Review and Author Spotlight and GIVEAWAY!: Ghost Hand…

6

Morning all! Today I have a YA paranormal for you with a *gasp!* original premise! (Sorry, cynical Bruce came out for a moment there. I’ll stuff him back into an out-of-the-way cupboard in my psyche.  That’s what happens when you let too many emotions out at once!).  Now, what was I saying? Oh yes, Ghost Hand by Ripley Patton, was published in 2012 and not only do I have a review for you today, but I also cajoled Ripley Patton into answering some questions about the book for your continued book-related intellectual growth.  And even better than that, Ripley has kindly offered to give away a SIGNED paperback copy of Ghost Hand to one lucky winner…in the US. (Sorry, Non-US-dwellers. But read on anyway to find out about a great book and author, and a sneaky special offer!)

I first came across Ghost Hand when it was released in 2012 and immediately put it on my to-read list. The premise struck me as sufficiently different from other YA fare around at the time, and I couldn’t help but have a giggle at the thought of having a ghostly hand that had a mind of its own. I remember thinking at the time that the premise could either be executed with great skill, thereby drawing me in and ensuring the suspension of my disbelief, or executed with great clumsiness, thereby drawing me in and ensuring the suspension of my bladder through laughing at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

I am pleased to say that Patton has achieved the former with this book for me. But allow me to give you a brief overview of the story.

Olivia has PSS – that’s Psyche Sans Soma to you and me – a rare medical condition which means that instead of a flesh and blood hand, Olivia has a hand-shaped pocket of energy attached to her wrist. Up until now, Olivia’s biggest problems have been trying to fit in amongst her peers with her ghost hand, and dealing with her father’s recent death from cancer. When Olivia’s hand suddenly takes on a life of its own at school, reaching into a classmate and causing her to fall unconscious, things begin to spiral out of control. Along with mysterious new boy Marcus, Olivia discovers that there may be others out there interested in what her hand can do – and they’ll do anything to bring Olivia under their control…

ghost hand

Ghost Hand is a thoroughly enjoyable, action-packed, suspense-filled ride from start to finish. Patton had me hooked straight away with Olivia’s down-to-earth (and slightly sarky) narration. The weird ghost-hand action starts in the first chapter and despite experiencing a few periodic giggles at the oddity of having a ghost body part, I was pretty much able to suspend my belief right from the word go. The world building has been nicely accomplished by giving out information about PSS and the political rumblings behind it slowly, with the reader finding out essential information as Olivia does. The interactions between the characters are believable, and while this book does have some teen romance (Bruce’s pet peeve #1), it didn’t detract from the story because it unfolded in a natural, guarded way and was never the main focus of either of the two characters’ attentions.

I was also very impressed by the suspense that Patton has generated here. There is a lot of chasing/running away going on in this book and Patton has managed to imbue a real sense of danger and fear into the action. I also appreciated that the story didn’t resort to wildly unbelievable actions by the teens – when they are forced to defend themselves, they behave with all the misfires and mistakes that one would expect from a young person untrained in reconnaissance and combat. Overall, this was a great read and I’m glad I got around to it, albeit a little late. That’s why we have TBR lists, I suppose! Book two of the series, Ghost Hold, was released in 2013, so on to the list it goes.

Now it’s time for you to find out more about the brains behind this enticing series! Read on to discover Ripley’s answers to our deeply probing questions, and then enter the giveaway at the end.

PSS is such an interesting concept – where did that idea spring from?

The idea for PSS came from an actual medical phenomenon known as Phantom Limb Syndrome in which people who are amputees or were born without a limb can still feel or sense the physical presence of that missing limb. I have a friend who is an amputee, and one day when I was visiting him and we were walking in his back yard, he said, “You know, I can still feel the grass between my toes on the foot that I don’t have. And sometimes I still get a cramp in the middle of the night in the leg that I don’t have.” This was such a fascinating concept to me that I asked myself “What if these phantom limbs really existed? What would they look like and act like? What power would they hold? And how would society react to those who possessed them.” That is how PSS came into being. But at first I didn’t have a name for it. A nurse friend of mine came up with the term Psyche Sans Soma which loosely translated from Greek means”Life without flesh.” And I guess I did a good job of making it a convincing birth defect because readers often tell me that they stop mid-read to go look it up on the internet to find out more about it.

If you had to have a PSS part, which do you think would be the most useful?

I think a PSS hand would be pretty handy. But I also think that a major point of the books is that no one gets to choose a birth defect or the physical challenges and characteristics they are born with. And all the extreme politicking and curfuffle made about such things is really pointless and causes a lot of unneeded agony. All that aside, it is fun to discover what PSS parts the characters have in the books, and what those parts can do.

The YA market is certainly booming at the moment, especially in the paranormal genre – how difficult (or easy!) did you find it to get your idea considered for publication?

I don’t think it is ever easy to get your book considered for publication. The process is made difficult on purpose. I had a New York City agent interested in GHOST HAND early on, but by the time I had the manuscript finished, she’d left the business. I then shopped it around for about six months and it was read by several major agencies but not accepted. Ultimately, I decided to publish the book myself and I’ve published the entire series that way. I raise an advance by offering pre-orders of the books through Kickstarter. In fact, I’m just finishing up a Kickstarter Project this month for the third book in the series, GHOST HEART. Then, using the pre-order funds, I hire a professional cover designer, editor, and formatter and prepare the book for publication. And those who back the project get their e-book and signed paperback copies of the book before the general public.

So what’s next for Olivia and her crew? What can we expect from PSS #3 (or #2 for those of us who haven’t read it yet!)?

Well, in general and without risking spoiling anything, I can promise that things get harder. A writer’s job is to make their characters miserable, I’m afraid. Of course, there is more exploration of what PSS is and how it works. There is more delving into the main characters and what makes them tick. The romance between Marcus and Olivia has a bumpy ride, but what is real love without some struggle? There is a cliff hanger at the end of book two, literally. In book three, GHOST HEART, I explore the point-of-views of two main characters besides Olivia, one of them being Passion. Finally, I think you can look forward to Olivia coming into her own and embracing the power of herself and her hand.

Have you got any other projects on the boil, or anything we should keep an eye out for in the future?

If you haven’t heard, I believe there will be a fourth PSS Chronicles book, though I expect it to be the last. The plan after that is to write another YA series, dystopian fantasy this time. The concept for it is really unique and based on yet another bizarre medical phenomenon. That series is the one my kids, both teens themselves, talk about wanting to read the most so I’ll write it for them. I love series and I love to read YA, so why not write the stories I want to read myself?

 

Why not indeed! I’m quite astounded that no publisher was prepared to pick up such an original, readable book. Ripley mentioned the Kickstarter project that she has running to get book three in the PSS Chronicles published.  If you’d like to help out and make this book a reality, you can find out more at this link here.

Also, if you want to read Ghost Hand, now’s the time because it is available for FREE on Amazon and Kobo RIGHT NOW! But not for much longer. So after you enter the giveaway, run over there and download it. Shoo!

 

So now the giveaway. Here’s the details:

* One winner will receive a signed paperback copy of Ghost Hand.  The giveaway is only open to those with a United States mailing address.

* The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and have 48 hours to respond to a congratulatory email before a new winner is chosen.

*We won’t be held responsible for any packages lost in the mail or otherwise undeliverable. Sorry.

*Only verified entries will count. We’ll check. So be honest.

click to enter button

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Until next time,

Bruce

 

twitter button Follow on Bloglovin Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

 

//

ARC Read-it-if Review: Oblivion…

3

Morning all! Today’s offering is a new release YA contemporary that has a bit of crazy, a bit of amnesia and a bit of romance bundled into a chunky bit of story.  I speak, of course, of Oblivion by Sasha Dawn.  I received a digital copy of this title from Netgalley via the publisher in return for an honest review – thanks!

In Oblivion we meet Callie (short for Calliope), a teen girl with an odd little problem.  Callie has been diagnosed with graphomania, an involuntary compulsion to write, since she was found alone in an abandoned apartment feverishly scrawling the words “I killed him” all over the walls, the floor and herself.  Callie also has no memory of the night she was found or the time immediately before it, and this poses something of a problem for her, as well as others, because her memories of that time may just solve the mystery of the disappearance of her father and a young girl, Hannah, who have been missing since then.  With her mother in a psychiatric hospital and Callie living with a foster family, she’s having a tough time trying to fit in at her new school and keep a hold over her compulsion to write.  As the anniversary of the disappearances comes closer, Callie begins to remember more and more about the events leading up to her inital episode and all memories seem to point to some very sinister happenings.  With the support of new beau John, old beau Elijah and nearly-real sister Lindsey, Callie will have to face some very difficult times if she is to uncover the mystery of why she writes.

oblivion

Read it if:

* you like a book that has plenty of plot and a slow reveal to keep you wanting more

* you’re a fan of romance and love polygons in your YA fiction

* you can’t go past a sinister mystery involving amnesia, flashbacks and the masterful wielding of a red ball point pen

Okay, let me start with what I didn’t like about Oblivion.  Regular readers of this blog will know that I can not accurately be described as a fan of romance in YA.  This book had a lot of romance.  And insta-love.  And not so much a love triangle as a love rectangle (or square. Or possibly a rhombus).  Now, I don’t mind a bit of romance if it’s integral to the plot or it’s a bit quirky or it serves some other essential service in the story.  The romance elements in this book did none of those.  And they took up a lot of the book.  Along with the romance bits were a lot of normal-teen-problem bits with Callie’s group of friends drinking and engaging in random sexual activities.  And then there was even a bit about a big school dance.  I really couldn’t see the point of any of these bits, or the enormous amount of ink spent on them and in a book this long (and boy was it long!) dispensible plot points are just plain irritating and grounds for not finishing the book.

If I had not been in a situation in which I was largely immobile for about three hours, I probably would have abandoned the book because of the excessive length caused by random stuff that just didn’t need to be included.  As it was, I actually read this book in one sitting (which probably exacerbated the annoyances I felt about excessive length caused by random stuff that didn’t need to be included).

The other thing I really didn’t like about this book (and this might just be a personal quirk, so feel free to scoff at this criticism if you like) but the young male psychiatrist that Callie visits regarding her graphomania seems to me to sail very close to the wind of impropriety and unacknowledged counter-transference.  No actual immapropriate behaviour is mentioned, but there’s definitely something a tad unprofessional going on there.  As I said, this may be a personal quirk, but it seems that in lots of YA, psychiatrists are either portrayed as woefully ineffective and patronising, or just a little bit too interested in their patients (if you know what I mean *wink*) and this is a personal pet peeve.

Let us imagine however, that by some judicious stroke of luck, a copy of this book sans romantic bits and general teen fluff happened to land on my shelf.  If this were the case, I would give this book five stars.  If I discount the bits that I felt dragged the plot back, there’s not much to complain about with Oblivion.  In fact, it’s really rather good.  The premise is exciting and original, the mystery is complex and twisty and there’s lots of different elements – Callie’s mother, her flashbacks, where the girl Hannah fits in – that are woven together to form a very well-formed narrative.  It was interesting finding out about Callie’s graphomania and the circumstances in which it manifested.  It was fun trying to piece together Callie’s fragments of memory to try and solve the puzzle before the end of the story.  There were some really tricky red-herrings thrown in that added an extra layer to the puzzle of why Callie’s mother was locked away.

So overall, I did enjoy this book and there was plenty in it to keep me turning pages.  If, like me, you aren’t a fan of the (in my opinion) completely irrelevant romance and love polygon sections I would suggest skipping them as they come up, because it would be a shame to miss out on the intriguing mystery elements that Dawn has created here because of a bit of irritating filler material.

Oblivion is released on May 27th 2014.

Until next time,

Bruce

twitter button Follow on Bloglovin Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

//

Fiction in 50 May Challenge: What Comes After…

18

fiction in 50

It’s that time again! This month’s Fiction in 50 prompt is…

what comes after button

…so create those mini-narratives in 50 words or less and link them up to the linky below, or leave the link or your finished work in the comments.  If you’d like a more detailed description of the task, just click on that attractive button at the start of this post. Here’s this month’s linky:

And here’s my contribution – I’ve titled it….

Unremembered

They brought her out here often enough, though they knew it made no difference to her where she was. Sitting under the tree her fingers played over deep cuts in the bark.

G. K + T. M

A blink-and-you’ll-miss-it spark lit up her cloudy eyes.

And then it was gone.

 

Your turn! 

The prompt for June is…

 

upper hand button

This is the final prompt for this set of six months, so it’s your last chance to suggest a prompt for our next set of six monthly challenges.  Just pop your suggestions in the comments and I’ll do my best to squeeze them in.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

twitter button Follow on Bloglovin Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

//

Read-it-if Review: Blur … and a Fi50 reminder!

7

image

Afternoon all! Today I have a murder-mystery-paranormal-YA new release for you and a reminder for all the dauntless creators of teeny-tiny narrative.  So without further faffing about, let me remind those who would like to participate in this month’s Fiction in 50 challenge that the prompt for May is…..

what comes after button

To join in, simply create a piece of fiction in 50 words or less and link it up to the linky in my post on Monday.  We always welcome new players (with a no hazing policy too – bonus!) and veteran challengees alike.  If you’d like to know more about the challenge just click on the attractive image at the top of the post.  Also, we’re coming up to the end of the prompts for this six-month period, so if anyone has suggestions for prompts for the second half of the year, let me know and I’ll try to include them.

Now on to the review!  I received a digital copy of this title from the publishers via Netgalley – thanks!

Today’s tome is Blur by Steven James, a paranormal murder mystery for the YA market.  In Blur, we are introduced to Daniel Byers as he and father are attending the funeral of a girl from Daniel’s school.  Daniel didn’t know Emily Jackson very well – nor, it seemed, did anybody from Beldon High School – but he and his father think it only right that they attend Emily’s funeral, after she was found dead following an accidental drowning in the local lake.  While viewing Emily’s casket, Daniel has a terrifying vision in which Emily’s corpse comes to life and instructs him to find her glasses.  When Emily’s ghost appears to Daniel again later on, during an important football game, Daniel thinks he may just be going crazy, but tries to comply with Emily’s wishes.  As Daniel delves deeper into the circumstances surrounding Emily’s death, he, his friends Kyle and Nicole and maybe-love-interest Stacey, uncover some clues that may point to Emily’s drowning being murder.  But who would want to murder a girl that nobody really took any notice of?  And are the visions that Daniel is having all just in his head?

blur

Read it if:

* you think murder just isn’t murder unless it produces a good old-fashioned haunting in its wake

* you know something about, or care about, or enjoy reading about, American football

* you like a murder mystery in which it is nigh on impossible to guess the murderer before s/he is revealed in the course of the story

So….you know how a week or two ago I was waxing lyrical on how there should be more murder mysteries written for this age group? Well…I’m kind of rethinking that pronouncement after reading this one.  Normally, as regular readers of my musings will know, I love a good paranormal and I love a good murder mystery, so all signs pointed to me thoroughly enjoying this book, but my overall impression is one of a narrative that was trying too hard to be all things to all people. Allow me to explain.

There’s not a lot to complain about regarding the actual story itself – it’s readable, the story flows reasonably well and there are a few good red herrings dotted about to lure the reader astray.  If this was just a plain murder mystery, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.  Where I feel it fell down was in the paranormal elements.  Now, I can’t say too much about certain bits of the paranormal stuff because it would lead to spoilers, but essentially I felt that Daniel’s visions (and his Rainman-esque ability to solve mathematical problems in a split-second) didn’t really fill any meaningful purpose in the story.  In all honesty, the same story could have been told using a different plot device to engage Daniel and his friends in Emily’s murder investigation, without having to resort to paranormal stuff that seemed tacked on.

Similarly, there is a bully character in the story who hangs out with a pair of cronies and generally appears to hassle Daniel at key points in the narrative.  Again, I couldn’t figure out why they were necessary.  Did James just put them in because every school needs a bully? I’m not sure.  But their appearances could easily have been dropped from the book with very little change occuring in the overall narrative flow.

Finally, I had a real problem with the ending of this story.  From my point of view, a GOOD murder mystery allows the reader to think that they’ve solved the mystery just before the reveal, before having the story turned on its head in a clever and unpredictable fashion, thereby offering a warm feeling of satisfaction in the author’s skill at wiley trickery.  Unfortunately, in Blur, this warm feeling of satisfaction is denied the reader (or at least it was for me) because there is no possible way that the killer could have been guessed beforehand.  You know why?

**And this is a tiny little SPOILER, so don’t read the next bit if you don’t want to know about it…just skip ahead to the next paragraph**  I’m glad you asked.  The killer could not have been guessed because s/he was barely mentioned in the preceding couple of hundred pages.  In fact, I had to read the reveal a few times to get it, because I was going, “Who? Where does s/he come into it??”  So instead of a warm feeling of satisfaction at the author’s wiley tricksiness, I was left scratching my head and thinking, “Well that was unexpected. And fairly stupid.”  So after the reveal I spent a bit of time pondering why James would have selected a killer that essentially had no motive for a crime that took an enormous amount of effort to engineer.  And I came up empty.  Disappointing really.

**SPOILERY BIT OVER**

I realise, after looking at reviews over at Goodreads that I’m fairly well in the minority here, given that most other readers seem to have loved this book, but I’m afraid it just didn’t cut it for me and I won’t be seeking out the next books in the trilogy.  To be perfectly honest, what tipped me right over the edge was an adult character’s use of the word “addicting” close to the end of the book.  I think, silly character, the word you are looking for is “addictive”.  I can tell you that as I was already slightly irritated by the shonky reveal, having a character unnecessarily verbing an adjective (as dictionary cat would say) was like being unexpectedly poked in the eye with a sharp stick.

Once again, plenty of others have greatly enjoyed this book, so don’t let my whinging put you off.  If you like murder mysteries with a ghostly twist, this could appeal to you.  Blur is due for release on May 27th.

OH! A favour please, my American readers: What on earth is a “Homecoming” game and why is it so important?  I have never bothered to question this event before, but now my curiosity has arisen.  Where are the students/teams/school supposed to have been, to warrant a homecoming? And why do you select monarchs of homecoming, when you are so staunchly proud of your independence?  Thank you in advance for this cultural education.

Until next time,

Bruce

Follow on Bloglovin

my read shelf:
Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

//

Adult Fiction Read-It-If Review: The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix…

4

Cheerio lads and lasses! Today I’ve got a very different reading experience to share with you – a sort of fictional/memoir/murder mystery/magical realism mash-up.  It’s The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix by Paul Sussman.  I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley – thanks!

In this book we are introduced to the reasonably unlikeable Raphael Ignatius Phoenix (he of the initials R.I.P.), as begins a suicide note of truly monumental proportions.  You see, Raphael, at the age of almost-100 years, has decided that he has lived enough of this crazy journey called life, but before he goes, he wishes to regale us with the story of his life.  And quite a life it is too, for Raphael is a murderer, many times over.  He has bumped off irritating people from all walks of life and from all areas of his acquaintance.  And it is by this dubious achievement that he wishes to be remembered.  Alongside the stories of Raphael’s multiple murders is the story of his repeated, yet fleeting, interactions with his best friend (and only love) from childhood, Emily.   So let us join Raphael as he recounts his life’s adventures and attempts to take the gold medal for longest/largest/most elaborate suicide note ever written…provided he doesn’t run out of pens, of course.

final testimony raphaelRead it if:

* you can easily alight upon one or more person of your acquaintance that you could have happily bumped off, for each decade of your life so far

* you believe the penalty for being an irritating git should be death

* you could think of nothing more wickedly delightful than an attempt to turn twins, who are devoted to each other, against one other

* you are a fan of the tall tale

Let me be honest.  I found this book hard going.  The blurb held such promise.  I was intrigued to find out about multiple murders of the title character and was all set to enjoy the light-hearted manner in which they were recounted.  Unfortunately, the title character is a bit of an irritating git himself, so while I did enjoy the light-hearted tone and dry wit of the first few chapters, my interest started to wane after a bit.

Essentially, this book is divided into chapters with one murder (and usually one decade of Raphael’s life) explained in each chapter.  As I mentioned the early chapters – and particularly the recount of the first murder, the unfortunate Mrs Bunshop (if that is her real name) grabbed my attention and had me eagerly flipping pages.  But after repeated chapters of the same sort of format, it started to seem more difficult than it needed to be to wade through Raphael’s memoirs.  The very first line of the novel is this:

“This is going to be the longest suicide note in history.”

Well, he wasn’t lying there, so I suppose I can’t really complain that I hadn’t been warned about what lay ahead…but this book really felt looooooooong.  In between the murders, wherein many of the interesting bits lay, are long soliloquays about the actual writing of the note – the wheres, the hows, the difficulties, the successes.  To be perfectly honest, there’s only so many pages one can read about the anxiety that arises regarding the liklihood of running out of pens.

Despite my whinging, I didn’t completely hate this book.  It was just okay.  The chapter describing Raphael’s murder of the Albino Twins (yes, you read that correctly) had me compelled to find out how it would end.  I can honestly say it was the best chapter featuring Albino Twins and their cuddly toys that I have ever read.  And I mean that in a genuine, complimentary way.  The ending was also, if not a high point, something completely unexpected and had me considering what light it might throw on the preceding events.  (For interest’s sake, I decided that the ending came too far out of left field to really add much to the book.  Pessimistic, I know).

When all is said and done, I just think I was expecting something different from what this book turned out to be.  I suspect that there will be people that really love the book for its original premise and the cheeky nonchalance of Raphael, but it ended up being too much like hard work for me to really say I enjoyed it.

The Final Testimony of Raphael Ignatius Phoenix is due for release on May 22nd.

Until next time,

Bruce

 

 

ARC Read-it-if Review: The Night Gardener…

21

Welcome to the Shelfdom, one and all.  Prepare yourselves for I have for you today a book that is 1 part charming and 3 parts creepy – it’s the new release middle grade spook-fest that is The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier.  Auxier is the author of the very successful YA title Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes and I was very interested to see what this new outing would be like, given that it was described as a traditional Victorian horror story.  I received a digital copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley – thanks!

In The Night Gardener, we are introduced to Molly and Kip, two almost-orphans from Ireland, as they attempt to make their way to Windsor manor to work as servants.  On their way there, they hear rumours of things that are not quite right with the manor house and on arrival, discover that on all accounts, things aren’t quite right with the family either.  The Windsors seem pale and sickly, and even stranger, an enormous tree appears to be growing from within the very house itself.  After Kip sees a shadowy, sinister figure in the fog, Molly hears footsteps in the house during the night, and the family continually have terrible nightmares, it becomes clear that something very odd and dangerous is afoot at Windsor manor.  Can Molly and Kip stand their ground against the looming threat or will they be chased out of the best home they’ve known since they left Ireland?

The Night Gardener

Read it if:

* you enjoy a spot of gardening to reconnect with nature. At night. In the middle of the woods. While wearing a top hat cocked at a jaunty yet sinister angle.

* you love a book which has stories within stories…and stories within malevolent trees.

* you know EXACTLY what you would wish for if the opportunity for wish-granting arose in an unexpected yet remarkably convenient location

* you’ve ever justified embellishing the truth to save the feelings of another

As soon as I saw the cover of this one I knew I had to acquire it.   Luckily, the eerie oddness promised by the cover was delivered by the creepy, atmospheric and engaging tale told behind it.  Auxier has created a classic take on the atmospheric Victorian horror genre with gently flawed characters, settings that are at once familiar and strange, and twists and turns that give life to some very suspicious villains indeed.  Molly is the very definition of a plucky, headstrong young Irish big sister, while Kip soldiers on with “Courage” despite his own hardships.  The Windsor family play their respective roles just how one would expect, and wise old storyteller Hester Kettle provides just the sort of guidance that Molly needs to create a fitting ending to her own story.

The Night Gardener himself is a remarkably frightening character, given that he has no dialogue at all.  Auxier’s villainous, loping creation, along with its brooding, timber counterpart is original and definitely the right sort of tinder to kindle a few nightmares amongst younger readers.  The author has done a fantastic job with pacing in this novel, as it shifts between practical problems facing the Windsors and young Molly and Kip, and the more supernatural issues arising from the prowling Night Gardener.  While the supernatural interludes set off that tingling spine, the story always moves on to more comforting waters, so it is a great pick for those who like to experience their fear vicariously, in manageable chunks.

The best thing about this book is that it’s more than a story about a supernatural terror – it touches on family relationships, the motives for our less-than-honourable actions, and ways in which we can alter our own stories to be whatever character we need to be.  I would highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of books with a reasonable factor of creepiness, and is looking for a story with a unique supernatural villain.

The Night Gardener is released on May 20th, 2014.

Until next time, don’t trust an indoor plant, whatever it tells you…

Bruce

Follow on Bloglovin

my read shelf:
Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

ARC Haiku Review: Emily and the Strangers (The Battle of the Bands)

4

The goodest of evenings to you word-lovers! It’s Mad Martha with you for another haiku review.  Today’s offering is a graphic novel featuring that odd yet loveable teen roguette, Emily Strange in Emily and the Strangers: The Battle of the Bands by Rob Reger, Mariah Huehner and Emily Ivie.  I received a digital edition of this graphic novel (though I wish it had been print!) from Dark Horse Comics via Netgalley – thanks!

Now, having admired Emily from afar for a good long while (on account of us having a similarly strange outlook on life) I eventually took the plunge and read all of the novels in which she features.  This, however, is my first foray into her adventures in graphic novel form, and I gotta tell ya – I’ve been missing out.

In Emily and the Strangers (Volume One), the lady of the strange enters a song contest to win the guitar of the late, great Professor Kraken.  In order to claim full possession of the prize though, Emily must form a band and compete in a Battle of the Bands contest.  Can the ultimate mistress of going it alone manage to  …*shudder*…play well with others…and win the object of her heart’s desire? Or will her cats wind themselves around her feet at the last moment, tripping up any dreams of rock goddess greatness?

emily and the strangers cover

Krakenish Guru

wields tentacular guitar

Can Strange measure up?

One thing that is almost synonymous with Emily Strange is awesome and complicated artwork.  I really think I’ve been missing out in just reading the Emily novels because while there is a lot of incidental artwork in those books, the graphic novel is really where it’s at for this character and her adventures.  Really, the art is eye-poppingly good.  Have a look at an example from inside:

emily_and_strangers_brain_1

Check out the complexity! Appreciate the ingenius design! Notice the wallpaperish background! It’s just fantastic.  I’ve often found while browsing graphic novels that sometimes I have to stop because there’s too much visual information on the page.  I found the same with this one, but it was a good feeling.  After reading the story, I went back and spent some time really appreciating the art because it is so worth having a second look at.  Another great feature is the collection of initial concept designs at the back of the novel that give the reader an idea about how the artistic decisions progressed over the course of the novel’s production.  There are also some alternative poster designs for the Emily and the Strangers band.

As usual with graphic novels, I wished the story was longer, but that’s just the format.  Unlike most of my forays into graphic novels, I actually felt pretty satisfied with the amount of story that was presented here.  I was also reminded how accessible and relevant to the target age bracket the stories are.  One wouldn’t necessarily think it to look at the character, but while there’s always some edgy stuff going down, there’s nothing here that’s really shocking or violent or unpleasant, so it does make for a fun and quirky quick read.  And even the swearing is psuedo-swearing (and therefore particularly amusing and repeatable – you zorking flabberfarks!).  I’d highly recommend sharing this with any young folk of your acquaintance who are happy to have a go at reading in a different format, who enjoy a strong, smart and strange female protagonist and who love a nice bit of eyeball stimulating artwork – you (and your young person) will not be disappointed!

I will certainly be adding Volume 2 to my TBR list. Emily and the Strangers: The Battle of the Bands is due for publication on May 27th.

Cheerio my fellow oddbods!

Mad Martha

Follow on Bloglovin

my read shelf:
Bruce Gargoyle's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

TumblrButton