Boldly going where only a few girls have gone before. (And definitely at a slower pace.)

Game of Thrones: Beyond the Wall

(Summer is Coming tee from Busted Tees.)

Sometimes, book reviews are hard, and it has nothing to do with the quality of the book. Sometimes, when it comes to writing a book review or vacuuming the apartment, I choose vacuuming. Sometimes, I have a hard time coming up with something more than, "this is good."

I'm having one of those times now.

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Repairman Jack - I Wanna Party With You!

(Jeremy Renner needs to play Repairman Jack)

I have a confession to make. I'm cheating on my collection of sci-fi and fantasy novels.

My brother introduced me to Repairman Jack back in March. He'd been going on for years about how I would really like him but I have such a vast pile of books to read that I never listened to him. But then, I had the awesome chance to meet the creator of this fictional fix-it man at C2E2 - F. Paul Wilson. I figured 'dI better read The Tomb so I didn't seem like a complete tool when I asked him to autograph a book for my brother.

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The Acacia Trilogy: Parents Just Don't Understand


I know I'm slow on the uptake with book reviews. I have so many that I try to read that I don't usually get to new ones until they've been out for a few months. Unless of course publishers send me ARCs (hint, hint - I need more of these!). I finally got around to finishing David Anthony Durham's Acacia trilogy this week. The final book, The Sacred Band, came out late in 2011. The trilogy as a whole was a rare, satisfying read. I like to compare books to food. Books are food for the brain, and like food for the stomach, they can taste great (or awful), fill you up (or leave you starving), and nourish you (or give you gut rot and cavities). Durham's trilogy manages to do all three.

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The Girl Who Was on Fire: A Hunger Games Essay Compilation


Warning: This Way Lie Spoilers

It's no secret that I love Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy. I've read the books three times now, the last time so I could write a fancy learning, academic-like paper. I am so pumped for the movie. It comes out the weekend before my birthday so I'm going to go see it. Maybe twice. And while I'm happy with the finality of Mockingjay - seriously, not every series or movie franchise or television show has to go on forever and ever until it's too awful to continue - I am kind of sad that the adventures of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta are pretty much over.

So, when offered the chance to review the movie tie-in version of The Girl Who Was on Fire, a compliation of essays on The Hunger Games trilogy by other YA authors edited by Leah Wilson, there wasn't much arm twisting involved. FYI, there is an edition of this book in stores currently, but this is a review of the movie tie-in edition with three additional essays.

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Review: The Scorch Trials - Like a Big Blow Hole


A while back, I did a review of The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. I believe I said something about potential and that The Maze Runner had issues but I was confident Dashner would work through those in the The Scorch Trials. I am back to tell you that I totally lied.

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The Maze Runner: Not a Pile of Klunk


I have decided to make it my mission to read as many Young Adult dystopian narratives as I possibly can. Mostly because I like them, but also because I’m trying to figure out why I like them. I like them the same way I like zombie apocalypse books. There’s something super attractive about a world where most people are gone and the survivors are left to remake things the in the way they want. Or there’s the scenario where the world has been remade and it’s going to hell so it’s up to a scrappy band of teens to fix it. However, this attraction hinges on the fact that first, I’d be one of the survivors and second, I’d be in charge. Considering I’m too fat to outrun zombies and I have a constitution of about -10, it’s unlikely that I would survive any world altering destruction. But, a girl can dream…

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The Passage: Kind of like Watership Down with Vampires


I think I started reading The Passage by Justin Cronin back in August. It had been on my must read list for a while and it remained that way until recently. I kept getting distracted by other books I had to read for reviews or paper writing but a couple of weeks ago, I decided I would sit down and finish The Passage if it killed me.

It didn’t kill me, but the book left me feeling drained. Other reviewers have compared it to The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and yeah, that’s an apt comparison to an extent. Except Cronin uses quotation marks with his dialogue and the end of The Passage doesn’t make you want to shoot yourself in the face. [Oh, so I guess the book was like that, too? -Ed.]

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Under the Skin


Under the Skin is a novel by Michel Faber, first published in 2000. In 2010 the movie version was greenlit, with Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) directing and Scarlett Johannson starring. Glazer had been working on an adaptation of the book for five years before filming started. The protagonist, Isserley, is a female from a species of alien that is apparently four-legged and furry. She shaves, gets a boob job, and stands upright to try and abduct human hitchhikers along the A9 in Scotland.

At no point in the book does ScarJo's character (now renamed "Laura," according to IMDb?) rescue a surfer. (Seen above.)

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Book Review: Feed


I’ve been feeling guilty lately over my reading habits. Mainly the habit of never reading anything my brother asks me to read. His taste, however, is sometimes questionable. He’s sent me three copies of Stranger in a Strange Land because he keeps forgetting that he gives it to me. I think I’m the only person in the universe who really doesn’t like that book. He’s also trying to get me to read the Repair Man Jack series, but I just don’t have the time. And the Dark Tower series, which I have no interest in. However, I finally took one of his recommendations and read Feed by Mira Grant.

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Starcrossed: Been There, Done That


After reading multiple books this year that rival the telephone book in terms of length, I decided to return to my completely unironic love of teen fantasy fiction. I needed some quick and dirty reads that wouldn’t make me think too hard.

Disclaimer: There is plenty of teen fantasy fiction out there that will make one think hard, but this is not the sort I was going for at the time.

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Bloom County: Several Years of Talking Animals


There are few things that can sum up my love of being a cartoonist. Number one, despite her protests that I'd only ever be a cartoonist, was my grandmother. Number two is Bloom County. (And, Calvin & Hobbes, but everyone loves Calvin & Hobbes.)

I picked up "The Bloom County Library: Volume One" on the cheap at Mid Ohio Con last year. I'd really wanted the collection, as I had every other Bloom County collection there is (including the Outland and Opus books). The first volume promised to have Berkeley Breathed's early college work, and I wanted to own some of that stuff. I was not disappointed:

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Summer Reading List #5

(Really cool Batgirl sketch by Gregg Schigiel from SDCC 2011.)

Summer doesn't officially end until September 23rd (which, by the way, is the day before Detroit Fanfare starts, so get your tickets now.) That leaves time for some last-minute book recommendations to close out our summer reading list series.

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Summer Reading List #4 - Fella's Choice!


Kids are already headed back to school here in Central Ohio, so I guess it's time we wind down our Summer Reading List series. Let's start the process by allowing some of our favorite podcasters to share their favorite novels.

From Scrolls (which can be found at Geek Syndicate's site), our friend Dion:

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An Open Letter to David Liss, Author


Dear David,

I owe you an apology for misjudging The Twelfth Enchantment before I even opened it. I received a galley copy a couple of weeks before the publication date and tossed the book on the kitchen table, making a horrid face, dreading actually getting around to reading it.

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Can't Sleep, Clones Will Eat Me


Over the weekend, I read Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilhelm. It's a quick read - only 254 pages. But damn. Those are a powerful 254 pages. This novel won the Hugo in 1977, but went out of print for a while. It had a second run in 1996. I read it this weekend because I joined a sci-fi/fantasy book club here in Peoria. I'm kind of hoping that this club will help me find and engage with some sci-fi/fantasy classics that I haven't picked up before. I feel like I'm missing out on the great stuff that helped shape the (sometimes good and often questionable) genre fiction I love today.

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A Dance With Dragons: Answers... and More Questions

I took 20 days to finish A Dance With Dragons, 10 days less than The Wise Man's Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. I swear, I am done with books over 700 pages for the next several months because my reading list is backed up worse than the tunnel at Castle Black when a giant tried to scootch his way through that one time in A Feast For Crows.

I won't divulge any major spoilers for this review, so if you want to talk details, feel free to drop me a line. However, there will be some spoilers - I can't really avoid them if I want to give a decent review. Stuff happens, and stuff - stop reading now if you want your ADWD reading experience to be virginal like Margaery Tyrell.

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Supergods: Tripping Comic Book Balls with Grant Morrison


Grant Morrison is one of those writers you love to hate or hate to love. He can also see into the fifth dimension, which is how I keep him straight from all the other sassy, bald comics writers out there like Bendis (Powers guy who hates cats), Brad Meltzer (guy with the terrible television show), and BK Vaughan (guy who wrote the best episodes of Lost). Oh yeah, and Mark Millar is “the one with hair.”

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Summer Reading List #3


Choosing a recommendation for the Summer Reading List was a struggle for me, because I don't really have favorite books. I don't really have favorite anything, for that matter. If you ask me my favorite movie, I will rattle off a list of dozens of titles. However, the reason I don't really consider any book a favorite is because I so rarely re-read them, whereas I will re-watch movies (in some cases dozens of times). I did have favorites as a child though. Specifically, my favorite book was Millicent the Monster, and I would very much like to recommend it to anyone who has a moody little girl. Sadly, it is out of print, but there are some used copies for sale on Amazon.

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Robots! Robots! Robots! ...The Conclusion!


Last week, I talked about a book I picked up at C2E2, shown above. It's a vintage Star Wars kid's book that's "all about robots", supposedly written by C3PO. (Though, anyone over five understands this pretext because they understand that Star Wars isn't real.) (It's real in my heart, of course.)

We left off talking about a super special "office mail sorter" robot that apparently exists in businesses EVERYWHERE! It runs along the floor on special chemicals and everyone uses them because THIS IS THE FUTURE!

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Summer Reading List #2


Last week we brought you Carey's picks for the best Summer reads. This week we talked to our friend Aly Renee about which books she counts as her most favorites, and thinks you should try out if you haven't already.

I heart Frank Herbert's Dune with a fiery passion. It's a big awesome political ecological religious sci-fi soap opera and it gets better every time I read it.

More of Aly's picks after the jump!

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Robots! Robots! Robots!


While at C2E2 this year, we happened upon one of those exhibitor booths where some guy is selling "vintage" toys. You know the type I'm talking about -- there are any number of disassembled G.I. Joes, a few He-Man toys, and undoubtedly a WWF action figure, all in one big pile. This particular exhibitor had "C3PO's Book About Robots," which you can see from the cover retailed in 1983 for $1.25. (It cost more than that to buy at a comic book convention.) After flipping through it briefly and seeing some of the illustrations that I'm about to share with you, I knew immediately I had to buy it.

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Geektress Summer Reading List #1


We're already in to Summer, we realize. But it's never too late to add to your list of beach reads. So we asked some of our friends to help us compile a list of good books that should definitely hold a spot on your to-read agenda, even if Summer turns to Fall before you've gotten through them.

First up, though, Carey went beyond the one book suggestion and compiled an entire list herself. The following are some Fantasy novels you should try and check out before our Twitter conversations get any more spoilery for you:

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The Book For Whatevs

(Very nice Eugene Mirman photo by Chaunté Vaughn.)

If you don't know, I'm a hardcore stand-up comedy geek / fan. This means a couple of things. One: I like to laugh, and two: I can't knit.

This also means that I sometimes obsessively study stand-up routines, watching someone do the same set night after night to see how it changes, and how the audience's response to a joke changes. For some reason word choice and language in relation to comedy fascinates me. It's why I was delighted that Patton Oswalt included two different versions of the "KFC Sadness Bowl" bit on his Werewolves & Lollipops album. It's why I liked watching the Comedians of Comedy tv show, but more so I liked watching that Dane Cook Tourgasm show at the same time. Not because I particularly find Dane Cook entertaining, but it was amazing watching Jay Davis try and fail and try and fail to make the phrase "killing with kindness" in to a joke.

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Book Review: Naamah’s Blessing

(Found here.)

To many, summer means beer and bbqs, pools, sun, and tanning of epic proportions. To me, summer means a new book by Jacqueline Carey and hours on the couch in an air conditioned environment or begrudgingly out on the deck if my husband manages to toss me out there and lock the door.

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GoT Read-along, Week 4


Time for our final Game of Thrones read along post… where George R.R. Martin really breaks it down and sets the stage for the whole rest of this story in the history of forever. If the last 100 or so pages of this book don’t make you want to pick up the next one, then you must love everything that sucks.

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GoT Read-along, Week 3


Last week, we left off at a pretty significant turning point in the narrative. Catelyn Stark had kidnapped Tyrion Lannister, after accusing him of trying to murder Bran, and run off with him to the Eyrie. The Eyrie was the domain of Jon Arryn, but now Catelyn’s sister Lysa rules there until her and Jon Arryn’s son comes of age. Upon reaching the Eyrie, Lysa accuses Tyrion of also killing her husband Jon, and since Tyrion can’t stop his own special brand of snark, he gets thrown in the “dungeon.”

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GoT Read-along, Week 2


So, we left off last week’s read along with Catelyn running off to King’s Landing, Jon arriving at The Wall and Daenerys being sold into marriage. Pretty much all of you missed the amazing chat where the term “bitchface” was bandied about in regard to both Catelyn Stark and Cersei Lannister. You also missed out on the hotness of Khal Drogo, Neil Gaiman’s blog entry on why George R.R. Martin is no one’s bitch, and rape/not-rape at Dany’s wedding after which BK decided to form a band called Dothraki Suffragettes.

In this week’s segment probably one of the most pivotal events of the entire series happens.

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Game Of Thrones Read-Along: Week 1

All screencaps from Fanpop user Invisible Tears.

In Shakespeare’s tragedies, there’s always this major turning point where someone has killed someone else and then events have to play themselves out, usually with everyone dead at the end. The turning point of A Game of Thrones happens before the book even starts. Jon Arryn, Hand of the King, dies, and as Eddard Stark comes to find out, his death was really murder.

The first 200 pages of A Game of Thrones sets this murder theory up. We also get a lot of introductions and character development in these pages. A lot of what happens in these first pages shape the characters into who they become several books down the line.

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Forest of Hands & Teeth: A review. Sorta.


When The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan came out in 2009, I was so pumped. I thought this was a kick ass zombie YA novel I could get behind. The premise is fascinating. I can’t fault Ryan for the idea. This is a novel about life post zombie apocalypse. A few hundred people live in a colony surrounded by heavy duty fences which have kept them safe from “the Unconsecrated” for multiple generations.

This colony has reverted back to farming and gathering. There are no cars, no guns, no telephones or radios or even electricity. The central building in the colony is the cathedral and the Sisters live there and control the colony through the words of the Scripture – which may or may not be the Bible. Guardians scout the perimeters, secure the fence, and kill the zombies. The people who live in this colony believe they are the last people on earth. Until one night, someone from Outside shows up at the gates and hijinx ensue.

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The Summer of Read-Alongs 2011


Winter is here!

I think the whole damn world has gone Game of Thrones crazy. Would it be too hipster of me to scoff for having read these books six years ago? Hipster Carey even has a signed first edition of A Game of Thrones with a limited edition shiny silver cover. Here's a picture of me with the man himself at C2E2 in 2010. George is a crusty, yet charming bastard. I wish he were my grandpa.

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King Killer 2: Wise Man's Fear

Cartoon from Rothfuss' Blog

I finally finished The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss nearly a month after getting it in the mail. Granted, the book is almost 1,000 pages long, but I’m generally a little quicker. Part of my pokey-ness was deliberate. Books like this one are meant to be savored. When an author like Patrick Rothfuss, or George R.R. Martin, or David Anthony Durham, or even Jacqueline Carey (who is actually a pretty quick writer in comparison) puts years of time and effort into a thing, when they have perhaps agonized over every word or turn of phrase in an effort to get things right not just for their characters but for their readers, you don’t read the finished product in one sitting. That’s like going to a gourmet restaurant and shoveling the food into your face hole with your bare hands. After you’ve asked for ketchup.

Even though I only read The Name of the Wind last fall, and I hadn’t waited nearly as long as most of Rothfuss’ fans, I wanted to absorb this novel. And so I did.

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Five Books of 2010 That Are Really Not So Good


A "Best of" list means we also need a worst of list. And here it is – my worst nerd book picks of 2010. These books generally fall into one of two categories. They are either poorly written or simply not to my taste. But I try to avoid listing books that I personally don’t like, because there’s lots of great stuff out there that just isn’t for me, and just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Like mixing fruit with cottage cheese, the word “panties”, bees, and the neti-pot. Feel free to disagree, but know that I stick to my hatred like snot on a toddler.

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Top 5 Sci-fi/Fantasy Books I Read in 2010

thekiss.jpg Absolutely stunning Hunger Games fan art by Brigid

The end of the year means best of and worst of lists – yay! I’m a big time reader of sci-fi and fantasy and YA sci-fi and fantasy. I will read the trashiest shit I can find simply because it has a sword or a wizard on the front. Once, I found this book with elephant sized otters on the front with swords and horns and a woman in a fur bikini – I didn’t care what it was about. I just knew I wanted to be that when I grew up. Anyway, here are my top 5 picks of the year – keep an eye out for my top 5 most god awful steaming piles of otter shit later this month.

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All You Want For Christmas Is More Comics


Last month I was browsing around Amazon and noticed someone complaining about how her young daughter loves Marvel heroes, but she doesn't know what to buy that's appropriate for her. I suggested Girl Comics, the collected trade of a three issue miniseries that Marvel put out earlier this year. We mentioned it on the podcast a few times. It's a great combination of female artists and writers, all of whom were tasked with creating two-or-three page stories about female Marvel characters. There are even articles in-between, talking about female Marvel authors and illustrators from days gone by.

That got me thinking, though. What are some good comics to gift for Christmas? Whether you're looking for a series to draw someone in to the world of graphic novels, or you have a small child that loves Batman or Spider-Man, hit the jump link for our list of books you might want to consider as gifts this year.

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In Through The Out Door Was Seriously A Plot Point*

Click to Embiggen

When I was a young adult, I consistently read books by a man named Kevin McFadden, who goes by the pen name Christopher Pike. (I assume this is because he's a huge Star Trek nerd, since he also likes to reference the show in his books.) I remember being blown away by the way he could build suspense and bring fantasy elements like ghosts and zombies to a high school setting, and make it consistently believable. My most favorite of his works were Monster, about how bacterium in the town's water supply makes most of the football team into flesh-eating jerks (a premise heavily "borrowed" for the film "The Faculty"), and The Last Vampire series.

So you're me, and you've got 20 or so Christopher Pike paperbacks in the basement that you don't really want to let go of. You're wandering through the library on your day off, and you see a book prominently displayed on a shelf: "Alosha." As it happens, Alosha is both the main character and the first book of a new fantasy series that Pike is working on. (It being published in 2004, the most recent of the series being published in 2007, the next volume not even finished yet, I count it as "recent.") Of course you're going to pick it up and see if it's any good -- which is just what I did.

Now, I know you can argue that it's rated at a sixth grade reading level, and so I shouldn't expect too much, and for that I call bullshit. Harry Potter books start out at a younger reading level, so to speak, but by the fourth and fifth books, it becomes obvious they were meant for a maturing audience (because Harry and the series were growing up.) I just finished Philip Pullman's sublime His Dark Materials series, and Rania can attest to its definitely being "general fiction," as that's where they used to file it during her bookstore clerk days. So being a "kid's book" means it should suck about as much as a film being in black & white means it's not as good as say, Mansquito, because the latter is in color and Citizen Kane isn't.

Here's what I can say that's positive about the Alosha series: The cover artwork by Daniel Dos Santos is consistently fantastic. Surprisingly my favorite illustration (the one above) is on the cover of my least favorite entry in to the series, The Yanti. But let's get to the parts I don't like...

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