The Witch-Crafting Handbook

The Witch-Crafting Handbook

Helena Garcia, known for her extraordinary creations on that fabled British baking show (almost) everybody watches, has published a new book. The Witch-Crafting Handbook is a compilation of beautiful illustrations, crafts and recipes. The latter are rather varied, as they range from skincare to haircare to beverages (most alcoholic) to baking.

Not only is this book varied; it has a distinctive witchy supernatural vintage flair to it, a little like we have come to know from Christine McConnell, for reference.

Although I will admit that I’m not much of a baker, I do feel that, reading through the recipes, most are not for novices in the kitchen. Indeed, many are quite material- or ingredient-heavy. If all goes well, you will get something fabulous out of it, but don’t expect anything quick and easy.

Even if you don’t end up baking anything, it is still a wonderful coffee-table book, or a fine inspirational addition to your personal library, if you’re into this kind of thing.

See for yourself if it’s your proverbial jam. We have a whole flip-through for you, so you can easily figure out if you want to spend money on a copy.

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Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop

Animated classics are usually best left alone. Live-action versions seldom live up to the original.

In rare cases, though, one does manage to reach that same level of brilliance. One of these is the Netflix live-action adaptation of that classic animated multi-genre space Western, Cowboy Bebop.

Cowboy Bebop only loosely follows the anime. Many characters are similar and some plot lines are repeated, but overall it can and does stand on its own. I have watched the anime (several times) and can assure you that you can go into this not having a clue as to what it’s about.

The series does not, as the name might suggest, revolve around a cowboy named Bebop. It refers to the fact that interstellar bounty hunters are nicknamed cowboys and the ship of this particular crew is called the Bebop. The initial two-man crew — Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) and Spike Spiegel (John Cho) — are as cliché as it sounds: men on the run from their past and making a living apprehending bad guys for the fare. With limited succes. Add in Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), a con-girl with a spotty past and a corgi, and you get a bunch of misfits that roam human-inhabited planets fighting evil, trying to find love and often literally themselves.

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Jungle Cruise

Jungle Cruise

What do you get when you mix a classic Disney theme-park ride with Indiana Jones and throw in some elements of The Mummy for good measure?

Right: Jungle Cruise.

If you missed it when it was playing in the cinemas, now you have another chance: Disney+ has lifted the movie’s paywall.

The creators took the best of the aforementioned films (and some of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), stuck them in a blender, glued on the basic concept of the ride and went with it.

And it works.

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Vintage Halloween Graphics

Halloween Vintage Holiday Graphics

Happy Halloween everyone!

Going by our annual Halloween tradition, here’s a review of Vintage Halloween Graphics! It’s a compact, A5-sized little pictorial full of midcentury Halloween imagery. And contrary to last year’s Bogie Book (review here), absolutely one to add to your collection if you’re looking to add a vintage flair to your Halloween celebrations.

This book is especially fun because it has a bit of everything: costumes, decorations, advertisements, postcard designs… it’s all there.

If you’re searching for a profound history of Halloween, this is not what you need. But if you just want to look at pictures of the Halloween revelry of days past, I can definitely recommend this.

Don’t take my word for it, though! See for yourself, for I have put together a full flip-through of the book.

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The Dandy Medium

The Dandy Medium

The Dandy Medium is a gaslight-era adventure novel mixing good old-fashioned detective work with the supernatural and paranormal. And does a great job of it too!

Author Dez Schwartz takes the best elements from the genres he mixes, including a detective duo that can easily measure up to Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, but also more contemporary teams, such as Castle and Beckett, with excellent chemistry. Super powered characters that easily could have messed with the story, but don’t, because it’s so masterfully told.

I could go on for quite a while, but this is simple a great book. The story is well written, the pace is excellent, it twists and surprises, it has just the right volume of character and setting background to give you all the information you need and the characters just… work.

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The Sightless City

The Sightless City

Politics, science, intrigue, the supernatural and a murder mystery that seems to be at the heart of it. It sounds like an excellent combo and, yes, at first glance The Sightless City seems to have it all. But while the concept is good, the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s the same old story: warring states, races that don’t get along and an evil mega corporation with an evil mastermind who has been the big bad all along. A Moriarty this guy is not, because that would have made him a better villain. The lead character, Marcel Talwar, a former soldier, could be more like Sherlock Holmes, for he is a detective, but the comparison ends there.

The story does have a few very interesting characters, Talwar being one, feral want-to-be-engineer Sylvaine being another. A bunch of side-characters contribute to the story, but their background, like the setting’s, is sparse, jumbled and chaotic. There is enough to keep the story going, but the lack of depth and detail is disappointing. The Sightless City feels like a grand saga that is missing many of the pieces that would make it grand. In the end, it falls flat.

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Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers

Space Sweepers is an action-packed science-fiction adventure that combines elements from other beloved spacefaring franchises, such as Star Wars, Firefly and Guardians of the Galaxy.

In the not too distant future, Earth is dying, humanity under the influence of an evil mastermind and UTS company CEO (never a good idea to let big tech get too much power!) James Sullivan has moved to Mars. The tiny percentage of people who have been allowed to join him live in a new Eden. The rest are left to rot and live in squalor and permanent debt on Earth or in non-citizen space towns.

Enter the motley crew of the salvage ship Victory, each with their own pasts and reasons to hate UTS, and one special little girl who holds the key to literal salvation.

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Adventureman

AdventureMan

Adventureman is the graphic novel pulp-loving readers were waiting for.

It has grand adventures (obviously), dashing heroes, ghosts, magic, science and interesting villains. It’s a perfect combination of a forgotten past and a remembering present, and never have I ever seen a title “The End and Everything After” that was both so self-explanatory and giving away nothing at the same time.

At least, not until you start reading and the story unfolds.

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Lady Mechanika, Volume 6: Sangre

Lady Mechanika, Volume 6

Lady Mechanika‘s sixth volume (chronologically the seventh), Sangre, disappoints and delights.

As always, the storyline is fantastic. The supernatural theme from Volume 5 (review here) is continued, but with a whole other manner of creature on the opposing side. You don’t need to have read the previous volume to understand the events of Sangre, although I recommend reading the chronologically first story of the series, La Dama de La Muerte (review here).

This edition switches between prologue events taking place 500 years before the story of Sangre, drawn by Joe Benitez and Martin Montiel, and the main storyline, drawn by Brian Ching.

Ching is by no means a bad artist. Its just that he’s not in the same league as Benitez and Montiel. And it shows. You see some of the story’s antagonists in the prologue, and they are much cooler; Lady Mechanika is so much more stunning. Their art is just better.

It’s disappointing, after six volumes of a beloved comic starring a much beloved character, to see the world and its inhabitants portrayed in a different manner that isn’t as pleasing as the original. But that is my only gripe.

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