Thursday, February 21, 2013

9. Life on a Rock

Life on a Rock by K. A. Albury

I read a lot of travelogues and have traveled to similar places myself so I was very interested to read this book when I stumbled upon it, unfortunately it didn't live up to what I had hoped for. A number of the exceedingly high reviews and comments come from people that seem to know Mrs. Albury personally, and I have to say that probably has an effect on their ratings. As a completely objective reader I did find the writing to be just OK, more in line with a travel journal a family member might write on vacation than anything. It also must be noted that much of the book really goes nowhere or accomplishes anything of real value, and many stories abruptly end or major events that get built up to and then are never explained. There are some small vignettes of specific events and happenings that are very engrossing and enjoyable, exciting even, but they are few and far between and get mired in a lot of repetitive bits. It also is very hard for an unbiased reader to not pick up on some glaring issues and themes. These are relatively well-off people that are not used to manual labor and actual work, and for all of the complaining and whinging it is hard to feel sympathetic. The author attempts to portray herself as a sympathetic figure but it just falls entirely flat. There are complaints about money throughout being tight but they buy a 19' Mako boat on a whim, take trips all over the place, own a horse, fly whenever/wherever they want, and more. It really is just a rich couple having to live like normal people, and still far above the level of most around them. That brings me to my next issue, and one another reviewer of this book mentioned. The portrayal and attitude towards the local staff members comes off very poorly. I won't go so far as to say racist as someone else did but that isn't far off. This book has some good aspects to it but on the whole it is tedious and tiresome and there are just so many truly wonderful books in this genre that it isn't worth the effort. 2/5 (Poor)

8. An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington

An Idiot Abroad: The Travel Diaries of Karl Pilkington by Karl Pilkington

An Idiot Abroad is an excellent show that I can't recommend highly enough to everyone. Rarely does a show consistently make me laugh so hard that I have to pause multiple times, every single episode. I also adore travelogues and love to experience new places and cultures myself. I received this book as a gift and had no idea what to expect going into it. Unfortunately it doesn't hit the same beats as the show in text. There were a few laugh out loud moments but few and far between and the whole thing seems a bit hastily thrown together, which I'm sure it was. Pages upon pages of filler phone conversations transcribed and some bits used and re-used in the text turned me off a bit. It does offer a little insight to some behind the scenes happenings during filming as well as some adventures that didn't make it to air but again it feels a little weak when all is said and done. It is an OK quick read for fans of the show, but I wouldn't go out of my way to read it. 3/5 (Good)

7. The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects

The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects by Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola is best known for his work on the popular Hellboy series which spun off into B.P.R.D. as well as a number of other projects. Lately he has dropped the artist role and focused on just the writing. I am actually not the biggest fan of his writing but his art can be absolutely amazing, which is why I have been going back and checking out a few of the odd-balls I missed in the past where he took on both roles. The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects is a collection of shorter works, some new and some reprinted. It didn't hit the mark for me in almost any respect. Some of the art is very good but it just doesn't have much soul or emotion and the writing is much the same. Bland. 2/5 (Poor)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

6. Daisy Kutter: The Last Train

Daisy Kutter: The Last Train by Kazu Kibuishi

This was an awesome Kickstarter campaign to finally reprint a great story that tells the tale of a cowgirl lured back into action set in a steampunk world. My copy came with a great signed sketch of Daisy on the inside as well as a bookmark and a postcard-sized print since I was a backer of the project which was a major bonus! This was a book that had been under my radar when first released but I was familiar with Kibuishi's work on other titles and I love anything in a steampunk setting so I took a chance and supported a great artist/creator. Completely glad I did! Excellent artwork and even though the story could use a bit more oompf in places it really creates a complete world with fleshed-out characters and is a place I would love to visit again sometime if a new adventure ever awaits Daisy. 4/5 (Excellent)

Friday, January 11, 2013

5. Batman: The Chalice

Batman: The Chalice written by Chuck Dixon and illustrated by John Van Fleet

This, by all accounts, should have been my holy grail of Batman books, Chuck Dixon is one of my favorites especially for his work on G.I. Joe and while I had not been familiar with him before, John Van Fleet's artwork is unique and even amazing at times. The artwork has a sort of flat, 2D, Cel-shaded look that seems like it is almost computer-generated which isn't my usual kind of thing but really works for me here. The only time it fails is when actual 3D/CGI elements are used like some particularly bad and out of place 3D bullets. The writing is odd at best. It is all over the place and just never finds the mark with characters seeming like almost caricature more than anything and Bruce/Batman handled very minimally and in an unskilled way. That was the big flaw because with a slightly better storyline this had the makings of a good, quick, Batman tale that was a little outside of the usual fare. Bummer. I'm glad I own it for the unique artwork but that's about it. 2/5 (Poor)

4. Rust Volume 2: Secrets of the Cell

Rust Volume 2: Secrets of the Cell by Royden Lepp

The first volume of Rust was a major standout for me because it was unexpected and amazing in so many ways that I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel ever since. Cloth-covered foil-embossed hardcover, amazing printing, and paper stock that is so thick you think you've flipped two or three pages at a time which is the kind of quality Archaia is known for. The artwork is deceptive in that while basically monotone and lacking detailed backgrounds it draws you in so immersively into a mood and a feel that you actually enter the world. Rust is short on words but they are effectively used and with just the right amount of room to breathe and take everything in to create your own narrative at times. I felt like I didn't go on as much of a journey with this second volume which was a slight letdown and it finished without a lot of resolution or new development in what is pretty clearly a set up for the third volume advertised on the last page. I think more could have been done with this volume and it wasn't very satisfying but it let me step into the world of Rust again which was like visiting a familiar place after a long time away. 3/5 (Good)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3. Iron: Or, the War After

Iron: Or, the War After by Shane-Michael Vidaurri

I pre-ordered this graphic novel last April the instant I saw the artwork, and I devoured it the instant it finally shipped a few days ago. The artwork is entirely comprised of watercolor pieces that are simply breathtaking, sadly the story doesn't come close to the same level as the artwork. It is a basic tale of post-wartime rebellion and resistance told with anthropomorphic characters and feels a little rushed at times and a little hokey at others and is not very satisfying on any level. The publisher, Archaia, has a special place in my heart for the outstanding quality and effort they put into their books and this is no exception, the cloth-covered hardcover is a thing of beauty and they never fail to impress me. A good effort with gorgeous artwork and not a lot else though. 3/5 (Good)

2. The Wizard Lord (The Annals of the Chosen, Book 1)

The Wizard Lord (The Annals of the Chosen, Book 1) by Lawrence Watt-Evans

I read a lot of fantasy and many series are comprised of a lot of filler over the duration, The Wizard Lord manages to out-filler even the worst offenders in just a single book! 90% of the book is spent on the most mundane and unimportant things ever as well as walking around from place to place with almost nothing of value happening or coming from it. I actually laughed out loud at the grand finale that the whole book leads up to, which to say was anti-climactic would be grossly overselling it even. Characters constantly restate the obvious, and what little plot there is, when so little happens that you could not possibly forget and the "twist" could only be surprising to someone that has never read even a children's book before. The reason it is all so disappointing is that at its core there is a great kernel of an idea here and easily could have been not just OK, but exceptional. This work falls very short of the mark in almost every possible way. 2/5 (Poor)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

1. ABAKAN 2288: Kallamity's World of Mecha Design Part One

ABAKAN 2288: Kallamity's World of Mecha Design Part One by Luca Zampriolo

This is a book I had hanging around my saved cart for a very long time and for some reason I never pulled the trigger on. Luca's work is nothing short of amazing, so it wasn't that, I just didn't know what to expect from a book that seemed like a bit of a mix of prose, art, how-to, and more. It ended up being a bit of a disjointed mix, just as I had suspected, but it still manages to be very good as a whole. The story/prose part I could do without, but it is serviceable, and I loved the artwork as well as the actual models and some of the process/how-to info was excellent, however some is also sub-par. If you have any interest in modelling, toys, design, mechs, art, sculpture, or any related area then this is definitely worth picking up, there is something for everyone inside. 3/5 (Good)


After a complete disaster last year where my book list got mangled and lost due to a server crash with the website I was using to track it, I've decided to come back to my trusty 52 in 52 blog! I had one of the biggest years ever last year which made it particularly painful to lose. The final tally was 129 books and 328 comics!