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By Jessica Brister On 12 Nov, 2017 At 04:09 PM | Categorized As Books, Editorials, Featured, Opinion, Reviews | With 0 Comments

No GravatarWhen looking at epic fantasy series, many times a first book can be a little slow, typically concentrating on a lot of set-up for later books.  Initially, when I heard about The Way of Kings, the first book in Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive series, the most talked-about feature was the one-thousand plus page length.  When my husband brought home the hard-cover edition, I took one look at that thing and immediately put the title on the back-burner.  I went through Sanderson’s Mistborn series and liked it, but I thought that I was going to have a hard time getting into a first book that long.

I was totally wrong.

 The Way of Kings is one of the best fantasy books that I have ever read.  Actually, it is probably one of the best books I have ever read period, and I don’t say that lightly either.  As a former English teacher, I have many wonderful titles on my list of must-reads.  I have to say, though, The Way of Kings really is a fantastic read.  Here’s why:

Despite the epic length of The Way of Kings, the story is extremely fast-paced.  Sanderson is an expert at dangling little pieces of information at the right points to make the reader want to keep reading, despite the daunting size of the text.  The story revolves around a handful of characters living in the inhospitable land of Roshar, a land of storms and stone.  This book focuses on Kaladin, a former soldier turned slave, as he struggles with his purpose in life and the group of slaves he adopts as his own.  They truly are dealing with horrific conditions as the kingdoms of Roshar battle a mysterious enemy who killed their High King.  But as Kaladin tries to keep his men alive, he begins to realize that they are not much more than cannon fodder, and the righteous war that they were supposed to be fighting is beginning to turn into nothing more than a petty political scheme.

The nobility of the kingdoms in Roshar are obsessed with money, power, and Shardblades and Shardplates—extremely powerful weapons and armor from a different era, one which is lost in the echoes or Roshar’s distant history where the Knights Radiant protected the land from true horrors.  One book that recounts some of the former glory of these guardians is The Way of Kings, a text that Brightlord Dalinar Kholin is obsessed with.  The brother of the slain king, Dalinar believes that the book has some secret meaning that may affect the future of the kingdoms.  Not everyone around him is so sure, since many doubt Dalinar’s sanity.

Meanwhile, in a seemingly irrelevant but extremely important side story, a young woman named Shallan must figure out a way to steal an enormously valuable item from Dalinar’s niece, Jasnah, in order to restore her family’s position in society.  While getting close to Jasnah, Shallan soon discovers that Jasnah’s research may hold the key to the Knights Radiant and the real reason behind the war.

The Way of Kings covers everything from political intrigue to the horrors of war to racism and inherent bias.  There’s something for everyone.  Despite being such a lengthy novel, there’s not any filler.  Everything is important and as the story unfolds, the details masterfully build upon each other.  The story is also beautifully written.  Sanderson is an accomplished writer who creates prose that is truly an art form.  I do not say this about many contemporary authors.

One of the best aspects of The Way of Kings is the setting itself, which has a unique feel from most standard fantasy novels.  Roshar is a weather-beaten land where plants retract in and out of the rocks and most typical animals are crustacean-like beings with tough shells to withstand highstorms, which are fierce hurricane-like tempests that will destroy anyone and anything in their path.  Cities and towns are built specifically with these storms in mind, and travel can be a quite rough.  The lore and history as well as the cultures and people of Roshar are fascinating and add depth to the marvelous world Sanderson has created.

The main characters are memorable and relatable.  I happened to really connect with Kaladin, and I ended up learning a few things about myself through his eyes.  All of the main characters have multiple flaws but also many redeeming qualities, making them believable and realistic.  The reader is drawn in to their plights and is concerned for their well-being, wanting them to succeed.

There are multiple conflicts: some from other characters, some from the war, and some that are internal struggles, which creates a well-rounded story line.  Yes, it might be a hefty read, but everything pulls together so nicely that most readers probably won’t mind.  I certainly didn’t.  In fact, I felt a bit lost after finishing it.  I got that let-down feeling after I finish a book when it is so good that I never want it to end, and when it does end, I get depressed.  The Way of Kings did that to me.  Luckily, I was a little late to the game when I read it, so it didn’t take me very long to get my hands on the second book, Words of Radiance (review coming soon).

The Way of Kings did come out in 2010, so this review may appear to come out at an odd time, but don’t forget that the third book of the series, Oathbringer, will be out November 14, so this is a great time to play catch-up if you haven’t started on this series yet.  I cannot praise these books enough.  They really are the next great fantasy series of our time.

Oh, and those who enjoy listening to their books, the book tape version of The Way of Kings is amazing.  I did one read through and one listen through of the book and cannot say enough about the production of the audio book.

By Jonathan Balofsky On 27 Oct, 2017 At 10:36 AM | Categorized As Books, Featured, Otaku Music, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments

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Chris Jericho is well known for his time in WWE and his band Fozzy. He has chronicled his life and experiences over three previous books and now has turned his attention to making his new book about life lessons mixed with autobiographical details. With his trademark wit, Jericho takes us through the journey of an entertainer and a person and lets us in on his lessons learned.

The book is not arranged in traditional chapters like his Jericho’s previous books, but instead each chapter is a different lesson and covers a different part of Jericho’s life and experience. He details in full abut meeting Paul Stanley and getting invited to exclusive Grammy parties, auditioning for America’s Funniest Home Videos and having drinks with Hulk Hogan and Kevin Nash while on a flight. Each of these involves a different life lesson and Jericho plays the part of the teacher well.

I have to say that I truly enjoy Jericho’s writing, and the format chosen for this new book is a great idea. It allows Jericho to tell numerous stories and details and what to take away from them, and also leave people wanting more, thus setting up his next book if he should write one. While some parts are a bit much to read ( Jericho going on in detail about his drinking habits) there is much to like in the book and just get lost in his writing. Whether you are a WWE fan or a music fan, or just a fan of good writing, there is something for everyone. Jericho gives more detail about his early years in wrestling in Calgary and what he learned from other wrestlers for example. He also discusses how one should sell themselves when trying to get a job or make a pitch. When emphasizing not to take no for an answer, Jericho goes into detail about what you can accomplish if you stick to that idea. And music fans will appreciate his discussions of the industry, his interactions with stars like the late Lemmy Kilmister as well as what it took to get Fozzy ahead.

There is also plenty of humor included, whether it be jokes about things that had occurred, or just the interactions themselves. Jericho definitely knows how to tell a story and this is a good one. it may bill itself as a guide, but it is a guide based on experience and that experience is what we all need to know more of.

 

No Is A Four-Letter Word is available in stores now.

By Nate VanLindt On 5 Mar, 2017 At 06:12 PM | Categorized As Books, Editorials, Featured | With 0 Comments

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Since the advent of Harry Potter, the popularity of teen and children’s writers has skyrocketed.  As many adults are reading these books as kids are and bookstores have assembled whole sections of their stores for the wide variety of teen material available.  Much of the volume of material available tends towards teen science fiction and fantasy, following in the Potter and Hunger Games trends.  Other writers have branched out into suspense and even horror.  But this isn’t a new genre.  A few spectacular writers broke ground in these genres decades ago.  One of these early few was the esteemed young adult writer John Bellairs. 

Bellairs wrote several books in the mid to late 60s, ranging from religious parody to fantasy.   In the early 1970s, he wrote a dark fantasy novel for adults, but publishers recommended he rewrite the book for young readers and in 1973, The House With a Clock in its Walls was born.  With artwork by the legendary artist Edward Gorey, The House With a Clock in its Walls found immediate success.

Bellairs’ flair for the macabre along with Gorey’s edgy panels drew together a uniquely dark story.   His characters were realistic, flawed, and captivating.  The villains had no issues torturing and killing children, much like the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales and this stark look at the supernatural underbelly of 1950s New England went on to win 5 literary awards between 1973 and 1982.  He went on to win 13 more awards for his other books as well.  But Bellairs wasn’t done.

He went on to write a total of 15 children’s horror novels primarily focusing on three main characters.  Of those 15 books, 12 were stunningly illustrated by Edward Gorey.  Notably, the Dial hardcover library editions of Bellairs’ books feature wraparound dust jacket artwork by Gorey and a unique font, creating a wondrous and foreboding atmosphere before even opening the books themselves.

What’s truly remarkable about Bellairs’ work, however, is how enduring it is and how well it has aged.  Each book comes in at around 150-200 pages, but the length belies the quality of the content.  Evil wizards and sorcerers abound and time travel, human sacrifice, and Armageddon are common themes.  They aren’t simply dark, though.  The characters are well-written, the stories cohesive and self-contained.  For an adult going back to re-read these books, they have managed to stay compelling and powerful and should be a must-read for the kid who loves a scary story in all of us.

John Bellairs died in 1991 at the age of 53, but he left a legacy of fiction for all of us to treasure.  Several movies and shows have been made of his work based on The House With a Clock in its Walls and The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn, but they are extremely difficult to locate and have low production value.  Eric Kripke, of Supernatural fame, has been rumored to be working on a current movie adaptation of The House With a Clock in its Walls, but the project has yet to have materialized.  Kripke is said to have been inspired by Bellairs’ work as a child.  With any luck, a modern movie of Bellairs’ seminal work will inspire a whole new generation in the years to come. 

For those that are interested, most of John Bellairs’s books are in print (and have been continuously since their release) and available on Amazon or at your local library.  An original set of the Dial hardcover library editions can run upwards of $500.00 on eBay, even for ex-library copies.  A fan tribute website still runs to this day.

 

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By Jessica Brister On 25 Jul, 2016 At 10:19 PM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews, Toys and Merchandise | With 0 Comments

No GravatarA lot of geek parents often like to share their various fandoms with their children. Call it the perks of being a totally cool parent and all. I am no exception. I love doing geeky stuff with my daughter. When Disney purchased the Star Wars franchise and the release of The Force Awakens, there have been a lot more novelty items out there for fans to love than there used to be. My daughter received a boxed set of Star Wars Little Golden books for her birthday that follow the first six movies. If you don’t know, Little Golden books are children’s books with a gold-colored binding on them. Many of you may have read them as kids or are currently reading them to your kids. I read Episodes I through III with my daughter, and we moved on to the meat of Star Wars: Oh, yes, it’s time for A New Hope!

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Star Wars: A New Hope (Little Golden Book Edition) was written by Geof Smith and illustrated by Caleb Meurer. It was published in 2015 by Golden Books. I got this particular book in a packaged deal with five other Star Wars episodes as children’s books, but for the purpose of this review, I will only be discussing A New Hope.
The book focuses on the main plot points of the movie. Young Luke Skywalker dreams of bigger and better things when he meets Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi who wants to show him the ways of the force. On a desparate mission to deliver a set of stolen plans for a battle station capable of destroying planets, they meet up with a smuggler and a beautiful princess. The rest is history. Of course, I’m assuming that if you are interested in this book, you probably already know the rest, so I’ll spare you the details.
I adored being able to go through the little kid’s version of A New Hope. There is something very special about sharing this story with my daughter. The story itself works really well as a kid’s book. Well, except for the fact that an entire planet is destroyed, but I thought the book did a good job of glossing over that fact and sticking to the characters instead.
The book is aimed at older children and has no rhyming or rhythm to it. It is definitely story-oriented instead of focusing on teaching a concept. The book only comes with regular soft pages with a hard cover, so you may want to watch this book with very young children. They tend to like to destroy things, and this is very much not a board book.
The illustrations were great, though the faces looked a little more mature than some of the previous illustrators in this Little Golden Book series. They really helped further along the story when necessary. There are pictures on every page as well as text, and they kept my daughter’s interest as we read through it.

Overall, this is a cute book as a novelty Star Wars children’s book. It is a fun way to share your love of the franchise with the movie that started it all. I recommend it for any geek parent.

By Jessica Brister On 13 Jul, 2016 At 01:31 AM | Categorized As Featured, Reviews, Toys and Merchandise | With 0 Comments

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Did you know that someone put all of those Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim books into a set of physical, hard-bound books? No? Well, neither did I, until I shockingly received one for my birthday. And then I totally fell in love with the novelty of it all.
23308496The Skyrim Library Volume 1: The Histories was (obviously) written by the talented people at Bethesda. However, it was published in a physical edition in 2015 by Titan Books. What you get is a fairly nice hard-bound book with the Skyrim logo indented on the front and back covers, plus the name of the book done the same way on the front.
The contents includes all of the history books from the game, some Skyrim books, as well as Morrowind and dragon books. It’s a pretty nice collection for those who love everything Elder Scrolls, especially Skyrim. There is nothing new here, however. It’s just a reprint of the virtual books in the game.
The real treasure in this book are the illustrations, which are gorgeously done. They are not on every page. Some are done half pages. Others are complete pages. But they are beautiful. From Skyrim landscapes to characters to weapons, this is a beautiful edition to any collector. All of the pages are tinted to a beige huge with a “worn” look on them, so this is not an average printing.
A word of caution: This is a novelty book. Plain and simple. If you love Skyrim so much that you would want this on your bookshelf, then guarantee that you will love this book. If you casually love Skyrim, then it’s probably not going to spark your interest. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just move along.
By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 23 Jul, 2013 At 09:15 PM | Categorized As Animation, News, Toys and Merchandise, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments
Adventure Time Encyclopaedia

No GravatarThe first official guide to everything Adventure Time, The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia: Inhabitants, Lore, Spells, and Ancient Crypt Warnings of the Land of Ooo Circa 19.56 B.G.E – 501 A.G.E. was officially released yesterday. The extremely long title covers almost everything that the book will be talking about, giving Adventure Time fans a closer look at their favorite post apocalyptic world. The book’s margins also have notes from Finn, Jake, and Marceline.

Compiled by Marceline’s dad, His Lowness Hunson Abadeer, Lord of Evil, and translated from the Scrolls of Ooo by Martin Olson, it’s as legit as can be!

Adventure Time Encyclopaedia

This can now be found at your local comic book shop or regular book shop. If you live in the middle of nowhere, harvest the power of the Internet!

By SarahTheRebel On 1 Jul, 2013 At 02:35 AM | Categorized As Comics/Manga, News | With 0 Comments

No GravatarThis summer, Dark Horse Comics is publishing CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices, an authoritative yet accessible handbook designed to help librarians, educators, and parents navigate the vast and popular field of manga. Prepared by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the freedom to read, CBLDF Presents Manga provides what you really need to know about manga from those who really know about it! The book will premiere at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, June 27–July 2, and at Anime Expo in Los Angeles, July 4–7.

librarian guide to manga

Made possible with a grant from the Gaiman Foundation, CBLDF Presents Manga is a handbook designed to provide a concise and informed overview of manga—its history, genres, and issues. This educational work delves into the history of manga, its major demographic divisions, its most significant creators, and the challenges it has sometimes faced in North America.

What sets this book apart from other manga guides is its expert panel of writers, including not only scholars of the medium, but veterans of the manga industry itself—professionals who have worked from both the North American and Japanese sides of manga in publishing, editing, review, and library services. Edited by Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf, CBLDF Presents Manga is written by Manga Bookshelf columnist Sean Gaffney, Ed Chavez of Vertical, Erica Friedman of Yuricon and ALC Publishing, Shaenon Garrity of Viz Media and Otaku USA, and Robin Brenner and Katherine Dacey of School Library Journal.

CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices will be on sale in comic shops everywhere December 4.

I would love to see more books like this so we can continue to fight the blind hatred/misunderstanding of manga as well as help parents make smart book choices for their kids.

About Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers. CBLDF provides legal referrals, representation, advice, assistance, and education in furtherance of these goals.

By calanagear On 29 Jul, 2011 At 08:43 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Uncategorized | With 0 Comments

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Like most other parents, I am always busy. Nonetheless, I love to read and listen to audiobooks, and just happened to have gotten two new credits in my audible account ( now all I need is a bunch of GOG games and I am good to go). One book that I have been dying to get a hold of is Reality is Broken. Written by Dr. Jane McGonigal who is ‘ a world-renowned designer of alternate reality games — or, games that are designed to improve real lives and solve real problems’, the book argues that games are helpful in a myriad of ways, from making us happier to inspiring us. HOW LONG HAVE WE GAMERS BEEN TRYING TO EXPLAIN THIS TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY? Seriously. Thank God this book was written.  And I love that a woman wrote it 🙂

 

 

For my horror fix, I’ve downloaded Listening to Ian Magick by Tamworth Grice. You can get it for 99 cents on amazon, so check it out Kindle users!  I also just found a copy of A House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs. If you haven’t read him before, you should. Bellairs is the king of gothic literature, that makes R L Stine look…well bad. I read Bellairs as a child and his work has influenced my writing and my choice of video games and movies. He stands in a league of his own, and I can’t wait to reread his books.

I have also been drooling over the board game Betrayal at House on the Hill.  One of my favorite games growing up was Shrieks and Creaks, which took me forever to remember the name. I finally ordered it from eBay and adored it; my craving for more board games prompted my husband to find this one for me. Check out the demo!!

Being the Brit and geek that I am, Network DVD is tempting me, like usual. They release super hard to find shows ( like cult kids and horror classics) that no one else has the balls to release. If you are a horror lover, check out King Of The Castle. It’s incredibly strange and wonderful, and they are the only place to release it. I want  Baffled ( featuring Leonard Nimoy) and The Dark Angel ( with Peter O’ Toole).

As far as music is concerned, I am a HUGE fan of soundtracks. You could say I am obsessed, and my collection is incredibly odd and random. I like Argento OSTs ( especially Goblin), and lean towards darker movies and shows. I really, really can’t wait to listen to the complete Dark Shadows Complete Soundtrack Collection. It is amazing. That show was so unique, and way ahead of its time. I want to listen to it while I clean, just to make myself feel like I am cleaning some haunted manor, instead of my home. I need some atmosphere damnit.

If I had the cash, I would splurge on Valtiel and/or A LoveCraft Retrospective  What are your must haves or wants for the summer?