Sunday, August 21, 2016

Manga Review - Black Clover Vol. 1

Manga Name : Black Clover (Volume One)   
Author: Tabata, Yuuki (Story & Art)  
Original Serialization: Shounen Jump (Weekly)
English Publisher : VIZ Media
Genres: Shounen, Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic 

Generic can be quite fun at times. The manga 'Black Clover' is a good example of that. Despite having generic and cliché characters, a generic setting and magic system, this manga somehow shines through. It's may be due to the writers passion for his story and characters. The crisp and enticingly detailed art helps too.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Promising Sci-fi, horror & Fantasy - July 2016

Not really much to look forward to in terms of the big names this month but July does have some interesting titles if one went in deep.

"The Doomed City" by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are widely considered the greatest of Russian science fiction masters, and their most famous work, Roadside Picnic, has enjoyed great popularity worldwide. Yet the novel they worked hardest on, the novel that was their own favorite, the novel that readers worldwide have acclaimed as their magnum opus, has never before been published in English.
The Doomed City was so politically risky that the Strugatsky brothers kept its existence a complete secret even from their best friends for sixteen years after its completion in 1972. It was only published in Russia during perestroika in the late 1980s, the last of their works to see publication. It was translated into a host of major European languages, and now appears in English in a major new translation by acclaimed translator Andrew Bromfield.
The Doomed City is set in an experimental city whose sun gets switched on in the morning and switched off at night, bordered by an abyss on one side and an impossibly high wall on the other. Its sole inhabitants are people who were plucked from twentieth-century history at various times and places and left to govern themselves under conditions established by Mentors whose purpose seems inscrutable. Andrei Voronin, a young astronomer plucked from Leningrad in the 1950s, is a diehard believer in the Experiment, even though his first job in the city is as a garbage collector. And as increasingly nightmarish scenarios begin to affect the city, he rises through the political hierarchy, with devastating effect.


[Although this is just a new translation from an old book from what I have read by the authors this is a must read for me.]

"Time Siege" by Wesley Chu
Having been haunted by the past and enslaved by the present, James Griffin-Mars is taking control of the future.
Earth is a toxic, sparsely inhabited wasteland – the perfect hiding place for a fugitive ex-chronman to hide from the authorities.
James has allies, scientists he rescued from previous centuries: Elise Kim, who believes she can renew Earth, given time; Grace Priestly, the venerated inventor of time travel herself; Levin, James’s mentor and former pursuer, now disgraced; and the Elfreth, a population of downtrodden humans who want desperately to believe that James and his friends will heal their ailing home world.
James also has enemies. They include the full military might of benighted solar system ruled by corporate greed and a desperate fear of what James will do next. At the forefront of their efforts to stop him is Kuo, the ruthless security head, who wants James’s head on a pike and will stop at nothing to obtain it.


[Sadly I haven't read anything from Wesley Chu yet, but I am sure I will like his writings a lot when I do.]

"SoHo Sins" by Richard Vine
They were the New York art scene’s golden couple until Amanda Oliver was found murdered, and her husband Philip confessed to shooting her. But was he a continent away when she died? Art dealer Jackson Wyeth sets out to learn the truth, and uncovers the secrets of Manhattan’s galleries and wild parties, a world of  beautiful girls growing up too fast and men losing their minds.  But even the worst the art world can imagine will seem tame when the final sin is revealed…

[Another promising new title from Hard Case Crime, should a fun Noir.]






 
"The Waking Fire" by Anthony Ryan
The Waking Fire is set in a vibrant new world where the blood of drakes—creatures similar to dragons—is valued beyond reckoning, and can be distilled into elixirs that grant fearsome powers to those who are “blood-blessed.” The novel follows an unregistered blood-blessed as he searches for an elusive variety of drake so potent, its capture would mean unrivalled riches; the second in command of a blood-burning ironclad ship; and a young woman in a lifelong contract to a trading syndicate, whose espionage mission places her on the front lines of a newly declared war. As empires clash and arcane mysteries reveal themselves, these characters are tested again and again and soon discover that the fate of the world rests on their shoulders.
The Draconis Memoria is a remarkable new epic fantasy series with steampunk flavor, full of the phenomenal worldbuilding and non-stop action that have gained Anthony Ryan a global fan base.


[Should be a fun book from another respected author I have yet to check out. The start of a new series so this might be the chance I was waiting for. Did I mention Dragons?] 

"The Stars Askew" by Rjurik Davidson
The stunning adventure begun in the critically acclaimed debut Unwrapped Sky continues
The Stars Askew is the highly anticipated sequel to the New Weird adventure begun by talented young author Rjurik Davidson. With the seditionists in power, Caeli-Amur has begun a new age. Or has it? The escaped House officials no longer send food, and the city is starving.
When the moderate leader Aceline is murdered, the trail leads Kata to a mysterious book that explains how to control the fabled Prism of Alerion. But when the last person to possess the book is found dead, it becomes clear that a conspiracy is afoot. At its center is former House Officiate Armand, who has hidden the Prism. Armand is vying for control of the Directorate, the highest political position in the city, until Armand is betrayed and sent to a prison camp to mine deadly bloodstone.
Meanwhile, Maximilian is sharing his mind with another being: the joker-god Aya. Aya leads Max to the realm of the Elo-Talern to seek a power source to remove Aya from Max’s brain. But when Max and Aya return, they find the vigilants destroying the last remnants of House power.
It seems the seditionists' hopes for a new age of peace and prosperity in Caeli-Amur have come to naught, and every attempt to improve the situation makes it worse. The question now is not just whether Kata, Max, and Armand can do anything to stop the bloody battle in the city, but if they can escape with their lives.
 


[This seems to be the month to remind of how far behind I am on my schedule for the reading from my TBR pile. Promises fun world-building.] 

"The Ghoul King" by Guy Haley
Quinn returns in THE GHOUL KING, another story of the Dreaming Cities by Guy Haley.
The Knight, Quinn, is down on his luck, and he travels to the very edge of the civilized world – whatever that means, any more – to restock his small but essential inventory.
After fighting a series of gladiatorial bouts against the dead, he finds himself in the employ of a woman on a quest to find the secret to repairing her semi-functional robot.
But the technological secret it guards may be one truth too many…
 


[Another Tor.com novella and this is a sequel, seems to be full of action.]





"Four Roads Cross" by Max Gladstone
The great city of Alt Coulumb is in crisis. The moon goddess Seril, long thought dead, is back—and the people of Alt Coulumb aren't happy. Protests rock the city, and Kos Everburning's creditors attempt a hostile takeover of the fire god's church. Tara Abernathy, the god's in-house Craftswoman, must defend the church against the world's fiercest necromantic firm—and against her old classmate, a rising star in the Craftwork world.
As if that weren't enough, Cat and Raz, supporting characters from Three Parts Dead, are back too, fighting monster pirates; skeleton kings drink frozen cocktails, defying several principles of anatomy; jails, hospitals, and temples are broken into and out of; choirs of flame sing over Alt Coulumb; demons pose significant problems; a farmers' market proves more important to world affairs than seems likely; doctors of theology strike back; Monk-Technician Abelard performs several miracles; The Rats! play Walsh's Place; and dragons give almost-helpful counsel.
 


[Just started the first book in the series, and it has got an imaginative setting, and the author is regarded as getting better with each release, intriguing indeed.]  

Quite a diverse list this time. Hoping for something similar for the rest of the year. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Mini-Comic Review - New Super-Man #2

Name - New Super-Man #2
Published by - DC Comics
Written by - Gene Luen Yang

Art by - Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend, and Hi-Fi
Letters by - Dave Sharpe
 


Well, Kong Kenan is quickly and smoothly turning out to be one of my favorite superheroes. He has a eschewed moral compass, is kind of a bully making fun of both fat people as well as being provocative to women, he wants to show off his newly gained powers even at the expense of others and in a sense is a total jerk; yet he seems to have a hidden bit of heroism inside him which makes him almost inadvertently come to the rescue of people (go figure!); and once again more importantly he is a true enough depiction of a realistic Asian middle-class teenager.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

July 2016 New Comics To Watch For

Well this month is bad for the non-superhero comics actually, once again series' from 'DC Rebirth' dominate this list. What can I say, I really don't see much promising new stuff elsewhere this month.

SNOTGIRL #1
Written by Bryan Lee O'malley
Art and Cover by Leslie Hung
WHO IS LOTTIE PERSON? Is she a gorgeous, fun-loving social media star with a perfect life or a gross, allergy-ridden mess? Enter a world of snot, blood, and tears in this new ongoing series from New York Times Best Seller BRYAN LEE O'MALLEY (Scott Pilgrim) and dazzling newcomer LESLIE HUNG!



JUSTICE LEAGUE #1
Written by Bryan Hitch
Art by Tony S. Daniel and Sandu Florea
"THE EXTINCTION MACHINE" Chapter One
The oceans rise. The earth quakes. And an ancient power rises to reclaim not just the world, but the universe itself -- and not even the combined might of the Justice League can stop it. An all-new era begins with this epic by comic book legend Bryan Hitch (JLA, The Ultimates) and master storyteller Tony S. Daniel (BATMAN: R.I.P., DEATHSTROKE).


HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #1
Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona
"SINESTRO'S LAW" Chapter One
With no backup and only his ring and battery to keep him alive, Hal Jordan streaks toward battle with the Sinestro Corps, while his greatest foe prepares to wipe the last Green Lantern of them all out of existence!




NIGHTWING #1
Written by Tim Seeley
Art and Cover by Javier Fernandez
"BETTER THAN BATMAN" Chapter One: Batman taught Nightwing everything he knows -- but what if everything he taught him is wrong? When Dick is stuck with a new mentor who challenges everything Batman taught him, Nightwing has to shatter his concept of justice in order to fight for what he knows is right. Writer Tim Seeley (GRAYSON, BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL) launches Nightwing onto a new quest alongside rising talent Javier Fernandez (RED HOOD/ARSENAL).

NEW SUPER-MAN #1
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Art and Cover by Victor Bogdanovic
"MADE IN CHINA" Chapter One: An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. Rising from the ashes of The Final Days of Superman, award-winning writer Gene Luen Yang and on-the-rise art star Victor Bogdanovic introduce readers to Kong Kenan -- the New Super-Man! When the world needed a new hero, China made him!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

July 2016 New PC Games To Watch For

Damn, this month is even worse than June, the lack of good new PC games is getting ridiculous actually. It was quite hard to find these -

Inside
Inside is a puzzle-platformer adventure video game developed and published by independent studio Playdead. In the game the player controls a young boy in a monochromatic landscape, solving environmental puzzles while avoiding death in a 3D side-scrolling fashion, thematically and visually similar to Playdead's earlier game Limbo.
The game received near-unanimous acclaim upon release, with some critics and reviewers calling it a worthy successor to Limbo. Inside was released on Xbox One on June 29, 2016, and on Microsoft Windows on July 7, 2016.

Song of The Deep
Song of the Deep is a metroidvania video game developed by Insomniac Games and published by GameTrust Games. In the game, the player controls Merryn, a young girl who crafts a makeshift submarine to search for her father who went missing while fishing. The game was released in July 12, 2016 on Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late
Under Night In-Birth is a visual novel and 2D fighting game co-developed by Ecole Software and French-Bread, known for the Melty Blood series. It features a brand new cast of characters and a story that spins around modern fantasy.
The gameplay is similar to that of French Bread's previous Type-Moon based game, Melty Blood and its updates, and Arc System Works's Guilty Gear and Blazblue, with an additional gameplay systems introduced for this game.Sega released the arcade version in Japan on September 20, 2012. A major revision of the arcade version, entitled Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late was released on Steam for Microsoft Windows systems on July 12, 2016.

I Am Setsuna
I Am Setsuna is a Japanese role-playing video game developed by Tokyo RPG Factory and published by Square Enix. The story, set in a land gripped by perpetual winter, follows a mercenary and his charge, a maiden named Setsuna who must offer herself as a sacrifice at a sacred shrine to appease hostile demons.
The gameplay, which is deliberately designed to evoke role-playing games of the 1990s, uses an Active Time Battle system based on those used in early Final Fantasy games and Chrono Trigger. It was released for PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita in Japan in February 2016, and worldwide for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in July 19, 2016.

Phantom Brave PC
Phantom Brave is a tactical role-playing game for the Sony PlayStation 2 video game console developed and published by Nippon Ichi Software. Phantom Brave is a tactical role-playing game with battles that take place on an isometric board. Marona dispatches her phantom allies by confining them to objects on the field, such as trees, grass, rocks, and flowers. Different objects grant different stat bonuses to the characters that are confined to them, making it advantageous to confine certain characters to certain things. It was released for Microsoft Windows on July 25, 2016 on Steam.

[Among These, the games which really interest me are 'Inside' and 'Song of the Deep'.]

Monday, August 1, 2016

Mini-Comic Review - New Super-Man #1


Name - New Super-Man #1
Published by - DC Comics
Written by - Gene Luen Yang

Art by - Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend, and Hi-Fi
Letters by - Dave Sharpe

 
Well, this definitely is not what I expected from the 'New Super-Man' series. This is a modern super hero done right; forget the conflicted new 52 Super-man, forget the old/rebirth Super-man who is just too good a person to be believable at times; this here is what should have been the modern version of Super-man that DC was aiming for. I am an Asian and am quite tired of portrayals of us Asian people by the writers at times, but Kong Kenan hits the nail pretty hard and does feel like what a modern day teen superhero from China (or as a matter of fact from Asia) should be. And the drawing does compliment this interesting character in a very fun way. This is what DC Rebirth should be, taking the classics and charging into the new age with style.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Promising Sci-fi, horror & Fantasy - June 2016

Wow, I am almost caught with the lists now, specially for the novels I am interested in.

"Silent Hall" by N.S. Dolkart
A coward’ son, a merchant’s daughter, a young prince, a wild girl, and a half-dragon all find themselves refugees from their island home. When a plague destroys their home, they try to forge their own future. Along with a sinister wizard, they awaken a dragon and defy the gods.
After their homeland is struck with a deadly plague, five refugees cross the continent searching for answers. Instead they find Psander, a wizard whose fortress is invisible to the gods, and who is willing to sacrifice anything - and anyone - to keep the knowledge of the wizards safe. With Psander as their patron, the refugees cross the mountains, brave the territory of their sworn enemies, confront a hostile ocean and even traverse the world of the fairies in search of magic powerful enough to save themselves - and Psander’s library - from the wrath of the gods. All they need to do is to rescue an imprisoned dragon and unleash a primordial monster upon the world. How hard could it be?




[New book from Angry Robot, from a debut author. Premise seems promising.]

"The Wheel of Osheim" by Mark Lawrence
From the international bestselling author of the Broken Empire Trilogy, the thrilling conclusion to the Red Queen’s War...
Mark Lawrence’s “epic fantasy” (The Washington Post) continues as a reluctant prince returns from the bowels of Hell to engage in his greatest battle yet—among the living and the dead.
All the horrors of Hell stand between Snorri Ver Snagason and the rescue of his family, if indeed the dead can be rescued. For Jalan Kendeth, getting back out alive and with Loki’s key is all that matters. Loki’s creation can open any lock, any door, and it may also be the key to Jalan’s fortune back in the living world.
Jalan plans to return to the three w’s that have been the core of his idle and debauched life: wine, women, and wagering. Fate however has other plans, larger plans. The Wheel of Osheim is turning ever faster, and it will crack the world unless it’s stopped. When the end of all things looms, and there’s nowhere to run, even the worst coward must find new answers. Jalan and Snorri face many dangers, from the corpse hordes of the Dead King to the many mirrors of the Lady Blue, but in the end, fast or slow, the Wheel of Osheim always pulls you back. In the end it’s win or die.


[Everybody who knows me knows me knows I am a fan of Mark Lawrence. Do check out my reviews of 'Prince of Thorns', 'King of Thorns' and 'The Liar's Key'. This is the last book in his Red Queen's War trilogy and I am quite positive it will be one of the best fantasy books this year.]

"Return of Souls" by Andy Remic
If war is hell, there is no word to describe what Private Jones has been through. Forced into a conflict with an unknowable enemy, he awakes to find himself in a strange land, and is soon joined by young woman, Morana, who tends to his wounds and tells him of the battles played out in this impossible place.
She tells him of an Iron Beast that will end the Great War, and even as he vows to help her find it, enemy combatants seek them, intent on their utter annihilation.
Return of Souls is the second volume of the trilogy Andy Remic began with A Song for No Man's Land.
 


[Another one from Andy Remic. Man, he is prolific this year.]




"Age of Myth" by Michael J. Sullivan
What does it mean if the gods can be killed? The first novel in an epic new fantasy series for readers of Brent Weeks, Brandon Sanderson, Peter V. Brett, and Scott Lynch.
Age of Myth, inaugurates an original five-book series, and one of fantasy's finest next-generation storytellers continues to break new ground.
Since time immemorial, humans have worshipped the gods they call Fhrey, truly a race apart: invincible in battle, masters of magic, and seemingly immortal. But when a god falls to a human blade, the balance of power between men and those they thought were gods changes forever. Now, only a few stand between humankind and annihilation: Raithe, reluctant to embrace his destiny as the God Killer, Suri, a young seer burdened by signs of impending doom, and Persephone, who must overcome personal tragedy to lead her people. The Age of Myth is over; the time of rebellion has begun.
 


[Sullivan is someone who I have been following for awhile now, he is yet to disappoint me (I had reviewed his 'The Crown Conspiracy' and 'Hollow World'), this new series should be one of the greats this year.]

"The Hunt for Vulkan" by David Annandale
The Imperium is on the verge of destruction. It needs a miracle to reunite the feuding High Lords and lead the armies of mankind to victory. It needs a primarch.
Tearing itself apart from within, the Imperium is still virtually powerless to resist the ork advance. When the Adeptus Mechanicus reveal they have discovered the orks' point of origin, the Adeptus Astartes start to gather their forces for a massive assault on their enemy's home world. But what the Imperial forces need is a figurehead, a hero from legend to lead them - a primarch. Meanwhile, on the planet Caldera, a mighty armoured warrior fights tirelessly against the orks - is he the saviour the Imperium seeks?
A legend returns to the Imperium in its hour of need… if Koorland and his warriors can fight their way through an army of orks to reach him, that is.
 






[Another author of whom I am a fanboy, he has been in this blog quite often too. He did a guest post and 2 interviews (first, second) for me, and I reviewed 'Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha', 'Yarrick: A Plague of Saints', 'Yarrick: The Gallows Saint' and 'Yarrick: Imperial Creed'.] 

"Angels of Caliban" by Gav Thorpe
The First Legion go to war, and their primarch's brutal actions threaten to tear apart the fragile alliance of Imperium Secundus.
With the Dark Angels spread across a hundred systems, primarch Lion El’Jonson stands as Lord Protector of Ultramar – though his true motives are known to few indeed, and old rivalries on the home world threaten to tear the Legion in half. But when word comes of the Night Lords’ attack on Sotha, the Lion’s brutal actions bring Imperium Secundus once again to the brink of civil war. Not even the most fearsome warriors of the Dreadwing, nor any arcane secret of the Order, can guarantee victory if he sets himself against his loyal brothers.
There was no way Imperium Secundus was going to last (or we'd know about it in the 41st millennium, wouldn't we?) and this is the beginning of the end…


[Number 38 in the Horus Heresy series, lets see how this one works out.]



BONUS ENTRY
---------------------
This was released in June according to Tor, but was released in April according to Goodreads. Somehow I missed this, which definitely is one of the books I am interested in this year as I loved the first book of the series a lot.

"Saint's Blood" by Sebastien De Castell

How do you kill a Saint?
Falcio, Kest, and Brasti are about to find out, because someone has figured out a way to do it and they've started with a friend.
The Dukes were already looking for ways out of their agreement to put Aline on the throne, but with the Saints turning up dead, rumours are spreading that the Gods themselves oppose her ascension. Now churches are looking to protect themselves by bringing back the military orders of religious soldiers, assassins, and (especially) Inquisitors - a move that could turn the country into a theocracy. The only way Falcio can put a stop to it is by finding the murderer. He has only one clue: a terrifying iron mask which makes the Saints vulnerable by driving them mad. But even if he can find the killer, he'll still have to face him in battle.
And that may be a duel that no swordsman, no matter how skilled, can hope to win.



[The first novel 'Traitor's Blade' was one of the best books of  2014. It had such a fun cast of characters, I am quite hopeful for this one.] 

Up next is this month, yup, I am almost caught up in case of books it seems.