Review of Saga, Volume 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples

Sometimes going into a read with high expectations can lead to tremendous disappointment. A few months ago, I was blown away by a graphic novel when I read Northlanders, and spent an entire evening reading the thing in one day. Since that time, I have sampled a few graphic novels, seeking to find more volumes to hook me onto other narrative series. I read the very first issue of Saga shortly after finishing Northlanders, and soon after picked up the Volume 1 trade paperback since it seemed like a series I would enjoy. So many people praised the series, and I had some good friends assure me that I would like Saga a lot. My expectations for the series couldn’t have been much higher prior to picking this back up.

Well, it certainly lived up to those lofty expectations.

I grabbed Saga off the shelf just yesterday, expecting to read the next issue and set it aside to accomplish other tasks. What I didn’t expect was to end up binging my way through the other five issues in that volume in a single sitting. Several times I told myself that I’d read the next one and then set it down, and each time I struggled to follow through with that plan. I was hooked, enjoying the ride through a wildly imaginative Sci-Fi tale. 

Let’s start with the artwork. One of the fun aspects of Science Fiction comes from the imagining of new worlds, new races, and new ways presenting conflicts and the solutions to said conflicts. The world where these opening issues take place is remarkable. The alien creatures are varied, with the primary conflict brewing between two human-like yet non-human races. Of course, there’s a disclaimer for nudity, which appears far more often than I had anticipated in the volume, but by and large it isn’t being gratuitously forced upon the reader. 

The story being told is magnificent. Those two warring races I mentioned? Yeah, our protagonists come from those two races, having fallen in love and, at the start of the volume, give birth to a child. Nothing like a forbidden love story to drive things forward, right? Yet there’s even more going on, that the reader is given hints about over the course of the first six issues: they are wanted, and not just because they are in love and deserting the war-embroiled planet. The stakes are high, as we watch them race to escape the planet while being pursued by bounty hunters, their own allies, and Prince Robot IV and his team. This pursuit is the heartbeat in those first six issues, driving things forward until you reach the conclusion of that first volume – an ending that made me want to immediately go out and pick up the second volume to see how it all continues. 

And that in itself is enough review, right? I couldn’t stop myself from reading more, and now I’m compelled to continue as soon as I can into the next installment. I am excited to see where their journey takes them from here.

Book Review: The Infinite Arena, ed. Terry Carr

Welcome, those of you coming over from my YouTube Channel, where I spent the last year falling back into love with reading and talking about books. I’m turning a new page, so to speak, and reviving an old webpage and blog, with the aim of this next year to feel less pressure to spend all of my free time exclusively on reading books as fast as I can so I can talk about them.

Today we’re going to take a look at, and review, an old Sci-Fi anthology of short stories. There are seven of them in here from an assortment of authors, all possessing a sports-related theme:

“Joy in Mudville” by Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson

“Bullard Reflects” by Malcolm Jameson

“The Body Builders” by Keith Laumer

“The Great Kladnar Race” by Randall Garrett and Robert Silverberg

“Mr. Meek Plays Polo” by Clifford D. Simak

“Sunjammer” by Arthur C. Clarke

“Run to Starlight” by George R.R. Martin

As with any anthology, the stories are going to vary wildly in how any individual reader responds to and resonates with each story. In most collections the assumption would be that a reader will find at least one they really enjoy, and will almost certainly find at least one which just didn’t work well for them. Sometimes you get lucky and encounter a lot of really good stories, sometimes you end up with a bunch of average ones with a few standouts. So let’s start off with the absolute standout in this collection: “Sunjammer” by Arthur C. Clarke.

This story is a delightful gem of a story, and a quick look through the spectrum of reviews on Goodreads confirms that this is almost universally viewed as the high point in this collection. There’s good reason for that, as Clarke crafts a tale that is both rooted in hard Science Fiction, but also has some strong human and plot-driven elements across a short span of time. The premise is interesting, having vehicles designed that operate on the power of the sun’s radiation, and after several orbits around the earth can jettison into space and out toward the moon. Clarke throws some delightful twists along the way, and the sheer imagination this story evokes makes this tale worth reading.

Fans of popular sports such as baseball and football might enjoy the first and the final stories in this collection. “Joy in Mudville” brings baseball to the forefront, with furry creatures stealing the show with their imprinting of historical baseball personalities – including Casey at bat. The story is enjoyable, but not spectacular, although huge fans of the sport might have more enjoyment. “Run to Starlight”, by a young Martin, envisions football with an alien race taking part in the sport in the wake of a horrific war against them. This one was certainly one of the stories I enjoyed the most in the collection after the Clarke one.

The other four stories are also enjoyable – I didn’t have a single tale in here that I felt was a dud – but they are unlikely to be what draws a person to pick up this collection. I enjoyed the twist on “The Great Kladnar Race”, with its unusual and surprising ending that was slightly predictable before the reveal. “Bullard Reflects” has some interesting action, and is certainly the most violent on a broad scale, whereas “The Body Builders” might entertain those who enjoy sports such as MMA. “Mr. Meek Plays Polo” was probably my least favorite in here, although the premise of space polo and the strange creatures that assist Mr. Meek provides an enjoyable enough read.

As a whole, this collection was one I had very low expectations for. It came as part of a book lot, and I picked it up out of curiosity to read the Martin story more than anything else. What I found was certainly an above-average collection that is going to remain on my shelf because there are several in here that I’ll probably revisit in the future. Even if the premise of sports-themed short stories doesn’t excite you – it didn’t for me – there’s still some really enjoyable stories in here that are worth the read.

Moss & Clay Blog Tour – Queen Mab

(Today I have the special honor of sharing about Rebekah Jonesey’s upcoming book: Moss & Clay. While I haven’t read it myself (yet), she was an instrumental supporter for Monster Huntress and its publication. I can’t wait to get this one on my own TBR list!)

 

Shakespeare saw Queen Mab as a tiny fairy that was the midwife of the fairies. I took a broader approach. She is one of the Queens of the Fae, and also a midwife to the fae. One of the first to be created by Danu she is part of the Aos Si, the fae created by the goddess Danu and her consort the sky god that has no name.

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By http://poulwebb.blogspot.no/2013/07/arthur-rackham-part-2.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57977062

The Aos Si were created from pure magic and as such are pure themselves so they can also use the creation magic like their parents, which means they can create new lifeforms and peoples. As midwife this is something the Mab took great joy in. She created hundreds of new types of creatures. Because let’s face it, after being a midwife she knew how hard and painful it was to give birth to a life from her body. Instead she chose what she saw as the smarter route and only used her magic and pieces of nature to create life.
As the midwife to their entire people Mab is very protective and cares deeply about her people. Being the queen only heightens that sense of responsibility. Which makes her the perfect candidate to create a doll that she will pour so much of her life and magic into so she can save her lost people. And of course a Queen who cares so deeply for her people is also loved and revered. So her people band together to help her in her time of sacrifice, and will comfort her after her real sacrifice happens. Giving up her only blood daughter to send off into the unknown and dangerous land of America.

 

Rebekah Jonesy knows stuff about things and isn’t afraid to talk and write about it. Outside of the literary world, she is a mad scientist cook, gardener, Jill of all trades, and military spouse. Inside the literary world she is a devourer of books, publisher, and mentor.

“Rebekah has the best kind of rabies”- JD Estrada

 

You can follow author Rebekah Jonesy at Twitter, Facebook, join her reader’s group, or her blog Heart Strong.

 

And of course you can find her books here for the free prequel to Mab’s Doll or grab your copy of the first book of the series, Moss and Clay

 

See more awesome stops in the tour.

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Moss & Clay

 

Keywords

#Mab #UrbanLegends #MabsDoll #Fae #FaeLegends #QueenMab #GaelicLore #Mystery #Creepypasta #Sirens #golem #Kelpie #Brownie #Seelie

Book Blurb:

Tag Line:.Moss, clay, and blood–that’s how Gillian began.

 

Back cover:
A doll, crafted and given a mission by Danu. Given life by human and Fae blood.  First daughter of Mab, Queen of the Fae, Gillian must track down the rogue fae in the Americas and bring them back under Fae Law with only a volunteer kelpie to travel with her.

And no one knows what they’re in for. Not even the gods that sent them.

Get the free prequel story here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/g7cjknwe9p

Book Info:

Title:  Moss and Clay, Book 1 in the Mab’s Doll Series

Author:  Rebekah Jonesy

Publication Date:  May 26, 2018

Paperback Price: Preorder $12.99 release price $14.99

Digital Price:  $2.99 pre-order, goes up to $3.99 on May 26th.

Pages: 262

ASIN: B07CJWBYTK

ISBN ebook: 978-1-946382-28-3

ISBN print: 978-1-946382-29-0

Buy Links:

Paperback Preorder

Amazon Kindle:  

Amazon Paperback:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/831818

Goodreads:

Draft 2 Digital

 

About the Author

Rebekah Jonesy knows stuff about things and isn’t afraid to talk and write about it. Outside of the literary world, she is a mad scientist cook, gardener, Jill of all trades, and military spouse. Inside the literary world she is a devourer of books, publisher, and mentor.

“Rebekah has the best kind of rabies”- JD Estrada

 

You can follow Rebekah Jonesy at Twitter, Facebook, or her blog Heart Strong.

https://twitter.com/dirtyrjonesy

https://www.facebook.com/authorRebekahJonesy/

http://rebekahjonesy.blogspot.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8292001.Rebekah_Jonesy

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/RebekahJonesy

http://www.amazon.com/Rebekah-Jonesy/e/B00NQ5Z1CS

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1214371635362864/

Newsletter

 

Tour stops

5/13/2018 OWS Ink Tour Announcement

5/14 Book Review- Heidi Angell’s Blog

5/15 Author interview with Jon Carmody on The Mountain Caller

5/15 Beautiful Book Geeks

5/16 Guest Post on Golems on J.D. Estrada’s site

5/17  Guest post on Research for The Writer’s Edge

5/18 Meet Ardan Gilchrist on Growing Up Stephanie

5/19 Facebook Party There is a cool special giveaway you should definitely check out!

5/20 Meet Gillian Gilchrist on A.L. Mabry

5/21 Author Interview on Desu Beast Blog

5/22 Meet the Kelpies in Moss and Clay on This is not a Hitchhiker’s Guide

5/23 Guest post on American Legends and Urban Fantasy on Are You Afraid of the Dark?

5/24 Book review on carrieksbookreviews.blogspot.com

5/25 Book review on The BookWorm Chronicles

5/26 Author’s Release day announcement

5/26 Youtube panel on American Legends, Creepy pasta, and a fun trivia game. Starts at 2 pm EST.

5/27

5/28 Author interview with Hijinks Writer

5/29 Guest post David Wiley

5/30

5/31 How Romance Leads to Genre Fluidity a guest post on Our Write Side.

6/1 Meet Gary Lynch at Growing Up Stephanie

6/2

6/3

6/4

6/5

6/6

6/7

6/8

6/9 Phoebe Darqueling Book Review

Release Day for Monster Huntress!

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Holy smokes, people. Today is release day and what an exciting and eventful day it has already been! We’ve been having a Facebook party going on since last night, and you should definitely hop on over there and take some quizzes, share your Dragon name, talk about your favorite underrated authors, and more.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2052224081714312/

And thanks to you, my readers, I am already creeping up on smashing the real sales goal that my publishers had for release day. But that doesn’t mean we can’t aim higher. Be sure to snag a copy today. It is available in a whole host of places, but here’s the Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords links for your convenience.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/monster-huntress-david-wiley/1128332229?ean=9781946382276

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/810426

 

And if you read the book, be sure to let me know what you thought by either leaving a review or by emailing me!

Monster Huntress Blog Tour Update

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We are nearly a week into the Blog Tour for the upcoming release of Monster Huntress. I wanted to give an overview of what’s been going on, as well as a link to all of the stops that have shared (and links to those still to come!).

First of all, information about a giveaway contest!

If you follow me on Social Media, you may have already heard that I have a book releasing on 4/21/2018. My publisher, when she realized that I am big into board gaming, decided to throw in a fun contest/giveaway where up to 3 board games will be given away based on how Day One sales conclude for the book (all preorder sales count toward this). Because I know I like winning board games, I thought you might be interested as well. So here are the games that could potentially be given away:

  1. Dungeon Roll (if we reach 100 sales by the end of 4/21/18)
  2. Castle Panic (if we reach 400 sales by the end of 4/21/18)
  3. Lords of Waterdeep (if we reach 900 sales by the end of 4/21/18)

Entering the contest is simple, and is outlined below:

  1. Go to the Facebook event for the Monster Huntress release. (Link: https://www.facebook.com/events/2052224081714312/) and select that you are “Going”.
  2. Invite your friends to join the event.
  3. For every person who selects you as the person who invited them in the poll (pinned at the top of the event under the discussion tab), you will get an entry to win the board games.
  4. While no purchase is necessary, preordering a copy of Monster Huntress on Amazon (special prerelease price of only $2.99, which you can get here…link: https://www.amazon.com/Monster-Huntress-Young-Book-ebook/dp/B07BW9T1LP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1523474497&sr=8-1&keywords=monster+huntress+david+wiley) will help push us toward more games being given away. If you’d consider buying me a coffee if we met in person, then equate this as a way of buying said coffee.

 

Curious to know more about the book? You can read the first three chapters over at my author website: https://authordavidwiley.wordpress.com/books-stories/monster-huntress/first-3-chapters-of-monster-huntress/

If you have any questions, don’t hestitate to leave a comment or send me a message. Thank you, in advance, for any who help me to completely obliterate these sales goals!

Tour Stops

Our Write Side and OWS Ink Tour Announcement  Date April 7th

Phoebe Darqueling interview April 8th

Teaser Announcement https://cloemichaelsreads.wordpress.com/ April 9th

Book release announcement The Write Read Blog April 10th

Guest post with Naomi Rawle: World Building, The Promise of Something Greater April 11th

Book review An Angell’s Life of Bookish Goodness April 12th

Why I Wrote a Female Main Character, Guest Post by David Wiley on  Stephanie Ayers blog Friday April 13th

Stacy Overy guest post Character Interview April 14th.

Character interview with Ava’s Father April 15th.

Guest post https://anglorumbooks.wordpress.com/ April 16th

Book review https://thebooknookuk.wordpress.com/ April 17th

Release announcement April 18th

Facebook Event April 20th-21st celebrating the release date!

David’s Release Announcement April 21st

Teaser Release announcement April 24th

Teaser Announcement AF Stewart April 26th

Book Review on Stephanie Ayers Author blog April 27th

Our Write Side and OWS Ink Tour Wrap Up April 27th

Upcoming Blog Tour – Bloggers Wanted

April is here and that means Monster Huntress is coming out, at long last! While April 21st is the official release date, we’ll be kicking off a blog tour in a matter of days that will run from the 7th through the 27th. We’ll have all sorts of fun interviews, character spotlights, and more appearing during those weeks and we’re looking for more bloggers to volunteer to host a post during the tour.

You can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScNp1mwHv6_98Qt6HzYYpM6wlOABkuGT0vViHXdbeQsIRScCg/viewform

The Monster Huntress Tour runs from April 7th- April 27th

The world tells Ava she’s just a little girl who should know her place, but Ava wants a sword not a crown.

Ava and her father are following in her mother’s footsteps, hunting monsters in the 13 Kingdoms, seeking revenge for her mother’s untimely death. Little do they know that the monster responsible is building up a dangerous force. When The King requests the help of Ava’s father in exchange for her becoming a princess, Ava is not pleased. Can Ava escape her fate and the obnoxious prince of Harborg to live the life she’s always known, or will the dark plans of the monster catch her in his trap.

David Wiley combines the action of Tomb Raider with the fantastical elements of The Witcher to create the exciting world of The Young Huntress high fantasy series.

Delve into The Monster Huntress today.

Again, if you are interested you can sign up here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScNp1mwHv6_98Qt6HzYYpM6wlOABkuGT0vViHXdbeQsIRScCg/viewform

Look for more posts as we get closer to release day!

**(You can preorder a digital copy for only $2.99 over on Amazon. Take advantage of this special pre-release price, as it won’t last!**

Mayhempalooza 2017

If you happen to be in the Des Moines area this coming Saturday, stop by Mayhem Comics and Games in Des Moines for their Mayhempalooza event. They are hosting local authors and illustrators for a free event. I’ll be there all day, and would love to see you.

Find out more and let me know you’re coming by joining the Facebook event page I created for the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/301477313671198

 

Book Review: A Merchant in Oria

A wonderful review from Andrea.

Andrea Lundgren

Title: A Merchant in Oria

Author: David Wiley

Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy (Novella)

Book Blurb per Goodreads: Firion is a young merchant descended from generations of merchants. His first big break comes along when he sets out to trade with the wealthy dwarven kingdom of Oria. He has always dreamed of visiting this grand kingdom, having heard his father describe it in detail a hundred times while he was younger. But when Firion arrives in Oria, he is jarred by the details present that contradict with the image etched into his mind. Something dark and sinister seems to be afoot in Oria, but Firion knows he is no hero. He is just a simple merchant, and what can an ordinary person do in the face of danger and deception?

Book Review: David Wiley is a good author friend, and when his novella was published, of course I wanted to read…

View original post 796 more words

The Book Knights Blog Tour – Interview

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THE BOOK KNIGHTS

About the Book:

Title: THE BOOK KNIGHTS

Author: J.G. McKenney

Pub. Date: July 5, 2017

Publisher: J.G. McKenney

Pages: 272

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: AmazonGoodreads

From the award winning author of EON’S DOOR comes an Arthurian tale like no other. 


When her parents are condemned to death by Morgan Fay for the crime of reading, Arti Penderhagen becomes a fugitive. Hunted by Mordred, the sadistic police captain who recites poetry to enhance his physical strength, Arti escapes to the Isle of Avalon, a sanctuary for outlaws. There she meets an old librarian named Merl who tells her about the Grail Tome, an ancient book in Morgan Fay’s possession that can alter the course of history. Can Arti steal the book in time to save her family?
THE BOOK KNIGHTS is a fantasy adventure in which knights wield words as weapons, librarians are wizards, and books can change the future.

Your book is a modern reimagining of King Arthur, which I think is fantastic. What made you decide to place these characters in a modern setting rather than provide your own spin on the classic tales?

I thought the story would be more relatable to readers if I placed the characters in a modern setting. I want readers to understand how important the power of words is to us now, and make clear the threats posed to our freedom to think and live the way we choose.

Can you tell us a little about Arti, who is the heroine in this story? What inspired you to cast the modern King Arthur as a young girl?

I chose a young girl because I wanted to challenge the classic Arthur stereotype of the active male hero. I wanted Arti to be a model to all those smart young girls and women whose love of books and reading gives them the power to overcome obstacles, no matter how daunting.

When did you first become interested in the Arthurian stories? Is there a particular tale that is your favorite? What makes that one stand out from the rest?

I’ve always enjoyed the Arthurian stories, but rather than one part standing out, I really like how they work together to explore the heroic journey. In writing THE BOOK KNIGHTS, I drew on Arthur’s pulling of the sword from the stone, the Lady of the Lake and Excalibur, and the quest for the Holy Grail. They are all equally important to the story.

Adobe Photoshop PDF

The cover is really awesome. How did you come up with the idea for that design?

I’m glad you like the cover. It’s a representation of the Grail Tome, an ancient and magical book. Arti Penderhagen and her “book knights” must steal the tome from Morgan Fay so Arti can write the book’s final page to change the future and save her friends and family.

Where did you get the idea of reciting poetry to provide a magical effect, such as boosting physical strength? Did you encounter any challenges with the idea?

The power of words is a key theme in THE BOOK KNIGHTS, so I thought it would be cool to have words/poetry used in combat. In the story, it’s referred to as “the strike of words” and I think it really works. The difficulty I faced was in creating a language and a fighting method that were believable but not overly complicated or confusing.

About J.G.:

J.G.

Although the name on my books is “J.G.” McKenney, you can call me John. I’m a writer and a teacher. I also consider myself a book knight, but you’ll need to read my latest novel to find out what that’s all about.

My fascination with fantasy and adventure began at a young age when I discovered works like THE HOBBIT and THE CALL OF THE WILD. That early love of reading has matured into a need to tell stories that transport readers into worlds full of wonder and enchantment. It’s an addiction I don’t intend to kick. The problem is I’ll be dead long before I can write all the books I’ve got in my head. There…just thought of another one.

In the winter, if I’m not at work keeping tabs on my Co-op students, you’ll find me at home working away on a manuscript, reading someone else’s book, or walking with my wife and best friend, Wendy. If it’s Friday afternoon, I’ll be playing hockey with the boys.

Summer’s my favorite season because it gives me more time to write. It’s also the time for boating, swimming, and reclining in my zero-gravity chair under the shade of the maple trees next the lake shore. Oh, and walking with my wife. If it’s Thursday afternoon, I’ll be playing golf with…you guessed it…the boys.

I’d love to hear from you. Follow me on Twitter @JGMcKenney or reach out through my “Contact Me” page with your questions or comments. I’ll let you know about my promotions, including when I offer free books!

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE BOOK KNIGHTS, US Only.

3 winners will receive an eBook of THE BOOK KNIGHTS, International.

Rafflecopter link:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e2389ba2628/?

Book Review: God’s Hammer by Eric Schumacher

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Title: God’s Hammer (Book 1 in Hakon’s Saga)

Author: Eric Schumacher

Independently Published in 2005

352 Pages (Paperback)

Blurb: History and legend combine in the gripping tale of Hakon Haraldsson, a Christian boy who once fought for the High Seat of a Viking realm.

It is 935 A.D. and the North is in turmoil. King Harald Fairhair has died, leaving the High Seat of the realm to his murderous son, Erik Bloodaxe. To solidify his claim, Erik ruthlessly disposes of all claimants to his throne, save one: his youngest brother Hakon.

Erik’s surviving enemies send a ship to Wessex, where the Christian King Athelstan is raising Hakon. Unable to avoid his fate, he returns to the Viking North to face his brother and claim his birthright, only to discover that victory will demand sacrifices beyond his wildest nightmares.

I was swept up in the action and enthralled by the descriptions of Hakon’s struggle. -Roundtable Reviews-
I highly recommend this historical fiction novel, both for its entertaining story and historical information. -Historical Fiction Review-

My Take: This book gripped me from the first chapters and never let me go. The further I got into the book, the harder it became to put down at the end of a lunch break or when it was time for bed. The appeal in the book was more than the excellent immersion into medieval England, Viking culture, and the conflict of a Christian King ruling over a pagan group of people. The storytelling and character development were excellent, making me care about Hakon and those he came to care about along the way.

The historical expertise of Mr. Schumacher is on full display throughout the entire story. He manages to make the period of history come alive, complete with the conflict that surfaced as Christianity and Paganism clashed. Hakon himself is an outcast everywhere he goes: his story begins as a Pagan child coming to serve under a Christian king. When Hakon’s father dies, he returns to his homeland as a Christian leading Pagans. And this is where the greatest conflict arises, and is handled quite well along the way. By the end of the book, there isn’t some magical conversion of the entire country, so there is promise for continued tension in the sequel.

Overall this was one of my favorite reads of the year. It has great historical immersion, an engaging plot, internal and external conflict on multiple levels, and complex characters. What more could you ask for from a book? I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series to see what happens in the aftermath of God’s Hammer.