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Book Review: The Faeries of Sadieville, by Alex Bledsoe

The series sputters out with a chance to return home.


The Faeries of Sadieville

Tor Books, 2018, 368 pages



Charming and lyrical, The Fairies of Sadieville concludes Alex Bledsoe's widely praised contemporary fantasy series about the fairy descendants of Appalachia.

"This is real." Three small words on a film canister found by graduate students Justin and Veronica, who discover a long-lost silent movie from more than a century ago. The startlingly realistic footage shows a young girl transforming into a winged being. Looking for proof behind this claim, they travel to the rural foothills of Tennessee to find Sadieville, where it had been filmed.

Soon their journey takes them to Needsville, whose residents are hesitant about their investigation, but Justin and Veronica are helped by Tucker Carding, who seems to have his own ulterior motives. When the two students unearth a secret long hidden, everyone in the Tufa community must answer the most important question of their entire lives - what would they be willing to sacrifice in order to return to their fabled homeland of Tir na nOg?


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Also by Alex Bledsoe: My reviews of The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing, Long Black Curl, Chapel of Ease, and Gather Her Round.




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Book Review: Sentient, by Jeff Lemire, Illustrated by Gabriel Walta

A graphic novel that feels like old school YA SF.


Sentient

TKO Studios, 2019, 160 pages



From Eisner Award-winners Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer) and Gabriel Walta (The Vision). When an attack kills the adults on a colony ship, the on-board A.I. VALARIE must help the ship's children survive. But as they are pursued by dangerous forces through space, can VALARIE rise to the task and save these children?


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Book Review: Gather Her Round, by Alex Bledsoe

Killer hogs and jealous boyfriends in book five of the Appalachian fairy soap opera.


Gather Her Round

Tor Books, 2017, 320 pages



Love and tragedy are not strange bedfellows among the Tufa. Young Kara Rogers disappears while hiking in the woods by Needsville. When her half-eaten remains are discovered, the blame falls upon a herd of wild hogs, a serious threat in this rural community. In response, the county's best trackers, including game warden Jack Cates and ex-military Tufa Bronwyn Chess, are assembled to hunt them down.

Kara's boyfriend Duncan Gowen mourns her death, until he finds evidence she cheated on him with his best friend, Adam Procure. Seeking revenge, Duncan entices Adam to participate in their own boar hunt. Later, Bronwyn and Jack stumble across a devastated Duncan, who claims a giant boar impaled Adam and dragged him off. As this second death rocks the town, people begin to wonder who is really responsible.

Determined hunters pursue the ravenous horde through the Appalachians as other Tufa seek their own answers. Between literal beasts in the woods and figurative wolves in sheep's clothing, what truths will arise come spring?



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Also by Alex Bledsoe: My reviews of The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing, Long Black Curl, and Chapel of Ease.




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Comic Review: Carthago, by Christophe Bec, Illustrated by Eric Henninot and Milan Jovanovic

A beautiful, bloated epic about giant sharks, evil corporations, cryptozoology hunts, and lost civilizations.


Carthago

Humanoids Inc, 2014, 212 pages



In the insatiable quest for natural resources, humans are searching further and deeper into the earth, threatening to unleash monsters thought to be long gone...

PUBLICATION IN 10 VOLUMES - COMPLETED WORK.

The megalodon, the prehistoric ancestor of the great white shark was the most ferocious predator of the seas, an 80 foot killing machine extinct for millions of years... But when divers drilling in an underwater cave are attacked by this living fossil, oceanographer Kim Melville discovers that this creature may not only have survived, but thrived, and is reclaiming its place at the top of the food chain.


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Book Review: Chapel of Ease, by Alex Bledsoe

The fourth book in the series brings a gay theater nerd black belt to Needsville to kick some faerie ass.


Chapel of Ease

Tor Books, 2016, 315 pages



When Matt Johansson, a young New York actor, auditions for Chapel of Ease, an off-Broadway musical, he is instantly charmed by Ray Parrish, the show's writer and composer. As their friendship deepens, Matt learns that Ray's people call themselves the Tufa and that the musical is based on the history of his isolated hometown. But there is one question in the show's script that Ray refuses to answer: What is buried in the ruins of the Chapel of Ease?

As opening night approaches, strange things begin to happen. A dreadlocked girl follows and spies on Ray. At the press preview, a strange Tufa woman warns him to stop the show. Then, as the rave reviews arrive, Ray dies in his sleep.

Matt and the cast are distraught, but there's no question of shutting down, and the run quickly sells out. Matt volunteers to take Ray's ashes back to Needsville, where he hopes to understand more about the play and uncover the secret that Ray took to his grave.

Matt's journey into the haunting Appalachian mountains of Cloud County sets him on a dangerous path, where some secrets deserve to stay buried.


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Also by Alex Bledsoe: My reviews of The Hum and the Shiver, Wisp of a Thing, and Long Black Curl.




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Book Review: Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

How did America's first Secretary of the Treasury become the star of a Broadway musical? With a really good biography.


Alexander Hamilton

Penguin Press, 2004, 818 pages



The inspiration for the hit Broadway musical Hamilton! In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, National Book Award winner Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America.

According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Few figures in American history have been more hotly debated or more grossly misunderstood than Alexander Hamilton. Chernow’s biography gives Hamilton his due and sets the record straight, deftly illustrating that the political and economic greatness of today’s America is the result of Hamilton’s countless sacrifices to champion ideas that were often wildly disputed during his time.

“To repudiate his legacy,” Chernow writes, “is, in many ways, to repudiate the modern world.” Chernow here recounts Hamilton’s turbulent life: an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, he came out of nowhere to take America by storm, rising to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp in the Continental Army, coauthoring The Federalist Papers, founding the Bank of New York, leading the Federalist Party, and becoming the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.

Historians have long told the story of America’s birth as the triumph of Jefferson’s democratic ideals over the aristocratic intentions of Hamilton. Chernow presents an entirely different man, whose legendary ambitions were motivated not merely by self-interest but by passionate patriotism and a stubborn will to build the foundations of American prosperity and power. His is a Hamilton far more human than we’ve encountered before—from his shame about his birth to his fiery aspirations, from his intimate relationships with childhood friends to his titanic feuds with Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Monroe, and Burr, and from his highly public affair with Maria Reynolds to his loving marriage to his loyal wife Eliza. And never before has there been a more vivid account of Hamilton’s famous and mysterious death in a duel with Aaron Burr in July of 1804.

Chernow’s biography is not just a portrait of Hamilton, but the story of America’s birth seen through its most central figure. At a critical time to look back to our roots, Alexander Hamilton will remind readers of the purpose of our institutions and our heritage as Americans.


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Also by Ron Chernow: My review of Washington: A Life.




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Comic Review: The Swords of Glass, by Sylviane Corgiat. Illustrated by Laura Zuccheri

An urchin on a revenge quest in a beautiful, uneven fantasy epic.


The Swords of Glass

Humanoids Inc, 2014, 212 pages



In a world threatened by the imminent death of its sun, young Yama lives a relatively happy and peaceful life as the daughter of the chief of the village. But everything changes the day a sword of glass falls from the sky, just as the prophecy had announced. Anyone who touches the sword is instantly turned to glass and dies. Orland, the local lord of war, comes to take possession of the unique weapon but fails to retrieve it. In the process, Yama’s father is killed and her mother taken away. Yama, however, escapes and survives with only one thought: when she grows up, she will return to get the sword of glass, and avenge her parents.


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Comic Review: Coda, by Simon Spurrier

For fans of Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, Heavy Metal, and those post-apocalyptic 80s cartoons.


Coda cover

BOOM Studios!, 2019, 3 volumes (128 pages each)



In the aftermath of an apocalypse which wiped out nearly all magic from a once-wondrous fantasy world, a former bard named Hum (a man of few words, so nicknamed because his standard reply is “hm”) seeks a way to save the soul of his wife with nothing but a foul-tempered mutant unicorn and his wits to protect him…but is unwillingly drawn into a brutal power struggle which will decide forever who rules the Weird Wasteland.


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Book Review: Deathless Divide, by Justina Ireland

Book two in a YA post-apocalyptic alt-historical about zombies, corsets, and racism.


Deathless Divide

Balzer + Bray, 2020, 560 pages



After the fall of Summerland, Jane McKeene hoped her life would get simpler: Get out of town, stay alive, and head west to California to find her mother.

But nothing is easy when you’re a girl trained in putting down the restless dead, and a devastating loss on the road to a protected village called Nicodemus has Jane questioning everything she thought she knew about surviving in 1880s America.

What’s more, this safe haven is not what it appears - as Jane discovers when she sees familiar faces from Summerland amid this new society. Caught between mysteries and lies, the undead, and her own inner demons, Jane soon finds herself on a dark path of blood and violence that threatens to consume her.

But she won’t be in it alone.

Katherine Deveraux never expected to be allied with Jane McKeene. But after the hell she has endured, she knows friends are hard to come by - and that Jane needs her, too, whether Jane wants to admit it or not.

Watching Jane’s back, however, is more than she bargained for, and when they both reach a breaking point, it’s up to Katherine to keep hope alive - even as she begins to fear that there is no happily-ever-after for girls like her.


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Also by Justina Ireland: My review of Dread Nation.




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AQATWW: Starting to look like an elephant

I am still working on the print proof for AQATLB. Here's a rough preview of the print cover. Everything is still a WIP - this is just the preliminary colored sketch by the artist, with me adding a rough layout on top, and nothing is lined up or sized correctly yet.

As for how I am going to print the thing... I dunno. I may just print a single proof for myself, and then create one and two-volume layouts for everyone else to POD print for themselves.

Alexandra Quick and the Lands Below cover

Speaking of personal printings, /u/AnEternalNobody on reddit did their very own bookbinding project. This looks so cool.

Homemade bound copy of Alexandra Quick and the Thorn Circle

Also on the artistic front, I have finished a semi-final online version of the cover for Alexandra Quick and the Wizard War. No, it's not time to reveal it yet. But yeah, we're going back to Poser and Photoshop. I, heh heh, might have overspent a little on commissioning art for the last book. You're going to have to suffer my Poser art again for most of the chapters in book six. But I can promise my graphic arts skillz are, well, less terrible than they were. (I actually took a couple of Udemy courses. Wow, blending modes, layer masks, and curves adjustment layers make sense now! And I am finally semi-competent with the pen tool.)

But I know, I know, you aren't here for the digital art I create to entertain myself. You want to know how soon book six will drop.

So, as of today, I've got 169,337 words written, and I've almost finished Chapter 31, out of 52. You'll notice that latter number keeps going up with each update.

AQATWW is much more outlined than any previous book. I still just cannot do what some authors apparently can, which is produce a complete, detailed, chapter-by-chapter synopsis before they actually start their first draft. I envy them, because the chapters where I do have a solid, comprehensive plan (i.e., I know what's going to happen from beginning to end) get written much faster.

Most of the chapters in my outline, however, are more like, "Alexandra goes to The Place, and The Thing happens." That's a whole lot of detail to fill in, especially when I am not sure how Alexandra gets to The Place, and The Thing requires a bunch of other things that I haven't figured out yet.

But I know why each chapter is there, and the plot points I need to hit. I know what all the important and climactic moments are and where I need to build up to them. I feel like the stone is starting to look like an elephant.

I am also hoping I'll be able to do more trimming this time on the second pass. AQATWW will be another long book, though hopefully not as long as AQATWA.