Harry Potter Book 8 Midnight Release Party

JustinMarcHPCCSLCC16

My brother in law, Marc, and I went to the midnight book release party for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 that was put on by Salt Lake Comic Con and hosted at Weller Books in Salt Lake City. There were some fun activities, such as cosplay contests for multiple categories, a Harry Potter trivia contest, and some Harry Potter themed panels.

HPcosplay3 HPcosplay4 HPcosplay2 HPcosplay1 HPcosplay5

It was a fun time with lots of energy and excitement that only a Harry Potter themed event can bring!

Dan Farr, the President of Salt Lake Comic Con, was present and was walking around and mingling with fans. He even drove his awesome car to the event!

SLCCcar

While I do have my nits to pick about Salt Lake Comic Con, I do feel that it is a first rate Comic Con and has provided a lot of fun to the Salt Lake area and is competing with the big boys of Comic Cons, San Diego and New York. I feel that Dan Farr and Bryan Brandenburg are doing a good job at getting SLCC up and running. I can imaging that putting on an event of this size is colossal and quite a chore to manage it and to keep improving it like they have.

It’s small events like this Harry Potter book release party and all the movie premier party’s that they do makes me appreciate that Dan, Bryan, and all the SLCC staff really are fans and want to continually improve to make Salt Lake one of the premier locations for Comic Cons and fandoms of every kind.

Advertisements

Thirty-Six by Daron D. Fraley

 

Make sure to check out this ebook by Daron Fraley! Thirty Six is free on Amazon.com, today only for Kindle. If you aren’t able to get it today, you can always buy it at a later time.

From Amazon.com:

When Aaron Cohen buys a souvenir from an antiques store in Lyon, France, and then sees the police raid the store right after he leaves, he has no idea that this is only the beginning of his troubles.

Back home in Chicago, Aaron is stalked by an old man from the antiques store. Mandie, a single mother in his apartment complex, has asked that they just be friends, but Aaron can’t help developing strong feelings for her, especially now that she is being harassed by her abusive ex-husband. And in the midst of all his emotional turmoil, the souvenir he purchased turns out to be an ancient holy relic that triggers shared dreams and prophetic visions.

A mysterious dream shared with a jewel smuggler whose arrest makes the nightly news. A nightmare of horrifying tornadoes shared with Ethan, Mandie’s eight-year-old son. A dream shared with Mandie that shows Aaron her true feelings for him.

And visions . . .

Visions of historical events, centuries in the past. Visions of the Lamed Vovniks. Visions of dangerous possibilities to come.

And if Aaron doesn’t get to her in time, Mandie will die.

Daron is the creator of Thirty-Six and author of the first book in the multi-author series. Originally from Wyoming, Daron has lived in the Midwest and in many towns and cities in the Mountain States region.

Writer by night, Senior Data Center Engineer by day, he has traveled to more than half of the biggest cities in the United States, one of his favorites being Chicago. The architecture, the people, and the regional foods all fascinate him. But his favorite places on earth are those where he can relax, think, and dream.

Not yet an expert world traveler, he has been to France, Switzerland, the Bahamas, St. Thomas, San Juan, Canada, and Mexico. He loves the Caribbean, and wonders how a small-town boy from Wyoming ever got the chance to fall in love with the ocean.

Previously published works include The Thorn and Water and Other Stories.

His personal website is: http://www.daronfraley.com

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

The Emperor’s Soul is another amazing story by Brandon Sanderson.  We are introduced to characters that evolve before our eyes in the short timeframe of the events of the story.  Another new intriguing magic system, Forging, is revealed by Brandon that brings a freshness to the story. There is a depth to The Emperor’s Soul that demonstrates Brandon’s mastery of storytelling, whether it is 1000 page novel or a short story as this.

The story starts off in what seems to be the last moments of Shai’s life, but she is given a second chance in exchange for services to the Emperor’s advisors. The Emperor has been attacked and his life and soul hang in the balance. Shai is brought in to save the Emperor’s soul.  Shai is a Forger with a gift for changing the nature of things for the better. The majority of the story is how Shai is locked in a room and tasked to recreate the Emperor’s soul, however there is so much more going on than this.

The Emperor’s Soul is one of those stories that as you’re reading you come to realize something more is going on than what is being revealed. There are different levels of planning by Shai going on, not only are we privy to what all the characters know is going on, but we are also “let in” on what Shai is planning to do in her head. However, there is another level to the story that is not revealed to us until the end. Breadcrumbs are left throughout the story and hints are dropped. Towards the latter end of the story, we are able to realize something else is going on, but not until the last scenes do we see it come to fruition.

The concept of Forging and the art that it is as presented in the story is a very interesting concept for a “magic system” in the story. Although a little difficult to understand at first, Brandon does a great job at providing small examples throughout the story that reveal more about the art and solidify it’s believability in the story.

Although not part of the story, there is a Postscript at the end of the book that discusses how Brandon came up with the idea of Forging that was personable and great insight to Forging.  The Postscript also mentions that this story takes place in the same world as Elantris, Sel. There are no direct links from the story to the events in the story Elantris or it’s characters.

The Emperor’s Soul is a great story that is told with depth and complexity, in both characterization and plot. I felt that Shai’s character, as well as all the characters were well developed and were believable in their emotions and motivations.  The plot was very well thought out and contained many twists and turns, that were amazingly well carried out for the length of the story. The angst that existed throughout the story was very well done and existed in many different forms. While reading, I often found myself becoming anxious for Shai and her predicament and that she only had a certain amount of time to complete her task.  As time ran down and her plans were put into motion, it was very fulfilling to see it all come together.

One of Brandon’s strength’s in my mind has been his ability to put several story lines in motion and to bring them all to fulfillment in a fast paced and believable manner. That strength combined with his fighting/battle scenes, are always amazing and fun to read. There is a little bit of fighting at the end of the story.

I wholeheartedly recommend The Emperor’s Soul for everyone. There are no inappropriate scenes of sex, sensuality or violence. A core aspect of the story is being genuine and learning to trust. A good lesson to learn for anyone. The Emperor’s Soul is entertaining and will hold up well to multiple readings.

Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Legion is a quickly moving story about how Stephen Leeds uses his condition of having “hallucinations” for his benefit and for the benefit of others. These hallucinations are personalities that manifest themselves to Stephen, and the reader, as actual persons. As a result of these others he is able to quickly adapt to new situations that arise and uses these hallucinations to solve conflicts. Stephen comes across as crazy to those around him, but in his opinion is “perfectly sane”. These hallucinations have their own individual personalities, likes, desires and flaws.

Legion is well written and has a good pace. For the length of the story there is good character and story development in the amount of time available to do so.  Legion is a fun book that can be read in an hour or two and is enjoyable.

As Legion begins we are introduced to the main character, Stephen Leeds, who is by his account, a genius. However, he is plagued by these hallucinations. These hallucinations are separate persons with their own personalities and agendas. Stephen interacts with them as individuals and relies on them for information throughout the course of the story. While this phenomenom is not explained or fleshed out (which is what the author seems to have done intentionally), it is intriguing to read.  The reader is expected to read on without the explanation being given, however it doesn’t impact the story. There are hints in the story that this wasn’t always the case with Stephen and that it was a condition that was brought on to him somehow.

There are a couple of interesting things about Legion that captured my interest from the start. One is the concept of having multiple personalities being a help and not a hinderance to one’s life. This concept is addressed in the story, not only in theory but also demonstrated throughout the story, which is one of the reasons why the reader doesn’t get hung up on “How does this all work?”.   Another interesting concept is the MacGuffin (that is more fully fleshed out than most) of the camera and how it is included in the plot of the story. While this MacGuffin lends itself to science fiction, it was believable and fun to read. With the inclusion of this particular MacGuffin and it’s capabilities, the story is like a modern day Indiana Jones adventure – but better.

This short novella is one of Brandon Sanderson’s shorter books, and as Brandon is known for his lengthy novels this can come as a surprise for those that haven’t read one of his shorter stories. While Brandon’s longer novels are amazing, his short novellas are just as entertaining. Such is the case for Legion.  With the speed and efficiency that Brandon writes his books, I’m sure there will be a follow up to this story especially since the ending leads us to believe that there are more Stephen Leeds stories to tell.

I recommend this novella to all readers who enjoy a good mystery. There is a little bit of violence, akin to a PG movie, and there are no scenes of sex and no swearing.

Legion Novel


I recently got my latest book, Legion by Brandon Sanderson published by Subterranean Press. It’s a shorter Sanderson novel as it’s only about 88 pgs, but it sounds interesting. The cool thing that Brandon is doing with this release, is that he is giving away, yes – giving away for FREE! – an ebook copy to everyone who buys this book. All you have to do is send him a photo of you holding YOUR book (that you bought) and he will email you a copy of the Legion ebook. Pretty cool, huh? For those that don’t know Brandon, that’s par for the course for him.

Divergent

Divergent is the start of a great new series by author Veronica Roth. Veronica is a new writer, with this being her first published novel. She hangs out on Goodreads.com alot and blogs often.

Divergent is a young adult novel set in a dystopian world where society has broken down into different factions. Each faction has a specific purpose and serves a unique role in this society. This novel has drawn comparisons to the Hunger Games, and while there are some general similarities, it isn’t the Hunger Games 2.0.  The story is a coming of age story with the main character, a teenage female named Beatrice Prior. (No, this is not the Hunger Games 2.0). Every year there is a ceremony where the young people have to choose which faction to join. Most end up joining the one they were raised in. Beatrice ends up choosing a different faction than the one she was raised in. She ends up leaving her home and family to join a new group of people to learn the new factions lifestyle.

Beatrice renames herself Tris and has to learn how to go from being raised in a peaceful faction, Abnegation, to learning how to fight, as she has joined the faction that is more aggressive and in charge of enforcing law and order – Dauntless. Much of the story’s angst comes as Tris has to learn how adapt to this new lifestyle and her training with the other new recruits.  There are some emotional struggles for Tris, there is a lot of physical action and fighting, and there is romance as Tris falls in love with one of her trainers.

Divergent is written in the first person POV of Tris and while it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the style; it allowed me to easily read through the story in a matter of hours. While the world of Divergent doesn’t have much depth to it, the characters are mostly well developed and their actions are believable. I had fun reading this book and it is one of those summer reads that you’re glad that you read it and can move on to your next book.

Divergent is a good story overall, quick paced, easy to read with some good angst. At times, it was easy to tell this was Ms. Roth’s first novel due to the simple writing style. The story was pretty linear with not much depth. However, I did enjoy the overall story and it is a page turner. I would recommend it for those that are looking for something fun and quick to read.

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PPZ) by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, a hybrid of the classic Pride and Prejudice (PP) and the zombies.  Zombies have found themselves involved in a resurgence as of late in pop culture and literature.  They have fittingly risen back from the netherworld from which they have been banished for the past couple of decades.

I was excited to read this book for a couple of reasons, one being the awesome cover art that drew my attention to the story. Another is the idea of the infusion of zombies into a classic story involving women and how these women are trained zombie killers. The last reason I was looking forward to reading this story, was unrelated to the actual story; I had gotten a Nook for Christmas and this was my first purchase.

I haven’t read the original Pride and Prejudice and probably never will, as it is a genre of books that doesn’t interest me. However, I believe that these are great books that hold lots of great memories for lots of people. So, I can only assume that PPZ at least loosely follows the original PP.  This being said, I would have to say that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is more Pride and Prejudice than it is Zombies.

The Zombies always being a danger and their random attacks of the people in the story was a great twist. So great in fact that because there wasn’t more zombie attacks in the story, overall I was dissapointed with the story. The zombies were more of a secondary storyline and I felt were underused as a source of angst in the story.

As far as the writing and structure of the story, I have no complaints even though it took me awhile to get used to Jane Austen’s style of writing. The zombies and the all the other parts of the story that were created by Seth Grahame-Smith were seamless and didn’t detract from the overall story arc.

The main source of angst in the story is the emotional angst that existed with the Bennet sisters and their relationships, or lack thereof, with the men in their lives. There is some physical conflict that is present when the zombies attack. These zombie attacks are a welcome diversion to the constant worrying about men and whether or not the Bennet girls will find a husband and marry.

Overall I enjoyed the book and liked the zombie addition to a classic story that I would’ve never read otherwise. Really my only complaint to the story is that there wasn’t enough zombie and zombie mayhem.

Profanity in the story is minimal and to be honest I don’t remember any standing out. I would give it a ONE just in case I overlooked any. Violence in the story would be a TWO, in that the Zombie fights are at times described in gruesome detail. Sexual content is a soft ONE, in that it is implied but not described in the story.

I give the characterization a strong ONE  in that I liked the characters in the story and some of their characteristics. Their constant pining for a husband throughout the story turned me off after awhile.  The plot I give a ONE, in that it was pretty one dimensional and not too interesting.  Overall I give the story a ONE, as a result of what I stated earlier:   Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is more Pride and Prejudice than it is Zombies. If you liked the original PP and have even a passing interest in the zombie craze, then you will most likely enjoy this story more than I did.  I would recommend this novel if you are looking for something different to read that’s entertaining and quick to read.

         

I give Pride and Prejudice and Zombies an angst rating of TWO, but wished it would’ve been a three with more zombie angst!

December 2010 Book Club Selection

And for this month’s book club selection – the book that has been chosen is The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry.

The following is a synopsis from Amazon.com

When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and emperor, he had stolen immeasurable riches from palaces, national treasuries, and even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where t…he loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing, and in his will he made no mention of the treasure. Or did he? Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone isn’t looking for trouble when it comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally. Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone’s good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon’s legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy. But Thorvaldsen’s real objective is much more personal: to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Thorvaldsen’s vendetta places Malone in an impossible quandary-one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value. But at what cost?

December 2010 Monthly Book Club Selection

And for this month’s book club selection – the book that has been chosen is The Paris Vendetta by Steve Berry.

The following is a synopsis from Amazon.com

When Napoleon Bonaparte died in exile in 1821, he took to the grave a powerful secret. As general and emperor, he had stolen immeasurable riches from palaces, national treasuries, and even the Knights of Malta and the Vatican. In his final days, his British captors hoped to learn where t…he loot lay hidden. But he told them nothing, and in his will he made no mention of the treasure. Or did he? Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone isn’t looking for trouble when it comes knocking at his Copenhagen bookshop. Actually, it breaks and enters in the form of an American Secret Service agent with a pair of assassins on his heels. Malone has his doubts about the anxious young man, but narrowly surviving a ferocious firefight convinces him to follow his unexpected new ally. Their first stop is the secluded estate of Malone’s good friend, Henrik Thorvaldsen. The wily Danish tycoon has uncovered the insidious plans of the Paris Club, a cabal of multimillionaires bent on manipulating the global economy. Only by matching wits with a terrorist-for-hire, foiling a catastrophic attack, and plunging into a desperate hunt for Napoleon’s legendary lost treasure can Malone hope to avert international financial anarchy. But Thorvaldsen’s real objective is much more personal: to avenge the murder of his son by the larcenous aristocrat at the heart of the conspiracy. Thorvaldsen’s vendetta places Malone in an impossible quandary-one that forces him to choose between friend and country, past and present. Starting in Denmark, moving to England, and ending up in the storied streets and cathedrals of Paris, Malone plays a breathless game of duplicity and death, all to claim a prize of untold value. But at what cost?