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Showing posts from March, 2016

[Book Review] Arena

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Arena / Holly Jennings (Powell's Books)

Competitive gaming is getting hot these days, and Arena takes it into a future with fully immersive and reactive virtual reality.  Gone are the days of competitions orchestrated by manual I/O devices like mouse and keyboard, and the rigors call for peak physical condition from the competitors.

Gladiatorial arenas of old have nothing on the Video Gaming League and RAGE.

Kali and her team enter this year's RAGE Tournament the top picks to win it all, only to meet a brutal defeat from a team no-one's heard of before.  Image is nearly as important as game play, so when their manager names Kali team captain, she assume's its no more than a publicity stunt for the novelty of the first female-led team in RAGE Tournament history.  But it turns out she's suited to the role, perhaps even better than their manager wants, and she'll need her entire team behind her with what's coming up.


Commercially, I think this book will do rea…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 11

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Perhaps for the first time, the situation's profound danger and seriousness really strikes Frodo.  Unfortunately, so does a Black Rider.

The chapter opens with Black Riders seeking Bilbo's residence in Buckland, where Fatty Bolger is playing decoy by keeping house.  The Riders definitely move with impressive speed, even taking in the difference between mounted and foot travel.  Perhaps for the first time, the Black Riders openly announce their allegiance and backing, demanding "Open, in the name of Mordor!"  This actually shows us a very strong example of hobbit stalwartness, with a raised cry of alarm and raising of the hobbits to defend Buckland.

From my various reads, I have never strongly retained much of this passage, possibly in part because it seems largely inconsequential beyond the Black Riders discovering that there are no longer any Bagginses in the Shire.  The bit of history mentioning previous furious defense of their homes is neat, but doesn't reall…

[Book Review] Bloody Mary

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Bloody Mary / Garth Ennis & Carlos Ezquerra

Bloody Mary was first published almost 20 years ago, with a trade edition 10 years after.  It has just been republished under the Image imprint, with Bloody Mary and Bloody Mary: Lady Liberty together in the same volume.

Now, as is generally the case with a future story who's date has since past, the story does show it's age.  The art style has a sort of... crowding I associate with comics from the 90's and earlier, as well as a limited color palate.

It's best to take the story as an alt-history, taking place in 2012, during another Great War in Europe.  Mary Malone, AKA Bloody Mary is a top specialist agent and assassin.  She's known for getting in and out of situations no one else can, and in this war not all of the players are simply human.

Out of the two stories, I far preferred that of Lady Liberty, though the backstory of Bloody Mary is definitely a major factor in establishing elements of Lady Liberty.  The batt…

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 10

"You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet."

After Frodo's disappearing act, the hobbits and Strider conference, with Strider offering information for a price, and generally playing up the mystery man role.  Some of this is for Strider's own benefit as well as the hobbits', as it serves to test their wits and caution.  I feel like Frodo's reluctance to agree to Strider's price (accompanying them on their journey) is exactly what Strider wanted.

I like Strider's self-awareness and deprecation.  We don't yet learn the nature of his heritage, but Strider does know both his lineage and that of the sword he carries, neither of which necessarily induce humility in the bearer.  However, I'm inclined to think that any arrogance on his part comes from expertise and long association with elves, rather than pride in his family and destiny.  Elves do seem to have two modes: deceptively silly or stiffly aloof...

Pippin comes out the most diplomat…

[Book Review] Octopus Pie Vol 2

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Octopus Pie Volume 2 / Meredith Gran (Powell's Books)

Volume 2 picks up where Volume 1 leaves off (see my review here), with the odd couple roommates Hannah and Eve (and their friends).

In some ways I enjoyed volume 2 more than 1, going in with the established relationships rather than introducing the characters and their associations.  Octopus Pie continues to deliver zany adventures intermixed with relateable real life experiences.  A great continuation of the comic.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 9

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The Prancing Pony itself is a nexus for travelers and locals alike.  A place for a good meal and company.

The people of Bree seem rather hobbitish.  Short, stout, and cheerful, but lacking the Shire's default wariness of any and all outsiders.  Interestingly enough they date back to the days of the first men and the great Kings, yet (spoiler) they have no concept of the origin or history of the Rangers.  On the other hand, that may speak to the skills (and misdirection) of the Rangers themselves.  Actually, I wonder now if the Rangers have something to do with the invisibility of the Shire itself.


Strider's introduction frames him as shadowy and mysterious, possibly dangerous.  In the film, Butterbur warns Frodo away from Strider, with no question about the threat Strider represents to his enemies as he watches from the shadows.  The need to interrupt a story that brings a little too much attention to where they come from stays, but the film cuts out Frodo's attempts to tu…

[Book Review] Tales of Honor Vol 1 & 2

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Tales of Honor Volume 1: On Basilisk Station / Matt Hawkins and Sang Il-Jeong (ill)

On Basilisk Station starts out in the middle of the seventh book in the series In Enemy Hands, with Honor held prisoner of Haven.  Tried and sentenced to execution for war crimes by Haven, and kept in isolation, Honor has little to do but reflect on the course of events that led her to where she is now.  The first step in that journey are the events of On Basilisk Station.

Pretty solid adaptation, with a gorgeous art highlighting the sheer scale that we're dealing with.


Tales of Honor Volume 2: Bred to Kill /Matt Hawkins, Dan Wickline, and Linda Sejic (ill)

Bred to Kill launches a new story, one that reminds me of the a bit of the Crown of Slaves companion series with details familiar to some of Honors adventures.  In this Honor takes some leave while her ship is in space dock to seek out a missing uncle.  Her search takes her to the gambling station of Eros and finds her involved with a mission t…

[Book Review] Kill or be Kilt

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Kill or be Kilt / Victoria Roberts (Powell's Books)

It’s been three years since Lady Elizabeth Walsingham ended her childish crush on Laird Ian Munro, the fierce Highlander who scared everyone but her. She’s a grown woman now, heading to London to find a proper English gentleman. But when the wild Highland laird walks through the door, she’s that breathless youth all over again.

Ian tries hard to avoid the young lass who’s confounded him for years. But now that they’re attending court, he must keep watch on her night and day. Danger is at every turn and advisors to the Crown are being murdered. Ian soon realizes the girl he’s been protecting is a beautiful lady who needs his help, almost as much as he needs her.
Confession time, I was compelled to pick up this to read purely based on the title. A+ for titling.

What can I say about this book?  If you like "classic" Highlands romance, you'll probably like Kill or be Kilt, it definitely checks off all the major criteria…

[Book Review] Octopus Pie Vol 1

Octopus Pie Volume 1 / Meredith Gran

Octopus PieVolume 1 introduces us to the roommates Eve and Hannah as they navigate post-college life.  Customer service, family, childhood rivals, exs and potential new relationships tumble through adventures with the chaos of life.

Eve and Hannah's adventures are something like the Odd Couple meets Calvin and Hobbes.   Eve's default is grumpy and standoffish, while Hannah tends towards exuberance and flights of fancy.  The stories and illustrations are adorable and fanciful.  A good read for fans of Lumberjanes.

Advance Reader Copy courtesy of Image Comics in exchange for an honest review; changes may exist between galley and the final edition.

Lord of the Rings : Fellowship of the Read - Book 1, Chapter 8

Even within the realm of Tom Bombadil things aren't safe.  Tom himself is not evil, but like nature itself he's not all good nor all safe, and nor are his lands.  He does come to their aid, banishing the wight "Where gates stand for ever shut, till the world is mended."  But Tom's merriment does not abate even after such a dire encounter, finding even amusement at the hobbit's predicament.

I don't even think the barrow-wights are evil.  They are remmnants of lives and deaths past.  I don't think that entombing the hobbits is an act of particular malice, but the living don't belong deep within the barrows and the wights treat the dead with respect, laying them to rest.  The wights were men that fell to an evil king, men who stood against the dark lord and even in death guard "from evil things folk that are heedless." The barrow-wights don't show up in the film at all, possibly because the whole passage with Tom was excised, but also p…

[Book Review] Fire Touched

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Fire Touched / Patricia Briggs (Powell's Books)

Things don't stay quiet around Mercy, but it's not her fault that things in her life keep getting complicated.  Last time Adam's ex-wife brought rains of literal fire as she sought safety from a volanco god she shacked up with.  But even among the supernatural, Mercy's an rarity, and that attracts curiosity and animosity.

The fae have largely withdrawn into their "reservations," plotting their own games out of sight.  So a rampaging troll becomes a problem for the pack, and the following declaration of territorial protection afterwards ruffles a few feathers.  But the troll was chasing something the fae want back badly, a changeling child stolen long ago with a special connection to Underhill, and what happens next could either upgrade the cold war with the fae or establish a new treaty.

Ok, so first of all, were you missing Zee?  I know I was.  We get Zee. Stuff with the fae get interesting, and we get some…

[Book Review] Her Fantasy Husband

Her Fantasy Husband / Nina Croft

Nearly five years ago Alexia and Josh married and went their separate ways.  The pretense of their marrage allowed Alexia to gain control of her trust fund from a family that wanted it for their own squandering, and Josh was paid well for his participation, money that ultimately went into the founding of his own security company.

A near brush with death makes Josh re-evaluate his life, and inspires him to break free from his marriage arrangement so he can pursue relationships.  Expecting to find a rich girl living the high life, he instead finds a young woman dedicated to helping others, and one who cannot let him end the marriage for another six months.

They're both in for a contest of wills... and libido.


This book made for a sweet, sexy read.  You can't really call it insta-love when they've been married for over four years.  The book has snappy pacing, and the "villains" don't read as overly charactured.  I do question som…

Today's mail goodie: Fire Touched!

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*Squee*


Thank you Penguin RandomHouse for the review copy, review will be up in the near future!