As Gothic novels go, this one falls into the tinsel category: shiny, completely predictable and not terribly taxing to the brain. Still, it's both preAs Gothic novels go, this one falls into the tinsel category: shiny, completely predictable and not terribly taxing to the brain. Still, it's both pretty and entertaining, and Elizabeth Peters' ubiquitous infusion of archaeology and historical events add welcome depth to the backdrop of revolutionary Italy.
As a shameless fan of masked crusaders -- my Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro collections will bear me out in this -- I had hoped for a bit more visible action from the titular Falcon, but the story works even when that character spends most of the book out of view. It's a fast read with a satisfying, albeit predictable, conclusion....more
I can't decide if this is utterly brilliant or absolutely abominable, so I've rated it somewhere in the middle -- but depending on the state of your SI can't decide if this is utterly brilliant or absolutely abominable, so I've rated it somewhere in the middle -- but depending on the state of your Speed Racer fandom, your mileage may vary. Summary and review follow.
The premise is similar to what DC did with the Batman franchise a couple decades ago: According to this book, Speed Racer is the latest in a long line of racing champions stretching over the past 25,000 years (yes, that's the number Pops Racer gives. I'm not sure why the Racer family has a scrapbook of family events stretching back 19,000 years before written language began, but they do). All of it dates back to a single Roman charioteer (maybe Pops meant 2,500?) and a powerful magic medallion. Events repeat themselves every generation, with the chosen Racer facing his estranged brother and a mysterious enemy as they battle for possession of this amulet. Meanwhile, in present day, Speed and Racer X team up against that same enemy, who has issued a challenge to Speed.
Looking at the book from a technical standpoint, it's an almost painful mash-up of terrible things: The artwork is inconsistent, mixing beautifully-colored plates with panels of badly-rendered characters, horses with their legs on backwards, and chariots with disappearing tongue and harness. The story itself is preposterous in the extreme, and the period tales are full of historical and geographical head-shakers and cringe-worthy character names (Sparkington and Sheriff Detectingham are the medieval versions of Sparky and Inspector Detector, for example, and Speed's ancestors bear monikers like Swiftus Romulus and Sprint Rackham). The writing is full of pop-culture references and out-of-place movie quotes, including dialogue lifted verbatim from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.
On the other hand, all of the above is so COMPLETELY in the vein of the low-budget dub and bizarre scenarios of the original Speed Racer cartoon that, even when it makes me groan out loud, it's hard to discount the book on grounds of improbability or inaccuracy. It doesn't pretend, or even aspire to, sophistication; it captures instead the spirit of bad animation and slapdash dub scripts. In a way, it's so ridiculous that it's endearing -- and by the same token, there's a sort of perverted creativity in the way the artists render Speed and Racer X's familiar racing colors in increasingly ludicrous "historical" designs and up the ante on the challenges they face.
This comic lacks the heart and artistry of the Tommy Yune/Wildstorm miniseries, but in its extreme silliness, it packs far more punch than the NOW comics series from the 1980s. It updates (and perhaps back-dates?) the franchise while maintaining the tone of the original series, and for that I give it credit in spite of its many shortcomings.
In summary, perhaps the simplest and most honest review would be simply to write that the book made me laugh out loud, and I certainly got my money's worth out of it....more
I haven't laughed this hard at a book in a long time! This quirky book is the perfect blend of intellectual humor and pop-social stupidity, ideal forI haven't laughed this hard at a book in a long time! This quirky book is the perfect blend of intellectual humor and pop-social stupidity, ideal for classic lit fans and English majors -- especially those who are a little too addicted to social networking media....more
(This review applies to the whole manga series, rather than the first volume.)
Don't be fooled by the cute, light-adventure facade the first volume of(This review applies to the whole manga series, rather than the first volume.)
Don't be fooled by the cute, light-adventure facade the first volume of this series projects. There is plot coming, and it will hit like a truck.
Many readers find it hard to connect with Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE at first look, because the actual story starts out a bit slower than the dramatic teaser at the opening of the first chapter. It feels a bit like a bait-and-switch; for the first half-dozen volumes or so, Tsubasa is merely the episodic crossover adventures of CLAMP's fan-favorite characters Syaoran and Sakura and friends as they hop through worlds populated by other familiar CLAMP faces. Those who continue reading beyond that point begin seeing character revelations and tiny hints of things to come scattered throughout the next half-dozen volumes, which makes the series a bit more intriguing -- but it's still easy to mistake the series for your standard villain-of-the-week adventure story.
And then, around volume 13 or 14, the plot suddenly kicks into high gear. All of the innocuous hints that have been planted throughout the first dozen volumes begin to come into play. From that point it becomes fast, intense, and utterly addictive, and as the series continues I find myself gnawing on things in anticipation of the next chapter's release.
This is by far the best CLAMP series of the dozen or so I've read. It's a must for fans of CLAMP's other work, nearly all of which is represented here, but even for non-CLAMP devotees, the story is worth reading for the creative plot twists and deliciously angst-drizzled character development.
...and Fay D. Flourite. Read the series, if only for Fay. ^_^...more
I was hopeful when I started this novel, as it is set in the days just before the French Revolution, which is a period I love to read about. But thisI was hopeful when I started this novel, as it is set in the days just before the French Revolution, which is a period I love to read about. But this is not one of Holt's better offerings -- in fact, the only reason I bothered to finish reading it was because I had taken the book on vacation with me, and had few other reading options available at the time.
I spent most of the book being irritated by the characters (I dearly wanted the principal love interest to be trampled by a herd of pigs, as he is one of the creepiest jerks ever to romance a Gothic heroine). I guessed the "surprise" plot twist halfway through the book, and was disappointed that I turned out to be correct. The ending was trite and seemed forced, and there was never any real suspense about how things would turn out.
Holt has written a number of clever, suspenseful and entertaining books; this just isn't one of them....more
This "inside" history of Zorro, written by the wife of one of the franchise's current owners, is, overall, an interesting and entertaining read. It coThis "inside" history of Zorro, written by the wife of one of the franchise's current owners, is, overall, an interesting and entertaining read. It contains several delightful stories and gives lots of production information about various film and television interpretations. The book covers the original Zorro stories and compares the film and TV programs based on them, and also discusses the history of California and real-life bandits who may have served as an inspiration to Johnston McCulley.
Unfortunately, this book is not the be-all and end-all of Zorro history, having noticeable gaps in the coverage. There were one or two items that I, as a longtime fan of Zorro, knew that were not discussed in the book. The importance of some of the "history" seemed arbitrary; some versions were barely mentioned, while others had scores of pages dedicated to them. Others were missing from the text, except for a reference listing in the appendix. At least one version was completely absent. A few long-standing legends and rumors were never addressed. The book has also incited wrath among some fans for its opinionated claims about various actors who have portrayed Zorro -- for example, Curtis strongly criticizes Duncan Regehr's interpersonal skills, but has only glowing reports of Antonio Banderas' personality, kindness and enthusiasm. This presentation comes across as biased and petty for a book claiming to be an "official history" of the franchise, even if this was the author's true perception of the actors.
On a note less analytical and more editorial, the book is riddled with typos and misspellings. I find this irritating in any publication, but imagine how distracting it is when an actor's name changes spellings twice on the same page, or when, in a paragraph about the history of the California territory, the date suddenly switches from the mid-1800s to the 1900s and back.
I would definitely recommend this book to fans of any version of Zorro; it is interesting, and you're likely to learn something new, even if the volume is somewhat disappointing as a complete history of Zorro. However, I would also suggest reading some of the other Zorro histories or cast biographies (such as Britt Lomond's Chasing After Zorro) for a more complete picture....more
This book is the zenith of the entire Lemony Snicket collection. It is the piece of the puzzle that makes you sit up and say, "Good heavens, there ISThis book is the zenith of the entire Lemony Snicket collection. It is the piece of the puzzle that makes you sit up and say, "Good heavens, there IS a plot!"
When I read the first few Series of Unfortunate Events books, it was only to familiarize myself with what I was told from all sides was sure to be the next Harry Potter phenomenon. I wasn't terribly impressed with the first two or three volumes -- cute idea, I thought, but nothing that really grabbed me. A couple of years later, I needed something to listen to in the car, so I borrowed some of the SoUE audiobooks from the library. It was then that I began to realize something vital: Beneath all the puns and stilted language and Edward Gorey-dom of the rest of the Series of Unfortunate Events books lies the delightfully sinister tale of Lemony Snicket himself (of which the Unauthorized Biography is the sourcebook), and it is THAT story -- not the sad, sad tale of the Beaudelaire orphans, ad nauseum -- that is at the heart of the whole series.
You must have read at least the first four or five of the SoUE books in order to understand the appeal of the Unauthorized Autobiography, but it's worth looking at even if you haven't read the whole series.
If possible, read the hardback edition. It features a couple of interesting elements that the paperback version lacks....more
The Torchwood novels, released in progressive sets of three throughout the show's run, follow the chronology of the TV series in terms of character deThe Torchwood novels, released in progressive sets of three throughout the show's run, follow the chronology of the TV series in terms of character development and major events. This first book is set somewhere around the second or third episode of Series 1, with the corresponding early versions of the characters: Jack is tough and mysterious and shows little warmth; Gwen still thinks like a beat cop, and is frequently appalled by Jack's lack of humanity; Owen is a petulant creep who chafes at Jack's orders; Toshiko gushes techno-babble while having little defined personality; and Ianto is still solidly in his one-dimensional butler role, though there are refreshing moments when informed readers know he's slipping off to the basement to check on Lisa. (Amusingly, he deflects whenever Jack tries to flirt with him. Definitely early days...)
There are some fans who liked the original characterizations from series 1, but I am not among them. That made elements of this story less appealing to me (why should I care about Owen's love life when I really just want him to be hit by a bus?), but in the book's defense, overall, the writing is very true to the voice of the characters at that point in the series. There are even moments that foreshadow some of the developments to come, which is nice, and there are occasional nods to Jack's mysterious past -- or future, whichever way you view it.
That said, there were a few moments that felt off in terms of characterization -- Owen's digital avatar and game of choice was not at all what I would have expected for someone of his personality type, nor was his supposed lack of technical knowledge believable. (For that matter, the entire MMO description felt very much like someone trying to relate something they had never personally experienced. Perhaps the author didn't know any gamers?) And Toshiko, who had the least "screen time" in this book, was surprisingly standoffish and caustic toward Owen, even threatening bodily harm, which seems out of character for her.
In terms of plot, it's a bit more complicated than the usual episode adventures, with several avenues of investigation going on at once, but that's not an unwelcome change for a series that characteristically suffered from too many one-dimensional crises. There's a bit of Rift-related hand-waving and super-convenient technology -- again, typical Torchwood fare -- and the last third of the book or so is entirely predictable, but it's not handled badly. (To be fair, this book has a more complete storytelling structure than most of the Torchwood episodes did...)
In short, if you liked Series 1, this installment is worth reading. But be warned -- there's a lot of pre-redemption Owen in it....more