Some books are stumbled upon, odd titles and curious cover art luring one into picking them up and taking them home and letting them into one's heart.Some books are stumbled upon, odd titles and curious cover art luring one into picking them up and taking them home and letting them into one's heart. This was not one of those books. The Raven Cycle is a YA series that was thrust upon me violently by a thousand assailants, all insisting it was glorious and brilliant and beautiful with phenomenal characters, delightful wordplay, and a masterful sense for magical realism. From start to finish, Maggie Stiefvater's put together a series that is well worth your time, attention, and nagging need to find out Just What Happens Next.
Book 1 in the series, The Raven Boys, introduces us to a broad cast of complex characters, each of whom manages to be patently absurd without sacrificing suspension of disbelief. Whether Maggie is luring you along her weirdly compelling high school soap opera or jarring you out of your comfort zone with seamlessly interwoven abrupt left turns into the bizarre, her writing is charming the whole way through. Unfortunately, the book winds up needing to launch the reader on to the rest of the series, and so it spends a bit too much of its time in establishing and not quite enough in resolving, but it manages this ignominious task far better than many other Book 1 of Xes I could name. It also has a godawful excuse of a cliffhanger nailed angrily into the very last page, but hey, the sequel's already out, and the books are best viewed as one big four-headed monster, rather than individual entities....more
Needful Things is the first book I've read from Stephen King's Castle Rock series, which is silly considering that it's also the last book in the seriNeedful Things is the first book I've read from Stephen King's Castle Rock series, which is silly considering that it's also the last book in the series. This is a huge breech in my usual protocol, and probably ruined the experience for me in ways I will never truly understand. In my defense, however, it wasn't my choice. I picked it up as a discard from my little brother who received it in the mail after attempting to order another (far more culturally substantial) book from a disreputable Amazon dealer. Coincidence? Probably, but it's fun to think otherwise.
NT is a story about a small town which suddenly finds itself host to a new salesman in a new store, one which conveniently and miraculously sells everything a person could ever want... but nothing that anyone would ever need, and always at a price much steeper than it initially seems. The concept's not particularly original, but the story is told delightfully, building up to one of King's trademark grand sweeping climaxes. While it is happy to pile on throwbacks to earlier books in the setting, it's a tale that stands fine on its own, so don't be frightened off if you haven't yet tackled Cujo or any of the other pieces of the puzzle that came beforehand.
In the end, it's a bit tricky to categorize the book - it's too ghoulish and sadistic to be a morality tale, and too derpy and self-aware to be horror. Lovecraftian KingChristian dark comedy maybe? Regardless, it's yet another solid echo in the Kingverse, by no means a must-read but enjoyable all the same.
Be good. Be kind. Be clever. Be sharp. Be mindful. Be honest.
A lone man capable of phenomenal magical feats hides in plain sight in modern day America. His daily dealings involve witches, werewolves, and vampireA lone man capable of phenomenal magical feats hides in plain sight in modern day America. His daily dealings involve witches, werewolves, and vampires, and he does his best to handle his capricious friends and bloodsworn foes from the realm of Faerie, all the while just trying to get by quietly and enjoy his oddly geeky white male life surrounded by beautiful women and comical animal buddy.
...I really didn't want to make the comparison, but dear god, it's just too obvious and unavoidable. Fans of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series will almost immediately pick up on the similarities as soon as they hit the first page of Hounded. There are some key differences quickly presented to the reader, mind you; where Dresden is a plucky young ball of inexperience and moxy, Atticus is a 2000-ish year old druid whose power level is high enough that he generally flicks away any threats that don't fall into his kryptonite categories, and rather than following in Dresden's footsteps when it comes to dealing with women (generally unsuccessful, often spectacularly, usually comically), Atticus just sexes 'em all up with wild abandon. And oh, the women... These are evenly divided between insatiable sex-fiends and inhuman killers who are also insatiable sex-fiends. Males, meanwhile, are short-tempered, dim-witted, and prone to embarrassing themselves about two or three times per scene.
Bah, I could complain about the quality of the book for longer, but it's not all bad. The world created here definitely offers enough unusual and tantalizing paranormal weirdness details to keep me interested, and the comedy connects solidly at least as often as it whiffs. It's far from grade-A material, but if you enjoy popcorn fantasy punch 'em ups, find Irish pride to never be out of style, and can handle an above-average dose of trying-too-hard nerd humor, Hounded might be worth giving a try. It's a short, easy read, and hey, Butcher only pops out so many new books a year....more
Ehhhh... It's a Dresden story, eventually, albeit a low-stakes formulaic one. The plot, writing, and art style don't really pack much punch or add anyEhhhh... It's a Dresden story, eventually, albeit a low-stakes formulaic one. The plot, writing, and art style don't really pack much punch or add anything to the Dresdenverse, but I was invested by the mid-point and grinning by the end. It gets three stars by the skin of its teeth, but considering that I came into this expecting to hate it, that's not bad....more
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 rEveryone'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....more
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 beyoWhile 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....more
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 aniBlacksad 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....more
I finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I aI finally think I understand why so many people have told me this is their favorite book in their favorite series of all time. While I don't think I agree on that front, it is nonetheless a fantastic example of... whatever genre Stephen King slapped together here. He's matured tremendously as a writer since first introducing us to Roland's dying, bleeding, beautiful world; his characters are no longer transparently two-dimensional and the seams on his Frankenstein's monster of a setting have mended to the point where none of his glaring anachronistic elements clash unnaturally.
This is the kind of book that awakens the high school fantasy geek in people who have long since moved on to meatier fare. This is the kind of book that inspires people who have no place doing so to try their hand at 4,000-page 9-book series about alabaster dragons and blood magicks and unnatural love, probably with some kind of moon cat. And somehow this is also a remarkably well put-together read, filling in a chasm the first three books created and bringing the entire series forward tremendously for it. It's a brilliant read for everyone. If that means you'll have to read the first three books in the series as well, that's okay. I can wait....more
This is easily one of my favorite things I've read by Ellis to date, and if he'd be willing to keep at it for a while I'd consider giving it the numbeThis is easily one of my favorite things I've read by Ellis to date, and if he'd be willing to keep at it for a while I'd consider giving it the number one spot. As usual with Ellis' work, it's the story of a mundane-yet-capable guy with a heart of gold thrown into a terrifying world full of perverts and evil men; in this case, it's a dishonored police officer transferred to work over the river in Snowtown, a crumbling urban sprawl full of broken people and burdened with an ineffectual government presence. The episodic storytelling makes for a more more intimate and down-to-earth hellhole than most of Ellis' dystopias, and he manages to infuse the whole hopeless mess with an underlying hum of heroes and magic and victory for the good guys. Couple this with Ben Templesmith's inimitable melted-grunge artwork and you end up with a very worthwhile winner....more
Before I begin, as much as I respect Warren Ellis as a writer, if I ever get offered a chance to shake his hand, I will be antibacterializing that entBefore I begin, as much as I respect Warren Ellis as a writer, if I ever get offered a chance to shake his hand, I will be antibacterializing that entire limb as soon as possible.
Crooked Little Vein is something akin to historical ficton, a neat little collection of the author's anecdotal horrors from his life of spent trolling the dark side of the earth, rearranged with new names and faces into a pleasant little romantic mystery adventure. Conceptually it covers a lot of the same ground as his earlier Transmetropolitan, but now in book form and with a lot less vitriole and a lot more compassion and love for the world. Sort of.
The protagonist in this little deviant runaround is a near-suicidal dead beat detective who makes a living out of a seemingly supernatural knack for being in the grossest, weirdest places at all times. This talent made him a natural candidate for a mission critical to the US government: finding a long-lost secret alternate US Constitution that functioned as a fool-proof pervert purifier. Armed with unlimited resources and a spunky pansexual goth thrillseeker, he journeys forth, experiencing an impressive menagerie of those bizarre things you find on the internet when you turn Google Image's Safe Search feature off.
All in all, the book's message of acceptance, of celebration, of admittance of the fact that we now live in a truly gobalized world with instant access to all knowledge, free of tabboo and hopefully soon free of persecution, is a pretty likeable one. I can get behind the idea, sure. It just comes across with a bit too much optimism (something the author's really not guilty of, generally speaking), the glasses a little too rose-tinted. Call me a dirty cynic, but most people are a bit douchier than this slightly futuristic, all too familiar world seems to project. Or maybe I just need to get over myself and accept everyone a bit more easily, a la our charming antihero. Regardless, the book made me smile often, laugh easily, and I managed to connect now and again with the protagonist just the way the author wanted. Not his best work, but a fun romp to sit down with for an afternoon that'll leave you feeling findy skeevy....more
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 IA 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....more