Sunday, August 13, 2017

Avengers Assemble: Science Bros.



Avengers Assemble: Science Bros. was hilarious. There were so many funny moments. There were so many pages where I had to show my Hubby. I kept saying to him, "You have to read this." (I also may have mentioned that this collection is by Kelly Sue Deconnick, who wrote all those Captain Marvel comics that I love.) The relationship between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was fun. It was easy, like I think it aught to be, like two people who have known each other for a long time. I really enjoyed the first interaction with them and "The Captains". They're just making breakfast, talking about science stuff, and Bruce Banner calls Tony Stark's science, "razzle dazzle". Captain Marvel just eggs them on. Then they talk about a colleague who is missing, then there is a bet. Then they go on an adventure, with Thor and Spider-Woman. Again, like with the Captain Marvel books I've read, I loved Spider-Woman. I loved her attitude, her humour, her relationship not just with Captain Marvel, but with Hulk too. If I'm going to start reading any new comics, they will definitely be Spider-Woman (not counting the Deadpool and Wolverine books my Hubby picked up). The end though, with Wolverine and especially Spider-Man, was just great. Yay!

Let's razzle dazzle!
The actual Science Bros. adventure is just the first part of this collection. A wonderful amazing part, but it's the only part of the collection I have a problem with, even though I really, really don't want to. The problem is not with the fantastic story. It's not with any of the scenes or plot. It's with the way the first artist drew/coloured/designed Spider-Woman (I'm not really sure how it all works in the comics world). I kept asking myself (and sometime the Hubby), why was it necessary to show her butt-crack? Is her suit so tight, it is constantly going up her butt? Is her suit painted on? The same artists did not do the whole book, and for the first time, I was happy about it. I was tired of seeing Spider-Woman's cleavage through her full-body suit. I really don't want to complain about the art too much, not in a book that I otherwise loved. The expressions on the faces of all the characters throughout the story were amazing, really showing their feelings, their anger, annoyance, fears, and caring. Just when one image had Spider-Woman looking practically like she didn't eat, with skinny arms, no hips and belly button indent, I thought my head was going to explode. When the artist changed, I could easily tell, mainly because Spider-Woman no longer looked like she was sporting body paint. 

(My rant is done.)

We get to see more than just those first few Avengers. We are also given a Black Widow adventure, which gives us hints into her past with Hawkeye, and a deeper look into the "red in her ledger". It was a fascinating, interesting story, which included some (needed) support from Spider-Woman). Afterwards, we get a visit from Vision. We find out about the aftermath of the end of his relationship with Scarlet Witch. He's hurting, a machine, but so much more. He's in pain. There were parts of their story I didn't know about, like what happened to his children, so I had to look it up. I really enjoyed his conversation with Captain Marvel, and I really liked the end. It makes me want to read the New Avengers.

One of the best group shots ever!
Science Bros. is definitely a book I could read again. If I need a laugh or some light in my day, it is not a long read. Like the last Avengers Assemble I read, Science Bros. had many of my favourite characters that I could be engaged by, entertained by, but not overwhelmed. There was never too much going on, it was all just enough. Watching Captain Marvel and Wolverine share popcorn was a great moment. I enjoyed Spider-Man's cheekiness. Science Bros. has easily become one of my favourite graphic novels, the second in a series I am thoroughly enjoying.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Anne Of Green Gables


I cried. I had to suck it in though, and quickly dry my eyes so that my children wouldn't see, since we were in the car. It was a bit of a long drive home from where we were, and since my Hubby was driving, I was happily, excitedly, reading Anne Of Green Gables. The end just got me right in the heart. My feelings... my FEELINGS! (Not that my children would have seen my tears, involved in their own car ride activities.) 

My Hubby noticed though, steeling some glances at me before asking, "Are your crying? Why are you crying?"

"The book, the book made me cry. "

"What happened?"

"I can't tell you." *sniff

"Did all the hobbits die?"

*I give him a stern look. 

"What? I was joking."

(Telling me all the hobbits die is what he did when I read Lord of the Rings shortly after we started dating. Now whenever I have book feels, he asks me if the hobbits died.)

This is the second time I have read Anne Of Green Gables. The first time I read the book, I was in grade seven or eight maybe. I didn't remember much of the exact story, just impressions of Anne and Marilla. I did remember the scene with Gilbert in the schoolhouse when Anne resolutely decides to hate him. I did not remember how much Anne grows up in this novel. She's goes from 11 to 16. Grown up life began so soon back then...

I loved Anne. I loved her exuberance, her fierceness and her imagination. Anne was loyal and hardworking, but would get lost in her dreams. There was joy, excitement and adventure. There was also pain, anger and sorrow. Anne's story was every bit as wonderful as I remembered. 

Though I always intended to reread and finish the series, my time in Prince Edward Island at the beginning of July inspired me to pickup the novel when I got home. Something about being there, visiting the Anne of Green Gables Museum, seeing Lucy Maud Montgomery's things and learning more about her life, connected me to her stories. Anne of Green Gables, is just one of those quintessentially classic Canadian books. Children across the nation and the world read it. It's been made into countless adaptations. I know there is a new one, I haven't seen it yet though. 

The hope that Anne has, as she arrives at the Cuthberts, after having so much sadness and hardship in her young life, calls out to everyone. She moves beyond it, works hard, and makes the people she cares most about proud. Anne of Green Gables really is one of the best books I have ever read and I am looking forward to when my children are old enough to read it too.


Saturday, August 05, 2017

The Dark Tower

I wanted to love The Dark Tower. When I heard that a movie was finally going to be made based on Stephen King's epic novels, I was so excited. I have read all The Dark Tower novels. I have read *most of the graphic novels. This series, the way it has been woven into many of King's other works, is probably my favourite books series. From the trailers though, I could tell this movie was not going to be like any of the books. So that is the mindset I went into the movie with, and any fan of King's novels, should not expect the movie to be like the books.

When we walked out of the theatre and I asked my Hubby what he thought of the movie, he said that he liked it. It was entertaining. I hesitate to say that I "liked" it, because I feel like a proper adaptation of the first Dark Tower book, The Gunslinger would be amazing, a dark, gritty, blend of western and fantasy. There was so much of the mythos that they just touched on, without fully exploring. But it wasn't terrible. I was engaged, I wanted to know what would happen next... because the story was so different from the books, I really didn't know what was going to happen.

The best part of the movie for me was Idris Elba. He can be anyone, in any movie, and make it better. He was thoughtful, harsh, yet caring, the way Roland should be. Also, I have to mention, the sound of Roland's guns was fantastic. I know that it doesn't seem important, but Roland's guns should sound like hand canons, and I feel like they did. This is an entertaining movie, with some good acting. If you haven't read the books, it is probably something you will enjoy. If you're a fan of the novels, just be aware of how different the movie will be.

* I own all the graphic novels that have been published, I just haven't read them yet.

The trailer, so that you know what you're in for.

https://youtu.be/GjwfqXTebIY

Friday, August 04, 2017

Stopping for Strangers


Stopping for Strangers is a well-crafted collection of depressing stories. Someone always seemed to be dying or getting their heartbroken in the end. People were constantly losing something. I just wanted Daniel Griffin to give us some kind of hope. They were engaging, involving, rounded, full stories. I just wish there was a happy-ending occasionally or some kind of positive feeling mixed in with the rest of the story, even if the end isn't happy.

I won this slim volume of short stories from the 49th Shelf ages ago. (There was a mix-up too, where I didn't received the book for months.) I'm sorry I didn't read is sooner. As I often do, I'm going to comment on the stories that really stood out to me.

Promise
That ending blew me away. One sentence and it darkened the entire story. It was brilliantly placed. The timing was perfect. The story was just long enough for that sentence to have impact, for it to slap you across the face.

The Leap
The Leap is painful, heart wrenching. Depressing. I wanted to be done, but I also wanted to know how Marv was going to turn his life around. The story was so full of pain. 

Stopping for Strangers
Stopping for Strangers was weird. I was scared for a bit, the story had a horror element to it. But there was something else underlying everything too. So much was left unknown. 

Mercedes Buyer’s Guide
A stand out for me, Mercedes Buyer’s Guide was interesting and probably least depressing of all the stories. There was still something missing from the lives of the characters. The husband was missing some kind of life satisfaction. The wife was working towards a better education. The children were missing time with their mother. Barbara was missing maybe the things she wanted. Something about the end though, left the story with a different tone than the others. The tone said to me that maybe this family would stay together and maybe they would all be alright. 

I liked Stopping For Strangers. Though dark, it was interesting. I'm happy that I won it and glad I finally read it.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming


I loved Spider-Man: Homecoming more than I thought I would. I heard it was good, really great, but I feel like I've seen SO MANY Spider-Man movies over the years, that part of me was seeing Homecoming just because it was part of the MCU. But nope. The end, the ENDS, were amazing. The different endings definitely elevated the movie for me, but all of it was great. The beginning was hilarious, the middle was fantastic. It was exciting, entertaining, there was character growth, and they used the 3D well. I don't know if I could have asked for more.

Tom Holland was adorable. He was the sweet, goofy, adolescent Peter Parker I wanted. He was a nerd. He was a super-nerd, fully in hero-worship of Iron Man. His relationship with his best friend was great. His crush was lovely. I loved his relationship with Aunt May. The videos he takes were so much fun. I loved how much he wanted to be a hero. For the people who haven't seen Homecoming yet, I don't want to get too much into how much Peter Parker grows, as each event becomes an experience for him to learn from.

Michael Keaton is amazing. AMAZING. For a moment, my mind went all the way back to Beetlejuice. He's so animated, serious, loving, crazy, determined, the Vulture is perfect. You can sort of understand his motivations, but he just seems to let things go to far. He is extreme. Toomes is a complicated character, one you can easily love and hate.

I also have to say how much I loved Zendaya. Her character was hilarious. She was perfectly messy, not a stalker, just observant. She was quiet, intelligent and thoughtful. She appreciated the people who became her friends. I fell for that character.

Also, Flash was the Flash I remember from when I was growing up. He was a complete a$$hole. He was a perfect jerk. His behaviour at the party was perfect. I loved what happened to his car.

I'm nervous but excited about what going to happen to Peter's friend Ned. It'll be something bad, right? No way he's going to be "the guy in the chair" forever. When he was that guy though, and the teacher comes in, and he gives the answer to what he was doing, normally, I wouldn't pay any notice to that particular response. However, my cousin took his daughter, who is a couple of years older than my daughter, to see Spider-Man. She loved it (of course), but she looked at her father and asked what that word meant. I know that this is really vague for people who haven't seen the movie, but I feel like I'll spoil the moment if I give too many details. What I am left with, though, is wondering if my daughter will ask us the same question when she sees the movie.

If you haven't seen Homecoming because you've seen too many Spider-Man movies, don't worry. There's no origin story. There's a reference to how he got his powers, but we are not seeing Peter Parker discover his powers, he's not coming to grips with the change. He has had his powers for a while. He knows how to use them. He made enough of a name for himself already, for Iron Man to have recruited him in Civil War. After that taste of what Spider-Man is like, we get to see an exciting continuation to his story.



Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Orc King

I needed more Drizzt in my life and The Orc King delivered. The amount of time that passed from the end of the last book, The Two Swords to the beginning of this one through me off. I thought the beginning would start closer to the end of The Two Swords, but it is months later. My Hubby reminded me that sometimes, that's just the way it goes with Forgotten Realms novels. (Plus, these are two different series within the Legend of Drizzt series). The Orc King is the first book in Transitions and I am wondering if that series title has more than one meaning. Something happened in the Forgotten Realms/Dungeons and Dragons. The book was published a while ago and my husband thinks it was around when a new Player's Handbook came out. When the D&D roleplaying game gets updated, all of Faerûn can change. R.A. Salvatore sort of refers to the change within the context of the story. The other, (more important to me) transitions are with the characters, the "Companions of the Hall". Catti-Brie is not the warrior she once was, accepting a new role. Wulfgar is making a major change as well. There is a change in the Silver Marches. Dwarves, Orcs, Elves and Humans are all transitioning, changing, and their future is not what they thought it would be.

Can I talk about how much I love Catti-Brie? I've always loved her. I was happy to see how her relationship with Drizzt has progressed. They speak so openly and honestly to each other, it's great. There are no ulterior motives and if one wants to know something, they just ask. Their conversation about Innovindil was interesting. I also appreciated that Catti-Brie had her own growth and change separate from Drizzt. She's forging a new and unexpected path, and I am excited to see where it goes.

I found Bruenor to be frustrating in this novel. I mean, I think I understand all his motives, and I think he was hearing everyone's comments and advice throughout the story, but he was so dismissive. I really like how Hralien balanced him out though. I hope to see more of this elf in future stories. I really liked Wulfgar's change too. I am not sure what role he will play in future stories, but I think he is where he belongs, as though his arc over the last 17 (wow!) books has finally come full circle. I don't know what else that character could do while in Mithral Hall, besides fight, of course.

I wonder what will happen next. I know they will keep looking for Gauntlgrym. I just wonder about the Orcs. I wonder about the Kingdom of Many-Arrows and Mithral Hall. The relationships, the dynamics between races, how it will all change. This is the Transitions series, after all. I expect that there will be a lot of changes coming. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Avengers Assemble

I picked up Avengers Assemble because it was listed as the first book in a series that included Avengers: The Enemy Within, which I had read as part of a Captain Marvel series. When I looked at what other books were part of the series, I saw Science Bros. and knew I had to get them. I am really glad I did and Avengers Assemble is a great first book. Brian Michael Bendis does a great job at bringing everyone together. The story could feel overloaded, but it focuses where it needs to focus and offers snippets of Spider-Man and Mr. Fantastic comments, and others, where necessary. 

The story focuses on the "core" movie Avengers at first, Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Thor. There's a problem. They have to solve it. The problem is really big and they need space help. Enter the Guardians of the Galaxy. Then there's some space adventures. Maybe a couple of the guys die. Also, I'm pretty sure Thor and Gamora were flirting, but that was before the deaths. I've only recently started reading comics/graphic novels more regularly, so (spoiler?) is Thor and Gamora a thing? Because that would be cool.

The art was great. Fun, spacey, earthy, expressive. The colours were great. I loved all the battle scenes. I liked how it was organized, how the art lay on top of each other. The big scenes had an epic feel, but the artist was able to bring the story back into focus for those character moments, like with Hawkeye and Black Widow.

I do think there was a good balance of character and story. Though with so many characters, there wasn't a lot of "growth" happening, we got so see characters meet for the first time and show off their personalities. Rocket and Hawkeye's interactions were great. Drax was direct. Hulk showed emotion and fierceness. There was a lot packed into this book. I didn't find it overwhelming though. It was engaging and exciting. I'm even more eager to read Science Bros. and I wonder how it will all end. (Thanos!)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Court Of Wings And Ruin

I looked at A Court of Wings and Ruin and thought, well, that's shorter than Mist and Fury. Nope. The pages are just thin. The edition I have is a healthy 699 pages. There was a lot packed into those 699 pages. I don't think I have my head around it all yet. 699 pages and I can't believe it's already over. Sarah J. Maas made me want a long book to be even longer.

[Spoilers if you haven't read the first two books in the series. Vague spoilers for A Court of Wings and Ruin] 

A Court of Wings and Ruin starts off where we left Feyre, in the heart of the Spring Court, playing Tamlin's injured love. Revenge for what was done to her sisters is on her mind. However, her duty to the Night Court rules her decisions. I thought there would be more time with Feyre at the Spring Court, but like with the last book, what I thought was going to happen and what actually did, were two different things. I liked that we got to explore Prythian. Other Courts needed attention. There was a race across the land. There was bonding, there was revenge. People got to know each other in ways that they never expected. Characters grew and changed, taking on different roles as the land around them changed. I liked that we got to know the other High Lords better. Until now, we only really knew Rhys, Tamlin and Tarquin. I REALLY hope we get to spend more time with Helion, because there are some great secrets that need to come to light.

I feel like for the most part, Feyre and Rhysand's story is over. Especially with Tamlin's final moment in the story.  I know there are more books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series to be published, but I feel like they will be about other characters. A book about Lucien and Elain, maybe one dealing with Queen Vassa, maybe the same book. A book that takes us deeper into the Dawn Court, the Day Court, Winter and Autumn. Each Court, each "royal family" has so much history, is filled with secrets, they could fill their own books. There are three novels and two novellas coming out in the next five years (according to Goodreads) and I could easily read them all.

I want to know not just about the High Lords, but about the characters I've come to love. What will happen with Mor? She revealed a pretty big secret, her reasons why keeping it silent are understandable, but they have had a cost. What will happen with Azriel? He has a bond with Elain, but where can that lead? What about Amren and Varian? Will we see them in the Summer Court? Will Tarquin see his dreams fulfilled? What will happen to Eris? I feel like somehow, he is misunderstood, and like Rhys, he's been playing a game, hiding his real self.

I really loved this novel, the entire series. I could read it all again. I was actually surprised there weren't more twists at the end. More "endings". But I suppose that also leaves us with more to explore in the future. A Court of Wings and Ruin has left me with a serious book hangover. When I think of what I want to read next, all that comes to might are the characters of the series, what could have been, what may be still, what will never be. I couldn't have asked for a book or series to grip me more.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Wonder Woman


Yes. Just, yes. Wonder Woman was everything that I hoped it would be. Diana was amazing. She was tough, determined, strong, sensitive and iconic. I don't know if I could have loved Diana more. I loved her insistence about training. I loved her directness. Gal Gadot was strong and brilliant, emotional and expressive. She brought Wonder Woman to life on screen with class and independence. Her performance, seeing Wonder Woman up there kicking ass, having a formidable presence, but also being a part of a deep, complex story, was wonderful.  I loved the emotion in the story. I loved that the story made sense, that it was Wonder Woman's origin, but that it also tied into the DC Universe and looks like it will lead nicely into the Justice League movie. I hope there is a lot of Wonder Woman in that movie.

Wonder Woman was my favourite part of Batman V Superman, and I was so very much looking forward to finally seeing her movie, but I was also worried. While I thought the DC Universe stories were okay (I don't hate on them as much as I've seen others), they all disappointed me in some way. So though Wonder Woman looked amazing, and I thought she should have had a bigger role in a movie with the title Dawn of Justice, I was still worried that this film would not live up to my expectations, that it would be like the DC films before it. Seriously though, how has there never been a Wonder Woman film before this? Wonder Woman is 76 years old. There are at least 6 Superman movies I can think of off the top of my head and 8 of Batman. Honestly, I know there are more, but looking them up will probably frustrate me. You know what, let's get back to how awesome the Wonder Woman movie was.

Watching Diana transition from her sheltered life on Themyscira to the world of man was interesting. She knows a lot, over 100 languages and she's read countless books. She's studied and trained hard. But she is not prepared for how women are treated. She is not prepared for the laws that govern the world. She is not prepared for the clothes. I would not be very happy with some of the clothes either, though the outfit Diana settled on seemed to fit her personality well. 

I loved when Diana and Steve were on the boat together. I really enjoyed Steve Trevor. He didn't take over the story. He was the guide with whom Diana could understand the world of man. Through him, she also saw how there was good and evil in everyone. She saw how people make choices and can change. Steve had the typical instinct to protect Diana, but once he saw what she could do, once he learned, she leaped into battle with a cheer; he needed her. Would it have been nice if he trusted her abilities at her word? Yes, but I also think about the World War I era and that this would be typical male behaviour. 

I also have to say I really loved that French village. Diana was amazing there (and everywhere). Her/Steve's men were great there too. In that village, they all learned more about each other, about who they really were and who they could be. It would have been easy to let them be who they seemed at first, but movie let us see more in them, see their goodness.

I want to see Hippolyta again. I want to see what happens when Diana goes home. I want to see how the relationship with her mother has changed and what other changes there may have been on the island. We deserve another Wonder Woman movie. Wonder Woman is easily the best movie DC has made in a long time. I hope they keep that going and everyone watches this fantastic story.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Unless


Unless was art. From the first chapter, this simple, yet complex tale struck me on an artistic level. It fully deserves every award and accolade it has ever received. I don't even know if I can fully describe how much I loved it. Carol Shields' Unless is definitely one of my new favourite books. As I was reading it, I felt it happening, felt myself falling more and more into the story, the characters and the craft of the words. I felt myself fearing the end, fearing the reveal as to what caused Norah's change. Ends can make or break a book for me, but this ending was a bit surprising, but also sort of what I had hoped it what be. I say only a bit surprising, because if I think back to some of the things Reta talked about with her friends, her arc and the story's arc throughout the novel, it is not that surprising. I feel like subtle literary hints were dropped. Of course, they were expertly weaved into the story.

Part of me feels like, why didn't I read Unless years ago? I've only had this copy for about a year (that's not that long compared to some of the unread books I own), but it was published in 2002 and it's by a great Canadian author. I feel like maybe I aught to have read it when I first read The Handmaid's Tale. The other part of me, the maternal part I think, is glad I read it now. I connected with Reta. Though my children are much younger, I also struggle with finding stories, whether books, film or television, with strong female representation. Not just for my daughter, but for my son too. (I'm going to stop there before I get too political and I'll stick with Reta's story.) The letters that she writes grow more and more scathing. I really liked when she said, you couldn't include Virginia Woolf? (I'm paraphrasing.) But she was right and she was connecting it with trying to figure out what happened to Norah.

There's so much in Unless. Motherhood, marriage, women, friendship, mentorship, all ran throughout the story. I found myself questioning Reta's relationship with Danielle Westerman. I don't know if I liked her. Though I always tried to remember that she was 85 and had been used to a certain dynamic with Reta. Now there was a change. Not just with Reta's home life, but Reta had other projects she was working on too. I felt that Danielle expected Reta's feelings to always be like hers, and they weren't. I reminded me of a bit of a parent-child relationship, where you expect your adult child to be more like you than they actually are, then are surprised. Reta's editor was driving me a bit nuts too. He just wouldn't let her talk, she couldn't finish a sentence. All the changes he wanted to make were infuriating. Unless invoked strong emotions with every chapter. It was a great, consuming read. There are so many more aspects I could explore and I look forward to finding more in future readings.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Wonder Woman: Blood

Wonder Woman: Blood was a surprise. Not just because I didn't know what the story was about, but because it was a present. I received Blood, along with Guts, Iron, War, and Flesh. I intended just to flip through the book, as I am currently reading Unless and I don't typically read more than one book at a time. But I couldn't put it down. There was some weird guy, with these three women drinking champagne, there was a bloody battlefield, there was an interesting gentleman with very different eyes, and there was a woman brandishing a shot-gun at him. Connecting all of this was Wonder Woman. Though really, also connecting all of this, was Zeus.

Suddenly, Diana has this woman to protect, brought to her by Hermes. Everything spins after Diana meets her. I really liked Zola and Hermes. I like the trio that they created with Diana. I'm interested to see how their relationships develop through the rest of the series. I have a feeling Zola at least, will be with Diana for a while. Also, Strife. I have mixed feelings about her. She causes a lot of death (and strife), but she's cool. She's irreverent and she understands things in a way others don't. It's definitely a love/hate relationship.

I really like the expressiveness on the faces of not just Wonder Woman, but the other characters as well. I also found the hard black lines in some of the images appealing. I also really liked the pencil sketches on the reverse side of the covers. I found the art engaging, complementing and heightening the story. I couldn't have ask for a better blend between writer and artists.

I read that there was some controversy though, when this story first came out, because it changed Wonder Woman's origin. Though I'm a little unsure whether or not I like that aspect of the story, I'm not surprised that there was a change. Isn't that what The New 52 was supposed to be? I just feel, with all the movies and new stories coming out now, changing part of a superhero's origin story is not a big deal, as long as it's not changing the essence of what makes that hero who they are. Wonder Woman is still a badass. She's tough, but caring. She is who I have come to expect her to be. MY problem with this Wonder Woman book (and the series, until Volume 7), is that there are no WOMEN working on it. I'm not saying that the men who created this book didn't do a good job, because I thoroughly enjoyed the story. I'm just saying that I wonder if that is why when Zola came out, she was wearing underwear instead of pants or shorts. So, I have mixed feelings about it.

In the end, I very much enjoyed The New 52 - Wonder Woman: Blood and I intend to read the entire series. I think it has gotten me closer to knowing this amazing superhero and made me even more excited to see what they do with the film.

Friday, May 12, 2017

ARQ


I like a sci-fi Groundhog Day and that's what ARQ gave me, but it had a twist. The twist at the end, that one second, elevated the movie for me. I saw the trailers for this Netflix movie ages ago, but hadn't gotten around to watching it. Then I found myself with some free time and looking for some entertainment. Ren and Hannah are not your usual couple, the trailers were deceptive with that. Every time loop gave us a new surprise.

Through each loop we learn about Ren and Hannah. ARQ starts right in the meat of the story. There is no preamble, no getting to know the starring couple, there's the bed, the time noticed, the attack. With each loop, Ren learns more. Then Hannah does as well. They learn the truth. They learn about each other and the world beyond. The whole situation is crazy. Who do they trust? Do they escape? Do they try to stop the machine? How many loops has it been? That's the question that has really stuck with me - How many loops has it been? How long does each loop last? Is it days? Months? Years? Finding that border, seeing beyond, really made you think.

ARQ is not the first Netflix Original I've watched, but it was the first movie. It has gotten me interested in watching more, not that I need to add more to my queue. ARQ had action, interesting characters, and a story full of twists and surprises. It was exactly the entertainment I wanted. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps.

Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. is part of Marvel's Secret Wars, specifically Warzones, and it takes place on Battleworld. I was only a little familiar with Secret Wars, so I wasn't sure what to expect here. Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps takes place in an alternate reality. Captain Marvel is the chosen of Doom and she leads a squadron call the Banshees. The Banshees include characters we're familiar with in connection with Carol Danvers, like Helen Cobb. They live on an army base consisting entirely of women. The only men they seem to ever see are the male members of the Thor Corps. These women are pretty badass. Captain Marvel and the Banshees are elite, and they're smart. They figure out something is wrong with the world, that there aught to be something beyond the sky, that it's not just a void. It was really interesting watching them puzzle through the mystery of their world and the mystery of Captain Marvel's powers.

I really enjoyed Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps. I liked seeing Carol as part of this team. I liked how they all stuck by each other, supporting and believing in each other. I liked watching them try and solve this mystery, science versus doctrine. I enjoyed Kelly Sue DeConnick's story and David Lopez's art. I loved the style that calls back to the early 20th century, but combined with fantastical technology. Though there were things I really liked about Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, I'm not totally happy with it. I want to know what happens next. I want answers. I want to know what they discover, if they make it. I read an article saying that the end of Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps was like a goodbye letter from Kelly Sue DeConnick, a metaphor for her (and her team) leaving Marvel and Carol Danvers. Well, that's lovely, but it did not leave me with a satisfying conclusion. If you are a Captain Marvel fan, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps is a must-read, but don't except a neat ending.

Monday, May 01, 2017

A Study In Scarlet

After reading A Study In Scarlet, I can see why so many people have fallen for Sherlock Holmes over the years. He's an ass, but clever. He is charming to Watson, but the Scotland Yard Detectives dislike him, yet are constantly needing him. They want to be better than him, because he's the best. Even thought they use his skills, they take credit for his work. No wonder he gets so jaded! Holmes is funny, serious, intelligent and irreverent. He's an amazing character.

In this first case, Arthur Conan Doyle keeps the plot seemingly simple. We get to know Watson, as the story is told initially from his perspective. We discover Holmes as Watson does. I can imagine that when Doyle first wrote this story, people would wonder who this man was, with his strange behaviour. Now, we learn about Sherlock Holmes as we grow up and his being an investigator is not a surprise. I read A Study In Scarlet waiting for Holmes' attitude. At the beginning of the story, Watson and Holmes have not yet met. After they do, Watson is fascinated by Holmes' studies, peculiarities and personality. They are just discovering each other. They are not the partners we are used to seeing.

Another unexpected part of the tale was the back story of the crime. Though Holmes uses his deductive reasoning and skills to discover the killer, Doyle delves into the motive. He gives us the tale of a family, who was from the state of Utah in America, and all the events that led to the murder in England. It is sad, emotional, and creates sympathy in the reader. I wonder how many, or if all of Sherlock Holmes' tales will have this element. It is a short novel (novella), so I can't really say too much more. Though we know Sherlock Holmes, A Study In Scarlet was not a tale I was familiar with and it was interesting discovering Holmes and the secrets of the mystery.

A Study In Scarlet was also my Spin book. I'm always happy to participate in the Classics Club's Spins. They remind me to read those classics that have been sitting on my shelf for too long. I wonder what other classics were read for today.

After all the fun of A Study In Scarlet, and getting a taste of Doyle's writing, I am looking forward to reading more Sherlock Holmes.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Shadow Land

I loved The Shadow Land. I think it might be one of my favourite books this year. I won an ARC of Elizabeth Kostova's latest novel from Goodreads, and I am so glad I did. Everything about the story drew me in. The misplaced ashes, of course, were a unique way to begin the story. Alexandra's determination was special. She was an amazing person. She was emotional, and had purpose. I loved how she felt about Bobby, about Neven, Stoyan, Jack, her parents. The trauma and guilt of Alexandra's childhood shaped her life, her goals, and led her to this place. Bulgaria. A country I do not know much about, but now I'd like to learn more. The Bulgarian perspective is not one I've read when it comes to World War II and what happened after the war. It was hard, scary and sad. People blaming other people, being punished for not doing anything wrong, or not agreeing with the new government. It seems like it was difficult to just live life. Alexandra learns about this country, about where she has decided to live for no greater reason than the memory of her brother.

As beautiful as the writing is and as interesting as the country is, it's the plot that moves the story forward. The urn and the mystery that unravels is unique and unexpected. Alexandra is just trying to return someone's precious property and she gets sucked into this incredible tale, along with an unsuspecting taxi driver, who has secrets of his own. I really enjoyed the duality of the plot, Alexandra's story, moving along with Stoyan's. Stoyan's story was simple, but extremely emotional, Alexandra's story was also emotional, but more complex. 

I love a good ending and the end of The Shadow Land was wonderful. I loved how the stories met, how they came full circle. I loved the discoveries, the drama, the unexpected. The tension was fantastic, I was scared for Irina and Lenka. I really enjoyed the quieter chapters after the climax. I like that we got a hint as to what the future might hold for the main characters. I loved the friendships that developed through this story, across generations.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Shadow Land, loving it more than I thought I would. It was brilliant and beautiful. It captured the imagination. It didn't let me go until the end.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was magical. I didn't see it opening weekend, like I (and my husband) wanted to. Instead, my sisters-in-law wanted to have a girls weekend, us and our daughters. They loved it. We all thought it was wonderful. But I can't talk about it because my Hubby wants to see it too. I'd go again. It might be a bit too scary for our son though. There are some intense scenes. My daughter did get upset at a couple parts, if you've seen the cartoon, you know which parts I'm talking about. It was still good though, she said the movie was amazing and it was okay that she got upset because she was worried or sad for the characters.  My one sister-in-law admitted to tearing up at the end too.

Everything is taken a step further. A step more danger, a tick more excitement, a little more depth and story. We learn about Belle's mom, we find out more about the Enchantress, and how it is important to treat everyone with kindness and compassion. Every character was a bit more than before. I want to watch it again. I enjoyed the actors, the sets, the costumes, the songs. I thought everything was seamless. More than my enjoyment, for this movie, my daughter loved it and that's what I was really looked for when we went to see it. I'm so happy that she did and I look forward to more of these live-action adaptations.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Bloodsucking Fiends


The end of Bloodsucking Fiends was everything, was the best part of the whole story for me. I kept waiting for more action and more tension, but there were so many lies and so many people blind to what was really going on, that I don't know if the tension fully coalesced the way I thought it would. Everything finally built up at the end though. It was a good end. Christopher Moore crafted a great conclusion, but there are questions, there is more to learn about Jody, Tommy and the ancient vampire who started it all.

I'll try to keep the spoilers vague.... How is Tommy going to feel? Tommy was always a laid back kind of guy, but things did not go the way he wanted. I feel like at the beginning of the next book, Tommy will be feeling a surge of emotion. At least I hope it's like that. I am really looking forward to Tommy's reaction. The ancient vampire has left me really curious. Why? When? How? I'm hoping for answers there too. Jody was certainly an interesting vampire protagonist. Why was she so strong? She seemed like she stayed very much herself, just more. It will be interesting to see how she develops through the series. I'm also really interested in revisiting the Emperor and the Animals.

One thing that struck me as I started reading Bloodsucking Fiends was that it was published in 1995! I had forgotten how old this book was until I was with Jody, looking for a payphone. She couldn't remember her "calling card number". Do you remember having those? Cards that you kept for pay phones or long distance calls? My parents made sure I had one so I could call home and couldn't use the excuse of not having any change. I wonder how this will affect the sequels, as You Suck was published in 2007 and Bite Me in 2010. I remember having a similar feeling reading Generation X, a book published in my youth, but not really contemporary anymore. Also, I found several book covers from over the last 22 years. Art styles have definitely changed. I've included just four in this post. Favourites? I know which one I like best, but it's not the one I own. Oh well!

Since it was published in 1995, it was before the latest vampire/supernatural madness began, but one of the reasons it might have taken me a while to read it, is because of the latest vampire madness. Bloodsucking Fiends is different though, a little more Buffy than Twilight. There's a lot less brooding. It's basically a romantic comedy. The turtle thing is tragic, but also tragically funny. Tommy  is quirky, Jody is kind of random. I am interested in seeing how they characters develop and what the do in the future.

*Side note: Moore has a Bloodsucking Fiends reading guide. So, book clubs? It would be an unusual read.


Sunday, April 09, 2017

Dreams of Gods and Monsters


That can't be the end! Dreams of Gods and Monsters was full of interesting twists and surprises. The end though... There was an end, and then there were so many more chapters to go. Not an epilogue, but chapters of story still to happen. I loved the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Dreams of Gods and Monsters was a good conclusion. I loved Karou, I loved Akiva. There will be vague spoilers ahead.

The ending was not the ending. There was so much build up to fighting Jael and the Dominion at the Vatican, that I thought there would be more. More blood, more loss. The twist was good though. Clever. I would have liked a little more time with Haxaya. I can only imagine what they said to her off the page. I would have like to see what the ramifications on Earth were. When Jael comes back through the portal though, when he sees Liraz and the Shadows That Live, that was pretty wicked. I would have liked to dive deeper into what happened to him after, and what happened at the capital. It was a conclusion that didn't feel conclusive enough. But we leave the conflict with the Seraphim and Chimera behind.

Instead, the real conclusion is with the Stelians. I wish there could have been more Eliza and Scarab. That's where the real power is. Karou says as much. The Stelians can't be bothered with the Seraphim and Chimera, and finding out about the Seraphim's history, wow. The Stelians are the ones who hold it all, Akiva's life, his future. I loved all of that, but wish there was more. I wanted more with Eliza and the people she knew from Earth. I wanted more with fake grandma. I was so happy with what happened with Liraz and Ziri. I was scared for a while, but then, by the end. I'm okay with not knowing exactly what happens with them, because it was implied and the implications were fantastic. The growth and change in their characters, they were the only ones where I was okay with the conclusion. For a book that was over 600 pages, I wouldn't have minded if it was longer.

That final sequence though, that final time we see Karou and Akiva, that was beautiful. I loved how their lives came full circle. It wasn't all perfectly tied up in a bow though. Even after Jael lost, they still had things to do, things that kept them apart. That was almost realistic. Happy endings aren't neat, war isn't neat. The ends don't always mean that people are reunited immediately. There's still work to do, rebuilding. In that way, I really liked the ending.

I thought that there should have been more. There's still a threat to Eretz, a subsequent threat to Earth. There are people whose stories don't feel done. I hope that Laini Taylor continues their story. Another book would pull everything together, tie up all the threads. It doesn't and probably shouldn't centre of Karou and Akiva. They would still be important characters, but it should be a story about Eliza, Scarab and the Stelians. I think there's still a story to be told there, more of Laini Taylor's world to be explored. Maybe she plans to write another book, maybe not. I can certainly wish for one though. Dreams of Gods and Monsters was exciting and hard to put down. I'm glad I finally read the final book in this fantastic series.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Court Of Mist and Fury

That was not the book I expected. It was so much better. A Court Of Mist And Fury was filled with passion and fury, love and hate, violence and romance. Though I did think that Rhysand would be the way he was in this novel, I knew there would be more to him. Really, I loved him. Doing things for your people, lifting them up, helping them to have better lives, sacrificing so that they might have peace, that's what you want from a leader, someone you want to follow, not someone who was just a ruler. Sarah J. Maas has further hooked me into this series with a second book that I think I like better than the first.

I am so eager to read A Court Of Wings And Ruin, I want to know what Lucien is going to do. I was a bit disappointed in him. I understood his choices, based on his character and loyalties, but I had hope for him, that he would not just agree with Feyre, but also take a stand. Right now, I'm thinking about how the next conversation between Feyre and Lucien is going to go. 

Because that ending was fantastic. Some of it was what I thought would happen (sort of), some of it, was so surprising and shocking and left so many possibilities, I just loved it. The secrets that culminated, exploded, made it unputdownable. What happened to the Court, it was a little heartbreaking. 

Rhysand's Court spoke volumes of who he was as a leader. It told us and Feyre about him, confusing, yet adding so much depth to his story. Mor, Amren, Azriel and Cassian, I want to see more of them. The same way I want to see more of Lucien, but I don't think they'd make the same decisions he did. Maybe he'll learn something from them. 

I'm so glad we got o see more of Feyre's sisters. I wanted to see where their livers were leading them. I still love Nesta. I think it's gone from love-hate to just love. She's amazing and I think she's going to do something wicked in the next book. 

I really liked that A Court of Mist and Fury was its own entity. It didn't rely too heavily on the previous novel. A Court Of Thorns and Roses, was almost just back story. Almost. A Court of Mist and Fury explored more of Prythian and its peoples. I appreciated what we got to see of the Summer Court and would love to get to know those characters better. I think they'd get along with the Night Court well in the end. I liked all of the discussions about where the different powers originated from, which courts could do what. I loved every new character we met.

I'm so happy I read A Court of Mist and Fury, it was exactly what I needed right now. I can't stop thinking about the story and am excited to see how everything unfolds.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

King's Cage

I opened King's Cage and saw the map, and was just, wow. I loved it. I loved every bit of that image. Rather, I felt it deeply. I looked at that map and after a moment thought, Oh my God, that's going to happen. Then I read Victoria Aveyard's opening quote and just thought, yup, she thinks so too. So, that was the beginning, before the beginning. The end was powerful too. The last line of the Epilogue, the entire sequence leading up to it, was brilliant. It was perfect and I loved/hated it in the best possible way.

This might be just a smattering of thoughts, but I'll try to keep the spoilers vague. I knew something was going to happen with Evangline. Since the end of the first book, in the Bowl of Bones, her surprise, I knew she was going to be someone important, more important than just betrothed to the crown prince.

I missed Cameron. She was wonderful and a nice contrast to Mare. It was interesting to see things from her perspective. She didn't have the weight of everyone's lives on her, like Mare did, but she was feeling some weight, she was growing, becoming her own person, with her own loyalties to consider.

Oh, Cal. I thought he was going one way, but by the end, he was going the other. I knew something would happen. Something good, something bad. He wouldn't see it as bad. I really can't predict what's going to happen to Cal by the end of the series. It could really be anything. He could choose anything, anything could happen to him.

What I think happened is what happened to the Silvers in Montfort? Right? I want to know!

King's Cage was great. The first half was the sequel I expected. By the end, there were some great surprises. I am excited to see how Aveyard concludes this tumultuous series.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Brave New World



I can't believe that ending. I mean, I can, but I don't want to. Building up to the end, I was getting the same feeling I had when I was reading 1984 I just wanted things to work our for John. I wanted him to find his place in the world. I wanted John to escape and be happy. I was talking to my Hubby about the book, but I didn't want to tell him what made me so anxious and sad about the ending, in case he wanted to read it one day. He said that he didn't know if you could spoil a book that was almost 100 years old. I told him that I didn't know how it ended before I read it. I barely knew what it was about, not at all familiar with the plot. Of course, I'd heard the title many times, of course I had heard of Aldous Huxley, but I couldn't have told you what the book was about except it being dystopion. I didn't know about "Our Ford" or "decanting". I don't know how Brave New World flew under my radar for so long, but I'm glad I finally read it.

Who is the main character of Brave New World? I think it is the world itself. We look at the world through Lenina's eyes, a slightly quirky, but conforming woman. Bernard Marx, a misfit in his world. John "the Savage", an outsider, an experiment. I thought Lenina, being slightly eccentric for a woman of her cast, might break free and see things in a new way. I thought Bernard might learn some kind of truth and show others (possibly through Lenina, who is more accepted than he is). I thought John might teach this New World something, something about themselves, something that they've lost. Brave New World is brilliantly sad. Maybe I just want hopeful endings.

There were some parts of the novel I found strange. Firstly, how sexually free everyone is, "everyone belongs to everyone else". There is no more marriage, being with only one person for your whole life. The characters in the book talk about "having" each other. They talk to their friends about who they have and haven't had, if they've had the same person, what they thought about them, if they were "pneumatic". I thought this overt sexuality was strange for for a book written so long ago. After talking it through a bit, and reading more about Huxley, I realized why. It was written in 1931, the end of the Roaring Twenties. There was a growing freedom with sexuality (that was eventually stifled for a while). Huxley took this behaviour to the extreme, in a way that would contribute to the stability of Brave New World.

Though, we learn what happens to John, I'm left wonder about Bernard, Helmholtz, and Lenina. Does Lenina forget Bernard and John, and go on with her life, or does the experience change her. Where do Bernard and Helmholtz end up? Helmholtz requested going to the Falkland Islands, but is Bernard with him? Huxley later wrote a book called Island and I think it might be something I have to read. I hope to learn what happened to these characters after they were separated by Mustapha Mond.

As I was thinking about the story and writing this, I though about Lenina's character... then Aldous Huxley.... which led me to Lenina Huxley. I did not realize that the character, Lenina Huxley, played by Sandra Bulluck in Demolition Man was named for the character and author of Brave New World. Then I started to really think about it, about the Feelies and the headset that Lenina Huxley gives John Spartan to wear. How John Spartan is like John the Savage, coming into San Angeles and the "happy joy joy" lifestyle of contentment and conditioning. Maybe I'm a little late here, but I watched Demolition Man  way back in my early teens, long before I ever had a desire to read Brave New World and long before I would make these kind of connections. It's interesting how an action movie can be full of all these interesting ideas, getting a bit of inspiration from a book written in 1931.

I think Brave New World is worth a read. It's complex, but not long. It's also only $0.99 right now on iBooks, Kindle and Kobo. I'm glad I read it... and maybe I should re-watch Demolition Man too.