Category Archives: Book Reviews

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare- Review

tumblr_ogwcviAKSN1r3oy4vo1_500The second book in a series can be difficult to pull off. The first book tends to handle setting everything up. We learn about the world and the characters, we get a hint at the who the greater foe will and we set the stage for other side story lines. The last book in a series is the ultimate climax, everything ends and all of our questions get answered. The second book is the awkward in-between point. It has to continue the plot, develop the characters and make sure everything is set for the finale. A lot of the times this second book gets bogged down by a treading water feel. A lot of the times as a reader I feel like the second book is slower and stagnant.

Unfortunately that is what happened to this second book in Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series, Lord of Shadows. There was plenty of set up but not much actually happened. We get to know our characters better but that is hindered by the lack of communication by almost every character. While the pieces are placed on the board, everyone  spends the book just hiding secrets from each other.

Lord of Shadows picked up a few weeks after Lady Midnight left off. Emma is fake dating Mark because she can’t be with Julian. She won’t tell Julian about the curse for his own “protection.”

This is the part of the book that I had the most difficult with. I have written a full post about why this type of storyline drives me crazy, here. So I won’t go into a full rant. Emma keeps saying throughout the book that she can’t tell Julian about the parabati curse because he could get hurt. She never specifies how he could get hurt or why that would be. She just uses that as her justification for not telling him.

This makes little to no sense to me. Julian has two main priorities in his life; his family and Emma. He will do anything to protect them, but ultimately his family comes first. This was well established in the last book and throughout this book. Julian would NEVER do anything that would end up hurting his siblings. If he had to choose between them and Emma, he would choose them in a second.

So why can’t Emma tell him about the curse? He isn’t going to throw away his family and say, “Screw it, I don’t care what happens. I still want to be with you.” He isn’t going to throw away everything that matters to him. He may want to find a cure or way out, but that does not mean that he will end up hurt. Julian loves Emma but he is sensible. He is smart and he thinks through his decisions. He won’t let the curse hurt his family, period.

I feel like this secret thing was put int place in order to create angst throughout this book. We go on this continued back and forth, Does she/he love me?, for hundred of pages. It wasn’t needed. This same feeling could have been conveyed better and more naturally if they both knew about the curse.

Their communication is one of their strongest points. They talk through glances, they know each other better than anyone else. They even have a special way of tracing letters on their arms or backs, to spread messages. They would have been able to handle this secret, I wanted to see them fight it together. Having this secret kept felt like cheapening that connection between the two of them. Instead of building their bond, the bond was weakened throughout the story.

While Emma is busy keeping her secret they learn that Kieran is going to be put to death for killing Iralath. Julian, Emma, Mark and Christiana go to Faire to find and rescue Kieran. In the process they make a deal to find The Black Volume.

While this is happening in the background we have a whole storyline with The Centurians and Cohort. There is a set up for a scary way of treating Downworlders and those who aren’t Shadowhunters. This storyline hit close to reality and was a bit hard to read at times just because I can see so much of it happening in our world today. I think I know where this part of the storyline is going and it is going to aggravate me in the next book.

Tucked into all of this there is the storyline from the last book about raising Annabel and her backstory. This was the storyline I thought we would stick with from the last book but it kind of got lost in the pages of the number of other plot lines going on.

One of my favorite parts of this book was what we learned about Kit. Kit is an interesting character and a type we haven’t seen yet in this series. Kit knows the mundane world, the shadowhunter world and the downworlder world. He has a connection to them all and he was raised with one way of thinking. Throughout the story we see Kit begin to change how he thinks and how he sees the shadowhunter world.

I loved his connection to Ty. Kit understands Ty because he know the mundane world and mundane medicine. I like that he never felt disconnected from Ty, he actually connected best with Ty. I am interested to see how the connection builds after the events of the finale. I have a feeling that the two of them are either going to enter into a relationship together or become parabati or both if the curse is broken.

Kit was the character that grew throughout the book. He development felt natural. He is accepted into this family, though he at first doesn’t want to be. He begins to understand how they operate and he sees that he may have a place in this world if he wants it. I am eager to see what happened with him in the next book.

I didn’t hate this book at all. I was just expecting more from it. I think the secret keeping is what made this book difficult for me. It might just be me and my dislike of that particular storyline. I felt like it was used in order to force storylines instead of finding ways to do it naturally. Emma and Julian could have had strife in their relationship without the secret keeping. Christina could have gotten closer to Mark without Diego keeping secrets from her. I just wish this idea wasn’t the main point of this book.

I am interested to see how this story ends. Julian is going to be interesting in the next book. After the way the book ended i think we are going to see a very dark side of his character. I hope we see his dark side, I hope he loses it and has to be brought back. That will be interesting and will give us an interesting moral gray line to focus on. I have hope that this series will end in a satisfying way, but we will have to see.

At the Edge of the Universe – Shaun David Hutchinson – Review

edge of universeShaun David Hutchinson’s books are going to be stories that have one thing going on the surface and another thing in the deeper story. At the Edge of the Universe is about moving on in life, not letting one soul or one event become the center of your universe. You have to see the world is larger than just you. Take one step beyond your personal circle and the world opens up.

Ozzie and Tommy have been best friends since they were young. They have been dating since 8th grade. One day Ozzie wakes up and Tommy has disappeared. No one remembers he existed at all, no one but Ozzie.

Ozzie is set on finding  his lost boyfriend, desperate for him to not be truly forgotten. Though complications arise when he falls for his physics project partner, Calvin. Can he let Tommy go? What should he do about the universe that is literally shrinking around him? No one else notices Tommy’ disappearance or the shrinking universe. Does it matter in the end? Was Tommy even real at all?

The plot of the universe shrinking and Tommy not being remembered are secondary to the fact that Ozzie has had an issue seeing the world beyond himself. At first he seems selfish. HIs parents are divorcing and he keeps speaking about in terms of how it will effect him. His brother is leaving for the army and he again centers the issue on how it connects to him. Things at first surround him, the universe is about him.

As the universe begins to shrink, Ozzie begins to understand that he isn’t the only one in the world. Everyone has their own problems, some much serious than his own.

I really liked the way these two ideas were juxtaposed with each other. The universe is literally shrinking just as Ozzie is learning that the world is much bigger than he initially thought. Just as he is looking around, wanting to experience more he is losing it all. He learns quickly not to let life center on one thing and one thing only. Just as he is learning all of this he becomes the literal center of the universe and it is the last thing he wants.

Just as with we are the ants the side characters in this story are well developed. No one came off as flat. I would say that we are the ants does a bit better job of it but I did appreciate that we learn about everyone in this book and not just Ozzie, Tommy and Calvin. Also this book has a very diverse set of characters.

Lua, one of Ozzie’s best friends, is a genre fluid character. This is the first time I have ever read a book with this type of character and I loved the inclusion. I also like the explanation, it is simple and succinct. Lua tells her friends that the pronoun to use with them can be based off their clothing. If he is dressed in a more masculine type outfit than everyone can use “he,” pronouns. If she is dressed more traditionally feminine then everyone can use “she” pronouns. It was easy to follow, and understand.

I also loved how everyone reacted to them. I never felt like anyone was preaching about it to the reader. This was who Lua was. No one fought with them. There was a bit confusion from some of the more antagonist type characters but once we find out why, it all makes sense. I like the inclusion that felt natural. Lua wasn’t forced into the story to have representation, they were included because that is who this character was. I like this type of inclusion, when it just feels like the character is anyone else, nothing different or special but just a person.

Lua wasn’t the only character of diversity. One of Ozzie’s friends is described as asexual and Tommy is black. The story doesn’t focus on just one of these characters, but they are included to show the reader that the world around is much more diverse than you may think. I appreciate books like this because, especially now, we have to see how diverse and beautiful our world is.

By the end of the book I wasn’t sure if Tommy was real or if that really mattered. What mattered was if Ozzie could see that the universe is this larger thing and we have to find a way to balance ourselves in it. If you don’t find that balance you may end up losing yourself.

I enjoy Shaun David Hutchinson’s stories because they are not only diverse but deep. He uses surface level fantasy to delve into deeper issues and ways to see the world. He is able to explore difficult topics with making you feel bogged down or preached at. The reader is comfortable as they read, eager to see how things turn out. You feel connected to the characters no matter how different than you they may be.

The Magicians – Review (Minor Spoilers)

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I have been hearing about The Magicians series for a while. I saw it became a tv series on SyFy. It is just one of those books that I have seen recommended over and over again and I finally decided to give it a shot. When I bought the book, the cashier at Barnes and Noble told me, “Great choice, I love this series.” I went into this book with very high expectations and I was a bit let down, to be honest. There is potential in this book and I am going to continue with this series to see if that potential lives up to anything.

The Magicians book follows Quintin Coldwater as he attempts to find his purpose in the world. He is someone who is always on the outskirts and has never felt like he fits in. He adores a book series called the “Fillory,” series. They have a Tales of Narnia vibe to them.

One day after a college interview gone wrong he gets a mysterious note that leads him to Brakebills, a school of magic. After passing the entrance exam he enters a whole new world, one of magic and possibility. The first book follows his time through school and him finding out the land he has obsessed about his whole life, Fillory, is a real place

That is about all there is too this book. Quintin goes to school, studies and finds out Fillory is real and has a final battle at the end. Most of the book is just him going through school. Brakebills had a Harry Potter feel to it. A magic school, that is boarding school, that no one but those chosen can find. They are separated into school years and later into specialities (though Quintin never gets one).

The first two-thirds of the book nothing really happens. Each chapter is a vignette or a short story of some incident during his schooling. Everything happens and gets fixed inside of that chapter. Nothing last beyond the chapter, no conflict resonates throughout the entire book.

I enjoyed the chapters, but I found myself asking, “So what?”.  I wanted to know more, needed to know where the story was going. Was there some bigger danger they would learn to fight? Was Quintin going to lose the magic and have to fight to get it back? Where was the overall story heading? Did it have a destination or was it just a glimpse into this kid getting a new life? If that was the case how was that going to sustain 3 books?

It wasn’t until the last third that everything started happening. I won’t say what happened in order not to spoil it but the ending gave me a reason to keep reading. It was action packed, fast-paced and showed me that this story had potential. There was a purpose and it could go somewhere. If it wasn’t for that final part, I wouldn’t have picked up the next book in the series.

The other issue I had with this book was the magic system. I do not know how to explain the magic system. It has something to do with circumstances, which I am not sure what that means in the context of magic. It is complex, and it appears to be a difficult system to learn, which I liked but I wish I understood how it worked better. I felt like we had to trust the characters and just let magic, be magic. Which I guess is all right but makes it hard to follow sometimes.

Quintin is our main character and his is someone who cannot be happy no matter what. He is a type of person who drives me insane. He gets magic, but it isn’t enough. He finds out Fillory is real, but that isn’t enough either. I groaned every time he would take a step back and say something like, “I thought this is what I wanted but I feel like something is missing.” There was just always something missing, and I got super frustrated by his complaining by the end. I wanted him happy for five minutes.

I did not love this book, but the ending showed me that there is potential. I feel like a greater point is being made, and that it is just taking time to manifest. I am almost done with the second book at this point and I like it better. I am interested to see how everything plays out and if this long introduction was worth it or not.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – Susan Cain – (Review)

quiet-the-power-of-introverts-in-a-world-that-cant-stop-talkingI was always the quiet kid. I did not like to be put in the center of attention and I had trouble getting to know new people. I dreaded having to go to parties where I knew only a handful of people. I was called shy because I talked little. People learned quickly that I preferred to be alone or in small groups. And for a long time I thought that was “wrong,” in some manner. I thought that there was something off about the way I dealt with life because I was not comfortable in situations so many others seemed comfortable in.

My parents did their best not to force me into any situations that I did not want to be part of, but I know it was sometimes hard to have a kid who didn’t seem to want to talk to people. They were perfectly fine with me being quiet and spending time on my own, they never made me feel like I was doing anything wrong. It was more watching the world around me and wondering why I couldn’t be like everyone else. Was there something wrong with being the quiet girl? The one who preferred to hang out with two or three people versus a huge group? Who got tired after spending extended time with people?

It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I came to understand what an introvert truly was and that there was nothing wrong with being one.  I saw Susan Cain’s TED Talk (watch here) about being an introvert and it intrigued me. She was talking about me and she was talking about how there was nothing wrong with being quiet. I then found out she wrote a book and I knew I had to read it. The title Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, interested me right away.

I had heard the terms introvert, extrovert and ambivert before, I just didn’t have a good grasp on what they meant. I thought introvert’s were shy and extroverts were outgoing and loud and ambiverts were in the middle. After reading Quiet I learned that there was so much more to those terms than I knew about before.

One of the first things this book does is explain what an introvert is. The true difference between introverts and extroverts are how and where they gain their energy. Extroverts gather energy from being around people and being in social situations. While introverts gain their energy from being either alone or in small groups of people. Introverts get tired when they have to constantly be social.

I read these definitions and it instantly clicked with me. I don’t hate being around people (which is a distinction that is made many times throughout the book. Introverts do like being around people, just in smaller doses). I enjoy going out and spending time with family and friends. I love fun camping weekends and going on vacations but they also can be tiring for me. I find myself wanting to be alone for at least an hour or so. I find myself just needing time to decompress and for a while I thought there was something wrong with me. After reading Quiet I realized that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be alone sometime. There is nothing wrong with being someone who enjoys spending an entire day reading or watching TV without anyone else around.

One of the other things this book does is make a note that our world is an extrovert world, our society today (at least Western society) wants you to be social, all the time. You are expected to be able to go to networking events and talk continuously with people, you are expected to be okay with striking up conversations with everyone around you and want to spend all your time with people. You are expected to enjoy this and, for it to be something that energizes you.

Our society has trouble understanding why someone would want to stay home alone. Why someone doesn’t want to take part in small talk. Why would someone want to be quiet and listen more than talk? Our society instantly pushes these people to the side and calls us antisocial and shy. We are told that we need to change, we need to be more outgoing; or else we may not get the job or career we want or we may never find right person to be with.

This book explains the world we live in and then gives tips on how to exist in this world. Right now this is the society we have. Changing people’s perceptions and making them understand that introverts don’t hate everyone and don’t hate people will take time. It will take time for people to realize that sometimes we need time to recharge or we prefer to have deep conversations instead of pointless small talk.

I enjoyed this book because it told me that being introvert isn’t wrong. There is nothing wrong with how I interact and view the world. It helped me see ways that I can exist in our current world without overwhelming myself or completely changing who I am.

I no longer try to force myself into social situations that make me exhausted or uncomfortable because I think I have to do them. I take time to be alone, especially after extensive time socializing. I know how to take care of myself now. This book helped me start to understand this side of myself. I have also had other help with this but this book was a open door for me. I was hoping to better understand what the term introvert meant and I was pleasantly surprised to learn more about myself as I read.

If you are someone who is an introvert and wants to understand the term and what it means for you; or if you are someone who is interested in this part of personality, you will find this book helpful. It is a great book that explains who introverts are and what power they hold in our world today.

A Conjuring of Light By V.E. Schwab Review (Minor Spoilers)

(This is a review for a third book in a series. There will be minor spoilers for the previous two books)

29939230The end to a series worries me, whether it be a TV show or book series. I am eager to reach the conclusion, to see how things work themselves out but I am also a bit terrified. The final book in a series is the one chance to wrap everything up in a way that makes sense and gives us an idea of what will become of the characters. I know that there is a lot of pressure to end a series just right. I have been severely disappointed before (*cough Hunger Games, Maze Runner cough*) and that scares me for other series. Then there are the times where things just fall right into place and things end perfectly. V.E. Schwab’s A Conjuring of Light is one that ends just the way it should have.

A Conjuring of Light picks up right where A Gathering of Shadows left off. Kell is a prisoner, Rhy is dying and Lila is determined to save them both. I am not going to reveal too much of what happens because it could ruin the story. But the plot primarily revolves around everyone trying to banish the shadow king from Black London. They all realize they have to work together to get their home back.

This book took off from the very first page. The tension and stakes are set high and they do not soften at all. Things began at a running pace and they only grow into a sprint as the book goes on. I was on the edge of my seat from the start, waiting to see what the next chapter was going to bring. Who would going to get hurt or die? What obstacles were going to fall into their way? What were they going to do to defeat this threat? The pace never let up and I loved that. For a final book I wanted things to keep moving and this book did just that.

All of the characters evolved well throughout this series but the one that struck me in this book was Holland. Holland was a character that sat in the background for the other two books for me. I didn’t feel anything strong for him one way or another. He was just kind of there. I understood him. He was being forced to act against his will and he loved his city but I didn’t connect to why. I didn’t get why I should care. This book changed all of that.

This was Holland’s book. We saw his past, and got an understanding of his connection to White London. His choices, what he wanted and what he was willing to do all made sense after this book. I became invested in his life and was eager to keep learning more about him and his past. He felt the most alive to me. I felt sympathy for him and wanted to help him, which was not something I thought I was going to feel for him when I started the book.

Another aspect I really liked of this book was the way the romantic aspects were wrapped up. Often romance has a tendency to take over a story. Even if the book is not romance, the romantic aspects start to dictate the choices made and where the story goes. I like romance but I have an issue when we lose the story inside that romance.

This series did not do that. The two romantic storylines were integrated into the larger story well. We got a wrap up to them, we got to ee the issues inside those relationships but they weren’t the only thing we focused on. We got the bigger story with the romance elements inside of it. I appreciated the way they were written and wrapped up.

This was the way to end a series in my opinion. The plot came to a final conclusion. The relationships were finalized and there was still room left open for another story with these characters. I like when there is a possibility for more while ending the story we were reading in a final and satisfactory way.

Beauty and the Beast – Movie Review – (Spoilers)

bntbtripI have never been a princess type girl. In Disney movies I tend to like the side characters more than the heroine. Most of the time I have difficult relating to the princess. I say most of the time because there is one princess that I adore and that is Belle.

I am Belle and Belle is me. If I was going to see myself in any movie, “Beauty and the Beast” is the movie. Not only are we both bookworms but we also both fall outside the norms set by society. Belle wants to see more outside her village and knows there is more to life. I loved to see more of the world and get to know more about the cultures throughout the world. Also like Belle I work hard to see past appearances and get to know people for who they are, not who they appear to be. I understand that much of the time a tough exterior may be a mask or facade to cover up something else underneath.

When I heard the next live action movie Disney was doing was going to be “Beauty and the Beast”, I was ecstatic. Not only is it one of my favorite stories but Emma Watson was going to be Belle and I could not see how this could go wrong. I was pleased to find out that this movie did everything I wanted it to do. It told a classic tale and also deepened the story and characters. It has to be one of my new favorite movies.

One of the reasons I enjoy these live action remakes is that they are extending the story. They answer some unanswered questions and also give us a better idea of who the characters are. In this version both Belle and the Beast get a deeper story. We get an idea of what their pasts were like which makes their choices and personalities’ makes sense. Beast is not just some spoiled brat and Belle is not naive. They both had rough childhoods but they took two separate paths which led to very different places. I liked the juxtaposition of their childhood showing how things can change with one relationship.

A few aspects of the story were changed from the original animation. One of the other major chances was that Belle’s father was not some overly crazy inventor. He was a softer man who just wanted to protect and make his daughter happy. I liked that he was more relatable.

Also I loved that they changed the fact that the Beast could not read. He not only could read but he was well read. Belle was able to relate to him on this level. This gave them a way to bond and find a connection. I think this made their relationship a bit more solid and I liked seeing them talk about books and poems. I felt like this made it easier for them to fall for each other and easier for us an audience to see their connection.

I wanted this version to push the story further and it did just that. The story became about not only their relationship but who they were and what led them to each other. I highly recommend this movie for anyone who enjoyed the animated version. You will get a whole new appreciation for this story.

Of Fire and Stars By Audrey Coulthurst – Review (Minor Spoilers)

ofas-coverI had not heard of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst before it came in a subscription box. The theme of the box was Epic Journeys and I was curious how this story fit that theme. It turned out to be a fun romance. The characters were alive and exciting and it was a fun ride. The main plot did seem to get lost in the romance but in the end it was an enjoyable read.

Princess Dennaleia has been betrothed to the prince of Mynaria since she was a child. Her homeland needs the alliance and it is her duty to see that it happens. The princess is not a normal citizen though. She has a power or Affinity. Unfortunately for her, her power is something to be feared. She has to hide it from her new family and home.

Then a surprising assassination happens and her whole world is thrown into chaos. She not only has to continue to hide who she is but she has to find out what is happening to her new kingdom. She teams up with the prince’s sister Mare to find the killer. In their hunt for the truth they find themselves fall for one another, only complicating things further.

Primariy this was a romance story. I noticed right away that this society didn’t appear to frown upon same-sex relationships. It was a part of their world and they accepted that. They had issues with accepting magic and allowing women to have a major part in the government but the same-sex relationship was accepted.

I liked that Mare and Dennaleia’s romance didn’t center around them trying to make their relationship be “right.” They fell for each other and that was it. There was no discussion about it being morally wrong or anything like that. The wrench in their relationship came from the alliance and the implications associated with breaking that. It wasn’t about changing the minds of the people. I got the impression that Dennaleia could marry Mare without an issue.

I liked that idea. A lot of the times you get the story focusing around coming out and the tribulations with that. Which there is nothing wrong with that type of story but it was nice to just see two people fall for each other and find a way to make their different lives work. I liked that their story felt like any other romance I have read.

The main story started off pretty interesting. There were a lot of different pieces involved. I liked that the magic was part of it. I liked that there were multiple suspects and plans to find out who did it. But that part petered out as the romance got stronger. It felt like we couldn’t concentrate on both, and the main plot suffered.

I wanted the main story to have a lot of working pieces that come together into a strong resolution. I was expecting an epic ending with either a huge fight or big reveal. I didn’t get any of that. I actually knew who was behind it all at the very start. I hoped I was wrong but I wasn’t.

There was less tension throughout the story because I knew where it was going. I knew who did it and why. I felt like I didn’t need the answers and that was a bit disappointing. I was hoping for a bit more. I wish that the romance could have been integrated better into the larger story.

Ultimately this was a fun romance with a mystery/adventure tied into it. If you are looking for an easy going and fun story then you will enjoy this one.

History is All You Left Me – Adam Silvera – Review

1484327318034This book does not play fair. This was my mantra for most of the time I was reading History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera. It was one of those books that messes with your emotions in a way that makes your head spin. One minute I was laughing, then a sentence later it was like someone had let the air out of my balloon and I sank to the ground, head in my hands. I had no idea what I was getting into when I picked this book up.

Griffen is a young man dealing with something many hope to never have to deal with; the death of someone he cared about. His first love, Theo, passes way suddenly and Griffen is left to pick up the pieces of his life and heart.

Unfortunately for Griffen the only person who really knows what he is feeling is Jackson, the boy that Theo was dating before he died. Together they aid each other in dealing with their grief. But Griffen learns he has to find away to put Theo in his past, to live with their history but to not let that history rule him.

I read Adam Silvera’s other novel More Happy Than Not and that book nearly destroyed me. (Full review here). So I knew that Silvera knew how to ignite intense emotions in a reader. I knew he was a writer that could make you severely ache for the characters. I thought I was prepared for the rollercoaster that this book was going to be. I was wrong.

More Happy Than Not was a book that had a constant dark cloud hovering over it. It was rarely one where you smiled. Things started off dim and sad and you only continued to dig into that hole over the course of the story.

This book started off sad but didn’t stay that way. The way it is told is it switches between Theo and Griffen’s past, from the beginning of their relationship until their break up and Theo’s death and the present where Griffen is dealing with Theo’s death and his grief.

One minute you are reading about a cute date they had, laughing at their jokes about the “zombie-pirate apocalypse” and then something is mentioned about the future and it is like a wave has hit you. As a reader you know that, that future does not exist. You know those plans will never be fulfilled, all those promise are broken. You go from laughing to feeling hurt and sad. You keep going up and down almost afraid to turn the next page.

In Silvera’s last book it was the ending that spun the whole story into a different direction. That book smacked you over the head with a brick. This one didn’t hit that hard but it still changed the feel of the story. I am not sure if this is going to be a thing of Silvera’s but I like that there is a pull at the end that deepens the story.

Griffen has to learn to move on with his life. He learns that Theo will always be a part of his past. Their history will always mean something but it can’t consume him. History has to be just that history. You can reference it, learn from it and revel in it when you need that nostalgiaia but you can’t live in it. If you do you risk losing yourself.

Griffen finds a way to add this to who he is as a person and move into his future. It is a future without Theo but is one that he learns to live in. History is all they have now but Griffen learns that, that is okay.

Genius – The Game (Leopold Gout) – Review (Minor Spoilers)

51kdkbvkdyl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Rex, Painted Wolf and Tunde are considered geniuses. They are only teenagers but they are people who have skills that many will never have. Rex is an expert hacker. Tunde is a mechanical and technical wiz who uses what he has around him to make his creations. Painted Wolf knows how to get around obstacles to expose the truth.

Together the three of them have created an online group. They are best friends, helping each other when needed and relying on each other for understanding. Then they are all invited to join in The Game, a mysterious competition that it said to change their lives. They find out that there is much more to this game than they initially thought.

I picked up this book because I liked the sound of the story. I have read this premise before, the mystery game that will change lives. It is not a new concept but it is one that can be done a hundred different ways. Change the way the game is run and those competing and you have a whole new story. So, I was interested to see where this book would take that idea.

Genius The Game, had all the pieces but unfortunately they did not end up fitting together right. The characters were good. Rex, Painted Wolf and Tunde come from whole different worlds. They live in different countries, with vastly different families and life conditions. I liked that they built this strong friendship despite their differences. When they met face-to-face for the first time at the competition they melded together well. There was no tension, it was like they had always hung out. I liked that.

The biggest problem I had with the story was that the subplots didn’t feel like they fit in well enough with the main plot. The main plot is The Game. Everyone wants to win it, for some reward. (Though no one knows what that really is.) Then each of the characters has their own subplot.

Rex needs to find his brother, who disappeared mysteriously. Tunde has to build a Jammer for a war lord who is threatening his village and family. Painted Wolf wants to find out what her father has gotten himself tied up in.

The problem is that each of these stories feel like they were put in, in order to give the characters an excuse to go to this Game. The pretige and reward is not enough. Rex wants to use the quantum computer, Tunde needs the advanced technology available and Painted Wolf wants to follow the head guy in order to find out what her father is doing. I found it odd that they needed a further excuse to get to this Game. The Game wasn’t enough for them, which was strange.

The subplots would have been fine if they had been developed. The summary that I gave above was about all the amount of detail we got about them. I wanted more. I wanted to know if Tunde had a history with the war lord. Why choose Tunde? I wanted to know more about Painted Wolf’s father. Is he a shady character usually? Or someone who is gullible? What kind of relationship was there between Rex and his brother? How much did his disappearance really affect the family?

We got an idea that they all had other things to worry about but nothing too deep. I wanted these plots to develop the characters more, but they didn’t. They didn’t inform me of the characters or change them really at all.

I also had an issue with the believability of some of the plot points. First this Game is just something that pops up one day. The participants get the invitation and are told where to go. They have no other details.

These are teenagers, some who are as young as eleven. I do not see how all their parents just sent their kids on their way without one question. They just nod and say sure. They have no idea who will be there, what the place is like or who is in charge. My parents would have had like thousand questions about this. Few parents just let their kids run around the country or world without some questions or concerns.

Once at The Game Tunde has to not only win The Game but he also has to create a Jammer. I am not a tech person, so I am not sure how much time this stuff takes but I have a feeling it would be a while. In the story, they have two days to solve riddles and also to build this Jammer. He has to not only design it but build and test it. I feel like doing that plus solving the puzzles would take much more time. I just could not see how he could do both.

He builds the Jammer in a few hours without a problem. There is no urgency or sense that he would not do it in time. I wanted a tension between the two. I wanted him to almost to have to decide between the two, but never did. He completed it and moved on, no problem.

I did enjoy most of the story. It ended in a cliffhanger so I am curious how it will end. It just wish that there had been more depth included in the story. If the stories twined together better I think it would have been a much stronger story.

Fables By: Bill Willingham Review (Deluxe Edition Book One)

81g0bqdw4wlWhen I say Snow White what comes to mind? Do you envision a calm, easy-going, meek princess hiding in the woods with seven dwarves as company? How about when I ask you to think about The Big Bad Wolf? Do you envision either a human-like wolf or a man with wolf features hunting and devoting a little girl dressed in red? Or maybe you think of a wolf blowing down the homes for three pigs? These images are probably the most common for these characters. They come from he more popular versions of these stories.

I have nothing against these Disney-esque versions of the stories. I grew up with those stories. I was a Disney child, so that is how I was introduce to the fairytales. I love them. But these sterilized adaptations for the modern world. The originals are dark and gritty. They rarely end with a happy ending. Death and torture are normal in the original versions of theses classic fables and fairytales.

The Fable’s comics harken back to these original stories. The comic centers around a group of fables/fairytale characters who are living in our world as refugees. They have had to run from their home that was overtaken by someone called The Adversary. They had no choice but to leave in order to survive.

In our world they are only trying to survive. Our world is very different from their own. They lived their stories out and now they are trying to start new. This is a fresh start for many of them but leaving their pasts behind is not easy. They can’t entirely escape their stories.

I picked up the comic because I played The Wolf Among Us, a Telltale game. It is a decision based game and I enjoy those types of games. I liked that this one had a sort of retelling of the classic stories I have always known. I enjoyed the game and decided to see what the comics offered and see where the characters stores continued to go.

This first collections follows two story lines. The first is a detective, murder mystery. Rose Red, Snow White’s sister, has gone missing and the hunt is on to find her. The second follows the story of an attempted revolution on The Farm, the place where fables who can’t pass as human have to live.

The plot lines were pretty straightforward. They weren’t exactly revolutionary or overly exciting. It was the take on the characters that drew me. I loved the darker, grittier versions of these characters. Their voices were unique and felt very alive and real.

Snow White was our main protagonist and I feel like she may be for most of the series. She is not the meek, nature loving, hiding away, maiden that we know her as. She is tough. She does what she thinks is best no matter what anyone thinks. She speaks her mind. She fights when she has too.

Snow White is probably my least favorite princess; mostly because she seemed very flat and lifeless to me in the movie. I have grown to like her more over the years from the various versions of her I have read. She is made to be tougher and more independent and I like to see that twist. I am hoping her character stays strong and interesting.

The other main character we go to know pretty well was Bibgy, The Big Bad Wolf. He is the sheriff in Fabletown (the name of the town where the fables live in New York).  He is one of my favorite character types. He is the tough exterior, sweet interior person. He has a rough past, we all know that. But this world gives him a chance to start fresh and he is doing the best he can.

He can’t completely fight his nature, because is part of him. But he is not willing to go backwards.I like to see him try to stay on the right side, even when it is tough for him. I am hoping to see his character grow throughout the series.

There was also a very interesting point made in the latter half of this collection. I am hoping it is something that is used and explored more throughout the series. Rose Red makes a point to Snow that some of them are not as lucky as she is.

There are the fables we all know, such as Snow White. There are hundreds of versions of her story throughout the world. Whereas some like, Rose Red, are not as lucky. They aren’t complete forgotten but they are lesser known. In this world it seems that being known affords certain power. The more well known characters are more durable. They can survive things that the lesser known ones may not be able to survive. It seems that survival almost depends on the world knowing who you are and knowing your story.

This is an interesting take on the power of the story. These people’s lives sort of depend on someone knowing who they are. If we forget their story or twist them out of other’s stories we could be killing them. I am hoping the this idea is used more. I like the idea of the story having the power.

This was a fun collection and I am hoping to get to the second one sometime soon. The only issue is that the collections are kind of expensive so this isn’t one I can’t just read right through. I am going to have to continue when I get some extra cash.

If you like fairytale retellings and new takes on old stories you will enjoy this. It is a comic which makes it a faster read. It is a fun and nice set up. I am hoping it continues to be as good as the series develops .

 

 

 

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