Tuesday, November 29, 2011


The Hillbilly Jungle, Part One
$0.99 USD


Friday, October 28, 2011



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tin Universe #7

Check out this FREE issue of the bimonthly Tin Universe series.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Check out the FREE first issue of the bimonthly Chaos Read series.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011



Tuesday, August 16, 2011



The Fight

It's the time of year when my mind is pulled between watching baseball and writing.
*note: this Braves Yearbook was what got me interested in baseball as a kid. A gift from my older brother.


Friday, August 12, 2011


I will be putting the full reviews here on hold for a while because I was sick for two weeks and still recovering and got behind in the writing that pays. I'll do a review from time to time and hopefully I will get caught up really soon. I appreciate all the people who send me emails and talked to me on Twitter and other places after I post reviews. Hopefully I'll be back soon to writing them because I love doing them.




Friday, August 5, 2011


Marvel Comics


So many people know of the Silver Surfer but I feel not enough people know how great of a character he is really is. In my eyes he is one of the top Marvel characters of all time. I haven’t been the biggest fan of outer space superhero comics but I do love reading Silver Surfer self contained stories every chance I get. I think that format of comic story telling works for the Surfer.  With the setting of a monthly ongoing series I think the shine of how unique of a character he really is falls off the board because most writers have a good Surfer story in them but most do not get the character enough to keep telling his stories on a regular basis.

Pun tried above.

Pun failure above.

And if you might ask me what outer space superhero comics I have enjoyed, off the top of my head I’ll mention The Annihilation stories at Marvel and Green Lantern stories at DC. There are many more but maybe that will have to wait until maybe a day when I have time to explore it more in depth in a blog entry.

I found Silver Surfer: In Thy Name at one of my local libraries on a random trip and took it home with a stack of books not thinking much about until I picked it up one day to read between editing one of my own stories and watching the MLS All-Star game.

When I started it the first thing I noticed was how much I loved the art of Tan Eng Huat and the color work by Jose Villarrubia. I think more than any other kind of story in comics a colorist makes or breaks an outer space tale.

This one once again finds the Surfer being very emo in space; which is his characters nature. He has always been a mixture of emo and hippy and when people attack that part of the character the criticism really doesn’t hit because that’s who he is. It’s like calling Tony Stark a dick. Really? Ok, yea, that’s him.

The Silver Surfer is very much a character about the very nature of life and living. Though I’ve sort of made fun of him for being by nature emo and hippified, The Silver Surfer is very complex in how in the hands of a talented team he can be used to explore such things as whether a utopia is possible and do so without jumping outside his character and standing out for being too preachy.

Like Superman the Silver Surfer is a very hard character for a lot of writers to get a hold of beyond the basics of how people see him. If you write his life an superhero then you are already going down the wrong track.
In the world of Marvel’s outer space stories he should be the key, just as Green Lantern is with DC Comics.

That’s doesn’t mean that they should always be the focal point of outer space adventures but they should be used to expand and tour that side of these universes.

The Silver Surfer can go head to head with the most powerful beings and situations the Marvel Universe can offer up against him but he is also such a human character that he never gets lost in seeing the very nature of not only life but living. And in being this way he should be one of the best characters Marvel has but it seems like so many has a hard time writing his outside of just making him a measurement of how powerful other characters are.

Silver Surfer: In Thy Name is great story whether you have read any Surfer stories in the past or if this is your introduction to the character. This book has great art without so much energy and life to it. The story goes into the deep lines of life that all stories involving the Silver Surfer should do.

And a final note. The cover to issue number 3 of the limited series is one of my all time favorite images of The Silver Surfer. Just love that and wish they had used that for the cover of the trade.

Ok, now I’m going to try that things called sleep.

3 out of 5 Stars


Wednesday, August 3, 2011



By David Lubar

Yet another book I picked up at ALA11 in New Orleans. They were giving away copies of this already released book. That trip is going to be memorable for years to come for so many reasons but most of all the fact that meet so many cool people and brought home some great books.

My Rotten Life: Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie is a book I didn’t get from standing in a line but a book I found when I was sitting down for a rest working on a book of my own and noticed someone had left two copies of it sitting on the floor near the trash can across from where I was seated.

One of the things that really bugged Mar and I both while attending the conference was how some people were just grabbing anything free and then later discarding them. We saw books tossed on the floor, in the trash, and many places you should never leave a book. We only tried to get books that we had interest in for the writer, artist, or content. People were being so wasteful and that pissed me off. Not everyone was doing this but enough were for it to bother me a lot.

And since these books I found were homeless and mistreated I just had to give them a home. Plus Mar loves zombie stuff so I thought she might like a copy. I’ve read so man Middle Grade books of that that I really enjoyed I’m always looking for more good Middle Grade books.

And if you wondering about some Middle Grade books I would recommend here’s a quick list off the top of my head: Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma, Horton Halfpott by Tom Angleberger, and Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier to name a few.

My Rotten Life turned out to be another great book surprise and when I showed the book to Mar back at the hotel after the day at the convention Mar said she knew the writer and enjoyed his writing so I decided to give it a try even if I’m not the biggest zombie fan.

I’m really glad someone was stupid and tossed these. Their lose turns out to be my gain. After finishing Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes this became my before bedtime read and I loved it. I finished it quicker than I normally do before bedtime reads but that’s because I was sick for a few days and read it early in the morning also after making Mar coffee.

My Rotten Life is a Middle Grade book by David Lubar about ten year old Nathan Abercrombie. This book is full of great humor, a very well written supporting cast, and a story that moves fast but without any sacrifices in its storytelling for its speed.

Though this book has tons of humor it only has some really heart twisting moments when it comes to how Nathan and his friends are treated by the popular kids. And I felt these moments with more strength than a lot of the more graphic nature of some YA books that tackled the issues of bullying and school life.

I loved all the characters in this story. Supporting cast, parents, teachers, and settings all took you deeper into this world. Such good craft in the storytelling. One of the better supporting cast of characters in a book I’ve read in a long time of any level, style, or genre.

A little note: Everyone talks about the absent parents that are in YA books and that is true in a lot of YA books but it seems like to me Middle Grade books have more of a parental presence in their stories and that’s because of the age of the characters but in books of the quality like that of My Rotten Life you are glad to see more of the parents because they added a lot to the world of this story. From the parents of lead character Nathan to the parents of his friend Abigail the life of the young characters is expanded by including well written parents.

Nathan’s friend Mookie is the comedy character you will find in a lot of stories but he’s a great character overall and him being the so called comedy character works even more here because he doesn’t stand out as that “type” of character because of the humor of the other characters.

All of the characters in My Rotten Life exist very natural and I loved that take in this type of story instead of only creating stereotypes which is the route a lot of writers would have gone.

This story is funny, heart wrenching, gross, and wants me wanting more. I’m glad to have read by the sample at the back of this book that there are plans for more adventures of Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie.

Just checked Amazon and it seems like there are already a couple more in the series out and for sale but also checking my local library shows they don’t have any for check. Sorry to find that out. If I can find some used copies cheap I’ll buy and probably donate. I’ll be keeping the first book though because if I get the chance I would love to get it signed in the future.

4 out of 5 stars


Tuesday, August 2, 2011


#3 & #4

IDW Publishing

Lettering by SHAWN LEE

To end off this limited series and also to help to try and catch up with the single issue comic reviews I need to do I’m combining my reviews for issues #3 and #4. 

I might combine more single issues in the future also when I review them as I tend to only go to the comic shop maybe once a month. But with the new DC relaunch books coming out I'll try to read, review, and post those reviews as I get the books.

In my review for the second issue of this Doctor Who limited series I talked about how I had hoped this story as it entered its pay off issues of 3 & 4 would have a lot more to offer up because as it was its course was very standard sci-fi. It did improve but for the most part only by a duck on the head measure. Read #3 and you will get that joke and it was one of the few really creative things I found in this story.

The biggest star of these last two issues and this limited series in total is Amy Pond. The writer did a pretty good job with writing her and capturing the onscreen character. 

The characterization of the Doctor though is very hit and miss throughout the series but that’s true also in the history of people writing the Doctor for comics. 

I really enjoyed a lot of the Doctor Who one-shots IDW put out in the past and feel this story would have been better suited to a one-shot. I think it would have turned out more compact and more streamlined.
But the next test will be when I buy the trade and read this story as a whole because sometimes my view of a story changes when I’m able to sit down and read the story as one thought.

2 out of 5 Stars


Saturday, July 30, 2011



Friday, July 29, 2011



DC Comics

Additional Inks On #6 SCOTT HANNA

I was really happy to find this trade at one of my local libraries. Our library system has a growing collection of graphic novels highly due to the influence of my favorite librarian. It also has to do with my local comic book store donating a number of books to different libraries. One of the many reasons I only buy comics from them.

And totally random and off topic Mar just told me someone donated a marshmallow shooter to book bucks reading challenge as a prize. I just thought that was cool.

Now back to the Flash review.

I wasn’t always the biggest Flash fan but I loved the Flash under the writing hands of Mark Waid and Geoff Johns. I loved the Flash in the DC Animated Universe and thought Warner should have cast Ryan Reynolds in a Flash movie instead of Green Lantern, even though Green Lantern is my favorite DC character. Just thought Flash would give a movie so much energy and feed into the American “Need for speed” fast cars and rush of life state of nature.

Though my perfect choice for Flash would be Neil Patrick Harris as Wall West.

I will say that I have never been the biggest fan of Barry Allen as Flash. I grew up reading Wally West as the Flash and to me, he is the best Flash so I didn't know what to think going into reading Flash: Rebirth, I just knew that I went in thinking I wouldn't like Green Lantern: Rebirth{don’t like Hal} but ended up liking it very much so I went in with a open mind.

Another reason I wasn’t sure I would like this is how Barry Allen had one of the most heroic and iconic deaths in the history of superhero comic books. A little part of me asked why bring him back when you already had so many good Flash family characters, his death was one handled in a great way? Why bring him back?

A question I’m asking now as I read that the DC relaunch/reboot of Flash has Barry Allen only as the Flash. But one thing is sure, if the new Flash series is as good as Flash: Rebirth I might have to pick up the first trade of the series when it comes out.

But speaking of the Flash relaunch. I can understand how with these relaunch books one of the things they want to do is attack the confusion that can come with a lot of shared universe stories. My gf asked if she could read Flash: Rebirth having previously not read much Flash at all. I think this story is fine for new readers. It’s an origin story and new story all in one. It introduces new readers and old readers alike to the characters, settings, and nature of The Flash. So why does this book need a relaunch because Flash: Rebirth basically takes care of those issues that new readers might have right here.

But all of that aside lets talk about Flash: Rebirth alone.

The artwork of Ethan Van Sciver is quickly, with each time I see his art, making me a fast fan. He looks to be able to handle just about anything asked of him to tell a great story.

I liked the Hal/Barry interaction and  the scenes of people preparing to celebrate Barry’s return by other heroes and normal people early in the story. This goes into as I spoke of earlier the nature of Flash which is family, community, duty, responsibility, and Johns handles that very well and in such a great fashion as he tells the reader, this is the Flash, this is what the Flash is about, without losing the story he is telling.

Like I said it’s a origin and original story all in one. This is what the movies should do with very well known superhero properties such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, The Hulk. People know their origins. Do an origin/new story movie. Want to learn how to do that. Look right here in this book.

4 out of 5 Stars


Thursday, July 28, 2011

REVIEW: DOCTOR WHO A Fairytale Life #2



Pencils by KELLY YATES
Lettering by SHAWN LEE

It’s been a while since I reviewed #1 of this 4 Part limited series but as part of my trying to review as many comics as possible here we go. And since I have a dedicated three people who always ask me about writing more Doctor Who related reviews, I shall try to do more on that front, I promise, I really mean it.

Part 2 of A Fairytale Life sees the Doctor and Amy meeting some of the major players in the story. From dogheaded guards to a Knight with a sudden out of character sense of humor. By the end of the story the story finally really gets rolling so here to hoping Parts 3 & 4 pay off what the first 2 parts of this limited series setup.

This story seems to be leading down the old sci-fi road of medical technology out of hand trying to follow its programming to a extreme. What will separate it from being just another story along those lines is the reasons why it got to this point and how the Doctor deals with it.

So far A Fairytale Life reminds me a lot of the classic Doctor Who story The Androids of Tara but I might just be reading too much into the technology mixed with medieval feel.

Again, the first two issues are setup. Lets see with issue #3 if this story starts to lead to some payoff because right now its just a tie-in book to a television series with no unique nature of its own.

2 out of 5 Stars

*Classic Doctor Who Reference: The Androids Of Tara


Monday, July 25, 2011



WRITER Geoff Johns
ART Doug Mahnke and Shawn Davis

*Just a side note to start things. People have asked where the Torchwood reviews are and the answer is that I haven't gotten the chance to watch the second and third episodes yet and unlike some professional reviewers I don't review things I haven't watched or read.

I really want to start writing more full reviews about comic book trade collections and OGN books. And in my reviews I tend to call both graphic novels for a FYI. 

The problem with me reviewing more graphic novels usually comes that I can just read so many graphic novels at once that I tend to read tons from the library and then send them back quickly for the next person.

So here I go with seeing how this works. I'm going to try and review every graphic novel I read. I might fail to do so but nothing wrong with a little failure. Live and learn and all that. Writing reviews also usually gets my writing blood flowing before I work on my own stories later in the night; so the more reviews I write actually means I get more work on my own projects completed.

The Green Lantern books have been some of the best comics for the past few years. Right there with Captain America, X-Factor, Secret Six, and Birds Of Prey in my view. I actually think the first volume of Brightest Day was the weakest Green Lantern story in a while but I was still happy when I found out that one of our libraries had one of the tie-ins to the main series in Green Lantern: Brightest Day.

And I have to say I enjoyed this more than Brightest Day: Volume One. Mar did also. The Green Lantern is one of the few superhero books she has enjoyed. The highlight of the story was the humor that had a center point as Larfleeze. I read somewhere that DC will be doing a Red Lantern book. Hell with that I want a Larfleeze book. That or a Larfleeze/Atrocitus road trip buddy book.

And speaking of Atrocitus. He was also one of the big highlights of this story. I just love his design and how he was written here. 

I almost teared up at the entry story at the back of the book. Dex-Starr is just pure fucked up joy and both of our cats I think want to dress as Dex-Starr next Halloween.

At least that's what they tell me.

{NOTE: If anyone was getting any ideas about dressing your cat as Dex-Starr, that might not be a good idea. Might be pretty dangerous because they all have a little Dex-Starr in them}

There are a couple well written guest appearances by Lobo, The Flash, and The Spectre that fit perfectly into the story. I've always been a huge fan of both Lobo and The Spectre but they both have been so miss used a lot the past few years but here they were inserted in a way that both benefited this story and their individual stories. This is a very good way of using a shared universe.

Oh and Dex-Starr Vs. Lobo's dog. Not that was badass and the outcome the natural order of things.

The overall story is a build toward War Of The Green Lanterns, but in a story that weakens this story on its on, and there is a little preview at the end of that story for that crossover. When Flash confronts Hal about working with the other Corps you can't help but say he's right. Hal is ignoring death and destruction around him to keep things in his hands. He may say that's not his reasoning but I find it as always a matter of ego with Hal.

This story is action packed and it flows down a smooth storytelling path. One of these days someone is just going to field goal punt one of those asswipe Guardians because they have been painted as such tainted characters much the way Professor X has been in the X books at Marvel that it is hard not to cheer the bad guys getting their hands on them some day. Doing so might make for good stories but I wonder if like with Professor X it might hurt the characters worth in the long run writing them this way? 

But then again maybe the Guardians get rebooted as Smurfs who get to hang with Neil Patrick Harris when the DC reboot happens?

I have loved the whole of the stories that have involved all of the new Lantern Corps but the Green Lantern line needs to settle for a while I think and focus on exploring the rest of the DC Universe. Though these stories have been great I'm beginning to wonder when they will hit the wall and get stale. Keep the Lanterns unique and don't overexpose them and also keep the Green Lanterns the center point.

4 out of 5 stars


Sunday, July 24, 2011


By Jonathan Auxier

When a book starts with a small infant baby boy having his eyes plucked out by a raven it really must be read to completion. And so that’s what happen when I choose Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier for my before bed read. But ahead of getting way into the story discussion let’s talk about how this book came into my hands in the first place.

While attending ALA11 in New Orleans one of our biggest “Have To’s” was I had to meet Jeff Kinney, writer of the Diary Of A Wimpy Kid books. Me and Mar both are huge fans of those books and the movies; so I jumped into the first line I saw where I overheard someone was talking about the Wimpy Kid books but after the publisher handed us ARCs of a book we hadn’t heard of before Mar ran off to get something signed by another author she was looking forward to meeting and I stayed in this line.

After reading the back of one of the ARCs  I was interested in getting a book signed for Mar’s library and also one for myself that I was thinking of giving away on my blogger.

I will say right away I’m not going to give away my copy of Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes, I really enjoyed this book and want to keep the autographed copy in my collection. No army of ravens or apes could take it from my hands. Though clockwork kings are pretty scary.

Back to the signing line talk.

When I got up to my point in line I had Mr. Auxier sign one copy to Mar’s library and the other just signed{once again, at the time I wasn’t planning to keep the book. MINE NOW!} Jonathan Auxier was very nice and it was really cool to meet a new writer who wrote a book I would recommend to anyone.

Now as I mentioned when I reviewed The Name Of The Star by Maureen Johnson while in New Orleans we barely had time to just stop and read anything; which was very strange for us being there for a book convention but I was writing during the trip also and Mar was Geocaching. We both were seeing and loving as much of the flavors of the city hitting historic sites and taking in the tastes you can only find in NOLA.
When we returned home from our Big Easy adventures I decided to add one book to read before sleep and one during Geocaching with Mar. The Name Of The Star fitted in as my travel read and Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes was there for before bedtime.

The Name Of The Star was such a great read it overran everything else and just before I finished it I started reading Peter Nimble. After finishing The Name Of The Star I knew even after only reading a few chapters Peter Nimble would be my main read for a while. Though it took me a long time to finish it, I’m a slow reader, that fact had more to do with my own writing taking over my free time than any comment on Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes.

I’m really not that slow of a reader but always have 800 things going on at once.

This book is adventure, it has the creepy nature that all middle grade high adventures should have, and has more than enough imagination to keep your brain moving at a fast pace.

I love seeing good reads like Peter Nimble and also such great books such as Tom Angleberger’s Horton Halfpott reaching back to the past and bringing back the great creepy and creative nature that once lived so vibrantly in middle grade and children’s books. That is slowly returning into our lives in my lifetime but we still need more creepy.

Creepy good.

Dark good.

Creative good.

And they do so without trying to copy other books. These books exist on their own as great reads that should be in everyone’s collection no matter your age. Peter Nimble fits that bill perfectly.

I say when Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes hits the stands in August go out and buy it. Buy it for a kid, buy it for a library who is underfunded {aren’t they all}, buy it for a friend, and don’t forget about buying it for yourself. You will not regret any purchase, for whatever plan you might have for this read.

Also though this makes a good read before bedtime, it’s also cool to read it while walking across a downed tree to get to the other side of a stream on your way to find a ammo box full of superhero toys.

4 out of 5 Stars


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


i picked this book up at ALA11 and now I will be giving it away here on my blog and its a very simple contest to win a signed copy. Just comment on this blog entry with anything you like and I'll pick one person randomly to send this book to. The contest will last one week and if I don't get more than three comments I will be donating it to a local library.


Saturday, July 16, 2011



Tuesday, July 12, 2011

REVIEW: Torchwood Miracle Day - The New World


Without any new Doctor Who right now I decided to fill my TV reviewing void with the new Torchwood series; so just like the first episode of this season of Doctor Who, my first review of this series of Torchwood ends up being posted later than I wanted to.


This series of Torchwood has a buzz about it because it will be co-produced by STARZ an American movie channel network. The buzz I think is mostly filled by a lot of people expecting to hate it from the beginning; which I'm sure a lot of people will just based on those feelings.

I'm hoping the show will be good not just because I enjoyed previous series of Torchwood nor because of its Doctor Who tie-in but mainly becaue Mar really liked Torchwood and its a Doctor Who connection we can share. She enjoys Doctor Who and will watch it if its on and I'm watching it but Torchwood has been a series she has enjoyed.

And not just because of the hot boy on boy action.

But she loves that too.

So do I :)

This show is one of the few reasons we are keeping the movie channels. Matter of fact we never watch movies on these channels and only the TV series they are showing, stuff like Weeds, Game Of Thrones, Treme, Shameless, and now Torchwood. I just pray STARZ does a better job with Torchwood than another US channel did with The Prisoner. Great casting but shame on you American TV, shame.

I have enjoyed all of the seasons of Torchwood. I know a lot of people who either loved the first season and hate the second or the reverse. Children Of Earth seems to have an extreme like or extreme hate connection to it. I loved it. Mar loved it. The cats are in the middle.


And all of that leads us to Miracle Day- The New World.

The new opening titles sequence were cool, simple, but I liked. I think they needed to make a change because of this season being a fresh start but they keep enough of the feel of the past series music and sound effects to remind you of the previous seasons.

After watching for a bit Mar commented, "I don't know if I like this."
Me, "You just don't like that their hasn't been any boy on boy action yet?"
Mar, "I miss Yonto."
Sad faces all around in the apartment.

And that's a good sign when Mar is talking about a show when watching it because she normally starts reading in the middle of shows if she has no interest; so commenting at all is a good sign that she might keep watching.

I have to say I think this first episode of this series is stuck between a rock and a hard place with how they have to approach all the returning characters because on one side you want to make it appeal to American audiences who haven't seen the show before but at the same time you can't ignore the past and old fans will expect little hints and comments about the past they know. I think this first episode balanced that out the best they could.

As with a lot of first episodes are all setup and you have to have that in mind when discussing them. I've talked about this before in past reviews so I wont dive deep into it here but its worth remembering that in a ongoing series of stories the first chapter will probably not knock you out of your seat. It can do both setup and knock you off your ass but that pretty rare.

I think with this series they have a good group of characters, with a good group of actors, that have the ingredients of making a very good series out of what I know about the overall story.

I'm sorry it took me so long to get my thoughts up, a lot of stuff going on this week, but next week I hope to get my thoughts on the next episode of Torchwood: Miracle Day up right away in more detail.

3 out of 5 Stars


Sunday, July 10, 2011


Volume Four in a four volume poetry album limited series. Each volume also contains part of a four part story. Volume Four contains the final part of this story: The Wall Bound #5

These monthly poetry volumes were a good exercise for me as a writer to test two muscles. One being the poetry writing muscle and the other writing a multipart story that I tried and hope made people want to see what was going to happen next.
These volumes also were a test for me in seeing if I could meet a monthly schedule. Now I didn’t write these volumes in the months they were published. I didn’t even start the series until I had first drafts of each one finished.  It would take at least a few weeks of rewrites for each volume and then a few for editing.  This was a good test for me for what I really wanted to try which is a monthly epub short story series for a download price of $1.00
And starting in August that is what I will be doing and I hope you join me as I go head long into another exercise, another test, and another stretching of the muscles and here is the plan to date for how things will be working:

August will see Tin Universe #7 published. This will be a self-contained story to start the Tin Universe short story series continuing in numbering from previous Tin Universe stories. #7 as I said will be a self contained short story featuring the character of Pulpy, previously seen in the first Tin Universe story, my first book, STEREO, and also the short story FLIGHT OF THE COMING STORM. From #8 on, the series will mainly focus on characters I introduced in my second book, THE PAST FORWARD, with here and there self contained stories featuring the rest of the Tin Universe of characters already introduced or just sitting in my head. Also if I run into some cash I would like to hire some writers to take their own crack at exploring this imprint of stories. This line will for the most part fall into a YA sensibility when it comes to its storylines and stories.

The Tin Universe series will rotate monthly with another series titled Chaos Read. Chaos Read #1 will premiere in September. This series will feature more self contained short stories that explore the other worlds, realities, and thoughts I have that I want to write about. You might even see hints or crossovers with the Tin Universe but that would be years down the line because I already have three years of first drafts for both series. Chaos Read will also differ from the Tin Universe in having much more adult content in some of its stories.

So with that I hope you join me for one or both of these series. I love trying new and differing things with each project I do because if nothing else after each one is finished I’m better writer for doing them and have had a lot of fun.

Brian C. Williams


Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I keep having a discussion with friends in publishing, and doing so right now offline, about how YA books with female lead characters almost always have the head obscured on the photo covers. I'm always told its so more people can identify with the character. 
If that is true then 
1-why have the lead characters on the cover at all? 
2- why doesn't that happen as much with YA male lead characters?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

REVIEW: The Name Of The Star

Written by Maureen Johnson

Published by 
G.P. Putnam's Sons
An Imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Release Date September 2011

*As always I'll start by saying my reviews are more book discussions than the reviews most people write. I talk about feelings before, during, and after reading a book.

I was able to get a signed ARC of this book while attending ALA11 in New Orleans with Mar and I want to start by saying this. The Penguin staff were one of the better groups at organizing, informing, and moving a signing. I just wanted to say that because there were a couple of publishers, big publishers, who acted like this was there first time at the dance so to speak.

The whole ALA11 experience was hugely positive but because of a couple unprofessional things in terms of stupidity I wanted to get that out of the way to showcase a positive when it came to professionalism.

One of the main reasons I wanted to go to ALA11 was to get to meet Maureen Johnson. I've become a big fan of  her writing but in a some what different way than how most readers find a writer. Let me explain, I'll try to keep it short, and then get on with my review of The Name Of The Star.

I had heard the name Maureen Johnson a lot. That sort of thing happens when you live with a YA Librarian(Mar) who reads tons, you end of at least knowing the names and books that are making impacts, but I didn't have any sort of introduction to her writing until I added her on Twitter. Mar at the time wasn't on Twitter so I added a bunch of writers, people, and things she was interested in so I could let her know about things. But of all of those adds Maureen Johnson's Twitter feed stood out. She was smart, funny, entertaining, and her Twitter actually had better writing than a number of books I was reading at the time. So once we planned to go to ALA11, and unlike Chicago last year, this time I wanted to attend the floor show so to speak, I decided I wanted to get something signed by her. 

Going into ALA11 the only thing I had read of her's besides her Twitter feed was her short story in Zombies Vs. Unicorns, which I liked a lot. My plan was to print out a page from her Twitter feed and have her sign that and I would turn that into a bookmark; which I ended up doing. I was in line to get an ARC of her new book when I learned the book had a Jack The Ripper connection. I've been a reader of Ripper information since I was in my very early teens.

Thank God my parents never questioned my reading choices because they were pretty messed up back then and continue to be than God. See those of you questioning what kids read. I'm was obsessed with Jack The Ripper as a kid and I turned out ok. Yes my fragile little kid brain survived reading about murder and the truth about humanities depths to joyfully play in evil.

I didn't have a moment to start reading The Name Of The Star while in New Orleans, mainly due to my own writing while there, but when I got home, rested a bit, the first book I picked out of my ALA11 stacks was this fine book.

The story begins with Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux starting her studies at her new school in London. Like a lot of horror stories this tale is about life transfers from one portion of life to the next. Yes, as in a lot of horror stories this one is about a young persons life transfer into adulthood but just as the original Jack The Ripper killings were a transfer of the world at large from a time of modern society thinking it was civilized to the realization that it wasn't. Evil wasn't just for fairy tales but inside the human heart. And not very deep inside the heart either. The Ripper killings showed the world the brutality of the individual seemingly for no reason that it had tried to shield its eyes from but the inventions of technology and thinking of the time started to show all how brutally animal we are, were, and always will be. In that aspect Jack The Ripper was the craftsman of the modern worlds sense of self.

In The Name Of The Star Maureen Johnson gives you a story about life, growth, death. She introduces characters you care about. I found myself wondering who would die? Would this character? I liked that character I hope she doesn't die? Also knowing this was part one of a series made me hope none of my favorite character ended up dead. 

And while she built characters I cared about she also lead me down one road from what I was expecting from this book into something else. Then when you get comfortable as a avid reader thinking you can calm yourself into the rest of the book she shakes you with shouts that just because this story has gone this way doesn't mean you know the road these characters are on.

I think a lot of Ripper stories tend to fall flat because the writers take the source material as a excuse to write graphic scenes of violence after graphic scene. The writer here does not shy away from the brutal nature of the original killings or death itself but instead plays the story like the feeling of being in a graveyard even in the daytime and no matter what, even during smiles, and laughter, for at least seconds that you are there you just know deep down you could die here. And that's the crafting of the writer here. Even when the characters find moments of normality and peace you still get those fillings that these moments the most dangerous of their lives.

As usual I will not go into great detail about the story itself, trying not to spoil things, but I have to say I plowed throw most of this book in one day while out with Mar geocaching and if I didn't have such a huge stack of ARCs to read and review from ALA11 I would going for another Maureen Johnson book right away. Maureen Johnson writes with a talent that makes you want to know whats next, from her and her characters, and that is what a very good writer does I think.

I will not be giving this book ARC away here on the blog because I had it personally signed to me but promise future blog giveaways of materials I picked up while at ALA11.

Shades Of London, Book One: The Name Of The Star
by Maureen Johnson

4 out of 5 stars


Wednesday, June 29, 2011


One thing I have to say right off is there is no way I can write about everything we did while in New Orleans. We took 6 days and we packed in 2 weeks worth of stuff, even if half of our days were spent in conference activities we were all over that city.

With that let me find some interesting photos and comment on them. I'll try to stay away from any photos that I posted on Facebook to make this enjoyable for people who followed my adventures on there during the trip.

(when Facebook actually posted my photos and wasn't just a worthless piece of....)

I wanted to use Facebook to post all the best photos from the trip but it seems like all the websites that use to work well with plain SMS text messages now only work well through smart phones.


One thing I know I'm not going to do is rant about the negatives of our hotel or some of the things I disagreed about at ALA with publisher because there was so much good and not enough space here to waste on the bad.

Plus, if you followed my Twitter during the trip you got enough of that anyways.

Another note. While in Florida I started writing a book set there and thus that book will explore more information on my travels while in the great city of New Orleans. But that book will not see light for at least two years so maybe I should lay off saying too much about it.

That book will not come out until the Tin Universe monthly epub short story series that's starting in August ends; which  right now has a plan of ending in two years. So plans are set and I know where I want to get to and have at least first drafts of everything inbetween.

We stayed at the Chateau Hotel in the French Quarter and it wasn't a perfect place to stay but it looked really cool on the outside and was in a great location to walking to a lot of cool places.

Plus I really hate fancy hotels.

It's a very old hotel and the people were nice but we are never the type of people to spend any time outside of sleeping in our hotel room anyways so it was great for us. Good price and like I said before, really good location.

If you are thinking about going and want more information on the hotel send me an email and I'll give you more details.

Another thing I can't do here is post all of my pictures. The city is so great with so many things to see and was so worth taking tons of pictures every step you took. And I took over 700pics in total in 6 days. All on my cheap little non-smart phone, except for a one hour period when my phone died and I hate to recharge it on a ferry trip.

This statue of Joan Of Arc was just down the street from our hotel. Right in the middle of the market area of the French Quarter. Lots of great bars, stores, and restaurants very near by.

This was the first place we ate while in New Orleans. As we were leaving the city they were filming a cooking show there as we walked by. If you spot a guy in a mowhawk, a Iron Man shirt, and checkered shorts on your TV some day. That was me. And yes, my eyes are read for a reason. Was up all night writing.

We visited the Voodoo Museum and it was small but very cool. If you are down there you should check it out. Many voodoo related places to visit but this was my favorite of all of them.

Funny story. I was walking and saw a half naked cross dressing dancer outside this store reading Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma. I was too chicken, plus it would have been rude to take a picture but I told the writer and she got a kick out of that. One of the many usual but very cool things I spotted while there.

This was part of a monument to Hurricane Katrina near a park across the street from the convention center and also where the earlier picture of me writing was taken.

Dead tired. In the car in Orlando on the way back home to our family (the cats)

One of the boxes of books we shipped was at the apartment when we got home. The other arrived today. Below is the list of books I got at ALA. The ones for my personal collection, ones I'm giving away to local libraries, and the ones I will be holding giveaway contests for here on the blog after I review the books.

Books For My Personal Collection:
The Name Of The Star signed by Maureen Johnson
The Future Of Us signed by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

Books I'm going to do giveaways here on the blog for {or give to a local library if I find one who wants to give these away in their own contests}: 
Why We Broke Up {ARC} signed by Daniel Handler
Star Wars Knight Errant {single issue} signed by writer John Jackson Miller.
The Iron Queen signed by Julie Kagawa.
My Rotten Life- Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar.
Cut by Patricia McCormick.
Peter Nimble And His Fantastic Eyes {ARC} signed by Jonathan Auxier.
Lucky For Good {ARC} by Susan Patron.
The 39 Clues Cahills Vs. Vespers The Medusa Plot {ARC} by Gordon Korman.
As I Wake {ARC} by Elizabeth Scott.
Shut Out {ARC} by Kody Keplinger.
Drink Slay Love {ARC} by Sarah Beth Durst.
Daughter Of Smoke & Bone {ARC} by Laini Taylor.
Gossip Girl Psycho Killer {SNEAK PEEK ARC} by Cecily Von Ziegesar
The Potter's Field {ARC} by Andrea Camilleri.
Iva Honeysuckle Discovers The World by Candice Ransom.

Books I'm going to find a local library home for: 
Field Of Dishonor, 
In Enemy Hands, 
The Honor Of The Queen, 
Flag In Exile, 
and Echoes Of Honor all by David Weber.

Books already going to people: 
Blood Rights {ARC} by Kristen Painter.
Villain School: Good Curses Evil {ARC} by Stephanie S. Sanders
Super Diaper Baby 2: The Invasion Of The Potty Snatchers {ARC} by George Beard and Harold. Hutchins.

Friday, June 17, 2011


-Just finished uploading this. Buy, Share, Pass On, you know the pitch. 

-Only one more volume to go in July for this limited series of poetry albums each containing part of a 4 Part story. 

-In August I start my monthly short story series with Tin Universe #7: A Little Pulpy Goes A Long Way. 

*Really enjoying writing right now. Doing the poetry volumes for four straight months has given me a new writing energy. Can't wait to let others read what I will be trying to do with the monthly short story series. August is Tin Universe #7 and September Tin Universe #8. Then from October on the Tin Universe series will rotate monthly with my second series Chaos Read with the only month without a short story being in November. I have four months of stories finished and three years worth of short stories in 1st draft form.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


Mar had talked about this series the whole time she was reading it when the books first started coming out and since I needed some quick books to listen to while doing house work I decided to give the first book a try after finding a Playaway version at the library.

My thinking going in also was that this first book of the series is written by Rick Riordan and I enjoyed the first book in the Percy Jackson series so why not try it. Saying that, this doesn't speak for Rick Riordan's talent as a writer in my eyes. The Percy Jackson series is high and above better than The 39 Clues.

When Mar first told me about this series I had to hold back my feelings from that point. I've never really seen an American property pull of this sort of media tie in and make it work well but let me try to just think about what I felt about The Maze Of Bones and it alone.

This book just couldn't make up its mind what it wanted to be. At times it felt like they wanted to go a A Series Of Unfortunate Events direction, at others it seemed to slip into R.L. Stine words and setups, but in the end it really just felt like they had hired a writer to start a series based off an idea to sell books, trading cards, and online gaming. And in that they found a success.

The story itself focuses on a family and the different limbs of that family that seemed to be related to every famous person in history. That's a trap a lot of writers have stumbled into. It would have been ok, with a few known names but throwing too many famous people into the families story isn't using history, its lazy writing.

But boy if there is one thing I know about its lazy writing.

The lead characters aren't strong enough to fill this story. You want them to be stronger. You want the opposition to be more filled out. But you just drift through the story looking for something real to happen. Just seems way too cookie cutter to me. You could feel the outline, taste the story map.

Now with that being said I can see why so many young people and adults have enjoyed these books. They are very quick adventure stories with that interactive tie in element that brings many a lot of enjoyment. It just didn't do that for me personally.

And to end before I give my rating. The title of book one is way too big of a giveaway. They should have come up with something else. It was basically like reading the ending of the book before you start Chapter One.

2 out of 5 stars


REVIEW: Doctor Who A Fairytale Life #1

A Fairytale Life #1

WRITTEN BY matthew Sturges
PENCILS BY kelly yates
INKS BY steve bird, brian shearer, and rick ketcham
COLORS BY rachelle rosenberg
LETTERING BY neil uyetake
EDITED BY denton j. tipton
COVER BY mark buckingham; phil elliott

This is the first Matt Smith 11th Doctor comic story I've read since I no longer can afford to buy Doctor Who magazine and there has probably been tons in the magazines already. 

This looks to be a limited series released alongside the start of the ongoing series which has been really confusing to some of my friends who asked me about the start of the 11th Doctor at IDW. I hope IDW continues doing the one shots they were also doing towards the end of the 10th Doctor's time in the comics. I enjoyed a lot of those.

I've always had a problem with tie in books, comics, and the like from television series and movies that fall flat, end up bland, or seem rushed or lacking a huge amount of effect. I've talked about this many times and I'm not saying the art or writing in A Fairtale Life is bad but with a high profile property like Doctor Who it makes me wonder sometimes why they don't go after big name writing or art teams? Is it budget reasons? Do they just know they will sale so many copies just based on it being a Doctor Who product and thus don't really go out of their way to try and do the same that a publisher would do with something they own? 

No matter the thinking, most tie in projects lay down and do nothings as I have said before in a bland boring nature. Doctor Who has had a better track record than a lot of other properties as the Classic comics{now being reprinted by IDW also}the New Adventure novels, the original BBC novels, and the Big Finish audios are a lot of great stories that stretch the characters, push the writers abilities, reach for great talents, and they might not all be great but I wouldn't call any of them bland. But then again, the current state of Doctor Who novels and comics.....well, I need to get on with the review of this issue and hope cash for sales of a good amount of copies isn't "That's good enough" in the future.

A number of scifi stories have explored the idea of vacation planets. If I remember correctly Doctor Who has done it a few times itself but the key on this topic is not that the idea has been done before but how well this story does it and if it also adds something new to those ideas for those who have read these types of stories before.

A Fairytale Life has some nice little setup elements so I'm not going to rack it because it does everything it needs to do to set up a good story so we will have to see with Part 2 whether this story goes anywhere.

3 out of 5 stars

*for more on references to old school Doctor Who stuff I mentioned:
-none, I didn't geek all over this review.