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Friday, September 22, 2017

Selah's Manic Manga Reviews: Saturn Apartments Vol 1-7

Saturn Apartments, Vol. 1
by Hisae Iwaoka
(7 Book Series)
August 15, 2011
192 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media: VIZ Signature
Far in the future, humankind has evacuated the earth in order to preserve it. Humans now reside in a gigantic structure that forms a ring around the earth, 35 kilometers up in the sky. The society of the ring is highly stratified: the higher the floor, the greater the status. Mitsu, the lowly son of a window washer, has just graduated junior high. When his father disappears and is assumed dead, Mitsu must take on his father's occupation. As he struggles with the transition to working life, Mitsu's job treats him to an outsider's view into the living-room dioramas of the Saturn Apartments.

Oh, you lucky readers, I’m just easing you in so nicely, heh. So obviously you’ve all gotten through Fruits Basket by now (grin), it’s time for another series! It’s fairly short for a series, and it’s a good one to dip your toes into the water if you aren’t all about Ze Luuuurv.

Ahem. So yeah, Saturn Apartments.

Picture a sci-fi future earth series mixed with Snowpiercer classism, but without the gore and more window cleaners, and you have this series. Humans have ruined the earth so we’ve built a giant ring far above the atmosphere, as one does. Higher class citizens live in the upper levels, lower class in the lower ones. Mitsu is training to become a window washer like his father, who is also one of the few to have had an accident and fallen to the world below.

This series accomplishes a lot in what’s a considerably fewer amount of volumes than a lot of series. You have Mitsu trying to live up to his father and deal with what happened, his interactions with his neighbors and trying to win approval of his coworkers, and his tendency to actually communicate with some of the clients, which isn’t really a thing one does when one’s washing windows miles above the ground. In the later volumes, there’s a plot involving scientists secretly developing the means to go back down to the planet to see what’s really going on, and their bringing Mitsu in on their plot. There’s also a lot of dealings between him and a worker who had quit the union and between him and members of the upper class. It’s extremely easy to grow attached to the characters in this. Not gonna lie, the last volume, the last few pages made me cry, and it’s only one of like two or three series to accomplish that. I like that not everything is happy happy in this world, and they still touch on some heavy issues while remaining appropriate for probably middle school on up. It gives you a lot to think about while still making you feel and laugh at times. And because it has the time to do it, you really feel like you get to know Mitsu, so by time the final plot is really kicking up steam, you’re really invested in not just his future, but the future of his friends, neighbors, and his entire level. It’s also nice to see that it doesn’t fall back on the rich people bad poorer people good trope. There are people on all levels that Mitsu has interacted with that come together to help the overall situation of the station. While Mitsu’s likeableness also overcomes issues surrounding his father’s past and his own relationship with his coworkers, he has to work for it. This isn’t cute kid/nice dude worms his way into hearts and rallies the troops. He actually has to overcome some issues and put in some work, so he does get a decent character arc.
If you like sci fi/post future kind of stuff but don’t want to be punched in the face with darkness, or if you want a sense of hope from your sci fi, definitely check out this series. At seven volumes, it goes by really quickly – you’ll definitely want to go from one to the other back to back to back.

5 sheep

Selah Janel sometimes writes when she isn’t binging manga. Check out her blog, fb, and twitter.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Book Review: Booth by Jason Pellegrini

by Jason Pellegrini
November 22, 2016
Pages: 398
At dawn, on the day of his execution, Joseph Bateman finds himself reflecting on his life, one filled with poor decisions and evil people. Even his lifelong best friend played a pivotal role in earning Joseph his seat on death row.

A phenomenon occurs as the electricity meant to kill Joseph is sent through him, and his essence is ripped from the body he has known his entire life and thrown into a new one. Only the body he now inhabits isn’t new at all; it is the body of a person who lived over a hundred years before Joseph’s birth.

Now living in an unfamiliar era of history and trapped inside a foreign body, Joseph learns he has been sent back for a reason: to earn redemption for his damned soul and to find a sense of peace he has never known. All he needs to do to get there is to prevent one of history’s most infamous murders.

You never know when you make a decision how it could impact the rest of your life, especially when you’re young and think you know everything. Joseph Bateman was a loner from the beginning and when he met Alex he was surprised how much he wanted a friend. As Joseph sits on death row awaiting his execution he thinks back on all he has done to land himself in this spot and has no regrets.

When something strange occurs as he is put to death, Joseph doesn’t understand what has happened until he realizes his soul is in the body of a person that lived over a hundred years ago. When he meets an unlikely stranger, he finds that he has a chance to make changes in his life, for better or for worse and he’s not going to stop until he does.

This was one of the most interesting and creative reads I’ve had in a long time. A mixture of history and reality makes this story credible. Well written with very real characters, Pellegrini has done an outstanding job of drawing you into this tale that could be real if only you are willing to open your mind and your imagination.

Getting 5 sheep

Denise B

About the Author:
Jason Pellegrini is a Long Island native. He currently resides in Levittown, New York. His works include Booth and The Replacement.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Horror Author Joe M Solomon: Why I like Horror (The Darkness: Giger, Texas) + giveaway

Why I Like Horror

When I was a little boy, weekends meant horror when it came to television. The kids and parents would pile in front of the TV and enjoy Friday and Saturday cheesy B-movies. Inevitably, something would come on that scared me. But my father would always say, “Don’t worry. It’s make-believe.” That helped, since I was about five years old, a kept me glued to the screen. By the time I was a teenager, I was hooked. On weekends, certain scary movies would replay regularly. Psycho and The Birds were particular favorites and never grew old. But when I saw Night of the Living Dead . . . Wow! My world was turned upside down.

George Romero and John Russo wrote the screenplay. And, for me, the biggest attraction of the film was that the plague infected almost the entire world. Loved it! Then the film brought together a mixture of people who probably would not have engaged in very much interaction were it not for the plague. But circumstances forced them to listen to each other regardless of age, race or gender. Because the zombies were ecumenical when it came to killing.

That was when I started to think: I want to do that. And off I went. In high school, I wrote a lot of short stories and poetry that were lost over the years. Then in college, I was stuck in L.A. one day, waiting for a flight that was six hours away. I needed entertainment, but I had no money. So I began to write what ultimately became my first full-length story. (It’s a trunk novel that I plan to revisit and rewrite.) After that, I wrote stories like mad. After studying playwriting and screenwriting in college, I would write the same story as both a novel and a screenplay. Sometimes as a play. I wrote long hand, on the computer. It didn’t matter.

Most of what I wrote was horror. I just love the way you can use horror as a metaphor for life and, at the same time, be completely entertained. But I also enjoy placing normal nine-to-five people in extraordinary situations and seeing how they react after the initial shock. I know character growth isn’t always vital to the enjoyment of the story, but I like seeing who changes and who doesn’t and the metamorphosis some undergo. Horror can draw a character into the most private part of him- or herself, or show them that that something much more ominous lurks outdoors.

And, of course, I can’t get enough of the adrenaline-spurring action scenes. You’ll find plenty of those in The Darkness: Giger, Texas.

by Joe M. Solomon
October 3, 2017
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Publisher: NES Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 978-0-9990024-0-7
ASIN: B07435H5YR
Number of pages: 372
Word Count: 106,029
Cover Artist: Syneca Featherstone
When night falls in Giger, Texas, shadows gather as they always do in dim corners and other areas bereft of light. But this time they consolidate and attack any who tread too close. Michael Warren, a twenty-four-year-old resident of Giger, finds himself at the epicenter of this horror and is stunned by the losses suffered overnight. Then the sun sets and the shadows again coalesce, growing more aggressive, the darkness eviscerating anyone it touches.

His only weapon light, Michael struggles to survive and searches frantically for his girlfriend, aiding friends along the way. When Hurricane Daniel roars ashore, wind gusts shred trees and tear down power lines, plunging all of Southeastern Texas into blackness that only feeds and strengthens the encroaching darkness. Rising floodwater provides easy thoroughfares from which the darkness can strike as Michael and his friends contend with the elements, clash with criminals, and battle their way to his residence where they will stand against the darkness and fight to surviv
e. Excerpt:
Startled, Eddie blinked and wiped at his own eyes. “What was…? Hello?”

No answer.
His pulse picked up. “C-Curt, you in here… you a-a-a-asshole?”

A box fell behind him.

Eddie spun around, body tight as a knot, eyes wide as their sockets would allow. “Wh-h-h-h-who the hell’s that?” he demanded with as much sternness as he could inject into his quivering voice.

Soft whispers trickled out of a minuscule pocket of emptiness near the back door on the farthest wall. There, amid the gloom, something progressed toward him. At first, its movements appeared mechanical, inelastic. Then it evolved into a smooth flow. A soft ripple. A consolidated wave of darkness.

About the Author:
Joe M. Solomon earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of St. Thomas, followed by both master’s and doctoral degrees from Rice University. Joe’s supernatural thriller The Darkness: Giger, Texas released in 2017. A second novel—The Light: Houston, Texas—and a collection of short stories that arise from the macabre will soon follow.

Bonus Pre-Order Giveaway Ends October 3

Tour giveaway 
1 $50 Amazon gift card 
1 $25 Amazon gift card 
3 prize packs featuring The Darkness: Giger, Texas swag packs which include: a coffee mug, a pen, a postcard, bookmark, and a trading card. Open to US Shipping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Book Review: The Villainous Viscount: Or the Curse of the Venn’s by Lucinda Elliott

The Villainous Viscount: Or the Curse of the Venn’s
by Lucinda Elliott
August 23, 2016
285 pages

An appreciative satire of the cliches of classical Gothic. 

When Clarissa Greendale inherits the fortune of disreputable uncle she hardly knows, she does not expect to find herself forced into marriage with an aristocratic fortune hunter and wild, brawling, debauched social outcast. Not only that, but her name featured some way down on the list of eligible heiresses he planned to court. Still, Clarinda has always found Harley Venn set off the most unmaidenly tinglings in her; that is one consolation...

Yet neither did Clarinda expect to inherit the legacy of a wrongdoing from half a century before. For the wicked if beguiling Lord Venn seems to have inherited a family curse, which, having dispatched the main perpetrators of the old crime, now moves on to their heirs, who are just as wild a set of rakes as their elders. There are rumours of violent deaths preceded by appearances from an inexorable hooded spectre, of inexplicable strikes of lightning, and of haunted mirrors.

The light-hearted Harley Venn dismisses all these as conjuring tricks. He even hires a drunken charlatan of a professional magician to prove it. 

Clarinda is far from sure that there is any rational explanation. Still, it would take more than an enforced marriage to an incorrigible pugilistic libertine or persecution from malevolent spectres to damage her steely nerves and sense of the ridiculous.

This lively Gothic comedy, written as a good natured satire of the cliches of classical Gothic, gives the reader a warm-hearted and courageous heroine, a rascally but beguiling anti-hero and an authentic historical background to the delightfully over-the-top adventures, a cast of wholly believable characters, an engaging love story and many chills on its way to its tumultuous conclusion.

The Villainous Viscount, a Regency Era paranormal romance tells the tale of a family curse set to destroy a tight-knit group of douche bros 1820s style. Ultimately, why should the reader care if a group of lecherous drunks is getting what they deserve? Well, two words: Harley Venn. Venn is the villainous viscount and for all his liabilities, he’s just so darn likable as the perfect, imperfect anti-hero. The accidental death of his close friend has Harley contemplating a more domesticated life. His dwindling bank account all but forces him to seek a wife with a fortune. With little more to offer than his devastating good looks, remarkable musical ability, and title, Venn sets out to find a wife. And, in an era of social restriction and repression, Clarinda Greendale has little recourse but to accept Venn’s offer of partnership. Together the pair must guard against the curse as those in Harley’s social circle are targeted by a malevolent phantom. 

I love the enriching benefits of historical fiction. The Villainous Viscount is a well-researched glimpse at the absurdity of 1820s English high society. Clarinda and Harley make a sweet pair once they move past one another’s surface qualities. They both stand to learn much from the other. And, of course, historical fiction cannot help but inject modern sensibilities into the storyline. Elliott raises questions of sexual equality and consent; ideas I’m certain would’ve been absolutely outlandish at this time. Clarinda ponders, “Perhaps all women, or none, are sluts, any more than men.” Later, she voices her frustration with the male/female power imbalance: “Still, I don’t see why the woman in the case always has to suffer the consequences, and never the man, she should blame the libertine, not one of his former victims. He had all the power after all.” While Clarinda is a little too virtuous for my tastes, her enlightenment makes her an interesting character.

The story of the curse itself was decent, but the relationship dynamics are what most held my interest. Overall a good read for fans of historical fiction.

Four Sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Lucinda Elliot - recently awarded the B.R.A.G medallion for outstanding fiction for 'That Scoundrel Emile Dubois' - loves writing Gothic style stories, which isn't surprising because she was brought up in a series of great old isolated houses which her parents were refurbishing (it wasn't so fashionable back then). After that, she lived, studied and worked in London for many years and now lives in Mid Wales with her family.
She loves writing about strong women to complement gugung-ho males.

Her interests include weight training and body shaping, and she was once a champion Sportsfighter, but apart from that her interests are quite geeky. Reading classic novels, conservation, gardening, and even names and their meanings (bring on the carrot juice). She loves a laugh above anything.

Book Review: Blade Of Darkness (Immortal Guardians, #7) by Dianne Duvall

by Dianne Duvall
Sept 19, 2018
541 pages
Return to the “utterly addictive” (RT Book Reviews) world of New York Times bestselling author Dianne Duvall’s Immortal Guardians.

Dana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember. But she never saw Aidan coming. When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception… and passion. Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan’s arms and in his bed. Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.

Immortal Guardian Aidan O’Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don’t trouble him. The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan’s brethren turning against him, so he can’t help but feel alarmed. While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?

The setup for Dianne Duval’s Blade of Darkness is something out of a macabre play but instead of a tragic story, it’s one of survival, romance, and surprisingly it had a fair dose of humor in it too. It was also my first time reading a book by Duval!

Immortal Guardian Aiden O’Byrne has been fighting psychotic vampires for around three thousand years and is prepared to handle almost anything except some of the things Dana Pembroke sees in her visions. Dana sees Aidan’s brethren turning on him, she sees a lot of blood and chaos. She also sees herself with Aidan which startles her but the more she gets to know him, the more she wants to stop fighting her visions. Aiden, on the other hand, is just fine with the idea of him and Dana together, he’s been alone for so long and he can tell Dana is special.

Blade of Darkness had such a special character in Aiden. I know, I haven’t read the series other than this book but I really liked this guy. He was charming, world-weary, kind, and unbelievably funny. Most immortals have this uber serious, kind of dull personalities but Aiden had this quick sense of humor that was infectious and irresistible. I felt like I was missing some kind of inside joke about Aiden and his want of a mate though until it was kind of explained. Now I just have to go back and read the series from the beginning. Dana was delightful too. She was tough, smart, snarky, and easy to like. Even with her visions, she was just so unprepared to be thrown into the middle of a dangerous situation but she handled herself like a pro. I liked her ability to quickly adjust to her surroundings and be useful. That’s an important trait to me in a heroine.

However, what I really appreciated was Duvall’s way of telling a paranormal romance. She doesn’t waste time overexplaining or creating “empty” scenes that serve no purpose. The book starts off at a fast pace and doesn’t let up until the very end. I love that kind of pace, it gives the reader a chance to feel that blood pumping excitement (Or dread) and to me makes the experience even more enjoyable.

All in all Blade of Darkness was a great read and it won’t be my last time reading this author.

Sheep Rating: 4 ½ Sheep

Adria Reyes 

About the Author
Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians series and The Gifted Ones series. Reviewers have called Dianne's books "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "extraordinary" (Long and Short Reviews), and"wonderfully imaginative" (The Romance Reviews). Her books have twice been nominated for RT Reviewers' Choice Awards and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews,and/or Night Owl Reviews.

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she creates in her books.

For the latest news on upcoming releases, contests, and more, please visit You can also find Dianne online . . .