"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.(less)
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 compa...moreThe "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.(less)
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.(less)
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.(less)
"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"]>(less)
"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.(less)
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.(less)
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"]>(less)
"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.(less)
"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"]>(less)
"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.(less)
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. (less)
"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...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 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?(less)
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.(less)
In part two of "The Search," Zuko, Azula, Aang, Katara, and Sokka are still on the search for Zuko and Azula's mother, Ursa. Zuko unearths a shocking discovery and doesn't quite know what to make of this new found revelation. Realizing they need to stick together, Azula agrees to stay with the group as they make their way to Ursa's home town. It's here were the group find out about Ursa's lover, Ikem, and that he ran away into the Forgetful Valley.
Part two was so good! This story is really amazing so far and just a quick page turner. The graphics are simply stunning once again (probably even more so from the first part). One of the best things about part two is the addition of even more flashbacks involving Ursa and little Zuko and Azula which all leads perfectly into what is last seen of Ursa in the television series. The writing was top notch as well, though I did have to laugh at a particular line on the very first page where Azula says to the "spirit" of her mother, "how did you get the jump on me?" Seriously? Azula would not speak that way whatsoever. Azula has a very egotistical, elegant, archaic way of speaking. It felt very out of character, and that's the only part in these first two books that felt out of place. But aside from that, every other line was very much in character.
One of the biggest themes that's presented in this particular book is the theme of sibling love and the things one does for one's sibling. There were some wonderful parallels between Katara/Sokka and Zuko/Azula and then even a brother/sister that pops up in the Forgetful Valley. I have a feeling this is going to be an extremely important theme going into the final part and it's going to be a theme that has some major consequences I'm predicting.
And wow, I still don't know what to make of the shocking revelation regarding Zuko. (view spoiler)[So is Zuko truly going to turn out to be the son of Ursa/Ikem, rather than the son of Ozai? And what does this all mean? In some ways, this reveal changes so much about how I look at the whole Zuko/Ozai/Azula relationship and all of the canon we've been presented with on the show. It seems as if Zuko is actually considering giving up the throne. He tells Aang at one point that he has "an odd sense of hope" which frustrates Aang into saying that the Fire Nation needs a leader like Zuko, not someone like Azula, but Zuko is having a difficult time accepting that. These books are so short, but there's a lot of character growth and development in a matter of pages which I thoroughly enjoy reading. (hide spoiler)]
I seriously am anxious to get into part three. There's quite a few things I'm anticipating and predicting at the moment. I heard a while back that the creators of the television series really wanted to turn this whole story arc into a two-hour movie, but Nickolodeon said no to it, which I don't know why. This is such a huge story, with massive reveals that I can't believe the idea was refused. I am enjoying the reading experience, but I think I still would have preferred to have seen this story in a visual animated format. Shame on you Nick...shame on you....["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In the conclusion to "The Search," Zuko is on the verge of discovering his mother and coming to terms with who he is. Azula is on a path of no return and her insanity reaches a boiling point. And Aang must deal with a difficult spirit in order to help those who need the help of the spirit the most.
Wow! This conclusion. I was certainly not expecting that ending. (view spoiler)[So...Ursa basically lied to Ozai about Zuko's paternity just to see if she could hurt Ozai. Ikem is, in fact, not Zuko's father. I'm actually a bit relieved in some ways because this doesn't mess with what we were presented with on the show. I think the one good thing that came from this story arc was the fact how much it pushed Zuko as a character. In the previous book, we got the idea that Zuko was kind of hoping that Ozai might not be his father and that he might be able to abdicate from the throne. But through the events of this final book, Zuko begins to accept that the "throne is his destiny." And jeez, Azula just totally loses it in this final book. I must confess, I was seriously considering the idea that Zuko was going to accidentally kill her or she was going to someone kill herself. Instead, she just runs off into the forest. I bet that will be a whole other story in the future. (hide spoiler)]
Once again, the artwork was beautiful. The dialogue sounded very much like what you hear in the cartoon. And overall, I think the story was very well told. I do have to say, though, that I do think it felt kind of abrupt at the end. There was so much intensity and then it gets to the climax, and then it's all over. I needed a slightly better transition from all that intensity into the more subdued ending. If you are a fan of the cartoon series, I highly recommend this trilogy. You get to be with the characters you love and I think there's a really fantastic amount of character development between Zuko and Azula in particular.
In "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams, Arthur Dent is having a bad day. His house is about to be bulldozed away, but before that can even happen, Arthur's friend Ford tells him that the Earth is about to be annihilated by extraterrestrial forces. Arthur and Ford escape Earth just in time and they go on a wild journey through space, reading from "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" to help them navigate their travels.
I went into this book with the knowledge that this book is supposed to be funny and a satire of the sci-fi genre. I went into it knowing that it's weird and random. Even knowing all of this still didn't prepare me for just how wildly odd this book is. I'm very split in my feelings. Part of me liked it, part of me found myself bored on occasion. For the most part I did generally laugh out loud at some of the humorous moments presented in this book. Not only is this a satire of the sci-fi genre, but this book delves into some pretty deep stuff and really gets you thinking. There's a lot of commentary about government, economy, digital watches, religion, intelligence, life, and death, and it's all done in a humorous fashion that's, in some ways, subtle.
I think what I liked best about this book was actually the first half before Arthur and Ford run into Zaphod and Trillian, and they are navigating around getting into all sorts of messy scenarios. The book starts off with this very fantastical premise: the Earth is minutes away from being blown up! Arthur is thrown into events and it's hilarious to watch him take it all in, and meanwhile, Ford is almost rather nonchalant and he attempts to explain everything to Arthur. Like I said in the previous paragraph, I found myself laughing quite often, especially in the first half of the novel. There was so much comedy between Arthur and Ford. When Arthur learns that the Earth no longer exists his instant thoughts are as follows: "[...]the supermarket was gone, everyone in it was gone. [...]England no longer existed. [...]The dollar, he thought, was sunk for ever. [...]Every Bogart movie has been wiped. [...]There is no longer any such thing as a McDonald's hamburger" (61-62). I genuinely laughed out loud as Arthur tried to process what had just happened.
In general, I really liked and enjoyed the characters. This book is a little over 200 pages, so there's not much in the way of huge character development or depth. But I still liked the characters for their personalities alone. Arthur basically represents the "everyman," he is the person we are supposed to connect with and experience this journey with. Ford was probably my favorite character. He's an alien, posing on Earth as an out of work actor while he writes and researches "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." I think why I might have liked Ford so much might have to do with the fact that I kind of viewed him as the anti-Doctor (if you watch "Doctor Who" that might make sense). Then there's Zaphod Beeblebrox...I guess the one word to describe him is that he's manic. He seems to be in this constant state of "it's all good, man." Can't say much about Trillian. I suppose I did like her, but she just seemed like the token woman in the team. Then there's Marvin who's a depressed/suicidal android. These characters have nothing in common, but they still team up and when things need to get done they do it.
The reason I rate this book as 3-stars is just because so much of the material in this book flew over my head. I'm not a big sci-fi reader. The technical mumbo-jumbo often overwhelms me. Even some of the commentary flew over my head on occasion because it got just that deep and intellectual. When the book would stay focused on the core characters, I was able to, usually, follow fairly well. But the book would sometimes go off on this random tangents talking about something that I was never really able to follow and was unable to connect it to the plot. Sometimes it felt like Douglas Adams was saying to the reader, "hey, look how clever I am. Look at what I just did there." The narrative made me feel quite stupid, honestly. And I don't like feeling like I'm stupid when reading a book just to make the author look smart and intellectual.
Overall, I did like the book. I didn't love it or hate it. I don't really get all the hype that surrounds it. I do think I'm interested in reading the other books in the series. This book just ends on a cliffhanger...so now I obviously want to know where it's going. If you're a hard-core sci-fi fan, and if you like comedic commentary, I think that's who would enjoy this book the most. If you've not read a lot of sci-fi, this might not be the next book to head to.(less)
"Thor & Loki: Blood Brothers" by Robert Rodi is a graphic novel that tells the story of Loki, God of Mischief, who has conquered the throne of Asgard. Everyone who has ever humiliated him is imprisoned, including his stepbrother, Thor. This four part series shows Thor's infamous foe in a new way, and the throne of Asgard isn't everything Loki thought it would be. "Blood Brothers" is a story about self-discovery and the meaning of destiny.
I had some mixed feelings with this graphic novel. Part of me liked it, part of me was kind of bored with it. Not much actually happened. Considering that this is about Loki, Thor's archnemesis, Loki himself just wallowed in self-pity the whole time and couldn't seem to make a decision about anything. Loki has gained the throne of Asgard, he's imprisoned everyone that he hates, including Thor, Odin, and Sif. This whole story is basically a dialogue Loki is constantly having with himself as he debates about executing Thor, questions his destiny, and realizes the throne isn't what he wanted. All he's wanted is Thor to feel the same humiliation he has felt for many years. If you are looking for a book with tons of action, you aren't going to get it here. This series is one big character study on Loki...nothing else.
Another thing that annoyed me on occasion was the fact that random characters would be introduced and ultimately go nowhere. For instance, early on, there's an appearance by Lorelei. What was her point exactly? It seemed like she was just included for one page just for male readers to drool over her. Loki's stepmother Frigga pops up for a page...okay...that went nowhere. She was just there to verbally abuse him for a few lines. Even Loki's biological mother makes an appearance...and again, went nowhere. Early in the book a cloaked figure enters Asgard and is calling for Loki and villagers keep pointing the direction for the figure to head. So when the figure arrives where Loki is located, reveals itself to me Loki's mother, you think something epic is about to occur. No. Not at all. Loki just houses her somewhere. At least the scenes with Thor, Sif, and Odin were a bit longer and had something to do with characterizing Loki and influencing his thought process over the course of the story.
So let's talk about the art since this is, after all, a graphic novel. Overall, I liked the style and artwork. It had a very gritty nature to it. It was in color, but the colors were muted and dark. The panels almost had a sepia-like tone to them. The story would flashback and forth between the present and to the past where Loki would be thinking about his childhood or some particularly moment where he had felt humiliated. The back and forth was a bit jarring at first. There's no warning that you are heading into a flashback. But for some reason, you know you've just entered one. There's not an abundance of details, but there's enough to set the scene. A lot of the panels are heavy in shadows and shading. My one complaint about the artwork, and this goes for most male artists, was the depiction of women. Jeez, so many partially exposed female chests. Seriously, the women are barely covered in anything. They try to make up for that by having a half naked Loki later on, but ladies, you don't want to see this Loki naked. Tom Hiddleston he is not. As for the writing, overall, pretty descent. A bit too flowery on occasion and exaggerated and over dramatic. Like I said, Loki is so full of self-pity it's not funny. I kept thinking to myself, "shut up Loki, jeez!" The people of Asgard have a very Shakespearean type of language, but the style felt too much on occasion.
The nice thing about this book, since the story itself is only about 100 pages, is that it includes some character designs, along with three additionally comic stories. There is "Journey Into Mystery #85" (which is Loki's first appearance in the Marvel universe if I'm not mistaken), "Journey Into Mystery #112" (about how Odin claimed baby Loki and defeated the Frost Giant, Laufey), and "Thor #12: Diversions and Misdirections" (where Loki is gender-bending and rewriting history). This is horrible, but I had a lot more fun with these three additional stories than I did with the actual main story. These at least had plot and action.
Overall, I think I ended up being disappointed with "Blood Brothers." I think it had a few good moments, but I was ultimately a bit bored with it for the most part. I think I would have given this two-stars had it not been for the bonus material.(less)
"Reawakened: A Once Upon a Time Tale" by Odette Beane is a narrative retelling of season one of the hit ABC television show "Once Upon a Time." The story follows Emma Swan who is living a lonely existence as a bounty hunter, until on her 28th birthday, her long lost ten year old son arrives at her front door and tells her to come to Storybrooke, Maine. Needing to get Henry back home, Emma agrees, believing she's just going to drop him off and leave. But there is some type of mystery and attraction that keeps Emma in town, along with her desire to protect Henry once she meets his stepmother, Regina Mills. Unbeknownst to Emma, 28 years before in Fairy Tale Land, Regina seeks revenge against Snow White and enacts a curse that will throw Fairy Tale Land into a time loop in our world---a world without magic. And Emma is the only one who can break the curse, bring back the happy endings, and restore everyone's memories about who they really are.
Guys...I wanted to love this book. I really did. I am absolutely obsessed with the television show! But this book had so many flaws it wasn't even funny. If you've never watched the show...just leave this page. You can't possibly read this book without having seen the show. So this review is going to contain lots of spoilers and geared at people who have seen the show.
Pros or Why You Should Read This Book
1. We get to be inside Emma and Snow/Mary Margaret's head through this whole book. We get to get inside their head as they have their internal monologues and experience their feelings as particular events happen. For instance, there's a lot of more of Emma's feelings about Graham and her feelings afterwards once he dies.
2. Guess what? There's some deleted scenes in this book! Or, things that just didn't happen on the show. Snow White has a dream sequence at some point where she remembers her mother; when rescuing Prince Charming, Jiminy Cricket attacks King George with a little sword to help Snow White get by; Archie and David are chilling at the Rabbit Hole Valentine's Day night; Emma is almost run over by David; while held hostage at Jefferson's, August comes to the door. There might be a few more, but those are the ones I remember at the top of my head.
3. I love the cover! Such an excellent, beautiful cover. Very pretty with Emma and Snow on it.
Cons or Why You Should Not Read This Book
1. Even though there is the pro of being inside Emma and Snow/Mary Margaret's head...that's just it...they are the only characters we get to experience the story through. And you know what this means? Whole chunks of story and characters are basically ignored and Henry is often used as the mouthpiece to explain missing information. So if you are a Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin or Regina fan, you are going to sadly be disappointed in this book. Their Fairy Tale selves are only ever talked about, unless Snow White shares scenes with them and then you get actual scenes of them in that land.
2. Tagging along with #1 some more: I really feel like major important parts of the story was left out. For one thing, Mary Margaret and Regina don't have that massive confrontation at the jail where Mary Margaret is saying, "Regina I don't know what I ever did to you to hate me so much, but I'm truly sorry." And Regina responds with that whole thing of "Apology not expected. And you deserve this." I can't believe that was cut out! Also, Jefferson's whole explanation of the different worlds and there is not just two but many was left out. Jeez, Jefferson's characterization was pretty wild. He was just made to look like a psycho. All of his character depth was totally left out. And no Rumple/Belle you guys! And if you've watched S2, you also know that Baelfire is extremely important to the story. So no Fairy Tale Land flashbacks to Rumple/Bae.
3. I absolutely hated the characterization of David in this book. I didn't have a problem with Prince Charming, just David---his Storybrooke self. Okay, David is given a very bad light in the series, but that's the whole point. He was once Prince Charming: heroic and noble and always doing the right thing. But David is weak and foolish and wants to please everyone but he can't. But his characterization in this book just made him look far worse than what he is. Plus, I just couldn't stand the David/Mary Margaret relationship in this book. And I loved their relationship on the show, despite how crazy and complicated it was.
4. Not every episode of the show is present. Out of 22 episodes, only 17 are given any type of screen time in this book---and sometimes barely anything! Let me put it this way: if an episode was heavily focused on Emma or Snow/Mary Margaret, those have the longest chapters in this book (usually a little of 20 pages). Other chapters might be about 15 pages or so, and they consist only on events that happen in Storybrooke, not Fairy Tale Land. We don't get "That Still Small Voice," "True North," "Fruits of the Poisonous Tree," "Dreamy," or "The Return." Some of my favorite episodes, like "Skin Deep" and "Hat Trick" are so short and brief!
5. The writing was bad at times. I don't think it was necessarily Odette Beane's fault---I'm blaming everything more on her publisher and editor. Lots of spelling errors. The construction of the book overall seemed kind of hectic. Like I said, if you've never watched the show, this book would be all sorts of confusing to you.
So as you can see...far more many cons than pros. Like I said, I really wanted to like this book. And I'm kind of disappointed with how this book turned out overall. It probably needed a good 400 pages more in order to even begin to encompass every single element of the show. I don't care if this book turned out to be 1000 pages! As long as those 1000 pages were well written and we got to see every plot point I would have been happy.
I'm going to assume there will be a book adaptation for S2 in the future. That book will most certainly have to be told through Emma, Gold, Neal, and Regina's perspectives for that book to even work. I'll probably get that book (if there is one), because I do love the show, and I'm always interested how this adaptations work from screen to book rather than the traditional way of book to screen.
I can't say I even recommend this book. If you're like me and you love the show, by all means, get this book. Have fun. But you will be disappointed when your favorite character or moment is totally deleted. I just think this book could have been presented a lot better than how it was.(less)