Books

Review: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle

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Review: Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle

With the nights getting longer and the weather getting colder, it’s the perfect time to curl up with a little comfort reading. Another helping of Phil and Kaja Foglio’s Girl Genius? Thanks, don’t mind if I do!

In this latest novelization, Agatha H and the Voice of the Castle, Agatha has arrived at the town of Mechanicsburg, and she has a lot to deal with. She has to avoid capture by Baron Wulfenbach, stop the evil disembodied spirit of her mother from taking over her mind, protect her loyal companions (including her possible love-interest Gil, the son of the aforementioned Baron Wulfenbach), claim her inheritance as the long-lost daughter of Bill Heterodyne, and thwart the schemes of an imposter, all while retaking and repairing her family’s ancestral home, Castle Heterodyne.

Also? The castle itself is alive. And insane. Read On

Review: Six Scary Stories

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Review: Six Scary Stories

Stephen King’s last short-story collection came out a year ago. If past behavior predicts future performance then it could be as long as eight years before we get another one.

Before anyone (like me) starts to despair, we’ve got a little something to tide us over while we wait. Part of the promotion for Stephen King’s book The Bazaar of Bad Dreams was a competition where UK authors would submit short horror stories, with King himself choosing the best one. King ended up being so impressed with the finalists that he recommended having all of them published together in one collection. Six Scary Stories is the result.
Read On

Review – The Complete Marvel Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy

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Review – The Complete Marvel Cosmos: With Notes by the Guardians of the Galaxy

Have you been wishing you could just get away lately? Take a trip somewhere far away? I mean really far away? You’re in luck; Hidden Universe Travel Guides has released the Complete Marvel Cosmos, a travel guide that gives you tips and tricks for some of the best destinations in the Marvel Universe, from the Savage Land all the way to Svartalfheim. And your copy is extra special, because the Guardians of the Galaxy got ahold of it first and scribbled all kinds of notes in it.

Seriously, the writing in this book is already more interesting than what you’d usually get from a fictional guide book, but the quips and insults the Guardians keep throwing at each other are what makes it brilliant.

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Review – Death’s End

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Review – Death’s End

No banquet was eternal. Everything had an end. Everything.

The final book in Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past picks up where the second book left off. The Trisolaran army has been stopped, and humanity is now safe. Of course “safe” translates here to “holding off an attack from a technologically superior alien race by keeping one finger on the button of a doomsday device, forever.” I wonder how long humanity can keep that up.

This is it, the culmination of everything that Cixin Liu has been leading up to in the first two books. The Three Body Problem featured an alien civilization and theoretical physics. The Dark Forest involved political machinations and high-tech space battles. Death’s End goes beyond both of them and still manages to be like a fairytale. With physics. And politics. And space battles. And a shockingly high number of casualties. Read On

Review: Feeding Hannibal – A Connoisseur’s Cookbook

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Review: Feeding Hannibal – A Connoisseur’s Cookbook

Happy Halloween! Last day for the October Scary Book Reviews. You know what’s a really scary topic? Cannibals!

I remember I was partway through Season One of the TV show Hannibal, and I was already hooked on the charismatic killer and dazzled by the gorgeous food he would serve to his unsuspecting guests.

Some of his gourmet dishes were so intriguing, I did extensive research to find out what they were. Well, sort of extensive. Okay, I think it was exactly one google search (“hannibal episode 10 ham with hoof”), but it took me right to “Feeding Hannibal”, a blog by Janice Poon, the food stylist for the show. Setting up beautifully prepared meals for each episode is a complicated job, and Janice’s blog is overflowing with recipes, sketches, behind-the-scenes stories, and of course details about what she used to make it look like Hannibal was cooking someone’s liver. Or lung. Or arm, complete with hand and fingers.

Best of all, Janice reserved some of the tastiest bits of trivia for her latest project, Feeding Hannibal – A Connoisseur’s Cookbook. Two hundred and forty full-color pages with everything you need to make your own Hannibal-themed dishes.

Anybody hungry?

Read On

Review: Visitor

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Review: Visitor

I put off reading this book for a while because I thought the series hit a low point: overcomplicated, too much back story, and moving at a snail’s pace. I was worried that this book was going to be even more of a slog than the last one.

Man, I wish I could say I’d been worried for nothing.

Click the jump for a look at C.J. Cherryh’s Visitor, the last book in the Foreigner series I plan on reviewing.

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Review: Swift to Chase – A Collection of Stories

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Review: Swift to Chase – A Collection of Stories

My kind is swift to chase, swift to battle. My imperfect memory is long with longing for the fight.

Yes, okay, I know. I’ve already done a collection of short horror stories this month. In my defense, Laird Barron’s collection Swift to Chase came out just this month, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was going to have to be part of the spooky books I reviewed in October.

Last week’s book had one story by Laird Barron, arguably the most off-the-wall one in the collection. Take that and magnify it by a hundred and you’ll come close to the insanity of a dozen of his stories in a row. Set in Alaska (or influenced by Alaska. Or has characters retreating to Alaska, or running away from whatever happened there), all of them are connected (somehow) and filled with some of the most disturbing images and gruesome ways to die. I’ve read through most of the book twice by now and I’m still not sure I understand what was going on. Or if I’m even supposed to understand. Strap in, folks, this is going to be a weird ride.
Read On

Review: Children of Lovecraft

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Review: Children of Lovecraft

Say what you will about H.P. Lovecraft – his elaborate Victorian prose, his cringeworthy racial biases – the man created a sandbox that horror writers love to play in. I’ve reviewed one story by Lovecraft in this column; compare that to, what, three separate posts about Lovecraft-inspired stories? Maybe four? There’s something irresistible about a modern take on the Cthulhu mythos, with just the right creepiness mixed in with the horror. I’m always willing to give a new Lovecraft compilation a try, even when I haven’t read anything by most of the authors included.

I needed something to keep me occupied for a long train ride, and I thought Children of Lovecraft would at least be interesting. And then I had to pace myself to keep myself from reading it too fast. Ellen Datlow’s latest compilation has fourteen stories by authors writing at the top of their game, and I feel like I could have eaten up the entire book in one sitting.

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DC Rebirth Oct 5th – Phantom Ring, Cybernetic show down, Monster Nightwing and more

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DC Rebirth Oct 5th – Phantom Ring, Cybernetic show down, Monster Nightwing and more

DC Rebirth continues to delight as issue 8 makes its grand debut in the art of action. Seems like all of our characters are battling it out: Cyborg fighting Killgore, the Justice League fighting fear itself, all while Gotham is being overrun by monsters. Even our earthbound Green Lanterns have to protect the Phantom Ring from the Dominators.

Read On

Review: The War of the Worlds

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Review: The War of the Worlds
For a time I believed that mankind had been swept out of existence, and that I stood there alone, the last man left alive.

It’s October, and that means a whole month of scary-book reviews! First up is H.G. Wells’s 1897 classic The War of the Worlds, and…what? Okay, I know it’s technically a science fiction book. In some ways it’s the science fiction book, one of the earliest alien invasion novels, spawning dozens of adaptations in several different media, even inspiring inventions that would eventually take mankind to the moon.

It’s also a horrifying story in places, with tentacled-aliens raining down death and destruction in several unsettlingly imaginative ways. And let’s not forget that one of the adaptations – a radio play that aired in 1938 – convinced people that a real invasion was underway, causing widespread panic in the streets. I think that puts this comfortably in the “scary” category, don’t you?

Read On