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review 2016-11-24 00:00
Shadow of Time
Shadow of Time - Jen Minkman I have to say, this was not what I expected when I picked up the book, and even my first impression did not quite prepare me for the book.

Hannah is back at her parents' log cabin for her summer break from teaching, and her and her brother Ben have the place all to themselves. But her time off is anything but relaxing. Seeing her brother's childhood friend, Josh, all grown up puts her in a tizzy. He's handsome, sensitive, and has earned a special place among his Navajo people, but he's burdened and distant at times, which throws her off. On top of it, she's having nightmares that feel real about an ancient time, in which she's an integral player, and she's being harassed by different people. It's a summer full of so much promise -- if she can get past all the hurtles in her way.

So, for my expectations. I frequently get books but can't read them right away, so when I looked at the cover (which I did both when I purchased the book and before I read it), I was surprised by the Native American theme in a very fantasy type cover. But it's pretty, so in that respect I suppose it's working.

I started reading, and the writing was decent, but it smacked of a first book, which made me nervous. I almost gave up at that point, but I decided to give it a little more time. The Navajo setting had me hooked, and I'm so glad.

The romance is very hot and cold. Hannah doesn't quite seem like a 21 year old, so her falling for a "more mature" 17 year old doesn't seem too far off base. Hannah definitely looses sight of the age difference as the book progresses, but we get gentle reminders from the author, which was a nice touch. (I think at one point it said the age difference is 6 years, but it's only 4 years, and from the sounds of it, not quite that.) The author did a great job with pulling the emotional strings with the romance.

I was a bit bummed about the ending though. It ends on a pretty dramatic note - not necessarily a cliff-hanger, but definitely not a comfortable close. So I suppose I'll have to put the next book on my reading list to get my resolution, but overall, not a bad book.

I can't vouch for the Native American bits, since I'm admittedly ignorant, but they felt authentic. There was a lot of nice detailing, and quite a few Native American words and such. I hope to add more Native American stories to my library, so this was a fun start.
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review 2015-04-17 00:00
Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen
Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen - Dan Thompson,Corinna Sara Bechko,Mike Henderson,Stephanie Hans,Vasilis Lolos,Mike Del Mundo This was awful.

This graphic novel is based on the tv show Once Upon a Time, and although I haven't seen any episodes of it yet this is supposed to be backstory so you can jump in without having seen the show. It's possible that fans of the show would like this a lot more than I did, but I can't imagine non-fans who enjoy graphic novels would like any part of this book.

I have no problem with multiple artists working on a series, but I've never seen multiple artists working on one story arc. It was incredibly jarring to move onto the next chapter with the characters and style changed although the story hadn't. At one point the Queen's hair changed color and I thought she was someone else! So unnecessarily confusing. After that I was just annoyed at the whole thing.

And the story is ridiculous: the evil Queen wants to kill Snow White but apparently needs others to help her even though she can kill a werewolf by merely pointing at it. Why does she need any help? She has magic, Snow White doesn't! But let's kill a bunch of villagers and enslave the Huntsman ... because then there'd be no plot.

Oh, and if you're going to name a character "Red" you should probably let the reader know you mean Little Red Riding Hood and not Rose Red. I was so confused as to why Rose Red would be a werewolf and then read AFTER the story was over in the notes and sketches that it was a completely different character.

Awful. Just awful.
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review 2013-12-16 08:00
The Shadow Of a Story
Shadow Out of Time - H.P. Lovecraft

The Shadow Out of Time is the third volume of Lovecraft adapted by British artist I.N.J. Culbard into a graphic novel.  The first two were:  In the Mountains of Madness, for which he won the British Fantasy Award in 2011, and the equally excellent The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.  Culbard, as usual, unlike most gn adapters, does a great faithful job of adapting the stories from Lovecraft.  The artwork again is a perfect match, simple, evocative, idiosyncratic (in a good sense).  


Shadow was one of the last stories Lovecraft wrote and is more of a science fiction horror story than a pure horror story.  The problem with this book is the starting material is so much weaker than Ward or Madness.  There are a lot of opinions about the quality of this Lovecraft story:  Kenneth Hite thinks it is a mediocre story, Joshi thinks it is one of Lovecraft's best, Lin Carter thought it was Lovecraft's absolute best story, and, in typical fashion, Lovecraft didn't think much of it.  I tend to follow Hite and Lovecraft here.  Shadow for me has always been a mediocre Lovecraft story.  This is not to say that it is a bad story, mediocre Lovecraft beats most others' best, but Shadow has always seemed to me like a mish-mash of bits from much better Lovecraft stories.  There is a bit of The Whisperer in Darkness, a lot of The Call of Cthulhu, and a lot of At the Mountains of Madness put together in a fashion that pales relatively when compared to these stories.  The ending seems rushed and almost tacked on from a typically Lovecraft formula.  Lovecraft was obviously trying work some themes he had used before into a new story but it just seems like a rehash with nothing new when compared to what he had already achieved.


Basically then the problem here is the weaker Lovecraft starting material.  But as I said, weak Lovecraft is still pretty damn good and Culbard does the most with it.  3 1/2 stars.

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review 2013-12-02 00:00
Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen
Once Upon a Time: Shadow of the Queen - Dan Thompson,Corinna Sara Bechko,Mike Henderson,Stephanie Hans,Vasilis Lolos,Mike Del Mundo The cover art is gorgeous, and I did enjoy the story, but I have to admit the art inside of this graphic novel was pretty disappointing after the amazing cover! I was expecting all of the art to be in the same style, but instead there were four separate chapters and each chapter was illustrated by different artists, which I really wasn't a fan of. I like consistency, so it would've been nice to have one solid artist or a set group of artists throughout rather than have different ones. Overall, it was an interesting graphic novel to read as a Once Upon a Time fan and the cover is simply stunning, but I was definitely disappointed with the actual artwork inside and the story didn't really fit seamlessly into the cannon of the series either...especially the whole Red/Huntsman romance. I mean I wouldn't have minded a romance between them, but saying that it was true love between them is pushing it a bit too far to fit it into the show for me.
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review 2013-11-04 20:46
Shadow of Time - Jen Minkman

It took me a bit longer, and I had a whinge once or twice, but it was actually a decent book. That being said, I didn't love it and I have a few complaints. But before that, I wanted to say kudos to the author for translating this to English, from... I can't quite remember what language. Dutch? I thought it was great. There weren't any obvious errors, just a few phrases which were a bit awkward but mostly everything was great. 


The characters were quite possibly the weakest aspect of the book. I found Hanna, the main character, very immature for a 23 year old. I'm not sure whether this was done on purpose so her 'love' for a 17 year old was less weird, or whether she is just immature. Either way, I didn't like the way she flipped back and forth between wanting Josh (the 17yo) and knowing he's too young/her brother's best friend. Her dramatic actions regarding everything to do with Josh. For example, after an incident when Josh breaks up with her and leaves, she does a Bella Swan and becomes depressed. She doesn't eat, won't get out of bed, and says things like, "I feel so empty, Ben. So empty." (p240)

My problem with this is that it's such a bad view of depression. Especially when just a few days later, Josh returns and they're back together straight away, professing their undying love and devotion to each other and Hanna is completely fine.

They've been together for a week, max! This just annoyed me so much because, as a reader, nothing had been explained so I didn't know that there was a deeper reason to their insta-love. At this point (55%) I was just about to give up and proclaim it as dnf. But I continued on and, finally, at about 60%, the actual paranormal plot line began.

Josh was sweet, kind and lovely. But sadly that was all he was. I never got the feeling that was anything more than a sweet character who did good things. Problem was, I found him a bit boring. That being said, it was nice to read a character who wasn't a raging alpha male. This guy was passionate about looking after his people. I really respect that, and I liked him, but he didn't get a place in my male MC hall of fame.



I don't know about you, but it sort of irritates me that the annoying, teenage, angsty love story had to take up 60% of the book and only 40% goes to the cool, paranormal section.

This part felt so rushed. It was good, and even managed to illicit a bit of panic in me as a rooted for the characters as they had to go into a creepy place. But it was sort of anti-climatic in the end, and I wasn't overly convinced.


But that's the bad. What I really did like was the world-building and description of the cultures and practises of the native American Indians. I personally know absolutely nothing about their history so I was convinced. Hopefully people who do know things about it are also pleased with how that part of the book was written.

I also liked the flashbacks and explanation of reincarnation. That was definitely the most interesting part of the book, hands down. Reincarnation fascinates me and I think that more time should have been devoted to it instead of it being used as a explanation for the paranormal evils.


And lastly, the relationship between Hanna and Ben, and Josh and Ben was great. Evidently Ben is a great brother to everyone, and I think it's great that family was still a big part of the novel.


All in all, I liked it but it could have been more.


I received this book as a giveaway in exchange for an honest review.


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