Category Archives: Book reviews

Day Four, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have a bucket list, or at least things that we want to do at some point in our lives. I don’t even think I have a really huge one, but one of the things on it shouldn’t be too hard to achieve. It’s making a cruise on a big ocean liner. I don’t even care about the destination to be honest. But just the experience of being on a huge and beautiful cruise ship crossing the ocean and gazing at the beauty of the sea, that alone would make it worth it for me. So why haven’t I already done this? Good question. I could go into all kinds of lame excuses but the fact of the matter is I totally could have done this a million times over already. Maybe it’s lazyness, maybe it’s simply me not taking a step in trying to do something really different with my life for a change. Whatever the reason, I still plan on doing it. It’s pretty ironic though that Day Four, the sequel to The Three a book that I recenly read and highly enjoyed, once again makes me wonder if making such a trip is a good idea. First she did it with planes, now she sets her sights on a cruise ship. I see a pattern emerging here….

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The Beautiful Dreamer is huge cruiseship that has hundreds of passengers aboard, that are enjoying a trip across the ocean. For three days things have been going well and everyone seems to take pleasure in the many things the ship has to offer. Also aboard is acclaimed psychic medium Celine del Ray, who is able to commune with the dead and is able to bring closure to the family members of the deceased. Or so she claims. Madeline who is the assistant of Celine has her own knowledge of the things her boss can do. But ofcourse being her assistant and all she is not going to ruin things. However on day four of the cruise, disaster strikes. The electricity fails, stranding the ship with nowhere to go, and no way to call for help. If that wasn’t bad enough already, a mysterious ilness seems to have taken hold aboard the ocean liner, with more and more people falling victim to it. But then things become even worse when a body of a young woman is found who has apparently been murdered. Increasingly frightening events are happening aboard the ship, and fear and tension take hold of the passengers and crew. Madeline is beginning to get more and more convinced that someone, or something doesn’t want the ship to reach land…..ever again….

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Day Four takes place after the events of the first book. But I do have to say that if you did not read that one, you could still enjoy this book as it stands pretty much on it’s own. There is the occasional reference to a name from The Three, but other than that you don’t really require any knowledge of the first book. For those who of you who read my review for the first novel you might recal that it was written in a very unique way. Using interviews, news paper clippings and skype conversations it spun it’s tale and showed very effectively what happens when fear and paranoia take hold of the world. Day Four is a more traditional book. Although near the end of the novel, the author again uses the same trick she used in the first one to uncover the final truth such as it is. We experience this novel switching between multiple characters. Each chapter spents time with one of them as they try to stay alive during the nightmare events that are unfolding before their eyes. We have a pretty diverse number of characters, ranging from a pair of elderly women that have plans to commit suicide, to the assistant of the medium, crewmembers, and even the killer who is aboard.

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Each of them had their own little background story, some working better than others, but overall it was a nice diverse cast. I do have to admit that I would have liked a little bit more depth to some of them, which would have helped me form more of an attachment to a few of the characters. But just like in the first book it’s creating the oppressive atmosphere that Sarah Lotz excells in. As can be expected in situations such as these, tempers are beginning to run high. It starts of rather innocently with people just complaining about the fact that they are going to be late in catching a flight or not having enough towels in their cabins. As soon as it is beginning to become clear that rescue isn’t coming, and food is running short as well, people are slowly reverting to animal behaviour. Just like in the first novel, it’s again not exactly clear what is going on. Is it a supernatural force, aliens, something even more sinister? Whatever the case might be Lotz again manages to write a very engaging novel, that really is one of those books that is engaging your brain in trying to figure out the puzzle.

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Is the book as good as The Three though? I would have to say no. But that’s mainly due in part to the fact that the style of the original novel was very unique and something that I had not really seen before. Here we have for the most part a traditional novel, that while still very good, isn’t really unique. I also had a bit of a problem with the ending. It was pretty abrupt, and although I do like open endings that leave you speculating what just happened, I would have liked a little bit more closure to the final events. Overall though this was still a great read that I highly enjoyed. There are some elements in the book that fall into the horror category, but it never gets gory in any way. This is more of mystery/supernatural story, and a great book to just curl up into bed with, while a storm is brewing outside. I definitely recommend this novel, and if you liked The Three, chances are that this one will be to your liking as well.

I give Day Four a 8 out of 10 score.

 

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The Three, a novel by Sarah Lotz (2015)

We all have our own kinds of things that we fear. It might sometimes even be completely unfounded or irrational. Something that no matter how many people tell you to get over it, your mind still refuses to accept. For me it is the fear of flying. And it’s even more crazy when I tell you that I have never so much as set foot on a plane. I don’t even know why I have this particular phobia. Maybe it’s just the fact that when I am in a plane and it falls from the sky I pretty much end up dead. (Well, at least that’s usually the case). And yes I know it’s supposedly the safest way to travel and all that other stuff they keep telling me, but well my mind just doesn’t seem to listen. Still, I want to get over it. There are some places I really want to visit in my life, one in particular, and I won’t get there if I still refuse to go on a plane. So, next year’s goal is pretty much set. Now to work on getting there in the first place. What doesn’t help with this though is reading a book about planes falling from the sky. Yes…plural. Oh well, at least the novel was very good so there is that.

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Pamela May Donald, despite her husband’s plea not to go, decides to visit her daughter in Japan who she hasn’t seen in quite a while. Once the plane that is supposed to take her to her daughter is in the air, she is beginning to have some doubts about whether or not she is really doing the right thing by going. These doubts turn into horror, when the plane begins to rock and shake and crashes to the ground. But apparently three other passenger jets have also plumetted from the sky at almost the same time, just on different places across the world. This day of horror will go down in history as Black Thursday. It doesn’t just end with the planecrashes though. Three children have survived and don’t seem to be hurt in any way. Another survivor is Pamela, although she is minutes away from dying. With the time left to her she is still able to record a voice message. After her death the message is found and played back. It’s a warning….and a dire one at that. One that will have severe consequences and will change the world forever.

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This is actually the second time that I have read this novel. The first time was quite a while back. So why read it a second time? Well, because I finally want to get started on the sequel for this and I wanted to refresh my memory. Now let me start of by saying that this is not a normal novel. In fact it’s a very unique one. Except for the opening and closing chapters, this novel is a book within a book. Confused? Yeah I thought you might be, so let me explain. This book contains a novel written by a fictional character called Elspeth Martins. Now Elspeth has within her book collected interviews, newspaper articles, skype conversations, even text messages from all the events that occurred right after Black Thursday. For example we get to hear from rescue workers that arrived just after the crashes, but the most important interviews are the ones with the family members of the three children that survived. Because as might be expected there is something very strange going on.

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I loved the way this book was written. It is very unique, and it makes for a very interesting read. The family members that I just previously mentioned get the custody over these children. And through these interviews we get to hear how their lives as well as the lives of the children progress. But even more compelling is what is happening in the rest of the world. Some people think the end of the world is nigh, and that these three young survivors are the horsemen of the apocalypse. Others think that aliens have landed. The way this book deals with that is very realistically. You have various fanatical people that are trying to gain control and are causing more and more people to flock to their cause. Through radio broadcasts, and interviews with some of the people that are in the inner circle of these groups we get a good sense of the paronia that is slowly taking control of the world. It becomes ever more creepy, and one of the most intersting things is the fact that you are constantly trying to guess what is real, and what is not.

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I also realise that the style of this book won’t be for everyone. It’s not a traditional novel, and in that way you don’t really get to form a bond with the characters in this book in the way that you normally would. But what you do get to experience is how some of them turn from normal ordinary people into complete and utter madness. And that was one of the most chilling aspects that this novel offers. For me it was a truly compelling read and one that I liked even better now, than the first time that I read it. Sarah truly has a seriously cool style of writing that is very hard to put down. There were a few moments where the book slowed down a bit, but for the most part it was a real pageturner and one I highly recommend checking out if you want to read something that is different from the normal books that you read. I really enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to finally get started on the sequel: Day Four.

I give The Three a 9 out of 10 score.

Aggravated Momentum, a novel by Didi Oviatt (2016)

I should this start this review off by making a huge apology. I have made a promise to the author of this book to write a review for it in what seems like ages ago. It’s strange that I love reading so very much, but always get drawn back into the worlds of movie magic and anime so much faster. It makes me feel guilty even more when I tell you who the author of this book is (Okay, I guess that was kind of hard to miss when you look at the title for this post). Yes this book was written by none other than our very own Didi Oviatt. If you have somehow not come across her blog yet, you would be missing out on one of the most supportive people that are in this wordpress community. Always kind, always offering words of encouragement to other people, she really is one of the driving forces of the wordpress community and a really amazing person. So press on that link and go follow her blog, if you haven’t already done so. But, she is also an author. And a damn good one at that, as this novel I just read is pretty much one of the best thrillers I have ever come across in my life. So Didi, I’m sorry it took me so long, but this post is for you!

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As you can pretty much see from the cover, Aggravated Momentum is not a novel that is telling a nice fluffy tale. But hey, as most of you know, I love the more darker and bloody stories anyway, and this one certainly is one of those. Markie is a woman who has recently lost her best friend Beth at the hands of a brutal serial killer. She has been trying to come to terms with that death as best she can. While she begins to pick up the pieces of her life again, her younger sister Kammie tries to support her in that. Urging her to go out more and just live life to the fullest. But it seems the unknown murderer’s work isn’t done yet. As a lot of horrific events are beginning to take place in Markie’s life, it is beginning to become clear to her that she seems to be at the centre of it all. With her unrelenting stalker coming ever closer, Markie’s world is beginning to unravel more and more around her. Fear and paranoia are taking control of her mind, and grip her like a vice. But the real nightmare has only just started….

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I started reading this book a few weeks ago, and in between a flu and some other real life events happening I finally was able to finish it today. Now I can hear you thinking already: well this probably means the book didn’t grab my attention. Well, that’s where you’re wrong. Because I finished this book in pretty much two days of reading when I finally came back to it. This book is simply put an incredible pageturner that grips you tight from the opening sentence, and never let’s go of you until the final page. It really is that good. It’s told from a first person perspective, but not only from the point of view of the main character, but also all the others that are featured in this book. I usually am not a huge fan of that style, but this book was a very noteworthy exception to that rule. How I loved the characters in this book! All of them were lifelike and the way that Didi described them made them pretty much appear in your mind as if they were people you might have known all your life.

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When an author is able to do that through his or her writing, that makes it all the more satisfying to me. But it’s not only the characters that are brought to life in such a great way. I never got bored for a single second. There usually is always some point in a book where your attention seems to waver or where the pacing feels a bit off. That never happened here. I loved the twists and shocks that the book offered. One of those was the reveal of the killer (yes, we also get his viewpoint in this book), and I think the loud bang of my jaw hitting the floor must have been heard pretty much all the way across the world. I at least did not see it coming, and there were many more of these wonderful twists that make your head spin. While the book was certainly bloody and at times very sexy as well, it never went overboard in any way. All of the scenes just felt right and weren’t just woven in the tale just for the sake of it all.

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So with all these high words of praise was there anything I didn’t like in this book? Well, honestly, no. I could go for being very petty and say there were a few typos in the book, but that would be reaching, and pretty much every novel has them. What we have here is a truly solid thriller that everyone who loves stories of serial killers, and novels that crank up the tension to the breaking point should definitely check out. It’s a bloody, steamy and at times horrific but oh so delicious tale of mayhem that you just have to check out. My only regret is that I didn’t start reading this book sooner, and I’m definitely going to be on the look out for the rest of Didi’s books in the future. That is pretty much a given, and hey I was already a fan of her so there is that. Oh, just so you know: it might seem that Didi asked me to write all this, but I can assure you she did not. This was my own undertaking, and my own opinion on the book as well. So, all I can say is don’t take my word for it, download/buy this novel today. You need this in your life.

I give Aggravated Momentum a 10 out of 10 score.

Another Episode S/O, a novel/manga by Yukito Ayatsuji (2013)

Two years ago I came across an anime series called Another and I completely fell in love with it. Which is strange considering it’s a horrorseries, and a pretty bloody one at that. But what set Another apart is the incredible storyline about a cursed schoolclass, and one amazing lead character called Mei Misaki. If you have yet to experience this terrific anime, I highly recommend watching it. It has an incredibly tense atmosphere and a storyline that is full of twists and turns. After I completed the 12 part anime I was thirsting for more and immediately went out and bought the book on which the series was based. It was another (pun intended) win for me, as it added a little bit more background to the story (although to be fair it held little suprises, as having seen the anime I already knew how the story would turn out). But apparently that wasn’t the end of the story as we now have Episode S/0 that serves as both a prequel and sequel to the original. As this book contains both a novel and a manga I’m going to handle this review a bit differently.

The looks

The first thing you will notice when you pick up this book is the amazing cover. It features Mei Masaki with a haunting look on her face, and it immediately grabs your attention. But it doesn’t stop there. When you remove the cover you find a beautiful painting on the inside as well. Flipping through the book you will later on discover an art gallery for the manga of the original anime, that contains some breathtaking images of a couple of the main characters. I have included a small gallery below to give you an idea of what I am talking about. But of course I did not just buy this book because of the way it looks. What about the story?

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Episode S

This story takes place after the events of Another and as such you could say this is a sequel of sorts. And I do say of sorts, because the story itself takes place during Another. Confused yet? Well, let me explain. In Episode S we again meet up with Mei Misaki, who is about to sit down and tell a tale to her friend Koichi Sakakibara. When Mei begins to speak, the narration switches to first person where we meet up with the main character of the story Teruya Sakaki. And he has a problem, a big one. As he is kind of, sort of dead. Yup, we have a ghost story here, and it appears a litteral one as it is actually the ghost of Teruya who is speaking to us. Teruya doesn’t remember how he ended up being dead, and eventually he meets up with Mei who can see death as we all know. Together with her help he is trying to find out what exactly happened to him, and who, if anyone, was responsible for his death.

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Episode S was a nice little mystery story, and one I quite enjoyed. I would not call this a horror story but more of a supernatural mystery. As the main storyline takes place during the events of Another that is the reason I didn’t actually call it a full sequel. Still it was nice to once again read a little bit more about Mei in this one. I do have to say that the style of writing takes a bit getting used to. We often get long pages of conversation between two characters, without really saying who is uttering a particular sentence. I often had to look back in order to find the person who started talking, and that was at times a little bit annoying. Still the story itself is pretty cool, and it contains a nice twist that I most certainly did not see coming. As this is not a horror story, there are no really gruesome or gory scenes in it. All in all this was a nice follow up to the original.

Episode 0

I am not a huge fan of prequels as I have said quite a few times, as I usually find they bring little to no surprises to the table. Episode 0 is the prequel part of this book, and it is a manga. The thing I liked about it was the amazing art. I loved the way the characters were drawn, and I could quite often just keep staring at certain pages. The story features a young Reiko Mikami during her schooldays in the year 1983. As her classmates begin to die, Reiko is trying to find out exactly what is going on and meets up with the librarian mr. Chibiki. This mysterious man seems to know more, but can he really be trusted? With a pagecount of 45 pages, this story was just way too short to leave a lasting impression. While it was nice to see a little bit more background for Reiko, I honestly could not really connect to her at all in this one. This really was more of a filler story, and certainly didn’t add anything really significant to the existing mythology of Another.

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I could not resist including an image of the Anime. It’s soooo good!

The Verdict

In the end I am left with some mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand I really enjoyed the main story of the book, despite it’s flaws. On the other the manga, while beautiful to look at feels like it was just added to give the book something to fill it up with. If you haven’t seen the anime or read the original novel, I would suggest starting there first. While both stories contained within this volume can be read on their own, you will find you will enjoy the book more if you know the background of the main characters. And not only that, Another is far superior to this, and as previously mentioned well worth it to check it out. In the end I do think this books is worth the buy, especially if you are a fan. The mainstory more than makes up for the weaker prequel story, and the art contained within if nothing else is really beautiful to look at. The writer of the book says there might be more to come in the future. I do hope that if that is true, it will go back to it’s original horror roots. But I guess, that is a story for another time….(yes I am done with the puns now).

I give Another Episode S/0 a 7 out of 10 score.

Thoughts on Anime 2017, an E-book by Karandi James (2018)

The world of anime can be incredibly daunting if you are not prepared for it. There are literally thousands of different animes out there, in all kinds of genres. So really, where does one begin? A little over two years ago, I had all but forgotten about anime. I had watched a couple of shows, but due to the fact that it was sometimes very hard to get access to anime in my country, eventually my interest for it faded. One fateful day, in the early days of blogging and where I still had literally no idea what I was doing I came across a blog called 100 word anime run by Karandi James. As I am a very shy person by nature, I read a few of the posts on that blog, and at first just gave a like without really commenting. But as I read more posts, I eventually conquered my fears and decided to respond to some of those well written posts. Not only did I get a response back, I gained a new follower and a great friend in the process. Karandi is one of the hardest workers on WordPress. She has a new post out every day, sometimes even more than once, and can be found almost everywhere in the comments sections of fellow bloggers. I have always wondered how she does this, and although she recently gave an explanation, I still suspect she has a hidden clone factory somewhere.

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I still think this facility is hiding in Karandi’s basement.

But all that hard work payed off. She now has almost 2500 followers, and is one of the most respected authoritaties here on anime. But let’s not forget that she is a truly amazing human being who is always kind, and ready to offer an encouraging word or engage in a cool conversation with you. At the beginning of this year she published her first e-book, and I don’t know about you, but I think that is something that most of us can only dream of. Because of Karandi, my interest in anime resurfaced, and I have seen many exciting new shows because of a lot of her recommendations. But, that’s not to say that I am now an expert on anime. Far from it even, as I still consider myself a noob. But enough about me. As I said, last year Karandi published her first book, and that’s what I want to talk about in this post. Now this is actually the first time that I am writing a review about something a fellow blogger wrote, so I hope you don’t mind me saying that I am also a little bit nervous about it. Will I do the book justice with this review? Am I not too positive or (*gasp) negative?

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Exactly what do you mean by negative…….

Let me first start by saying that I offered to write this review, and in no way was I tortured asked by Karandi to do this. In fact it’s months ago that I made the offer, but because of my hiatus this review is now long overdue. So what is this book about? The title is pretty selfexplanatory of course: Thoughts on anime 2017. This whopping 648 page (depending on how you read it, on my Ipad it said 648 pages) tome contains a collection of posts from her blog from last year. To start things off we get a huge number of reviews. Most of these are animes that aired in 2017, but after those we also get some shows from earlier years. Written in Karandi’s trademark style, it gives her personal views on some of the animes from last year (and she admits she ended up not including everything as a sign that she watches too much, but hey that’s a problem we probably all have). What I found very helpful is that the beginning of each review gave a small description of what the show is about, it’s genre and whether or not it’s a show that is worth watching. (By giving it a small keyword such as Highly Recommended or Avoid (like the plague)).

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This is what happens when you don’t listen to Karandi when she tells you to avoid something.

For anyone who has already been following her for a while you know that Karandi writes in a way that really draws you in. Of course I don’t always agree with everything she writes (*cough Black Bullet cough*),it is a personal viewpoint after all. But the reviews always point out strenghts and weaknesses of the series and in that way helps you decide if it’s something that might be worth checking out. They contain something for everyone as she collected reviews for a multitude of different anime genres. This being an e-book you can very quickly skim through it and the reviews both for shows from 2017 and those from earlier years are all in alphabetical order. I thought an index would be nice to have, but then I found out that the technology itself has already included that. Which once again proves that me and technology don’t mix very well. But..that’s not all! After the reviews we get a number of top five lists, a feature that I always like on her blog.

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There, there…I am sure Karandi did not mean the things she said about Black Bullet.

These lists range from topics such as Top 5 Anime sisters to (one of my favorites) Top 5 Non-Weapon items used as Weapons. Needless to say these are incredibly fun to read. But wait, there is even more! Last year Karandi had an enormous amount of features on her blog about various different topics. Always wanted to find out the three reasons why being a villain would suck? She has you covered. Want to learn more about romance in Anime? Look no further. These, and many others are also included in this book. And to wrap things up, Karandi included some great quotes from various animes as well as a number of episode reviews for a couple of the animes. The book contains no images, but I can pretty much imagine that probably has to do with copyright issues, and for me that certainly wasn’t a problem.

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Really? No pictures?

So here we are having reached the end of this first review for a book written by a fellow blogger and friend. In case it wasn’t already clear I absolutely loved this book. With a very low pricetag of under $4.00 it offers you great value for your money. It’s a terrific reference guide to a lot of last year’s animes and as such I would recommend this book to people who are interested to maybe get started on anime as well as veteran anime fans. With insightful and well written reviews and some great extra features it’s a book that you will read through in no time, as well as turn back to when you want to look something up. So what are you waiting for? Go over to Karandi’s blog and order this E-book right here. It’s a decision that I guarantee you won’t regret. So Karandi, this post was for you. Here’s to many more years of blogging and friendship! I hope you liked the post, and just in case you didn’t I have All-Might standing by to quickly fly me away somewere. Can’t be too careful after all.

I give Thoughts on Anime 2017 a 9 out of 10 score.

He-man and the Masters of the Universe: Mini Comic Collection (2015)

I grew up in the 80’s and for me that was a time that I remember fondly for two things: saturday morning cartoons, and the wonderful toys that these cartoons got their inspiration from. When I was a kid I used to get up at about 7 o’clock in the morning on saturday, turn on the tv to Sky Channel and there it was: the program that set my young eyes alight: Fun Factory. For the first two hours or so, Fun Factory was okayish. But things became really interesting when the “big three” came on: M.A.S.K., He-man and Transformers. Ahhh..to think back on those days, even though they are so many years ago (jeezzzzz I really AM getting old), just brings a smile to my face. When you look at the cartoons from this era and compare them to the golden oldies from the 80’s one can only say that they just don’t make them like they used too. I was and still am a huge Transformers fan (like many kids back in those days). But one of the biggest rivals of Transformers, a dude with a big sword called He-man, honestly failed to impress me. I never bought a He-man toy, and I really did not enjoy the cartoon as much.

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This is a pretty big book alright.

Now, thirty years later, I came into posession of the complete series of He-man and the Masters of the Universe on dvd. And…I am loving it. For some reason I have found a new appreciation of the cartoon, but that is a story for another day. As is most often the case when I all of a sudden have a new obsession, I want to find out more about it. And that brings me to this incredible tome that was released a few years back by Dark Horse comics. He-man and the Masters of the Universe Mini Comic Collection reproduces the comics that came with the toys. Well as I was never interested in the toys in the first place I did not even know of the existence of these comics until I read about this book. The first thing you will notice is how thick this book is (and for that matter how much it weighs). With a massive 1232 pages it will take you a while to get through it all. So what exactly does this book offer you?

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Gotta love that retro comic book style.

This being a comic collection it will not come as a huge surprise when I tell you this humongous book contains comics, and a lot of them. Nearly 70 comics in total are collected here, ranging from the orginal 1982 toylines of He-man and his sister She-ra to a shortlived comic run that should have served as a revival for the series but never quite took off. Besides the comics themselves it also contains a wealth of background info on the series,  which includes interviews with some of the writers and pencilers that created these works of art. And I do mean art. As you might have noticed from a couple of the shots I have included in this post, there was some major talent involved when you like at the drawings alone. I love the oldschool style of some of these comics, and for anyone who grew up with comics in the 80’s it’s hard to not smile at the nostalgic feel of it all. At the start of this run, you could hardly speak of comics as they were more stories that were accompanied by pictures. Later the series evolved and became more traditional looking comics.

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The early comics could not really be called comics in the traditional sense of the word.

The art is good, but how are the stories themselves? Well, they range from totally awesome to downright sucky, if you will pardon my French. But overall though most of the comics are pretty cool. It’s classic good vs evil type of storytelling where He-man fights against his nemesis the evil lord Skeletor and his henchmen. A fun fact to know is that one of the comics was written by Robert Kirkman. If that name doesn’t ring a bell he is the creator of a little known comicbook/tv series called The Walking Dead. This being a kid show, are these comics any fun to read when you are an adult? Well, quite frankly yes. He-man always has been a series that targeted an audience of 12 years and older (and ofcourse younger children still watched it anyway because it was cool to do so), and as such some of the stories and comics depict some pretty gruesome creatures and situations. In fact one of the covers of these comics caused quite a big disturbance at the time of it’s release because it was very brutal and had parents all over the world in uproar.

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Gee, I wonder why parents got upset by this cover?

This book is absolutely amazing. If you have a warm heart towards 80’s cartoons, or a love for oldschool type comics, this is a collection that you just have to pick up. It isn’t even a very expensive book, and for the amount of stuff it contains it is well worth the price. It gives a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of these mini-comics and the amount of work that went into creating these. Even if you have never heard of He-man it’s worth checking it out, especially if you like fantasy type storytelling combined with some of the best art possible. Even though not all of the comics are of the same quality, you will get enough of a kick out of these to make you enjoy it, and forget about some of the lesser comics. In other words go and relive your childhood if you grew up with these cartoons, and buy this book. I promise you, you will not regret it. By the power of Grayskull: I HAVE THE POWERRRRRR!!!!!!

I give He-man the Masters of the Universe mini comic collection a 9 out of 10 score.

The Cabinet of Curiosities, a novel by Preston&Child (2002)

If there is one thing I like in a novel, it’s when it completely makes you forget your surroundings or causes you to lose track of time. That is one of the highest levels of praise a book can receive, and if it manages to do that in some way, it is usually because it was written by an author that is an expert. And is also very skilled in torture. Huh? Torture? Well yes of course. Don’t you just hate it when you decided to read one more chapter before turning to sleep and end up reading five more because you just have to find out what happened to a certain character? That you just can’t stop, because if you do you feel like your mind just can’t take it anymore? Hence the torture part. I had previously read two other novels by Preston and Childs, The Relic and Reliquary, and they both featured a character that some describe as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. I’m talking about FBI Special Agent Pendergast, but I honestly don’t really see him like that. But more on that below. This third Pendergast novel though, takes you on a relentless rollercoaster ride, that doesn’t let up until you reach the final page. Not that the previous two novels weren’t good or anything, but this one takes things to a whole other level of excitement.

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The Cabinet of Curiosities starts off on a construction site in Manhattan where a ghastly discovery is made. A tunnel is unearthed that contains the mutilated bodies of 36 young people. All of the remains had parts of their spine remove. It is not before long that agent Pendergast arrives at the grissly scene together with Dr. Nora Kelly, an archeologist who works at the Museum of Natural History. She is very relucant at first to help him, as she finds the pale man a very strange and peculiar individual. Soon though her own curiosity gets the better of her, and she begins to try and discover the truth about what really happened. It soon becomes clear that all of the people have been murdered in a horrifying way almost 130 years ago. What the exact motive was of the killer is at first unclear. But the case becomes even more terrifying when it seems that the murders are starting up again. This has to be a copycat killer though right? With the police and the mayor trying to thwart Pendergast at every turn because of ulterior motives, it becomes increasingly more difficult for him and Kelly to solve the case. In the meantime the killings continue…..

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This was a book that I would like to call a real pageturner. It’s been quite a while since I have read a novel that had me gasping for breath at almost every page. But this one managed to achieve that, and then some. The writing style of Preston & Child is terrific. They manage to describe their scenes in a very vivid way, and crank up the tension to an almost unbearable level. Which is exactly how I like my books. No matter how great your story is, if you have characters that you don’t care about in any way, you will probably lose your audience. But the writer duo has you covered there as well, as it contains quite a number of indivuals that you will grow to love (as well as hate, for a few of them are pretty despicable indeed). But it’s agent Pendergast that is the driving force of this book, more so than in the previous installments. I’d like to think of him as kind of mix between Indiana Jones and Jack Bauer. He is mysterious, resourceful, tough as nails, while at the same time he has a very big heart that people might not notice right away.

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If I were to name some negative points to this books, it’s the use of quite a number of pretty difficult medical and forensic terms. My grasp of the English language is quite good, but there were a few times where I struggled to understand the meaning of certain terms. But luckily this never managed to put me off in any way, as the story is just too good for that. This novel can be read without having knowledge of the events of the earlier two books, although you will probably enjoy it even more if you have read those. If you like tense and gripping thrillers about serial killers, with a slightly supernatural edge to it, this is one book you should check out ASAP. It’s guaranteed to cause you some sleepless nights (in fact I dare you not to complete this one in one day: it really is that good). In closing I would like to dedicate this review to the wonderful Kim. She is truly an amazing individual who is someone that has always managed to inspire me with the posts she writes. Kind, positive and always there for other people are some of the qualities that describe her best. Go and check out her wonderful blog about the world of the written word. I promise you won’t regret doing so. As always, thank you for reading.

I give The Cabinet of Curiosities a 9 out of 10 score.

Thrawn, a Star Wars novel by Timothy Zahn (2017)

With the movie the Return of the Jedi that was released in 1983, the first Star Wars trilogy was finished. And many people at the time thought that would be the end of things. The popularity of the franchise started to wane, and slowly but surely people began to lose interest. But then nine years later Star Wars got noticed again, this time not because of a new movie, but by a novel written by Timothy Zahn called Heir to the Empire. It would be the first of a new trilogy of books that chronicled events that took place after Return of the Jedi. It became a huge succes. Not only was it an amazing story, but it also introduced a couple of new characters that became fan favorites, even though they had never been seen before in a movie. The most notorious of these was Grand Admiral Thrawn. The blue skinned alien Chiss, was a military genius that almost brought the New Republic to it’s knees. After this first trilogy a huge range of novels were made that took the story even further. This became known as the Star Wars Expanded Universe.

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The original cover to the book that introduced Thrawn.

This was all before the Dark Times…before the Empi…erm, Disney. When they took over Lucasfilm, and revealed plans to make a new trilogy of movies taking place after Episode VI, something had to be done about the Expanded Universe. And something was done to it: it was declared non-canon. In other words all the characters, worlds and events created within those books were no longer part of the official Star Wars timeline. A lot of fans, including me, were not very happy with that. But two years ago, something happened that brought a smile to the faces of many people that loved those books: Thrawn was brought back. This time he was reintroduced as a new adversary in the Star Wars cartoonseries Rebels. And just like that Thrawn was canon again. Last year the original creator of Thrawn, writer Timothy Zahn, wrote a new book about the legendary character. It was, needless to say, highly anticipated. But as with most things that you look forward to, it very rarely lives up to all the things you expect.

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Thrawn in Star Wars Rebels. 

This novel explores the origin of Thrawn and tells the tale of his quick rise to power through the ranks of the Empire. Thrawn is first found as a young man, seemingly abandoned by his people. An Imperial team is impressed by his cunning and tactical genius, and decide to give him a chance to prove himself. Thrawn takes on the young ensign Eli Vanto as a translator and together with him, begins his training. But a lot of high ranked people don’t take kindly to having an alien in their ranks and would like to see him fail. Meanwhile on the planet Lothal a ruthless administrator called Arihnda Pryce is also making plans to expand her power. Eventually the two will cross paths. Where Thrawn is skilled in military tactics, Pryce is more than his match on the battlefield of politics. But when threats against the still unstable Empire begin to appear all over the galaxy, Thrawn faces a new adversary that might become his downfall. Especially when this opponent seems to be two steps ahead of him at every turn…..

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Yup….Arihnda Pryce was also featured in Rebels. She doesn’t look very happy about it though. 

Thrawn became a very different novel than I expected it to be. I had hoped for a very tense and exciting book, with an interesting origin story of the Grand Admiral. In part it delivers this, but the other part was well, quite frankly a bit boring. We get a story that focusses a lot on internal politics. As I am not a huge fan of politics in the first place, I felt that these chapters slowed the story down to a crawl. We also get a lot of secondary characters thrown into the mix, that just get introduced but then, at least most of them, don’t really do anything. But what of Thrawn himself? The character that many loved so much in the brilliant original trilogy of books that introduced him feels…different. It’s still Thrawn, that can’t be denied, but at the same time it’s not. Of course Zahn had to reinvent the character and as such has had to make some changes. But still, this is not the same Thrawn that was such an amazing villain. And that is the part that disappointed me the most.

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Yes, he is looking at you. Are you scared yet? 

Still, it is not a bad novel. There is small cameo appearance of a major character that will have most Star Wars fans whopping with joy. I also really liked the backstory of Arihnda Pryce who was at times even more cunning then Thrawn. Whether or not you will like this novel depends on a few things. If you like your Star Wars books to be full of action, big space battles and lots of tension, then I don’t think this is a novel you would enjoy. There are a few scenes like that, but mostly we get a book that focusses more on backstabbing officials and internal politics. As mentioned Thrawn is also not quite the character you are used to, but there are still flashes of his original brilliance throughout the book. Maybe the sequel to this novel, Thrawn: Alliances, that will be published this year, more of those flashes will make an appearance. All in all, Thrawn is an okay novel if you don’t expect too much from it.

I give Thrawn a 7 out of 10 score.

The official making of Big Trouble in Little China, a book written by Tara Bennet & Paul Terry (2016)

Director John Carpenter will always be one of my favorite alltime horror movie directors. Best known for movies such as The Thing and Halloween he has made an impact on this genre that is felt even today. One of his lesser known, but no less fun movies is Big Trouble in Little China. While this one technically can not really be called a horror movie, it’s one of those films that has gathered a real cult status amongst fans, myself included. Two years ago, the movie celebrated it’s 30th anniversary, and as often happens during events like that some cool products were released to help celebrate it. One of the things I always enjoy reading is books that detail how a certain film was made, especially if they contain some cool facts and nice artwork. To my delight, finally John Carpenter’s classic got a book like that as well. And as Kurt Russel’s character Jack Burton from the movie would say: “Great, a six demon bag. What’s in it?”

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“Son of a bitch must pay!!” 

Within the pages of this 176 page book you will find a lot of awesome never before seen photographs, that could definitely be called the highlight of this book. Included are promotional photographs, behind the scenes pictures, stills from the movie itself, and a lot of detailed artwork. All of these are printed in very high quality resolution, and every photograph no matter how small, get’s a description of what it shows. The latter might seem very obvious, but trust me when I say that there have also been making of books that did not include this information. That always annoys me to no end, because there have truly been some occasions where I would have loved to have found out what a certain picture depicted. The entire layout of the book, breathes the atmosphere of this great film, and the designers of this did a great job on that department. The book pretty much follows along with the story of the film, and so you will find yourself taking a trip down memory lane when you flip through the book.

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The good old Pork-Chop Express.

But besides the photographs there is of course also a lot of information about what went on during the making of the movie itself. It is written in a clear and concise way, that includes insights from the cast and crew itself. Some of the text was a bit dry, especially when they went into details about which type of cameras were being used, and stuff like that. But that luckily doesn’t happen very often. There were two things I really enjoyed finding out about and had never known before, prior to reading this book. The first was that the actress that played the character of Margo Litzenberg, Kate Burton, was the daughter of the legendary actor Richard Burton. The other is the fact that this movie was really helpful in the promotion and use of Asian American actors. As we all know, there has been a lot of controversy over the “whitewashing” affairs of the American movie industry. This movie was way ahead of it’s time in the fact that it used almost primarily Asian American actors/actresses for it’s leading roles. A fact that the cast was very thankful of and that really becomes kind of a focal point throughout this book.

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Some people just don’t look their best when they just woke up. 

The book is presented in pretty thick glossy pages that really give it the look of a high quality product. To round out the book we get a foreword written by the legendary director himself, and an afterword penned by it’s leading man Kurt Russell. This is a book that is written for the fans, there’s no question about that. If you have never seen the film, there is little to no point in picking this up. Unless you really like reading books about all the details and hard work that is put into making a film like this. However if you have been a fan of this cult classic as much as I have been, this one is well worth it to add to your collection. Overall it was a very enjoyable read, that contains a wealth of good background information, great interviews with cast and crew, and of course the visual aspects of it were a delight. You can almost hear the Pork-Chop Express driving up to your home with old Jack Burton on the CB saying: “It’s all in the reflexes”.

I give the Official Making of Big Trouble in Little China a 8 out of 10 score.

Sisters of Battle, a Warhammer 40000 novel by James Swallow (2017)

Imagine a grim and dark universe that only has one thing on it’s mind: war. Not a very bright thing to look forward to is it? But it has been the setting for decades for a tabletop game called Warhammer 40.000. In that game players battle each other with fictional armies of painted miniatures. Taking place in the 41st Millenium (talk about a time jump), it is one of the most detailed science fiction universes ever created. With literally thousands of novels and sourcebooks that tell the tales of the men, women and aliens that are living in there, it can be very overwhelming for people that are not familiar with it. In this far future, mankind has taken to the stars and have created an Imperium that consists of thousands of planets. Humanity is led by The Emperor that was mortally wounded in a great war called the Horus Heresy. He now permanently resides on Terra where he is kept alive on The Golden Throne. In his name vast armies of Space Marines take the fight to enemies ranking from aliens to horrifying demons.

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Yup…..we get girlpower now!

I myself have never played the game, but I really love the stories that are written for this universe. I have a pretty big collection of books in this range, and most of these tell the accounts of the soldiers of the Imperium, the superhuman Space Marines. That’s why it was very refreshing to find a novel that does something entirely different. It brings girlpower to this male dominated universe! The Sisters of Battle Omnibus features four stories that focus on the women soldiers also known as the Adepta Sororitas. Fanatically loyal to the Emperor, these women are not supersoldiers or enhanced in any way. But what they may lack in strength, they more than make up for with their courage and faith. In this omnibus we get introduced to Sister Miriya, who has become one of my favorite Warhammer 40.000 characters. Raven haired, headstrong but courageous to a fault she is an absolute delight and a true heroine.

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One of the more horrifying enemies that lurk in this book: The Necron.

The second main character of this book is Sister Verity, who is not a soldier but a medic and almost the complete opposite of Miriya. Where the former is of the type to shoot first and ask questions later, Verity always tries to reason through everything and is an incredibly kind soul that always sees the best in people. This unlikely pair soon become vast friends, and are going to have to face some true challenges. The four stories that make up this omnibus are all good, but my two favorites have got to be the two novella length ones. In Faith and Fire the two Sisters are going after a rogue psyker that has killed Verity’s real sister, and is responsible for the death of countless other humans. But soon it becomes clear that there is something far more sinister going on. In Hammer and Anvil Miriya and Verity land on a planet that contains an outpost from the Adepta Sororitas that has been silent for years. No one really knows what transpired there, but the truth is more horrifying than both could ever have imagined.

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Who would argue with a woman like this?

James Swallow, the author of all four stories, has really outdone himself. This collection comes running out of the gates, and never once becomes boring in any way. There are some great battlescenes, terrific characters (both heroes and enemies) but there is also enough time amidst all the carnage to tell some great tales. If you have never before experienced the Warhammer 40.000 universe this omnibus certainly is a great way to enter it. As it features a branch of The Imperium that hasn’t been featured in many other novels yet, you need no real other knowledge to enjoy this book. If you love military science fiction, that has fast paced action and interesting characters I highly recommend checking this one out. It really was a great read from start to finish, and one of the best novels that I have read all year. And really, who can resist an awesome cover like that!

I give Sisters of Battle a 9 out of 10 score.