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A few years ago a boy and a girl met each other through average circumstances, happening time and again, that found them getting closer and closer to each other until the day came when they were holding hands. They married. It was a mixed reception – the news of their marriage, not the reception – because there wasn’t one: they had eloped.

Years later, trial filled years later, they brought into the world a baby boy. This baby, the culmination of the light and love his parents had for each other made manifest into the form of a human being they named Avery. The parents, though loving their son, suddenly found their once endearing differences being too difficult to live with and chose to split up. Not wanting the family to be completely separated the dad suggested selling their current house and moving into a duplex. The mother initially protested saying it would be too weird potentially seeing her once husband bringing guests home and she didn’t want it to be weird for him either, in retrospect. The dad, considering her thoughts, still pressed the practicality of the idea, how it will help their situation while giving their son a modern sense of family (though grumbling under his breath at the idea of dating again). Mom reluctantly agreed.Duplex

Many weekends wasted productively and one exhausted Realtor later the mom and dad found a place they could agree upon. It was two-story, had three bedrooms that mirrored one another, a sizable kitchen space and a joint laundry facility. They moved in, each parent to their chosen place of residence with the rearmost bedroom for their son. One day when the dad tried to install a wall-mounted shelf in his sons room on his side of the duplex he knocked a hole through the wall revealing a large square frame in the support structure that could be used to make a door or passageway between the two sides of the duplex. The mom wasn’t so happy about the mess of the discovery and though they fixed the hole into a passageway they covered it up with a bookshelf and some curtains. It remained so for many years until one day…..

-VR

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Latest read: Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon. It took a bit longer to read than I would’ve liked – A WHOLE WEEK! Egads!

I’m kidding. Though that’s not record time considering the format, material and that I really love sci-fi.

Toys wasn’t a bad read at all. It was full of action, violence, sexuality, betrayal, gadgets and… just a little kissing. So if you get all excited over any or all these things then I highly recommend this read. Otherwise steer clear or you might end up being sucked into the genre.

  You mean that’s not a brand name?
Never before  have I read any books with the name of James Patterson printed across the cover as though it were the true title of the book. Lord knows there are many of them. Nor have I even seen or heard of Neil McMahon. Sorry, it’s truth. When it comes to Patterson I figured he was just a genre-machine like King, Rice or Goodkind but that doesn’t matter, does it? Since this was a thrill-ride if only in the pacing. I promise!
It was like watching those Saturday afternoon lounging-around Sci-fi thrillers you’d watch back in the day because there was nothing else better to do. Both saddened and amazed you would realize two things 1.) being that you enjoy the cheap thrills on some unknown level; a mystery that may still elude you and 2.) you wasted a perfectly good afternoon.
Toys was a simple read, no doubt but it had enough complexities that would draw in any new reader while appealing to readers a bit more familiar with Science Fiction as a whole. I’m a big fan of Cloak & Dagger, dare I say, Bond-esque leading heroes, but the main character really wasn’t as smart as he wanted you to believe.

Initially I read a synopsis for Toys in some magazine giving me an interest but the real draw was the title and the picture on the cover. Yes, I know the adage. Unfortunately it wasn’t a challenging story – having “solved” it even before I finished it – but continued because I wanted to make sure I was right;  sometimes an author will surprise you with a sudden twist here and a turn there. And there were surprises a-many but ultimately it went right back to where I knew it eventually would which is kind of sad really but sometimes it’s not about the destination but the journey.

If I were to put this overall story into another format other than novelization it would definitely be a decent film source if they do the effects right. I would love to see Peter Chung – of Aeon Flux fame – take a stab at an animated version of it. Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury is a good example of what I’m talking about.

To stress a point: Toys isn’t the greatest story ever told. But for fast pacing, a somewhat dystopian-style futuristic setting with Humans suffering for their “mistakes” – implied devastation – at the hands of genetically engineered elitists… it was still quite entertaining. If that doesn’t interest you in the slightest then you wouldn’t be sold on it anyway.

-VR

 I want it known that I make no money off anything I post here. If I like something I’ll write about it, if I don’t like something I feel less inclined to write about it. If there is something I think you few random stragglers may find of interest then I’ll post something about it. Thanks for reading!

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Many years ago I read a magazine called Wizard. In said magazine they had written an article about an independent/self-published comic series called Castle Waiting written by an author/illustrator I had never heard of named Linda Medley.  The article amused me and Castle Waiting seemed like something I could be very interested in, but – for the life of me – I couldn’t find a store that had any issues in stock.

When I did – finally! – find some issues they were random at best making it difficult for me to get a true feel for the title (like Jeff Smith’s Bone I hope I don’t reference that series on my blog too much!). In case you hadn’t noticed I’m a fan of continuity and that includes starting a series, no matter the format, from the beginning. It’s just how I roll.

Castle Waiting

Yay for collected editions!

A few years ago – after some time passed and I had all but forgotten about Medley and her book – while my wife and I were shopping at the local mega-book mart I finally found the series published in a hardback, collected form by Fantagraphics! I knew I liked it from what I remembered seeing but when I thumbed through it this time there was nothing but love.

When I saw the simple-yet-detailed artistic style Medley brought to every page and panel and how well her art complimented the characters, the setting(s) and mood(s) it was then that I fell in love. Truly. The artwork reminded me of the books I’d “read” as a child, all the different illustrations for some old story within an Encyclopedia or my dad’s highly touted upon “Book of Knowledge” series.  How the little-known (to me, that is) artists would draw simple but well enough structured depictions of certain ideas and themes within the story’s; whether characters, scenery or both on the following or preceding pages within the chapters. I thought it was brilliantly simple, clean and fitting for a fantasy-based graphic story.

Now I won’t bore you with details on the story within the book. I do believe that Medley wrote Castle Waiting for a non-male audience but that doesn’t make this book less enjoyable. Truth! ;o)
I don’t waste time; yours or mine.
There are now two volumes out and I’m just a little disappointed in the second one because it just… drops off (not to mention that Medley’s name does not seem to be on the book, oddly enough!). You should at least pick up the first volume and see if the characters and the mystery behind them and their surroundings manages to pull you in. If it doesn’t suck you in no matter how much you struggle (as if)…  it’s obviously not for you; but if it does, welcome. Welcome!

Thanks for reading and I’m sure the ever elusive Linda Medley thanks you too.

-VR

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