tracey actually packed some seriously aggressive social commentary on '50s America, covering the civil rights movement, McCarthyism, and the Russian nuclear threat. Brilliant character design supplements the occasionally hokey dialogue, and the end result is a comic with plenty to hook you in and make you eager for more.(less)
A challenging, playful, and endlessly rewarding read, I think House of Leaves will easily stand the test of time as one of my personal favorites. It i...moreA challenging, playful, and endlessly rewarding read, I think House of Leaves will easily stand the test of time as one of my personal favorites. It is interactive on a level I've never seen before outside of children's puzzle books, but at the same time tells one of the best paced, most carefully plotted narratives you're likely to find.
Expect to make an investment in this book (in both time and colored note pads), and when the going gets tough, push through. I promise you there's something golden buried at the heart of the labyrinth.(less)
Heart-Shaped Box is an unashamedly classic ghost story, a straightforward read about unsettling pasts and vengeful dead. Grisly injuries rack up, hope...moreHeart-Shaped Box is an unashamedly classic ghost story, a straightforward read about unsettling pasts and vengeful dead. Grisly injuries rack up, hope is lost, and creepy rednecks get creepier by the page. While this is not exactly a bad thing, and there are a few very effective uncomfortable spots scattered throughout, the story does not go to much effort to surprise you with its horribleness, which is really a pretty vital part of a good horror story (especially one that intends to keep your attention for an entire novel's length). What twists there are are telegraphed from several towns over.
Where the book DOES surprise is in the quality of its setting and characters. Instead of a frightened child or clueless Joe Schmoe, your protagonist is a tough-as-nails grizzled metal musician who's spent his life basting in blackness. In place of a town clueless to the nature of the undead, the modern setting is full of people more than willing to accept what's obviously going on and just do their best to deal with it. While the smallish cast is chock full of blatant archetypal roles, the dialogue's got some believable grit to it, and most of the people you're expected to root for are likable enough for that to happen.
I'm surprised that this book took me two years to finish, since the pacing and action flow at a very crisp pace. While the book has its charms, I don't think it ever really managed to grip me until the last chunk or so. Your mileage may vary, based heavily on how much you like brooding badasses, grotesque injuries, and general metal-culture.(less)
A modernized entry into the Cthulhu mythos, Fall of Cthulhu Vol 1: The Fugue couples passable horror movie writing to pleasantly realistic and excepti...moreA modernized entry into the Cthulhu mythos, Fall of Cthulhu Vol 1: The Fugue couples passable horror movie writing to pleasantly realistic and exceptionally disturbing imagery, making it a quick and gripping read, well worth an evening. Sadly, the series deteriorates from here on out, replacing likable characters, believable behavior and palpable dread with over-the-top heroics, schlock villains and writing that goes way too heavy on the goth makeup. Regardless, this first chapter in the series manages very well as a stand-alone story, worth the investment for any enthusiast of groteque, creeping horrors.(less)
A fun enough read, though by no means necessary unless you're curious about the origins of the much-more-entertaining film it later inspired. While I...moreA fun enough read, though by no means necessary unless you're curious about the origins of the much-more-entertaining film it later inspired. While I haven't read terribly much in the film noir, private eye genre, the dialogue and premise seemed kind of forced and hokey. The cast of characters came across as generally 2-dimensional (sorry), and while the protagonist Eddie Valiant's narration was riddled with an appropriately constant stream of hard-boiled hyperbole, about 1 in 3 of them felt unnatural and PC-ized.
In its defense, I found the modern fantasy world the author created interesting enough, but hated how little he actually expanded on it, preferring instead to use it mostly for cheap gags and deus ex machinas. The few attempts made to naturalize the hybrid of humans and 'toons throughout history were too silly to really strike the reader as compelling and too uncomfortable to really come across as goofy. There were definitely laugh-out-loud spots here and there, as well as moments where a sudden piece of the puzzle would drop in your lap and you'd be compelled to keep reading just a little longer, but it's a jerky trip. Nonetheless, there are definitely worse curiosities out there.
P.S. - Bonus points for some of the worst cover art I've ever seen.(less)