GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ I Smell Sheep

Friday, December 15, 2017

Selah's Manic Manga Reviews: 20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa

Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys, Vol. 1: Friends
February 17, 2009
216 pages
Publisher: VIZ Media LLC; 1 edition
Genres: Mystery, Science Fiction, Thriller
20th Century Boys is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa. It was originally serialized in Big Comic Spirits from 1999 to 2006, with the 249 chapters published into 22 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan.

There are times you just want a really good story that will take you on a wild ride. It helps if it also ends up being really, really well done. Today we’re talking about one of my other favorite series, 20th Centure Boys.

This is another series that is just…like I can’t even cover half of it without explicitly giving parts away. There’s so much to it, I’m kind of in awe of the author. This is what would happen if the Losers club in It met a cult met post-apoc met a lot of really good music. Like I cannot tell you how jealous I am of this.

First thing to note: this series does flashback a lot. Other thing to note: it does it very well, so you just need to hang on.

The basic gist is that Kenji and his friends have formed a club in their secret base, a grass hut that they built in a meadow. They meet there a lot in the summers of 69-70. Like all kids do, they make up adventures about how they’re going to save the world, to the point where they write down their stories in a book called The Book of Prophecy with their own secret symbol.
Fast forward to their thirties, and nothing has gone the way they planned. They all have grown up, some have families, some have great jobs, some have less than stellar jobs, one (Otcho), has gone missing. Kenji, himself has turned his father’s liquor store into a convenience store and is raising his niece, who was suddenly dropped off to him and his mother one night by his sister, who has also disappeared.

And then The Friends spring up. It’s a slow burn, but little by little Kenji starts recognizing things that he and his friends invented in their childhood stories…but The Friends are trying to do them for real to bring about the end of the world. So which one of them is actually The Friend and leader of the cult?

The thing with this series, is it keeps on going. Flash forward again after Kenji and his friends take on the cult, and you get a whole other adventure, this time with his niece Kanna center stage, trying to figure out where her uncle is and what’s going on with the world. And then you keep jumping back and forth to try to figure out how the past has impacted the future.

It sounds confusing – I actually looked the whole plot up on wiki after the first couple volumes because I was on the fence, but I’m so glad I kept going. In the actual series, it’s all explained and it all makes sense. This is really one of those series where you have to just keep going – not that it’s ever bad. It isn’t. You’re just going to feel thrown for a loop a couple times, but then when things come together, it’s amazing.
The Good: I just really love the concept of this. Plus, it never tries to like take the methods The Friends use too seriously. It’s stated numerous times that it’s unbelievable because those are things a kid would think up…because that’s exactly what happened. Would such a tactic play out in real life? Eh, I don’t know about that, but I do think the reactions to things happening are dead on. Just completely dead on. This is probably one of the more accurate looks at a post apocalyptic society that I’ve seen, partially because it’s only really focused on Japan (with some asides in the US, London, the Vatican, and Hong Kong, but those are brief). It also really tries to utilize each member of the cast. At one point I was a little concerned that Otcho was almost too strong of a character because he’s So. Damn. Cool. And I questioned the sanity of taking your main character out of the bulk of the series…but when the lead comes back, it’s in a way that I completely wouldn’t have thought to do. And it’s amazing. I also really like how Kanna is depicted – it’s a version of the teen girl trying to save the world that doesn’t make me want to punch myself in the face. All of the characters get a decent amount of screen time and all get a good amount to do. A lot of side characters come back in deft ways, and it really shows how random, typical people are impacted by events like germ warfare and like an actual giant robot trying to destroy cities. The Friends are suitably creepy and there’s a lot of intrigue trying to figure out who The Friend is and what’s going on with his followers, too. 

I also just really like how music is incorporated into things – especially the title song. As a big T Rex fan, it just made me so happy to hear this in my head at certain sequences. There’s also a great sequence repeated at times (initially while the kids are daydreaming about saving the world) about figures coming in to being thanked by the UN for saving the world and you can just hear this in your head in the background. And I don’t know if it’s subtle genius or accident, but if you pay attention to the first few lines, you’ll know exactly where that sequence goes when it’s not a daydream.

The Bad: The only thing I can really say is at times the pacing feels a little slow, but honestly, I think that’s because there’s a lot going on. If you’re like me and don’t care about spoilers, the synopsis online actually really doesn’t do it justice. Like reading it, you’d think it’s complete whackadoo, but this is a tight, tight series and the pieces make sense once you’re reading them. Some people may not want to invest the time/effort to read this long of a series, but it is completely worth it.

The Ick: Nah, nothing to really speak of. It treats things seriously but there’s no huge on screen violence and there’s no real sex or anything, either.

If you like conspiracy theory and end of the world meets coming of age, this is definitely for you. Seriously, while there are three movies devoted to this, I could see a longer-form version on like Netflix or another platform, easily, as long as it was firmly kept set in Japan and people didn’t try to really mess with it. It’s perfect for something like that.

Note – This series is kind of a misnomer because the full ending is completed with the two volume 21st Century Boys, which I haven’t gotten to read yet. However, those two books more or less explain the why to things and close up loopholes – you do get something of an ending with the main 22 book arc. My review/rating thus far is only on the first 22 books – I’ll probably update once I read the rest.

5 sheep





***
About Selah Janel:
Selah Janel is a writer who is trying to start doing that again instead of reading manga all the time.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Excerpt Spotlight: Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast by Melanie Karsak + giveaway


Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast
by Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Fairy Tales)
December 6th, 2017
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Steampunk
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.

When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.

But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.

Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly-deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.

See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.



EXCERPT:

“Hello? Is anyone there?”

The sky overhead darkened, and in the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.

Oh no. No, no, no.

I looked up at the sky. My head swam.

I needed to find shelter.

I turned to go back to the path, but when I did so, I didn’t see the path, nor the ring of mushrooms, nor anything else vaguely familiar.

Once more, the sky rumbled.

I felt the first of the raindrops on my head, but luckily, the thick leaves overhead sheltered me somewhat. As the storm rolled in, the forest grew dark.

I cast a glance around.

It didn’t matter which direction I went. Eventually I would find the shore once more.

Turning to head out, however, I spotted a bluish colored light in the distance. A house? A fire? A lantern? A…something.

“Hello?”

No reply.

Turning, I followed the bluish glow. I headed deeper into the forest, chasing after the light, but soon found its source. It was a mushroom. The glowing mushroom had been sitting on a rise. It had played a trick on my mind. Then I spotted another glowing fungus, then another, and another, all of which held an incandescent blue light. They grew in a straight line. Without a better recourse, and feeling half suspicious of the supernatural, I followed the glow of the blue mushrooms as the rain pattered overhead, the sky rumbling. I followed the blue lights deep into the ancient woods, aware that I was passing other sacred rings. I walked past a mound of earth, a barrow, the final resting place of some ancient person—and some said a passageway to the Otherworld—as I hurried deeper into the woods. Surely I would find the shoreline soon.

Lightning cracked overhead.

Then, on the horizon, I saw golden light. A fire? I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the shape through the trees, but my head ached miserably. Leaning heavily against my staff, I moved toward the golden colored light.

The forest thinned. The glowing mushrooms led me onward toward the glow of the yellow light in the distance. Praying to find someone—anyone—I followed along, well aware that my quick exertion had my stomach rolling. Black spots wriggled before my eyes. The line of mushrooms ended. To my shock, I’d blundered to the center of the island and found myself standing outside the gates of a castle.

I gazed up at the enormous structure. It towered over me, a black silhouette on the horizon. Light glowed through one of the windows in the upper floors. It was raining in earnest now. Not waiting a moment longer, I pushed the gate. It swung open with a creak.

It was pouring.

I leaned my walking staff against a metal bench in the perfectly manicured garden, then grabbing my skirts, I ran for the castle door. As I rushed, lightning flashed. It created an odd illusion on the bushes and flowers around me. For a moment, they all seemed to glimmer like metal under the bright light.

My temples pounded. My stomach rolled. I raced through the heavy rain to the castle door.

Hoping whoever was at home would forgive me for letting myself in, I pushed open the castle door and crept inside.

The place was eerily silent.

“Hello?” I called. “Is anyone here?”

Breathing deeply and quickly, I realized the moment I stopped that I was not well.

I cast a glance toward a roaring fireplace nearby. A chair was seated before the hearth, a glass of something dark sitting beside the seat. I heard a strange clicking sound.

“Hello?” I called again, but this time, my head began to spin. I put my hands on my hips, trying to catch my breath. I closed my eyes. Everything was twirling.

Footsteps approached.

“I-I’m sorry I let myself in but…” I began then opened my eyes.

Standing before me was a massive automaton, its silver eyes staring coldly at me.

A nauseous feeling swept over me, and my head swam. Black spots danced before my eyes.

“Pardon me. I think I’m about to—”

Faint.

But the word was lost.

And so was I.



About the Author:
Website- FB-Twitter
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, The Burnt Earth Series, The Celtic Blood Series and Steampunk Fairy Tales. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.


GIVEAWAY

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
-Disney’s Belle Funko Pop
-Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Writing Journal
-Beauty and the Beast Light-up Rose Cup from Disneyland


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Comic Review: Parassassin by Jasper Bark


writer: Jasper Bark
artist:‎ Alfa Robbi
Letters: Bolt 01
18th September 2017
Genre: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Markosia Enterprise
Pages: 66
Three futures hang in the balance.

Two end in total annihilation.

One assassin’s bullet will decide.

On the planet Sedulon, a rogue band of renegade time travelers and scientific misfits fight to save the futures of two worlds.

Doc Hydrabus - a brilliant scientist whose body splits into a crowd of his past and selves, he lives in one present and many futures all at the same time

Cassindra - 900 years old, impossible to kill and every bit as deadly as she is beautiful. She’s travelled back in time to change the world.

Rushaar and Shartara - alien beings made entirely of gas with one simple plan, to use time travel to assassinate the leader of Sedulon and save their planet Eidolonia.

The Parassassin - he will take the shot that decides the destinies of everyone in the galaxy.

Politics and parody collide on the bleeding edge of science fiction, in the most shocking and unexpected thriller you’re going to read this year.

Parassassination: Altering the future through time travel and assassination.

Quantum physics, wormholes, time travel…oh, my! Time travel stories make my head hurt. Not because I don’t understand, but because for the story to work I have to accept the plot holes and have to let some bullsheep slide. But in Parassassin it all makes sense and all the loose ends I tend to dwell on are wrapped up and explained. This might not seem like a big deal, but to me it was amazing.

I’m not sure of the brain gymnastics writer Jason Bark had to achieve to make this story work, but it does and it was a lot of fun to read. People from different futures and timelines are trying to either prevent or cause the death of one man whose actions will doom their futures. In the center of all this mess is Dr. Hydrabus. Due to a wormhole generator accident he now physically splits into his future, present and past selves. After a few hours, these selves snap back into the one man only to split again into more versions of his future and past selves adding a lot of humor to the mystery and action plot.

There are many surprise twists and turns and at times things are confusing, but it all works out and makes sense. I even enjoyed rereading it and appreciating how the story was put together.

5 “assassin” Sheep






SharonS

About the Author:
Jasper Bark finds writing author biographies and talking about himself in the third person faintly embarrassing. Telling you that he’s an award-winning author of four cult novels including the highly acclaimed ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’, just sounds like boasting. Then he has to mention that he’s written 12 children’s books and hundreds of comics and graphic novels and he wants to just curl up. He cringes when he has to reveal that his work has been translated into nine different languages and is used in schools throughout the UK to help improve literacy, or that he was awarded the This Is Horror Award for his last anthology ‘Dead Air’. Maybe he’s too British, or maybe he just needs a good enema, but he’s glad this bio is now over.


Artist: Alfa Robbi
website
Hi I'm a freelance comic artist basically I did Penciling and Inking, also I can do many kind of Illustration, Character design, Concept art, Manga and T-shirt design. 

Please feel free to take a look in my gallery and if you think my work will fit to your project please contact me at alfa.papillon@gmail.com

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Excerpt Spotlight: The Rising Series Box Set by Holly Kelly + giveaway


The Rising Series Box Set
by Holly Kelly
December 12th, 2017
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by: Clean Teen

A magical underwater realm awaits! Own books 1-3 of the Best-Selling Rising series by acclaimed author Holly Kelly.

This value-priced boxed set includes the first three novels in the best-selling Rising series: Rising (with an exclusive bonus scene), Descending, and Avenging. Beautifully packaged with brilliant new cover art, this set is perfect for any fan of Greek Mythology and Mermaid Romance stories. Order the Rising series today and submerge yourself in an underwater world full of passion, romance, intrigue, and adventure.

Rising: Contains a newly released scene! In a war between the humans and the inhabitants of the sea—humans will lose. Xanthus Dimitriou—the most lethal Dagonian to rise from the ocean—is on a mission to save mankind from annihilation. There’s just one thing standing in his way: the life of a beautiful young woman…

Descending: When Xanthus cashes in a long-standing favor, Kyros is faced with doing two things he thought he’d never do—protect a mermaid and live on land.

Avenging: Two thousand years ago, King Triton witnessed the slaughter and total annihilation of his merchildren. Devastated by the loss, he vowed to never again father a child. Powerful, handsome, and eternally youthful, Triton was no stranger to seduction—yet his resolve was unwavering…until he met Nicole.




EXCERPT:
He knew what he had to do, what he’d done countless times before. As a trained soldier, he had a sacred duty to protect his people, guard their secret, and uphold the law. This female’s presence here was not only a criminal act, but it also presented an imminent threat. And because of that, his course was clear.

He had to kill her.

His plan lay clearly before him. Blanketed in the shadows, he’d enter her apartment window. Moving silently, he’d strike fast. Before she could cry out for help, he’d have her throat slit wide open. With her blood flowing swiftly, she’d be dead in mere seconds. The fact that she bathed at this time added to the ease of the execution. Clean up would be simple. Before the night ended, it would be as if she’d never existed. The Dagonian threat of exposure would be wiped clean from the human world.

Xanthus stood, his feet rooted in place under her window. Her sweet scent surrounded him as he listened to her pitiful sobs. Then, in that moment, he did the most shameful thing he’d ever done in his life.

He hesitated.

No, he didn’t merely hesitate. He halted. Fingering his blade in his holster, he willed his feet to move, but they seemed unwilling to obey. Then his mind latched onto a thought. It was no crime to wait for a more opportune time or a more secluded place to strike. He didn’t need to act rashly. True, finding her here in the human world shocked him, but he needed to be clear-headed and sure when he killed her.

He made his way back to his vehicle and climbed behind the wheel. He leaned his head back against the seat, closed his eyes, and attempted to clear his head.

He’d be back and she would die. She deserved to die. She may have the voice of an angel, but that was a lie. She was a traitor, a threat to their people. No other explanation made sense.

Xanthus looked toward the little female’s apartment building across the street. Could she have found a more dangerous place to live? This Dagonian female probably felt at home with these bottom-feeders.

Probably? Aw Hades. He cursed himself and the doubt in his mind. He doubly cursed that he couldn’t seem to stop himself from caring about her welfare. He’d be killing her himself, after all. The traitor had to die, regardless of his feelings and no matter how appealing she was. Of course, if she died by a human’s hands then he wouldn’t…

No.

He shook his head at his own idiotic thoughts. If a human killed her, then her body would be taken to the morgue, for the humans to see. He couldn’t let that happen. He had to be the one to kill her and carefully dispose of her body. And he would, soon.

Just not tonight.




About the Author:
Website-FB-Twitter
Goodreads

Holly Kelly is a mom who writes books in her spare time: translation--she hides in the bathroom with her laptop and locks the door while the kids destroy the house and smear peanut butter on the walls. She was born in Utah but moved around a bit, living in Kansas, Texas, and Hawaii where she studied marine biology. She's now back in Utah--"happy valley". She's married to a wonderful husband, James, and they are currently raising 6 rambunctious children. Her interests are reading, writing (or course), martial arts, visual arts, creating Halloween props, and spending time with family.


GIVEAWAY

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
Clean Teen Publishing Mystery Box (Intl winner would get eBook prizes)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 11, 2017

Book Review: Fairytale Christmas: A Fair Folk Saga (The Fair Folk Saga Book 1) by Merrie Destefano + Giveaway

Fairytale Christmas: A Fair Folk Saga (The Fair Folk Saga Book 1)
by Merrie Destefano
December 4, 2017

Genre: YA, fantasy, folktale,
Three thousand years ago, a war began between the immortals and the mortals. It's a war that continues to this day...

Before history began, a legendary queen battled a foreign army, braved the death of her husband, and faced betrayal at the hand of someone she trusted. This is the story of Eire, Queen of the Faeries, the Immortal One, and the leader of the Tuatha de Danann.

To this day, her homeland, Ireland, bears her name, and this is the story of the war that drove the Immortal Ones into exile. It's also the tale of how she found help from an unexpected place, leading her to a love like she had never known before.

Fairytale Christmas is a story that spans thousands of years. It's also the beginning of all of our fairytales and legends; it's where mortals and immortals survive because they love one another, proving that love is the greatest gift of all.

This is the first installment in the Saga of the Fair Folk, a journey that lasts until the end of time.

What a magical and beautiful cover and fitting for a story about Erie, Queen of the Faeries. The reader experiences Erie’s betrayal and eventual fight for her life and that of her two sons from her point of view. The story moves quickly and has lots of action and suspense. The writing has a fairy tale quality to it much like Merrie’s novel Feast, which you should also read. Merrie has a flair for writing magical tales.

As strange as it sounds, I think this would have been a stronger story without the introduction of the romance. The love shown between Erie and her sister, and Erie and her sons was magical enough. Maybe if this had been a longer story there would have been enough time to develop chemistry between Erie and Kellen.

I don’t know how much of this story is from the folklore and how much was Merrie’s imagination, but this is a beautifully written story about family and fighting against a terrible adversary. If you are looking for just a romance story, you might be disappointed. But if you like fairy tales about good vs evil then check it out.

3.5 “howling” Sheep






SharonS

About the Author:
website-FB-twitter
goodreads-newsletter
Born in the Midwest, magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.



GIVEAWAY