Show Me The Booksies

August 28th, 2008

Since a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been hearing more and more about Shomi books (Book Binge has had a Spotlight series on Shomi the past month). I had been meaning to blog about them for a while and then this contest came along, giving me the perfect opportunity to do so. All I have to do, is pimp the contest on my blog (check, done that) and show which Shomi books I’d like to read in the future. 


So what exactly are Shomi books? They’re a new line of speculative romance books from Dorchester, all not bound to the rules of our reality. Some of them are futuristic, some time-travel, some paranormal. It’s a great mix of a different kind of romance novel. So far there are 9 books out and two coming out in the next two months.

While they’re not all my cup of tea, some of the stories look great… and completely different to any previous romance books I’ve read. Here are a couple that grabbed my attention:

Countdown (Michelle Maddox)

A romance novel with a plot most similar to Cube and Saw? Interesting (sometimes I wish I could embed voices into this text. That ‘Interesting’ definitely had a mad Transylvanian scientist accent to it.) Set on a post-plague Earth, Kira Jordan is a thief with a wicked sense of humour. The book starts with her waking up, handcuffed to a wall in the dark. And she’s not alone. Chained to the opposite wall, is the convicted mass murderer, Rogan Ellis. With only 60 seconds to escape, Kira is forced to work with him, if she ever wants to make it out of there alive.

Moongazer (Marianne Mancusi)

I’m not completely sure what the setting of this book is. It seems to be a paranormal/other dimension type of story. Skye Brown is a normal girl in New York, with everything she wants: a cool job, a boyfriend, a great apartment. But at night she has weird dreams. Of a post-apocalyptic world with a bleak futuristic wasteland. In them, she’s not Skye, but Mariah Quinn, a Moongazer. It sounds kind of fun, right? Is it another world? Are they messages from the future? I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Phenomenal Girl 5 (A.J. Menden)

If it wasn’t for the Book Binge’s spotlight, I most probably would have ignored this book completely. Lainey is Phenomenal Girl 5, a superhero with great strength and the ability to fly. She’s just been made a member of the Elite Hands of Justice, but before she can go on active duty, she’ll have to complete her training with one of the toughest superheroes around: the Reincarnist. It sounds a bit cheesy, but after reading an excerpt Book Binge posted, I just knew I had to put this on my To Read list.

Check out the Shomi website to see all the books (and excerpts). If you want to read reviews about some of the books, the Book Binge blog has got some interesting ones.

Tags: Books

My reading patterns are way weirder than my TV/movie habits. Sometimes I’ll go days without picking up a book, other times I’ll be completely immersed, reading at every opportunity I can get (much to the delight of Cristiano who yesterday discovered me with a book in my hand while preparing dinner). I’m currently in one of those book devouring moods: I’ve finished three books in the past three days, two of which I actually started in these three days. I also tend to read multiple books at the same time, choosing the one that best fits my mood at that moment (right now I’m stuck in 5 different books).

I thought I’d share with you my thoughts on the books I’ve been reading the past months, doing a sort of mini review structure like what I did with the movies a couple of weeks ago. I’m going to try to do this more often; it’s a great way for me to keep track of which books I’ve been reading, plus I’d like to see what other people think of these books.

Belladonna (Anne Bishop)

While I loved the first part (Sebastian), this second and final book just fell a bit flat for me. I love Bishop’s world building and mythology (both The Black Jewels Trilogy and The Tir Alain Trilogy feature original and complex worlds) and Belladonna doesn’t disappoint in that area. The world of Ephemera is shattered and needs Landscapers and Bridges to connect and hold the pieces together. Glorianna Belladonna is the strongest Landscaper and has been prophesied to stop an ancient evil. I’m not sure why I didn’t like this book as much as the others; it somehow felt a bit more rushed and less thought-out than her previous books. [Anne Bishop’s Website]


Heart Dance (Robin D. Owens)

Heart Dance is the sixth book in the Celta Heart Mate series. It’s set on the planet of Celta, a place where Flaired (psychic) humans settled after fleeing Earth. Since then generations have passed, and the world of Celta has developed their own traditions and customs, all revolving around Flair (psychic ability/magic). Heart Dance is about the “courtship” between two Heartmates, soulmates destined for each other: Dufleur Thyme, a scholar, determined to clear her father’s name as a mad scientist, and Saille Willow, a Flaired matchmaker, spurned by his mother, who didn’t believe men could wield the matchmaking magics. I didn’t like this book as much as previous ones, but it’s a nice addition to the overall story line. [Robin D Owens’ Website]

Feast of Souls (Celia Friedman)

This is the first book in The Magister Trilogy, the first fantasy series from Celia Friedman (she has previously written SF works under CS Friedman). In this world magic is linked to your life force; witches can do magic, but with every spell they do they use a bit of their own life force, their own life, thus aging quicker and dying sooner. Magisters (male witches) though don’t have this problem, their magic supply is unlimited. Kamala, a witch, wants to become a Magister, even though there comes a terrible price in becoming one.

I was intrigued by way the magic works here. It comes with a way higher cost of using it than with other fantasy books and that makes it so much more interesting. Would you heal someone, knowing that because of it you’ll die sooner? I can’t wait till the next one comes out; I want to know how this continues! [Celia Friedman’s Website]

Vampire, Interrupted (Lynsay Sands)

The Argeneau Vampire Series is the funniest vampire romance series out there. Vampire, Interrupted is the ninth book and features the final Argeneau, Marguerite. Finally, after a couple of centuries, all of her children are married, so she’s decided to start a career as private investigator. Her first assignment is to help another immortal find his mother. It seems simple enough, but soon she finds someone wants to kill her. I loved this book! It’s one of those reads you just can’t put down and have to finish in one single setting. [Lynsay Sands’ Website] [Argeneau Series]

Kushiel’s Justice (Jacqueline Carey)

I don’t get why the Kushiel series is often classified under Erotica. Yes, you’ll find sex in the story, but way less (and less descriptive) than your standard romance book. Plus it isn’t the main plot of the book; it’s a real fantasy epic with political intrigue, battles and mysteries. I love these books; I think they may be my favourite fantasy series. Kushiel’s Justice is the second in the series about Phedre’s son Imriel (the fifth in the complete series; the first three Kushiel books were about Phedre). I always thought the Imri books would never be as good as the Phedre ones, but this one proves it’s worth. Bring on the next one! [Jacqueline Carey’s Website]

Lover Enshrined (J.R. Ward)

Yes, another vampire series (do you notice a trend?). What I like of this series though is the way the story is delivered. Most romance series revolve around the two main characters and only feature view points from those two main characters. Here it switches way more often and there’s a subplot through-out the whole series about newbie John (aka Tohrment). This book is about Phury, who is now the Primale in charge of the procreation of the Brotherhood bloodline. Again, not the best book in this series, but I’m looking forward to the next one. [JR Ward’s Website]

Acheron (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

This is the 20th story in Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series (14 novels, rest anthology/ebooks) and the most anticipated. The Dark-Hunter books are one of the best romance series I’ve read, interweaving vampire lore with Greek mythology (I’ll do a longer blog post of this whole series in the near future). Ever since the character of Acheron was first introduced as the leader of the Dark-Hunters (5 years ago in Night ), everybody has wanted to see his story. Fans have been wanting to know for ages what his mortal life was like and, of course, who he be paired up with. And it doesn’t disappoint.

The first half of this book is set in Ancient Greece (and Atlantis), chronicling Acheron’s life as a human; it’s darker and not as pleasant as Kenyon’s standard fair, but it’s all necessary to show us why Acheron has become the man he is. The second half of the book is set in our time and Kenyon is back to her normal self with a mouthy heroine, funny lines and (most of all) a great story. Highly recommendable, but if you haven’t read any of the series yet, I’d suggest you start at the beginning. [Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Website]

Guardian of Honor (Robin D. Owens)

I was already a fan of Owens’ Celta romance series (see above) and wanted to see how this series would be. It’s about Alexa, a human lawyer, who gets summoned to the world of Lladrana to fight in their war. I’m not completely convinced by the series yet, but I’ve heard the second one gets better. [Robin D Owens’ Website]

The Innocent Mage/The Awakened Mage (Karen Miller)

These two books revolve around the kingdom of Lur, a country inhabited by two races: the Doranan, a magical folk, who form the nobels and elite of the country, and the Olken, magicless commonfolk. Asher, is an Olken fisherman from a small coastal village, who moves to the main city to find his fortune, but gets involved into the politics between Olken and Doranen. 

I had heard a lot of good things about these books, but I wasn’t that impressed by them. I first thought it felt as if it should have been one book that was just split right in the middle into two books; the first book doesn’t really climax (only a minor cliffhanger), and there’s no build-up to what would make Asher the Awakened mage. After finishing the second book though you notice that it remains like that throughout the whole story; this was one of the worst endings I’ve ever read. Not so much in plot, but just the way it was delivered: no build-up, no emotional depth, no fun. [Karen Miller’s Website]

A couple of months ago I told you all about Joss Whedon’s during the strike created web show called Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Well, now it’s almost about to be launched!

Dr Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) is a super villain, just not that good a one. His arch nemesis Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion) keeps beating him up and he’s too shy to talk to the cute girl from the laundromat (Felicia Day). It’s a comedy and it’s a musical, so it’s going to be silly, funny and oh so sing-alongable.

I loved Buffy’s musical episode Once More With Feeling (I’m not ashamed to admit I know all the lyrics of those songs), so I have high hopes for Dr Horrible. The casting of Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion to me is just a great added bonus. Even if they weren’t in it I would have adored this, but with both of them it just makes it a bit more special. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, check it out:

Teaser from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog on Vimeo

The idea is to have three acts (episodes) of about 15 minutes debut online on in the next couple of days. Act 1 will be launched tomorrow (Tuesday July 15th), Act 2 on Thursday (July 17th) and Act 3 on Saturday (July 19th). All three acts will be available for free online till Sunday midnight (July 20th). After that they’ll be downloadable for a small fee and eventually also released on DVD.

There’s also a mini comic book story that serves as a preview called Captain Hammer: Be Like Me!. It’s not that important to the story, but it’s a great little extra marketing. I so hope this whole setup is going to work, but if there’s one guy out there who can make it happen it’s Joss Whedon. 

So don’t forgot! Tomorrow is the first installment of Dr Horrible. Will you come along to see evil take over the world?

Return To Labyrinth

June 19th, 2008

Because of a conversation this afternoon with londonfilmgeek on Twitter, I was reminded of the brilliance that is Labyrinth. This was one of my favourite films as a kid and it still remains one of my “rainy day” or “I’m sick and want chicken soup” movies. Sarah (Jennifer Connelly) is one of the first movie heroines I could identify myself with (it helped that I had a younger brother named Toby too) and the movie never fails to lift my spirits. And I love the Escher inspired hallways:

Labyrinth - Escher

So you’d think with a blog post title named ‘Return to Labyrinth’ I’d be reminiscing about the movie, going on about how much I loved it and adored it. Well, not exactly. You see, while browsing this afternoon for all things Labyrinth, I stumbled on… Return to Labyrinth. It’s an original English-language (OEL) manga based on Labyrinth. Set 13 years after the events of the movie, it centers around Toby, now a teenager, who Jareth the Goblin King still wants as the heir to his throne. The manga is supposed to be a four part series with the first two parts released in August 2006 and October 2007.

Return To Labyrinth - Cover

Why have I never heard of this? The first volume came out back in 2006. 2006! That’s almost 2 years ago! So why does nobody I know know about it (I’ve got some big Labyrinth fans friends)? Bad marketing or just a very bad story? I’m hoping it will be a great and worthy sequel, but if it isn’t we can always pretend it never existed (yes, Wachowski brothers, I am looking at you).

To make it better though, there’s also an online version, so you can start reading right away. I haven’t tried it out yet, so I’m not 100% sure that all of it is available, but from what I can tell it seems to be the whole thing. Three chapters are available; it’s about 60 pages from the 208. So far I’m really enjoying it and will order paperback. If you want the dead-tree version, you can get it at the TokyoPop store or Amazon.

Tags: Comics, Movies

Casting The Avengers

May 24th, 2008

After seeing Iron Man and the special tidbit after the end-credits, I decided to finally try and delve into the world of the comic book geek. One of the comics I picked up was The Ultimates: Volume 1 Super-Human, a re-imagining of the Marvel’s superhero team the Avengers. Why this comic? Because the Avengers movies coming out in 2010 and 2011 is rumoured to be based on it and for once I wanted to read the comic before seeing the movie.

The Ultimates: Superhuman

Since the announcement of these two movies a couple weeks ago, the rumours and fan speculations on the casting have began to increase. First, we heard Matthew McConaughey was in the running for Captain America. Then that Marvel wants Brad Pitt as Thor. The Empire Blog even has a list of potential Captain America candidates. On fan sites, the theories range from Paul Walker as Captain America and Maggie Q as Wasp to Dominic Purcell as Thor. The casting of this movie has got the geek crowd reeling and it’s fun watching everybody come up with their own ideas on who should play the parts.

The casting of three characters are set already: Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury. They haven’t actually confirmed yet that they will be in those movies, but I’m being the optimist here and believing they won’t pull out of it. By the way, I love that the artists used Sam Jac’s likeness in the comic (mind you, before the movie came out) and it’s perfect he agreed to playing the movie character.

Iron Man - Tony Stark

What nobody so far has mentioned though is that the characters in “The Ultimates” actually have a discussion about who should play them if there’s ever a movie! Here’s the dialogue:

Nick Fury: Hey, did you hear you’ve been optioned as a movie? Betty Ross was telling me they’re already in discussions with Brad Pitt about a three picture deal to play Captain America.

Captain America (Steve Rogers): Who’s Brad Pitt?

Giant-Man (Henry Pym): What, are you serious? My God. This might not be such a disaster after all, huh? Who do you think they could get to play you, Nick?

Nick Fury: Why, Mister Samuel L. Jackson, of course. That’s not even open to debate, Doctor Pym. And I’ll tell you the one guy who could do a convincing Tony Stark — From Hell’s Johnny Depp.

Wasp (Janet Pym): What? Depp’s too much of a pretty-boy. Stark’s a crazy kind of Howard Hughes character. I’d rather see someone with more of an eccentric range.

Nick Fury: Don’t underestimate Depp, Mrs. Pym. A lot of people tag him with that pretty-boy label, but he’s actually one of the most accomplished actors in Hollywood at the moment. Picture him doing Ed Wood in an Iron Man suit and you’ve got Tony Stark up there in celluloid, baby.

Giant-Man (Henry Pym): Yeah, I could see that. You know, you’ve actually got a real knack for this casting thing, Nick. Who do you think they could get to play me?

Nick Fury: Oh, that’s easy. Lantern-jawed Matthew McConoughey, of course.

Wasp (Janet Pym): What about me?

Nick Fury: Heck, who else but Miss Lucy Liu?

Wasp (Janet Pym): Oh, naturally. Even though she looks absolutely nothing like me, she’d be great because all Asian people are basically identical, right? Who’d be your back-up choice, General? Bruce Lee?

Captain America (Steve Rogers): Who’s Bruce Lee?

The characters then go on to make fun of Bruce Banner (the Hulk), claiming he could be played by “Woody Allen”, “the creepy, little kid from the Sixth Sense”, “Stuart Little” and “Steve Buscemi”. While I don’t think any of this casting will actually come to pass (besides the Samuel L. Jackson one of course), it’s still interesting to see this piece of dialogue.

Now a question for you, dear readers: who would you cast for these movies?

Tags: Comics, Movies

As a continuation on my previous post, I have a confession to make: I’m a comic book newbie. Rookie. Beginner. Call it what you want (not virgin though, cause I have read some comic books), but I’m really just starting out with comic books here. Or should I call them graphic novels? This is one geek lingo I’ve never taken the time to learn and I want to change that.

Comic Book Guy

I do know my superhero lore, but most of that comes from watching the cartoons as a kid and procrastinating reading up on Wikipedia. I’ve only recently (=3 years ago) “gotten into” comic books, but most of the stuff I’m reading is movie or TV related. On the one side those are the comics based on movie/TV shows; I’ve got the Heroes, Buffy and Serenity ones and want still want to get the Battlestar Galactica spin-offs. On the other side, I’m also reading the comics which are getting movie adaptations, like V For Vendetta and Sin City.


Truth though is I don’t want to read comics purely because of some movie. I want to read comics, because of the great stories being told. Now here’s where I need your help: Where the heck do I start?!? Take Batman and X-Men, for instance, I have no freaking idea which line I’m supposed to pick up. And then there are of course a million and one comics I most probably never have even heard of, which deserve to be read too. The pool of choices is just so large and I need some people to point out the best starting points. Faithful readers, help me please?

Tags: Books, Comics

Free Comic Book Day

May 2nd, 2008

I just found out that tomorrow today (I haven’t gone to bed yet, so for me it’s still “tomorrow”) on Saturday May 3rd is Free Comic Book Day. As the name indicates, it’s a day when participating comic books stores give away comics to anyone who comes to their stores. It depends on the store and their policy how many free comics you’re allowed to receive, but every visitor will receive at least one absolutely free comic book.

Free Comic Book Day is an annual event, held on the first Saturday of May. It started 7 years ago as a promotional effort by the North American comic book industry to help attract new readers to independent comic books stores. Typically major comic book book publishers will produce special edition comics aimed to attract non-comic book readers. For instance, past special editions included titles from Archie, Disney and Battlestar Galactica.

Broken Trinity Transformers HellBoy

This year’s FCBD has 41 titles to giveaway for free, as well as 2 miniature Star Wars and Iron Man figures (again it does depend on the store). If you want to see the full list of comics offered, check out the FCBD site. There are a couple of interesting looking comics, a number of which I could easily see non-comic book readers pick up*.

So people: check if your local comic book store is participating and if so, head on down to it and get your free comic books!

*Disclaimer: I am not a real comic book reader… yet. See my next post.

We Tell Stories

March 30th, 2008

I linked to this project about a week ago, but We Tell Stories is interesting enough to dedicate a complete post to it. The idea of We Tell Stories is to tell Six Stories by Six Authors in Six Weeks inspired by Six Classics, with each story using a unique presentation form. It’s created by Six to Start in partnership with Penguin Books and at the end of the six weeks there will be a contest to win 1300 (!!) Penguin Classics.

The first story The 21 Steps came out two weeks ago and is written by Charles Cumming. It’s inspired by The 39 Steps, but you haven’t had to read that to understand this story. The story is told through Google Maps, showing the places the character goes to and giving the reader the ability to follow his journey.

We Tell Stories - The 39 Steps

The second story came out this week and is called Slice. It’s written by Toby Litt and is inspired by The Haunted Dolls’ House. It’s about a girl named Lisa, nicknamed Slice, who had moved to London with her parents to separate her from bad influences. Her story is told through her blog, her parents blog and their Twitter feeds (Slice and her parents).

The next four stories will each be coming out in the next four weeks and I’m curious to see what type of form these will be in. So far it’s been interesting to see these different type of methods of storytelling and it gives the stories a whole other perspective.

We Tell Stories - Slice

Besides the six features stories though, there is a cleverly hidden seventh story with more ARG elements, inspired (of course) by Alice in Wonderland. The first clue that there was a seventh story is through this blurb when you sign up for the Google Group:

Over six weeks, six authors will write six stories designed for the internet, from Booker-shortlisted Mohsin Hamid to prize-winning Naomi Alderman and bestselling thriller authors Nicci French.

The six authors featured on the We Tell Stories site are: Charles Cumming, Toby Litt, Kevin Brooks, Nicci French, Matt Mason and Mohsin Hamid. So what story was Naomi Alderman working on? It’s also interesting to know that Alderman was the lead writer for Perplex City, a previous ARG the founders of Six to Start were involved in.

If you want to catch up on the seventh story, check out this forum. A lot has happened already, but I don’t think it’s too late to join all the fun. I know I’m going to try and figure it out! Let me know if you’re playing too; it’s always good to join forces.

Tags: Books, Games

My Favourite Geeky Web Comics

February 4th, 2008

Until about a year ago, I didn’t really have a daily morning ritual. I wasn’t so addicted to my computer that I had to check it the moment I woke up. At the time I didn’t even follow any blogs or other news sources. Since I got a laptop though that kind of changed. My laptop is with hand’s reach of my bed and every morning I sit at least half an hour in bed, slowly waking up and reading all the items in my news reader. Among those items are a great collection of geeky web comics. I’ll share with you a couple of my favourites.


Every geek should read xkcd; it’s a weird mix of humor, math, romance and language.



Geek and Poke

Cute comic with some great humor on blogging, Twitter and other “social media”.

Geek and Poke


Surprisingly it’s not always Apple related.

Apple Geeks


I mainly like the cat and dog comics here. The rest can be funny at times, but the cat and dog are always hilarious.


Real Life Comics

Funny comic about a geeky couple, Greg and Liz.

Real Life Comics

PHD Comics

While I’m not doing a PHD, I am still trying to finish my master’s and this comic sometimes captures exactly how I’m feeling.

PHD Comics


Tags: Comics, Geeky

Welcome to this new recurring topic PageTurner, where I will be reviewing books (and in some cases book series). I mainly read fantasy, preferably with a touch of romance (in other words some love plot, but not too gooey and corny) and a well defined world and mythology. First up is The Runelords Series by David Farland [Official Website].

The complete series is supposed to be ten books long with the first four books forming the story of the Earth King, Gaborn, and the remaining six books about his son, Fallion. The sixth book has just come out in hardcover and I read the fifth book last month, but I’ll be only covering the first four books here. The plot and characters are significantly different, so it’s better to split it up. In the future though I will review the newer books; I just don’t want to start with my reviews in the middle of a series.

The Plot

The series begins with Gaborn Val Orden, a young Runelord and a prince of Mystarria, seeking the hand of Princess Iome Sylvarresta, the daughter of the King of Heredon. Both nations are part of the kingdom of Rofehaven, a peaceful medieval-like land. While traveling from Mystarria to Heredon, the prince’s party learns that Raj Ahten, the most powerful Runelord in existence, is leading his army into Heredon, his first step of invading all of Rofehaven. Raj Ahten has already conquered all the nations of the neighbouring Indhopal and Gaborn realizes he must be stopped at all costs. Along the way though, Gaborn and his companions find out that Raj Ahten is not the only threat – their world is threatened by a race of resilient subterranean creatures: the Reavers.

The World

The Runelords contains one of the most original and creative forms of magic and powers I’ve ever seen. Everything is based on “endowments”, a magical transfer of a sense or an attribute from one person to another. The transferred sense or skill is amplified in the receiver, the Runelord, while the giver, the Dedicate, looses it completely until the death of one or the other. For instance, if someone gave you an endowment of sight, you would be able to see twice as far, but you would leave the other person blind. If that person dies though, you loose the double sight. If you die, the Dedicate receives his sight back again.

The transfer is done through a magical ritual of branding, leaving runes on the skin (hence the name Runelords). Besides sight, endowments can be given for voice, smell, hearing, touch, brawn, grace, stamina, wit, metabolism and glamour. The weirdest is metabolism which slows down the world for the receiver, granting him increased physical speed. It also reduces your lifespan though, cause you’re living your life twice as fast.

Most kings and warriors in this world are Runelords, all receiving their strengths from Dedicates. This creates a complete new type of context for ethics, social hierarchy and battle strategy, producing a wonderful different world.

The Verdict

These books can not be missed from any fantasy lover’s library. Besides a refreshing original world, the story flows smoothly from one chapter till the next. The characters are likable and you can easily imagine yourself reacting the same way in some situations they are in. This was one of those book series I couldn’t put down, reading all four books in one weekend. At the time though I thought that the fourth book was the end of the series. Thinking this, the last book felt very incomplete. Farland raises certain questions and at the end of the fourth book they are still not answered. Knowing though that these four books are only the start and that the world will be revisited in subsequent books, I am sure these loose ends will be tied up in the future. All in all, it’s a great read that can’t be missed.


Take a look at the books on Amazon: