Well, it IS a Hugo Award Winner: Girl Genius Webcomic

Girl Genius Webcomic - Jump to Site“Adventure, Romance, MAD SCIENCE” ~ Girl Genius tagline

Agatha Clay is more than your average girl. She’s only the last remaining heir to the Heterodyne name. It’s a legacy of power, prestige… and scary mad brilliance.

Agatha finds her life upended upon learning her true identity. Suddenly, everyone wants to get their hands on her–especially two rival princes.

Set on an alternate Earth, this is Steampunk at its graphical finest. “Sparks”–people with the extraordinary skill for building mechanical devices and bioengineering. Mad science, indeed!

Girl Genius has won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story three times, as well as numerous other awards. It’s no wonder: GG has the complete package. While the core idea of the hidden heir is not new, Phil and Kaja Foglio have freshened it up with their brilliant take. Their characters are complex, each with a viable arc. They keep the readers guessing as to who are the real villains and heroes, not to mention who might truly be mad. After all, what is madness, really?

The art is fantastic, with great drawings and wonderful coloring. Cheyenne Wright has a deft touch at bringing this rich world to life. There is nothing flat to this work.

This is a tri-weekly comic that has been online since 2002. New readers (this was me three days ago) can start from the beginning and catch up, thanks to a nifty “Start” button above the comic page. In addition, there is a drop-down list of “chapters” below the panels for when a reader wants to return to the story–as if there was anything else better to do! Granted, this takes some time, but it’s worth it. WARNING: The Girl Genius webcomic can lead to obsessive reading, forgetting to sleep, laughter, skipped meals, enjoyment, neglected chores, and instant fandom.





HELLHOLE by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson

Cover of "Hellhole" from www.wordfire.com

Cover of "Hellhole" from http://www.wordfire.com

A Hell of a Good Read

A failed rebellion. A disgraced leader exiled to a brutal backwater world. An interstellar government with a stranglehold on its people. These are the elements that lead into the opening of Hellhole, the first novel in the new science fiction epic from Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

General Tiber Maximilian Adolphus blinked when his forces had victory within reach. That hesitation won the war for Diadem Michella Duchenet’s ruler of all known habitable worlds in the Constellation. Rather than hand the rebellion a martyr figure, Diadem Michella exiled Adolphus to the most inhospitable world in the Deep Zone, Hallholme.

Set up for failure, Adolphus carves out a community of misfits and criminals who have nowhere else to go. Hallholme, “Hellhole” to its inhabitants, is a world of many surprises, mostly bad. The colony faces heavy taxation while being shortchanged in government shipments of necessary goods. But Adolphus and his dedicated people don’t let the Diadem’s machinations destroy them. A decade after his exile, Adolphus is on the cusp of something big. Little does he know, his plans may be affected by an unimaginable discovery.

Hellhole is the first book in a new trilogy by acclaimed authors Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson. This is their first effort outside of their multiple works in the highly popular Dune series. They bring their mastery of characterization and world-building to this new vision of the distant future. Weaving plots within plots, they pull the reader through the many ambitions of opposing interests. They do so in a way that keeps the reader interested and avoids confusion.

This is a well-crafted tale that engages the senses and heart. Herbert and Anderson have a fresh take the old tale of corrupt government, adding a fantastic twist which puts their unique stamp on the new series.

Fans of Dune, Star Wars, and other space epics will find this an engaging ride into the future.

~Christina Wantz Fixemer

Rating: 5-Books
Author Websites:
Brian Herbert:
Kevin J. Anderson: http://www.wordfire.com/ & http://kjablog.com
ISBN-13: 978-1847374264

The reviewer received a copy of Hellhole from the publisher. This has no impact on the quality or consideration of the review.

“Darkness Becomes Her” by Kelly Keaton

 Darkness Becomes her cover art

"Darkness Becomes Her" cover art from the author's website

“Darkness Becomes Her” by Kelly Keaton

This Book Marches to Its Own Drummer: READ IT

Book Summary

Ari has always been different. Growing up in foster care can do that to a kid, but so can having hair so pale it looks white, and a mother who committed suicide when Ari was a tot. When she’s old enough to search for answers, she finds a note from her long-dead mother which begs her to “RUN!” Ari ends up in the city of her birth, New Orleans, only it is now a darker and wilder place called New 2. It has been remade in the wake of a disastrous hurricane. There, she finds a city of supernatural people and creatures.

Ari joins a group of young outsiders, each with their own secrets and talents. Little does Ari know that she has a secret yet to be discovered–a secret that could change the world.


This novel pulled me in from the first page. Ari is a character with more depth than some real-life people. She is intelligent and has street smarts. There’s a hard edge to an otherwise vulnerable girl, which leads to very human moments when she has to deal with indecision and fear. And guess what? She doesn’t always make the right choice. She wants to know the truth, but she also fears it. In some other reviews, I’ve seen people criticize this, but I feel it made me relate to her far more than if she was broadly confident. When faced with terrifying choices, real life people don’t automatically make the smartest choices. Throw this character into a setting with lush (and sometimes decaying) detail, and you will forget that you’re reading a book.

If I had to choose a key concept for this novel, it is this: Boldly step forward when you must. Missteps can be forgiven, but no steps leave you forgotten.

This is a fantastic read for teens, especially those who are different from the crowd. Everyone should be their own drummer.

~Christina Wantz

Rating: 5-Books
Simon & Schuster
Author Website: http://kellykeaton.net/
ISBN: 978-1442409248

The reviewer received a copy of Darkness Becomes Her from the publisher. This has no impact on the quality or consideration of the review.

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