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review 2016-10-04 18:53
Days of the Dead - Barbara Hambly Days of the Dead - Barbara Hambly

I'm working my way through the entire Benjamin January series. So far, I've enjoyed them all. This one is a little bit different, though. It takes place in Mexico, instead of in New Orleans, and deals with the politics of General Santa Anna's government and the events leading up to the Texas wars. January's friend Hannibal Sefton has been living in Mexico with a woman he met ... and writes a letter talking about how circumstances have changed. To make a long story short, he's being held captive by the woman's family after having been accused of murdering the eldest son. He asks January and his new wife, Rose, to come to Mexico to prove his innocence. This, of course, is easier said than done. There are rival family factions, a head of household who may or may not be insane ... and religious prejudice all over the place. There were a lot of plot twists, including additional murders ... and events that are staged solely to try to frighten the January couple off the track. The book is well-researched; there are notes at the end about the culture and facts described in the tale. I'm just looking forward to Rose and Benjamin being back in New Orleans.

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review 2016-01-09 02:08
Comics Clearance #3
The Dharma Punks - Anthony Sang,Dylan Horrocks
Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi - Anthony Bourdain,Joel Rose,Ale Garza
Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead - Michael Dougherty
Oyster War - Ben Towle,Ben Towle
Bandette Volume 2 Stealers Keepers! - Paul Tobin,Coleen Coover

Working on it!


The Dharma Punks - When the heart of a group of friends splits the rest are left to pick up the pieces.  For Chopstick this means getting deep into a nihilistic brand of Buddhism, refusing to care about the material world (or anyone in it).  Funny to read this after I recently finished, 10% Happier...a book looking at how meditation changed Dan Harris' life for the better.  This is a punk coming-of-age story, exploring religion, identity and morality.


Get Jiro; Blood & Sushi - Before Jiro came stateside he had a few bones to settle with his Yakuza family.  Jiro's dad is the head of a large Yakuza family, but, unlike his father or his older brother, he has no taste for bullying and senseless violence.  He keeps his true passion a secret, crafting sushi.  However, soon his apprenticeship to a master sushi chef is found out and a bloody family feud ensues.  Over-the-top, entertaining, a fast-paced action story, though I have to say I enjoyed the zanier first volume a bit more.


Trick 'R Treat; Days of the Dead - In the fashion of Bradbury's Halloween Tree story, this comic book explores the history behind the best holiday of the year, a holiday where friends come together, neighbors take part in true generosity and people are encouraged to participate in creative activities, costume play and exploration.  Anyway.  I love Halloween and though I didn't love all of these Halloween history vignettes, the end was worth the wait.


Oyster War - A very strange tale, based somewhat on true events, but with plenty of just weird bits to keep me entertained.  I loved the main character and his determination to put an end to the damaging activities of the oyster pirates.  Hilarious and definitely something different.  For fans of Far Arden or A Crab Story.


Bandette; Stealers Keepers -  Bandette is back!  I missed her!  I wanted a candy bar so much after reading this lovely comic book.  I'd highly recommend it for fans of the movie Amelie or classic heist films.  Bandette has a lot of the quirkiness of Amelie in her and in the back of the book the authors explain some of their influences (including the movie).  There is also an illustrated novella at the end that adds even more depth to this fun world.

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review 2015-10-30 17:57
Review: Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead by various
Trick 'r Treat: Days of the Dead - Michael Dougherty

I am one of Trick 'r Treats' biggest  fans. I just needed to put that out there first thing. I don't just watch it, religiously, once a year, but during the year as well, to bring me that Halloween feeling, as well as to marvel over the craftsmanship with which the movie was made. So when I saw that Days of the Dead was being released, I had to have it! And I do, thanks to my birthday (yesterday) and my very generous best friend!


Like the movie, the graphic novel follow four different stories; unlike the movie, the stories aren't interconnected, except for the appearance of Sam, and that was a bit of a disappointment, but understandable, considering they had different writers, and different artists, with Dougherty coming up with the overall picture and supervising.


Seed - The most disappointing of the four. I don't think Trick 'r Treat ever needed a tragic love story, but I still could have gone along with it if it weren't for the immense historical inaccuracies. Pumpkins were indigenous to North America and didn't catch on in Europe for a long, long time; they wouldn't be in Ireland in the 17th century. And there was no great witch inquisition in Ireland, either; there were witch finders, and, oh! There were burnings. But the concentrated effort shown in this story is fallacious. What I would have liked to see from this story is the origin of Sam's earthly form, and I think that was supposed to be the implication (?), but it was poorly done and I was left underwhelmed.


Corn Maiden - Now this is more like it! Though, again, it's a little too early in American history to be celebrating Halloween (and to have traditional candy, to boot!)--curse my historical knowledge of this holiday!--but it's a good story, well told, with a macabre twist. I can't help but feel that there's too much of a righteous feel to Halloween at this point, however, which is directly in contrast to the message of the movie, that Halloween is capricious and has its own rules. And one of those rules: Always checky our candy!


Echoes - Now we're talking! With bizarre, almost mind-bending artwork, this story was when the fire really began for me, when it caught and started to blaze. Again, Halloween is surprisingly benign, and it feels as if they're  trying a bit too hard, as in Seeds, to show a modern, more progressive form of witchcraft (I'm Wiccan and this still slightly bothered me, because it felt preachy). But the suspense, the art, the writing, it all works so well! The only thing I might criticize is that I occasionally got lost. Characters speak from off panel, and it wasn't always easy to follow who was saying what; it lent it a dreamlike quality, but also a little confusion. I felt as if a page were missing somewhere along the story, and that's a problem, but otherwise, so solid and beautifully done, I couldn't really fault it.


Monster Mash - My favorite. The art is fantastic, and the use of costumes for two little boys to walk among real monsters is so very much in the spirit of traditional Halloween, as is the fact that one of them decides to stay. And the religious push against modern Halloween adds the perfect touch of Halloween history to the story. And I loved how it tied into the very beginning of the story. Perfectly done!


And this will now become a yearly read, as the movie is a must-watch. And it will tide me over until the sequel is made!

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text 2014-10-27 15:16
GAIL Z. MARTIN GUEST BLOG - Full of Sound and Fury

Full of Sound and Fury


By Gail Z. Martin



Airships, inventions, secret government agencies, and trips around the world to acquire rare objects for wealthy and sometimes supernatural patrons. It’s all just another day for Jake Desmet, Rick Brand, and Nicki LeClercq as they outwit assassins and foil murderous plots in Iron and Blood, the new steampunk series I’m co-writing with my husband, Larry N. Martin.


But while Jake, Rick, and Nicki are the main characters in the Iron and Blood novel that debuts July, 2015, two agents for the Department of Supernatural Investigation are in the limelight in several new steampunk short stories related to the Iron and Blood world.


Mitch Storm, a former Army sharpshooter, and his investigative partner Jacob Drangosavich, are agents for the Department of Supernatural Investigation, a secret government agency that looks into crimes involving supernatural or paranormal elements. DSI doesn’t doubt the existence of magic, witches, vampires, and monsters. They just step in ahead of local law enforcement to make sure problems are dealt with quietly so that regular people can go about their business without worrying about things that go bump in the night.


Mitch and Jacob are DSI’s problem children. Mitch tends to favor solutions that are bold, innovative, and use lots of explosives. Jacob has a knack for finding information and slipping unnoticed into places he shouldn’t be, to get things he shouldn’t have. That’s why their boss calls them the ‘Sturm und Drang’ boys, Sound and Fury. Both Mitch and Jacob have a penchant for ending up on suspension, but they’re too damn good at what they do for DSI to do without them for long.


In Airship Down, our story in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens for Zombies Need Brains Publishing, Mitch and Jacob are sent to find out what’s behind mysterious lights in the sky over New Pittsburgh and the unusual energy drains happening all over the city. Mitch and Jacob investigate with their usual fondness for dynamite and a bevy of top-secret gadgets, trying to shut down the invaders and discover whether the strangers are European spies or visitors from much, much farther away.


Resurrection Day, in Dreams of Steel 5 for Dark Oak Press, pits Mitch and Jacob against two mad doctors bent on discovering the secret to creating clockwork men out of human corpses. Missing bodies, stolen inventions, and a Jack the Ripper suspect on the loose means time is running out for Mitch and Jacob to get to the bottom of things before dead men walk and social niceties get severely strained.


While we’ve been inventing and exploring the whole steampunk world of Iron and Blood and New Pittsburgh, it’s been fun to do stories that are related to the book and main characters but deal with two secondary characters who really get their chance to shine. And while we’re not ruling out the possibility of writing stories about Jake, Rick and Nicki in the future, these anthologies came up early in the series development, so focusing on Mitch and Jacob gave us a little more wiggle room as we got to know our protagonists better.


After the success of the Deadly Curiosities novella (The Final Death) that I wrote for Wattpad last year, we’re seriously considering writing a Sound and Fury Adventures novella in the spring. I’ve discovered that creating short stories in the worlds of my fictional series lets me get to know the characters even better, and helps me flesh out background and world building as I tell extra tales, all of which makes the main books richer and more believable. And, it brings new adventures to readers more quickly, helping them feel like they are part of an ongoing, exciting new fictional world.


After having lived in the real Pittsburgh for a decade, it’s so much fun writing a book and short story series set in an alternative history New Pittsburgh filled with steampunk gadgets, Victorian villains and supernatural surprises. Stay tuned—there’s a lot of Sound and Fury yet to come!


My Days of the Dead blog tour runs through October 31 with never-before-seen cover art, brand new excerpts from upcoming books and recent short stories, interviews, guest blog posts, giveaways and more! Plus, I’ll be including extra excerpt links for stories and books by author friends of mine. And, a special 50% off discount from Double-Dragon ebooks! You’ve got to visit the participating sites to get the goodies, just like Trick or Treat! Details here: www. AscendantKingdoms.com


Trick or Treat: Enjoy an excerpt from Airship Down, my steampunk short story in Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens here:




And a bonus excerpt from The Final Death, my Deadly Curiosities novella here: http://www.wattpad.com/story/15334006-the-final-death


And a second bonus excerpt from my friend Michael Ventrella’s novel Axes of Evil here:  http://michaelaventrella.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/theaxesofevilsample.pdf


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review 2013-10-25 18:30
Halloween Day 25
Days of the Dead (Benjamin January Series #7) -

This book makes good use of the LaLaurie tale from New Orleans (which is being used in this season of American Horror Story, or so I am told).  More gothic in tone than several of the other novels in the series. 

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