Sunday, June 28, 2015

I'm Now On Twitter!

Influenced by the latest webcast of The Corner Booth (they swear by it, they really do), I've gone and joined Twitter. You can find me here.

Yes, that's a slightly different avatar there - I thought I'd use the one that's really based on me instead of my usual Andrew Garfield picture. Let's see if it gets me followers and/or potential readers...I have faith in the power of my avatar! :D

Friday, June 26, 2015

Review: Winger

Winger (Winger, #1)Winger by Andrew Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been neglecting this section of Andrew Smith's bibliography for quite a while, and having managed to read it all in less than two hours, I wish I'd gotten around to it sooner, for several reasons.

First, the fact that the primary couple in this story is named Ryan Dean (the Dean is required when invoking his name) and Annie. Since I have a pair of siblings in Red Rain named Ryan and Annie, this is a hilariously disturbing coincidence, one I may have to rectify soon enough.

Second, the use of silly-ass comic strips to liven up the story's already wackadoodle sense of humor. Hey, it's Andrew Smith - the sense of humor is always wackadoodle. It's not as blackly comic as some of his more recent works, though. Because while those other books mostly just make humor out of catastrophic injury to a guy's man-bits, this one actually subjects poor Ryan Dean, among others, to numerous such catastrophic injuries, with far-from-pretty results.

Third, the fact that unlike all the other Andrew Smith books I've read, this one has no genuine horror/sci-fi genre trappings involved. Just the odd joke about how much of a demonic hellspawned witch Mrs. Singer is.

But it wouldn't be Andrew Smith without making you feel like steaming dog shit in the end. Because hey, it can be hard to be a barely-pubescent dweeb like Ryan Dean (and, being a post-pubescent dweeb myself, I mean that in the nicest of ways, of course), and you will know it from reading his account of life. I almost wish I could have lived his life, though. Maybe I'm just that sheltered that I need a more hardcore break from my own reality. Could someone shell out the money to build a Star Trek holodeck and allow us to experience the life of Winger, just for a change of scenery to the Pacific Northwest? As well as to remind us all why rugby is truly the sport of madmen? And that it can, in fact, be cool to wear Pokemon underwear after the age of ten, if you're in the right circumstances (read: Halloween when wearing a miniskirt of a caveman outfit)?

What really makes you feel like steaming dog shit in the end, though, is the actual ending. Not only does it come pretty much out of nowhere (although there are some pretty subtle foreshadowings that make sense only when you finish the book), but it's just too bloody brutal. Emphasis on "bloody." And "brutal." It's so sad you might forget to cry at first - and don't feel bad if that happens, because Ryan Dean (I almost typed "Ryan Dead" there - Freud Was Right after all!) did that too. It's like Spud all over again, but worse. Infinitely worse. This man, this guy who wrote this book - people say I hurt their feels with my writing? Something tells me they wouldn't be able to handle this one.

I find it very hard to believe Andrew Sith (totally intentional slip there, BTW) is about to publish a sequel to this. Should I read it? Will it be part of the increasingly disturbing trend of Grasshopper Jungle and The Alex Crow? Or will it be a breath of relative fresh air and sanity in comparison?

We'll just have to wait and find out. Until the next ridiculously long Andrew Smith-induced review, peoples...keep calm and FOR GOD'S SAKE, DON'T DRINK THE GATORADE!

View all my reviews

Review: Tunnel Vision

Tunnel VisionTunnel Vision by Susan Adrian
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

File this one under "2015's Undiscovered Gems."

This high-octane, high-stakes story fuses Miss Peregrine (a young man with creepy powers inherited from his Eastern European refugee grandpa who always calls him "Yakob," but thankfully Dedushka doesn't die like Grandpa Portman did), The Adjustment Bureau (guy can't be with his dream girl because The Powers That Be have so decreed it, except they're government and not supernatural entities), and Little Brother (severe government lady who serves as the book's primary antagonist and gives DARPA a bad name, but without the Bush-era politics to further influence her portrayal) in a crazy intense way. Once the story starts, it refuses, and I mean REFUSES, to stop - right down to its ending, in which there's definitely room for a sequel. And speaking of that ending...no spoilers, but there's an even Bigger Bad than Liesel, one you'll probably not see coming. And even if you do, prepare to be shocked beyond belief.

My one hope is that this doesn't become the next Soulbound (series initially cancelled, then revived as a stupid e-book exclusive), or the next Archived/Unraveling/President's Vampire (amazing high potential, but the series just seems to stop after Book 2 for no reason.) There needs to be a nice, complete series here. Please? Pretty please?

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Generation Icarus: Hawk and Kestrel

I promised Jess Pawley a bit of fanart for her amazing Generation Icarus series, soon to be available in its entirety on Wattpad for the first time! Now, to celebrate, I've made a fanart of Hawk and Kestrel, based on a scene from the third book in the series, Third Time Lucky.


I admit, I may have flubbed up on the bodies a bit - Kess looks a lot smaller than Hawk, but she's also a tad bit further into the background. And as for Hawk's arm - well, it was originally outstretched, but that looked ridiculous. And let's just say I suck at drawing crossed legs...but at least they're recognizable, right? :)

Enjoy! :D

Review: Anatomy of Evil

Anatomy of Evil (Barker & Llewelyn, #7)Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of the best entries in this series to date, largely because it finally takes on the inevitable Victorian London trope of investigating the case of Jack the Ripper. This interpretation jam-packs all manner of ethnic and sociopolitical issues as well - par for the course for this series, with the usual involvement of London's Jewish community, anarchist circles, and another minority I admittedly never saw coming - the gay underground. (One surprise - Oscar Wilde was never seen in any of the book's scenes at the Drake Club.) Another surprise - the true reason why Barker always, always, ALWAYS wears his signature dark glasses. It's, erm...it's freaky.

And the biggest surprise of all is that this book actually postulates who the Ripper may have been, as well as suggesting that he was, in fact, caught, but the arrest was never made public for sociopolitical reasons. And if the book's afterword is to be believed, this man, along with many of the book's supporting characters, was real. Now we're edging onto Rollins/Cussler/Berry/Brown territory here. Or, perhaps more accurately, Preston and Child (White Fire, anyone?)

Now that Jack the Ripper's over and done with, here's hoping the next Barker and Llewellyn book does what I've been hoping this series will do from the beginning - feature a collaboration with Holmes and Watson!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Review: Dangerous Deception

Dangerous Deception (Dangerous Creatures, #2)Dangerous Deception by Kami Garcia
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

PRE-REVIEW:

Everyone thinks Rick Riordan is the ultimate cliff-hanging troll:



But after the ending of Dangerous Creatures, I beg to differ.

TITLE GUESSAGES:

* Dangerous Darkness (obvious, but come on...)
* Dangerous Love
* Dangerous Light


All wrong. Love the actual title, though. And the cover - wow. Broken shades have never looked so cool.

REVIEW:

Well, well, G&S. Together, you've gotten the Caster Chronicles world back to form and then some. Between the much more international scope of this adventure (Ripping to Europe, anyone? Even if only for a short while...) and the crazy intensity of the Ridley storyline (at least we finally got that cliffhanger resolved!), this second Dangerous Creatures story was a short but sweet one.

Sweet...until the end, that is. I was warned by a fellow reader that the ending would be bad. She didn't tell me it would be sad. And sad it was. Not gonna lie - I teared up quite a lot. It's hard to say which of these two fine writer ladies, Garcia or Stohl, could be more responsible for this one. While not as lethal as the ending of Idols (for which I'm still not inclined to forgive Stohl anytime soon), or as devastating as the ending of Unmarked (oh God, don't remind me), it still continues their trend of giving me the feels something fierce.

Okay. Done talking. I'm gonna go hug my dog now. I need it. And then I'll wait for the inevitable third book - not to mention Stohl's Black Widow book, which I just found out about today. :D

View all my reviews

Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Fallen

Fallen (Fallen, #1)Fallen by Lauren Kate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As far as stories about angels go, this ain't Cassie Clare. As far as Southern Gothics go, this ain't the Caster Chronicles. As far as YA books go, this one overdoes it a bit with the too-perfect characters (although it does make you feel bad for some of them - such as Daniel on Parents Day - and it does make you love some of them - I'm looking at "yours psychotically," Arianne!)

But even though it does take its sweet time to get going, this first installment does close out with a pretty satisfying BANG. I did see part of the twist coming, but those parts I didn't...hoo boy.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: The Alex Crow

The Alex CrowThe Alex Crow by Andrew Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think this book is a sign that Andrew Smith might definitely need some psychiatric attention. Sure, there's a bit of his usual good old-fashioned Mind Screw, and more than a bit of his usual good old-fashioned boyish black comedy and/or crude humor (in particular, the boys in this book make it an art form of inventing insanely, ridiculously original euphemisms for jerking off - with some of my personal favorites being "running off to make photocopies," "releasing the combat troops," and "working out with the swim team.")

There are some things this book doesn't have compared to some of his previous entries, though. Here, the main character isn't questioning his sexuality like in Grasshopper Jungle or Marbury Lens (and especially Passenger.) That's not what's disturbing about this book, though. There are more differences that are.

Here, the main character has more horrors in his past. Here, there's something that allows this book to border on Tarantino territory - rape and revenge. Here, there's a crazy lady who thinks men should be extinct (and you thought the testicle-dissolving corn was messed-up enough.) Here, there are gruesomely scatalogical ghost stories and other nightmarish tales. Here, there be the dragons of serious mental illness (one of which is Joseph Stalin). Here, there are so many plot threads that seem to not fit together at all, until the last minute, when they finally do. It's not as surprisingly easy to follow as Grasshopper Jungle as a result.

So here's a little question - is Smith giving himself nightmares writing the stories he does, or are they expressions of nightmares that are already there?

Overall, this story isn't quite like Grasshopper Jungle. Everybody (especially if you are now, or have ever been, a teenage boy) should read Grasshopper Jungle. But for The Alex Crow, read it at your own risk. You'll want to forget you ever did - but you can't.

View all my reviews

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Review: Solitude Creek

Solitude Creek (Kathryn Dance, #4)Solitude Creek by Jeffery Deaver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of Mr. Deaver's downright freakiest books yet - mostly because of the killer's truly deadly M.O. You know how you're not supposed to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater? The killer in this book, one of the sickest little puppies James Patterson didn't come up with, weaponizes that to orchestrate mass killings by terrified stampede. No crowded venue is safe - small concerts, book readings (that one is particularly diabolical, because he manages to get the crowd to jump through a window and fall three stories to a rocky oceanside below), amusement parks...let's just say, it was a pretty bad idea to read this one while waiting for Jurassic World to start at the drive-in.

And then there's the subplot involving a series of hate crimes against Jews, blacks, gays, etc. Neo-Nazis or KKK, right? Wrong. The identities of the vandals will shock you, and then you'll actually feel bad for them. And you'll also wish Deaver could have devoted about 30-50 more pages to resolving their storyline.

Well, that's it - the most memorable Deaver book since XO, easily. It'll probably be a while before Kathryn Dance shows up again, but I'll be waiting all the same.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 12, 2015

Review: The Wicked Will Rise

The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die, #2)The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The sequel to Dorothy Must Die doesn't lose any of the creepy, disturbing darkness of the original. In fact, it actually adds more disturbingness to the mix. Cases in point: the body horror of Pete and Ozma sharing a meat suit, the creepy Fantasms in the fog, burning of rainbows (apparently that's possible in Oz), and then the ending.

Let me tell you, that was a twist I didn't see coming, but in hindsight, I should have. Maybe because I'm not as knowledgable about the Oz mythology as I maybe should be, but now that they've mentioned it, it seems so glaringly obvious. And the confirmation that there's an even Bigger Bad out there than Dorothy or Glinda...well, crap. Oz and Earth are totally screwed now...or are they?

I just hope we don't really have to wait two years for the end of the trilogy. That would be all but unbearable at this point. :/

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: The Remedy

The Remedy by Suzanne Young

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Treatment may have been something of a let-down, but this prequel is the shot in the arm this series needed to get back on track. And, even better, it's the start of its own duology...but the ending of this one is pretty much setting up some serious heartbreak in the next one. The other reviews aren't kidding - this one does have a devastating cliffhanger. :(

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: The Replaced

The Replaced by Kimberly Derting

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Not quite as "holy freaking Christmas cake" as its predecessor, largely due to the romance getting a little too much at times. There were points where I thought Derting was trying to set up a love triangle that ultimately didn't seem to go anywhere, which was pretty weird.

But then in the final third, the story gets a much-needed rebound. And what a rebound it is - with the explanation of this title's significance (very disturbing), and that one final moment in the epilogue, with the speaking-in-tongues thing. There, at last, is the "holy freaking Christmas cake" moment I was looking for - along with the reminder that, unlike a lot of other recent books with "Sequel to X" on its cover, this one isn't the end of a duology, but the middle of a trilogy.

All right now, Ms. Derting. I'll be waiting for Book 3, maybe a little less patiently than I expected I would after getting halfway through this one...


View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Review: The Novice

The Novice by Taran Matharu

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Wattpad loves Taran Matharu, and for good reason - he can take so many elements that seem like they may have just been cobbled together from other, older fantasy works and make them seem a hell of a lot more fun. This book, like I've said before with the prequel, is pretty much an Epic Mashup of Everything. Cases in point:

* Lord of the Rings (elves and dwarves and orcs, oh my!)
* Deltora Quest (minus the dystopian, evil Shadow-Lord-type dictator elements)
* Pokemon (but without the "Gotta Catch 'Em All!" aspect)
* How To Train Your Dragon (especially in the form of Fletcher's demon, Ignatius, which I somehow misidentified as Sliver at first, but let's not go there - the Demonology section describing Salamanders as having "no teeth to speak of" really helps)
* Divergent (with the intense Tournament, even though that's concentrated on the back third or so of the book as opposed to the middle)
* Red Queen (the commoner discovering something in common, as it were, with the snobbish upper classes - but genderswapped compared to Victoria Aveyard's book)

And yes, the sum of all these parts is a very great one. But then, just as the book starts coming to an end, you've gotta wonder - is there room for everything to go bad?

Answer: yes. The very last page is especially diabolical in its "Oh my God, they did not-!" cliffhanging. My general reaction upon seeing that page went from this:




To this:



And finally, to these:







Now we're all forced to wait a whole year for book 2, huh?





*sigh* Oh well. Hopefully by then my local library will be smart enough to order these books, and I won't have to special-order them from Berkeley or Sacramento or Marin County or whatever. And when the time comes for Book 2...



In the meantime, I may need a little more of a break from reality.






View all my reviews

Monday, June 8, 2015

Ignatius The Salamander

Having finally started reading the first book in the Summoner series by Taran Matharu, I decided the world needed some fanart of Fletcher's impish little demon. So I polished off this quick and dirty sketch of Ignatius.


In my interpretation, he's built a little like the Gekko Metal Heads from Jak 3 (the part about the long, loping legs, as mentioned in the book's bestiary - NOT "bestiality!" Get it right or Stiles will hate you forever! - sold that for me), with a few touches of Toothless, and also the yellow-spotted lizards from Holes. Also, I thought it would be cool for him to have these markings on either side of his spine, like where his ancestors would have had little mini-dragon wings. And in this image, he's climbing a wall - probably so he can execute a little sneak attack. :)

Although I'm not gonna be concentrating too much on sketch work over the summer - especially not with heat like I'm experiencing today! - I might just put out some more sketches of other types of demons, most notably the Canids, Felids, Vulpids, Lycans...the ones I would have trouble deciding which one I'd want to have the most, basically. :)