Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Books Received in May 2016

Many thanks to the publishers who gave me access to the following advance reader copies.

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman - Out June 14th, I've already finished this book and will be posting my review of it soon.  It's a fun steampunk mystery on the hunt for special books.

One thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction...

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it's already been stolen. 
London's underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself...

The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan - This book sounds really interesting.   Out July 5th.

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Trading Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from captive or hunted Reds, Greens, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that bestow fearsome powers on the rare men and women known as the Blood-blessed.
But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighbouring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate’s last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.
Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered Blood-blessed who finds himself pressed into service by the Protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted lands in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an Ironship cruiser whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.
As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Shout-Out: Dark Run by Mike Brooks

In this debut space epic, a crew of thieves and con artists take on a job that could pay off a lot of debts in a corrupt galaxy where life is cheap and criminals are the best people in it.
The Keiko is a ship of smugglers, soldiers of fortune, and adventurers travelling Earth’s colony planets searching for the next job. And they never talk about their past—until now.
Captain Ichabod Drift is being blackmailed. He has to deliver a special cargo to Earth, and no one can know they’re there. It’s what they call a dark run…And it may be their last.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Book Art Project part 3

You can read parts 1 and 2 to see how I got to this point in my art project.

With the pages glued together it was time to start painting.  I used black acrylic paint and did a fairly good covering.  I wanted to leave a hint of book, so the page edges aren't completely black.  For the covers - since it's glossy paper - I used a layer of gesso as primer before painting over it.

I added some brown (twice) trying to get some contrast but you can't really see it.  I was afraid of messing the project up and I really liked the black (think of watching a Bob Ross painting video where he makes a change and it looks horrible until he does something else that makes it look wonderful.  I was afraid I'd be stuck in the horrible phase and so was afraid of doing things that might make it look even better if done correctly).

I realized that the joined pages at the bottom still wouldn't give my figures much standing room (even assuming the base of the cut out sections were properly flat - which they weren't - so I cut out a rounded piece of cardboard and glued it on as a platform.

I ended up going back in with some pink glow in the dark paint as a kind of cave luminescence.  I'm not sure I'm happy with that...

For the cover/spine, I wanted to build the book up to look like a mountain, so I added several layers of hot glue.  Turns out it takes a lot of hot glue to do that, so I didn't do as much of that as I'd planned. I'm deluding myself into thinking it looks a bit like Devil's Tower.  :)  Paint worked on the glue better than I'd expected.

I used a matte acrylic sealant on the project before adding the final touches.  I used reindeer moss for the grass.  I left some space open as the figures don't stand that well on the moss.  Around the moss I glued down some twigs from a bush outside that looked tree like.  I'd intended to add some leaves (I bought flocking powder which hasn't arrived yet), but decided that with the black desolate landscape dead trees would look more authentic, so left them as is.

And here you have it.  My finished book art sculpture/D&D figure display stand.

The pewter figures are D&D miniatures I bought a LONG time ago.  The mythological creatures are soft plastic that I bought as a set at Michaels - unicorn, pegasus, several dragons.  I have permanent plans for some of them.  I also have plans to make one or two more of these stands.  I want one that isn't painted, that shows off more text and has a less square display box, and one that uses more colour, where I do add blossoms or leaves to the trees, flowers, etc.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Shout-Out: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge by Paul Kreuger

College grad Bailey Chen has all of the usual new-adult demons: no cash, no job offers, and a rocky relationship with Zane, the only friend still around when she moves back home. But her demons become a lot more literal when Zane introduces Bailey to his cadre of monster-fighting bartenders. It turns out supernatural creatures are stalking the streets of Chicago, and they can be hunted only with the help of magically mixed cocktails: vodka grants super-strength, whiskey offers the power of telekinesis, and tequila lets its drinker fire blasts of elemental energy. But will these supernatural powers be enough for Bailey and a ragtag band of mixologists to halt a mysterious rash of gruesome deaths? Includes 13 cocktail recipes from an ancient book of cocktail lore.

The Quirk Books site has an excerpt if you're interested in reading a sample.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Video: Minecraft Exploding Creeper Candy

I really enjoy Screen Team's Cosplay Kitchen. Here's one of their older episodes for all the Minecraft fans out there. :)

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Book Review: Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Pros: brilliant characters, great premise

Cons: underdeveloped, mystery’s fairly easy to solve

Seventeen year old Nancy is starting at a new boarding school. But this isn’t just any school, it’s a school for kids who have found doorways to other worlds, kids who can’t forget their experiences and adventures and who want to return to their real homes in those worlds. And one of them is willing to kill to find their doorway.

I loved the premise of this novella, that kids who went to other worlds (fairylands, underworlds, nonsense realms, etc.) would come back changed, and would want to return to those places. I also liked how their parents weren’t too happy with the changes, and how society viewed their ‘odd’ stories, assuming mental illness.

The characters were fantastic. What a fun bunch of misfits. You’re told that a particular type of person finds these doorways, and that shows in how these youths act. They tend to be older than their years, speaking with a refreshing frankness. They’re a diverse bunch with several sexualities and genders represented. Having an asexual protagonist was neat, as it’s a perspective not generally used.

While interesting, the murder mystery is fairly easy to solve. And the shortness of the book meant that things wrapped up pretty quickly.

I really enjoyed this story. It was a fast read, and while I’d have loved for it to be a full length novel, the author made some great observations about humanity.


I was left confused as to why the killer started murdering people when they did. I’d assumed it would have something to do with Nancy’s arrival - that she had a part the killer needed or something. But no, there appeared to be no reason why they waited so long to start their spree.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Shout-Out: It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble

In 1916, Emma O’Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging—as do the Ryans, her family’s business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she’s in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O’Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder—Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives.
On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the founding members of the Church of Light and their descendants. Over the years, a series of murders—whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her—indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma’s hope for finding the boy she’s certain is still out there . . .