Book Review – Teen Titans: Team Building by J.T. Krul & Fabian Nicieza

Title: Teen Titans: Team Building

Author: J. T. Krul & Fabian Nicieza

Illustrator: Nicola Scott, Marcus To, Adriana Melo & Georges Jeanty

Format: Paperback

Published: 2011

 

Recently I decided to re-read my favorite comics in the world Red Robin. I had a blast reading it and I have decided it is high time for me to try and fill in more of the back story gaps I have and see what I can learn about Tim, his background and the background of the characters surrounding them. Thus, I concluded to read this particular comic as it is directly referenced in my Red Robin comic as the events of this comic lead right into the Red Robin I was reading.

In picking up this particular comic I was all the more in the middle of things but I was still curious and so I went along with it and I saw a bit more of the story surrounding Damien joining the Teen Titans for the brief stint that he was with them and it introduced a lot of other stories and ideas that I am curious about but it didn’t give me what I really wanted and that was more of my favorite Robin, Tim. It did give me a little bit of my second favorite DC comic book character Super Boy but it was more a Cassie AKA Wonder Girl centric which isn’t a problem because I also like her and I am fascinated and curious about her story but again not much was given and there are a lot more questions than answered for me in this particular comic.

Additionally, in this comic there is an Issue of Red Robin featured in it that I have already read in my Red Robin trade book, so there was a large section that was nothing new or of additional interest to me because I had already read it, and recently too. To be honest the vaule of this book to me is slim until I read it in the context of other Teen Titian comics. So as a stand along I rate this particular trade at a 3 out of 5 pages. Of course once I read more surrounding stories that may change and I feel it should have a higher rating after I have more story, till then my rating stands.

Book Review – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In a Ship of Her Own Making

Title: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Author: Catherynne M. Valente

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2011

I was unsure of how I felt about this book to begin with. Part of that was because I was trying to read at work and kept getting interrupted (it took two days to read the first eleven pages) and the other part is because the narrator kept breaking the fourth wall, similarly to the narrator in The Anybodies. But where that didn’t work for me in The Anybodies, it did work for me here, I think because the narrator in this book was less of a character and more of a generic narrator.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland is about a girl named September who gets whisked away to Fairyland by a Green Wind and a Leopard. Once there, she finds herself off on an adventure, to rescue a spoon for some witches from the Marquess who rules over the land. This leads her to meeting with new friends (like A-Through-L, a Wyvern, who is probably my favorite character) and then she ends up running afoul of the Marquess. Then she’s forced to go on another quest, but this one is to save her friends.

September, as a heroine, is plucky, and impulsive, and altogether likeable. I really enjoyed following along with her adventures, and I loved the side characters as well. the big plot twist – well, I called it relatively early on in the book, but that’s not terribly unusual for me.

Over all, a 3/5 – not a book for everybody, but those who like fairy tales and plucky heroines will like this book.

Book Review – The Mad Hatter’s Late Night Tea Party 2

Title:  The Mad Hatter’s Late Night Tea Party 2

Author: Quin Rose

Illustrator:  Riko Skura

Format:  Paperback

Published: 2011

 

Another manga another day.  Alice? You bet.  After reading the first in the series I was a little underwhelmed by the plot arch of the Mad Hatter in the Country of Hearts.  It was a bit crude and direct the first book.  This second book has it’s moments but they are more ‘tasteful’ or as tasteful as Blood Dupree can be than the other book and there was more heart and emotion involved and it was kind of amusing.

 

I actually liked this story even if it did play a little bit on a story arch that was used with a different, character.  In this book Alice was taken by a rival mafia and placed in danger to the point that Blood and the whole Hatter Mafia went to rescue her which was reminiscent of when a group of bad guys captured Alice to get to Nightmare and he rescued her.

 

I think what helped push this story a bit better was Peter White revealing that he wanted Alice to stay in wonderland even if it was with another man, also mentioning that he is her Sunday Afternoon and concept that has intrigued me quite a bit, since discovering it.  Additionally in this story Alice gets to learn of the relationship between Vivaldi and Blood which was something that has not happened in other books.  We as a reader know but Alice as a character has never found out till this point, which I liked because it was neat to see her reaction.

 

Overall, I would give this book at 3 out of 4 page review.  I liked the book well enough and I have no intention to stop reading these Alice books as long as they are available for me to read.  So you have been warned there are more of these reviews yet to come.

Book Review – Tortall and Other Lands (A Collection of Tales)

Title: Tortall and Other Lands (A Collection of Tales)

Author: Tamora Pierce

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2011

In general, I’m not a huge fan of short stories – I always feel like the story is just getting going when it ends – but I make an exception for short stories where I’m familiar with the world-building and therefore can focus on the characters and the plot.

Tortall and Other Lands contains eleven short stories, set mainly in Pierce’s Tortall world, with several contemporary stories, and several others that are in a non-specified world (probably also Tortall, but it’s not made explicit).

In reading these stories, one of the things that struck me was how Pierce has such an ability to create characters who have such unique voices. Nawat sounds different than Kitten, who sounds different than Quiom – and the humans, while a bit more similar (there’s none of the ‘I have no idea why these crazy humans are doing this thing’), still have their own voices.

My least favorite of the collection would be “Nawat,” who, admittedly, was the my least favorite character in the Trickster books (which I really enjoyed for the most part, though I know others had issues with them). A crow with the ability to shapeshift into human, he and Ally have just had their children, and Nawat is forced to decide if he will follow the ways of the crows or the ways of the humans when he discovers a terrible secret about his firstborn daughter. I did buy that he could follow the ways of the crows because he was still very crowlike, but everything he did always felt like he was doing it behind Ally’s back, and he as a character is very non-sympathetic to me for the most part.

My favorite story is (probably) “Mimic,” where a shepherd(ess) finds a strange creature that she heals, and in turn, the creature ends up saving her and the whole village. I loved the worldbuilding on this-the way the birds are part of the village, and the way that Ri delights in them makes for a lovely heroine.

I also really enjoyed “The Hidden Girl” and “Student of Ostriches” – both of which involve the girl realizing that she has the ability to take control of her own life.

“Huntress” was one of the contemporary stories, and the one of the two I liked the least. The female character learns that she doesn’t want to do what it takes to be popular, and a surprising part of her family’s past come to life. The character was understandable and relatable, but for the most part I didn’t like her. The magic portion of the story felt out of place – we don’t get to see any of the aftermath, and the build-up is, perhaps, a bit too subtle.

“Testing” keeps you in the contemporary world, and takes you to a group home for girls. Practical jokes aren’t usually my thing, but the character the jokes are being played on (called X-Ray by the girls) takes them all in stride and therefore the jokes are actually funny. Watching her win them over by telling them stories of her life makes the story warm your heart.

For the most part, the stories rely on knowledge from Tortall to one degree or another, so this collection is more for those who have that background, but they are all solid stories and I highly enjoyed the book.

4/5 pages

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Joker Circus and Liar’s Game

Title: Alice in the Country of Joker Circus and Liar’s Game

Authors: Quin Rose

Illustrator: Mamenosuke Fujimaru

Format: Paperback

Published:  2012

Alice in the Country of Joke has been out and around for few years and I was always hesitant to pick anything from that country up because I wanted to finish the Country of Hearts story but eventually I figured out that the stories don’t entirely flow one right after the other and the Country of Hearts story didn’t seem to progress any just a bunch of smaller stories where Alice ends up picking one person or another in the country of Clover.  Though that repertoire has expanded to some of these stories being in the Country of Hearts and at least one in the Country of Joker.  For the love stories where Alice picks a person the country serves for little more than a back drop so to speak.  This book however is not about Alice picking a person it is more plot heavy and is about Alice being in Wonderland and how she shall remain there.

 

The idea of the Country of Joker is that there are seasons, something that is not there in the other stories and each land has a season and the main season is April season the season of lies ruled by the bothersome Joker.  In this story it is revealed that Alice had forgotten some things such as the fact that people who had been missing in the Country of Clover are returned she thinks they have always been there and doesn’t question how the Clock Tower and the Tower of Clover now the same place.  Everyone is concerned by this on some level and wants her to remember things because it could be bad if she doesn’t.  Additionally there is pressure for Alice to pick a land to spend all of her time in because once the seasons settle; she’ll be locked in at that place unless she gets express permission from the joker to move between lands.  It is clear that there is evil intents for Alice from the Joker and his circus but nothing more is revealed and it has left me very curious for what will happen next and where Alice will choose to live.  The love and romance aspect of the story still lives only it is toned down as Alice hasn’t picked a person that she wants to be with.

 

Over all I would give this story another 4 out of 5 pages and an excellent story.  I would advise this story if you want less romance and more intrigue as this is what this is.  If you expect nothing but the romance you may be disappointed but don’t shun the book because of it, the story holds very well and is something I would recommend reading.  Particularly for the ever hilarious bonus panels of  “If Alice was small” it was quite cute!

Book Review – Invincible: Ultimate Collection Vol 6

Title: Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol 6

Author/Illustrators: Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker, Cliff Rathburn  FCO Plascenicia

Format: Hardback

Published:  2011

 

So it has been a while since I have done a review and I am not going to make excuses about that at all.  I figure they don’t matter and you probably don’t exactly care to hear them, so I’ll get down to the brass taxes and present you with Invincible Ultimate Collection Vol. 6.  It has been a while since I picked up an Invincible book simply due to cost and the ability to find it at the library/willingness to take the time to go to the library but I happened to be in the library and saw this sitting on the shelf.  It was a no brainer to grab it and hope I was remembering the last number I read correctly.

 

Fortunately for me I was correct and I eagerly dug into the book and was not disappointed to say the very least.  I will say straight up I love Invincible.  I have found most comics that I read by Image (the publisher) are always strong comics.  I would say that Invincible is close to one of my favorite comic stories second only to my first comic love of the Red Robin/Batman.  I have always loved Batman from the start and then quickly fell in love with Tim Drake the Red Robin after that but that is beside the point.  To say this comes close to this love is actually saying something to be very honest.

 

What I love so much about Invincible is the powerful story – there is pretty much nothing that the comic is scared to do and I appreciate that it gives a realistic story the super heroes in this series are just as real and human as humans they are super powered and have the same problems as real people of the world only worse because they have super abilities, instead of these abilities making them immune to certain things and making life better, in a lot of ways abilities make things worse.

 

If you have issues with spoilers when it comes to this series I would advise you stop this review here and go get the books and read them, I always give this series a strong review and they continue to stand up to the test of time if you want more information about the series then I advise you go back and find my review for the first book in the series which got a rave review from me because I intend to give some spoilers from this point on.  Don’t say you weren’t warned if you continue to read!

 

This story picks up giving us a bit of a flash back to a previous story that was featured in vol. 4 or 5 where Mark aka Invincible faced again Angstram Levy an thought he had killed him and the regret he felt for doing what he did.  After this flashback the story picks up with the world being invaded with various versions of Invincible destroying the world.  There is a lot of clean-up and repercussions of the destructions and yet all this aftermath is made interesting as you find yourself worried about the health of Eve then to have Viltrumite come to attack set on destroying Mark and his world – it is a gritty battle as Mark as no wish to push on as he blames himself for the destruction that happened though he didn’t cause it himself to Eve waking up and getting involved which brings the fight back into Mark all the more and there is a tone of gore which is odd for me to say this but it is awesome.  The visuals are bright and vibrant the art work is always amazing something I have always enjoyed about these books, clean and vibrant and well done.

 

Any way aside from the reactions the book sets up very nicely for the next one which will be my next review.  Over all, the story was strong and good and there were a few additional surprise twists that I was not expecting that I will not reveal because I don’t want to spoil everything.  So I would strongly advise you go out and get your hands on this series because it is amazing, the characters are strong and endearing and the story is pretty much always gripping.  Over all I would give this a 4 out of 5 page review.

Book Review – Sailor Moon Short Stories 2 by Naoko Takeuchi

Title: Sailor Moon Short Stories 2

Author: Naoko Takeuchi

Format: Paperback

Published: 2004

Translated: 2013

 

For me there has always been something about Sailor Moon, the series captured me and never let go.  I enjoy the characters and loved the Anime and yet despite not giving rave reviews of the manga I can’t help but buy the manga and read it and in some ways love it.  It wasn’t long ago that I was in the store and discovered that there was one more book of short stories for Sailor Moon and I had to place my hands on it.

 

If you are at all familiar with the anime the chief story in this book was the source of the Super S Movie about Luna falling in love with a human and wishing to be Human for a short time to help a man who was dying of a heart condition.  In movie form I found the movie to be a bit odd and different but I think I found the movie to be so odd because I watched at the wrong point during the series.  In manga form the story flowed nicely and was rather an enjoyable read.  Additionally the added short stories were quite good.  The most odd of the stories was the Parallel universe story.  It was interesting seeing all of the girls all grown up with children of their own and knowing that Usagi has a second child. Though this was all interesting I felt that Chibi-Usa was a little off point from what she normally is and the fight in the story was a little weird with Ko-usagi (Usagi’s second daughter) finding a pink cat and saving the planet from a herd of rabbits by taking a whole bunch of cats to make a lynx as they are the natural enemy of rabbits.  It was rather bizarre to be honest but not the worst of the short stories.

 

Over all I found the read to be quite enjoyable and I think I would give this short story book a 4 out of 5 pages.  If you like Sailor Moon then this is a pretty good read and isn’t too difficult to follow as some of the other mangas have been for me in the past.

Book Review – Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One

Author:  Ernest Cline

Format: Hard back

Publication: 2011

It was a fellow co-working who put me onto the book Ready Player One.  He told me about this book saying it was really cool and a must read for me as I was a fellow geek.  He said how he shares his book with pretty much everyone he can and listed how many people read it and powered through it and gave me his copy of the book.  Considering he had given me his personal copy I felt a bit obliged to go ahead and read it as he did ask me about it on occasion.

Despite the obligation to read the book I am very glad I read it! My coworker was very accurate about the concept of me liking the book.  Ready Player One is the grail of geeky-ness.  It is a book that is set in a dystrophic future where people spend most of their time in a virtual reality called the OASIS to escape the problems of their lives.  In this future the virtual reality is practically as real as true reality.  In the book the creator of the OASIS James Halliday was a man who grew up in the 80’s and had a deep love of the decade.  As such he incorporated a lot of aspects of said love into the alternate reality.  On top of that, at the time of his death he informed the world at large that he hid an easter egg in the reality and that they would need to solve his riddles and prove themselves worthy to get his mass fortune and control of the OASIS.  Once this announcement was made the entire world delved back into 80’s pop culture, as well as geek culture which are two loves of Halliday’s.

If you have any love of the 80’s or even lived it like I did you’ll enjoy the book for some of the references to that time period and things you and I remember well, as well as a few slightly more obscure things as well.  You can jump in and do the research like my friend did or just coast along reading it like I did and still have a fantastic time.  Also if you are a geek of any sort you will love some of the geek references such as tributes to Star Wars, Firefly, Whedonverse, Star Trek, Back to the Future and many more.  Additionally if you are a gamer of any sort the amount of games brought up is phenomenal.  I was loving it as the Atari and one of my all time favorite game Kaboom was mentioned and just enjoying the whole game play aspect of a lot of things.

Beyond just the geek, gamming and 80’s pop culture references, a good story is told and crafted, one that just pulls you into the world of the book as you follow the adventure Wade/Parzival  as he searches for the easter egg and faces more challenges than just figuring out the puzzle that Halliday put before him.  He also has to face threats upon his life and fight to survive in the real world and fight to keep the reality that he’s grown up with and come to love safe from those who would seek the easter egg to exploit and ruing the OASIS for most everyone by making it a massive corporate machine.

Over all, I loved the book and was quickly immersed in.  I will admit the start can be a little slow but if you can make it in just a few chapters the action really builds up quickly and stays pretty strong.  There is a small slow down in the middle of the book but if you keep plugging away for just a few chapters you won’t regret it!  You will find yourself thrown back into the action and from there it does not stop and it is a real page turner, I found myself struggling to put the book down when I had to and taking a full day just to sit and read and finish the book.  It was very good and left you with an ambiguous but completed ending.  It’s a book where I could see and love to read more only to go back to the world the book created and see what becomes of the characters after the end but I’m not left with the feeling that I’ve been cheated if I don’t have a second book.

With that said I would recommend this book to any gamer, any geek, and any person who has lived in or has a love of the 80’s.  Though this book may not be for everyone, this is a book that I think everyone should read and give a try because not only did it have some great flash backs to the past and geek and gaming culture it also crafted an interesting story that I struggled to put down.  Thus I am going to go ahead and give this book a 5 out of 5 page review and suggest that you get your hands on a copy now and read it!

Book Review – Warm Bodies… by Isaac Marion

Title: Warm Bodies

Author: Isaac Marion

Format: Paperback

Published/Written: 2011

Despite having already reviewed one book that has had a recent movie come out for it… I will say that it is not too often that I decide to pick up a book because a movie of it is coming out.  Yet, this was the case with Warm Bodies.  I fell in love with the story line from the first preview I saw in theaters.  I always thought it would be interesting to do a Zombie love story… I was excited to see  someone had done it even if it was just a film… I later discovered that the movie was based off a novel and I got even more excited… I knew I needed to pick up the book even if there was a forever long waiting list for it at the library…

When I sat down to crack the book open… I was surprised by how the story was conveyed.  One would not think that a zombie would make a good narrator for a first person perspective novel… but Isaac accomplishes a very realistic voice that is quite compelling and has a rather strong vocabulary.  (It enthralled me to read words that I hardly see in type let alone hear spoken.)  I know it seems bizarre for a zombie to be able to tell his story in such a way… but it works considering that the life of “R” before he became a zombie indicates that he was a well-educated man.

For me… the story gripped me right away and this book is what I would call something of an escapist book… every time I picked it up… I was lost to the world around me and entered into the post-apocalyptic America where zombies rule the world and the living are few and far between.  The root cause of this happenstance is uncertain… but not really important.  The focus isn’t so much on the how and why but on “R” as he deals with the issues of being a zombie and protecting Julie the girl he meets… after killing her boyfriend.  If you have seen the previews… you know the general plot of the story, thus I don’t feel it would be a spoiler to mention how the gradual change of “R” was masterfully done as it was so subtle… and quite powerful at times.

Over all… I found the book to be very well written… Isaac is a master of short syllabic dialogue, communicating a lot through short conversations and prose.  On the whole… I loved this book, despite knowing most of what would happen based on the movie previews… I was surprised by the twists and turns the journey took to reach the end… I do have a few complaints about the book though.  In the book there are two different narrators, the first of course being “R”… and then a second additional one.  My problem wasn’t with the second perspective, as it gave a lot of depth to the story… the problem was that it was hard at times to realize the switch right away… it didn’t take me too long to discover the change but… it was enough that I had to go back and reread some.  I also took issue with there being a shortage of dialogue tags… most of the time it was fine… considering the brevity of the dialogue but there were a few occasions where I would have to sort of count to see who said what.  This would have been more problematic if the speech patterns between some characters weren’t vastly different from one another…  it did become an issue on occasion though. With that said… I am still going to give this book a 4 page rating…it is not too often that I find a book that I can’t really put down and can finish in about two days.  So… if you are looking for something unique, or are into zombies… this book is a must read… for those not so into zombies… you might still want to give it a try… but I won’t blame you if zombies aren’t your thing…

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Title: Divergent

Author: Veronica Roth

Format: Hardback

Published: 2011

I first picked Divergent up because of two different recommendations.  The first recommendation came from a co-worker of mine who knew I had read the Hunger Game series.  Though I was not fond of the series as a whole as anyone who has read my previous reviews would know, the concept of another book similar to it was not a turn off but a point of intrigue.  I like the idea of the Hunger Games just not the execution, particularly when it came to its sequels and I was also curious to see if another could do it better.  I’m not sure if Veronica Roth succeeded in doing better than Suzanne Collins but she certainly didn’t do it worse even if there are some particular issues I had even with her work.  The other recommendation I received was via a YouTube video from an author that I highly respect and still need to read one of his books (I’ll get there eventually!) John Green.  It was after his recommendation that I determined that I truly needed to read the book!

Upon opening the book I found that there were certain plot elements that I recognized from a review done by Mandi, one of my fellow reviewers.  Realizing it I immediately came to the site to see if I could see if this was an eerie similarity between two different books or the same book.  Due to a fail in technology I could not find Mandi’s review and assumed that it was nothing more than an eerie similarity and continued to read to speak with my fellow reviewer and learn that she had done the book as well.   Considering I was more than half-way done with the book and it had indeed been over six months since her review it was concluded that a different perspective would not hurt anyone.

Once I got past the small feeling of deja vu with the book I admit I was skeptical at first because, seriously who ever thought it was a good idea to break the world up or rather the destroyed city of Chicago into groups based on personality traits.  I was oddly reminded a bit of Hogwarts with the Erudite being Ravenclaw, Dauntless being Gryffindor, and Abnegation being Huffelpuff (though Amenity comes close being the same) then there was Candor the random fifth group focused on the absolute truth.   Though it was explained why society broke up in such a bizarre way it was still weird and made little sense such as the reason as to why the Great Lakes were dried up something even Mandi pointed out in her review.

Yet, despite the weird situation that the novel is set in I kept reading as I found myself curious as our main heroine Beatrice debated about what to do because she is like every other human being in our time and is a Divergent, a person who doesn’t fit in to one personality type.  Of course it isn’t enough to throw a teenage girl into the situation of not knowing who she really is death has to be on the line as well in determining this idea,  just to give it a little more intrigue!

Though it comes across that I am trashing this book, I’m not really.  I enjoyed the read such to the point that I couldn’t put it down on several occasions and almost wound up late for work or not going to bet until the sun was staring to rise.  Despite the oddities of this book and the situation that Roth has placed her characters in the read is rather engrossing and if you like a little bit of odd and can ignore a few moments where the reality of the situation doesn’t gel then you will enjoy the book and I would personally give it a 4 out of 5 page rating.

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: