I'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would floa...moreI'm going against the crowd in my rating for this book. I loved it. Honestly, I didn't think a book about the Napoleonic invasion of Russia would float my boat (despite my history appreciation), but it did. I loved the mix of military history and murder mystery. I think that the well-done characterization was a deciding factor in gaining my interest. I found the fact that the main characters are part of Napoleon's Army, thus, sort of on the bad guy side, and I rooted for them to survive what history tells me was a devastating campaign added to my high rating. I'm sure that some reviewers could find more things to pick apart in this book, but I found it fascinating. I also give points for the fact that it was very coherent, considering it was translated from French to English. Not a quick read by any means, but a fulfilling one.
While I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't...moreWhile I'm not a big zombie fiction fan, I couldn't resist reading this book about WWI with a supernatural/steampunk twist. And Joseph Nassise doesn't disappoint. It's high caliber action that brings to mind movies like The Dirty Dozen, but twenty plus years sooner. I don't know a lot about WWI, to be honest, but what Nassise writes seems credible. I like that he takes what is known about WWI fighting and integrates some steampunkish and supernatural elements. I think that he builds on the ever-present sense of horror that war inherently has, and that's a firm foundation for a supernatural suspense novel. I can't verify this, but the Germans seemed kind of Nazish already, especially in the blatant defiance of human rights and experimentation on humans. That part was rather disturbing.
I felt the suspense element was a huge appeal of this book. I literally didn't know what would happen and I even had to put it down a few times to get a break. Although I wanted to keep reading. I find zombies really disturbing, and the fact that the Germans are using gas to turn people into zombies is pretty darn awful. I wanted the heroes to open up a can of whip@$$ all over them.
If anything could have improved this was more dialogue and interaction with the members of Burke's team. I cared about all these guys, but I think I would have liked to know more about them. I realize that this book occurs over a short period of time, but this would have enhanced my reading experience. The main villain Richthofen was a "real you know what". He's the kind of villain you want to see get his butt handed to him. But he's a credible villain in that he's not easily defeated. He's enough to give you nightmares, actually. I don't think I'll have any, I hope. But just in case, I tried not to read this before I went to sleep. This book is so much scary as unnerving in that I can put myself in the soldiers' shoes and imagine that sense of constant fear that dealt with in the trenches. If being blown up or shot or gassed to death isn't enough. That's a chance they will be turned into zombies or see their fellow soldiers come back to try to eat them to death! Yeah, that's pretty disturbing.
Overall, this was a very good book. Great action moments. I liked the lead characters, especially Burke. The villain is nasty enough to make him a worthy antagonist. The supernatural/steampunk parts are excellent. They tie into the WWI setting very well. I think with more development of the secondary characters, this book would have been even more effective as a read. I will definitely continue this series, but when I'm in the mood for a creepy zombie novel with good action.
I am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local l...moreI am kind of late posting this review. I wanted to think about it and I got sidetracked by other tasks.
First of all, I am so glad my precious local library had this! I had heard about it and was recommended this book, but graphic novels aren't in my budget. And look how the Lord does provide!
Saga is a fun, fast-paced, visually appealing graphic novel. The art is beautiful and subtle, possessing a clarity I appreciated despite the simplicity of the drawings. The lettering keeps the prose equally clear. I loved the fact that Hazel (the infant that Marko and Alana make together)'s POV is rendered in a different style/font. It threw me at first, but then I realized what was going on. That not only are we seeing this intriguing couple's story play out, but we're seeing there is a future for them, since Hazel must have made it to a certain age in order to narrate. That gave me some hope, since things feel pretty dire for Marko and Alana.
I was recommended this graphic novel on the Fans of Interracial Romance group, which is awesome, and I do have to say the romance is a good driver of this story. I think it shows how fundamental a love story is in many settings. Love and the force it exerts on us and how it drives our actions. Love is not a conflict so much as a precipitator and a facilitator for the movement within a story. In the case of this young married couple, their love for each other drove them to escape from their respective, although reluctant roles in a senseless war, and their love for their baby they made together, drives them to fight for a new life and a safe haven for their family. So it's very organic to the story. Also, there is a strong theme about the foolishness of conflicts and wars and our reasons for hating people who are different from us. This story is practically begging for an interracial/cross-cultural romance. Although Alana looks black and Marko looks white, the color difference is secondary in this novel (and they have strikingly different morphological touches--Marko has ram's horns and Alana has vestigial (underdeveloped) wings). Instead, the bigger disparity is the fact that Alana and Marko are from different planets at war with each other. I really appreciated how these very different people came together and decided to commit to their love for each other, regardless of the obstacles in the way. Their strengths and weaknesses complement each other perfectly, and I can see the respect they have for each other, and their commitment to stand together no matter what.
As far as the conflict and the action, it was well done. I would consider this rustic sci-fi, along the lines of the tv show, Firefly. It also had shades of the original Star Wars films (which is in my mind sort of rustic sci-fi as well). The story keeps active, and the writing doesn't bog the narrative down with going in depth with the sci-fi world-building. This book is quite gory and violent. There is a very explicit scene that I know would be really gross if this was a live action movie, (along with a few others that are pretty in your face) although I can understand what motivated the act. Along with violence, there is a fair amount of profanity and sexual content, including full frontal nudity, and frank sexual situations. Even a disturbing part in which the readers are confronted with the vileness of child prostitution (thankfully no scenes depicting it).
Yeah, so I'm not being very coherent. What I'm trying to say is that I was impressed with this book. It is the beginning of a series I can see myself eagerly following. Yes, it's quite out there as far as sex, language and violence, but the story is good and it gives us two leads that you really like and root for, and of course, their daughter, who is all sorts of intriguing.
War Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book....moreWar Lord manages to be shockingly dark and laugh out loud funny in various parts. John Constantine is an amusing and fascinating fellow in this book. He gives out this vibe of the bumbling ineffectual, who could give a flip about anything. However his ability with magics and the arcane is inestimable. A drunk, chain-smoker, and a bit of a lecher. His sense of morality doesn't seem to fit into the boxes that you might usually ascribe characters. However, he does have a sense of honor, just believes in doing things his own way. All in all, hard to pin down and not one to be taken for granted.
The storyline itself is very harsh. It's about war, and the fact that many use war to profit. That's no secret, but seeing it written down on paper emphasizes the wrongness of glorifying in human suffering, causing it for one's own ends. In this case, a dark cabal is stirring up violence to awake an ancient War Lord to bring about the apocalypse, so they can rule. However, that's not going to go over well, not with Constantine on the opposite side (even if he dislikes the fact that he has to choose sides).
I found myself laughing at some of the admittedly coarse humor. But it was very funny. I loved the side joke in which Constantine remarks about the parallel worlds that exist, one in which he has black hair and wears a black coat, and lives in Los Angeles. That might sound familiar to some folks.
Some parts are off-putting, even repulsive. The dark magics are rather disturbing (in the fact that some folks might choose to go down those roads). However, those who like reading fiction about the arcane and esoteric might appreciate this book. There's even a cameo by a descendant of Aleister Crowley. Some stuff went over my head as far as the Hidden World, but I'm okay with that.
I can't give it a high rating because it has a very slow start and the pace was too uneven in parts. Not to mention the fact that the atrocities committed to see the dark purposes of the cabal to fruition didn't sit right with me (even though they make sense for this book). However, it was a good read and I enjoyed it. So it's easily 3.5/5.0 stars.(less)
What if the only way to save your planet from certain annihilation is to ruthlessly manipulate a young...more**spoiler alert** Do the ends justify the means?
What if the only way to save your planet from certain annihilation is to ruthlessly manipulate a young child into becoming a solder who is skilled enough to destroy billions of your enemy, to make him into a killer?
With Ender's Game, the reader gets to ponder this question. I had many thoughts as I read this story. I didn't always understand what was going on. Like Ender, I questioned where the game ended and reality began. Children in the environment of this book don't get to be kids for long at all, especially when they are genius children. Instead, they become soldiers, training day in and day out to be the best, to win, to conquer their enemies. All for the purpose of defeating the alien race that Earth views as a deadly enemy (called Buggers) in the coming war. I questioned how a six-year-old kid could even grasp this. Even a genius child. As I read, I questioned the ruthlessness of adults who would put a child through these experiences. It takes a certain personality, a particular mindset to able to justify one's actions. It's hard not to judge, but then, I'm not in the same situation. And I was grateful for that.
I just wanted Ender to have some peace and be able to just be a child. I cheered for him to find his way past the many mazes he was manipulated through. I didn't ever lose faith in him, because he had proven himself worthy of my faith. Even though I wondered what was the whole point of everything, I didn't stop believing in Ender. I was glad that Ender managed to find that light that kept him moving forward. Sometimes it was in the form of his beloved sister, Valentine, and other times, it was his fellow students, and sometimes it was the determination not to let them see him sweat. Whatever it was, this kid didn't break. I liked that about the book.
Some things didn't sit well with me as I read. I couldn't always visualize the game setup at Battle School as clearly as I would have liked. Instead of letting this throw me out of the read, I just managed to fill in the blanks around my lack of understanding and keep reading. Maybe Card meant it that way, but it was interesting how warfare became an experience that felt more like playing a video game than a face to face meeting of enemies. I wondered where that was going, but I soon found out, and I was like, "Are you serious?" I don't care much for mind games and boy was there some serious mind-screwing going on in this book. Perhaps his point was that as technology advances, warfare becomes more and more dehumanized, and it takes away the immediacy of the moral questions of taking a life, and using soldiers like pawns on a board to do so. As above expressed, the ruthless treatment of children and its effects hit me hard. They did not make for easy reading for me. On one level, I understand that a lot of psychology goes into training soldiers, and I know that some of it is necessary. I just wonder where the line gets drawn. The aspects of Peter and Valentine's political experiment left me a bit cold. I wasn't sure what Card was trying to get across here. Is the political arena just a big elaborate game in and of itself, a game that has the potential to have very disastrous and wide-reaching effects? Or was he trying to say that age is just a number? Kids aren't really kids, depending on the society and the situation that the child inhabits. Still not sure about either of those conclusions I drew. As close as I can get, anyway. Lastly, the ending got a bit strange. While I appreciated the aspects about Ender gaining an appreciation for the mind (the human-like aspects) of the Bugger civilizations, things got a bit weird and abstract when Ender's empathy with the Buggers became a philosophy that turned into a religion. It felt disconnected from the story to me, and added to a certain lack of satisfaction I felt overall. I appreciate the fact that he examined how war, differing philosophies, external differences, what have you, can separate entities in a way that if we strip down all the differences, there is a lot more alike than we think.
Ender's Game is a well-written work of science fiction that has a lot to say about subjects that can make for hairy discussion. Subjects that I tend to avoid discussing with a ten-foot pole. War is as old as mankind. Literature is a good sounding board to explore those questions of war and humanity. Overall, I think that this novel does a good job of staying in the story and not just acting as a soundboard for the author's opinion. I am sure that others may disagree. For myself, I didn't necessarily feel that it was a preachy work. If it was, I think both sides of the questions were adequately presented in such a manner as for me to feel that this was a book with a story that had some themes that could get a reader thinking. Not mere propaganda for espousing one person's beliefs.
I liked this book a lot, but I felt the ending took it down from a five star rating for me. Also, my sense of disconnection at not quite getting some of the gaming aspects. I'm sure that others better versed in gaming or military strategy, or better read in science fiction might have visualized and understood those elements better than this reader. For what it was, this was a good book, and I can say that I gained a lot from reading it. I still have some philosophical questions running through my head now, and I feel that I have yet to make up my mind about those things, as there are always two sides to every story. So for me, that's a good experience, getting a good story and something to think about in the end.(less)
James McGee takes us to the dark and murky streets of Napoleonic War-Era 19th Century London, England, and the reader is right there with all the sigh...moreJames McGee takes us to the dark and murky streets of Napoleonic War-Era 19th Century London, England, and the reader is right there with all the sights, sounds, smells and feels of the period. I did not get a chance to read the first book, but I was thrilled to find this at the library, since a friend of mine had raved about this series years ago. I am glad I read this book, even if some of the scenery wasn't necessarily enjoyable. This book screams authentic atmosphere, and I like that it shows the darker side of this period that I don't get to see in the Regency romance novels I read that can be very pristine (and often too light in tone) and spend more time in the gilded ballrooms and elegant sitting rooms. You don't get to see the way the real people lived in those. No, this book takes place in the backstreets, and most of the characters are working class, either ex-soldiers, bully-boys, prostitutes and Bow Street Runners, like our hero, Matthew Hawkwood.
Hawkwood is an enigmatic figure. You don't get that far into his head. You see more of how he reacts to situations or his thoughts at being faced with a series of murders that are incredibly disturbing. As the story builds, I obtained a sense of what kind of person he is, and I have to say that his personality appeals to me. He's very plain-speaking and doesn't curry favor. He has a sense of honor and he's like a dog with a bone. He doesn't give up until he solves the case. His sense of justice is hardcore. Money and power don't factor into right or wrong. Of course, that can cause friction when his prey is an insane doctor who thinks he's Dr. Victor Frankenstein and who has prominent connections. Hawkwood isn't the only intriguing character in this novel. I like that McGee is not afraid to give the POV of the 'dregs' of society, including streetwalkers. When I read these kinds of books, it makes me grateful that I don't have to resort to the acts that these characters have to commit to keep food in their mouths. I asked myself where does the line that you don't cross lie. Why is the idea of grave-robbing and selling dead bodies so repugnant? They are dead. It doesn't hurt them. But the idea made my skin crawl. And the resurrectionists in this novel have more heinous crimes on their soul. I also liked that one of the bad guys is a sociopathic female prostitute. Not that it's a good thing, mind you. I liked that it speaks of an unsentimentality on the author's part, what I consider a backward sexism that can be hard to avoid in literature. Yes, women can be so morally bankrupt to kill or to collude with such acts. Men aren't the only ones capable of great evil. And this particular outwardly beautiful young woman is like a sewer inside.
This novel is like a maze that makes you travel a twisted path to its conclusion. When I started it, I had no idea where it would go. And with further reading, I was more surprised at the direction. While some aspects were unpalatable to the extreme, I did like how McGee examines the impact of the war on its survivors. Many of the characters were veterans and were personally affected by the war. Hawkwood is just one of them. They know personally that war isn't just a game. It's deadly serious and its effects are long-lasting. It brings out the worst in people, but it can also create lifelong bonds between people.
I enjoyed this novel in that it was good suspense and a very descriptive view of historical London and the darker side of life in that city. I liked Hawkwood's character. He is a tough and driven man with a sense of justice that continually puts him in harm's way. I hope to read the first book and to continue this series. Recommended to readers who enjoy historical adventure/suspense.(less)
Magician: Apprentice is an appealing introduction into an epic fantasy series that a newbie can enjoy. It offers a young hero who is just at the begin...moreMagician: Apprentice is an appealing introduction into an epic fantasy series that a newbie can enjoy. It offers a young hero who is just at the beginning of his journey to find his purpose in life. Feist offers a fantasy world on the brink of war from a threat that has the capacity to bring great change to Midkemia as they know it.
While the world has a typical medieval-type feel, the variety of races presented give the world an incredible texture. I loved the descriptions of the elves and their way of life, how they are similar and different from the Dark Brotherhood, Elves who have fallen into a darker way of life. I have to say that the dwarves really caught my attention. Their beliefs, values and their skill at fighting and navigating the mines of the Stone Mountains. Of course, loved the dragon!
I wasn't sure about the Tsurani storyline initially, but it takes this story in a different direction from what I initially expected. It sets up an incredible culture clash that takes this novel to a wider focus as the Midkemians have to work together to stave off the invasion of forces from another world.
Initially, it seems that Pug, our young magician apprentice, is the center of this story. But it becomes clear that various characters gain the focus of Feist. Starting out like a coming of age story, and I suppose it continues to be one in some way, this story becomes one about people dealing with their world being invaded by a formidable group of people whose values are completely alien to their own, and who seem invincible.
One detractor I'd have for this story is that it's not a standalone. The story doesn't end on an obvious cliffhanger, but you definitely have to keep reading to find out what happens to all the pivotal characters. With a massively overflowing to read list, I am not eager for too many series to add, but the strength of the story and the good writing here, guarantees I will be back for more.
Fantasy Beginner Rating (explanation: Scale is based on whether this is a good book for beginner fantasy readers or it is better for one who has read a lot of fantasy. High-Good starter book. Medium-Okay for a beginner. Low-May be confusing for a novice fantasy-reader.):
I was really looking forward to reading this after the huge bomb dropped at the end of Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love. What an interesting plot reveal...moreI was really looking forward to reading this after the huge bomb dropped at the end of Fables, Vol. 3: Storybook Love. What an interesting plot reveal, and I was wondering how Willingham would follow up with in this volume. It took me a while to get to it, and I ended up gobbling up the following volumes and Wolves of the Heartland (partly because of a due date at the library and also because the story captivates me so much).
Let's say that I was a happy camper even though this is one of the darkest books I've read so far in this series. I will be real and say that this volume was harder to read. Willingham pulls away any sort of security that you have about Fabletown and the protection of the citizens who ran away from their original lands because of the threat of the Adversary. Because the threat has followed them.
I couldn't stand the wooden soldiers. They were brutal and cruel and hateful. Worse because of their inhumanity. Think of the killer computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Think of spree killers. Yeah, that's a fair association. Maybe that is some sort of metaphor for the violent psychopaths that roam this world and seem to have no intention or cause but to wreak havoc on others. How wonderful to juxtapose the story of Snow and Bigby's awaiting a blessed arrival. Also, the story of the last bastion against the advance of the Adversary's forces...it read like one of those great epics where the warriors have to make their last stand and you know it won't end well (think 300, Glory, The Alamo), but you cheer them on anyway. It was heartbreaking, really. To see each person fall in their defense against the enemy and for Little Boy Blue to have to stand by and watch for a very important purpose.
Honestly, I needed this story because I got to know Little Boy Blue in a different, deeper way. I find that we often underestimate people. We assume they can't possibly have gone through tough times because they seem so innocent, so unsullied. Oh how wrong we are about Blue. His story is really affecting. He has lost so much. I admire him that he has moved on to form a semblance of life. I understand why. He's grown to be a favored character of mine now.
This is one of those books I wish I could read again, because so much happens. I read it fast, and took it all in, but it's something that I need to cogitate on, or ruminate. This is one of those kinds of books that has layers that I think will have more for you on each read. Let me tell you, when I am able to, I hope to buy copies of this whole series for my keeper collection.
Willingham, wow, he's doing it for me. I thought I loved fairy tales before. I finished this fairy tale audiobook that was so meh, I was wondering if they were losing their charm. But I'm glad I started reading this series when I did, because, I needed this. I needed to know I could love books as much as I did before. My bookloving dream was dying because I have had so much trouble connecting with books lately. This has been a good experience for me. Even though volumes like this are 90% painful with so much violence and ugliness and loss. I think like with Snow and Bigby's situation, there is some hope there. We have to walk through the pain to get to it, but it's there, because hope never dies.