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Final Post

As you might know, about a month ago I set up a blog focused on writing and personal reflections over at wordpress. I did this knowing that I probably wouldn't have time to update both that blog, and this blog, and the events of the last month have pretty much verified that. This is a symptom of just how busy I've been this year, as I've really focused my attention on writing, and publishing. When you add in my other commitments (my day jobs, my relationships, planning my upcoming wedding), I have come to realize that temporaryworlds just isn't a priority for me any more. It's become something I have to squeeze in, instead of something I look forward to. And when I make time for the book blog, that ends up taking away from other hobbies, including reading!

The second reason for closing down this blog is I've begun to think of the ethical issues of keeping up a book review blog as I'm trying to become a published author myself. Call me over sensitive, but something about that just doesn't fit. Perhaps it's because I don't see book blogging as just as place for people to gush their favorite books, or trash the ones they hate. Book blogs, and reviews from the public in general, are a way to keep authors, publishers, and the rest of the book world on their toes. In a world where the industry often seems more interested in jumping onto the latest trend (vampires, dystopias, etc.), a good book reviewer never forgets that whether the purpose of a work is to enlighten, educate, or just entertain, a level of quality should be expected. A book is more than a collection of tropes and trends. It is a tiny universe contained in a neat little package, designed to engage us as readers in a way which makes us FEEL ALL THE FEELS. And by rewarding the exceptional, calling out the mediocre and everything in between, reviewers make sure that the people on the other side of the fence are kept honest. And if I'm planning on one day standing on the "author" side of the fence, can I continue to be depended on to write fair reviews? Maybe you can, but it just doesn't seem right for me.

For these reasons, I've decided to shut the place down. In a lot of ways, this feels like a big deal for me. I know that temporaryworlds has never been a big blog, but I've been posting since December of 2008. Over a hundred people find my reviews worth at least glancing at, if not reading. It feels strange to be putting that all to rest. If you're interested, I can still be found on the internet, talking about books. I will use my goodreads as a way to share my informal thoughts on books. Seeing as my new blog is pretty open (I mean, I talked about the Laundromat once on there), I suspect that I will post about the books, movies and comic books I read from time to time, just not as regularly as I would here. I also have a pretty active twitter account where I yammer on about everything (usually in large chunks at the end of the day).

For those who have been there, whether you've been a vocal or silent participant, thank you for everything. And for all of you book bloggers and reviewers out there, I hope that you will be the ones to keep me on my toes if my work ever is found in print.
Title: Fables, Vol 15: Rose RedRoseRed
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham
Series: Fables (Vol 15)

The following review has spoilers for previous volumes in the Fables series. Any spoilers for Rose Red are placed under a cut.

Ever since the death of Boy Blue, Rose Red has wallowed in depression, neglecting everything from basic hygiene to her duties as head of the farm. Her time in isolation is filled with hallucinations, beginning with the severed head of one of the three little pigs, and eventually moving to her mother. When she sees the image of her mother, Rose Red begins to think back on her childhood with Snow White, and her deepest regrets of early adulthood. Meanwhile, Frau Totenkinder has drawn all of her strength together for one epic battle with Mr. Dark. Will the powers of one witch be able to take down such an unstoppable force?

I'm impressed. Despite being at its fifteenth volume with Rose Red, Fables has delivered one of its strongest collections. The graphic novel is worth reading for the first arc alone, which focuses Rose Red's back story. This is is an example of Fables at it's most fairy tale-like, as the beginning of Rose and Snow's story is very much a straightforward retelling of "Snow White and Rose Red." The deeper we get into the story, the darker it becomes, resulting in tragedy for both sisters. This arc is an great example of how Fables does such a good job of handling female characters, a task that the more mainstream titles often struggle with. Rose is a wonderfully flawed character. Yes, she has made terrible mistakes, but you can't help but see where she's coming from and feel sorry for her for it.
Another example of Fable's awesome female characters can be found in “Single Combat." This massive hundredth issue of the series focuses on Frau Totenkinder's epic battle with Mr. Dark. This is a truly great issue, starting with the tense build up in the first pages, and continuing to its shocking conclusion. It's impossible not read "Single Combat" and not wonder where the series will go next.

Final Thoughts: If you're already this far in the Fables series, there's really no reason not to continue further. Rose Red, the fifteenth volume in the graphic novel series, really hits all of the right notes. The storyarc focused on Rose Red is a great example of compelling characterization and storytelling, while “Single Combat" has fantastic suspense and action. This is a volume not to be missed. Five Stars

GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Witches

Title: Fables, Vol 14: WitchesFables14
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham
Series: Fables (Vol 14)

The following review has spoilers for previous volumes in the Fables Series. Any spoilers for Witches are placed under a cut.

Mr. Dark has taken over Fabletown, sending the Fables running to The Farm. While The Farm's leader, Rose Red, wallows in depression, the Fables' strongest spellcasters (Frau Totenkinder, Ozma, Ghepetto) plan their next moves. Meanwhile, Bufkin the flying monkey has been trapped in the collapsed remains of Fabletown's business office, where none other than the terrifying Baba Yaga has been awakened. Can one little monkey stand up against such a powerful witch?

After a highly disappointing thirteenth volume, Witches represents a welcome return to form for Bill Willingham's Fables comic book series. The focus is back on the ever creepy Mr. Dark, and our heroes attempts to come up with a plan to thwart him. This can make the graphic novel feel more like a set up for a greater event than anything else, but the interpersonal struggles between the Fables have always been one of the series strengths, and Willingham does a good job with this aspect here. Witches, as one might expect, really puts the emphasis on the witches and spellcasters of the series, bringing one of my personal favorite, Fray Totenkinder, to the forefront, as well as introducing a new powerful player, Ozma. The storyline involving Bufkin seems like all fun and games at first, but I actually found myself to be very engaged by the end. After the main story arc is complete, the graphic novel finishes up with a two-issue series that takes place in the land of Haven. When a baseball game turns dark, Flycatcher might have to reevaluate the way he rules his country. I'm not always a fan of these side arcs, but "Out to the Ball Game" does a great job of giving us a glimpse into the life of one of the series's most beloved characters.

Final Thoughts: Witches is a highly satisfying volume in the Fables franchise. With this volume, we are able to move more deeply into the Mr. Dark storyline, and meet new characters as well as get to see different sides of old ones. Mark Buckingham's artwork continues to impress, as does Bill Willingham's ability to craft complex, yet likable characters. With Witches, Fables proves that it's still running strong, despite being the fourteenth volume of the series. Four and a Half Stars

Sunday Post: 06/09/13

Here's What You Might Have Missed Last Week
Monday- AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Night of the Living Trekkies by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall

Here's What's Coming Up Next Week!
Monday- GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Fables, Vol 14- Witches by Bill Willingham
Wednesday- GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: Fables, Vol 15- Rose Red by Bill Willingham
Friday- BOOK REVIEW: A Star Shall Fall by Marie Brennan

Looking for more posts? Check out my writing blog. My most recent posts are about my current projects, and the topic of voice.
Title: Night of the Living TrekkiesNightoftheLivingTrekkies
Author: Kevin David Anderson, Sam Stall
Audiobook Narrator: Zach McLarty

Jim Pike is a former Star Trek nerd who's love for the optimistic franchise has been squashed by two tours in Afghanistan. When the hotel that Jim works in hosts a Star Trek convention, Jim finds himself coming face to face with his former obsession, that and a horde of zombies. Somehow, the undead have infiltrated the hotel. The more time passes, the more people get infected. Joining forces with a group of nerds (including his younger sister Rayna), Jim must find a way to stay alive and escape the hotel before it's too late.

Similar to John Scalzi's recent publication, Red Shirts, Night of the Living Trekkies is a Star Trek parody, so it really helps that you go into the book being an existing fan of the franchise. Those who enjoyed Red Shirts may find themselves a little disappointed by the story, which can feel a bit shallow in comparison. Although Night of the Living Trekkies may lack depth, it does a pretty good job of what it sets out to do: delivering a fun, fast read filled with zombie action and plenty of Star Trek references.

The humor of Night of the Living Trekkies comes from two places: witty dialogue between the characters, and purely ridiculous moments when Star Trek meets the undead. Although my knowledge of the Star Trek universe is not the most expansive (I've watched most of The Next Generation, and have seen a handful of episodes from Deep Space 9 and The Original Series. I've also seen some of the movies), I can tell that the authors have really done their homework. Each chapter is named after a Star Trek episodes and the references often venture into the obscure. Although the book is mostly fun and games, it does star a cast of likable characters, many of whom die before the book ends (although not all of them seem to get the deaths that they deserve). These occasional serious moments, give the book a gravity it elevates it from being just pure fluff. Night of the Living Trekkies also examines the trademark Star Trek optimism, and puts it to the test when dealing with less than optimistic situations.

Thought on the Audiobook: Unlike the authors, I suspect Zach McLarty is not a die hard Star Trek fan, as he does mispronounce a few things. Still, I thought he did a good job delivering this action packed story, and I was pretty happy with his variety of voices.

Final Thoughts: If you happen to be someone who enjoys both Star Trek and the zombie genre, than this parody is a good match for you. Although it can feel shallow at times, Night of the Living Trekkies has a solid balance between laugh out loud humor, action sequences, and great character moments. I'm happy I ended up listening to it. Four Stars

Monthly Reflections: May 2013

Books and Audiobooks ReadGlamourinGlass
Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (four and a half stars)
The Magician's Guild by Trudi Canavan (two and a half stars)
Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal (four and a half stars)
Kitty Rocks the House by Carrie Vaughn (four stars)
Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (five stars)
Inside out by Maria V. Snyder (three and a half stars)
Wool by Hugh Howey (four stars)
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest (four and a half stars)
Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George (four stars)

Novellas Read
Gods of Risk by James S.A. Corey (four stars)

Other Reviews
Monday Movie Review: Iron Man 3 (three and a half stars)

Favorite Read
Barrayarboneshaker

Biggest Disappointment
The Magician's Guild

TBR Update and New Books
I was baaad this month when it came to book purchases. Forgive me, internet. Here's what I picked up:

  • Clockwork Phoenix 4 by Mike Allen (kickstarter reward)

  • Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold (audible sale)

  • For the Win by Cory Doctorow (paperbackswap market)

  • Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (paperbackswap market)

  • Shift by Hugh Howey (amazon sale)

  • Hearts, Thorns and Scales by Maya Kern (kickstarter reward)

  • Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal (audible credit)

  • Gone by Lisa McMann (paperbackswap)

  • The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson (amazon sale)

BOOK REVIEW: Princess of Glass

Title: Princess of GlassPrincessofGlass
Author: Jessica Day George
Series: Princess Series (Book 2)

Having spent every night of her young life forced to dance for a wicked king, Princess Poppy has already seen her fare share of dark magic. Her trip to Breton, as part of a royal exchange program to help forge alliances and marriages between nations, should be magic free. But a wicked creature known as the Corley has other ideas. If Poppy is to save the ones she cares about, she will have to do something she swore she'd never do again: dance.

In this follow up to Princess of the Midnight Ball, Jessica Day George proves that she has pretty much cornered the market on fun, lighthearted young adult fantasy books with romantic undertones. Like it's predecessor, Princess of Glass is a very fast read that one can easily plow through over a weekend (as I did). Unlike the first book in the series, Princess of Glass deals with it's fairy tale source material very differently. Princess of the Midnight Ball was a very straightforward retelling of “The Twelve Dancing Princess.” The sequel, on the other hand, takes a very different view of “Cinderella.” In this version, Cinderella is a fallen noble lady forced into service. Instead of braving through her new life as you would expect a young adult heroine to, Ellen reacts more realistically, sulkily and irritably. This doesn't make her the most likable character, but you need to give George credit for originality. Turning the fairy godmother into a villain also adds a different spice to the story.

I really like Poppy as a heroine. She certainly doesn't filter herself, which allows for some amusing dialogue. I also like how the book acknowledges the consequences of the events is Princess of the Midnight Ball. Under Stone may be defeated, but Poppy grew up under a wicked curse, and that's going to leave scars, regardless of the fact that her family often view her as “the strong one.” One area that I do feel that this book doesn't succeed in is the romance. Although the story presents a likable romantic interest (with a rather amusing back story involving over protective parents) the two lack chemistry. One can't help but feel that the only reason they end up together is simply because Poppy is the protagonist, and Christian is the romantic lead. The same goes for the two other couples that appear in this book

Final Thoughts: If you enjoyed Princess of the Midnight Ball, I would recommend checking out the sequel, Princess of Glass. Although I found the romance to be weak, it's still a quick, fun read starring an engaging heroine and featuring a unique twist on a very familiar fairy tale. Princess of Glass is pretty standalone. You don't have to have read Princess of the Midnight Ball to understand it, although there are some cameos you won't appreciate as much. I look forward to finishing off the trilogy with Princess of the Silver Woods. Four Stars

BOOK REVIEW: Boneshaker

Title: Boneshakerboneshaker
Author: Cherie Priest
Series: The Clockwork Century (Book #1)

Fifteen years ago, Leviticus Blue's giant drill engine, known as the Boneshaker, went loose below Seattle, releasing a toxic gas from beneath the earth that, if inhaled, turns its victims into mindless killing machines. Since then, Seattle has been blocked off from the rest of the world with its high walls. Blue's widow, Briar Wilkes, does her best to live a normal life with her fifteen-year-old son Ezekiel, but Zeke has questions about his father that Briar just can't bear to answer. Believing that Leviticus Blue was not the monster that everyone makes him out to be, Briar ventures into Seattle for answers. Fearing that this will be the death of him, Briar sets off after him. Will either of them be able to survive the horrors which exist inside of this forgotten city?

Boneshaker is the second book I've read by Cherie Priest, the first being her urban fantasy novel, Bloodshot. And while both books are fast paced reads, Boneshaker, a steampunk filled work of alternate history, reads very differently. I admire authors who are able to write different styles with more or less equal rates of success, which is something that Priest can accomplish. On top of being simply a well written novel, Boneshaker is just chock full of interesting stuff, including quirky characters, more action than you can shake a stick at, and plenty of steampunk gadgets.

I found Briar Wilkes to be a very well grounded heroine. She doesn't have a big, flashy personality, but there's a directness to her that I find very refreshing. She gets scared just as anyone else would in her situation, but continues to push forward out of love for her son. I enjoyed the portrait of mid-nineteenth century Seattle that Priest has crafted for us. The people that have chosen to inhabit the closed off city tend to be tough minded survivor types, which results in a lot of interesting side characters. even if some feel a little better developed than others. Priest also successfully blends two very popular tropes right now: zombies and steampunk. Some of the scenes with the “rotters” are pretty terrifying. I also enjoyed the books steampunk trappings, which includes everything from soaring airships, to clockwork limbs. I also must give Boneshaker credit for its villain. Despite his short time on screen (only a handful of scenes), he manages to make a real chilling impression.

Final Thoughts: If you're looking for an exciting work of alternate history, filled with zombie chase scenes, steampunk gagetry, and compelling characters, look no further then Cherie Priest's Boneshaker. I look forward to reading furthur in this series so I can see how Priest develops her world. Four and a Half Stars

Sunday Post: 05/26/13

Here's What You Might Have Missed Last Week
Monday- AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold
Wednesday- AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
Friday- BOOK REVIEW: Wool by Hugh Howey

Here's What's Coming Up This Week
Monday- BOOK REVIEW: Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
Wednesday- BOOK REVIEW: Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George
Friday- MONTHLY REFLECTIONS: May 2013

As a reminder, I have set up a writing blog over on wordpress! Here's a recent entry where I talk about trying to find time to write. If you're interested in following it, there is an option on the left sidebar to subscribe to future entries by e-mail.

BOOK REVIEW: Wool

Title: Wool, also known as Wool OmibusWoolHowey
Author: Hugh Howey
Series: Wool (Book 1)

In a post apocalyptic future, the outside world is toxic to the touch. As a result, humanity rests in a giant silo which extends underground for over a hundred floors. Inside the silo, a complex community has taken root, ruled by a mayor, and enforced by a sheriff. That us until Sheriff Holston does the unthinkable. He asks to me let outside. Still reeling over the death of his wife, Holston can't help but wonder if there's more to outside than he suspects. But the mysteries of outside are matched by the secrets that lay hidden within the silo itself.

Wool is one of those books that has been making a lot of noise lately. Originally self published as five interconnected omnibuses, the print version of Wool has recently been acquired by a traditional publisher and the rights purchased for a future film adaptation. Unlike a lot of big name self published work that have made the leap to the mainstream, such as Fifty Shades of Grey, Wool is not only praised for it's addictivenes, but for the quality of it's writing and storytelling. Admittedly, when I first picked it up, I didn't feel that way at all. I found the first novella (the shortest in the collection) to be painfully overwritten, despite it's unique twist in the end. Then partway way though the second novella, the story began to pick up. Buy the time I began the third section, I found myself honestly enjoying Wool and beginning to see what everyone was so excited about.

Part of the appeal of Wool is the mystery of the silo. What's really going on in IT? What's beyond the hill outside? Wool manages to strike a perfect balance between maintaining the mystery while not stringing the reader on without answers for an unnecessarily long amount of time. The writing becomes more streamlined with each section, and there are some truly suspenseful moments later in the book. I felt that some of the side characters felt like they could use a little more development, but I did really like the protagonist, Juliette.

Final Thoughts: Wool may require its reader to be patient at first, but it's certainly worth sticking around. Before I knew it, I was flying through the pages, wanting to know what happened next. I found the ending to be very satisfying, and am looking forward to going back in time to read Shift, the recently published prologue to Wool, which I already have waiting for me on my kindle. Four Stars

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