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Tales From The Cobra Wars by Max Brooks (Book Review)

I started reading G.I.Joe comics back in 2006, when I worked through the entire Marvel run in about a month flat, which is kind of a staggering rate, but then again, I didn’t have anything to do in the summer holidays that year. It wasn’t until six years later, in 2012, that I got back into the world of G.I. Joe comics thanks to IDW Publishing, which had secured the rights to such. I followed them only intermittently however, but when I heard that IDW had also put out a prose anthology of G.I. Joe stories, my interest peaked a great deal. And here we are now.

This review is a repost of the original review on The Founding Fields, which can be found here.

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News: Shotguns & Sorcery RPG!

Back in 2012, it was sort of a Matt Forbeck year for me, given how many of his novels, and even comics, I read that year. Matt quickly became one of my favourite authors, and even a writing inspiration given how much of a workload he took on that year in terms of novel-writing, and the end results as well. And over the two and a half years since I read his Vampires/Titanic mash-up novel from Angry Robot, Carpathia, he has also become a good friend. There has never been a work of his that I didn’t like, and his Shotguns & Sorcery trilogy last year was among my favourite reads of the year.

The setting itself was something that he had created almost a decade before as d20 RPG and licensed it out to a publisher. Then came the novels for his bonkers-crazy-but-successful 12-for-12 project, and now finally we come to the big news he revealed earlier this week: that he struck a deal with Outland Entertainment to publish enhanced eBooks of the trilogy and also work out a new and improved RPG for the setting as well. It is amazing news because I love the trilogy itself and have wanted to read more about and in the setting since.I for one am really excited about this and I hope I get a chance to try this out on release!

Here’s the link to Matt’s original post, and below is the press release for the news.

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Monster Academy: I Will Not Eat People (Book Review)

Matt Forbeck, one of my favourite SFF authors, has a new book releasing today. I Will Not Eat People is the first book in his Monster Academy trilogy of young adult novels which he has written as part of his 12-for-12 writing program. It was his writing challenge for 2012, where he did four kickstarters, one for each trilogy, and was to write a book for each month of the year. Due to delays, some outside his control, he wasn’t able to complete the challenge in the same year, but now the overall project is finally seeing its completion. Monster Academy is the fourth trilogy, and it is off to a great start.

I’ve enjoyed all of Matt’s work that I’ve read to date, some thirteen or so novels at the least, and with each book he has impressed me even more. I find the idea of Monster Academy really fun and seeing the execution of it last month was really fun. The humour is always front and center with this book, but that’s not all of course, and just as with the previous trilogies Dangerous Games and Shotguns & Sorcery there is a strong sense of a murder investigation here, which is thrilling.

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Epic Fantasy: A Personal Definition

Over at her blog, Helen Lowe has had an interesting discussion taking place of late on the topic of what makes epic fantasy what it is. Its been quite an informative discussion to say the least (more). The descriptions and definitions that people attach to this seemingly simple 2-word phrase have provided a lot of new perspectives, many of which I have never considered before.

And that made me think about how I define “epic fantasy”. What are the components of it? What are the essentials? Like with any other discussion about the definition of genre categories, there are no easy answers here either and that has a lot to do with personal biases and preferences. I’ve seen a lot of books come out in the last few years that have been hailed as epic fantasy but that I wouldn’t necessarily classify as such, since for me there are some basic requirements for a book to be hailed with that genre label.

Which is what this post is about.

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How To Win by Matt Forbeck (Book Review)

I’ve talked before about Matt’s super-crazy plan to write a dozen novels last year, a project that he called 12-for-12 which specifically called for him to write one 50k novel a month for every month of 2012. He didn’t quite get to complete the project, since he also undertook comic gigs and wrote novels as work-for-hire, aside from other events, but it was still a superhuman feat. He’s been working on the novels this year as well and has already released nine of the novels, three separate trilogies with different themes and settings, to great fanfare and a hell of a reception. While I loved his Brave New World trilogy and his Shotguns & Sorcery trilogy was another good one, its really his Dangerous Games trilogy that I have really, really enjoyed.

Set at the premier gaming convention in the West, GenCon, this trilogy is a thriller/crime novel that makes full use of Matt’s experiences as a tabletop/board/card game designer and his attendance of the convention itself for the last several years. If ever you needed a window into a geek con through the lens of a contemporary novel, this is the trilogy you need to be reading.

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Are Classics Re-readable?

As part of my “Top 25 Series To Read In 2013″ reading challenge, I’ve read a fair amount of books this year that can be considered to be classics of science fiction and fantasy, in all their different forms. There is a certain charm to all these novels that has persisted long after they were first published. Whether we talk about Frank Herbert’s space operatic political intrigue epic Dune or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman’s true-to-style epic fantasy Dragons of Autumn Twilight, I’ve had a lot of fun with these novels.

And that is my question: are they re-readable? I’ve read Dune and Dragons of Autumn Twilight several times since when I first read them in 2001. I think they are rereadable, but I’m not completely sure. Is the question answerable in part with regard to whether the book is good or not? We shall see.

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The A-to-Z Author Survey

Earlier this month I posted two surveys on my blog. Sort-of surveys at any rate. You can find the one about books here and the one about comics here. I really had a lot of fun doing those, and I thought it would be fun to doing them again, but with a cool twist that I hope sounds as inspired to you as it does me. Or maybe not.

I spent the last 3 hours thinking of some kind of a blogpost to write. There are some ideas I had but nothing I could put up today, which was the whole point really. So yeah, this is going to follow the same meta layout as the other surveys. I’m not limiting this survey to just novelists, I’m including comics writers as well.

Hope you enjoy! And do share your thoughts in the comments!

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The A-to-Z Book Survey

So a few days ago my reviewing/blogging buddy Ria at Bibliotropic posted a nice survey of sorts on her blog. It was a cool article and with her permission, I’m sneaking off my own spin on it.

Hope you enjoy! And even if not, do share your thoughts in the comments!

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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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NANP: Names And Practicalities

I don’t think it’s really possible for me to be any more excited than I already am at welcoming author and game designer Matt Forbeck to Names: A New Perspective. Starting with his historical horror Titanic/Vampires mash-up Carpathia last year (review) to his TV tie-in Leverage: The Con Job (review) this year, Matt’s been one of those authors that I’ve really enjoyed reading. Whether it’s comics or novels, he’s been one of the most consistent authors for me, evidenced by the fact that his work has made my monthly top reads lists several times since January 2012 (here and here). He has several releases coming up this year, such as the second and third installments of his fantasy noir Shotguns & Sorcery trilogy (more on this here), as well as the fourth 12-for-12 trilogy Monster Academy, plus some secret project and a kickstarter he mentioned a few days ago. So the year looks great for him! Here’s what Matt has to say on the topic of names.

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Best of the Best Part 2

I last did something like this in July for the six months from January 1st all the way to June 30th. This list is for July 1st and all the way through to December 30th (the last day doesn’t count!). As I mentioned at the end of that list, this isn’t going to be regurgitation of my “Reading Awards” page, but something more varied. The list takes into account everything I’ve read in the last six months.

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

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Advent Reviews Day 20: Hard Times In Dragon City by Matt Forbeck

I’m a huge fan of Matt Forbeck’s work: whether it’s novels or comics. I have yet to read any of his work that I didn’t like, and he has been the most consistent author for me to date, not to mention that he’s also the one I’ve reviewed the most! That creates certain expectations of course, and Hard Times In Dragon City fulfills those expectations quite nicely. As the first Shotguns & Sorcery novel, this is the fourth in his 12-for-12 project in which he aimed to write one 50,000-word novel a month. I’ve read the first trilogy, Matt Forbeck’s Brave New World, and it’s superb superhero fiction. Exciting stuff!

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