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 bear with me as I still continue to recover.

Friday, July 31, 2015

July 2015 Monthly Recap


Books Read
  1. A Game of Thrones: The Graphic Novel, Vol 1 by George R. R. Martin, adapted by Daniel Abraham, illustrated by Tommy Patterson
  2. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: Black Vortex by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Ed McGuinness, Valerio Schitti, Paco Medina, Mahmud Asrar, Mike Mayhew, David Baldeón, Javier Garron, & David López
  4. ODY-C, Vol 1 by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward 
  5. Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample
  6. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

901 pages total

Favorite Book of the Month
    Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample

Gender of author
5 male
1 female

Year of Publication
2012 - 1
2013 - 1
2015 - 4

Books Acquired
12 Total
5 - from a local Indie at signings
1 - from Book Outlet
5 - new from Amazon
1 - from my mom

2015 Year to Date Totals
Books Read: 60
Pages Read: 10,880
Books Acquired: 153
Books Acquired Read: 23

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Book mail! The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán


I'm really excited to be getting to this little treasure. And check out the chapter headers! I'm in love with everything about this book!



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

 photo 0316176494.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zps4hoxuwr6.jpgLife After Life
by Kate Atkinson
Published by Back Bay Books, January 7, 2014
560 Pages • ISBN 978-0316176491 • Paperback

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Book description:
What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula's world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization -- if only she has the chance?

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant -- this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.


I'm going to be right up front here: I really didn't enjoy this book at all, and there are going to be spoilers galore in this review.

The idea behind Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is an intriguing one: Ursula Todd dies many, many times, yet her life resets itself each time with small, subtle changes which help her survive a little longer in each new life, until she gets her life right. However, we're never really told what the purpose of her life truly is. From the opening chapter where Ursula assassinates (doesn't assassinate?) Adolf Hitler, I assumed throughout the entire book that that was the purpose to Ursula's life, but it isn't. What Atkinson creates instead is a cyclical loop of a story where we watch Ursula die and then survive multiple times, through both World Wars, and then when it seems like she's gotten it all right, as she dies sitting peacefully in a park, the entire book STARTS AGAIN. I'm sorry (not sorry), but what kind of WTFery is this?! Hitler wasn't the point? Getting it all right wasn't the point? In fact, it seems that Ursula's life has no point whatsoever, just to go round and round and round, never ending and never changing? Thank you, but no thank you.

Now, you're probably asking yourselves, "David, why in the world did you finish the book if you disliked it so strongly?", and I would say that is a very good question. First off, I was honestly impressed with Atkinson's writing. There are some truly beautiful moments in the book, but there are also some ridiculously tedious sections to get through, and I won't lie, by page 350 or so, I was skimming huge swaths of text, as I was just having a terrible time caring about what was happening. More often than not, I just wanted to throw the book against a wall. Secondly, I was genuinely intrigued to see how Ursula's life was going to play out. I wanted to know what the point was to her life, and then to find out that there really wasn't a point to her life... well, I really felt like I had been cheated out of an ending for the book, and that pissed me off.

Personally, I think there is a great story in here that could have used a couple more strong editing sessions. If this had been about 200 pages or so less and far more condensed, I think this would have been just about perfect for me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample


 photo 1442389648.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsi1qzjuop.jpgDrunken Fireworks
by Stephen King, narrated by Tim Sample
Published by Audible, June 30, 2015
ASIN B00WN49GS8 • Audiobok

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Book description:
Only on audio! A brand-new, never-before-published Stephen King short story unavailable in any other format!

Alden McCausland and his mother are what they call "accident rich"; thanks to an unexpected life-insurance policy payout and a winning Big Maine Millions scratcher, Alden and his Ma are able to spend their summers down by Lake Abenaki, idly drinking their days away in a three-room cabin with an old dock and a lick of a beach.

Across the lake, they can see what "real rich" looks like: the Massimo family's Twelve Pines Camp, the big white mansion with guest house and tennis court that Alden's Ma says is paid for by "ill-gotten gains" courtesy of Massimo Construction. When Alden's holiday-weekend sparklers and firecrackers set off what over the next few years comes to be known as the 4th of July Arms Race, he learns how far he and the Massimos will go to win an annual neighborly rivalry - one that lands Alden in the Castle County jail.

Read by beloved Down East storyteller Tim Sample - praised by Stephen King for his "wit and talent and good-heartedness" -
Drunken Fireworks makes for explosive audio listening.


Sometimes, when King isn't trying to scare us to death, he can also be telling us some truly fantastic stories, and "Drunken Fireworks" is one of those stories. This is nothing more than two families across the lake from each other, with a rivaling fireworks problem, but the magic is in the telling of the story. This short will eventually appear in print in The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, but I doubt it will hold up nearly as well; it's Tim Sample's narration that really makes this story shine. For King fans, this will be a nice, light-hearted break from some of his heavier offerings, and for non-fans, you can experience King doing what he does best: telling a damned fine story.

Monday, July 27, 2015

An Interview with Ishbelle Bee, author of The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl

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Today, I have the honour of interviewing Ishbelle Bee, the author of The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath, and the follow up to that fantastic book, The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl, which is being released on August 7, 2015, from Angry Robot Books. The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath is one of my favorite books of the year, and The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl follows right behind.



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Ishbelle Bee writes horror and loves fairy-tales, the Victorian period (especially top hats!) and cake tents at village fêtes (she believes serial killers usually opt for the Victoria Sponge).

She currently lives in Edinburgh. She doesn’t own a rescue cat, but if she did his name would be Mr Pickles.



First off, thank you for joining us today, and thank you for writing such a beautiful book in The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath! I would love to know what your inspiration was in creating this fantastical story and cast of characters.

Hello there!
I wanted to create my own strange Victorian London filled with quirky and magical characters. I was interested in exploring a story of a little girl possessed with something otherworldly and which would involve Victorian Spiritualism and the frauds associated with it. I was also quite intrigued by the unsolved murders of Jack the Ripper and wanted to somehow include him into the plot.


I'm always curious about the writing habits of authors. What is the typical writing day of Ishbelle Bee like? Do you outline, or just see where the characters and story take you?

Before writing a book I have a strong idea in my head of the main themes and I usually have a sketchy outline for the plot. I prefer just to dive right in rather than spend days world building and outlining a storyline. A typical writing day for me usually starts quite early, about 7 am and ends about 2pm. I find I write best in the mornings. I like to just get stuck into the story and let it evolve as naturally as possible. I let the characters take me where they want to go (usually into very strange scenarios). In the afternoons I like to read and research subject matters linked to my book (for example Death rites or Victorian costumes) and in the evenings I read for fun. I usually take eight weeks to get a first draft complete of a novel. Then I read through it and start the first of the redrafts before sending it onto my agent for her opinion.

How are your favorite authors? Favorite books? Which authors inspire you the most? What are you reading at present?

A few of my favourite authors are Angela Carter, Lewes Carroll and Terry Pratchett.
A few of my favourite books are THE NAME OF THE ROSE by Umberto Eco
THE MAGIC TOYSHOP by Angela Cater and CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell.

I recently finished reading UNDER THE SKIN by Michel Faber and I am currently reading THE HAWLEY BOOK OF THE DEAD by Chrysler Szarlan

I am inspired by folklore, mythology and fairytales and I am especially interested in the Aztec and Egyptians


Because I'm wildly curious, favorite Doctor?

Tom Baker because of the mad googly eyes and scarfs.

When did you decide to be a writer?

Always but I lacked the confidence to try for an agent until a few years ago.

What would you say is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest? Any advice for new writers?

For me one of the hardest things about writing is to remain focused and complete a book without being side-tracked onto another project. The easiest thing is the characters which is my favourite part and I love writing really quirky individuals with a unique perspective on the world.

I am not good at giving advice but I think for any new writer trying to get an agent, just to keep writing, work really hard and try not to feel pulverised by rejections.


Any thoughts on the state of the fantasy genre at present?

That’s a really hard question. I would like to see more comedy in fantasy (but that’s just me).

We know that The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl is just over the horizon, but will we be seeing any more of Mr Loveheart and Co? I'm hoping so!

I have written four books for the Loveheart series(and will be writing a fifth). Mr Loveheart also features in a Christmas special book set in London. It’s a bit like a Christmas Carol meets Carry on Screaming (for anyone who doesn’t know that latter - it’s a crazy quirky British cult horror-comedy film.) (I can't wait!)

Any parting words for our readers?

I think I will quote the mad explorer Rufus Hazard from the book due out in August - “Unspeakable bad manners leaving a man with his head in a bowl of trifle.”

Thank you so much for the lovely interview.


A huge thank you to Ishbelle Bee for taking time out of her schedule to stop by and visit us today. Be sure to check out both The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath and The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl, and I know I'll be anxiously awaiting to read more adventures of Mr Loveheart and Co!





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The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume I
by Ishbelle Bee

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The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume II

by Ishbelle Bee

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Wesley Chu promotes his new book, Time Salvager

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Wesley Chu stopped by Schuler Books last night to discuss his new book Time Salvager and sign copies. Wesley is a really great guy and if you ever get the chance to meet him, I'd highly recommend it.



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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

ODY-C, Vol 1 by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward

 photo 1632153769.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsr896mbrh.jpgODY-C, Vol 1
by Matt Fraction, illustrated by Christian Ward
Published by Image Comics, June 25, 2015
136 Pages • ISBN 978-1632153760 • Paperback

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Book description:
An eye-searing, mind-bending, gender-shattering epic science fiction retelling of Homer's Odyssey starting with the end of a great war in the stars and the beginning of a very long journey home for Odyssia and her crew of warriors. The journey to Ithicaa begins HERE, by Matt Fraction (Sex Criminals) and Christian Ward (Infinite Vacation, Olympus).


Interesting idea, visually stunning, poorly told. Matt Fraction takes Homer's Odyssey and transforms it into an over-the-top space opera rife with gender-bending characters (there are no more males - Zeus took care of that - but now there is a third gender, which to me renders the whole idea of wiping out the male gender a little pointless); psychedelic, trippy visuals supplied by Christian Ward; and what I'm assuming is supposed to be this futuristic take on the spoken word telling of the Odyssey, but what comes across as just a garbled mess more often than not.

Honestly, if it weren't for Ward's visuals, this would have been a solid 1 star for me, if not less. Won't be following this up at all.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: Black Vortex by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Ed McGuinness, Valerio Schitti, Paco Medina, Mahmud Asrar, Mike Mayhew, David Baldeón, Javier Garron, & David López

 photo 0785197702.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsziodbyaa.jpgGuardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: Black Vortex
by Sam Humphries, illustrated by Ed McGuinness, Valerio Schitti, Paco Medina, Mahmud Asrar, Mike Mayhew, David Baldeón, Javier Garron, & David López
Published by Marvel, July 14, 2015
312 Pages • ISBN 978-0785197706 • Hardcover

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Book description:
The Black Vortex, an ancient artifact imbued with immeasurable power, is now in the hands of Mr. Knife! With billions of lives potentially at stake, Peter Quill, the Legendary Star-Lord, is going to have to dust off his thieving gloves. But with Knife's Slaughter Squad protecting him, Peter's probably going to need some help...

COLLECTING:
Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Alpha 1, Guardians of the Galaxy 24-25, Legendary Star-Lord 9-11, All-New X-Men 38-39, Guardians Team-Up 2, Nova 28, Cyclops 12, Captain Marvel 14, Guardians of the Galaxy & X-Men: The Black Vortex Omega 1


The X-Men (The All-New Teenage Team) and the Guardians of the Galaxy are in search of the Black Vortex, an ancient, cosmic artifact that seems to bestow unlimited power to those that gaze into and submit to it. With Mr. Knife's henchmen closing in on them, the X-Men and Guardians must decide whether they need to submit to the Vortex, and when they do, at what cost?

Spoilers!

This story really had a lot of promise, but somewhere along the line it seems to have lost its way. Events that should have had far more ramifications were more or less swept under the rug, and then the final few pages... After pining for Colossus for the better part of three decades, Kitty sure did fall for Star-Lord quickly. To be honest, even with the flaws aside, this whole story would have felt like it meant something if not for those last couple of pages; as a result, it just felt like the entire thing was written to set up Star-Lord proposing to Kitty. Lame.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Firefight by Brandon Sanderson

 photo 0385743580.01._SX175_SY250_SCLZZZZZZZ__zpsbfinjugr.jpgFirefight
by Brandon Sanderson
Published by Delacorte Press, January 6, 2015
432 Pages • ISBN 978-0385743587 • Hardcover

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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 the second book in the Reckoners series: Firefight, the sequel to the #1 bestseller Steelheart.

Newcago is free.

They told David it was impossible, that even the Reckoners had never killed a High Epic. Yet Steelheart--invincible, immortal, unconquerable--is dead. And he died by David's hand.

Eliminating Steelheart was supposed to make life simpler. Instead, it only made David realize he has questions. Big ones. And no one in Newcago can give him answers.

Babylon Restored, the city formerly known as the borough of Manhattan, has possibilities, though. Ruled by the mysterious High Epic Regalia, Babylon Restored is flooded and miserable, but David is sure it's the path that will lead him to what he needs to find. Entering a city oppressed by a High Epic despot is risky, but David's willing to take the gamble. Because killing Steelheart left a hole in David's heart. A hole where his thirst for vengeance once lived. Somehow, he filled that hole with another Epic--Firefight. And now he will go on a quest darker and even more dangerous than the fight against Steelheart to find her, and to get his answers.


The followup to Brandon Sanderson's Steelheart finds the Reckoners now in charge of the city of Nercago, but David feels they need broaden their influence, so they set their sets for Babylon Restored, what was once Manhattan. There they take on the High Epic Regalia and her hang of thugs, both Epic and human. David searches for answers to questions that the fall of Steelheart left him, while at the same time trying to figure out what Reglia's larger plan is for the city.

As much as I enjoyed Steelheart, I enjoyed Firefight even more. The twists and turns of the story were great, and as more answers to what the Epics actually are are answered, the more I want to know about the final outcome of the story. Will definitely be reading Calamity when it is released.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

So, this happened...

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I stopped in to Schuler Books last night to pick up my copy of The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath: From the Peculiar Adventures of John Lovehart, Esq., Volume I by Ishbelle Bee, and while waiting in line at the cafe for a coffee, flipped the book over and discovered that I'm quoted, thru the blog, on the back cover of the book!

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To say that I was a little excited to see this is an understatement, as I had no idea that this was going to happen.

Happy day and happy reading!





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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.