Review: Batman- The Killing Joke


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One thing to keep in mind is that TKJ was never meant to be canon; it was an alternate story.  It simply steamrolled past its original purpose and became one of the most compelling & galvanizing events in comics history, even more so now with having garnered so much mileage out of it DC made the utterly ridiculous decision to retcon the whole thing, which only cements the movie’s role as a cash cow than the next step in cinematic continuity.

The R-rating is both well earned and deserved.  In both stories we get graphic violence – dismemberments, gunshots, bodies, etc- and while not so much nudity some very direct handling of mature and sexual themes.  Notable is the fetishization of Batgirl by the villain in the first story- down to having a call girl wearing a bat mask- and that one scene everyone’s talking about.

What’s Bad: The disconnect the first part has with the rest of the movie.  It’s a completely separate story and you’d think it would tied into the bigger story but ultimately has no bearing on anything, other than perhaps to build the emotional connection to Barbara.  There’s literally nothing to tie the two together other than the characters, and it makes you wonder why they bothered.

As a nitpick there was one part of the Joker’s speech about madness to Batman that I noticed was left out: about how a key factor to the start of World War I was how many telegraph poles Germany owed their creditors.  No idea why that one didn’t make the cut.

What’s Good:   I did like the first story about Batgirl’s relationship with Batman.  Is it hero worship or something more?  As Barbara Gordon, she voices her frustrations to a co-worker, who naturally doesn’t quite understand the dynamics of this “thing” she has or doesn’t have with her “yoga instructor”.  (She likes the “yoga”).

“He’s demanding; he’s always been demanding- and controlling!  But I can’t just find another class!  There isn’t one; this is it!  And I’m good!  He won’t say it, but I’m the best damn student he’s ever had!  So if he’s gonna start making decisions based on emotions- of which he has ZERO- then I think we’ve got a problem!”  Ok, then.

It works well as a standalone.  It’s actually pretty good; it completely drew me in before it fizzled out. The story opens with Batgirl assisting Batman on what seems like a simple getaway after a robbery, but the thieves are more resourceful that expected, giving Batgirl the slip.  But the embarrassment of the incident leads crime boss Francesco to order his nephew Paris Franz, to reimburse him for his losses or else.  Paris already has his eye on his uncle’s businesses and, in true psycho-sociopathic fashion, happens to have a ‘thing’ for Batgirl.  Bats doesn’t want her involved; Paris’ attraction to her makes it even more dangerous and  can lead you right to the edge of the abyss.  And it’s not a view you want to take in.

A lucky break leads Batgirl right to Paris, but he gets away again.  Batman, recognizing what Paris is all about, orders her not to take him on without him there, which gets her back up.  Paris lays a trail for her to follow- right to his uncle’s body.  This leads us to *that scene*.

Now I wholly understand the outrage, I do.  Aside from the squick factor both the buildup and the scene itself was awkward and felt literally just inserted in (pun intended).  But I think the outrage has more to do with Batgirl’s reaction in the aftermath than the sex itself.

If there was somewhere to go with this, if it had built towards something, I think it would’ve all worked out fine.  But it didn’t.  After the case is wrapped up, their big talk is Barbara informing Batman she’s retiring as Batgirl and… that’s it.  The only acknowledgement of what happened between them is that they’re too close now and it’s time for her to step back from the abyss.  So I guess she got her wish after all.

When we finally get to the Killing Joke itself, it’s a faithful adaptation of the comic.  It’s stellar in that regard, but not without a few flaws.  Like all adaptations, familiarity with the material is both helpful and harmful.  It helps because it takes a few shortcuts with dialogue; some things could’ve been expanded and fleshed out a little without missing a beat.  But writer Brian Azzarello must’ve figured the fans already knew, so just stuck to the story panels, making for some choppy exposition; without captions to expound on the situation we have to rely on the script, and the script needed some beefing up.

The animation is also great: the visual style is directly drawn from Brian Bolland’s artwork, right down to Batman’s ears on his cowl.  The mix of CGI into the animations is pretty flawless, even when obvious in some scenes.  All the iconic visuals are present: the Joker’s appearance at Barbara’s apartment (his eyes!), Batman’s visit to Arkham, Jim Gordon’s ghost ride through the tunnel- all there, as well as the flashbacks of the Joker’s past leading up to that fateful night at the chemical plant.  There’s also a few new wrinkles: the Joker performs a musical number while Gordon rides through the tunnel and sees the up close photos of his daughter, Batman’s search for his prey who oddly hasn’t returned to his usual haunts.

And I’d be remiss without mentioning the outstanding work of Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy reprising their roles.  Felt like old times.

The finale remains ambiguous, as it should.  The idea of Batman strangling Joker to finally put an end to their conflict is left to the imagination, and since it’s an alternate storyline, whatever ending suits you is fine.

What’s Left: overall an odd offering from DC.  The first part, while entertaining, is rendered pretty meaningless other than for shock value and, according to the internet, they got it in spades.  You really can skip right past it and go straight to the main event, which won’t disappoint in the slightest.  In fact, it’ll put a smile on that face.  Batman: The Killing Joke kills it.

4.5/5 stars

Amazon (Finally) Suing Sellers over Paying for Fake Reviews


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(reblogged from

amazon-orange-1920One of Amazon’s most appealing features is the unbiased reviews provided to members. Unfortunately, it turns out that some sellers have taken it upon themselves to feed fake reviews to their customers-to-be. This wouldn’t be a prudent idea. Amazon is (and has been) suing those sellers that are buying positive reviews.

Amazon has previously sued to stop websites that sell fake Amazon reviews, along with individuals offering to write fake reviews. This latest batch of lawsuits is against the companies that buy fake reviews for their products.

A story from TechCrunch this week reports that three new lawsuits were brought against sellers where the fake reviews made up 30 percent to 45 percent of the overall reviews. According to TechCrunch, the defendants are Michael Abbara of California, Kurt Bauer of Pennsylvania and a Chinese company called CCBetter Direct.

We reached out to Amazon for comment and received the following in regard to these cases:

While we cannot comment on active litigation, we can share that since the beginning of 2015, we have sued over 1,000 defendants who offered to post fake reviews for payment. We are constantly monitoring and will take action against abusive sellers by suspending and closing their accounts and by taking further legal action. Our goal is to eliminate the incentives for sellers to engage in review abuse and shut down this ecosystem around fraudulent reviews in exchange for compensation. Lawsuits are only one piece of the puzzle. We are working hard on technologies that allow us to detect and take enforcement action against perpetrators while also preventing fake reviews from ever surfacing. As always, it is important for customers to know that these remain a very small fraction of the reviews on Amazon and we introduced a review ranking system so that the most recent, helpful reviews appear first. The vast majority of reviews on Amazon are authentic, helping millions of customers make informed buying decisions every day.

The rules in this type of a case are fairly straightforward. Amazon has sellers agree to the following:

You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited.

Furthermore, when sellers choose to break selling policies, they may find themselves without much recourse. The seller policies make it clear that any disputes or claims will be resolved by binding arbitration and won’t go to court and that each party waives their right to a trial.

So sellers take heed, if you want a good review, make sure your product/service earns it. To make sure that you are adhering to Amazon’s rules, read the full Participation Agreement in its entirety.




Pennies (Dollar #1) by Pepper Winters


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Pepper Winters
(Dollar #1)
Publication date: July 20th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

“At 18 I had pennies, but money didn’t make me bold. At 19 I had dollars, but it didn’t dull the pain of being sold. At 20 I had hundreds, but then I met him and was found. At 21 I had thousands, but all I wanted was to be bound.”

“At 23 I had dollars, but life changed and made me rich. At 25 I had hundreds, but it wasn’t enough to stop my killing itch. At 27 I had thousands, but my reputation didn’t set me free. At 29 I had millions, but I met her and could finally see.”

Tasmin was killed on her 18th birthday. She had everything planned out. A psychology degree, a mother who pushed her to greatness, and a future anyone would die for. But then her murderer saved her life, only to sell her into a totally different existence.

Elder went from penniless to stinking rich with one twist of fate. His lifetime of crime and shadows of thievery are behind him but no matter the power he now wields, it’s not enough. He has an agenda to fulfil and he won’t stop until it’s complete.

But then they meet.

A beaten slave and a richly dressed thief. Money is what guided their separate fates. Money is what brought them together. And money is ultimately what destroys them.

She was poor.

He was rich.

Together…they were bankrupt.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes / Kobo / GooglePlay


Pennies (Dollars #1) is a DARK ROMANCE. This means there will be hard to read scenes, graphic language, and sexual content (both implied and explicitly written). Please do not read if falling in love with a man who dresses in monster robes rather than knightly armour offends you. This is not a fairy-tale. This is a black abyss that must be climbed blind before deserving the light. Along with literary darkness, this is book one of a five book series. Each subsequent novel will be released every few months (so your fingernails don’t tire holding onto the cliff-hanger), and each is full-length. Please also remember not all answers are given and not every character is as they seem. There are beasts adorned in angel clothing and angels hiding in beast’s fur.

Remember that.

You have been warned.

Don’t say you weren’t told.

Read at your own peril.

Fall in love with Elder Prest at your own risk.

Are you ready?

You sure?

You really, really sure?

Okay then…enter the world of pennies and dollars.



Such a modest word.

It carried very little importance for those who had it. But for those who didn’t, it was the most precious, prized, and promised hope of all.

I supposed I was lucky to know what freedom felt like.

For eighteen years, I’d been free. Free to learn what I wanted, befriend who I liked, and flirt with boys who passed my rigorous criteria.

I was a simple girl with ideals and dreams, encouraged by society to believe nothing could hurt me, that I should strive for an excellent career, and no one could stop me. Rules would keep me safe, police would keep the monsters away, and I could remain innocent and naïve to the darkness of the world.


I had it.

But then, I lost it.

Murdered, resuscitated, and sold.

I lost my freedom for so many years.

Until the day he entered my cage.

Him, with the black eyes and blacker soul.

The man who challenged my owner.

And set my imprisonment on an entirely different path.


Author Bio:

Pepper Winters is a NYT and USA Today International Bestseller. She wears many roles. Some of them include writer, reader, sometimes wife. She loves dark, taboo stories that twist with your head. The more tortured the hero, the better, and she constantly thinks up ways to break and fix her characters. Oh, and sex… her books have sex.

She loves to travel and has an amazing, fabulous hubby who puts up with her love affair with her book boyfriends. She’s also honoured to wear the IndieReader Badge for being a Top 10 Indie Bestsellers, best BDSM series voted by the SmutClub, and recently signed a two book deal with Grand Central. Her books are currently being translated into numerous languages and will be in bookstores in the near future.

To be the first to know of upcoming releases, please join Pepper’s Newsletter (she promises never to spam or annoy you.)

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest / Newsletter



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Legal by Bree Dahlia


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Bree Dahlia
Publication date: July 20th 2016
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Romance

Taboo. Wrong. Off limits.

I know the drill. I know the rules.

But damn, if he doesn’t get under my skin.

And into my bed.

There’s no reason for a woman like me,

Successful, established, independent,

To ever be sleeping with a younger man.

A younger man with a hard, rugged, sculptured body.

A body that can go all night.

All night.

I can’t resist, can’t turn him down.

Can’t walk away.

Because I’ve never known pleasure like this.

Chase Nolan walked into my life and disrupted my perfect little world.

And made it so much better.

Enjoy it while you can, Jillian.

Because there’s no way there’s a future for us.

After all, is he barely even legal?

Goodreads / Amazon / Kobo / iTunes / GooglePlay / All Romance

Are you a book reviewer? You can request an ARC of Legal here!

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Author Bio:

Bree Dahlia is an unconventional romance junkie. She loves reading it but adores writing it even more. Her stories range from lighthearted to sizzling with that satisfying Happily Ever After ending and a touch of the unexpected. She favors themes of friendship, forgiveness, and unconditional love with alpha characters and eccentric tastes.

She holds degrees that she does nothing with and has experienced a long string of jobs that have left her unfulfilled. Only as an author, has she truly found her passion. When not crafting stories in her small Wisconsin town, she hikes unbeaten trails, watches hockey games, and wishes she didn’t detest cooking so much.

Dahlia is her middle name. Her last name is more suitable for a horror writer.

You can sign up for her new release newsletter at

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Friday Reveal: Polaris by Beth Bowland


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Today Beth Bowland and Month9Books are revealing the trailer for POLARIS, which releases August 16, 2016! Check out the gorgeous trailer and enter to win a paperback of the book!!
A quick note from the author:

When I first watched the trailer I was in awe, tears formed in my eyes, and I was frozen in my seat. I tried to say “OMG”, but only the “O” came out and “MG” got stuck, because at that moment I watched as my story literally took a breath and came to life.

I had such a great time writing Polaris, it combined my love for creating stories and conspiracy theories. I love “What Ifs” What if there is life on other planets? What if they’re really not so  different than we are? The big ticket question, what if they’re already among us. Polaris takes a quirky but fun spin on an old conspiracy theory, but what if the conspiracy is not a theory…
On to the reveal! 

Author: Beth Bowland
Pub. Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Tantrum Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads Amazon | BAM | Chapters |Google Play  | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks
Bixie, Montana is in the middle of nowhere, not connected to any place, and not needed to get to any destination.  But one snowy evening, a lone visitor walking down an old country road changes thirteen-year-old Aaron Martin’s life forever. Aaron thinks he’s being a Good Samaritan by inviting the nearly-frozen visitor into his home, but he’s unwittingly initiated “The Game.”
A group of Elders, known as the Council of the Legend, come together from time to time to enjoy a rousing event they playfully call “The Game.” Now, Aaron’s town is the playing board and he and his fellow townspeople are the players.
The rules are simple. Win. Because if Aaron loses, he won’t just lose his family. He’ll lose his very identity.

Beth Bowland, a native Ohioan, has always enjoyed reading and creating stories of her own. As a child she devoured every book she could get her hands on and spent numerous hours at the library each week. She loves writing stories for tweens and young teens and her characters are often described as quirky and fun, but always relatable. When she’s not writing, she loves watching HGTV. She has one daughter and resides in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Phillip.

The Looking-Glass Portrait

Reblogged from: Linda Hilton



Kindle exclusive, so available for Kindle Unlimited members, at Amazon now.


When Thomasina Ryder inherits her grandmother’s house, she expects to quickly arrange for the sale of the estate. She soon learns the disposal of her legacy will be a more complicated process than she expected. And nothing could complicate matters more than the return into Thomasina’s life of a forbidden love from the past.

The further she delves into the secrets of that past, the more she is made aware of something sinister and hidden, never to be spoken of even in whispers. She begins to suspect this secret is connected to the silent forms she has seen moving in the old house, from the corner of her eye or in the distorted reflection of a mirror. Then, as her investigations bear fruit, the shadows in the mirrors become more threatening.

Original post:

The Stolen Twin by Michele Pariza Wacek


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The Stolen Twin
Michele Pariza Wacek
Publication date: November 16th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Psychological Thriller

On the surface, Kit Caldwell has it all. A senior in college with her future ahead of her, lots of friends, lots of parties…not to mention also having the eye of Tommy, the star quarterback of the football team.

But underneath, Kit’s life is a charade, built on a foundation of secrets and lies, including one so dark it threatens to tear her world apart: her twin sister, Cat, was kidnapped when they were both seven, never to be heard from again.

That is, until one dark Halloween night.

But is it really Cat? Or is it someone else, someone playing a sinister and deadly game?

To save herself from imminent danger, Kit, with the help of Tommy and her friends, is forced to go back in time and confront her own personal demons, as she finally discovers what really happened to Cat, all those years ago.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Guest Post by Michele Pariza Wacek:

Why it Took Me 10 Years To Publish “The Stolen Twin”

Back in 1998, I quit my job to become a fulltime freelance writer/copywriter.

At the time, there were no coaching, masterminding or mentoring programs that taught you how to set up and run a successful business (or, if there were, I didn’t know about them as the Internet was still in its infancy) so I went to the Small Business Association (SBA) and got myself a counselor.

When the counselor learned what my business plans were, he invited a retired freelance writer to come in and give me some tips.

Well, her “tips” turned out to be her trying to talk me out of becoming a freelance writer. For about 45 minutes, the conversation went something like this:

“Being a freelance writer is a really difficult way to earn a living.”

“Okay, what should I do?”

“Can you get your job back?”

“No, I can’t get my job back.”

“Are you sure? It’s really difficult to earn a living as a freelance writer.”

“Yes, I’m sure I can’t get my job back.”

“You could work full time at your job and on nights and weekends do freelance work until you have enough work to quit.”

“I really can’t get my job back.”

You get the idea. Finally at the end she said “Okay, I guess I can’t talk you out of this so here are a few tips.” And she finally gave me those “tips,” which I dutifully wrote down.

We were getting read to leave when I decided to chime in and tell her “you know, one of the reasons why I’m so excited to become a freelance writer is because then I’ll have time to finally work on my novels.”

She got a look of complete horror on her face and said “Oh my God, NEVER tell anyone you’re working on fiction. You’ll NEVER get any work.”

Now, basically this woman was pretty much dead wrong on everything she told me that day. Even her “tips” were basically worthless. But, for some reason, what she told me about the novels stuck. So, I didn’t talk about my fiction very much, I especially didn’t share about the novel I had written 2002/2003.

If you do have a dream or a creative project that in your heart you know you really want to be working on (what Stephen Covey calls the “important but not urgent”) I’d love for you to take a moment and just breathe into what’s stopping you. You don’t necessarily need to do anything — just take a moment to see what’s keeping you from working on this project.

In my case, I had completely forgotten about this whole exchange until I was getting ready to publish my novel and one of my clients exclaimed “why isn’t it we’ve never heard until now that you’re publishing a novel?”

In other words, something I didn’t even remember kept me stuck.


Author Bio:

When Michele was 3 years old, she taught herself to read because she wanted to write stories so badly.

As you can imagine, writing has been a driving passion throughout her life. She became a professional copywriter (which is writing promotional materials for businesses), which led to her founding a copywriting and marketing company that serves clients all over the world.

Along with being a copywriter, she also writes novels (in fact, she just published her first novel, a psychological thriller/suspense/mystery called “The Stolen Twin” and her second novel “Mirror Image'” is set to be published in May 2016) plus, she is also the author of the “Love-Based Copy” books, which are a part of the “Love-Based Business” series and cover both business and personal development.

She holds a double major in English and Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she lives in the mountains of Prescott, Arizona with her husband Paul and her border collie Nick and southern squirrel hunter Cassie.

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State of Fear (Collapse #8) by Summer Lane


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State of Fear
Summer Lane
(Collapse Series, #8)
Publication date: June 24th 2016
Genres: Dystopian, New Adult

The world has gone nuclear, and the militias have met their first major defeat.

Torn and desperate, Cassidy Hart and her team make a difficult decision to relocate their forces to the cold, barren wilderness of Alaska. In the snowy mountains of the Gates of the Arctic, Yukon City has become a stronghold for survivors of the apocalypse.

Or has it?

Commander Chris Young remains in California to combat the shadowy forces of Omega, while Cassidy attempts to rebuild the militia’s strength at Yukon City. Uriah True has ideas of his own when it comes to surviving, and the militias are splitting apart.

Veronica Klaus is unleashing hell upon the west coast. The true, terrifying nature of Omega is revealed at last. A dangerous, desperate move is made to find reinforcements and seize a weapon that could give the militias an upper hand.

The downside?

It just might kill everyone on planet earth.

Cassidy, Chris and their friends have made it this far.

How much longer can they survive?

How much longer can the world survive?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble


This is the 8th book in the Collapse Series. How do you keep the storyline and world going this far into the series?

The issue with Cassidy Hart is not running out of stories – it’s containing them! Cassidy’s world is monstrously huge and the options for story pathways are endless, so I really had to zero in on what I wanted the eighth book to be. In terms of technicality and research, this was a challenging book – but it was also exciting to write. I was able to utilize some elements that I have wanted to use for a long time, like submarines and ice…trust me, it’ll make sense when you read the book!

Do you find it difficult to write about one set of characters for ten books?

No, I don’t. The longer you’re with your characters, the better you get to know them. In this case, I have had the opportunity to get familiar with my characters to such a level that their development and characteristics are incredibly organic. It’s a real blast!

Are you Team Uriah or Team Chris?

A lot of people like to think that Uriah is the perfect guy for Cassidy – while some much prefer Chris, since he is the original male lead (and he’s pretty awesome, in all honesty!). I have my own secret thoughts on this subject, and I don’t like to project my opinions on such an emotional element of the series. I leave that to my readers. But I will say that, in the end, Cassidy is a strong woman who doesn’t need anybody. She’s one of those kickass characters that can survive no matter what – and anyone she falls in love with is just a bonus. I don’t say to belittle the importance of the male leads, but to stress that Cassidy is just that kind of character at this point in the series.

What’s with the title? Why ‘fear?’ What’s there to fear in this book?

The title is really a projection of the underlying theme of this book. My characters are thrust into a type of warfare that’s really unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They go to the barren wilds of Alaska, where the icy glaciers surround them and the dark winter solstice blots out the sun. Omega could kill them all – so many terrible things have happened, and could continue to happen. Cassidy is doubting herself and her relationships. This book is about exploring all of those fears, and then figuring out if our heroes are going to succumb to the darkness or stand up and kick its butt. It’s gritty, it’s dark and it’s intense. It’s my kind of story, and that’s why I wrote it.

Author Bio:

Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of The Collapse Series, The Zero Trilogy and The Bravo Saga. She is also the author of Collapse: The Illustrated Guide, a #1 bestselling graphic companion to the phenomenal original series.

She is the owner of WB Publishing and Writing Belle, an online magazine where she has worked with countless authors from around the globe. Summer is also an accomplished journalist and creative writing teacher.

Summer lives in the Central Valley of California, where she spends her days writing, collecting tea, and writing some more.

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Somniare by D.T. Dyllin


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D.T. Dyllin
(Somniare, #1)
Publication date: July 19th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

Remy Novem was murdered…

But she didn’t die.

Forced to escape to Somniare, a dream landscape, Remy must somehow survive living nightmares, and endless torment without using her magic. Her only hope for freedom is to hitch a ride with a human back into reality, tricking the poor creature into believing no harm will befall them.

Remy isn’t troubled by the fact that she must kill to live…

Until love changes everything.

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*Are you a reviewer? Request a review copy of Somniare here!*




Author Bio:

D.T. Dyllin is a bestselling author who writes both paranormal and contemporary romance. Anything with a love story is her kryptonite. Her obsession with affairs-of-the-heart is what first drove her to begin twisting her own tales of scorching romance.

D.T. was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Black & Gold for life, baby!) She now lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with her husband and two spoiled German Shepherds.

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Review: The Carver by Jacob Devlin


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THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . .

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . .

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . .

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

***Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for a review.***

What’s Good: an decent twist on what’s becoming a clichéd, stale idea.  Fantasy characters migrating to the Real World and having to return to save everything is nothing new.  Author Jacob Devlin invests the tropes with a bit of new life, which is all you can ask for.  He also works all the loose ends of the plot into a neat little package; at about 65% or so you’re all caught up.  Chapters are short, making for fast and easy reading.

What’s Bad: all the inconsistency.  The setting seems lifted- or should I say ‘inspired by’- practically every existing Disney cartoon.  It’s more mish-mash than mashup; all manner of fictional and historical characters- including Merlin, Kaa the Snake, Dr. Frankenstein and Mulan- come and go in Fairyland but no rhyme or reason as to how they got there or how it all works- especially at the finale when some of the characters end up in yet another fantasy realm.  It’s all there to support the story without consequence and you’re just going to have to roll with it.

Dialogue- like most everything about the book, it seems to be kind of all over the place, almost like it was written freeform.  One moment characters are speaking proper, stilted language and the next they’re saying ‘wanna, gonna, ain’t, buddy…’

Typical of a mish-mash, the characters exhibit some of the dumbest behavior at the worst times simply to advance the plot.  And it’s pretty tiresome.  This kind of stuff isn’t heroic- it’s idiotic, and far too often a crutch authors lean on.  How about smarter, more capable villains?

There’s also the plot device of telling the story out of phase, alternating between Real World Now for the current situation and Fairyland Three Years Ago or Fairyland Twenty-Five Years Ago to reveal the backstory.  Just when you’d be in the flow of one scenario you’re thrown into another, breaking up the rhythm.  And sometimes it’d take several chapters to return to a setting, so you may have forgotten a thing or two and have to go back.

What’s Left: some badly executed good ideas.  Nuggets of a story that need sharpening up, otherwise this isn’t a Young Adult story but a Middle Grade one.

2.5/5 stars.

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