What Makes You Invested In A Character?

When I read reviews for books, one of the biggest complaints I read is that the reviewer didn’t like the characters, didn’t care about the characters or weren’t invested in them.

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I agree that there are few fates worse than an unbearable character ruining a book that I otherwise enjoy. However, so long as the character is right for the plot and is well-developed and interesting, I don’t necessarily need to “like” them.

For instance, I didn’t like any of the characters in Gone Girl and that book blew my mind. However, I was invested in the characters, they were interesting and complex, and I did care about what happened to them. And caring about what happens to a character doesn’t necessarily mean that I want things to work out for them. My biggest concern when it comes to characters is how they serve the story. The characters in Gone Girl are damaged people, but it took damaged characters to illustrate the themes of the novel.

So the question is, what causes us to become invested in characters? I think this is different for everyone. For me, I am easily won over by a character that is complex or different from characters I have read before. I like flawed characters that make mistakes and keep me guessing.  I’m put off by characters that are whiny, too-perfect or cliché but that is not enough to keep me from enjoying an otherwise well-written novel.

So now I want to hear from you. Who are your favorite characters and what makes you invested in a character? And are there any characters that were so bad that they ruined the book for you?

Release Day of Stolen Bloodline, The Queen’s Jester and Heart of the Arena by Mishka Jenkins

Support Indie Authors like the amazing Mishka Jenkins. She has three new books out this week. Nom nom nom. Mmmmm books!

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This is insane! A good blogger friend of mine, and now published author, Mishka Jenkins, released THREE BOOKS TODAY. Nuts, right? Well, I’m well past excited to share the news for all three – Stolen BloodlineThe Queen’s Jester and Heart of the Arena.

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REVIEW: Olde School by Selah Janel

Fairy tales merge with the modern era in Selah Janel’s fantasy adventure Olde School.

OldeSchoolCoverFinal_650X433Find Olde School on Amazon | Goodreads

“Caught in a tug of war between past and future, that’s what I am.”

Paddlelump “Padd” Stonemonger is a business man first and a troll second. He runs a successful troll bridge that leads to a beautiful clearing and a mysterious forest beyond. But don’t worry, if you don’t have the coin you can always pay for passage with your card instead. These are modern times and while the inhabitants of Kingdom City live in castles and cottages, they can also be found at the local diner or plopped in front of the television. One thing hasn’t changed: they still want their happy endings and some will stop at nothing to obtain them. When the Olde World threatens Kingdom City, Padd will have to embrace the olde ways or risk losing everything he holds dear to darkness.

Olde School is a fairy tale for adults with all the fun of Jim Henson features like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Fans of these films will love Janel’s colorful characters: a crotchety troll, an unusual bird, a feisty waitress and bookish, humble Padd. I loved their quick-witted, sometimes bawdy humor. I particularly, enjoyed the character’s banter and their quotable slang. I won’t be surprised if I exclaim, “Bluebeard’s balls!” the next time I stub my toe.

Olde School is as dark as it is funny. There are passages in this novel that would make even the most seasoned horror enthusiasts squirm. There is also action, drama, fantasy and subtle romance. Janel pushes the boundaries of the fantasy novel by introducing it to the modern era. This creates a unique culture and setting for the characters and gives the author an uncharted playground to create conflicts unlike any readers have read before.

Janel brings this story to life with an incredible amount of detail and description. The author’s imagery materializes off the page, vibrant and visual. However, there are moments were the description is difficult to get through, particularly during the second act where the narrative is dense with exposition. While the history of Kingdom City is interesting, the back story is at times confusing and requires patience from the reader. Much of this is likely because this book if the first in the Kingdom City Chronicles and the story is laying the foundation for not only this adventure but the series to come. The ending in particular reads more like the first act in a sequel than a conclusion.

Fantasy and fairy tale readers will likely be so enraptured by the plot that they will be undeterred and while, there is much to take in, the details are compelling and serve to move the narrative forward.

Olde School is a treat for fantasy fans looking for a unique story that crosses multiple genres. An imaginative read!

OLDE SCHOOL
AUTHOR: Selah Janel
PUBLISHER: Seventh Star Press
RELEASE DATE: March 19, 2014
GENRE: Fantasy, Adventure
LENGTH: 378 pages


SelahJanel-smallerAbout Selah Janel

Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination and a love of story since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Learning to read and being encouraged by those around her only made things worse. Her work ranges from e-books to traditional print, and she prefers to write every genre at once rather than choose just one. The stories “Holly and Ivy”, “The Other Man”, and “Mooner” are available online through Mocha Memoirs Press. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, The Big Bad: an Anthology of Evil, Thunder on the Battlefield: Sorcery, The Grotesquerie, and the short story collection Lost in the Shadows, co-written with S.H. Roddey. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to have adventures and hold their own.

Catch up with her thoughts and projects Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Review Clause: Tomorrow Comes Media provided me with a review copy of Olde School through WatchPlayRead in exchange for an honest review. No compensation was provided. This review was originally published on WatchPlayRead’s website for a book tour and is available here.

Buffyverse Comics: BTVS Season 8, Vol. 2

The Story so Far: I am reading and reviewing the Buffyverse comic series’ that are canon with the television shows they are based on, including Buffy Season 8, Fray, Spike, Angel & Faith and Angel: After the Fall among others. I will post a final reading list when I’ve caught up to season 10.

I’ve included links to my previous posts in this reading marathon at the bottom of the page.

Find BTVS Season 8, Volume 2 Library Hardcover Edition on Amazon

This Week: Review of Buffy Season 8, volume 2 (Library Hardcover Edition).

A Beautiful Sunset (Issue #11)

Secrets are revealed. Buffy learns that one of her slayers has been caught on tape leading a robbery for weapons and ammunition. How does she deal? She gets back to her roots and takes her aggressions out on a vampire nest with her best slayer-in-training, Satsu. They talk and another truth comes out that would have probably ended with hugs and puppies if it weren’t for season 8’s big bad, Twilight crashing the party.

Yep, we finally get to see Twilight. He flies, wears a mask, is manish, he probably has one of those gruff Christian Bale voices. He’s also pissed. Buffy has upset the balance of good and evil with her league of extraordinary gentlewomen and he has made it his mission to put a stop to them all.

Twilight is unlike any foe Buffy has faced before. He is more similar to a super-villian from the pages of an X-Men comic than any of the vampires, demons, and forces of darkness Buffy is accustomed to. He is also manipulative. Already Twilight has Buffy questioning her methods. Buffy will need to find her moral certainty if she is to have any chance of surviving her next encounter with Twilight. Another action-packed issue!

WRITTEN BY: Joss Whedon
ILLUSTRATED BY: Georges Jeanty
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASED: February 6, 2008
COLLECTIONs: BTVS Library Edition Vol. 2  and Wolves at the Gate.

Buffy_wolvesatthegate_tpbWolves At The Gate (Issue #12-15)

Dracula is back and reunited with his favorite bug-eating lackey, Xander! This time Dracula is teaming up with the Scoobies to take down a gang of Gothic, power-thieving, Japanese vampires. I really enjoyed the bromance between Xander and Dracula in this arc. Xander has become more of a friend to Dracula than his man-servant resulting in many funny and endearing exchanges between the two.

This mini-series is a must for fans of classic horror and creature features. You won’t want to miss giant Dawn attacking Tokyo Godzilla-style! There is also a Mecha Dawn to combat her!

This arc is everything that fans of the show love: a perfect mix of horror, action, drama, romance and comedy. Most impressive is the return of series writer Drew Goddard, who received a Hugo Award for his writing in the seventh season of BTVS. Goddard writes these characters as well as Joss Whedon himself. He also knows horror, as he showed in his directorial début with writer Whedon, Cabin in the Woods.

I recommend this particularly to fans of the show that have had trouble getting into season 8. Sure, Dawn is still a giant but the characters are in a more realistic setting and despite the crazy shenanigans that surround them, there are some fantastic character building moments reminiscent of the TV show.

WRITTEN BY: Drew Goddard
ILLUSTRATED BY: Georges Jeanty
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASED: March 05, 2008
COLLECTION: BTVS Library Edition Vol. 2  

BUFFY2V4-4X6-SOL_-_copia_(2)Time Of Your Life (Issues #16-19)

Buffy meets Fray! I’ve been waiting for this moment since I first read the Fray comic book series in 2001. Willow sends Buffy on a mission from a mysterious source that takes her to New York and throws her through a time rift to the future. Seeing Buffy and Fray fight was awesome, particularly because both slayers fight with the mystical scythe. The scythe originated in the Fray comics and was given to Buffy in season seven of the television show. Nice to see that detail come full circle. Also, as you can tell by the cover, this arc marks the return of Dark Willow. She is an older, wiser force to be reckoned with than she was in season six and this time Xander is not around to help Buffy.

Xander is stuck with Dawn in present day Scotland standing with Dawn against an attack on the castle. Dawn continues to go through changes in this arc as well. Literally. But hey, at least she’s not a giant anymore.

Time of your Life also features appearances from many characters from season seven including Willow’s love interest, Kennedy (or as I call her Not-Tara) and Vi, played by Felicia Day on the show back before the red-headed actress became a  household name.

I was very pleased to see that Karl Moline, who illustrated the Fray comic book series, returned to draw this arc. He did a fantastic job and it was amazing to see Fray and future Manhattan, or Haddyn as it’s called, return to the Buffyverse.

WRITTEN BY: Joss Whedon
ILLUSTRATED BY: Karl Moline
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASED: July 02, 2008
COLLECTION: BTVS Library Edition Vol. 2

BuffyS8-20After These Messages…We’ll Be Right Back! (Issue #20)

Back in 2002, a BTVS animated series was greenlit. The show would have been in the same vein as Batman: The Animated Series. Unfortunately, none of the networks bought the show. It was a shame because the animation looked fantastic (similar to the Batman series). The series was set during the first season of the show back when the Scooby Gang was still in high school and Buffy’s primary foes were vampires. In After These Messages we get to see what an episode from the animated series would have looked like.

In this issue, Buffy gets some much-needed sleep and dreams of her life not long after she first moved to Sunnydale. I loved this. It was so nice to see Buffy with her mom again, to see Buffy and Angel, Xander with both his eyes, and computer hacker Willow. This one-shot brings to light how much Buffy has changed over the years and is a nice bit of nostalgia for fans of the show.

WRITTEN BY: Jeff Loeb
ILLUSTRATED BY: Georges Jeanty, Eric Wight
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASED: December 17, 2008
COLLECTIONS: BTVS Library Edition Vol. 2  and Time Of Your Life

WillowG&MWillow: Goddesses And Monsters

In this issue, we learn how Willow met her spiritual guide, the snake lady Aluwyn. This issue takes place months after the end of season seven when Willow activated the potential slayers. Willow meets Aluwyn when she undergoes a mystical journey that is traditional for witches seeking guidance. Willow travels through a series of spiritual levels including one set at Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. The goddesses Willow encounters, warn Willow that Aluwyn is a demon sorceress, a trickster who cannot be trusted.

Willow’s lost love, Tara appears in this issue, but the story is ambiguous as to whether Willow sees Tara or an illusion. BTVS is known to have deceased characters return for special appearances and flashbacks, but Tara has never been one of them. Since it is unclear whether Willow really sees Tara, her appearance in this issue was largely disappointing. There are some funny moments but, for me, this was one issue that I could have easily skipped over.

WRITTEN BY: Joss Whedon
ILLUSTRATED BY: Karl Moline
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
RELEASED: December 23, 2009
COLLECTIONS: BTVS Library Edition Vol. 2  and Twilight.

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, volume 3!

May Birthday Book Haul

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So you may have noticed that I was MIA for much of last week. This is partly because it was my birthday (woot!) and because I have two book tours that I’m participating in for WatchPlayRead, so I’ve had a ton of reading to catch up on. I’m hoping next week, after the book tours are over, that I can get some reviews posted. In the meantime, check out all my new books!

Birthday Books!

The Walking Dead Graphic Novels
by Robert Kirkman

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I’m behind on the series because I like to wait until I’ve collected a few to read back-to-back. For my birthday, I received volumes #16-18. I’m excited to read these! I reread the entire series at the start of the year and really liked where the series is going. From what I’ve read in reviews the next volume sets a much-needed change of pace for the series and offers a glimmer of hope to the survivors when they meet a stranger that wants them to join him in rebuilding society. There have been a few of these moments in past volumes where the group finds what they think is a place where they can begin new lives only to have the rug pulled out from underneath them and are then attacked or double-crossed. I’m hoping these volumes will be a turning point for the series and not a repeat of the Governor storyline.

Side note: I never noticed before that the zombies in the cover images line up. Have they always done this? I’m going to have to pull out all my old volumes and check.

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Buffy Season 8, Volume 3 Hardcover
by Joss Whedon

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Yay! Just what I needed for my Buffyverse marathon! I have this volume in comic book form, but I was missing the Dark Horse Presents Harmony issues. Also, I LOVE these big, beautiful hardback editions. The illustrations look so vibrant and I notice hidden Easter eggs in the background that I missed the first time around. This volume includes the story arcs Predators and Prey and Retreat. It also has a ton of one-shots. I’m reviewing the Buffyverse comics for WatchPlayRead so I will be starting this volume just as soon as I finish my review of Volume 2 (hopefully tonight or tomorrow).

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Book Tours

Awesome Jones
by AshleyRose Sullivan

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WatchPlayRead, the online entertainment magazine I write for, hooked me up with this one for a book tour. I finished it last weekend and posted a review of it yesterday that you can read here. Awesome Jones is an ordinary guy that dreams of becoming a superhero, but when destiny calls he must choose to continue his simple life with the girl he loves or risk it all to save the world and live up to his name. I was given a few books to choose from for this tour and chose this one because I love comics and superheros. I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of depth and world-building in Awesome Jones and highly recommend it to fans of superheroes and fairy tales.

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Olde School
by Selah Janel

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This is another one that I got from WatchPlayRead for a book tour. The review is scheduled for this coming Monday so I better hurry up and finish this before I go out-of-town for Crypticon (a horror movie convention) this weekend. So, far it reminds me of Jim Henson’s work particularly Labyrinth. Check back next week for my full review.

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Netgalley

Hexed
by Michelle Krys

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I haven’t read too many witchy books I like, but I did like the movie The Craft and the description for this book said it’s similar. However, reviews from my fellow bloggers have not been all that great so my expectations are fairly low.  This one releases June 10th so I will be reading it very soon.

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The Immortal Crown
by Richelle Mead

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I requested this one because I like the Vampire Academy series and because Richelle Mead is a local author. However, I didn’t realize that this book is a sequel. I have so much to read this month that I don’t think I will be able to track down the first book and read this before the May 29th release date. Also, the plot sounds like the kind of convoluted science fiction dystopian tale that usually fails to interest me. If you are reading this series, please let me know what you think of it. It’s highly reviewed on Goodreads so, while I may not get to it in time for the release, I may keep it on my TBR to read later this year.

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Sidekick
by Auralee Wallace

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I was ridiculously excited to be approved for this one from Netgalley. It releases June 1st so I will be starting it as soon as I finish Olde School. It is about a wealthy girl that wants to be a superhero. She tries to apprentice under an established superhero but is turned down until her connections make her an asset to the cause. Now, she has less than a month to learn the ropes and save the city. This sounds awesome and is supposed to be similar to Kick Ass which I really enjoyed. I’m looking forward to reading this!

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9 books altogether! And the best part? I didn’t have to buy any of them! Woot! *Happy book dance*

Now I want to hear from you! What new books did you get this month and have you read any of these books or will you be adding any of these to your TBR? Also, which of these books would you like me to read and review first?

REVIEW: Awesome Jones by Ashley Rose Sullivan

Imagine a fairy tale read by Stan Lee: romance and magic combined with high-flying, comic book action. The result is Awesome Jones.

awesome jones cover

you have to start believing that you can be the man you want to be.

Awesome is a regular guy living in an extraordinary world where superheroes patrol the city and wield incredible powers. Awesome isn’t one of them. He reads their comics and dreams of being a hero, but he’s a regular guy working a desk job. His life turns around when he falls in love with his co-worker Lona Chang. Lona sees something special in Awesome. Her faith in him and the mysteries behind his parent’s death spur him on a journey of self-discovery and danger. Awesome is forced to choose between love and, risking everything to become a hero and live up to his name.

AshleyRose Sullivan’s début novel is a refreshing reminder of what comics book heroes were like before the current gritty superhero reboot trend. Awesome possess nobility and integrity reminiscent of heroes from the ’30s and ’40s. He proves that superheroes don’t need to be dark and broody to be authentic. Sullivan carefully crafts her novel opening with a clipped, omniscient narrative filled with lists, and chores illustrating the minutiae of everyday life that immerses Awesome. That is reality. Not over-saturated skylines and deep gravelly voices, but making dinner, reading the paper, and wanting to be special.

As the novel progresses, Sullivan introduces more detail and brings the audience closer to the characters. We take a journey with Awesome and discover a rich detailed superhero world with an incredible history. Awe-inspiring superheroes become real and tangible. These are characters that readers will identify with.

Once the action begins, Awesome Jones requires superhuman strength to put down. Sulllivan writes gripping action and page-turning suspense.The character’s rise from obscurity will appeal to fans of Spider-man, Disney’s The Incredibles and the CW television series Smallville. Awesome Jones also has enough romance and magic to satiate anyone who grew up loving fairy tales. An inspirational read, that celebrates the magic in the details and the hero inside us all.

AWESOME JONES
AUTHOR: AshleyRose Sullivan
PUBLISHER: Seventh Star Press
RELEASE DATE: March 19, 2014
GENRE: Action, Adventure
LENGTH: 464 pages
SOURCE: Review Copy from Publisher via WatchPlayRead