As someone who grew up loving indie comics mainstays like ElfQuest and Sandman, I'm honestly surprised that I didn't discover Wandering Star until nowAs someone who grew up loving indie comics mainstays like ElfQuest and Sandman, I'm honestly surprised that I didn't discover Wandering Star until now, so many years later. It's entirely the type of thing that I would've been into as a teenager, with its moody but strong main character Cassandra and its plethora of other interesting characters. Odds are I would've shipped some of the characters together, regardless of their expressed interest in one another. (Shipping is odd like that.)
This is an incredibly ambitious series and I'd be lying if I said that at times it was a little frustrating, given that the overall universe and its stories are so much larger than what we're shown here. To use a modern equivalent, it'd be like if Saga had only covered Hazel's birth rather than its current sweeping goals. It could very easily be expanded upon and Wood has expressed interest in creating a webcomic, which I think would work fairly well nowadays.
The artwork here is well done and has a fresh style that helps showcase the characters' feelings and drives. Characters are equally well designed and I'd have to say that one of my favorites had to have been Mek, who first appears in the comics as a fervently anti-Earth student of the Galactic Academy. To say that he undergoes a lot of changes and problems throughout the series would be an understatement. What's most interesting about this series, however, is how much it applies to today's societies. Prejudice and war are sadly still very much a part of today's world and I think that many will be able to sympathize with Cassandra's plight.
Ultimately this is a series that has gotten far less attention than what it deserves and hopefully Dover's release will help rectify that at least in part. It's one heck of a story and one that would work well as a feature film.
When I first began reading this book I was sure that this was a companion piece to an RPG game, where they give more description so players can fleshWhen I first began reading this book I was sure that this was a companion piece to an RPG game, where they give more description so players can flesh out their gaming experience. A little reconnaissance shows that while there's no game, there is a line of figures by Sideshow Collectibles and apparently this book is a tie-in. This explains quite a bit, since I kept feeling like the book was a part of something else and not something on its own.
The book has a few things to offer readers, namely its mythology and artwork. The writing here is interesting enough and for what it is (a guidebook to the Underworld and its occupants) it's pretty well detailed. If you did want to use this as the base for a RPG, you wouldn't be disappointed since all of the basics are covered. Readers are given just enough to know what's going on, although I'll say that the best portions come when the creepy court jester Malavestros inserts his own opinions and reflections that frequently contradict the narrator, an official Underworld historian.
Where the book shines is in its artwork and I'd wager that this will likely be the most popular aspect of Court of the Dead for most readers. It was certainly my favorite aspect, as the pictures are just lavishly done and beautiful enough that I'd say that if you're looking into getting this, I'd recommend the print version. (Assuming that there will even be an e-book edition.) This was gorgeous in my e-book ARC, but I know that it won't hold a candle to the larger print copy.
I hadn't heard about Paper Girls until fairly recently and I have to say that it's one of those comics that isn't getting the attention it should, desI hadn't heard about Paper Girls until fairly recently and I have to say that it's one of those comics that isn't getting the attention it should, despite it being written by Brian K. Vaughan of Saga fame. It's one of those comics that has a great plot, interesting characters, and a central mystery that kept me reading throughout the entire first volume.
The series's premise is set in 1980s America and centers around a group of 12-year-old girls, all of whom work as newspaper deliverers. We're introduced to the girls by Erin, who has just started her route and is invited to join the other three girls after they rescue her from being harassed by a group of older boys intent on causing mischief. From there they end up getting involved with some strange looking aliens and end up finding that their entire town has disappeared.
We're given a little bit of explanation here and there as to what's going on and the nature of the aliens is explained by the end of the first volume, however we're left with far more questions than answers. Just enough information is imparted to keep it from getting too frustrating, which only makes things far more interesting. I have to say that even after zipping through the first volume I'm still not sure what's going on, although I keep wondering if it's a similar situation to Stephen King's Langoliers.
Art-wise, this is great and throughout it I kept thinking that the character design reminded me very slightly of Frank Miller's art style in The Dark Knight Returns. In particular, the character design for Mac reminds me heavily of the character Carrie Kelly, Miller's Robin. It's not super strong, but it's enough to where I wonder if Miller's Carrie was a bit of an influence on Mac's character or design.
Character-wise, Vaughan and all did a good job. There are a few moments where the characters are a bit jumpy in how they're established, where their emotions don't really come across as strong as they should. A key example of this would be a scene in Mac's home between herself and a family member, where an emotional moment just doesn't feel as solid as it should, given that they were somewhat antagonistic towards each other only a page or so earlier. It's not so bad that it stands in the way of the story, but we know that Vaughan is capable of so much more.
Overall this was a fun read and Paper Girls is something I can easily see myself purchasing and re-reading in the future. It's just a little surprising that I hadn't heard of this until I saw it on Netgalley, especially given that it's being written by someone involved with one of the most popular indie series currently running. Hopefully this will be rectified at some point in the future.
I'll be straight up honest with you from the get go. I really didn't like this work. There's a lot going on here and at times I really felt that FriscI'll be straight up honest with you from the get go. I really didn't like this work. There's a lot going on here and at times I really felt that Frisch was just trying a little too hard to bring in various different themes and deconstruct not only the long running and beloved daily comic The Family Circus, but various American ideas, ideals, and thought processes. There may be some minor spoilers in this here and there, so fair warning.
That said, I do have to say that Frisch has certainly done a good job of capturing some of the most prevalent habits of modern day humanity and showcasing how ludicrous those habits can become. Psychology and religion are two common opiates of the masses and while it'd be initially easy to assume that Frisch is ridiculing them because they exist, this isn't what he's doing here. What Frisch is doing, or at least what I thought he was doing, was showing how utterly dependent people are on either practice, following them so obediently that they rarely question or challenge whether or not they're acting in ways that is ultimately healthy for either themselves or the people around them. The only person who really challenges these ideals is the eldest son Robby, as he tries to find a way to maintain the status quo even as those around him dismiss him for his actions.
Now before you go and start to think that Robby represents the rational mind in this work, you need to understand that Robby is also representative of an unhealthy line of thought himself. Part of the reason why everyone in the book launched into their own particular, frequently dysfunctional methods of finding self-enlightenment and happiness is because the status quo wasn't working for them. They were unhappy because they were in this unchanging world and ultimately what Robby is asking for is for them to return to that life. The only problem is that once the dam opens up and the flooding starts it's pretty much impossible to return to the way things once were, especially when the one trying to restore the prior pecking order is not the person who created said order. Still, it's hard not to share in Robby's frustration when he tries so hard to achieve success and for a brief moment gets it, only for that success to falter and leave. It's especially easy to empathize when Robby sees everyone around him seemingly become happy despite their methods having aspects that are just as toxic as the lifestyle they all left behind.
I really think that this book would have greatly benefited from being far shorter than it was, but I can't help but wonder if the book's length was a deliberate nod towards the longevity of comics like The Family Circus where its never aging cast goes through the same actions again and again. If it was then that's sort of clever but it still didn't do much for me as a reader and at times I just really wanted things to wrap up. If I'd picked this up in a bookstore I'd have put this back unfinished, but as a reviewer I figured that I'd keep going.
Now something to take in mind here is that work like this is highly, highly subjective. Surreal comics of this type rarely achieve mainstream popularity, so I can't entirely dismiss this offhand. I didn't like it, but I do admire how darn ambitious Frisch was with this work. The artwork is well done in that it doesn't fit well with the story's feel, which produces a jarring effect that's actually one of the things I liked about the piece. The whole wrongness of it was just interesting.
So do I recommend this? Eh... I'm not sure. I disliked the work but as you can tell it clearly made me think, so I kind of have to recommend this as one of those "make you think" type of deals. The reviews for this work are likely to be predominantly negative, but if this work doesn't develop a cult following I'm going to be very surprised.
I'm not going to push this up another star since I didn't get three stars of enjoyment out of it, but I do have to say that I have kept thinking about Fun Family days afterwards. When I describe it to people I do say that I didn't particularly like it, but I have to say that I didn't actually hate it either. I'd actually go so far as to say that I might actually flip through this again at some point in the future if I saw it at my library. I wouldn't own it, but I'd read at least part of it again.
Without even looking at the content, readers will be able to tell that they're in for an excellent ride just by virtue of the authors that contributedWithout even looking at the content, readers will be able to tell that they're in for an excellent ride just by virtue of the authors that contributed to this anthology. There's something here for everyone when you have fan favorite authors like Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, and Caitlin Kiernan, after all.
As you'd expect with any anthology, there are going to be pieces that you like less than others but overall I enjoyed everything that I read in Street Magicks. The authors were all well chosen and edited, so I really can't find much to criticize here. If I had to pick something I suppose that it'd be that I've seen better anthologies out there, but that's more based on my current reading mood, which is slowly starting to turn back more and more towards horror novels.
Overall I have to say that I would recommend this anthology to readers, even if only as a library read. With summer looming around the corner you'll need prime beach read material and this would be an excellent pick, a lovely fantasy/urban fantasy themed anthology swimming against the sea of bodice rippers and thriller novels that tend to surface as most summer reads.
This is a fairly interesting book, given the hoopla surrounding it. People have been comparing this to various books, especially Fifty Shades of Grey,This is a fairly interesting book, given the hoopla surrounding it. People have been comparing this to various books, especially Fifty Shades of Grey, due to the book containing a moderate amount of sex scenes. I need to say straight off that I'm not a Fifty Shades fan, so when I picked this up I was more expecting to find something new to poke fun at.
People picking this up hoping that it will contain as many sex scenes as FSoG will be disappointed. Yes, there is sex in the work, but it's nowhere near as prevalent as some of the professional reviews would have you believe. The book *is* liberally sprinkled with sex or references to it, but it's more of an afterthought than anything else and Hilton could have probably removed or reduced many of these scenes without harming the novel. Doing this probably would have worked out well for Hilton, as the critics were right about one thing. The sex scenes are easily the weakest part of the book. They're not awful, but they just feel a bit superfluous at times. It's not Laurell K Hamilton level, where her characters go "OK! STOP - SEXY TIME" (my apologies to MC Hammer) at ridiculous moments, so the book does have that going for it.
The characters are OK enough for the most part, although the majority of them just sort of faded in and out of the book. I don't know that I could really name many of the characters outside of Judith and Rupert, as I forgot about many of them once they'd served their purpose in the book. Judith is relatively interesting, as she's far from a likable person but still has some occasional twinges of regret now and again. I'm not entirely sure that I buy the rage portion of Judith's character, as was promised in the book jacket synopsis, though. She's angry at times but by large she's written as cold and clinical. Not a bad thing, but if you're expecting a furious character ala Gillian Flynn, you're going to be disappointed.
Maestra really takes off whenever Hilton starts writing about art and the forged paintings, as this is easily the most entertaining stuff in the book and I can't help but wish that there was more of this as opposed to the sex and murder. I like books that have unlikeable, yet compelling lead characters, but this just wasn't quite a four star read for me. It's certainly entertaining and would make for a good beach read, but I can't help but hope that Hilton manages to work out the kinks in part two of the series otherwise I'm not sure that the Maestra series has enough gusto to make a satisfying trilogy.
What I will say is that this is better than Fifty Shades. I know that isn't a hard bar to sail under and that for most readers it's like saying that breathing in Taco Bell farts is better than someone holding your head underwater until you stop making bubbles. It's still better, so don't let the Fifty Shades comparisons scare you off. ...more
Oh my glob, I can't recommend this title enough. The series's premise is fantastic and the artwork is top notch, as it fits the IHF's satirical tonesOh my glob, I can't recommend this title enough. The series's premise is fantastic and the artwork is top notch, as it fits the IHF's satirical tones pretty well. It's a fast and easy read, as I was able to devour this in only one sitting.
What makes this comic work so well is that Gert's descent into sheer bloody madness happens almost immediately in the book. Her initial impressions of Fairyland are far from pleasant, as the child is initially terrified by being swallowed up by a magical portal that plops her into the skies of Fairyland... where she immediately plummets thousands of feet to the ground. With an introduction like that it's no wonder that she's turned into a hardened killing machine intent on only one thing: escape. To make matters worse she's physically a child while her mind has aged to that of a thirty-something year old woman.
Gert's tasked with finding a key that would allow her to leave Fairyland, but her travels have been so long and bloody that the Queen of Fairyland has lost patience with her. The land's rules don't allow her to harm Gert, something that I found a nice touch, so she tries a variety of different indirect ways to accomplish just that, including finding a rival child for the key.
This was a highly enjoyable read and one that I can easily see myself buying on my own. While this is the first volume the story is wrapped up with enough of a conclusion to where Young could have walked away from this instead of making it an ongoing series. I'm kind of glad that he didn't, as there are still plots to be unraveled and fantasy tropes to poke fun at. In lesser hands IHF would have been a one trick pony that wore off its welcome early on in the series, but Young has done an excellent job of creating a series that's incredibly fun to read. The series might not have much of a focus beyond showing Gert slicing and dicing her way past anyone who makes her mad (and almost everyone makes her mad), but Young fully embraces this aspect and pulls it off spectacularly.
If you've been reading Molly Harper's series so far, you know what to expect here. This is her usual fare, sweet and ultimately light hearted. There aIf you've been reading Molly Harper's series so far, you know what to expect here. This is her usual fare, sweet and ultimately light hearted. There are some decent characters here and it's fun to see some of the old gang again, but I will say that at times this book seemed to just lack a little bite - pun intended.
I think that part of this is due to the fact that while the characters here are largely new, the plot is still fairly similar to earlier works and readers can easily predict what will happen for the most part. There's really no true surprises here and you can also guess fairly quickly who Libby will end up with in the long run. Still, I didn't get into Harper's work for new and interesting twists and her work is solidly comfort fare for me, so I don't really see this as a deal breaker. Especially since she's fully willing to introduce new characters and take the spotlight off her older ones, something that some other authors in the field aren't really willing to do. (coughcough*LaurellKHamilton*coughcough) I do think that the series would likely benefit from a transplant into a new area outside of Half-Moon Hollow, though - a book set in a new town, with an all new cast, perhaps? I know that there are the werewolf books, but it'd be fun to get something a little different, at least as a one shot to test the waters.
Other than that, I still greatly enjoyed the work as a whole. The characters were still interesting and I enjoyed the banter between Wade and Libby. The child custody case wasn't too bad and I liked that it didn't get as muddy and nasty as it can get IRL, since that wouldn't really fit in entirely well in a Harper book....more
Earlier this year a friend of mine turned me on to RPG lit and others that fall loosely into the genre via the Play to Live series, so when I saw theEarlier this year a friend of mine turned me on to RPG lit and others that fall loosely into the genre via the Play to Live series, so when I saw the premise of this book I knew that this would be something I'd get into. I'm relatively easy to please when it comes to fiction that depicts gaming like this.
The book's premise is a good one and our characters are pretty interesting, although I'll say that only Kali and her love interest are really all that developed. Everyone else takes a back seat and is only trotted out when plot requires them for some reason. If you're looking for a very well rounded and developed cast of characters, you're not going to find that here. They're all developed enough to keep your interest and they're not wafer thin personality-wise, so this didn't bother me that much although I do think that this will bother all readers. I did enjoy the gaming aspect and while it didn't live up to its full potential (the main tournament game is pretty much people fighting around a tower), it's still fun to read what was done. There was a lot more that could be done in this world and this might be something that will irritate some, but I somewhat get the impression that this is going to be the first in a series, although it isn't stated anywhere.
In the end the main issue I had with the book was that it didn't really know which audience it was trying to serve. If not for some light sex scenes and references to sex, I'd say that this would very easily fit into the YA genre since the main heroine kind of gave off the impression that she could've been anywhere from sixteen to nineteen years old. I suppose that I could say that it would fit into New Adult, however it didn't really fit into that genre either since the issues of the book weren't the typical "coming of age after the coming of age" situations that tends to be the hallmark of this genre. It'd certainly fit into RPG lit somewhat, although that tends to focus more on the gaming side and is oriented towards adults. I think that not really clearly defining an audience weakened this book at times since it casts its net a bit too wide and as such, many readers might find that they don't really identify as much with the work. I think that trying too hard to appeal to a broad audience also kept it from really getting into specifics that could have brought some much needed depth to some aspects, like the general world and the characters. We're not given a huge amount of information about the non-virtual world, so much of it is left up to the readers' imaginations.
Still, this is Jennings's first book and for a first book it's extremely well done, as the first book is usually where an author really starts to experiment with writing styles and genres. When push came to shove I have to say that I overall enjoyed the work and would read her future work as it's published, since she can really only improve from here. It's not a perfect work, but I was entertained. I waffled between giving this three and four stars, but I decided on four since I did read through this quickly and overall I liked the book.
f you've ever followed my reviews, you'll know that I'm a fan of Dodwell's work. I've become friends with her via my coverage of her books (full disclf you've ever followed my reviews, you'll know that I'm a fan of Dodwell's work. I've become friends with her via my coverage of her books (full disclosure) and I have to say, she's only getting better.
Lately she's been on a short story spree, as "Juniper's Shadow" was preceded by the very excellent "The Redwood Lodge Investigation". She's been doing well with this format, as short stories lend themselves very well to horror, and I'm excited to see what she will come up with next.
Juniper's Shadow takes a little while to get started since much of its horror derives from Leighton's imperfect relationship with his pregnant wife Jessica, as the two constantly quibble about his dream to own a record store. She's supportive, but he feels like he's a failure since she's almost the main breadwinner. Leighton wants so desperately to succeed that it'd make sense that he'd jump on something that'd make a huge profit - a record by Victor Marlowe, a musician whose music has left a dark legacy. A legacy so dark that there have been efforts to eradicate all remaining recordings of his work.
This is where the horror comes in, because as the story progresses there's this increasing sense of dread. From the start Leighton is warned against purchasing the album (although the seller isn't that reluctant to let it leave his grasp), however he's lured in by its background and the idea of raising a large sum. He quickly grows obsessed with researching the record and if you're familiar with Dodwell's writing style then you know that what Leighton is going to find will be dark indeed.
Overall I was rather pleased with this story. It's not perfect, but that's mostly because this is something that I think would have worked far better as a longer piece, maybe as a novella or full novel. We're left with far too many questions at the end of this and while some don't need to be answered, I was just intensely curious as to the album's background. This next part is a mild spoiler, so I'll try to post it far enough down that those who want a spoiler free review can avoid it. It does somewhat pertain to the piece as a whole and it's not a major spoiler, if you're afraid of it giving away any large reveals.
If you're wondering if you should try this out, I say go for it. It's available for free for Kindle Unlimited readers and while $2.99 is a little pricey for a short story, I greatly enjoyed it.
(Reader copy provided by the author)
Thar be spoilers
(view spoiler)[This isn't going to be a major spoiler, but I couldn't help but wonder what the motivations were for the old man selling the record. He was somewhat reluctant to sell Leighton the record, but not so reluctant that he wouldn't have sold it. There's this nasty sort of cat-and-mouse interaction where you can tell that he's baiting Leighton, who likely wouldn't have otherwise shown any interest. There are more revelations at the end of the story that I won't divulge here, but this was the main reason why I felt that this would work exceedingly well as a longer piece. There's a dark, nasty and entirely human force at work here along with the supernatural ones, which is what makes Dodwell's work so horrifying, because a large portion of the misery and darkness in her work comes from how people treat one another. If you look back at her other work, you'll see that while the supernatural does come into play, it's only there because the involved humans invited it, even if inadvertently. I think that this is why I continue to really enjoy her work, since I maintain that how humans treat one another is almost always the most terrifying aspect of horror. It's why books and films like Richard Matheson's Hell House (later adapted into the wonderful The Legend of Hell House) work so well - it has supernatural horror but most of it is a direct result of human interactions. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book is odd since it's both overly complicated and fairly straight forward at the same time. It's one of several books that has taken advantage oThis book is odd since it's both overly complicated and fairly straight forward at the same time. It's one of several books that has taken advantage of a slightly unused trend to base their novel in various different formats, from diary entries to video and audio transcripts. It's something that I haven't seen done very often because in most cases it's difficult to pull off because of the shifts in perspectives and tone, as you'd write a transcript far more differently than you would a narrative.
What's interesting about this is how much is left up to the reader's imagination. There are some things that are stated outright, which I won't divulge here because of spoilers, but there are just as much that you will have to draw your own conclusions. It's not as difficult as say, interpreting The Supernatural Enhancements, but this is to be expected with a young adult novel. (And TSE is just plain weird in places.)
This book wasn't flawless - it had some points where the plot got slightly tedious, mostly the love interest angles, but this is made up for by the tension as a whole. When the book does reach its conclusion, it's something that I found pretty intriguing and I have to admit, I would like to see this made into a movie or TV series.
Now if you're a parent, you may want to read this first if your reader is very young or very sensitive. There are some touchy subjects here such as mental illnesses, violence, sexuality, murder, and death. I'd caution you about the magic and supernatural elements, but the book synopsis does sort of imply that this will be in the book. None of this is particularly bad and I'd say that the average reader in their mid to late teens should be OK to read this....more
I'm kind of on the fence about this one. It didn't really thrill me, but then I liked some of what Benson did with this work. I liked it well enough tI'm kind of on the fence about this one. It didn't really thrill me, but then I liked some of what Benson did with this work. I liked it well enough that I finished it, but then I know that I also ended up finishing it because I'd purchased it and felt sort of obligated to do so.
There will be some mild spoilers here and there, but no huge ones.
First, the parts I liked: As you'd expect, there is a love interest for our main character Elyse and yes, there is a form of insta-attraction between the two of them. However at the same time Benson does try to give a reason for this and she also tries to have Elyse be a little bewildered before starting to give in to everything. I liked that this was there, although I'd have preferred to have a little more development between the two of them. Benson also tries to keep from making Elyse the star of everything, the end and be all of the book, a common trope in most UF type series. This last trope is one that a lot of us are used to forgiving, but it is nice to see someone try to buck the trend a little.
However at the same time I just couldn't really sink into this book as much as I wanted to. It all felt a little too rushed at times. While you can obviously tell that this book was a set up for a series, I kind of disliked that we had too many things and people introduced in this first book. There's so much going on here that you never get a good feel for any one specific person or topic before we're rushed on to the next plot point. It makes me a little worried that the further novels might get a little too complicated for their own good, that all of this needed to be hurriedly introduced so early on.
Still, this is a nice entry book and one that would make for a good beach read or a nice afternoon read. ...more
It's kind of difficult to rate an Adam Nevill novel sometimes. You can tell that this was one of his earlier works and as such, is a little rough arouIt's kind of difficult to rate an Adam Nevill novel sometimes. You can tell that this was one of his earlier works and as such, is a little rough around the edges. There are some wonderful moments here and there where the promise gleams through, but there are also parts where I couldn't help but wish that the book had been somewhat more refined.
Overall I have to say that I did greatly enjoy this book, although it took some time for me to wade through. It was an interesting choice to jump between various different people POV-wise, but I do think that this worked well in the long run since Dante wasn't really that sympathetic of a main character. He was a bit of a tosser at times, something that was deliberate on Nevill's part, but still made him a difficult character to connect with.
In any case, if you're looking for something fun and a nice chilling read, this is one to check out....more