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12 Days of Best Covers of 2014: Day #5

The fifth book cover I pick for the 2014 edition of “12 Days of Best Covers of…” is for Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell. Published by Abaddon Books, this was Sarah’s first full-length non-Black Library work, and it proved to be even better than some of her Black Library work, which is saying something since I’ve always held her BL fiction in high regard. She was one of the first authors I started reading back when I was returning to BL fiction some years back, and she has never disappointed. An historical fiction novel about an alternate English history, mixed in with some great fantastical concepts, Uprising was one of my top books for the first half of the year.

The fifth set of comic covers I pick this year are for Batgirl #31 by Gail Simone, Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion, Blond and Dezi Sienty, with cover by Alex Garner, and Robyn Hood: Legend #1 by Pat Shand, Larry Watts, Slamet Mujiono and Jim Campbell, with the cover by Nei Ruffino. Alex Garner’s work on Batgirl has always been impresive since he stepped on to the title last year, and the one for Batgirl #31 is among my favourites, especially since it has one of my favourite Secret Six characters, Ragdoll. With Robyn Hood: Legend, I have less of a history since I only got into the whole Robyn Hood thing this year, but writer Pat Shand certainly made it a grand experience and Nei Ruffino’s cover, while a variant, is the best of all the covers commissioned for the first issue of the third Robyn Hood mini-series.

So without further ado, hit the break to see both the covers in all their glory! The full list of all these covers is available here.

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Comics Picks For 03.12.2014

A third straight week this time without me hitting my magic 40 number, which I really regret since a ton of comics have been coming out these last two weeks, but no matter.

Anyway, My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Battlestar Galactica: The Death of Apollo #1 from Dynamite Entertainment, Dredd Uprise #1 from 200AD, and Swamp Thing #35-37 from DC Comics. The most disappointing comics of this week were  Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #1 and Hulk #9 from Marvel Comics. Comics which continued on with a good run yet again were Alien vs. Predator: Fire and Stone #3 , Aliens: Fire and Stone #3, Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm War #5 , Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program #3, Inhuman #9, Gotham Academy #3 and Vampirella v2 #7 among others.

No graphic novels this past week unfortunately.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #2 (Comics Review)

Valiant Comics kicked off a new Eternal Warrior mini-series last month, Days of Steel, that explores some of the time that the titular hero spent in Europe during the years of the Magyar invasion of Frankish lands. Gilad was tasked with bringing a prophecy to fruition, a prophecy about a saviour of the Franks who must be guarded during his infancy and then taught to fight and lead his people. It was a pretty good debut issue that instantly made me a fan of the character and even of Peter’s writing and Cary Nord’s artwork, and the second issue is one that I’ve really looked forward to.

However, the second issue is nowhere near as good an issue as the debut issue last month and I find that quite weird. It is as if there’s this big switch in direction, both narrative and art, and that just doesn’t jive so well with me. Going into the third issue next month, I expected a lot of forward momentum in this issue, but we get very little of it actually. There’s a pretty big twist to the story early on and then towards the end, so that redeems the issue overall, but I don’t think the writing here was on-point as it was in the last issue, and the art also seemed to suffer in a lot of places.

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Comics Picks For 05.11.2014

After several weeks of trying to get back to the magical 40, I hit that number once again this week and the great thing was that this one consisted of 37 singles and 3 graphic novels, which was pretty fun in itself!

My top picks for the surprise hits of the week would be Eternal Warrior: Days of Steel #1  from Valiant Comics, John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 from Dynamie Entertainment, both the new Death of Wolverine tie-in issues of Life After Logan and Weapon X Program from Marvel Comics, All-Star Western Volume 6 from DC Comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1 from IDW Publishing. The most disappointing comics of this week were Superman Unchained #9 from DC Comics, Jennifer Blood: Born Again #4 from Dynamite Entertainment and Grimm Fairy Tales: Cfinderella #1 from Zenescope Entertainment. Other than that, there were lots of other great titles such as the new John Carter: Warlord of Mars #1 from Dynamite, Trial of Jean-Grey from Marvel Comics, Batwoman Volume 5 from DC Comics and Vampirella #6.

The graphic novels for this week were All-New X-Men & Guardians of the Galaxy: Trial of Jean Grey by Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen and Sara Pichelli, Batwoman Volume 5 by Marc Andreyko and Jeremy Haun, and All-Star Western Volume 6 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Staz Johnson and Darwyn Cooke.

Anyway, here’s another edition of “Comics Picks For…”. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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X-O Manowar #0 (Comics Review)

Valiant’s X-O Manowar series wasn’t on my radar until the publisher launched its Unity team-book last year. I’d seen some stuff here and there and heard that it was a great title, but I never really got the chance to pick up an issue and read it, not until recently at any rate, when I read X-O Manowar #23, some months back. It was a fun issue I’d say, and the subsequent couple issues I read were similarly good at the least, though I kind of fell off the whole thing unfortunately. But Aric of Dacia still remains a favourite character to read about, that I can say for sure.

With the end of the Armor Hunters crossover event, the publisher’s line-up is going to go through some changes, and all the existing titles are presumably all going to forge ahead with new arcs. Interestingly enough, writer Robert Venditti is using this… grace period to tell Aric’s origins as a Visigoth warrior in the 4th century AD, and I have to say that he crafts a really intriguing tale of a reluctant and young warrior who wants to be something that his father wants him to and his tribe needs him to. This is one of Robert’s best issues I’ve read to date, and the art by Clay and Seth Mann and Romulo Fajardo is just excellent here.

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Unnatural History by Jonathan Green (Book Review)

Steampunk isn’t exactly something that I’ve had much of an experience with. I can remember a few random examples here and there, nothing substantive. In fact, I think I’ve only read five steampunk novels to date, one in 2012, two in 2013 and two this year. Very, very slim pickings indeed here. As a genre, Steampunk doesn’t fascinate me all that much, not as much as straight-up science fiction (usually space opera at that) or epic fantasy, so that is perhaps one of the reasons why I haven’t explored the genre further and kind of what I am attempting to do with my “25 Series To Read in 2014” challenge. Then again, if more books are like Jonathan Green’s Unnatural History, then I’m willing to go further.

 Unnatural History presents a steampunk-ified Victorian London where Queen Victoria is indeed still alive and is approaching her 160th birthday. The action centers on hero-adventurerer Ulysses Quicksilver of the Quicksilver who is noted the world over for his many adventures. His return after a particularly long adventure, one in which he was presumed dead, sparks off a new adventure entirely for him and he has to stop his nemesis Jago Kane from perpetrating yet another atrocity against the empire that he loves and is sworn to protect, Magna Britannia.

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Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell (Book Review)

When I started getting back into the Warhammer universes back in 2010, one of the authors that I was following at the time was Sarah Cawkwell, a relatively recent addition to the ranks of Black Library authors who had written quite a few short stories around the time and who then went on to write two fantastic novels as well, one of which was her debut even! In all this time, Sarah has definitely emerged as one of my favourite authors and this is why I was really excited late last year when I found out that she was having her first full-length original novel published very soon. As someone transferring over from her Warhammer work, I was really anticipating the novel.

And it turns out that Uprising, the first novel of the Heirs of the Demon King series, is almost what I expected it to be (one of my 41 Most Anticipated Titles of 2014). Instead of the war-torn far future or the eternal war of the “old world”, this time Sarah tackles historical fiction and the series is built upon the premise that when Richard the Lionheart returned from his victories in the Holy Land, he brought back magic to England, and changed the course of history forever. The novel then follows some of Richard’s descendants and several magi as they clash over the best way to save the world from the evil designs of a most cunning villain, someone who intends to drown the world in blood and war.

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Comics Picks For 12.02.2014

A stable week for a change and this meant that I was able to read some more comics this time. Didn’t get through quite as many as I wanted to, and I certainly didn’t get around to reviewing as many as I wanted to, but that’s fine really. Gotta take a bit of an occasional lighter load I think. Most of the Marvel books I read this week weren’t all that impressive (as the top picks at the end will show), but DC was better. And Vertigo’s newest series looks to be damn good too, can’t wait to check out the second issue of that next month.

And I did manage to begin my Flash New 52 read-through finally with volume 1 last night, so that’s something there. Planning to read a lot of graphic novels this year, mostly in terms of catching up with series I’ve missed out on, so we shall see how it all pans out.

Anyway, here’s another edition of this new feature. Full reading list, as always, is available here and all my comics reviews are available here.

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Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters (Book Review)

Author and artist team of Tim Marquitz and J. M. Martin got together last year to form their own publishing company, the small press known as Ragnarok Publications. As one of their first projects, they launched a kickstarter for an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories with a very common theme: kaiju. The man with the idea here was Nickolas Sharps, a fellow blogger and writer who had recently seen the movie Pacific Rim and after enjoying the hell out of it, he got the idea to do an anthology about kaiju since it seemed as if the genre was rather sparse in terms of original fiction.

Needless to say, the kickstarter was mightily successful and just yesterday I finished reading the anthology in its entirety. As someone who had a tiny hand in bringing the project together (I suggested some of the authors who were accepted for the anthology), I’m really pleased with the final product. The anthology has exceeded my expectations and I’m quite happy to say that it is one of my most fun readings of the year so far, and we are only like 36 days in! Tim and Nick assembled some great talent for this anthology and their hardwork and that of J. M. has definitely paid off I think.

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25 Series I Want To Read in 2014

Last year, I blogged over at The Founding Fields about 25 book series from various genres, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, space opera, etc that I wanted to read in 2013. The intention behind that particular reading challenge was to read a broad variety of some of the most popular names in those genres as well as to try out several new authors and revisit some favourite classics. While I wasn’t as successful in the challenge as I might like, I’ve made it a new year resolution to make sure that I do indeed repeat the challenge in 2014 with new books, new authors, and finish it this time.

To that effect, here are the 25 book series I’ve picked for this reading challenge for this year. You can see the previous list for 2013 here.

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Best Debuts of 2013

In a lot of ways, 2013 has been a fairly good year for debut novels, as much as 2012 was. There have been some really fantastic releases, and they have all continued an unofficial tradition of doing something different with the genres that they have been set in. I can say for certain that of all the debut novels I read this year, none of them have been quite what I expected. Some of these novels have been really, really good while a small handful have been disappointing.

I put together a list at the end of last year in which I ran through my top picks of all the debuts I’d read, and I found the experience to be quite rewarding, and a great help in figuring out just why these novels were so good beyond just writing up the reviews.

All in all, of the 20 debut novels I wanted to read this year as per my list (link), I read 18 of them. Here are the 8 books I consider to be the best of the bunch.

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Most Anticipated Books of 2014

For two years now, my goal has been to read as many different kinds of novels as I can. I’ve tried out several different genres/subgenres that I normally would not, and the experience has helped me in becoming a better reader and a reviewer. Being a prolific reader and reviewer is all about diversity, in all its different forms. And that’s what I’ve come to value most.

Still, its not that easy, dealing with the diversity, or just the sheer volume of all the reading. When I put together the 2013 list of my most anticipated books (link), I intended to read all of them. But sadly that never happened and somewhere along the way I just lost track. The 2013 list had 51 books on it. The 2014 list has 41 books on it. A much more manageable number I dare say.

We’ll see how the year pans out and whether or not I will indeed be able to get through all them. I remain hopeful as ever. And there will be some more lists going up in the next couple weeks, so stay tuned for those.

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