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Top 5 Wednesday: Independent Ladies

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This week the topic is: favorite leading ladies who aren’t distracted from getting shit done by their love interest.

Princess Leia from Star Wars

Princess Leia was getting shit done before a certain flyboy and scoundrel came into her life! She was a member of the Imperial Senate and a member of the Rebel Alliance when she was just a teenager and later became a General of the resistance. Her romance and later marriage to Han Solo were fit in between her amazing adventures.

Wonder Woman from the Kingdom Come storyline

When a new generation of heroes was failing and an impending apocalyptic event looms, Wonder Woman comes out of retirement to retrieve Superman who was in seclusion to save the world. The two of them, plus Batman, put everything right again and only after that does a romance between Diana and Clark develop. Loved the epilogue of this story!

Tyleet from the ElfQuest saga

Tyleet is a favorite character of mine from the ElfQuest series who is kind, patient and steady. As a second generation of the Wolfrider clan, she was single for hundreds of years before she unexpectedly “recognized” (when two elves are drawn together to create a child) an older elf Scouter. Despite her subsequent pregnancy Tyleet remained true to herself and in helping neighboring tribes of humans. Scouter learned to help her instead of stopping her from assisting those he had previously viewed as the enemy.

Officer Dana Cypress from the Revival series

Inexplicably, twenty three people come back to life in rural small town Wisconsin.Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. Officer Dana Cypress, a single mother and daughter of the sheriff, is asked to head the unit looking into this phenomenon. A problem arises when she discovers her younger sister is one of the “revivers”. She meets a scientist who is there to study the undead, and he becomes a love interest, but it is completely secondary to her solving the mystery.

Faith Herbert aka Zephyr of the Harbinger Renegades

Faith is a kick ass heroine! Not your typical scantily clad model type superhero chick, she transcends that stereotype and it becomes a non-issue. In this series, Faith has taken a break from the Renegades to discover herself. She still fights crime, but works as a journalist as her alter-ego. A new romance with another hero Archer is hinted at but her friendships remain a priority. She is a worthy adversary of any super villain, with promising future story lines.  You go girl!

I love how all these women are examples of how a woman can remain true to themselves while in the midst of a relationship. Women should be partners with the men they love and not subvert who they are.  These five examples of independent ladies are fantastic role models!

-Nancy

Top 5 Wednesday: Books Featuring Zombies!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This month’s T5W topics center around Halloween, and when asked to pick my favorite type of scary creature, I knew zombies was it!

Revival is a favorite of mine, and I have written a lot of posts about it. In this now completed series, twenty three people inexplicably come back to life in rural small town Wisconsin. The “Revivers” are not your typical zombies looking for braaaiins. Instead they quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. The series is being developed into a movie through Shatterglass Films.

Deluxe Edition One

Deluxe Edition Two

Deluxe Edition Three

Deluxe Edition Four

The Walking Dead is the grand-daddy of all zombie series.  A fascinating premise, that is getting a bit long in the tooth now, but is still beloved by many. I list the three compendiums I have reviewed on my blog, but I have also been keeping up with the smaller volumes as they come out, and putting reviews up on my Goodreads account.

Compendium One (Volumes 1-8)

Compendium Two (Volumes 9-16)

Compendium Three (Volumes 17-24)

This book must be listened to on audio…it was beyond good. The story covers the history of the world wide war against zombies, and the narrative covers a reporter getting first hand accounts from survivors that tell about the beginning of the epidemic, the resistance, and the aftermath of the zombie catastrophe.  Some of the standout characters/stories were Todd Wainio, the Redker Plan, the North Korea speculation, the female Russian soldier, the pilot of the downed plane, and the family at the Manitoba campsite. A tiny criticism, is that I figured out every supposed surprise in the stories, and the connections between the world-wide characters strained credibility. The actors voicing the characters in the audio edition were perfect- Mark Hamill! Nathan Fillon! Denise Crosby! Jeri Ryan! Common! Alan Alda! I will definitely be listening to this story again and again.

Negan has been a prominent villain in the long running The Walking Dead series, and is a perverse mix of monster and savior. The question of how he became so twisted and his backstory during the zombie apocalypse is explained in this book that just came out the same week of Volume 28.

After is a strong collection of nineteen short stories about life “after” a catastrophic event. As with any compilation with various authors, some are stronger than others. One of the standouts was  After the Cure by Carrie Ryan. It  took the zombie story trope and subverted it. Vail is a teenager that was previously a zombie like creature but was given a cure to rehabilitate her. Society has a hard time accepting those rehabilitated people back into their communities, and the people themselves still feel some degree of hunger and a need to be back with their undead packs. Despite the melancholic nature of this story, there was a nugget of hope built into the end.

Who would have thought that zombies could be so appealing, but my reading list doesn’t lie!

-Nancy

Hype or Like Friday: Books Set in a Small Town

As I live in a fairly small town, I decided to try this writing prompt from a Goodreads group that I belong to. This group was created by Jillian, Larkin and Britt who are book bloggers that want to share their opinions about overly hyped books.

 

This book ripped my heart out and stomped on it, yet I adored it. Senior year is starting for three high school misfit friends: Dill, Travis and Lydia. All three have different reasons for not fitting in with their rural Bible Belt Tennessee town, but their tight friendship buffers a lot of the ugliness surrounding them. Dill’s Pentecostal snake-handling preacher father is now behind bars for child pornography, leaving him and his mother deep in debt and shame. Travis deals with an abusive father whose shames him for being gentle and loving fantasy novels, while Lydia has caring parents but her edgy fashion blog alienates her high school peers. As Lydia prepares for a future in NYC after graduation, Dill and Travis have less prospects and worry about how their lives will change, especially Dill who secretly is in love with Lydia and dreads the future. A gut-wrenching incident affects one of the three, forever changing their dynamic. After it occurred, I was shocked. I had to put the book down for awhile and process what just happened. How the other two, and their family members cope (I ached for two of the mothers) bring the book to a poignant and hopeful conclusion. One drawback though was the portrayal of the Christians in the community. They were shown to be intolerant and judgmental, and a more balanced representation would have been welcome. But…overall, this was a brilliant book, that showed readers that they shouldn’t accept diminished dreams, they should strive to be the best they can.

All of Kent Haruf’s novels take place in fictional Holt, Colorado. Haruf is known for his plainspokeness and his beautiful but sparse writing style. His books are so true to life, and will make you feel like you have know these Holt residents for years. They are loosely chronological and have some recurring characters that move in and out of the books.  My Goodreads reviews:

The Tie That Binds   

  Where You Once Belonged         

Plainsong         Eventide

Benediction           Our Souls At Night

 

Briggs Land is an absolutely riveting new series about “an American family under siege” by both the government and their own hand. Set in rural upstate New York, Briggs Land is a hundred square mile oasis for people who want to live off the grid. Established in the Civil War era, the Briggs family would give sanctuary to those who wanted to live a simple life, but this anti-government colony has taken a dark turn in recent times. The village that grew within it’s fences has morphed into a breeding ground for white supremacy, domestic terrorism and money laundering.

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I bring up these two final books often. Revival was a favorite of mine from the beginning. Inexplicably, twenty three people come back to life in rural small town Wisconsin. The “Revivers” are not your typical zombies looking for braaaiins. Instead they quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. The series is being developed into a movie through Shatterglass Films.

One of the best graphic novels I have ever read, Locke & Key starts with a family tragedy as the Locke family is terrorized by two students who have an ax to grind with the father, Rendell, who is a high school guidance counselor.  After the father’s murder, the shattered family leaves California and heads to Massachusetts to start over at the Locke family estate, where Rendell’s younger brother Duncan provides them sanctuary. But alas, more evil awaits them there. This supernatural thriller set in a small coastal town is a winner and is being developed for a series on Hulu.

 

Living in a small town has it’s rewards, and all these novels give realistic representations of the joys and frustrations of knowing most everyone in town.

-Nancy

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I saw this recently and thought this would be a perfect mid-year review. I had fun going through my Goodreads data, and bonus, it highlights the other genres I read. My Goodreads challenge is 100 books, and I am currently at 59, so I am ahead of the game!

Best book you read in 2017 so far

Superman: American Alien was fresh and fun and exactly what I needed. It had seven short stories about what shaped Clark Kent into Superman, and was arranged chronologically from his childhood until his days in Metropolis. The stories fit right into Superman canon, and the different artists paired with author Max Landis made for a superb must read.

Best sequel you’ve read so far 

The conclusion to Revival had a poignant ending to the complete series, and felt true to the beginning. That I had a cameo in the last issue was an added bonus! Yes, I will find any excuse in the world to bring up again that I won a contest to be drawn into the series!

New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

This is a tiny bit of a cheat, as the third volume of ElfQuest: The Final Quest is released on July 11th, but I will purchase it soon afterwards. (BTW- The pec definition on the male elves is going a bit overboard)

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I am eagerly looking forward to Rainbow Rowell penning Runaways for Marvel! I thought the original had a great story line, so I think RR and Kris Anka working together will be gold.

Biggest disappointment

Civil War II– I feel like I have mentioned my disappointment in this book over and over again. I’m not even going to link the review- take my word for it.

Biggest surprise

Briggs Land by was recommended to me by Graham Crackers, my comic book store, and I was leery about reading about a rural armed white supremacy group- but it was very nuanced and timely to today’s political climate.

Favourite new author (Debut or new to you)

Jeff Zentner of The Serpent King. This book ripped my heart out, yet I adored it. I will definitely be reading what ever he writes next!

Newest fictional crush

I read a lot of graphic novels and YA books- and neither give me good options for a character that is crush worthy as I am a grown woman.

Newest favourite character

Botille from The Passion of Dolssa. Historical fiction at it’s finest! Set in 1241 in the countryside of Provensa France, after the bloody Crusades when religious fervor was still strong, the story details the unlikely friendship between Dolssa and Botille. Botille is a practical and loving peasant girl, whose act of kindness affects the whole town. I would want to be friends with her in real life.

Book that made you happy

The photography book Abandoned America:Dismantling the Dream  by Matthew Christopher made me happy. Why does looking at pictures of decaying and rotting building make me happy? I don’t know what that says about me, but I have followed this photographer and his website for years, and I like that he is achieving success for his passion. I enjoy learning about history and ponder modern society’s relationship with our past, and this book brings those thoughts to life.

Book that made you sad

Our Souls At Night by Kent Huruf was a beautifully melancholy novel, both in subject matter and in knowing this was Kent Haruf’s last novel. I have loved his Holt, Colorado set books, and will miss visiting the fictional town and feeling as if his townspeople are indeed real.

Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is a lovely book that is atypical in layout. It chronicles the scifi adventures of a group of people escaping from their planet that is under attack. Told through emails, schematics, military files, instant messages, medical reports and interviews- the graphics make for a fun read.

So there you have it- my mid year review! I could tag people, but as I wasn’t tagged myself and choose to do this, you can too!

-Nancy

Revival Movie!!!

 

Last Friday, when I reviewed the last volume of Revival, I said “My love affair with Revival has come to a close”. Little did I know that I was wrong- dead wrong. It was announced at the C2E2 Revival panel on Sunday that a live action film is in the works!!!  Tim Seeley and Sarah Fisher are writing the screenplay, and Luke Boyce will be directing through Shatterglass Films. Production starts in 2018, with no release date yet.

I am so very excited at this development, and am eager to hear who they will cast for Dana and Em. As for the pivotal role of Dr. McKay, I happen to know the perfect person to play her.  I shall patiently await a call from the director 😉

In the meantime, enjoy this teaser trailer that sets the tone for this outstanding supernatural thriller.

-Nancy

Revival Conclusion

My love affair with Revival has drawn to a close. When I discovered the series a year ago, there were six volumes already out, and I eagerly looked forward to the next two volumes as the story came to an epic conclusion.

Volume 7: Forward

There are entirely too many plot threads and characters in this next to last volume for me to imagine them adequately wrapped up in the upcoming final volume. Not only that, we were introduced to a few more…an Amish assassin and her daughter. What???

Now, I really enjoyed the what he/she wanted in life vs what they got storylines. Reality can end up being very different than what you envisioned, so this was great character development for some of the Wausau residents.

General Cale has rounded up the ghosts and continues to keep the Revivers in a holding facility, and it is unclear as to how much she really knows, and the motivations for her villainy. The ending of this volume throws everything into chaos, with many characters on the run. Not many puzzle pieces have fallen into place for me yet, so the ending of this series is anybody’s guess. I look forward to seeing how Seeley and Norton plan on wrapping up this intriguing series and hope that my favorite characters have a worthy conclusion to this mystery.

This is a picture of me!! I won a contest to have my cameo drawn into the last issue!

Volume 8: Just Stay A Little Bit Longer

The last volume was a poignant ending to the complete series, and felt true to the beginning. The series had such a promising start, and while I struggled a bit in the middle wondering where the mystery was headed and the climax was a bit rushed, it came together beautifully at the end.

There was a lot to cover in the conclusion of the series, as General Cale, the splinter militia groups and the escaped Revivers are in the woods and preparing for battle. Dana has finally put together the clues of who killed her sister Em (which made her a Reviver) and confronts that person (I resisted spoiling it for you!). She learns the connection between Em’s dead former lover Professor Weimar, the killer, and yet another character we have met; as the trio that caused the whole Reviver phenomenon.

Dana, the pregnant(!) Em and her killer head to the river to try to rectify the damage and stop the carnage, as death and chaos erupt nearby. Sacrifices are made, yet parting words of love are shared and the uneasy allegiance they had to strike to stop the madness works. The two page spread of an imagined future between two of the characters was so beautiful, that I teared up, and reread it several times simply to experience it’s emotional power again.

A sweet two year flash forward continues to show the resolution of the character arcs, and while one of my favorites didn’t live, their death was not in vain. A tease of a possible continuation of the story concludes this powerful and complex rural noir series.

As icing on the cake, I won a contest to have myself drawn in as a cameo in the last issue, and was thrilled to portray a doctor in two panels in the last pages. I will be talking about this honor and showing people my picture in the book until my dying day. Not only was that opportunity the very coolest, it was in one of my absolute favorite graphic novels!

I will be keeping my eyes out for future work from the skilled team of Tim Seeley and Mike Norton.  These talented men created an amazing fictional world that kept me enthralled for a year, for Seeley knew how to create a thrilling series, and Norton’s fantastic illustrations elevated the story to new heights.  So, if you  haven’t already, read for yourself the entire thrilling mystery!

-Nancy

Review of Deluxe Editions One, Two and Three.

How I got picked to get a Revival cameo.

*Disclosure- The Deluxe Edition Four is not out until May, but I used the cover, as that is how I have organized past reviews. (Look at the hands on the left, for it looks like two hands holding each other- symbolism??)

My Revival Cameo!

 

The last issue of Revival, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Mike Norton, was published yesterday and I was honored to have a cameo in it!

Last month I was surprised to be contacted by Mike Norton who let me know he had selected me from a contest that I had entered in December to have my likeness included in the concluding issue of the horror/supernatural series Revival. To say that I was thrilled was an understatement. I wrote a post about it, but being a pessimist in nature, I worried everyday that it wouldn’t be included. I headed to Graham Crackers as soon as I got off work, and the moment I walked in, the manager called me over and handed me a stack of the comics they had set aside for me. I flipped through it, and there I was, near the end!

Revival has been a favorite of mine since I first discovered it last April. I have reviewed the first six volumes (Deluxe Edition One, Two & Three) and plan to do another review post of volumes seven and eight once the eighth volume is released in graphic novel form in mid April. I also included it when Kathleen and I wrote our best graphic novels of 2016, before I even found out that I would be in the last issue. In fact, I think my hashtags on Twitter about this series, is what put me on Mike Norton’s radar. It obviously was meant to be.

I have included some of the messages and pictures from my communication with Mike Norton. My cameo was added in on his last day of drawing, so I quickly had to send him photographs of myself. He based most of my likeness off my first photo, and then refined it, once he had more photographs of me. Details like my green eyes, and beauty mark on my left chin were added in too. It was amazing to see my likeness in cartoon form, and to see the stages that it went through, from the first sketch to the final colored panels.

The last issue was a poignant ending to the complete series, and felt true to the beginning. The series had such a promising start, and while I struggled a bit in the middle wondering where the mystery was headed, it came together beautifully at the end. The resolution of the character arcs made sense, even if a favorite of mine didn’t live to the end. Thank you to Mike Norton for my cameo and bravo to the extended team who created this outstanding story!

-Nancy

revival
All pictures used with permission from Mike Norton/ Revival

 

I am going to to be in the last issue of Revival!!!

revival-47
Revival Issue 47- Image Comics

Back in December, I entered a contest through Crowdspire, in which the author Tim Seeley and illustrator Mike Norton of Revival paired with Patrick Rothfuss to raise money for Heifer International. If you sent in money to this worthy organization, you had a chance to have your likeness in the last issue of Revival, a horror- science fiction graphic novel with a rural noir feel.

Mike Norton contacted me today, and let me know that he choose me! ME!!! I sent him a few pictures, and he sent me back the two panels he drew me in. I’m not allowed to show his work until the issue is published, but I was thrilled with how it looked. Although I do know what character I’m drawn as, I do not know if I’ll be good or evil. I can not wait until February 22nd, when the last issue is released, and then in April when the issues are collected into graphic novel form.

I am thrilled and honored that I will play a small part in the Revival series, which I tagged as one of my Best Reads of 2016. Go ahead and catch up on the series by reading my reviews on Deluxe Edition One, Two and Three before the big finale!

Huge thanks to Mike Norton for choosing me!

-Nancy

**Edit- Here it is…check the final issue out! Dr. McKay is in the house!

 

Hype or Like Friday: Best Reads of 2016

So many good reads this year- some brand new series, or some that were new to us! This also marks a year that we have been blogging- as we created this blog for a school project we were working on in November 2015, and truly started adding content in December and early January. It has been quite a fun journey, and a lesson in time management to meet our (self-imposed) deadlines of posting! We’ve made friends with other bloggers, and found our tribe at WordPress!

We are connecting our best books of the year with a meme we are trying for the first time- Hype or Like Friday that we discovered on Goodreads. This meme was created by Jillian, Larkin and Britt who are book bloggers that want to share their opinions about overly hyped books.

locke-and-key-series

Nancy: My reading highlight was the Locke & Key series, written by Joe Hill and beautifully illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. Such an epic story- it had complex characters, moral dilemmas, a malevolent evil and an atmospheric setting that sucks you in.

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Kathleen: My favorite thing that I started reading this year was Fables (Vol. 1 of the Deluxe Edition). Timeless fairy tale figures living in modern New York City – what more could you ask for? The characterization is excellent, the plot twisting and riveting, and though I don’t normally like the art to vary too much, they really pick artists who fit the style of the story at any given time. Absolutely a must-read.

 

Revival

Nancy: Another series that I found outstanding was Revival, written by Tim Seeley and illustrated by Mike Norton.  It was an atypical living dead story, in which a handful of dead suddenly came back to life. They quietly rejoin their former lives, not even realizing or remembering their deaths. Their new existence sets the town on edge, with media scrutiny, a government quarantine and religious fanatics taking over the region. Seven of the planned eight volumes are out, and I eagerly look forward to the finale of the series early next year.

 

 

61kihhzxy3l-_sx328_bo1204203200_Kathleen: George Perez’s Wonder Woman (review coming soon!) is the acclaimed 1980’s reboot of your favorite heroine. It’s a great origin story for first time readers of Wonder Woman, as it’s easy to follow and heavily borrows the mythology from her Greek roots, which is always fascinating. The art is richly detailed, colorful, and full of light, as befitting the Amazon princess. Plus, cheesy ’80s dialogue galore! =P

 

 

 

The Outside Circle

Nancy: The Outside Circle, written by Patti LaBoucane-Benson and illustrated by Kelly Mellings,  tells the fictional tale of a Canadian First Nations man that comes to terms with his heritage and who begins to take responsibility for his life. The story is based on the reality that many Native people face (in Canada and the US), for the government took away thousands of children from their families over the years, breaking the circles of community and fragmenting generations of people with no connection to their tribe anymore.

 

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Kathleen: Seconds is not your typical coming-of-age story. Yeah, Katie is a 20-something who struggles with owning her own business, making friends, and with letting go of her ex… but she also gets a rare opportunity to start over by eating a magic mushroom. Soon, she starts eating one every night, but the more she tries to fix, the more she messes up. And the more she makes the house spirit angry with her. Rounded forms and warm colors belie the serious message within.

 

 

Kingdom Come

Nancy: Kingdom Come, written by Mark Waid and illustrated by Alex Ross was praised by IGN with the statement, “One of the greatest comic book stories of all time”, and they were not far off the mark. I am typically more a Marvel fan, but this DC story was fantastic for the moralistic debate story line. The artwork is top notch, with a distinctive photo-realism look and holds up 20 years after first being published. This book stays true to each character’s back story, so kudos to the team’s familiarity with the history of all the superheroes!  As such, the Epilogue was a perfect ending.

 

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Kathleen: High-fantasy readers, rejoice, for there is a comic out there just for you. Kurt Busiek’s The Autumnlands takes us to a world where animals speak, weave magic, and build cities in the sky. When their magic starts disappearing, the collective of wizards casts one last spell to bring a savior to their world – but the cost is too great, sending their city plummeting to the plains below. Can they survive what horrors await them in the night? Can their champion really save them? Features gorgeous, richly detailed art and beautiful writing.

 

 

invincibleNancy: The book Invincible took me by surprise this year, for it is overshadowed by writer Robert Kirkman’s more well known project (The Walking Dead) but I felt the world building in this one volume was as strong as DC & Marvel’s superhero worlds. We meet Mark, a new superhero, who is the son of Omni-Man. Later his world is turned upside down, with a twist that will surprise you, and his life changes forever with this new knowledge. This new development is a game changer and sets up endless stories for the future. Sadly, this series is drawing to a close soon, but I will enjoy binge reading the rest of the books soon.

 

 

600full-birds-of-prey3a-vol-1-of-like-minds-cover

Kathleen: My last one was a toss-up between Birds of Prey and Bombshells… and Birds of Prey won. I know! Strike me down where I stand!!! They both feature a wide and varied cast of female superheroes, which I love, but Birds of Prey has the core three whom you can’t help rooting for. It has been wonderful to see how Barbara, Dinah, and Helena come together and become a family despite their differences. Exotic locales, action-packed stories, and hilarious dialogue have made this series near and dear to my heart.

 

There you have it – our ten best books/series of 2016. Thank you for all the support, comments, and friendship that you’ve all given us. We are so happy to have you all with us =D Happy holidays!!! ❤

– Nancy & Kathleen

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