This story takes place over 100 years after the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars Episode 4). Cade Skywalker is the last survivor of the Skywalker family, an...moreThis story takes place over 100 years after the Battle of Yavin (Star Wars Episode 4). Cade Skywalker is the last survivor of the Skywalker family, and he's turned his back on his legacy. A powerful Force user, trained and raised a Jedi, he decided to forsake the Force after watching the massacre of the Jedi's on Ossus. The Sith have returned, united and strong, and are seeking total galactic unity. Of course, they also want to kill all the surviving Jedi...
I really liked this new Star Wars series. It's fun, it's exciting, and it's Star Wars. Whether you're familiar with the Expanded Universe or not, this series will surely entertain. If you are familiar with the EU, then you'll pick up on some things. For me, I'm wondering how the timelines will ultimately merge together and how the mighty Jedi will fall.
All in all, this was an excellent graphic novel, filled with beautiful artwork and an entertaining script.(less)
**spoiler alert** Green is a prequel and/or a sequel to Ted Dekker's The Circle series. To me, I can't consider it a prequel, as there is too much ext...more**spoiler alert** Green is a prequel and/or a sequel to Ted Dekker's The Circle series. To me, I can't consider it a prequel, as there is too much extra information that would have me feeling lost without having first read the other books. That said, I have read Black, Red, White, Showdown, Chosen, and Infidel, and I enjoyed the original trilogy immensely.
I was excited to learn that Green was coming out, eager to dive back into the life of Thomas Hunter. While Thomas is a main protagonist of this book, he's not the only POV character, and (at times) I felt like the story suffered some because of this.
The book takes place ten years after White. The Circle is suffering. They've been hunted and hounded by the Horde for too long. Their resolve is failing. Many are struggling to follow the command from Elyon, to love the Horde. All are beginning to doubt the existence of Elyon and wonder if he's forsaken them. When Samuel, Thomas of Hunter's son, decides to take up arms against the Horde, Thomas decides to issue a challenge to Elyon, hoping to prove to everyone that he still cares.
Meanwhile, back on earth (2000 years in the past), a strange man walks into Raison Pharmaceuticals and proclaims he has a strange power: the ability to read minds. He wants to travel to Thomas' world and demands the man's blood. Events unfold that will leave both worlds shaking.
The story of Green is about the end of all things, as well as the beginning. Throughout the novel, Dekker alludes to Christian theology (Great Romance, drowning, etc.), offering that the faith and hope of the Circle is the only good. Teelah's power and influence is prevalent and taking over the world, similar to earth today. For the most part, I really enjoy the symbolism and allusions.
For the most part.
There was one large element that didn't quite fit with the theology, in my opinion. The idea of reincarnation. The idea of a second chance. When the Battle of Migdon climaxes and everything ends, I felt let down. Not only was the battle hastily written (and slightly confusing), the aftermath was unexpected. Christian theology was replaced with something akin to Hinduism. Thus, a unsatisfying and predictable ending was thrown in the book.
Overall, I liked the story, but it fails to capture the power and originality the original trilogy held. I felt like some scenes were rushed or pointless, as were some characters. I felt like Dekker dropped the ball at the end. Our life is a one-chance deal, and I think thinking otherwise could be dangerous to a Christian mindset.(less)
The Book Thief is a powerful book. It's a book that I would call beautiful and epic and unique. With personified Death as the narrator, the story is t...moreThe Book Thief is a powerful book. It's a book that I would call beautiful and epic and unique. With personified Death as the narrator, the story is told from a unique perspective that's strangely akin to a human's.
It's hard to describe how wonderful this story is. While it's set in Hitler's reign of Nazi Germany, the story is filled with humor and life. Many times I found myself laughing out loud at something that was said or done. The protagonist, a young orphan girl named Liesel, learns to live with her new foster parents, to make friends in Munich, to follow the Nazi propaganda, to learn how to get on with life during the oppressiveness of war. Her life's story is amazing and inspiring.
Death's perspective describes many things in colors and sounds, and the adjectives throughout this book are as close to realism as possible. It was as if I could reach out and touch what Death was describing. And since Death talks about his life during World War II, the descriptions are surreal and ghastly.
Liesel soon discovers that stealing makes her feel alive, that taking things is her way to stay apart. She turns to stealing books, and the book thief is born.
I liked how Death eased the burden of his tale throughout the story, by foreshadowing what was to come. This caused the novel to be tinged with tragedy everywhere, but it was not overwhelming. And even though I knew the direction the story was headed, I couldn't help but feel sad by the end of the novel. Actually, it made me feel like I should cry, but I couldn't bring myself to.
My favorite thing in the book was the relationships Liesel had with Rudy and Hans. Rudy was her best friend, and the two had a great friendship. Hans was her foster Father, and their love for one another was obvious.
There were many scenes from the book that were memorable, but I hesitate to write on them to remain spoiler free. Suffice it to say that the book was unforgettable.
The only thing I didn't like in the book was that it was marketed as a Young Adult book, targeted for teens. The author, Markus Zusak, did not write the book with a YA audience in mind, but this was decided by the publishers to market it this way (presumably because the protagonist was an adolescent/teen girl.) So if you abstain from YA books, don't let the tag scare you away, it definitely works as an adult novel.
All in all, The Book Thief was a superb novel. Its realism is phenomenal, its story is brilliant, and its characters are believable. I'm likely to remember this story for a long time, and it's one that I can see myself going back and reading again, enjoying it a second time around.
Two of my favorite quotes from the book: "You see, even Death has a heart." "'Don't get caught.' This from a man who had stolen a Jew."(less)
Called to Worship, by Vernon Whaley, is a book that offers a biblical basis for worship. The book is formatted into three parts: Old Testament Worship...moreCalled to Worship, by Vernon Whaley, is a book that offers a biblical basis for worship. The book is formatted into three parts: Old Testament Worship, New Testament, and Worship in Heaven. From these, Whaley dives into giving thoughtful examples of worship, frequently siting Scripture and other published works. (The cited works are enough to warrant an Appendix of sorts, including a bibliography and a section of Notes.)
I found this book easy to read, but challenging to apply. To me, the book felt like I was reading a summary of the Bible with worship-tinted glasses on, which is definitely not a bad thing. Whaley starts off the book with a picture of what Eden was like, when life was perfect and worship of God was complete. Sadly, this did not last, and soon the "Worship Wars" began. The rest of the book deals with the aftermath of the Fall and how Man must fight to worship Yahweh. From Genesis to Revelation, familiar Scripture is analyzed and worship is encouraged.
I can easily recommend this book if you are looking to set your heart on worshiping God. Finishing the book left me desiring to serve Christ better, to live a life full of worship and glory to God. Whaley encourages us to read, pray, sing, and give glory to God in all that we do. While Called to Worship is not a substitute for the Bible, it is a great companion to read to get a feel of what worship could be like.
You can find this book on Amazon. I'll end with two of my favorite quotes from the book.
"The worship battles we face today are often driven by self-interest. Unwilling to accept new, exciting venues for the expression of worship, many folks just stir up conflict....Such personal preferences result in disagreement between brothers and sisters, pastor and parishioners, and their differences of opinion prohibit their worship of God."
"Authentic worship requires a regular worship routine. Abraham was a builder of altars...You need to meet with God at a special time in a previously appointed place that is free of distractions from the world around you,...giving him your undivided attention. He deserves no less." (less)
This was an interesting and alternate take on Batman. Set in Gotham near the end of the 19th century, Jack the Ripper has come from England to America...moreThis was an interesting and alternate take on Batman. Set in Gotham near the end of the 19th century, Jack the Ripper has come from England to America and is causing havoc in Gotham City. This comic was beautifully drawn, slightly macabre and Gothic, but rather predictable. Not the best Batman comic, but not bad, either.(less)
Pride & Prejudice & Zombies came out whilst I finished my studies at the University. I recall when the faint whisperings of such a blasphemous...morePride & Prejudice & Zombies came out whilst I finished my studies at the University. I recall when the faint whisperings of such a blasphemous tale first reached mine ears, and I remember delighting in it. This was before zombies were ubiquitous in the entertainment world, and the introduction of zombies into Jane Austen’s beloved classic was twisted just enough to my liking that I could not but help declaim its brilliance. And so Seth Grahame-Smith’s alterations to Austen’s original masterpiece* made its way onto my extending TBR.
That was a smidgen over three years ago. Since then, the glorious undead have proliferated to a shocking degree. Indeed, they became mainstream and trendy. As such, I never got around to reading P&P&Z… until now.
In essence, this book is a bizarre alternate universe story of old England. The undead—also known as the dreadfuls—roam the beautiful countryside with unstated bloodlust. The five Bennet sisters struggle to maintain ladylike propriety due to their training in the Deadly Arts. Each of the sisters is a lethal zombie slayer, much to Mr. Bennet’s delight. Each of the sisters is unwed and somewhat uncouth, much to Mrs. Bennet’s chagrin.
The basic plot of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies follows the original excepting a few major points (i.e., the revisions have more innuendo than Ms. Austen’s, as well as violence). Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley come into the Bennet’s lives and romance ensues. During it all, however, the threat of the undead grows. Periodic episodes of zombie mayhem arise, and the Bennets are often forced to make quick of the scourge.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The idea is clever, methinks, but its execution quickly grew stagnant. The bizarre juxtaposition of Regency England to ninjas and zombies yielded laughs, yes, but the tension never elevated. I enjoyed all of the different nomenclatures Grahame-Smith created for dealing with the dreadfuls. I also liked the plot surrounding Ms. Charlotte Lucas. But, as I mentioned, too many things grew repetitive and dull.
There was enough intrigue to keep me reading the book, if only to see it to the end. I kept thinking about Downton Abbey while reading the book, picturing a twisted version of the show airing on PBS. I think that I would have enjoyed Pride & Prejudice & Zombies more if the plot varied, or if there were more postulation about the dreadfuls and the scourge. Instead, as often the zombie genre does, this is left up to the Reader to accept as Fact and move on. Usually I’m okay with that, so long as the world is captivating enough. Regency England is not.
So do I recommend reading Pride & Prejudice & Zombies? Maybe. I suppose it would depend on the Reader’s expectations. A true Jane Austen fan may balk at the disgraceful changes, but an Austen fan with a sense of humor might get enough giggles to warrant a read. Me, I can’t say that I’m an Austen fan per se. I only read the book out of mere curiosity. I had more fun imagining how the original readers of Pride & Prejudice would have reacted if Austen had actually published the & Zombies version instead of the original.
----- *That is according to universal acknowledgement, not which is not necessarily reflective of my own opinion. I think perhaps calling the book a masterpiece is quite a high honor, but I'll not get into all that stuff. It's just a "beloved classic" in mine eyes.(less)
I received an ARC of A Circle of Souls in the mail several weeks ago and immediately added it to my pile of books to be read. The author, Dr. Preetham...moreI received an ARC of A Circle of Souls in the mail several weeks ago and immediately added it to my pile of books to be read. The author, Dr. Preetham Grandhi, contacted me through a book review website and asked if I would be interested in reviewing his debut novel. Excited, I said yes. Eventually my TBR pile dwindled and I made my way to A Circle of Souls.
This novel is a psychological thriller and a murder mystery, mixing in with it elements of the paranormal. Any fan of shows like CSI, House MD, or Law & Order will easily be able to relate to the book. While I like these types of shows, I have only read a very few books in this genre, so I started the book in slight trepidation, slight intrigue.
The prologue was riveting and tragic, descriptive and vague, and bloody. It was one of those scenes that you can (morbidly) visualize. A young girl is found murdered in a small university town in Connecticut, and a FBI agent comes to investigate. Another young girl is enrolled into a child psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Her doctor, Peter, notices some peculiar attributes to the girl and a possible connection to the murder. From here, the story takes off until an impressive (albeit short) climax.
Some things I liked about A Circle of Souls. The book was fast paced and read quickly. It kept me up late one night flipping pages until I was too tired to continue. I really liked the care and compassion Peter had for his patients. The idea behind the slaaf was intriguing. The book was logical, succinct, and laid out cleanly.
Some things I did not like about A Circle of Souls. At times it felt like there were too many POV chapter switches in too close a time. I felt some of these chapters, especially early in the book, could be combined into making longer chapters. I felt that some of the backgrounds between characters were too similar. The book was logical, too succinct, and too clean.
Overall, I was impressed by Dr. Grandhi's debut. There were several simple editing mistakes (like not paragraphing between dialogue mainly), this was not too distracting, and the book was an ARC, too. It felt good to read a book in a genre I rarely venture into, and I enjoyed the read. You can find A Circle of Souls on Amazon .(less)
It is no secret that I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. I loved his Mistborn series, and his standalone Elantris was also a thrill-ride. I may be a bit unf...moreIt is no secret that I am a Brandon Sanderson fan. I loved his Mistborn series, and his standalone Elantris was also a thrill-ride. I may be a bit unfair towards Sanderson, but I’ve set the bar high for him and his work, and somehow he still manages to come through.
Warbreaker is an interesting and highly entertaining tale that I can easily recommend for the hardcore fantasy buff, the fledgling bird in the genre, or anyone looking for a story that’ll keep you turning the pages. Vivenna is a beautiful, proper princess that has been engaged to the God King of Hallandren since infancy. This marriage is to end the growing tensions between the small nation of Idris and the pagan lands of Hallandren. Siri, the youngest daughter of the Idris royal family, is an obstinate trouble maker, spending her time doing whatever she pleases. Soon the time comes for Vivenna to be off to T’Telir and wed the vile God King, but not everything goes as planned…
Lightsong the Bold is a Returned god of Hallandren. He spends his days idly drinking and eating, getting into verbal conundrums, and trying to convince his high priest Llarimar that he is not a god. Despite his attempts, the people still worship him, petitioning to him and offering him elaborate gifts in hope of receiving a blessing. Something happens in the Court of Gods and Lightsong becomes fascinated, searching for clues, and stumbling into something greater…
Vasher is a mysterious and powerful figure. A strong Awakener, he never lacks Breath. His black sword, Nightblood, is even more mysterious than he is. Vasher’s intentions are only known to him, but it’s clear that he’s after something grand…
The weaving of characters, ethnicity, and religion throughout this book was gracefully done and masterfully written. The religious system involving colors was unique and completely believable. Like metals were to Mistborn, colors are to Warbreaker, and I found this fascinating.
Though I really enjoyed the book, there were parts that I found tedious and eye-rolling. For the most part, I did not like the character Lightsong. His constant banter and flippant mannerisms had me bored from early on, and I wish this character would have been developed a bit differently. Sure, some of it was funny, and most of it was very clever, but I grew bored of constantly listening to him whine/speak.
In the end, Warbreaker was a great book to read and finish off the year with. By the time I reached the end, I really wanted more pages to read, and that is a good thing. While not up to par with Mistborn (few things are), it was better in some ways than Elantris and worse in others. (That is not to say that Elantris is bad by any means.) If you’re looking for a thought-provoking, entertaining fantasy novel, Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker is it. (less)
"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Welllington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might,...more"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Welllington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could." ----- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a fantastic work of fiction, providing an alternate take on British history circa 1807-1820. To go with this time setting, the author, Susanna Clarke, writes in a style to fit the times, somewhat like blending Charles Dickens and Jane Austen together. The story is intricate and rich. The air of mystery hangs on every page, teasing the reader from the beginning to the very end. The sudden changes in the novel throw the reader down unforeseen paths, leaving his senses constantly on guard. The subtleness of magic permeates throughout England, though there are only two practical magicians. The backdrop of the French Revolution and England's war against Napoleon set the plot in an all-too-real world.
Yes, JS & MN is an amazing work of art. The characters are very well defined and extremely complex. Mr Norrell is England's only practical magician, and he spends all his time collecting books of magic and books on magic, as well as sending his servant Childermass out to persuade theoretical magicians to forsake their studies. Jonathan Strange finds that he can do magic, and he seeks the tutelage of Mr Norrell, quickly mastering technique and rising to become England's second practical magician. Each man is connected in an intricate web of nobility and other well-to-dos, as well as a few lesser men.
Clarke did wonders in her characterization, and there were qualities that I liked and disliked in many of the characters, especially with Strange and Norrell. Of course, Childermass was well defined, as well as Lady Pole and Stephen Black. Ah, there were many folks that I really liked. The plot of the book is also compelling. The folks of England remember back when magic was more common, back in the times of the Raven King, back when magicians conversed with fairies and magic was not lost. The main plot of the book centers around Norrell and Strange deciding to try and return magic to England. Typically, the magic is not explosive and avant-garde, but instead subtle and simple, like making illusions in the rain against the Frenchmen.
Perhaps the most compelling mystery throughout the book is the many references to the Raven King. His character builds throughout the story, through footnotes and lowly folk gossiping. (Clarke uses many footnotes throughout the book to provide additional anecdotes and more info on certain subjects. This aspect seems almost like a history book, perhaps even one that Mr Norrell himself would read...) By the end of the novel, I was eager to learn all I could about the King.
I really cannot say enough about this book. It was funny, witty, suspenseful, exciting, and at times even mundane, but never really boring. There are few idle words in this tome, and I think Clarke knew exactly what she was doing when she was writing each and every part of the book. I savored every quirky story. There were many quotes that I would like to put here, but I feel that I would rob you of something if I did so.
I can't think of any negatives about this Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, besides the fact that it's so large that it's unwieldy and difficult to carry easily everywhere. I strongly urge you to read this book if you want to experience something unlike anything you've read before. While the novel does advance slowly at some points, it is not a boring read. No, it is a wonderful read. It's like taking a trip down an old familiar road, and remembering things sweetly passed. It's like eating chocolate ice cream for the first time. It is superb, and I praise Susanna Clarke for her brilliant debut.(less)
From my blog on 7/30/09... -------------------------------------------------------------
My wife asked me to read Twilight last year, before the movie c...moreFrom my blog on 7/30/09... -------------------------------------------------------------
My wife asked me to read Twilight last year, before the movie came out. I obliged, and went on to state that I would read New Moon before the movie came out for it. I finished the book yesterday, and I will now share my thoughts about it.
New Moon picks up shortly after Twilight ends. Bella is still in love with Edward, the vampire, Cullen. Her birthday is coming up and the Cullen's decide to throw her a birthday party, even though she doesn't want them to. In fact, she doesn't want to celebrate birthdays anymore, and still is trying to get the Cullen's to turn her into a vampire. But something happens at the party, and it sends the Cullen's away from the dark and rainy city of Forks.
Bella is then grief stricken and unresponsive. To me, this was the worst part of the book, reading through several chapters of Bella's depression. I can understand that she misses Edward, that her life is practically over without him there. But there comes a point when too much has been said about it. Where Twilight spent too many adjectives describing Edward's wonderfully beautiful body, New Moon spent too many pages on the loss of love. I think Meyer was trying to show the emotion of despair, and she held it occasionally, but it could have been done better.
Once the grief begins to fade away and Bella starts to semi-live again, the novel gets better. I enjoyed the relationship between Bella and Jacob Black, the Native American teen that lives a few miles away from her home. They become fast friends, and I liked reading about the things they did together.
But everything is not peaceful and perfect in Forks. People are going missing and are reporting large wolves about the woods. Pools of blood have been found, and things forgotten are returning and looking for Bella. Will she remain safe?
I liked New Moon better than Twilight. The story was more fulfilling and exciting, plus the subtle philosophy concerning a vampire's soul provides some time for pondering. Are good vampires eternally damned, or is there a chance for retribution? This question is not answered, but I feel that it will become more prominent with the last two books.
The things I didn't like about New Moon were characterization and the aforementioned superfluous amount of sadness. I feel that Bella is a weak, irrational, selfish character, but perhaps that is what Meyer was hoping for. Maybe she thinks that teens in love are irrational. But the things Bella does throughout the novel really irked me. She says she's concerned with other people, but then she acts completely selfish, and that was a turn off. The way she treated her school friends was annoying; the way she treats Charlie and Jacob is like slapping them in the face and telling them she doesn't care what they think. Speaking of Jacob, he was a character I liked, disliked, and pitied. His love for Bella is strong and obvious, but he sometimes treats her badly. At the same time, he's care-free and fun, which is good for the recovering Bella, but can be negative on her fragile psyche.
Truly the best characters in the books are the Cullen's and the Volturi. They are well developed and intriguing. They are mystical and ancient. I think Meyer did a great job with the scenes involving the vampire families, especially in the latter chapters of the book.
Overall I did not struggle to make it through the book, and I actually was curious to see how the climax would work out, which happened to be satisfying and well written. I'll add Eclipse and Breaking Dawn to my reading list, as I'm now wondering what will happen in the complex life of Bella Swan.(less)