Tag Archive: Review


Superheros are all the rage these days. Everyone dreams of being spared the monotony of everyday life by some psycho superhuman with an insane fashion sense. ​Thankfully, Marvel and DC have obliged us with enough comics, movies, and video games to spork our eyeballs out with superhero goodness for the rest of our lives. My only question is, who will save us from this onslaught of superhero visual media?

Well friends, our savior is none other than Michael Stackpole . Sure, he may appear to be a mild mannered guy, but when behind the keyboard, he transforms into The Authornator-bringer of originality to superhero stories!

His latest creation, In Hero Years…I’m Dead, is a must read for all fans of the traditional comic book story.


in hero yearsSynopsis

The story centers around an old hero returning to Capital City after twenty years of imprisonment. All that he knew has changed. The great heroes of his time have all retired, content to allow a new group of young upstarts to run things. As he stumbles around trying to regain his old footing, he learns the new rules have cultivated a dangerous societal mix that could destroy him if he continues to play a hero.

Review

It is incredibly hard to tell an inventive superhero story, but In Hero Years…I’m Dead genuinely spins an original tale. Stackpole mixes the traditional comic book feel with quirky humor and a noir-detective backdrop that makes for truly compelling reading. Capital City is full of surprises around every turn as caricatures of all the classic heroes propel you further down its alleys.

The characters feel very real and leap off the screen. The protagonist keeps you engaged as he explores the new world Capitol City has become in his absence. Everyone can connect to the range of emotions he experiences throughout the story.

Most hero stories focus on the heroes themselves and their personal struggles. While Stackpole certainly captures this, he also explores the pressure of society as it works against the traditional hero versus villain mechanic. He creates a truly modern city that brilliantly figures out how to cope with its super inhabitants that is so believable, it is almost scary .​ The social commentary he weaves into the main storyline adds that bit of depth that some hero stories skim over to appease the masses.

You won’t find the same old ‘have to beat the bad guy’ plot here. Stackpole dishes up a fresh take on caped crusaders and their reason for protecting their city.

 

 

In Hero Years…I’m Dead is currently available digitally for most ereader platforms. Sadly, this is not in print yet, but there is a very good story as to the reason. It comes in two edition, normal and deluxe. The deluxe edition is only a dollar more and includes a sweet essay detailing Stackpole’s own personal journey writing the novel.

 

Get it Here (Deluxe edition):

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Recently I took a detour from my normal reading fare to delve into some insane paranormal romance. After successfully making it through two novellas, I was ready to get back into the wondrous future of science fiction. Nothing against paranormal romance as a genre, it’s just I sometimes crave worlds were people are doing something else besides falling in love with one another.

Over the past year or so, I have been casually reading through the Horus Heresy series within the Warhammer 40K universe. Warhammer 40K began as a humble table-top strategy game that quickly grew a tremendous collection of lore to back the plastic armies crawling across tables everywhere. Somewhere along the way, Games Workshop , the company behind 40K, finally realized that it could make even more money by getting people to write books for them.

Whatever your opinion of licensed fiction, the Black Library, literary arm of Games Workshop, has been cranking out some great works of fiction that deserve to stand on their own merits outside the overwhelming lore that makes up Warhammer 40K. Several talented authors have lent their minds to the Black Library and crafted mind blowing stories within the 40K-verse.

Out of all the Horus Heresy authors I have read, Graham McNeill is still my personal favorite and his latest book, A Thousand Sons , shines brightly in the series. It is also the Black Library’s very first novel to make the New York Times best-selling list.

Summary

The twelfth book in the Horus Heresy series and following the Thousand Sons Space Marine legion, A Thousand Sons tells the tragic story of how they fall from the guiding light of the Emperor. Mangus, Primarch of the legion, searches too deeply for power to unlock hidden secrets of the galaxy and as a result, the Emperor bans everyone from wielding these powers. In his search, Mangus witnessed the betrayal of Horus and sets out to warn the Emperor with the very power he was forbidden to use. The Emperor retaliates by unleashing Leman Russ, Primarch of the Space Wolves, on their homeworld, Prospero, to bring Mangus to justice.

Review

McNeill paints this legion vastly different from any of the others he has previously worked with, giving them a truly unique flavour. As with all doomed legions in the Horus Heresy timeframe, they possess redeeming qualities that he captures and brings to life with such force that they will live directly inside your grey matter long after the story has concluded.

The interactions between the Thousand Sons and Space Wolves are simply amazing as both legions revolve around each other in a fatal dance. The mounting tension builds until it becomes palpable and you accompany Mangus to the Council of Nikea, a major milestone within 40K lore. McNeill demonstrates his knowledge and love for 40K lore as he meticulously builds to this crucial moment. His treatment of the legion is worthy of praise from fanboys everywhere.

The plot has a few problems in the beginning as it starts off seemingly going nowhere until the Space Wolves show up. Then the real plot arises and consumes the characters in its wake. Once things began to pick up, I literally could not stop reading. McNeill’s talent for weaving characters into his plot has certainly reached its pinnacle with this Horus Heresy entry and I felt he more than made up for the slow start.

The ending was a bit mysterious as it hinted at related 40K lore that readers will not pick up on unless they are fully entrenched with the table-top game. The journey to the end is well worth the read, though, as this is definitely one of the better entries in the series and deserves its well-earned New York Times slot. McNeill has written a superb story that anyone mildly interested in 40K should take a look at.

I give A Thousand Sons a 90%

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Apparently I am not man enough to pry myself away from this insane Blood Lust series, so I thought I might as well read the next installment. Judge me if you want, but I am kind of digging this whole paranormal romance thing. On second thought, don’t judge me, just leave me alone so I can wallow in my own manlinesslessness.

At least I am branching out. Women dig that sort of thing right? Perhaps I should attend the nearest paranormal romance convention. I am sure I will find more women there than I would at the nearest sci-fi convention. Who’s the smart one now?

Anyway on with the review of Claimed by Zoe Winters.

Claimed
Summary

So, we start off during the ending of the first novella, Kept, except we are following the perspective of the vampire, Anthony. And let me tell you, if you thought you saw crazy in Kept, you haven’t seen anything until you dive into the hidden world of Cary Town’s vampires. They are all over the map. There are vegetarian vamps, emo vamps, hardcore old-school vamps, and then there’s Anthony.

Anthony is like a goth version of Fonzie that can charm you while simultaneously sucking your blood. After running drunk on the poison he siphoned out of Greta, he goes on a wild rampage and terrifies poor, innocent Charlee (Greta’s former roommate). Her memory gets all jacked up because of this and so Anthony is forced to hide her at his awesome penthouse until after the upcoming vampire tournament where he will vie for absolute control over the vampire coven and become the vampire king for the next century.

Linus, the big, bad vampire that vants to suck your vblood rolls in to town to let Anthony know he isn’t the only one that has a shot at the crown. They have a mini-showdown in which Charlee, of course, gets completely caught up in. Everything gets supremely complicated after that as she and Anthony romantically spar over every little thing they do.

She hates him, but he has to protect her from Linus. Blah, blah, blah….happily ever after. Or is it? I guess you will have to read it to find out.

Review

Overall, I found this next installment to have more depth and meat than the first. The intriguing world of Cary Town is further enriched as the darker, vampire side is explored. The imagination fueling it actually made the story feel more like a fantasy novella than paranormal romance. Zoe certainly knows how to paint a vivid world.

Thankfully that world is inhabited by an expanding list of interesting characters. The two main characters here, Charlee and Anthony, are completely different than those in Kept, but still wield the same amount of power over your mind. Even though their situation nearly mirrors Greta’s and Dayne’s in Kept, they interact in unexpected and exciting ways. Their chemistry is so real, you will wish you had your own vampire to cuddle up with at night.

The story weaving all the events intertwining the characters with the world is so organic that it really blurs the boundary between fantasy and paranormal romance. I never gave the paranormal romance genre much credibility with me being such a sci-fi elitist and all, but Claimed has commanded my respect. It certainly raises the Blood Lust bar of telling a good story that just so happens to involve romance. The quality of the story was never sacrificed to force in romantic elements for the sake of genre.

If you are looking for a good paranormal romance or just need a break from your standard genre, I highly recommend you give Claimed a shot. You won’t regret it. The only feeling you’ll be left with by the end is a craving for more blood…

I give it two out of two vampire fangs! (in the neck if you know what I mean)

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Ever since my young days in middle school, I have primarily read science fiction. I rarely stray from this superior genre and then only to read non-fiction books in pursuit of knowledge. Then one magical day a few weeks ago, while reading the blog of Michael A. Stackpole, I stumbled upon an independent author by the name of Zoe Winters who doubles as an indie evangelist, preaching the gospel of independent publishing. So, I started reading her blog and began to get into the idea that big New York publishers are the devil and authors just need to branch out on their own to directly connect with their audience and bypass the ridiculous hand-holding of the publisher. Her blog was so great that I wanted to see what sort of fiction she wrote. That was when I discovered that she is a *gasp* paranormal-romance author.

With the enormous success of Twilight and other spin-offs, I was immediately repulsed by the notion of reading paranormal-romance because it would hurt my sci-fi/nerd cred (and would make me less of a man). However, I decided to suck it up and read her first published work, Kept. So, I hopped on over to the Kindle store and purchased it for a paltry $1. Soon after that, I downloaded it to my BlackBerry and was prepared to enter a forbidden world that only women and angsty teens typically enter–the world of paranormal-romance.Kept

Summary

From what I can tell, Kept is about some crazy chic, Greta, with superhuman strength who can transform into a cat (called a ‘Therian‘) and gets wrapped up in this crazy plot to kill her for the crazy magical powers contained within her blood. There are vampires and other Therians who are like ‘I want to kill you and drain your blood’, so she seeks asylum with some crazy sorcerer, Dayne, who is all like ‘I will protect you only if you give me your blood’. So she is all like, ‘fine, but if you do evil stuff I will just like leave’. They pretty much stay inside his house and have crazy heat-induced sex (when in human form, Therians have like crazy sex powers). Then other stuff happens that I can’t tell you since it would ruin the story (yes, I know romance stories are quite predictable, but you still have to read it).

Review

Overall, this is an excellent read. Especially for the $1 price tag. The writing style of Zoe will keep you engrossed in the story while keeping you guessing as to what is coming around the next corner. The dialog is good and very believable considering all the characters should be locked up in an insane asylum. She weaves great moments of sarcasm and levity with genuine emotion to spin a truly original tale.

As far as romance stories go, this one actually had more to it than two people simply falling in love. Yes, the two main characters in the story do fall for each other, but it happens in an exciting and novel way surrounded by plenty of unnatural surprises. One major problem some romance stories have is that the plot will halt in its tracks while the characters try to figure out exactly what they are supposed to be doing. Kept never suffers from this problem as the plot moves in lockstep with the romance.

Zoe has created a fascinating world to lose yourself in. The characters feel real as the entire world evolves around them throughout their journey. The ending will definitely leave you wanting more. Fortunately for us all, this is only the first entry in her Blood Lust series. The next chapter will be released fairly soon. Check out her blog to stay up to date.

Kept brings a unique take on vampires and were-things that is thoroughly entertaining, even for me–a hardcore sci-fi aficionado. I may have to keep up with the rest of the Blood Lust series (as long as my friends never find out). If you have been looking to read something original and entertaining, Kept is exactly what you are looking for.

I give it 5 out of 5 vampire fangs.

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