GUEST POST: IGOR LJUBUNCIC

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Today, I am very excited to have Igor Ljubuncic, author of the grimdark fantasy series Woes & Hose and The Lost Words, back to Bookwraiths.   Instead of answering all my questions as he did last time, I’ve given Igor the floor to share his thoughts on what drove him to write The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich.  So enjoy!

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The Amazing Why

by

Igor Ljubuncic

A question often comes up – well, not that often, but let’s pretend I have friends and fans, mutually inclusive – why did you decide to write The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich? And then the follow-up question that allows me to elaborate more and actually write an article-worthy response: Why is it so different from your previous series, The Lost Words?

After spending roughly seven years writing the four books (from 2007-2013) that comprise The Lost Words universe, I felt I needed a break from its somber, multi-character, epic tone with a slow story development and tons of magic and gods. I think I probably had a similar moment that Steven Erikson had with Willful Child, without presuming any grandeur, talent or popularity on my behalf. He had spent two decades creating the ultra-massive Malazan Empire, and he must have been in a dire need of a sweet, quick and innocent distraction.

I know I did. So I thought, what now? And so Prince Dietrich was born. The Lost Words had magic and swords and gods, Dietrich’s world has gunpowder, no magic whatsoever, and a passing semblance of religion. The Lost Words chase a dozen people across the Realms. Dietrich – may we call him Dick – lives in a much smaller universe, and the action focuses on him, because he is a spoiled brat, me, me, me. He is also a coward, whereas you’d expect your protagonist to be somewhat of a hero. Not Dick. Between the rock and a hard place, Dick will choose a velvet cushion.

Humor was also quite important to me. The Lost Words is not a funny series. It’s grim, it’s brutal, it’s depressing. I wanted something lighthearted with just a speck of evil and dark. Let’s call it fundark. Or perhaps grimfun. Arguably, the humor that you encounter in the book – provided you find it funny, ’tis a gamble right – reflects the silly name of the novel and its nature. Fast-paced action revolving around a self-absorbed, indignant prince who lusts for the throne. Of course, it cannot be easy, and his father the ever-so-smart king will do his best to thwart Dick’s plans. Thus our adventure beginneth.

When you combine and blend and dice all these elements, what you get is a hopefully unique approach to storytelling. Dick is someone you will most likely despise. It’s not easy when your protagonist is an arse. But then, you will probably be entertained by all the plights and misfortunes afflicting him. After all, if he ain’t a hero, nor a tragic hero, he might as well just be tragic. Thus our plot thickeneth.

I immensely enjoyed writing the book. I had the most fun of any one of my works – save for the sequel, The Glorious Adventures of Glamorous Prince Dietrich, which yes, you guessed right, follows Dick on his deplorable quest of becoming the king – and it was such a pleasant release from the dark energy that I invested in the previous series. You may find the sentiment hard to comprehend, but when you write, you give it all. Stepping out, breathing out and then committing yourself to a story of a witty coward is an excellent holiday for the brain. As I said, I enjoyed it thoroughly. I hope you will, too.

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IGORABOUT THE AUTHOR
Igor Ljubuncic is a physicist by vocation and a Linux geek by profession. He is the founder and operator of the cool and highly popular website dedoimedo.com, where you can learn a lot about a lot. He really likes to write, particularly in the fantasy genre, and has been doing so since the tender age of ten summers. You can learn more at his blog.

Posted in Author Spotlights, Guest Post | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

INDIE WEDNESDAY: THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF DASHING PRINCE DIETRICH – REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

Indie-WednesdayAlong my reading journey, I’ve made a conscious decision to not only read the books on the shelves at my local Barnes & Nobles store, or online at Amazon, but to also try self-published, or indie, works as often as I can.

Now, I know several of you are snickering in the background or rolling your eyes at my idiot crusade to bring a few good indie works to light. And, believe me, I understand why you’d do that. Several years into this, I have to admit that I’ve probably stopped reading more indie stories than I’ve finished, but if I don’t share those triumphs and failure, then no one else will know whether these self-published stories are worth investing their time into or not.

This week we will be looking at a grimdark offering which holds nothing back — literally nothing.

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the amazing adventures ofThe Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich by  Igor Ljubuncic 

Genre: Fantasy -Grimdark

Series: Woes & Hose #1

Publisher:  Self Published (May 20, 2016)

Author Information: Website 

Length:  376 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

Realistic.  Amoral.  Violent.  Igor Ljubuncic writes grimdark.  Having read The Betrayed (The Lost Words #1), I knew exactly the hard hitting, dark story I was getting when I picked up his latest offering, and from the first page, the controlled chaos came at me fast and furious — though the beginning was a bit surprising.

Out of the gate, we find out main character, Prince Dietrich, having an idyllic dream; the setting a peaceful meadow with a gurgling stream and an ewe eating blackberries.  Our prince quietly marvels at the beauty of the sheep, drifting closer, attempting not to spook Betty (that is the ewe’s name) as he gently pulls on the strings of his breeches.  What Dick (Everyone calls Dietrich “Dick” for numerous reasons.) plans for his encounter with Betty is fairly obvious.  Thank God, he wakes up before the dream relationship is fully consummated however.

From this eye-raising opening, the real story begins to progress.  It all starts with Dietrich’s father giving him an ultimatum: marry the Duchess of neighboring Sacony or be disowned.  Not really a tough decision for our fat, pampered prince who enjoys his meals, his manservants, his feather bed, and the prostitutes who warm it, and so off Dick goes to gather up his bride-to-be and bring her back home for a fairy tale wedding.

Not far away, Eva, daughter of the Lord First Citizen Vincezo of Enissia, is also facing an unwanted wedding, her future husband a man notorious for his mistreatment of his wives.  Thus, Eva plans a final act of independence; a night when she will escape her father’s fortress-like home and experience life through the eyes of her friend Nicole, who is a high priced prostitute at The Swan, a house of pleasure.

Fate now intervenes in Dietrich and Eva’s lives,  however, as they meet at The Swan.  A deadly fight leading to the prince’s hasty departure from the city of Enissia.  The unrecognized Eva and her prostitute friend taken as hostages — attractive ones at that.  Dick then concocting a plan to hire a mercenary army in a neighboring city, come back to Enissia and conquer it; this daring act sure to impress his father and allow him to escape his unwanted nuptials.

Naturally, back at home, King Ulaf hears of his wayward son’s actions.  But instead of viewing Dietrich’s presence with a mercenary army as a sign of his disobedience, the king interprets it as a sign of Dick’s capture by an unknown enemy.  This leading him to send troops to rescue the prince.  The whole episode infuriating Dietrich’s ambitious sister Wilhelmina, who dreams of seeing Dick disowned or dead and herself installed as the heir to the Kingdom of Monrich.

But that isn’t all.  Prince Dietrich’s future father-in-law, the Duke of Savony, also hears of Dick’s mercenary army, seeing it as a clear sigh that the war-like King Ulaf is pretending to want peace while he prepares to invade.  This leading to yet another armed force being sent to capture Dick.  The table set for the grim and dark things to come.

Now, I know many people do not enjoy grimdark stories.  Nothing wrong with that, at all.  I personally have been turned off by more than a few.  But I found The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich an okay read for several reasons.

First, I was expecting the tale to be all the things that it was.  Realistic political backstabbing and violence.  Thoughtless actions which harms people.  Amoral characters. Selfish motives.  Not a single, solitary person to empathize with.  And when all these elements arose in the story I wasn’t shocked or appalled by them, since I was prepared for them to happen.

Second,  I enjoyed all the shifting perspectives.  It was fun seeing the world through Prince Dick’s perverted eyes for a while, then shifting over to Eva or Wilhelmina or someone else.  Igor Ljubuncic taking advantage of the different personalities, motives, and viewpoints of each person to fully fuel the conflagration which begins to smoke before igniting in expected (and unexpected) ways.

As for the negatives, I suppose it would be the pessimistic tone and dark humor of the tale as a whole.  No, they didn’t bother me, but they did wear on me that everyone was irredeemable pieces of crap.  For example, Prince Dietrich never gets much better after that sexual fantasy about the sheep.  He is and remains a perverted, unsympathetic man to the end.  Sure, he has flashes of decency from time to time, but all I can say is I wouldn’t let him sit my pets or my children.  And, honestly, the other viewpoint characters are not much better, merely repulsive in different ways.  All of which meant I never became emotional attached to any of these guys.

All in all, Igor Ljubuncic has crafted a fine grimdark with The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich.  Filled with gray characters, political machinations, amoral actions, and non-stop twists and turns, it will satisfy most every grimdark lover’s craving.  If all those things sound horrible or simply unappealing to you, then I’d suggest you skip this one for something a little lighter in tone.

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank him for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

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THE AMAZING ADVENTURES GIVEAWAY

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Giveaway time again! With thanks to the author, three print copy of The Amazing Adventures of Dashing Prince Dietrich is available to all residents of the US and Canada.  To enter, all you have to do is visit the Rafflecopter giveaway before 11:59pm Eastern time on Wednesday, August 3, 2016.

The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all personal information will be deleted.

Good luck!  And happy reading!

Posted in 3 Stars, Fantasy, Grimdark, Indie Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SUICIDE SQUAD, VOL.1: KICKED IN THE TEETH

guest-post2Today, I’m happy to have my son, Connor, return to the blog for yet another of his graphic novel reviews.  Thankfully, he was able to tear himself away from his busy schedule watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Ultimate Edition to give his thoughts on an older graphic novel that he read in preparation for the new Suicide Squad movie (which he keeps trying to convince me to take him to). border


suicide squad vol1
Suicide Squad, Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth 
by           Adam Glass

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Suicide Squad (The New 52) #1

Publisher: DC Comics (July 10, 2012)

Length: 160 pages

Connor’s Rating: 2 stars

 

 

When watching television, I saw the Suicide Squad movie trailer.  It was pretty cool, so I wondered if there was a comic book I could find at the library.  There were a few, and I picked this one to start with.  I just got done with it, and my advice is that if you are a father you probably shouldn’t let your kids read this.  (I’m looking at you, dad.)  But, at least, the story is about a group of “bad guys” sent out to do “good” things, so that is okay, I guess.

It all starts with a group of villains in jail being recruited by A.R.G.U.S. to be on Task Force X.  Deadshot, Harley Quinn, El Diablo, Voltaic, Black Spider and King Shark being chosen.  Nanite bombs are put in their necks by A.R.G.U.S. to make them go on dangerous missions.  If they don’t act right they die.  If they do what they are told, they get their prison sentence reduced.   They get the name “suicide squad” from the security guards who think the whole project is a huge, bad joke.  The question when you are reading is will these guys finish the job before they finish off each other.

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There were things I liked about the book.  The characters are cool.  They glue the story together, kept things going in the right direction when it could have gotten boring.  I especially liked Deadshot, who seemed liked a standard bad guy until we learn he joined the squad not only to get out of jail but also to see his daughter again.

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Sorry to say though that my personal opinion on the book is that it isn’t too great.  The reason I didn’t like it is that it was too inappropriate sometimes and cursed waaayyyy too much.  Every other word seemed like another cuss word.  I think comics should try not to be too bad cause so many kids read them.  Writers need to remember that and try to keep it more appropriate.  Plus, too much cursing just isn’t cool or funny.  It is just lazy writing.

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Well, I hope you got some good information from this review, and if you read the book, I really hope you like it better than I did.  Thanks for reading!

Contributed by Connor Adamsborder

batman-V-superman-logoAbout Connor (In his dad’s words):

Connor is a preteen who enjoys graphic novels (DC Comics are preferred), superhero movies (Captain America is his favorite), watching episodes of The Flash, Arrow, and American Pickers as well as the NFL, NCAA football, and the NBA on t.v., will happily accept any and all caps (because you just can’t have too many caps), and whose favorite music revolves around pop favorites of the moment such as Cake by the Ocean (Clean version because dad is still alive) as well as anything by Fall Out Boy — except for the new Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) song which Connor denies they were ever involved with.  And, no, Connor did not have any input into my paragraph about him.  Being a dad does have it’s privileges.  :)

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 2 Stars, DC, Graphic Novels, The New 52 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

COMIC-CON 2016: WONDER WOMAN TRAILER

WONDER WOMAN MOVIE

Have to admit even though I loved Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was worried about the direction of the WW movie.  The constant negative online articles and comments decrying the direction of the film (and the DC movie universe in general) overwhelming my initial excitement.  But the trailer from Comic-Con alleviated some of my doubts, promising to introduce Diana and the Amazons while telling a serious, action-packed story.

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I understand many people already have decided the DCU movie universe isn’t for them or just prefer the Marvel Universe.  That is cool.  We all get to have an opinion, but to me (and my three sons) this film looks like it could be a great one, reminding us of Captain America: The First Avenger (which we all really like to this day), mixing up the old school feel (World War I instead of World War II) with the cool superhero themes (The Red Skull and Tesseract with Cap; Paradise Island and Amazons for WW) that we love.

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Will the movie live up to my higher expectations?  Who knows.  But it definitely is on my “To Be Watched” list now.  Before the trailer, Wonder Woman the Movie was a “Wait and See” film.  Let us hope the creative team behind this one gets it right, because Wonder Woman is too important to the DCU not to hit this one out of the park.

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STACKING THE SHELVES, VOL. 32

sTACKING THE sHELVES

Stacking the Shelves over at Tynga’s Reviews is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, whether it be physically or virtually. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!

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red right handRed Right Hand by Levi Black 

Genre: Horror – Fantasy

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor (July 26, 2016)

Length: 304 pages

 

Charlie Tristan Moore isn’t a hero. She’s a survivor. On a night when her demons from the past are triggered, she arrives home to something even more harrowing-an attack by three monstrous skinhounds, creatures straight out of nightmares. She fights but is outmatched. Just as hope seems lost, in sweeps The Man In Black, a rescuer even more monstrous and unlikely, dressed in a long, dark coat that seems to have a life of its own and with a black-bladed sword held in his terrible, red right hand.

Her rescue comes at a cost. She must become his new Acolyte and embrace a dark magick she never knew she had inside her. To ensure she gives it her all, he takes her friend and possible love, Daniel, in thrall as a hostage to her obedience. The Man in Black, a Lovecraftian chaos god, claims to be battling his brethren gods, other horrors who are staging an incipient apocalypse. But is he truly the lesser of all evils or merely killing off the competition? Either way, will Charlie be strong enough to save herself, Daniel, and possibly the entire world?

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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the dinosaur lordsThe Dinosaur Knights by Victor Milán

Genre: Fantasy

Series: The Dinosaur Lords #2

Publisher: Tor (July 5, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 448 pages

 

Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often cruel world. There are humans on Paradise but dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden, and of war. Armored knights ride dinosaurs to battle legions of war-trained Triceratops and their upstart peasant crews.

Karyl Bogomirsky is one such knight who has chosen to rally those who seek a way from the path of war and madness. The fact that the Empire has announced a religious crusade against this peaceful kingdom, the people who just wish to live in peace anathema, and they all are to be converted or destroyed doesn’t help him one bit.

Things really turn to mud when the dreaded Grey Angels, fabled ancient weapons of the Gods who created Paradise in the first place come on the scene after almost a millennia. Everyone thought that they were fables used to scare children. They are very much real.

And they have come to rid the world of sin…including all the humans who manifest those vices.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

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children of the differentChildren of the Different by S.C. Flynn

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Fantasy/YA

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: The Hive (September 17, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter 

Length: 318 pages

Nineteen years ago, a brain disease known as the Great Madness killed most of the world’s population. The survivors all had something different about their minds. Now, at the start of adolescence, their children enter a trance-like state known as the Changeland and either emerge with special mental powers or as cannibalistic Ferals.

In the great forest of south-western Australia, thirteen year-old Arika and her twin brother Narrah go through the Changeland. They encounter an enemy known as the Anteater who feeds on human life. He exists both in the Changeland and in the outside world, and he wants the twins dead.

After their Changings, the twins have powers that let them fight their enemy and face their destiny on a long journey to an abandoned American military base on the north-west coast of Australia. If they can reach it before time runs out.

CHILDREN OF THE DIFFERENT is a post-apocalyptic fantasy novel set among the varied landscapes and wildlife of Western Australia.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in Stacking the Shelves | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

FRIDAY FACE-OFF: GATEWAYS

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Welcome to The Friday Face-Off, a new weekly meme hosted by Books by Proxy. Join us every Friday as we pit cover against cover, and publisher against publisher, to find the best artwork in our literary universe.


 

This week our theme is GATEWAYS, as picked by Lynn of Lynns-books.  Or to put it another way, covers which features doors, portals, or any other means for a character to be transported from one place, dimensional, or world to another.  And once I read the theme, only one book came to mind: Stephen King’s The Drawing of the Three.  But there are so many variations on this books cover design, I couldn’t pick only two, so I’m giving everyone seven of my favorites to take a look at.

COVER A

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COVER B

drawing 2

 

COVER C

drawing 3

 

COVER D

drawing 4

 

COVER E

drawing 5

 

COVER F

drawing 6

 

COVER G

THE DRAWING OF THE THREE

 

AND THE WINNER IS . . .

 

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THE DRAWING OF THE THREE

I have to say it was a tough pick for me because I also really like the ominous doorway and vibrant colors of Cover C, but ultimately, the dungeon-esque doors and creepy sky won out.

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You can’t go wrong with any of these covers though.  So which one is your pick?

Posted in Friday Face-Off | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

MURDER AT THE KINNEN HOTEL

murder at the kinnen hotelMurder at the Kinnen Hotel by Brian McClellan

Genre: Fantasy – Flintlock

Series: Powder Mage #0.3

Publisher: Self Published (November 24, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 74 pages

My Rating: 4 stars

 

I have a confession to make: I wasn’t too excited when I began this novella.  Why?  The main character.  Adamat was an okay guy in Promise of Blood; his plot line a nice addition to the other, more important events swirling around Field Marshal Tamas and Taniel; and, of course, the information the good detective uncovered in his investigation was vitally important.  However, for me, Adamat just wasn’t as exciting to follow along behind as the other characters, so as I began Murder at the Kinnen Hotel and discovered it was focusing on an episode from our good detectives early career, I was certain it wasn’t going to be for me.  Imagine my surprise when this one pulled me in and held my attention to the end.  Yet another amazing Powder Mage novella!

Here we find Special Detective Constable Adamat as a new member of the First Precinct of Adopest, having followed along behind his superior, Captain Hewi, to this new post with the belief that it would help his advancement up the ranks.  But things are not rosy, as our young “knack” finds that his shrewd investigation skills and minor magical ability to recall information are not nearly as important as his social pedigree and political connections.  The proverbial crap hitting the fan when Adamant and a Lieutenant Dorry (Commissioner Aleksandre’s relative) clash over a murder investigation: Dorry more than happy to pin the crime on a cook when Adamat clearly sees the signs that a powder mage has committed the killing.  The backlash from this internal brouhaha landing our young detective in trouble: his career and his very life in jeopardy from parties unknown and unseen!

At this point, I wrongly assumed the ongoing narrative would revolve around Adamat attempting to clear his name.  Brian McClellan does something unexpected however, introducing an agent from the Royal Cabal.  This steely woman taking on Adamat as her partner, firmly compelling him to focus his skills on unraveling the identity of the powder mage assassin and who employed him.  The rousing adventure which follows not only mesmerizingly  entertaining but also informative, as it provides amazing details about the world of Adopest including a glimpse inside the Royal Cabal, turning these magicians into an even more ominous group to be dealt with.

What did I enjoy most about Murder at the Hotel Kinnen, though?

First and foremost, I continued to love the thorough but organic worldbuilding Mr. McClellan is displaying with these novellas.  Each story a snapshot of the Powder Mage world.  Each revealing more details of prominent characters and groups from the trilogy.  The bits of insight gained from Murder and its sibling stories deliciously addictive, as they add layer upon layer to this vibrant place, slowly building a living, breathing world.

Especially entertaining was Mr. McClellan’s subtle look at the Royal Cabal.  The idea to use one of their agents as Adamat “partner” was brilliant.  This method allowed flashes of the Royal Cabal and their world to be seen, but never reveal all of it.  Or, to put it another way, these magical individuals are still mysterious figures of great power who stand just outside of the light, but Murder has begun to reveal them more clearly.

As for the character of Detective Adamat, I really have to apologize to him and his creator for doubting his vitality as a lead character.  No, he isn’t on par with Field Marshal Tamas, but where before he was merely a lackluster supporting character, he is now a man I understand and admire.  This novella going a long way in making Adamat a character I want to read about again and again.

The only criticism I have of the story is the ending.  It was a fitting one which tied up all the loose ends, but it felt too neat and too convenient.  Not saying that it was unrealistic, because it was not, but it was just not messy enough for my tastes.  But that small bit of consternation at the conclusion may be merely my personal tastes rearing their heads rather than an indictment of Mr. McClellan’s closing.

All in all, Murder at the Kinnen Hotel is another amazing Powder Mage novella.  Whether you’ve enjoyed the trilogy already or this is your first taste, this short story will be enjoyable, entertaining, and informative, a great introduction to Brian McClellan’s fabulous world of magic, muskets, and mages or a welcome return.  So do go pick it up and enjoy a rousing, murder mystery in a world where gunpowder does more than make things go boom!

Purchase the novella at Amazon.

Posted in 4 Stars, Fantasy, Flintlock, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

ARABELLA OF MARS: REVIEW & GIVEAWAY

arabella of mars Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine 

Genre: Science Fiction

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Tor (July 12, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 320 pages

My rating: 3 stars

 

Set on an alternate earth where Isaac Newton discovered the means for man to reach the stars in the late 1600s, Arabella of Mars captures the romantic, optimistic feel of classic science fiction.  The environment of 1800s English society adding an elegant veneer to a thoroughly spacefaring journey of self-discovery by our heroine, Arabella Ashby of Mars!

When human’s venture forth into space, Mars is naturally the first planet explored.  Mankind discovering that not only is its atmosphere breathable, but it has a native tree vital to future interplanetary travel as well as crab-like denizens who are able to be communicated with and dealt with in the same manner as other indigenous races in the British Empire.  This revelation leading to the settlement of the Red Planet: colonies, plantations, and businesses springing up around its surface.  Assuredly, the brave colonists who settle this new world are still English men and women, but they are also frontiers people, of a sort, who find themselves slowly changing and adapting to their new environment: physiologically and socially; their years upon the fourth planet from the Sun, living side-by-side with the natives, turning them into a new class of Brits.

Arabella is a perfect example of this new citizen of Mars; she is audacious, curious, adventurous, and far more attached to Mars than her true home back on Earth, which means she is thoroughly unlady-like by her mother’s good English standards.  The fact that Arabella has also inherited her father’s fondness for science and automatons as well as a desire to adopt the customs of the Martian “natives” results in her mother moving Arabella back to London, England to straighten her out before she is too “wild” for any man to marry.

Fitting into London society in the early 1800s is not easy for our Martian transplant however.  Her independent nature, improper manners, and quick wits more problematic than helpful in this new environment.  And it is only when tragedy strikes and danger comes to one she loves that Arabella discovers a use for her “undesirable” qualities, as she disguises herself as a man and proves herself on a lengthy journey back to Mars’ familiar climes.

Sometimes I pick up a novel with a lot of expectations.  My mind already imagining all the amazing characters, places, and mysteries I’m about to experience.  And, generally speaking, few of these highly anticipated, must reads ever live up to my personal hype for them.  Thankfully, the reverse is also true.  I’ve found that books which I have no preconceived notions about are usually more enjoyable and fun.  Arabella of Mars fitting snugly into the latter category.

Now, don’t take that admission to mean that I was expecting bad things from this novel.  Rather, I had zero expectations.  My opinion a blank book to be filled in.  So when David D. Levine delivered an entertaining coming-of-age tale with an intelligent, strong woman as the lead, set in a masterful world with Newtonian Bubble Ships (Or Marsmen, if you prefer), interstellar weather, steampunk-like automatons, and cool Martians, I was happily surprised.  All these familiar elements deftly juggled by the author to maximize the entertainment, even if none of them were particularly new.  That last statement not a thinly veiled criticism of the narrative, but a statement that sometimes the familiar is refreshing and comforting, allowing one to sit back and just enjoy the time away from the troubles of reality and have fun.  Arabella of Mars being that sort of “escapist” vehicle for me.

It all comes down to whether you, my faithful (or casual) reader, might enjoy this novel though.  (I mean, that is why you are reading the review, right?) This question always a tough one to answer.  One that I nor any other reviewer can truly prophesize with perfect accuracy, because of everyone’s different tastes and differing needs.  But since I do not wish to disappoint, I will hazard a guess that anyone who enjoys heroine coming-of-age stories or fans of Victorian-esque science fiction or even YA sci-fi would find a lot to like here.  I did, which isn’t always a guarantee of your enjoyment, but it is the only measure I have to base my prediction upon.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

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ARABELLA OF MARS GIVEAWAY

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Giveaway time again! With thanks to the publisher, one print copy of Arabella of Mars is available to all residents of the US and Canada.  To enter, all you have to do is visit the a Rafflecopter giveaway before 11:59pm Eastern time on Wednesday, July 27, 2016.

The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winner and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all personal information will be deleted.

Good luck!  And happy reading!

 

Posted in 3 Stars, Science Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

VIBE, VOL. 1: BREACH

guest-post2Today, I have the honor of turning the blog over to my preteen son, Connor, who has kindly written up a review of a graphic novel he just finished.  This is his first review anywhere, but if people enjoy his thoughts, he has promised me that he will try to contribute more often — as his busy schedule allows.

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vibeVibe, Vol. 1: Breach
 by Geoff Johns.

Genre: Superhero Comics

Series: Vibe #1

Publisher: DC Comics (July 29, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length: 232 pages

My Rating: 3 stars

 

My favorite t.v. show right now is “The Flash.”  My favorite character (other than Barry Allen aka The Flash) is this guy named Cisco Ramon, who later becomes Vibe.  So I when I wanted to know more about him and his whole story, I went to my local library, found this New 52 book, and started reading all about Cisco.  I know it isn’t just like the t.v. show, but it’s close enough for me.

cisco the flash

Okay, before I start, I have to tell you that you really need to read Justice League of America, Vol. 1 to understand the beginning of this story.  If you haven’t done that, go do that before you even pick this one up.

Anyway, here there are three brothers named Armando, Dante and Cisco.  When the brothers get caught in one of Darseid’s boom tubes, it kills Armando, leaving the other brothers all alone.

boom tube

A few years alter, Cisco is a teenager with a job selling computers, and Dante is a guy who doesn’t care about having a job and only cares about wasting money.  The two not getting along very well and not wanting the same things in life.  Then things change in a big way for Cisco.  A guy from A.R.G.U.S. named Agent Gunn taking him to a house where a “breacher” is located.  This thing attacks Cisco, causing his vibration powers to kick in.  Our teenager’s life changed forever!

bive justice league of america

One thing I really liked about the book was the twist and turns in the story.  How Geoff Johns made you think all the surprises were over only to have another one happen.  I also really liked Cisco.  Not as much as the Cisco on t.v., but he is still great.  What I really liked was how he is just a kid who wants to do the right thin but keeps screwing up somehow.

I can’t really think of anything bad to say.  It was a good book.  Maybe not the best, but really fun to read.  So I hope this review encourages everyone to read this book, and I really hope you liked this review.  Remember, you need to read Justice League of America, Vol. 1  before this, because Vibe is in that book and it tells more information about him that the author assumes you already know.  So good luck!

vibe lego

 

Contributed by Connor Adamsborder

batman-V-superman-logoAbout Connor (In his dad’s words):

Connor is a preteen who enjoys graphic novels (DC Comics are preferred), superhero movies (Captain America is his favorite), watching episodes of The Flash, Arrow, and American Pickers as well as the NFL, NCAA football, and the NBA on t.v., will happily accept any and all caps (because you just can’t have too many caps), and whose favorite music revolves around pop favorites of the moment such as Cake by the Ocean (Clean version because dad is still alive) as well as anything by Fall Out Boy.  And, no, Connor did not have any input into my paragraph about him.  Being a dad does have it’s privileges.  :)

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 3 Stars, DC, Graphic Novels, Justice League, The New 52 | Tagged , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

THE GHOUL KING

the ghoul kingThe Ghoul King by Guy Haley

Genre: Post-Apocalyptic

Series: Dreaming Cities #2

Publisher:  Tor (July 12, 2016)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Length:  176 pages

MY RATING: 4 stars

 

After loving Guy Haley’s first Dreaming Cities novella, The Emperor’s Railroad, I have to admit being beyond excited to get my hands on The Ghoul King. The post-apocalyptic setting, zombies, Angels, dragons, guns, and mysterious yet relatable Knight Quinn mixed to create the perfect kind of genre blending speculative fiction which I adore. Hell, even Haley’s narrative style of allowing an elderly man named Abney to relate his adventure in the wilds of the Kingdom of Virginia as a young boy with Quinn, Knight of Atlantis, worked wonderfully, adding such a mysterious tone to the story that I had to know more.

In The Ghoul King, the author actually begins the tale by focusing on the mythical Angels of Pittsburgh, which we heard tidbits about in the first installment but never truly understood. This opening section told from these “divine” beings point of view, giving a reader so many delectable morsels of knowledge about who and what these creatures might be. Their true nature not totally revealed, but enough of the curtain pulled away to make it clear that the common people’s belief in them as representatives of an angry god might not be exactly true.

As the story continues, Mr. Haley continues to use third persons to relate the continued adventures (or trials) of Knight Quinn. This time we follow along behind Jaxon. This middle-aged man is an intellectual for his time, less in star-struck awe of Quinn than the boy Abney from The Emperor’s Railroad, willing to analyze the knight’s motives, and better understands what Quinn might truly be. Jaxon’s maturity and insight (He has knowledge of the Gone Before times and lived through the Angel Wars where the Dreaming City of Columbus was destroyed.) allowing a reader to gain a different perspective on the mysterious Quinn, transforming him into an even more compelling person.

After a rather slow beginning spent on introducing the new characters and setting up the reasons for a dangerous mission, The Ghoul King begins to pick up speed quickly. Jaxon and his associates (a group of technophiles led by the charismatic rebel leader Rachel) adding Quinn to their crew, tagging along behind the knight as they head into the shattered remnants of the Dreaming City of Columbus. Their mission and his are not quite the same however, but they all are somewhat aware of the ancient technology they will inevitably find in the ruins – though Rachel’s true purpose remains hidden until a shocking revelation toward the end.

What is especially compelling in this novella is Quinn. Sure, he had some stellar moments in the first story, but there he remained more mysterious knight than awe-inspiring person. Here, though, this Knight of Atlantis struts his stuff, ready to push his way on stage with other post-apocalyptic protagonists like Roland Deschain of The Dark Tower Saga, the Father from The Road, or The Vagrant from Peter Newman. His cool demeanor, wise council, fighting skills, steadfast determination, and unpretentious yet tough kindness turning him into someone a reader will empathize with and be willing to follow along behind as he crosses this burned out future America on a quest which isn’t quite certain to a fate which is still unknown.

As for the worldbuilding itself, I can’t praise Mr. Haley enough for what a wonderful job he is doing bringing this post-apocalyptic America to life before our reading eyes. After finishing The Ghoul King, I can’t get out of my mind the creepy atmosphere of the Dreaming City of Columbus, the perverse abominations roaming the world, and the terrifying specter of artificial intelligence gone mad with power. This world coupled with the tantalizing amount of back story on how this place came to be and who Quinn really is just made me salivate for more. And even though the tone of the ongoing tale has subtle changed into a more technological thriller with lots of horror elements, I am fine with that, because Quinn’s as-yet-unrevealed quest to right a grievous wrong is so compelling I’m okay with the more fantastical elements of the narrative slowly slipping away.

I have to admit that over the last few years I’ve been gravitating more and more to novella series, because of time constraints on my reading. (Work, family, kids, and everything which goes along with them takes a lot of time.) At the top of my “Must Read Novella” list is Dreaming Cities. Guy Haley has really struck pure gold with this post-apocalyptic series, which is fast-paced and easy to digest in a short time, yet filled with amazing worldbuilding, creepy atmosphere, and perplexing mysteries. Honestly, I want this series to keep going on forever. It is really that good. So good in fact that I have no criticisms to air other than my need to know when the next chapter in Knight Quinn’s adventure is set to hit the virtual bookshelves.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.

Purchase the book at Amazon.

Posted in 4 Stars, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Short Stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments