Category Archives: Challenges

Best of 2013 Part 2b: Graphic Novels

A few days ago I did my best of 2013 list for the books I had read in the second half of the year. In a departure from previous such lists I divided the books and the comics into separate posts so that I didn’t have one massive post up. Massive posts are a bit tough to handle, especially when you are promoting them on social media. And with the split posts, the directions are different and there’s no unnecessary crossover.

So, with the books already having been covered, I now delve into my favourite graphic novels of the year. A post with the best single issues will follow on later.

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!

Read the rest of this entry

Advertisements

Best of 2013 Part 2a: Books

Since 2013 is now over, its time to do my second “Best of the Best” list, for the second half of the year from July-December. There were some really good reads in this period, and as always, picking the best has been a chore. I always try to keep these lists as diverse as I can and hopefully you agree.

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! Read the rest of this entry

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.

Read the rest of this entry

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.

Read the rest of this entry

Advent Review #6: Blood of Asaheim by Chris Wraight (Book Review)

When I compiled my list of “51 Most Anticipated Novels of 2013“, I put Chris Wraight’s Blood of Asaheim on it because I had really liked his first full-length 40k novel, The Battle of the Fang for the Space Marines Battle series. He gave a really nice depth to the Space Wolves with that book, and he brought together the disparate portrayals of the 40k Space Wolves by William King’s classic novels and Dan Abnett’s Horus Heresy piece, Prospero Burns. I love the former, but I detest the latter. Chris Wraight gave me a nice middle ground between the two and that’s what I hoped that Blood of Asaheim would be. It wasn’t.

Blood of Asaheim isn’t tied to Battle of the Fang in any direct way. They are both novels about the Space Wolves Chapter, but where the previous novel is set 1,000 years after the Horus Heresy, Blood of Asaheim is set in the current 40k timeline, one where Ragnar Blackmane is the Wolf Lord of his own Great Company, as per the character’s history as set in the tabletop lore. Chris Wraight offers up several new characters and the premise itself is an interesting one, but unfortunately the execution turned out to be pretty flawed because it was essentially repetitive material.

Read the rest of this entry

The Cover Art Mega-Post Part 3

So this is the third such post I have done for the blog. I took a 2-month break in between posts so that I could have some more material to showcase here, and it certainly has helped. There were a lot more books I wanted to cover, but I chose to stick withe magic number 17, the number of books I’ve covered previously.

A lot of the books on this list are next year’s releases, and just as before, they all sound great, even some of the ones that are second or third (or else) in their respective series. I’m not sure if I can put aside the time to catch up to them any time soon but I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get around to some of them at least. We’ll see how that works out.

In the meantime, enjoy all these great covers and these books! Hope you liked the previous posts and that you’ll like this one as well.

Read the rest of this entry

Monthly Report: August and September 2013

So once again, these monthly reports are delayed big time. They are just so onerous to write that sometimes I just don’t care really. But I do them regardless because they happen to serve as a good check on my writing, especially when I lose track of things, as I am often wont to do, for no reason really.

I still can’t seem to find the right frame of mind to work on anything fictional, while my non-fiction work and my editorials continue apace. Its really weird. You can find the June/July Report here.

Read the rest of this entry

Comics Picks of the Week 18.09.2013

Once again, DC’s ongoing Villain’s Month meant that most of the comics I read this week were all focused on the various DC villains. There were some good ones, and some bad ones, as usual. I didn’t get around to reading anything other than DC all that much, just a couple of Marvel comics, a Top Cow comic, and something from IDW, after a long, long time, so that was kind of fun, especially since those were G.I.Joe comics, which I love and adore.

Once Villain’s Month ends, I should be back to reading some graphic novels, and I have a lot of them lined up, particularly a few Top Cow books that I’m really looking forward to reading. Fun times!!

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

Read the rest of this entry

G.I.Joe: Special Missions #1-3 by Chuck Dixon (Comics Review)

As a long-time fan of Marvel’s original run on G.I.Joe under Larry Hama, and the cartoon series that those comics spawned, I’ve had a really great experience with the various comics that IDW Publishing has been putting out of late. I found out about them last year in June, and I haven’t looked back since. I haven’t been able to catch up to all the comics as yet, and trust me, there are a fair few of them out there right now, but I certainly intend to do just that.

Recently, IDW did a reboot of sorts for their range of G.I.Joe comics, headlined by Fred Van Lente who is the ongoing writer for the excellent Archer & Armstrong series from Valiant Comics, and this reboot has led to at least two spin-offs, Special Missions by Chuck Dixon and Cobra Files by Mike Costa, both of whom have worked extensively on the previous runs of IDW’s G.I.Joe comics. I read the first three issues of Chuck’s Special Missions just an hour ago, and I find myself quite taken with the story.

Read the rest of this entry

Batman: The Dark Knight #23.3 by John Layman (Comics Review)

Its the third week of DC’s Villain’s Month and alongside The Flash, Batman: The Dark Knight is the only series so far that has had three consistent villainous one-shots. Gail Simone’s Ventriloquist was the first, followed by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s Mr. Freeze. And now we have John Layman’s Clayface. Fantastic stuff all around. Not all of Batman’s various villains have come out on top so far, especially not the ones I really expected to. So its a surprise for me when I ended up loving all these three issues so much.

I’ve recently started reading John’s run on Detective Comics, with the current arc that focuses on the villain Wrath, and I’ve been enjoying all these issues. He definitely gets the dark, moody tone of Batman comics and the setting, Gotham itself. He really excels at it. While Clayface is more of a humor piece, it is still quite dark and gothic. Interesting dichotomy right there.

Read the rest of this entry

The Flash #23.3 by Brian Buccellato (Comics Review)

Three weeks into DC’s Villain’s Month and I have to say that The Flash has come out on top so far with the best-written and best-drawn titles so far. Grodd was a fantastic issue that made me want to go back and read up on the Gorilla Warfare arc. Reverse-Flash was another oustanding issue that carried on the current arc, which I’m following, really, really well and ended on an awesome cliffhanger. And this week’s Rogues was a yet another excellent entry.

With each of these issues, writers Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato have given me innumerable reasons to catch-up on their entire arc for the New 52 version of the Scarlet Speedster. I’ve mentioned before that the first three issues of the run, which I read last year, didn’t hook me but that all the recent issues have and I really want to go back and read ’em all. Which would be a perfect thing to do since the second arc of the series deals with the Rogues and should prove to be excellent reading material.

Read the rest of this entry

Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells (Book Review)

Earlier this year, in January, I set myself a very particular reading challenge. The goal of this reading challenge was to read through 25 different SFF series (link), from across the genres and across times. To be specific, I wanted to read through at least 12 of these various series, to get a start on them. I hit that mark sometime in July, with Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy #1: The Assassin’s Apprentice (review). As of last month, I added another notch to that reading challenge by reading Jaye Wells’ first Sabina Kane novel, The Red-Headed Stepchild.

Throughout the year, I’ve read all sorts of novels, good, bad, decent, meh, everything. Fortunately, Jaye’s novel proved to be one of the better ones. Urban Fantasy wasn’t all that big a genre for me until late last year and since then I’ve had a lot of fun with the genre. For me, The Red-Headed Stepchild stands as one of the better examples of the genre, a really fun and interesting story throughout, with a hell of a lot things to recommend itself.

Read the rest of this entry