Monday, July 25, 2016

Not Very Much Despereaux

The Tale of DespereauxThe Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I remember reading books like this or having them read to me as a kid. It was always a frustrating experience, because I never liked when the author would stop the story in order to go back over something. "Yeah, I got it the first time," I would think to myself. Learning, teaching and making sure the kids get it is important, but so is keeping them engaged.

The story itself is only okay. It's nothing terribly exciting and honestly not a lot happens. There's an unusual mouse and he wishes to save the day. Scenes are small in scope and the action is minimal. Midway through another issue cropped up. Where did Despereaux go? He just disappears for nearly half the book! And right in the middle! You can't title a book The Tale of Despereaux and not have a Despereaux in it for half the bloody thing!

I read this to see if it would be good to read to my niece. I will not be reading this to her. If I don't have patience for it, there's no way in hell she will!


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Sunday, July 24, 2016

FF, Vol. 2: Family Freakout

FF, Vol. 2: Family FreakoutFF, Vol. 2: Family Freakout by Matt Fraction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The FF plan to bring the Fanastic Four back to earth in time to stop Doctor Doom, Kang, and Annihilus from becoming Doom the Annhilating Conqueror. Things don't go as planned...

Matt Fraction and Michael Allred's run on FF ends with a bang. The FF take in Impossible Man's son Adolph, try to bring back the Fantastic Four, and go to war with Doctor Doom. Fraction does a lot to elevate Scott Lang in this volume and goes a long way toward dragging him out of Hank Pym's size-changing shadow.

The battle with Doom was very well done and Doom was true to his scene-chewing self. Fraction's portrayal of The Watcher was also pretty great and I loved the stuff on the blue area of the moon. Ahura stepping up for the war was also a nice touch.

Much like the last volume, this book reads like a modern day love letter to the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby days of the Fantastic Four. It's a damn shame this is the last of Matt Fraction and Mike Allred on FF. It's been a lot of fun. Four out of five stars.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

A Time to Rise



Tal Bauer
NineStar Press
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Nancy



Summary



History says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.

History is wrong.


Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and from the evils that exist beyond the Veil.

But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.

Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in at right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican… and of the world.



My Review




Alain Autenburg is an elite soldier in the Pontifical Swiss Guard that protects and defends the Vatican, but his obscure task of fighting dangerous supernatural elements along with his blunt and chain-smoking sidekick, Father Lotario, causes him to be aloof and secretive, which keeps him from fitting in with his peers.

Cristoph Hasse is the newest member of the Guard and is assigned by his commander to mentor under Alain. Like Alain, Cristoph is a man with secrets along with an attitude. Alain’s attraction to Cris is immediate, but the only time he acts on it is in his dreams. His heart is still wounded from the loss of his previous love 12 years before. Their mentorship starts off awkwardly until Cris and Alain gradually start to open up and develop a friendship. Unfortunately, the nature of Alain’s duties and his vow not to fall in love again force him to keep his distance, much to Cris’ annoyance and peril.

As a paranormal story, this was a lot of fun. The revenants, vampires, ghouls, wraiths, and incubi were so lovingly and meticulously described, that they invaded my nightly dreams. I loved the partnership and easy friendship between Lotario and Alain, the details of their investigations, the charms, the spells, and the special weapons. Abundant descriptions, historical and geographical details that felt accurate were very effective in conveying a sense of atmosphere. The action scenes and the near-death scenes were tense and heart stopping, and the mystery was very satisfying. The secondary characters, human and supernatural, were well developed and memorable.

As a romance, this was a little disappointing. Even though I love a slow-burn romance and sexual tension, there was so much push and pull between Alain and Cris that I was starting to get annoyed. For crissakes, it took an incubus to get these two together! Their sex, when they finally had it, was sweet and well worth the wait. The surprise ending was done well, but left me feeling somewhat bereft. I’m looking forward to a sequel that will answer some questions and show how Cris and Alain cope with the significant change in their relationship.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Superman: Secret Identity

Superman: Secret IdentitySuperman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

David and Laura Kent are a couple from Kansas with a poor sense of humor. The proof of that poor sense of humor is the fact that they named their son Clark. He's Clark Kent from a small Kansas town and the Superman jokes never end. One night he stopped caring as the impossible happened, he flew. Not in a plane or a hang glider instead he flew into the air in a sleeping bag.
description
It turns out this Clark Kent is a Superman and he has all of Superman's powers as well. Welcome to the life of a Kansas boy with a comic book heroes name and powers.

The basic premise of Secret Identity is along the same lines as the recent vampire movies. Everyone knows vampire's aren't real in these movies until the fangs pop out and the human characters start freaking out. This Clark Kent has been gifted with Superman presents his entire life and he understandably hates it until he turns into Superman one night in his teens. He starts off just flying and then decides to help people.
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He encounters problems because people want to profit from his power, but he handles that well overall. For the exception of supervillains Clark gets the full Superman experience, he even gets his own Lois.
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I'd have to say this isn't truly a Superman story. This isn't Clark from Smallville who battles Lex Luthor and has superhero friends. He's the real life equivalent of a nice quiet kid who happened to get Superman's powers. It was refreshing in the sense that this Clark has real fears and concerns. He doesn't have a special ship with a recording of his alien father telling him who he truly is. He's just got his parents with their bad sense of humor. If not for his name and the other Superman specific tie-ins this could easily be a story of an average teen becoming something super.

Secret Identity was a well written down to earth tale of super powers appearing out of nowhere. This story wouldn't make me like Superman, but I certainly enjoyed the poor Clark Kent who was named after a comic book superhero.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

DARK MATTER BY BLAKE CROUCH

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*****NO SPOILERS, I SWEAR.*****

”What if all the pieces of belief and memory that comprise who I am--my profession, Daniela, my son--are nothing but a tragic misfiring in that gray matter between my ears? Will I keep fighting to be the man I think I am? Or will I disown him and everything he loves, and step into the skin of the person this world would like for me to be?

And if I have lost my mind, what then?

What if everything I know is wrong?

No. Stop.

I am not losing my mind.”


There is nothing more frustrating to a reviewer than reading a book that can’t be written about. Almost every piece of information I could give you about this book is a ***spoiler***. Now, my definition of a spoiler and other people’s definition of a spoiler are not always the same, but in the case of this book the less said, the better.

I was very fortunate to watch the movie The Sixth Sense without having a clue about the plot, which is a minor miracle since I’m highly exposed to plots of movies and books, but I was... over the moon... to watch that particular movie without knowing the twist of the plot. So with The Sixth Sense (That plot has nothing to do with this plot, just to be clear.) in mind, I am going to resist the urge to write and write and write about how cool this book is.

The first order of business is to convince your friends to read it with you because you are going to want to discuss this book over numerous bottles of wine and a platter of cheese and pretzels. The cheese and pretzels only so you can drink more wine. It would be cruel and unusual punishment to have a designated driver, so my thought is that you should have this book discussion at someone’s house and bring your PJs. Stay over and maybe, if you have the right reasonably attractive friends, you can have….

”...fumbling, groping, backset-of-the-car, unprotected because who-gives-a-fuck, protons-smashing-together sex.”

So keep that in mind, so that you don’t get TOO DRUNK while discussing this book.

Now, anyone familiar with Blake Crouch should know he is a twisty, a twizzler, a zigzagger, a trickster. He bamboozled me in Wayward Pines, and now he has gone even further with Dark Matter. The great thing about this TWIST is that it isn’t just a one off twist...oh no...this is a twist that keeps wrapping itself around other twists until you start to feel little explosions in your head of all those overloaded brain cells.

It’s okay, you have plenty to spare.

By the end of the book and certainly after the protons-smashing-together sex, you will be fully convinced that “...we’re a part of a much larger and stranger reality than we can possibly imagine.” You will also be convinced that you need to read more Blake Crouch books, so you might as well go ahead and factor that into your book budget and *erhhh* food budget right now.

”What might have been and what
has been
Point to one end, which is always
present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we do
not take
Towards the door we never
Opened.
--T. S. Eliot, ‘Burnt Norton’”


I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley and Crown Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

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THE SUMMER THAT MELTED EVERYTHING BY TIFFANY MCDANIEL

The Summer That Melted EverythingThe Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

”It was a heat that didn’t just melt tangible things like ice, chocolate, Popsicles. It melted all the intangibles too. Fear, faith, anger, and those long-trusted templates of common sense. It melted lives as well, leaving futures to be slung with the dirt of the gravedigger’s shovel.”

 photo Slipping Away_zpshbzonjfa.jpg
Slipping Away by Tiffany McDaniel. If you preorder the book you can sign up here Tiffany McDaniel's Preorder Contest to win some cool stuff including a signed print of this watercolor.

The heat wave that hit Breathed, Ohio, in 1984 was no ordinary hot spell. It was oppressive and inescapable. It was as if the cellar door to hell had been laid open beneath their feet. Sweat dripped from their pores like the tears of the damned. Tempers flared under the constant, ruthless lash of unbearable high temperatures. Reason floated away into the atmosphere and was replaced by superstition and irrationality.

And it was all Autopsy Bliss’s fault.

He did write the letter, after all.


”Dear Mr. Devil, Sir Satan, Lord Lucifer, and all other crosses you bear,
I cordially invite you to Breathed, Ohio. Land of hills and hay bales, of sinners and forgivers.
May you come in peace.
With great faith,
Autopsy Bliss”


The Devil accepted.

Now Autopsy Bliss is an educated man, a lawyer in fact, but he got bit by the fire and brimstone of religion. When he issued this letter to the newspaper, did he really expect the Devil to appear before him? Did he think he could wrestle Lucifer or spar with Satan, and The Cross would assure him a fair fight?

I don’t think that Autopsy Bliss expected a creature with cloven hooves, forked tail, and horns to appear on his doorstep. Lucifer is a fallen angel, not a demon, and certainly not the creature of fairytale, or the fiendish incarnation he has been depicted in films, or the lurid spectacle he has become on the covers of pulp novels.

It turns out he is a thirteen year old black boy with green eyes. He was, in fact, the same age as Fielding Bliss. He calls himself Sal.

”If looks were to be believed, he still was just a boy. Something of my age, though from his solemn quietude, I knew he was old in the soul. A boy whose black crayon would be the shortest in his box.”

Autopsy might have had a more realistic vision of Satan in his mind than the cartoon version, but it still took some mental gymnastics to even begin to believe that Sal was the Devil. The heat has eroded minds. Logic is a bonfire. Familiar perceptions are a blaze. When things start to go wrong for people, they start to believe that the implausible is suddenly the only possible explanation.

Fielding’s mother Stella hasn’t left the house in twelve years. When she withdrew from the world, she decided to bring the world to her by turning each room of her house into a different country. Grand is Fielding’s older brother, a young man on the cusp of the rest of his life. He is a God of the ballfield, but also a man of character and sensitivity that makes him so much more than just the sum of his parts. Fielding worships him, as he should. Grand is someone we can all aspire to be more like.

He is a worthy sacrifice.

”A summer’s day, and with the setting sun
Dropt from the zenith, like a falling star”
---Milton, Paradise Lost


It is one thing to never find paradise, but of course it is quite another thing to have found it and lost it. For a family named Bliss, they have watched the gates of Eden shimmer behind them and disappear.

Sal becomes the third son.

I think what the people of Breathed forgot about was that the concept of the Devil is manifested in all of us. You might not see him when you look in the mirror dead on, but turn your head to the side and look out of the corner of your eye, and you might catch a glimpse of him. He is reflected in your fingernails when the light is just right. Sometimes, if you close your eyes down to slits, you can see him in the swirls of your pancake. He stares at us from the darkness, from the bowel of a tree, or through the eyes of an owl. You can’t kill him. You can’t kill the light that has fallen to darkness.

Why would God let you?

”People always ask, Why does God allow suffering? Why does He allow a child to be beaten? A woman to cry? A holocaust to happen? A good dog to die painfully? Simple truth is, He wants to see for Himself what we’ll do. He’s stood up the candle, put the devil at the wick, and now He wants to see if we blow it out or let it burn down. God is suffering’s biggest spectator.”

The town begins to suffer from mass insanity. Call it the heat, but there is this dark desire in too many of us that rises to the surface, unchecked, when we are challenged.

Tiffany McDaniel might be a young writer, but this is no raw first novel. She is wise with bone deep perceptions of who we are and who we become when we allow hysteria or religious fervor to dictate our actions. She writes with conviction and complexity that forced this reader to reread sentences and paragraphs to better appreciate the uniquely, creative ways she composes her thoughts. The setting is in the North, but some of the Southern Gothic of the deep South leaped over the Mason-Dixon line into Ohio. I also could swear I witnessed the ghost of Douglas Spaulding running through the woods with Fielding Bliss and saw the flash of his bare feet as he dived back into the pages of Dandelion Wine. I thought I saw Shirley Jackson lost in the loose limbs of the mob...her eyes as big as dinner plates and her mouth opened in a.... ”That was when the screaming started. They were screaming cheers, we were screaming tears, and Sal was screaming fear. A rhyme of the ages.”

Who among us can stop them? Who can wiggle a screwdriver between the door and the jam and let the cooling balm of reason flood the hallways of a fevered mind?

The author and NetGalley provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tiffany McDaniel was gracious enough to agree to answer a few of my questions about the novel. Below is a short interview I conducted with her.

 photo Tiffany McDaniel_zpslnhldvc2.jpg
Tiffany McDaniel

Jeffrey Keeten:As I was reading your book I couldn't help thinking about Dandelion Wine. Have I been out in the heat too long or am I right about this book being somewhat of a homage to the Ray Bradbury book?

Tiffany McDaniel:I love Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, so I’m beyond thrilled that you’ve brought it up. I always say I want to be buried with the novel, have it in the clutches of my ghost to carry forth in to the great beyond. Having read it many times, I’ve always wanted to write a story about boys coming-of-age in the summertime. Those two events seem to parallel one another as if summer exists in childhood itself. On the surface Dandelion Wine is about boys coming-of-age, but what Bradbury does so well is threading that melancholic undertone through his verse, his own bittersweet brand that makes his stories and his story-telling the mark of a true master. Life and death, happiness and sadness, these are the things that permeate both Bradbury’s novel and my own. No one can ever surpass Bradbury’s beautiful writing and story, but perhaps my story is a way of recognizing the beautiful force that has been Dandelion Wine in my life.

Jeffrey Keeten:Paradise Lost obviously had a heavy influence on the writing of this book. You certainly have left me thinking I need to schedule a reread of PL. You also mentioned Orwell's 1984 in the book. In thinking about the scope of this book what other books would you say had a heavy influence in the creation of this book?

Tiffany McDaniel:I first read Milton’s epic poem when I was in my early twenties. I was immediately drawn to it because it’s about that which has always fascinated me. The fall from grace. The very thing that is said to have cast all the curses upon us as human beings, and put the sins within reach. I always title my chapters in my novels, and when I was thinking of the chapter titles for The Summer that Melted Everything, “Paradise Lost” immediately came to mind. How could it not be the perfect partner for this summer? Though I do hope I have made Milton proud by including his beautiful quotes, quotes which do outshine my own words by a billion, sparkling miles.

As far as Orwell’s 1984, it’s one of those required readings that most everybody has in school. I was so fascinated by it, if only because the year 1984 has passed already, but also because it was a novel predicting a certain state of affairs where citizens are manipulated and all independent thought is a crime. It’s hard to talk about 1984 the novel and its reason for being in The Summer that Melted Everything without giving any spoilers away, but I’ll just say that both Orwell’s novel and my novel speak of that herd mentality. How easy it is to come about and how threatening it is to individual choice.

As far as other influencers on The Summer that Melted Everything, I can’t think of another book in particular, but reading in general just adds layer after layer to one’s soul. And with a book like The Summer that Melted Everything where we’re looking at the balance between good and evil, well those are things we see every day on the nightly news. Look no further than our daily life, and we are surrounded by the fuel to write about chaos and peace, good and bad. If anything, the book of life itself is the spinning wheel to a story like this.

Jeffrey:The book is set in Ohio, but it has such a Southern Gothic feeling to it that I kept thinking the geography could have easily been set in the Deep South such as Donna Tartt's home state of Mississippi or Flannery O'Connor's Georgia or Harper Lee's Alabama. You must have encountered some of that Gothic magical realism in Ohio?

Tiffany: Breathed, Ohio, the fictional town in the novel is based on my childhood summers and school-year weekends spent in southern Ohio on the hilly acreage and in the cinderblock house my father was left to him by his parents. Southern Ohio, while in a northern state, does very much have that southern United State twang to it. “Ain’t” is as abundant as the wildflowers in the fields, and bullfrogs are the music of the night. It’s a very front porch type of place. It’s a place that has shaped me as an author. I’ve said before, cut me open and there will be a release of fireflies and moon-shine. In many ways, southern Ohio was a magical place to me because it was so different from the more northern part of Ohio where I lived and went to school. That southern portion, the foothills of the Appalachians, is a part of Ohio that has its own magical myths. I was told the hills were full of tigers, released there by a zoo gone belly-up. I would stand on the creek edge and see a gar go swimming by, thinking it was an alligator. Added to this, I’ve always had a gothic mind. Wishing I could live in a derelict mansion with velvet curtains and Shirley Jackson spires. Wolves howling, spiders webbing, magic churning night after night…

Jeffrey: Autopsy Bliss goes on my list of greatest character names in literary history. As I was reading the book I started jotting down the character names because I was struck by the unusual nature of most of the names. Do you start with a name or do they sometimes remain nebulous personalities in search of the right name for a while as you write?

Tiffany: First off, thank you for the incredibly wonderful compliment of Autopsy’s name. I’m sure Autopsy himself would be quite pleased. When I start writing the characters, I do have to have their name from the beginning. Having their name really helps to create and flush out the character. I can’t write them without a name. It’s like walking in dark woods by myself, calling for the characters to come out from the trees. But if I don’t have a name to call, who is there to come out?

Jeffrey: I jotted down this question while I was still in the early stages of reading the book. Would you want to live with the Bliss Family? They are ethereally wonderful, but of course the tragedies that find them as the plot unfolds probably answers that question. This is truly a book about bad things happening to good people. Are they still walking around in your head or have you managed to lock them in a back room of your mind so you can move onto your next novel?

Tiffany: To answer your first question, I would want to live with the Bliss family, if only because I love them all so much. Even with the tragedies that reshape them as a family, I would live with them. Be their daughter, their sister, their best friend, the one crying with them, laughing with them. As the author, I’ve already done all these things. I’ve already felt like I’ve lived in the house with them. What is home, if not with the people we love? I will always share a life with the Bliss Family, as I do my real family. To me there is no difference, because while fictional, the Bliss family exists for me.

I always say my characters feel real to me. Maybe I won’t get to physically interact with them in this world, but I feel as if in another plane of the universe, or even the afterlife, I’ll be able to speak to them, to recognize them as people who have lived full lives from womb to coffin. I always say my characters do not begin with the first page I’ve written. They do not end with the last. They existed before and they exist after the book. There are moments and experiences they have that none of will ever know as author and reader. In every way, they are as fully human as any of us. And they are always with me. Even when I write another novel. They are there. They just politely sit down, so new characters can stand up.

Jeffrey: Speaking of next novel, where does Tiffany McDaniel go from here?

Tiffany: I have eight completed novels. I’m working on my ninth right now. I wrote my first novel when I was eighteen. I wouldn’t get a publishing contract until I was twenty-nine. I spent eleven years struggling to get published. Rejection after rejection made me fear I never would be published. So much heart-ache and pain on the journey to publication, I can’t believe I’m about to be a published novelist. Publishing does move at a snail’s pace, and even with the contract I’ve waited two years for the book to move through the publishing house to the shelf. I’m thirty-one now, having waited in total thirteen years to see one of my novels on the shelf. So where I go from here is to just keep writing. Hoping The Summer that Melted Everything does well enough for me to have the other books published as well. The novel I’m hoping to follow The Summer that Melted Everything up with is When Lions Stood as Men. It’s about a Jewish brother and sister who escape Nazi Germany, flee across the Atlantic, and end up in my land of Ohio of all places. While here they create their own camp of judgment where they serve as both the guards and the prisoners. It’s a story of surviving the guilt that threatens to undo us all. More so, it’s about surviving love and the time when lions once stood as men.

Book Trailer

Tiffany McDaniel's Website

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Devourers by Indra Das

The DevourersThe Devourers by Indra Das
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was younger, I had a huge interest in vampires, mummies, and werewolves. I loved all the classic monsters, but in media today, I seriously dislike the changes and "sexing" up of these monsters. Monsters are by definition, monsters...they are not human, the feelings and thoughts and patterns of our mundane, short lives DO NOT apply to them.

The Devourers is a fever dream of beautiful, brutal and bloody language, a look into the inhuman lives of shapeshifters or "werewolves." I read this book in one day and I am very glad I did. The characters in this story, even though strive in some cases to reach out and touch various aspects of humanity, are as far away from any basic concept of a human being as any other animal in the wild.

Stunning writing set in a vivid world of characters that are totally fluid things. This book will grab ahold of you with gorgeous depictions of some very brutal things.

I give this book 10 out 5 stars, it is totally worth your time.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

The Never Ending Story

A Dance with Dragons (A Song of Ice and Fire, #5)A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Holy crap, I was starting to think I was never going to finish!

So here we mostly get the continuation of the Jon Snow, Tyrion and Daenerys stories. Oh yeah, and fucking Bran the Boring, too. Aside from him, all the others are favorites, so A Dance with Dragons was a pleasure to read.

That doesn't mean it's a great book though. It drags a good deal. It lacks the surprise and epicness of the first three books. A lot of this one and A Feast For Crows felt like housekeeping.

I shouldn't differentiate between those two books. They were both meant to be one, and it's obvious when you read them and see that half the GoT characters are dealt with in book #4 and the others get their due in #5. Tipping the wide-load scales at over a thousand pages a piece, it's readily apparent why the books were split in two. Even so, the reader can't help but feel like something's missing while going through each separately. That's a looong time to put characters on hold in your mind. I feel bad for fans who read Feast back when it came out, what 10 years ago?

But what's here for us in Dance is some good, solid reading. There are slight surprises and unexpected turns here and there. It's a slow-burn page turner, not an up-all-night-cuz-you-can't-stop scorcher.

Before I finish I should like to clarify one thing after bagging on the poor boy earlier. For many a book I've suffered through the insufferable Bran story. Not since the beginning of the first book have I found him remotely interesting. But finally something intriguing does develop in this storyline, eventually. It ties up a loose end elsewhere while adding color to the crippled boy's tale. For that, I'm glad I read A Dance with Dragons.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Silver Surfer, Vol. 3: Last Days

Silver Surfer, Vol. 3: Last DaysSilver Surfer, Vol. 3: Last Days by Dan Slott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Silver Surfer and Dawn get trapped in a time loop, get stuck on a paradise planet, and try to rebuild the universe.

Here we are, the final volume, as of now, of Dan Slott and Michael Allred's run on The Silver Surfer. Honestly, it's kind of a mixed bag, though I can't lay the blame solely on the Surfer's gleaming shoulders.

The first story is a time loop that's depicted in a creative way, the panels forming a Moebius strip. First off, I thought this was very clever and pertinent to the story, not as gimmicky as I originally thought. I loved that the story featured Space French-speaking aliens and the area the Surfer and Dawn traveled through was called The Giraud expanse, a nice reference to noted French comic artist Moebius, aka Jean Giraud.

The second story was also pretty good. It turns out Surfer and Dawn never left the paradise planet they found in the first story. Paradise wasn't what it was cracked up to be.

The third story featured Dawn and Surfer taking the long way back to Earth, visiting everyone they met in the previous two volumes. It reminded me of the 10th Doctor's swan song before his regeneration and made me think I wouldn't be pleased with the final story in the collection.

The fourth story is what sucked half a star of enjoyment out of the book. It's a shame that this title's revolutionary run was derailed by Secret Wars. Still, it was cool seeing The Silver Surfer and Dawn attempting to rebuild the universe.

While I didn't like the abrupt ending to the series due to Secret Wars, Slott and Allred did a good job making chicken salad with the chicken parts they were given. I hear the series is coming back and I'll be ready when it does. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Zombie Dash


Mark Matthews
Self-Published
Reviewed by Nancy
3 out of 5 stars



Summary



Are you fast enough to survive the Zombie apocalypse?

Well, now you can find out. It's the new trend in running races; run through miles and miles of zombie infested trails, but instead of biting you, they grab a flag off of your belt, flag-football style.

See what happens when Big Pharm meets Big Horror, as three Pharmaceutical Representatives take part in a Zombie Run, and get much more horror than they planned for.



My Review



This was just the right story to jump-start my workout on the stationary bike. Even though it was about 90 degrees outside and the chugging air-conditioner didn’t seem to be cool enough, my legs were pumping in record time in solidarity with the unnamed narrator, and her friend, Becca, trying to escape the volunteer zombies at the company-sponsored Zombie Dash 10K.

It’s all fun and games, with the volunteers using little flags to represent their kills and the runners giggling and screaming in mock horror. It all changes when an evil clown zombie gets in on the action.

I don’t want to say any more and spoil the fun for anyone. This story is fast-paced, suspenseful and terrifying. Never trust zombies, even if they look like Bill Clinton or are dressed like cute babies.

Though this story was well-written, it is rife with awkward sentences and misspellings, which sometimes pulled me out of the story. In a self-published work, this is something I can tolerate, but I do hope the author will consider finding a good editor for future stories.

Free right now on Amazon