Friday, April 24, 2015

Review--Sandman Vol. 1, Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power. On his arduous journey Morpheus encounters Lucifer, John Constantine, and an all-powerful madman.











I've been in this huge graphic novel kick recently and have been trying all sorts of things. This week I've covered faerie tales, middle school antics, and now DC comics with mythology. So it has been a crazy time.

The volume opens with a man attempting to capture death for power but accidentally captures Dream instead. Dream is held captive for 70 years and during that time some people enter sleeps from which they never awaken. As time continues to go forward Dream waits until the time he freed. Once freed he takes his revenge and then heads off on a quest to find his three objects of power. One will take him to find John Constantine and the other Lucifer and finally a madman escaped from Arkham Asylum.

This was certainly the darkest comic I have read in a long time. It also featured the most convoluted storyline imaginable. The problem with DC and Marvel is they often assume you know the entire backstory of all the characters. They present you with long-standing characters and offer no explanation for newcomers which continuously keeps new people out when they do not understand the plot. I'm a tad well-versed than some but there were moments I had to pull out my iPad and Google things. That is not a good move by a comic series. Do not assume your readers know everything.

Also the first 8 issues contained in this volume barely did anything plotwise. Sure there was a general quest but some of the stories were so weird and explained I had trouble caring about much of any of it. Instead of introducing us to Dream's power and then being captured, we are told in stops and starts what he can do and why he is so important. That was another bad move.

Frankly I can understand why the series is probably so well-liked but for someone just starting out, it kind of went over my head and I've read a lot about DC comics. So while this is a major bestseller I would recommend starting with some DC tutorials and reading up on some of the characters before commiting to volume 1. I've been told later volumes leave the DC universe behind a bit so who knows. Out of all the graphic novels/comics I've read recently this is the one I will be waiting to continue down the road. Take from that what you will.

3 Stars
Published by Vertigo
2012
240 Pages
Provided by--the Library


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Review--Sisters (Smile Bk 2) by Raina Telgemeier

Raina can't wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren't quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she's also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn't improve much over the years. But when a baby brother enters the picture, and later, when something doesn't seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all.









I really enjoyed "Smile" and "Drama" and figured I should finish out the three books and just read "Sisters" now rather than holding off.

In this installment Raina remembers when her sister was born and how they came to be less than the fights and more of family. They also deal with an awkward cross-state trip where they learn their parents are having marital problems.

Personally I felt this book didn't really hold up to "Smile"'s success. I found myself skimming some of the passages simply because they weren't nearly as interesting. Instead of it containing some relatable stories surrounding a middle schooler growing up, it was more like one long anecdote on the relationship of sisters.

While I could respect what the author was conveying, I really struggled with interest throughout the entire thing. There was no resolution to the story with the parents (understandable but still). Also the story didn't really have a plot other than a general snapshot of family. It bothered me a bit and I found myself flipping forward to see if anything interesting actually happened.

Frankly I'd recommend it for huge fans of "Smile" and Raina Telgemeier but otherwise I'd skip it.

2.5 Stars
Published by GRAPHIX
August 26, 2014
200 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

1. Smile


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review--Smile by Raina Telgemeier

Raina just wants to be a normal sixth grader. But one night after Girls Scouts she trips and falls, severely injuring her two front teeth. What follows is a long and frustrating journey with on-again, off-again braces, surgery, embarrassing headgear, and even a retainer with fake teeth attached(!). And on top of all that, there's still more to deal with: a major earthquake, boy confusion, and friends who turn out to be not so friendly. Raina's story takes us from middle school to high school, where she discovers her artistic voice, finds out what true friendship really means, and where she can finally...smile.







A little bit ago I read "Drama" totally by accident. I was looking for a fun graphic novel to try and saw it peeking out of the YA section at the library. I'd read other ones by Raina Telgemeier...or adapted ones and figured I should try to get through some of her original work. Well I really enjoyed
"Drama" and then decided to pick up "Smile".

Raina is in the middle of middle school and is trying to find her place in the world. One night after a bit of fun with her friends, she falls and two of her teeth fall out. This starts her journey with braces, headgear, growing up, and discovering what is really important growing up.

Confession time! I was braces girl. Everyone swears it is terrible to have braces in high school. I would know. I got my braces when I was 9. After a year or so then I had a retainer until I was in middle school where I got more braces. When I was nine I had headgear too. Here is the thing about Raina, she got to wear her headgear at night. I had to wear mine during the day. So imagine being a 9 year old with braces AND headgear. Yeah that was fun.

I think it was a great story though. Not only did it portray what it was like to get braces and deal with them being tightened but it portrayed life around Raina. Those years were not defined by her braces but by what happened around her. She discovered boys. She discovered her friends might not really be her friends (it's tragic but it happens). She discovered art and animation which would later become part of her career.

While this surely is not the best story/graphic novel ever written, it certainly offers something to middle grade readers. It's accessible and funny. It's relatable to young teens, adults, and even kids. We all had tough stuff during those years and this time we get to live it with Raina.

I'd recommend trying out her books. I'm just about to start "Sisters" by Raina Telgemeier and I cannot wait for the journey.

3 Stars
Published by GRAPHIX
February 1, 2010
214 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

2. Sisters


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Recap--Harper's Island Episodes 1-3

I have loved Harper's Island since it aired back over the summer in 2007. I remember hearing all this crazy buzz about the show and catching up online (when CBS wasn't a jerk about it) and then watching the final few episodes live. It was very "Agatha Christie" with people being killed off one-by-one. I was in heaven over it and desperately wanted a season two even though it was virtually impossible with pretty much everyone dying (life right?). So this year I decided to rewatch the show from start to finish and see if it held up. I've watched the first few episodes a few times but typically I get distracted right around episode 5 and end up not finishing it. Well I'll start by saying I did finish it. These reviews/discussions are going to be mega-spoilery especially as we get closer to the end of the series. You have been warned.

The Premise

Henry Dunn and Trish Wellington are getting married on Harper's Island. Both were summer kids who only came to the island during that time but some of their friends lived there full time. The days before the wedding everyone from best friends to family, to plus ones take the ferry to the island expecting a wedding and happy times. Everything starts out well until people in the wedding party start disappearing. At first no one suspects anything nefarious until bodies start turning up like they did 7 years ago. Seven years ago a murderer named John Wakefield came to island and killed a bunch of people including main character Abby Mills' mother. Now it seems he's back and the wedding party finds themselves cut off from the mainland and fighting for their lives.

Episode 1--Whap

The story opens with everyone arriving to take the ferry to Harper's Island. Everyone is celebrating and having an amazing time as the viewers are introduced to the cast of characters.


One member is missing, however, as Trish's cousin never arrives. The viewers are treated to Ben Wellington's death right off the bat. The man is tethered to the boat and upon the boat starting, is sucked into the propeller. Fun stuff.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Review--The Sheikh's Secret Babies (Bound by Gold Bk 2) by Lynne Graham

Prince Jaul of Marwan's royal duty is to marry a suitable bride. But first he must divorce the woman who betrayed him. Locating his estranged wife? Easy. The intense passion still burning between them? Manageable. Discovering he has two royal heirs? Impossible! 

Devastated when her handsome prince deserted her, Chrissie Whitaker's beautiful twin babies were the only balm to her broken heart. Now Jaul will stop at nothing to claim his legitimate heirs, but can Chrissie forget their painful past and recognize him as her husband in every sense of the word?






In recent months I have taken a bit of a hiatus from Harlequin Presents because I started to notice they were seeming similar to me. On top of that, I just wasn't enjoying them as much so I figured I'd take a break. I can't say whether or not my break is over but I do have to say this was a nice book to start with after the break.

Years before Prince Jaul married a nice British girl and thought everything would end well. That was until he went home for a visit, got injured, and discovered his wife had taken a payoff to abandon him. So now he needs a divorce from her before he can pursue marriage to a nice girl from his country (not yet chosen). Surprise, surprise when he goes after Chrissie he discovers not only he is still attracted to her but he already has two heirs he didn't know about. Oh and Chrissie hates him for leaving her years ago.

I'm a huge fan of secret baby books. Seriously there is some weird thing in my brain that just squees when I see that premise. The thing is that I'm really tough on them. I love them but man they need to work for me to rate them well.

Jaul and Chrissie were sort of the idiot couple. Two years earlier they had gotten married out of love and then totally ignored each other when a third party interfered. They had one fight and Jaul took his father's word Chrissie had taken a payoff to leave him. One fight and Chrissie believed Jaul wanted a divorce. Now in Chrissie's defense she went to the embassy and tried to contact him. She tried to tell him she was pregnant. Did she get any credit for that? Nope.

It really bugged me how there was all this distrust and then they just swept it under the rug in order to show the world a united front. Oh and that was after Jaul blackmailed Chrissie into coming with him. Stay married OR lose the kids. Of course there was a weird pre-nup that would never stand up in court. He left her for two years and never bothered to try and contact her. At least she tried!

I just...got so hung up on all the ranty stuff that I lost a bit of the love for the book. It started out so interesting and then just devolved into "Is it over yet? Are they still being ridiculous? Why has someone not hit Jaul yet?" Then it ended.

It's one of those books if you love, love, love secret baby books then you'll love it. If you notice alphahole heroes and they really irk you, I'd skip it. In general it was an okay afternoon read.

3 Stars
Published by Harlequin--Presents
April 21, 2015
192 Pages
Provided by--NetGalley

Related Books

1. The Billionaire's Bridal Bargain


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Review--Amulet, Vol. 4--The Last Council by Kazu Kibuishi

**Sorry this post is crazy. I tried to reformat and it kept messing up. It will be back to normal next time.


I have been enjoying Amulet so much these past few weeks and I only have two more before the long wait for book 7 (sigh). They are such a great series and I cannot recommend them enough. Seriously all fantasy lovers should try the series. Not only is the story great but the artwork is fantastic.






This entry has Emily and crew heading for the floating city of Cielis. There Leon and the airship crew are separated from Emily and her family. The elves are taken to prison and Emily is quickly separated from everyone. There is something wrong in Cielis and as each group comes to that realization they have to work quickly to find each other and figure out what is going on. In a sideplot Miskit and Cogsley start to make their way to Cielis after being ripped from the airship in the previous story.

This entry was not quite up to snuff for me when it came to the story but the artwork really made up for it. This word is just so lush and detailed. Look at the picture above. Look at the detail in that city. How long did that take to make? How long did it take to make all those buildings appear there? It's amazing.

Look at the treehouse in that cave. I wish I could see that in real life! It's just so amazing and I look forward to the beautiful pages every single time.

I was a little bummed by Cielis when it came to Emily's story, Instead of there being a shady council she was thrust into a Hunger Games-esque plotline. If I wanted to read that I would just read the Hunger Games. I just...didn't care for it. Then there was the whole Max plot which was incredibly obvious and irksome because it was so obvious. Bummer.

I really loved Miskit and Cogsley's adventures with the old man around the treehouse. They are such comic relief but their story had some of the best artwork in the book. Not only that but I just want Miskit to be in more scenes.

Leon and crew got up to some great shenanigans and I really want to discover who Leon might have been or whether there is more going on with him. He's sort of a gigantic mystery and I feel no closer to figuring him out.

I cannot wait for book five which seems like it might be a bit of a turning point. There were some major twists at the end of book four and I cannot wait to see how they are dealt with. If you haven't read these yet, pick them up!

3 Stars
Published by GRAPHIX
September 1, 2011
209 Pages
Provided by--the Library

Related Books

1. The Stonekeeper
2. The Stonekeeper's Curse
3. The Cloud Searchers
5. Prince of the Elves
6. Escape From Lucien

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stacking the Shelves--April 18/Weekly Wrap-Up



Review


1. Power Play (Risky Business Bk 1) by Tiffany Snow

2. When Love Happens (Ribbon Ridge Bk 3) by Darcy Burke







Library

1. Flashpoint by Geoff Johns

2. The Liar by Nora Roberts









Purchased

 1. A Hunger Like No Other (Immortals After Dark Bk 1) by Kresley Cole [1.99]

2. No Rest For the Wicked (Immortals After Dark Bk 2) by Kresley Cole [1.99]

3. Their Virgin Mistress (Masters of Menage Bk 7) by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake [4.99]


Pre-Ordered

1. Melting Point [!!!!!] (Hot in Chicago Bk 1.5) by Kate Meader [1.99!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]






Won


1. Sugar's Twice as Sweet (Sugar, Georgia Bk 1) by Marina Adair









Weekly Wrap-Up

Reviews

1. Quick Reviews 2015--Part 2
2. Quick Reviews 2015--Part 3
3. Quick Reviews 2015--Part 4
4. Quick Reviews 2015--Part 5
5. Drama by Raina Telgemeier [3 Stars]
6. Fables, Vol. 1 Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham [4 Stars]

Books Read

1. Special Delivery (Mountain Meadow Homecomings Bk 1) by Laura Browning
2. The Wedding Gift (Save the Date Bk 3.5) by Cara Connelly
3. Fables, Vol. 2 Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
4. Fables, Vol. 3 Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
5. Amulet, Vol. 5 Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi
6. Amulet, Vol. 6 Escape From Lucien by Kazu Kibuishi
7. Matilda by Roald Dahl
8. Runaways Vol. 2 by Brian K. Vaughan
9. The Guest Cottage by Nancy Thayer
10. Bad Attitude (Bad in Baltimore Bk 3) by K.A. Mitchell
11. Their Virgin Mistress (Masters of Menage Bk 7) by Shayla Black and Lexi Blake
12. The Liar by Nora Roberts

Currently Reading