Monday, January 23, 2017

The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King

I tend to spend some time thinking about my reviews before I put cursor to blog. I was looking over my first review when I read this book originally and I took some time to think about this. I have come to the same conclusion that where this is fun to revisit with old friends, this really doesn't have much to do with the Dark Tower series. Allow me to explain. This book picks up right after Wizard and Glass. Our Ka-Tet of Roland, Eddy, Susannah, Jake, and Oy are heading further down the path of the beam after leaving the emerald castle. On their way the feel a storm brewing and seek shelter. While tucked up in an abandoned building Roland plays story teller. This is where our series stalls and the stories begin. Our Ka-Tet is only in the book at the very beginning and the very end. The rest of this is two stories from Roland's past and the days when Gilead still stood. 

Stephen King has a foreword where he says that he was really happy to know his friends still had more to say. He goes on to say that even though this is an in between novel it can be read as a stand alone. If you are a fan of fantasy and you like good story telling then I would recommend this book. It is completely worth the read. Now the other side of the coin will come later so bare with me. 

I did say that the beginning and end is the only place we see our Ka-Tet, but the first story that Roland tells is actually of his history. So it isn't the Roland we have come to know in the last four books but another building block of how he got to this point in our timeline. Shortly after Roland becomes the youngest Gunslinger his father sends him out on a mission to find out what is going on with a possible Skin-walker that has been terrorizing local baronies. The second story is also one from Roland's past but rather it is a sort of bed time story that his mother had told to him as a kid. 

Now for the review and the other side of the coin that I mentioned earlier. When I read this for the first time I was so excited to have more Dark Tower so my excitement was through the roof. This could have been the worst book in history and I would have loved it no matter what. Still, I originally gave this book 4 out of 5 stars,. With all my excitement I still didn't give this a full 5 stars. This time around I am reading these books in audio because I just don't have time to sit down with a book and read. I have to squeeze in my books while I work in audio. Reading this book I found my attention wandering. I tuned out the book and focused on my work instead of being able to multi task listening to the story and doing what I needed to. The excitement was gone since I had already read this and since it didn't really advance the Dark Tower story I just couldn't get into this like I did on a first read. 

I got my wife reading these books and and she stopped at Wizard and Glass. She has yet to continue on but wants to. She asked if she needed to read this book before she moved on to the next and I told her no. It doesn't advance the story so you don't need to read this if you really don't want to. She isn't as big a fan as I am but she did say she would go with me to see the movie when it comes out. You better believe I will review the movie here after I see it. So even though I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars the first time I read it I have to revise this rating. I am giving it 3 out of 5 stars. It is still a good book and enjoyable. My reason for dropping a star was because it didn't have the same  excitement or draw on a second read that the others have had. It has its place on the series but at the same time just draws out Wizard and Glass instead of getting back to the quest at hand. May I recommend that if you are going to read the Dark Tower series, and want to read this. Read the books as they were 1-7. Then go back and read this. I love Wizard and Glass but it is a long book and you spend most of it in Roland's story. Going from one story to two others before we get back to the beam drags this out a bit more than I liked. 

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl

My son is a huge reader and I couldn't be happier. He reads books like crazy and is grade levels higher in his reading level. I wasn't a big reader until I was in high school so I am really excited that he loves reading so young. My 3 year old daughter is the same way and my wife and I love it. We don't have much spending money but if the kids want books we buy them even if we shouldn't. For Christmas my son got a Roald Dahl boxed set and he couldn't wait to start reading these. I never read any of his books so I was ok with taking a break from Harry Potter to read these as a family. 

This book is pretty short. We plowed through this in 3 days. There are a lot of pictures throughout the book and Conner loved that. This is a cute story. Mr Fox has been stealing from three farmers and they have tried and tried to stop him. Finally an opportunity presents itself and the three farmers trap him and his family in their den. The rest of the book is all about how Mr Fox is going to out fox these dumb farmers. Pun totally intended. Boo if you want. I can almost feel my wife's eyes roll as she reads this. I'm a father so I am completely justified in all bad Dad Jokes I make. 

This was really cute and I enjoyed listening to my wife read while I got to snuggle with my son. I wish there was more story here. It was a fun ride but I would have liked more to the plot. I give this 3 out of 5 stars and do recommend this as a good family read. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix by J. K. Rowling

As I have mentioned in previous reviews my wife and I are reading these books with our 7 year old son. We take turns reading a chapter and it has taken us a long time to finish this book. We love how excited he gets when we read these book and then watch the movie. This is one of my favorites for so many reasons. 

So the Order of the Phoenix is all about this secret group of wizards and witches who are dedicated to standing up to Voldemort and his Death Eaters. This group included Harry's Parent's back in the day so Harry is desperate to become a member. However, secret wars aside Harry has to return to Hogwarts for his fifth year. It is at school where Harry meets one of the most evil, most hated, and horrid villains of all time; Dolores Umbridge. Has anyone else felt that the most secure place on Earth has this revolving door for villains? Here is where the spoilers for earlier books come in. In book 1 Voldemort is riding on a professor, book 2 Voldemort unleashes the Basilisk in the bowels of the school, book 3 (bad example), book 4 has a Death Eater disguised as a professor, and now this book has Dolores Umbridge who is a despicable person. 

Umbridge is taking over Hogwarts slowly and forcing Dumbledoor out. She has control over everything and Harry and the other kids need to take things into their own hands. Harry sets up a secret club to teach other students how to properly defend themselves against the dark arts. Ok, so this seems like a lot do deal with in one book right. Battling against a power hungry Professor, secretly teaching students how to fight against evil, and dealing with big exams. Well this isn't everything. Harry has been having these visions. He can see through the eyes of not only Voldemort, but his pet snake as well. Harry has no idea what these visions mean and the one person who can help him figure these out is Professor Snape. 

I really love this book and I can go on and on about this for pages. Book ,3 Prisoner of Azkaban, is my favorite still but this is a very close second. There is no hesitation in me giving this 5 out of 5 stars. We have taken a little break from Harry Potter for now but I am looking forward to getting back into them. It has been so long since I have read these, and the last time I even saw the 6th movie was when it came to DVD. I didn't even have Blu-Ray back then. It has been awhile. I also must add that my wife disagrees with my revolving door of villains theory. Since Voldemort made it into Hogwarts attached to a professor and in a book the Ginny Weasley brought with her, he technically didn't just walk in. Since she reads these posts I feel I must include her thoughts on the matter so you all know I did have a voice of reason and stick by my goofy theory. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Graphic Novel Challenge 2017

It is beyond that time again. Time to sign up for the Graphic Novel Challenge for 2017. I have to say that last year was a big flop for me in the reading department. I took the plunge and pledged to read 52 graphic novels and only did 22. I had big dreams of getting all these advanced copies and catch up on all these series I have missed out on like Preacher and American Vampire. Instead I got a few books of these series and didn't continue. This year I plan on doing better. I want out of my reading funk and I hope comics is the way to do it. 

This is one of the few challenges I look forward to every year. The levels for this are as follows:
Modern Age: read and review 12 books during the year 
Bronze Age: read and review 24 books during the year 
Silver Age: read and review 52 books during the year

Golden Age: read and review 104 books during the year

Wish me luck as I try to read the level I haven't reached the entire time I have done this challenge. I also want to wish luck to everyone who signs up this year and hope you meet your goals. I'm looking forward to seeing where things take me this year and I still have a goal to catch up on the series I missed out on.  I also kind of want to start reading the Lucifer books from Vertigo. I love the show on Fox and I am curious to see how different the show is from the books, or how similar.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Green Arrow Vol 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen by

I have been waiting so long for Rebirth and then it finally comes out and I not only have no time to read but I hit the biggest reading funk I have been in in forever. I bought Rebirth #1 the one shot special and have not had a chance to read it. This is my first book since Rebirth and I loved it. Thanks to Net Galley and DC Comics I was able to read and review this. 

I have had the DC All Access app on my phone and it is one I open almost daily. I remember reading an article title. Oliver Queen is DEAD!!! and nearly fell out of my chair. How can you start off an event called Rebirth with killing off one of your bigger characters? I had to read this and was so excited when my approval came through. 

This book takes us back to the Green Arrow before New 52. I read one or two books of New 52 and really didn't like what Oliver Queen had become. This is back to the Oliver Queen I have known and loved. The book begins with homeless people being kidnapped and sold to this group of rich power crazed people trying to take over the city and then more. While looking into these missing homeless people he runs into none other than Black Canary. This made me very happy to see them back at odds and back in each other's arms. Yes I'm a bit of a romantic and I love seeing these to characters as a couple. We also get to see John Diggle right along side Oliver in this book. I don't remember him being a character in the series before New 52 and I didn't read enough of New 52 to know if he was in there. I do know I really like the character in the show Arrow and I was thrilled to see him in this story helping Oliver after knocking the snot out of him. 

This book was great and I can't wait for volume 2. This is a series I am going to keep up with and I am so glad to have a good Green Arrow Story line. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars and hope the rest of this series is just as good. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Walking Dead vol 26: Call to Arms by Robert Kirkman

So much has gone on in the Walking Dead that I was anxiously waiting for this next chapter. It has been out for awhile and I really should just start buying these but for the time being I still put my name on the reserve list long before it is even released. If you haven't read the books up to this point then you may want to stop here. In the last book Rick was attacked by an Alexandrian, Carl and his girlfriend have been Exiled to the Hilltop, and the Whisperers are letting Alexandria be for now.  

What can I say about this book but Holy Crap WOW!!! So much happens without a ton of action but just enough violence to make this an almost perfect book. We find out exactly what Rick plans to do after his near death attack. Negan plays a bigger role in this book which was both awesome and massively confusing. 

I loved this book and really wish I could say more but I don't want to ruin a single panel. So this is going to be a short one. I do wish there was more zombies in the book but the story is amazing. So I'm giving this 4 out of 5 stars when really it is a 4.5 star read. Read this series it is well worth the time to get to visit with these characters. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Troop by Nick Cutter

I had been dying to read this book for so long. I got the advanced reader copy from Netgalley but never had time to read it. I remeber when this came out the big thing that made me want to read this more than anything was the quote from Stephen King.
"The Troop scared the hell out of me, and I couldn't put it down. This is old-school horror at it's best." -Stephen King
I thought it the master of Horror found this that terrifying it had to be good. Well, let's say this isn't the first time King and I have  disagreed. So this book is about a Boy Scout troop that has gone to an island for their yearly camping trip. While there they encounter a man running from something that has a hunger that can't be satisfied. He is being eaten from the inside and is contagious. The sickness drives the victim crazy and causes them to slip into madness and eat anything and everything to satisfy the hunger.

I hate to say it but I didn't find this scary at all. It was kind of predictable and there were moments I almost smacked my head thinking "Really, you went that way with the plot?". I had such high hopes for this book and it just didn't live up to the hype. I was already in a bit of a reading funk when  I started this. I had really hoped this book would be the one to pull me out of the funk and be one of the best reads of 2016 I had. Instead I was disappointed and couldn't wait to put this book behind me.

This book like any other had its ups and downs in the plot like any book out there but this one felt like there were more downs than anything else. King is also quoted as saying this isn't for the faint of heart and where there are some gross scenes in the book I have read far worse. I have been sitting on this review for some time because I didn't know exactly what to say other than this was a disappointment. I reviewed this on Goodreads with a 3 star rating but sgtill hadn't written the actual review. Now that I sit here rethinking this book I have to change my review to a 2 out of 5 star read. I am not sure if I will be continuing with this author. I am really torn. I want to try something else to see if I can finally see what King saw reading this book, but at the same time I fear being let down again with hopes higher than the quality.