Sunday, June 30, 2013

Behind the Times Review: Kill Shakespeare, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2: The Blast of War

Saturday, June 28 is a day that will forever live in my heart. I attended my first American Library Association (ALA) conference, held in Chicago, IL, one of my favorite cities. I accompanied and was accompanied by the lovely Liz Seeber of Assorted Leafs, who is definitely my boon companion in book nerdery. I began my journey at 0600 hours Saturday morning and rolled back into town around 9:00pm; a long day, to be fo sho, but worth every single second of it.

While awaiting the arrival of Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan of Bookends, Liz and I ended up down yonder in Artist Alley. I always visit Artist Alley at any convention I attend because there is always good times to be had. Artist Alley at ALA turned out to be the most magical place in all of Chicago:
  • I met Faith Erin Hicks , who I have loved and adored via the internet for many years. 
  • I met Matt Phelan and picked up a galley of his new book, Bluffton, which promises to be amazing (and is set in Muskegon, MI!).
  • I met Gene Yang and Thiem Phan, who were incredibly funny and charming and I can't wait to read their joint work, Level Up, and Yang's new Boxers & Saints graphic novels.
  • I may have gotten to shake hands with Cory Doctrow and I may have fan girled just a bit, which is totally not how I imagined that going. In my head, I was cool and intelligent and we briefly discussed our joint dislike of DRM, while reality looked a lot like, "omgcorydoctrowhiiiiii". Not my finest moment. 
At the end of one aisle of Artist Alley was a large banner with a bloody hand holding a skull that read, "Kill Shakespeare" - always an eye catching combination. Anthony Del Col, one of the co-creators of the series, was manning the booth and boy, does he know how to sell you a graphic novel. Well, in this case, he knew how to get me so excited about that it was one of the first things I told Cindy about when we finally met up and she liked the idea so much that she bought both graphic novels (and is letting me borrow them to read first because she's just BAMF like that).

The Amazon summary of the first novel is a little weak, but here it is: "This dark take on the Bard pits his greatest heroes (Hamlet, Juliet, Othello Falstaff) against his most menacing villains (Richard III, Lady Macbeth, Iago) in an epic adventure to find and kill a reclusive wizard named William Shakespeare." I imagined this to be like Shakespeare: Battle Royale as Del Col was explaining it to me but when I relayed this explanation to Cindy while standing in front of him, I got a look that clearly said, no, no that's not it at all.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Behind the Times Review: Beautiful Creatures

We've all seen the trailer for Beautiful Creatures, the highly stylized magical teen drama that attempts to cash in the (ever confusing) cash cow that is Twilight. The first time I saw it, it awoke in me the 14-year-old girl who loved reading the same campy-sounding stories about love conquering all*. However, the same 14-year-old girl refused to see the movie because We Hadn't Read the Book and this has always been an important life motto.

However, 14-year-old me forgets that current me is an organized as a Wal-Mart during restock and current me just never got around to reading the book. Or even adding to Goodreads to read later. Until today, when it popped up on my library's list of new eBooks available. I snatched it up and away we went.

Seeing the trailer gave me a fairly good set up for the book - Mysterious girl has super powers and is racing against the clock not be claimed by the Dark, which is represented by some tall chick with sexy sunglasses and a nice ass, and also someone who looks like she mugged Dolores Umbridge. There's also a big tornado. SPOILERS: the tornado isn't featured in the book, one of the many changes from the trailer.

Courtesy of Goodreads, here's an actual summary:

Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything

Goodreads Score: 3.79

I have to agree with the general Goodreads user base on this one: the book is a fun read with a lot of great imagery and some great ideas about dealing with Fate BUT the characters themselves are mostly shallow and, in some cases, almost caricatures of stereotypes (I'm looking at you, Amma).

My two favorite characters fill in the background - Link and Ridley. Link proves, time and again, that his friendship with Ethan is more important keeping his place in the in crowd. He treats Lena as a good friend would treat his best friend's girlfriend and not like a pariah.

Ridley shows that she isn't a caricature of the evil controlling seductress and she's probably the only reason I want to read the rest of the series. I want to see how more of Ridley. To me, Ethan and Lena's story ends when they're alive and in love at the end of the book - but Ridley disappears, leaving behind the mystery of why she changed her mind and didn't kill Lena's dad.

I'm currently 12 out of 14 in line for the eBook of Beautiful Darkness and I think I'm okay waiting.