Book Review: Queek’s Race in Space

Note: I got a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which reads as follows:

Details:

Title: Queek’s Race in Outer Space

Author: Carrie Mortleman

Publisher: Createspace

Release Date: April 26th, 2017

Genre: Children’s Book, Illustrated, Science Fiction

Pages: 32

Synopsis:

Queek the scrumptious sugar mouse teams up with his best friend Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant for a very important race against the aliens of Mars!

Their journey takes them past fluffy clouds and the Milky Wat, where they stop to gather yummy white chocolate stars.

Will Queek and Hellie make friends with the aliens?

Can they win the race and take home the treasure snacks?

My First Thoughts:

I’ve read Hellie the Hovercraft Elephant by the same author and so I was very open to reading the next book in her Hellie & Queek series. I have really enjoyed reading Ms. Mortleman’s work so far and so I was quite excited to get her next book in the mail!

Rating:

4/5

Queek’s Race in Outer Space was a lot of fun to read and did not disappoint me! The storytelling, while strong in the last book, has improved in the last year and made the story easy to follow from the get-go. The author sets up the story so that you don’t have to read the previous story to understand the characters and their relationship. Within the first few pages and a few rhyming lines the readers are introduced to the characters, their relationship, and the journey they want to take! As in the last book, the rhyme scheme is very simple and easy to follow. There were a few times in which I felt there was a bit of a stretch to get a few lines to rhyme, but it didn’t impact the overall story and I doubt many kids would notice it too. I’ve always been a fan of the illustration work in Mortleman’s children’s books because it’s so different, it easily introduces different textures and colors in a way that I believe would help stimulate a child’s imagination. Overall, I believe that this book would be a fantastic tool for any parent or teacher to help children widen their vocabulary; the easy use of long complicated words followed by easy context clues should make it simple for parents to help their kids learn new vocabulary. And if they don’t pick it up right away, the harder vocabulary doesn’t take away from the story either and doesn’t hinder the younger reader’s ability to understand and enjoy the story. This fun, unique, and exciting book about mars aliens and treats will make a wonderful gift for any child and a fantastic tool for education!

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Graphic Novel Review: Star Wars Doctor Aphra vol.1

Synopsis:

Following her time in the clutches of Darth Vader, Doctor Aphra has barely escaped with her life. If he ever learns of her survival, he’ll hunt her to the ends of the galaxy. But for now, it’s time for a return to what she does best. With the droids 0-0-0 and BT-1 in tow, she’s off in search of rare artifacts from the galactic center to the Outer Rim and everywhere in between. Aphra’s got debts to pay after all. Just as long as she can stay one step ahead of the Empire, some Bounty Hunters and just about everyone else in the galaxy!

First Thought:

After watching the last three Star Wars movies my love for the franchise has reawakened, so of course one of the first things I did was hit the shelves. While I like the idea of the force and the whole Jedi/Sith dynamic, I actually really wanted to read stories that were centered around non-force users. It may seem strange, but I find that non-force using main characters have cooler stories than Jedi and Sith. Anyways, so I found this trade a while back when the comic book store was doing a big sale, so I decided to grab it because who doesn’t like morally grey characters with questionable allies?

Overall Thoughts and Opinions:

I don’t know what it is about killer droids that make them so interesting to me. I think it started back when I was younger and playing Knights of the Old Republic, one of your companions in an assassin droid called HK-47 and he was one of my favorite characters in that game. In Aphra I thought her droid companions were going to be like R2-D2 and C3PO, and I thought they were going to be a little campy. Oh I was wrong—I fell in love with them the moment they started talking about torture. Weird, right? In reality, if a robot started talking torture to me I would flip table, but for some reason when Star Wars droids talk about it I think they’re super adorable. I think my favorite scene with the droids has to be when 0-0-0, a rather dark protocol droid, gets permission to torture someone and he has some sort of torture device in every figure that’s different from the last that he whips out of nowhere!

Anyways, while I already hoped this story would turn out fantastically it did more than just that! The art was alright, there were some minor discrepancies that I’ll discuss later. But the story was fantastic! Set sometime after A New Hope, the story makes references to the events of Rogue One and Episode 4 that quickly allows readers to orient themselves in the timeline. We also get to see new aliens and some that have made brief appearances in Rogue One.

The story is not your typical father-daughter adventure. Instead, they’re forced to ork together to chase after ghosts and legends—something that all archeologists should love to do, right? Wrong! Because of her debts, Aphra has to take on the emotionally charged adventure with her father and killer companions in toe. While I haven’t read her introduction in the Darth Vader Marvel comic, I felt like it wasn’t necessary. Maybe, if I have the money, I’ll buy the trades that she’s featured in and learn how she acquired her killer droids and her companionship with a Wookie Gladiator. But for now, I’m content with what I have because the author did a fantastic job writing the story so that you could pick it up without any prior knowledge to the characters. You could even read this comic without ever watching Rogue One or A New Hope, because the author doesn’t rely on you knowing that information, instead they give it to you in necessary pieces that don’t clutter up the main story with backstory.

Ratings:

Art: 4

My biggest problem with the art was some of the detailing—it was too much at times. I love it when artists can make characters come to live with detailing, but sometimes there’s a thing called too much. Like I don’t need to see every hair on a stubbly chin, with the right use of shadows and a few lines you can accomplish a similar look that’s less cluttered. I also so like a lot of unnecessary lines on people’s faces, especially if the picture looks almost the same without the lines there. It’s too distracting for me when there are weird lines on the face that aren’t part of the actual design, I know it’s a styling choice but it’s one I don’t care for. Other than those, the art was pretty good! I liked the mix of colors and that it wasn’t all one tone. The character designs were pretty cool, in fact it looks like the artist had a lot of fun drawing some of the concepts!

Story: 4

Overall the story was fantastic! The author did well to introduce Aphra and her companions, along with their relationships, in a timely manner that didn’t leave me feeling confused. Obviously, if people want to know more about her work with Vader they can easily find the trades she is in, but they don’t have to be read to understand this story—which is nice. My one complaint about the storytelling is that in some of the action sequences it jumped from one event to the next so quickly that I had to go back and read what had happened again. But the action sequences were pretty cool, I liked how they handled and didn’t take up to much of the storytelling like in other comics I’ve read.

Overall: 4

I definitely can’t wait for the next trade in this series to come out! I’m curious as to where Dr. Aphra’s character is going and what adventures will come her way. And as weird as it is, I’m excited to read more about a pair of psychotic astromech and protocol droids.

Details:

Title: Aphra (Star Wars: Doctor Aphra)

Volume: 1

Issue(s): 1-6l

Publisher: Marvel

Writer(s): Kieron Gillen

Illustrator: Kev Walker & Marc Deering

Colors: Antonio Fabela

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramgna

Released Date: July 3rd, 2017

Pages: 144

Genre(s): Space Opera, Science-Fiction, Young Adult, Action/Adventure

Comic Review: No World (#1)

Synopsis:

From Goodreads:

They exist in the all-new ASPEN UNIVERSE…yet belong to NO ONE! Enter a brand-new phase in Aspen’s growing collection of thrilling series, as characters from our most critically-acclaimed titles unite—EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT IRIS, Soulfire’s MIYA, the supernatural vigilante DELLEC, along with an exciting new cast of characters come together in this altogether different story–yet one thing is certain—their respective lives are in no less danger! A mysterious conglomerate has emerged on the scene with a sinister purpose—the incorporation of pure evil on a scale never seen before! But, will this collection of unstable personalities come together as friends to defeat this new adversary—or will they instead battle as foes?! Find out in this new Aspen Comics title ready to tip the scales on everything you thought you knew about the Aspen Universe!

What I First Thought:

I bought this issue back on Free Comic Book Day in 2017. I wanted to buy a few comics from the store I was in because I was grabbing quite a few freebies, so I grabbed No Worlds. The cover really grabbed my attention and it looked like it was going to be an action packed adventure!

Ratings:

Art: 3/5

The art overall is alright. The pen work looked a bit heavy to me, making the lines really thick in some places. I’ve never been one for thick black lines because I feel like it doesn’t really add much to the picture and just things blockier or less sharp. I like a lot of the designs so far; some of the character designs, especially in what looks to be the next issue, look pretty interesting and fun. I could do for more diversity in body types, though, especially the women. I’m not a huge fan of the shadowing and detailing in this one so far, just because it’s very dark and I felt like it drew too much attention to certain features.

Story: 3/5

The story isn’t bad, it’s actually interesting if not a bit dark. Not a whole lot is divulged in this issue, leaving a lot of questions unanswered. You get a brief introduction to at least two of the characters, but not enough to give you a clear understanding of who they are. I know that a weird thing to remark on, but if I’m unfamiliar with these characters and I’m not given a reason to see how their story ends then most likely I won’t. However, this story intrigued me enough to at least read the next issue just because it looks like we’ll be introduced to a really fun character then.

Overall: 3

This is a bad start, I’ve read worse. I’m interested to see how these characters fit together and get along. I also want to know what kind of dystopian, end-of-the-world, event we have going on here!

Details:

Title: No World

Issue: 1

Publisher: Aspen Comics

Writer: Scott Lobdell

Illustrator: Jordan Gunderson (pencils), Mark Roslan & Charlie Mok (digital inks)

Colors: Juanchoo

Letters: Zen

Released Date: April 26th, 2017

Pages: 32

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian

Comic Review: Sword of Ages (1/5)

Synopsis:

A young woman will become the first wielder of the most famous sacred weapon of all time to champion for her world’s survival, inspiring a legion of heroes to join her struggle against a merciless alien force. The line between science fiction and magic might get fuzzy, but the line between heroes and villains will be drawn in blood.

What I First Thought:

I picked this one up from my local comic book store on a whim. By the cover alone, it looked like it would be some sort of sci-fi fantasy set on a desolate planet. I don’t see very many sci-fi fantasies that actually interest me anymore, but after skimming through the pages and seeing all sorts of Arthurian references pop up I decided to give it a go.

Ratings:

Art: 5/5

I won’t spend long on the art, but Sword of Ages was a very nice comic to look at. The artist has a very clean drawing style that is very detailed without going over the top with the line work. The colors are very bright, fitting in with the lighting of the environment of the story very well. There also seems to be a realistic variety of color that help to make certain characters pop without making them look out of place. And speaking of characters, I really enjoyed the character designs for this story. The heroine isn’t overly pretty, she’s gruff and well-built based on how she lived, and the male characters aren’t over the top either. But each character is unique enough to be distinguished from any other.

Story: 4/5

I felt that the beginning of the story was a little rough because it just throws the reader in with no information and then time speeds up. The time skip felt a little weird to me, mostly because it left a lot of questions that the story may never have time to answer. It also took away from some of the emotional impact in one scene before the journey actually begins, mostly because there wasn’t enough time to really show some of the relationships between the characters. There were times when it got a little confusing as to who spoke, but by the end of the page it would clear itself up.

Overall: 4

So far I’m intrigued by this story and want to see how it will end. At first appearance it looks like a combination of magic, aliens, Mad Max, and Planet of the Apes, especially with rogue biker looking Merlin and Ape slavers! Not sure how much of the Arthurian legends the author will use in this story, but I’m curious to see what they’ll do with it.

Details:

Title: Sword of Ages

Issue: 1

Publisher: IDW

Creator: Gabriel Rodrguez

Writer: Gabriel Rodrguez

Illustrator: Gabriel Rodrguez

Colors: Lovern Kindzierski

Letters: Robbie Robbins

Released Date: November 29th, 2017

Pages: 32

Genre: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action/Adventure

Book Haul from Philcon 2017

Hello everyone, I hope you all are having a fantastic day!

A few weeks ago (November 10-12) I went up to Cherry Hill, New Jersey with my boyfriend and his family to attend Philcon. No, Philcon is not a convention where a bunch of Phils get together to have some drinks and catch up. Instead, it’s a science fiction convention that has a huge focus on literature and it is the oldest science fiction convention on the East Coast! It’s the second year that I’ve gone and I find the con to be pretty laid back and relaxing.

Like last time, I come back from that weekend with a ton of books, though they are not all for me. I actually got a good stack of books for my dad for Christmas because he’s an avid reader himself, I swear the man can get through a high fantasy doorstopper in a single afternoon if he had the chance! I just wanted to share with you guys all the neat books that I found, a lot of which were actually free.

One of the things that I really like about Philcon is that their dealers’ room is normally full of books. They invite local authors and small publishing groups to sell their books, and they’re generally really nice people to talk to. That weekend I met some guys from Realm Makers, which appears to be a Writers Conference. They were really nice guys and they told me that all the books they were selling were from authors who have won awards at their conference and that most of them were local-ish to the area. They had a really nice collection books, but sadly my wallet could only afford so many of them. Pictured here we have:

  • Breakwater (Broken Tides #1) by Catherine Jones Payne
  • Tainted (The Soul Chronicles #1) by Morgan L. Busse
  • The Gold Son by Carrie Anne Noble
  • The Mermaid’s Sister by Carrier Anne Noble
  • Dragonspell by Donita K. Paul
  • Wrath and Ruin by C.W. Briar
  • Curio by Evangeline Denmark
  • Willoughby and the Terribly Itchy Itch by Pam Halter

 

Not only did the dealers’ room have a bunch of authors selling books but just general book sellers too. From these guys I had found an assortment of books, from new to decades old. One guy even had a bunch of really nice hardcovers, but they were way too expensive for my wallet. But most of them had really good book deals and they had titles that were either out of print or not normally found in the major book stores. From them I got:

  • The Chessmen of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • At the Earth’s Core by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Moon Men by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • The Copper Crown by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
  • The Throne of Scone by Patricia Kennealy-Morrison
  • Slow Fall to Dawn by Stephen Leigh
  • The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Get off the Unicorn by Anne McCaffrey
  • Bard: The Odyssey of the Irish by Morgan Llywelyn
  • Through the Darkness by Harry Turtledove
  • Into the Darkness by Harry Turtledove
  • Darkness Descending by Harry Turtledove
  • Like a Mighty Army by David Weber
  • Fortune’s Blight by Evie Manieri
  • The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
  • The Lord of Castle Black by Steven Brust
  • The Cat who Walks Through Walls by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Mother of Storms by John Barnes

 

The rest of the books came from one of the greatest (and possibly most damning) inventions in the literary community: the free table. This year I checked the free table regularly because there was a constant stream of interesting things being placed on it. There were tons of various magazines, books, cheap jewelry, and even special cereal boxes and backs of action figure boxes. Saturday night we even found a dress that someone had left there. From the table I picked up:

  • Wonder Women by Sam Maggs
  • A Death in the Family by James Agee
  • Star Wars Del Rey 2016 Free Sampler
  • Hawke by Ted Bell
  • State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
  • Lifelode by Jo Walton
  • The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop by Kate Saunders
  • In the Shadow of the Gods by Rachel Dunne
  • A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess
  • Alice by Christina Henry
  • A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
  • Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Bottom line, if you want to add a large number of books to your collection or if you’re looking for books by small press and/or self-published authors, this is the con to go to. Philcon is a nice laidback con that I highly recommend to anyone who loves science fiction and fantasy. Also, pro-tip: if you’re a book blogger, don’t be afraid to let authors know because they’ll usually open up more to you and will be more willing to give you a deal!

PS: sorry for the terrible photos, I tried really hard to get them right but I don’t quite have a place set up to take pictures yet and it was a cloudy day (I prefer natural lighting to light bulbs). Thanks for reading!

Anthology Review: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: In Search of a New Wilhelm (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: John H. Dromey

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science Fiction

Pages: 5 (117-121)

Thoughts:

In Search of a New Wilhelm is a less impressive rip off of Alien. It’s five pages of awkward, barely realistic dialogue between one unbearable individual and another. The beginning makes little sense, the characters just sort of appear in a place together and the author tries to string together an excuse for how they got there. The author gives little descriptive information outside of the dialogue. In fact, the author does very little outside of the long diarrhea of chatter between the two characters, with one doing more talking than the other. There is absolutely no emotion in this piece. None. I hate bugs and Alien freaks me the hell out, but this story only makes me feel revulsion that one of these sick bastards is sicker than the other.

This short story barely makes any sense. I can barely call it science fiction because while it does deal with extra ordinary creatures they aren’t described, none of the tech is described, and there’s a brief mention of a top secret organization that barely plays a role in this story. The author’s voice is barely present. The description in nonexistent. While I don’t mind a lot of dialogue and I understand some stories must be driven by it, the dialogue here is just so awkward and robotic that it’s not very enjoyable.

Rating:

1/5

In Search of Wilhelm was a major miss for me. While the idea has some value, if you like the concept of Alien, the delivery was lackluster. Some people may enjoy this short story, and I would only recommend this story to people who like bugs or the Alien series. If you don’t like either of those things, then I highly suggest you skip this one all together.

Anthology Review: Breach (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Title: Breach (Chilling Horror Short Stories)

Author: Justin Coates

Genre: Short Story, Horror, Science-Fiction, Paranormal

Pages:  7 (68-74)

Thoughts:

After reading this short story the first thing that comes to mind is Hellboy. Main character is a large mysterious man that unsettles people, he comes from a mysterious agency, and he gets called to investigate really freaky cases that are beyond real…Yea, that really sounds like Hellboy!

Anyways, I found this short story to be quite enjoyable, though it didn’t freak me out as much as I had hoped. I still squirmed a bit while reading, though that’s because this story has a bit of descriptive gore that my mind had fun (but not for me) recreating the scenes. This to me definitely read like a gory scary story rather than an honestly frightening one. If this were made into a movie (or some other form of visual media) then I would be scared witless from all the carnage, but to read it doesn’t translate the same for me, at least this time.

Other than the less than chilling impact of the story, Breach is still a fantastic short story to read. It’s a little slow in the beginning as the author sets the stage, but after the first page it picks up rather quickly until the end. There’s not a lot of science, just weird devices and concepts that aren’t explained fully and that you’re supposed to take at face value. There’s lots of action in this short story, and the author does well to keep sentences short and description simple to keep the mood and pacing brief.

Rating:

Overall, Breach was an interesting short story that I flew through and enjoyed immensely! Though I didn’t find it terribly frightening, the writing is well crafted and easy enough to follow. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Hellboy and similar works, gore, and more paranormal-esque stories. Breach does have a bit of historical content which may intrigue some readers; personally, I found it rather (enjoyably) surprising. If you aren’t much for detailed gore and death, then I would suggest skipping this one.

5/5