Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ms. Marvel Volume 3: A Review

Ms Marvel Volume 3: Operation Lightning Storm
Written by: by Brian Reed
Illustrated by: Aaron Lopresti, Roberto de la Torre
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
Jan 2008
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

A new beginning for Ms. Marvel Carol Danvers made herself a promise to be "the best of the best" - but after the events of Civil War, has Ms. Marvel lost her way? As the stress mounts and Carol finds herself less and less sure about what she's doing or why, a crossroads is reached and a decision is made - a decision that will change the course of Ms. Marvel's life - and possibly the Marvel Universe Brian Reed (New Avengers: Illuminati) and Roberto De La Torre - plus guest-stars Iron Man, Arana and Wonder Man - kick-off the new era Collects Ms. Marvel #11-17.

+++++++++++++

I have heard a lot of good things about Ms. Marvel but never really got around to reading anything with her that was anything really more than passing or small references. As the opening month for Comic Book 101, I decided that the girls needed to read what most people think of when they think of comics: caped crusaders and masked heroes…yep superheroes. So this was the perfect time to go and explore some new heroes. Plus it was awesome that the local bookstore had a 5 for $20 sale on all of their used books which meant hello graphic novels…whoo hoo.

I think what draws me to Ms Marvel is she is a woman who has exceled in a very male dominated military world and hell she is Captain Marvel now. Maybe it is also because my friend Lada has done cosplay of her along with so much more. She looked interesting and a name that comes up quite often when discussing women in comics.

Carol Danvers wants to be more than just Ms. Marvel. She wants to be something more not only in her professional life, but in her personal life. She is strong, but has self-doubt. She wants normalcy in her private life and tries so hard to go on a date and have that slice of normal, but desperately wants to get past her demons and become something more than she has been as Ms. Marvel. Civil War apparently messed her up pretty badly, so she has things to prove to herself and others. She gets her chance when Iron Man asks her to be the leader of the new Avengers team he is putting together as he has too much on his own plate running SHIELD. But she wants to do it her own way and instead assembles her own Lightning Storm Strike Team (including a mini-carrier) which will take the offensive against serious threats like A.I.M. before they get to Avenger like threat levels. It’s not a bad team consisting of Wonder man, Machine Man, Sleepwalker, Agent Sum, and Arana. We even get to see M.O.D.O.K. (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing).

Things I loved: As per usual Marvel does a great job of giving you a brief synopsis of recent history exposition at the beginning so I wasn’t lost. Of course, I had no idea that I was also reading Volume 3 instead of Volume 1. The art is also nice though it is penciled by two different artists; Roberto De La Torre (11-12) and Aaron Lopresti (13-17).

While I haven’t really read any Ms Marvel before, I didn’t feel too lost. Granted I am still unsure of what her power set really is, I really liked the dynamic between her and her companions. Carol is a strong female character and while, yes, her off time is spent going on the mysterious Mr. Wagner I love that she has doubts that this guy wants to date her because she’s Carol and not because she is Ms. Marvel. I think that is interesting question that is posed. Does he like the woman or the superhero and cant he like both?

It has a nice blend of letting me to get to know some new characters that I have not been introduced to before and the plot blends everything from zombies to your traditional drag out fights. The Cliffhanger ending made me want to read more and grab Volume 4 the next time I hit the bookstore. I also really liked having A.I.M. in there as the baddies.

Things I didn’t love so much: Some of the art style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea though Carol’s got some great hair I must say and while yes I feel like I wasn’t too lost, I really do feel like I should have started with Volume 1.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. This may not be the best place for newbies to start, but I was pleased enough that I want to read more.

Part of: A series. Start with Best of the Best

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

The Fault in our Stars: A Review

The Fault in Our Stars
Written by: John Green
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Harper Collins
Language: English
May 2011
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

+++++++++++++

Sometimes I like to cry. No real good reason. Just cause. I have a collection of books and movies that get the tears started. For movies it is tragic love stories (Solomon and Gaenor, Kama Sutra A Tale of Love, the Notebook, Evening) and apparently the same goes for books. What is it about the tragic love story that we just eat up. They are sad. They make me cry (Eponine in Les Mis, Miss Saigon’s Kim and Chris). A lot. But I completely eat them up. They are my excuse.

Now I knew author John Green and already had a little bitty crush on him via Mental Floss and Nerdfighters. But for some reason I just never got around to reading his books. Not sure why. Everyone talks about the Fault in Our Stars, so I should probably get around to reading it. So I did. It was my lunch break book where I would hole up in my office and read to my heart’s content. Which is great until you find yourself sobbing in your office and your coworker thinks that something is seriously wrong. Nope just a book, you say as you emerge puffy and red eyed. Damn book. Now the fact that the book made me cry should not surprise you. It is after all a book about kids with cancer.

Hazel Grace knows that she is dying, maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but eventually her lungs are going to give out. She tries not to get close to anyone as she feels like grenade, one day she will explode and obliterate those around her. Then she meets Augustus Waters at her Cancer Kid Support Group who apparently not only finds her oxygen tank sexy, but her as well. They bond over the book An Imperial Affliction and discover that sometimes, when you least expect it, love happens.

Things I loved: Miss Hazel Grace, our intrepid narrator is awesome. She is snarky. She is honest. She has her faults, but you love her anyway. She is a fangirl and funny and thoughtful and when she loves…oh dear god. More than that I can relate to her. I could relate to pushing people away or having people distance themselves from you. I didn’t have cancer. I was just an air force brat and never around for long. Why get to know people if you are only going to be there for six months.

All of the characters matter from Hazel’s best friend who shows how quite often the living distance themselves from the dying, parents who do their best to give their children everything and how children cannot fathom the loss or understand what their parents are going through. Gus, Isaac, Van Houten…they all matter. They all have something to say. I cannot imagine what it is like to have a terminal illness, to be choked with sympathy from others. But somehow I can understand Hazel’s resentment. It is a heavy thing to deal with.

Speaking of character love…I love Gus. I love him because even in the shadow of death and all of the guilt and loss and hopelessness that Hazel sometimes felt, he gave her a reason to live. Not just because they fell in love, but he showed her how much beauty there is in the world. Living is worth it. Plus he woos Hazel with Max Mayhem one-liners and a gentle grace that is just awesome.

How much love can you fit in a short life? On one hand you will always be forever in the honeymoon period, that space where you still get butterflies every time you meet. This is the one great love of your life. This is it. The one. The one that makes your heart all aflutter. The one you swear will last forever. There won’t be fights about dirty laundry or unpaid bills. It won’t get stagnant. But it also won’t last forever. You won’t get to grow old together, to realize that sometimes those stupid fights make things stronger. And that relationships are hard work, but worth it. So so worth it. There won’t be a wedding or domestic bliss. There won’t be kids or furry kids to spend your time with. That is the part that just guts me. Too soon. Not enough time. Then again, do we ever get enough time even if our bodies aren’t riddled with cancer. Isn’t it better to stuff every glorious moment into each day because tomorrow this is it. There are no second chances. Time wastes you, so you better well use it.

Things I didn’t love so much: It made me cry. Like heaving sobs, thank goodness my office door is closed sobs. And I was expecting it damn it. Seriously the feels. Damn it. But I wouldn’t trade away one salty tear. It was worth it. Even if a coworker had to check in on me and make sure everything was okay. Yep. Fine, just a book. Damn book. Glorious book.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. I am glad I got to glimpse and share Hazel and Gus’s story – their love, their loss, their strength, their weakness, and the honesty of it all. You only get one chance to live, so you better do something with it.

Part of: Stand Alone

Also Recommended: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Looking for Alaska by John Green and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Divergent: A Review

Divergent
Directed By: Neil Burger
Written By: Vanessa Taylor, Evan Daugherty
Genre:ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG 13
Time: 139 min
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson, Zoё Kravitz, Miles Teller, Tony Goldwyn, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Phifer, Kate Winslet
Plot: Set in a futuristic dystopia where society is divided into five factions that each represent a different virtue, teenagers have to decide if they want to stay in their faction or switch to another - for the rest of their lives. Tris Prior makes a choice that surprises everyone. Then Tris and her fellow faction-members have to live through a highly competitive initiation process to live out the choice they have made. They must undergo extreme physical and intense psychological tests, that transform them all. But Tris has a secret that she is Divergent, which means she doesn't fit into any one group. If anyone knew, it would mean a certain death. As she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, this secret might help her save the people she loves... or it might destroy her.

Comments: I was not really looking forward to this movie. But E really wanted to go, surprisingly really since he chided me for days on dragging him to the first Hunger Games movie which I couldn’t blame him for as it was bad, bad, bad ( Catching Fire was however done right). So here comes another trilogy that I really liked. All I can think when I see the trailers during every single close up shot is there is no way Tris would wear that much mascara when she was still part of Abnegation. I couldn’t believe her as Tris. Couldn’t get into the character. But I am glad that E dragged me to it (I would have rather seen Need for Speed…that was how reluctant I was).

Shailene Woodley as Tris was still not a perfect fit for me. In the book Tris is constantly described as being this tiny little thing. That is why people constantly underestimate her. Christina is kind of a protector, but Zoe Kravitz is far smaller than Shailene. It doesn’t matter in the end because Shailene does a decent job as Tris. And in fact, the movie overall stayed pretty close to the book. There are changes, as there always are and it was really only two things that bugged me Christina not getting the flag which is kind of important since it shows that sometimes being selfless will get you nowhere and shows that Christina has a bit of a competitive streak.

While the film is pretty heavy on the exposition and like I said I know they had to change some things and others will be inevitably changed, I did like the extra Jeanine stuff. She has more of a role than Jeanine in the book and I am okay with it because, well…its Kate Winslet and I heart her to pieces. But I also get a bigger sense of Jeanine. She truly believes she is doing the right thing for her society no matter what the cost. She had complexity and while, yes, still a villain, I liked her.

And of course Four. That is the Four I wanted. It’s the Four I fell in love with for two books and then sort of fell out of love with in the last book, but that is a whole other story. He doesn’t want to save Tris, he knows she is quite capable and that is why he loves her. He loves that she is selfless as much as she is brave. They are equals and partners and that is a love I can completely get behind.

It was a pretty film to watch and I kind of dug the fear landscape scenes. I really loved the Soundtrack and score. The score is a collaboration of Hans Zimmer and his mighty orchestrals of awesome and Junkie XL. It didn’t detract, it was just really good and quickly bought shortly after.

My biggest gripe, by far, was Peter. Instead of being pure evil (to be honest I don’t really recall seeing Edward and there is certainly no eye stabbing scene which is important…it shows just to what lengths Peter is willing to go to not only to be number one, but to be the next Eric. Plus hello Edward becomes Factionless and they meet up with him later), he’s just a jerk. Okay maybe a jerk who tries to throw Tris over a ledge with his sycophants, but mostly just a jerk. A jerk that tags along in the end. Umm, not the spawn of Satan. This was extremely disappointing as it kind of has a big deal with his overall character development between the 3 books.

Overall it was a decent film and one that I am glad that I saw in the theatre. Best line:
Peter: “Why should I tell you, it’s not like you’re going to shoot me.”
Tris: “Why do people keep saying that?”
* shoots him *

Rent/Cinema?See it.

3/4 popcorns

Saturday, April 19, 2014

World War Z: A Review

World War Z
Written by: Max Brooks
Audiobook: Read by a Full Cast
Length: 12 hrs 8 min
Publisher: Random House Audio
Language: English
May 2013
Genre: Fiction/Zombies

World War Z: The Complete Edition (Movie Tie-in Edition): An Oral History of the Zombie War is a new version of Max Brooks' episodic zombie novel. The abridged versions of the original stories are now joined with new, unabridged recordings of the episodes that were not included in the original (abridged) version of the audiobook. These additional episodes feature a star-studded cast of narrators to coincide with the upcoming release of the film.

New narrators include Academy Award-winning director Martin Scorsese, Spiderman star Alfred Molina, The Walking Dead creator Frank Darabont, rapper Common, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg, and members of the casts of Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes and more! Max Brooks will be reprising his role as The Interviewer.

The original abridged edition, released in 2006, won an Audie Award for Best Multi-Voiced Performance. Original cast members include Alan Alda, Mark Hamill, Carl & Rob Reiner, and John Turturro.

In this new classic of apocalyptic fiction that feels all too real, the Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. The documentary-style oral history records the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time.

Featuring five more hours of previously unrecorded content, this full-cast recording is read by F. Murray Abraham, Alan Alda, René Auberjonois, Becky Ann Baker, Dennis Boutsikaris, Bruce Boxleitner, Max Brooks, Nicki Clyne, Common, Denise Crosby, Frank Darabont, Dean Edwards, Mark Hamill, Nathan Fillion, Maz Jobrani, Frank Kamai, Michelle Kholos, John McElroy, Ade M’Cormack, Alfred Molina, Parminder Nagra, Ajay Naidu, Masi Oka, Steve Park, Kal Penn, Simon Pegg, Jürgen Prochnow, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner, Henry Rollins, Jeri Ryan, Jay O. Sanders, Martin Scorsese, Paul Sorvino, David Ogden Stiers, Brian Tee, John Turturro, Eamonn Walker, Ric Young, and Waleed Zuaiter.


+++++++++++++

I really love zombies, most of you know this by now. And I love Max Brooks for writing World War Z. The great thing about World War Z is how real it feels. Similar to War of the Worlds, you can imagine that it has happened and we are now reading the history of how it all went down, survivor’s stories, and what we have done to rebuild our society once the dust has settled. While yes it is a history of the Zombie War, you can take out the zombies and insert another apocalyptic disaster quite easily. That is what makes it great.

After the horridness that was the film (damn you for not letting J. Michael Straczynski’s script stand. Damn you for ruining it) they came out with a new audio version of the book which adds about six hours more of amazing stories performed by Simon Pegg, Nathan Fillion, Jeri Ryan, Martin Scorcese and more. While it is still an abridged version of the overall book, it is completely worth your time and your money.

For those of you who have not read the book, Max Brooks compiles the history of the successful war against the zombie hordes after the government report he has written is all but cleansed of everything but the bare facts. In an effort to get a human perspective he travels the world from China to India to gather personal stories about key pints, events, and moments of World War Z. You have stories of heroism and of villainy, joy out of something so bleak and absolute tragedy. There are stories about you would do to survive and questions on if war makes you just as bad as the very thing you are fighting against. This makes the overall book feel real as if we are all survivors of the war against the undead. This isn’t about the war itself, but about those who survived and fought. It’s about their stories, a very human piece amidst the undead. We don’t get to find out how the zombies started or how they function. The zombies are just a way for the various characters to tell their stories. Of course when you add amazing stage and screen actors and voice actors into the audio version and it feels even more real and genuine. Which again makes it a total shame that the movie shares the title of the book and not really anything more.

Things I loved: This is a book for all fans. I even got my father to read it and that is saying something and he is the furthest thing from a zombie fan. The voice performances are amazing. Since I have reviewed World War Z before and the abridged audiobook, I am just going to touch on the new material. The performances continue to amaze and I really feel as if many of the actors become the characters they are reading. Nathan Fillion reads the account of Stanley MacDonald, a Canadian soldier who witnesses a horrible zombie slaughter and is suffering from some pretty bad PTSD. Dismissed by his superior officers, his tale is wracked with emotion. Nathan does an amazing job of keeping that emotion controlled, but you can hear it threatening to break. Of course I may be bias as I have loved Fillion since Two Guys, A Girl and a Pizza Place, but he really does bring the character to life.

Nicki Clynes of BSG fame reads Sharon, a young woman who witnessed such tragedy that she is perpetually a four year old. The story is so completely heart-wrenching. She does an amazing job. Kal Penn and an almost unrecognizable Simon Pegg do great jobs as well. I also liked Jeri Ryan’s story. I could go on really about the performances. While yes there are some misses, but mostly because the stories themselves are not the strongest and often bogged down by too much exposition and not enough of the human voice.

Things I didn’t love so much: Yeah I got nothing

Full Cast Credits
Max Brooks as Max Brooks
Nicki Clyne as Sharon
Bruce Boxleitner as Gavin Blaire
Simon Pegg as Grover Carlson
Brian Tee as Hyungchoi and Michael Choi
Henry Rollins as T. Sean Collins
Frank Darabont as Roy Elliot
Common as Darnell Hackworth
Kal Penn as Sardar Khan
Alfred Molina as Terry Knox
David Ogden Stiers as Bohdan Taras Kondratiuk
Nathan Fillion as Stanley MacDonald
Denise Crosby as Mary Jo Miller
Ade M’Cormack as Jacob Nyathi
Paul Sorvino as Fernando Oliveira
Parminder Nagra as Barati Palshigar
Rene Auberjonois as Andre Renard
F. Murray Abraham as Father Sergei Ryzhkov
Martin Scorsese as Breckinridge “Breck” Scott
Masi Oka as Kondo Tatsumi
Ric Young as Admiral Xu Zhicai
Jeri Ryan as Maria Zhuganova
Alan Alda as Arthur Sinclair
Carl Reiner as Jurgen Warbrunn
Jürgen Prochnow as Philip Adler
Waleed Zuiater as Saladin Kader
Dean Edwards as Joe Muhammad
Michelle Kholos as Jesika Hendricks
Maz Jobrani as Ahmed Farahnakian
Mark Hamill as Todd Wainio
Eamonn Walker as David Allen Forbes and Paul Redeker / Xolelwa Azania
Ajay Naidu as Ajay Shah
John Turturro as Serosha Garcia Alvarez
Rob Reiner as “The Whacko”
Jay O. Sanders as Bob Archer
Dennis Boutsikaris as General Travis D’Ambrosia
Becky Ann Baker as Christina Eliopolis
Steve Park as Kwang Jingshu
Frank Kamai as Nury Televadi and Tomonaga Jiro
John McElroy as Ernesto Olguin

Buy or Borrow: Buy. So worth it.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: For more zombies I would recommend actually reading the full novel of World War Z by Max Brooks, The Walking Dead comic series by Robert Kirkman, and the Zombie Survival Guide also by Max Brooks. Feed by Mira Grant, Patient Zero by Jonathan Mayberry, Infected by Scott Sigler, and Rot And Ruin also by Jonathan Mayberry. Yeah zombies.

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Journey to the West: A Review

Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Directed By: Stephen Chow
Written By: Stephen Chow
Genre:ACTION/ADVENTURE
Rated: PG 13
Time: 110 min
Starring: Qi Shu, Zhang Wen, Bo Huang, Lo Show
Plot: This is a world plagued by demons, who cause its human inhabitants unspeakable suffering. Young demon hunter Xuan Zang, fearlessly guided by his belief in "giving himself for the greater cause," risks his all and conquers a water demon, a pig demon and the demon of all demons, Sun Wukong. He embraces them as his disciples, and melts them with love. Meanwhile, Xuan Zang discovers the true meaning of Greater Love himself. In order to atone for their own sins and save the common people, the four of them embark on a journey to the West that's full of challenges…

Comments: Journey to the West follows the story of Xuan Zang, a young Buddhist monk eager to prove himself as a worthy demon hunter. Instead of using his fists, Zang uses an old book of nursery rhymes that is said to awaken the goodness within the hearts of those conquered by evil. Unsuccessful in his efforts, Xuan meets a strong, beautiful demon hunter named Miss Duan who uses brute force to defeat demons, and so far it has been working for her quite well. In his efforts to unlock his own hidden power, Xuan decides to join Miss Duan on her journey to vanquish other demons and rid the world of evil.

I really love Stephen Chow. Shaolin and Kung Fu Hustle are just fun to watch. When we saw that you could get Journey to the West off of Xbox movies Eben and I were quite pleased as we had found nothing of interest at the local rental place. Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons is, as you can guess, is a comedic retelling of the Chinese folktale. It has action. It has humor. And even a bit of romance. I knew a little about Journey to the West so I was expecting Monkey King to show up eventually as well as his two other companions. The CGI can be sketchy at times, but it is a fun little romp half live action anime, half looney tunes. Completely worth it in my opinion if you like his other films.

Rent/Cinema?If you are like me and have access to the Xbox films definitely rent it. It was worth it.

3.5/4 popcorns

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Loot Crate: Geeky Subscription boxes

So I have heard about subscription boxes from Birchbox and Glossybox. And as girlie as I am I don’t know if it is my thing (I could be very happily surprised), but I love the idea behind subscription boxes. I was also trying to find something for E for our anniversary (2 years) so I decided to try something a little different and indulge our nerdy sides because let’s face it what he loots, I loot too. So I decided to get a subscription to Loot Crate. What exactly is it? Each month they curate a collection of nerdy things fitting a particular theme. March was Titan. Of course E has been playing the hell out of Titanfall and our friend Meghan got us hooked on Attack on Titan (highly recommended) which were two of the main themes. Starting next month I will be a good little nerdy goddess, document our loot, and convince you all to try it for yourselves. Seriously it makes me want to do so many more subscription boxes but I haven’t a clue where to start. Why wouldn’t you do them, a box of goodies sent to your place every month. Whoo hoo.

Anyway, this is what E got for March (All estimations on price are what I could grab from other retailers):

* A Titanfall T-shirt : ooh a shirt that the designers wore in all of those coming soon videos you watched during its Beta release with the figure of a pilot and the silhouette of the Titan. It’s a Respawn/EA and Lootcarte exclusive so E was uber excited. ($20 value though not really cause exclusive)

* Attack on Titan Manga: One of our new obsessions thanks to our friend Meghan. This is the manga that starts it all. For those who haven’t watched the anime (It’s on Netflix) or read the manga. What's left of humanity survives in fear for their lives in this exciting, terrifying new manga that's a number one bestseller in Japan. Humankind is down to just a few thousand people who live in a city surrounded by three concentric walls. The walls protect them from their enemies, the ravenous giants known as the Titans. The Titans appear to have only one purpose: to consume humanity. For one hundred years, what's left of mankind has lived in the city on earth, protected by walls that tower over even the Titans. Untouched by the Titans for a century, humanity has become complacent. But Eren Jaeger has had enough. While his fellow citizens are content to hide, Jaeger has the passion to take action to not only protect the city, but to learn what the Titans actually are. But on his first mission he comes face to face with horrors beyond his imagination... and secrets from his own past that could shift the tides of war. ($11)

* Titanfall Lanyard & Titanfall Strategy Guide: Again E was super excited. As he has been playing Titanfall quite a bit the Strategy Guide was totally worth it and we could always use more lanyards. Plus the lanyard is a custom design based on the console and controller. (Lanyard and Guide ~ $15)

* Attack on Titanfall Magnet : This is seriously awesome. Featuring artwork that has members of the regiment from Attack on Titan attacking a Titan from Titanfall. Beautiful mashup. E was wishing he had more than just a magnet he loved the artwork so much. ($5)

* Attack on Titan Scouting Regiment Wristband: Loot Crate suggested E wear this while thinking of other Looters who got amazing gear as well as they all search for the best gear. Can’t blame them, it is a pretty sweet wristband. And with our new obsession with Attack on Titan oh so fitting to our nerdy collection. ($5)

The crate also came with some candy, a handy guide that talks a little about the month’s theme and the gear that you happily scored, a lootcrate button, and a 30% coupon to some gaming gear. Subscriptions cost about $20 and we looted approximately $50 worth of goodies so well worth your time and money. Also loot! In all for our first box we were pretty psyched and cannot wait for this month’s theme (DRAGON).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Nightwalker: A Review

Nightwalker (Dark Days #1)
Written by: Jocelynn Drake
Paperback: 370 pages
Publisher: Eos
Language: English
July 2008
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Dark Days Series

For centuries Mira has been a nightwalker--an unstoppable enforcer for a mysterious organization that manipulates earth-shaking events from the darkest shadows. But elemental mastery over fire sets her apart from others of her night-prowling breed . . . and may be all that prevents her doom.

The foe she now faces is human: the vampire hunter called Danaus, who has already destroyed so many undead. For Mira, the time has come to hunt . . . or be hunted.


+++++++++++++

At the beginning of the year I told myself I was not allowed to buy any new books until I went through at least one bin of To Be Read Books. That is right. I have bins. I have 5 of them to be exact with books I have yet to read. And if E and I move again I want that number to be 0, or maybe just 1. So I need to get a-cracking. Especially since there are some really great books coming out soon. While I don’t post a review on every single book I read, I do try to do the majority.

As I have gone through my TBR pile number one, I am realizing that I read a ton of urban fantasy and not a lot else. This is troubling for me. While I love my little niche genre, I just love to read period. I should branch out more. I say this because I think I might be getting bored with urban fantasy. I keep reading the same thing. It’s just different names and slightly different plots. I’m not seeing anything truly new and original. I am just looking for a bit more variety and a lot more substance. I want to be able to tell characters apart. I want to be able to tell authors apart. And by the gods…no more vampires or if you do please do something interesting with them.

Drake tried to be original with Nightwalker not only through her character of Mira, but the world as a whole. Mira is six hundred years old and change and the current enforcer of her territory in Savannah. She also has quite the reputation as she pyrokinetic and has earned the title Firestarter for good reason. When vampire hunter Danaus shows up in town, he also brings the nature with him. A few centuries ago these nature imprisoned and tortured Mira and while she doesn’t know the exact details, she knows that having them resurface is dangerous indeed. The naturi are seeking a way to break out of their supernatural prison and unlike previous attempts, they’re close to succeeding. If they are going to succeed both Mira and Danaus are going to have to work together. No problem, right?

Things I loved: Mira is an interesting character. Not exactly likable as she comes off fairly bitchy, arrogant and occasionally cruel. But as the story goes along you realize that she has some pretty layers. She suffers from some pretty deep PTSD from her time with the Naturi and it still haunts her. Thank you for making a character who goes through some fairly extreme events to have to deal with the aftermath. So often life and death situations happen in every book or story and the lead character throws it off like it was just another day at the office. Mira also cares about her bodyguards (though really doesn’t need them). She has vulnerability and she makes mistakes. Danaus tries to be his own character as well and begins as a vampire hating hunter and through his time with Mira realizes that not everything is so black and white. Plus I really do want to know more about him and who and what he really is. His budding romance with Mira is also nice because it wasn’t love at first sight as it happens so often of late. For once it might actually take some time so kudos there.

The Naturi (elemental) and Bori (demons and angels) are interesting races in the overall world building. Similar to the fae, the Naturi control elements and have been trying to escape imprisonment for some time. The Bori are all but absent though vampires side with the bori while werewolves would fall under the control of the Naturi. This is great stuff. Interesting and different. Which is why I was so disappointed when both the plot and the lead characters failed to be interesting and different, which brings us to….

Things I didn’t love so much: Oh look another strong woman who apparently has a small harem of men who love her, adore her, hate and love her at the same time, etc. Boring. Don’t go the Anita Blake route please. Have some female characters. Have a woman who doesn’t have a bevy of hot guys clamoring about her. Or I don’t know, how about one guy. It is just so Mary Sue and annoying as hell. What happened to having girlfriends or one lover. How about not everyone likes you? That would be interesting. Harem of guys not interesting.

It was extremely slow to start and the pacing was uneven. Whoa on the exposition. While it was still a fairly quick read, the pacing and narrative flaws that became fairly apparent with Mira’s point of view made it a little rollercoaster-y for me.

I hate that this is very obviously the first in a series. I have said it before but I miss one shots. I miss having a complete story in one book. Hell I will even take trilogies, but books that go 3 and more are quite often unsatisfying. I almost want to take away a happy bookmark just because of it. It is an incomplete story, but not enough of the good stuff for me to really invest in reading more which is unfortunate.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. While there were some decent attempts at originality, I fear that it was not enough. Plus I just cannot afford a new series.

Part of: A Series
Book One: Nightwalker
Book two: Dayhunter
Book Three: Dawnbreaker
Book Four: Pray for Dawn
Book Five: Wait for Dusk


Also Recommended: Storm Born by Richelle Mead, Ill Wind by Rachel Caine, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, Mercy Thompson by Patricia Briggs, and Toby Daye series by Seanan McGuire.

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Disappearing Nightly: A Review

Disappearing Nightly
Written by: Laura Resnick
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Luna Books
Language: English
November 2006
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Esther Diamond Series #1

I'm not a heroine -- I just play one.

Also psychotics, vamps, orphans, hookers, housewives and -- on one memorable occasion -- a singing rutabaga. It was never my ambition to utilize my extensive dramatic training by playing a musical vegetable. However, as my agent is fond of pointing out, there are more actors in New York than there are people in most other cities. Translation: Beggars can't be choosers.

This explains how I wound up painting my body green and prancing around stage half-naked the night Golly Gee, the female lead in the off-broadway show "Sorcerer!" disappeared into thin air. Literally.

Now other performers are also vanishing, and a mysterious stranger is warning me: There is evil among us. But the producers want me to take over Golly's part.

Looks like I'm going to need a little magical help if I want to keep my starring role . . .


+++++++++++++

I have never been one for too much fluff. I am the girl who would rather watch an action movie or a horror film than watch a romantic comedy. I stay away from the beach reads and reality tv. I want substance. I want characters I like, instead of ones I despise. I want smart women who save themselves and by god I want some decent prose.

When I write reviews I always try to find something redeeming about a book. Not every book is going to inspire me or give me something I can relate to, but usually I can find a decent plot or maybe a character I like. Sometimes it’s some great dialogue. I hate to give up on a book. I love books. Someone put their heart into something and this is their imagination in paper form. Books smell nice. They feel nice and they take me on journeys and vacations.

But sometimes, just sometimes you just have to shake your head and wish you had a nice vacation from your “vacation”. Sometimes you want your 3 hours back. I know that I am not the only one out there who sometimes finds it really hard to get to the last page, who wants to write in the books with red pen, and who tries really hard to find one redeeming quality. This was one of those books.

Esther is a 20 something stage actress trying to make it big but failing as a wood nymph in a play called Sorcerer. Luckily she is the understudy to Golly Gee who character Virtue is the other lead. When Golly Gee disappears during one of the magic acts in the play, Esther becomes the new lead. Everything should be great right? Well it would be if it wasn’t for the warnings that she is next if she goes into the Crystal Cage just like Golly Gee. More magical acts across the city are also missing key performers. Also Evil is afoot.

Dr. Maximillian Zadok is a member of a secret society called Magnum Collegium. The Collegium keeps the supernatural community in check. With Esther’s help the two try to track down who is behind the disappearances and maybe just maybe Esther can keep her job.

Things I loved: I enjoyed the cover. I think that is why I picked it up in the first place. And you have to admit the cast of characters ranges from Drag Queens to Demons. The author also tried to do her best to bring something new to a genre that is full of vampires and werewolves. Unfortunately these are really the only things going for it. Which brings me to what I didn’t like.

Things I didn’t love so much: Esther is an idiot. Snarky = check, though mostly it comes off as bitchy. Delightfully spunky or a gal with moxie she is not. Clueless = check. I wanted to like her, really I did. Her mom keeps nagging for her to just settle down with nice boy and have lots of babies instead of continuing to struggle as an actress. Trust me I completely relate to that part, except sometimes it’s my father and he constantly thinks that every job I do is beneath me. But that is about all I relate to. Oh dear goddess, Esther is like a four year old after eating a giant pixistik, though to be honest so is everyone else including the supposedly smart ones like the Detective and Zadok. Their attention spans are about…ooh look a squirrel.

I didn’t buy the romance. Not sure what either one sees in the other. And the forced comedic scenes…egads. I just didn’t get it. A coffee joke is funny…not when it lasts 20 pages. A Quirky joke about your job also funny but again not when it lasts an entire chapter. It was all just so over the top.

Of course we have our dealbreaker…rape. It happens, but it should never be funny. And I felt like it was supposed to be the ironic guffaw (You see our villain wants all of the power so he conjures a demon to give him said awesomeness. But the demon expects payment, a pretty little virgin he can defile to his heart’s content. Esther realizes that our villain is a virgin and hands him over to the demon. Insert laugh track or happy little smirk since he got his just desserts). Nope not funny and neither was the rest of the book. Ergh. Seriously if I met Esther on the street I think I’d trip her. Put this way, far far away.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow. If you are bored and have nothing else to do.There are much better Luna books out there.

Part of: A Series


Also Recommended: Storm Born by Richelle Mead, Ill Wind by Rachel Caine, Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews, and Hard Magic by Laura Ann Gilman.

1.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

TUESDAY TRAILERS: Step Up - All In

I seriously cannot help but love the Step Up films. Sure they are formulaic, the acting is usually pretty bad, but boy do I love the dancing. Yeah Moose. Some of the entries are decent, others are not. I also really dig seeing all of my So You Think You Can Dance alums along with those from LXD. It makes a girl giddy. Also Step Up 3D was actually really decent in 3D. I know I cannot be the only one who might be a little happy that a new one is coming out this summer.


Summary: In the latest entry in the Step Up franchise, all-stars from previous installments come together in glittering Las Vegas, battling for a victory that could define their dreams and their careers.... Opens July 25, 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon - A Review

Hawkeye Vol 1: My Life As A Weapon
Written by: Matt Fraction
Illustrated by: David Aja, Javier Pulido, Alan Davis
Trade: 136 pages
Publisher: Marvel
Language: English
March 2013
Genre: Comic/Graphic Novel

The breakout star of this summer's blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton - aka the self-made hero Hawkeye - fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he's out to prove himself as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence - before he becomes the most wanted man in the world. You won't believe what is on The Tape! What is the Vagabond Code? Matt Fraction pens a Hawkeye thriller that spans the globe...and the darkest parts of Hawkeye's mind. Barton and Bishop mean double the Hawkeye and double the trouble...and stealing from the rich never looked so good.

COLLECTING: Hawkeye 1-5, Young Avengers Presents 6


+++++++++++++

What is it about archers? They are everywhere now from Katniss Everdeen to the Green Arrow and of course Hawkeye. And there really is something about Hawkeye. He’s not like the other Avengers. Hero yes. Superpowered? Not really. He is the one you can relate to. And I can certainly get all lusty after him especially when he looks like Jeremy Renner in the Marvel films.

Now I have always been a Marvel girl over DC (though you know I have tons of Vertigo love). I was a huge X-Men fan growing up and while I have read a decent amount of Avengers stuff over the years, I am not well versed in Clint Barton. This is where my friend Kristin comes in. This year for Emerald City Con she and her buds are going as Mad Men/Cocktail style Avengers. I was allotted to do Scarlet Witch, though was sorely tempted to do a fun gender swapped Quicksilver as I love the colors, but alas couldn’t quite swing the trip this year due to work obligations and that nagging lack of fundage problem as well. Kristin did a great classic Hawkeye costume and in an effort to learn even more about her cosplay character she picked up Matt Fraction’s Haweye. And then very nicely let me borrow it. After all Comic Book 101 this month’s genre was Superheroes so it worked in my favor.

I like Hawkeye. He’s a smart ass. He gets into trouble. But he’s also the guy who is hella good with a bow and arrow and also one of the good guys. As an Avenger he works with people far more powerful than he is, but he holds his own. You cannot help but like him even when he gets in way over his head. Fraction really plays this up and I dig it. It makes Clint even more relatable than he already was. The first panel shows him crashing out a high window and then falling into a hospital bed for six weeks while he recovers. You never really see that with the other White Hats.

This is about his down time when he’s not off saving the world with the Avengers. He tries to live a normal life, knock back a few beers with his neighbors on the rooftop of their apartment building, try to keep it low key. Of course with Clint that never really happens as he has a Russian Mafia slumlord who owns his building (oh the feels with pizza dog). Even when he is working for SHIELD he has to worry about pickpockets and a night at the Circus doesn’t exactly go as planned. It also features Kate Bishop who became the new Hawkeye after Clint had a minor case of death and I kind of adore her bunches including wanting to cosplay her something fierce. She is Clint’s protégé though does quite well on her own. They make a great little team and I love that he recognizes Kate’s mad bow skills.

Things I loved:I love that this is largely contained. No loose ends, instead I want more. I want more Clint and Katie. And I definitely want to read more Matt Fraction.

The humor is top notch from the snark filled comments from Clint, to other languages being formatted as “(Some Spanish-sounding stuff)!” or “(French Stuff).” My favorite would still have to be a naked Clint diving for cover and a classic Hawkeye head covering the naughty bits. Cute.

Let’s talk about the artwork. David Aja’s artwork in the first three issues is amazing and a nice throwback compared to the usual fare similar to Alan Davis’ artwork in the Young Avengers section of the book (which is nice don’t get me wrong but I kind of like the messiness of the first three issues). Love the framing, the layouts and the color choices. Kind of made me all warm and fuzzy and reminded me of old Batman comics I grew up with. I think it fits Clint Barton. It’s less polished and flashy…and yet perfect at the same time. Javier Pulido’s art is just as great but a bit more detailed over all.

Things I didn’t love so much: There really wasn’t anything that I didn’t like. The Young Avengers bit was not my favorite, but gave me more Kate Bishop which I did say I wanted. It was less light hearted than the rest of the volume and focused more on Kate than Clint. I want more though. Much much more Matt Fraction.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Buy. Buy.

Part of: A Series


Also Recommended: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, The Sandman by Neil Gaiman, The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Chew by John Layman

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks