Friday, September 30, 2016

ANGELA: ASGARD'S ASSASSIN V.1: A REVIEW

Angela: Asgard’s Assassin Vol. 1
Written by: Keiron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett
Illustrated by: Phil Jimenez, and Stephanie Hans Paperback: 136 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
August 2015
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel/Marvel

All her life, Angela -- the finest warrior of Heven -- was raised to hate Asgard with every fiber of her being. And now Angela knows the truth about her identity: She is Thor's sister. She is an Asgardian. Cast out of her home and wanting nothing to do with Asgard, Angela must now strike out on her own! But what does Angela have that both Asgard and Heven want? And why are they so eager to get it? Visionary writers Kieron Gillen and Marguerite Bennett team with the legendary art team of Phil Jimenez and Stephanie Hans to finally throw the spotlight onto the Marvel Universe's most dangerous inhabitant!

COLLECTING: Angela: Asgard's Assassin 1-6


+++++++++++++

‘Nothing for nothing. Everything has a price.’

Many years ago I first picked up an Angela comic largely based on the fact that Neil Gaiman created her along with artist Todd McFarlane. This time I grabbed an Angela comic from the library because Kieron Gillen was writing her story. If you know anything about the Angela character she got her start in Spawn, but after Gaiman won his battle with McFarlane she was sold to Marvel and became part of the Age of Ultron storyline.

Angela was the first born to Odin and Frigga, but stolen away and raised to be an Angel of Heven. Now she has come back to Asgard only to kidnap her newborn sister and now has the whole of Asgard hunting her down. However, we quickly learn that Angela does not do anything without a reason.

Things I liked: The artwork is gorgeous, lots of amazing colors. In some ways it reminds me of a dark fantasy comic more than your traditional superhero fare.

Yay Loki!

Angela is a bit hard to like. She is cold and quiet. She falls a bit flat for me which is a shame. However, I did like her relationships with Gamora and Sera. And oh Sera, how awesome is she? I loved her. Sera, Angela’s best friend and lover is snarky and a bit of a bard. She is a great character, a transgender angel who is brave, strong, and incredibly acerbic at times. In fact, I kind of liked her a bit better. She is Angela’s humanity and really it is through Sera that Angela gets any real character development. We get to know Angela through Sera’s eyes because Angela is giving us nothing. She also heavily balances out Angela. Their relationship kind of reminds me of Xena and Gabrielle a bit.

Still, Angela is a badass warrior sure. I do admit that I loved her going toe to toe with her little brother Thor Odinson.

It was a good introduction to Angela, though obviously plenty of unanswered questions. I am curious to see where she will go and what she will do. While she is far from my favorite Marvel character, I enjoyed reading her.

Things I didn’t like so much: Her outfit is utterly ridiculous, but it was utterly ridiculous when she was hunting down Spawn as well. Bikini armor. Sure she is rocking the look, but it is incredibly impractical. Sure, she gets actual armor later, but first you must roll your eyes at the skimpiness. Or maybe you don’t, who knows. I will say that despite her bikini top, giant belt skirt, and lots of fun ribbons I never really felt like Angela was being over-sexualized. So points on that.

She has a ton of history and stories that I have not read, so sometimes I felt like I had been thrown in the middle. For once I actually wish there was the beginning primer that is sometimes at the beginning of a new story arc or series just in case this is your first taste. Sure, there was a heavy dose of exposition, but I still felt like I was missing a lot.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. In the end Angela was interesting, but don’t think it would have stayed on my pull list. Still, I will probably check out the next volume.

Part of: Part of a series

Also Recommended: For more Comic goodness please check out; 1602 Witch Hunter Angela (Marguerite Bennett), Red Sonja (Gail Simone), Mas Marvel (G. Willow Wilson), Saga, Lumberjanes, Rat Queens, The Wicked + The Divine, and Captain Marvel (Kelly Sue DeConnick).

2.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF CINNAMON GIRL: A REVIEW

The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl
Written by: Melissa Keil
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Language: English
April 2016 (first Published Sept 2014)
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

Alba loves her life just as it is. She loves living behind the bakery, and waking up in a cloud of sugar and cinnamon. She loves drawing comics and watching bad TV with her friends.

The only problem is she’s overlooked a few teeny details:

Like, the guy she thought long gone has unexpectedly reappeared.
And the boy who has been her best friend since forever has suddenly gone off the rails.
And even her latest comic-book creation is misbehaving.

Also, the world might be ending – which is proving to be awkward.

As Doomsday enthusiasts flock to idyllic Eden Valley, Alba’s life is thrown into chaos. Whatever happens next, it’s the end of the world as she knows it. But when it comes to figuring out her heart, Armageddon might turn out to be the least of her problems.


+++++++++++++

As the summer finally winds down, oh hello fall, I found myself wanting to read one more beach read. The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl looked like it would hit all of my needs: something light and fun with a splash of romance. The themes seemed great: growing up, deciding what you want to do with your life, and wondering where your place is. Oh yeah and the Apocalypse. It was all right up my alley.

“Now before you start thinking that this is the story of some waify, sun-kissed country girl – get this straight, I am so NOT that girl. I have dark hair, and darker eyes, and did you hear me mention that I live in a bakery? Like, literally. I sleep in a fog of cinnamon and vanilla, and spend most mornings elbow deep in pastries and pie.” My kind of girl.

School is over in Eden Valley. Until recently Alba thought that she knew what she was doing with her life. She’d take Cinnamon Girl, her most drawn character, and head to University in Melbourne for Graphic Arts. Except now she is having doubts. Cinnamon Girl ends up sour and cranky looking every time she draws her. Plus, her bestie Grady is leaving Eden Valley too. It feels like the end of the world. And maybe it is.

Self proclaimed psychic, Original Ned thinks the world is ending too. In fact, he has a YouTube video predicting the end of the world. And the only safe place is Eden Valley. When the doomsdayers, the partiers, and the news crews start flooding into town, Alba can only hope that she will know what to do once Doomsday comes. Especially if they survive.

Things I liked: Let’s start with the characters. Alba is great. She is quirky, geeky, full of moxie, funny, and incredibly relatable. She is the girl who isn’t afraid of her curves, completely rocks the rockabilly vibe, collects garden gnomes, and spends one night a week playing a drinking game (with Redbull) with her friends while they watch a bad soap opera starring one of their old friends. Alba feels real, authentic, and seems like she would be awesome to hang out with.

I think the thing I love the most about Alba, other than a kick ass wardrobe I wish I owned, was that she is comfortable in her own skin. Though she may not know what she wants to do with her life, she knows who she is. Refreshing really. She is geeky and has curves and does not feel the need to change that. She does not need to put on airs for others. I admire that.

When she tells her story it is laid back and funny. She is afraid of change. I so get that. I like familiarity and order. I like being in control. The future in an unknown. Anyway, as she tells her story you feel included. You feel like she is chatting with you about one crazy couple of weeks in her life. You feel like you are part of the gang.

Speaking of the gang, I loved them as well. So much friendship. Yay! Each supporting character (The besties/gang in this case) has their own personality. I loved their friendships, their varied personalities, and how they were there for one another. While they don’t get as much character development as Alba or Grady, they feel more rounded by the end of the book. And oh Grady. You adorable adorable man you.

Let’s talk romance. There is one. Surprisingly though, there isn’t a love triangle, shocker I know. This is young adult lit after all and lately it seems like you have to check that little box off before you can get your boo published. Even when former childhood friend Daniel walks back into her life despite his soap star hunkiness Alba misses her childhood friend and while she can appreciate his hotness, there is just something missing. We all know that she has already found her boy wonder. We have known since we first met Grady. She has known Grady since she was a kid, both of their mom’s being besties. They spend all of their time together, he even has a couch in her bedroom so he can stay over. While Alba might be completely blind to what is in front of her we have known from the start as have her friends for a very long time. This is the story that just brings them together. It was sweet. It made me smile. It would make a great teen romantic comedy film, so get on it people.

What else did I love? I loved the art for each of the chapters, getting to see Cinnamon Girl in all of her glory. It really fits the book quite well. I also of course loved all of the comics references. Though more DC than Marvel. I will forgive Alba for that since she is also a Fiona Staples fan and has love for Fables.

I loved the Burning Man like people that descended onto poor little Eden Valley. I liked the other residents. I liked the descriptions of all of the bakery goodies. Yeah, I kind of loved it all. It was a quick fun read that I had to go buy and add to my arsenal of books after I returned it to the library. I think you will probably like it too.

Also can we have more adventures?

Things I didn’t like so much: I got nothing.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. So adorable and fun. A perfect end to the Summer.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: Give one of Melissa Keil’s other books a shot such as Life in Outer Space. I am also going to recommend Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg, One Day by David Nichols, Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, and Summer Days & Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN: A REVIEW

The Star-Touched Queen
Written by: Roshani Chokshi
Hardcover: 342 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Language: English
April 2016
Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.


+++++++++++++

“Although I had never envisioned marriage, I had thought of love. Not the furtive love I heard muffled in the corners or rooms of some of the harem wives. What I wanted was a connection, a shared heartbeat that kept rhythm across oceans and worlds. I didn't want the prince from the folktales or some milk-skinned, honey-eyed youth who said his greetings and proclaimed his love in the same breath. I wanted a love thick with time, as inscrutable as if a lathe had carved it from night and as familiar as the marrow in my bones. I wanted the impossible. “

When I saw the cover I knew that I was going to read it. I read the description and I had a feeling I would love it. Some books are like that. Some books I just find myself drawn to before I even read the first page. Does that ever happen to you or is it just me?

Now I have always loved mythology. From Hades and Persephone to Tamsin, the Morrigan, and even Loki. I am not well versed in Middle Eastern and Asian mythos, but I am starting to. I think I first got interested in Hindu mythology from a Christopher Pike series growing up of all things (The Last Vampire series). There is something fascinating about tales of Sati, Rama, & Shiva. I am also a big fan of fairytales and One Thousand and One Nights. So this gorgeous little book was completely right up my alley.

In the kingdom of Bharata, horoscopes hold weight. Unfortunately, Princess Mayavati was born with a cursed horoscope, one that declares her to be married to death and destruction. Because of this, the other women of the harem have always treated her differently (such as blaming her for any misfortune that occurs) as have her half siblings and other members of the court. Her only friend is her little sister Gauri who she lulls to sleep with fantastic tales of the Night Bazaar. However, a life of isolation has meant that can do many things alone such as read and sketch, spy on her father and his court from the rafters, and dream of a different life.

Until her father announces that Maya will marry a foreign prince to avert war. The choice of a husband is for her to decide, but her fate will be the same. She will be another pampered harem wife in a gilded cage. Her freedom will be gone. Her life no longer her own. Except that her fate is to be even darker than what she ever expected. Her father wants her to drink poison and martyr herself to save her kingdom and her little sister.

But something unexpected happens on her wedding day. Before she can take the first drop of poison a mysterious new suitor walks into her life. She chooses not to be a pawn in that moment. Something feels right. She chooses him. From that day on she becomes the Queen of Akaran and wife of Amar, whisked away to an unknown kingdom and married to a man whose face she cannot see.

When I looked at him, something stirred inside me. It felt like recognition sifted through dreams; like the moment before waking - when sleep blurred the true world, when beasts with sharp teeth and beautiful, winged things flew along the edges of your mind.

Through Amar she finds love and passion. She finds the partner she had always been hoping for though he seems to be spun from the myths and fairytales she used to tell her little sister Gauri. But Akaran is also full of secrets. There are locked and hidden rooms, things her husband cannot and will not say, and a profound feeling that something is missing. Who can she trust? Can she even trust herself?

Things I liked: "I want your perspective and honesty," he said, before adding in a softer voice, "I want to be humbled by you. My kingdom needs a queen. It needs someone with fury in her heart and shadows in her smile. It needs someone restless and clever. It needs you." When you have such prose like this, how could you not fall in love with such an exquisite fairytale. Seriously this fairytale killed me with its gorgeousness. This was a book I loved to read; read for the prose, the way the words wound together to create something magical. It was all so beautifully lovely. It all reminded me of a story that Scheherazade would weave in One Thousand and One Nights.

Oh and the world building. Le Sigh. It’s a mushy, sugary concoction of romantic goodness and I loved every last bite. It made me smile and my heart sing. I fell in love with the magic. Is that not what fairytales are supposed to do. The mythology roots are there too. Also makes my heart smile.

I loved Maya. I love that she found strength in her solitude. I love that she persevered. I might not have been so lucky. Sure I am an introvert, but I am an introvert who needs to be social. Oh and the whole wanting everyone to be happy thing. Let’s back to Maya though. Maya is curious. Maya is brave. Maya has edges. Maya is flawed. She makes bad decisions, she falls prey to an Iago like character and doesn’t trust her heart and herself when she needs to Many fairytales have flawed heroes and heroines. It’s part of the journey and this is Maya’s journey to find herself and what her power is. Even better when she does mistakes, and oh boy does she, she takes responsibility for her actions even when her decisions are bad ones.

"I want to lie beside you and know the weight of your dreams," he said, brushing his lips against my knuckles. "I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars." He moved closer and a chorus of songbirds twittered silver melodies. "I want to measure eternity with your laughter." Guh. As you might be able to tell, I also loved Amar. Sure Amar is the mysterious stranger trope, but so are many loves in fairytales. It is why I love them so. I really can’t blame Maya for falling for him. All her life her view of love and life as a wife was through the harem. For Amar, she is his world. There is no harem, no other wives…just her. Yeah at first glance there might be insta love or at least the insta desire. The real love, the trust, and the commitment will come later. Plus there is more to the story. Still Amar says things like this and I can’t help but love him. "The truth," said Amar, taking a step closer to me, "is that you look neither lovely nor demure. You look like edges and thunderstorms. And I would not have you any other way."

Kamala the horse is hilarious. Aside from her flesh eating tendencies I think she would be great to have around. It’s probably the snark. Yep definitely the snark. I wanted more of Gauri. Looks like I will get my wish as the next tale set in this universe is hers. 2017, come quick. I absolutely enjoyed it, and I cannot wait to read more by Roshani Chokshi.

Things I didn’t like so much: This book is not without its flaws. Sometimes the prose can so lovely that it chooses style over substance, almost too descriptive. This is a minor nitpick though.

I think I also wanted Maya to make her own choice, to embrace her former life not because of fate, but because she wanted to. I also wanted more. Of everything.

My last gripe isn’t really with the book. I read a few reviews that said Maya slut shamed. The quote in particular is “I’d rather spread ideas than legs,” I hissed back. “But I doubt you would agree-" Whoa, hold on there cowboy. One, none of the harem wives are sluts. It is true that the harem wives are pretty things in gilded cages. Their sexuality is owned instead of owning it. I can’t blame Maya for wanting to spread ideas rather than spread her legs. She didn’t learn to cherish the harem as they were so cruel to her. Instead she read, she learned, she spied on her father and discovered the kingdom she lived in. She learned that she wanted more. I would want the same. Maya wants to be more than a harem wife, one of many, and far from independent. She wants her freedom. Can you blame the girl? Just because she does not want the life of a harem wife does not mean she sees the harem wives as sluts. Maybe I read the passage and the book differently. But I saw her as just wanting more. It just bugged me when I read some other reviews and …sigh. Anyway….

Buy or Borrow: Buy. So so gorgeous and worth every page.

Part of: Part of a series

Also Recommended: For more fairytales or tales with perhaps a Hindu flair please try the following: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor, The Orphan’s Tales beginning with In the Night Garden by Catherynne Valente, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh, Abandon by Meg Cabot, and The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

SARAH'S SCRIBBLES: A REVIEW

Sarah’s Scribbles: Adulthood is a Myth
Written by: Sarah Andersen
Paperback: 109 pages
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Language: English
March 2016
Genre: Humor/Comics

Are you a special snowflake?

Do you enjoy networking to advance your career?

Is adulthood an exciting new challenge for which you feel fully prepared?

Ugh. Please go away.

This book is for the rest of us. These comic document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas, and wondering when, exactly, this adulthood thing begins. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life.


+++++++++++++

Sarah Andersen is amazing. For a while now I’ve been following Sarah’s Scribbles online because Sarah might be my spirit animal or a long lost twin or some such. I read and I relate. I laugh. I smile and I’m comforted that I am so not alone in my thoughts and feelings. Of course the moment I saw that a nice collection would be available for me to buy, I totally bought it because this is me.

Things I liked: It is hard to review a book like this because you need to read it for yourself and glory in all its awesomeness. I loved this because it has some of my favorite strips like the one above, but also ones like this.

I loved it, because I get it. There are some big societal expectations when you reach a certain age. I feel it even more living in the Bay Area sometimes. Society expects certain things once you’ve reached this elusive adulthood. Admittedly, adulthood always seemed like once I got there everything would be easy and make complete sense. I would be the working soccer mom with a clean home, social butterfly skills plus five, and constantly doing all sorts of fun chic things. Except none of those things happened. Let’s face it, adulthood will always be a myth to me.

I’m never going to have the perfectly clean house. I probably will never decide on one thing I want to be when I grow up. I am going to relish the sheer feeling of release when I get home and it is no pants or jammie times instead of going out and partying on the town(Because my idea of a great weekend is playing videogames and watching Netflix with the Rogue). I’m always going to be an introvert and a giant geek. I will probably never have the power to eat only one Oreo or not buy something when I walk into a bookstore. And I am always going to overthink and overanalyze everything.

Sarah seems to understand these things if her comics are any indication. She is an introvert who likes to be social on occasion and then run back home to recuperate for three days. She collects notebooks like me, understood the perils of having long hair, and changes her toenail polish as often as I do. Through her strips I know that she feels my pain when people try to initiate small talk, holding hands with a new love for the first time, and how one chapter can turn into 15.

I like the art and its simplicity. It makes me smile. It somehow makes the whole thing even more relatable to me. If she ever wants to hang for an hour, I am available. I know a few cool bookstores, some bubble tea shops, and a geek place or two. I loved this book. I love her strips and I think you will too.

Things I didn’t like so much: I wanted it to last longer. I want more. It’s too short. Never stop doing your art thing Sarah. Your comics make my day. Thankfully for us, she has another one coming out next year.  Yay!

Buy or Borrow: Buy. If you can relate to any of this, I think you will love this book.

Part of: Standalone.

Also Recommended: For more great comics that an introvert or a book lover might relate to try Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half or any of Lucy Knisley’s books.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Monday, September 5, 2016

WE STAND ON GUARD: A REVIEW

We Stand on Guard
Written by: Brian K Vaughan
Illustrated by: Steve Skroce and Matt Hollingsworth
Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher: Image Comics
Language: English
May 2016
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

SAGA writer BRIAN K. VAUGHAN teams with artistic legend and Hollywood storyboard artist STEVE SKROCE for a subversive, action-packed military thriller. Set 100 years in our future, WE STAND ON GUARD follows a heroic band of Canadian civilians turned freedom fighters who must defend their homeland from invasion by a technologically superior opponent...the United States of America. Collecting all six issues of the controversial hit miniseries.

+++++++++++++

I like Brian K Vaughan a lot. I like the stories he tries to tell and the themes within. Quite often he tells stories that challenge his readers, create questions, and provoke discussions. Many of his works are currently on my shelf (Pride of Baghdad, Saga, Y-The Last Man, and Ex Machina). I will admit that I largely grabbed this from the library because of Vaughan’s apparent power over me. But you have to admit that the cover is striking. Don’t you want to read more?

The story begins in Ottawa in 2112 as a family watches the drone footage of the bombing of the White House. Who has done it? For young Tommy, Amber, and their parents they won’t get to ponder long as the US is swift in its retaliation flattening Ottawa with their own bomb barrage. 12 years later Amber is hunting in the North Territories, her brother captured by the Americans. She discovers a band of Canadian civilians who have become freedom fighters. Together they will fight to defend their homeland from invasion by the technologically advanced US.

Things I liked: Yay Canada. From the Canadian roots of Superman, the references to the Littlest Hobo, and the fact that LePage speaks almost exclusively in French is so great. Seriously, I love LePage. As a French speaker I loved that most of his bubbles were completely in French and there were no translations. I was proud that my skills haven’t completely atrophied.

The premise of the comic is an interesting one. The fact that the US would have interest in Canada’s water and oil is interesting. There is mention that a good portion of the US is again a Dust Bowl due to ignoring climate change for so long and thoroughly screwing themselves. So clean water is now a commodity the way that oil was in the Middle East. Is it enough to start a war with one of The US’s closest allies? The Canadians in We Stand On Guard think so.

I love the artwork, especially the Mechs. One of the giant mechs kind of reminds me of an AT-AT especially the way that it is taken down in the snowy landscape of northern Canada. The artwork really is gorgeous with its fairly muted palettes and detail with the mech and tech designs. Amber looked a bit older than the early twenties she was supposed to be a few times (she looked to be about 7 or 8 in the prologue), but that is a minor quibble. The rest of the art works with the plot. Its bloody, violent, and I liked it which probably says a lot about me.

Loved the use of VR as a torture technique. Apparently torture of the future is one where bodily harm is not inflicted. Psychological warfare at its worst with advanced VR. Guantanamo also seems to be a thing of the past, now prisoners work as slave labor on farms. Somehow certain things seem sadly plausible should certain officials be elected into office. Sigh. Anyway….

Things I didn’t like so much: I am surprised that Amber did not find the 214 earlier given her hatred and bitterness. The US did kill her family and currently have her older brother captured…so you know, I get it. Amber is really the only character who is fleshed out and even then I thought she could have been more fully developed.

While the pacing is quick. It is almost too quick. The dread isn’t there, the ending too quick and tidy (yet a ton of unanswered questions) left in its wake. I also didn’t understand the overkill on such a small band of rebels. And yet perhaps that is the satire right there. There are some giant plot holes, but they didn’t make me enjoy the story less. Oh and one more thing, the hero poisons the well? I’m sure the surviving Canadians will be thrilled. Again, probably the satire right there. Oh BKV. *Smile*

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. While I overall enjoyed the book, it didn’t resonate with me the same way as some of BKV’s other works.

Part of: Standalone.

Also Recommended: For more Brian K Vaughan please check out Saga, The Pride of Baghdad (a standalone), Ex Machina, or Y the Last Man. For another war comic please try The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert or Exit Wounds by Rutu Modan.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE - V.1: A REVIEW


The Wicked + The Divine: V. 1 The Faust Act
Written by: Kieron Gillen
Illustrated and Colored by: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Image Comics
Language: English
November 2014
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel/Series

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever. Collects THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #1-5

+++++++++++++

I love comic books. They are visual storytelling at its best when it goes to the bibliosphere. I get lost in the stories and the artwork. Oh the artwork. Sure, I am a big giant Marvel fangirl, but for some time now I have become an Image fangirl. When you have series like Chew, The Walking Dead, Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, Monstress, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals, and more how can you not be a fan of what Image is putting out.

Mythology is also my jam. Though I am most well versed in Greek, Celtic, and Norse pantheons, I love mythology stories. I also love stories about the Gods on Earth. The Endless of Neil Gaiman and the Incarnations of Immortality by Piers Anthony were favorites of mine growing up (Still are as well). If the Divine were on Earth who and what would they be now? How would we see them? Where would they gain their worship and power?

I had seen Wicked + Divine, heard about how awesome Gillen and McKelvie were with the series, but it took me a while to pick it up (I love trades instead of single issues these days). And finally I picked up the Faust Act. All I can say is what the frak took me so long.

Normal humans who discover that they are incarnates of various Gods is a great premise. Sure you get fame, money, and superpowers. But your life is over in just a short two years. Is the trade worth it? Plus how much of you is still in there?

Laura is a fan girl of the Gods. She idolizes and worships them. She wants to be one of them, part of them. While she is attending a concert starring the goddess Amaterasu, Luci (Lucifer) invites Laura to join her. Why on Earth would Laura refuse? All she has ever wanted is to be part of them. Laura wants to help Luci. But maybe there is more going on with the Gods than she ever knew.

Things I liked: Oh my, oh my. The artwork is the divine here. It is bright, vivid and full of color. It is so many things that I love. How could I not be hooked by the artwork alone. McKelvie’s art is magnificent and I love the color palettes so props go out to Matt Wilson as well. So, while yes the art captivated me, there is so much more to love about this series.

Yay Diversity. Not only is the pantheon diverse, but so are the characters. Granted a good portion of them are female, but I am so okay with that. Speaking of Pantheons, you have Lucifer (Christian), the Morrigan (Celtic), Sakhmet (Egyptian), Amaterasu (Japanese) and more. They each have their own look and personality as well. Of course Luci and the Morrigan (in all her incarnations) are my favorite characters. So many cosplay goals for Kailey and I next year. *crossing fingers*

Luci (Lucifer), as I said, is awesome. She is androgynous, rocking the Annie Lennox/Thin White Duke vibe, and sexy as all frak. Princess of Darkness and one hell of a snazzy dresser, she is one of my favorites. She is still not sure how much power she has in this realm and though confident, understands that she may have crossed the line and might be in some serious trouble. Then you have Amaterasu who is sweet and kind. In a way she reminds me of Stevie Nicks meets Florence and the Machine with maybe a pinch of Kate Bush.

The Morrigan: She is my second best character. Okay maybe tied with Luci. Badb, Macha, or Anu (Annie) I don’t care, I love each of her aspects. This is not just because of the crows or the solid goth vibe, though admittedly that helps. The Morrigan has always been part of life with the stories my mom told me when I was little (yay Celtic heritage). Yep, so many cosplay goals. So hard. So many. Sigh. I should get working on that.

You also have Sakhmet, a lion headed Egyptian goddess who looks a lot like Rhianna and Baal who is pretty much Kanye. Like I said how could you not love all of these characters? It makes sense that the Gods would be pop and rock idols, pop culture superstars, and social media mavens. They are worshipped and idolized. Why wouldn’t the Gods be pop culture idols? But seriously, I love all of their looks, their body language, and their otherness. And Laura…well she is us. Our window into the Gods world, the fangirl.

The first volume sets up the world and out band of players. Of course the Gods rarely place nice with one another. That is why reading about them is so much fun. It is a slow build for the most part until the latter half of this first outing and then BANG! Wait! What? Exploding heads and other plot things. No, no, no, no. There are a lot of unanswered questions. Why come back? Why only two years before death? Who else is now here on Earth? Well and all of that pesky whodunit. *smile* Sure the first half may be a slow build but you are setting the story. I think the story is going to be an epic one and I cannot wait to read the next volume.

The Milkfed Criminal Masterminds (Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction) will produce the series for TV (Along with Sex Criminals). I am crossing my fingers hoping they both make it to my small screen. Oh and did you want a soundtrack to read by. Good thing Gillen made one for you. Check it out here: https://play.spotify.com/user/missadalovelace/playlist/11LAaVMMhxPfSp4i2b6JRJ

Things I didn’t like so much: There wasn’t a whole lot that I didn’t like. While some might complain about the slow build, I didn’t mind it. In fact, sometimes I felt like too many Gods were being introduced. It was a little confusing plus I wanted to learn more about each of them.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I think you will like it.

Part of: Series.

Also Recommended: if you are a fan of the Gods on earth please check out the Sandman comics by Neil Gaiman or Lucifer by Mike Carey. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods is also a great read. For more great Image comics please check out Chew, The Walking Dead, Bitch Planet, Pretty Deadly, Monstress, Rat Queens, Saga, Sex Criminals.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

IF I WENT TO HOGWARTS

In honor of the first day at Hogwarts and perhaps my wish for magic in my life at the moment, I thought I would do a what if today. I know it’s not Wednesday, but I also have not done one in a while. So this week’s prompt is: What if I went to Hogwarts. This is how I think my life would have gone down had I received that elusive letter. What if you went to Hogwarts? Let me know and I will add your link.

My life would be full of Muggles. Sure there are a few magically inclined relatives like my Great Aunt or my Great Great Grandmother, but I do not come from a long line of magic users. My brother and I are however received our letters. He’s a few years younger than me, but what can I say…we just have something magical in us. Isn’t that right bro? But let’s face it my everyday life is rooted in Muggleland. I need my Rat Queens, my Buffy quotes, and my cellphone. After a school year of all things magical I think I would appreciate summers filled with movies, video games, bubble tea parlors, and Legos.

MY HOUSE: RAVENCLAW
Sure being a Gryff would be amazing, but not everyone can be Harry, Hermione, and Ron. I am far more likely to be sorted into either Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. Hufflepuff because I am loyal, patient, and kind. I try to see the best in everyone and one of my biggest merits/flaws is I am a born people pleaser. However, I am also extremely competitive. I am creative and I love learning. Hell, I would be a professional if time and money were not a worry. Plus Ravenclaws are a bit quirky, definitely bibliophiles. While I consider myself fairly sweet, I think the Sorting Hat would say I am too snarky and not as nice as I think. The Rogue would be Slytherin and my brother would so be Gryffindor.

I would probably hang out with a little bit of everyone (though more likely the introverts, the geeks, and the quirky kids). But cross house friendships are a must, the Rogue is Slytherin after all. I would, however, have a small closeknit group of besties.

FAVORITE CLASS: CARE OF MAGICAL CREATURES
Astronomy, Transfiguration, and Potions would be some of my favorite classes. Of course being a Muggle I would kick some serious ass at Muggle Studies. However, above all other classes, the Care of Magical creatures would be my absolute favorite.

QUIDDITCH: FAN
I like sports and while flying might be a blast, this girl is far more likely to be in the stands cheering for my favorite team, wearing their colors and waving pennants.

WAND: CHESTNUT W/PHOENIX FEATHER
Granted the wand chooses you. Who knows what I would pick up at Ollivander’s. however I can dream and speculate that it would perhaps be Chestnut or English Oak perhaps with a Phoenix feather core. Who knows though.


FAVORITE SPELL: ACCIO
There are a lot of spells that I would likely use frequently. Colovaria because you’ve seen that amazing dress, but in the wrong color. Being able to change the color of things would come in handy. Like the boring walls in the apartment you rent, for example. Episky would be great as it heals injuries and I am known to be accident prone on occasion. Having both Expelliarmus and Expecto Patronum spells at the ready is kind of a necessity, plus I should have some non-selfish spells. Lumos will always be important, and I think Mobiliarbus would be used on a daily basis as I can be lazy as all frak. But my favorite spell would be Accio as I am always misplacing things. All of the time.


PATRONUS: FLYING FOX
Yep a bat. Megachiroptera and cute as all hell.

ANIMAL COMPANION: RAVEN
Corvids for the win. I found Macha at the Magical Menagerie when searching for an owl. I walked out with her instead because she was beautiful, intelligent, and we got on just great.

So that is what I imagine my life would be like if I went to Hogwarts. Did I miss anything? What would your choices be? Happy Thursday everyone.

WATCH/READ/PLAY: SEPTEMBER

How is it September already? Wow the Summer just flew by. Hello September. I will say that I am excited for colder weather, horror films and Autumn which is one of my favorite times of the year. Though admittedly here in sunny California we don’t get the Autumn majesty of Montana. This month does mean more horror films, TV premieres galore, awesome reads and some decent games. Are you excited about any of these things? Did I miss something? Let me know.

FILM & TV
Morgan
Genre: Drama/Sci-Fi/Horror
Stars:Paul Giamatti, Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh
In short: A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being. Sounds similar to Ex Machina, but I love watching horror and thriller type movies this time of year (Sept 2nd)

31
Genre: Horror
Stars:Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie, Richard Brake
In short: Five carnival workers are kidnapped and held hostage in an abandoned, Hell-like compound where they are forced to participate in a violent game, the goal of which is to survive twelve hours against a gang of sadistic clowns. Oh Rob Zombie, wanting to fuel my fears about clowns. You devil you. Not for the faint of heart of course. (Sept 2nd)

The 9th Life of Louis Drax
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Stars:Jamie Dornan, Aiden Longworth, Sarah Gadon, Aaron Paul
In short: A psychologist who begins working with a young boy who has suffered a near-fatal fall finds himself drawn into a mystery that tests the boundaries of fantasy and reality. I like Alexandre Aja’s horror offerings for the most part (The Hills Have Eyes, High Tension, Horns) and his stuff is usually gorgeous when it comes to the visuals. So I am intrigued. (Sept 2nd)

The Disappointments Room
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Stars:Kate Beckinsale, Lucas Till, Michaela Conlin
In short: A mother and her young son release unimaginable horrors from the attic of their rural dream home. If I think there might be unimaginable horror in a hidden room in my new home, I am not opening it. However, I will watch Kate Beckinsale open it. Plus, DJ Caruso. (Sept 9th)

Masters of Sex
Channel: SHOWTIME
In short: Its 1968 now. Some new faces with the new season include Andre Royo (Playing Sammy Davis Jr) as well as Neicy Nash and David Walton. I really do like this show. (September 11th)

American Horror Story
Channel: FX
In short: AHS is a hit and miss show for me. While we don’t know what the theme is as of yet, the trailers are creepy and Sarah Paulson is in it again so that is a big plus. Let’s hope the sixth season is a winner and a chiller. (September 14th)

Documentary Now!
Channel: IFC
In short: The second season of this Emmy-nominated spoof series from SNL vets Bill Hader, Seth Meyers and Fred Armisen will include parodies of classic documentaries Stop Making Sense, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, The Kid Stays in the Picture, The War Room, Salesman, and Swimming to Cambodia. Guest stars include Anne Hathaway, Mia Farrow, Peter Bogdanovich and Peter Fonda. (September 14th)

Bridget Jones’s Baby
Genre: Comedy/Romance
Stars:Renee Zellweger, Patrick Dempsey, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth
In short: The continuing adventures of British publishing executive Bridget Jones as she enters her 40s. The series is not my cup of tea, but I know some friends who are excited to see more of Bridget’s adventures. (Sept 16th)

Blair Witch
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Stars:Corin Reid, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry
In short: After discovering a video showing what he believes to be his sister's experiences in the demonic woods of the Blair Witch, James and a group of friends head to the forest in search of his lost sibling. While ultimately the first Blair Witch was fairly laughable for me, part of me is intrigued to see if it will be any better. (Sept 16th)

Snowden
Genre: Biography/Thriller
Stars:Scott Eastwood, Shailene Woodley, Joseph Gordon Levitt
In short: Oliver Stone brings Edward Snowden’s story to the big screen . (Sept 16th)

The Big Bang Theory
Channel: CBS
In short: I am a bit behind on seasons, but I know friends who are very excited to have it back. Guests early this season include Katey Sagal and Jack McBrayer (September 19th)

The Good Place
Channel: NBC
In short: Kristen Bell stars as a New Jersey woman who attempts to change her life for the better, if she could only figure out what exactly it means to be a good person. (Oh, and—minor detail—she's dead. Due to a bureaucratic mix-up, she finds herself in a much better afterlife than she deserves.) Ted Danson will aid her in her journey. I think this looks hilarious and I heart Kristen Bell to little bitty pieces. (September 19th)

The Good Place
Channel: NBC
In short: Kristen Bell stars as a New Jersey woman who attempts to change her life for the better, if she could only figure out what exactly it means to be a good person. (Oh, and—minor detail—she's dead. Due to a bureaucratic mix-up, she finds herself in a much better afterlife than she deserves.) Ted Danson will aid her in her journey. I think this looks hilarious and I heart Kristen Bell to little bitty pieces. (September 19th)

Lucifer
Channel: FOX
In short: While nothing like the Mike Carey series that is quite beloved to me, the Rogue and I thought it was fun. Tricia Helfer plays Luci’s mother and I am very excited to see her all villainy again. Michael Imperioli will also join as Lucifer’s brother Uriel. Should be fun. (September 19th)

Brooklyn Nine Nine
Channel: FOX
In short: The Rogue and I binge watched this on Hulu and kind of got hooked. Fourth season guests include Ken Marino and Maya Rudolph. Expect a two-episode crossover with fellow Fox series New Girl in October. (September 20th)

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Channel: ABC
In short: The big addition for this fourth season is Gabriel Luna as Ghost Rider—though the more recent, Robbie Reyes version of the character (rather than the Johnny Blaze version popularized on screen by Nicolas Cage). Jason O’Mara also joins the cast as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. While I am sad to see Agent Carter go, at least I still have some Marvel goodness (September 20th)

SCREAM QUEENS
Channel: FOX
In short: Much of last year's cast (including Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Niecy Nash, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, and Billie Lourd) will return for a second season that serves as a sequel to the first, though the setting has been moved to a hospital rather than a sorority house, with events taking place three years later. Newcomers include John Stamos, Taylor Lautner, Colton Haynes, and Jerry O'Connell. Last season was hit and miss for me, but I am willing to give the second season a shot. (September 20th)

This is Us
Channel: NBC
In short: I don’t watch a lot of shows like this, but this one looks interesting. Plus Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love writer among other great things). It is more of a dramedy, but has a decent cast. I am willing to give it a go. (September 20th)

The Blacklist
Channel: NBC
In short: I am so so behind (September 22nd)

The Blacklist
Channel: NBC
In short: Two different priests attempt to aid a family troubled by demonic possession in this modern-day psychological thriller based on the classic 1973 horror film and William Peter Blatty's 1971 novel. Geena Davis, Ben Daniels, Alfonso Herrera, and Alan Ruck star. The adaptation comes from screenwriter Jeremy Slater (2015's Fantastic Four, though in his defense it was changed quite a bit in rewrites), with Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) directing the pilot and producing. Buzz behind it is fairly good so I am willing to give it a go. Plus horror! (September 22nd)

Longmire
Channel: Netflix
In short: I started watching this because of Katee Sackhoff. While the location may be fictional, I do get a kick out of hearing about Montana locations and some crimes that are eerily familiar. (September 22nd)

Transparent
Channel:AMAZON
In short: Airing earlier than in past years, Amazon's critically acclaimed comedy returns for a flashback-heavy third season that will include a guest appearance from Caitlyn Jenner. The series has already been renewed for a 4th season. (September 22nd)

The Magnificent Seven
Genre: Action/Western
Stars:Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, Vincent D’Onofrio
In short: Seven gun men in the old west gradually come together to help a poor village against savage thieves. Oddly I have seen Seven Samurai, but the original of Magnificent Seven. I’m looking forward to seeing Pratt and Denzel play off each other. Yay. (Sept 23rd)

The Dressmaker
Genre: Drama
Stars:Kate Winslet, Liam Hemsworth, Hugo Weaving
In short: A glamorous woman returns to her small town in rural Australia. With her sewing machine and haute couture style, she transforms the women and exacts sweet revenge on those who did her wrong. This is a movie I think I will like if but for the costumes alone. (Sept 23rd)

Once Upon A Time
Channel: ABC
In short: This show is not what it once was, but I still occasionally watch it while doing other things. New characters this year include Aladdin and Jafar…cause you know Disney character palooza. (September 25th)

Poldark
Channel: PBS
In short: While I will likely wait until it shows up on Amazon again, I got hooked on this drama starring Aidan Turner.(September 25th)

Quantico
Channel: ABC
In short: One of the few new series of last year that I really enjoyed. Poor Alex. Blair Underwood and Russell Tovey join the series for the second season. (September 25th)

Aftermath
Channel: SYFY
In short: A Canadian-produced, post-apocalyptic thriller, Aftermath follows a family trying to survive after a variety of plagues (meteors, earthquakes, massive storms, and a literal plague—plus supernatural creatures for good measure) wipe out most of the planet. Anne Heche and James Tupper star. If Syfy gives me a way to watch it without a subscription to cable, I will give it a go. (September 25th)

Channel Zero
Channel: SYFY
In short: This new horror anthology series comes from Nick Antosca and Max Landis. The six-episode first season, subtitled Candle Cove, is based on Kris Straub's online "creepypasta" of the same name about a disturbing childrens' television program from the 1980s. A second season (with a completely different story, The No-End House) will air next year. Again, give me a way to watch it and I probably will. (September 25th)

Drunk History
Channel: COMEDY CENTRAL
In short: Guests this 4th season include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Paget Brewster, Dave Grohl, Thomas Middleditch, Aubrey Plaza, Ben Folds, Tony Hale, and more. Oh how we love this show (September 25th)

Criminal Minds
Channel: CBS
In short: I have been binge watching the series the past month or so. Still only on Season 9, but may watch if I can catch up in time. Aisha Tyler and Adam Rodriguez (CSI: Miami) have been added to the full-time cast for the show's 12th season, which will also see the return of Paget Brewster for a multi-episode arc. No more Thomas Gibson though. (September 28th)

Luke Cage
Channel: NETFLIX
In short: The third of five planned Marvel series to debut on Netflix stars Mike Colter as the title character, a crime-fighting ex-con with superpowers. (You've already seen him on Jessica Jones.) Mahershala Ali, Alfre Woodard, Simone Missick, Theo Rossi, Frank Whaley, and Sonia Braga also star. Writer Cheo Hodari Coker, who previously worked on shows such as Ray Donovan and Southland, serves as showrunner. Whoo hoo. (September 30th)

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
Stars:Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L Jackson, Kim Dickens
In short: When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers. I liked the book and while the trailer shows that they have changed some major things I am willing to give it a go. (Sept 30th)

Deepwater Horizon
Genre: Drama
Stars:Dylan o’Brien, mark Wahlberg, Kate Hudson, Kurt Russell
In short: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history. My dad wants to see this. (Sept 30th)

Masterminds
Genre: Comedy/Crime
Stars:Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Jason Sudeikis, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis
In short: A night guard at an armored car company in the Southern U.S. organizes one of the biggest bank heists in American history. (Sept 30th)

BOOKS
Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs (Sept 3rd)
In short: Before Miss Peregrine gave them a home, the story of peculiars was written in the Tales. Wealthy cannibals who dine on the discarded limbs of peculiars. A fork-tongued princess. These are but a few of the truly brilliant stories in Tales of the Peculiar—the collection of fairy tales known to hide information about the peculiar world, including clues to the locations of time loops—first introduced by Ransom Riggs in his #1 bestselling Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series. Riggs now invites you to share his secrets of peculiar history, with a collection of original stories in this deluxe volume of Tales of the Peculiar. Featuring stunning illustrations from world-renowned artist Andrew Davidson, this compelling, rich, and truly peculiar anthology is the perfect gift for not only fans, but for all lovers of great storytelling.

Leave Me by Gayle Forman (Sept 6th)
In short: International bestselling author Gayle Forman's trademark humor and insight abound in this masterful adult debut, showing us that sometimes you have to leave home in order to find it again. For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack. Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself. With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) by Sarah J Maas (Sept 6th)
In short: The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those don't. As the kingdoms of Erilea fracture around her, enemies must become allies if Aelin is to keep those she loves from falling to the dark forces poised to claim her world. With war looming on all horizons, the only chance for salvation lies in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear. Aelin's journey from assassin to queen has entranced millions across the globe, and this fifth installment will leave fans breathless. Will Aelin succeed in keeping her world from splintering, or will it all come crashing down?

Navigators of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J Anderson (Sept 13th)
In short: Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson's Navigators of Dune is the climactic finale of the Great Schools of Dune trilogy, set 10,000 years before Frank Herbert's classic Dune. The story line tells the origins of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and its breeding program, the human-computer Mentats, and the Navigators (the Spacing Guild), as well as a crucial battle for the future of the human race, in which reason faces off against fanaticism. These events have far-reaching consequences that will set the stage for Dune, millennia later.

Death’s End by Cixin Liu (Sept 20th)
In short: With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking readers got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and bestselling Three-Body Trilogy by China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu. Three-Body was released to great acclaim including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It was also named a finalist for the Nebula Award, making it the first translated novel to be nominated for a major SF award since Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in 1976. Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death's End. Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to co-exist peacefully as equals without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent. Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (Sept 20th)
In short: In every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions. But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose...it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown

Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige(Sept 20th)
In short: Seventeen-year-old Snow has spent the majority of her life within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she's not crazy and doesn't belong there. When she meets a mysterious, handsome new orderly and dreams about a strange twisted tree she realizes she must escape and figure out who she really is. Using her trusting friend Bale as a distraction, Snow breaks free and races into the nearby woods. Suddenly, everything isn't what it seems, the line between reality and fantasy begins to blur, and she finds herself in icy Algid--her true home--with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai, none of whom she's sure she can trust. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she's destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change the fate of everything...including Snow's return to the world she once knew.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis (Sept 20th)
In short: Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence. While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways. But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her. So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for. Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

Magic Binds (Kate Daniels #9) by Ilona Andrews (Sept 20th)
In short: Mercenary Kate Daniels knows all too well that magic in post-Shift Atlanta is a dangerous business. But nothing she’s faced could have prepared her for this… Kate and the former Beast Lord Curran Lennart are finally making their relationship official. But there are some steep obstacles standing in the way of their walk to the altar… Kate’s father, Roland, has kidnapped the demigod Saiman and is slowly bleeding him dry in his never-ending bid for power. A Witch Oracle has predicted that if Kate marries the man she loves, Atlanta will burn and she will lose him forever. And the only person Kate can ask for help is long dead. The odds are impossible. The future is grim. But Kate Daniels has never been one to play by the rules…

The Tao of Bill Murray by Gavin Edwards (Sept 20th)
In short: This collection of the most epic, hilarious, and strange Bill Murray stories, many of which have never before been reported, spotlights the star s extraordinary ability to infuse the everyday with surprise, absurdity, and wonder. No one will ever believe you. New York Times bestselling author Gavin Edwards, like the rest of us, has always been fascinated with Bill Murray in particular the beloved actor s adventures off-screen, which rival his filmography for sheer entertainment value. Edwards traveled to the places where Murray has lived, worked, and partied, in search of the most outrageous and hilarious Bill Murray stories from the past four decades, many of which have never before been reported. Bill once paid a child five dollars to ride his bike into a swimming pool. The star convinced Harvard s JV women s basketball team to play with him in a private game of hoops. Many of these surreal encounters ended with Bill whispering, No one will ever believe you into a stranger s ear. But The Tao of Bill Murray is more than just a collection of wacky anecdotes. This volume puts the actor s public clowning into a larger context, as Edwards distills Murray s unique way of being into a set of guiding principles. A sideways mix of comedy and philosophy, full of photo bombs, late-night party crashes, and movie-set antics, this is the perfect book for anyone who calls themselves a Bill Murray fan which is to say, everyone.

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (Sept 20th)
In short: Nina Redmond is a librarian with a gift for finding the perfect book for her readers. But can she write her own happy-ever-after? In this valentine to readers, librarians, and book-lovers the world over, the New York Times-bestselling author of Little Beach Street Bakery returns with a funny, moving new novel for fans of Meg Donohue, Sophie Kinsella, and Nina George’s The Little Paris Bookshop.

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows #2) by Leigh Bardugo (Sept 27th)
In short: Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn't think they'd survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they're right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz's cunning and test the team's fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city's dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

GAMES
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
In short: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Spirit of Justice sees Phoenix in a brand new location: a courtroom situated in the Kingdom of Khura'in, origin of the Kurain Channeling Technique, where mysterious séance trials decide the fate of all defendants. Meanwhile, defense attorney Apollo Justice faces his own challenges holding down the fort at the Wright Anything Agency, as he takes on a case that will have explosive implications. Both our heroes are joined by a host of returning friends and adversaries in their fight to bring about justice. (Sept 8th)

ReCore
Platform: Xbox One, Windows PC
In short: From the legendary creator Keiji Inafune, and the makers of Metroid Prime comes ReCore, an action-adventure crafted for a new generation. As one of the last remaining humans on a planet controlled by robotic foes bent on your destruction, you must forge friendships with a courageous group of robot companions, each with unique abilities and powers. Lead this band of unlikely heroes on an epic adventure through a mysterious, dynamic world. You can’t save mankind alone. Survival Starts in the Core. (Sept 13th)

Destiny: Rise of Iron
Platform: Xbox One, Playstation4
In short: The fourth expansion of Destiny. The wall which stood for centuries along the southern border of Old Russia has collapsed. Fallen mutants now scavenge the tombs of the Golden Age, and the plague they have unearthed in the wastes is more dangerous than even they understand. Join Lord Saladin. Journey into the Plaguelands. Learn the fate of the Iron Lords and stop the growing threat before it is too late. (Sept 20th)

XCOM 2
Platform: Xbox One, Playstation4
In short: XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the 2012 award-winning strategy game of the year. Earth has changed and is now under alien rule. Facing impossible odds you must rebuild XCOM, and ignite a global resistance to reclaim our world and save humanity. (Sept 27th)

Monday, August 29, 2016

THE SHINING GIRLS: A REVIEW

The Shining Girls
Written by: Lauren Beukes
Hardcover: 375 pages
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Language: English
June 2013
Genre: Mystery/Thriller/Horror

The Girl Who Wouldn't Die Hunts the Killer Who Shouldn't Exist

The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.

Harper Curtis is a killer who stepped out of the past. Kirby Mazrachi is the girl who was never meant to have a future.

Kirby is the last shining girl, one of the bright young women, burning with potential, whose lives Harper is destined to snuff out after he stumbles on a House in Depression-era Chicago that opens on to other times.

At the urging of the House, Harper inserts himself into the lives of the shining girls, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. He's the ultimate hunter, vanishing into another time after each murder, untraceable-until one of his victims survives.

Determined to bring her would-be killer to justice, Kirby joins the Chicago Sun-Times to work with the ex-homicide reporter, Dan Velasquez, who covered her case. Soon Kirby finds herself closing in on the impossible truth . . .

The Shining Girls is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.


+++++++++++++

I like crime thrillers. While I don’t read a ton of it usually, when I do I am usually quite happy to do so. Which is weird because quite often they are gross and gruesome and deal with some very bad baddies. I had heard about the Shining Girls for a while, but it languished in my TBR pile like so many other books. But I was determined to start whittling down that list because…well I need to.

Oh how I wanted to like this book. I had heard so many good things. I loved the premise. The cover was nice in its simplicity. How could it go wrong?

Harper Curtis is a drifter with a chip on his shoulder and gangsters on his heels in Great Depression era Chicago. Until one night he find the House. A house that helps him travel through time. Now he can hunt and watch the Shining Girls, killing them before they get a chance to shine too bright.

Kirby Mazrachi never should have survived Harper, but she did. Now she is hunting him. Determined to find her would-be killer Kirby joins the Chicago Sun Times to work with the reporter who handled her case. Can she find Harper before the House lets Harper find her again?

Things I liked: I absolutely loved the premise of Shining Girls. What is not to like? You have a time traveling serial killer who, through a dilapidated house, manages to travel through the decades picking off women as he pleases. Women who are doing things outside of the cultural norms, women who shine. With such a long period of time no one can really connect him to anything. He can just keep doing what he pleases. Then there is a girl who didn’t die and she is spending most of her adult life searching for the man. Who will find who first? Great idea, right? Could be an awesome flick when it comes out next year. I just didn’t love it the way I wanted or expected to, but I will get to that a bit later.

As I said I loved the premise and I liked Kirby. She is beautifully broken by the things that have been done to her. She survived Harper’s attack. Now as an intern she is investigating her would be killer. Sure you pity her. You are supposed to empathize or she wouldn’t be a great character. She is snarky and flawed, she distances herself from people, makes rash decisions, and makes mistakes. Understandable. And yet I wanted a bit more. I wanted more tenacity. I wanted her to fight. And yet life seems to be fairly easy. Her search for her would be killer was too damn easy, her bosses way too nice considering she wasn’t really do anything she was hired for. She just started to lose some of believability and likability part way through the story. Unfortunate.

Of all the characters, Dan was actually my favorite. Grizzled and lovable reporter for the Chicago Sun Times he has seen his share of death until he decided to leave crime reporting behind for sports. That is until Kirby walks into his life again. While their attempted romance felt a bit forced I did really like the dynamic between Dan and Kirby.

I think one of my favorite things about this book was watching Chicago come alive through the various decades turning into the city that people know and love today. The way that Beukes writes about each of the eras from shanty towns to high rises is great. I loved it. It is clear that she did her research. It feels vivid and real so gold star for that.

Things I didn’t like so much: Maybe I have been watching too many Criminal Minds episodes of late (Thank you Netflix) but Harper didn’t make sense to me. The girls shine for Harper, but how? Why? We never really get to see or understand his motivations or his psychosis. He waits in the house, is patient, waiting for his victims. He even stalks them (sometimes since they were children, following them through the years). But what is ultimately the trigger? Does the house truly choose them for him and he is just acting on behalf of it? Ugh, why? Just tell me why. Without this insight Harper loses some of his dimension and some of the oomph. I don’t fully understand him. He lacks some of the villainy greatness I think he could have had. Especially as one of the main narrators. Again, maybe it’s too many episodes of Criminal Minds. I just wanted Harper to be something other than a killing machine. I wanted him to be the villain you love to hate. He is not charming like Hannibal or horrifying like some of the other villains I’ve read. He is merely a killer. He just fell flat and was rather boring which, like I said, is not good when he is one of the main characters.

For some reason the way the time travel aspect of the novel was formatted didn’t work for me. Which is weird. It should have, the jumps back and forth, each chapter focusing on a different character and a different time as Kirby tries to find her would be killer and Curtis finds more Shining Girls. Everything just blurred instead. Instead of helping the pacing and the feeling of dread, it became a book that I put down and picked up a lot.

None of the women get to be anything more than victims. Each time they are introduced we are given enough of a backstory to make them sympathetic. But before any of them are fully realized they are gone. To be honest half of them were more interesting than Kirby and had me wishing one of them had survived instead. It’s not that Kirby is bad, but some of the backstories the other victims had were slightly more interesting. Plus, Kirby’s hunt for her attempted killer was just too easy, too lucky. Less mystery and whodunit.

Finally, I guess the crime/thriller aspects of the novel just fell flat for me. There was no dread, no thrills. Plus Harper was a bad villain for me that lacked any depth. I found I liked Harper’s time with the two nurses more enlightening towards his character than any of the kills. The Shining Girls is not a bad book, but it wasn’t for me and I felt like it could have been so much more than what it was. I hope it fares better as a film.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. While the book ultimately wasn’t for me, the premise is great and for that alone it is worth at least picking up at your local library.

Part of: Standalone.

Also Recommended: For more serial killer goodness (ack can there be goodness) please give Heartsick by Chelsea Cain a go. You also might enjoy something from Tami Hoag or J.D. Robb. Of course there is always Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell or Lee Childs.

2 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks