Book Review: Falcondance by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes


Title: Falcondance The Kiesha’ra volume 3
Author: Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Published: September 13th 2005
Publisher: Delacorte Press

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Nicias has never felt completely at home among the avians and serpiente in Wyvern’s Court, despite his loyalty to Oliza Shardae Cobriana, the heir to both thrones. He is a falcon, the son of two exiles from Anhmik- and images of this distant island have always haunted his dreams. But when Nicias’s visions become more like reality, his parents have no choice but to send him back to the homeland- and a royal falcon- they’ve tried their best to forget.

If Araceli won’t bind Nicias’s new found magic, it could destroy him. In a place where everyone is a pawn, only one other woman has the potential to save Nicias. But she holds the keys to a dangerous power struggle that will force Nicias to choose between his duty- and his destiny.

picadillypink To be completely honest I’m still on the fence with this series, as Snakecharm left a bad taste in my mouth. Falcondance introduces a slew of new characters, the second generation of the books if you will, and it’s a little difficult to sympathize with any of them straight off the bat. As readers we’re thrown directly into the story without any sort of buildup or back story at all. Nicias is an interesting character, and I have a feeling he’ll play an important part in the next book.

Falcondance is a bit of an information dump after the first chapter, revealing more about the Falcons, their history, their magic and their part in the war between the avians and the serpiente. This book is far more political than the other two, focusing on an older, stricter culture than the others. It was interesting to see the differences between the three, especially through Nicias’ eyes as he’s someone who doesn’t quite fit in anywhere, until later in the story. It is a short book at just under two-hundred pages, but at times drags. The action, when it does happen is far more brutal and intense than the other two books in the series, further progressing the story and introducing some darkness to it.

Overall: pink3 Falcondance hasn’t redeemed the series for me, but I am more likely to pick up the next one rather than dropping it.

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Book Review: Kamen Volume 1 by Gunya Mihara


Title: Kamen Volume 1
Author/Artist: Gunya Mihara
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Gen Manga

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
In a world of fantasy and might, a lone warrior emerges. Kamen, a mysterious masked man appears among prisoners of war in ancient Japan and becomes a legendary warrior and defender of the innocent while his enemies rush to uncover his secrets.

Courtesy of banners04

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I loved this, I’m looking forward to getting my hands on volume 2. Set in Feudal Japan, Kamen puts everything upside down and upended, in a wild romp. The art is beautiful and vibrant, the characters well written and fully developed. There’s mystery and a lot of chances for plot development and even more character development arcs.

Kamen is a great shonen manga, which on the surface seems similar to other titles out there, but there’s enough complexity that keeps it from falling into the usual boring trap. It’s got great pacing and great action. I need another volume of this, and I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for it.

Overall: pink4

Book Review: Wasted Lands by Dave Dorman


Title: Wasted Lands
Author/Artist: Dave Dorman
Published: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Magnetic Press.

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
‘Wasted Lands’ is inspired by the high-adventure serials of the ’40s and ’50s and the Spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s, but infused with a contemporary sci-fi, diesel-punk aesthetic.

Courtesy of: banners04

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I wanted to love this, I really did. I like science fiction, steampunk is becoming something that I’m really drawn to, and diesel-punk is a great offshoot of steampunk. However, that’s not the case here. The art is the only thing that I enjoyed. It varied from story to story, but there’s a commonality that didn’t cause any disconnect or confusion.

The stories themselves were the aspect that I couldn’t connect to. The art, frankly is the only reason I read this, making the omnibus a disappointment. I now know that I’m not fond of the spaghetti western genre. I’m not even certain that I’m going to seek out other titles by this author.

Overall: pink2Not my style of storytelling, though the art is beautiful and unique.

Book Review: Bleach Volume 60 by Tite Kubo


Title: Bleach Vol. 60 Everything but the Rain.
Author/Artist: Tite Kubo
Published: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Viz

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Ichigo Kurosaki never asked for the ability to see ghosts—he was born with the gift. When his family is attacked by a Hollow—a malevolent lost soul—Ichigo becomes a Soul Reaper, dedicating his life to protecting the innocent and helping the tortured spirits themselves find peace. Find out why Tite Kubo’s Bleach has become an international manga smash-hit!

With the training not going as planned, Ichigo returns to the World of the Living to reevaluate himself. But when he runs into his father, Isshin, he discovers he has a lot to learn about his mother—and the way she died!

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Oh Bleach. I love you so very much. I’m so sorry that I spent so much time away from you (distracted by teenage basketball prodigies and other series). I recently went on a massive Bleach binge read–I was at volume 27 of 59 at the time. I got massive stacks of volumes from the library and settled in to get caught up (I rarely read scans, because I hate waiting for them), and instantly I was back in love with this series.

Kubo has entered into the final arc of his massive series, which has claimed the coveted title of one of the big three manga. With this arc, I’m drawn back to what initially got me into the series. A slick story line, great action, and great characters. In this volume the history between Isshin (Ichigo’s father), Ryuuken (Uryuu’s father) and Masaki (Ichigo’s mother) that was hinted at long before the reveal. My suspicions about Isshin were confirmed and the story between Isshin, Ryuuken and Masaki is heartbreaking and gives insight to the man that Ryuuken became. Other loose ends are tied up, and we are presented with a massive plot twist about something very important to Ichigo’s fighting style.

Not to mention the reader is also set up with the fight that’s been hinted at since the introduction of the character of Uryuu. And I know the conclusion of this manga is going to break my heart. It’s going to be a long drawn out heartbreak, but I can just see it coming.

Overall: pink4 Bleach is one of my favorite series, and this volume didn’t disappoint. I cannot wait for the next.

Book Review: Zaya by Jean-David Morvan


Title Zaya
Author/Artist: Jean-David Morvan, Huang-Jia Wei, Mike Kennedy
Published: August 26, 2014
Publisher Magnetic Press

Rating kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064akasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Zaya tells the story of secret agent in the distant future who left her post to seek a normal life as an artist and mother. When a bio-mechanical threat destroys an orbiting colony station and former fellow agents start dying, she is called back into the field to find and stop the danger. Her investigation leads to many questions about her own past, filled with explosive revelations.

Courtesy of banners04

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I really fell in love with the world that Morvan has created. Zaya is a retired covert agent called back into service when other agents, here called spirals are dying. The artist mother of a young pair of twins re-enters the world of spies and cloak and dagger assassinations.

The art is whispy and sketchy, with light lines. It’s an odd blend of Eastern and Western graphic novel art styles, but here in this case it works. The Bio-Mechanical aspect is something new to me, and I found myself really enjoying it. The story line is complex and weaves science fiction with steampunk and carefully constructed violence. It was original and well layered, keeping me guessing until the end.

Overall:pink5Engaging and complex, I recommend this to those that are looking for something a little different.

Book Review: Black Science Volume 1 by Rick Remender


Title: Black Science Volume 1
Author/Artist: Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Dean White
Published: November 13, 2013
Publisher: Image Comics.

Rating:kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Grant McKay, former member of The Anarchistic Order of Scientists, has finally done the impossible: He has deciphered Black Science and punched through the barriers of reality. But what lies beyond the veil is not epiphany, but chaos. Now Grant and his team are lost, living ghosts shipwrecked on an infinite ocean of alien worlds, barreling through the long-forgotten, ancient, and unimaginable dark realms. The only way is forward. The only question is how far are they willing to go, and how much can they endure, to get home again?

Courtesy of banners04

 

 
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To be completely up front and blunt, I enjoyed this. I like that straight off there’s a ton of action and story development. There’s a great underlying plot and it’s smart. The writing and dialogue are very smart and fast paced. There’s enough explanation and exposition that it’s not an info dump alongside great illustrations. It does remind me a bit of the television show Sliders (seriously, look it up it was amazing.)–but the differences are strong enough that I’m not feeling like it’s fan fiction.

The characters are well written and unique with their own voices. The aliens that they encounter aren’t the most creative, but I think with the way this story is going and conflict we as readers are thrust into when the story opens, it’s easily ignored. The art though—I keep coming back to it. The lines are great and the colors are brilliant and saturated with an interesting quality to them. I will be reading this series as it progresses, and I’m interested to see where it’s going from the ending point. I’ve been on a manga kick for so long that it was a little different to pick up a traditional graphic novel/comic book and read it, but I found Black Science to be a good trap door back into that genre.

Overall pink3 beautiful art with a clean, slick, well written story line makes up an interesting comic book. Worth checking out and reading.

Book Review– 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil


Title: 3:59
Author: Gretchen McNeil
Published: September 17, 2013
Publisher:Balzer + Bray

Rating: kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a kasa_zpsdf6a064a

Synopsis:
Josie Byrne’s life is spiraling out of control. Her parents are divorcing, her boyfriend Nick has grown distant, and her physics teacher has it in for her. When she’s betrayed by the two people she trusts most, Josie thinks things can’t get worse.

Until she starts having dreams about a girl named Jo. Every night at the same time—3:59 a.m.

Jo’s life is everything Josie wants: she’s popular, her parents are happily married, and Nick adores her. It all seems real, but they’re just dreams, right? Josie thinks so, until she wakes one night to a shadowy image of herself in the bedroom mirror – Jo. Josie and Jo realize that they are doppelgangers living in parallel universes that overlap every twelve hours at exactly 3:59. Fascinated by Jo’s perfect world, Josie jumps at the chance to jump through the portal and switch places for a day. But Jo’s world is far from perfect. Not only is Nick not Jo’s boyfriend, he hates her. Jo’s mom is missing, possibly insane. And at night, shadowy creatures feed on human flesh. By the end of the day, Josie is desperate to return to her own life. But there’s a problem: Jo has sealed the portal, trapping Josie in this dangerous world. Can she figure out a way home before it’s too late?

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This is a quick read chock full of twists and turns, believable science fiction and a dark splash of fantasy and horror. Where it falls short however, is the entire plot is given away in the synopsis and the ending is a little too neat–a little too packaged.

I’m going to start with the things I did like. It’s got a very Alice In Wonderland, mirror flip-turned-upside down vibe going on. From the first page the author leaves the reader unsettled. Something’s coming, and it’s really hard to pin point just what is going on. I think what makes this really effective is that it’s not just one thing, but a group of things, stacking on top of each other. When Josie and Jo switch places, I think the story really starts to shine. The glaring contrast between the two girls really gives light to the ‘good twin v bad twin’ battle. Though in this case they’re doppelgangers. I figured out one of the twists early on, after Josie alters her appearance to look more like Jo.

The story doesn’t really pick up until after the switch, when Josie learns that there’s more to Jo’s world than the girl had initially let on. Josie for a few chapters flounders, trying to get her footing and deal with the people who look just like those she left in her own universe, but act so very different. The characters are different enough that they stand out and separate from their alternates. One of the very obvious differences in Jo’s world is the introduction of the Nox. I really would have loved to see more about them, rather than the flash bang description and then a rather disturbing scene further along in the book.

One of the things that I did really enjoy is nothing was exactly what it seemed. Everyone had their own agendas and secrets. I did see the major twist coming from a mile away, but it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the book. I did feel as though everything was packaged up neatly with a bow–even the heart-wrenching moment, there was closure there. I would have preferred a little rawness to this, but I can see why the author kept it neat.

Overall: pink5 Quick read that plays with science and fantasy on a real world scope. A little too neat of a finish, and predictable but still enjoyable.