Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book Review: Mutated



 Summary:
(From Amazon.com)
 
They Outnumber The Living. . .
25 to 1. Those are the odds of being struck down--and resurrected--by the savage plague that's sweeping the country, forcing survivors to band together against the dead.
They're Growing Stronger. . .
Even among the living, there is dissention. A new leader known as the Red Man has risen up and taken charge--and he's nearly as dangerous as the hungry dead. Some, like Bob Richardson and his friends, strike out on their own. Because if the men with guns don't get them, the zombies will.
They're Getting Smarter. . .
Fleeing the cities, Richardson and his crew find sanctuary in an abandoned farm. But their stronghold may not be strong enough. Something strange and terrifying is happening to the undead. They're banding together. Working as a group. Hungering for a common goal: human flesh. And lots of it.

 
Review:
 
First, can we just have an honest and open conversation about typos? I edit all day for a living, I do not expect to buy a book and mentally edit your book as I'm reading it. Some of these typos and grammar mishaps were just inexcusable, with the most egregious being on the summary on the back cover which also seems like an easy fix. Who the frak is Bob Richardson!? The main character is definitely named BEN Richardson. Is Bob a nickname? He is never referred to as Bob in the book? Bob... Robert. Ben... Benjamin. See where I'm going with this. Rant ended.

It took me a while to get into the book and a while to finish it. It just wasn't as compelling as the other books in Joe McKinney's  Dead World series. I like that each book in the series is its own separate story that way you don't have to read the previous books to know what's going on in the next. I have read the first book in the series and the third and now the fourth and the first book was definitely my favorite. While Dead City was reminiscent of The Walking Dead... at least it was reminiscent of The Walking Dead. That's never really a bad thing. The fourth book was just dull by Chapter 5 but I made myself push though.

In Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead and Flesh Eaters those stories were about surviving the zombie apocalypse and groups of survivors banding together, but there were elements of each one that made each novel different and interesting enough to read the next one. There are characters that I connect with in this novel and want to learn more about, Nate, specifically but the other characters... I'm not sure what it is but I don't connect with the others as much as I connected with the characters in Dead City. I think Nate is the only character that seems like a well developed character. You see his flaws. You see him grow and change and learn to trust people. There is a somewhat lack of character development with the other characters.

I guess you can say that all zombie apocalypse stories focus on survival but it would be nice if every now and again an author tried to flip the script and switch things up. I have read zombie novels like Stefan Petrucha's Dead Mann Walking and Diana Rowland's My Life as a White Trash Zombie that do and phenomenal job of bringing life to a somewhat overdone genre. 

McKinney also relies of characterization of gender roles. The women are portrayed as being whiny and needy. One character, Niki, constantly relies on her "womanly wiles" to try to outsmart the guards and the Red Man, despite being a powerful leader of a group of survivors. With the exception of Gabi, the women spend most of the time crying, fearful or not thinking things through clearly. I hardly think this is fair especially since Ben, who was only an observer previously and was always terrified of getting involved, somehow has an epiphany overnight and morphs into a badass who would do anything to protect from his newfound group of survivors who just so happen to be women.  The generalizations are ridiculous.

Yeah there were too many negatives for me to ignore in order to enjoy this book.

Review: 1/5

Look for Mutated on Amazon.com or wherever books or e-books are sold.
 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Book Review: Defender of Magic (The Sidhe)

So apparently I fail at life and I somehow did not publish my review of Defender of Magic, the third installment in the Champion of the Sidhe series. Trying to make amends now. My apologies folks.

Summary:
"Raiders have attacked Danu’s temple, slaughtering its defenders. The artifacts that are the last hope for the survival of the fey are in danger. With Changelings out to kill him, and goblins determined to abduct him, Lugh’s on a quest to find a stronghold for those treasures. Perhaps he should have thought twice before seeking a safe haven in the territory of shape-changing, fire-breathing dragon."

Review:
I love this series! I don't think that's much of a secret by now.
In the third installment of Champion of the Sidhe, Lugh is still going strong in his quest to save the seelie fey from complete extinction by finding different artifacts that will restore the fey mounds. Unfortunately this is only making him weaker and it definitely shows throughout the novella. It's definitely admirable that he is literally sacrificing himself for the good of his people. I also loved the addition of Jonathan the Dragon Shape-shifter. I hope we see more of him in the future.

That being said I am still not a big fan of Lugh. I am hoping that one day I will read a novella that really blows me away and my opinion of him will be changed forever but so far that hasn't happened yet. Maybe it's his inital face off with Jhaer. Or the fact that he gives off the type of vibes that make you think if there was a popular table at some high school in the fey realm he would be sitting there with all the other popular kids acting like he owned the school. I'm thinking that's probably closer to what it is. So I really don't enjoy his story arc as much as I do the others. Granted it is probably too early to make judgment calls but so far he has not left a good impression.

Maybe I am just biased since my favorite mini series is probably Donovan/Jhaer's story arc hands down, but that hasn't stopped me from reading London and Lugh's series. This is mainly because each mini series doesn't quite work as a standalone, the three series converge into one continuous story arc. This works for one of two reasons. One, it helps immensely with the plot line and allows for the story to be told in depth over a longer period of time. Two, each installment in the series is broken up into a short story that can be read quickly. In order to get the full effect of the series it is recommended to read all three story arcs.

Sadly I just wasn't as enthralled with this installment, but I am looking forward to finding out more about Lugh and seeing what S.A. Archer and S. Ravynheart have planned for him in the future.

Look for Defender of Magic on Amazon.com or wherever e-books are sold.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Comic Review: Saga (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)


I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday with their friends and families. As we head into 2014 one of my goals is to update the blog a lot more. Happy reading! -Megan


Summary: 
"When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. 

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults. 

This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make."

Review: 
I'm not even sure where to begin to describe this series. The story focuses on two soldiers, Alana and Marko, whose species have been fighting for generations. They fall in love, get married and have a kid, of course with the disapproval of their respective species. It sort of reminded me of the story of Romeo and Juliet if Romeo and Julie had monsters, ghosts, bounty hunters that are giant humanoid spiders, giants cats and TV robots who are part of the royal family. It sounds like there is a lot going on in this tale and sometimes too many plot lines can make the story confusing and feel cluttered. To be fair the other plot lines all center on finding Alana and Marko but they do feel like their own separate stories. Despite all of this Brian K. Vaughan makes it all work.

Fiona Staples' stunning artwork and the solid storyline make this an interesting tale. Be forewarned, this comic is not for everyone. The comic contains violence, sex, profanity, and nudity. Saga is definitely for mature audiences.

I think what really works well in this story is the characters and their development. Alana's wit and tough demeanor and Marko's pacifist approach really grows on you. By volume 2 Marko and Alanda have grown from the characters we were first introduced to in volume 1 or even the people that they were when they first met. One thing is definitely consistent and that is their love for one another. It sounds extremely sappy but they are the only ones they can really depend on and this theme is very evident during volume 1. You want their young family to find a way to live in peace but this doesn't mean that you can't help but also root for some of the secondary characters like The Will and Lying Cat even if they are after Alana and Marko.

Sadly volume 3 has not been released yet but I can't wait to see what epic twists and turns are in store for readers in the next installment of this series.

Rating: 5/5

Look for Saga: Volumes 1 & 2 on Amazon.com or where ever comic books are sold. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Comic Review: Star Trek TNG meets Doctor Who in Assimilation 2 (Vol. 1)


Summary: 
"The two greatest science-fiction properties of all time cross over for the first time in history! When the Federation's most terrifying enemy strikes an unholy alliance with one of the Doctor's most hated antagonists, the result is devastation on a cosmic scale! Spanning the ends of space and time itself, Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves joining forces with the time-travelling Doctor and his companions, with the fate of the galaxy hanging in the balance!

The first collection of the Assimilation 2 comics, including #1-4"


Review: 

While the idea of a crossover series can be epic. All too often it turns out the opposite. I'm sure we've all read a few Buffy and Battlestar Galactica fan fic that have not turned out not the way we envisioned it. Or maybe that's just me...

Either way, when I first noticed this at my local comic book store I *had* to have it. You could see my eyes light up as I clutched the comic book in both hands and walked with a stupid smile on my face to the register, like a kid at Christmas.

You see, though I recently became a Doctor Who fan--as in within the last three years--I have been a Trekkie, specifically a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, my entire life. So I was pretty stoked about this series and it did not disappoint.

What is better than the 11th (12th?) doctor appearing in a comic series with Captain Jean-Luc Picard? Finding out the comic series also features scenes with the fourth doctor and  Kirk, Spock and Bones.
This series is truly amazing.

As I read scenes I could absolutely picture each character's voice in my head. The dialogue between the characters is amazing and while I was skeptical of the storyline at first, it really works. Essentially the Borg and the Cybermen have teamed up to assimilate the entire universe and despite traveling to San Francisco in 1941, the Doctor and the gang end up on the Enterprise's holodeck and face to face with a very confused Data.

Minus one star for the artwork. Some scenes look amazing and others look blurry and almost have an out of focus quality? However, I was willing to look past it because I enjoyed the plot so much. I'm still not sure when this takes place in the Doctor Who or TNG timeline but I'm sold on this concept. Now onto volume 2.

Rating: 4/5


Look for Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2 on Amazon.com or where ever comic books are sold. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Comic Review - Revival: You're Among Friends (Vol.1)

Summary: 
"For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it's up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. The sell-out hit series created by NYT Bestselling author TIM SEELEY and Eisner winning artist MIKE NORTON is collected with bonus material!"

Review: 

I loved this comic. I initially picked it up thinking it would have your typical "the dead are rising, save yourself" plot. It is anything but that.

Artist Mike Nortan is phenomenal in drawing the scenes in this story. The characters each have their own look and style that makes them unique. Colorist Mark Englert makes the comic dark and noir and you cannot help but be blown away by the vivid detail that he puts into the story.

Yes, the dead are rising but the story is so much more than that. These zombies, if you can call them that, are not mindless shambling monsters. They have thoughts, feelings and emotions and remember what it was like when they were alive... not undead?

The story centers on police officer Dana Cypress who already has her fair share of responsibilities before the dead rise. She is a single mother, daughter to the town sheriff who she also works under and also looking out for her kid sister, Em, who has also been recently revived. At first glance this seems to be the typical set up of an urban fantasy novel where the main character is a cop or private eye, and I won't lie to you at times it seems that way. Strong female character in law enforcement who has a tough life and maybe a few trust issues. Check. 

However, the writing is excellent, the plot draws you in and leaves you on the edge of your seat. Dana is extremely likable and she is probably one of my favorite characters to date. 

Even though it is not immediately clear what the citizens who have returned to town want or what the stranger who has seemingly brought them back is up to, it's clear that it is not a happy little miracle that the dead have come back. As Dana tries to figure out who may have killed her now revived sister we learn that appearances are deceiving and some of the people in town are definitely not who they seem.

As I write this I have my coat and boots on so I can run to the comic book store and pick up volume 2. I can't wait to see what happens next!

As a side note: While it didn't bother me, this comic is probably not for the faint of heart. The illustrations can become pretty graphic and may be too intense for some readers.  However I do think it helped to create a creepy element to the story and points for being realistic.

Rating: 4/5

You can find Revival on Amazon.com or wherever comic books are sold. 

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