Author: Heloise Merlin

Rachel Aaron: Last Dragon Standing

I have been a fan of Rachel Aaron pretty much from the first page of her first book, The Spirit Thief. With Last Dragon Standing, she has released her thirteenth novel and finished her third series, and she is still going as strong as ever. It is the fifth volume in her Heartstriker series, detailing the adventures of Julius, the Nice Dragon and Marci, his human mage. It  has been quite a ride since the first novel appeared in 2014, and the conclusion this final instalment offers is nothing if not triumphant. I’ll try to avoid spoilers for Last Dragon Standing, but there will be (very slight ones) for the previous volumes of the series.

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Stuart Turton: The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a book in which twists and revelations play a large part; and while it undoubtedly will be great fun to re-read with the solution in mind in order to see how Stuart Turton placed all of his numerous puzzle pieces, for a first reading the less you know about what to expect, the better. The novel is an intricately crafted puzzle wrapped in a mystery story pervaded by a dense, creepy atmosphere and some elements of the supernatural or SFnal (we never really find out which). If this is something that appeals to you, I’d recommend you to skip this blog posts, skip reading any reviews of the book altogether, and, if at all possible, even avoid reading the back cover description, and instead that just grab the book and start reading. Chances are, you’ll be enjoying the experience a lot.

With that out of the way, I’m not going to hold back on spoilers in what follows, so if you have not read the novel yet, turn back now. The post will also very likely not make much sense to you unless you are somewhat familiar with the novel. You have been warned.

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Rick Riordan: The Last King of Texas

Rick Riordan is best known for his Percy Jackson series of Young Adult novels which is apparently quite popular. His first couple of novels before he started writing YA however, are a series of crime novels centered around private investigator Tres Navarre. I was not aware of that either until i stumbled across them when the e-books were on sale. The Last King of Texas is the third novel in the series (and the third one I’ve read) and so far it has been rather a lot of fun.

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Annabel Joseph: Taunt Me

Taunt Me is the second volume in Annabel Joseph’s Rough Love trilogy. It takes place two and a half years after the ending of Torment Me, with Chere about to graduate Design School. She has not seen nor heard from W during all that time, but he is still very much on her mind – as is she is on his, as we find out in the first chapter told from his perspective.

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Peter Milligan / Tess Fowler: Kid Lobotomy #2

Kid Lobotomy #2 by Peter MilliganThe second issue of Peter Milligan’s and Tess Fowler’s Burroughs/Kafka/Horror mash-up, and I’m happy to say it is just as resistant to coherent interpretation and as mind-blowingly confusing as the first issue was. Some recurring themes begin to crop up: questions of identity were already prominent in issue #1 and continue to be important here; in addition the introduction of two new characters, a writer and an artist, makes me think that there might be a self-referential element to the way brain matter as well as memories and concepts get swapped around by the Kid’s ray-gun – possibly this whole comic is an ongoing metaphor about art? or comics in particular? We’ll have to see how things develop.

This second issue is really heavy on the Kafka references (and on Kafka references swiped from Burroughs), so heavy in fact that Die Verwandlung is practically required reading for Kid Lobotomy (but then, it should be required reading for everyone anyway). There are probably tons of references in the graphics, too, but being mostly illiterate in that area, I missed most of those. I do like the graphics, though – they do invite closer scrutiny, and I love the way Fowler makes the panels jumble over and into each other, often completely getting rid of the gutter or replacing it with something black with… orange scratches on it? I’m not sure what it is, but the overall result is certainly fascinating and creates a great visual analogy to our main protagonist’s unhinged state of mind.

In short, this comic continues to be oodles of fun, and while I’m still at a loss as to what it’s actually about, trying to figure that out has been hugely enjoyable so far.

Annabel Joseph: Torment Me

First off, a warning; Torment Me is the first volume in a trilogy called “Rough Love,” and that title should be taken seriously. This is strong stuff, even for BDSM erotica, and while the novel is careful to never quite go there, it is borderline non-consensual and fairly violent. So, if you’re not into that, there is a good chance you might find this disturbing rather than sexy. If you are, however, this is one exciting ride, one that had me very pleasantly surprised.

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