Saturday, August 30, 2014

Last Day to Enter to Win a Signed ARC of Heraclix & Pomp!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Heraclix & Pomp by Forrest Aguirre

Heraclix & Pomp

by Forrest Aguirre

Giveaway ends September 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Deadpool Killustrated

Deadpool KillustratedDeadpool Killustrated by Cullen Bunn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The world's biggest superhero-killing douchebag is back, this time to eliminate your favorite characters of classic literature from the "Ideaverse". Not satisfied with killing off all the Marvel superheroes, Deadpool sets off to kill the very nascent idea of a superhero from the psyche of the universe in his striving to find and kill "The Progenitors" in an effort to end his eternal torment. The string of homocidal ultraviolence is . . . well, pretty funny, actually. But there's an aspect of this graphic (and I do mean graphic!) novel that tickles the intellect, as well, an existential question that is left unanswered, but on which the entire fate of reality rests: can Deadpool ever *really* die? This question emerges from the midst of the crimson-splattered chaos, and provides a nice foil to all the killing and admittedly hilarious madness of Deadpool himself. This is the sort of thing that philosophies can be built on, or at least it's good grist for some philosophy student's senior thesis. It's not quite PhD material, but neither is Deadpool. Still, there's a lot of thinking to do in the midst of all the craziness, an island of "what if?" amidst the "who cares?" It is a delicious little conundrum, worth your time and your brain, or perhaps a piece of Deadpool's self-regenerating brain.

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Spritzerville,...Ohio?

Spritzerville,…Ohio?Spritzerville,…Ohio? by Jason R. Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Seems like you're using more than your fair share of Rs in your name. Just know that these things are not going unnoticed.

-The Vowel Laden-


This was the grave warning on the envelope in which the book Spritzerville,...Ohio? arrived. Nevermind the fact that the title contains more punctuation than a child's cursive primer. The left-handed and (self-admitted) "naturally pompous" Jason R. Koivu supposedly penned this tale, but I have my doubts. I think it much more likely that this was "ghostwritten" by the departed soul of P.G. Wodehouse himself. Or, at least, that said Koivu channeled the erstwhile English humorist while writing the book. Lemony Snicket might have also been present in the room, in ectoplasmic form or otherwise, so far as I can tell, at least for the last tale of the book, which is, to be blunt, downright spooky.

Now, who is the audience for such an odd writer about such an odd town as Spritzerville? Well, if you are looking for high culture, you will kindly sod off. If you seek the deeply philosophical, you are bound to be disappointed, but you will likely be disappointed by anything you read, regardless of how well-researched or well-presented such a treatise might be and . . . oh, just go bugger yourself.

If, however, you are looking for laughs - not stupid laughs, mind you, but the smart kind, the kind with hidden messages by Megadeth, the kind with awful alliteration of the intentional kind, a work seething with mutant pastries, vampiric senior citizens, and gaseous toads, and a book with potty-humor elevated by clever turns of phrase and punny wit, then this is your book. Yes, even stoic old me (or is it "I"?) found myself laughing aloud and having to explain myself to bystanders. I recommended the book, highly, and I do so now, to you . . . I recommend this book highly.

See what I did there?

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Incidents in the Night: Volume 1

Incidents in the Night: Volume 1Incidents in the Night: Volume 1 by David B.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It's complicated.

I looked at Incidents in the Night: Volume 1 from afar and thought I liked what I saw. The book smiled at me, and I think it might have winked, too. But that might just have been the lighting in this dark place. I made my way closer, slowly, asking a few of my friends what they thought of it. It seems that a lot of people admired it, maybe even felt something much stronger than admiration. A few gave me dark looks, as if I was an idiot for asking, though I'm not sure whether these looks askance were meant to warn me or to show jealousy that I would dare approach such a prize. Finally, after some internal debate, I screwed up my courage and went in close.

Maybe it was the mole on the book's face, maybe a bit of a cold streak in its eyes, I don't know. Something just didn't set right with me. I could see how many would be fascinated by it, even physically attracted in a strong way. But my sense of . . . art, I think it was, yes, my sense of art prevented me from engaging in anything more than casual conversation. I just knew that if I got too involved, I would regret it. Yet still, still . . .

The dreamlike sense of something hidden just around the corner was titillating. And I appreciated the quirky sense of dress in the details, though the overall picture didn't really appeal to my sense of style. But again, there was something behind the eyes, something . . . hidden . . . maybe a slightly-veiled agenda, that bespoke danger.

We talked, we shared an uncomfortable laugh, we drank our drinks and looked around the room. I thanked it for its time, white-lied my way out of the conversation with an "it was nice to talk with you," and walked away. Just walked away.

I still just don't know . . .

It's complicated.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm Giving Away Heraclix & Pomp Again!!! Come and Get It!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Heraclix & Pomp by Forrest Aguirre

Heraclix & Pomp

by Forrest Aguirre

Giveaway ends September 01, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story

Waltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War StoryWaltz With Bashir: A Lebanon War Story by Ari Folman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As the current ('14) conflict rages on in Gaza, I am reminded that, in this war, there are only victims. This is also true of the Lebanon conflict of the early '80s, which is the subject of this graphic novel. Yes, there are aggressors, mostly politicians who already enjoy power, goading on the common men and women who actually fight the wars. But on the ground level, where the fighting itself is taking place, there are only victims, regardless of who "wins" the conflict. That's not to take away responsibility for those who commit atrocities like the slaughter of unarmed, innocent Lebanese civilians by "Christian" forces loyal to the then-recently-assassinated Bashir Jumayel, President of Lebanon. Of course, justice must be served against killers. There is no excuse for their actions. But that doesn't mean that when the executioner's axe rightfully falls on them, if it ever did or ever will, that they weren't also victims of those in power over them.

And what of the Israeli soldiers who witnessed the massacre? Are they not to blame for not having stopped the slaughter earlier? Of course. But, as Waltz With Bashir makes apparent, even they are partially punished by the haunting nightmares, the psychological damage of having witnessed what they witnessed and not having done what was necessary to stop it. Perhaps your idea of justice is that these soldiers should swing from the noose for holding off when they could have intervened. But if they had intervened, in a time of war, against orders, they would likely have swung from a noose anyway, for being traitors to the aims of those in power over them. Would that have further satisfied your sense of justice? Would it? Really?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Each person has to decide for him or herself what is "just" and who to blame for such terrible things. Should political leaders hang for decisions that lead to such slaughter? How exactly does one pin the blame for such things? Who gets to decide? Who is the judge? Is it enough to suffer psychological trauma for the sins one has committed, or must lives be paid for at the cost of more lives?

The lines between who is good and who is evil are muddled by the fog of war. The only thing that is certain is that everyone pays the price of aggression. Everyone who is in an area of violence, whether belligerent or innocent, is, in some sense, a victim.

There are no easy answers.

But if you want to explore the questions posed above, Waltz With Bashir is a good place to start. It's not likely to change your mind about anything in regards to the ongoing conflict between Israel and its neighbors, but it will cause you to pause and think. And maybe that pause will be long enough to stop and at least consider the consequences and gravity of such conflicts, to consider the effect on *everyone* involved. Maybe a minute or two, within which peace can get a toehold, if nothing else.

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The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath & Other Stories

The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath & Other StoriesThe Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath & Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft & Jason Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first encountered the artwork of Jason Thompson through a poster he created for the Lamentations of the Flame Princess role-playing game. I was immediately struck by the simplicity of his central figure, the "mock man," set against the finely-honed detail work one sees in his settings, costume, and creatures. His work is truly unique, cartoonish, but compelling. So when I first saw the cover of his hardbound The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath & Other Stories, I knew it wouldn't be long before I procured a copy. I was filled with that sort of book-lust that only true book lovers know. I obsessed a bit.

And I am not disappointed.

This volume contains stories from what has come to be known as Lovecraft's "Dreamlands" cycle: "The White ship," "Celephais," "The Strange High House in the Mist," and the eponymous novella "The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath," as well as a series of drawings from Thompson's sketch book. Thompson stays faithful to the original stories, but adds an easter egg or two in a touch of whimsy, such as a moment when Randolph Carter is telling Pickman's ghouls that he must take his leave of them to continue his search for Kadath: the ghoul to his left says "Oh, Carter, please don't go!" and the one to his right says "We'll eat you up, we love you so!"

If you don't get that reference, it's time for you to hit the children's books again.

Despite this and a couple of other dalliances, Thompson stays true to Lovecraft's plots, characters and, for the most part, rich descriptions. Unlike many illustrated versions of Lovecraft's work, Thompson's artwork actually does reflect the very words that Lovecraft used. The work is bound together aurally and visually; a rare thing, indeed. The lush illustrations are sometimes only evocative of the wonders and horrors Lovecraft created, allowing the reader's imagination to fill in details that are out of sight just beyond the frame of the picture itself. This leads to a sense of anticipation and sometimes dread that pulls the reader in. It is as much what is not seen, but hinted at, that provides enticement to the intellect. Or, as it is said, "It's not the kill, it's the thrill of the chase".

A thrilling chase, indeed. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Buy a copy here and support Thompson so he can continue to produce such wonderful art and books. He's just whetted my appetite with this volume. I want more, and more, and more.



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