Montreal Comiccon 2018 Haul

Welcome to a beautiful Tuesday! After an intense 3 day weekend at the Montreal Comiccon, I finally got all recuperated and caught up with everything, well, mostly. Yay to vacation time!  While I still have a ton of cosplay pictures to go through and event stuff to work on before sharing it tomorrow along with all the coverage links and such which I have over at That Moment In.

So, we’ll start with something light as always. I’m on quite a tight budget lately but I did manage to get a few things over at Montreal Comiccon.

Without further ado, here is the haul!

Books

I’m starting to feel like I buy a lot of books during the year at these Comiccon events. Oddly, its something that I tend to enjoy doing because I get to meet these independent authors. There was quite a few new names there (unless of course, I just didn’t realize they were there last year, which is also highly probable).

Afterdeath – Benoit Chartier

AfterDeath

One of those really memorable moments of meeting someone at Montreal Comiccon definitely goes to Benoit Chartier who has an incredible way of sharing a brief summary of his stories. While its easy to sell me on a YA fantasy paranormal novel of sorts like Afterdeath, when he started telling the summary of Red Nexus which is a sci-fi story and that is not exactly my top reading genre, he also got me curious and it sounded like a fun concept also. While I had a hard time deciding, I did ask for a suggestion on which he recommends, a hard decision I know but he ended up suggesting Afterdeath. There’s a high chance I’ll check out Red Nexus one day since its still on my mind.

The Violet Fox – Clare C. Marshall
Within – Clare C. Marshall

Clare C. Marshall

A final walk through of the exhibition led me to finding this booth. I’m a sucker for a nice book cover and after chatting with the author, she managed to convince me to give her books a shot. The stories sound really fun. Within is a horror book while The Violet Fox is the first book of a four book series (if I remember correctly).

Art

My Guardian Playlist by Johnni Kok

Johnni Kok

I have A LOT of Johnni Kok art at our house. If you look at my past few years of Montreal and Toronto Comiccon, you will see that it is quite the popular thing in our house. It probably has to do with his drawing style that fits what I love and well, the amount of Chinese painting hanging on my walls. Honestly, I was going for some fan art initially but his original pieces are on point! When he told the story of the inspiration behind this one called My Guardian Playlist, it was just something that I loved because I have a strong connection to music.

Don Rosa

Don Rosa

Check out our new Christmas art after we frame it of course. Its nice to switch things up and its been something I’ve been thinking about a long time. If you see Don Rosa at any conference, you should know that he has an incredible amount of knowledge and a passionate love for the origins of DuckTales which are comics form Carl Barks who is the creator of Scrooge McDuck. While I’m one of those people who have never read the source material, I love these characters a lot so this fits perfectly to what I love and Don Rosa draws beautiful. Just for the passion I saw, I’m definitely going to try and find these original comics.

This wraps up the Montreal Comiccon 2018 haul!
The event recap is coming up tomorrow!

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The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise by Bob Collopy

*Book received in exchange for honest review*

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy

The Phoenix Cycle

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edingburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen? – Goodreads

The Phoenix Cycle was a hard one to get immersed it. There is a lot of potential here for success. There is the dystopian factor and the world building and backstory of what this whole revolution is about for the characters versus those of higher rankings, General and the government. I’m going to be honest that as the characters started filing in frequently to the story, it started getting incredibly confusing to track who was loyal to who and what the whole deal was going on. I criticize the writing style here as it dwells on small facts a lot making it feel like it drags out a lot the story itself. At the same time, I also would say that the structure of the story also causes the idea itself to get lost in its potential depth and doesn’t deliver it. As mentioned before, the idea here has a lot of potential, it just wasn’t executed with a lack of engagement.

And then specifically one of the characters and only that character alone is written in what I suspect is an Irish accent. If everyone fighting in the IRA is supposed Irish then why only that person has this sort of writing and not the others. Actually, to write with someone’s spoken accent is more of script writing instead of say novel writing. It does nothing but make the reading harder and also makes it lack the uniformity that it needs, adding onto the frustration. Sad, because that character was one of the engaging ones to read. In terms of characters, there are a few main ones who are focused in the story, particularly mentioned in the synopsis above. “Mom” has the mystery behind her and she creates quite the mind-boggling situation. The IRA members perhaps are a little more interesting to read just because their cause seems so straightforward and yet so unclear. In terms of who seems like the focus, Steve is one of the main characters from the start as well but always feels very one dimensional.

Confusing, overly descriptive and way too complex for its own good. The Phoenix Cycle has been one of those frustrating reads that takes a whole lot of energy to get through. There are pet peeves in reading that it commits and doesn’t stay uniform to what it tries to achieve. There always seems to be a depths and layers that get carried away far too much than it has given enough time to build-up for. The Phoenix Cycle feels very much like other novels in its genre except lacking some of the polish it should have perhaps in the final editing phase within its structure and writing style.

Goodreads rating: 2 stars out of 5

Book received by:

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Blog Tour: The Phoenix Cycle by Bob Collopy (Promo & Giveaway)

The Phoenix Cycle

The Phoenix Cycle: The Best Shall Rise
By: Bob Collopy

The Phoenix Cycle

Publication Date: June 23, 2017
Published by: The Department of Smoke
Genre: Dystopian/YA/Sci-fi

Synopsis

New San Francisco is the last city standing on a world ravaged by storms of ash and debris. The city survived by putting the ideals of the American dream on steroids and inspiring its people to persevere, though they have become ruthless in the process. Its citizens are ruled by the General, who has made sure that his people understand that gentleness and pity have become weaknesses that nature no longer tolerates.

Now Steve and Leslie must choose whether they will apply for the General’s once in a lifetime opportunity to “Rise from the Ashes” and join the Inner Circle that rules the city. If they don’t, they will be damned to spend the rest of their lives in the ghettos of Edinburg, a place where virtual reality has become a government-subsidized addiction.

For Steve, the choice is easy. His loyalties lie with the IRA, a revolutionary army led by a voice only known as “Mom.” They are trying to overthrow the General and free the people of New San Francisco from the cruelties of the City Guard. Steve’s mission is to broadcast a recording of a speech that a famous philosopher died to tell. Many thousands have and will perish to get this message out, but is anyone willing to listen?

Goodreads

Excerpt

Every wrist in the stadium beeped. Every boy and girl glanced down at the face of their watch. “00:10” then “:09” then “:08.” Everyone turned their heads to the west. There it was. Right on time, as always. The nightly storm. A wall of blackness had lurched up into the sky, swallowing the setting sun. The hairs on Steve’s neck stood up, urging him to get the hell out

of there.

Instead he grabbed Leslie’s hand, who sat quietly quivering next to him, instinctively pressing her bow into her head for comfort. Steve knew her shaking wasn’t coming from Line’s yelling, the storm, or even the tank pointing at them. Her quivers never came from the barrel of a gun, no, the ragging agony she held within her was the very same thing that pushed him back into the sheets when the sun finally rose—are we going to lose each other?

Leslie’s mind pushed the feeling away for at least another moment. “It’ll be all right,” she whispered. Her brown eyes guided him to the dozens of mortar tubes pointing upward and outward on the vibrant green field and then to the perfect line of churning ash that approached the stands.

“Unity can only be achieved and be maintained when it is the STRONG who come together and fly under one flag! We, like no other in the world, have created a unity that has never broken, has never FLINCHED! When the rest of the world saw THAT—” Line’s long arm pointed at the coming avalanche of black— “They all fell to pieces!”

The earth began to quake as the wall rose over them. Someone screamed. The mortars on the field fired as one at the roiling sky. The blackness spilled over the stadium, then slid over the perimeter of the frizzing wall of static that had encapsulated the field. No Phoenix Cycler had seen—only heard rumors from past Cycle Pref parties—this blackness that was sliding over and them whispering their deaths.

Purchase Link: Amazon

About the Author

Bob Collopy

Bob is pretty dope. Firstly, his name is Bob, so…yea. Second, have you seen him rock that suit while in a maximum security prison? Epic.

Yea. That’s Bob. No psychological scarring with that author. Nope. Totally fine.

Gosh he looks good in suits.

Hey Have you read The Phoenix Cycle? He wrote that.

One suggestion before you read it and become one of those fans that leaves him roses by his doormat. Read her slowly. This book is not Twilight. She’s deeper than that. Take your time with her. Show the book you care. Cradle it and make it feel loved. If you do, she’ll be good to you. Go too fast and you’ll have no idea why she’s acting so crazy.

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Giveaway

The author is giving away 10 print copies (That’s right 10) and 5 Digital copies of his book so make sure you enter as the odds are definitely in you favor! (Giveaway will run from May 21st to May 30th)

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Blog Tour Organized by:

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Book Blitz: Screams You Hear by James Morris (Giveaway Included)

Screams You Hear

Screams You Hear
By James Morris

Check out my review here.

Screams You Hear

Genre: Horror/YA
Publication Date: January 8, 2018

Book Blurb

Murder and madness infect a small town.

For sixteen-year-old Ruthie Stroud, life on tiny Hemlock Island in the Pacific Northwest is an endless sea of boring green, in a place where everybody knows everybody’s business and nothing ever happens. Then her world is ripped apart when her parents divorce and a new man enters her mother’s life. But worse is yet to come.

When she drifts ashore on the mainland, hideously burned, Ruthie has a harrowing tale to tell. It begins with the murder of a family. It ends with her being the sole survivor of a cataclysm that sweeps her little island. As a detective attempts to unravel Ruthie’s story of murder and madness, only one horrifying conclusion can be drawn: whatever was isolated on remote Hemlock Island may now have come to the mainland. Is Ruthie safe? Is anyone?

Goodreads

Excerpt:
Chapter 1

I wake to pain, pain beyond comprehension, my skin on fire, only to find myself in a hospital bed, my arms bandaged, and wires snaking into machines. The burns are covered in white gauze and every motion, no matter how small, sends my nerves screaming. The air is heavy against my skin. And that smell. I can still smell the bitterness of my singed hair. I feel my head, expecting strands of hair, thick and wavy, but it’s gone. There are only splotches of emptiness, a topography of touch that alarms me. I wonder if it will ever grow back.

Tendrils of anxiety course through me, pulsing steadily. I need to wake up from whatever this is.

In spite of the pain, I caress my face and I have no eyebrows. Only stubble. No matter where I touch, my skin isn’t soft; it’s leather, a mask that rests too tightly against my skull. It’s like my skin is both expanding and contracting, pushing and pulling.

In the cyclone of terror, I remember. I remember everything.

I wish I didn’t. I wish it all away.

Around the room, there are no mirrors, and I know it’s no accident. It’s small comfort. I don’t want to see myself. I may never look in a mirror again. It’s only me and a bed, and colorful murals of elephants and giraffes on the wall, their cartoon smiles mocking me. I must be in the children’s wing, even though I’m sixteen. Next to me, an IV recedes into my vein. To my left is a button. It could be to call for assistance. Or to adjust the bed. But I think it’s something else. I think it’s for pain.

I could press it and disappear into numbness.

I could press it and just drift.

But there is something about pain. It’s the price of being alive.

The button is my litmus test.

I am stronger than my pain. I need to focus on something—anything. I need to distract myself.

I am not my pain.

I am Ruthie Stroud. I live at— wait—not anymore. I have a brother—no, not anymore.

I shut my eyes. I can’t shut them hard enough. Through the darkness, I still see fire. My world engulfed with flickering orange and reds. And the all-encompassing heat, heat beyond boiling, bordering on oblivion. Melting.

My last memory is coming ashore on the mainland, alone and fiercely tired. I didn’t walk, didn’t run. I moved, floating, held aloft by the most invisible of strings, my eyes on the horizon, people on the edges of my vision. Adults. I felt their gaze. The air was cool and moist and my skin so hot. Moving and moving; people staring. I hear them, words like police and 911 and oh my God. They surround me, a horde. They’re feral creatures, circling, their faces distorted. They are coming for me. I have no escape.

I scream and my world goes dark.

Ruthie?”

I open my eyes. A woman stands in the hospital room doorway. Her skin is the color of teak, her black hair pulled into a tight ponytail, and without a uniform, she’s clearly no nurse. I look down her button-down shirt and a badge is attached to her belt, a gun holstered at her side.

She says, not unkindly, “I’m Detective Perez from the Washington State Police.”

I knew the cops would get involved, even though they’re late. Far too late.

She waits for me to invite her in. “May I?”

I nod and my skin crinkles and cracks. She enters, pulling a chair beside my bed and sits down. Her brown eyes rest on me and then dart away. She can’t bear to look. I must seem a monster. She asks, “How are you feeling?”

I don’t know how to answer that question.

I’m sorry,” she says.

Down the hall, I hear a child scream. From surgery or fear, I don’t know. I think fight the pain, fight the pain.

She speaks to me in soothing tones. “I need to ask you a few questions. About what happened. Can you talk?”

My mouth is dry, my throat sore, my vocal chords thrashed. I’d forgotten how much I screamed. I feel my skin wrinkle into deep crevices as I move my jaw, and it’s an effort to form words. Even my tongue feels burned; this strange muscle in my mouth. “Is my dad coming?”

He’s on his way.” We share a bit of silence and I stare at the woman she is, the beautiful woman I will never be, and she says, “I’d like to start at the beginning. And if there’s ever a point where you need to stop, just let me know, okay?”

There’s just one thing,” and I clear my throat. I force her to find my eyes. To see. To look. To understand.

What’s that?”

Don’t judge me,” I tell her. “I did what I had to.”

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author

James Morris

James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

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GIVEAWAY:
1 PRINT COPY OF SCREAMS YOU HEAR

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P.S. I Still Love You (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before #2) by Jenny Han

If you missed the review of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, check it out here.

Rarely do I have back to back book reviews of the same series but To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was so awesome that I couldn’t resist to finish up the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You. And here we are with the review.

P.S. I Still Love You
(To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)
by: Jenny Han

p.s. i still love you

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once? – Goodreads

Let’s just get this straight that P.S. I Still Love You is still quite the page turner. I finished it almost in one sitting and that is something that I haven’t done in quite a long time. However, as a sequel, this one does fall flat every once in a while. A few things going on here was fairly generic and I wasn’t particularly in agreement with some of the choices that Lara Jean made. But, one thing is for certain, Jenny Han writes and crafts some fantastic characters.

The Song sisters each are fun to read in their own way along with their dad in the little moments that they have. Lara Jean in particular is our girl here as the main character and she is very believable. 31 year old me may not agree with her choices but I still think back that 19 year old me in my first relationship when I had my first love and how I felt a lot of similar feelings. What is love, right? What is the right way to fall in love? Everyone approaches it differently and so does Lara Jean and Peter. Everyone also has their own burdens and baggage that they don’t want to share or just can’t.  It brings in the question of trust and loyalty. And its these traits that make them realistic and believable. Be it Lara Jean or Peter or the new addition, John. Its hard to wipe away the fact that they all are great to read and its even more apparent how well the characters are crafted and easy to connect to when their decisions evoke different feelings as I read it.

P.S. I Still Love You puts Lara Jean into a dilemma as she approaches her first real relationship. Its essentially the emotions of how much space to give and what type of girlfriend she wants to be and really how many barriers can you set or even how many rules can you make to prevent heartbreak? All these questions come together to craft up this first love and first relationship experience. Add in another love interest and neglect and lack of self-confidence and there you go. I mentioned before that this story has its faults of being generic but it delivers on being realistic although there are some aspects here that I don’t quite agree with. With that said, its more of a personal preference that I nitpick upon. It doesn’t wipe away the fact that this is a very fun novel to read.

Overall, P.S. I Still Love You is a worthy sequel. It lacks a little bit of the quirk and individuality that stood out in the first book, however its realistic and engaging characters definitely made this one a page turner.

 

Blog Tour: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount (Review & Giveaway)

The Shadow Girl Blog Tour

The Shadow Girl
by: Misty Mount

The Shadow Girl

Genre: YA/Fantasy/Coming of Age

Date Published: December 28, 2017

Synopsis

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

Goodreads

the shadow girl

Review

Its been a while since a novel has taken me by surprise and The Shadow Girl definitely did do that. In its own unique way, it portrayed somewhat of a creepy fantasy world that happens to those who fall into the shadows or are invisible to the people around them or at least feel that they are and struggle to find ways to be seen as well as acknowledge their own presence. With that said, the message behind this novel is a very strong one especially when bookworms like myself struggle with a similar sort of scenario particularly when I was growing up. The desire to dive into the fantasy world is so strong. The Shadow Girl portrays that really well with her unique character of Zylia who grows up in a packed household full of kids and as she learns more about being in the shadows, she also realizes that she isn’t alone and being the strong character that Misty Mount has build, she makes decisions that will affect her fate. The story and the angle taken here is definitely the strength of this novel.

The novel did take a little while to take off as it set its stage. However, the slow start did help better understand the characters and the backstory while leaving out a little mystery as the plot thickened, The Shadow Girl became quite a page turner. There was a slight writing style inconsistency in certain parts but overall, the language used her was descriptive and vivid. I could almost feel Zylia’s emotions as well as the things she sees. Its always nice to see a YA novel that dives into the coming of age angle instead of a romantic and adventure sort of style. This dives into something much more realistic even if there are fantasy elements and focuses heavily on the underlying message it tries to bring up. Don’t get me wrong that there is an adventure because a personal journey and what happens to The Shadow Girl is absolutely a completely different type of adventure.

Goodreads score: 4/5

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Author Bio

Misty Mount

Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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GIVEAWAY

Giveaway: 1 print copy of The Shadow Girl and 2 digital copies
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*Print copy is available to North American residents only

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Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyers

Goodreads Challenge progress: 2 out of 25

Next up in the reading adventures is Cinder, which is the first book in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyers. I’ve heard some really great stuff about this book. However, there is always a fear nowadays as I’m starting to realize that I’m breaking away personally from the YA books and starting to not enjoy them as much, but this book does have the twist on a fairy tale that I have yet to break out of.

Let’s check it out!

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1)
by: Marissa Meyers

Cinder

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.
Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future. – Goodreads

Consider me a little biased but I love it when people manage to twist up something and then set it into somewhere in China. In this case, the setting is in New Beijing and for the most part, there are some fun little bits to make it all work out in this new setting. Props to Marissa Meyers for her wonderful world building for this futuristic world where people are living on planets and much like history repeats itself, New Beijing is plagued with a disease that the kingdom is trying to find a cure for. However, the twist here is that there are also cyborg-like people which have been mended back through robotics to function making this part human and part cyborg and that is what our main character Cinder is. The world and characters here are very much livened up because of Marissa Meyers fantastic descriptive writing style. She manages to paint the world so that the reader can see in their heads what is going on.

Aside from that, Cinder is a very well-constructed character. She has quite the character and has a nice balance between her emotional sensitivity and her intelligence which works well for her story here. She has to keep certain secrets as she learns more about her background while adapting to the new situations she gets caught up in whether with her stepmother/guardian or her sisters or the prince or even the Queen of Luna. On top of that, we also see where Prince Kai stands in this mess as he figures out the dilemma he is faced with when the disease takes away his father and what seems like the only solution tests who he can actually trust in the kingdom. There are conflicts and secrets and mysteries at every turn. While there are more than enough clues to hint at what the end game is making it slightly more predictable than I would have like, it still is fairly clever for what the story it is trying to tell.

Cinder was an absolute page turner. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I read a Young Adult novel and was that caught up in a story. There is a great world-building and character arcs and while this book focuses on Cinder, the next books in the series will introduce other popular fairy tale characters and their twists. It seems that they will eventually cross paths as this one also introduces another fairy tale character. Its definitely one I’m looking forward to reading the second book.