Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1 by George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, illustrated by Tommy Patterson

 photo 044042321X.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsx2cbu8id.jpgA Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1
by George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, illustrated by Tommy Patterson
Published by Bantam, March 27, 2012
240 Pages • ISBN 978-0440423218 • Hardcover

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Book description:
This graphic novel adaptation contains more than fifty pages of exclusive content not available in the original comic books, including:

• a new Preface by George R. R. Martin
• early renderings of key scenes and favorite characters from the novels
• a walk-through of the entire creative process, from auditioning the artists to tweaking the scripts to coloring the final pages
• behind-the-scenes commentary from Daniel Abraham, Tommy Patterson, and series editor Anne Groell

You’ve read the books. You’ve watched the hit series on HBO. Now acclaimed novelist Daniel Abraham and illustrator Tommy Patterson bring George R. R. Martin’s epic fantasy masterwork
A Game of Thrones to majestic new life in the pages of this full-color graphic novel. Comprised of the initial six issues of the graphic series, this is the first volume in what is sure to be one of the most coveted collaborations of the year.

Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

I was asked: "Is this bad, or just bad in comparison?"

The short answer:

It's not bad, but it's not good, either.

Longer answer:

Basically, how many different ways can you tell the same story and keep it fresh? Unfortunately, I didn't feel like there was anything here that made it stand apart from the original book or the show. The art is ok, but I had trouble distinguishing some of the characters from each other unless they were talking, as many of them look too familiar to each other. The adaptation itself is ok, but nothing spectacular. I also felt that unless you'd already read the books or seen the show, there were some aspects to the story that were glossed over a little too thinly, so if this was your only access to the story, some of it wouldn't be clear. This seemed to be written with the express understanding that anybody reading it would already have a base knowledge of what's going on, and I think that's poor adapting of a story.

I guess if you're a hardcore GoT fan, this could be a good addition to your library, but for the casual fan like myself, it's just not that compelling. I'll just stick with the original books and show.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Map: A Jackaby Story by William Ritter

 photo 000872dc74ac62a596d796b6b67437641506f41_zpsbxw7jle8.jpgThe Map: A Jackaby Story
by William Ritter
Published by Algonquin Young Readers, June 15, 2015
57 Pages • ASIN B00YBAOT0W • eBook

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Book description:
Perfect for fans of Jackaby who are desperately awaiting the release of its sequel, Beastly Bones, this novella-length story follows the rollicking events of Abigail Rook’s birthday celebration.

Abigail hopes that her birthday will slip by unnoticed and uncelebrated, but her employer, detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby, has other plans. Using magical party crackers that teleport the pair to unknown destinations in time and space and a cryptic map that may lead to a forgotten treasure, Jackaby intends to give Abigail what he considers to be the best gift of all--adventure.

Abigail and Jackaby must tame an enormous (and carnivorous) rabbit, defend a castle, and master a dirigible if they want to find the treasure and get back to New Fiddleham alive.

A quick little tale to whet our appetites while waiting for Jackaby and Rook's next adventure, Beastly Bones, The Map finds Jackaby whisking Rook away on an adventure for her birthday, whether she likes it or not. After taking her to a magical market and buying her a treasure map, Jackaby and Rook follow the map in search of buried treasure.

There's still so much about this series that reminds me entirely of Doctor Who (possibly too much so...). Jackaby is clearly based on Four, and while I haven't pinpointed which companion Rook takes after, you know she has to based on one of the Doctor's companions. I'm still excited about the characters, and this was a great little teaser for the upcoming book.

And just to be clear, by Four, I mean...

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...and not...

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Latest #acerocstars delivery!

Mitosis by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by MacLeod Andrews

 photo fb9e555392824d4596c38666951437641506f41_zpsvt0oal9x.jpgMitosis
by Brandon Sanderson, narrated by MacLeod Andrews
Published by Audible Studios, October 7, 2014

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Book description:
Brandon Sanderson, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Words of Radiance, coauthor of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, and creator of the internationally bestselling Mistborn trilogy, presents Mitosis, a short story set in the action-packed world of Steelheart and Firefight: the Reckoners series, exclusively available in the digital format. Epics still plague Newcago, but David and the Reckoners have vowed to fight back. Catch all the action before, Calamity, the exciting sequel to Firefight, hits shelves in 2016..

A quick audio short that bridges Steelheart to Firefight (but is not necessary to jump right into Firefight), Mitosis deals with how the Reckoners are adjusting the city of Newcago to be free of the rule of Steelheart. It sets up in more detail how they have tried to keep things are much the same as they were before, but for the better of the citizens instead of for the sole purpose of making Steelheart's rule absolute. Of course, what's a Reckoner story without at least one Epic, and here we are introduced to Mitosis, who can split himself into as many clones as he needs. He has come to Newcago to take down David and the Reckoners so that he can take rule of Newcago, but naturally, this doesn't actually en too well for him.

Again, a decent enough story, but not something that is necessary to listen to between Steelheart and Firefight.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Trees, Vol 1 by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard

 photo 1632152703.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps4xzmykex.jpgTrees, Vol 1
by Warren Ellis, illustrated by Jason Howard
Published by Image Comics, February 24, 2015
160 Pages • ISBN 978-1632152701 • Paperback

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Book description:
Ten years after they landed. All over the world. And they did nothing, standing on the surface of the Earth like trees, exerting their silent pressure on the world, as if there were no-one here and nothing under foot. Ten years since we learned that there is intelligent life in the universe, but that they did not recognize us as intelligent or alive. Trees, a new science fiction graphic novel by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red) and Jason Howard (Super Dinosaur, Astounding Wolf-Man) looks at a near-future world where life goes on in the shadows of the Trees: in China, where a young painter arrives in the "special cultural zone" of a city under a Tree; in Italy, where a young woman under the menacing protection of a fascist gang meets an old man who wants to teach her terrible skills; and in Svalbard, where a research team is discovering, by accident, that the Trees may not be dormant after all, and the awful threat they truly represent.

I really don't understand a single thing in this volume, as we, the reader, are dropped into what feels like the middle of a story that is already currently being told, but part of me likes that. Ten years ago, an alien race landed on Earth. The ships (or whatever they are), are huge and resemble trees that reach into the heavens. These Trees have been here so long now that they have become just a part of the landscape in many ways, and in others, they are a source of great intrigue or discontent. No one knows a thing about them. And by the end of this first volume, that doesn't really change.

While on the surface this should be an alien invasion story, it really is more about the people of Earth and how their lives have changed because of the Trees, specifically the three main protagonists: a young Chinese boy who is trying to find his way in the world; a young Italian woman who finds herself at a crossroads with the local mafia; and a scientist who desperately wants the ten years he's been studying the Trees to actually mean something. These three stories never intertwine, but they are all equally fascinating. Ellis truly gets to the heart of each character, and while that may not always be a good heart, it's there.

Jason Howard's art fits the story well; having not experienced his art before, I don't have a frame of reference for what his art can be like on other titles, but here it works, and works well. Between the engaging story and Howard's art, this is a title that I'll definitely be picking up in the future.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Deborah Harkness promotes her new book, The Book of Life

Deborah Harkness stopped by Nicola's Books tonight, to promote the paperback release of the third book in her All Souls Trilogy series, The Book of Life. She is wickedly brilliant and actually quite funny. She talked about the process of creating the series, using her knowledge as a historian to bring the characters to life, and answered audience questions before signing our books.  What a fantastic night!

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Sunday, May 31, 2015

May 2015 Monthly Recap

Books Read
  1. Enzo Races in the Rain! by Garth Stein, illustrated by R. W. Alley
  2. Inhumanity by Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue Deconnick, Warren Ellis, & Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Matteo Buffagni, Olivier Coipel, Nick Bradshaw, & Kris Anka
  3. Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, Vol. 1: Revolutions of Terror by Nick Abadzis, illustrated by Elena Casagrande & Arianna Florian
  4. Secret Wars Prelude by Jonathan Hickman, Jim Shooter, Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Steve Epting, Mike Zeck, Ryan Stegman, Sara Pichelli, & Esad Ribic
  5. The Uncommon Reader: A Novella by Alan Bennett
  6. Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel
  7. Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

1343 pages total

Favorite Book of the Month
    Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

Gender of author
8 male

Year of Publication
2011 - 1
2015 - 5

Books Acquired
4 Total
1 - from a Kickstarter campaign
1 - used from Alibiris
1 - used from Amazon
1 - new from Amazon UK

2015 Year to Date Totals
Books Read: 46
Pages Read: 8456
Books Acquired: 119
Books Acquired Read: 16

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel

 photo 1596436360.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpscxb7sgth.jpgSailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson
by Mark Siegel
Published by First Second, October 2, 2012
400 Pages • ISBN 978-1596436367 • Hardcover

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Book description:
One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular--and notoriously reclusive--author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, Sailor Twain is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense.

I feel like I should have enjoyed this way more than I did. Part mystery, part fantasy, part myth, part horror, part love story, Sailor Twain is the tale of a riverboat captain, a reclusive author, and a nobleman, all whose paths eventually cross due to the discovery of a mermaid in the Hudson River. I'd like to say that I took something more away from the book, but really, that was it. The story didn't hold my attention like it should, and while the charcoal illustrations fit the mood of the setting well, I had a hard time with the fact that so many characters looked so stylistically different. Perhaps that was the whole point, but I didn't catch any meaning to it, other than to really make sure that each of the characters were distinguishable.

There were some shining moments in the book, however: the way the captain's quarters transformed from the influence of the mermaid, for example, or the mermaid's realm. Thinking back on it, the only times I was ever really impressed with the book was with the visuals that dealt with the mermaid.

While I'm a little ambivalent about this particular volume, I think I would pick up something by Mark Siegel again. Like I said, I feel that I should have enjoyed this way more than I did, so maybe it simply wasn't the right time for me to read this.

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith by Paul S. Kemp

 photo 0345511441.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsgm2etk0g.jpgStar Wars: Lords of the Sith
by Paul S. Kemp
Published by LucasBooks (Del Rey), April 28, 2015
320 Pages • ISBN 978-0345511447 • Hardcover

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Book description:
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

When the Emperor and his notorious apprentice, Darth Vader, find themselves stranded in the middle of insurgent action on an inhospitable planet, they must rely on each other, the Force, and their own ruthlessness to prevail.

“It appears things are as you suspected, Lord Vader. We are indeed hunted.”

Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight, is just a memory. Darth Vader, newly anointed Sith Lord, is ascendant. The Emperor’s chosen apprentice has swiftly proven his loyalty to the dark side. Still, the history of the Sith Order is one of duplicity, betrayal, and acolytes violently usurping their Masters—and the truest measure of Vader’s allegiance has yet to be taken. Until now.

On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries.

Part of the new, official Lucasfilm Star Wars Canon; takes place 5 years after Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

I've been a huge Star Wars fan since I was a kid (I can remember going to see the very first Star Wars film in the theater), but I have never read one of the novels before. By the time that I realized there were SW novels out there, there were already so many published that I didn't know where to start to get caught up on them, so I just let them slide, and continued on enjoying the movies. With the establishment of the new Lucasfilm official canon, I decided to try giving some of the new books a try, as it seemed much more manageable this way, and Lords of the Sith had recently been released, so it seemed as good a place to start as any.

The planet of Ryloth is integral to the Empire as both a source of slave labor and the substance known as "spice" (this does bug me a little bit - come up with something that a little more original that doesn't sound like you lifted it directly from Dune), but the inhabitants of Ryloth want to be free. The "Free Ryloth" movement is created for that purpose; led by Cham and Isval, the movement has simply been trying to be a thorn in the Empire's side, but when they learn that both the Emperor and Darth Vader are personally coming to the planet, they see an opportunity to assassinate them both and watch the Empire dissolve as a result.

Of course, without even reading the book, you know that the Emperor and Vader are going to survive this story since they appear in Episodes IV-VI, so it's no surprise that they do survive the attack. What makes this book interesting is seeing their relationship and how they deal with being thrust into a situation that neither were anticipating. It's also interesting seeing a book written more from the point of view of the villains that the heroes. Kemp does a great job in fleshing out all of the characters, tho; Cham, Isval, and the other freedom fighters are just as realized as the Emperor and Vader, even tho they are not the main focus of the story. However, it's the relationship between the Emperor and Vader that is the real highlight of the book; seeing their interactions throughout the book and how that relationship is tested, it the real essence of the story, and Kemp does a great job making that relationship feel real.

The only true drawback that I would have to the book is actually getting to the main action of the book. We know that the Emperor and Vader are going to be trying to survive on Ryloth (this isn't spoilers, it's the whole point of the book), but actually getting them to the planet seems to take way too long. Practically half of the book is taken up with explaining aspects of the resistance unit, getting the Emperor and Vader to the planet, and finally the battle that forces them to crash land on the planet. I just kept wanting to jump ahead to when they finally arrive on the planet, as I knew that's when the story would really start moving. Once the action finally got going, however, the book was fantastic. It was interesting to see the Emperor and Vader's relationship in Vader's early days as a Sith.

I know a lot of people are discouraged by the decision to basically do away with the previously established Extended Universe books, but if this is what the future of the Star Wars fictional universe is going to look like, I'm OK with it.

Recommended, especially for Star Wars fans!