There's a predicable story started here, the outsider teen, a RPG gamer even, who finds a mystical artifact is declared the Chosen One to a mystical r...moreThere's a predicable story started here, the outsider teen, a RPG gamer even, who finds a mystical artifact is declared the Chosen One to a mystical realm (often outside our own, in this case lying in hidden parralel). But that's not the good part.
The good part is being inside the head and life of an elite-level female athlete in a low-recognition sport (in this case fencing). Aliera has a compelling voice and sense of place in New York City. You feel the battling priorities of her sport, her family, her school, and her growth into a dating life.
I'm sure I could dig deeper into the meaning of Avery and his ubiquitous smile and beuatiful baby-butt smooth cheeks (her words, not mine). Aliera is certainly aware of the metaphors between fencing and flirting with her coach's assertion to "protect her heart" echoing in her ears. I feel like I need to read all the frog-dissection scenes again with an eye to the end-game reveals.
I'm not sure how to feel about there being a volume 2 to this book, Curses! Foiled Again. It seems obvious that there would be more; and I finished wanting more. The first book is an origin story for a hero and leaves many questions about what the world really is and what agendas are moving unanswered. And yet, I'm nervous that a second volume will focus too much on the adventure and not on the character of Aliera.
If May gets around to reading this and really likes it, we'll get our hands on book 2. If not, I'm happy to let Aliera's future adventures remain a haze of possibilities.(less)
This review covers books 1-5 because I kinda-sort binge-read them all at once.
I'm trying and failing to rememebr where Manda and I saw a review of the...moreThis review covers books 1-5 because I kinda-sort binge-read them all at once.
I'm trying and failing to rememebr where Manda and I saw a review of the Amulet series and decided to add these book's to May's reading (Anyone reading this can add the article as a comment).
Amulet has a very Hayao Miyazaki feel to it with a brother and sister as main characters (mainly the sister) and fantasy land with magic, robots, VTOL planes, airships, mecha, furries, wise talking trees, flying cities, walking houses, and evil elves. The art is quite beautiful and the characters have complex motivations and deep interior lives. The plot is complex with the goals suffering from major scope-creep and allegances shifting over time.
If I had any complaints, they mostly seem to focus around pacing. Having binge-read 5 books, I feel like I wanted more time to settle into some of these settings and set-piece problems. The narrative has a tendency to jump (especially in flashbacks), and I found myself wishing for a long pause among these beautiful places to really build a sense-of-place - just the skill that Miyazaki is the master of in his films. The splash pages just didn't quite have the heft of one of Miyazaki's wind-swept fields of grass or ran-dappled cobblestone streets. But maybe that failure is ultimately mine and I didn't pause where I should have paused.(less)
More myth-building in the valley. I find the depth of the backstory interesting with lost kingdoms and ancient orders of warrior monks and dragons. Bu...moreMore myth-building in the valley. I find the depth of the backstory interesting with lost kingdoms and ancient orders of warrior monks and dragons. But I'm kinda frustrated at the townsfolk of Barrelhaven. How long-ago was the kingdom of Altheia that they's forgotten about it and dragons have become misunderstood legend. Add to that the complete failure for anyone but Lucius to see that Phoney Bone is cross between P.T. Barnum and Napoleon and I I find myself rooting for the rat-creatures (at least give the one quiche - he's earned it by now).(less)
Delilah Dirk is a madwoman. She is pulp adventurer of the classic mold, and note here I say adventurer, not adventuress which in the world of pulp fic...moreDelilah Dirk is a madwoman. She is pulp adventurer of the classic mold, and note here I say adventurer, not adventuress which in the world of pulp fiction tends to cast s different shadow.
Delilah distinctly rejects the stuffy world of royal court (thought she is a member in three) in favor of free-form advnturing. Other reviews mention that the stakes in this book are not world-shaking. We see Delilah steal scrolls and treasure, but we have no concept of a larger plot than taking down those in power by a few pegs.
For all that Delilah Dirk gets the splash-page fancy font title, the main character here is Selim. Selim is our normal-guy POV in the tradition of John Watson to Sherlock Holmes, but the big narrative arc is his. He goes from unappreciated bureacrat/soldier in an uncaring and brutal regime to self-actualized hero. In this way, Delilah serves as a (rather frantic and violent) muse and spirit guide.
Part of me wants to get deeper into Delilah's head as well to see more of why she does what she does, but I get the feeling the answer would be "Because this is fun!"
Hrmm - does that make her a Manic Pixie Dream Girl? I'm not sure. She has her own goals and doesn't really seem to care about Selim's journey. Needs more discussion.
Oh, and the flying boat bugged me. It was the one piece of magic/super-tech and and really would never work, ever ever.
Read-to-May is not quite the right category for this. More like "May read to herself, talked about, and liked so I read before it went back to the lib...moreRead-to-May is not quite the right category for this. More like "May read to herself, talked about, and liked so I read before it went back to the library".
I honestly had no idea that both Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey were protogees of Louis Leakey. I always had the tendency to mix them up. And I had not heard of Birute Galdikas before. It was very interesting to see Leakey acting as patron to these three brilliant and commited women scientists. I just wish he wasn't so patronizing about his patronage. His assertions about women being better at field work are just ignorant reflections of Victorian mores.
But, if I have Leakey to thank for donating his shoulders to be the stepping stool for Goodall, Fossey & Gladikas' visions, then I don't mind. The women scientists who will follow these three women and move forward into the future will be well worth the cost Leakey's problems. I hope that my daughter has the same oppotunities without so much baggage.(less)
I first heard about this comic at a comics for kids panel at Arisia about a year and a half ago. I don't know what triggered me to hit the webcomic.
I was inspired to pick-up the print edition for May by her interest in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. There are a lot of parrallels, if only in the British boarding school organization, the forbidden forest, and a previous generation of school-kid high-jinks shaping the world for the heros. I like the idea of Antimony as an alternative hero to Harry.
The first volume is pretty fractured. All the chapters in Gunnerkrigg Court are very much separate-standing stories with some storylines running across multiple chapters, but usually not contiguous ones. There are mysteries within mysteries only hinted at in the first volume (I'm looking at you Jones). I'm not sure how well this volume stands on it's own, since the author is really growing in storytelling and illustration both as the book progresses.
For now, we'll have it out and see if May gets bored with the second Harry Potter and is willing to try something else.(less)
I admit that my introduction to Teen Titans was the Crtoon Network series (and a stand-alone, elseworlds graphic novel).
I think I like the animated s...moreI admit that my introduction to Teen Titans was the Crtoon Network series (and a stand-alone, elseworlds graphic novel).
I think I like the animated series Terra better than the original. Maybe Terra had some character development before this volume starts that I was not privy to, but there is little tension when we are aware of her betrayal from the get-go. All of her interactions with the Titans are colored by the knowledge that she is working with Deathstroke (or the Terminator before that title was appropriated by Arnold Schwartzenegger).
Fundamentally, the story is thin. I just don't feel like I can find much below the characters. Maybe if I read ALL the books I'd care more, but I don't think so.
Take the new guy, Jericho. We're all supposed to feel bonded to him by the end of the book, but I can't see why.
I keep trying to like mainstream comic recompilations and I keep failing. I'm just happier with webcomics.(less)
Whoops. Missed doing a review of this at the time May and I read it...
This volume is a big dose of backstory. We learn the geopolitics of the valley,...moreWhoops. Missed doing a review of this at the time May and I read it...
This volume is a big dose of backstory. We learn the geopolitics of the valley, why it's a big deal the rat creatures are on the rise, what Thorn's dreams of dragons mean, and bit of why Granma Rose is so buff.
I can understand why Fone Bone doesn't know this stuff, but I'm more than a little annoyed at Thorn that she has grown up in this place and culture and seems to be willfully ignorant of history that is less than a generation ago.(less)
A friend of my wife's lent this book to her and me after hearing that I have been enjoying Arrow. He was apparently offended by the short-shrift being...moreA friend of my wife's lent this book to her and me after hearing that I have been enjoying Arrow. He was apparently offended by the short-shrift being given to the character of Deadshot in the show.
Having read this book, I'm not sure wg=hy this Deadshot is all that better than the TV version. Yes, there's a bit more depth, including a death-wish (I know because the psychologist character says he has a deathwish; and once, when trapped in Russia he says the team should shoot themselves instead of coming up with an escape plan).
The idea of the government needing a controllable supers team and recuiting from the available materials in its prison system is interesting. It is also used in other places (Thunderbolts and Freedom Force come into my mind - I don't claim to know who did it first or best). Amanda Waller is by far the best character in this book, but I'm franky projecting CC Pounder's performance in the role in JCU as well as her related role in Warehouse 13. The rest of the cast seems like a mostly boring collection of quirks, angst, and chins.
I think maybe it's the format. It must be hard to write in-depth characters in monthly adventures, especially with changing casts, characters with assumed knowledge backstories, and tie-ins to complex in-universe events. This is in many ways why I never really got into comics.(less)
While the valley is still a very strange place, the world of this book is much less existancially weird that in Volume 1. We have more human backgroun...moreWhile the valley is still a very strange place, the world of this book is much less existancially weird that in Volume 1. We have more human background characters and a more normal msetting of a psuedo-medieval tavern and fair. The mystery as to who or what the Bone cousins are deepens a bit as Boneville seems to be essentially a modern world.
The main slapstick plot of Phoney and Smiley trying to scam the Cow Race is fun if predictable. The romantic storyline between Fone Bone and Thorn is boring and predictable (althought the giant bee still cracked me up). The deeper, ominous, coming war between the rat creatures and the valley is suitably obscure with portentious dreams and cryptic secrets. But the ultimate winner is, inevtably the laughably incompetant rat creatures themselves.
It takes a deft hand to make your villan mooks comic relief and yet still threatening. Children's entertainment is littered with villanous henchmen who are too incompetant to scare (io9 receantly published a list of 'em). The rat creatures manage to still be threatening while comic.(less)
May powered through this book pretty quickly after getting it in her Easter basket. She then added it into the queue for bedtime reading. Reading comi...moreMay powered through this book pretty quickly after getting it in her Easter basket. She then added it into the queue for bedtime reading. Reading comics for bed is a little akward, but heavier on different voices.
I think May missed some of the cultural touch-stones here - most especially the bowler-hat-wearing, cigar-chomping Smiley Bone. I know whatthat's short-hand for, but have trouble explaining it.
I was a little annoyed at the gender issues part-way through (only 4 of the first 15 characters are female and all are defined as mother, grandmother, or love-interest). I really hope the character of Thorn expands in later books. Right now she seems out-of-place in this silly world and so very flat.(less)
I was happy to have a spunky girl protagonist without it being central that she was a spunky girl!
Probably my favorite moment is after seeing her friend kidnapped by an alien, she runs and hides in the woods to cry; then she thinks for minute, realizes she is the only responsible person here (responsible in the sense of being able to respond and do something about a situation) and then sets her jaw and goes to solve the problem. This same pattern is repeated leter in the story, with initial fear and paralysis giving way to resolve and action. It was good to see her be scared and realize mistakes. Having a hero who simply does everything right and is never afraid is nowhere near as effective as whatching a hero control their fear and move forward to fix the problem.
I still think Piper is a bit of a putz and maybe a bit creepy though.(less)
There was very little in this volume that jumped out at me. With so many characters, there was little characterization aside from a sorting of Avengers based on who felt the strongest sense of belonging to the team and who is easily tempted by medieval tropes. I suppose there was supposed to be deep history with Scarlet Witch and Wonder Man and Vision, but I either needed deeper steeping in Marvel lore or more of a desire to care. (less)
This is split into two stories. The first is set in 1883 and I have to admit that I found the historical narrations about the year more interesting th...moreThis is split into two stories. The first is set in 1883 and I have to admit that I found the historical narrations about the year more interesting than the Wild West chase-down plot. At least one of these vignettes was wrong however, placing the meeting of the transcontinental railroad in Montana instead of Utah. It makes me wonder if any other of these factoids had been moved in space or time. The end of the story did have quality - it was interesting to see Jack's nihilistic explanation for his outlaw ways.
The second part focuses on the hot-librarian Page sisters. I really want to like these characters, but I find them (and the whole passel of 'literals') uninspiring. (less)
A much-anticipated volume in the Ferry household! Owly continues to be sweet and wonderful, but I was a little dissappointed to see a shift from paper...moreA much-anticipated volume in the Ferry household! Owly continues to be sweet and wonderful, but I was a little dissappointed to see a shift from paperback manga-style B&W stories to a larger-format, hardback, all-color but shorter book. Runton contues to earn points for high naturalist skills. In this book May was able to predict that the caterpillars would be Monarch butterflies from their look and thier choice of meals. Most children's authors and illustrators just wouldn't care about that level of detail (because most 5-yer-olds haven't been going to preschool on an Audubon Sanctuary and learned this stuff). I'd rather have longer form stories though.(less)
This was a fun, quick take on Cinderella's spy alter-ego. Again we see the problems of allowing modern mundy technology into a fuedalistic magical soc...moreThis was a fun, quick take on Cinderella's spy alter-ego. Again we see the problems of allowing modern mundy technology into a fuedalistic magical society (in this case Ultima Thule. While Willingham is correct in reflecting how the historical uneven advent of automatic weapons allows for the overthrow of traditional regimes and creating new power struggles (see the review of Chiver's The Gun), I feel like he is being unkind to magic's abilities. Or has magic just not been sufficiently mechanized (or maybe that's what the Adversary was all about in the first place).(less)
Here we go into Americana - the world of American-based Fables.
I so suck that I don't recognize as many of the references as I should. That said, Amer...moreHere we go into Americana - the world of American-based Fables.
I so suck that I don't recognize as many of the references as I should. That said, American fables aren't as robust as the European ones. Most have a single-traceable source (Bookburner - Bradbury's Farenheit 451...Huck & Jim - Twain). There are some stories that are shared, but they seem to be more settings (Big City, Gangland) than characters.
Not much happens here aside from discovering that Jack has weirdness magnet turned-up to 11 and seeing that the Pathetic Fallacy is part of a larger n...moreNot much happens here aside from discovering that Jack has weirdness magnet turned-up to 11 and seeing that the Pathetic Fallacy is part of a larger non-Fable group called the "literals". This is all interesting getting into the mechanics of how Fables work, but I'm worried it somehow won't all work out right.
I guess I just don't read these often enough to be deeply involved in the world-building, which is a bit unusual for me.
More MouseGuard is very welcome in the Ferry household. This volume is a little hit-or-miss as it is a compilation of stories by different authors and...moreMore MouseGuard is very welcome in the Ferry household. This volume is a little hit-or-miss as it is a compilation of stories by different authors and artists. The framework story is a story-telling competition at a local tavern (the prize is a cleared bar tab - very D&D).
The winner of the competition is my favorite pick as well, a beautifully illustrated and wordless story of Sadie's time at Frostic outpost.(less)
OK, so "saw the movie" is the wrong category. It's saw the short-lived ABC Family TV show from a bunch of years ago that my wife's friend graciously g...moreOK, so "saw the movie" is the wrong category. It's saw the short-lived ABC Family TV show from a bunch of years ago that my wife's friend graciously gave us on pirate DVD.
I saw the 12 episodes of the show first and now I'm reading the trades in the wrong order as they become available at the library so I'm sure I'm getting this all wrong.
The main story here is almost shot-for-shot the same as the TV episodes (very much reminiscent of my experience with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World). I was a bit surprised to see what was changed (mostly toning-down the sexual content in the TV version). Like I said, since I saw the show first, I think I enjoyed that more. Maybe I'd love the comic more if I read it first, but the comic Middleman just doesn't compare to Matt Kessler's bravura performance. (less)
Not a whole lot gets done in this volume except to get to see Gil and Tarvek snipe at each other. I like the Castle Heterodyne setting and...moreMore Agatha!
Not a whole lot gets done in this volume except to get to see Gil and Tarvek snipe at each other. I like the Castle Heterodyne setting and it is a nice way to give back-story on crazy Heterodynes and the way that broke the castle, but at times I feel like we've got a dungeon crawl running for too long and damage to characters is not cumulative.
I've been reading the story online, so I have bit of trouble remembering what bit is in what volume. Maybe Amanda will have a better take.(less)
As a special reward for May, we bought her the second Mouse Guard. I was a little frustrated to learn a) it hasn't come out in soft-cover yet and b) V...moreAs a special reward for May, we bought her the second Mouse Guard. I was a little frustrated to learn a) it hasn't come out in soft-cover yet and b) Volume 3 iss only barely beginning to come out in issues!
My daughter is obsessed. She is going to dress as Gwendolyn for Halloween this year. Her drawing quality took a giant leap when she started drawing guardsmice. She writes her own comics (2-3 panels of mice facing off aginst bullfrogs and the like).
This volume doesn't have quite the epic-span feel of the first volume, and does well because of it. The characters are more deeply drawn, both in personality and in increasing details in dress and equipment. Occasionally the settings show a bit too much of their inspirational source - I swear one of the backgrounds of the arches in Darkheather is lifted straight from a picture of the graet mosque in Cordoba. Even so, Darkheather is a damned good stand-in for Tolkien's Moria.
The larger plot, of addressing Midnight's critique of the Mouse Territories' governing structure is a great way to fill-in the back-story to the rebellion that drove the first book. It is a good thing when a second volume makes a first volume better (George Lucas take note).(less)
Not quite as good as the first Jack book. I'm happy to see that Willingham is using the Jack spin-off to introduce and hopefully explore the world of...moreNot quite as good as the first Jack book. I'm happy to see that Willingham is using the Jack spin-off to introduce and hopefully explore the world of American Fables. That said, since when is Lady Luck and American tall-tale?
Am I bad MLIS (Masters in Library & Information Science) student that I kinda like the kick-ass hot-librarian Page sisters?(less)