Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where you can find me now

There has been a new developement in my life. I am now a writer for the Charlotte Examiner, the Geek Culture Examiner. My first article is up and available. Just follow the link:

The next article will be out tomorrow. Please check it out. Subscribe if you like it.

My next review will be soon, but definitely check out my review for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls on March 3rd. There is also a contest sponsored by Quirk publishing with all kinds of fun goodies.

See you there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls
by Steve Hockensmith

Quirk Classics has decided to take a new approach to getting the word out to readers that their new book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls is hitting the market. Bloggers from all over the world were given advanced copies of the novel, asked to review it, and add some great prize links via Quirk. It is a massive blogger storm of zombies. Woohoo!

There is an online contest going on for a chance to win one of fifty Quirk Classics Prize Packs. I want one of my readers to win so I am posting the link first . The prizes are really cool:

  • An Advanced copy of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls.
  • Audiobooks of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
  • A Dawn of the Dreadfuls poster.
  • A Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Journal.
  • A box set of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies postcards.

This is some really fun stuff of you are a zombie fan like me.

Let's get on with the review, which is probably not going to win me any brownie points, but it is my honest opinion. Note - there are some spoilers below.

This, I'm am sure, started off as a really great idea that everyone jumped onto, but in the end the product is not as good as the original.

Hockensmith had a very hard job going into this project. He had to learn how to write in the style of Jane Austin herself and that is no easy task. Capturing the tone and style of the iconic author was achieved in bits and pieces by him, but not with any consistencey.

Another problem was the research and/or the lack there of. If the book was researched, it was not fully comprehended as to what would have been accessable to the Bennet girl's at the time. Example, without giving too much away, country girls did not play with make-up, even those of some standing and money did not play with make-up, nor would they have had the means to buy it. Emphasis at that time in England was on natural beauty. This is but one small example, but there were enough that it was distracting. I can suspend disbelief, but if specific references are going to be used make sure that they are used in proper historical context. This should also be the case with the artwork involved, but due to oversite they are equally distracting if not more so at times.

The biggest problem of all was the addition of the character of Captain Cannon and his Limbs. It was preestablished in the first book that if you are bitten by a zombie, you are infected, and therefore must die. Now reader's are introduced to Captain Cannon and his Limbs. How did he lose his original limbs? That's right zombie bites! His limbs were subsequently cut off to save the rest of him. Why would a writer set a new precedent when in the original, and technically sequal establish that this action was of no use?! Hostile about this? You betcha. I threw the book accross the room several times over this ridiculous issue.

Was there anything I liked about this book? Actually yes, the zombies themselves. They moaned. They groaned. The walked, ran, slithered, and crawled. The age old question of do zombies poop in the woods was answered. The dramatic tention that was written when they were present was quite well written.

There are other characters that are in the novel that I liked as well and thought were quite interesting and plausible.

What does all this boil down to though:

What I liked:

  1. The basic concept of going back and seeing how the Bennet girl's began their training.
  2. The zombies themselves. Hockensmith writes a good zombie.
  3. The fact that Quirk is willing to take chances on outside the box ideas.

What I disliked:

  1. The lack and understand of reseach.
  2. The creation of certain characters and situations that go far beyond the ridiculous and ludicrous.
  3. The lack of any editorial influence. A good editor would not have left half of the errors found happen.

To Buy or Not to Buy, That is the Question: If you are zombie fan/collector then absolutely buy. If you are reading it simly because it is the sequal, go to the library and borrow it, or borrow from a friend.

Check out other titles from Quirk Classics.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Why I feel my opinion is important?

I have had several emails and conversations lately as to what I used to do in the book business, and why I started blogging my opinions on books. I have written a short piece below and added some of it to my About Me section. If you have any other questions just ask.

Why do I feel my opinion is important?

I used to be a top selling book seller with sales well into the seven digit range. When I took over the place was running six digits in the red. That was changed in a very short amount of time. I loved my job. I knew the reading market inside and out and I knew all of my customers.

Several big publishing houses took notice and started sending me my first ARC's (advanced reader's copies) for reviews. Later, when they grew to value my opinion I received first run galleys to review. I became quite good at picking out bestsellers, in many genres, especially for first time authors. I became familiar with what publishers were looking for, and the common mistakes of first time writers. Essentially, I was used as a predictor. This is not something that every reader or bookseller can say.

I left the business foolishly, and am trying to get back into it, which is extremely hard. With the encouragement of some friends I am getting back into the reviewing side since I can easily blog about the books I read. So, if you are a writer and have read this send me your books, please. I am honest, but fair in my assessments.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shadow People: Quickening of the Wicked

Shadow People: Quickening of the Wicked
by Stacy Stephens & Cindy Jackson

First and foremost, it is a zombie novel. I had my eye on it for a while and by chance won it. Thanks Ladies! This does not however mean that I am going to go easy on my review.

Synopsis: The Wraith is a malignant shadow that is out to destroy as many souls as possible. It infiltrates humans all over the world who then do the same to fellow humans, creating a massive army of zombies. Aeden is a seemingly special young man out to save as many as he can in his own special way. Grace and Lily are innocents who must be saved in order to serve a higher purpose. They all have choices to make and they are all trying to find a way to survive.

So...This time around zombies are born out of pure evil and not out of some arrogant and nasty human plan to make the human race better or control it, or plain old stupidity. I honestly like the idea. Was it well executed? It could have been done better.

This is the first book of what I believe the authors plan on being a series. It was a good attempt, but there were some rookie mistakes that I have seen time and again, that are holding this novel back from being bigger. They are mistakes a good editor should have helped them clear up.

The world as we know it and the Wraith that wants to take it over and destroy it are the work of great imaginations. We are shown how the Wraith operates. We learn over time what makes Aeden special. We are introduced to the innocents Lily and Grace, and given a glimpse into their daily lives. And, we meet several other characters along the way that I hope to read about again if these authors pursue another book. Sometimes, there was just a little too much. There are few chapters where some fat could have been trimmed from the story and nothing would be lost. An example of this are a couple of characters that are introduced in one chapter, but their story is never completed or even left in a place of satisfaction. They are left hanging and incomplete. Sometimes, ideas that a writer believes will add to the story can cause distractions if they are not fully fleshed out, or trimmed properly.

This novel also contains a great deal of spirituality that relies not too heavily on one particular religion, but a conglomeration of all. No one religion is right, no one religion is wrong. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Too often when zombies are born out of evil it is Christianity alone that comes in and saves the day. That being said, for those who are not accustomed to this way of thinking broadly it might be overwhelming and disconcerting. The material involved with this idea is digestible, the reader needs to go in with an open mind. The writers may want to consider feeding it to the readers in smaller doses next time around.

Let's talk about the zombies now. I really really loved them. The concept the authors came up with to explain the existenceof these horrific creations works. They are fully developed from start to finish. They followed the general rules of zombie etiquette, but they are unique enough in their own personal design that when one appeares in the story I was engrossed in its horror. Big thumbs up and a happy dance.

But, with the sweet comes the bitter. My biggest pet peeve with this novel was the over use of hundred dollar words when a ten dollar word would have sufficed. Don't get me wrong, I love big words, but not all readers do, and this can be very distracting. There were times I felt the authors were sitting with a thesaurus looking for smarter ways to say things. Never underestimate the value of simplicity, especially in your words. It is also important that if you do choose to use complex wording use the words correctly. A room cannot be elucidated, beings within a room can be, but not the room itself.

What it boils down to:
What I liked:

1. The zombies were very well executed in every way, shape, and form. And as we know I love zombies.

2. The spirituality that is in the novel is broad and inclusive. It perpetuates the divine belief in the self and all it's possibilities.

3. The story has really good flow for the most part. There were only a few times where it slowed, but it picked back up again. The chapters always left me wanting to keep going to find out what was going to happen next.

What I disliked:

1. Overuse of big words and one time in particular, inappropriately.

2. There are some places where editing could have been better in order to tighten up the story.

3. The explanation of the ancients needed to be broken up. It felt a little forced and some readers may find it more palatable in smaller doses.

To Buy Or Not To Buy, That Is The Question: Buy if you are a fan of zombie novels.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book Contest

Ms. Sidhe Viscious is having a book contest. Below is the link to it. She reads and reviews Urban Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Light Fantasy, Light Horror, Young Adult and Graphic Novels in said genres.

It is a fun little blog for brain candy.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Flirt by Laurell K. Hamilton

Flirt is the eighteenth installment of the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton.

Premise = What happens when Anita tries to flirt on her own? Nothing really good, a smaller body count then usual and only one real sex scene (short).

I have been reading about Anita Blake since about 2002 and and it started off hot and heavy. The minute I put one down I would have to pick up the next. I only took a few breaks in order to catch up on the series which started in 1993. Anita has been through her ups and downs over the years, as has her creator. Reading Anita is a habit that I cannot break even though the series is not all that any more. With the past two books it has started to get better, but nothing like it was. Now we have Flirt, and it is a short take on a brief moment in the life of Anita Blake. It worked. It has it's problems, but it worked much better then quite a few of her other books over the past few years.

My biggest problem with the Anita series is the fact that forty-eight hours in the life of Anita Blake was taking 400ish pages to get to the end. Sex scenes, while very very good, could run eight pages. Silent tension could run upwards of ten. This is not James Joyce's Ulysses and thank God for that, so let's move the story along please.

Then there is Anita's whining over the state of her life. She's got a gazillion men in love with her and are okay with one another (with the exception of one and he hasn't been around much), hot sex whenever she wants, people who just want her to be happy, and the only one really complaining is her. Stooooopppppppp the whiiiiiiiinnnninnnggg!!! Pleeeeeaasseeeee!!!

Why do I still read the Anita Blake novels if these things make me nutty? I feel like I have invested so much of my time in them that to stop now would be akin to quiting a sport because I wasn't willing to put in the time and effort for the inevitable pay off in the end. I feel that I might miss something really good in Anita's world that I have been waiting for for a really long time = Her to just be happy. I feel like she is so gloom and doom that she invites trouble, granted her conflicts are what keeps the books coming and moving along, but simply being happy would be nice once in a while.

Small Spoiler Coming

Guess what? We got it at the end of Flirt and I was so happy about it. This Anita novel is short (about 150 pages), which means all the tasty fat that both helps and hinders the much larger novels is all but extinct in this one. Thank You! It only covers about a 36 hour period, and Hamilton didn't waste Anita's time on annoying indecision. Yea!

The other interesting thing about this book is that at the end Hamilton explains how she came up with the idea of the novel, and how she fleshed it out, and what helps her write. She kept that section short, but it was actually quite interesting and insightful as to how her mind works. Oddly, I felt some strong similarities between her thought process and mine.

Enough though. Let me get down to the basics.

Things I like:

1. It was short and sweet. The was no real trimming of the fat needed.

2. I enjoyed the afterward at the end explaining her process in regards to this novel.

3. Anita didn't whine as much. Woohoo!

Things I didn't like:

1. There was some dialogue in the beginning that was exactly the same between two characters who were asking Anita for help. I understand that they had many similarities between them, but they would not have the exact same words.

2. It was predictable. Maybe it is because I have read all the other novels, but I new who the bad guy was. I knew who was going to do what and when, a little boring.

3. Fear that Bullet won't be as good.

To Buy or Not To Buy: Don't buy if you have been dissappointed in the last few Anita novels. Borrow from the library or someone you know, or wait for paperback. Buy if you are invested like I am. It does give an insight into Hamilton and how she works which is really pretty interesting.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham and Lan Medina

How could I have passed this series over over the years? That is what I keep asking myself. I have only read the first one and I am soooooo hooked, and I hear it only gets better. Sweet!

Premise: Fairy Tale and Fable characters living in our world after having to flee theirs years ago. Who's in charge? Who's still married? Who is still trying for a fairytale ending?

Things I like about it:

1. The storyline did not insult my intelligence. It held my interest through decent plotting and and decent use of timeline.

2. The characters are well written out with enough of their past written in to make me curious to read more.

3. Artwork - for the most part really good. The cover was really deceptive and I think that this was the main reason I passed it over since it came out.

Things I don't like:

1. Obviously, the cover. Now that I read it I understand it better, but it was a turn off and yet again... a lesson in never judging a book by it's cover.

2. Some of the artwork inside seemed a bit inconsistent. One view would have men with five o'clock shadows, the next nothing. Their placements and POV were different, but it was something that bothered me. It also happened later on with a woman's dress.

Now for my absolute favorite thing about the volume - I loved the short story at the end. I am not going to go into details about it because I don't want to give spoilers. But, it was incredibly well written, giving the whole thing even more depth. It provided a wonderful insight into the two main characters, and introduced one that I very much look forward to reading more about.

To Buy or Not To Buy: Absolutely Buy if you like graphic novels.

Special Thanks to Ian at Rebel Base Comics & Toys

Monday, February 8, 2010

Figuring this all out.

Dear Lord

I have just spent the better part of the last hour trying to figure out how to make changes to certain things. Here's something you have to know about me if you are going to follow this. What I am thinking and trying to write does not always come out right on the page. There are what appears to gaps in thoughts and flip flopped letters in words. I can read it again and again ten times over and not catch the mistake until days and weeks later. In other words, if you can't understand what I am trying to say just ask, because to me it reads just fine.

Initial thoughts

Okay. I have now set up my blog. Woohoo for me. Not I just need to fill it with things from my verse. Where to start. Hmmmm. Let me think about this.