Sunday, August 14, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway: The Rush

Today on the blog, a review and giveaway for THE RUSH by Si Spurrier & Nathan C. Gooden. Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my review below and then enter to win a copy of this beautifully horrific graphic novel. (Sorry, internat(ional) friends, it's US only.) 

About The Book:

Author: Si Spurrier, Addison Duke (Colorist), Nathan C. Gooden (Illustrations), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (Letterer), Adrian F. Wassel (Editor)

Pub. Date: August 9, 2022

Publisher: Vault Comics

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

Historical horror that chills to the bone, The RUSH. is for fans of Dan Simmons’, The Terror mined with a Northwestern Yukon gold rush edge. Answer the call of the wild north and stampede to the Klondike…

ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD. ALL THAT HUNGERS IS NOT HOLY. ALL THAT LIVE ARE NOT ALIVE.

This Hungry Earth Reddens Under Snowclad Hills.

1899, Yukon Territory. A frozen frontier, bloodied and bruised by the last great Gold Rush. But in the lawless wastes to the North, something whispers in the hindbrains of men, drawing them to a blighted valley, where giant spidertracks mark the snow and impossible guns roar in the night.

To Brokehoof, where gold and blood are mined alike. Now, stumbling towards its haunted forests comes a woman gripped not by greed -- but the snarling rage of a mother in search of her child...

From Si Spurrier (Way of X, Hellblazer) and Nathan C. Gooden (Barbaric, Dark One) comes THE RUSH, a dark, lyrical delve into the horror and madness of the wild Yukon. 


Collects the entire series. For fans of The TerrorFortitudeCoda, and Moonshine.

Reviews:

"The book strikes a wealthy mixed vein of sophisticated psychological chills and monstrous horror."― Publishers Weekly

"Gritty historical drama meets supernatural horror in this sumptuously drawn tale set during the Yukon Gold Rush." ― PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

"The Rush is a chilling bit of historical horror. Rugged and raw and thoroughly researched. It's got such a wonderfully creepy sense of menace but most of all it's the moving story of a mother searching for her child, that's its beating heart. Wonderful work."  -- Victor Lavalle (best-selling and award-winning author of he anthology, Slapboxing with Jesus and four novels, The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, and The Changeling, the fantasy-horror novella The Ballad of Black Tom, and the comics series Destroyer and Eve)

"The Rush is a splendidly savage tale of frontier scum and the doom they’ve brought down upon themselves, and the innocents cursed to suffer alongside them. I for one can’t wait to see more."  -- Garth Ennis (best-selling and award-winning writer, Preacher, and writer/co-creator of The Boys)

 

My Review: For men seeking fortune, there lies a town called Brokehoof deep in the wilds of the Yukon, where blood and gold run like rivers beneath the snowclad hills. For Nettie Bridger, the town's gold is worthless, merely a means to track down her missing son, who may have been carried through Brokehoof by the same greedy impulse that drove so many men up through the frozen frontier. Along with her hired bodyguard M.P., Nettie dives straight into the town's convoluted history and finds herself facing the devils that lurk both outside and within the town's borders. But Hell's fury ain't got nothing on a mother's rage...

The Rush compiles Spurrier and Gooden's six issue graphic novel series into a single book that tackles the horrors within -- from obsession to madness -- against the isolationist backdrop of the Yukon during one of the last gold rushes. The book captures a mysterious and gripping atmosphere that helps propel readers through its slow opening. The beginning's slower pacing helps set the stage for the town of Brokehoof and its mysterious curse, the culture and fanaticism of the gold rush, as well as introduce and build terror towards the monsters that metaphorically represent the darker parts of the human soul. Nettie's emotional turmoil as she struggles to gather any information on her son steadily raises the tension over the first several chapters. This not only hooks readers into the story's stakes before the mystery surrounding the town's monsters is really set in motion, but also ties into the overall themes of the story -- that true monsters are born from human emotion, whether rage or greed or passion. 

The story is very plot-driven. The first pages set us within Brokehoof, where readers get a glimpse of the madness and magic that haunts the isolated town. From there, we meet Nettie, and join her on the trail of her son, Caleb, that leads her away from civilization and into the frigid north. The mystery twists and turns, building in a roundabout way that doesn't give its secrets away until the finale, where the bigger picture is finally revealed. This roundabout way of adding pieces to the puzzle may frustrate readers who want a more linear progression to the mystery, but Nettie's character, full of flaws and an in-your-face attitude, gives the narrative a foundation that readers can hold onto until the bigger plot elements are revealed. And what a satisfying payoff! The final chapter pulls all the pieces together into an intricate web that flips reader expectations on their head and pushes them to question what's truly monstrous. The thematic and plot elements also very closely mirror Nettie's own internal struggle as a mother, tying everything into a satisfying bow that pleases my analytical brain. 

The characters are all distinct, with their own set of flaws that influence the story's progression. I particularly loved how clear Nettie's opinion of other characters was based on her dialogue and behaviour. Her personality popped off the page and she made some dumb choices based on her flaws that ultimately made the story more interesting. The villain is presented with a fascinating balance of evil and principles, which brought some freshness to the overdone archetype. It would just have been nice if he got a bit more page space in order to flush out his characterization further. 

Finally, the art. I'm not a skilled art critic by any means, but the beautiful intricacies of the pages are eye catching and draws readers into the horror atmosphere. The style is reminiscent of western superhero comics that don't flinch away from depicting the uglier sides of human expression. The sepia-toned colouring with emphasis on reds is not just a subtle nod to the time period, but the reds and browns subtly reinforce the thematic connections between blood and dirt, or internal and external corruption. The panels are thoughtfully used -- wavy borders to signify dreams or fantasies, larger than life characters popping out of panels, birds or landscapes seeping beyond borders to give scale to the natural world, etc. These elements bait re-reads as they add significance to every page and panel. 

All in all, a deliciously dark psychological horror comic that utilizes its northern setting to its full advantage. Full of vivid art that thematically reinforces the narrative, The Rush balances both an internal and external horror as the darker parts of the human soul take monstrous form to seek vengeance. The art will will leave you jumping at leggy shadows and the narrative will leave readers pondering for many nights to come. 

TL;DR: 4/5 stars. Within the greed and vice of a goldrush town, The Rush provides a deliciously dark glimpse into what makes a monster. 

 

About Si Spurrier:

His work in the latter field stretches from award winning creator-owned books such as NumbercruncherSix-Gun Gorilla and The Spire to projects in the U.S. mainstream like HellblazerThe Dreaming, and X-Men. It all began with a series of twist-in-the-tail stories for the UK’s beloved 2000AD, which ignited an enduring love for genre fiction. His latest book, Coda, is being published by Boom! Studios at present.

His prose works range from the beatnik neurosis-noir of Contract to the occult whodunnit A Serpent Uncoiled via various franchise and genre-transgressing titles. In 2016 he took a foray into experimental fiction with the e-novella Unusual Concentrations: a tale of coffee, crime and overhead conversations.

He lives in Margate, regards sushi as part of the plotting process, and has the fluffiest of cats.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

 

About Nathan C. Gooden:

An award-winning illustrator and sequential artist, Nathan C. Gooden is Art Director at Vault Comics. Nathan studied animation at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, and worked in film production, before co-founding Vault Comics. Nathan’s previous works include Brandon Sanderson’s Dark One (Vault), Barbaric (Vault), Zojaqan (Vault), and  Killbox (from American Gothic Press). He lives in Southern California, where he plays a lot of basketball and hikes constantly with his wife. 

Website |  Instagram | Goodreads

 



Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a finished copy of THE RUSH, US Only.

Ends August 23rd, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/25/2022

Writer of Wrongs

Guest Post

7/26/2022

BookHounds

Guest Post/IG Post

7/27/2022

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

7/28/2022

Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post

7/29/2022

@jaimerockstarbooktours

IG Post

7/30/2022

Bookdreamr

Review/IG Post/TikTok Post

 Week Two:

7/31/2022

Sadie's Spotlight

Guest Post/IG Post

8/1/2022

Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post

8/2/2022

The Girl Who Reads

Review/IG Post

8/3/2022

Fire and Ice

Review

8/4/2022

The Real World According To Sam

Review/IG Post

8/5/2022

@allyluvsbooksalatte

IG Post

8/6/2022

See Sadie Read

Review/IG Post

 Week Three:

8/7/2022

The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post

8/8/2022

Lifestyle of Me

Review

8/9/2022

Two Points of Interest

Review

8/10/2022

The Chatty Bookworm

Tik Tok Review/IG Post

8/11/2022

One More Exclamation

Review/IG Post

8/12/2022

Nerdophiles

Review

8/13/2022

@just_another_mother_with_books

IG Review

 Week Four:

8/14/2022

The Underground

Review

8/15/2022

@thebookishfoxwitch

IG Review

8/16/2022

Brandi Danielle Davis

Review/IG Post

8/17/2022

More Books Please blog

Spotlight

8/18/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

8/19/2022

@lexijava

Review/IG Post


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Book Review and Giveaway: Coming Up Cuban


I've got a good one for you today, folks. I'm thrilled to be a part of the the COMING UP CUBAN by Sonia Manzano Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my review below and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About The Book:

Title: COMING UP CUBAN: Rising Past Castro’s Shadow

Author: Sonia Manzano

Pub. Date: August 2, 2022

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

From Pura Belpré Honoree and Emmy-award winning actor Sonia Manzano--best known as "Maria" from Sesame Street--comes the expansive and timeless story of four children who must carve out a path for themselves in the wake of Fidel Castro's rise to power.

Fifteen-time Emmy Award winner and Pura Belpre honoree Sonia Manzano examines the impact of the 1959 Cuban Revolution on four children from very different walks of life. In the wake of a new regime in Cuba, Ana, Miguel, Zulema, and Juan learn to find a place for themselves in a world forever changed. In a tumultuous moment of history, we see the lasting effects of a revolution in Havana, the countryside, Miami, and New York. Through these snapshot stories, we are reminded that regardless of any tumultuous times, we are all forever connected in our humanity.

 



My Review: Coming Up Cuban takes a look at Fidel Castro's rise to power through the eyes of four young Cubans and their families. Through multiple novellas, each centering on a different protagonist, Sonia Manzano offers various perspectives on a turbulent political uprising, allowing her to highlight the nuances of the situation while also breaking down complex ideas for middle grade readers. Filled with love, both for Cuba as well as its resilient peoples, Coming Up Cuban is a story full of joy and heartache that celebrates the vibrancy of Caribbean culture while educating readers on a crucial historical moment.

Coming Up Cuban keeps its politics centered on its target audience -- 9-12 year olds. Through their eyes, we see Cuba's transformation, demonstrating how political upheavals can effect every corner of a country. In this way, the book doesn't focus on fighting and war, but the aftereffects -- refugees scrambling to leave the country, schools closing, forced surrendering of property, new government initiatives, etc. The book also features a cast of characters from differing backgrounds -- poor to upper middle class -- that offer various perspectives on Castro's takeover -- from those who hate Castro and his changes (which seems to be the dominant opinion), to people who praise him, to people that agree with parts of his revolution but not all, etc. In this way, most perspectives are held on equal ground, with few "right" or "wrong" perspectives pushed to the forefront, allowing readers to form their own opinions on Castro's rule. This equalization of perspectives did have a limit. Every character seemed to hold America in high regard, as a land to escape to, full of compassionate people who were alluded to be outright saviors a few times. The only 'negative' opinion of the US came from older characters who did not want to immigrate, mostly due to a love of Cuba and an unwillingness to change. This felt a little propagandist to me, as the US was a long-term colonizer of Cuba after Spain and largely controlled the country until the revolution, so it feels disingenuous to paint the US only as saviour, when their involvement was just as nuanced as Fidel's. Considering the book has no problem showing multiple perspectives on the politics within Cuba, it would have been easy to add some diversity on the perspective toward America as well.

The book features four novellas, each focusing on a different character at different points during Fidel's early reign. The characters all know each other and so their stories overlap, thus building an overarching narrative while also allowing the story to branch in very different directions. Each novella focuses on a different aspect of Fidel's reign to educate readers while entertaining - Ana's section focuses on the revolution and sets the story, Migeul's section focuses on refugee and immigration struggles, Zulema's section focuses on literacy, and Juan's section focuses on radicalization. The novellas use simple but striking interpersonal conflicts to hook readers in and keep them emotionally invested in each novella. 

Manzano's writing style is simple but elegant; no word is wasted. Everything given page space enhances the themes, plot, or characterization very deliberately, creating a satisfying read for those who wish to analyze the text on a deeper level. Yet the writing style is also incredibly accessible for its target audience. Manzano carefully utilizes simple language without simplifying the concepts explored, which shows her mastery of communication. The book balances darkness with some levity by injecting childlike silliness into the mix of uncertainty, giving the book an endearing quality at its core. The silliness also helps hooks young readers into the larger political story by promising some fun along the way. 

All in all, 5/5 stars. Coming Up Cuban is a silly and heartfelt story filled with hope that pushes young readers to think, learn and empathize. Definitely worth adding to your shelves and sharing with your young ones. I chuckled, teared up, and enjoyed every moment of this Caribbean adventure intended for readers a third my age. 


 

About Sonia Manzano:

SONIA MANZANO is a groundbreaking Latina educator, executive television producer,  and award-winning children's book author. A first-generation mainland Puerto Rican, she  has affected the lives of millions of parents and children since she was offered the  opportunity to play “Maria” on Sesame Street (which she continued to do for 44 years,  from 1971-2015). Manzano has received 15 Emmys for writing television scripts, the  Congressional Hispanic Caucus Award, the Hispanic Heritage Award for Education, and a  Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences. People magazine  named Sonia one of America's most influential Hispanics. Her critically acclaimed  children's books include The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, which won a Pura Belpré  Honor Award, and the stunning young adult memoir Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in  the South Bronx. Currently she is working on Alma's Way, an animated series with Fred  Rogers Productions that will air on PBS. Manzano resides in New York City with her  husband Richard Reagan, whom she married in 1986, and their daughter Gabriela.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of COMING UP CUBAN, US Only.

Ends August 9th midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/18/2022

The Clever Reader

Excerpt/IG Post

7/19/2022

What A Nerd Girl Says

Excerpt/IG Post

7/20/2022

brittreadsalattebooks

IG Post

7/21/2022

Kait Plus Books

Excerpt/IG Post

7/22/2022

Ya Books Central

Excerpt/IG Post

7/23/2022

BookHounds YA

Excerpt/IG Post

Week Two:

7/24/2022

Author Z. Knight’s Guild

Excerpt

7/25/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post

7/26/2022

hodophile_z

IG Review

7/27/2022

Lisa Loves Literature

Review/IG Post

7/28/2022

FictionalFey

IG Review

7/29/2022

Midnightbooklover

IG Post

7/30/2022

The Underground

Review

Week Three:

7/31/2022

One More Exclamation

Review/IG Post

8/1/2022

Two Points of Interest

Review

8/2/2022

The Momma Spot

Review/IG Post

8/3/2022

Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post

8/4/2022

Books and Zebras

Review/IG Post

8/5/2022

Lifestyle of Me

Review/IG Post


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Spotlight and Giveaway: Scarecrow Has a Gun


Today, I'm stoked to be hosting a spotlight for the SCARECROW HAS A GUN by Michael Paul Kozlowsky Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. This one looks mighty tense, so check it out and make sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to read it for free. 

 

About The Book:

Title: SCARECROW HAS A GUN

Author: Michael Paul Kozlowsky

Pub. Date: August 2, 2022

Publisher: Imbrifex Books

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, Audiobook

Pages: 266

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, Kindle, Audible, B&NiBooks, KoboTBD, Bookshop.org

Never trust other people's memories, and watch out for your own

Sean Whittlesea was there when his wife was murdered. He saw the light leave her eyes. He held her dead body in his arms.  He knows he wept, but he cannot recollect a single other detail. Tormented by the tragedy, Sean relives the horror over and over again. As he struggles to recall what really happened, his imagination serves up an endless chain of scenarios. The truth, however, remains hidden in the vault of his memory, and the key is nowhere to be found.   

Nearly two decades later, Sean, now remarried and a father of two, wins a bizarre contest hosted by his eccentric boss. The prize is the Memory Palace, a state-of-the-art black box that purportedly allows its possessor to relive every moment he has ever experienced, playing out all the memories on a screen.

While the small machine at first appears to be the answer to the mystery surrounding the death of his wife, it instead upends Sean’s life. He pushes his family further and further away as the Memory Palace forces him to confront harsh realities and difficult questions that he lacks the strength to face or answer. Spiraling downward, Sean encounters increasingly harrowing challenges that force him to realize that his memory is not the only thing at stake. To recover the truth about his past, Sean must fight for his very life.

Reviews:

"Suffused with an atmosphere that suggests J.G. Ballard and Paolo Coelho chained together in a basement while a carbon monoxide alarm goes off, Scarecrow Has a Gun is at once disquieting and illuminating, eerie and sincere.”—Martin Seay, award-winning author of The Mirror Thief

“Michael Paul Kozlowsky’s brutally eccentric Scarecrow Has a Gun is a masterclass in Cartesian storytelling—simultaneously evoking Christopher Nolan’s clockwork precision and JG Ballard’s ultra-modern sense of irony.”— Jeff Chon, author of Hashtag Good Guy With a Gun

“Scarecrow Has a Gun is a propulsive read that spirals deep into the intersections of memory, technology, and the shifting boundaries between the real and the unreal."— Nicholas Rombes, author of The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing and The Ramones’ Ramones

"A whodunit wrapped inside sci-fi story and blended with a compelling and clear-eyed examination of how memory works."— Brett Riley, author of Comanche, Lord of Order, and Freaks

"With writing that's both sharp and dense, Michael Paul Kozlowsky's Scarecrow Has A Gun is a labyrinthine mystery that feels as if David Cronenberg and Don DeLillo had collaborated on a Philip K. Dick adaptation. It's a gut-punch meditation on the way our brains process mediation, memory, trauma, and grief."—Tex Gresham, author of Sunflower, Heck, Texas, and This Is Strange June

"This engrossing and inventive novel entertains on multiple levels. It’s a mind-bending mystery, in which the pursuit of the truth about his wife’s murder threatens the main character’s trust in his powers of perception and his very sense of self. It’s a horror-show-worthy take on corporate ambition, overreach, and villainy."—Beth Castrodale, author of I Mean You No Harm, Marion Hatley and In This Ground

“What an original and captivating sci-fi read! I totally loved the real life references and often found myself so intrigued I had to then go search for confirmation and further information. Things really ramped up towards the end and I was glued to the text. I enjoyed the dark undercurrent and found the ending deeply satisfying as well as super clever.”—Caroline Lewis, Librarian at St. Jospeh’s College Mildura

 

About Michael Paul Kozlowsky:

Michael Paul Kozlowsky is a former high school English & film teacher, and, writing as M.P. Kozlowsky, the author of four children’s books — Frost, Juniper Berry, Rose Coffin, and The Dyerville Tales. He lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and a rescue beagle named Huxley. When he’s not reading or playing chess, he continues to write everything from poetry and screenplays to short stories, articles, philosophical essays, and books for readers of all ages. SCARECROW HAS A GUN is his first novel for adults.

 

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub

 

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of SCARECROW HAS A GUN, US Only.

Ends August 9th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

7/25/2022

Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post

7/26/2022

The Underground

Spotlight

7/27/2022

Jazzy Book Reviews

Review/IG Post

7/28/2022

@just_another_mother_with_books

IG Review

7/29/2022

One More Exclamation

Review/IG Post

 Week Two:

8/1/2022

Lifestyle of Me

Review

8/2/2022

The Momma Spot

Review

8/3/2022

BookHounds

Excerpt/IG Post

8/4/2022

GryffindorBookishNerd

IG Review

8/5/2022

Brandi Danielle Davis

Review/IG Post