Books

Review: Legenda Maris

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Review: Legenda Maris

I somehow missed the news of Tanith Lee’s passing for several months. Ms. Lee’s career as an author started with her novel The Birthgrave back in 1975, and on through ninety-three books that included fantasy, horror, gothic romance, science-fiction, and works that felt like a mix of a few different genres (Biting the Sun, anyone?)

Tanith was also one of my favorite authors; her collection of re-told fairytales Red As Blood is one of those books that I keep nearby for comfort-food reading, as is her gloriously decadent, vampiric (sort of) book of the Scarabae, Personal Darkness. (Damn. I just realized that the rumored fourth novel in the Blood Opera Sequence will never happen now. One more volume for the Sandman’s Library of Lost Books, I suppose.)

She kept on writing up until the very end, and she had plans in place for several themed short story collections. Lengenda Maris is the first of those: eleven tales of the ocean featuring monsters, mysteries, and hapless people caught up in the places where the land meets the sea.

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Review: Radiance

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Review: Radiance

A tale may have exactly three beginnings: one for the audience, one for the artist, and one for the poor bastard who has to live in it.

The plot of Catherynne Valente’s latest novel Radiance centers around the mysterious disappearance of a woman – Severin, who’s origin is also something of a mystery – during her investigation of yet another mystery. The book jacket describes it as “a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery,” and that doesn’t even come close to the wonderful weirdness of a book set in a 1930’s that never existed, in a version of the solar system that only appears in pulp paperbacks and black-and-white movies.

Darn it. If I’d known I was going to enjoy the book this much I would have read it in time for our “Best Books of 2015” list; it would definitely have made it into the top ten. Maybe even the top three.

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Review: The Night Parade

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Review: The Night Parade

Kathryn Tanquary has created a beautiful story of magic, spirits, family, and growing up. It takes place in rural Japan, and each character is more bizarre and whimsical than the last.

While the plot is often simplistic and random, younger readers might enjoy the adventure. I kept hoping for some kind of logic to Saki’s journey to find the Midnight Prince, but in the end everything happened because that’s what was supposed to happen, and the main character succeeds because she’s the main character.

Which, if you think about it, is the way a lot of myths and fairy tails turn out, so maybe that’s all the logic you need.

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Review: The X-Files Vol. 1 – The Agents, The Bureau and The Syndicate

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Review: The X-Files Vol. 1 – The Agents, The Bureau and The Syndicate

Happy New Year, everyone! Time to start looking forward to everything coming in 2016, including the brand-new The X-Files miniseries set to start in (checks imdb) twelve days?! Good grief, I’m way behind on my fangirling here.

It’s been more than thirteen years since the last episode aired (seven since the second movie. Which I haven’t seen yet. Don’t judge.) so even the most dedicated fan might want to reacquaint themselves with the details about the adventures of Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. If you’re like me you may have a few old magazines you can flip through in order to find your favorite interviews. Or you could get a copy of The X-Files Vol. 1: The Agents, The Bureau and The Syndicate, due out in stores this week; 178 pages compiling the best features, interviews and profiles from The Official X-Files Magazine.

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The Best Books of 2015

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The Best Books of 2015

Whelp, it’s that time of year again. Time to look back on fifty-two weeks of book reviews and decide which ones were our favorites. Not gonna lie here, this was a tough decision. Even when ruling out anything that was published before 2015, there were still more than a dozen books that fell into the “best” category, and picking just three apiece feels unfair to the ones that didn’t make it into the top three. The solution? A ton of honorable mentions and, wherever possible, cheat.

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Review: Star Wars – Darth Plagueis

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Review: Star Wars – Darth Plagueis

“Evil?” Plagueis repeated. “What is that? Moments ago you defined yourself as a storm. You said you were death itself. Are you evil, then, or are you simply stronger and more awake than others?”

The question that Darth Sidious’s Master asks his new apprentice is probably the simplest demonstration of the difference between the Light side of the Force and the Dark. Or at least the way that the Sith see their role in the Force. And no one typifies this outlook more than the wealthy banker and secret Sith Lord from the planet Muunilinst, Hugo Damask.

Darth Plagueis is an in-depth exploration of the Star Wars Sith Lord first mentioned in Revenge of the Sith. The novel begins and ends with the death of the title character, and covers several decades of his life as he manipulates history to bring about the eventual downfall of the Jedi while searching for the secret of immortal life. The story is filled with plots and political maneuverings which are, in a lot of cases, way over my head.

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Review – Star Wars: A New Dawn

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Review – Star Wars: A New Dawn

It was the Dark Times. Evil had triumphed, a light had gone out of the world, and people had lost hope.

The destruction of the Jedi? No, I’m talking about how I felt right after Star Wars Episode 3, which is why I’ve never seen an episode of Star Wars Rebels. After the Prequels I pretty much boycotted anything Star Wars-related and sulked.

But I’ve had time to heal, and I have hope for the future (imagine some John Williams music starting in the background) and a ton of people have told me I’m missing out if I don’t watch the show. And I will, especially now that I’ve read Star Wars: A New Dawn, by John Jackson Miller. I thought it was fun, but it’s a book that’ll be a lot more fun for anyone who’s gotten to know and love the characters already.

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Review: Star Wars – Aftermath

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Review: Star Wars – Aftermath

             “We have a problem…”

Remember the ending of Return of the Jedi, with the Ewok celebration (and in the re-release, the footage of liberated cities pulling down statues of Emperor Palpatine)? Star Wars: Aftermath starts just a few seconds after that, right when things start to go wrong.

Imperial troops fire indiscriminately into the celebrating crowds, dissidents are rounded up and imprisoned, and supporters of the old regime scramble for power. The Emperor is dead, but the Empire itself is far from gone.

I was a little worried about picking this one up. Everything else I’ve read has been from the Expanded Universe; this is the first novel set in a brand-new timeline: new characters, new story. How exactly will this measure up to what we’ve seen before?

The verdict? I liked it. I liked it a lot. It’s less “Journey to The Force Awakens” and more “What Happened In A Few Days Right After The Last Movie,” but Chuck Wendig obviously enjoyed playing in the Star Wars sandbox.

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Review: Star Wars – The Crystal Star

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Review: Star Wars – The Crystal Star

Continuing our month of Star Wars reviews, I wanted to take a look at 1994’s The Crystal Star by Vonda McIntyre, which picks up five or six years after Return of the Jedi.

There’s a lot of Expanded Universe books that got into some very deep subjects; topics that questioned the nature of morality, power, responsibility, and honor.

This is not one of those books.

It’s really just a fun adventure. The bad guy is completely rotten, the good guys fight the good fight, and there’s aliens all over the place. We get disguises, renegade Jedi, betrayal, brainwashing, world-ships, and centaurs. How could it not be fun?

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