The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard – Book Review

SO. I was listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour for the billionth time, as is my wont (I promise, a post about this is coming), and it was an old one in which Glen Weldon mentioned Free Comic Book Day. This inspired me to look up the comic book stores around me on the Free Comic Book Day website. It turns out we have more independent comics shops around than we do bookstores, including chain bookstores. So then I decided that my new project is to explore both our local comics shops and comics and graphic novels in general by buying something from each of the stores. For my first attempt, I found the local shop to be small and dominated predominantly by single issue comics. Since I don’t feel quite ready for those yet, I focused on the small rack of compilations and works originally published as complete graphic novels. I was hoping to be the beneficiary of some good hand selling, but the clerk was busy most of the time we were in there, so I just browsed until I found THIS little gem.

The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Published by Vertigo, an imprint of D.C. Comics

EDWARDIAN VAMPIRES VERSUS EDWARDIAN ZOMBIES. #FTW

In The New Deadwardians, Britain has been frozen in time by a horrid disease and a cure that might even be worse. In 1861, Britain began to be plagued by the Restless Curse, something that effectively turned people into zombies. In an attempt to counteract the curse and provide an ability to fight the Restless, the Cure was invented and taken by the upper classes. The Cure was able to make those who took it invisible to the Restless, but it did it by making them dead as well, vampires to be exact, referred to as the Young. Although the lower classes are still human, their lives are basically ruled by interactions with the two types of dead creatures around them, and they’re starting to revolt. George Suttle is one of the Young, and the last detective in the Scotland Yard murder squad. There’s not much need for a homicide detective when everyone who is considered to matter is already dead. Except then a Young man is found dead, and not by any of the common causes. How can someone dead die again? Chief Inspector Suttle may have gotten in over his head in this investigation.

I completely loved this book. First of all, Edwardian vampires and zombies? SOLD. SOLD. The story is told well and paced beautifully, I really didn’t run into any problems considering this compilation was originally sold as single issue comics, it flows very nicely. I also adored the illustrations; color is used to great advantage, setting the scene and communicating even the slightest change in mood.

I adored this x1000000. If you have any recommendations for me on the graphic novel front, I’d love to hear them, in case the next comics store I head to isn’t so much on the hand selling, either.

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Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau – Book Review

Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

I previously reviewed the first book in this series, The Testing, this review will include spoilers for The Testing.

Cia made it through the Testing, but now that she has a record of what she went through during that time – most of the participants were made to forget it – she is constantly uneasy. Will her next mistake cost her her life? Things don’t get any easier when Cia is placed in her learning program. First she is assigned an unheard of number of classes, and then she is put through an initiation by the older students in her program. As things escalate, Cia becomes increasingly determined to figure out just what exactly is going on and who – if anyone – she can trust.

Independent Study is perhaps not quite as action packed as The Testing, but this is to be expected for the second book in the trilogy. What impresses me is that it doesn’t suffer from the mid-series slump, despite being quite a bridge book between what happened in The Testing and what is coming in Graduation Day. Charbonneau keeps up a good amount of action, particularly with the initiation rites. At the same time, Cia and the reader are able to gain measure of insight into what exactly is happening in the United Commonwealth.

Independent Study continues the story of The Testing and sets up Graduation Day while managing to tell its own story as well. This makes for a very nice middle of the series book. Recommended.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Author.

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Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers – Book Review

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin

This is the second book in the His Fair Assassin series. I have previously reviewed the first book, Grave Mercy. This review may contain spoilers for Grave Mercy.

Picking up just where Grave Mercy left off, Dark Triumph focuses not on Ismae, as the first book did, but on her fellow initiate from the convent of St. Mortain, Sybella. Damaged and hurting, Sybella is forced by the sisters at the convent to return to the home that tortured her, that made her the creature she is today.

Can she find a way to save her friends and Brittany, or will her time at home return her to the thrall and control of her father.

I am absolutely thrilled that LaFevers chose to tell Sybella’s story in Dark Triumph. For one thing, it is a much more involved and compelling story than I had imagined when we met her in Grave Mercy. For another, telling Sybella’s story allows LaFevers to move the story of the Franco-Breton war and Anne’s duchy forward without falling prey to the middle-of-the-trilogy slump. Much of what happens in regards to Anne’s story is in the background, but Sybella’s engaging story means there is significant narrative thrust to keep the reader entertained.

I can’t wait to see what is next for us in this series. Highly recommended.

For more information, please see the author’s website.
Source: Library.

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Audiobook Review

The Ocean at the End of the Lane written and narrated by Neil Gaiman
Published in audio by Harper Audio, published in print by William Morrow, both imprints of HarperCollins

Synopsis:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with the protagonist, now an adult, returns to his childhood home and happens upon an old friend’s house, where he finds one of her older relatives. The longer the protagonist stays at Lettie Hempstock’s house, the more he behinds to remember his time with her. These memories are long buried, other more reasonable memories of the same time have taken their place, but the Hempstock farm brings back the truth of what happened when the protagonist was seven years old.

Thoughts on the story:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is so magical that it is scary. It begins as a simply charming story of  a sweet little boy, but strange things begin happening around him. When he tries, with his new, slightly older friend Lettie Hempstock to appease the spirit causing problems, he inadvertently creates a far larger problem. The story builds along very nicely. While I wouldn’t classify it as horror, there is one section that would nearly qualify as a supernatural horror, although it invokes more tension than outright fear, since we know the protagonist survives. The details about the Hempstocks are beautifully crafted, making this otherworldly family seem absolutely realistic. It is a short but utterly absorbing novel, if you have it in print you could probably easily read the whole thing in a single sitting.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Ah, Neil Gaiman is one of those few authors who really should narrate his own work. His narration is particularly effective since his protagonist seems to be approximately his own age in the framing pieces and his protagonist as a child is said to be loosely based on his own childhood (minus the magical creatures trying to kill him, I’m assuming). As such, his narration fits the novel beautifully and he is able to give his words a level of emotion that take them to the next level.

Overall:

The story in itself is fabulous, so I don’t think you can go wrong with The Ocean at the End of the Lane however you consume it, but Gaiman’s narration gives it that extra special something. If you can listen to this audiobook, please do.

For more information, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: Publisher.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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Stormbringers by Philippa Gregory – Audiobook Review

Stormbringers: Order of Darkness by Philippa Gregory, narrated by Nicola Barber
Published in audio by Simon & Schuster Audio, published in print by Simon Pulse, both imprints of Simon & Schuster

I previously reviewed the first book in the Order of Darkness trilogy, Changeling.

Synopsis:

Luca and Isolde have a growing relationship and are happy that they will be able to continue traveling together for the foreseeable future. Their plans are halted, however, when a young man named Johann arrives in town leading a veritable army of children who claim to be on a crusade, sent by God. Johann has been prophesying, but when one of his prophecies comes true in an unexpected manner, Luca, Isolde, and the rest of their party find themselves in mortal danger.

Thoughts on the story:

In Stormbringers, Gregory does a great job telling a new complete story as well as forwarding the stories of Luca and Isolde, their relationship, and the lives as a whole. I am most intrigued to continue learning about this order Luca finds himself working for; I am fairly certain that I know where Gregory is going with this, and I think it has wonderful potential. If anything, I find myself looking forward to the third book in the trilogy even more than I looked forward to this one.

Thoughts on the audio production:

Initially I was disappointed that Charlie Cox was not selected to narrate Stormbringers after narrating the first book in the series, Changeling. I had fond memories of his narration and the switch from a male to a female narrator is kind of a big difference. However, with a third person point of view and a cast very nearly equally split between male and female characters, the gender of the narrator does not really matter here, and once I got used to Nicola Barber being the voice of Stormbringers I actually found her quite good. One thing Barber really excels at is bringing out the humor in the secondary characters, two of whom can be really quite funny. She is good overall, though, and by the end I was pleased by Cox’s replacement, even if I’m not sure why he was replaced.

Overall:

I am really loving this series, particularly in audio. I can’t wait until the next one comes out! Highly recommended.

For more, please see the publisher’s page.
Source: publisher.

Sound Bytes is a meme that occurs every Friday! I encourage you to review your audiobooks on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

 

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