Sunday, July 31, 2011

SDCC 2011: Artists

I had the privilege of meeting many artists at Comic-Con. There are literally hundreds of artists featured there through the Artists' Alley, the Fantasy Illustrators area, and through individual booths. Here are a few of my favorites and their amazing work.

1) Todd Lockwood is at Comic-Con every year. He has his own booth and sells prints of his original work as well as his art for Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering. He's happy to talk to fans of his work and even give advice to aspiring artists. My boyfriend and I buy a print from him every year. Here are some of his works:

an epic portrait of Stephen Colbert

Phyrexian Obliterator from Magic the Gathering

2) Rebecca Guay is a wonderful artist who I've seen as synonymous with Magic since I started playing. Her style is much different than typically used in Magic today, but I love her work and still use many of her cards in my deck. She typically uses watercolors and has such a beautiful and delicate style. Two graphic novels are coming out soon that she has illustrated.

The first is The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen. Here's the synopsis from Dark Horse Comics: "Two hundred years ago, humans drove the last of the dragons from the islands of May. For two hundred years, they have gone about their lives, fishing and farming, never expecting the great wyrms to return. But now, the last of the dragons has risen, and the islanders must once again band together in the face of a threat greater than any their peaceful lives have prepared them to battle." The plot sounds intriguing and I know the art will be gorgeous.

The second release is A Flight of Angels. Here's the synopsis from Amazon: "The diverse mythology of angels is explored in this lushly painted graphic novel from high-profile fantasy authors including Holly Black (The Spiderwick Chronicles) and Bill Willingham (FABLES).

Deep in the woods outside of a magical kingdom, a strange group of faeries and forest creatures discover a nearly dead angel, bleeding and unconscious with a sword by his side. They call a tribunal to decide his fate, each telling stories that delve into different interpretations of these winged, celestial beings: tales of dangerous angels, all-powerful angels, guardian angels and death angels, that range from the mystical to the mysterious to the macabre.

This original graphic novel spotlights the painted work of award-winning artist Rebecca Guay, whose other workds include the Vertigo titles VEILS and DESTINY: A CHRONICLE OF DEATHS FORETOLD, as well as World of Warcraft, Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons."

This sounds amazing! Angels, especially in YA literature of late, are kind of annoying and there isn't a lot of range. I really want to read this for a different take on angels AND Holly Black and Bill Willingham are two of my favorite fantasy authors.

3) Steve Argyle is one of my favorite Magic artists. He draws a lot of angels and vampires, both of which I use extensively in my various decks. His work is always incredibly detailed with different textures. He's also really nice and not averse to altering his own artwork in funny ways. Here are some of my favorite works by him.

The new Liliana Vess

Admonition Angel

Panels tomorrow and then I'll be having a giveaway!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

SDCC 2011: Author Signings and Sightings, Part 2

More Comic-Con author events!

1) Mira Grant's zombie series is one of my very favorite in the genre. Imagine how excited I was when the awesome people at the Orbit booth told me she was going to be there on Friday AND they were giving out her books. I had kicked myself multiple times for not bringing just about every book I own just in case the author was there as was the case when I found out Erin Morgenstern and Ransom Riggs were at the Con. I was so excited that I showed up an hour and a half early for the signing. My boyfriend and I wandered away and returned a restrained thirty minutes early. We weren't allowed to create a line, so I milled around their booth and the Mysterious Galaxy book across the way. I found a fellow zombie novel enthusiast and we chatted about Deadline and how we need the next book now! Anyway, Mira Grant AKA Seanan McGuire was really nice and showed that she does extensive research to make the science in her books as cutting edge as possible. A reviewer said Deadline descended into science fantasy, but she had read articles about scientists a brain imaging technique to teach untrained mice what trained mice know using a brain scan. I don't know all the particulars (mostly because I tried to research it and it made my brain spin), but it's being considered as future treatment for Alzheimer's. I would love to know more about it. I really respect authors that put that much work into their novel to make it believable and realistic to the readers. Plus the chainsaw in her signature is fantastic!

2) Right after Mira Grant's signing was Diana Rowland's signing of her new book My Life as a White Trash Zombie at the Mysterious Galaxy booth. I love the eye-catching cover to the book and I just love zombies, so of course I had to get it. She has another series that's an urban fantasy police procedural that sounded really interesting. She gave me the third book in the series, Secrets of the Demon, so now I have to start with the first one. I like the concept and I haven't really seen a serial killer in an urban fantasy context (excluding the third Dexter book, which I hate with a fiery passion).

3) The third signing of the day was for The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks of the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman MD. My sister just read this book and considers it one of the best zombie books she's ever read. It's kind of hard to impress her, so I'm even more excited about this book than I otherwise would be. The other draw for me besides zombies is that it's written by a medical doctor who can give some interesting insight into the mechanics of zombies. My boyfriend and I again arrived pretty early for the signing. We actually arrived just about the same time as Steven, so I got to chat with him. It turns out we both love Scandinavian horror films, such as Let the Right One In and Dead Snow. We both desperately want to see Trollhunter, a documentary style horror film. Of course we talked about zombies and that led to George A. Romero, a friend of his who regularly educates him on classic horror and cinema. He signed my and my boyfriend's books earlier than scheduled and I ask him if he would like to be interviewed along with the review I will post during the September Zombies event. He was happy to do so and I can't wait to read his book so I can formulate questions to ask.

4) My last signing of the day was at the Penguin Teen booth where they gave out copies Nightshade and Andrea Cremer signed them. The line was super long and completely covered the DK booth next to it where there was another signing for a Star Wars Encyclopedia. The lady in the booth was pretty mad, but it was easily fixed by folding the line over on itself in the middle of the hallway, making traffic around there even more congested. *sigh* By this time, I was super tired, but I managed to remember to actually take a picture. Her steampunky outfit was awesome and she was really bubbly. I wasn't the biggest fan of Nightshade because I really hate misogynistic and abusive pack practices typical of werewolf novels. However, I really enjoyed her writing and Calla, the strong female protagonist, so I do want to read Wolfsbane.

So many zombie books, so little time. Artists tomorrow!

Friday, July 29, 2011

SDCC 2011: Author Signings and Sightings, Part 1

Ok. Now that I don't feel like just curling up in a ball and sleeping all day due to this stupid cough, I can get on with my blog. Yay! Anyway, I saw quite a few authors at Comic-con. Many more than in previous years. Some were doing formal signings and some I just found by crazy random happenstance. Of course, being me, I get so excited in most cases that I forget that there is a camera around my neck and thus there are no pictures of most of the authors I saw. *sigh*

1) Erin Morgenstern was signing at the Summit Entertainment booth. Her book isn't actually out yet, so she was signing posters for The Night Circus. It's going to be made into a film by Summit, which I am totally looking forward to. I just got to speak to her for a couple of minutes, shouting over the crazy announcer guy's running commentary of her signing and giving away of Twilight stuff, but I paused the line and let her know how much I enjoyed her book. She was super sweet and I hope she comes to the LA area for her book tour in September.

2) Isaac Marion did a signing at the Mysterious Galaxy booth. I sprinted there first thing to get a ticket in line because his book Warm Bodies is one of my absolute favorite zombie books. Because I was not going to miss him, my boyfriend and I were the first people in line. He was really nice and let me know about his blog, Burning Building (where he just posted about some casting for the movie version of his book and mused about a possible sequel) and a short story prequel to Warm Bodies that he finds better than the novel that will be coming out in the future. I will be looking out for that new release because we can never have too much zombie goodness.

3) My boyfriend and I ate at this awesome Italian restaurant called Chianti and we were on our way back to the convention center when I noticed 2 things: there was a guy wearing a Christopher Moore Bite Me T-shirt and that the same guy was Scott Sigler, author of Infected, Contagious, and Ancestor. I didn't want to bother him since he was just having dinner with his friends, but my boyfriend thought we should at least say hi. He wasn't annoyed at all and even recognized us from the 3 signings he did in LA over the past few years that we'd been to. I asked about his upcoming books and my boyfriend talked to him about Metallica. On Sunday, he was having a gathering in a sports bar of his fans, but we weren't staying that long. :( I can't wait for Pandemic, the last of the Infected trilogy, and the reissue of Nocturnal.

More author signings tomorrow!

*** I apologize that the flash on my camera blasts the crap out of everything. And yes, I really am that pale. ***

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

SDCC 2011: Awesome Costume Sightings

I'm still feeling a bit sick from the weekend, so I'm doing another picture filled post! There were a lot of people in costume at Comic-Con, but only a few were truly awesome. One of my favorite parts the event is marveling at the originality or hilarity or just plain awesomeness of the different costumes. Enjoy!

* Daenerys Stormborn from Game of Thrones eating a horse heart

* Consuela from Family Guy (We need more lemon Pledge.)

* Rincewind with the Luggage from Terry Pratchett's Discworld. You can't see it, but he even had "wizzard" on his hat.

* The best ensemble ever: Indiana Jones, his father, the Guardian Knight, and Elsa Schneider

* Blind Mag from Repo! the Genetic Opera

* a weird melding of Edward and Jacob from Twilight. Hilarious! I've never seen so much body glitter in my life.

* some creepy guy dressed as Pedobear...

* Tony Stark from Iron Man

* These people I met brought this fake turtle and dressed him like Leonardo from TMNT. So adorable!

Author sightings at Comic-Con post tomorrow!

Monday, July 25, 2011

In My Mailbox: Comic-Con Edition

Well, I can say I have survived 2 whole days of Comic-Con with lots of soreness and a horrible cough. I had tons of fun though. I wanted to start with sharing the stuff I brought home.

Stuff I bought:

* Box set of A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin (one is missing because my friend needed to read it)
* My Life as a Teenage Zombie by Diana Rowland
* Zombie Dice game
* Kirby Krackle CD and pin pack
* Absolute Sandman Volume 1
* West Nile Virus Giant Microbe

* 2 of the latest Lenore comics
* a print of Angelic Renewal by Rebecca Guay
* a print of Kalitas, Blood Chief of Ghet by Todd Lockwood

* a playmat of the awesome new art for the Magic planeswalker Liliana

Free stuff

* Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
* Feed and Deadline by Mira Grant
* The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
* Crossed by Ally Condie
* Greywalker by Kat Richardson
* Star Carrier by Ian Douglas
* The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
* The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks of the Apocalypse by Steven C. Schlozman MD
* Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland
* Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey
* Genesis of Shannara by Terry Brooks
* Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind
* Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
* The Relic Hunter by Catherine Fisher
* 3 sampler books

* Miscellenious pins and bracelets

More about Comic-Con tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Unexpected Fanart

I found a few unexpected style or mediums of nerdy fanart and I wanted to share them with you!

1) I randomly found this Doctor Hoo shirt on random searching through the internet. I desperately want it, but sadly it's been sold out since I found it. It depicts all the Doctors as owls and the artist eerily captures their look and personality.

2) I love this photograph. The lyrics on her shoulder are from the awesome Firefly theme song. I love the vivid colors. The entire thing is just beautiful. This was featured on deviantArt and taken by ~Kaylasaur.

3) This fanart is of the 4 main companions of the last 5 seasons of Doctor Who in an Art Nouveau style but with a slightly modern twist. Each companion is given a flower and symbol that coincides with their personality. This was found on deviantArt by ~strawberrygina.

4) This one takes Monet's painting Woman with Parasol and inserts Darth Vadar instead. It's just made of awesome. This work is from deviantArt by ~limpfish.

Well, that's it for now. I won't be posting anything until Saturday when I come back from San Diego. :D

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Internet Awesomeness: SDCC Edition

In honor of Comic-con, I have decided to compile videos having to do with anything nerdy or comic and game related.

1) This is an awesome video of Magneto from X-Men singing his own parody of Lady Gaga's Born This Way. I discovered this just after I saw X-Men First Class, which actually wasn't terrible like I thought it was going to be. Anyway, I suspect this version is even better than the original.

2) Mario Kart Love Song is a super cute song that is exactly what it sounds like. Yay for nerdy love,

3) I saw this super cute video on A kid decided to recite the Doctor's epic monologue from The Pandorica Opens for his talent show. He just looks adorable in his bowtie and even Steven Moffat can't deny this kid's talent when he tweeted the link and wrote "Oh well - clearly Matt's time is up."

Here's the speech recited by Matt Smith for comparison.

4) Kirby Krackle, my favorite nerd band, has just come out with a new album called Super Powered Love (which I am totally buying at Comic-Con). This is the first single with the same name as the album about a guy worrying about his superhero girlfriend.

Monday, July 18, 2011

SDCC 2011 is Almost Here!

I'm practically vibrating with excitement because San Diego Comic Con is almost here! Unlike the past 3 years, I am going to be there for 2 days, which I've never done before. YAY! Here is a song that captures my feelings by my favorite nerd band Kirby Krackle.

Here are some of the things I plan to do/see:

* Deadliest Warrior: Vampires vs. Zombies
* Game of Thrones
* History of the Modern Zombie
* The Walking Dead
* Magic the Gathering

Fun stuff & awesome people I hope to see:
* The Guild signing
* Isaac Marion (author of Warm Bodies)
* Rebecca Guay
* Steve Argyle
* Todd Lockwood
* Roman Dirge
* Kirby Krackle
* Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog screening
* slightly advanced screening of Captain America (crosses fingers)
* plus super cool random stuff I don't hear about before the event

Have any of you guys been to SDCC or another type of convention? Please feel free to share what awesome things you did or people you saw!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Jenna Fox is seventeen years old and wakes up not remembering her entire life. Her parents tell her she was in a coma for a year after an accident. Nothing in her new life is familiar including her own body, but somehow she can recite large passages of literature and has an encyclopedic memory for useless facts and history. She is isolated in a small town with none of the friends she sees in the videos of her own unremembered life. Her parents are incredibly over protective, even forbidding her from telling others where they came from and why. Her grandmother is disdainful of her now, contrary to the videos she watches where her grandmother was previously loving and warm. It's obvious that family is keeping secrets from her. She wants to find out the truth and starts digging in the things her family has hidden and pushing her family for answers. As she slowly regains her memory, Jenna will stop at nothing to find out who she really is, but is she prepared for the truth?

I had avoided reading this for a while because its original cover made it look like a typical teen angstfest or romance, either of which I normally have no interest in. The second cover makes it much more apparent that a science fiction story was contained within it, which piqued my interest. It only took me a few hours to read the book because of the fluid and simple writing style. I liked the way the poetry at the beginning of each section and the short chapters played with the tempo of the book and made it feel like it passed by faster. By not being flowery or lyrical, the writing matches the tone and character of Jenna. She's a blank slate since she awakened from her coma and even her poetry is written in a frank, analytical manner. Jenna's point of view evolves throughout the novel as she slowly regains her memories and reconciles who she is in the present with who she was in the past. Much of the novel feels odd because of her inability to remember anything about herself and her uncanny ability to rattle off information about history, literature, and science. It's a weird dissonance that both Jenna and the reader feel that takes us deeper into the mystery. I enjoyed her evolution from an empty shell to a girl with a real personality of her own, not just based on some videos of her past self.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is perfect for a teen looking to be introduced to the science fiction genre. I, as a seasoned fan of the genre, still enjoyed the novel, but much of it was pretty predictable. Although young teen friendly, Mary Pearson isn't afraid to bring important and thought provoking questions to the reader's attention: Without memories, what is identity? What defines humanity in a being? Is there a line science shouldn't cross in regards to medical science? These questions make the reader examine their own reasons for their opinions and allows the reader to decide if the actions of the characters are right or wrong. These are questions still being posed in adult science fiction novels, but the young characters and clear writing just make these issues more accessible.

The only issue I had with the novel was the epilogue. I felt it was untrue to the characters and just seemed tacked on. Other than that, I really enjoyed it and I look forward to reading The Fox Inheritence. I would recommend this book to fans of Crashed by Robin Wasserman, which features similar themes and plot.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Once Upon a Read-a-thon: Final Update + Mini-Challenge

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

It's the last day of this awesome read-a-thon. I am pleased with the progress I've made. Here's my progress for the third day:

* Heartless by Gail Carriger, finished! 143 pages
* The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan, finished! 440 pages

Day 3 total: 583

Read-a-thon completed books:

* The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: 387 pages
* Halo by Alexandra Adornetto: 77 pages
* Heartless by Gail Carriger: 374 pages
* The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan: 440 pages

Total pages: 1,278 pages

Yay! I completed my goal plus a little bit more with finishing Halo.


Last Mini-Challenge! This one comes from Ashley of Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. The challenge is to recommend 2 books: one from anywhere and the second from those read for the read-a-thon.

Random read: Feed by Mira Grant
This is one of the best zombie books I have ever read. It's both cerebral with its scientific detail about the manmade accidental virus that turns people into zombies and action packed with its scenes of terrifying zombies and government conspiracies. This book will make you cringe with terror and also cry with sorrow. The writing just sucks you in and won't let go until you've finished the book. The second volume in the series is also excellent.

Read-a-thon read: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
This book took me the least amount of time to read because I simply couldn't put it down. It's about rival magicians fighting through their proteges and using the Night Circus as their playing field. The magic contained in the story is marvelous and like no other depiction I have read. The writing is unique, jumping through time, focusing on different characters, and even small portions where you walk through the circus within the story and marvel at the oddities and magic. There is tragic love, mystery, and a monochromatic circus at the center of it all. If you like The Prestige or The Illusionist or Big Fish, you will like the Night Circus.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Once Upon a Read-a-thon: Progress and Mini Challenge 2

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

Well, today was certainly not as productive reading wise as yesterday, mostly due to the fact that I spent 4 hours in my friends pool, ate lots of pizza, then watched the most awful movie on Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Netflix.

I only read 200 more pages of Heartless, bringing my page total up to 695.

My goal for today is to finish Heartless and also finish The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan. Wish me luck!


Mini Challenge 2!

YA Bliss asks for top 3 love triangles!

1) Peeta and Gale from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collings: I was disappointed when one of them was pretty much sabotaged in Mockingjay, but both of these boys were likeable and I rooted a little for both. I was always Team Gale though.

2) Eric and Bill from the Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris: I always go back and forth with them. Bill was really nice in the beginning, but messed up big time and became a huge jerk. By the latest book, he's become likeable again and definitely rivals Eric. I loved Eric ever since he lost his memory in the fourth book, but in the latest books, he's proved to be kind of awful. I think Sookie will return to Bill, but I like both characters so much that I don't really care who she ends up with.

3) Jared and Ian from The Host by Stephenie Meyer: This is the first book I've read where there is a love quadrangle thing with 4 people in 3 bodies. It's a weird thing when Jared loves the person in the body, but not the owner of the body and vice versa with Ian. I really loved this book and felt that the love quadrangle thingy was dealt with rather well and made for some really interesting situations I never would have thought of.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Once Upon a Read-a-thon: Progress and Mini Challenge

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

The first day of the Read-a-thon is over and I've been having so much fun! It's so nice just to take a day and read and relax. Here are the books I've read so far:

* The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - finished! 387 pages
* Halo by Alexandra Adornetto - started last week, finished! 77 pages
* Heartless by Gail Carriger - just started, 31 pages

Total pages: 495


Mini Challenge Time!

Baily at IBBookBlogging asks about mythology.

1) What is your favorite type of myth?

As a kid, I really liked Greek and Egyptian mythology. Now that I've studied mythology, I find that Sumerian and Meso-American mythologies aren't as well known, but are absolutely fascinating.

2) What is your favorite book with some type of mythology in it?

My favorite book with mythology in it is The Sandman Volume 9: The Kindly Ones. The story focuses on Hippolyta wrongly sending the Furies to Morpheus for kidnapping her son. It's one of my favorite in the series and I would highly recommend the entire series to everyone. My inner comparative world lit geek jumps for joy every time I read them because different mythologies and other famous texts can be seen threading through each installment.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Once Upon a Read-a-thon

Once Upon a Read-a-Thon

I'm participating in a wonderful read-a-thon that starts next Monday hosted by Reading Angel, Candace's Book Blog, and Pure Imagination. The thing that makes this read-a-thon special for me is that it spans three days. I've been interested in other read-a-thons, but they usually take place on a day where I'm busy and can't dedicate much time for reading.

Here are some books you can expect to see me reading next week:

1) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

2) The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

3) Heartless by Gail Carriger

This is hopefully just to begin and maybe other books will be included as well. I'm so excited!!! If you're interested in joining, go here and follow the instructions. You can win books or swag packs along the way as long as you participate in one challenge and make one progress post.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Blood Magic

Silla Kennicot receives a package in the mail from someone named the Deacon. It contains a notebook from her father full of spells that require Latin incantations, various arcane ingredients, and blood. Her father was a mild mannered Latin professor before he killed his wife and himself. Silla hasn't been the same since and this book just confuses her more. She tries a simple spell in the book and it actually works. Nick sees her do the spell and is attracted to and repelled by her at the same time. He recently moved to the town because of his annoying stepmother and he isn't happy in the small town when he's used to a bustling big city. Silla and Nick grow closer together and discover that both of their families used this blood magic. They, along with Silla's brother Reese, experiment with the magic. All is going well until a woman named Josephine wants Silla's father's body and possesses their friends and various animals to terrify and attack them. Will they be strong enough to beat Josephine when everyone things they are crazy and no one can help them?

I first heard of Blood Magic from a post by Maggie Stiefvater recommending it. I was intrigued by the premise and amused with the video Maggie made. Blood Magic is a wonderful debut for Tessa Gratton. In the mass of teen paranormal novels, this one stands out and separates itself from the pack. There were a lot of unexpected twists and turns along the way that aren't expected in the genre. In paranormal romances, the action and conflict tend to be not too dark or intense. This is not the case with Blood Magic. The villain is intensely, overwhelmingly evil. There is a point where Silla is literally doesn't trust anyone or anything around her because of the power to possess living things that our villain uses so masterfully. There were things done in the story that I never thought I would read in a YA book. Her methods along with the very nature of using blood for magic makes this the start of a deliciously dark series.

The characters were excellent and they were the driving force of the novel. Silla and Nick are both out of their element. The death of Silla's parents casts a shadow over her and her classmates think maybe whatever madness possessed her father is in her. She gets through the day by imagining different colored masks to go over her face that symbolizes the fake emotion she wants to exude. When she gets to know Nick, her masks shatter, leaving her true feelings bare. I loved the mask image throughout the novel and I can't express how much I love the name Drusilla. Nick is just as lost, but in a very different way. He was uprooted from his home in Chicago and forced to live in a small town where everyone thinks he's weird and he's at the bottom of the pecking order. He and his stepmother don't get along at all and he feels that she's just using his father. These two outcasts just fit together as a couple without any weird dominance issues or abuse. They made each other whole and gave each other a place in the world where they belonged.

The one complaint I have about the book is that the writing was too consistent, which is usually a good thing. Silla and Nick have alternating chapters that they narrate with diary entries from the villain sporadically inserted between. When reading, I couldn't tell whose narrative I was reading just based on the writing except for the diary entries. When writing in this format, the two voices should be more distinct so I don't have to keep flipping the beginning of the chapter to see what point of view it's coming from.

Blood Magic is a wonderful and dark debut novel. Those not afraid of a little blood will love this book. I eagerly look forward to whatever Tessa Gratton does next.

My rating 4.5/5 fishmuffins