Foul is Fair

by Jeffrey Cook and Katherine Perkins
Reviewed by SA

This week we’re tackling an amazing fantasy novel for Self Published Saturday, a novel you’re sure to love: Foul is Fair, the first novel in the recently concluded Fair Folk Chronicles. It’s a brilliant book that takes you deep into the heart of Faerie, full of magic and danger… and dancing, too.

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Lots of girls play Fairy Princess when they’re little. Megan O’Reilly had no idea the real thing was like playing chess, guitar, and hockey all at once. Megan had known for a long time that she wasn’t an entirely typical girl. But living with ADHD—and her mother’s obsessions—was a very different thing from finding out she wasn’t entirely human. Somewhere out there, in a completely different world, her father needs help. There’s a conflict, revolving around Faerie seasonal rituals, that could have consequences for humanity—and if Megan’s getting the terminology straight, it sounds like her family aren’t even supposed to be the good guys. As she’s further and further swept up in trying to save her father, Megan may be getting too good at not being human.

When Megan discovers her dad – as well as her best friend – are mythical, she takes it all in one stride: she’s got a quest to follow! She has her father to save, let alone the whole world, the balance of which rests upon him being able to attend a dance that changes the seasons. She’s focused and determined, even without her medication, and she’s ready to take on this challenge if it means making things right for the world.

Megan is a skilled artist (thought she might be addicted to doodling) and begins to slowly see the power of music and signing. She’s got a knack for it, which some might call a little magic. I loved Megan as a character, and her friend Lani just as much. Their friendship is a powerful drive in Megan’s life and gives her strength and determination, as well as support as her world is turned on her head. And I’m such a sucker for female friendships in great novels.

My favorite characters, however, were not the main ones: no, I loved Cassia and Ashling a whole lot. Ashling might be my favorite pixie of all time: she’s sassy, funny, and crazy witty. Not to mention she’s technically living with a pixie disability, and her ‘service animal’ is a crow named Count who’s a personality all to himself. I’ve NEVER read a book like this before! Ashling’s comedic responses to Megan’s whole slew of questions – especially her variety of answers as to why Count is names Count  or where fairies come from – had me rolling on the floor laughing.

While some parts of the novel were exposition heavy, I found the overall creativity of the novel to make up for that. I loved the use of other myths from around the world that I had never heard of: Lani, for example, is part Menehune, which (I only just learned this) is a myth from Hawaii. This gives her a talent for engineering and creating things.

To recap all the amazing things about this book: great representation, love of art and music, love of science and creativity, the world of Faerie, myths from around the world, great adventure… and did I mention it’s a great read for any age?

“I’ve been a huge mythology nerd most of my life, so getting to play with the old myths, and have a series centered around the 4 treasures of Ireland, the 4 lost cities of the fae, and the 4 big seasonal events of the calendar was a lot of fun,” The author told me when I asked about his inspiration, “Thor #279 was one of the first things I ever really read, when I was 5. It sent me scrambling to learn the real myths. So I liked the idea of writing something where readers, especially teens, maybe could, or even would occasionally go running to google some of the things in the books, or read Celtic myth, Hawaiian myth, etc.”

And it worked! I ended up by starting to google “Menehune”and spend a few hours just browsing the interwebs, using this book as a guide. And I learned so much!

If you want a fun and creative take on the world of Faerie, then you’re going to love Foul is Fair. There are four books to this series, all available on amazon. The ebook for book 2 is on .99 sale on kindle through this weekend, as it is the summer solstice!

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The God Virus

by Indigo Voyager 
Reviewed by SA
It’s Self Published saturday! Today, we’ve got an awesome scifi novel from Indie Author Indigo Voyager: The God Virus. What a fascinating novel: pure science fiction at every level. I can’t think of a novel that works its way through every consequence of a premise like this one does. It’s so detailed, complex, and has fantastic characters you’ll love to follow.

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Infected by a DNA-altering virus, Derek and Alessandra develop strange and unnerving superpowers that challenge everything they thought they knew about the world ― allowing them to amass a fortune.

As they fall in love, they battle ruthless criminal mobs bent on harvesting the virus from their brains and intelligence agencies that try to enslave them.

When Derek signs up for an experimental drug treatment, he never expects to have his entire DNA changed. Soon, he’s able to experience out of body travels, and begins to develop abilities that stretch far beyond what is normal. Heck, he isn’t even human anymore…

After Allie contracts these same changes from him, the two of them are suddenly the only two people of their kind, and they’re hunted by everyone who wants to get their hands on this human enhancing ‘drug’. No one is safe: not Derek or Allie, nor their families, their friends… as the two fall in love with each other, they must fight the mob and angry governments in order to keep themselves, and everyone they love, safe from harm.

I can’t decide what I liked best about this book. As a scifi nerd, I absolutely the science behind it all. There was just so much in this book, and small, real sources and facts to back it all up. Do you remember the movie ‘Lucy’? This is how that movie could have succeeded. Humans outgrowing their humanity and becoming something more: backed by (somewhat feasible) science, and a thrilling plot that has you caring for them all the way through, urging them to succeed.

What marked me was, even as Derek and Allie stop being human, they never lose their humanity. They care so much about their families. This determination not only to care for their own, but to make the world a better place along the way, makes them incredibly likable. As they grow into their new abilities, they’re supportive of each other, and work through the hard times together. It makes them both relatable and lovable.

Surprisingly, all the ‘background’ characters have so much depth as well. From the mobster grandfather to the Hawaiian boyfriend, everyone has an intricate story to tell. When they were in trouble, you want to save them as quick as possible; while, when they were happy, you feel energized and excited for them.

The novel also deals with questions such as parallel universes and timelines; building and creating a society or civilization; making big bucks with stocks; Souls and Spirit Realms; and the Russian mob, too. As you can tell, there’s a whole lot going on!

All in all, if you need a good, complex science fiction novel, then you’re going to want to read The God Virus. It’s a fantastic, thrilling story which is incredibly memorable. Scifi fans everywhere are going to want to read more!

Purchase it on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/God-Virus-Indigo-Adventures-Book-ebook/dp/B01CPM6R5M

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Moxyland

by Lauren Beukes
Reviewed by SA

Prepare yourselves for an insane thrill ride, not for the feint of heart. This novel is everything a science fiction novel should be an more, and you’re going to fall in love with Beukes’s writing. And you’ll probably come out hating humans, but we all need a good dose of that from time to time.

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A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.

Moxyland is very character driven. All four characters live in South Africa, and their lives all intersect and their paths cross in interesting ways. And each of them are just so incredibly relatable: they’re all a little hot-headed, maybe entitled, self absorbed, and cynical about the world they live in. Whether they like it or not, they all have an important role to play.

We have Kendra, the artist, who’s trying to be independent: she joins a nanotech research program/marketing scheme, which will change her life forever. There’s Lerato, who’s trying to climb the corporate ladder while still hating the corporations. Ten, a activist who slowly begins to cross the line into terrorism, and Toby, a gamer and blogger who just wants to live his comfortable lifestyle. They all have different views of the world they live in, many too comfortable to do anything to change it, while others may try and do too much. it can all end in tears.

The future that Burkes imagines for South Africa is a very plausible one. Everyone is very dependent on their smart phone, as it carries their identity, their bank account, and will even be used in riot control or police arrests. Losing your phone is being tossed out of society. This, and other cool technologies I won’t spoil for you, made so much sense for the world of tomorrow.

The plot itself is a little complicated to get into at first, to see how everyone fits together, but it grows until a climax that is absolutely heart stopping. Seriously, I could not put this book down. It was so exciting, and terrifying… but no, no spoilers!

The novel is also a bit of a social commentary on us (well, a lot of a social commentary), about the power of consumerism and corporations, about complacency, about giving up our freedoms for perceived comfort. It’s not exactly eye opening, but still an amazing study. It kind of makes you hate us current humans.

For fans of Snow Crash, and cyberpunk, who love classics like Brave New World. This book will leave you breathless.

A new paperback edition comes out 16 Aug 2016 from Mulholland Books.

 

The Crown’s Game

By Evelyn Skye
Reviewed by SA

I have been excited for this book for ages: I mean, magic in imperial Russia? Yes please! And I was so thrilled that it did not disappoint. I couldn’t put it down: quite literally, actually, as I sat down and read it in about two hours, and didn’t see time go by.

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Vika Andreyeva can summon the snow and turn ash into gold. Nikolai Karimov can see through walls and conjure bridges out of thin air. They are enchanters—the only two in Russia—and with the Ottoman Empire and the Kazakhs threatening, the Tsar needs a powerful enchanter by his side.

And so he initiates the Crown’s Game, an ancient duel of magical skill—the greatest test an enchanter will ever know. The victor becomes the Imperial Enchanter and the Tsar’s most respected adviser. The defeated is sentenced to death.

Raised on tiny Ovchinin Island her whole life, Vika is eager for the chance to show off her talent in the grand capital of Saint Petersburg. But can she kill another enchanter—even when his magic calls to her like nothing else ever has?

For Nikolai, an orphan, the Crown’s Game is the chance of a lifetime. But his deadly opponent is a force to be reckoned with—beautiful, whip smart, imaginative—and he can’t stop thinking about her.

And when Pasha, Nikolai’s best friend and heir to the throne, also starts to fall for the mysterious enchantress, Nikolai must defeat the girl they both love… or be killed himself.

As long-buried secrets emerge, threatening the future of the empire, it becomes dangerously clear… the Crown’s Game is not one to lose.

I loved the world the author created, melding a well researched imperial Russia with the promise of magic and enchantment. The descriptions of not only St Petersburg, but also the Steppe, and the islands truly made you feel transported there. I could almost feel everything around me as I was reading, which is what made it so difficult for me to pull away.

The magic itself is something beautiful. Evanescing, the enchanted way to travel, is something described in such a gorgeous way that I wished I could travel like that, too. However, I was disappointed when I realized there would not be strong magical battles (Like in A Gathering of Shadows) but that was quickly remedied when I was sucked into the beautiful creations of our two heroes. At each turn of the game, they compete to outshine each other, and the result is quite beautiful.

As for the characters themselves, well, some I loved, some I hated, and some I loved and hated through the novel.  I did relate to Vika and Nicolai, and quite enjoyed their difference in magic (one being more elemental, the other more technical) and how they complemented each other. Vika’s fiery and fierce, headstrong and independent. Nicolai was more book loving, a bit Nerdy, but a bit of an artist. While some of their decisions seemed illogical, I’ll put that down to them just being young. I make irrational decisions too.

While Pasha seemed fantastic to me, his family seemed quite two dimensional. Actually, most minor characters seemed to suffer this lack of depth, some of whom can be written up into just one word. The secondary villain (if you can call her that) actually built up great, but then just kind of fell flat and stopped being the threat we expected her to be. She fizzled.

But boy, did I like this world. I loved how the magic worked, I loved the enchanted mountain, the idea of volcanic nymphs, the beautiful descriptions. I would highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction, actually.

I think you’ll like it too!

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Devotion

by Katika Schneider
Reviewed by SA

It’s self published Saturday again! Yes, twice in a row! This book just came out yesterday and I highly recommend you rush to amazon to pick it up stat. I haven’t reviewed any fantasy in a while, so let me tell you, I am hard to please when it comes to that genre. But I was blown away by Devotion, the debut novel of Katika Schneider, and I thought I absolutely has to tell you about it.

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Demons were nothing but legends…

Or so the young General Nessix Teradhel had always believed. Abandoned by her god and caught in a political trap with her late father’s old comrade, Nessix had barely kept herself together even before these startling reports appeared.

But now Mathias Sagewind, the fabled White Paladin, has arrived on her quiet island nation of Elidae with confirmation of such terrors. Wielding the name of the Mother Goddess and divine strength not seen in years, he is Elidae’s best chance at victory. In the wake of a holy war, Nessix must learn to trust Mathias as he attempts to guide her from a troubled past and protect her from a tragic future.

So, you take Nessix, this badass young woman whose duty is to lead her nation. She’s a general at a young age, but usually her land, Elidae, is a peaceful one, so she’ll have time to ease into it, right? Nope, demons are back, and suddenly this young lady has to lead her people to war. Not to mention the fact that her god has kind of ‘left the building’ (or pretty much the entire world) and she’s got no one to rely on in this new holy war.

Luckily Mathias, the white paladin, has come to her aid. With incredible knowledge and skills (some magical), his help is essential to their survival. He’s fought the demons before, and he knows their weaknesses: his only issue is getting Nes to actually trust him.

Throw in some womanizing neighboring royals (Veed, I’m looking at you!) and Nes’s entourage of war advisors, and you’ve got everything you need for a complex war and some brilliant bickering. Honestly it’s the dialogue I loved the most in this novel: the chemistry between Nes and Mathias on the rocky path to building a bond of trust was both a gripping part of the plot and the source of most of so much snark.

Nes’s character growth (and personal growth) is incredibly well written, and you see her blossom as a warrior and as a leader over the course of her many battles. She really is an amazing character, and goes on the list of ‘ladies in fiction I’d like to hang out with’. If you’re looking for a book with a badass young lady, you’re going to want to read devotion: the decisions she has to make are sometimes heartbreaking.

So if you’re looking for a novel with medieval battles, a war between good and evil, badass young ladies and complex relationships, you’re going to want to read devotion. It’s fun, it’s clever, and it’s epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Check it out on amazon – here

Dissolution

by Lee S. Hawke
Reviewed by SA

Ah, Self Published Saturday! The day we here at Readcommendations celebrate amazing self published books that deserve a place on your bookshelf. And I have read a lot of self pubbed books this month, let me tell you! Yet none of them stood out to me as much as Dissolution, a brilliant (YA) science fiction novel which will have your mind in knots for days.

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What would you sell yourself for?

Madeline knows. She’s spent the last eighteen years impatiently waiting for her Auctioning so she can sell herself to MERCE Solutions Limited for a hundred thousand credits. But when the Auctioneer fails to call her and two suits show up at her doorstep, Madeline discovers there are far worse bargains to be made.

So when your loved ones are in danger, there’s a bounty on your head and your entire city might turn out to be a lie… what would you sell yourself for?

The future Madeline lives in isn’t a bright one. Toxic rivers, arid deserts: the world beyond the wall is beyond hope of saving. But her city, Unilox, seems to be a beacon of life and hope, minus the freedom. You see, the city is run entirely by corporations, and being a citizen means being a part of one of them. Not just as an employee… but as a purchased product what belongs to them. At 18, gaining citizenship means being auctioned off, and having your contract purchased by any one of these corporations. Your life belongs to them, and they decide your value.

But it’s a system that works. Everyone gets along swimmingly in this future: there are incredibly high tech body augmentations available to everyone, which allow you to have bionic eyes, or to have  tastes fed to your brain which make the nutrient mush you eat taste like anything you want. People are healthy, and happy. The problem is that they all wear collars.

Madeline belongs to ANRON, the medical corporation. They run tests on everything, and her own parents have payed the cost with their own health, being experimental themselves. Madeline wants to be purchased by MERCE, the tech industry, but when she isn’t even called up at the auction, her hopes of reaching her dreams are shattered. When she learns that ANRON never intended to give up her license, and they would rather have her on a metal slab to slice her open, she must make a daring escape to fight for her freedom in a world where only a handful are truly free.

Hawke creates an amazing world for us to fall into. The world of people as products and human auctions almost feels real, and somehow completely believable. From the first page we’re pulled into Unilox, and we’re rooting for Madeline as she nervously prepares to be sold at auction. Yup, we’re excited for her.

At first glance, you might think this looks like the ‘usual’ YA, but I’m here to tell you that it’s much much more. For one, you don’t have a silly love triangle getting in the way of the plot. Madeline’s relationship with Jake is something that both drives her and motivates her, and it’s healthy and heartbreaking. Honestly it was refreshing to read! Even though it broke me in the end…

The plot is also intensely gripping. Madeline’s only goal is to survive, and this leads her to discover the true workings of her city, and realize that it’s not right. We can’t help but cheer for her when she realizes what we’ve known from the start: that people are not products, and that companies may have the same rights as a human being, but they are only as strong as the people who make them up. But this makes the read even more enjoyable: a clear goal, a world bent on catching her, Madeline’s plight is something we can latch on to.

As a matter of fact, I would only call this YA because of the age of the protagonist (18). It is so much better than those ‘trendy’ books out there! The plot is rich and exciting. The protagonist is relatable and you want to root for her.  And the ending absolutely destroyed me, making me feel like I’ve been ripped apart. It is such a brilliant way to shut the book. And now I’m stuck here, with feels.

Trust me on this:  you won’t read another book like Dissolution. Pick it up on amazon STAT!

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DEGTLGK
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/dissolution/id1096943300?mt=11

A Gathering of Shadows

by V.E. Schwab
Reviewed by SA

For those of you who have been with us since the beginning (we love you!) you may know that I’m slightly obsessed with the Darker Shade of Magic world. I even found ADSoM to be my favorite book of 2015. It was brilliant! So naturally, when the sequel came out, I pounced on it. And it did not disappoint: it filled me with the magic I sorely missed.

A Gathering of Shadows FinalSummary

Four months have passed since the shadow stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Rhy was wounded and the Dane twins fell, and the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift, and into Black London.

In many ways, things have almost returned to normal, though Rhy is more sober, and Kell is now plagued by his guilt. Restless, and having given up smuggling, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks like she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games—an extravagant international competition of magic, meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries—a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

But while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life, and those who were thought to be forever gone have returned. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night reappears in the morning, and so it seems Black London has risen again—meaning that another London must fall.

The plot is so, well, cheerful, this time around (until the end that absolutely destroys you, you have been warned.) Everything revolves around the Essen Tasch, or Element games. Lila has returned to London for the event, and many of our friends have gone undercover just so they can participate. But something dark is lurking back in White London, where a certain left-for-dead Antari has returned and is bringing his world back to life, at a price.

That’s probably what makes this book so much fun: the looming threat is known only by the reader, so the other characters have their own struggles to deal with while we do all the worrying for them. And the Games themselves are incredibly fun, as if the Olympics had pro-bending as their main event (speaking of which, anybody else try to imagine if Korra had entered? Now there’s a crossover I want to see.)

What’s fantastic is that the author also expands on the world she’s created. We learn more about Red London, and the other countries that surround it, about the political situation, about life on the sea, and we learn more about Magic. This is worldbuilding at its best.

But the best part is those amazing characters we came to love in ADSoM: Lila is more than she seems, and is badass per usual. I can’t wait to see where her story leads. Kell’s life has changed since the events of the last book, and he’s learning to fight. Rhy’s now linked to Kell, and his lifestyle must adapt. And who is this Alucard, whom Kell seems to hate and Lila begrudgingly admire?

Some may argue that this book is slower than the first, as there is much less going on. It’s all building up to the games, and then the ultimate conclusion (which, even if I saw coming, made me anxious as heck). Which seems like little for 500 pages. But I blew through this, and it felt like only 40 minutes had gone by. For me, there was never a dull moment, and I was excited from start to finish.

So basically – if you likes ADSoM, you are going to love A Gathering of Shadows. And if you haven’t read A Darker Shade of Magic, what are you waiting for?

 

The Casquette Girls

by Alys Arden

Reviewed by SA

Having read nothing but fast books these days, I wanted a novel I could really ‘sink my teeth into’ (as my grandmother says). I didn’t know what to expect from The Casquette Girls, as I was first drawn in by the gorgeous cover rather than the blurb, but I was amazingly surprised. This novel is a simmering pot of mystery and magic in a setting that will blow you away.

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Seven girls tied by time.
Five powers that bind.
One curse to lock the horror away.
One attic to keep the monsters at bay.

After the storm of the century rips apart New Orleans, sixteen-year-old Adele Le Moyne wants nothing more than her now silent city to return to normal. But with home resembling a war zone, a parish-wide curfew, and mysterious new faces lurking in the abandoned French Quarter, normal needs a new definition.

As the city murder rate soars, Adele finds herself tangled in a web of magic that weaves back to her own ancestors. Caught in a hurricane of myths and monsters, who can she trust when everyone has a secret and keeping them can mean life or death? Unless . . . you’re immortal.

Adele returns to New Orleans after its quasi-total destruction by a hurricane without equal. Nothing is the same: her city looks like something out of an apocalypse film, the people are almost all gone, her best friend moved away and seems to have no plans to ever return, and strange things are happening all around her. Is it possible that she can do… things?

This novel started slow, and yet I was captured all the same. The writing is beautiful and unique: the destroyed New Orleans setting gives it all an eerie, isolated feeling, and I was blown away by its depth. It’s a place of mystery and magic, but also of growing romance, which blossoms from its destruction. That juxtaposition really worked for me.

Adele herself isn’t just kind of sticker character: she’s got a depth that I rarely see in YA novels. She loves her father, her city; she’s smart and sophisticated in many ways, but also still learning, still trying, in others. She’s always caught between two worlds, the sophisticated french side of her mother, and of her new school,  and the down to earth, honest side of her, with comes from her father, and the city where she was raised. And that side is pretty badass.

The other characters are just as interesting. Admittedly, though, at first I had a bit of trouble keeping all their names straight. There definitely are  a whole slew of possible love interest characters.

When I first saw the word Vampires, though, I groaned and almost put the book down. I am not a fan. But I am more than glad I hung in there. The story that arrises is spooky, and takes you back in time to when the city was only just beginning, to the 18th century, and to ancestors with dark secrets.

Magic, mystery, and a twist on an amazing city. What else could you possibly want from a novel? I highly recommend picking it up!

Django/Zorro

By Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wegner
Reviewed by SA

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a graphic novel, so I thought it should be time to share a good one with you all. Especially those of you who are fans of Tarantino’s Django, a brilliant, violent movie set in the deep south in the 1860s. Because, if you ever wanted to know what happens next,  now you can; presenting Django/Zorro, the official sequel to the story.

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Oscar Award-winning writer/director and Django creator Quentin Tarantino teams with Eisner Award-winning comic book creator Matt Wagner to write the official Django Unchained sequel, uniting the gun-blazing Western hero with the legendary swordsman of literature, film, and comics: Zorro! Set several years after the events of Django Unchained, Django again pursues evil men in his role as a bounty hunter. Taking to the roads of the American Southwest, he encounters the aged and sophisticated Diego de la Vega by sheer chance. Django is fascinated by this unusual character, the first wealthy white man he’s met who seems totally unconcerned with the color of his skin… and who can hold his own in a fight. Django hires on as Diego’s bodyguard, and is soon drawn into a fight to free the local indigenous people from brutal servitude. Learning much from the older man (as he did from King Schultz), he discovers that slavery isn’t exclusive to his people, as he even dons the mask of Zorro in their mission of mercy!

The plot takes place in the south, where Django is still hunting bounties, but a chance meeting with Diego de la Vega, an old man with many secrets, will take them all the way to Arizona, which is not part of the United States yet. There, the Archduke of Arizona is attempting to build the first railroad across the state, but the construction comes with a terrible cost: he’s enslaving the local people and working them literally to death. His abuse towards the people does not go unnoticed, and Diego, alias Zorro, must step in to prove that the Archduke is a fraud, and free the people he is destroying. But he’s going to need help, and Django seems like the perfect man for the job.

This graphic novel was fun and fast to read. It was a fantastic sequel to the film, and a crossover I never knew I wanted, but was so glad had happened. Who knew it could go so well? Not knowing the character of Zorro very well, or that of Diego de la Vega, I was pleasantly surprised to find such a bold and strong person, a perfect partner for Django.

The one thing I found a little off was the pacing – there was a lot of exposition in the beginning, which gave a very compelling story, there’s no denying that, but the ending flew a little too quickly in comparison. It happened way too fast. This story renders fantastically in graphic novel form, but for those of you wanting another movie, you may have to wait a little bit, because I don’t think it will render very well on the big screen.

All in all, though, I absolutely loved the fact that we finally know what happens next to our friend Django. And Hildy too! She gets a mention, though no ‘screen time’. I was not familiar with Wagner’s work bringing Zorro back to life, but I am curious now, and would love to read his new comics. Diego de la Vega is a pretty badass character, defying all appearances. As I said before, he makes a great partner for Django, though it can be argued that Django makes a good partner for Diego.

Bonus content: like most comic compilations, there’s a bit of bonus content in the end, a good 40 pages of it. This wouldn’t be a complete review if I didn’t tell you a little bit about it! We have the script for the graphic novel, written by Wagner and Tarantino, as well are some very cool concept art/alternative covers. The artwork is gorgeous, though admittedly, having just read the comic, I found the script a little redundant. However, for anyone wanting to imagine the comic as a movie, the script is a definite help.

Definitely a violent comic, just like Tarantino’s film: not for those who would like a peaceful read. It was a fun, fast thrill ride with excitement around every corner. If you’re a fan of Django, you definitely don’t want to miss it.

The official pub date is the 24th of November, by Dynamite comics. Happy reading!

Now I’m just going to try and get the Django theme song out of my head.

Alive

By Scott Sigler

Reviewed by SA

Looking for your new favorite book this summer? Summer fast and fun that will stay with you forever? Then I would seriously recommend Alive, Scott Sigler’s new book coming out today. It’s a fun, fast paced thrill ride that will leave you breathless and asking for more, offering you questions upon questions of mystery and intrigue. You’ll never want to put it down.

Summary

When she breaks free from the coffin shaped box that was holding her, our protagonist has no idea who she is. She knows only one thing: it is her twelfth birthday. But her clothes are too tight, her body too large for being twelve; and what is that strange circular mark on her forehead? As people begin to emerge from the coffins, each claiming it to be their twelfth birthday, none fitting the bill, and with no other memories, our hero takes on a name: Em, for the M. Savage on her coffin. She will lead her crew into the corridors of their strange prison – if it even is a prison – where every hallway is strewn with the remains of the dead, and rooms hold horrors they would never want to see.  As their questions get answered, more questions are asked. Who are they, and what are they doing here? What do the marks mean? And are they alone?

The second I read “its my twelfth birthday”, I groaned internally. ‘ I assumed much too quickly that this was just another YA*… I was wrong, thank goodness! In less than a chapter, Sigler had managed to get me completely hooked. Already, every question that was out there made us want, no, need an answer. And he wasn’t going to just give it to us, no!

Now the difficult thing about this book is writing a review with no spoilers: the answers to the questions our heroes ask are astounding, and something you could not have anticipated at all. The best of all, however, is that the answers do not let you down. Frequently, a good book or show will ride on the intrigue to keep you reading, but when all is revealed, you feel cheated. For some, think Lost. What’s fantastic about Alive is that the answers enrich the novel and give it a whole other dimension. You don’t learn anything until near the very end, so the reveal actually leaves you asking more, wanting more.

Em herself is a fantastic lead. She’s smart, she’s insightful, and she’s flawed. It’s an incredible amount of growth for a character with no memories. She watches and judges, plans and fights, all the while trying to keep everyone together and proving herself to be an incredible leader. In her mind, she is still twelve, which means she has some quite interesting insights (mainly on modesty, she’s not a fan of her tight clothes) and remarks (she’s confused by white people skin for a while). I absolutely loved her. The internal turmoil after a defining moment is something you don’t get a lot of in novels these days: it’s either brushed over, or brought up every five minutes. Em is a great person to follow, and get to know.

Alive strikes balance in everything: it finds the balance between asking hundreds of questions and answering them, balance in a fast paced plot and internal turmoil, balance between good and evil. It’s bother horror survival and human growth. It may not be ‘the perfect novel’ (does it even exist?), but I could find nothing wrong with it, nothing negative to say at all. It was gripping and fun! It was surprisingly fast to read – possibly because I couldn’t put it down – and I loved piecing everything together with Em. This is definitely my favorite YA science fiction novel in a long, long time. First time I’ve read something as good in year! It was… awesome, for lack of a better word..

So if you’re looking for a great, fun, fast read this summer, you’re going to love Alive. Drop everything and start it now! Comes out today on amazon.

N.B. I just found out that this is the first in a trilogy. It ends in such a way that I had no idea! I’m super excited for the sequel, when do we get it?

*Not that I have anything against YA! It’s the whole “Cash Cow” mentally that’s bugging me these days. You can tell when a book is written just for the money of it, taking everything that appeals to the key demographic and shoving it together for optimum readership. Thankfully, this is not that book.