Sunday, September 11, 2016

Review: The Monster Realm

The Monster Realm The Monster Realm by Nara Duffie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A delightful adventure into a hidden realm that's all magic and wonderous creatures.

I loved the Harryhausen references and the Shakespearean insults. Medusa was portrayed brilliantly - I could easily see the Clash of the Titans (original) version of her pulling back on that bow.. So ominous and bada$$!

It probably helped that I loved those Harryhausen movies so much as a kid. Really helped me visualize the creatures...

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Review: Brandon Sanderson's White Sand Vol. 1

Brandon Sanderson's White Sand Vol. 1 Brandon Sanderson's White Sand Vol. 1 by Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was given an ebook version of this graphic novel by the publisher through NetGalley.

Again here we are with Sanderson and of course the talk will go to worldbuilding. Yes, he does it again. This time it's his story and idea, but an adaptation by Rik Hoskin with art by Julius M. Gopez.

While not quite as epic or satisfying as Sanderson's novels, this story was very compelling. It was also just getting going when it was time to wrap up this first volume, but I can tell that over time this should be a really good graphic side to Sanderson's Cosmere universe.

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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review: Vicious Grace

Vicious Grace Vicious Grace by M.L.N. Hanover
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Still great narration, though I didn't connect with the actual story here as well as I did the first two books.

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Monday, August 1, 2016

Review: Central Station

Central Station Central Station by Lavie Tidhar
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received an ebook copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

Well then. That was interesting. I'm a little torn on my rating after finishing this. I mean, some of the concepts were brilliant and the world-building was quite phenomenal. But for most of the book I felt like the scene was being set but there really wasn't much happening. Then a lot of the stuff was beyond my comprehension, like so much science fiction that I've read lately seems to be (Peter F. Hamilton, Alastair Reynolds, and Iain M. Banks, I'm looking at you). But like those SF giants, Tidhar has a voice for story and it's well done even through the parts that bored me.

So would I recommend this book? To fans of Banks, Reynolds, and Hamilton, surely. To people that want more Star Wars in their Sci-Fi, not so much. For those, I'd point them towards James S.A. Corey or Ian McDonald, both of whom I found myself wishing I was reading during parts of this book...

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Review: Perusing Portland

Perusing Portland Perusing Portland by Jason R. Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: Jason Koivu is a friend that I met on Goodreads several years back, so there might be some slight positive bias here.

That said, I really enjoyed this short overview of the Portland area. I was fortunate enough to go to Portland last week for a work conference, and I happened to find out I was going right about the time Jason released this. So heck yeah, $1.00 or two later (I can't remember), I snatched this baby right up. I did set it aside so I could read it closer to the time of my trip.

Well, it sure came in handy. I didn't get to it until I was actually on the trip, so there is a mix of suggestions that I used from the book with some things I'd already seen by the time I saw them mentioned. But all told, this made for a fun read while I was there. Jason's sense of humor made me laugh out loud a few times too.

It's not the most thorough or complete guide to Portland, but it's a funny, quick way to get some ideas when you don't have a lot of reading time (because you're out enjoying a great city).

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Review: Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 1: Open for Business

Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 1: Open for Business Red Hood/Arsenal, Vol. 1: Open for Business by Scott Lobdell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a preview eARC of this title from the publisher through NetGalley.

Yeah, so my only experience with Roy Harper was the version of him on Arrow, and I'm still binging that to get caught up. So I see he has a new title, partnered up with one of the former Robins, Jason Todd. Great! I'm actually thinking it will be great to see Red Hood break away from Green Arrow and get his own action going..

Except. I was confused. Based on the above exposure, I somehow thought Roy was Red Hood. Because well, he wears a red hoodie on Arrow.

Silly me to assume that. Now, as I said I'm not caught up, so no spoilers if the Arsenal thing happens or doesn't happen on the show.

So Roy Harper is Arsenal, wearing a red outfit and toting a bunch of arrows. Alright, I had the idea right, just the name flipped. The Red Hood is actually the other dude wearing a red outfit. But see, this one has a bat on his chest. Makes sense, since he's a former Batman sidekick.

Anyway, once I got over this confusion there is the further confusion of the fact that though this thing says "Volume 1" on the cover, it's a new chapter in an already established partnership between Roy Harper and Jason Todd. They were former members of a band of outlaw superheros called, well, The Outlaws.

Fine. I can ride with it. Once I got acclimated to our heroes, I had to get used to their odd banter. And then, I found myself enjoying it.

I was skeptical after the first issue or two, but by about halfway I decided I liked the story. The characters are funny enough, and the villains are as well. And then there is an appearance by....well, just going into it can be spoilery, and I don't want to do that. Let's just say that it's enough to make me interested in reading Volume 2.

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review: Quag Keep

Quag Keep Quag Keep by Andre Norton
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

So, back in my much younger days I was part of a subculture that got into a game called Dungeons & Dragons. You might have heard of it. Well, back then I was aware of some novels that were based on the game and published by TSR, the company that put out the game books and all the other stuff. I read some of them, and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

So now I find that the very first novel written about the Greyhawk campaign world was actually penned by a Science Fiction Grand Master.

Yeah, I was all in. I jumped in, with plenty of 70s and 80s music in the background (RIP Prince), and was ready to go....

And then...after. I feel like I've been walking through the Sea of Dust because seasonal allergies are a bitch and my mind kept wandering to anything but this book.

Except...when I made myself read it. I was all 'huh?' much of the way. It started out kinda cool, with these mysterious dice built into bracelets that our heroes couldn't remove. And they were tied together to do some quest that they would never in a million years done otherwise, much less with each other. I mean, there's a Lizard Man in their party!

"You can't trust the scaled ones! I told you!!"
"What about your pet pseudo dragon?"
"It's not a pet! She's my friend!!"

Well, I did play D&D as I said. It did seem that there was always one asshole in the bunch. It was like a rule. Berserking super tall and super strong killer fighter dude that can turn into a big ass boar at will (and back again) and has a pet familiar that has about all the powers he doesn't, effectively giving him the ability to do anything...

...except fucking think.

So I gave Norton a pass on the superbarbarian-racist-wereboar-douchebag. Every party had one.

Just like we always had a...

...cleric. Check.
...thief. Check (Bards are trained in thievery. And music. How cool is that?)
...strong guy that isn't an asshat. Check. elf. Because even back then we had race quotas.

Now, first rule of having and elf in the party is that you have to mention that he is an elf in every single sentence that he is involved in.

Clerics always say prayer-type shit and act all wise even when they have not a clue.

Strong guys don't have to do much besides kill shit and avoid slimy monster traps. Because there are always slimy monster traps.

But maybe I set my expectations too high. I mean, Grand Master is writing this, right?

So I expected coherent sentences. I expected the writing to be phenomenal. Well, okay if we give her another pass because this is adolescent gaming nerd tie-in shit, fine. But at least make the sentences correct.

Have you ever seen a run-on fragment sentence? It's possible...

And here's what I never saw in my gaming days. Describing every single fucking thing as "alien".

"What is that in our path?"
"Why, it looks strange. It looks..alien?"
"Yeah, you have the right of it. Alien. I mean, only an alien would look so...alien."
"Indeed. Alien."

No shit. Ripley didn't encounter this many aliens. I counted 35 instances of the word "alien" in the text of this relatively short book.

Alright, so I had to rant a little to justify my 1 star rating. There was some stuff to like, but Norton wrote all of that right out of the story. It must have been an alien thing to do.

Oh, and I see that there is a sequel this book that came out years later.

Yeah, that's how I'd feel if someone came at me with Return to Quag Keep.

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