Monday, August 30, 2010

Ghost of a Chance: By Simon R. Green



The Carnacki Institute exists to "Do Something" about Ghosts-and agents JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer will either lay them to rest, send them packing, or kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses with extreme prejudice.


I’ve been a fan of Simon R. Green for years. I’ve read almost everything he’s written, and with differing levels of enjoyment for each of them, I’ve liked them all.

That is until now.

Green’s latest book, Ghost of a Chance, is utterly horrible. I really wanted to like it and even gave it more of a chance than I would other books, but it was just bad. It seemed poorly written (which shocked me as this author is a fun and talented writer), contained weak and un-engaging characters, and had a plot that couldn’t support a tea leaf.

But more than anything else, it was just boring. The story starts out with the main characters in a situation that looks like it will require, battle, bloodshed, and brandishing of cool and unique weapons. But Green doesn’t do any of this, he fixes the situation without having the characters do anything. In fact one of the main characters, JC, just tricks the evil ghost into submission.

Really the whole thing comes across as a bad joke. Like a bad spin off of the Ghostbusters. But what’s more, Green spent too much time trying to break up the segments for the main characters. He was able to do this successfully with his Deathstalker series, but this time the characters just weren’t relatable or engaging, or at the very least interesting.

While I’m a huge fan of Simon R. Green, I really think he could have done a better job with this. He has proven himself to write antihero characters well, he has written intricate plots before, and he has some of the most original ideas I’ve read in his Nightside series. But he just didn’t perform in this book. I hope his other books will still have the panache they’ve had in the past, but as for this series, I can confidently say, thus far it’s a sensational disappointment.

4 out of 10


Publisher: Ace

Published: August 31, 2010

Price: $7.99

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Interview


Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is the major motion picture based on the cult-favorite graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley. Stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (also known for Live Free or Die Hard), Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Chuck, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) and Anna Kendrick(Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Up in the Air) sit down with the Whatchamacallit Reviews to joke about being superheros (or villians), playing music, and Comicon. If you haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim yet, consider going as soon as you can.

Whatchamacallit Reviews: What first attracted each of you to the project?

Brandon Routh: Well nobody was able to read the script until they were cast, essentially, so it was the possibility of working with Edgar Wright that attracted me to the project. Once we were cast, we were able to read the source material and that was just kind of icing on the cake because it was such a cool concept.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead: Yeah, I was attracted to it because Edgar Wright was directing and he gave me books to read and eventually, the script came along. The script was amazing, the rest of the cast was amazing, there was nothing that could deter me from the project.

Anna Kendrick: I was a big fan of Edgar’s work and I was just like “Yes please!”

WR: How much of the fighting scenes were done by you?

MW: We had to do a lot of it. Michael and I trained every day for two months like eight hours a day, all the exes would sort of rotate coming to town and train for a bit. We did boot camp training, kung fu training, fight choreography…the stunt team really wanted us to do as much as possible. They tailored the choreography to be stuff that we could achieve, but the stunt guys were always there to step in at a moments notice and take over and they definitely did some amazing stunts in the movie. The majority of it is us though.

WR: Any fight mishaps?

MW: I had one; it was as much my fault as it was Ellen’s. In my fight with Ellen, at the end of the movie, I took one of Knives’ knives to the eye and got slashed in the eye, had a black eye for the day. She was so into it and coming at me, and as I was turning I kind of took it to the eye. At that point, for some reason, we weren’t using Styrofoam knives, we were using metal and wood, crafted into a point, but from that point on, we used Styrofoam knives.

BR: I was reaching for fliers at the “Clash of Demonhead” concert and I was looking for one in mint condition and as I picked one up, I hit my head. Had to sit down for a while, everybody laughed. I didn’t pass out, but I probably hit it hard enough that I could have given myself a concussion.

WR: Did your dance training help with the fight choreography?

MW: It did a lot, it was counted out like “5,6,7,8” and a lot of it, we knew they would be musically focused, that the beats would match up but at the same time, I had to focus on not making them look like dance moves.

WR: Did your past work in other super hero movies help in this film?

BR: Well, I kind of felt like the old man on campus, talking to people about being in a harness, because I knew what that was like. So with the stunt crew, I kind of knew what was going on and didn’t feel as awkward about that whole situation. I knew all the tricks it just saved some time. I was used to the pain it induces, so it wasn’t as bad.

MW: For me, it helped having already done something that was as stylized, where performances were over the top. It didn’t seem that much of a stretch because I had done something similar in tone.

WR: If you were a superhero, what would be your super power and your super hero name?

BR: My name would be “Justice Man” and I would use my power to seek truth.

AK: My name would be “Pixie Fuller” because that’s my porn name, and my power would be invisibility and I would not use it for good.

MW: I could be like Rosie the Riveter.

BR: Retro Girl! You could point at things and it would take it back in a time warp. I play this game all the time.

WR: What was the most memorable experience of comic con?

MW: The most memorable was definitely the screening. The screening was amazing. The fans loved it and it was really special to experience that with that.

WR: What do you want viewers to take away from the movie?

MW: For me, it’s just such a true story of people in their twenties in relationships. You’re getting out of your teenage years, but you’re still not quite mature enough to handle a break up properly and you put someone else before yourself. It’s kind of good to put a mirror on all of us that way and say “Yeah, we have all treated someone really thoughtlessly, especially in a breakup.” It’s really horrible, but we need to realize we’ve all done it. We need to realize that we have evolved and matured beyond that. So many people in this film are going through similar arcs.

BR: There is a line in the movie where Gideon says “Don’t let the past ruin your future” and that’s what it is really about to me. It’s echoed in many ways in the movie, past relationships, past period, you have to get over your past to truly move forward in love or in anything else. It’s pretty powerful. There are some who think this movie is just about comic books and flashy stuff, but there are so many undertones that give it heart.

WR: What is your favorite scene in the movie?

AK: I like the scene in the alley with Mae [Whitman] the first time she [Roxy] attacks him.

MW: I love the little things in the movie you pick up that you don’t notice the first time around.

BR: Right now I’m liking that scene where Scott is stalking Ramona at the party because I love that Frank Black song.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Black Prism: By Brent Weeks



Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world. He is high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals.

But when Guile discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he's willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart.


With a startlingly original spin on abilities and powers Brent Weeks’ The Black Prism is clearly a must read for fantasy fans.

The Black Prism is an excellent book that will have readers captivated within the first few pages. The story revolves around the Guile family and the war, deceit, intrigue that accompany this powerful family. Without revealing any secrets within the book, the Guiles are the current ruling family of the land. They are known for their deceit and trickery almost as much as they are known for their involvement in causing a civil war that killed millions and split the country in two over which brother should take over as president, or Prism. This is the background for the book and as the story continues the details become clearer and the deceit more intricate.

The Black Prism is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. It is primarily a family political novel with magic and adventure thrown in for good measure. And yet it is so much more than that. Because of Weeks’ fantastic writing style each battle is elaborate and gruesome, the details flawless, and the magic sensational. And it’s with these amazing details and elaborate action that coupled with the intricate family politics of the book that make The Black Prism amazing.

All in all the best way I can describe this book is by saying that I couldn’t put it down. I stayed up late reading it, and started reading it immediately when I woke up. Basically for the period of time that I was reading The Black Prism I was comatose to the rest of the world. But it was worth it. It’s one of the best books I’ve read this year and one of the first ones that I’ve been anticipating and excited for that hasn’t let me down. Truly a great book and I can’t wait to read the next in the series.

10 out of 10


Publisher: Orbit

Published: August 25, 2010

Price: $25.99

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Black Swan Rising: By Lee Carroll



When New York City jewelry designer Garet James stumbles into a strange antiques shop in her neighborhood, her life is about to be turned upside down. John Dee, the enigmatic shopkeeper, commissions her to open a vintage silver box for a generous sum of money. Oddly, the symbol of a swan on the box exactly matches the ring given to her by her deceased mother. Garet can’t believe her luck and this eerie coincidence until she opens the box and otherworldly things start happening. . . .

That evening, the precious silver box is stolen. When Garet begins to investigate, she learns that she has been pulled into a prophecy that is hundreds of years old, and opening the box has unleashed an evil force onto the streets of Manhattan and the world at large. Gradually, Garet pieces together her true identity—one that her deceased mother desperately tried to protect her from. Generations of women in Garet’s family, including her beloved mother, suffered and died at the hands of this prevailing evil. Does Garet possess the power to reclaim the box and defeat this devastating force?

On her journey, she will meet the fey folk who walk unnoticed among humans and a sexy vampire who also happens to be a hedge fund manager that she can’t stop thinking about. But the fairies reveal a desire to overpower mere humans and the seductive vampire has the power to steal the life from her body. Whom can Garet trust to guide her? Using her newfound powers and sharp wit, Garet will muster everything she’s got to shut down the evil taking over her friends, family, New York City, and the world.


With flawless details and sensational writing Black Swan Rising will captivate readers from the first page.

Black Swan Rising is the first in an intricate and engaging urban fantasy trilogy about the struggles and adventures of the last in a long line of women sworn to protect the world from evil. The story starts out with the protagonist Garet stumbling into a strange antique store, where she meets the odd and enigmatic shopkeeper John Dee, who commissions her to open a vintage silver box that surprisingly matches the emblem on her ring. From there the story takes off, as Garet unleashes devastating forces into the world again by opening the box.

Between its engaging and charismatic characters, the mysterious elements that slowly unfold about Garet’s family past, and the nonstop action that encompasses Black Swan Rising, there aren’t any slow or boring pieces to the sensational story.

Black Swan Rising will appeal mainly to those readers looking for something new in the urban fantasy genre, those tired of dystopian fantasy, angels, and vampires (although there is a sexy vampire in this book it is not even remotely close to the same vein as Twilight). And it will stick with those readers, leaving them on their toes waiting for the next in the series to come out, giving it the makings of a interesting fun book.

8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Tor Books

Published: August 3, 2010

Price: $14.99

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Atlantis Complex: By Eoin Colfer



Artemis has committed his entire fortune to a project he believes will save the planet and its inhabitants, both human and fairy. Can it be true? Has goodness taken hold of the world’s greatest teenage criminal mastermind?

Captain Holly Short is unconvinced, and discovers that Artemis is suffering from Atlantis Complex, a psychosis common among guilt-ridden fairies - not humans - and most likely triggered by Artemis’s dabbling with fairy magic. Symptoms include obsessive-compulsive behavior, paranoia, multiple personality disorder and, in extreme cases, embarrassing professions of love to a certain feisty LEPrecon fairy.

Unfortunately, Atlantis Complex has struck at the worst possible time. A deadly foe from Holly’s past is intent on destroying the actual city of Atlantis. Can Artemis escape the confines of his mind – and the grips of a giant squid – in time to save the underwater metropolis and its fairy inhabitants?


I’ve been a fan of Eoin Colfer and The Artemis Fowl series for years now. I’ve read pretty much everything Colfer’s written and pretty much loved all of it. That said I honestly feel The Atlantis Complex was one of Colfer’s weakest books in the Fowl series.

The story revolves around Artemis losing his mind. The once great mastermind has finally come up against the one thing he can’t plan against, the degeneration of his brain. The Atlantis Complex is painted as something similar to an advanced case of OCD, paranoia, and multiple personality disorder all rolled up into one horrific disease.

As the story unfolds we being to see the old Artemis return, but only briefly in-between the immersion of Artemis’s other persona, Orion. Orion is an annoying, stereotypical knight in shinning armor wanting type of guy. We are meant to dislike him, but personally I feel Colfer did to well of a job in this. Orion is painful to read and I found myself wanting to skim over hos dialog just to get back to the “good stuff”.

I understand why Colfer made the decision he did about having Artemis’s mind deteriorate, as he had beaten everything else, but I just wish it were better. Personally I felt like it was a longer version of a novella that could have been cut a few hundred pages and no one would be the wiser.

That said, I’m still a huge fan of the series. Colfer leaves off in one of the first true cliffhangers in the series, and I personally can’t wait to read the next in the series. The characters were still engaging, the story still fast paced, and the overall book still well written, I’ve just come to expect a higher caliber of book from Mr. Colfer over the years. And while this book would be a masterpiece for other authors, I feel I’ve become spoiled with the constant level of sensationalism that surrounds his books.

7 out of 10


Publisher: Hyperion Book CH

Published: August 3, 2010

Price: $17.99

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Leviathan: By Scott Westerfeld



All the European powers are arming up for World War I. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Aleksandar Ferdinand is an Austro-Hungarian prince on the run. Deryn Sharp is a commoner. Their paths cross in the most unexpected way.


Leviathan is one of the best steampunk novels I’ve read.

Westerfeld, who has penned numerous other bestselling young adult novels including The Uglies and The Midnighters series, is back again with yet another sensational series.

Leviathan follows the actions and timeline of World War I, but with a few changes. First the Allies use bestial technology, creating large warships and other war technology by splicing together different animal DNA. And the Axis have developed mass war machines, far superior to even the machines we have today.

With astounding descriptions and nonstop action, Leviathan will amaze even the most jaded of young adult reader. Westerfeld paints a picture of early 20th century Europe and the struggles that accompany these countries. He is surprisingly accurate in his portrayal of the beginning of World War I, and really offers up an exciting history lesson that will engross teens worldwide. (For the facts he does embellish he clears up at the end up the book in an appendix.)

But what I found most astounding about this book were the war machines that Westerfeld dreamt up. They show vast imagination, and really offer an original spin on the story. Of course these war machines (both Bestial and Machine), also offer excellent action sequences that fans of James Dashner’s The Maze Runner and Catherine Fisher’s Incarceron will eat up.

All in all this was a fantastic book that really surprised me. It was surprisingly accurate, as well as filled with fascinating and imaginative elements to the story that truly make it enjoyable and original. Besides this Westerfeld’s characters are well developed and relatable, and his story engrossing. Making this captivating and sensational book a must read before school starts this fall.

9 out of 10


Publisher: Simon Pulse

Published: August 10, 2010

Price: $9.99

Total Eclipse: By Rachel Caine



Weather Warden Joanne Baldwin, her husband, the djinn David, and the Earth herself have been poisoned by a substance that destroys the magic that keeps the world alive. The poison is destabilizing the entire balance of power, bestowing magic upon those who have never had it, and removing it form those who need it. It's just a matter of time before the delicate balance of nature explodes into chaos-and doom.


Over seven years ago Rachel Caine began her now famous Weather Warden series. It captivated millions with its exciting cliffhanger endings and non-stop action. Now nine books (and one spin off series) later, we’ve reached the end of the line for the infamous Joanne Baldwin. Total Eclipse marks the end in Caine’s sensational Weather Warden series, and like all her books, goes off in a big bang.

Total Eclipse is the culmination of the entire series, and as such would make no sense to someone who just happens to pick up the book. But to those loyal fans who’ve kept with the series over the years, the reward is amazing. Total Eclipse begins where Cape Storm left off, leaving the djinn dying and the wardens themselves not doing so hot either. Joanne Baldwin and her husband David have been poisoned, and the earth has begun to wake up, cause mass destruction. All in all not such a great place to be.

Total Eclipse answers all the questions readers have been dying to know, and does a great job of wrapping up the series. The road is not paved in gold, nor is it an easy ride, but fans will be happy with Caine’s ending to the series.

All in all what more can you ask from a series. Caine has done a fantastic job entertaining and enthralling readers for seven years with this superb series. The end is not hokey, and it is not depressing as all get out. Because of this, the nonstop action, and the likable characters, Caine has put to rest a sensational series.

8 out of 10


Publisher: Roc

Published: August 3, 2010

Price: $7.99

The Maze Runner: By James Dashner



When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


Before I read The Maze Runner I had heard a lot about it.

I had heard that it was great, incredible, basically that it was the best thing since sliced bread.

But when I started the book, I felt myself instantly get bored. I didn’t really relate to the characters (if anything I found them annoying), I was frustrated with how little I knew about what was going on, and felt all the hype was over rate.

Then I got about half way through the book.

I don’t know exactly what the turning point in the book was for me, but about half way through my opinion started to change. The characters started to grow on me (especially Newt, don’t know why, just really liked his character), the plot finally revealed enough secrets to allow the reader to start to get involved in the story, and there was enough action and momentum built up that the story was moving at a pretty good pace.

Then by the end of the book I was practically glued to the book, I simply couldn’t put it down. Everything was culminating at once, characters had developed enough that they didn’t sound like automatons, and I just wanted to find out what was going to happen next.

For me I feel this is the sign of a really great book. I don’t care how smart or pretentious something sounds (Ok that’s a lie, I usually don’t like pretentious books) but when I look for a book I look for something that will captivate me, something that will floor me and keep me reeling long after it’s done, and The Maze Runner, mostly did that. I say mostly because I still feel the beginning was slow. I understand that this is the first in a series (possibly a trilogy), but in most cases I might have thrown the book away long before The Maze Runner got interesting. All in all This is a fun read and with the sequel The Scorch Trials just around the corner, this is a must read for anyone looking for something fun and exciting.

8.5 out of 10


Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Published: August 24, 2010

Price: $9.99

The Dragon Book: Edited By Jack Dann



Whether portrayed as fire-breathing reptilian beasts at war with humanity or as noble creatures capable of speech and mystically bonded to the warriors who ride them, dragons have been found in nearly every culture's mythology. In modern times, they can be found far from their medieval settings in locales as mundane as suburbia or as barren as post-apocalyptic landscapes-and in The Dragon Book, today's greatest fantasists reignite the fire with legendary tales that will consume readers' imaginations.

With original stories by
New York Times bestselling authors Jonathan Stroud, Gregory Maguire, Garth Nix, Diana Gabaldon, Tamora Pierce, Harry Turtledove, Sean Williams, and Tad Williams as well as tales by Naomi Novik, Peter Beagle, Jane Yolen, Adam Stemple, Cecelia Holland, Kage Baker, Samuel Sykes, Diana Wynne Jones, Mary Rosenblum, Tanith Lee, Andy Duncan, and Bruce Coville.


What I love about anthologies like The Dragon Book is that they really introduce you to new authors that you might not have noticed before.

The Dragon Book does this wonderfully well, as it has a number of excellent authors in it, such as Tamora Pierce, Jonathan Stroud, and Diana Wynne Jones, that I love but it also introduced me to a number of new authors that I hadn’t read as well, such as; Peter Beagle, Garth Nix, and Tad Williams.

Peter Beagle’s story, “Oakland Dragon Blues” is incredibly imaginative. It follows a dragon that comes out from an unfinished story and attempts to find its author to in act revenge. Besides its creativity Beagle really offers up dragons in a different light, as the dragon just wants to get home or die and isn’t vicious or bloodthirsty, just someone looking for a way back home. Beagle does a great job with the humor of the piece as well. The story is short, to the point, and no previous info is needed to understand it, making it a hilarious and great short story.

I’ve never read anything by Garth Nix, but I’ve heard his name come up in countless conversations about young adult fantasy books. He’s the author of The Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and the Keys To The Kingdom series. And while you might assume he would turn to the traditional sense of dragons, his series dealing so much in traditional kingdom settings, his newest short story “Stop!” is anything but. In “Stop!” the dragon is an alien like creature that tries to turn a man into a creature like himself but dies before completing the task, leaving the man half human half dragon. A dragon is nothing what we would expect, and instead this man is near indestructible, but just looking for a way to die. The dragon leaks radiation and this is one of the reasons why anyone who touches him dies instantly. The story is short and tense the whole way through, and reminded me a little bit of Simon Green’s Just Another Judgment Day. A very unique take on dragons and interesting story.

Tad Williams is another author I’ve heard a lot about but never read. He’s incredibly famous for a number of books but he’s currently writing his Shadowmarch series. His short story “A Stark and Wormy Knight” is an interesting reversal of the traditional dragon tale. The story tells the tale of a traditional knight coming to save a princess but from the dragon’s point of view. The story is interesting and humorous and really a surprisingly good read, certainly a keeper in The Dragon Book.

All in all The Dragon Book, like it’s predecessor The Wizard Book, is a great read. It offers up a number of short stories ranging in length from short 12 page or less stories, to novella size stories. I was excited and happy with the level of writing in the stories and really feel the authors included in this anthology are top of the line. The Dragon Book is a great place to learn about other great authors and really is a fun book to read between books, making it a must buy for those times you don’t have time to start a book but feel like something quick and good.

8 out of 10


Publisher: Ace

Published: November 3, 2009

Price: $16.00

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monster War: By Dean Lorey



Charlie is in big trouble

Dangeroos, Mimics, Netherstalkers, and worse are everywhere, and the danger to our world has never been greater. The Named have succeeded in summoning the Queen of Nightmares, a villain so terrible that only one person can stop her—Charlie Benjamin, armed with the Sword of Sacrifice. But Charlie can't get the fabled sword without the help of his friends Theodore, Violet, and Brooke—and the sacrifice it demands from them is even more horrifying than a roomful of Ravenous Sticky-Spitters. . . .


Monsters are real, and nightmares are their way into our world.

Monster War is the third installment in the Nightmare Academy series and completes the story of the Fifth. When readers left the series in Monster Madness, Charlie Benjamin was exiled, the headmaster was critically wounded, and the Fifth, the creator of the Named monsters, was loose in the world.

Now as the final installment to the Nightmare Academy begins, monsters are running loose in the world, causing chaos, killing, and creating even more nightmares letting in more monsters to wreck havoc.

Nightmare Academy is an interesting series that has a unique concept. Part Monster’s Inc. and part Yu Yu Hakishu (for those not familiar it’s an anime series where the protagonist kills monsters/demons sending them back to the demon world) that is perfect for elementary and middle school children.

While some of the characters seem childish in their dialog (such as Theodore), the majority of the characters are solid enough. That, plus loads of action and excitement makes this a great book for kids.

What surprised me most about Monster War was that it doesn’t end the series, it is just the end of the first installment. It does resolve many of the problems created in the first two books in the series, but in the extra chapter offered in the end, Charlie discovers a whole new aspects of the Nether that opens up a new development in the series. I was expecting Lorey to neatly wrap up this series and so when he left this cliffhanger of an ending it truly shocked me.

All in all Monster War is fun and exciting. It is filled with action, and while some of the characters seem silly and some of the plot lines are predictable it is a good book, a fun series, and a great read for middle school readers looking for a quick engaging book.

7 out of 10


Publisher: HarperCollins

Published: July 27, 2010

Price: $6.99