Books

Review: The Etched City

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Review: The Etched City

My random pick for a book review this week is the lovely Steampunk story from 2004. And by lovely, I mean strange. Really strange. And by story, I mean a collection of things that happen in a roughly linear timeframe to characters who don’t really have a concrete motivation and you’re not entirely sure what happens to them by the end.

Come to think of it, this isn’t really a Steampunk book either. Gaslamp fantasy, maybe, but set on a different world where all the plants and animals are the same, so you don’t have to worry about whether or not this really meshes with history and the author didn’t have to make up any new life forms.

The Etched City is K.J. Bishop’s first (and so far only) novel. The press release compared it to the works of China Mieville; I can’t really say I agree, but it certainly is the kind of fascinating writing that I can just fall into for days at a time, even if I’m not always one hundred percent sure I know what’s going on.

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Review: There’s a Mystery There – The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

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Review: There’s a Mystery There – The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak

“Fantasy,” Maurice often declared, “is the best means children have for taming wild things.”

Where the Wild Things Are is the first exposure many people have to fantasy. The author and artist Maurice Sendak created this beloved children’s book, along with writing and illustrating twenty-one other works, creating the illustrations for almost a hundred more, and even providing the set design for several ballets and operas. Sendak is universally regarded as a genius…and yet his work can be so strange that it’s hard to describe exactly why people love it as much as they do.

Rolling Stone editor Jonathan Cott has compiled several years of his interviews with Sendak into the upcoming book, There’s a Mystery There – The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak, going into loving detail about Sendak’s childhood, his passions, and his influences. Cott also spends several chapters of interviewing prominent fans and friends of Sendak to take a deeper look into what the artist was trying to say, and what might have shaped a child of a Polish immigrant into one of the most famous artists of the century.

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Review: Dear Sweet Filthy World

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Review: Dear Sweet Filthy World

“Be careful,” she says and smiles again. “You’re starting to taste like regret.”

“And how does regret taste? I imagine it’s bitter.”

She shakes her head. “Then you’re mistaken. It’s not bitter. Regret tastes like dead roses and stale bread. Regret tastes like dust.”

I’ll admit it; I’ve been in kind of a rotten mood lately, what with the gloomy weather, multiple unfinished projects, and the daily train wreck that constitutes the national news. Last week I decided hell with it, I’m just going to grab a review copy of another collection of short stories, one with the darkest, most depressing title I could find, so there.

Dear Sweet Filthy World is the latest collection by Caitlín R. Kiernan. The twenty-nine stories (horror, fantasy, a little bit of sci-fi and a lot of erotica) were first published in Kiernan’s online ‘zine “Sirenia Digest”, so this is the first time they’ve been made available to anyone other than subscribers.

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Review: Titans Return

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Review: Titans Return

“The planet reeks of concession. It’s time to wipe the slate clean. Tear down, so that we might rebuild.

Hot off the presses, it’s the latest IDW graphic novel, Transformers: Titans Return. A tyrannical leader from Cybertron’s past has returned from the dead, and he’s looking to make a few changes to the home world of the Transformers. Nothing too drastic, he’s just going to bring in an entire army of undead Metrotitans to kill everyone on the planet.

If you read Transformers on a regular basis then you’ll  already be familiar with the content here; it collects issues 56-57 of both the regular The Transformers title and More Than Meets The Eye, along with the Titans Return one-shot issueHowever, if you find it a little hard sometimes to follow the story from month to month across two titles (like I do), and you were thrown for a loop by scheduling problems that caused some of the chapters to be released out of sequence, this book puts the whole story together in its intended order.

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Review: The Shotgun Arcana

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Review: The Shotgun Arcana

In the two years since I finished The Six Gun Tarot – the first book of the Golgotha series and R.S. Belcher’s debut novel – I’ve managed to read his urban fantasies Nightwise and The Brotherhood of the Wheel, and enjoyed the heck out of both of them. I just found out that the third book of the Golgotha series is coming out in June, so I’ve now officially run out of reasons to put off reading the second.

The Shotgun Arcana starts decades before the main story, with Malachi Bick – prominent Golgotha town citizen and also exiled angel – joining the rescue party that finds out exactly how some of the members of the Donner Party managed to survive being trapped in the frozen wilderness with no food. Only in this version of 1840’s California, an ancient relic was responsible for sparking the atrocities that winter. The relic’s influence is contagious, and spreading fast.

Twenty-three years later, the most horrible people from around the world find themselves called to Nevada. A tiny town on the edge of the 40-Mile desert is becoming the nexus of murderers and cannibals (and worse), along with angelic battles, mad science, Pinkerton detectives, American-Indian magic, and a trapped horror from the dawn of humanity. Things are about to get very weird in the town of Golgotha.

They might, just possibly, get even weirder than they already are.

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The Best Books of 2016

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The Best Books of 2016

2016 may not have been the best of years, but it saw the release of some amazing books. And since Elizabeth has been focusing more on her artwork these last few months (check out her Daily Doodles on instagram) this year I get to keep the entire “Best Of” list for myself, myself, you hear?! Mwa ha haaaa!

*Ahem* Sorry, got a little carried away there. Click the jump for a list, in no particular order, of my ten favorite books from 2016.

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Review: Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

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Review: Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s ring in 2017 with a review of Anne Rice’s latest installment in the Vampire Chronicles.

The previous book in this series ended with Lestat becoming the host of the ancient force that connects all vampires throughout the world. The famous Brat Prince is now Prince Lestat, linked to the spirit Amel – who the vampires learned is fully sentient and aware. Anything that harms Lestat will now harm all other vampires, so Lestat will have to bear that responsibility for the rest of his existence.

You all knew that situation wouldn’t last.

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis introduces another race, sheds new light on the origin of the vampires, and completely alters the course of their future. After this, everything’s going to change.

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Review: Four Roads Cross

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Review: Four Roads Cross

The fifth book in Max Gladstone’s Craft Sequence series came out months ago, and I read it immediately, and then put off writing the review so long I felt I had to re-read it to remember everything I wanted to say. And I didn’t mind one bit. See below for a review of Four Roads Cross.

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Star Wars – Rogue Planet

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Star Wars – Rogue Planet

Bonus Star Wars book review! This week’s random pick falls somewhere between Chuck Wendig’s recent book for the new movies, and Timothy Zahn’s no-longer-canon trilogy from the 90’s. Greg Bear released this one in 2000 as a follow-up to The Phantom Menace, a film which I’m sure a lot of people wish wasn’t canon anymore.

Star Wars: Rogue Planet follows Obi-Wan and Anakin as they travel to the mysterious planet of Zonama Sekot, rumored source of ships which may be the fastest in the galaxy, and which also may be alive.

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Review: Star Wars Aftermath – Life Debt

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Review: Star Wars Aftermath – Life Debt

The journey to The Force Awakens continues in the second book of Chuck Wendig’s Aftermath trilogy.

The scrappy band of misfits, bounty hunters, and former soldiers introduced in the first book has been successfully (for the most part) tracking down high-ranking Imperial officers and dragging them back to the New Republic.

Far from being wiped out, the remnants of the Empire are stubbornly holding on to the planets they control and gathering their forces for another attack against the New Republic. But while some Imperial officers truly believe that having the Empire in charge would be better for the galaxy (certainly better than the chaos that’s going to result from the New Republic’s idealistic half-measures), others are working behind the scenes to return to the days of secret police, puppet governments, and an Emperor like Palpatine. Only much worse.

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