Friday, February 28, 2014

The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolken


I'm not a big fan of the sci-fi or fantasy genre, but I love The Lord of the Rings books and the Hobbit. My dad read these books to me as a bed time story when I was nine. I loved the world of Middle Earth and all the different creatures that lived there. Years later when Peter Jackson made The Lord of the Rings into a series of movies it only strengthened my love for these books and their characters. 

When the first installment of the Hobbit came out it sparked talk of Middle Earth with my Dad again. He kept telling me that a lot of what is in the movie version of the Hobbit is taken from this book. He said it gives a history of Middle Earth before the events of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Of course my interest was peaked, and he gave me his hardback first edition. I was thrilled because my dad and I don't talk books much these days. He doesn't have time to read, and I barely find time myself to keep my nose in a book. It was also wonderful to share in this series once again with my dad. It brought back a lot of old memories and some new ones, since I have read the Hobbit and the first book in the Lord of the Rings series to my son. He was to young to understand, but I will read them with him again when he is older. It was also really touching to see my dad's dwarf bookplate on the inside with the year he got the book written under his name. I also found the bookmark I bought him at a book fair in grade school stuck in the middle of the book. Enough with the sentimental stuff now. I have digressed, and on to the review. 

I was so excited to start this book and finally get more information about Middle Earth and what happened before in its history. Once I started I was, sad to say, disappointed. This book reads like a history book. I knew it was going to be a narrative, but I had such a hard time staying focused on this. I felt like I was reading a text book and was dozing off half way through the third page. Still, I wanted to know what my dad liked about this book so much. I probably should have put it down and moved on to something else, but I kept going. 

The book opens with a creation story, the story of how there was a pocket in the universe and there Earth was created. Each of the gods in this book had a part in how the Elves, Dwarves, and Men came about. I couldn't focus on this because it was just such a dry read. Once the history progressed and I started to recognize the names of characters I have read about, I started to become more interested. The best part of this for me was the very last volume in this story, and that is the one that dealt with the creation of the rings. 

I'm glad I read it mainly because it opens the door for more literary discussion with my dad. Overall though, I wouldn't have kept going had it not been for that reason. I did like the last part of this book which is why I will give it 2.5 stars here on my blog. When I rate this on Goodreads and Amazon I will have to go with 2 stars. I would only recommend this to someone who is a die hard fan of Tolken's work or a fan of historical text. This is fiction, but it reads like a text book, so if you are a fan of that style then you might enjoy this.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Shadow Vol: 3 by Chris Roberson


So the book was not as good as I had expected. The plot was a little slow, and the dialog was cheesy. It was kind of fitting because it felt like the old radio drama. I wasn't around to listen to it live, but I have heard some of them. In this book The Shadow is after a homicidal nun who is out to dispatch her own brand of justice on the sinners of the world in hopes of saving their immortal soul. Homicidal nun did sound promising, but I guess I expected more along the lines of action. It took three quarters of the book for a really good action sequence to happen, and then it just sort of ends. Maybe I was being to picky, but I wasn't all that impressed with the action in this book.

The art work isn't to bad in this book. I was expecting some amazing scenes from Alex Ross, but was saddened when he only did the covers. I have defintly seen much worse art work, but I felt it lacked detail. The faces were not really there and felt as if I was looking at the characers down a tunnel. The other thing about the art work, that I really hope was becuase I got an advanced digital copy, was the fact that it looked blurry or smeared. I really hope that this is because of my download, but if the book comes out and looks like this, I wouldn't spend the money on it.



The left Picture was done by Alex Ross, and I hoped this was how the art work was throughout the whole book. He only did the covers to entice you to read I'm sure. The rest was more like the picture on the right. It wasn't bad but I had higher hopes.

Overall this was pretty good. It was entertaining, and I'm glad I read it. I wish there was a little more depth to the story, and I am hopeful the art work is better than I saw. If you happen to see this in the library I might recomend picking this up to give it a read if you like the noir style comics. I will give this 3 stars becuase on Goodreads and Amazon I can't give it 2.5. This was better than a 2 star rating but I don't feel it deserves the full 3.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Fiction by Mark Waid


This is exactly what the title implies, Pulp Fiction. This was a lot of fun to read. I remeber when the movie The Rocketeer was first released. I watched that movie almost a hundred times before our VHS copy wore out. I loved the idea of being able to strap a rocket to my back and fly around without a care in the world, although as an adult I tend to wonder if I would have burnt my pants right off turning that jet pack on for the first time. Seventeen years later The Spirit was brought to the big screen in the same style of Sin City. As bad as The Spirit was, I loved that movie. It is still one I watch from time to time when I'm in the mood for a cheesy comic book movie.

When I was browsing the graphic novels on NetGalley I was really excited to see these two characters paired together. I jumped at the chance to read and review this title. After I downloaded it I realized that this was writen by Mark Waid. He has written some huge story lines in the past, most notibly the Kingdom Come series for DC Comics. One of my all time favorite stories in comics is Kingdom Come, so I figured this book had to at least be decent. 

I liked this book, but then again I didn't take this too seriously when I began. The story is fun. Television is just starting to become a thing of the present, and the crime bosses want to use it for their own profit. A mysterious murder shows up on the west coast right in the Rocketeer's back yard, but the victim was just across the country an hour prior. How could this be you might ask. Read it and find out how they explained it. It's not very realistic but fun in the sci-fi sort of way that kids television shows just expect their audience to accept without question. I'm not kidding that you can't take this story seriously. It is Pulp. It is Noir, and it is just goofy. If you can look past all of that then this is a pretty entertaining story. 

The artwork isn't bad for the most part. It has that classic comic book feel as well as the Rocketeer's girlfriend always looking like somehting out of a pin-up magazine. I have definitely seen better, but it suits the feel and style of this book perfectly. That is until the very last issue. The last issue has someone else doing the art work, and it looks like a children's cartoon. There isn't as much detail, and the characters go from comic life like to round cherub like people. Here is an example of the awkward change the artwork took. The picture on the left is how most of the book looks. The one on the right is the artwork of the last issue in this collection. 


This was a fun read and short enough that I was able to kill a little time at work and at least enjoy myself. I would give this 3 out of 5 stars. I did really enjoy this, but I wish there was better artwork throughout, and the story could have been a little stronger. Still, if you are a fan of the Rocketeer or the Spirit, I would at least give this a read. Take it in stride, and just enjoy the read.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm Knights by Patrick Shand


I have read a few of the Grimm Fairy Tales graphic novels, and I have liked them. When I read the description of this book and saw it was going to include Snow White, Captain Hook, Robyn Hood, Van Helsing and others I had to get it. I was fortunate enough to get this from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. 

This book started out strong. Kronos, the father of the Titans, has escaped from the Underworld and is in search of his scythes which will give him the power to take over the world. Titans, fairy tales and gods oh my. I really wanted to see where this was going. I was expecting more. This seems like it was vol 1 of the Realm Knights series, but the whole book was a continuation of other series. I felt I really should have read 3 or 4 other graphic novels to understand what was going on with the characters. They each have their own series it seams, and this book picked up where the others left off, so I was a little confused at some of the references. 

As strong as the story started out, it started to fall for me just after the midway point. I still liked this, and I flew through it, but I wanted a little bit more substance to the ending. Thankfully, as part of the bonus content for this graphic novel was an origin story for the Realm Knights. This shows us how these iconic characters came together on this team, but it just couldn't fill all of the holes I had with the rest of the story. 

I liked this and I give this 3 out of 5 stars. I'm not sure if I will continue with the Realm Knights series if they have another collection. I'm glad I was given the chance to read this, and it was enjoyable. I just had higher hopes for it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro


I am not usually a fan of YA, but I was interested when I read this description and then saw it was a giveaway on Goodreads. I don't usually win those, but I had a good year and won this book also. I have enjoyed James Patterson in the past, so I figured his YA would be pretty good. This book is a collaboration between Patterson and Maxine Paetro. I have not read any of her stuff nor have I read the Women's Murder Club series by them, so I was curious to see what this book was all about. 

There were quite a few technical issues with the book that I wasn't a fan of, but I will get to those in a minute. Let me start with what I liked about this. I really liked the story, and it held my attention. Sad to say I had the whole thing figured out about 8 chapters in, but I couldn't stop reading this because I wanted to know if I was right or not. The idea of a murder committed in a locked room with no way in or out was really interesting. This of course points the finger at every family member because they had access. I also liked the characters in this book. That is, when they weren't being overly dramatic. I chalked that up to them being teenagers and sort of let that slide. I was also happy that there wasn't this long drawn out romantic sub plot or love triangle in this book. Patterson and Paetro stayed away from that cliche in this YA book, and I couldn't be happier. The teen romance/love triangle sub plot is what usually keeps me from reading YA. 

Here is what I wasn't a fan of: I didn't care for how overly dramatic the descriptions of everything were. I had to ask my wife who reads a good bit of YA if this was normal, and she said no. She read this too and didn't care for it as much as I did. I looked past these technical issues and just enjoyed the story. Everything that was described was so tragic or intense that it felt like the efforts of a new writer. It had a ton of useless descriptors that would normally have been edited out if this was adult fiction. The whole book felt like Patterson and Paetro were trying too hard to make this a YA novel. I can't say this is due to poor writing because Patterson has written some books that I loved. 

Once you get past the technicalities, the story is very well done. I am really curious to see what is going to happen with our main character Tandy. This is a series, and book 2 is already out. I will be putting my name on the list for it at my library and hope this answers some questions left unanswered in this book. Because I liked the characters and the story I gave this 4 out of 5 stars.  I hope the series continues to get better and they aren't as over dramatic in the future books. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bosch


I'm a big fan of Detective Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly's main character who is both brooding and a loner, while still having a heart that cares about the welfare of a city. Bosch is the type of character that seems so one dimensional at first but has so many layers once you get into the stories. 

I have always felt that Harry Bosch had a noir feel to the character. I could see him in my head like Humphrey Bogart. I also tend to picture him as myself from time to time because I relate to the character a little. For years I have had this image of Bosch in my head. He is a character who I could turn to when I need a good adventure or escape. 

For the first time ever we get to meet Harry Bosch on screen, and Amazon.com is making this happen as part of their Prime Instant Video. Amazon has created several shows that they are allowing customers to view for free, rate them and then ultimately decide which becomes a series.  I will admit that I was nervous going into this. I have such a strong idea of this character that I was worried the show wouldn't live up to my expectations. However, the excitement I had at seeing it made into a show was overwhelming. I signed up for the mailing list so I could get all the updates and couldn't wait to sit down and watch it.

For the first 30 days after this release, which was Feb 6th, Amazon is allowing anyone to stream and review this. You don't have to be a paid subscriber to their Prime membership. If you have ever read any of the books I would say jump at this opportunity, and check it out before it becomes a paid episode or part of the Prime Instant Video.

Now for the review: I liked it. It is based off of the book City of Bones. Reading an interview with Connelly, the entire season, assuming they get picked up, will be based off of City of Bones and The Concrete Blond. This pilot is only setting things up. We see Bosch on trial for a shooting that the department cleared him for, but the widow is pressing charges. While on rotation Bosch is called to a doctor's home where his dog has found a human bone. I wish things would have progressed a little faster in the pilot, but the story and acting is there and has peaked my interest.

There were a lot of things that I really liked about this show. Bosch has a partner Edgar who is very fashion conscious, and I liked the fact that that was incorporated into the show. There is a line where Edgar mentions he hates decomp calls because the smell ruins his suits.  At one point he is also in the middle of the woods at a crime scene in a preppy sweater and nice slacks. One of the other big things I liked was Bosch's house. The house on the hill is something I have always pictured, and it was great to see it live up to expectations. I also liked the Jazz playing in the background just like in the books.

Titus Welliver is playing the part of Harry Bosch. I never thought about him in this role because in everything I have seen him in he is either a bad guy or a real jerk. When I heard that Connelly's books were going to be made into a show I thought long and hard about who I would want as Bosch and couldn't pick one actor. I think Titus Welliver was a really good choice. He lived up to my imaginations and expectations. I did really like this show and can't wait to watch the pilot again. If you are a fan of the books I would encourage you to watch this and provide feedback. I would love to see this get picked up to be a series. You can watch the episode by clicking the link under the picture up top. If you have watched it and would like to provide your feedback then click here: Amazon Originals Feedback.

There isn't a trailer out for this, but there are some videos on Michael Connelly's site if you want to check some out. I liked this behind the scenes clip and figured I would share it so you can get a feel for the show now.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Teen Titans Vol 3: Death of the Family by Scott Lobdell


I was fortunate enough to win this book through a Goodreads giveaway. I was so excited because I love the Death of the Family storyline in the Batman comics. I was really looking forward to seeing this side of the story. I hate to say it, but I was kind of let down. 

I love the Death of the Family story line because the Joker is back and crazier than ever. He is on a mission to kill all of the different members of the Bat family like Red Robin, Nightwing, and Batgirl. Joker feels like they make Batman weak, and he wants the old, darker Batman back. It was more fun then.

This book opens up with Batman telling sort of an origin story of how Tim Drake became Robin. This I really liked because it told the story from Batman's point of view, and I really enjoyed this part. Once the origin story passes we see the Teen Titans on the hunt for Red Robin in Gotham city. They also ask for the help of Batgirl to find him.  The Titans story line was just ok. There was some adventure to their hunt but nothing really gets resolved. It just sort of ends once the book shifts to the ending of the Death of the Family story that I had already read in the Batman Vol 3. The last issues in this collection is all set up for the next story line in the Teen Titans story. 

I am curious to see what is next for the Titans after this little tease, but I was really not satisfied with how their part of the bigger story was handled. I guess I was expecting so much more after reading the main title graphic novel Batman Vol. 3. The artwork was pretty good, and I did really enjoy that. The parts of this book that dealt with mainly Red Robin I enjoyed, but the rest fell flat. 

Because of the parts I did enjoy I will give this 3 out of 5 stars. Really this is almost a 2.5 star book, but I really do love the Death of the Family story, and I was more than happy to read the ending of it again. That is why I am giving this 3 stars. It's not the strongest book in the story line, but I am glad I read it.