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Sunday, March 27, 2022

Radiant Black Vol 2: Team-Up by Kyle Higgins, et al

Radiant Black Vol. 2: Team-Up Radiant Black Vol. 2: Team-Up by Kyle Higgins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

RADIANT BLACK continues to be excellent. This second volume delves a little into some mind bending backstory of what the Radiants are, and we get some history on Pink and how she came into possession of her Radiant. The writing is solid and the art is quite impressive - especially with the inter dimensional/intergalactic aspects. This will be a series I’ll be continuing to look forward to. Collecting issues #7-12 of the series from @imagecomics

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Friday, March 25, 2022

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

A Darker Shade of Magic A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by @veschwab is easily one of my favorite books/series from the last several years. The idea of multiple Londons; magic users who can travel between these Londons, as well as use different forms or elemental magic; sassy, gender-bending thieves; many sided coats!; and some of the best character development and world building you’ll find in a book, all create fully engaged reading experience you won’t soon forget.

Kell, one of the last Antari - a magic user able to traverse between the parallel Gray, Red, and White Londons - and a member of the Maresh Empire royal house of Red London, normally just delivers correspondence between the rulers of the Londons. However, he has a penchant for smuggling goods between the Londons, something that has been forbidden since the fall of the fourth London, Black London.

Delilah Bard, a rough and tumble thief from Gray London (the London with no magic) who longs to be a pirate, finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up saving Kell’s life when one of Kell’s smuggling ventures goes wrong. The item that Kell is tricked into smuggling gives the sadistic rulers of White London the opportunity to conquer Red London, and it’s up to Delilah and Kell to turn the tide and defeat the Dane twins and take back Red London.

This book cemented VE Schwab as one of my favorite go-to authors. The story is original, the characters are compelling, the world building is thorough, and you will be left definitely wanting more of these characters and their world.

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon by Daneil José Older

Cover to Daniel José Older's MIDNIGHT HORIZON

Star Wars: The High Republic: Midnight Horizon

by Daniel José Older
Published by Del Rey • February 1, 2022
ISBN 978-1368060677 • Hardcover • 496 Pages

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Book description:
Centuries before the events of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, in the era of the glorious High Republic, the Jedi are the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy!

After a series of staggering losses, the Republic seems to finally have the villainous Nihil marauders on the run, and it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Until word comes of a suspected Nihil attack on the industrial cosmopolitan world of Corellia, right in the Galactic Core.
Sent to investigate are Jedi Masters Cohmac Vitus and Kantam Sy, along with Padawans Reath Silas and Ram Jomaram, all fighting their own private battles after months of unrelenting danger. On Corellia, Reath and Ram encounter a brazen young security specialist named Crash, whose friend was one of the victims of the Nihil attack, and they team up with her to infiltrate Corellia’s elite while the Masters pursue more diplomatic avenues. But going undercover with Crash is more dangerous than anyone expected, even as Ram pulls in his friend Zeen to help with an elaborate ruse involving a galactic pop star.
But what they uncover on Corellia turns out to be just one part of a greater plan, one that could lead the Jedi to their most stunning defeat yet....
Still not a fan of Daniel José Older's take on Star Wars. Midnight Horizon is full of plots that don't really seem to have much to do with the overreaching arc of the other High Republic books. There is an abundance of characters that are carryovers from his High Republic Adventures comic from IDW, so I feel if you haven't read that series, you're going to be confused about who these new characters are (I was - I've only read the first 6 or so issues, so didn't know who some of the characters even were in this book, which has not been an issue with the other High Republic books). While the book is YA, Older writes these characters in a far more juvenile fashion than they've been written by the other High Republic authors who have written the YA books. The shoehorned mention of the Halcyon seems so unnecessry (not necessarily Older's doing, but more Disney making sure the new hotel is name-dropped yet again in canon here).

The first 2/3 of the book is some convoluted story dealing with the Nihil possibly getting a foothold on Corelia, with Padawans Ram Jomaram & Reath Silas getting wrapped up with a security detail on Corelia, and something to do with Zeen portraying a pop star at a party to try to flush out the potential Corelian traitor? It all got overly complicated and none of it seemed to make much sense to me, quite frankly. It wasn't until the other Jedi showed up and the Nihil make their actual appearance that things begin to happen in the book and against the backdrop of what is happening at Starlight Beacon at the end of Fallen Star, events in the book finally begin to feel that they are going to have consequences to the main story line.

I hate to say it, but I feel like the biggest fan of Daniel José Older's writing is Older himself. He doesn't write other creator's characters well, and he overemphasizes his own characters. This is one of the few High Republic books that I feel could be skipped, and readers wouldn't necessarily feel like they've missed something in the grand scope of the story.
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Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Gallant Gallant by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Schwab continues to impress with her genre-defying fantasies, this a Gothic tale of family secrets, ghosts, ghouls, and a battle against death itself. At the center of the tale, Gallant, an estate that sits at the edge of the land of the dead, and Olivia, an orphan who has long yearned for a family of her own, only to find that that family is nothing like what she imagined, but she may be the only one who can save them. The book itself is gorgeous, full of art and imagery that vividly brings the dark, haunted world of Gallant and Olivia's family to life on the page. I know this will be a book that I will enjoy revisiting in the future.

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Sunday, March 20, 2022

Spectacle, Vol 2 by Megan Rose Gedris

Spectacle Vol. 2 Spectacle Vol. 2 by Megan Rose Gedris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second volume of Megan Rose Gedris’ SPECTACLE doesn’t really do much to move the story along; if nothing else, there are more layers added to a secondary mystery that has no resolution come the end of this volume, let alone finding out anymore about who murdered Anna’s sister, Kat. So, there’s the continued murder mystery, a mystery concerning a demon who has something to do with Kat, a mystery concerning the circus possibly being cursed, and a mystery about when the twins were young girls and something to do with their grandmother. Lots and lots and lots of mysteries. And little to no movement of the story along this volume. My library doesn’t have the next volume, but I discovered the series is serialized on Gedris’ website, so I’ll pick it up there. I’m invested enough now to know what’s going on, I just wish it was moving a bit faster.

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Saturday, March 19, 2022

Ice Cream Man, Vol 1: Rainbow Sprinkles: Dr. Seuss Parody Edition by W. Maxwell Prince, et al

Ice Cream Man Volume 1: Dr. Seuss Parody Edition Ice Cream Man Volume 1: Dr. Seuss Parody Edition by W. Maxwell Prince
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this up the other day because the cover caught my eye, and I’m really glad I did. Collecting the first 4 issues of the series, this gave me a horror-flavored Twilight Zone vibe. The stories aren’t necessarily connected, other than the eponymous Ice Cream Man, who more or less narrates what’s going on in each issue. There may be an overreaching arc, but that’s not made 100% clear in this particular volume. It’s definitely an odd collection of stories, but I enjoyed it enough to want to read some more, so I’ll be seeing if the library can get this one in for me. @imagecomics

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Star Wars: The High Republic: Trail of Shadows by Daniel José Older, et al

Star Wars: The High Republic - Trail of Shadows Star Wars: The High Republic - Trail of Shadows by Daniel José Older
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Just finished STAR WARS: THE HIGH REPUBLIC: TRAIL OF SHADOWS and it left me very… meh. Unfortunately, I feel this way about almost anything Daniel José Older writes for Star Wars. His plots are usually too big and scattershot, he focuses far too much on his own characters and not the overall cast at large, doesn’t write characters that aren’t his creations like themselves, and sometimes his stuff comes across more like fanfic than actual in-continuity stories, IMO.

I’m not even sure what the point of this series was. I thought it was supposed to be about Jedi Emerick Caphtor and private investigator Sian Holt trying to figure out what happened to Loden Greatstorm at the end of THE RISING STORM. There’s a lot of jumping around in the story, connecting the dots on stuff that didn’t actually seem all that important to the story, and then dropping what seemed like a possible love interest into the story that seemed very unnecessary. For a 5 issue limited series, I feel there were far too many subplots and if this had been tightened down to strictly the investigation, and one that did seem to have some solid resolution to it, I think this would have been far better. I don’t think anyone other than hardcore fans of The High Republic will find this as necessary reading; the casual reader can easily skip this series and not miss anything from the larger scope of the story.

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Monday, March 7, 2022

Secret Identity by Alex Segura

Secret Identity Secret Identity by Alex Segura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I first heard about @alexsegurajr’s SECRET IDENTITY, a noir murder mystery set in the world of 1970s comic book publishers, I knew right off I wanted to read it. What I wasn’t expecting was in addition to the murder mystery, Segura also delivers a story dealing with the hyper-sexist world of comic books in the 70s (which is still prevalent today, unfortunately), as seen through the eyes of the protagonist, Carmen Valdez, who desperately wants to break into the comics business as a writer, but being a woman means that is almost impossible for her. When she is finally presented the opportunity to help create a female hero for the company where she works as a secretary, she thinks she’s found her chance. However, when she’s convinced by her partner, Harvey, to keep her part in the Legendary Lynx’s creation a secret and Harvey is subsequently murdered, Carmen must find out what happened to Harvey if she’s ever going to be able to prove she is really the brains behind the Lynx.

What’s already a great story is improved on with interspersed pages of the comic Carmen helped create. These glimpses into what The Legendary Lynx comics would have looked like just add more of a real-world feel to the story, which is already sprinkled throughout with the names of actual comics greats from the time.

As a lifelong comic book fan myself, I really enjoyed the setting for SECRET IDENTITY, and I wish I could actually read The Legendary Lynx. The murder mystery is well-paced, the characters are all fleshed out and feel real, the writing creates the dirty feel of NYC in the 70s… this is just a great book overall. SECRET IDENTITY by Alex Segura will hit shelves March 15, 2022.

A huge thanks to @flatiron_books and @goodreads for the advanced copy of SECRET IDENTITY in exchange for an honest review.

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Sunday, March 6, 2022

Spectacle, Book 1 by Megan Rose Gedris

Spectacle Vol. 1 Spectacle Vol. 1 by Megan Rose Gedris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Anna and Kat are twin sisters working in the Samson Brothers Circus, Anna as a psychic and Kat as a knife thrower. However, when Kat is found murdered, Anna is put on the job of finding her murderer and it turns out there may be more to Anna’s “psychic” powers than anyone first thought. A fun start to the SPECTACLE graphic novel series by Megan Rose Gedris from Oni Press, there’s a little bit of murder, mystery, romance, supernatural shenanigans, and ghosts.

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