Sunday, May 17, 2015

Because this shouldn't make for creepy ‪#‎reading‬ at all...


I'm pretty sure this is going to keep me up at night. What looks to be a great collection of stories about dolls in various shapes and forms, Doll Collection includes:


  • Skin and Bone by Tim Lebbon
  • Heroes and Villains by Stephen Gallagher
  • The Doll-Master by Joyce Carol Oates
  • Gaze by Gemma Files
  • In Case of Zebras by Pat Cadigan
  • There Is No Place For Sorrow in the Kingdom of the Cold by Seanan McGuire
  • Goodness and Kindness by Carrie Vaughn
  • Daniel's Theory About Dolls by Stephen Graham Jones
  • After and Back Before by Miranda Siemienowicz
  • Doctor Faustus by Mary Robinette Kowal
  • Doll Court by Richard Bowes
  • Visit Lovely Cornwall on the Western Railway Line by Genevieve Valentine
  • Ambitious Boys Like You by Richard Kadrey
  • Miss Sibyl-Cassandra by Lucy Sussex
  • The Permanent Collection by Veronica Schanoes
  • Homemade Monsters by John Langan
  • Word Doll by Jeffrey Ford



Happy (creepy) reading!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

the little c and reading

So...

Turns out, the little c might actually be a medium C (still not to the BIG C yet, tho!), and there might be some more chemo in my future. If that's not frustrating enough on its own, the stress of not knowing what's going on has made reading very difficult for me right now. What should be a wonderful, fantastic escape for me has turned into a discouragement as all of my energy for the day is pretty much spent before I get a chance to get home and read. You wouldn't think reading should take any energy at all, but I sit down and fairly regularly just fall asleep, sometimes with a book open in my lap.

So, anyone waiting on reviews, please bare with me. They're coming. I'll get caught up. I just need to get to next Monday and find out more about what's going on with my body. I think once I have a plan of attack, things will begin to fall into place and I'll be able to get back to my regularly scheduled reading program.

In the meantime, for all of you out there, happy reading!

Friday, May 1, 2015

April 2015 Monthly Recap

And... clearly I've hit my early-in-the-year reading slump. Happens every year, but I'm not going to let it keep going this time! Off to read more books!!


Books Read
  1. Uncanny Avengers, Vol 5: AXIS Prelude by Rick Remender, illustrated by Sanford Greene, Salvador Larroca, Paul Renaud, and Daniel Acuna
  2. The Ice Bear by Jackie Morris
  3. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee
  4. Uncanny X-Men, Vol 5: The Omega Mutant by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Chris Bachalo & Kris Anka
  5. Avengers & X-Men: AXIS by Rick Remender, illustrated by Adam Kubert, Lienil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, & Jim Cheung
  6. The Two of Swords: Part One by K.J. Parker

783 pages total

Favorite Book of the Month
    The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee

Gender of author
4 male
2 female

Year of Publication
2011 - 1
2015 - 5

Books Acquired
23 Total
7 - books purchased at signing events at local Indie
7 - used books purchased at local Indie
4 - new books purchased at local Indie
3 - books purchased from bookoutlet.com
1 - book purchased from iBooks
1 - book received from a friend

2015 Year to Date Totals
Books Read: 38
Pages Read: 7113
Books Acquired: 115
Books Acquired Read: 15

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Two of Swords: Part One by K. J. Parker

 photo 62a692e4aea18db596a2b436b51437641506f41_zpsebfptar8.jpgThe Two of Swords: Part One
by K. J. Parker
Published by Orbit Books, April 21, 2015
87 Pages • ISBN 978-0316265713 • eBook

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Book description:
"Why are we fighting this war? Because evil must be resisted, and sooner or later there comes a time when men of principle have to make a stand. Because war is good for business and it's better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Because they started it. But at this stage in the proceedings," he added, with a slightly lop-sided grin, "mostly from force of habit."

A soldier with a gift for archery. A woman who kills without care. Two brothers, both unbeatable generals, now fighting for opposing armies. No one in the vast and once glorious United Empire remains untouched by the rift between East and West, and the war has been fought for as long as anyone can remember. Some still survive who know how it was started, but no one knows how it will end.

This serial novel from the World Fantasy Award winning K. J. Parker is the story of a war on a grand scale, told through the eyes of its soldiers, politicians, victims and heroes. The first three parts of The Two of Swords will arrive in April 2015, with further installments to be released monthly.

This is the first installment in the Two of Swords serialization.


This novella is the first part of a series of novellas telling a connected story about a war, told from the varying viewpoints of different characters (I'm under the impression that these viewpoints will be like from soldiers (of both sides of the war), town folk, kings, etc.). The other thing that is supposed to be unique about this story is that the author hasn't actually finished it yet. He knows where he wants it to end, but hasn't planned everything out exactly, so things could change as he proceeds with the writing (he says it's like he's actually writing history as he progresses with the story).

Needless to say, I won't be downloading any of the subsequent parts (this is being released solely as eBook editions, with a print version released when the story is completed). I could tell if the opening segments were meant to be funny or not, and the following segments, told from the point of view of a conscripted farmer, Teucer, who is well-known for his archery skills, are nothing more than a travelogue of the hardships that Teucer and the rest of his regiment have to endure, trying to get to the battle.

I felt no connection or concern for the characters, didn't care whether they lived or died, and really don't care what happens next. The writing is decent, but it honestly feels like Parker just sat down one night, wrote this out, and published it. The change in tone from the opening segment to the rest of the story is jarring and doesn't feel like it's even supposed to be connected. Maybe if this read like it had been polished a little more before it was published, I'd feel a little different about it, but as it stands, I won't be continuing with the series.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Avengers & X-Men: AXIS by Rick Remender, illustrated by Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, & Jim Cheung

 photo 0785190953.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsqfsb5x20.jpgAvengers & X-Men: AXIS
by Rick Remender, illustrated by Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, & Jim Cheung
Published by Marvel, March 17, 2015
264 Pages • ISBN 978-0785190950 • Hardcover

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Book description:
The Red Skull has exploited the gifts of the world's greatest telepath to broadcast pure hatred across the globe. Now, born of the murder of Charles Xavier, World War Hate has begun. Tony Stark discovers a secret truth that will upend not only his life, but also the lives of everyone he cares for. Can The Avengers and X-Men finally unite? Would their combined strength be enough to hold back the darkness of the Red Onslaught? Magneto murdered the wrong man, releasing the greatest evil the Marvel Universe has ever known. Now Rogue and Scarlet Witch are all that stand in its way.

COLLECTING: Avengers & X-Men: Axis 1-9


It would seem there is a lot of dislike for this series out there, and I even thought it seemed a little blasé at first, but as the series progressed I found I was enjoying it more and more (which to me seems fitting, as most liked the opening acts and then found the closing act to be tedious, while I'm on the other end of the spectrum, much like the theme of the storyline itself). There was quite a bit that I found off and very forced with how the story starts (you can read my thoughts on the prelude here), so I was happy to see how much all of that actually came together to create a story that I liked.

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Basically, the Red Skull has fused part the brain of the deceased Charles Xavier to his own brain, because he really dislikes mutants, so he's going to use a mutant's power to make everybody else hate mutants too. Magneto has had enough of his shenanigans and drops a brick on Red Skull's head, killing him. Except this doesn't kill him, it causes the birth of the Red Onslaught, a mash-up of Red Skull and Onslaught. It turns out, tho, that Xavier is still in there fighting to keep Red Onslaught in check, so the Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange think if they can reverse the good/evil polarity of Red Onslaught they can suppress the Red Skull and let Xavier take over, thus ending the fight. This would make for a very short story if that actually happened, and of course things go wrong, so instead of just switching the axis of the good/bad for Red Onslaught, it also happens to several of the heroes and villains present, so that basically all the good guys are now bad, and the bad guys good. I think this is where a lot of people didn't like where things went, but this is actually what saved the series for me; I found it wildly interesting to see how Remender played on how each of the characters would behave if their roles in the Marvel Universe were suddenly reversed, and how those that weren't affected by the axis shift would deal with the situation. Of course, everything works its way back to normal for our cast of characters (or does it?!) and everybody continues then to move forward to the Time Runs Out storyline and the impending Secret Wars.

Fairly solid story from Remender, and the art is good, if seeming a little rushed. This has been something that I've noticed lately: when there was only one big event per year, the art was fantastic. You can tell that there was some time taken on all aspects of the art to really make it stand out (House of M is usually my go-to source for this example - I really think the art is gorgeous in that story and an example of using extraordinarily art to really amplify a great story.). Yet, largely when we've seen more and more Event type stories piled on one another, I think the art is being rushed and it's beginning to show. For example, here we have four artists working on this one series (Adam Kubert, Leinil Francis Yu, Terry Dodson, & Jim Cheung), and while their work is good and fairly consistent with their normal style, to me, it doesn't seem nearly as clean or refined as I know these artists can be. (Dodson being the exception here, as I didn't feel his style lent anything to this story at all - it's a little too cartoonish for my liking, especially when it does feel like he was rushed a little.) Personally, I'd like to see the big Events being handled by one artist, who is given enough time to truly let their talent shine through. I'm curious to see how the main Secret Wars series will look when all is said and done.

Overall, not necessarily a story that has to be read for the bigger picture of the Marvel Universe, but one that I still enjoyed all the same.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee


 photo 0857664425.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsdvvauwby.jpgThe Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath
by Ishbelle Bee
Published by Angry Robot Books, June 2, 2015
224 Pages • ISBN 978-0857664426 • Paperback
I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher thru NetGalley for an honest review.

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Book description:
1888. A little girl called Mirror and her shape-shifting guardian Goliath Honeyflower are washed up on the shores of Victorian England. Something has been wrong with Mirror since the day her grandfather locked her inside a mysterious clock that was painted all over with ladybirds. Mirror does not know what she is, but she knows she is no longer human.

John Loveheart, meanwhile, was not born wicked. But after the sinister death of his parents, he was taken by Mr. Fingers, the demon lord of the underworld. Some say he is mad. John would be inclined to agree.

Now Mr Fingers is determined to find the little girl called Mirror, whose flesh he intends to eat, and whose soul is the key to his eternal reign. And John Loveheart has been called by his otherworldly father to help him track Mirror down...


So... I don't even know where to start with Ishbelle Bee's The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath. This will probably be ranking as one of my favorite books of the year, but I can't tell you a think about it! I'm not entirely clear I understand what I read or understand what was going on, but I loved every minute of it. The story follows the strange events surrounding Mirror (who may or may not be dead) and her shape-changing protector, Goliath Honey-Flower, who are trying to figure out what it wrong with Mirror, since she has been altered since her grandfather locked her in a strange, coffin-shaped clock. Then there is John Loveheart, who may or may not be wicked, and his "adopted" father, Mr. Fingers, the lord of the underworld. Throw in the personification of Death, time travel, an Egyptian princess, eccentric serial killers, quirky Victorian sensibilities, and a secret group trying to live forever, and you've got yourself a rather unusual cast and series of plot points.

The writing is beautiful (tho slightly choppy in some spots), and the imagery is quite vivid (plus, I love when Bee plays with type size and spacing in certain scenes to give a sense of the action going on using the typographic structure of the sentence - nice touch!). Ishbelle Bee doesn't rely heavily of overt description on how the magic works in her world; we, as the reader, just accept that's how it is and move on with the story. These elements reminded me of Susanna Clarke or even Neil Gaiman; the world they create is strange, dangerous, and beautiful, but we don't need to slapped over the head with heavy descriptions, it just is what it is, and Bee conjures that same sense of suspended reality in her book, and I'm anxious for more from her.

And let us take a moment to appreciate the cover to this book, shall we, because it is gorgeous.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Garth Stein promotes his new book, A Sudden Light


 photo 1439187037.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsqf845vst.jpg

Garth Stein stopped by Schuler Books last night to discuss his new book A Sudden Light. He's funny as hell, really enthusiastic about his work, loves bookstores and libraries, and is totally an author rockstar in my book!





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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Uncanny X-Men, Vol 5: The Omega Mutant by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Chris Bachalo & Kris Anka

 photo 0785154906.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsc5xs6mhp.jpgUncanny X-Men, Vol 5: The Omega Mutant
by Brian Michael Bendis, illustrated by Chris Bachalo & Kris Anka
Published by Marvel, April 14, 2015
136 Pages • ISBN 978-0785154907 • Hardcover

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Book description:
Original Sin tie-in! The greatest secret of the late Professor Charles Xavier has been revealed! Against such overwhelming power, will the X-Men succeed in holding the line, or will Xavier's final "gift" to his children be their undoing? Cyclops must guide his X-Men through the storm that is unleashed, but is the greatest threat to his safety lurking within the dark recesses of his own mind? With one simple act, Cyclops destroyed the life he knew. Now he must remain constantly vigilant in case of attack, while dealing with strangely and frustratingly altered powers. If there's anyone who would bend over backwards to reteach himself how to use them, it's Cyclops...but will he regain control of his own personal destiny in time to save his team and his students from Xavier's terrible secret?

COLLECTING: Uncanny X-Men 26-31


Oh, look! Another X-Men story that involves time travel. How original...

This started off as a really strong read with the problem of how to deal with the Omega Mutant and how Cyclops decides he wants to handle the situation. However, from there the book more or less falls apart. Bendis clearly has no idea anymore how to deal with the larger-than-life situations he puts his characters in, so jumps yet again to his deus ex machina, time travel, to fix the problem and it's not even handled all that well here.

Bachalo's art is not very consistent in the issues he handles, and I hate to say it, but I'm not impressed with Anka's art at all on the issue's he handles. Overall, not one of the better books in a series that has definitely had its ups and downs.