Thursday, July 31, 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twilight (Season 8, #7) by Joss Whedon - Ashley's Review


Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Twilight (Season 8, #7)
Authors: Brad Meltzer (Scriptwriter), Joss Whedon (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Karl Moline (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker), Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: October 6, 2010


Synopsis: Buffy Summers and her Slayer army have suffered heavy losses throughout Season Eight and faced scores of threats new and old, but the one mystery connecting it all has been the identity of the Big Bad-Twilight!

In this penultimate volume of Season Eight, New York Times best-selling novelist and comics writer Brad Meltzer (The Book of Lies, Identity Crisis) joins series artist Georges Jeanty in beginning the buildup to the season finale in the story line that finally reveals the identity of Twilight! In the aftermath of the battle with Twilight's army, Buffy has developed a host of new powers, but when will the other shoe drop, and will it be a cute shoe, or an ugly one? Still reeling from the losses of war, Willow goes looking for missing allies, and discovers a horrifying truth about several of the Slayer army's recent ordeals. Adding to the mayhem is the unexpected return of Angel, in his Season Eight debut!

This volume also features two stories from series creator and executive producer Joss Whedon!

* Collects Buffy Season Eight #31 — #35, and the Willow one-shot.

My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                 My Time of Your Life (#4) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                    My Predators and Prey (#5) Review
My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review                   My Retreat (#6) Review



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Review: In the aftermath of the battle in Tibet, Buffy suddenly has all of these unexplained powers, Willow is trying to find their missing friends, and Twilight is causing more trouble. Oh, and we finally find out who Twilight actually is!

This was an interesting enough volume, but it did leave me confused and wanting more in the way of plot. I mean, don't get me wrong, it was interesting to see Angel and Buffy reunited and to finally learn what all of this Twilight stuff is about. I did not really care for all of the Buffy/Angel space sex, but I guess maybe it was important to the Twilight mythology? I think it could have been covered in way fewer pages regardless. It was weird and definitely too long. (It's a little difficult for me to write this review because all I can really remember about this volume are the Twilight reveal and the Buffy/Angel space sex.)

I think I was more excited for Spike to come back than I was for Angel to be back. Spike has an awesome steampunk spaceship now! And weird bug minions. And I really enjoyed all the digs back and forth between Spike and Angel - I definitely missed that. I wish there had been more Spike though. 

The dialogue and the artwork in this volume was better, I think, than it has been in the past. There were more pop culture references, more jokes, and better explanations of things. I liked that Giles knew pretty much all along about Twilight. And I enjoyed the fight scene between Faith and Twilight - his taunts make SO much more sense once he's finally revealed. 

Overall, this wasn't one of my favorite volumes of this season. I think there was a lot lacking and a lot that could have been different. I was a little disappointed that Joss didn't take the lead on this script - you'd think he'd want to be in charge of the Big Reveal instead of leaving it to someone else. This volume was ambitious, and I'm not convinced it accomplished everything it set out to do. I'd only give it a 3/5, although there were parts that I did really like.


--Ashley

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1) by Ann Aguirre - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group/Feiwel & Friends on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Mortal Danger (Immortal Game #1)
Author: Ann Aguirre
Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Synopsis: Revenge is a dish best served cold.


Edie Kramer has a score to settle with the beautiful people at Blackbriar Academy. Their cruelty drove her to the brink of despair, and four months ago, she couldn't imagine being strong enough to face her senior year. But thanks to a Faustian compact with the enigmatic Kian, she has the power to make the bullies pay. She's not supposed to think about Kian once the deal is done, but devastating pain burns behind his unearthly beauty, and he's impossible to forget.

In one short summer, her entire life changes, and she sweeps through Blackbriar, prepped to take the beautiful people down from the inside. A whisper here, a look there, and suddenly... bad things are happening. It's a heady rush, seeing her tormentors get what they deserve, but things that seem too good to be true usually are, and soon, the pranks and payback turns from delicious to deadly. Edie is alone in a world teeming with secrets and fiends lurking in the shadows. In this murky morass of devil's bargains, she isn't sure who—or what--she can trust. Not even her own mind...

Why?: I really enjoyed Ann's Razorland series (at least what I've read so far), so I was really excited when I heard about this book. It sounds like something totally different from Enclave, and I think that it has a lot of potential to be really great. Also, a Faustian deal, revenge, secrets, and fiends? Count me in!


Expectations: I expect this book to be pretty intense. Edie is on a mission for revenge, and that never usually ends well. Or nicely. I have pretty high expectations overall for this book, especially since I've read and enjoyed some of Ann's other YA books. I'm hoping for a fast-paced thriller with some magic and a little romance maybe!


Judging a book by its cover: I absolutely love this cover. It's simple, yet powerful. The infinity symbol could mean so many things, and I like how this book about revenge has a cover that looks like it's splattered with blood. I mean, not that blood is ever a good way to take revenge... but it makes for a really cool looking cover. I would totally pick this book up off of a shelf based on just the cover. I can't wait to have a copy for my shelves!



--Ashley

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6) by Jane Espenson - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Retreat (Season 8, #6)
Authors: Jane Espenson (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker), Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: March 3, 2010

Synopsis: Buffy Season Eight Volume 6 showcases the first retreat of the Slayer legion. Vampires have solid footing at the top of the totem and Slayers have been crushed to the bottom -- in short, no one likes Buffy anymore . . . least of all this season's mysterious Big Bad, Twilight, who is hot on her magical trail!

Now that it's the world against Slayers, Buffy must find a way to return the status quo to . . . status quo -- and keep her girls alive long enough to do it! Enter Oz, the only person/werewolf Buffy knows who is down with the suppression of magic, and can take the Slayer army off of Twilight's magic-specific radar.

With Oz's assistance, the Slayers and Wiccans try to become "normal" through meditation and hard labor -- although, not everyone sees the advantage of being magicless, namely, Willow, Giles, and Andrew. And they could be right. After all, is a peaceful life for a Slayer even possible?

* Oz appears in Buffy Season Eight!

* Collects issues #26-#30 of the ongoing series.


My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                    My Time of Your Life (#4) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                      My Predators and Prey (#5) Review
My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review


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Review: I totally did not read the synopsis for this volume before I read it (who needs to do that, it's just more Buffy and the continuation of season 8!), so I had absolutely no idea that Oz was supposed to make an appearance. I was pleasantly surprised and I think it made me enjoy this volume even more! I also really enjoyed that the title, Retreat, is totally a pun. 

Retreat deals with the affects of Twilight making Slayers shunned in society. Vampires are (obviously) the better of the two, and Slayers everywhere are regarded as terrible, vicious, super-strong people who are killing off the innocent vampires. Everything is upside down, and Buffy does what she has to to keep her girls safe. She's also still trying to deal with what she learned about Willow in Time of Your Life, so this retreat is as much to save Willow as it is to save the Slayers.

I really enjoyed that Oz is the one to help the girls learn how to let go of their magic and channel it into the earth and manual labor. It's interesting to see what happens when the girls become human again. Especially Willow. She's been powerful for so long that it's hard for her to adjust to being normal again. I really liked the scenes with Willow and Oz too. Even though Willow isn't interested in Oz romantically anymore, she's still hurt by how he ran off and disappeared and started a new life without her. 

The Slayers end up taking on Twilight's army head on in this volume and calling on some ancient magicks to help them defeat said army. Things never go according to plan though, and the battle becomes a lot deadlier than intended. I think this is probably the most intense volume of this season, since most of it is the battle with Twilight and the ramifications of wakening three wrathful goddesses. We also get to see another character who hasn't been around for a while, so that was nice! 

I really enjoyed this volume, and I can definitely tell that the Twilight story-line is wrapping up. It's almost like this volume serves as a reason for Buffy to finally pursue Twilight, since he kind of steals some things that are pretty important to her. I would still recommend these comics to fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer! They're not exactly the same as the show, but the heart of the series is there and that's what counts. At least for me. 4/5!


--Ashley

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Killing Ruby Rose by Jessie Humphries - Vlog Extravaganza + Giveaway!

Hello!

We're really excited today to be hosting Jessie Humphries, author of Killing Ruby Rose, as a part of her vlog tour! Jessie's publisher, Amazon/SkyScape hired a film crew to video her major extravanganza launch party in Las Vegas, NV and interview Jessie, the filmmaker of her trailer, and more! Some of those videos were used for local media, but the rest are being used for this vlog tour.

Jessie is also giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Killing Ruby Rose in audio book format, and a Killing Ruby Rose T-shirt, so don't forget to enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

Our video is an interview with movie director JJ Huckin on the night of Jessie's launch party. Let us know what you think in the comments!



About the Book



Title: Killing Ruby Rose
Author: Jessie Humphries
Publication Date: May 1st, 2014

Synopsis: In sunny southern California, Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died six months ago, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope with her father’s death, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Mahnolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal), but after months of therapy and more than a few months of pathetic parenting by her mom, District Attorney Jane Rose, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself. 

But when Ruby ends up killing a murderer in defense of another, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up changing Valentino red for prison orange. 

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?


About the Author


Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.






The Giveaway!

During this exclusive vlog event, Jessie is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card, a copy of Killing Ruby Rose in audio book format, and a Killing Ruby Rose T-shirt!




We hope you enjoyed the interview as much as we did! Thanks for stopping by! :)


--Ashley & Paul

RELEASE BLITZ: Oceanborn (Aquarathi #2) by Amalie Howard + GIVEAWAY!


Check out the blog tour HERE


HAPPY RELEASE DAY, OCEANBORN!



Author Amalie Howard has a message for you... 





ABOUT THE BOOK


The coronation is over.

But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.










Add to GoodReads




Order your copy of book one, WATERFELL
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Get your copy of OCEANBORN TODAY!
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SEAMONSTER by Amalie Howard (Aquarathi #1.5)
Available on AMAZON for only $.99















AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.

Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads


Monday, July 28, 2014

The Shadow Master by Craig Cormick - Paul's REVIEW


**I was provided an edvanced ecopy of this book by ANGRY ROBOT via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Shadow Master
Author: Craig Cormick
Year Published: 2014

My Pre-Reading of The Shadow Master

Synopsis: In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation. 

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...

Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.


---------------------------------------------------------


Review: I like the ambiguity that goes along with the worldbuilding in The Shadow Master. Is it really an alternate history? Or is it somehow a future world rebuilding the past? When a book brings forth so many questions in the reader's mind, it is either super frustrating or awe inspiring. This book is the latter. I wanted to know so much more than was on the page.


The second half of this book does take a turn for a different vibe, though. It is strange. Strange isn't always bad and I don't know how exactly I feel about the strangeness of the ending of this novel. I did enjoy it though. It just was very unexpected. 

If you are a fan of unique stories that don't fit into the box of modern genre books, you should definitely try this book out! I give this book a 4/5.


--PAUL

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Girl From the Well by Rin Chupeco - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Sourcebooks Fire on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: The Girl From the Well
Author: Rin Chupeco
Publication Date: August 5, 2014

Synopsis: You may think me biased, being murdered myself. But my state of being has nothing to do with the curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night. 


A dead girl walks the streets.

She hunts murderers. Child killers, much like the man who threw her body down a well three hundred years ago.

And when a strange boy bearing stranger tattoos moves into the neighborhood so, she discovers, does something else. And soon both will be drawn into the world of eerie doll rituals and dark Shinto exorcisms that will take them from American suburbia to the remote valleys and shrines of Aomori, Japan.

Because the boy has a terrifying secret - one that would just kill to get out. 

The Girl from the Well is A YA Horror novel pitched as "Dexter" meets "The Grudge", based on a well-loved Japanese ghost story.

Why?: I never saw The Ring (the US version or the original Japanese one) since I've only recently started watching/enjoying horror movies, but the story really interests me. This book seems like it will be just as terrifying but since it's told from the perspective of the girl, I think it will be really interesting. Why does she haunt people (other than the fact that some jerk threw her down a well)? How is her fate tied to the fate of the strange boy? What is the boy's secret?! I just have so many questions!


Expectations: I really enjoyed "Dexter" - both the TV series and the first book - so I'm hoping that a girl who kills murderers will be just as intriguing as a serial killer who kills serial killers. Well, except she's a ghost and not a blood splatter analyst. I'm also expecting this book to be absolutely terrifying. And have a lot of mystery. Maybe even some magic? I've got pretty high expectations for this book even though I haven't read anything from Rin Chupeco or read any reviews for The Girl From the Well. 


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is nice and creepy, and I think it fits the title pretty well. Except that there isn't an actual well on it... and I kind of wish there was. It makes me think that crows will be important to the story. I do like the colors and how the tree branches look dead though, and the typography of the title. I'd be pretty likely to pick this book up based on the cover alone.



--Ashley

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 2 - Paul's REVIEW

*I received this book as an eARC from DC Entertainment on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Vol. 2
Author:  Tom Taylor 
Illustrator: Jheremy Raapack
Year Published: 2014


Synopsis: From the makers of Mortal Kombat comes the critically acclaimed prequel comic to the smash hit fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us!

From the ashes of Metropolis comes Superman and the JLA's newest ally: Lex Luthor! Against all odds, he's not only survived but now embraces Superman's goals. Of course, Lex has his own ideas for how to create a better world. The Man of Steel trusts him, but can the rest of his allies be so sure?

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Review: I really enjoyed the first graphic novel collection of Injustice: Gods Among Us. I haven't played the game, but the story concept is so cool. I love that the events in these comics take place separate from the main comics so you don't have to keep up with so many different comic lines. Also, big major life changing events can take place to these characters that have been around for decades. 


This second volume keeps up with the awesomeness that was the first. I like how different characters are matched up than usual. 

If you want a more standalone DC story, these volumes are so well written and epic! I give this second volume a 4/5 and highly recommend it!


--PAUL

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predator and Prey (Season 8, #5) by Joss Whedon - Ashley's Review

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Predator and Prey (Season 8, #5)
Authors:  Jane Espenson (Scriptwriter), Steven S. DeKnight (Scriptwriter), Drew Z. Greenberg (Scriptwriter), Jim Krueger (Scriptwriter), Doug Petrie (Scriptwriter), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Cliff Richards (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker) , Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Richard Starkings (Letterer), Jimmy Betancourt (Letterer)
Publication Date: September 30, 2009

Synopsis: Buffy's world goes awry when former-classmate-turned-vampire Harmony Kendall lands her own reality TV show, Harmony Bites, bolstering bloodsucking fiends in the mainstream. Humans line up to have their blood consumed, and Slayers, through a series of missteps, misfortunes, and anti-Slayer propaganda driven by the mysterious Twilight, are forced into hiding.

In Germany, Faith and Giles discover a town where Slayers retreat from a world that has turned against them, only to find themselves in the arms of something far worse. A rogue-Slayer faction displaces an entire Italian village, living up to their tarnished reputation as power-hungry thieves. And finally, with the help of a would-be demon lover, Dawn addresses her unfaltering insecurities.

* Collects issues #21-#25 and the short stories "Harmony Bites" and "Vampy Cat Play Friend" from MySpace Dark Horse Presents!


My The Long Way Home (#1) Review                My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review                   My Time of Your Life (#4) Review


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Review: This volume really felt like it belonged mid-season. There's so many story lines going all over the place and only one or two episodes are actually related to finding out more about the Big Bad. I think this is actually a collection of one-shots, because the stories really don't seem to be connected at all. It was still fun though, and I think maybe my favorite volume so far!

Harmony is back, and she's just as weird as ever. This time, she's got her own reality TV show. Which, as you can imagine, causes all sorts of problems for Buffy and the gang. Vampires are suddenly seen by the world as the misunderstood heroes, and Slayers are now the villains. Why would you hurt a creature that's just trying to find its way in the world? Vampires don't have to kill - they totally know when to stop! And who doesn't want to live forever? All of this mixed in with Harmony's usual antics is actually pretty humorous and I really enjoyed the sections with her show more than I thought I would. I probably would not watch it in real life, but it was entertaining for the sake of these comics

Twilight is behind the whole anti-Slayer thing, and the plot involving it was better than it has been in past volumes. We actually learn a little bit more (although not who or what Twilight actually is), and I didn't find myself rolling my eyes every time he talked. Oh, and there are also these evil Vampy Kitty toys which are absolutely hilarious. I think they crawl inside of people while they're sleeping and possess them? I'm not entirely sure, but it was kind of funny watching the Slayers battle an army of evil stuffed kittens.

Then we have the Slayers who have taken over an island. They're actually pretty annoying, and the only good thing was Andrew. His nerdy speeches have always been my favorite, especially when I know what he's talking about. And I had totally forgotten that he has the ability to control/speak with demons, and I'm glad it made an appearance here again. As always, he manages to bungle the job, but it wouldn't be an Andrew story if something didn't go wrong. 

Dawn is back to being pretty annoying in this volume and I wish someone would slap her and tell her that the world doesn't revolve around her. She was hilarious as a giant and a centaur but the doll thing just amplifies how annoying she is. And she's not even a doll long enough to really get into trouble before she's saved and makes up with the thricewise and is a normal human again. I hope she stays out of the way now. Which she probably won't. Because she's annoying.

Overall, I really enjoyed this volume. It was fun to see some more familiar faces, have my memory refreshed about characters who have been around since the beginning of Season 8, and see what people are up to when they aren't directly fighting Twilight. If you've read the rest of this series, I'd definitely recommend this volume. 5/5!


--Ashley

Friday, July 25, 2014

Board Stiff (Xanth #38) by Piers Anthony - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Premier Digital Publishing on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Board Stiff
Author: Piers Anthony
Publication Date: December 17, 2013

My Board Stiff Pre-Reading

Synopsis: Be careful what you wish for...

"I'm actually a smart girl who would make any man an excellent wife. But no man sees that. No man is interested in my mind or personality, just my whatevers. So here is my wish: I'm board stiff. I want Adventure, Excitement, and Romance.”

So begins Piers Anthony's 38th Xanth novel, in which Irrelevant Kandy, looks at her reflection in the water of the shallow well and sees luxuriant midnight black hair to her breathtakingly slender waist, matching dark eyes in a lovely face. A torso coming yea-close to absolute perfection. She was man's desire. That was part of the problem.

And in the shallow magic of a wishing well, she asks her wish to be granted. Something happens. A sudden whirlwind surrounds her, lifting her up and ripping off her clothing. She is changing, somehow. Then she falls flat on the ground.

Literally. She has been transformed into a flat, stiff board with two knotholes for eyes.

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Review: It's been a really long time since I've read a Xanth book. Like, several years. And I'm pretty sure the last one I read I was a re-read of A Spell For Chameleon. But the thing I love about these books is that I don't have to remember much to become fully immersed again in this magical, puntastic world!

I really liked Kandy in this book. It was fun to see things from her perspective since she spends most of the time as a literal board. That's totally what she deserves for saying she's "bored stiff" though, since she should know better having grown up with puns all around. She's looking for Romance, Adventure, and Excitement, and I loved how the Wishing Well grants her wish in a most ridiculous manner. I do think she learns a lot throughout her adventure and is definitely a different person at the end of the book than she was at the beginning. She knows more about life, love, adventure, and men and is a better person for it. 

I also really enjoyed getting to know the other characters she meets along the way. Ease is kind of an idiot and I'm not sure I would ever pick him to be the romantic interest, but whatever. Some times I just wanted him to do something idiotic and not have Kandy save him, but I guess that's not how Xanth works. Astrid was probably my favorite character in the group and I think her friendship was Kandy was an even better relationship than any of the romantic ones. We also get to see Com Pewter again, which was pretty neat since he's one of my favorite Xanth characters of all time. 

The plot is this book feels really pieced together. Kind of like Piers Anthony was like "Ok, I want this group to do this, this, and this even though they are not related in any way. How can I string them together to make a cohesive story?" and I'm not really convinced that it worked as well as he hoped it would. I mean, it's tied together loosely, but all of the Events are just so random. There's a little bit of an explanation near the end... but it's not a very strong argument and feels kind of like he thought of it last minute.

Speaking of the ending, I thought it was a little lame. As I was reading, I looked at the amount remaining and was concerned that things wouldn't wrap up by the end. They do, but it just felt really rushed. We spend this entire book trying to figure out how to save the puns and in the end it's so much easier than you would ever think. And it was kind of annoying. This book could serve as a standalone because this plot is wrapped up pretty nicely, but I can still see there being a sequel because it felt like it was setting one up. 

I would recommend this book to any fans of previous Xanth books. Even if you haven't read one in a while, there's enough here to get you right back into that magical place. All of the groan-worthy puns are there, and familiar characters show up. I would also recommend this series (and this book even) to pun-lovers and casual fantasy readers. Not my favorite Xanth book, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless. 3/5!


--Ashley

Shadows Fall Away by Kit Forbes - Ashley's Pre-Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Month9Books in exchange for an honest review*

Month9Books | Goodreads

Title: Shadows Fall Away
Author: Kit Forbes
Publication Date: September 23, 2014

Synopsis: Mark Stewart is one incident away from becoming a juvenile delinquent, and his parents have had enough. They ship Mark off to London England to stay with his eccentric aunt Agatha who is obsessed with all things Jack the Ripper. After a strange twist of luck, Mark is struck by lightning, and he wakes to find himself in 1888 Victorian London.


His interest in a string of murders Scotland Yard has yet to solve make him a likely suspect. After all, why would a young boy like Mark know so much about the murders? Could he be the ripper they've been searching for? Convinced the only way to get back home is to solve the murders, Mark dives headfirst into uncovering the truth.

Mark's only distraction comes in the form of the beautiful Genie Trembly, a girl who is totally out of his league and who may have already caught the attention of the infamous ripper. To save her, he'll endanger both their lives, and risk being trapped in the past forever.

Why?: Time travel, mystery, and Jack the Ripper? Count me in! This book sounds really interesting, and I can't wait to find out who the ripper is and if Mark ends up staying in the past with Genie (I already don't trust Genie though, so I'm also curious as to how that turns out).


Expectations: I expect a lot of mystery, since Mark is solving a crime. Also a lot of historical facts/events/etc. because of the time travel. A little bit of romance, and maybe some magic? I haven't heard much about Shadows Fall Away in terms of early reviews or read anything by Kit Forbes, so my expectations are reasonably high based on the synopsis alone.


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is dark and mysterious and I kind of love it. I love the colors and how the title stands out. I love how part of the title is in red - like blood - because it deals with Jack the Ripper. I would be pretty likely to pick this up off of a shelf if I saw it in a bookstore or in a library. 



--Ashley

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life (Season 8, #4) by Joss Whedon - Ashley's Review

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Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Time of Your Life (Season 8, #4)
Authors: Joss Whedon (Scriptwriter), Jeph Loeb (Scriptwriter), Karl Moline (Penciller), Georges Jeanty (Penciller), Andy Owens (Inker), Eric Wight (Goodreads Author) (Animator), Ethen Beavers (Animator), Adam Van Wyk (Animator) , Michelle Madsen (Colorist), Lee Loughridge (Colorist), and Richard Starkings (Letterer)
Publication Date: May 6, 2009

My The Long Way Home (#1) Review
My No Future For You (#2) Review
My Wolves at the Gate (#3) Review

Synopsis: Willow and Buffy head to New York City to unlock the secrets of Buffy's mysterious scythe, when something goes terribly awry. Buffy is propelled into a dystopian future where there's only one Slayer -- Fray, the title character of Joss Whedon's 2001 series, the first comic he ever wrote. Their uneasy alliance falls apart, leading to the death of a major character from the TV series, while back in the twenty-first century, the Scotland base falls prey to a mystical bomb courtesy of the Biggest Bad-Twilight.


* The first two volumes of Buffy Season Eight have combined to sell over 160,000 copies!

* Includes the highly anticipated Buffy/Fray crossover, "Time of Your Life," and "After These Messages . . . We'll Be Right Back," written by Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween).

* Collecting issue #16-20 of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight series.

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Review: I kind of feel like this volume would have made a lot more sense/been more exciting if I had read Fray first. I mean, it's exciting enough and there's just enough information to figure out what's going on, but it doesn't seem like it's the full story. It also doesn't really seem to fit in with this season. It's more like one of those episodes from the show that has nothing really to do with the Big Bad and just goes off on its own little tangent.

The story itself is interesting enough. Something Buffy does in the present changes the entire future, and the world is back to having one Slayer - Fray. Her Watcher is a water-dwelling demon, and she shares her powers with her twin brother. She has the strength and the skills, but he has the Slayer memories. I really wanted to know more about Fray and her life and why her world is the way it is, but I guess that's a story for another day. Anyone who has already read Fray will probably really enjoy this cross-over.

Buffy is long gone in the future, but Willow is still around. And of course, whatever Buffy does in the present has also changed her life. She's definitely not the same Willow that Buffy knows. She totally plays both sides of the conflict to benefit herself, and it was a really Willow thing to do... especially considering the circumstances. I also thought the artists did a great job translating her into comic book form. 

I did really enjoy getting to see Kennedy again though! Also, she was wearing a Marzipan shirt (see HomestarRunner.com), so 1000 extra cool points there. I love the ridiculous pet names she and Willow give each other and I'm glad that we actually get to see a little bit of what she's up to now. Especially since Willow keeps her far away in NYC so she doesn't get hurt. It's kind of ridiculous because Kennedy is a Slayer after all... but whatever. 

If you've read the first three volumes in this series, this one is a nice break from all of the Twilight stuff. It's also not necessarily one that you have to have read the first three to appreciate, although I wouldn't recommend reading them out of order of course. I would also say that any fans of BtVS should still read these comics, because they're pretty decent. Great artwork, interesting story, humor and wit, and (mostly) the Buffy we all know and love. 4/5.


--Ashley

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (audiobook) - Paul's REVIEW

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Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Year Published: 2011

Narrator: Jim Dale
Audiobook Length: 13 hours 39 minutes

My Pre-Reading for The Night Circus

Synopsis: The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night. 

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them both, this is a game in which only one can be left standing. Despite the high stakes, Celia and Marco soon tumble headfirst into love, setting off a domino effect of dangerous consequences, and leaving the lives of everyone, from the performers to the patrons, hanging in the balance.


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Review: I listened to this audiobook over the course of a long road trip. I took breaks to listen to music pretty often at the beginning, but towards the end I didn't even want to stop for a restroom break. This audiobook really pulled me in. 


This novel covers a large amount of time, following this mysterious duel from its newest initiation on. The story mainly follows the two young magicians participating in the duel, but there are other stories interspersed. I really enjoyed the chapters in second perspective of the reader visiting the Night Circus itself. The storytelling is done so well. At first it may be confusing, but by the end it all came together so perfectly. 

The characters that are involved in the Night Circus are all so interesting. A circus is a perfect place for quirky characters. The way the characters interact with the magic is also done so cool. The magic is so subtle and mysterious. It is the type of magic that makes you feel like magic could really exist in the real world, just under your radar. 

I highly recommend this book. And if you are looking for an audiobook for a long car trip, this book worked perfectly for me. I give this book a 5/5. This book is definitely worth the read!


--PAUL

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wonderland: Asylum by Raven Gregory & Patrick Shand - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Diamond Book Distributors/Zenescope Entertainment on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Wonderland: Asylum
Author: Raven Gregory & Patrick Shand
Publication Date: July 1, 2014

Synopsis: Exiled in the realm of Wonderland, the legacy of the Mad Hatter claimed Johnny Liddle's soul creating one of the greatest villains the world has ever known. But the true horror of what Wonderland is has never been revealed...until now! 


They thought the realm of madness was trapped in Wonderland. They were wrong!

From the creators of the original Wonderland trilogy and Pat Shand (Robin Hood, Unleashed) comes the madness as you have never seen before!


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Review: I should really know better when I get comics on NetGalley to make sure that I've actually read the previous volumes. It really makes things make so much more sense. Luckily though, this one wasn't too bad even though I had no prior knowledge, so I was pleasantly surprised! 

Most Alice in Wonderland re-imaginings still deal directly with Alice. Or have characters whose names are very close to "Alice." This comic, on the other hand, introduces Alice's granddaughter, Violet. It was really interesting to see how Wonderland has changed from Alice's adventures there (even though we only get a brief glimpse of them in this volume). Mostly we get to learn about the background of the Mad Hatter and what the character has become over the years. It's actually really different and interesting! 

The cause of the Liddle's pain is The Void. Who, hilariously, decides to take the form of James Franco. I honestly could not take him seriously because all I saw was James Franco and every time he cursed Wonderland I just heard it in James Franco's voice and couldn't help but laugh. He's a really interesting character though, and I'm pretty sure this comic wouldn't have been half as good if he was absent. I like the explanation for how Wonderland came to be and how The Void is worked into the present-day asylum. I was not expecting that, but it was pretty neat. 

Speaking of the Asylum, I thought it was a really interesting and creepy twist on the classic Wonderland characters. It's hard to tell who the characters will become at first, but after they transform I didn't even need to be told who they were. It's pretty obvious, even though they all look completely different from the classic incarnations. My favorite was probably the Cheshire Cat - he's not in the asylum, but he's big and scary and mean and probably what the Cheshire Cat should have looked like all along. 

Even having missed the original Wonderland trilogy that preceded this volume, there's enough information to know most of what's going on. I definitely missed something about Lory Liddle and the Jabberwocky, but I think going back and reading the original trilogy would just lend a deeper understanding to this comic. I would recommend this to fans of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland who are looking for a darker, grittier, sexier retelling. Because, like the other fairy tales this group has done, the girls wear what's basically lingerie the entire time and that's about it. Definitely 18+. Overall not a bad comic, but I wish I understood more of the subtle references. 3/5.


--Ashley