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review 2018-03-19 02:32
Past meets the present, danger crosses time. Pulled me right in.
The Shadows of Stormclyffe Hall - Lauren Smith

I loved this story! Jane is such an open person which helped Bastian get beyond his limited mind. I enjoyed the paranormal aspect of the book very much. Past helping the present and vice versa. Several times, I had tears in my eyes; others had me smiling or holding my breath. This is a compelling read, and I recommend it.

This is my unsolicited review.

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review 2018-03-18 22:45
The Stuff of Legend, Book 2: The Jungle - Mike Raicht,Brian Smith,Charles Paul Wilson III


  For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a great continuation of the series. I liked this one a little bit more than the first book because I feel like it covers more ground and you learn more about the characters. I enjoyed the first book, but it kind of dragged at points with the whole Hopscotch pit stop. This one felt more continuous. There were still stops along the way, but they felt more relevant to the overall story. 

Great story. Can't wait to keep reading.
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review 2018-03-18 17:47
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand (book, vol. 1) by Makoto Inoue, original concept by Hiromu Arakawa, translated by Alexander O. Smith with Rich Amtower
Fullmetal Alchemist: The Land of Sand - Makoto Inoue,Alexander O. Smith,Hiromu Arakawa

This volume is composed of two stories. The primary one is "The Land of Sand." The shorter bonus story is "The Phantom of Warehouse 13." Both of these stories were adapted into episodes in the original anime series.

"The Land of Sand":

Edward and Alphonse arrive at the dying former gold mining town of Xenotime and are shocked to learn that two boys who say their names are Edward and Alphonse Elric have been living in Xenotime for a while, researching how to make a Philosopher's Stone in order to revitalize the town. Who are these imposters, and how close are they to finishing their research?

This wasn't bad, like bland but reasonably well-written fanfic. It's been a while since I watched the anime adaptation of this, but I remembered liking that more than this story. Ed and Al seemed to be pretty accurately depicted (although I've never thought of Al as being "bronze-hued" (14)), but the text did have occasional clunky moments. There were times when I could tell that the humor would probably work on-screen but was a bit awkward and weird on-page, like the time Ed and Russell transitioned from a physical battle to a verbal one.

One thing I really liked about this story was the "little brother" aspect. Both Al and Fletcher were the level-headed younger brothers, but whereas Al could talk to his brother and expect to be listened to, Fletcher was afraid to tell his brother what he was really thinking. I loved the scenes where Al and Fletcher bonded, and watching Fletcher slowly become more confident was nice.

I didn't see anything that contradicted anything I recalled from the manga (although it's been ages since I last read any of that). I agree with those who wondered why Ed didn't just pull out his State Alchemist pocket watch to prove his identity, though. I suppose you could argue that the Xenotime townsfolk were so convinced that their Edward and Alphonse were real that even that wouldn't have swayed them, but it was still a bit odd that he didn't even give it a shot.

"The Phantom of Warehouse 13":

Colonel Roy Mustang gets roped into helping his men investigate reports of nighttime ghostly activity near Warehouse 13. Several people said they heard sounds of digging and weeping. Since Warehouse 13 doesn't exist, Roy is pretty sure everything's happening near Warehouse B. He's determined to get to the bottom of it all before Eastern Command becomes both a laughing stock and a tourist attraction.

This story was goofy and ridiculous, and I enjoyed it anyway. It made no effort to even pretend that it might advance anything in the overall Fullmetal Alchemist storyline. Roy Mustang, Fuery, Havoc, Falman, and Breda were like a group of little boys taking part in a sleepover and scaring each other silly with ghost stories.

I couldn't tell whether the ending was predictable or whether I just remembered too much of the anime episode. Either way, this was a fun bit of fluff.

All in all, this volume was a quick and relatively decent read.


  • One full-page color illustration and several black-and-white illustrations created by Hiromu Arakawa.
  • A couple pages of sketches - Fletcher and Russell, plus Ed imagining how tall and suave he'll be at age 19. Also, a 4-panel comic about the planning stages for the book that's a bit horrifying if you know what happens to Maes Hughes in the series. Poor Makoto Inoue.
  • A 3-page afterword written by Makoto Inoue.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2018-03-18 15:24
Hang on for the ride!
The Cyclist - Anthony Neil Smith

The great thing about being a member of netgalley is the opportunity it offers to the avid reader to explore genres and authors that would have otherwise have passed him by. Equally it gives new authors the chance to reach out to a much greater audience when hopefully their books will receive a warm welcome. I thought The Cyclist was an excellent example of an exciting story that kept me captivated from first page to last and all in one sitting! Not bad for an author whose writing I had only just met...so what's it about?


Judd almost became a navy seal, his friend and mentor Burt "cleaver" worries about him following an incident with live ammo during a field training exercise..."Whatever made him think he was a SEAL material, God only knew".... Judd in his own mind is a washed out failure spending his time cycling and surfing the net in the hope?..........Cat is the answer to his dreams an online companion who finds him funny outgoing and personable, the fact that she lives in Glasgow and he in Minnesota is but a small problem. Judd makes the decision to take out his meagre life savings and make the long journey to Scotland hopeful and confident that Catrina is the love of his life. What follows is an exciting thrill a minute tour de force as Judd tries to comprehend the complex Cat as they journey and cycle north of Inverness in the harsh yet beautiful Scottish countryside. To disclose more would spoil the delights and gruesome pleasures that await you dear reader of my review! I will only add that "Cleaver" shows the meaning of true friendship, and Cat will need to explain to an infatuated Judd just what her relationship with Alistair is?


Many thanks to the good people of netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of The Cyclist in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly Recommended.

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review 2018-03-16 05:58
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal
Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: The Novelization - Jim Henson;A.C.H. Smith

Full disclosure: At least one full star of my rating is because this was one of my favorite movies when I was a kid and my nostalgic love for it in all forms is strong. If I make an attempt to be objective, I have to admit that the book is a tad on the dry side, and some of the descriptions seem out of place and serve little purpose. Aside from that, the story benefits a great deal from being told in novel form.


You know that bone-dry “Jen is the chosen one” expositional voice-over at the start of the movie? Not here! Those confusing rituals of the Skeksis and Mystics (actually called urRu and never referred to as Mystics in the book)? Explained! All that Skeksis political positioning following the death of the emperor? Also explained in greater detail with a clear delineation of factions! I don’t know how many people care about Skeksis politics, but all of that palace intrigue in the movie makes a hell of a lot more sense to me now, so I’m glad it’s covered. My next viewing of the movie will be enhanced as a result of reading the book.


This hardcover includes the extensive editorial notes Jim Henson sent Smith after reading the novel’s first draft. While interesting, this section is super dry. Don’t go in unless you’re well hydrated. Also included are a bunch of Brian Froud’s conceptual sketches strewn randomly throughout the book instead of all together at the back in a civilized appendix. Someone in the layout department at Archaia thinks interrupting the story with sketches of usually unrelated subjects is a great idea, apparently.


In closing: Fizzgig Forever. ♥


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