Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dollhouse: Epitaphs - Paul's Review

Title: Dollhouse Volume 1: Epitaphs
Author: Andrew Chambliss, Jed Whedon, Maurissa Tanvharoen
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: The Rossum Corporation's Dollhouse technology has gone viral with a synchronized phone call that wiped the minds of everyone it reached, turning them into mindless killers. Those who avoided the call—including show favorites Echo, Alpha, Mag, Zone, and Griff—must try to survive in the sudden apocalypse and be wary of Rossum's expansive technological reach. This is only the beginning! Collects the complete Dollhouse: Epitaphs miniseries.

Review: Dollhouse is one of my favorite shows so when I saw that there was a graphic novel out, I had to get it. This book takes place after the first two seasons, before the Epitaphs episodes. We get to see how Felicia Day's character and her group originally got together. We also glimpse into the world of the survivors of the Dollhouse. 

The book starts with the synchronized phone call that started it all. It reminded me of the first volume of Y: The Last Man in that normal people are shown reacting to a sudden apocalyptic action. 

I recommend this to any fan of Dollhouse. If you aren't familiar with the tv series, this book probably won't do much for you. I look forward to more comics from this universe. I give this book a 4/5.


Monday, November 19, 2012

The Golden Twine (Cat's Cradle Book 1) - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Kids Can Press on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

Title: The Golden Twin (Cat's Cradle Book 1)
Author: Jo Rioux
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: In the valley of Galatea, monsters slip through a rift in the mountains, bringing fear and suspicion to the land. 

Of course, the monsters are evil - or so the stories go - but they are kept in check by heroic monster tamers. Suri dreams of being one such hero. But this tagalong orphan of a merchant caravan has no luck - until the day a horseless caravan pulls up. Its driver is a man with a metal heart... and a monster for sale. 

Review: Suri, the orphan, wants to become a Monster Tamer. This comic introduces Suri and her caravan of merchants. The world created by Rioux is interesting and I am interested in discovering more of it. Monsters seep in through a crack in the mountains. Brave Monster Tamers protect the people from these evil monsters. 

This world is Pokemon meets monsters in a fantasy, mid-evil world. There are only a few monsters shown in this introductory comic, leaving me wanting to see more. Magic seems to be at play within this world as well. 

This comic introduces so much and leaves so many questions unanswered. This is definitely just the start of an interesting tale. 

I would recommend this to middle grade readers interested in comics and fantasy. I give this book a 3/5.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Son (Giver #4) by Lois Lowry - Paul's Review

Title: Son (The Giver Quartet #4)
Author: Lois Lowry
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

My Pre Reading Post

Review: Lois Lowry does not disappoint with this conclusion to The Giver Quartet. Although it does not live up to my high standards of The Giver, it is my second favorite of the four-book series. The style of it is very different that The Giver. The book is separated into three sections. Each of these sections could almost be its own contained story. If these had been released as smaller separate books or enovellas, they would have worked well. This book is much longer than The Giver

The first part introduces us to Claire, a young girl in the community from The Giver, who has been chosen to conceive children for the community. She has complications during birth and is not the same after. I really liked being back in this community. The timeline coincides with events in The Giver, so it was fun to remember the original story and see events from a different perspective. 

I won't go into details of the second and third parts, as to not spoil you. I will say, though, that they each take place in different communities and one of them may be a community from the second or third books. The third part of the book does a good job connecting all four books together. It makes me want to reread all four books in order to have each character fresh in my mind. 

Some of the gifts that characters possess in the latter three books in this series feel very different than The Giver. After reading the first book, I didn't think these characters lived in a world of magic. There is also an unusual personification near the end that didn't feel right to me. 

Since this book takes place over many years, many interesting characters are introduced. Lowry did an excellent job with making unique characters in all three communities. 

This book is not The Giver, but if you have read the other books in the series you will in no way be disappointed. Don't expect a short, simple story going into this. The story is not simple, nor linear. Its a complex life story of a very interesting character. I give this conclusion to The Giver Quartet a 4/5.


Friday, November 16, 2012

Paul's Dorothy of Oz Prequel Review

***I received an eARC from IDW Publishing on NetGalley***

Title: Dorothy of Oz Prequel
Authors: Denton J. Tipton, Blair Shedd, Eric Shanower
Year Published: 2012

RELEASE DATE: November 20, 2012

Review: I have always loved "The Wizard of Oz". Everyone wishes to escape their own life and end up on the other end of a rainbow. Just thinking of the sepia tone farm leading way into the colorful Munchkin city bring a smile to my face. So, when I heard about this new animated movie I was excited, yet hesitant. I have enjoyed past incarnations of Oz, such as Return to Oz, The Wiz, and Wicked(both the book and the musical). I want this movie to capture the magic of Oz. With Lea Michele and Megan Hilty providing their voices, I don't think there will be any problems there.

This comic book takes place after the original Wizard of Oz story. Dorothy has only recently left after reciting her famous lines. The Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin Man have their new found courage, brains, and heart. Unfortunately for our heroes, a new villain steps in: the Wicked Witch's brother jester. Dorothy's old companions band together with the help of some new colorful characters to try and bring Dorothy back to Oz. That's where I'm assuming the movie, which comes out in 2013, will pick up.

I loved how colorful each of the pages were. The art style is the same as the upcoming movie. Many characters that will appear in that movie are introduced. There is a city full of people made of china, like the plates not the country. There's also a man made of marshmallows and a large owl named Wiser. Each of these characters plays a small part in this prequel and I'm sure they will have bigger roles in the movie. 

Although there were many cliches and I am not fond of a sequel villain being related to a former villain  this was a very fun read. The actions are childish and the dialogue is playful. 

After reading this, I am confident the new movie will uphold the spirit if Oz. I give this prequel comic a 4/5.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Oath of Servitude - Paul's Review

*I was provided an ebook copy from the author in exchange for a fair review*

Title: Oath of Servitude 
Author: C. E. Wilson
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: This is the story of Teague and Cailin, two teenagers who have been brought together by fate. Teague, a human, struggles to come to terms with the consequences of a recent accident that has destroyed the happy life that he had once enjoyed. Cailin, a pixi, is trying to stay true to herself while fighting against forces beyond her control that have exiled her from her home into this strange world of humans. She fears the darkness. He cannot escape it. But when the two of them are thrown together, they begin to discover the light inside of themselves.

Review: This was an enjoyable book. Wilson creates an interesting world inhabited by pixis, but I wanted more. I really felt that way about the whole novel. I wanted more. 

Cailin is a pixi forced to live with humans for a year. Teague is a teenage human recently blinded by a baseball injury. They find ways to help each other and get to know each other and themselves more.

I liked the way Teague was written as a character. He hides from the world using alcohol. His blindness is mirrored in The Darkness, which Cailin has avoided as a punishment. I like that he can't see that she is only a foot tall. 

Owen is Teague's father and he has unknown history with the pixis. I like the way Wilson hints at things throughout the novel, but in the end she leaves it all still hidden. 

There was no conclusion. As I read the end of this book, I was surprised when my kindle told me I was already at 98%. The story wasn't at a stopping point. I understand holding some back for a sequel, but there was no ending to this novel. I didn't feel closure in the least. 

Though the characters were fun, the world imaginative, and the conflicts engaging this was not a well written book. I believe an editor and a few more drafts would have really helped. I noticed many misspellings, grammar mistakes, awkward wording, and missing or added words. I give this book a 3/5 generously. I think the story pushed through the writing. I am looking forward to see where Wilson will go with this series. 


Monday, November 12, 2012

Year Zero - Paul's Review

Title: Year Zero
Author: Rob Reid
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: In the hilarious tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Rob Reid takes you on a headlong journey through the outer reaches of the universe—and the inner workings of our absurdly dysfunctional music industry.

Low-level entertainment lawyer Nick Carter thinks it’s a prank, not an alien encounter, when a redheaded mullah and a curvaceous nun show up at his office. But Frampton and Carly are highly advanced (if bumbling) extraterrestrials. And boy, do they have news.

The entire cosmos, they tell him, has been hopelessly hooked on humanity’s music ever since “Year Zero” (1977 to us), when American pop songs first reached alien ears. This addiction has driven a vast intergalactic society to commit the biggest copyright violation since the Big Bang. The resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the whole universe. We humans suddenly own everything—and the aliens are not amused.

Nick Carter has just been tapped to clean up this mess before things get ugly, and he’s an unlikely galaxy-hopping hero: He’s scared of heights. He’s also about to be fired. And he happens to have the same name as a Backstreet Boy. But he does know a thing or two about copyright law. And he’s packing a couple of other pencil-pushing superpowers that could come in handy.

Soon he’s on the run from a sinister parrot and a highly combustible vacuum cleaner. With Carly and Frampton as his guides, Nick now has forty-eight hours to save humanity, while hopefully wowing the hot girl who lives down the hall from him.

Review: This book is a really fun read. If you are a fan of Douglas Adams(Hitchhiker's Guide) and pop culture, you will enjoy this book. You don't have to be a  huge sci-fi reader to enjoy this. One of my favorite aspects of the book was the footnotes. They really added humor and some zing.

Rob Reid is the founder of the company that created the Rhapsody music downloading program. His familiarity with the law behind music can be seen in the writing. He cleverly pokes fun while explaining the intricacies.

The concept that Earth has the best music in the universe is such a cool idea and it is treated very well. When the aliens hear a human perform live they feel pure ecstasy. The many alien races Reid created are unique and fun. This isn't a hard science sci-fi book so don't go into reading this expecting the science to make sense. This is a sci-fi comedy.

I give this novel a 4/5 and suggest it to anyone who is familiar with pop culture (especially music) and looking for a book that will provide plenty of chuckles.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cloud Atlas - Paul's Review (Book and Movie)

Title: Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Year Published: 2004

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan’s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified “dinery server” on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation—the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other’s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre and time to offer a meditation on humanity’s dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

Book Review: I hadn't heard about this book until I saw the initial 6 minute long trailer for the movie. It immediately grabbed my attention. It appeared to be everything a movie could be. After doing some research into the novel this movie was being adapted from, I decided I had to check it out. 

This book is different from every book I have ever read. There are six seperate, yet somewhat linked stories. You get the first half of the first five stories, then you get the whole sixth story. From there, you get the conclusions of each story starting with the fifth and going back to the first. So, the book starts and ends with the same story. 

Each of the stories are written in completely different styles. Mitchell is an amazing writer because he did this so well. The language in each section appears very true to each time period from the late 1800s to modern day and to the future. Mitchell invents his own style of language and grammar for the future stories. One is told in the near future and the sixth story takes place in a post apocalyptic world. 

Mitchell is an excellent storyteller. Although the language may be difficult to get into, once you have entered the world you won't want to finish each section. Leaving a story halfway through, usually at a climax or even midsentence makes you want to continue reading the next story even more so you can get to the second half. But then, you get engulfed by the story of the new story. 

The experience of reading this book is so unique. While reading the second half of the book, you feel like you are finishing a whole book every forty pages or so. 

Not only is each story told in its own style, language, and timframe, but each is a different genre. You will definitely have a favorite story when reading this book. It may be the geriatric comedy, the post apocalyptic epic, the young musician's tragic life, the lawyer's journey on the high seas, or the journalist's 70's mystery. My favorite was the genetic engineered fast food server's tale of self discovery. 

Mitchell does an excellent job weaving in ideas of self and philosophical questions. It is up to you to interpret how these six stories fit together. 

I give this novel a 4/5. It is an excellent read, but the concept of it is so much to wrap your head around. I suggest this to anyone who loves to read all different kinds of books. 

Movie Review: If I had read this book before knowing a movie was being made, I would not call this book adaptable. There are six completely different stories, each with its own protagonist and many side characters. Each story takes place in such a different world. But, the Wachowski siblings did an excellent job with this. 

Having read the book first, the movie is more an interpretation of the material in the book rather than a straight adaptation. The ideas, basic stories, and characters are kept for the most part, although the way in which the stories are told is changed. Throughout the movie, we jump from story to story as each story progresses. 

The cinematography in this movie is amazing. The near future sci-fi story is transformed from a traditional sci-fi novel feel to a traditional sci-fi movie feel. There are added laser battles and flying car chases. I think this added to the movie as a whole. Just like the in the book, the Soumni storyline was my favorite in the movie as well. 

The way this movie uses its actors is so unique. It introduces another level to the idea of Cloud Atlas. In the novel, each protagonist has a comet birthmark on their body. This is still present in the movie, but a different actor plays each protagonist. Some actors play six different characters, appearing in all six stories. The make-up team did an excellent job with this. The actors cross every gender and race barrier. Halle Berry plays an old Asian man! In the credits, each actor's many characters are shown and throughout the theatre gasps could be heard. 

Since I had read the book before seeing this movie, I knew what to expect and I could easily follow the storylines. Some were altered, but that is expected from a book adaptation. 

I highly suggest reading the book before watching this movie. It may take you a while to understand what is happening. I don't think this is a movie everyone will enjoy. It may be over a lot of people's heads. 

I give this movie a 4/5. I will definitely be watching it again once it is released on blu-ray, if I don't purchase it myself. I am interested in what features will be released. If you like weird, conceptual movies your mind will be thoroughly massaged by this film. 


Friday, November 9, 2012

Son (Giver #4) by Lois Lowry - Paul's Pre Reading

Title: Son (The Giver Quartet #4)
Author: Lois Lowry
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis:  They called her Water Claire. When she washed up on their shore, no one knew that she came from a society where emotions and colors didn’t exist. That she had become a Vessel at age thirteen. That she had carried a Product at age fourteen. That it had been stolen from her body. Claire had a son. But what became of him she never knew. What was his name? Was he even alive?  She was supposed to forget him, but that was impossible. Now Claire will stop at nothing to find her child, even if it means making an unimaginable sacrifice.

Why?:  The Giver is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it in elementary school and have reread it multiple times since then. I have since read each of the sequels as they have come out. I'm enjoyed them, but they haven't quite caught the spark that is The Giver. This is the last book in the quartet. 

Expectations: From the synopsis, it sounds like the protagonist is from the same community as The Giver. I am very excited to learn more about this community. I expect another strong story with a strong protagonist who has a special, unique gift. I hope it lives up to The Giver, but I am not expecting it to. 

Judging a book by its cover:  This cover reminds me of the end of The Giver when they come upon a house in the middle of a snow storm. The boy's eyes are haunting. This cover reminds me of the original cover of The Giver that was black with trees and The Giver's face.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saga (Volume One) - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Image Comics on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

Saga (Volume One)
Author: Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis: When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe.

From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Review: I read this series as each issue came out. When I saw Image Comics had the trade paperback compilation of all the released issues, I had to get it and review it. 

One of my favorite graphic novel series, in which I even own all ten volumes, is Y:The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn. He write really well with characters over a long period of time. Some series lack as it continues, but Vaughn has an excellent way of never losing the reader's interest. This series definitely has that potential. 

At the start, you are thrust into this completely captivating world. There are feuding planets, winged aliens, horned aliens, and robot people. And that is just to start. Later we met bounty hunters with large feline companions and another that resembles a giant spider. A ghost even joined the cast!

The world is so rich and I really hope this series continues for a long time. Each story is told from the two main characters' daughter's future self. She is only just born in the story. Her parents are from the feuding sides of the war. Her mother has wings, while her father has horns. She has both. 

Vaughn and Staples bring up issues of family, asking what exactly makes a family? Is love enough for this family to get by on? Can they raise a child while they are being hunted down by both sides of a war?

If you are a fan of sci-fi epics like Star Wars, Firefly, or Battlestar Galactica you will enjoy this series!

I can't wait to pick up new issues! I give this first volume a 4/5. I hesitated to give it a 5 because I know further issues will draw me in to the story even more now that I know the characters. I hope this is only the start of an awesome series!


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Paul's November Book: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Title: The Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2)
Author: Rae Carson
Year Published: 2012

Amazon | Goodreads

Synopsis:  In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns Review

The Shadow Cats novella Review

Why?:  I absolutely adored the first book in this series. After finishing it, I immediately wanted to read more about Elisa. It has been over a year and I am so excited to finally read more of her stories.

Expectations: I expect Carson to continue the awesomeness that was the first book in this series. I expect even more growth from Elisa. I also expect to learn more about many minor characters as well as get to meet more characters that will have depth. I want to learn more about the origins of the godstones.

Judging a book by its cover: I like this cover. It is similar to the first book's cover. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

Katya's World - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Angry Robot/Strange Chemistry on NetGalley in exchange for a fair review*

Title: Katya's World
Author: Jonathan L. Howard
Year Published: 2012

Release Date: Tuesday November 6, 2012

Goodreads | Amazon

Synopsis: The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent.

Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career.

There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.

Review: I was very excited when I received an eARC of this book. Adventures at sea, an ocean world, a submarine crew, and it's set in the future? Sounds like my kind of book. Although it didn't quite meet all my expectations, I really enjoyed this book. 

First I will start with the world Howard has created. I loved it. The concept of colonies from Earth filled with people all originally from the same region of Earth was interesting. The Russian influence was done in a cool way. Although, I didn't think it was anywhere near as thorough and captivating as Leigh Bardugo did with her Russian influence in Shadow and Bone. The technology of this world also added to the world building, but often it was too wordy. 

One particular thing that irked me that may not bother some is the use of what I like to call the Scooby Doo plan. This happens when a character comes up with an idea to solve the problem at hand and gathers everyone together to tell the plan. Then, in a tv show or movie there is a fade out to the plan taking action. In a book, it just jumps ahead in time to when the plan is followed through. This sometimes works, but I felt this happened often in this book and each time I came upon one I cringed.

The plot of this book is far from simple. The goals of the characters change throughout the story as new things come into play. There wasn't a simple beginning, middle, and end. Instead, more and more conflicts just kept arising. I thought this gave the story an edge-of-your-seat kind of feel. 

The end of this book was very filmlike. For most of the book we follow Katya's point of view, then for the last few scenes we see other characters perspectives. It felt like a film script adapted to novel format. It worked in this situation, but it confused me at first. 

I liked that there was no true romance story. Most YA with a female lead is primarily about romance. My favorite aspect of this book was the characters. Each of them were very full. Minor characters introduced in the beginning gained more depth as the novel progressed. Many characters ended up having inner struggles that were not apparent. Minor characters had their own goals and sides of different conflicts that brought more complexity to the plot.

Overall, I enjoyed this futuristic submariner story set on a world of water. I would recommend this to anyone who is a regular reader of YA sci-fi looking for a female lead that doesn't rely on a love interest. I give this book a 3/5.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Paul's October Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Pre Reading

Review: This book was absolutely amazing. I loved every bit of it. 

Let's start with the concept. An entity, A, wakes up each morning in a new person's body. A has no gender, race, sexual orientation, or any other common identifiers. Each morning, A wakes up within a few hours of the prior body. Each body is close to the same age as A. A is now a teenager and may have just fallen in love. This concept alone should be a reason to pick this book up!

Each chapter is a new day and thus a new body. David Levithan did an amazing job with the characters A inhabits each chapter. Most are only present for one chapter, yet they have the depth of a main character. Levithan utilizes these chapters so well, bringing up so many different teenage issues. Some of the chapters are very heartfelt. No, most of the chapters are heartfelt. Levithan did such a good job of making the reader feel like they were inhabiting a new person's head each chapter. 

I could gush on about this book for many paragraphs, but it would be so much easier for you to just go purchase it and read it for yourself. That way I won't accidentally spoil something. This novel will not disappoint. I look forward to reading more novels from David Levithan. I give this novel a 5/5.