Review: Letterforms: Typeface Design from Past to Future by Timothy Samara

Letterforms
Author: Timothy Samara
Released: July 3rd 2018
Received: NetGalley
Rating: 4 Kitties

I received a copy of Letterforms: Typeface Design from Past to Future through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I should probably preface this by saying that I love typography. It’s my favorite graphic design focus, and I love reading about the history of fonts and typefaces. Naturally when I saw this book I knew there was no way I could continue without having read it, so here I am.

Letterforms is wonderfully comprehensive in the subject that it is covering. Everything from the history to how individual letters were invented, to their evolutions (accompanied by fun anecdotes), and finally even their reinventions.

That doesn’t sound like that much to squish into one book, but trust me when I say that it is. The history of type is actually quite long and sometimes overwhelming. This book gives a full and comprehensive look at it without throwing too much information at once. In short, it’s the perfect balance. Never one did I feel like I was reading a list of facts as opposed to an actual novel, and that exactly what I was hoping for.

Reading about the invention and evolution of the individual letters was fascinating. I knew the basics, but honestly I’ve never seen such an in-depth explanation like this one. I’m absolutely thrilled with it. I actually wish I had this book when I was working on my graphic design degree, but alas…

If you’re looking to learn about something new, or have already found yourself fascinated with letterforms, then this is absolutely the book for you. It’s charming and informative and very well written.

 

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Review: Valiant High

Valiant High

Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Received: NetGalley
Issues: Valiant High 1-4
Rating: 4 Kitties

I received a copy of Valiant High through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Valiant High is part of comiXology’s new Originals line. If you’ve read anything of Valiant’s superheroes, then you’re probably going to recognize a lot of the characters that show up here. There’s Aric “X-O Manowar” Dacia, Colin “Ninjak” King, Faith “Zephyr” Herbert, and Amanda “Livewire” McKee. They’re in an alternate universe that isn’t, where they’ve been thrown into a new setting, reimagining these heroes as if they were in a superhero high school.

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Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 8: Mecca

Ms Marvel Vol 8

Publisher: Marvel
Released: December 26th 2017
Received: Marvel Unlimited
Issues: Ms. Marvel 19-24
Rating: 4 Kitties

I read all of Ms. Marvel Vol. 8 as single issues through Marvel Unlimited.

It’s hard to believe that this run of Ms. Marvel has already hit 8 volumes, but here we are. For those that haven’t been following the series, I strongly urge that you give her a try. Kamala one of the most passionate characters I’ve read in years, and I absolutely adore her. Sure, I don’t always agree with her logic or the decisions she makes, but that just further reminds me of just how human they’ve made her character.

This volume of Ms. Marvel does tie in with some of the events happening in the Marvel Universe, however on the whole they’re either pretty subtle or their context is perfectly explained. So you don’t really need to be reading anything else to understand what is happening here.

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The Queen of Crows (The Sacred Throne #2) by Myke Cole

The Queen of Crows

Publisher: Tor
Author: Myke Cole
Release: September 18th 2018
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Graphic injuries, animal death
Rating: 4 Kitties

I received a copy of The Queen of Crows from Tor in exchange for a fair and honest review.

It’s hard to believe that there’s any possible way to follow up The Armored Saint, but The Queen of Crows proves that it is in fact, quite possible. If you ask me, The Killing Light has very big shoes to fill…granted I think that Myke Cole has proven that he’s more than up for the task.

If you haven’t read The Armored Saint, then you should really stop reading this review now, and consider picking up a copy of that one first. It’s probably fairly obvious, but what happens in this book has some pretty major spoilers for the ending of The Armored Saint.

I’ll confess that when I first picked up The Sacred Throne trilogy I was a bit…hesitant about the whole thing. It sounded interesting, but I had concerns about the follow through (that had everything to do with the plot, and nothing to do with the author) and given subject matter. To put it bluntly, I was concerned about just how religious this series would be.

As it turns out, while the world these characters live in is undoubtedly religious, and thus a major factor to the series itself…it isn’t overwhelming. Many are actively fighting against the lives they’ve been forced to live. None more so than the main character, Heloise.

Heloise is exactly the sort of character this plot needed. She’s strong, stubborn, and she so very much doesn’t fit into the mold that society has made for her. She never wanted to grow up and marry, to find end up essentially barefoot and pregnant. None of that sounded appealing to her, and really, when you put it like that, who can blame her?

While Heloise had no interest in the life society wanted for her, she still had her own hopes and dreams. She still found love – even if it wasn’t reciprocated and to this day causes her pain. That’s part of being human, and it makes her character so much more approachable than she otherwise would have been. It also makes her a perfect champion.

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Review: Exit Strategy (The Murderbot Diaries #4) by Martha Wells

Exit StrategyPublisher: Tor
Author: Martha Wells
Release: October 2nd 2018
Received: Review copy from Tor
Rating 4.5 Kitties

Thanks Tor for the advanced copy of Exit Strategy!

The conclusion of a series is always a bittersweet moment. While it was tempting to rush through and read all of Exit Strategy the moment it arrived on my doorstop, I knew that I’d only be able to read it for the first time just once. Therefore I stopped and forced myself to read it slowly and savor it while I could.

Murderbot has been such a fantastic character, right from the very beginning. Now, four books in, it’s hard to believe that we’re being forced to say goodbye. They’ve become such an iconic and oddly lovable character. It speaks volumes to Martha Wells’ writing talent that she was able to write a character that was simultaneously incredible human while adamantly being against the idea of actually being human.

What I love almost as much as the series itself is listening to others and how they react to the series. Reading and seeing their theories for Murderbot and the world they live it. It’s rapidly become such a fantastic and welcoming community. Everyone I know that has read the series has something to say about it, and the fact that they feel like Murderbot has become such a part of their lives is exciting.

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Review: Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) by Ilona Andrews

Magic Triumphs

Publisher: Ace
Author: Ilona Andrews
Released: August 28th 2018
Received: Own
Warnings: Fertility concerns
Rating: 4.5 Kitties

It’s almost hard to believe it…but the final book in the Kate Daniels series is here. I’ll confess that when my copy arrived, I found myself very conflicted. I didn’t even read it the first night – I was too afraid to finish it and have the series be officially over.

But of course, I caved and ended up reading the entire thing the following day, and I couldn’t be happier. Magic Triumphs is everything I could have hoped for in the conclusion of the series, and then some. I’m still sad that the series is over…but I’m feeling more at peace with it than I had been before I started reading.

Admittedly it helps knowing that this isn’t actually the end to the world that’s been established in the Kate Daniels series. We know that Hugh will be getting more books (at least two more, if I understand correctly). Plus I’d like to think that they’d continue the Grey Wolf series, even if so far it only has a novella. There’s a couple other series that I’d say are sure to be picked up, but since they’re hinted at later in the novel, I can’t really theorize about them here. Just know that there’s more to come.

And then there are all the other characters that could be picked up for their own series. The potential is limitless. And theoretically in some of those stories we’ll see Kate, Curran, Conlan, and all the other characters we fell in love with. So it isn’t really a goodbye, is it?

Still, even with the happy reminder that the world will continue in other series…the fact does remain that this one is ending. I loved this series so much. I still love this series. It was the one that really got me into Urban Fantasy (well, admittedly I had been into it before then, but I didn’t know the genre name at the time). It was my fall back when I needed something to cheer me up, or distract me, or even just for entertainment. I loved the characters, the world building, and the lore that was put into it. It’s been ten years, and this world still enchants me. I’m sure in ten more, that will still hold true.

More than that though – I love the community it created. If you’ve ever looked up the fandom for something you love, you know you’re taking a risk. Either they’re the most amazing and welcoming community ever, or they’re all full of venom. Or at least that’s what it feels like. The fandom revolving around Kate Daniels, and really all the worlds that Ilona and Andrew Gordon have created, is full of truly awesome people. Sure, there are a few bad eggs in there (like the ones constantly harassing the author lords for free work, forgetting simple facts like they are human), but on the whole they’re fantastic. Finding a fandom like that to join can really amplify an author’s works, so I’m always really happy to see that happen.

So now, before I begin my review, I just want to say thank you. Thank you to Ilona and Andrew Gordon, for bringing us this brilliant world. Thanks to the fans who bought the books and helped support them on this journey. And thanks to the fandom, for being awesome.

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Review: The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube

The Dark Beneath the Ice

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Author: Amelinda Berube
Release: August 7th 2018
Received: NetGalley
Warnings: Mental Health
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received a copy of The Dark Beneath the Ice through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Dark Beneath the Ice is a paranormal thriller that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It’s described as being Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity. Admittedly I haven’t seen either of those, so I can’t really comment too much; but I will say that based on the trailers alone that’s a pretty decent description of the feeling and mode of this novel. It’s dark, eerie, and chaotic at times (as only a paranormal event can be), but it’s also full of raw emotion, determination, and perseverance. In short, it’s a wonderful blend and a fascinating story.

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Review: The Complete Photo Guide to Hand Lettering and Calligraphy by Abbey Sy

The Complete Photo Guide to Hand Lettering and Calligraphy

Author: Abbey Sy
Released: June 12th 2018
Received: NetGalley
Rating: 3.5 Stars

I received a copy of The Complete Photo Guide to Hand Lettering and Calligraphy through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

I feel like many people would happily say that they’ve at one point in their life wanted to learn how to write calligraphy. There are certainly a shocking number of uses for it, even if it doesn’t appear to at first. I’m among those people that have always wanted to learn, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to read this book.

After having read it, I can tell you with complete honestly that I’m going to buy this book. I want to be able to drag it along with me to my desk as I practice, to have it with me as a guide while I slowly learn what I’m doing. I haven’t tried any of the exercises yet (as a rule I don’t allow my art supplies by my computer, for fairly obvious reasons), but I did read through them all and they seem nicely laid out and not at all overwhelming.

I have to say that I love how much material this book managed to cover. Starting from the suggested tools and materials (which varies depending on which method you choose to use), then moving on to cover the basics of lettering, classic calligraphy, modern hand lettering, decorative lettering (you know, the beautiful calligraphy with the extra swirls or even sometimes botanical elements around it), and finally digital lettering. They’ve also included practice sheets in the back, which was a nice touch.

 

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Review: Lady Mechanika Vol. 5: Clockwork Assassin

Lady Mechanika Vol. 3

Publisher: Benitez Productions
Release: June 26th 2018
Received: NetGalley
Rating: 4 Kitties

I received a copy of Lady Mechanika Vol. 4 through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

About a year ago I had a friend suggest the Lady Mechanika series to me, and I’ve been so grateful ever since. Now we’re up to four volumes in the main plot, as well as one short story (Le Dama de la Muerte) to the series. It’s hard to believe it’s come so far so fast, but here we are!

There are a lot of reasons I enjoy the Lady Mechanika series, one of the reasons is probably pretty obviously. The Artwork is absolutely amazing. I’d say that this series probably has the best artwork out of all of the series I read (and if somebody knows work of this quality – please send me the name of a new series I can fall in love with!). I love the steampunk elements used in this series, and how much attention is giving to the details, something that is especially important in a believable steampunk series.

The one downside to this series is the length. Most of the volumes are pretty short, with this one being less than ninety pages. It would be nice to have more pages to immerse oneself into it, but really it is what it is. Each volume is more or less a standalone plot, with the main plot being an undercurrent that’s supplemented by the events occurring. That means that at least we’re not left with cliffhangers or anything annoying like that.

Also, quick side note. If you look at this volume in multiple locations you’ll find that the novel number changes from one to the other. I think this probably depends on if they’re counting the Le Dama de la Muerte to be number four or not, but I’m not entirely certain of it. All I know is that it’s listed as five on Goodreads and NetGalley, but only four on Amazon. The cover also says four, so take from that what you will.

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Review: Exile by Glynn Stewart

Exile

Publisher: Faolan’s Pen Publishing Inc
Author: Glynn Stewart
Released: July 17th 2018
Received: ARC from BookCon
Rating: 4 Kitties

I received a free copy of Exile while I was at BookCon. There’s no obligation for me to leave a review, but I am choosing to do so.

Exile is the first in a series of one of my favorite types of science fiction subgenre: Space Opera. In this case it’s all about tyranny, the fight for justice, and forming a new colony. It’s actually quite a lot of ground that Glynn Stewart managed to cover. I’m sure at least some of the groundwork was laid down in his other series, but without having read them (yet) I can’t be certain which ones. I do know that he likes to connect the dots where possible, and that he’s been building in the same world. So it seems plausible.

I just want to take a quick minute to say that I love the cover for this novel. I can’t quite explain all the reasons I like it. I think it’s mostly the color palette that gets to me. That and the large and heavy font choice – it fits perfectly both with the image on the cover as well as the theme of the book.

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