Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King


I have been reading a lot of YA right now. Yes it is really just two series so all of the characters are the same. Between The Last Apprentice and the Percy Jackson series I have been getting the two confused at times so I needed to return to the world of grown ups for a little while. What do I do? I picked a book about a nine year old girl lost in the woods. The real reason I picked this book was the fact it was available at the library in audio, and it was short for a King book. 

This is a short book for Stephen King, but I honestly think it should have been shorter or at the very least a novella. It seemed to be drawn out and ramble on for me. I guess the idea of why this book seemed so long is to try and put the reader into the shoes of Trisha who is lost in the woods for several days. She wanders away from her mom and brother while walking on a trail. Her mom and brother don't notice because of the constant arguing. There is a small family sub plot that runs through the book but it really is very minor.

I had a hard time getting into this book. The idea of being lost in the woods for days is terrifying, I hate driving somewhere I don't know and that is with GPS. I just didn't feel that terror while I was reading it. King had those elements of being lost and helpless, and there was a good bit of danger in this story. It just seemed a little flat. I also wasn't a huge fan of watching a nine year old slowly slip into madness.

If I was lost in the woods I would spend a good bit of time in the fetal position before I started to form my plans. I would hope that I wouldn't completely loose my hold on reality. In the same aspect Trisha does have some good survivor skills that helps make the story seem realistic. As much as it pains me to say this was kind of a middle of the pack novel. I didn't hate it, but I also wasn't left thinking this was the best thing I've read all year. I'm glad I read it but this will not be a re-read for me. I give this 3 out of 5 stars. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Last Apprentice: Grimalkin the Witch Assassin by Joseph Delaney


"Her trade is death and torture". What a quote, I wasn't sure how I felt about this book not being a Tom and Spook story until I read this line. Yes you read this right, this book isn't necessarily the next chapter in Tom's story, but it does answer come questions. When I started this I felt like I should have just skipped this book and moved onto book 10. Why do I care what Grimalkin does when I am so wrapped up in how Tom is going to defeat the Fiend, and what his training will be now that he is finding the abilities that have been hidden within.

I'm a stubborn guy so even though I started out less than thrilled about this book, I kept going and I'm so glad I did. This is one of my favorites of the series.  We get to learn the origin story of Grimalkin and what it took for her to become the greatest of witch assassins. Her history is brought about through flash backs and her telling it, but for the most part, the story is told in present day. Grimalkin's story picks up right where we left off with her in the last book. She is being hunted by creatures of the dark and desperatly trying to help Tom get the time he needs to figure things out. It's so hard to explain what all is going in without spoilers, but I can say that the history of Grimalkin was my favorite part of the story.

I liked seeing a softer side of Grimalkin, and what her roll is in this series. It seems as if there were events that almost foretold of Tom and his quest long before he was born. The more I read the more I liked this book and the overall story line. The last few books have done a good job filling in the holes I saw in the story but this one pulled everything together.

With less than favorable expectations I was blown away. I was completely wrapped up in the story and couldn't wait to get back to the book when I wasn't reading it. As I said earlier this is one of my favorite books of the series so it won't be a surprise when I say this gets 5 out of 5 stars from me. I'm looking forward to getting back to Tom and the Spook but this was a really nice change of pace.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Wonderstruck by Brain Selznick


I have sat here at my computer looking at the blinking cursor trying to figure out what to say about this book and I am just at a loss. There are some books that you don't expect to take your literary breath away and this childrens' book did that to me. My wife and I took turns reading Selznick's other book  The Invention of Hugo Cabret to our son and really had a great time. We liked that book and when we found out that Selznick had written this one we added it to our to-read list. We finally got around to grabbing this at our library and we again took turns reading this each night as a family. All three of us loved this book. 

This is really cool to read. The book is huge at 640 pages but most of those are pictures. We would read 100 pages a night and it really didn't take much time to get through. Brain Selznick is not only the author of this amazing book but also its illustrator. His pictures tell a story all on their own and really make words unnecessary. They are so detailed that it makes some of the artwork I have seen in comic books seem like kindergarten drawings. There is a scene with the city of New York at night all lit up and every window can be seen in each building with lights.

In this book we follow two characters Rose, and Ben. Ben's story is told through the actual writing of the book and Rose's story is told through the illustrations. I can't stress enough how well Selznick tells a story with just his illustrations. We didn't need words to know what was happening. The way the two stories come together at the end gave me goosebumps. It was my wife's turn to read when it came to the ending, and she had a hard time getting through it at times because of the emotion in this story.

I wish I could tell you all the amazing things about this book that made it so enjoyable for all of us. Read this!!! Get past the fact that it is a book geared towards children because it is written very well and not once felt like we were reading down to our son if that makes sense. This book has made its way into my favorites list and one I will be buying to add to our collection. I already can't wait to read this again when my daughter gets a little older. If you can't tell by now I am going to give this book my highest honor of 5 out of 5 stars. I'm also picky about what books I consider favorites and this is one of them. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan


This book is a great example of how a great ending can make up for a slow story. I've read a bunch of reviews on this book, mainly because I was looking for inspiration, and so many people loved the whole thing. I found most of this kind of slow, not dis-interesting but the pace was just dragging. I liked the idea of seeing how our faithful heroes would be tested in the labyrinth and I have really enjoyed the series so far. I even looked past the fact that yet again, this book starts out with Percy at a new school and something happens to destroy it. 

I don't mean to speak negatively about this book because I did like it once I finished, but I think this is the best way to stress how important it is to hang in there sometimes. The main plot as Percy, Annabeth, and Grover struggle through the Labyrinth I kept waiting for something interesting. If you keep going like I did it will all be worth it. The writing is very well structured and easy to read. I just wish that the pacing of the story was a little faster or there was more action in this story. The Titan's Curse, was an ok book and clearly was a middle of the series book. It was the bottom of a hill on a roller coaster. That book let things settle and lure the reader into a false sense of security before we head up the next steel hill. 

I'm really excited to read the final book in this series now. So much happened in the last few chapters that I'm hopeful the final book is amazing. I enjoy the characters and we even get to see more of Poseidon in this book. This was better than the third one but just barley. I'm hopeful that book five just blows all four previous ones away. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's My Blogaversary!!!

I'm 1, well my blog is and sometimes my wife might suggest my maturity is about that age. I can't believe it has been a year already. I've been through a lot in my life this past year. Some good and some not so good. My blog has been a great outlet for my reviews, thoughts, and opinions. The biggest thing that I feel has come from this blog is the fact that I am getting out of my shell a bit. I have been a little more open about myself in recent posts and I'm more comfortable with my writing.

I have wanted to be a writer all my adult life but have never really done anything about it. My creativity is a little lax these days but being able to write my reviews and blog helps give me practice with my technical skills. My spelling and grammar can still use some work but that may never change. I do hope to write a few things that I can post here and really get some honest feedback from people who might actually read my stuff.

I've wondered what I should do for my anniversary post. For this I think I am going to reflect on some of my favorite posts. I would call them fan favorites, but let's be honest. I don't have a lot of fans and really only a few consistent readers. So these are my favorite posts.

Favorite Book Review:
The October List

Favorite Comic Book Review
Batman Vol 3: Death of the Family

Favorite Movie Review
Man if Steel

Favorite Follow Feature
Funny Fav pic

Favorite YA review
Proud to Read What I Want!!!

I know the YA post isn't about one book, but this was the only post I have ever written where I let my opinions out. I have never been brave enough to stand up for something that makes me angry. I take real pride in this post so it had to make my list.

Here is to another great year ahead and I hope I can grow my readers, not necessarily my followers. I also hope I can write some posts that are so interesting the comments flood in. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented over these months.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Walking Dead vol 12: Life Among Them by Robert Kirkman

Things are looking bleak for our band of heroes. Living in the church has been hard, food is running low and there is nothing in the near by neighborhoods left to scavenge. Just as things are looking like the end for the group a stranger happens by with an unbelievable offer. 

This book brought back the strength and suspense that was in earlier books. This new offer brings with it security, food, and a chance at a normal life. Too good to be true? I think so and so do some of our characters. I like this new chapter in the story. I felt just as skeptical as the characters here and kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. I think there was only one Zombie attack in the whole book but the new turn in the story kept me turning pages like a mad man. The plot and well written characters were enough to make this a great read without relying on the zombies to carry the action. 

It was nice to see this little beacon of hope while still secretly knowing this could go very bad at any moment. This book just builds from the very beginning. There isn't a peak just yet in the story but you can feel something is coming all the way through. I am anxious for the next book to come in at the library so I can see what happens next. At the very end we find out the Rick has a plan but we have no idea just what that is. There are a few things that lead the reader to what is ahead but nothing is set in stone. 

I really enjoyed this book and where I felt the last few books seemed to putter out plot wise, this has started to come back from mediocrity. I give this 4.5 stars. It's not quite a perfect read but I finally see the story getting stronger again and If the plot continues to get better than I'm excited to see what is coming next. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Last Apprentice: Rage of the Fallen by Joseph Delaney

There is a lot that happens in this book. The most important is that some of the plot gets wrapped up a bit. Tom, the Spook, and Alice are once again looking for a place to stay while the war continues at home. They find there way to Ireland where they encounter a new type of evil that the Spook has never even head of before. While trying to figure out what to do about this new ghostly problem Tom's dreams are becoming haunted more and more. 

There is so much that is crammed into this book. The introduction of a new type of ghost, they run into a clan of Goatmages, and the goddess of witches is after Tom in his dreams as well as the real world. While all of this is happening the Blood Jar protecting Tom and Alice from the Fiend becomes damaged. The time to confront the Fiend is quickly approaching and Tom is feeling the heavy wait of what lies ahead. This was a much more solid story than the last two, but still had some areas that could have been a bit more interesting. 

I really like seeing how Tom changes with each new book. The Spook's worry is steadily growing as Tom begins to use bits of the dark in his Spook training duties. Times are changing and the Spook is going to have to adjust a bit. Tom also worries that these little bit of the dark might turn him away from the good he does and change his life forever. 

I have not lost interest in this series but I must admit that I am not as excited about it as I was when I first started reading them. There is some repetition in the stories, and they don't seem to be as impressive. I might have gotten used to the style of Delaney's writing so the newness and excitement has worn a little. This was a good book but the highest I can give it is 4 out of 5 stars. This is a solid series and I have enjoyed every step of it so far. I just hope that they begin to pick up since I am just a few books away from the end. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket

I'm a fan of Lemony Snicket. I really liked the Series of Unfortunate Events books and had no idea that he did a children's picture book. A good Blogging friend of mine, Angie at Angela's Anxious Life, did a post called the Top Ten Most Unique Books and this was on it. I just got this from the library, CD and all and we loved this. 

The story is about a dead composer and the very handsome inspector is on the case. The CD that comes with this has accompanying classical music that goes along with the story as it takes place. The Music is arranged by Nathaniel Stookey and performed by the amazing San Francisco Symphony, I think they are almost as good as our very own St Louis Symphony, but I'm a bit biased. The first 9 tracks are narrated by "Lemony Snicket" himself, and then the rest of them are purely instrumental. Now being the Dad that I am, I decided I was going to read this to my son with just the music as background. Let me warn you in advance, either listen to the narrated version with your kids, or listen to it yourself first so you know when to read and when to just enjoy the music. I was way off and half way through the story before the opening music was even over. 

We decided to start over and let it be read to us. My son, wife, and I really enjoyed this story and the music. Some of the music is really intense and kind of sacred him at first, but when we said it sounded like something that would play while Batman was running across rooftops he was all for it. The story breaks down each section of a symphony and has some funny explanations for what their different rolls are. Fun and slightly educational all in one book. 

I've been wanting to read this to my kids for some time but haven't had evenings at home since recently. It was after my daughter's bed time but my son seemed to like it. He asked for it to be read to him again right as we finished. I may have gotten this from the library but I will be buying my own copy of this soon. We really liked this one. 5 out of 5 stars for this picture book. This was wonderful exposure to classical music in a fun way that my 4 year old really enjoyed. If you have kids or just like picture books then this needs to be on your to-read list.  

Friday, July 11, 2014

Void Moon by Michael Connelly


Yay, I found another Connelly book I hadn’t read! Now I must wait until The Burning Room comes out in November. I have really liked his other one shot novel Chasing the Dime so I had high hopes for this one. If you read the summary of this it sounds like it would be a really amazing read. Here is the summary since it does a better job describing the plot than I would.

New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly writes novels of brilliantly original suspense. In this electrifying tour de force, he takes us into a world of extremes: too much criminality, too much money, and too many ways to die.
In L.A. Cassie Black is another beautiful woman in a Porsche: except Cassie just did six years in prison and still has "outlaw juice" flowing in her veins. Now Cassie is returning to her old profession, taking down a money man in Vegas. But the perfect heist goes very wrong, and suddenly Cassie is on the run--with a near-psychotic Vegas "fixer" killing everyone who knew about the job. Between Cassie and the man hunting her are a few last secrets: like who really set up the job, why Cassie had to take the change, and how, in the end, it might all be a matter of the moon...
Sounds really good right, well I was kind of let down with this one. It started out so slow, I kept waiting for it to pick up and it seemed like it was just creating more confusion and questions. I kept thinking; Mr. Connelly, this isn't your usual hard hitting style. Does it get better. Well... After a little over half way through the book things started to get good. The ending was really strong and emotional. I was teetering on the edge of giving this book a 2 star rating until 3/4 of the way through. I'm glad I hung in there because the ending was worth it, but it was not his strongest work.

The writing was good and very well put together it was just the plot that left me wanting more. I know he can do a better job making those slower scenes memorable and more interesting. It is one of the earlier works since it was published in 2000 so I will chalk this up to him still finding his groove. Had it not been for the ending I would have given this 2 stars, but I did really enjoy the ending and even got a little choked up at one point so I will give this 3 out of 5 stars. I’m glad I read it so I can be caught up on all of his books, but I don’t think this will be on my re-read list.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Last Apprentice: Rise of the Huntress by Joseph Delaney

Just when you thought there might be some peace in the lives of Tom, Alice, and the Spook everything goes horribly wrong. After the events of the last book the trio returns home to find a war has moved in and claimed the Spook’s home. They arrive just in time to see the pillar of smoke from the house burning. As quickly as possible they flee across the ocean to the island of Mona. As they arrive the locals make sure that our trio knows they are not welcome. Even though they are shunned by the town, Tom and the Spook will fight the dark that is running rampant through the town.
Now that I have dispensed with the little summary of the book I must say that I wasn’t expecting much from this at first. As I started to read I felt like this was going to be one of those stories that just heaps more and more crap on our heroes to highlight their strength and togetherness. I’m not a fan of books like that because it feels like filler. When this kind of thing happens in a series like this I feel like I wasted my time when I should have just skipped this and moved to the next book. This may have started out like filler, but then a really good plot began to form. Once I got past the beginning the story really took off.
There were some slow spots throughout the book, but that didn’t matter to me. Once I was hooked by the story I still flew through these slow moments just because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. There was plenty of action to make up for these spots and I even flip flopped on if I liked a few characters at times.

This was a great chapter in Tom Ward’s story. This is easily a 4 out of 5 star read. I have really enjoyed this series but only one of the books has really stood out as being a 5 star read so far. I have a feeling that if the stories keep going with this kind of strength then they will only get better. I can’t wait to see what supernatural beings they encounter next, and I want more witches also.

Monday, July 7, 2014

DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2014

It's that time of year again. This is now the second Graphic Novel guide that DC comics has put out and they are amazing. The best part about this is that it is free!!!! Yes my friends, if you are a fan of comics and want to know what the best DC story lines are then this is a must have.

DC has made this so easy to get. You can either get a little sunlight and head to your  local comic book shop to see if they have some copies available, or if you have a tablet,smartphone, or Kindle you can find this digitally. I love having this on my iPhone, when I go to the library and I am browsing there Graphic novel selection I like to pull this up and see if there is anything I that sounds interesting on the shelves. I picked this up on NetGalley at first then grabbed it from Amazon so I could keep it on my iPhone. If you would like to get the Kindle version just follow the link under the cover. If you have the DC Comics app on your smartphone or tablet then you can get it straight from DC here.

This is a must have for any DC Comic book fan. This collection breaks it all down by different topics. New 52, Vertigo titles, Mad, and my favorite the DC Comcis: All Ages. My son loves Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. I like being able to see what books would be a good fit for him at his age. Yes he can't read them now, but that would be great bonding time together. There is even a section on DC's suggested reading order. The perfect reference guide for the collector, and avid reader alike. I can't talk about how much I really love these collections. I already can't wait to see what makes the cut next year. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan


The best part of this book is the ending; and I can’t tell you about it. I liked this book but wasn’t massively impressed. The ending was really good and it leaves you with some questions as well as excitement to see where the main plot is going to go. The rest of the book was just ok I thought.
So this is a YA series and a little repetition is expected from book to book but these are a bit predictable. I’m used to the Harry Potter, and Series of Unfortunate Events being the same formula book by book. In The Titian’s Curse something goes wrong that pertains to the prophecy and Percy wants to go on the quest but gets denied. Yet he somehow ends up doing it anyway, but all is forgiven in the end and he doesn’t even have to clean the latrine at camp. For the most part I don’t mind the repetition, the formula works. I just wish there was more action or something to make up for how predictable this book was. I thought it was a fun read and I love the series as a whole.
There was a lot of potential for this story to be really cool. We start out with Percy and gang trying to rescue some recently discovered half-bloods from, wait for it…… a boarding school. Yes we begin with another battle in a school that inevitably leaves damage just like the last book. The first book wasn’t in a school but the first battle happened in a museum on a school field trip. While battling this new beast Annabeth is taken. Once again, someone close to Percy is taken or in grave danger; another reoccurring formula. This may have meaning down the road but I wasn’t shocked when I read this.
I did like this book and I can’t wait to get into the next book. With the series only having five books I am close to the end and anxious for the big be all, end all battle. This book did have a lot of great/goofy one liners. I found myself chuckling quite a bit which was disturbing my coworkers. I listened to this one in audio while at work so that is why the laughter was causing issues. I like the narrator for these books in audio, but he had some of the worst accents ever. One of the characters is supposed to have a French accent but half way through trying to keep it French, he started to fault to a terrible Chinese accent. It was really funny.
What should I rate this? Hmmmm? Well I am going to give this 3 out of 5 stars. I did like it but wasn’t impressed. The funny one liners and the ending really saved this book from being pretty slow for the most part. This was a good book to have in the middle of the series because it does sort of slow things down so they can build again to the exciting climax I hope is coming. I have high hopes for the next book. I’ll let you know what I think when I get to it.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Walking Dead Vol 11: Fear the Hunters by Robert Kirkman


If you have looked at any of the Walking Dead books on sites like Goodreads, you might have noticed that the summary of what the book is about gets shorter and shorter the further you get in the series. At some point I expect it to have the summary read just “Zombies!?!” I understand why the summaries get shorter. It is really hard to write a review on these books and not give something away. I have a feeling that my reviews on this series will be brief for that reason.
So let me get right to it. I wasn’t overly impressed with this one. I feel that the story has kind of stalled a bit. The art work is always the same which is nice but that also means it doesn’t get any better. The artwork fits very well for the books but it could have a little bit cleaner detail. I enjoyed this as always but this book just wasn’t as impressive.
I thought there was a whole bucket of crazy in Volume 10 and then I read this one. Wow, some of the stuff that happens in this book is just over the top!!! Our group is still on their trek to DC and of course there are obstacles along the way. They come across a reverend who offers his church as sanctuary in exchange for some food. Can this guy be trusted or are our heroes walking into a trap if they go? In the last book the events that I would consider crazy were at times justified, but this time a line was crossed. It didn’t make me dislike this book, but my jaw dropped. Anyone who has read these knows that there is a shock factor that keeps us readers coming back. This book definitely has one of those moments.
This was pretty good and I liked it, but it felt kind of slow. I hope the story picks up again, and I have been told it does. I have friends who are current with the series and can’t wait for the next book to come out. I’d say this is kind of a middle of the pack read, I give this 3 out of 5 stars. I am looking forward to moving forward in the series because overall I am really enjoying it. I just hope that the next volume picks up a little.