Dumped by his girlfriend seven months earlier, Alex finds another birthday has come and gone and he's not quite sure how to get out of his funk. His g...moreDumped by his girlfriend seven months earlier, Alex finds another birthday has come and gone and he's not quite sure how to get out of his funk. His grandmother suggests that Alex might consider a companion android, similar to the one she has. Alex initially refuses the idea, but his grandmother decides to surprise him with Ada, an android designed to serve his every whim and desire.
But Alex soon discovers there is more to Ada than just being a servant and companion to him. Alex decides he wants more for Ada and begins to explore the possibility of awakening Ada to be self-aware and have the ability to make decisions that aren't predicated on whether or not it will please Alex.
The story of Alex and Ada feels like it's just beginning in this collected edition of the first five issues of this comic. The story unfolds leisurely, not rushing over details and allowing the Alex and Ada (as well as the reader) to form a bond. The fact that unlocking Ada's full potential is illegal and could lead to complications later, balanced by Alex's desire that she should be something more than her basic programming allows is deftly handled.
After five issues, I felt like the story was just getting started and that I wanted to know more. I'll definitely look for future issues or a collection to find out what happens next to these two.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.(less)
Future police officer, Dayoung Johansson travels back in time to investigate potential crimes against time by the Quintum Mechanics. This collection o...moreFuture police officer, Dayoung Johansson travels back in time to investigate potential crimes against time by the Quintum Mechanics. This collection of the first five installments of the Image Comic unfolds in two points in time -- the near future and the near past. The linking elements is Dayoung, the titular Rocket Girl.
There are some intriguing ideas in the story, though they aren't as well developed as they could have been, including some of the implications of traveling through time and changing the future.
The artwork in this collected comic is nicely done with visually flourishes given to each time period to set them apart.
Overall, I found myself just intrigued enough to read all the way to the end of the comic but I'm not sure if I'm intrigued enough to continue to follow the adventures of Rocket Girl into future installments.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.(less)
In the post-story bonus features for Last of the Colophon, writer Jonathan Morris says he wanted to script a story that followed in the Hichcliffe-tra...moreIn the post-story bonus features for Last of the Colophon, writer Jonathan Morris says he wanted to script a story that followed in the Hichcliffe-tradition of paying homage to old horror films. In this case, Morris says he realized that the series had never done a Doctor Who take on The Invisible Man and so he decided to give it a try here.
In the world of audio, creating an invisible character is a lot easier than realizing one on our television screens. We're only limited by the budget of our imaginations, but it does mean that we have to get a lot of characters standing around and describing actions occurring.
It's not helped that this one feels not only derivative of the Invisible Man but also of a lot of other Hinchliffe/Holmes era stories. It's got the Doctor trying to take a holiday, the last survivor of an alien race with a different agenda than he or she originally lets on, a madmen trying to escape and get free to rule the galaxy and a series of puzzles to be solved to keep the villain of the piece at bay.
It's not necessarily a bad story as much as it's the feeling of "been there, done that."
The story also includes Gareth Roberts of Blake's Seven fame in the role of the main villain. Again, this is one of those things that were it not for the packaging and special features, I'd hardly have been aware of. I suppose this is good or bad, depending on your point of view.
Sadly, this ends up being the most disappointing of the current run of fourth Doctor and Leela stories I've listened to, so far. Here's hoping they improve things with the next couple of entries.(less)
In the post-"Deadly Assassin" world, most stories featuring the Master attempted to hide him in plain sight until at least the first cliffhanger.
That'...moreIn the post-"Deadly Assassin" world, most stories featuring the Master attempted to hide him in plain sight until at least the first cliffhanger.
That's not the case with "The Evil One" where the marketing material and packaging advertises that Geoffrey Beavers will be resuming the mantle of the Doctor's old foe. Wisely writer Nicholas Briggs turns into this skid and puts the Master center stage well into the first installment of this story and doesn't necessarily try to hide his presence from the audience.
It helps that the scheme the Master has launched this time is an intriguing one, involving manipulating Leela into wanting to kill the Doctor. Manipulating her mind through her dreams and memories, the Master plants seeds of doubt about the true nature of the Doctor and Leela's friendship and relationship, going all the way back to her first appearance in "The Face of Evil."
Don't be surprised if you, like me, want to dust off your DVD of that story and give it another look after listening to this one.
Putting a burden of guilt on Leela over the death of her father and making her question her role and the Doctor's in those events is nicely done and continues an interesting thread that's been developing over the course of this run of fourth Doctor stories. It also gives Louise Jamison some strong material to work with as Leela --and she delivers in spades. As the supplemental features point out, these stories allow the writers to give Leela a bit more character development that was allowed on our TV screens at the time. And it all works well. (less)
Had We Were Liars not cautioned me against revealing too much of the book's ending to anyone, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. The promise of...moreHad We Were Liars not cautioned me against revealing too much of the book's ending to anyone, I might have enjoyed it more than I did. The promise of having the rug pulled out from under me in the final few pages left me pondering what the twist would be and how it would work rather than sitting back and allowing me to slowly draw out the line before setting the hook.
In many ways, it reminds me a lot of the problems I have when approaching an M. Night Shymalyan film. I'm so conditioned to expect a twist that I find myself less concentrating on the story and characters than I do on looking for the seeds to be sewn for the twist or trying to be one-step ahead of the game and guessing the twist ending.
That feeling didn't necessarily ruin We Were Liars for me, but it kept me from having quite the same zen-like experience that other readers have had with the novel.*
* I will note from a perusal of other reviews that the book seems to be fairly polarizing. It seems that readers either love it or they're not necessarily sure the destination was worth the ride.
It's the novel of the Sinclair family and their summers spent on the family island. The first three grandchildren plus a young man named Gat, spend each summer there together, having adventures on the island and growing up together. Our narrator is Cady, who has feelings for Gat.
Two years earlier, Cady waded out into the ocean in her clothes and was found on the beach with a head injury. She experiences short term memory loss, debilitating migraines and other side effects from the experience. She skips one summer on the island to tour Europe with her estranged father and the next summer insists on going back for half the summer in the hopes of reconnecting with her family and figuring out exactly what happened that fateful summer evening. Cady's family can and will tell her what happened, but Cady doesn't recall being told even moments later, leading her mother and doctors to decide she needs to remember what happened on her own.
Over the course of the story, E. Lockhart explores the complicated relationships and history of the Sinclair family. What from the outside appears to be the "perfect" family is instead one built on lying, deceit and manipulation. It seems that grandchildren are just one attempts by various parties to control and manipulate each other and to stake various participants claims to the family legacy.
The novel sets up the coming "pulling out the rug" moment fairly well with enough threads put into place that when it does come, it feels substantial and earned. That said, I'd guessed (part of) what was to come a long time before the big reveal, which allowed me to be both smug at my own intuitiveness and surprised by what Lockhart achieves in the final few pages of the novel.
Told from the point of view of Cady and easily shifting from past to present, We Were Liars is a book is good, but it's not quite one that I'd rate as necessarily being great. It's well written, fun and entertaining but it's not quite the zen-experience (for me anyway) that others have made it out to be.
I believe I might have enjoyed Stephen King's latest offering Mr. Mercedes a bit more if I hadn't recently read and enjoyed Micha...moreTiming is everything.
I believe I might have enjoyed Stephen King's latest offering Mr. Mercedes a bit more if I hadn't recently read and enjoyed Michael Connelly's Blood Work. Both novels share enough points that I found myself wondering if Mr. King was attempting to channel Mr. Connelly in his latest novel. And, to be quite honest, I'll admit I enjoyed Connelly's take on the story just a bit more.
Both stories feature retired law enforcement officers who are drawn into the pursuit of mad-men who have killed before and are looking to do so again. Both of our heroes have reluctant sidekicks who help them overcome difficulties (in the case of Blood Work, it's McCaleb's inability to drive, here it's our heroes' lack of understanding about using modern technology and the Internet) and both of our heroes fall in love with women, though King's novel features a more tragic outcome than Connelly's. Both novels center around a cat and mouse game between the retired law enforcement officer and the criminal in question.
And yet, I walked away from Blood Work feeling far more satisfied than I did here.
In fact, it feels like Mr. Merecedes it could easily slot into the Hard Case Crime series (where King has had great success) with little or no problem. Months earlier, Brady Hartfield stole a Mercedes and ran over a group of gathered job seekers, killing eight and wounding others. Brady has been lying low since that time, working his two dead-end jobs and learning about newly retired police officer, Bill Hodges. Unable to resist, Brady sends Hodges a letter, baiting him to log into an on-line forum so the two can converse. Brady's hope is to drive Hodges to end his own life over the guilt and frustration of being unable to solve the case and bring Brady to justice. But the plan backfires when it instead re-ignites the passion that has gone out of Brady's life and he begins to pursue the killer and try to bring him out into the light.
For the first half of the novel, King has a solid cat and mouse game going. He even gives us some insight into Brady so that while we don't necessarily condone what he does, we at least understand what led to his destructive spree. We can also react in horror as Brady plans another attack in which he hopes to wipe out even more victims. The countdown to this attack helps drive the last half of the novel and is, quite frankly, what kept me going in the second half when my faith in the story began to wane.
Part of the waning is that the book works too hard to have Hodges obsession with bringing down Brady override his instincts. There are several moments that Hodges justifies behavior that would jeopardize a conviction for Brady or possibly stop him before he kills more people and Hodges seems to blow past them in some kind of personal bent to bring him to justice himself. There's not enough made of the need for revenge on Hodges' part to really make this feel like the novel has earned this and it leads to a series of consequences for Hodges. Many of these feel like the moment that Hodges needs to realize he's in too deep and ask for help from the authorities rather than the path he chooses.
It's a shame really because it all undermines what is a solid first half of the novel. King works hard to make Brady and Hodges two sides of the same coin, but it doesn't feel like that character study holds up in the second half of the book.(less)
Secret agent Jack Steele is cut from the same cloth as another famous British secret agent -- including all the same proclivities from dueling over-th...moreSecret agent Jack Steele is cut from the same cloth as another famous British secret agent -- including all the same proclivities from dueling over-the-top villains with delusions of grandeur to fine single beverages to the latest in high tech gadgets and toys. He's also the same love 'em and leave 'em type of guy -- except that Jack has apparently left a string of illegitimate heirs across the years and world from his globe-trotting, world-saving adventures.
When Jack is killed in action, the British secret service turns to his illegitimate children in the hopes of crafting a team of agents with all the skills that Jack had -- minus, of course, the rampant seduction of every member of the opposite sex who crosses their path. Brought together to fight a threat to world safety and peace, the team isn't necessarily interested in saving the world, at first. Then someone kidnaps their mothers and the team has an incentive to work together and try to find out the mastermind behind the nefarious plot.
Collecting together the first several issues of The Illegitimates, the story told here is largely a throw away Bond-homage until the final two issues when a fairly interesting twist is thrown into things. I won't reveal what it is here because it will ruin a lot of the fun of reading this collection, but I will say that it made me sit up and take notice of this comic collection in a way I hadn't necessarily thought possible based on the first three and a half or so issues. In fact, I'd say those first couple of issues are largely fun, but not necessarily ground breaking with the most fun coming in the flashbacks to Steele and his liaisons with the various mothers of the children.
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a digital ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. (less)
Before I started listening Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar, I had no idea who Kelly Oxford was. I was drawn into the (audio) book by the titl...moreBefore I started listening Everything Is Perfect When You're a Liar, I had no idea who Kelly Oxford was. I was drawn into the (audio) book by the title and that I like to listen to memoirs while working out (in this case swimming laps) since if I get distracted for a moment, I won't necessarily miss a crucial detail that plays a huge role in the resolution of the story.
After spending several hours with Kelly, I have to say that it's highly unlikely we'd be friends. Or that I'd even be one of the millions of people that follow her on Twitter. Maybe she's funny, witty or zany over there, but in this collection of essays, I found her smug and with an over-inflated opinion of herself and her own importance.
It's one thing to help create a mental picture of someone by comparing them to an 80's celebrity icon. It's another for EVERY SINGLE PERSON in the book to get this treatment, ensuring that it goes from being clever to being annoying somewhere around the third or fourth portion of the audio book. It also doesn't help that essay after essay brags on a)her looks (usually done by other people) b)her cleverness (again done others) or c)both.
And for all the time I spent with this memoir (because for some reason I felt like at some point it HAD to get better), I never quite got how or why she chose this as the title for her book or if there's be an essay in there that tied everything together. In fact, it finally occurred to me in fifth or sixth segment that Oxford's books felt more like a collection of blog posts than an actual book of essays with a theme or at least a thread running through it.
And I was fully prepared to give the book a single star until I got to the chapter in which Oxford talks about her going back to school and her internships working with brain-damaged and elderly patients. This chapter helps humanize Oxford and make actually begin to like her. Her reactions, observations and reported interactions actually began to make me see there was more to her than the girl who blew all her money so she could get a free plane ride home from a local charity. (If there's one thing that really started to stick in my craw as the book went along, it's how Oxford's self-absorption never seems to have any consequences for her....or at least any she tells us about).
For that chapter alone, the book rose one star to two.
Other that that, not much to recommend here. (less)