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Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 2)

I'm continuing my Buffy the Vampire fix by devouring the Season 8 comics I received free to review from NetGalley. I am so very, very glad Joss Whedon decided to continue the show, albeit in a different medium. I just finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer: No Future for You (Season 8, Vol 2).

My Rating: ★★★★★

The main story arc of this graphic novel follows Faith as she completes a mission for Giles. I've always loved her character, and I enjoyed following her story. She is still struggling to better herself and having lapses. Faith is a wounded soul, but not lost. She has taken up the responsibility of doing the dirty and thankless jobs that the new slayers just aren't ready for. In the opening scene of this book, a single mom has become a vampire. Faith is sent in to check on her children, who have all been turned as well. She's forced to slay several children (vampire children, but children nonetheless). It obviously disturbs her, but she still does it. We get the feeling this is not the first time she's done something she hates. Giles offers Faith a way out, if she'll do one last job. It's a great catching up with Faith.


Pros -

This is all about Faith. Buffy shows up, but Faith is definitely the main character. I've always enjoyed Faith, as both protagonist and antagonist. There are so much history and depth to her. She's always been one of my favorite characters.

Like the first graphic novel, the artwork is amazing. All the characters look like their actors. This wouldn't be near so enjoyable if the illustrations weren't so well done.

Also like the first graphic novel, Joss Whedon's humor shines through. There were many moments where I actually laughed out loud. I adore his humor.


Cons -

At first I couldn't really think of one, but I settled for the antagonist. She was a bit one dimensional. Her main reason for being there was to be a mirror for Faith to see herself in. But she had no real motivation other than wanting power because she could take it.


Overall, I loved this graphic novel. It's definitely for Buffy fans, and a must read for anyone who enjoyed Faith's character.

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Not a review...

Here's an excellent short story by Eric Gregory, titled The Harrowers. It's a zombie/dystopian tale. I don't usually like zombie stories, but this one is a great read. Try it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season 8, Vol 1)

Several years ago, a tragedy occurred on television: an amazing show was canceled after seven wild and wonderful years. Well, Buffy the Vampire Slayer lives on! Enter the official Season 8 comics, now collected in several graphic novels. NetGalley has provided me with several to review. I just finished Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home (Season 8, Vol. 1).

My Rating: ★★★★

Thank you, Joss Whedon, for bringing Buffy back to us. The television show was my first experience with urban fantasy and lead to my current obsession with it. I have missed Buffy, the characters, humor, the world, everything. Reading this was like coming home after a long trip away. All Buffy fans need to read this.

Pros -

It's Buffy. Not only is it Buffy, it's by the original mastermind Joss Whedon himself. His trademark humor is peppered throughout, and reads just like watching an episode. It picks up after the seventh season, with all the history and characters present. It truly is the eighth season. Everything I loved about the television series is here.

The artwork captures the actors almost perfectly. There was only one person who I had to puzzle out which character he was (and honestly, his character could be considered very minor at best). Everyone else was drawn spot on.

Cons -

The story was good, but not amazing. I'm not sure how it could have been better, but it did not completely grip me. It was still enjoyable though.


I recommend this to all Buffy fans. Because of the extensive supporting cast, and history, it'd be very difficult for readers who don't know the universe to enjoy this as much.

Follow my reviews at Urban Fantasies Read and Reviewed.

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Coming up...

From NetGalley, I've received several digital graphic novels for the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8 comics. I've started those and look forward to sharing my reviews. I've also started Wanderlust by Ann Aguirre.

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I just finished Feast: Harvest of Dreams by Merrie Destefano, which I received as an Advanced Reader's Copy.

My Rating: ★★★

Feast is an unique and interesting urban fantasy. I've never read a similar story. The Darklings were completely new to me. It's nice to see a fresh spin in the genre. However, there didn't seem to be any set magic rules here. Yes, it's fantasy, but I like a firm framework and guidelines in which magic works. The Darklings did all kinds of magical feats, but we never get an idea of their limits. Feast has great potential, however it could have been better.

Pros -

Unique concept. I had no idea what to expect when introduced to the Darklings and they're great. They're non-humans, and they act like it. I dislike novels where the fae, vampires, shifters, etc, act just like us, but with extra abilities. Not the case here. At no point did I wonder whether a character was human or not.

Fast, easy read. This is a fun and quick escape.

Cons -

Undefined magic rules. There needs to be some kind of framework for what magic can and cannot do. The Darklings just throw veils and songs around, and things happen. I never got a real feel for them, or their limits.

Too many characters. I lost track of the number of characters Destefano introduced. And they are all told in the first person. Thankfully, every chapter tells us which person we're listening to, but it gets confusing.

Most of the chapters are very short. As in a page or two long. I'm not sure any chapter was longer than six or seven pages. It made reading it very choppy at times, especially with the constant POV changes.


Feast is an enjoyable read, but it could have been more. I'm up in the air about whether I'll read any more if this becomes a series. I recommend this for any urban fantasy reader looking for something new.

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Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

I absolutely adore the Harry Dresden books, but for some reason it takes me awhile to finish one. But I finally finished Turn Coat. What a ride.

My Rating: ★★★★

Jim Butcher is amazing. The depth of his world, characters, plot, all of that, blows me away each time I read a Dresden book. Turn Coat is number eleven in the series, yet I'm still loving it. It shows no signs of slowing down or growing stagnant. Few authors can pull off long series well. Jim Butcher is one.

Pros -

It's a Harry Dresden book. I'm so invested in these characters and the world, I really want to know what they're doing, how they're going to handle the ongoing problems that cover several books. The whole world evolves and changes and you never know how it'll play out. Every time I pick up a Dresden book, I know it's going to be a wild, but fun, ride.

The writing itself is flawless. Okay, I'm not an English professor, but in my humble opinion, Butcher writes amazingly well. He throws in descriptions I'd never have thought of, but are just perfect for that situation. And, coming from Harry's point of view, the descriptions can be very humorous. I just eat it up.

Yet another beautifully complex plot. Butcher loves to take two radically different plots, force them both on Harry then let us watch him juggle them. In the end, the plots are directly tied together in a way that we never would have guessed. I love it.

I've mentioned the characters before, but they deserve their own section. Everyone in the Dresden-verse is amazing. These aren't names on a piece of paper. They're people. You feel for everyone of them. They all have their own struggles, thoughts and plans for the future. They're not some random figures moving in the background. This book is no exception. We see more of many of the side characters, and learn more. Everyone, like Harry, continues to grow.

Cons -

I have a personal pet peeve with books in a long series: when the author has to bring in a new bad guy every book that's more powerful than anything the protagonist has ever faced. Oh, no, nothing's ever been so evil and strong as this bad guy! After several books of this, I'm left yawning. Really, again? Granted, the Dresden books don't do this every book. But it happened in this one, and has happened before.

I figured out the traitor. And I don't mean, near the end I realized who it was. But shortly after seeing this person fairly early on, I had that “Aha!” moment. Sigh. I didn't get all of the details. There were many other things happening that had me utterly clueless. But I figured them out. It's the first time I've done that (and got it right) in a Dresden book.

A major character had something happen at the end of the last book. I really wanted to know how he was. But he only got mentioned in one sentence.

This is another, great Dresden read. Anyone who likes his stories should read this one too, in chronological order of course. This is not a series that can be enjoyed as much if read out of order.

Follow my reviews at Urban Fantasies Read and Reviewed.

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Doorways by George R. R. Martin

I received a sneak peak up the upcoming graphic novel George R. R. Martin's Doorways from NetGalley, as a free Advanced Reader's Copy. I am a huge fan of Martin's Song of Ice and Fire, so I jumped at this.

My Rating: ★★★★

Let me start by saying that I only received the first part of this, and this review covers only that. I enjoyed it. The art and coloring was good (comic book quality good, not Rembrandt, of course). The panels flowed well into each other, never leaving me wondering which was next. The brief glimpse of the story I had was interesting. As with many “super-hero” type comics, it seemed a bit rushed. Unfortunately for the comic genre, the writers have very few pages to grab the reader's interest. If they fail that, the reader will not purchase the next issue. I consider the rushed air part of the genre.

There were a few moments that stretched my suspension of disbelief. I was left pondering, “Would a government agency really do that?” There was an explanation given, but it didn't quite work for me. This, too, might be because of the limitations (expectations?) of the genre. The characters needed to be off and running by page XX, so it happened.

I love George R. R. Martin. He puts amazing depth to his worlds and characters. I am eagerly awaiting to see what he can do with this. Admittedly, I worry if his talent can truly be expressed in this medium. I'm looking forward to the rest of Doorways, and recommend this one to comic/graphic novel readers.

Follow my reviews at Urban Fantasies Read and Reviewed.

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The Wolf Age by James Enge

I just finished The Wolf Age by James Enge.
 

My Rating: ★★★★
 

I love werewolf books. I'm not sure what it is about them, but of all the shifters I find wolves the neatest. This book is unique because, unlike almost all current lycanthrope books, it's not an urban fantasy. It's a true sword-and-(kinda)-sorcery fantasy. Almost the entire book takes place in a werewolf city. What a concept. I'd never read anything like it. I loved it!
 

It also happens to be the third in a series and I haven't read the first two (whoops – serves me right for buying a book simply because the cover's cool). Thankfully, it stands alone. Besides the main character, Morlock, only one other person shows up from the previous books, and they're history is well explained. Although it takes awhile to grasp Morlock's abilities and personalities, it does not distract from the story.
 

Pros -
 

Werewolves. Lots and lots of werewolves. In fact, except of Morlock and a few nameless others, all the characters were werewolves. And Enge made them such a unique blend of werewolves! Some were “standard” ones, others were forever stuck in one of the shapes, or in some strange blend of the two (i.e. wolfish face but human legs). And they thought like werewolves! Thank you, Enge! One of my biggest pet peeves is when a non-humans act just like we do. These had their own culture, their own language, history, etc. It was great.
 

Morlock was a truly unique hero. I really can't begin to describe all the quirks to him. He uses a magic sword, but not the typical kind. And, although he does use magic, it's almost like he's an inventor or a scientist. He makes things, several times using trial and error. In fact, the werewolves call him a maker (I don't know if that's a common term for his type of magic, or if it's just used by the wolves). He's definitely not the Gandalf-type of mage, yelling incantations at his foes. Nor was he perfect and all powerful. He made mistakes. He managed to be superhuman, and all too human at the same time. I couldn't wait to see what he'd do next.
 

Cons -
 

The writing took a bit to understand. The first chapter was told from the perspective of the Strange Gods. Since they're gods, they don't “speak,” they “signify.” They indicate emotions. Enge actually writes it like that. “Death indicated indifference and readiness to begin...” I had to force my way through the first chapter with no idea of what was happening, as War, Death, Wisdom, and others signified to each other what they thought might happen and what should happen. It got better once I got the hang of it. But I'll be honest, at first I was baffled.
 

The names. Oh my, the names. I get that they're werewolves, and their names are similar to Native American names, where they tell you something about the person. But, holy moly, the names here were a mouthful. Some examples: Khretvarrgliu, Iuiolliniu, Yaarirruuiu, Luyukioronu, etc, etc, etc. It goes on and on. Several times I got confused who was who. And I didn't even try to pronounce any of them.
 

The ending. Most of the book was supurb, then the ending just … fizzled out. For most of the novel, we follow one main plot line. That resolved approxiamately 2/3rds of the way through. Then another minor plot, which had barely been touched upon up until that point and that Morlock had no knowledge of, suddenly became the main struggle. And a mysterious figure is revealed … and he's very disappointing. Everything seemed very scattered. It just got weird.

 

Even with the weirdness of the ending, I really enjoyed this book. I think anyone who enjoys unique cultures will love this and it's a must-read for any werewolf lover.
 


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Greywalker by Kat Richardson

 I just finished Greywalker by Kat Richardson.

My Rating: ★★★★
 

I really enjoyed this one. I've heard a lot of good talk about it, and I'm pleasantly surprised that I liked it too. So many times I've been disappointed with books that the “masses” suggest. This is a new and unique concept for urban fantasy. I can honestly say I haven't read another one at all similar to this. The protagonist, Harper Blaine, dies in the first few pages but is recessitated. This brush with death allows her to see the place between life and death: the Grey.
 

Pros-
 

Unique main character and ability. This isn't the first UF to deal with ghosts (the Downside Ghosts series comes to mind), but it makes its own niche in the genre. Harper is truly an everyday person thrust into a role she does not want, nor does she enjoy it. Her new world is a scary place, and she reacts realistically. I'm tired of hero(ine)s, that are martial arts experts or gunslingers. Harper does use a gun but only in self-defense. She was amazingly realistic and believable. I loved reading about her.

The little things. Richardson does a surpurb job bringing her characters and her world to life. Harper is a private investigator, but Richardson gives us an authentic view of that job: the paperwork, endless calling around, the little things a real P.I. has to deal with. So many authors choose a PI character, then write constant action scenes and shootouts. While paperwork sounds boring to read about, somehow it wasn't. It gave greater depth to this already well-done book.


 

Cons-
 

Confusing descriptions. A lot of the Grey, by necessity of its nature, is written abstractly. But it was hard to keep track of what was happening. I had to re-read several paragraphs to follow the story. And occasionaly the metaphors were … odd. On the first page, Richardson mentions a sledgehammer fist. For several paragraphs later, I thought that Harper had been struck by a sledgehammer, not a fist like a sledgehammer. It distracted me, having to re-read passages because of metaphors or the abstract nature of the Grey.
 

Lots and lots of side characters. I like a supporting cast, but I lost track of who was who a few times. At one point, Harper refers to “Steve.” I had completely forgotten these character and had no idea who he was.

In the climatic end, I wish Harper had done more. She plans it, but didn't participate much. Eventually, she causes the turn in the battle, but not by design. In the rest of the book, she is the center of everything, just not that last scene. I hope in later ones, she does more.


 

Despite my occasionaly confusion, I truly enjoyed Greywalker. I recommend it to all Urban Fantasy readers. Enjoy!
 


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Urban Fantasies Read & Reviewed

I'm starting a urban fantasy review blog and I've copied some of these over there. Check out Urban Fantasies Read & Reviewed.