Monday, 25 April 2016

The Reckoners by Brandon Sanderson *SPOILERS* AHEAD

This review is of the entire trilogy, separated by title, and will focus more on my reactions than the story itself, though spoilers may slip though, and context will be necessary, so GO READ THEM! I don't feel like explaining everything here. This isn't Wikipedia!

I Steelheart:

I went into this story with high hopes and expectations, as you do with Brandon Sanderson, and though they weren't met immediately, they were exceeded later. At first I was all, "Cool, cool, cool, that's interesting, that's exciting, THAT IS AWESOME!" (You know what I'm talking about) and those feelings were followed by a sense of sadness and loss, but also hope.

The next truly notable feeling I got was "EEEEEEEWwwwwwww!" Because, you know, I did not 'ship the romantic lead with some minor villain. Anyway, the "EEEEWWWWW" quickly became "Ha! She said 'knees'! :D" followed by a resounding "Finally! Pop his ass!" which was most satisfactory!

The following emotions were ones of trying to keep up, trying to stay in touch, and trying to understand, I don't really have particular words for them. I was finding myself slowly but surely falling in love with the lead, David Charleston, and his habit of killing Epics and making bad similes.

Next there was some serious planning, plotting, and general heistiness. It was great! There was kind of a showdown almost sort of, and someone precious (romantic lead, Megan Tarash) did a number 3 (died), with no practical gains for the Reckoner team.

Some angst and sadness followed.

Then came there was the real showdown and it was all awesomesauce and swank-mastery... until everything went to high heaven in a hand-basket. I was so like "No way, no way, no way, no way. Way!" and "You can do it team Reckoners!" but also "On no, oh no, oh no, oh no!" Which eventually turned into a deafening "YEHAAAAA!"

The last feeling I had in Steelheart, "BOOOOOM!"

II Firefight:

Everything had been going jolly-well swell after the end of the previous book (kinda), until.... the Reckoner team in Newcago got word from another city in the "Fractured States" that one of their friends was up to no good, a friend who had died recently (pssst, I'm talking about Megan). There was some other stuff too, but it mostly boils down to "Road-trip! Road-trip! Road-trip!" and there were some interesting interpersonal scenes along the way with David and Prof and Tia, though the big kahuna happened only when they arrived in NEW New York, aka, Babylon Restored.

I won't spoil the frankly wonderful cityscape of this story, but I will say, "MOAR GRAFFITI!"

David and his friends make contact with another cell of Reckoners and begin the Siege of Babilar.... Just kidding!!!!! Reckoners don't siege, they assassinate :D Here's how I felt "That is neat!" And "Ooooh, pretty!" but also, "I kinda miss a character I never met..." all while simultaneously trying to figure out what our favourite author's game is here.

I can't say anything more about this story without spoiling stuff, so from here on out, FEELZ! There was a lot of "I like her, keep her, she's cool!" And also, "I don't like HER, get rid of her, she ain't cool!" There was some "Partay all up in here, e'ryboday! Partay!" But also "Wow, this is actually making me socially uncomfortable...." and there was a great chase scene - SEVERAL great chase scenes! There was some badassery, some hardheadedness, some crazed, unlikely betrayals and the reunion of my favourite power-couple! (not necessarily in that order)

There was a "Dude, that's super brave!" followed by a "Dude, that's super stupid!" and then a "Dude, not cool!" with a "Cool story, bro," thrown in the mix there somewhere. Then there was more badassery, more fear-facing awesomesauce, and some seriously cool powers! There was also a hint at something larger... (Dun, dun, DUUUUUUN!)

"I want some fruit???" Was said by me several times throughout the book.

Next, everything got really real, really fast. More betrayal, poor excuses, scary stuff, sweet superpowers, tactical genius, backup plans, surprises! Then there was just sadness, combined with a whole lot of not-good things and some murder. I felt remorse, I felt emotional-fatigue, I felt... like listening to the next book!

III Calamity: 

Fair warning regarding the conclusion to a wonderful series, I almost had a heart attack listening to this book. I'm not kidding, I'm not making light, my heart beat so fast it HURT! That being said, this was a wonderful story, a beautiful tale, a magnificent ending, and a brilliant adjective that is not coming to mind at the moment, but was certainly there, don't doubt for a second that it wasn't, because it was!

The last Reckoner cell is desperate, they are on their last legs, there is little left for them to do, to attempt, and so much for them to win, if only they try. "Didn't see that coming," was repeated many a time. As was, "So, super, duper, uber, poohbear COOL!" and "I love superpowers!" and "Represent!"

On top of the awesome superpowers, there was awesome super-technology as well!

Our heroes found themselves chasing their betrayer to a travelling city of salt (not to be confused with Salt Lake City, because this place was actually made of salt...) where they find an oodle of superpowered baddies and also a lot of people just trying to get by. Some stuff happened, some emotions were had, but nothing as shocking as the old "I thought you were dead!?" - "I thought YOU were dead!?" scene that warmed my heart right up until it was chilled to the left ventricle (I don't actually know what that is??).

The betrayer, the one, the only, the unnamed for the sake of y'all who ain't read this yet, is looking for our heroes, but specifically David 'Steelslayer' Charleston. The only thing that kept me from freaking out was the time left in the book at this point, and even then, it was scary! I was all like, "Whoa, dude, not cool!" and "There's some serious lessons here could be learned from Hitler..." Because, you know, dictators and secrets all that.

Next came the twisties, the shockers, and the uh-ohs! Then, there was planning! I love me some planning, especially Brandon Sanderson style! But after a good plan is made, there's only one thing to do, execute it!

"This is neato!" and "Ooh, cupcakes!" and also "Super stealth masters team hip unite!" Then everything went poop, and all sorts of bad stuff happened and there were a lot of dead people. Hopelessness followed, and dejectedness, and melancholy, and then *Admiral Akbar voice* A TRAP!

What follows is the ending, which I cannot begin to describe, so I won't. You have three great books you's gotsta read now, dear reader, they're all out and available, GO GET 'EM!

Brandon Sanderson's links:

Twitter @BrandSanderson
Main website
Super helpful, awesome podcast

Monday, 18 April 2016

Recommending Music by Adrian von Ziegler

Adrian is a composer of what I consider modern Classical music, as well as, in his own words: "Celtic Music, Emotional Music, Relaxing Music, Dark Music, Oriental Music, Fantasy Music, Movie Scores, Metal and many other genres." and I will tell you this now, HE IS MAH FAV! <3

He composes and arranges all his music, and there is SOOOO MUCH to listen to, on keyboard. I have no idea if that's impressive or par for the course, but it's a cool tidbit to me. He's a YouTuber as well, and has posted many, MANY pieces of music, for free, for you to listen to. Go do that now!

Adrian is a bloody FANTASTIC composer if you hadn't already guessed. I listen to his music whenever I'm writing or reading or just sitting and doing nothing at all. Sometimes I even sleep to his softer tunes. I, quite frankly, rank this man as being the equal of Mozart, Beethoven, Holst, and Rachmaninoff, and I love his pieces of music even more than those men's combined! That's saying a lot coming from me....

I grew up listening to those musical geniuses and Ziegler still takes the cake, all the cake!

I'm listening to Ziegler even as I write this! :D

At the bottom of some of his videos (at least the ones I've checked, and there are too many for me to check them all) he puts a short(ish) description of his process for the piece you're listening to, and boy is it an insight into the mind of a genius. I really enjoy reading about how he made what he made, and what he felt while doing it.

I doubt I could write as much as I do without this man's music in my life, and sometimes I get distracted just listening when I should be making my own stories. :)

Anyway, that's all for now, if you have the slightest inclination towards anything you've read here, I must insist you check out Adrian von Ziegler's channel page on YouTube.

Adrian's links:



Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Steampunk Ninja Issue 1: Abominations; written by J.W. Smidt, art by Naeles

This review hits a tad close to home, as I am good friends with J.W. Smidt, so, consider this one of my many nepotistic reviews! :P

Steampunk Ninja is not actually a book in the least technical of terms, it's a comic book. But, there is a book in there somewhere, so there! This is just chapter one, the first issue, and is it ever a tease! We follow a young woman named Tricia (I really like this name) Pureblade (less fond of this name), one of ten badass super ninjas out to save the world, but more immediately, 'Gear City' from a plague of monster/machine hybrids called 'Abominations.'  

The story begins before the beginning, with a prologue, though it is by no means an 'info-dump.' In fact, it's pleasantly light as far as beginnings go, in my experience. Man, some authors just want everyone to know the political situation in their world on page one! But not my main-man J.W. Smidt. You gotta figure his stuff out all on your lonesome, right good. :)

Now, I should tell you this: each page has its own colour scheme within the issue, setting the mood for the story on that page, and the pages all seem to fade into one another as far as colours go. So say, on page one, it's *insert vibrant, beautiful colour here* which then flows into page two's *insert equally vibrant, gorgeous artwork of a slightly different colour here* and then page three reveals a wonderful *insert striking schema-shift here* that begins the beginning of a whole new subchapter within the issue, Chapter 1.

Here: -  You can find a sample of the first five pages on Naeles's DeviantArt, without colour. It's worth a looksee if the rest of this review doesn't convince you to drop some dolla-dolla-bills on this here glimpse of Heaven. <3

After the prologue we come to the beginning of the story, and you can tell it's the beginning because things are all purdy and our lead character, Trish P.B., is in a ceremony of awesome, where she is basically knighted (ninja'd?) and then sent on her way. The other ten badass super ninjas were there too, and I expect to see more of them in later issues, but for now, it's mostly just our girl, Trish.

Then stuff gets serious, and again, you can tell because of the colour shift. It's SOOOOO wonderful to look at, I'm just staring at the pictures more than I'm reading the words! I was also drooling a little, though that could be because I was hungry when I read this story... :s

Just before the seriousness begins it should be noted that there was a naughty word used, which I think might mean this story is not for children, but don't quote me on that if you have a very mature young'un or something. Anyway, FIRST FIGHT OF THE SERIES!!! And I'm all like "Go Tricia, it's your birthday! Go Tricia, have a partay! Go Tricia, KICK SOME ASS!" You know, the usual. :)

Have I mentioned how freaky the Abominations are yet? They're like mecha-zombie-pirate-ghost-cyborg-beachbabe-monster-things! :O You'll know what I mean when you get to that page ;)

Then, well, some stuff happens and I'm all like "*gasp*" and "Oh NOOO!" and "That's just RUDE!" and also "Superpowers anyone? I detect a theme! :D" Then it was over and I was sad, but also excited because this is just the beginning. Expect great things from this comic series folks, and don't be surprised when your expectations are surpassed!

J.W. Smidt's links:


Naele's links:

Friday, 8 April 2016

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron, *SPOILERS* (maybe) AHEAD

As per usual, this review will focus more on my feelings than the story itself, though I shall provide context for the many emotions that assailed me during the reading (listening) of this (audio-) book; it has been a while since I consumed this book and I may muddle some things up a little... totally on purpose, just to keep you all on your toes. You have been warned. ;)

We begin sorta in media res, with a bunch o' nasty thugs chasing down the character Marci Novalli, who will later become known as: OUR HOME-GRRRL! :D As with most stories, it starts out kind of like, "Wha- wait a minute... is that a real thing?" but then you realise that, of course, "Magic, the future, DUH!" and you move on with the tale. The next thing I knew... BOOOM! :)

And then we're with Julius Heartstriker, the nice dragon sealed in human form, kicked out of his mother's mountain for doing too many online degrees and not enough dragon-y things, who is also my Patronus! <3 Julius is, how you say... in trouble, and I'm like "But he's soooo cute!" and "At least we get to see more of this coolio world, I guess."

Then, we're in Detroit. It's now ruled by the powerful spirit Algonquin, Lady of the Lakes, and she ain't a nice lady, lemme tell you... Anyway, dearest Julius (Mah babeh!) is in this super swanky pub/bar thing and he's being told what he's gotta do to not get all killed like. "That's not cool, bro!" And "Wow! That's so COOL!" were things I said. Then OUR HOME-GRRRL comes on the scene, a rogue thaumaturge for hire, and blithely offers baby-J her services.

They set about doing the thing, that is to say, looking for the person (dragon) Julius must find, or else. I'm already so like "I ship it, I ship it, I ship it so hard!" Some stuff happens, more things are done, but quickly the timeframe for the job is tightened. And I'm right there with 'em, singing "Under Pressure" by QUEEN all the way!

Threats are made, scariness occurs, and baby-J's big bro comes on the scene to do what all big bros are supposed to do, save the day. However, he and OUR HOME-GRRRL do not bond quickly. Then there is a run-in with a monster that ends surprisingly well despite some stuff, and of course, there's a sewer.

Next, they're in a hotel, high end, awesomesauce, and Julius is being a boy, oblivious, dumb, and unable to take hints. I can't give away what happens next, but suffice it to say, Julius ends up RUINING the carpets in his room. "Awwwwwwwwww <3"

Back on the hunt, back on the prowl, they have less than a day to find who they need to find or baby-J's head rolls! The past comes back to haunt OUR HOME-GRRRL, and her cat saves the day, then more stuff happens and some more stuff and I'm probably hyperventilating by this point... Eventually we find our way to a dead end café in the underbelly of the city where, shock and horror, waits the goal of this epic quest... having a coffee after a hard day of not being found... UNTIL NOW!

OUR HOME-GRRRL almost dies outside while baby-J and Quest-object are having a heart-to-heart, and I'm all like "LOOK OUTSDIE!" and "IT'S A TRAP!" and what follows eventually is a great big ol' battle with dragons and magic and guns and dragons... and did I mention magic? :D There're even a few swords! :O Anyway, moving on, the book comes to a close a bit later, but not without some serious foreshadowing for book two.

I immediately jumped into book two (because I could)! <3 But you'll have to wait until I post a review of One Good Dragon Deserves Another, to hear about that from me.

Rachel Aaron's links:

Main site

Twitter @Rachel_Aaron

Monday, 4 April 2016

The Story Behind My Story by Theodore B.C. Wright (aka Damoclian)

Okay so, this is the backstory behind how I came to be writing the work-in-progress I am currently working on.

It started seven years ago, when my older brother was working on his first (and only) novel. I, as a young wee lad, could do naught but offer advice and ideas to my brother because story-writing is just the coolest thing in the world! Eventually, my dearest brother grew tired of my constant pestering him with ideas, and told me to write my own story. Which I did. It was awful!

But it was also experience, and a whole bunch of it. I wrote another story, and another, and then a rewrote a few, and then I wrote some more different stories, and some more. I joined NaNoWriMo in 2012 and wrote some more stories. I wrote nearly everyday for those seven years, tale after a tale falling from my fingers like chaff before a heat-seeking missile. Before half a decade was up, I'd written a million words! None of it was any good, but all of it learned me something, and around about almost exactly seven years after I began writing for myself, I took on the story that had inspired all my other stories. My brother's book.

Conceptually brilliant, funny as all get-out, a pleasure to contemplate, a pain to read, and a trail to work with, the story was unsalvageable. But it was still there, begging to become more than a discarded trunk novel never to be seen by the light of day. It wants to be REAL.

So I began making it real. I embellished it and added to it, like a chubby-chaser stuffing potential partners into an acceptable girth. I worked long and hard, I still have a long way to go before this story is fat enough, before I can begin whipping it into good shape. It's promising though, and my craft has improved so much since I began seven years ago that it doesn't actually suck!?

Anyway, you'll see and hear more of this story, this epic of epochs and awesomesauce, if you stay tuned.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Untitled by TJ Writer as part of the '15/16 SS-SFF-SS* in AbsoluteWrite's Sci-Fi/Fantasy forum,

Okay, so, I took a short break from reading about cats and fairies because I thought y'all'd appreciate another review of something more bite-sized. You will NOT be able to guess the story I just read, fo' realz! (Also, title suggestions: Fonteyne's; White Rabbit, White Rabbit; Can You Say 'Uncle'?; The Discerning Bunny's Guide to Wizardry; Wizard's Mistress.... I could probably think of others, but that's good enough for now :))

Okay, so this story starts off like every other magical story ever, that is to say: it starts with the Beginning. And what beginning it is! I was so like "Ugh, that's awful!" while also being like, "Um... how could you not have seen this coming? I mean really...." and also "There's some seriously sweet names in this'un's tale here, yo!" If nothing else, and there's a lot else to recommend this, you should read it just for the inspiration of the naming of things. The names are just perfect, well-spelled without being mundane, special without being ridiculous, otherworldly without being unrelatable or unreadable. Perfect! <3

Back to the tale, we follow a first person narrator who is slightly unreliable, while also being incredibly sensible in most regards, and just a tad too involved in her own life. Maybe that's just me though, I'm not big on the whole crying concept, it's so messy! :/ Anyway, after all the weeping is through, we get a good idea of where we're at in the world, (have I mentioned I want more of this world, yet???) and seriously, it's a pretty nice place!!

Magically maintained gardens, servants, cooks, a great big library! :D Friendly people who probably aren't out to get our main heroine in trouble, and glimpses at a magic-system comparable to Trudi Canavan's in the Black Magician series and others (also recommended reading, will review later and elsewhere), in that the magic is super duper cool, somehow unlimited, while also being a scarce resource oft stored in wabbits! :D

So, after the first glimpse at magic, which left everything to the imagination in the worst possible way :( I was like "I KNEW it!" And "har har, I'm brilliant!" But also "Next page, next page, next page- is this glue in my eyes??" And then there was the first adventure of the story, which was all like, not what I expected. It was so civilised, there was a carriage and a driver and, and, and, roads!!! Who uses roads in fantasy books!? :O It didn't take long, either.

First they got to the place, then they had the dinner, then there was an interesting hint of conflict to come, and then the thing happened and I was like "Didn't expect that word, there are bunnies present..." And "Hmmm, this is tooooo easy," but then *SPOILERS* Nothing happened!1!!!!!eleven!!!!

Everything is all fine and dandy, a bit of an overreaction is had, some things are foreshadowed, some ideas are formed, some good sense is spoken AND THEN IT'S OVER!! You can probably guess that I was all like, "Well damn, next installment please!"

*Sekrit Solstice Science Fiction & Fantasy Story Swap

Friday, 1 April 2016

Lina and the Bad Sandwich by Filigree as part of the '15/16 SS-SFF-SS* in AbsoluteWrite's Sci-Fi/Fantasy forum,

This story had me confused. I had to read it twice to make sure it wasn't a failing on my end, and honestly, I don't think it's a failing on anyone's end. I think it's just not as complete or polished as I might have liked. It's almost as though this was a first draft....?

Anyway, you guys won't never be able to guess what I just read (twice). It was this tale, this story, this mundane epic of one human girl, nay, woman, NAY, princess, and also a sandwich was involved. There were all kinds of interesting things, and even more confusing things, and I had to google many words because I am a silly bunny, and a certain author I know happens to have a larger lexicon than me (not a hard thing to do really).

At first I was like, "Hmmm, lemme read that bit again" (I've read the opening like three times now), and then I was like "Oh, I GET IT NOW... ew!" and then I was all "Google-google-googleygolleogogoglelegoeogleogegoelgeogelgeoglegoe" which soon turned into "Hmmm, I didn't know that was actually even a thing. wowza!" And then... "THAT IS A SANDWICH! I REPEAT-" I repeated myself several times after that, before making myself a sandwich :)

Then the fan hit the shit with her face and it was all gross and messy and stuff, but that's okay, because.... wait for it..... DEMONS! :D Yes, friends, family, people I don't know, that was a spoiler, and to those who say nay to spoilers, I say: DEMONS! <3 I know you won't be able to resist this story now.

The end eventually came, and with it came a sense of "huh?" And also "Say what?" And even a bit of "OOOOOOOOoooOOOOoOOOOOoOOOOoooooOOOOOh! I ship it! " But most importantly there was "GIVE US MOAR!" which I feel adequately represents the nature of all of Filigree's readers.

Now, for my next trick, I shall need a few days/weeks, as I intend to read about cats first. :)

Filigree's links:

*Sekrit Solstice Science Fiction & Fantasy Story Swap