Book Review – Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig

aftermathempiresend

Aftermath: Empire’s End by Chuck Wendig is the final novel in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, which take place after the events of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Norra Wexley and her crew of Imperial hunters have been tracking hunting down a lead on Grand Admiral Rae Sloane for months after her flight from the New Republic planet of Chandrila, where a devious attack by the Empire killed many officials and nearly ended the life of the Chancellor Mon Mothma. Their search leads them to Jakku, a world at the edges of known space, where they discover a massive Imperial fleet of Star Destroyers. Determined to track down Sloane, Norra launches herself to the surface in an escape pod, accidentally taking bounty hunter Jas Emari with her. Her son Temmin’s droid Mister Bones is sent in a pod after her to protect her, while Temmin and ex-Imperial Sinjir evade TIE fighters and return to Chandrila to report the Imperial presence to the New Republic.Read More »

Book Review – Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Alice Isn’t Dead is the latest novel by Joseph Fink, adapting his podcast series of the same name. This novel marks Fink’s first solo outing as an author, usually teaming up with Jeffrey Cranor for the novels based on the podcast series they created together, Welcome to Night Vale.

The novel follows Keisha Taylor, a woman working as a trucker who is searching for her wife Alice, who went missing some time before Keisha started trucking. After months of searching and turning up nothing Alice was presumed dead. Keisha mourned and tried to work through her grief, until she started to notice something strange during news reports of tragedies and accidents across America: always in the background, never the focus, was Alice staring right into the camera. Alice wasn’t dead, and Keisha meant to find her wife, uncovering clues in Alice’s personal documents pointing to Bay and Creek Transportation. Following these leads further she embarks upon a road trip into a world that exists on the backroads and highways of the country full of misshapen creatures, otherworldly forces, and conspiracies that go well beyond a simple missing person.Read More »

Book Review – Elevation by Stephen King

Elevation

Elevation is the newest book by Stephen King, taking place in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine, the setting of a great number of his stories. This novella follows Scott Carey, a recent divorcee who suffers from a bizarre illness; he keeps losing weight, yet it has no effect on his physical appearance or how he feels. If anything he feels better. He has more energy and feels lighter on his feet. Despite this, he does wonder whether it will stop, or if a day will come where he weighs nothing at all and what that will mean. His troubles don’t stop there, as tensions develop between him and his lesbian neighbors over dog poop on his lawn, which ends up cluing him in to the way the largely conservative community of Castle Rock has alienated the couple, who struggle to keep their new restaurant up and running.Read More »

Book Review – House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is a bit of a tough novel to define. It is a labyrinthine book riddled with footnotes that weave throughout the text, multiple unreliable narrators, and frequently disorienting formatting. I’ve heard it labeled a horror novel before, which in a way it is—it does deal with the perversion of physical laws and a terrifying journey into an oppressive, unknowable void. It is also a scholarly text, breaking down an examining a documentary film. It is also a man documenting his personal descent into lust, alienation, and obsession. It is also a collection of letters sent from a mother to her son. It is not technically all these things at once.Read More »

Book Review – Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon

Alien Out of the Shadows

Out of the Shadows by Tim Lebbon is the first book in a trilogy of new original novels set in the Alien franchise. They are not a trilogy because they  tell a single, continuous narrative, rather each are designed to tie more directly into events from the existing films and explore some of the different eras in the franchise. These books also mark a slight change in branding, previous novels having been branded after the second film Aliens.

Set between the films Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986), the novel follows Chris “Hoop” Hooper and the crew of the Marion, an orbital mining vessel above the planet LV-178. Following a two-day communications blackout with the mining operation on the surface of the planet the shuttles Samson and Delilah return to the ship at full speed. While trying to contact the miners on board the crew witness horrible creatures bursting from the chests of some of the miners on the camera feed. Samson docks successfully on autopilot, but Delilah crashes into the station. With their orbit slowly degrading and their only working shuttle containing nightmares, all hope seems lost…until a long lost shuttle adrift in space picks up their distress call and comes for them.Read More »

Book Review – The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House is a 1959 Gothic horror novel by Shirley Jackson. The titular Hill House is an 80-year old estate built in an unspecified countryside location surrounded by hills. It’s original owner Hugh Crain is long dead, but the house has had a storied history of family tension, tragedy, and death. Many believe it to be haunted; the caretakers only go on the grounds during the day and the nearby townsfolk dare not speak of it. Dr. Montague, an investigator of the supernatural, rents the property for the summer along with two assistants, Eleanor Vance and Theodora, as well as the heir to the estate Luke Sanderson, in hopes of documenting any strange happenings and finding proof of the otherworldly.Read More »

Book Review – The Troop by Nick Cutter

The Troop

The Troop is the first novel by Nick Cutter, telling the tale of the Scoutmaster and five Eagle Scouts of Troop 52 and their harrowing experiences on Falstaff Island, just off the coast of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Scoutmaster Tim Riggs has brought these five boys—Kent, Max, Ephraim, Shelley, and Newton—on a weekend camping trip to this island for years. This year’s trip takes a dark turn when an emaciated stranger intrudes upon their wilderness isolation, begging for food and desperate to hide from the world at large. Along with him he brings something far more sinister, unseen, and eager to wriggle its way among everyone.Read More »

Book Review – Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig

AftermathLifeDebt

Aftermath: Life Debt by Chuck Wendig is the second novel in the Star Wars: Aftermath trilogy, continuing the story of Norra Wexley and her team; her son Temmin, his battle droid bodyguard Mister Bones, the Zabrak bounty hunter Jas Emari, the ex-Imperial Sinjir Rath Velus, and the special forces soldier Jom Barell, who work together to hunt down Imperial war criminals. The New Republic continues its fight for a firm foothold in the galaxy, while the Empire under Grand Admiral Rae Sloane and her mysterious advisor Gallius Rax conspire to regain the control lost after the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader. Meanwhile, in a risky move to free the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk from enslavement, Chewbacca has been captured and Han Solo has gone missing. A distressed Leia enlists the help of Norra’s team to find out what happened to her husband.Read More »

Book Review – The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden

Hellboy Bones Of Giants

On the frozen shores of Sweden, lightning strikes from a clear sky. The skeleton of a huge man is revealed, its fingers clutched around the handle of an iron hammer. No one who comes to see this marvel from Norse mythology can lift it—no one but Hellboy, who lifts the hammer just in time for lightning to strike again, welding it to his hand and leading him towards a bizarre series of visions and encounters.

The Bones of Giants by Christopher Golden is the second Hellboy novel, written with the creator of the character and comic book series Mike Mignola, who also provided illustrations. There was always something about this book that appealed to me more than its predecessor The Lost Army. I did enjoy that book, but it felt fairly garden variety as far as Hellboy stories go. This second novel sported Hellboy on the cover wielding what is in fact Mjollnir, the legendary weapon of the Norse god Thor, promising something a little different for the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, who typically deals with less divine forms of the otherworldly.Read More »

Book Review – The Princess Bride by William Goldman

The Princess Bride

As Florin and Guilder teeter on the verge of war, the reluctant Princess Buttercup is devastated by the loss of her true love, kidnapped by a mercenary and his henchmen, rescued by a pirate, forced to marry Prince Humperdinck, and rescued once again by the very crew who absconded with her in the first place. In the course of this dazzling adventure, she’ll meet Vizzini—the criminal philosopher who’ll do anything for a bag of gold; Fezzik—the gentle giant; Inigo—the Spaniard whose steel thirsts for revenge; and Count Rugen—the evil mastermind behind it all. Foiling all their plans and jumping into their stories is Westley, Princess Buttercup’s one true love and a very good friend of a very dangerous pirate.

It was impossible for me to start reading The Princess Bride without some preconceptions. The film alone is such a huge cultural influence that even without having seen it or read the book I knew some things about it. I think you’d be a little hard-pressed to find someone in North America who has not heard the line “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” I also knew of the film’s narrative frame; a grandfather reading the story to his ill grandson who at first has misgivings about hearing it. What I didn’t expect was the bizarre metanarrative that the novel had in store for me.Read More »