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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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12 Days of Best Covers of 2013: Day #1

For this new seasonal end of year list, the first book cover that I pick is the second novel in the Night’s Masque series by Anne Lyle, published by Angry Robot Books. Anne’s first novel, The Alchemist of Souls, was one of my first Angry Robot reads last year and it got me hooked on to reading more of the publisher’s output. The cover for that novel too was rather excellent and that success was repeated for the second book in the series.

And the first comics cover that I pick is the first issue of Brian Wood’s Star Wars from Dark Horse Comics. As a life-long fan of the entire setting, it is one of the best covers I’ve seen to date and its what got me started on really reading again all the different Star Wars comics, regardless of where in the setting they are set. And it also gave me a good solid taste for the kind of books that Dark Horse puts out each month.

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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Assassin’s Creed: Brahman (Graphic Novel)

I remember seeing the first trailers and gameplay footage of Assassin’s Creed back in 2007, in my Video Game Production class back in college. It was a rather surreal moment and the game had my complete attention. I’ve never been a “get the game at release!” kind of gamer and so I didn’t get a chance to play Assassin’s Creed until much later. And I was hooked. Its been ages now and I remember little of the game, but what I do remember is how much fun it was to explore the cities and carry out all the assassin-related hijinks with Altair.

I’ve largely fallen off the gaming scene in recent years, preferring to focus instead on my fiction writing and reviewing, so I’m not current on much of what is happening in the industry.

But then I heard about a new Assassin’s Creed graphic novel, and suddenly I wanted to play the game once more.

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Best of 2013 Part 1

I did two “Best of the…” lists last year, one for the half-year from January to June, and the other for the half-year from July to December. The lists proved to be quite popular, and I was recently asked if I was going to be doing any more. To which I said yes. I like putting together lists like this. It gives me a chance to reflect a bit on all the good stuff I’ve been reading in novels and comics, or listening to in terms of audiobooks, audio dramas and so on.

You can check out my top-of-the-month lists on my Reading Awards page and this list is both an extension, and a continuation of what goes on there.

Let’s see what makes the cut and which comes close then!

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