Category Archives: Books

Review: Littlest Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu

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Anyone who knows anything about geek culture knows the recent uptick in Cthulhu’s popularity. Crazy squid-face has been making the rounds on tshirts, in games, on playing cards, and pretty much anything you can think of. Enter Littlest Lovecraft, a really cool idea between Tro Rex & Eyona Bella to publish illustrated books with an H.P. Lovecraft influence. I was happy to receive a free PDF review copy of their first book: The Call of Cthulhu. I’m a sucker for picture books, especially books as pretty to look at as this one.

First off, this book is decidedly Lovecraftian. I don’t recommend it if you don’t like horror. The book stays true to the Cthulhu mythos and the illustrations may be frightening to younger children.

The book is fairly long as well for a picture book. There’s fairly long chunks of text per page. This would probably ideally work for a high elementary or pre-teen. And, of course, adults who love pictures.

And the pictures are really the shinning star in this book. They’re beautiful, colorful and tell the story well. The style feels very horror without losing the kidish element to them. They’re all hand drawn and illustrated.

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The writing is fun with a very light rhyme scheme to it. Adapting a short story into an illustrated picture book is a huge task to undertake, but the characters, events and feel of the original story by H.P. Lovecraft are all there.

If you love all things Cthulhu OR don’t know anything about Cthulhu’s backstory – this is the perfect book for you. If you’re a parent who loves scaring your kids to death… um… you’re weird and will probably like this book too.

The book was a successful Kickstarter Project and, from what I’ve seen on Facebook, the advanced printed copies are looking FANTASTIC. You’ll want to order your own copy ASAP.

Find out more: http://littlestlovecraft.com

Order your own copy: http://littlestlovecraft.com/orders

Friend them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LittlestLovecraft

 

Why Love the Hunger Games?

Hunger Games Novels

Warning: This Article Contains Minor Spoilers for “The Hunger Games” books.

With Hunger Games fever reaching a frantic state (the movie is coming out on the 23rd), it’s been very interesting to watch the uninitiated on Facebook struggle with the phenomena. My Facebook newsfeed is full of people reading the books for the first time, borrowing them from teenage daughters, and getting lost in the first book for days. All of this epitomized in my friend Sarah’s FB status: “what’s the big deal with the Hunger Games?”

While I answered her question quickly, I’ve been chewing over the series for the past week. Having relistened to the audiobooks, watching the previews and clips, and reliving every moment of my first experience (last year) I find the question easier to answer then when I first read them. As a writer, I tried to puzzle out why the Hunger Games works. Why it’s so popular. Why I feel it should replace Twilight and Harry Potter on every kids shelf. And I’ve come to some conclusions.

Continue reading

Reading Through Sherlock Holmes – An Introduction

I’ve been a Sherlockian since I was 9 years old. My dad brought home a thick, red book with tiny text and little did I know, I was about to fall madly in love. In the pages of that book I discovered my hero, Sherlock Holmes. I devoured the entire book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (which actually starts with the second story A Scandal in Bohemia) and then the rest of “the canon” (as the collection of Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are called). Ever after that, I was obsessed (as my parents can attest to).

I’m not sure what exactly attracted me to Holmes at such a young age. The language was difficult, the setting foreign (Victorian and post-Victorian England), and the character was cold and distant. Perhaps it was the fact that I felt rather odd myself. The transition into a double digit age, the desire to be smart, coupled with feeling a bit like an outsider amongst my peers made reading about Sherlock Holmes a solace. I tackled the whole series within a couple months and, for years after, books about Sherlock Holmes, copies of the stories, videos, toys, and other paraphernalia peppered the story of my life. Sherlock Holmes was always my first love. I watched every movie and TV show I could get my hands on. I even recorded episodes of my favorite cartoons that parodied the great detective. When Basil of Baker Street was rereleased I watched it with gusto. The first person I ever met who was “a friend on the internet” was Leslie Klinger when I was 16. Les went on to write the ultimate annotated Sherlock Holmes. Our trip to Minnesota one summer as a family wasn’t complete without a trip to the University of Minnesota’s Sherlock Holmes Collections. One Halloween I begged for (and helped pay for) a Sherlock Holmes costume that still hangs in my closet (I wore it about six Halloweens after that).

But, my love of Sherlock Holmes did not stop there. Shortly after reading through the canon I realized there was a whole scholarly aspect to the stories. The Baker Street Irregulars, a society for serious minded study, was formed in the 1930s and counted SciFi legend Isaac Asimov among it’s members. There were journals, newsletters, and papers from all corners of the globe. When I was 11 and 12 I wrote extensively myself and submitted to some of those publications and even began my own email newsletter via my newly minted AOL account – Sherlockian Snippets. In undergrad I squeezed Sherlock Holmes into every paper I could (I even wrote a sociology paper on the Sherlock Holmes fandom).

Recently, Stephen Moffat, who I’ve admired for years for his work on Doctor Who, has made the great detective famous again with his modern Sherlock for the BBC. Sherlock Holmes has also hit the pulp hero status with Guy Davis’ Sherlock Holmes. I myself am working on a novel that has touches of Sherlock Holmes. It’s been a couple years since I’ve read through the canon and I thought now would be a great time to brush off the series and read it again. I’ll be blogging my way through the read through (for those ubernerds, I’ll be doing it according to publication date, not chronologically) and you’re invited to read along and share your own insights (fair warning “A Study in Scarlet,” the first story is actually a novella so it’s a bit long).

Come blog people, the game is most definitely afoot!

Review: The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook


Have you ever wanted to make your own Pumpkin Juice? How about a Treacle Tart like Harry Potter eats in the Great Hall? With The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, you can do just that!

This cookbook goes through all the times in the Harry Potter books when food is involved, and includes many of the recipes involved in each event. Some of the chapters are titles things like: Treats from the Train, Recipes from a Giant and an Elf, and Holiday Fare. Before each recipe, a description is given of where the recipe was mentioned in the books. Many of the recipes from the books are authentic English dishes. We Americans might wonder what Mince Pies or Bath Buns are, but in England they are just another dish.

I am really looking forward to trying the Shepherd’s Pie recipe. I had Shepherd’s Pie at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and it was delicious. I hope this recipe lives up to that. There are recipes for all different levels of cooking abilities in this book. Some of the candy looks pretty complicated. There is a section at the beginning of the book telling you what to substitute for some of the English ingredients, and some directions that might be different. The measurements are in cups and teaspoons though.

There was only one thing that disappointed me a little. When I went to Honeydukes at The Wizarding World, I had a Chocolate Cauldron that was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. It was a little chocolate cake in the shape of a cauldron. It had some sort of chocolate filling, and was just yummy. In this book they have Cauldron Cakes, which is probably more accurate, and are a sort of pancake.

The author, Dinah Bucholz, is a pie baker known for her fine desserts, so I’m sure the desserts in this book are fabulous.

Any Harry Potter fan would enjoy this book. Who doesn’t want to have a Harry Potter themed party and actually eat food from the books? You can purchase this book on Amazon or other major book stores. I’ve seen them at Barnes and Noble. I also came across a Kindle ebook called The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook Presents: 10 Summertime Treats, and it’s only around $1.

Buy The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Review of Star Wars vs. Star Trek by Matt Forbeck

It’s safe to say that I’m an uber geek girl. I cut my teeth on Star Trek and met Riker at my first Star Trek convention when I was like 8 years old. My dad watched the original Star Trek (ST:TOS as it’s referred to by fans) when it first aired, but he also watched the Star Wars movies as they were released. Geekdom, it runs in my blood.

So when I got the chance to read and review Matt Forbeck’s “Star Wars vs. Star Trek” I jumped at it. Long has there been a stalemate in which future franchise reigns supreme. Is it Star Trek with it’s “wagon train to the stars,” optimistic vibe of explorers and tusslers or Star Wars, with it’s small flame of hope against an oppressive regime? Both are near to my heart, so I read the book with gusto.

If you’re looking for a very serious, in-depth look at the cultural, political, social implications of two fictional world mega-franchises — this is not the book for you. And kudos to Matt for not making it another academic discussion. Instead Matt pits similar characters against each other based on their roles in a head to head combat that’s heavily influenced by both stories. My favorite parts are the show downs themselves that are written in semi-fictional prose (want to see Obi Wan and Picard battle? It’s here). Long time fans of both series will enjoy the depth of information and the (sometimes surprising) mashups. At the end of each meeting there’s a decision – who wins? Sometimes clear, sometimes a draw, the characters themselves will determine the winning franchise at the end.

Great fun to read and it often had me giggling like crazy. I highly recommend Star Wars vs. Star Trek to any uber geeky fan who just needs to know who wins.

Buy it now on Amazon:  http://t.co/8ZLyWRF

PAINMAN ISSUE #2 – Reciprocity Review

PAINMAN is a “superhero” in Los Angeles who takes the pain that has been caused to the victim of a crime, and transfers it onto the villain. He is in pain all the time, due to his Fibromyalgia, but he uses this pain to make him stronger.

In this issue, PAINMAN comes to the rescue of some women being abducted for human trafficking. He must push through his own pain in order to scale the building and defeat the bad guys. Only then can he inflict the pain of the victims onto the villains. Not all pain is physical either.

PAINMAN is a great concept. There are some deep themes that I’m sure could be explored through a series of issues. Our hero makes judgment calls just like any superhero about what punishment the villain deserves. He also has the ability to take away others’ pain and keep it as his own. He must show mercy and also justice, but there has to be a balance.

The artwork is really amazing! I enjoyed always being able to see the scarring on PAINMAN’s face. He’s never just a faceless character like in some books. The illustrations are very detailed, and I’d love to have a couple of the shots as posters.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good superhero comic story, and I look forward to continuing to read this series myself.

To learn more about PAINMAN visit the official site at PAINMAN.com where you can read issue #2 and buy issue #1 (plus other merchandise) or on their Facebook page.

Review of “Out of a Far Country”

When I was in undergrad at Moody Bible Institute I met Christopher Yuan. I was pretty active on campus and worked in the library, so there were very few people I didn’t see on a daily basis. He was a couple years behind me, but always well-dressed, excited, and bursting with excitement. It wasn’t until the school paper gave me an assignment to interview Christopher that I really began to know him and he changed my world from that moment on.

So I was very excited to see that he had written a memoir, “Out of a Far Country,” which was released today. Written by Christopher and his mother, Angela, it is brash, bold, and intimately revealing. If you want that same world-changing experience that I had when I met Christopher this book is the way to get it.

“Out of a Far Country” is best described in it’s included study guide when it says “The story that is told in ‘Out of a Far Country’ is a true account of God’s seeking and saving two people who were lost (seek Lucke 19:10): a mother who was so distraught she had decided to kill herself, and a son whose pursuit of pleasure, money, and success led to arrest, prison, and a life-threatening illness. Both mother and son hit bottom, and at different times they both turned to God. The changes in their lives are nothing short of miraculous.”

The story that Christopher and Angela shared kept me turning the pages, I did not want to put it down. The similarities in their struggles even though they were at two very different places in their lives was compelling. Ultimately it’s a story of hope. Hope that there is something bigger than our problems, hope that we can change who we are (down to our very core) and be better people, hope that all of this is possible not in our own strength, but God’s.

I’d highly recommend this book to Christians, small groups, and those struggling with their depression, anxiety, struggling with their sexuality, or feeling like they are in a hope-less situation. Brutally honest, but ultimately healing this book is not to be missed.

Chat LIVE with NFL Running Back, Shaun Alexander – Win a Signed Football

Chat LIVE with NFL running back Shaun Alexander
Thursday, October 21st, 2010 at 6pm eastern time

Shaun will be discussing his new book The Walk: Clear Direction and Spiritual Power for Your Life and answering YOUR questions.

WIN an autographed football or a signed copy of The Walk!
Help us promote the Shaun Alexander Livestream broadcast and you could win a signed copy of The Walk and an autographed football signed by Shaun! Details

Livestream Broadcast to be held at…
www.Livestream.com/WaterBrookMultnomah

About Shaun
Shaun Alexander was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks after a standout football career at the University of Alabama. A three-time Pro Bowl selection, in 2005 he set an NFL record by scoring twenty-eight touchdowns. In the same season, he set a team record by gaining 1,880 rushing yards and leading his team to the Super Bowl. Today, Shaun travels the country speaking to business and military audiences, at sports camps, and at churches and Christian conferences–appearing in front of thousands of people. He is a gifted communicator and Bible teacher who points listeners toward exceptional achievement by aligning their lives with God’s perfect will.

Download Chapter One of The Walk

Shaun’s Web Site

Follow Shaun on Twitter

Comic Review: Stranger Comics’ –The Untamed #1, A Sinner’s Prayer

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Stranger ComicsIf you were given the opportunity to leave hell for seven days, what would you do?

For one man, locked in hell after the death of his wife and daughter, killed when he was, the answer is simple: Vengeance.

As we are taken on this man’s journey, his return to his hometown, it is clear that he is no ordinary man. He once ran the town, Oasis, and was cruel to its people. However, he was not the only one to pay the price.

When first asked to watch/read this comic, I was interested, but I’ve never been a huge comic fan. There are some I have read (Buffy, Fray, X-Men, and others), but I wasn’t as ‘into’ them as some of my friends. However, from the beginning of this animated comic, I was hooked. The art is beautiful, the music heart-wrenching. The story itself opens up with an image reminiscent of various underworld myths. The first one that springs to mind is the ferryman of the Greek river Styx and the dead he would take to Hades. The familiar image of the Reaper is ferrying the protagonist of the story out of the underworld and back to shore. He states that he was only ‘given’ seven days to send seven souls to hell, and that he doesn’t remember what he came back for. Death’s watchers, in the form of crows, follows him on his past.

I use the word protagonist loosely, because such a word can not fully describe this man, this ‘sinner’. He doesn’t react the way the normal ‘good guy’ might; for example, he ignores a woman who begs him for help, instead moving on to visit a blacksmith who reveals more of the man’s story, yet is unable to reap his reward.

After watching this comic, I surprisingly want to know more. What will happen in the next six days? Will he find his vengeance? Will he fulfill his duty to the underworld? Will a girl’s eyes dissuade him? The Untamed is an amazing comic, whether watched or read, and I, for one, will be on the lookout for more. However, I strongly recommend watching the animated version for best results. The music and the artwork, coupled with light animation (bringing to mind favorite cartoons from the early 90s), adds an incredible depth and richness to the story.

The Untamed, A Sinner’s Prayer is written, produced, and directed by Sebastian A. Jones, with art by Peter Bergting. The comic can be found online at this site: http://www.strangercomics.com/asunda/untamed1/ where it is available in both written and animated forms. There is also an amazing gallery of artwork from the comic, as well as an alternate cover. I sincerely recommend this amazing tale to comic readers everywhere.

Quadruple Z Episode #001: Interview with Author J.C. Hutchins (Part 1)

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Buy 7th Son: Descent on Amazon.com

QuadZ_JCQuadruple Z talks with podcasting and publish phenomenon J.C. Hutchins about his new novel – 7th Son: Descent. The interview covers how J.C. Hutchins podcasted and then published his first novel and their singing (yes, singing).

Hosted by Crystal
Intro by Kimi from Tale Chasing
Quadruple Z’s Theme – “What We Need is Some Interns in Here” – Beatnik Turtle
Credits Read by Naomi Starsiak

About J.C. Hutchins
J.C. Hutchins is an award-winning novelist best known for his 7th Son technothriller trilogy, which he released as free serialized audiobooks from 2006-07. With approximately 100,000 downloads of his episodic fiction still occurring each month, 7th Son is the most popular “podcast novel” series in history.

The trilogy — and its 2008 groundbreaking spinoff anthology OBSIDIAN — are available for free download at 7thSonNovel.com. The series’ first novel, Descent, will be published this fall by St. Martin’s Press. Personal Effects: Dark Art, J.C.’s debut in a new supernatural thriller series, will also be published in June. Learn more here.

J.C. has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME.com, OMMA and Blogger & Podcaster magazines, Asimov’s Science Fiction, on the BBC and Italian national radio, and in more than 100 podcast interviews.

J.C. lives in South Florida with his girlfriend, and their cat, Chester.

About 7th Son
The president of the United States is dead. He was murdered in the morning sunlight by a four-year-old boy…

So begins 7th Son: Descent, the technothriller novel by J.C. Hutchins. Originally released as a free audiobook podcast, 7th Son has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time.com, Wired.com UK, and on the cover of Blogger & Podcaster magazine. See what critics and bestselling novelists are saying about the book.

As America reels from the bizarre presidential assassination committed by a child, seven men are abducted from their normal lives and delivered to a secret government facility. Each man has his own career, his own specialty. All are identical in appearance. The seven strangers were not born, but grown — unwitting human clones — as part of a project called 7th Son.

The government now wants something from these “John Michael Smiths.” They share the flesh as well as the implanted memories of the psychopath responsible for the president’s murder. The killer has bigger plans, and only these seven have the unique qualifications to track and stop him. But when their progenitor makes the battle personal, it becomes clear John Alpha may know the seven better than they know themselves…