"Once Upon a Time: Out of the Past" is the second graphic novel adaptation based off of the hit ABC television series, "Once Upon a Time." In this installment join Killian Jones on an adventure through the Leviathan Shoals; watch Belle continue to be a servant of the Dark One, but helps to protect him from someone from her past; join the Evil Queen as someone from her past seeks to destroy her; and witness the origin story of Jefferson, the Mad Hatter.
This graphic novel, as well as the other one, "Shadow of the Queen," are definitely made for die-hard fans. And if you can't tell from the cover and the synopsis, this graphic novel tells additional stories from some of the show's post popular characters. Just like with "Shadow of the Queen," I immensely enjoyed this and it was just fun to see new stories for these characters. It helps that one of the writers of this graphic novel, Kalinda Vazquez, is also a co-executive producer for the TV series, so basically all of these stories are things that could have been in the show, but were cut for whatever reason (either due to lack of time and lack of placement within the current stories, or just because certain actors couldn't come back, like Sebastian Stan who played Jefferson), so you can look at these stories as unseen canon.
To talk about the layout of the graphic novel in general: the writing was fine. I mean, there's only so much that can be placed on any given page, so for the most part, much of it is a tad bit rushed, whereas on the TV series, things would have been developed gradually and not so quickly. But alas, that is the nature of graphic novels. You get thrown right into things, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. For the most part, the writing felt very much like what you'd hear on the show. As for artwork, I had some similar issues like I did with "Shadow of the Queen." There's clearly four different artists in this book, and the artwork is quite different from story to story, which to me personally is a bit distracting. I would have preferred just one artist for the whole book. But in general, the artwork is fine, the characters look like the characters which is important.
If I had to list my favorite stories in this book, they'd go as follows:
1. Jefferson: by far the best thing about this book, and it's left for last. We finally get the origin story of Jefferson, and find out who the mother of Grace is.
2. Killian Jones a.k.a. Captain Hook: this was a good one. Had quite a sad ending. Leaves you wondering what was real and what wasn't. We all love Hook, so more Hook is always great.
3. Rumple/Belle: an interesting story, one that simply enhances the further development of these two. Nice to see someone from Belle's past have an impact, plus a familiar magical item makes an appearance.
4. Regina: as much as I love Regina, I found her story a bit boring, plus it was the shortest out of the four. Just more of Regina determined to find Snow White and someone who knew Daniel is chasing after her to avenge Daniel.
Overall, loved this graphic novel, so fun, and Jefferson's story is definitely worth the price alone. If you are a fan of the show, this book is a must....more
"Above Us Only Sky" by Michele Young-Stone tells the story of Prudence Vilkas who was born with a pair of wings on her back. Thinking the wings a birth defect, her parents have them removed, but the scars of her missing wings haunts Prudence as she realizes her wings are a birthright, and that other women in her family have had wings as well. When Prudence receives a call from her Lithuanian grandfather, he begins to tell her stories about her ancestors, and the trials their family had to go through as they suffered under the reigns of Stalin and Hitler. "Above Us Only Sky" is a story about family, home, and war and it's time for Prudence to embrace her past and future.
First off, won this on Goodreads giveaways, so thank you Goodreads.
I haven't read "The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton yet, but if you have, "Above Us Only Sky" sounds fairly similar to the synopsis of "Ava Lavender." Both novels feature a woman born with wings as they have to discover their birthright. If you liked "Ava Lavender," you might want to give this a go.
Couldn't quite give the book 4-stars. Very close, though. Let's start off with the good stuff: this book is beautifully written. Gorgeous descriptions, wonderful themes of acceptance and family, and a very symbolic book. In general, I like the idea of the book: girl born with wings, they are removed, the missing wings often feel like a ghostly presence. The novel also has so many connecting pieces. Things that you didn't think were important, become important. Characters you didn't think were important become important. The narrative is weaved together quite beautifully as all the dots connect. I think my favorite parts of the book dealt with the historical aspect, as Young-Stone would go back to WWII and tell the story of Prudence's grandparents and her ancestors. It's Prudence's grandfather's stories that provide a means for Prudence to learn about her history and realize that her wings weren't some defect. Like I said, a lot of symbolism and themes taking place on Prudence's journey, the notion of Prudence learning to fly without her wings, also the fact that Prudence is an ornithologist. It's also the story of gaining back one's birtright, returning back to the land you were exiled from, which is the story of Old Man, Prudence's grandfather.
The reason for my 3-stars mostly has to do with the first half of the novel. Sometimes the narrative felt a bit chaotic, and I felt like I was introduced to too many characters at one time without having enough time to get to know them. The overall frame of the narrative takes place in 2005 as the Old Man is on his deathbed and Prudence is making her way to see him. In between all this we get narratives going back to the 1940s, and then 1989, and also a few other years scattered in between those on occasion. I didn't have a problem with the back and forth narrative. What I had a problem with was not having enough time to get to know Prudence, her parents, her best friend. But once you hit the middle of the novel, this is where you get the Old Man's history and his sister Daina's history. Daina's story provides for a pretty large chunk of the novel, where we don't even see Prudence, and I definitely liked Daina's story the best in the whole novel. The whole novel could have been just fine with her story alone and I would have been happy, that's how much I liked her chapters. So what I'm saying, I think the first half of the novel had a tad bit of a rocky start (though the writing is gorgeous, just had a problem with the character development), and the second half of the novel is the best.
Overall, a beautiful book (I can't repeat that enough). Something very different for me. The novel has this element of magical realism in regards to Prudence's wings. The novel never verges into 100% fantasy. It has a fine balance of mixing in the real world and the notion of what if we had wings? It never seems silly or lame, but very much real. Like I said, if you liked "Ava Lavender," I recommend checking this out....more
"The Last American Vampire" by Set Grahame-Smith is the sequel to "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," following Henry Sturges, the vampire who set Lincoln on his journey to fight the forces of evil. Told in a humorous but often enlightening tale, the story follows Henry through his creation in Roanoke, the early days of America, the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination, the mystery of Jack the Ripper, the dawn of the electric era, the turmoil of both World Wars, and on. And through it all Henry has to find and destroy an infamous vampire who will stop at nothing to bring America to ruin.
I had so much fun with this book. I was a fan of Set Grahame-Smith's "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," and Henry Sturges was one of my favorite characters in the book, so obviously I was ridiculously excited when I found out Seth Grahame-Smith wrote this sequel all about Henry and his involvement with various events and people throughout history. This concept has been done in numerous other books...the idea of taking an event or a person and turning them into a werewolf, or a vampire, or a slayer of some sort. It's basically a gimmick. The concept doesn't work all the time and can be rather hit or miss. Seth Grahame-Smith knows how to do it right, and still be able to tell a fantastic story with some fascinating characters.
Let's start with the cover: epic! Bravo to the cover designer.
A few things to note about this book, whether or not you've read "Abraham Lincoln" (which I'm going to abbreviate as "ALVH"):
1. Should you be sure to read "ALVH" before "Last American Vampire?" Yes and no. Not reading "ALVH" will leave you hanging about Henry and Abe's friendship, which is important. Henry makes comment about a few things that happened in "ALVH" on a few occasions. That being said, I still think you can enjoy this by itself. Henry always places things in context, so I don't think it's ever confusing.
2. "Last American Vampire" has much more gore, sex, violence, and language than "ALVH." "ALVH" was a pretty mild and tame book, considering that it had a lot to do with hunting and killing vampires. In that book, the gore would often be there, but not to the extent like it is in this book. So just be warned that, if I was going off of a rating scale, "ALVH" would be PG-13 and "Last American Vampire" would be R.
3. Just like "ALVH," this book does the whole footnotes and pictures insertions. The footnotes are always fascinating in my opinion. They're either hilarious, or actually enlightening to something in history I might not have known.
Why didn't a give this a 5-star rating, you may be asking? Despite loving this book, I did have a few problems with it that left me a tad bit unsatisfied. This book covers cover 500 years of history. Simply put, Henry has had some sort of involvement in every major historical event. Though the book does have an overall goal and point, the story is almost told in short story segments. There would be one or two chapters focused on Jack the Ripper. A few chapters about the Russia Revolution, a few chapters about World War II, and so on. This did help with reading speed, you're never bored, but it did often make me go, "wait, that was interesting and going somewhere, go back!" Often times I still had a few questions and then the plot would go forward a decade into another historical event. There are quiet a few important people and events in this book that I wanted fleshed out more because they were vital to Henry's character development.
My one other complaint with this novel is the villain (which is incredibly hard not to spoil because I'm dying to talk about it!). Don't get me wrong, the villain is freaking genius! The reveal left my mouth hanging open. Here's what my complaint is: what exactly were the villain's motives? I never fully grasped why this character was doing the things they were doing. Why, why, why??? That's all I found myself doing. The villain, at one point, does sort of explain their motives, but at the same time, as the reader, you feel like, deep down, there's something more going on that's not being said. It was just incredibly frustrating because there was so much potential there to flesh out the villain, as well as Henry. And I think some of my problems with the villain might come from my first point about this book moving along way too quickly through history.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, like I said, so much fun from start to finish. A brilliant concept. An intriguing protagonist with Henry. His personality is the best. He can be serious, funny, cynical, heartbreaking, uplifting. Not only is this book about Henry, it's the story of America. There's just a beautiful theme throughout the book about the mistakes and achievements made in American history, but the people of America still remain, that loyalty still remains. Henry has seen the good and the bad, he has seen what humanity does for itself and others. Despite being a rather humorous book on occasion, I also think "The Last American Vampire" has a lot of heart and emotion to it and the power of the American spirit....more
In volume 2 of "Journey into Mystery" (issues 637-645) by Kieron Gillen, young Loki is still playing his games and no one is ever quite sure what side he fights for. This time around, Loki teams up with the New Mutants, has to stop a civil war between the British Manchester Gods, and extinguish Suturs fire across the nine realms. It's not all fun and games and Loki has to learn what side he's truly on and make willing sacrifices.
So good! Gah! I can't even talk about half of what I want to talk about because it would all be spoilers. Let's just say volume 2 did not disappoint. The action, the story, the characters...it all continues strongly and it's all good fun (with a bit of drama along the way). I'm still surprised by how humorous both these volumes were. I seriously wasn't expecting the amount of times I literally laughed out loud. That's how much of a good time I was having. Kid-Loki is the best. That's all I can say. Instead of being straight out evil (like he usually is), Kid-Loki is just full of mischief, likes to double cross everyone, and looks out for himself, but oddly looks at for those closest to him when it matters. So he's not totally heartless. There's still an essence of childish naivety in him.
I do think volume 1 was a tad bit easier to follow. Volume 1 can get a bit confusing and really "deep"---in which I mean it requires a lot of thinking from the reader. But in terms of the most fascinating stories, I do think that goes to volume 2. I really liked the whole subplot with the New Mutants (I need to read some more with them because they were cool). The big focus on this book deals with the civil war between the Manchester gods and Loki's involvement, which then leads into the arrival of Sutur who is the "big bad" of the whole arc. Volume 1 played a lot with Loki being up to his tricks and getting involved in things he probably shouldn't have been involved in. Volume 2 plays more with the idea of Loki realizing the consequences of his actions. He has to make sacrifices that stay with him for the whole of volume 2. So it gets pretty intense.
Loki and Leah! I could write endlessly about those two. In volume 1 Leah spends the whole time being annoyed with Loki. Loki tries to hit on her in his own amusing fashion, but Leah isn't going to play with his ideas. She's just with him for the sake of the mission that her mistress Hela tasked her with. I liked that with volume 2 we got to see their relationship evolve. Leah does start to see Loki as a friend and Loki begins to see her as a true friend since she's the only person that's on his side during the whole of the story.
Overall, so sad that this arc is over. I had an incredible, fun time with this. And such a great story too! I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. Highly recommend this if you are looking for a nice place to start with Marvel graphic novels....more
"Alias Hook" by Lisa Jensen is an imaginative retelling of J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan," focusing on the infamous Captain Hook. After having an affair with a Caribbean priestess, Hook is cursed to live in the Neverland---a world ruled by a cunning boy who will stop at nothing to play games and wage war. Hook lives hundreds of years without aging, without dying, as those around him die under the hands of the boy, Pan. But one day, a woman arrives at the Neverland---an unheard of thing. This woman will either be the destruction of Hook, or his ultimate redemption to break his curse.
This book was so freaking good! I read "Tiger Lily" by Jodi Lynn Anderson over the summer, and I was hugely disappointed with that book. "Alias Hook" is how a retelling of "Peter Pan" should be. It had everything you love about the original story: pirates, fairies, the crocodile, the mermaid, the Lost Boys. And it displays it's two most popular characters in a whole new light. You have Peter Pan, the boy who refuses to grow up, who is cast as the villain, while Hook is presented as the anti-hero. Jensen took what was great about Barrie's novel and expanded upon it, but also took her own creative licenses in telling the story.
Traditionally, "Peter Pan" talks place in the Victorian era. What I liked about this retelling was that Jensen pushed the narrative up to the 1950s. So the events of the original book have already happened. The book jumps around in time. Sometimes we see the present narrative in the 1950s, and other times we get flashbacks to the early 1700s where we see a pre-Neverland Hook and learn how he got to the island. I really enjoyed this tactic, rather than telling the story from point A to point B. It helped the narrative move along as different things would be filled in. I think the pre-Neverland and early arrival at Neverland were some of my favorites. It was nice to see Hook in an environment out of the regular. We get to see Hook as this witty, educated man, somewhat flamboyant in his attitude and how he likes to dress. He's also very much a ladies man. He's young and carefree. And it's his arrival at Neverland where he starts to lose who he was previously and all he wants is to die. The flashback to how he got the hook for his hand is one of the most spellbounding and eerie chapters. Very well written and certainly gave me chills by how it was executed. As for the other main character, Stella Parrish, she is a very strong heroine. She's lived through World War II, she's witnessed the changing of the times and what the war did to the war, plus she's had her own personal horrors. There was something about Stella that reminded me of Claire Randall from Diana Gabaldon's "Outlander." She's smart and witty, and she lets Hook know exactly what's on her mind. She's a very powerful presence in his life once she arrives on the island. And the Stella/Hook scenes were some of the best. Jensen gave them great chemistry on the page and you kept wondering "will they or won't they?" And like I've already suggested of Peter Pan, he's the antagonist of the novel, which I loved (if you liked the Peter Pan/Neverland arc on "Once Upon a Time," you'll really love this). All Pan wants to do is wage war with the pirates and play games. He's a very frightening character, considering he's just a child. He holds complete sway over how Neverland functions and has almost total control over it's inhabitants.
Overall, a terrific novel. I loved how it was written, I loved the characters, I loved the changes made to the original story. It was just fun from start to finish with a mix of everything: humor, drama, action, adventure, romance...all great! My only complaint with this novel mostly dealt with the last half of the book. For some reason I felt like the narrative got a bit rushed and hectic, and sort of confusing at times, whereas the first half of the novel was set up wonderfully and the narrative took it's time explaining things and getting acquainted with the characters. Not to say that the last half of the book was bad, but just a little random at times and not as wonderfully written as the first half. But yeah, if you like "Peter Pan" and historical fiction, I highly recommend this retelling. This is how "Peter Pan" should be told....more
In "The Queen of the Tearling" by Erika Johansen, Kelsea Raleigh Glynn has been raised in exile by her foster parents since she was a baby. Kelsea is the rightful queen of the Tearling. On her ninteenth birthday she sets off with the Queen's Guard, a brave group of men who are to escort her so she can reclaim her rightful throne. Kelsea's kingdom is in despair. The ruler of a neighboring kingdom, a sorceress known only as the Red Queen, has a tyrannical grip on the people of the Tearling. Kelsea must rely on her own courage and the courage of her Queen's Guard in order to set the Tearling free.
First off, I won this book from the Goodreads First-Reads giveaway.
Prior to reading this book, I had already heard tons of mixed reviews on this book. There's a lot of controversy over the fact that this movie received movie rights (with Emma Watson set to star as Kelsea) before this book was even published. Most people rightfully complained about how does an unpublished book get movie rights when no one has even read the book. What if the book is terrible? That's putting an unbelievable amount of faith in an untested book. So I went into this book feeling quite wary and critical because of these previous facts. But I also went into the book excited because the premise of the book sounds intriguing and fun---most certainly the type of fantasy book I'd enjoy.
Things I Enjoyed 1. I was quite surprised to figure out that this story does not take place in an original fantasy land (like Middle Earth or Westeros). The story actually takes place in a futuristic version of our world where world order has collapsed and everything is set back to more of a Middle Ages setting. Just gathering context clues, the story takes place in England, but an England that is no longer known as England and it's divided up into different kingdoms. Scientific and technological advancements are basically starting over.
2. The characters are fantastic! Kelsea was a great heroine, very realistic, but nor was she totally perfect. Many of the supporting characters were some of my favorites. Queen's Guard men like Mace, Pen, and Dyer were easily lovable. I even adored the Fetch, a mysterious outlaw who everyone is terrified of, but Kelsea is the only one who has seen his face. A great set of villains and antagonists as well---you genuinely dislike all of them.
3. Guess what: no ridiculous romance subplot! That's what I found so refreshing about this book. It's all about Kelsea reclaiming her throne. It's not about Kelsea looking for love (that will probably be book 2).
4. This is adult fantasy. There's no sugar coating anything. There's rough language. Dark and graphic situations, there's nudity, there's unsavory characters with shady morals. So if you can't handle any of that, don't pick this book up. Even though this is adult fantasy, I don't think this book is so fantastical that it's hard to understand or get into. I'd actually recommend this book for people who have never gotten into the fantasy genre, because this is an easy book to get into.
5. The story is very character driven. Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of action when it's needed, but this story is primarily focused on the characters and character interactions. Think of it as being more along the lines of something like the "Song of Ice and Fire" series which is very character and political driven.
Things I Didn't Enjoy 1. Because this story is so character driven, the start of the book was very slow going. It's mostly focused on escorting Kelsea to the Tearling and protecting her. It's a long trip. So there's a lot of getting to know the characters and the backstory of this world, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it did make for the first couple hundred pages being a tad bit difficult to get into. The story doesn't really get anywhere until the halfway point.
2. I said earlier that this book has some great villains and antagonists. The biggest villain of this story is the Red Queen. But she only has about three segments in this entire book. And we learn pretty much nothing about her. A character at one point even mentions that no one really knows what she looks like or what her real name is. All that's known is that she's almost 100 years old and uses dark magic. I found her a bit disappointing because of the lack of her character. She's someone who is mostly just talked about. I would have liked to have seen her in action and her villainy being put to more use. Maybe she'll be a bigger figure in books 2 and 3, perhaps?
3. Vanity. Vain characters. Vain writing. Maybe it's just me, but there seemed to be this constant mention of how people look---whether they are old and ugly or young and beautiful. Kelsea herself is described as been plain and curvy but her one character flaw is vanity about others. She's always looking at men and saying something like, "oh, he's good looking." Or ,"oh, that woman's old but thinks she's beautiful when she's not." Didn't like any of that. Got to the point that it was irritating.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The few issues I had may just be my own complaints, but they weren't bad enough that they put me off from continuing the series. I'm anxious to read the next books now. There were plot threads that were wrapped up, but also some threads that were left hanging. I recommend this for lovers of the fantasy genre and I even recommend this for someone who has had a hard time getting into fantasy. ...more
It's all action and adventure in William Goldman's "The Princess Bride," which features a princess, a pirate, a giant, and a skilled swordsman. A war is verging between the countries of Florin and Guilder, and the princess of Florin is kidnapped by a band of mercenaries who are prepared to murder her. But on their tail is a feared pirate who will stop at nothing to collect the kidnapped princess.
Okay, who hasn't seen the movie adaptation? There's a pretty good chance most everyone has seen the movie. And an even higher chance that most everyone has seen the movie prior to even picking up the book. "The Princess Bride" movie is a cult classic and a huge part of pop culture. You can spout some of it's most popular lines ("my name in Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die" or "he's mostly dead" or "have fun storming the castle" or "inconceivable!") and there's a good chance someone will get the reference. But let's talk about the book...
Talk about a near perfect movie adaptation. What you see in the movie is what you get with the book. The book is brilliantly written. The novel is done in a sort of frame narrative. Fictional William Goldman basically tells the story of how he was first introduced to "The Princess Bride" which was written by (fictional) author S. Morgenstern, and how he came to write the abridgement. Over the course of the novel Goldman inserts asides as to what he cut from the original novel and why, and also gives comedic insight into what's going on with any given particular scene. So in between his commentary is "The Princess Bride" which takes place in the "real" country of Florin a few hundred years ago. William Goldman certainly knows how to write satire and comedy, because there were quite a few instances when I laughed out loud. The book is just plain old fashioned humor. It's a fun time from start to finish. And pure entertainment. So as long as you keep that in mind, don't expect to go into this book and try and take out some sort of overall thematic deep meaning. The book is exactly like the movie is terms of the overall silliness, witty puns, and satiric take on the action/adventure genre. And in some ways the book reads like a fairytale romance gone horribly wrong.
I suppose if I had to complain about one thing, it would have to be the character of Buttercup. In the movie, Buttercup is a rather kickass heroine. She's smart and intelligent and she's a match for any man. In the book...oh dear...Buttercup is rather idiotic, self-centered, and has no true sense of what's going on half the time. I honestly just didn't like book-Buttercup whatsoever. I found her incredibly annoying on most occasions. Not a role model for young women, let me put it that way.
Something occurred to me while I was reading: who exactly is the lead character of this book? And I might even suggest the same about the movie. The book is all about this epic romance between Westley and Buttercup, but in actuality, we don't really learn that much about them. The whole novel is about their "true love" for one another. But Goldman gives lengthy backstories for Inigo and Fezzik, and they are probably the most interesting characters in the whole book, and in some ways, outshine Westley and Buttercup. And I've always felt that way about the movie too, though I do think I far prefer how Westley and Buttercup are presented in the movie---they are far more interesting and likable, that's for sure. And for some reason, with the movie, I believe in their love. I had a hard time believing it in the book.
Overall, I adored this book. Just straight out a fun time. Be sure to collect this edition of the book. It features two introductions by Goldman and the "sequel" "Buttercup's Baby," which also has an introduction by Goldman. This edition also has some gorgeous artwork spread throughout the narrative. If you enjoyed the movie, I think you'll love this book just as much, especially for all the little things that the movie left out....more
"Sepulchre" by Kate Mosse tells the story of two women---Leonie Vernier and Meredith Martin---born a century apart but united in their destiny to discover the secrets of a magical set of Tarot cards, rumored to hold the power of life and death.
I initially wasn't going to bother reading this book. I had a lot of issues with Mosse's other book "Labyrinth." "Sepulchre" is actually book two in the series known as the "Languedoc" series. To make a note of that, I don't think it necessary to read the books in any particular order. "Labyrinth" and "Sepulchre" can both be read as standalone books (and I'm assuming the same cane be said for "Citadel," the third book in the series, which I have yet to read as of the date of this review). There are a few returning characters, or mentions of other characters, from "Labyrinth," but it's in no way confusing or out of place. If you do decide to read "Sepulchre" first, one particular character may be a bit mysterious and you never get the full story---so if you want the full story, you do need to read "Labyrinth," but again, the order of the books isn't necessary. "Sepulchre" does hit some of the same beats like "Labyrinth" as far as the storytelling goes: two women, some villains, all after the same object, all in the same general area of France, and the discovery of how the characters from the past and the present connect with one another. In some ways, if you've read "Labyrinth," "Sepulchre" might come across as predictable, but I don't think that necessarily a bad thing. The story and characters of "Sepulchre" were far more entertaining, that's for sure.
My primary issues with "Labyrinth" was that I thought it badly written, kind of bland, overly descriptive, and no character development. With "Sepulchre" I feel like Mosse's writing improved immensely. I thought both past and present storylines moved along at a good pace and that there was actual character development. I felt for these characters, I sympathized with them, compared to the characters of "Labyrinth." I will say that the final 10% of this novel got a bit hectic and confusing for me, but overall, I find the storytelling quite captivating. And no overabundance of description! With "Labyrinth" I felt like Mosse got overly into telling about the landscape and history of France. With "Sepulchre," there is description, but not so much that it's distracting and takes away from the characters and plot.
I guess my only complaint with this novel had to do with the magical Tarot cards. The main characters, Leonie and Meredith, come across the Tarot deck in different ways, and the deck means different things to both of them. What I didn't quite understand was the purpose of the Tarot cards. The synopsis of the book makes mention that the deck holds the mysteries of life and death...but I never felt like the storytelling stressed that enough. All I knew was that Leonie, Meredith, and the villains were all after the deck...but why exactly? You are never given a reason why.
Overall, my enjoyment of this book far exceeded that of "Labyrinth." If you are someone who did love "Labyrinth," then I think you'll really love this. If you didn't like "Labyrinth," like me, I do suggest at least giving this a try and see if you like it....more
In "Journey into Mystery," issues 622-636, by Kieron Gillen, the God of Mischief, Loki, has been reborn as a child. Loki must rely on his skills of deceit to defeat the villainous Serpent, outwit the lord of Nightmares, and fulfill an ancient prophecy. Notorious as the enemy of Asgard, Loki may actually prove to be the savior of Asgard.
This graphic novel is a must for Loki fans. It's incredibly humorous, full of witty puns and cultural references. Plus, Loki is a mischievous little child no longer the sworn enemy of Asgard. Let me put it this way, this graphic novel isn't for the average person. I'm just now getting into superhero comics (and it's difficult to even know where to start), and I find it helps to try and maybe just focus on a particular character. Being the fan of the "Thor" movies that I am, I decided to focus on Loki. Don't pick up this graphic novel if you've never seen a single Marvel movie. It's pointless. I think if you've at least seen the "Thor" movies, you'll be okay. You'll at least know who the major players are. You may not totally understand the previous history, but I don't think it's entirely necessary to understand everything that happened in the past. I was able to follow along well enough, with only a few hiccups every now and then that made no sense to me. It might also help to know a wee bit of Norse mythology as a backup. So if you can checkmark "seen the 'Thor' movies" and "read Norse mythology," you should be okay going into this. The majority of backstory will be explained.
I don't think I've ever laughed so much while reading. Seriously, I might have giggled about something every page. I thoroughly enjoyed this, despite not being heavily involved in Marvel comics. There are some random cameos by popular characters (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, Ms. Marvel, etc.). But outside of the cameos, I really loved all the leading characters. Kid-Loki was the most amazing thing ever! He's a child, but yet he has very grown up things come out of his mouth every now and then, but he also speaks like a child on top of that. Gillen has a great balance of making Loki someone who is both wise and naive. Flashes of who he used to be as an adult shine through every now and then, but then his young personality really comes through on other occasions. I also love Leah who is the servant of Hela. I thought she was a great opposite to compete with Loki. The interactions between the two are comic genius. There's also Daimon Hellstrom who is perhaps the biggest highlight of this first volume. I didn't think I would like him as much as I did. He's the badass son of Satan and he decides to ally with Loki and Leah to defeat the lord of Nightmares.
There's just some really interesting things with this graphic novel. It's not just a simple matter of telling the story. There's a bit more creativity to it. Sometimes there's a bit of an interactive quality to it. And there are even times when the characters seem to react to the text around them. There's an omniscient narrator telling the whole story. He'll foreshadow events or even poke fun at events. The narrator himself is almost like a character on occasion. There's a terrific part where the narrator is describing a situation (the text of the narrator always appears in a scroll-like box), Loki looks up at the narrator's text, and proceeds to tear down the text and rip it up. Lots of moments like that appear throughout the text where the characters and the narrator interact on a certain level, or even just the characters talk straight forward to the reader.
Overall, this graphic novel was so fun. That's the best way I can describe it. It's not overly serious or takes itself seriously like some graphic novels do. It's just plain fun. It's very kid friendly too, I'd say. Maybe at least 13 and up. No nudity or overly foul language. Loki, who is usually the antagonist, is just so enjoyable to read as a protagonist---or even an anti-hero. Like I said, if you are a fan of Loki, whether in mythology or in the "Thor" movies, I think you'd really get a kick out of this. Plus, Loki gets a hell-puppy. How much cuter can it get? ...more
In "Loki: Agent of Asgard" by Al Ewing, Loki is hired by the All-Mother to go on missions for the protection of Asgard. Loki has to rely on all his wit and abilities to lie in order to get through these missions. He has to break into Avengers Tower, find the sorceress Lorelei, and fight one of the oldest and greatest of heroes.
So. Much. Fun! This was ridiculous. This arc of "Agent of Asgard," to my knowledge, takes place after the story arc involving Kid-Loki. In this new arc, Loki is grown up, but his sneakiness remains. I really enjoyed the stories in this volume, and the artwork was stunning. I'm in love with an animated man, what can I say?
Apparently these Marvel Now volumes are good starting places for people getting into Marvel comics. I do agree with that. This volume did have some confusing elements and callbacks to earlier events, but I do think it's a good starting place overall. Most everything that is mentioned is explained. I recently read the two "Journey Into Mystery" volumes by Kieron Gillen that involved Kid-Loki, so I'm extremely glad I got my hands on those before heading into this. It was nice to have prior context. So as a recommendation, I do suggest getting those two volumes and then this.
I think Marvel is really trying to capitalize off of the Loki fangirls, because that's what this book felt like on occasion, which I don't think is a bad thing. Pretty quick in the story we see a naked Loki in the shower. There's many mentions of him being good-looking (even jokes about him being a member of One Direction). And those clothes! I love the artwork of Loki in general. Very sleek and sexy. The depiction of Loki in this is clearly inspired by Tom Hiddleston's looks in the "Thor" movies.
The writing is glorious. Like with Kieron Gillen's "Journey into Mystery" arc with Kid-Loki, the humor is spot on and just fun. Numerous amounts of pop culture references (there's a brilliant use of "The Princess Bride" in this). "Agent of Asgard" continues what Gillen started by making Loki a likeable anti-hero. He still has his lies and tricks, but you have so much fun watching him get up to no good and messing around with the heroes. Loki isn't a straight out villain like he traditionally is. He's incredibly likeable and recognizes the horrible things he did in his past, and he genuinely wants to change and fight for the good of Asgard.
Overall, such fun! Can I read this again? I want to stop writing and read this volume all over again. Where's volume two? Need it NOW! Like I said, be sure to check out Gillen's "Journey Into Mystery" with Kid-Loki prior to this because I think it will be a far more worthwhile experience. But at the same time, if you don't feel like doing that, this volume, I think, can still stand on it's own.
"Tsarina" by J. Nelle Patrick takes place in imperial Russia at the height of the Russian Revolution. In the middle of this is Natalya, a young girl in love with the heir to the Russian throne, Alexei Romanov. One day, Alexei tells Natalya a secret: hidden in the Winter Palace is a magical Faberge egg, enchanted by Rasputin, that will keep the Romanov family safe from its enemies. But revolution hits, the Romanovs are taken as prisoners, and the magical Faberge egg goes missing. Natalya, along with her best friend, is forced to team up with a young man, Leo, who is part of the Red army. Together they travel through war-torn Russia to retrieve the magical egg in order to restore order to Russia and the Romanov throne.
Wow! I can't believe how much I enjoyed this book. I went into it not expecting too much, expecting that some ridiculous love triangle would somehow emerge, and that the leading lady would turn out to be annoying. Totally wrong on both accounts. Though the summary of the book makes a point of saying that Natalya and Alexei Romanov are in love, this story is ultimately, not really a love story. There are elements of romance, but it's not the prime focus of this book. This book is more of a political story. I love reading historical fiction that takes place during the Russian Revolution, and I was worried there wouldn't be much history presented in this book. History floods this book, and J. Nelle Patrick clearly did her research. Everything to clothing, food, events, people, and architecture is presented in fine detail and never out of place in this book. Like I said, the politics of this time period are the main focus. In J. Nelle Patrick's acknowledgements at the end of the book, she says this rather perfectly, and I think this sums up the theme of this book: "Every line in 'Tsarina' leads to a single truth: that when you forget that those you disagree with are people, not just your faceless opposition, you don't end up proving who is right and who is wrong. You end up with a body count." That is the very basis of this novel. You have the White Army, those who are loyal to the monarchy. You have the Red Army, those who want revolution and for all Russians to be equal. Leo is Red and Natalya is White. They totally don't see eye to eye and they can't understand either sides opinions and feelings. It makes for a fascinating dynamic throughout the story and to see both Leo and Natalya begin to understand what's at stake on both sides in Russia.
As for characters, I really loved this set of characters. Natalya is a strong heroine. She's was born to a noble family, she's interacted with the Romanov family, and she's even been preparing herself to become the next tsarina of Russia. She can be a bit arrogant at times, but she's also compassionate and determined. She could have been a noble lady and simply stood back and did nothing, but she takes action into her own hands. Her friend Emilia is the very essence of the spoiled upper class of Russian society. But even Emilia proves her worthiness in the chase to find the magical Faberge egg. Natalya is the strong one and Emilia is the weaker one, but their differences are really perfect over the course of the novel, and each of them are capable of different things. Leo is a young man who is part of the Red army. He's very idealistic about what the Reds want to achieve and he despises the monarchy for his own reasons. Like I said, that contrast between his ideals and Natalya's ideals are stunning to read and provide some of the most emotional parts of this book.
This is a YA book, and I thoroughly went into this thinking that the characters and plot would turn out to be a disappointment and one dimensional. I am so very glad I was proven wrong. A stunning story from start to finish, very emotional, and the historical elements are placed flawlessly into the story. If you love Russian historical fiction that takes place during this time, I highly recommend it....more
The "Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia" is a photographic collection of the hit BBC television series "Doctor Who." It's an ABC bind-up of every compaThe "Doctor Who Character Encyclopedia" is a photographic collection of the hit BBC television series "Doctor Who." It's an ABC bind-up of every companion, alien, robot, and human that comes in contact with the Doctor. Full of colorful photos and details on every character, this encyclopedia is a must for every fan.
This was a great little bind-up. I've only been watching "Doctor Who" since the new series started in 2005, but I have managed to catch up on at least one episode (or one movie in the case of Paul McGann's eighth Doctor) from every Doctor. This collection goes through 50 years of "Who" so it's full of every companion and creature, as well as profiles on all eleven Doctors. For me, it was great to see all of the creatures and characters from the old series. I found myself on occasion going, "Oh, the new series should reintroduce this character at some point." Not every single character is in this bind-up. It only includes a little over 200 characters, mostly the major players and important one-off characters. So yeah, minor characters don't make an appearance. What's also not included (much to my disappointment since these are some of my favorite episodes) are historical figures.
This is a beautiful bind-up. There's full color photos of most of the characters, very sharp and clear. I will warn you though, if you intend on trying to watch a lot of the old series in the future, this book does contain spoilers like companion deaths or departures, creature defeats, and how each Doctor regenerates into the next Doctor. Of course, "Doctor Who" is still running. This bind-up only goes up to "The Snowmen" Christmas special of 2012, so the rest of season 7, the 50th anniversary and the 2013 Christmas special is not included. It was frustrating reading the part on Clara, knowing that she comes back as a companion, as well as on Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor page it just says "has not yet regenerated." That's the only bad thing about bind-ups in general is that if something is still ongoing, you don't get the complete history.
Overall, a great character encyclopedia. It was fun to read the stuff I did know versus the stuff that is unfamiliar to me. I highly recommend this for all "Doctor Who" fans....more
In "Dorothy Must Die" by Danielle Paige, Amy Gumm lives a boring life in Kansas where she lives with her drunken mother and is constantly bullied at school. One day a tornado magically takes Amy to Oz---a place she thought only existed in books and movies. But Oz isn't the Oz she remembers. Dorothy has been driven by ambition and has put Oz in ruin. It's Amy's mission to restore Oz to it's former glory, and that requires the death of Dorothy.
I really adore imaginative retellings. Whether that be retellings of fairytales or other iconic stories. So obviously I was excited to get my hands on this retelling of L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz." Well...unfortunately, I had some mixed feelings about this book. For the most part I have some good feelings. But I'll start with the negatives and then merge into the positive thoughts. If if hadn't been for some of the things I disliked, this book might have easily been given a 4-star rating.
Maybe I'm just spoiled with the fantastic worldbuiling in Gregory Maguire's "Wicked" series, also a retelling of "The Wizard of Oz." The worldbuilding in "Wicked" is rich and beautiful, but also horrifying and ugly all at the same time. You really feel part of that world and it feels "other." You see all sides of Oz, you see all the creatures and people who inhabit it. With "Dorothy Must Die," I didn't feel like the worldbuilding was as rich and in depth as Maguire's series. Now, I do have to keep in mind that this is only the first book. Maybe in books 2 and 3 the world will flesh out. Like I said, I'm spoiled with the "Wicked" series and Maguire was able to fully flesh out the world of Oz in only one book. I needed more from Paige's version of Oz. It's hard to explain, but I just felt like something was lacking or missing, and I'm not quite sure what. I felt like I only saw a part of Oz or only got to know Oz on the surface level. Maguire's Oz was gritty, desperate, and neglected. Paige's Oz is flashy, glitzy, and gaudy. We constantly learn that Dorothy has put Oz into ruin and that magic is being taken from the land, the winged monkeys are enslaved, and people have to be extremely wary of what they do or else Dorothy gives them a horribly punishment. But then all of that is contrasted with this "blinged" out version of Oz that I found really odd at times and it wasn't really meshing for me.
In general, I had a hard time getting into the swing of this book for the first half of the novel. I was having trouble latching on to Amy's voice. I didn't like how she spoke or thought. She was just full of sel-pity the whole time. Amy was also humorous in the first half, and her humor wasn't working for me and it seemed over done. Her overall voice just seemed all over the place. The start of this book is also incredibly slow and not much even happens. There's a lot of time spent trying to teach Amy about this world of Oz and teaching her how to learn magic and fight, and ultimately figure out how to kill Dorothy. This should have been some of the most interesting material in the book, but I found it all a tad bit boring. I still didn't quite understand the world at this point and I didn't get the purpose of all these new characters Amy had just met.
Don't get me started on the introduction of Dorothy. Let me put it this way: I didn't find Dorothy a believable villain. I'll quote some of the introduction of Dorothy: "This was not the same girl I'd read about. She was wearing the dress, but it wasn't the dress exactly---it was as if someone had cut her familiar blue-checked jumper into a million little pieces and then put it back together again, only better. Better and, okay, a little bit more revealing. Actually, more than a little bit. Not that I was judging. Instead of farm-girl cotton it was silk and chiffon. The cut was somewhere between haute couture and French hooker. The bodice nipped, tucked, and lifted. There was cleavage. Lots of cleavage" (87). And the descriptions of Dorothy continue from there, describing how phony and fake she looks, but also how gaudily attractive she is. Ugh, I didn't like this. Not one bit. This is what I'm supposed to be afraid of? This is the villain of the novel? Sorry, didn't buy it. Why does Dorothy have to look like a "French hooker?" When she speaks, it's childish and whiny and over exaggerated. Honestly, she comes across as a cliche villain that you'd see in a very bad comedy movie. Paige gives some set up that Dorothy returned to Oz and became power-hungry and started stealing the magic of Oz, but I still don't see exactly what has caused Dorothy to become this one. Once again, I have to keep in mind that this is the first book in this series, and perhaps in the next books Dorothy's motivations will be extended and she won't be so horribly cliches. You know that thing about first impressions? That applies to villains too. You want to love to hate a villain. I didn't even love or hate Dorothy, I just found her boring and uninteresting. This may only be the first book, but first impressions must count and you must latch on to characters immediately, whether they be the good guys or the bad guys. I'm still holding out on hope though that Dorothy's role in the story will maximize and she won't be so one-dimensional.
All of that is what I disliked about the first half of the book. So let me discuss what I did like. It took until the halfway point of the novel for me to feel like this book was actually getting somewhere. I felt like Paige had a better handle on Amy's voice and Amy as a character. Most importantly, Amy got away from the group of characters in the first half of the book that I wasn't really gelling with. I didn't care for the witches: Gert, Mombi, and Glamora. Their training methods for Amy made absolutely no sense and went nowhere, I felt. I did like Nox oddly enough. He was training Amy to fight physically. The only thing about Nox I didn't enjoy was how he instantly got drawn into the "insta-love" cliches of young adult fiction. Him and Amy had a "thing" going on pretty immediately. Why? Why? Why? Can't a male character be placed in a book without being the love interest? Don't get me wrong, I do like the idea of Nox and Amy, but their relationship just sort of happens, and then doesn't really go anywhere, so it's just a very conflicting relationship and I don't know exactly what Paige was aiming for. It felt like Paige wanted to introduce a male character for female readers to swoon over. Well, you have to give me something to swoon over and you have to make me believe in Nox and Amy being together. Don't throw them together for the sake of throwing them together. I am excited to see how their relationship develops in the next couple books. I just wish they wouldn't have expressed their feelings in this first book. I like gradual buildup of feelings.
Once Amy got away from the characters of the first half of the novel, I really started enjoying the plot. I'm not going to spoil what happens or where Amy goes, but let's just say that the plot picked up immensely and I felt like Paige's writing really shown in this second half. Oz came to life far better for me in the second half as well. I was able to get a better handle on why people were so terrified of Dorothy and we are introduced to some very interesting mystery elements going on that I'm sure will evolve quite heavily in the next books. This is also where the classic characters like the Wizard, the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion figure in a lot more, which I loved. Can't say that Dorothy started appealing to me more, but I do feel like her character was going somewhere interesting and deep.
Let me say this: it was basically the second half of this novel that saved the whole damn book for me. I was beginning to lose hope. I was so excited to start this series and I'm disappointed with how much I just didn't like the first half of the book. I am still very interested in getting the next books. I still enjoyed it enough that I want to see where the plot and characters are going. If you are a fan of Maguire's "Wicked" series (and if you're someone who doesn't read a lot of YA), you probably won't like this book one bit. But if you did enjoy Maguire's series and you do read a lot of YA as well, then it might be worth your time to go ahead and pick this series up as well.
Starting in 1945 post-war Scotland, "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon tells the story of Claire Randall who is on a second honeymoon with her husband. While out taking a walk, Claire finds herself standing in an ancient stone circle. Suddenly she is hurled back in time to 1743 Scotland. Claire finds herself in the midst of clan battles, various dangers that threaten her life, and even a young Scotsman that tests her fidelity to her husband.
This is one of those books that I've been dying to read for almost a decade now. I've constantly heard good things about it. What finally prompted me into picking this up is the new Starz series airing in August based off of this book. What better time to start, right? I'm going to start with the things I liked about this book before heading into all of the negatives. Let's just say I was conflicted.
Diana Gabaldon's research is spectacular. I can see the amount of work she put into this book---everything from mapping out this world, historic sites, clothing, food, medicine of the period, etc. The book can be a bit lengthy with some of the descriptions, but it's all beautifully done and I get a real sense of being in this time period.
As for characters, I do think I enjoyed the characters for the most part. She was a nurse during World War II, she witnessed firsthand all the dangers the soldiers went through as she attempted to heal their wounds. She is very much a modern woman for the time period. She's very intelligent and independent. She's deeply in love with her husband Frank, though the two of them are having some issues seeing as how they've been separated for most of the war and are just now reforming their relationship. Claire as a heroine was oftentimes hilarious (something I wasn't expecting). She has a great sense of wit and humor---she's by no means dull. But she can also be stubborn and demanding when she wishes. I love that her personality carries over into 1743---a time when women weren't treated with equal rights and they weren't allowed to be outspoken. I was surprised how quickly Claire adapted to suddenly being thrown into the past. She's momentary stunned, but, like I said, she uses her intelligence to realize she has to tread carefully or else she won't be able to return back to her own time. She immediately puts her medical skills to use and she's able to gather respect. Then there's Jamie Fraser, a young Scots warrior who vies for Claire's affections. This causes great conflict for Claire obviously since she has a husband lingering back in the future. Claire and Jamie don't get along at first, but they quickly develop a sort of friendship that develops into something more later. Jamie is young and brash, if not a bit vain, and he's always willing to play the sacrifice. I did have some issues with Jamie about 200 pages in that involved some uncomfortable material that I won't get into as they are spoilers, but these issues made him suddenly unlikable and out of character. Fortunately my dislike of Jamie faded and I fell back in love with him. I also liked many of the side characters. There's Colum and Dougal, two brothers who are in charge of their clan. There's Rupert and Murtagh, two clansmen who often travel with Claire and Jamie. There's the villainous British army officer, Randall, who has some dark and twisted secrets and who also reminds Claire heavily of her husband Frank. I even liked Laoghaire (lear-e), even though she was often jealous of Claire and Jamie's relationship---I liked her as a foil to Claire. Then there's Geillis (gay-lis) Duncan, a modern woman in her own right, who has some hidden secrets. There's lots of characters that populate this story and many of them only appear for a few chapters. But overall, I liked the majority of them.
As a warning, this book is pretty heavy on some issues. If you don't like reading lengthy, explicit sex scenes or rape scenes, don't pick this book up. This book is also graphic with it's language (it's populated by soldiers and Scottish men, what else would you expect?)Claire is quite free with her language as well. The first time she uses the "f-word" in the book is hilarious. Also this book is graphic in terms of showing in detail injuries, lots of blood, some protruding bones, etc.
Let me move on to what I didn't like about this book, thus giving it a 3-star rating.
1. Family tree confusion: I wasn't able to keep the family tree together in my head. I kept losing track of who was related to who.
2. Twist after twist: So many plot twists in this book it wasn't even funny. And because of that, I think that's why I had trouble keeping track of who was related to who. I felt like a lot of the plot twists were unnecessary.
3. Too much plot = too long of a book. Once again, I felt like some plot elements were unneeded. Sometimes the story felt like it was dragging. This book took me an incredibly long time to read. Either things would be uninteresting, or there would be too much character info dumping that was hard to keep in my head.
4. The plot I did enjoy was often skipped over. There's one particular character who provides for some very dramatic, intense parts of the book and we learn some interesting developments, especially in regards to Claire realizing some things. And then the book moves on! In the meantime I'm screaming, "No, wait! Go back! You can't just leave me hanging like that!" This book is essentially a time traveling story. This element is what piqued my interest in reading this book. I wanted the historical fiction aspect of the book, but I also wanted some answers and revelations regarding the time traveling. So when the story would be about to touch on the time traveling, and reveal something, the narrative would suddenly be interrupted and would go someplace else.
5. Out of character moments: Even though I liked Claire and Jamie, there were a few instances where they would do something totally out of character. Claire is independent and speaks her mind. But there's a few places where she suddenly becomes passive and just lets things happen to her. Jamie is fun and naive at the beginning of the story and then suddenly he does some very questionable things that didn't seem in character, providing for some rather uncomfortable, anger-inducing moments that cause you to hate him. As a side note: how often was Jamie bloody, bruised, and broken? I don't think he went this entire book without some sort of injury.
Overall, even though I did have more negatives than positives, I still liked the book for what it was and I am still very curious to continue the series. My main complaints were that the book was too long, unneeded plot, and when it would finally get somewhere good it was often brushed aside. I do recommend this book for historical fiction fans, maybe also if you like a dash of a bit of fantasy to the story. Also recommend to lovers of romance fiction. Like I said, there's very mature subject matter in this book, so make sure you can handle that before picking this book up....more
In "Odin's Ravens," book 2 in the "Blackwell Pages" series by K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr, thirteen-year-olds Matt, Fen, and Laurie have discovered that they are the modern day descendants of the Norse gods and they must fight in the final battle, Ragnarok. Their journey takes a detour in this latest installment as they must travel to Hel in order to rescue a member of their group. Along the way they face new enemies, gain new allies, and each of them learns to discover their true value in the group.
Book 2 was so fun! Just as fun and action packed as book 1, "Loki's Wolves." This book pretty much takes off right after the events of book 2, and Matt, Fen, and Laurie head straight into Hel to rescue one of the Descendants of the North. You don't get much of a recap of the previous book (which I appreciated, seeing as that sometimes bogs down the narrative as a character tries to bring you back into the fold). In the first couple chapters alone the kids fight a two-headed fire giant, meet a four-eyed dog, meet some Viking corpses, cross a dangerous river, and are introduced to Helen, the ruler of Hel. Lots of action that I think younger readers would absolutely enjoy.
What I love about this series is that it doesn't take itself overly seriously. It's a bunch of kids so of course there is still childish humor and the kids fight and don't get along on occasion. But there's still an incredible amount of depth when things slow down and each kid analyzes their role in the group and their own inner struggles. Matt struggles to feel like a true leader and be the embodiment of Thor that the group needs. Laurie wants to prove her worth and not just be "the girl" in the group (she totally gets an awesome bow and arrow set, hell yeah!). In my review of "Loki's Wolves" I said that Fen was my favorite character. He still remains my favorite character in this book as well. Fen struggles the most as always keeps in the back of his mind that he's a descendant of Loki, constantly worried he will flip sides. Add to that he's worries in regards to Laurie. Fen's also not a "people person" so he tries to grow and trust people. The banter between Fen and Matt continues to be hilarious in this installment. I literally found myself laughing out loud at the many arguments between Fen and Matt. As for additional characters, there's still Baldwin who was introduced in book 1. Baldwin doesn't get a lot added to his character in terms of development, but he's a joy to read and I love the things that come pouring out his mouth. He's descended from Balder, a god that was considered the most popular and friendly, and you can easily see that with Baldwin and you instantly fall in love with him. Owen, descended from Odin, had a very quick cameo in the beginning of "Loki's Wolves," and he finally pops up a bit more in this book and even has his own character point of view chapters (the guy has blue hair and ravens. What's not to like?)
Overall, really enjoyed this installment and can't wait for "Thor's Serpent." Once again, I recommend this series for Norse mythology fans, "Percy Jackson" fans, and kids who would enjoy an action packed story about kids fighting to save the world....more
"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs follows sixteen year old Jacob who, after a terrible tragedy, heads to a remote island off the coast of Wales to discover the hidden secrets of his grandfather's past. It's here where he searches through the remains of Miss Peregrine's home for orphans and comes to discover the tales his grandfather told him years ago about the peculiar children might not just be tales of fiction.
This book has been so hyped and I was worried that I wouldn't like it as much as some people. I ended up really enjoying this. Quite a surprising read, really. From my understanding, Ransom Riggs discovered some old photos of children doing odd things and he worked his novel around those photos. All of those photos appear very creatively throughout the novel, really setting the mood and atmosphere of the book from start to finish.
I won't say that this book is perfect. I do think it has some minor flaws to it. The story has a very fantastical premise and deals with a time traveling and time looping. These fantastical elements were a bit overwhelming on occasion and sometimes it seemed like the the world building was a bit inconsistent. I think the world building got more complicated than what it needed to be. If you can tell by my use of placing this book in my "historical fiction" shelf, I'm terming the book as historical fiction in a very loose way. The majority of the story takes place in the present and Jacob travels back and forth in time only once he reaches the island. I also don't think some plot points were fully fleshed out and brought to a conclusion. And some plot points I was still a bit confused about.
I enjoyed the characters in this book. Jacob was an angst ridden teenager and something horrible happens at the beginning of the book that's sets up the rest of his journey. I will say that I didn't ultimately agree with some of Jacob's decisions by the end of the book (view spoiler)[I was frustrated by how easily Jacob left behind his life and kind of just dismissed his father to join the peculiar children. I get that Jacob's going off to fight this epic battle against the hollows, but still, I didn't like how he treated his father and his former life. (hide spoiler)] Many of the peculiar children were fun to read about. I adored Emma and her spunk (plus she can control fire) and she has a history with Jacob's grandfather. There's the invisible boy Millard; the floating girl Olive; the "I-can-bring-people-back-to-life" boy Enoch; and there's a host of other children. I did get a bit confused with some of the kids and who had what power. A lot of the kids are introduced at once so that was a bit overwhelming at first. As for Miss Peregrine herself: she was so fun! She enforces order amongst the children and she's the one who knows all the secrets. She's a figure that you can admire and she's very motherly.
Overall, I enjoyed this book so much. A fun ride from start to finish. I honestly didn't know what to expect and the plot twists in this were fantastic. When you start the book, it almost seems like you're getting into some sort of horror novel (especially because of the creepy cover), but I don't think I'd say this story was scary at all. If anything it was more of a mystery. Highly recommend this book for younger readers and adults as well.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
In "The Silent Stars Go By" by Dan Abnett, the Doctor is joined by his companions, Amy and Rory, as they travel to a planet inhabited by a people known as the Morphans. The Morphans have been trying to colonize on this planet for generations, but something odd is happening: winter is getting colder and colder every year, and livestock and people have gone missing. It's up to the Doctor to figure out what is causing the colony to malfunction, and it's here where he meets an ancient foe.
One of the best out of the entirety of the 50th anniversary collection I own ("Festival of Death" remains my top favorite though). The story was fun, to the point, and wonderfully well written. The Doctor and Amy and Rory each had their specific purpose within the confines of the story. And all the new characters were easy to tell apart and fall in love with. Compared to some of the other "Doctor Who" books I've read, this was just nicely planned out and made sense. Not chaotic nor too scientific that it was hard to follow. I guess my one and only complaint about this book is that I didn't feel like Dan Abnett had a good hold on Amy's character. Some of her dialogue didn't feel nature, or didn't feel like the sorts of things you would hear her say on the show. Her voice was just odd on occasion. Basically she didn't sound like Karen Gillan, haha! But that wasn't the entire novel, it was just a few parts here and there where I really noticed. But as for Rory and the Doctor, I do think Abnett had their voices down perfectly.
Overall, a fantastic read. Felt like I was reading something that could have been an episode (man, this would make for a great episode). Certainly within my top 5 of the 50th anniversary collection....more
"Beautiful Chaos" by Gary Russell follows the tenth Doctor and his companion Donna Noble as they race to stop the world's population from being influenced by an alien species that the Doctor encountered in the Dark Ages.
Yeah...that's a bad summary. It doesn't help that I'm still not quite sure what this book was about. On the surface I got it: an alien species who has been around since the Dark Ages are trying to influence the world into a new path of thinking by using a computer virus that will infect humanity---to basically make the human race as a gateway for this alien species to expand and continue to grow their ideas, which in turn would turn humans into super efficient people (at least that's my understanding). But still, I found myself a bit lost on occasion and sometimes I felt like there were leaps in logic. Sometimes the plot would be kind of slow, and then other times it would move too quickly.
The whole sci-fi/fantasy element of the novel may have been as confusing as hell, but what I liked about this book was the character relationships. I think Gary Russell did a good job of capturing the Doctor and Donna's voices. They both have very unique speech patterns and how they go about doing things, so it was important to have them correct to what you see on the show. Also loved the addition of Wilf to the story, which, of course, provides for some great Donna and Wilf scenes. Can't say I liked Sylvia Noble that much (Wilf's daughter). I don't recall ever disliking her so much on the TV show. I found her incredibly annoying in this for some reason.
Overall, "Beautiful Chaos" was an okay book. I don't think it's particularly memorable, which is a shame because I think it had some good potential to be a favorite. There was a little too much going on and too many ideas and people to keep track of. Like I said, the character interactions were the highlight of the book, so if you like that sort of thing, you may like this book....more
"Only Human" by Gareth Roberts follows the Ninth Doctor and his companions Rose and Jack as they deal with a time disturbance involving an out of place Neanderthal. In order to set things right, they get in the TARDIS and go back to the very beginnings of humanity to find out how the Neanderthal got out of his own time, and what they discover involves a set of humans from the far future trying to change the course of human history.
Out of the nine "Doctor Who" 50th anniversary books I've read so far, I think "Only Human" is the easiest to understand and get into. There's not much that overly complicated. The story is quick and action packed and, overall, just a good time. It's not one of the most brilliant stories ever, but it's a great "Doctor Who" fix. Plus, now I've entered where my knowledge of "Doctor Who" starts. The Ninth Doctor only had one season, so "Only Human" was a great way to continue seeing this incarnation of the Doctor. Loved seeing the Doctor/Rose dynamic again, which is always fun. I guess my only complaint is the lack of Jack Harkness. Jack is in a few chapters early on and then some things transpire and he only has a few pages scattered throughout the whole book. And I don't know if it was just me, but on occasion I felt like this book was a bit sexist. Sometimes I felt like the version of Rose in this book wasn't the Rose I was used to on television. She seemed awfully concerned with good looking men, she had some vanity issues, and sometimes I felt like the Doctor was treating her oddly because she was a woman. Plus, the whole ending of the book she spends time in a fur bikini! Yeah...not my Rose at all.
Overall, I did really enjoy this "Doctor Who" book. Fun, entertaining, quick, and very easy to follow. If you are someone trying to get into the "Doctor Who" books, this might be a good place to start....more
"EarthWorld" by Jacqueline Rayner follows the eighth Doctor and his companions Anji and Fitz to EarthWorld: a museum on the planet New Jupiter that displays artifacts and people from Earth's history. All is not right with the museum. Terrorists are trying to destroy it. Three princesses are on a murderous rampage. And history itself is distorted far from the truth.
I have some mixed feelings on this book. There were elements of it that I enjoyed, but overall, I don't think certain aspects of it were well written (it didn't help matters that Jacqueline Rayner dismisses her own novel in the author introduction). The premise itself was really interesting and I think it had a lot of promise. It was going well for about the first 25% of the novel, but then things started to feel a bit sloppy and overly complicated. For starters, I feel like I was missing something, especially in regards to the Doctor, Anji, and Fitz. Is there a previous book (or books) that I should have read before this one? The Doctor apparently has lost some of his memory and he doesn't remember the destruction of his home planet. Anji apparently lost her boyfriend on a previous mission. And there's some weird things going on with Fitz that I won't spoil because I feel like they are important to this book. The thing with the eighth Doctor is that Paul McGann only did the one movie. But his "run" as the Doctor continued in novel format. Compared to all the other "Doctor Who" books I've read, "EarthWorld" doesn't read as a standalone. This book reads more like you have to read all the previous books involving the eighth Doctor in order to fully understand what's going on in this book. Which is a shame, honestly. You can go into this book and understand the plot, but you can't go into this and understand the characters, which in turn makes some of the plot hard to follow in regards to their development.
Overall, an okay book. Not amazing, but not necessarily bad either. Like I said, the premise is really cool. I'd love to go to New Jupiter...minus the homicidal princesses and distorted history....more
"Remembrance of the Daleks" by Ben Aaronovitch follows the Seventh Doctor and his companion Ace as they arrive in 1963 at Coal Hill School. The Doctor is searching for a powerful item that holds the secrets of time travel. But the Doctor isn't the only one looking for this mysterious item. Two rival factions of Daleks are at war over this object and it's up to the Doctor, Ace, and their new human friends to prevent all out chaos and the annihilation of Earth.
If you are a die-hard "Doctor Who" fan, you'll notice that this book is a novelization of a classic episode of "Doctor Who" featuring the Seventh Doctor released back in 1988. Last year (2013 as of the date of this review), BBC America had a monthly special where they released a classic episode of "Doctor Who," starting in January all the way up to the 50th Anniversary in December. So they basically showed an episode for each Doctor. And for the Seventh Doctor, this was the episode they showed. So I was already familiar with this episode going into this book. Quite honestly, this episode wasn't one of my favorites. In general, the Daleks bore me to tears. The only episodes I've really enjoyed with the Daleks are from the new series of "Doctor Who." These episodes would be "Dalek," a series 1 episode with Christopher Eccleston's Ninth Doctor, and "Asylum of the Daleks," a series 7 episode with Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor. I always feel like any episode with the Daleks is just the same thing over and over again, whereas with these two episodes in particular, I think the writers did something unique and different with the Daleks that I wasn't expecting. Like I said, "Remembrance of the Daleks" just wasn't my favorite classic episode, and neither was this book. Out of all the 50th Anniversary books, this is my least favorite for sure.
Why exactly did I not like this book?
1. Like I said, the Daleks bore me and this wasn't an episode I liked for starters.
2. This book felt like constant action and I never felt like I truly knew what was going on. I only know what was going on from the synopsis on the back of the book. Two rival Daleks...blah blah blah...I can't even tell you which side I was supposed to be supporting or who was who.
3. I felt nothing for the characters. There were attempts to humanize some of the characters and allow you to connect with them, but those attempts failed. What I love about the original novels is just that: they are original. You are given fresh stories, fresh characters, and you are given that time to connect. And part of the problem combines with my #2 above. Too much action, too little character development.
So yeah...didn't like this book. And I don't give 1-stars often (incredibly rare if I do). Only get this book if you do happen to like the episode, but even if you like the episode, you might be sadly disappointed. And I guess only get this if you are collecting the special 50th Anniversary editions with the Doctors on the spines. They certainly look awesome lined up on the shelf....more
In "Players" by Terrance Dicks, the sixth Doctor is joined by his companion Peri as they try to figure out who is interfering with the future of Winston Churchill's historic career. To the people messing with history, it is all just an amusing game. It's up to the Doctor and Peri to protect Churchill and insure that history continues on its destined path.
After "Festival of Death" by Jonathan Morris, I think "Players" is, so far, my next favorite in the 50th anniversary collection. All of the books previous to this have taken place either in the future, in space, on other planets, or on Earth in the present (the present as when those Doctors existed). This is the first one that's had a historical setting and the period piece episodes of "Doctor Who" are actually some of my favorites. So this edition in the series was a refreshing change of pace after all of the sci-fi lingo and technology that dominates the other books.
The premise of "Players" was fascinating. I'm not familiar with every episode of "Doctor Who," but I'm not recalling an episode that is like this book. This group of people, who go by the name of the Players, are basically rewriting history just for the amusement of it and they don't care about the consequences. Anyone who knows anything about the Doctor knows that the Doctor doesn't like to meddle in the affairs of history and he likes to leave things as they are and let nature take it's course. So the Players are a big foe with the Doctor and they represent everything he is against. I liked the idea of the Players trying to kill Churchill, and keeping King Edward VIII on the throne instead of him abdicating to his younger brother who later becomes King George VI. And of course with Edward VIII comes Wallis Simpson who was just as fascinating to read in this book as well. That's what I love about alternative history when you can ask the question, if one detail changed, what would be different? How would history, as a whole, change? Terrance Dicks did a fantastic job on putting this plot together and interweaving the Doctor and Peri into Churchill's history. I didn't know where this story was going and I was on the edge of my seat to know if the Doctor would succeed or fail.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. If you're a "Doctor Who" fan and some of your favorite episodes are the historical based ones, I think you'd enjoy this one just as much as me....more
In "Fear of the Dark" by Trevor Baxendale, the fifth Doctor is joined with his companions Tegan and Nyssa as they land on a moon where a team of archaeologists are mining for a priceless mineral. The Doctor and his companions discover the horrors that exist on this moon and have to face their worst fears.
This book was so conflicting for me. Part of me really liked it. Part of me found the whole thing kind of pointless in the end. (view spoiler)[Except for the Doctor, Tegan, and Nyssa, the whole damn cast of characters dies! Like, what? That's why I say this story, in some ways, felt pointless. When you think of "Doctor Who," you think of the Doctor protecting those who need to be protected, and even when everyone doesn't make it out a live, at least he manages to save somebody. No body is saved! You get to know all these fantastic characters, get to learn their backstories, and then poof! Off they go. So that's where my disappointment lies. Maybe I'm just missing the point of the book. (hide spoiler)]
The Doctor himself was a very present figure in this (as, say, compared to "Ten Little Aliens" where I complained that the Doctor had no reason to even be in that story), and Tegan and Nyssa were fantastic companions and they had a real worth and purpose in the plot. I also liked the fact that even though Adric is dead at this point, the Doctor and the girls have numerous occasions where they remember him. And so many of the secondary characters were wonderful to read about. It took me a while to warm up to Jyl Stoker, but by the end of the book she was easily one of my favorites. And even though Lawrence and Cadwell weren't introduced until a good 25% of the way into the book, I quickly latched onto them as well. And who can hate Bunny Cheung?
Overall, the premise for this book was pretty interesting. It reminded me heavily of David Tennant's episodes "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead." The episodes and this book share some pretty similar things, like archaeologists and this notion of fear of the unknown, or fear of the dark/shadows. So I do recommend this book if you liked those episodes in particular.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"Festival of Death" by Jonathan Morris follows the fourth Doctor and his companions Romana and K-9 to a ship in space that holds the ultimate theme park attraction: the Beautiful Death. This attraction allows visitors to witness their death and take a tour of the afterlife. All is not right with the attraction and a malfunction occurs. It's up to the Doctor and his companions to save the inhabitants on the ship.
This is the fourth book in the 50th anniversary collection, and so far, this one is my favorite. "Festival of Death" was enjoyable from start to finish and I felt like Jonathan Morris knew even in and out of his masterfully constructed plot. He knew how to develop the plot, knew how to develop the characters, he knew when to have action, drama, and humor. Everything about this book was perfect. I have had issues with the first three books in the 50th anniversary collection and I'm glad this book picked up.
The plot of this book is so difficult to even explain. When the book opens, you are basically at the end of the story. The Doctor and Romano are witnesses to the end, and apparently all the other characters know who they are. So the Doctor and Romano have to travel back in time a few times to figure out what went wrong and how they can solve the problem. So as a reader, we are given the end, then the middle, and then the end of the book is actually the beginning. Seriously, this could have all been horribly confusing and not very fun, but wow, Jonathan Morris, I have to applaud you. This whole book was so well constructed. I'm not going to say I understood every single element, but sci-fi is a tricky subject, especially if it involves time travel and paradoxes. In the hands of another writer, this book might have gone horribly wrong and made no sense. It's a very intricate plot and you have to pay attention to every little detail. The best way to describe this book is that it's a mixture of "Doctor Who" episodes like "Gridlock" (season 3 episode 3), "Voyage of the Damned" (Christmas 2007 special) and "The Big Bang" (season 5 episode 13).
Overall, like I said, "Festival of Death" is far and away my favorite. There was just so much about it that I enjoyed. I had fun with it. The Doctor was a massive player in the story (unlike the first Doctor in "Ten Little Aliens") and Romano was anything but "the girl" (like Polly in "Ten Little Aliens" and Victoria in "Dreams of Empire.") Romano was a strong female lead and she was very much part of the plot. And K-9...who can hate K-9? He's adorable. I even loved how strongly connected even he was to the plot. If you love the more timey-whimey aspects of the television series, you'll most likely enjoy this one....more
"Last of the Gaderene" by Mark Gatiss features the Third Doctor and his companions Jo Grant and Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. Black-shirted troops appear mysteriously in the town of Culverton, taking over the aerodrome. Strange things are happening to the villagers, and the Doctor figures out that these mysterious figures are set out to colonize the Earth, with the help from a familiar someone from the Doctor's past.
I did enjoy this installment to the 50th anniversary collection. I think it was the easiest one to comprehend after the first two adventures. But not much happened. The book seriously had some great potential. You know how there is a beginning, middle, and end to a story? Well...this book had a beginning for 200 pages, and then an ending with the last 100. Where was the middle? For 200 pages it felt like the book was still trying to introduce the story and more characters (seriously, there's tons of characters in this story who are all hard to keep straight, and who all have their own individual stories within the frame of the novel). Character after character is introduced, and each time we see how the Gaderene (the aliens who are taking over the town of Culverton) are possessing the townspeople one by one. I don't think the novel needed to show 10+ people getting possessed by the weird bug-parasite-creatures. Maybe showing three people, but after a while, the process got repetitive. Outside of this, the novel was great. It was incredibly well written, very detailed, descriptive, and the dialogue and characters were fantastic. Like I said, the majority of the novel felt like one big setup and then you're just dropped right in the very end of the story without their being an inbetween to the story.
As for the Doctor himself...these books are so strange. It's called "Doctor Who," so you expect to see the title character, right? In this installment, the Doctor isn't as present as I thought he would be. A lot of the focus is on various townspeople, Jo Grant, or even on some of the Gaderene. The Doctor is almost like a secondary character in some ways. The Doctor at least participates heavily in the action and is the one who figures things out and sets up the final plans on how to destroy the Gaderene. So he's much more active than the Doctor back in "Ten Little Aliens." The Doctor isn't really put to use until the final conflict. He was still very fun to read and I think his personality as the third Doctor really came through. (view spoiler)[Plus there's the addition of the Master to the story, which really amps up the Doctors character. I was so surprised to see the Master! It was interesting to see how his character fit into the overall story and what his purposes were in helping the Gaderene. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, I did enjoy this book. I liked this one over "Ten Little Aliens" and "Dreams of Empire" I think. Some of the issues I had could have easily been fixed.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
"Dreams of Empire" by Justin Richards follows the second Doctor and his companions, Jamie and Victoria, to a prison in space where a very powerful man is being held prisoner. This man holds sway of an entire empire. His enemies want him dead. His friends want him to lead the Empire. Someone has been mysteriously murdered in the prison, and it's up to the Doctor to discover who is friend and who is traitor.
This book is part of the 50th anniversary set that I received. I don't think I enjoyed this one as much as I did "Ten Little Aliens" which featured the first Doctor. The story itself was fun to read and it did have some interesting characters, but I don't think those characters were developed as much as I would have liked. Plus, the plot was so confusing to me, especially the last 150 pages or so. I was having a fairly easy time following the plot until it got to the point where things started to shift and all the technical, sci-fi mumbo-jumbo took over and I totally lost what was going on.
What I did like about this book was the use of the Doctor himself. In "Ten Little Aliens" I felt like the first Doctor was very passive and just witnessing the story---the story could have been told without him. In "Dreams of Empire" I felt that the second Doctor had a very active role and helped influence events and characters.
I did like Jamie and Victoria overall as companions, but some of their characterization was odd to me. It took me a while to realize that Jamie and Victoria were from different eras of history, which would explain why they didn't understand modern concepts. I only knew Jamie and Victoria were from other eras because I watched all the specials BBC America did that focused on each Doctor and his various companions. This book basically expects you to know who Jamie and Victoria are without giving you any of their previous backstory.
I'm two books into the 50th anniversary collection and I've come to realize that I don't like how the women are portrayed in these books. For instance in this book, there is a woman (Trayx's wife, Helana) who I thought had the potential to be truly badass, but by the end of the book she is just a hysterical female running around crying. What's more, the Doctor sends his companion, Victoria, away when I'm sure he could have used her to assist in the situation. The only other female in this book is Haden and she was the only female who didn't seem stereotyped and she had a purpose to the story. So with this and "Ten Little Aliens" I've noticed that the females are either incredibly whiny and useless, the Doctor disposes of them and keeps the male companion around, or they are overly tomboyish with no female qualities.
Overall, I'm giving this book two stars mostly for the reason that I got so confused from the middle of the story onwards. I found myself zoning out a few times, which isn't a good thing. The story itself did have great potential to be epic, but I would have like the cast of characters to be more developed in order for me to have formed an emotional attachment to them.
In "Ten Little Aliens" by Stephen Cole, the Doctor and his two companions, Ben and Polly, wind up in a hollowed out asteroid where they meet a team of soldiers who are tracking the Empire's most dangerous terrorists. The Doctor, his companions, and the soldiers come across ten of these terrorist aliens, but something strange is going on: the aliens are dead, but the bodies are randomly disappearing. What is the mystery of these aliens, and will the Doctor be able to save the day?
For Christmas I got the entirety of the 50th anniversary set of "Doctor Who" books that were released with a story for each of the eleven Doctors. "Ten Little Aliens" stars the first Doctor and his companions, Ben and Polly. I was worried going into this first book that I wouldn't enjoy it because I'm not familiar with the first Doctor (nor the next six Doctors to come). I thought I would end up being bored and not caring for this Doctor. But I actually ended up enjoying this. I was surprised how much I liked the story and this set of characters. If, like me, you're only familiar with the modern Doctors, this story still has everything you love about "Doctor Who." Gripping story, fantastic set of characters, weird aliens, cheesy humor, and of course, the eccentric, nonhuman Doctor.
Stephen Cole's writing is great. I admit, I didn't understand half the time what was going on plot-wise, but when do I ever fully understand an episode of "Doctor Who?" What matters is the characters and their interactions, and the heart and meaning of the story, which I think Cole did wonderfully. The technical, scientific, mumbo-jumbo gets incredibly hard to follow, but it's still all fun and a page turner. I will say this: this book is probably meant for the more mature "Doctor Who" audience. I don't recommend the kiddies reading this one. There's a lot of sexual innuendo, and the villains of the piece are quite horrific, and some scenes are quite graphic at times. Plus, I found some of Cole's writing to be a bit sexist and racist. I don't know if it was just me, but that's how I felt on occasion. I think the females in this were portrayed relatively well, but I did find Polly to be kind of weak and she was constantly relegated to being left behind or escorted around my the male characters. She seemed a bit passive on occasion, but I do think she took charge a bit more near the end of the book. As for the writing of the Doctor himself, it's a good thing I know who the Doctor is because this book just throws you into the action. You are given no explanation as to who the Doctor is, what his backstory is, nor how/why Ben and Polly are with what appears to be "a crazy old man." Even though this is a “Doctor Who” book, I didn’t entirely see the purpose of the Doctor. I don’t think he really even served a purpose. I felt kind of detached from him because, that was just it, I didn’t understand him, and I think the plot could have well worked without the Doctor. I do think Ben and Polly were used far better in terms of fitting them into the plot, but the Doctor often felt like a third wheel to the party. And for the soldiers: I really liked a lot of them, especially Shade, Frog, Creben, Tovel, and Haunt. Cole had to deal with ten of these soldiers, but he managed to give each and every one of them very distinct personalities and backstories within a very short span of time.
Overall, I really liked this first story to my collection. Can't wait to read the next ten books....more
Veronica Roth's "Divergent" takes place in a future version of Chicago where at sixteen years old, teenagers must choose one of the five factions they want to live in for the rest of their lives. There is Abnegation (the selfless), Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave). It is Beatrice Prior's time to choose her faction, but she comes to discover that she is Divergent---someone who does not belong in one faction. Being Divergent is dangerous as it threatens the system, so Beatrice must learn to adapt and keep her secret hidden.
I finally decided to read this first book since the movie is coming out in March and I wanted to be in the know about what all the hype is about this book. So my thought as I finished the final page: what's all the hype about? Sorry, I don't get it. I did enjoy the book, I will give it that. But I wasn't awed with it or absolutely blown away. This was really more of a casual read for me and a series that I'd like to continue to read, but I'm not going to make it a priority to speed read through the next books.
In some ways, I found this book kind of slow and boring. Not much really happens. The majority of the book is focused on Beatrice's (Tris's) training and her relationship with all her fellow faction friends. I was under the impression that this book was full of action from start to finish, but it's not. It's much more subdued than I was expecting. The good stuff doesn't even happen until the end of the book.
I think the world building by Roth was relatively good. I still don't quite understand this world. The book pretty much sticks to one area and that's because this book is in first person, so we don't get to experience life in the other factions. The one thing I hate about dystopian books is the fact that readers are usually just thrown into that world and we aren't given much explanation as to how this world came to be, and I had that problem with "Divergent." I think the society at large is well explained, but I still need to now the "how" of this world.
Tris as a character...not sure what to say. Part of me liked her, part of me didn't. Sometimes I found her to be a bit boring, and I felt like I didn't really get to know her---like I only got to know her on a surface level. I do think Tris was a very active character in choosing her faction, choosing how she goes about elevating herself within that faction, but at the same time I think she's also a bit passive and just watches everything around her. Let me put it this way, Tris confused me on occasion. Sometimes she could be this really nice, interesting character, but then turn into someone she's not. And I still don't understand the whole thing of being Divergent and the mechanics of all of that in this world.
Four was a pretty cool character. He has lots of secrets and his relationship with Tris is interesting. I do think the romance between them was very gradual. It wasn't thrown together. Well, in some ways it ways, just out of the blue midway through the book, whereas in the first half it was a very gradual thing. But, yeah, Four was awesome. I liked how he had different opinions about his faction compared to some of the higher ups, like Eric.
Overall, I did enjoy the book, but like I said, I don't get the hype and why people freak out over this book. There was nothing wildly spectacular about it, nor did it do anything new and different in the dystopian genre. ...more
"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" by Brian Sibley is the official movie guide to the 2012 movie of the same name based off of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" by Brian Sibley is the official movie guide to the 2012 movie of the same name based off of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit." Full of beautiful artwork, set pictures, costuming, and cast and crew interviews, this movie guide takes the reader through the process of creating a theatrical movie.
This was a nice little gateway into experiencing more of Middle Earth that I so enjoy. I've always appreciated the visuals of "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit," so I always look forward to these official movie guides. What I especially enjoy reading about (as well as looking at the gorgeous photos) are the sections that talk about costuming and props. And as always, I love reading the cast interviews and the interviews with director Peter Jackson.
Really enjoyed reading this. Only took me two days to get through. Great photos and interviews. It was especially fascinating to read the interviews with all the Dwarven characters and how they created backstories for their characters, even though those backstories never made it into the film. But it's still nice to know how much the actors really got under the skin of their characters. And ladies: Richard Armitage, Aidan Turner, Dean O'Gorman, and Martin Freeman. What's not to love?...more
In "Cress," book 3 in Marissa Meyer's "The Lunar Chronicles" series, Cinder, along with Thorne, Scarlet, and Wolf, is on the run from both the government and Lunar Queen Levana. Cinder needs the help of Levana's hacker, Cress, a girl who has been imprisoned on a satellite since she was a child. This mission to rescue Cress goes awry and the heroes must deal with separation and maintain their quest to defeat Levana.
Book 3 was amazing! If you can't tell from the cover, "Cress" is a retelling of the Grimm fairytale, "Rapunzel." And once again, Marissa Meyer never ceases to amaze me with her creative approach to retelling these classic, familiar tales. The story was non-stop action and it starts off with a bang with the rescue mission to claim Cress.
Cress is a vastly different heroine compared to Cinder and Scarlet. Cinder and Scarlet are both very in-charge women, they take matters into their own hands and are willing to make the bigger sacrifices. Cress has been imprisoned on a satellite her whole life, so she's a bit socially awkward and has these delusional fantasies of meeting Prince Charming (who is Carswell Thorne). Cress is Lunar, but she loves Earthen music and television. She loves to sing in the shower and imagines herself as being a great actress. She's a brilliant hacker and can get creative when it comes to problem solving electronic issues. Cress doesn't participate in the big action moments, which she basically leaves up to Cinder, Scarlet, Wolf, and Throne. Though she's not the best in terms of physical prowess, she makes up for that with her intellect and willingness to help. I adored her relationship with Thorne. It was both sweet and awkward. Cress doesn't fully realize Thorne is a womanizer and a man that can talk his way out of any situation. Thorne realizes that he has to be patient and understanding with Cress since she's had no human interaction for a long time. So their differences balance off of each other nicely. I really loved that fact that Thorne's backstory and character got further developed in this book. You get to see him as more than just a ladies man. And I still hold firm to my opinion that Thorne has the best lines of dialogue in this series.
These books keep getting bigger and bigger (I can't even imagine the page count for "Winter"). I guess the length of each book has a lot to do with new characters being introduced and being integrated in with the characters from the previous books. Cinder still gets ample page time in this installment. If anything, I think she has much more going on in this book than she did in "Scarlet." Cinder is still dealing with who she is and the fear that she is going to fail both Luna and Earth. This series is really all about Cinder in some ways. Even when more and more characters are introduced, Marissa Meyer's makes sure that the reader is still following Cinder's journey and reminding the reader that this story is ultimately Cinder's.
I also enjoyed the further development of world building in this installment. The world building keeps getting expansive, filling in gaps, introducing new ideas, and it's all starting to come together cohesively, whereas at the start of "Cinder" this world is very foreign. I think Marissa Meyer is really hitting her stride and I can see her development as a writer.
Overall, book 3 is totally my favorite at the moment ("Winter" might take over though, haha). I can't believe I've read these first three books in a matter of a few weeks and now I have to wait another year for the next book. Again, I love Marissa Meyer's creative takes on this classic stories. She's really upped up my opinions on fairytale retellings....more