Friday, September 19, 2014

REVIEW: "Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Dover Graphic Novel Classics)

Disclaimer: I received a free, advance e-galley from Netgalley.com  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Release Date: November 19, 2014

Type: Dover Graphic Novel Classics, Graphic Novel, Historical Fiction, Classics, Fast Reads, Black and White, Mystery, Adventure

About the Book: The intrepid detective and his faithful assistant take on a supernatural challenge in one of Arthur Conan Doyle's most popular mysteries. This graphic novel's original illustrations accompany an easy-to-read account of Holmes and Watson's investigation of a family curse. Readers will be irresistibly drawn into the search for a giant spectral hound that haunts the fog-shrouded moors.
This Dover Graphic Novel Classic offers readers ages 8 and up an exciting introduction to a time-honored tale. Expertly abridged and packed with dramatic illustrations, this version offers a streamlined narrative that retains all of the storytelling essentials.
My Review: As this was a quick book to read (50 pages, if you include the cover), this will be a quick review.

The art was well done. The clothing was authentic, and facial features were done well enough to tell the difference between the several characters in the story. What pleased me the most about this graphic novel interpretation was how true it stayed to the classic story. Short and sweet, this is a great graphic novel to give to a reluctant reader that might enjoy mysteries or adventure. While some may disagree, I think these graphic novel versions of classics are a great way to introduce new or struggling readers to some of the best books in reading history.

Cover Lovin': This cover is short and sweet. I do like the splash of red near the bottom, really makes the title and publisher information pop out.

Recommendation: For fans of Sherlock Holmes. I also love this trend of releasing classics as graphic novels - bringing the greats to a whole new group of readers.

Final Rating: FOUR out of FIVE stars (4/5). Great representation of a classic. Fast paced, with simple but elegant art.

Happy Reading!
~!~ Manda at Novel Addiction ~!~

REVIEW: "In Real Life" by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang

Disclaimer: I received a free, advance e-galley from Netgalley.com  in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Release Date: October 14, 2014

Type: Graphic Novel, Young Adult Fiction, Teen Fiction, MMORPGs, Video Games, Social Issues,

About the Book: Anda loves Coarsegold Online, the massively-multiplayer role playing game that she spends most of her free time on. It's a place where she can be a leader, a fighter, a hero. It's a place where she can meet people from all over the world, and make friends. Gaming is, for Anda, entirely a good thing. 

But things become a lot more complicated when Anda befriends a gold farmer - a poor Chinese kid whose avatar in the game illegally collects valuable objects and then sells them to players from developed countries with money to burn. This behavior is strictly against the rules in Coarsegold, but Anda soon comes to realize that questions of right and wrong are a lot less straightforward when a real person's real livelihood is at stake. 

From acclaimed teen author and digerati bigwig Cory Doctorow and rising star cartoonist Jen Wang, In Real Life is a sensitive, thoughtful look at adolescence, gaming, poverty, and culture-clash.
My Review: I will start by saying what I loved about this book - the art. I greatly enjoyed the subtle, but well-done differences between the real world and the in-game world. I also loved the act of signing into the game, where Anda becomes her character. Expertly done. Over all, the art is very appealing in this graphic novel.

And now to the story, which was what didn't impress me as much. It's a good story, and the author showcases plenty of growth when it comes to Anda. And I would have liked to see more of Anda offline, out of the game. We do get this, of course. But I want to see how her self-confidence in the game world affects her self-confidence in the real world. If she feels braver at school since she is so well-respected online.

Despite the great intentions, for me.. the story just fell flat. I don't really care too much about Anda, and her interests, which is unfortunate considering she is the main character. I know Anda's actions come from a good heart and the want to do good, but I got the feeling the story is more along the lines of "the good American coming in to fix other cultures." I'm sure this isn't what the author is going for - Cory Doctorow is very well respected in the writing world - but this situation and story just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Cover Lovin': Great cover. Really showcases the art, which as I stated, was my favorite part about this book. And audiences can see the differences between real life, and Anda's online character.

Recommendation: For fans of Cory Doctorow, obviously. If you like your manga with some social issues and social change added in, definitely check this book out.

Final Rating: THREE out of FIVE stars (3/5). My 3.0 rating is for the good intentions the author had while writing this story. But mostly for the art, which I loved.

Happy Reading!
~!~ Manda at Novel Addiction ~!~

Sunday, August 3, 2014

REVIEW: DC Entertainment Graphic Novel Essentials And Chronology 2014

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Type: Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, DC Entertainment, Vertigo, MAD, Informative, Where do I even start?, Series, etc.

About the Book: DC Entertainment has been the birthplace of comics' landmark graphic novels, from books that defined the genre like WATCHMEN, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, and THE SANDMAN to contemporary classics such as JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL. 1: ORIGIN and BATMAN VOL. 1: THE COURT OF OWLS.

The DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology has revised its expansive look into our rich backlist collection featuring the talents of the best writers and illustrators in the industry. Included are key reading lists, in-depth looks at graphic novels starring heroes such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and the Justice League, and the best collections from our Vertigo, MAD, and digital-first lines.

This catalog can be used as an important resource for new fans seeking a starting point, as well as a look at our impressive backlist for the most fervent DCE fan.

My Review: I wasn't so sure about reading and reviewing this. I'm a huge fan of DC and Vertigo, and religiously follow several of their comic book lines - but a nonfiction book about their comics? What could they tell me that I didn't already know? Well, a lot, apparently. This book doesn't just let readers know what is out there - it also includes some history of DCE and, my favorite part, includes a listing of the 25 essential graphic novels. I love lists, and I was pleased to see how many on it I had already read, and added the rest to my to-read pile.

What pleased me most about this book was its ability to show good starting points for anyone interested in comic books. I was lucky that I had several friends obsessed with comics when I decided I wanted to start reading them, otherwise it's quite daunting to pick something up - what if you start reading in the middle of a story arc? the DCE Essentials and Chronology shows all the volume ones, and explains the recently rebooted New 52 line, which is definitely a great place to start for anyone interested. Even better, it doesn't just cover DC lines, but Vertigo (my favorite!) and MAD as well.

I would have rated the book higher, but it's very short - the size of an average graphic novel. There is so much history to cover, I believe the book would have done well to be longer. And included some more history when it comes to the big names - Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Each character (and more!) were covered, but these are the heavy hitters, they needed some more special treatment. Especially considering this is where new readers are likely to start.

Cover Lovin': I really love this. I love the characters reading comics - and not just in print form, even! Catwoman is reading comics on a digital device, highlighting DCE's digital-first lines.

Recommendation: For fans of the DC universe, as well as for anyone interested in beginning their journey into some of the most popular graphic novels. Great for someone that wants to start reading comics, and has no clue where to begin.

Final Rating: THREE POINT FIVE out of FIVE stars (3.5/5).

Happy Reading!
~!~ Manda from Novel Addiction ~!~

Monday, July 21, 2014

REVIEW: "Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice" by Stacy King

Disclaimer: I received an advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Book Release Date: August 12, 2014

Type: Graphic Novel, Manga, Classic, Romance, Historical, Adaptations, Pride, Prejudice, Not as cute as Colin Firth or Matthew MacFayden...

About the book: Beloved by millions the world over, Pride & Prejudice is delightfully transformed in this bold, new manga adaptation. All of the joy, heartache, and romance of Jane Austen's original, perfectly illuminated by the sumptuous art of manga-ka Po Tse, and faithfully adapted by Stacy E. King.

My Review: I am a huge fan of Pride & Prejudice, so I jumped at the chance to review this manga adaptation. Like the original novel, I eagerly gobbled up this manga version in one sitting. The art was very well done, with each character being appropriately distinctive while still showing familial resemblance, when necessary.

The manga version is very faithful to the original novel, which will please both purists and those looking for an alternative to the classic. Reading this graphic novel was like visiting the original story and characters all over again, just in miniature. Author Stacy King and illustrator  Po Tse do honor to the classic story and really make the characters come alive in this different style.

My only complaint is that the story and Elizabeth's character didn't quite pop as much as I would have preferred. If I were to give this version to a struggling or reluctant reader, I'm not sure this version would inspire as much love as the original novel.

Based on this reading, I would gladly pick up other Manga Classics volumes in the future.

Cover Lovin': The cover is elegant, and yet still eye catching. Overall, a very well done cover.

Recommendation: For fans of Pride and Prejudice. As a librarian, I can see giving this adaptation to a struggling or reluctant reader that thinks classics are stupid.

Final Rating: THREE POINT FIVE out of FIVE stars (3.5/5). This is a very good interpretation, and it moves very quickly. As an adaptation, it's hard to not compare it to the original - in which case this falls flat, but anything will. The story was faithful to the original, and it was a fun read, but it lacked the punch of the original novel.

Friday, June 13, 2014

REVIEW: "Love Game" by Elise Sax

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Type: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance-y, Book 3, Small Town, Matchmaking and Murder

About the BookPerfect for fans of Janet Evanovich, Jennifer Crusie, and Katie MacAlister, Elise Sax’s wickedly funny Matchmaker series proves that the road to love comes with a few dead ends.

Five months have passed since Gladie Burger came to Cannes, California, to join her eccentric Grandma Zelda in the family matchmaking business, and Gladie is quickly mastering the rules of attraction. Her latest fix-up is still going strong and Gladie’s bank account is back in the black—until a rival matchmaker arrives in town and has both Gladie and Zelda seeing red.

Not only is self-proclaimed psychic Luanda Laughing-Eagle stealing Grandma Zelda’s clients, but Zelda is convinced that Luanda’s ESP is total BS. She tasks Gladie with exposing Luanda as a fraud, but Gladie’s attention is diverted when murder comes a-calling. Spencer Bolton, the gorgeous chief of police and Gladie’s on-again, off-again flame, wants her to stay out of the investigation—and away from the deliciously chiseled detective who also aims to win Gladie’s heart. But the one thing Gladie’s learned is that in business, love and murder . . . it’s always personal.

My Review: When I added this book to my Goodreads' "currently reading" shelf, I happened to glance at other reviews mentioning the fact that this book is more mystery than romance, so I was prepared. I think I would have felt let down if I hadn't prepared myself for a mystery. Don't get me wrong, the book is good, and I enjoyed it immensely, but despite what the book itself and the cover might tell you, this is no fun romp of a romance. 

I always thought the highest praise you could give an author's characterization is that their characters feel real - and "Love Game" fits that bill. I've known some seriously grumpy old ladies, and I can imagine Ruth fitting right in with them. Heck, I've known a few Spencer and Luandas in my time, for that matter. Each character had their flaws and problems, and I loved them for it. I already want more of the series and more of the characters, but there is no notion of a fourth book in our future.

While mystery is not my top genre, I thought the mystery in "Love Game" was solid, and worked out well. Gladie clearly has a gift for getting into trouble, but she also has a gift for getting them all out of it. She may stumble into the mess, but she's bright and plucky, and she can figure out how to solve whatever problem is looming. 

Cover Lovin': I like this cover. I think this would be a great cover... for a different book. This cover implies a fun, contemporary romance. And while Gladie has her share of romantic feelings in this book, "Love Game" is essentially a mystery novel with some relationship issues thrown in. The rest of the covers in the series are about the same - more love than mystery.

Recommendation: For fans of Stephanie Plum that want a bit more of a modern take. For mystery lovers that love that small-town dynamic, with a bit of spicy romance included. For readers who understand that love is complicated and sometimes you just can't figure out what you want. 

Final Rating: FOUR out of FIVE stars (4/5). I couldn't put it down, I'm eagerly looking up the first two books in the series to read, and I instantly searched for any news about another book.. all signs of a 4/5 level book.

My plea to the author: Please please please write more of this series! I want to know what happens now with that little ending snafu. Release it e-book only, email me possible spoilers, whatever it takes - I just need to know!

Find the author at her website for more information.

The Series So Far:
Book 1: An Affair to Dismember
Book 2: Matchpoint
Book 3: Love Game

Monday, May 19, 2014

"AGAINST THE WILD" by Kat Martin Promo Post!

A little less than week to go until the release of "Against the Wild" by Kat Martin - and to celebrate, the author has graced this blog with a guest blog entry and excerpt! Be sure to check below for all the fun goodies and buy links!

Guest Blog, "Roughing It In Alaska"

I can’t speak for other authors, but after sixty books, including AGAINST THE WILD, being released May 27th, I’m always trying to come up with new story concepts.  Which is the reason, when I get an opportunity to travel, I jump right in. 

Usually, however, I prefer a luxury hotel to the tiny quarters of a pick-up camper.  Still, when my husband--always up for an outdoor adventure--wanted to go for a month-long road trip to Alaska, I said yes.  (This year one of my resolutions is to say yes more often).

We took the entire month of August for our journey with two other camper-couples--Alaska is a really big place.  And it was amazing, magnificent vistas that stretch for hundreds of miles, dangerous wild animals, rugged mountains and rushing streams.  It was the second trip for us into the far North Country, the first of which resulted in the novel, MIDNIGHT SUN, a Romantic Suspense, first of the Sinclair sister’s trilogy.  I’ve been in love with Alaska ever since.

Having just moved to Kensington Publishing, I began to think Alaska might make the perfect setting for the three books I’d been wanting to write about the Brodie brothers, rugged, outdoor hunks, and the women who win their hearts. 

The idea first came to me as I wrote Ty Brodie’s story, AGAINST THE MARK.  When Ty’s cousin, Dylan, appeared straight out of the wilds of Alaska, I knew he had to have a story of his own. 
Dylan is the owner of a remote fishing lodge built in the thirties, a big, rambling structure along the Northwest Passage.  His dream is to remodel the old lodge and give guests a taste of Alaska, but he needs help with the interior.  Dylan knows exactly the lady he wants to hire.

Lane Bishop is a successful Beverly Hills interior designer, a woman Dylan met when he traveled to L.A. to buy a plane.  Lane has a secret yen to experience the wild beauty of Alaska, and Dylan’s offer is too tempting to resist.  Add to that, she wants to explore the attraction she felt for Dylan when she met him in L.A. 

Trouble begins when she arrives at Eagle Bay and discovers that as beautiful the old lodge is, there is something eerie about it.  Dylan isn’t happy when Lane turns up legends of murder and rumors of hauntings. 
Are ghosts real?  Or has trouble followed Lane all the way to Alaska?


I hope you all get a chance to go on an adventure like mine in the ruggedly beautiful Alaska.  And that you’ll watch for Dylan Brodie in AGAINST THE WILD, followed by his brothers’ stories, Nick, in AGAINST THE SKY, and Rafe, in AGAINST THE TIDE.  Till then, all best wishes and happy reading. 
  Kat

About the Book:

ALASKA

Where the men are as bold and untamed as America’s last wilderness

It’s been three years since Lane Bishop tragically lost her fiancĂ©, and she’s finally ready to risk her heart 
on someone else. The hot look in Dylan Brodie’s eyes says he’s going to be that man.
But when Lane flies to the remote 1930’s fishing lodge to help him renovate, she discovers a little girl 
who won’t speak, eerie legends and strange sounds in the night. And when she investigates the history 
of the lodge, she uncovers a legacy of injustice and murder. As danger stalks his daughter and the woman he is coming to love, Dylan must risk everything to uncover the shocking truth.

Book Blurb:

Dylan Brodie is the new owner of an old fishing lodge in remote Eagle Bay, Alaska, a place he intends to rebuild as a home for himself and his eight-year old daughter. Unfortunately, the crew working on the lodge are beginning to believe the old place is haunted. So does the sexy, redheaded interior designer, Lane Bishop, that Dylan has hired to help him with the extensive remodel. But is the haunting real? Or is it something even more sinister? 

When Lane and Dylan work to solve the mystery, they discover a legacy of injustice and murder. With danger stalking their every move, Dylan must risk everything to save Lane and his daughter and uncover the truth--before it’s too late.


Pre-order it now!

A HUGE thanks to Kat Martin for providing us with all this amazing teaser material. I am definitely fascinated with Alaska, and I cannot wait to check this one out! Be on the look out for Against the Wild by Kat Martin, in stores May 27th!

Happy Reading!
~!~ Amanda ~!~

Monday, October 7, 2013

REVIEW: "The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice" by Mike Carey

Disclaimer: I received an e-galley of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Release Date: September 18, 2013

Type: Graphic Novel, Series, Origin Story, Meta, Writing, Magic, Babies, Oh my!

About the Book: This exciting, original graphic novel explores the world of the Tommy Taylor novels in a visceral and direct way and is a great entry point for new readers.

Twenty-five years ago Tom’s father, Wilson Taylor, devised his subversive literary masterpiece. Now the blueprint of how a father gave his son vast power in order to accomplish a greater scheme is revealed. Partly told through Wilson’s own journal entries, juxtaposed with Tommy’s swashbuckling deep sea adventures with his trusty companions Peter and Sue, the story is at once a prequel and a parallel story to the ongoing series.
[From Goodreads.com]


My Review: This book made me have faith in the Unwritten series again. I loved the first couple volumes, then it seemed to fall in my esteem.. but the previous volume and this one really made me excited about the series. Stuff is happening again! And in this volume specifically, we get to know more about Tommy Taylor's beginnings - both the character and the man. And while Tommy Taylor (the man)'s beginnings were quite fascinating, the font style chosen was difficult to read, especially on an electronic copy, at least in my opinion. Also, I found Tommy Taylor (the character)'s origins to be much more enjoyable to read. And only part of that was because the font was a better choice.

The art was very well done in this volume - and you could definitely see a difference between the world of Tommy Taylor within the book series and Tommy Taylor in the real world. The book world was almost comforting, and the real world felt a bit more harsh - which I found to be an excellent choice and well played. Over all, I can't wait to continue with this series. I'm sad that I have caught up now, because that means I'll actually have to wait between volumes. Sigh.

Cover Lovin': I really liked this cover, and I think it fits in incredibly well with the rest of the series. It also has a Harry Potter-like feel, which definitely makes sense considering the subject matter and history of the series.

Recommendation: For fans of graphic novels. If you love graphic novels, meta fiction, and Harry Potter, you will definitely want to check out the Unwritten Series. Fantastical beasts and wonderous stories await you, if you're up to the challenge.

Final Rating: FOUR out of FIVE stars (4/5). Definitely worth a read, but only if you are already very familiar with the Unwritten series. As I mentioned above, this volume has done much to restore my faith in the Unwritten comics, and I cannot wait for the next volume to see what they come up with next!

Happy Reading!
~!~ Amanda ~!~

Review will be cross-posted to Goodreads.com and Netgalley.com.