ANNOUNCEMENT
After a lot of thought, I've decided to take a break from blogging for the foreseeable future. With my little C creeping its way back into my life and possible long term treatment now, I need to take a couple of things off my plate for the time being, and the blog is going to be one of those things. As it is, it felt like it was becoming more of a chore than anything else. I need my reading time to be more enjoyable right now, more of the escape that I really need, and what I don't need is the little voice in the back of my head telling me how many reviews I'm behind and trying to come up with what I need to say about the book.

I simply want to read.

I'll more than likely occasionally post on here what I've been reading, and if there is something that really blows my mind, I'll probably have more to say about it and may write up a proper post, but for right now, things are going to be very quiet around here.

As always, happy reading!
2017 edit
I will continue to blog according to my health and ability, and connecting my posts thru Goodreads, so please be patient if things get quiet around here again this year.

2017 edit #2
I am happy to report that my bone marrow transplant was a success and that I'm feeling more like myself everyday. That said, I'm going to try to start blogging a little more frequently, but please bare with me as I still continue to recover.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Where did the end of the year go?

Happy new year!

As you may have noticed, things are little behind around here right now. My little C creapt back up on me recently, and I haven't been feeling so well lately, but a good dose of chemo this coming weekend should be taking care of that! I'm going to at least do a year end post here soon, and then try to keep on top of things better at the beginning of the year. I will finish up any reviews that were due to people sooner than later. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Star Wars: Shattered Empire by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Marco Chechetto

Star Wars: Shattered Empire
by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Marco Chechetto
Published by Marvel • November 17, 2015
136 Pages • ISBN 978-0785197812 • Paperback



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Book description:
For the first time in the new Star Wars canon, journey with us into the time after the end of Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi! Writer Greg Rucka (Punisher, Wolverine, Gotham Central) and artist Marco Checchetto (Avengers World, Punisher) take us past the destruction of the second Death Star - and into the chaos of a Shattered Empire. It's the explosive lead-in to this winter's blockbuster big-screen Star Wars revival, and everything you need to know is right here!

COLLECTING:
Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Shattered Empire #1-4


First off, this is a very loose 3 stars.

So... I'm not really sure what the purpose of this story is? Again, this is another Journey to the Force Awakens that promises in the description to lead us up to The Force Awakens, when in fact this volume pretty much covers 6 months after the Battle of Endor and the destruction of the second Death Star, and for all intents and purposes is a brief history, more or less, of Poe Dameron's mother and how she interacted with most of the main Star Wars players during those six months. There are really only two points in this story that may have some repercussions in TFA, one dealing with the Jedi and another that may be foreshadowing a character's development that has been rumored about wildly.

Much like most of the Journey to the Force Awakens books, I don't actually feel that this sets the stage for the new movie at all, or if it is, it may be a little too vague in its hints to actually be doing me any good. Marco Chechetto's art is fantastic, but that only barely carries this book. I think this could have been a great book, but since the description didn't match up at all with what we were given, I was really discouraged. I'm beginning to think that I just need to skip the comics, as none of them have really lived up to my expectations so far.

For a hardcore Star Wars fan, this would probably be a good addition (even tho I'm a hardcore fan and was left wanting), but the casual fan can completely skip this volume.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

The Grownup
by Gillian Flynn
Published by Crown Publishing • November 3, 2015
64 Pages • ISBN 978-0804188975 • Hardcover



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Book description:
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the "psychic" visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

“The Grownup,” which originally appeared as “What Do You Do?” in George R. R. Martin’s
Rogues anthology, proves once again that Gillian Flynn is one of the world’s most original and skilled voices in fiction.


This slim little volume pulls you in so many different directions (Is it a sex industry expose? Ghost story? Mystery? Psychological thriller? Something all together different?) and leaves you wondering exactly what is happening or who is telling the truth that I'm still not sure if I have the answer to what's going on. This is my first experience reading Gillian Flynn, and if she is this good in just 64 pages, I can't imagine how great she'll be with a full length novel.

My best advice is to just go ahead and read it. Fan of a good ghost story? You'll like it. Enjoy a twisty psychological thriller? You'll like it. Can't get enough of an unreliable narrator? You'll like it. So, just read it. Meanwhile, I'm heading to the bookstore to pick up one of Gillian Flynn's novels. Hell, I'll probably just pick them all up. I'm sold.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Fox and the Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith

The Fox and the Star
by Coralie Bickford-Smith
Published by Penguin Books • November 10, 2015
64 Pages • ISBN 978-0143108672 • Hardcover



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Book description:
From the award-winning designer of the iconic Penguin Hardcover Classics comes a beautifully illustrated fable about loss, friendship, and courage.

The Fox and the Star is the story of a friendship between a lonely Fox and the Star who guides him through the frightfully dark forest. Illuminated by Star’s rays, Fox forages for food, runs with the rabbits, and dances in the rain—until Star suddenly goes out and life changes, leaving Fox huddling for warmth in the unfamiliar dark. To find his missing Star, Fox must embark on a wondrous journey beyond the world he knows—a journey lit by courage, newfound friends, and just maybe, a star-filled new sky.

Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement and the art of William Blake,
The Fox and the Star is a heartwarming, hopeful tale which comes alive through Bickford-Smith’s beloved illustrations, guiding readers both young and grown to “look up beyond your ears.”


The Fox and the Star is a charming little volume about friendship, loss, and deciding to find the strength to move on after that loss. The little fox loves his star, who lights the foxes way in the dark. Yet one day the foxes star disappears, and the fox is scared of the darkness and doesn't leave his burrow. Eventually the fox decides to be brave and face the unknown and discovers in his search that there are millions of stars to light his way.

The real beauty in this book is the physical book itself. Coralie Bickford-Smith (who designs multiple series of Penguin's publications such as the Cloth Bound Classics series) designed (and wrote) the book, and her artistry permeates throughout. From the cloth-bound hardcover to the solid color Arts & Crafts influenced illustrations to the typography, everything about the book is just lovely.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 76 - Stories 242-243: Deep Breath, and Into the Dalek by John Ainsworth

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 76 - Stories 242-243: Deep Breath, and Into the Dalek
by John Ainsworth
Published by Panini/Hachette Partworks • September 23, 2015
152 Pages • ISBN 977-2057604029 • Hardcover



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Book description:
From Hachette Partworks. Every fortnight, Doctor Who: The Complete History will take you behind the TV cameras to document the making of the world's longest running science fiction series from 1963 to the present day. From script to screen, you will discover how every adventure of all 12 Doctors was created. Written by the experts, Doctor Who: The Complete History is a must have for any Doctor Who fan.

Volume 17 (2nd delivered volume) of
Doctor Who: The Complete History features episodes starring The Twelfth Doctor: "Deep Breath" - In Victorian London, the appearance of a Tryannosaurus Rex in the Thames heralds the arrival of the TARDIS. Clara and the newly-regenerated Doctor join forces with the Paternoster Gang to investigate several instances of spontaneous combustion; "Into the Dalek" - The Doctor is intrigued when he encounters a Dalek with a conscience. Determined to discover how such a thing could have happened, the Doctor, Clara and a group of battle-weary soldiers are miniaturised and explore the Dalek from the inside out.


Doctor Who: The Complete History is a series of fortnightly published hardcover editions that will cover the complete history of the television series, covering everything from plot synopsis to pre-production, production, and post-production, cast and crew listings, and just about everything else that a fan of the series would want to know about the actual process of creating each of the episodes. Truly, I believe only a hardcore fan of the series will enjoy this series of books, but if you want some great, detailed information on the Doctor Who television series, this is it.

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 17 - Stories 58-60: Colony in Space, The Daemons, and Day of the Daleks by John Ainsworth

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 17 - Stories 58-60: Colony in Space, The Daemons, and Day of the Daleks
by John Ainsworth
Published by Panini/Hachette Partworks • September 16, 2015
152 Pages • ISBN 977-2057604012 • Hardcover



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Book description:
From Hachette Partworks. Every fortnight, Doctor Who: The Complete History will take you behind the TV cameras to document the making of the world's longest running science fiction series from 1963 to the present day. From script to screen, you will discover how every adventure of all 12 Doctors was created. Written by the experts, Doctor Who: The Complete History is a must have for any Doctor Who fan.

Volume 17 (2nd delivered volume) of
Doctor Who: The Complete History features episodes starring The Third Doctor: "Colony In Space" - The Doctor and Jo are caught in the middle of a bitter conflict between colonists and a ruthless mining corporation on the desolate planet Uxarieus. Masquerading as an Adjudicator, the Master is searching for the Doomsday Weapon of an ancient civilisation, which he intends to use to rule the universe; "The Daemons" - Dark forces gather in the village of Devil's End when an archaeological dig releases Azal, an ancient Daemon from another world. Masquerading as the local vicar, the Master intends to take possession of Azal's psionic powers to rule the Earth, and only the Doctor stands in his way; "Day of the Daleks" - In the twenty-second century, the Daleks have conquered the Earth. The only hope for humanity is a small band of guerrillas who have travelled back in time, intent on changing events to avert this terrible future. Although sympathetic to the guerrilla's cause, the Doctor suspects that history may be repeating itself.


Doctor Who: The Complete History is a series of fortnightly published hardcover editions that will cover the complete history of the television series, covering everything from plot synopsis to pre-production, production, and post-production, cast and crew listings, and just about everything else that a fan of the series would want to know about the actual process of creating each of the episodes. Truly, I believe only a hardcore fan of the series will enjoy this series of books, but if you want some great, detailed information on the Doctor Who television series, this is it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

A New Dawn A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Overall, I was a little disappointed in this book. As the book that I felt was being pushed as the new kick off of the streamlined canon, and the introduction to the Rebels TV series, I was expecting a story that brought the main characters of the show together and was instead given a story about a completely different group, with Hera and Kanan being the only familiar characters from the show. The story was ok, a little heavy on the political intrigue (which isn't always a bad thing, just didn't seem to be well handled IMO), and of course, now I want to see where the characters introduced in this book are in relation to the current state of the show.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

John K. Addis discusses his debut novel, The Eaton


John K. Addis reading from his book, The Eaton.


The Eaton Rapids Public Library hosted debut author John K. Addis tonight to discuss his book, The Eaton. He talked about his inspiration behind the book, what he learned while studying the history of Eaton Rapids, and he read a couple of passages from the book. Overall, a really nice guy.

One thing he mentioned that I found interesting: his friends suggested to him to have a paperback copy available as well as the ebook version, and not surprisingly, the physical copies have been outselling the ebooks. And they say print books are dead!



From Amazon:
The Eaton is the debut novel of John K. Addis. Spanning over 100 years of mid-Michigan history, but written in the gruesome style of ‘80s horror classics, The Eaton tells the story of Sam Spicer, who purchases the dilapidated Michigan Central Railroad Depot in Eaton Rapids with the dream of opening a hot new martini bar. But when he and his friends discover an abandoned underground hotel directly beneath the property, they must discover what happened to the original guests—before their own time runs out.


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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House
by David Mitchell
Random House • October 27, 2015
256 Pages • ISBN 978-0812998689 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Keep your eyes peeled for a small black iron door.

Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents — an odd brother and sister — extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late...

Spanning five decades, from the last days of the 1970s to the present, leaping genres, and barreling toward an astonishing conclusion, this intricately woven novel will pull you into a reality-warping new vision of the haunted house story — as only David Mitchell could imagine it.


Slade House is a fever dream-induced tale with familiar ghost story and horror tropes all mixed together to bring us something new. Slade House isn't your typical haunted house; it only appears every 9 years and only to a particular person(s). This selected person finds themselves wandering down Slade Alley when they come upon the small door in the wall and when entering the door find themselves in the beautiful garden of Slade House. Here, they meet either the sister or brother who reside in Slade House, and while at first all of this seems wildly normal, by this point it is too late for them and they will never leave Slade House.

Each chapter of the book takes place in a different decade and is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of that decade's selected guest. I have to admit that the opening chapter, which takes place in 1979 and is from the POV of a young autistic boy, was the strongest for me, with each subsequent chapter feeling slightly less compelling. Not that the later chapters didn't hold up, there was just something about that opening chapter that struck a chord with me.

It wasn't until after I read Slade House that I discovered it had ties to Mitchell's previous book, The Bone Clocks (which I have not read), so I can't tell you what those ties are, but I'm definitely going to want to read that now, and probably follow it up again with Slade House. However, you don't need to have read The Bone Clocks in order to understand what's going on in Slade House, as I'm assuming the connections between both books must be minimal, as I didn't seem to be missing anything in the story when I read it.

If you like ghost stories or horror, I think Slade House would work for you. It's dark and atmospheric and does a great job at upping the creepy factor.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Star Wars: Aftermath by Chuck Wendig

Star Wars: Aftermath
by Chuck Wendig
Published by Del Rey • September 4, 2015
400 Pages • ISBN 978-0345511621 • Hardcover



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Book description:
As the Empire reels from its critical defeats at the Battle of Endor, the Rebel Alliance — now a fledgling New Republic — presses its advantage by hunting down the enemy’s scattered forces before they can regroup and retaliate. But above the remote planet Akiva, an ominous show of the enemy’s strength is unfolding. Out on a lone reconnaissance mission, pilot Wedge Antilles watches Imperial Star Destroyers gather like birds of prey circling for a kill, but he’s taken captive before he can report back to the New Republic leaders.

Meanwhile, on the planet’s surface, former rebel fighter Norra Wexley has returned to her native world—war weary, ready to reunite with her estranged son, and eager to build a new life in some distant place. But when Norra intercepts Wedge Antilles’s urgent distress call, she realizes her time as a freedom fighter is not yet over. What she doesn’t know is just how close the enemy is—or how decisive and dangerous her new mission will be.

Determined to preserve the Empire’s power, the surviving Imperial elite are converging on Akiva for a top-secret emergency summit to consolidate their forces and rally for a counterstrike. But they haven’t reckoned on Norra and her newfound allies — her technical-genius son, a Zabrak bounty hunter, and a reprobate Imperial defector — who are prepared to do whatever they must to end the Empire’s oppressive reign once and for all.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos.

Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side.

And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting...

So.

I had written quite the lengthy review detailing my love/hate relationship with this book, but the internet ate it and it is nowhere to be found, and quite frankly, I don't feel like writing the whole damned thing again.

Instead, you'll get the tl;dr highlights!

  • Not at all what I thought it was going to be: expected big sprawling epic leading up to The Force Awakens, instead given disjointed first part of a trilogy that won't be complete until after the movie comes out, so we won't even have the entire story before going to see the movie...
  • Perhaps my expectations were skewed too high due to my excitement over the new movie?
  • Too many new characters all arriving in the exact right place at the exact right time to feel believable (even for a Star Wars book).
  • What exactly was the purpose of the Imperial's super secret meeting? Because for all the time spent in that summit in this 400-page book, not a damn thing happened. Basically, it felt like the same argument between the characters told in different ways every single time.
  • Great ending space battle, and for all the disjointedness of the story and the unnecessary "Interludes" trying to showcase the sociopolitical spectrum of a post-Palpatine galaxy, there were enough teases and questions left at the end that made me want to read the next book.
  • Chuck Wendig's writing style is definitely not for me. Probably won't be physically reading anything else by him. Didn't like his style so much that I ended up switching over to audio production of book, which then moved much more smoothly for me.
  • What exactly was everybody so worked up over about the gay character? He mentions in one offhand comment that he likes men. Big fucking deal.

There you have it. That'll be my review on this one until I feel like rewriting it, which probably won't happen if I'm going to be honest.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Greer MacAllister promotes her book The Magician's Lie


Greer MacAllister reading from her book, The Magician's Lie.


Schuler Books hosted author Greer MacAllister tonight to promote the paperback release of her book, The Magician's Lie. She talked about her inspiration behind the book, what she learned while studying the history behind magicians, and female magicians in particular, and she read a couple of passages from the book. It was a small crowd tonight, but I think i enjoyed it all the more for that reason. I'm looking forward to reading this!



From Amazon:
Water for Elephants meets The Night Circus in The Magician's Lie, a debut novel in which the country's most notorious female illusionist stands accused of her husband's murder - and she has only one night to convince a small-town policeman of her innocence.

The Amazing Arden is the most famous female illusionist of her day, renowned for her notorious trick of sawing a man in half on stage. One night in Waterloo, Iowa, with young policeman Virgil Holt watching from the audience, she swaps her trademark saw for a fire ax. Is it a new version of the illusion, or an all-too-real murder? When Arden's husband is found lifeless beneath the stage later that night, the answer seems clear.

But when Virgil happens upon the fleeing magician and takes her into custody, she has a very different story to tell. Even handcuffed and alone, Arden is far from powerless-and what she reveals is as unbelievable as it is spellbinding. Over the course of one eerie night, Virgil must decide whether to turn Arden in or set her free... and it will take all he has to see through the smoke and mirrors.


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The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, illustrated by Gris Grimly

The Halloween Tree
by Ray Bradbury, illustrated by Gris Grimly
Knopf Books for Young Readers • August 4, 2015
145 Pages • ISBN 978-0553512700 • Hardcover



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Book description:
In The Halloween Tree, master of fantasy Ray Bradbury takes readers on a riveting trip though space and time to discover the true origins of Halloween.

Originally published in 1972, this striking new hardcover edition features dramatic illustrations throughout by Gris Grimly, giving a new generation of readers a chance to discover the magic...

On a race through history, 8 boys must learn the secrets and origins of Halloween night in order that they might save the life of their friend, who has been stricken ill on Halloween. Ray Bradbury weaves an imaginative story that creates a rather simplified but no less interesting history of Halloween night. With his usual imagery, Bradbury really creates a story with eerie and sometimes scary nature that is Halloween night.

That was my original review of The Halloween Tree from a couple of years ago. Having not read it since, when I re-read it for my book group recently I assumed that this time would just be a refresher for me on the book. I was so wrong. Somehow, this time around it was like I was reading the book for the first time. Bradbury's language spoke to me in a way that it definitely had not previously, leaving me nostalgic for my own youth and the excitement of being a young boy at Halloween, and then sad for how much Halloween seems to have changed for so many kids now. Halloween is nothing like it was when I was younger, which in turn was nothing like it is described by Bradbury in an earlier time, but there definitely seems to be a loss of the magic of the holiday for kids today. I think now more than ever, we could use Mr. Moundshroud to reveal the magic of Halloween to this generation.

This new edition has new, appropriately creepy accompanying illustrations by Gris Grimly. I'm always excited to see how Grimly translates the written word into visuals, and he didn't disappoint with this volume. He captures something of the magic in the story perfectly.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 55 - Stories 181-184: Gridlock, Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment, and 42 by John Ainsworth

Doctor Who: The Complete History, Vol 55 - Stories 181-184: Gridlock, Daleks In Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks, The Lazarus Experiment, and 42
by John Ainsworth
Panini/Hachette Partworks
September 9, 2015
152 Pages • ISBN 977-2057604036 • Hardcover



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Book description:
From Hachette Partworks. Every fortnight, Doctor Who: The Complete History will take you behind the TV cameras to document the making of the world's longest running science fiction series from 1963 to the present day. From script to screen, you will discover how every adventure of all 12 Doctors was created. Written by the experts, Doctor Who: The Complete History is a must have for any Doctor Who fan.

Volume 55 (1st delivered volume) of
Doctor Who: The Complete History features episodes starring The Tenth Doctor: "Gridlock" - On New Earth in the far future, the Doctor and Martha discover that the population are spending their lives, trapped on a motorway; "Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks" - Arriving in New York during the Great Depression, the Doctor and Martha discover that the Daleks are secretly using the new Empire State Building as part of a plan to enslave humanity; "The Lazarus Experiment" - The elderly Professor Lazarus has found a way to rejuvenate himself into a younger man. But the Doctor discovers that the process is flawed, causing Lazarus to transform into a rampaging monster; "42" - The clock is ticking as the Doctor and Martha have just 42 minutes to save a stricken spaceship from plunging into a sun.


Doctor Who: The Complete History is a series of fortnightly published hardcover editions that will cover the complete history of the television series, covering everything from plot synopsis to pre-production, production, and post-production, cast and crew listings, and just about everything else that a fan of the series would want to know about the actual process of creating each of the episodes. Truly, I believe only a hardcore fan of the series will enjoy this series of books, but if you want some great, detailed information on the Doctor Who television series, this is it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cover Reveal: Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den by Aimée Carter

US Edition

UK Edition - part of me almost likes this cover better!

The cover was revealed today for Aimée Carter's upcoming book, Simon Thorn and the Wolf's Den, the first book in her new middle grade series. The book will be released on February 2, 2016, from Bloomsbury.

Check out the book description:
A thrilling debut in the tradition of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull about a boy who discovers he's part of a secret race of animal shape shifters.

Twelve-year-old Simon Thorn's life has never been easy or normal, but things like being bullied at school and living in a cramped Manhattan apartment with his Uncle Darryl are nothing compared to his biggest secret: He can talk to animals.

But when his mom is suddenly kidnapped by a herd of rats, Simon finds out that he, his mom, and his uncle are all Animalgams - people born with the ability to change into an animal at will. In search of his mom, Simon discovers the Animalgam Academy based at the Central Park Zoo. There he learns about the fractured five kingdoms - Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles, and Underwater - that make up this secret world... and realizes he may be the only one who can save it.

This action-packed page-turner is filled with themes of bravery, loyalty, and finding one's true self, and is perfect for fans of the Spirit Animals and The School of Good and Evil series.

Click on any of the links below to preorder your copy or add it to your LibraryThing or Goodreads.

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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Cover Reveal: Legion by Catrina Burgess

COVER REVEAL
LEGION
by Catrina Burgess
The Dark Rituals Series, book 4
In Legion, the climactic finale to the Dark Rituals series, Colina must face her demons—both literally and figuratively—once and for all.

9781633700864

"Violence gleamed out of my eyes, and my hands reached toward the reflection in the mirror. Who was this girl? … I was changing. … I was becoming whatever I had to in order to survive."

We first met seventeen-year-old Colina Campbell in Awakening, when she unleashed the darkness inside her to become a master of the Death Arts. Now, after being hunted for months, Colina must finally face the consequences of her decision to become a death dealer.

Get the entire series on iBooks starting October 7th
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Catrina Burgess’ Dark Rituals series originally appeared on Wattpad with over three million reads. Revenant is the final book of four. The first in the series, Awakening, was named Wattpad’s Best Suspense Story of 2014.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Naughty Mabel by Nathan Lane & Devlin Elliott, illustrated by Dan Krall

Naughty Mabel
by Nathan Lane & Devlin Elliott, illustrated by Dan Krall
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
October 6, 2015
48 Pages • ISBN 978-1481430227 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Meet Mabel, the fanciest French bulldog the Hamptons have ever seen. Mabel is many things: sassy, classy (and sometimes a bit gassy!), but especially...naughty! Mabel’s always getting herself into trouble—and with style like hers, can you really blame her? When Naughty Mabel’s parents throw a party and try to leave her out of the fun, of course she must take matters into her own perfectly pedicured paws. As the hilarity ensues, Mabel and her parents learn that through thick and thin, naughty or nice, they’ll always be a family, just as they are.


Mabel, a bulldog who lives with her humans in the Hamptons, is naughty. In fact, she's not just naughty, she's VERY naughty. She is constantly getting into trouble, but she can't help it, it's just in her nature.

What could have been a really cute book took an unexpected turn when the story turned to crude humor to get the last laugh. Honestly, I didn't feel that this in any way fit the tone of the rest of the book. It's unfortunate that someone of Nathan Lane's comedic genius would need to turn to something so banal, but here it is; this would have easily been a 4 or more star review from me otherwise.


Dan Krall's illustrations are full of whimsy and overall, the story was quite charming, espousing the importance of acceptance, family, and love. If it weren't for that one unnecessary turn, this book would have been perfect for me. Hopefully in the next book, Lane and Elliott won't feel the need to reduce the comedy to potty humor.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fires of Invention: Mysteries of Cove, Book 1 by J. Scott Savage

Fires of Invention: Mysteries of Cove, Book 1
by J. Scott Savage
Shadow Mountain Press • September 29, 2015
316 Pages • ISBN 978-1629720920 • Hardcover
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.



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Book description:
Trenton Colman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city built inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and invention is a curse word.

Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, whose father died in an explosion an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity.

Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlikely anything they've ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on and quite possibly their very lives.


In a city where creativity and inventiveness is considered illegal, what do you do with an inquisitive mind? Welcome to the hidden city of Cove.

In J. Scott Savage's first installment of his Mysteries of Cove series, Fires of Invention,  we're introduced to Trenton Colman, a curious 13-year-old boy who loves anything mechanical. He knows that he can make the machines that run the city of Cove, hidden away from the outside in the center of a mountain, but the only problem is that creativity is considered a crime in Cove. The city was built inside the mountain to escape the dangers that technology created in the outside world, so everything that deals with how Cove is run and managed is very carefully regulated, and anything that is considered an invention is against the law and the inventor is subject to "retraining".

Immediately at the opening of the book, Trenton in trying his hand at building a mechanized swing, thinking that this can't be that bad. However, when it appears that Trenton's creation causes a power outage in the city, his punishment to fix the problem leads to the discovery of a tool that he is unfamiliar with. Instead of giving it up to the authorities, he decides to try to discover what its purpose is, which leads him tp Kallista Babbage, the daughter of a disgraced inventor. Together, they start to piece together the clues that Kallista's father left her and begin to assemble the machine that is unlike anything seen in Cove.

I think this will be a great book for kids. Filled with plenty of action, mystery, and great characters, Fires of Invention is a great blend of a dystopian and steampunk world. The plot continues to develop at a nice pace as we discover each clue along with Trenton and Kallista, and I think kids will really be intrigued to see how the story unfolds. I'll definitely be checking out the next book.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Phil Noto

Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure
by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Phil Noto
Disney Lucasfilm Press • September 4, 2015
192 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724958 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Han Solo and Chewbacca the Wookiee team-up for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story follows everyone's favorite pair of smugglers as they fly the Millennium Falcon on a top-secret mission for the Rebellion. Hidden in the story are also hints and clues about the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

It is a period of civil war. The heroic freedom fighters of the Rebel Alliance have won their most important visctory thus far with the destruction of the Empire's ultimate weapon, the Death Star.

But the Rebellion has no time to savor its victory. The evil Galactic Empire has recognized the threat the rebels pose, and is now searching the galaxy for any and all information that will lead to the final destruction of the freedom fighters

For the Millennium Falcon's crew, who saved the life of Luke Skywalker during the Battle of Yavin, their involvement with the rebels is at an end. Now Han Solo and Chewbacca hope to take their reward and settle some old debts...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure and Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure), Greg Rucka's Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure takes place directly after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope and finds Han Solo and Chewbacca reluctantly taking up what should be an easy rescue mission for the Rebellion. Of course, things don't go according to plan, and Han and Chewie find themselves the targets of not only a band of bounty hunters sent by Jabba the Hutt, but also the Empire, as Imperial officer Alecia Beck tries to capture both Han and Chewie as well as the Rebel they are trying to rescue.

While this is a short book, Rucka clearly knows Star Wars: Han and Chewie feel and act like themselves; the Millennium Falcon is practically a character unto itself; the galaxy feels large; the Empire is relentless and imposing. Even the new characters introduced felt like they belonged in the Star Wars universe. The story is just plain fun and fast-paced, if not abruptly ended, but it still feels like a complete story. The prologue and epilogue bookending the main story are set in the time frame of Episode VII: The Force Awakens and while they don't give us any concrete clues to the upcoming movie, you do get a little taste of what Han and Chewie are like.

While Smuggler's Run is marketed as a middle grade book and it isn't a necessary read for the overall Star Wars story, it's an engaging adventure that will entertain any Star Wars fan, young or old. For me, it fell squarely between Moving Target (the best of the trio) and The Weapon of a Jedi (the weakest of them). I'll definitely be picking up Rucka's Star Wars: Shattered Empire when it is released, a graphic novel set directly after the destruction of the second Death Star.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure by Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto

Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure
by Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto
Disney Lucasfilm Press • September 4, 2015
192 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724965 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Luke Skywalker returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: A New Hope and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the story finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a mysterious planet, and explores a dangerous duel between Luke and a strange new villain. Hidden in the story are also clues and hints about the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!


A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

The Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Empire's dreaded Death Star, but the galaxy remains convulsed by civil war, and the Imperial starfleet is hunting the rebels throughout the galaxy.

Luke Skywalker, the pilot who destroyed the Death Star, is now hailed as a hero. But Luke seeks only to support the freedom fighters, serving the Rebellion behind the controls of his X-wing fighter.

Even as he flies alongside the pilots of Red Squadron, Luke feels stirrings in the mystical energy field known as the Force. And this farm boy turned fighter pilot begins to suspect that his destiny lies along a different path...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure and Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure), Jason Fry's Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure tales place between the events of Episode IV: A New Hope and Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and finds Luke Skywalker, C-3PO, and R2-D2 stranded on a planet that Luke feels the Force is trying to get him to go to, only to discover a lost Jedi temple there.

This is a short book, and it feels like it. While Smuggler's Run, at the same page count, felt like a complete story, this feels like we are only being shown the highlights of Luke's time in the Jedi temple. While it is written as if only a short time is spent in the temple, I feel like this entire time frame could have been built up a little; Luke seems to move much too quickly in his understanding of the Force in such a short amount of time. I know it's necessary for this to happen in such a short book, but perhaps this volume could have benefited from a larger page count (the Princess Leia story had a larger page count, so I don't think the authors were limited on how long the book needed to be). Either way, the story itself is still fun, and while Luke seemed a little too confident and mature for how young he should have been here, I still felt like this is the Luke that we know. C-3PO and R2-D2 are spot on with their characterizations, and the new characters introduced felt like they fit in the Star Wars universe. (I have a feeling that we'll be seeing more of villain, Sarco Plank, in Episode VII: The Force Awakens.)

The Weapon of a Jedi is marketed as a middle grade book and while it isn't a necessary read for the overall Star Wars story, it's still a fun story for any Star Wars fan, young or old. For me, it was definitely the weakest of the three middle grade books released, but it still holds up on its own.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto

Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
by Cecil Castellucci & Jason Fry, illustrated by Phil Noto
Disney Lucasfilm Press
September 4, 2015
240 Pages • ISBN 978-1484724972 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Princess Leia returns for an all-new adventure in this thrilling upper middle grade novel. Set between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, the story follows the warrior princess as she leads a ragtag group of rebels on a dangerous mission against the evil Galactic Empire. Hidden in the story are also hints and clues about the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens, making this a must-read for fans old and new!



A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

Reeling from their disastrous defeat on Hoth, the heroic freedom fighters of the Rebel Alliance have scattered throughout space, pursued by the agents of the sinister Galactic Empire.

One rebel task force protects Princess Leia, bearing her in secrecy from star to star. As the last survivor of Alderaan's House of Organa, Leia is a symbol of freedom, hunted by the Empire she has opposed for so long.

The struggle against Imperial tyranny has claimed many rebel lives. As the Empire closes in, Leia resolves to make a sacrifice of her own, lest the cause of freedom be extinguished from the galaxy...

One of a trio of middle grade books released as part of Force Friday and the Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens publishing initiative (the others are Star Wars: The Weapon of a Jedi: A Luke Skywalker Adventure and Star Wars: Smuggler's Run: A Han Solo Adventure), Cecil Castellucci and Jason Fry's Star Wars: Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure takes place between the events of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back and Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and finds Princess Leia and Nien Nunb on a dangerous mission trying to distract the Empire by creating a false trail for them to follow.

This is the longest of the trio of books, and it clearly took advantage of that fact. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume the most; we are given some real insight into what drives Leia and what frightens her about the responsibility that she has placed on her. I think this book had a certain level of gravitas that the other two are missing; we are clearly shown the struggles and sacrifices that the Rebels are making in order to defeat the Empire, and how deeply this affects Leia. I think this is why I found this one shining over the other two, as we are really shown the cost of the war in this volume.

Moving Target is marketed as a middle grade book but I think it deals with the most mature content of the three volumes released in the trio. While I don't think it is inappropriate for the age range, it still handles some heavy material, but handles it well. For me, this was clearly the strongest of the three volumes, followed by Smuggler's Run and then The Weapon of a Jedi.

A note on the design of the book: All three of the middle grade books are packaged similarly, each set up in three parts with a prologue and an epilogue. Before each section there is an illustration by Phil Noto that is presented in greyscale with red highlighted areas. The red is reflected throughout the chapter openers, as well as the dust jacket covers and the boards of the book. The entire thing comes together in such an impressive package. I'm hoping that if they do anymore middle grade adventures of other Star Wars characters that they keep this same packaging throughout, as it is top notch.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson

Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
by Archie Goodwin, illustrated by Al Williamson
Published by Marvel • August 11, 2015
144 Pages • ISBN 978-0785193678 • Hardcover



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Book description:
Rebuilding an Empire, Marvel style! As the Imperial Forces regroup from their Death Star setback, they target the new Rebel Alliance base on the ice planet Hoth. Will Darth Vader's AT -AT s find Luke Skywalker, or will a wampa get Luke first? Meanwhile, feelings run high in the galaxy's greatest love triangle, bounty hunters target Han Solo's Millennium Falcon, and bloated Jabba the Hutt lies in wait. Luke seeks out the great Jedi

Master Yoda on swampy Dagobah, but the Emperor has designs on turning the young Rebel hero. As the battle begins for Skywalker's soul, will his fear lead to anger, hate and the Dark Side? It's all heading to one of the greatest confrontations of all time. Prepare for a grave disturbance in the Force!

COLLECTING:
Star Wars (1977) 39-44 (remastered)


If you've seen the film version of The Empire Strikes Back, then you've read this book, and vice versa; it's a fairly faithful adaptation. What really makes this book stand out is the remastered coloring. Marvel took the original plates for the art and had them recolored using contemporary coloring techniques, and the result is fantastic. The book just looks beautiful. If you're just a casual fan, this probably wouldn't interest you too much, but for the hardcore Star Wars fan, I think this would be a great addition to their library.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Alice by Christina Henry



Alice
by Christina Henry
Published by Ace Books, August 4, 2015
304 Pages • ISBN 978-0425266793 • Paperback
I received a finished copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.



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Book description:
A mind-bending new novel inspired by the twisted and wondrous works of Lewis Carroll...

In a warren of crumbling buildings and desperate people called the Old City, there stands a hospital with cinderblock walls which echo the screams of the poor souls inside.

In the hospital, there is a woman. Her hair, once blond, hangs in tangles down her back. She doesn’t remember why she’s in such a terrible place. Just a tea party long ago, and long ears, and blood...

Then, one night, a fire at the hospital gives the woman a chance to escape, tumbling out of the hole that imprisoned her, leaving her free to uncover the truth about what happened to her all those years ago.

Only something else has escaped with her. Something dark. Something powerful.

And to find the truth, she will have to track this beast to the very heart of the Old City, where the rabbit waits for his Alice.


A deliciously dark and twisty take on Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that can read as both a retelling or a continuation, Alice by Christina Henry finds our heroine Alice locked away in an asylum after she is found wandering the Old City with no memory other than a bloody tea party and a man with long ears, like a rabbit would have. In the cell next to hers is Hatcher, a serial killer who lives in a world of lucidity followed by fits of madness. They form a bond, only able to communicate through nothing more than a mouse-hole in the wall. One night, the hospital catches fire, and Hatcher and Alice escape, just in time to watch the hospital crumble and something dark and sinister rise from the smoke.

The world they escape into, the Old City, is run by mob bosses who each holds a portion of the city under their control. There used to be magic in this world, too, but the Magicians were long thought to be gone from the world. Now there is only the Old City, and the bosses that control it. But Hatcher and Alice know there is something else in the city now, something killing everyone in its path as it searches for the one thing that can destroy it, and Hatcher and Alice are the only two who can stop it.

I love new takes on Wonderland, and thought this was an especially impressive re-imagining. Full of dystopian and noir elements, this Wonderland is certainly not full of wonders; instead it is full of dark corners and dangerous shadows, all under the control of the bosses of each district in the Old City, bosses such as Cheshire and the Caterpillar. This was something I particularly enjoyed, seeing familiar characters presented in entirely new renditions, yet staying true to their original essence. These are treacherous characters, though, and the lives of those living in their districts mean nothing to them. It is a precarious balance in the Old City, one that seems to be challenged by the bosses wanting to expand their territory, and whether they like it or not, Alice and Hatcher find themselves caught up in the disputes.

Alice is not for the faint of heart. The world Henry created here is a dangerous one full of violence, and terrible things happen to the people inhabiting it. There are moments of light sprinkled here and there, but this is not really a happy book. Don't come in expecting a dream-like tale, jumping from one psychedelic adventure to the next; this is one giant psychotic nightmare. Of course, should Christina Henry ever revisit these characters, I'll be sure to find out what happens to them. After all, there are still plenty of characters from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There that we haven't met in Henry's world yet.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: A Little Golden Book by Geof Smith, illustrated by Ron Cohee

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi: A Little Golden Book
by Geof Smith, illustrated by Ron Cohee
Published by Little Golden Book • July 28, 2015
24 Pages • ISBN 978-0736435482 • Hardcover



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Book description:
The epic space saga, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, is finally retold in the iconic Little Golden Book format! Luke Skywalker heads a mission to rescue Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt, and faces Darth Vader one last time. Featuring stunning retro illustrations, this book is perfect for Star Wars—and Little Golden Book—fans of all ages!


This is exactly what it sounds like it is and what you'd be expecting: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, told as a Little Golden Book, complete with retro illustrations and everything the makes a Little Golden Book what it is. I bought this simply for the adorable factor, and you can bet I'll be picking up the rest of them.

This would be perfect for both young and old Star Wars fans, as I'm fairly certain these were created just as much for the adult fan as it was for the younger fan.

Monday, August 3, 2015

#bookmail, and what I'm #reading now! Alice by Christina Henry



A twisty, dark fantasy retelling of Alice in Wonderland? Well, if you insist.

A big thank you to Ace/Roc for sending this along!