Friday, February 5, 2016

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant

San Diego 2014: The Last Stand of the California Browncoats by Mira Grant
2012, Orbit
Series: Novella from Newsflesh

Synopsis: It was the summer of 2014, and the true horrors of the Rising were only just beginning to reveal themselves. Fans from all over the world gathered in San Diego, California for the annual comic book and media convention, planning to forget about the troubling rumors of new diseases and walking dead by immersing themselves in a familiar environment. Over the course of five grueling days and nights, it became clear that the news was very close to home…and that most of the people who picked up their badges would never make it out alive.

The Good: This novella was rich with geeky splendor. Set at the 2014 Sand Diego Comic-Con. A bulk of the main characters are Firefly fans selling merchandise at the con. Another main character is the star of a hit sci-fi show, fictional but seeming to more than mildly resemble Katee Sackkoff (the actress who played Kara Thrace on BSG), but that could just me my own interpretation. Taking us back to the first major outbreak of the zombie apocalypse that is in full swing during the Newsflesh trilogy, trapping us in the convention center as first of the zombies come and begin to multiply (as they are wont to do). This was an amazing, fun story that added little to the Newsflesh world, but was still a super fun experience.

The Bad: It's a novella, when it really should have been a full novel. It has more than enough plot and action to fill a full novel. I'm not a fan of novellas to begin with, but this one clearly had all the makings of something more.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery

A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery
2012, Harlequin HQN
Series: Book 10 of Fool's Gold

Synopsis: The unrelenting cheer in Fool's Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. She learned early on that Christmas miracles don't happen, at least not for her. And this year seems like no exception. An injury has forced her to return to the family fold, no matter that they're estranged. She won't add to the awkward scenario by being seduced by the bad-boy charms of her brother's best friend, the last man she should ever want to date. Even when she's recruited to stage the Fool's Gold winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move forward with her life anywhere but here.

Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers' feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take! When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he's unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend's sister--off-limits unless he's willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen..

The Good: I fell behind in this series and spent far too much time away from this cozy little town I love. What a wonderful time to come back to it, with a Christmas themed story. Evie was a natural choice for the female lead, having introduced her, a little, in a previous novel. Dante was a little more surprising as the male lead, but they worked together perfectly. Evie and Dante's fears were both understandable, if not completely relatable. The Christmas setting made the entire story a lot more festive and upbeat than their romance would have been alone. Beyond their relationship, it was absolutely wonderful to see Evie interacting with her family, building those relationships for the first time, as well as seeing both Evie and Dante become real, included members of the community.

The Bad: I disliked the turn towards the end of the novel before the inevitable happily-ever-after. Mallery has a nasty little habit of making her male leads act in an unnecessarily cruel manner out of fear of commitment before realizing there is no fighting true love. It happens really often. I find it hard to believe that all these men use this same juvenile tactic and that they are always forgiven for it in the end. To the point where the other townswomen who've gone through it in their own relationships will get together with the hurt woman and laugh about their own miserable experiences. Once, sure. Twice, okay maybe. An entire town full of women who take back purposely hurtful men like it's some sort of right of passage, um, no.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Serenity: Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon

Those Left Behind by Joss Whedon
2006, Dark Horse Comics
Series: Book 1 of Serenity


Synopsis: Here's how it is -- in a universe filled with hearts and minds as cold and dark as the reaches of space, one small Firefly-class starship named Serenity takes its ragtag crew of mercenaries, outlaws, and fugitives in search of a job, any job, that'll earn them enough cash to afford that most elusive commodity -- peace.

The Good: Those Left Behind is pretty much an episode of Firefly, just in graphic novel form. It comes chronologically after the end of the show and before the movie. It doesn't do much to move from A to B, especially in regard to where we find some of the characters once the movie begins, but it is a start in the right direction. The art is pretty impressive. The characters are immediately recognizable. Wash is a little weird, in an unexplainable way, but you definitely know who he is. Overall, it's a wonderful return to a world we love.

The Bad: This graphic novel was a bit short, story-wise. It was physically short as well. It's weirdly less tall than any other graphic novel I've read, making the pages hold less content than usual. The main problem is the story isn't important, Nothing new and different happens.