Monday, February 27, 2017

Star Wars: Catalyst by James Luceno

I am one of the very few who really want to see Rouge One but haven't yet. It was just a busy time of the year to try and see a movie and excuse after excuse. As soon as I saw this book come out I put my name on the reserve list with my library. Nerdist named it as one of the things you need to read before you see the movie so I was very excited wen my turn came around. 

I knew nothing about this book when I got it and wanted it to be that way. I didn't want any preconceived ideas going into it. This book is about the beginning of the Empire and the turn of the Republic into the Empire. The Republic continues to fight the Separatists and Palpatine is building the Death Star. In order to get the Death Star to be the most deadly weapon in the galaxy the Republic needs to get a hold of one scientist Galen Erso. He has been doing research on the special crystals the Jedi use to power their Lightsabers. Galen believes the power of these crystals is not being used to it's full potential.  

The whole book is all about the Separatists and the Republic trying to pursued him to join their cause. This book started out with a bang and the War that is raging across the galaxy and I was really interested from the get go. However, as good as Part one is the rest of the book seemed to loose my interest.

I am going to be honest here. I like Star Wars and look forward to the movies but I cannot call myself a huge fan. I learned reading this book that I really only like the stories that have all the original Characters, Luke, Han, and Leia. Bloodline really only focused on Leia  with occasionally some Han thrown in and I just didn't care for it. I didn't care for this book either. The opening part was really good and I was hooked but after that my attention and interest faded steadily until the very end where I just wished it was over. I have already invested so much time I just had to finish it. I'm not going to drag this out and just say that I give this 2 out of 5 stars. I am still looking forward to seeing Rouge One and I'm sure I will enjoy it. This book was just kind of a let down to me. If I was more of a fan I might have gotten more enjoyment out of this but as I mentioned earlier? I just can't call myself a true fan. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl

If you have read my blog before you know that my wife and I read with my son most nights. For Christmas Conner got a Roald Dahl  box set and we just finished Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Conner wanted to go right into the next book and couldn't wait. So we picked this up and kept Harry Potter on hold. I'm just going to say this right up front. This book was not as good as the first one. I was kind of a disappointment. 

This book picks up right after the first book. Charlie and Mr Wonka go to Charlie's home to get his mother, Father and other 3 grandparents. They move the bed into the great glass elevator and off they go to the Chocolate Factory. With a few mishaps the glass elevator rockets into space and right to a space hotel. Sounds interesting right? You would be wrong. this first part of the book was so boring we felt like we would never get through this. I think my son enjoyed it but my wife and I couldn't wait to finish this book. 

If a space adventure wasn't enough to deal with Charlie's grandparents want to get out of bed. Wonka gives them a special vitamin which would make them younger but they take to much. 3 of them become babies and one becomes a minus. If you want to know exactly what this is you will just have to read the book. If this review hasn't swayed you from that already. 

This is not one of my favorite Roald Dahl books and at least I can say I read it. I would say this is not on my re-read list but I know when my daughter gets a little older and wants to read this I wil struggle though it again. I give this 2 out of 5 stars. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Detective Comics Vol 1: Rise of the Batmen by James Tynion

It has been a very long time since I have read Detective comics. This book was always the grittier Batman series with more violence and darker themes but that changed a long time ago. I didn't read when Batwoman was the lead in this series and I do regret that. I loved her story in in 52 or Countdown to 52, I can't remember which one it was it has been that long. I have always been really curious about this character but never took the time to catch up with her story so I was glad to see her in this Rebirth volume. 

Batman has noticed that these drones are keeping tabs on all these different heroes in Gotham and he needs to find out why. In order to do this Batman gathers the people who are being monitored and it makes for one surprising team. Of course Batman, Batwoman, and Red Robin are not a surprising team nor is having Spoiler and Cassandra Cain on the team. What is weird is having Clayface as part of a superhero team.

I love that Clayface is part of the team. I love how DC Comics is giving some of their long time rouges a chance to change who they are and help people. Captian Cold has joined the Justice League from time to time and even now Killer Frost might be joining the Justice League too. Giving Clayface the chance to be something other than the monster he is stuck being was really interesting. Besides, Batman is going to need all the help he can get. These heroes are being monitored because an entire army of Batmen are being trained to be unleashed on not just Gotham but the world.

These military Batmen are wrapped up in an idea about the League of Shadows which is a farce Ra's Al Ghul used to make himself more powerful and feared. This secret military faction is all about stopping the terrorists before they strike and they have latched onto an idea that is false. This book has some political undertones but not enough to upset one side of the argument or the other. It touched on the idea of how dangerous it is to assume one type of person is a terrorist before you read the whole situation. Batman has to rise above his own pride to try and fix this on his own and realy on his team to not only save the day but save him also.

I loved this story and the emotions run really high in this book. This grabs you from the very beginning and never lests go. I mean never lets go because I am already itching to read vol 2 because the cliffhanger at the end of this book is tough to forget. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. Rebirth has delivered on every story I have read and I am massively impressed.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Lego Batman Movie

We are a big Lego Family. I have quite a few big sets and my Son is a huge lego fan and has som any of the smaller sets that they wont fit in his closet. We are a big Lego family but we are an even bigger Batman family so when this movie first hinted that it was coming out we got super excited and couldn't wait. 

We took the kiddos to see this movie this past Friday and I know it wasn't release weekend but I always like to avoid any chaos from opening weekend and read some reviews before I decide to spend my hard earned cash on an expensive night out. So we all went out and bought the giant popcorn to share and sat back and enjoyed a great night out as  family. As I mentioned I read a lot of reviews that don't have spoilers when the movies come out and this was had nothing but great glowing reviews which seemed really odd to me. Critics hate DC Comic movies and tend to smear them and say they are the anti Marvel Movie, which by the way, Duh. Even Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a 91%. With all the hype and all the praise I really worried this wasn't going to be that great. I loved Batman vs Superman, and Suicide Squad and these were trashed by critics. Let me tell you, Lego Batman lives up to every complement and amazing review out there. Here is one more. 

This movie has everything a Batman fan would want. There are old crappy villains in this like Egg Head from the 60's Batman show, and Condiment King who was in the Cartoon in the 90's. It was so much fun picking out all the little characters that show up in this movie. I also really got a kick out of the fact that Ralph Fieenes, who Plays Voldemort in the Harry Potter Movies is in this movie and doesn't do the voice for Voldemort. Ralph Fiennes is the voice of Alfred and I think did a fantastic job in that character. The Lego movies do their hardest to make Batman the absolute opposite as what the character is in the comics but it is ok. It's funny, and the kids love it as well as the adults. 

This movie has a deeper moral meaning in the whole thing. It's all about family and working together as a team and watching Batman grow as a minifigure., The action is amazing through out and when there isn't action scenes the jokes are hilarious. There are also so many homages to the old movies in here that was just so much fun to watch. Going through the Bat-Cave and seeing Lego versions of the Batmobile from The 1989 movie and Batman Forever as well as so many other versions I remember was a big thing for me as such a huge fan of Batman. 

I absolutely loved this movie and want to watch it again right now. Yes I pre-ordered this on iTunes as soon as it was available. The story is great, the voice actors are wonderful and the music was just awesome. Having Richard Cheese the guy who makes popular songs into Lounge song versions does Man in the mirror and Everything is Awesome. They also have a new song Who's the (Bat)Man which I bought as soon as I heard this through Nerdist. Here is the link to their post so you can check out this awesome song. Also please enjoy the trailer at the end of this review because it is absolutely a 5 out of 5 star movie. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Batman Vol 1: I am Gotham by Tom King

I can't tell you how excited I was to read this book. DC Comics and Netgalley were kind enough to allow me to read this for an honest review and I was crazy excited. I purposely waited till I had read my other comics so I could save the best for last.

One thing I will say about New 52 is that Scott Snyder wrote some amazing Batman stories and it is going to be hard to live up to that expectation. This story was really good. Batman has dealt with a lot in his life and faced even some of the most horrible villains. Yet Gotham and Gotham Girl are something Batman hasn't had to deal with. Super meta humans have decided to take up a mask and fight the crime in Gotham until something goes horribly wrong. Batman now has to fight Hugo Strange/Psycho Pirate and control a crazed meta human.

Batman has his work cut out for him in this opening chapter in Rebirth that only will peak your interest with every passing page. I loved this book and already can't wait for Volume two. I know that coming up in future Batman stories he looks into a smiley face button with blood on it. Now any comic book fan knows the button belongs to the comedian from Watchmen. I can't wait to see Where that story goes and every step of the way to get there.

This book is written very well and this is the first time I have read anything by Tom King and I loved it. I have my favorite comic authors and if Tom King keeps up this level of quality writing on Batman, he could easily slide in next to Scott Snyder and Geoff Johns as one of my favorite authors. I loved this book and give it 5 out of 5 stars. By the way the artwork is really good. This panel of Gotham is one of the best I have ever seen. Gotham is always portrayed as run down, dark, and decrepit. This one panel not only still portrays the dark, hard edge architecture that makes the city what it is, but this makes it beautiful. I'm really impressed with this one panel and had to share this. This is yet another reason I gave this book 5 stars.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman

Here we are, the last book in the Magician's Trilogy. This book picks up a bit after book 2 ends. Quentin is living back in the normal world, Julia is in the other side of Fillory, and Elliott is fighting a battle that only marks the beginning of an all out war for Fillory. Magic is leaving Fillory and the world is dying. I will admit that this book seemed to grab my attention more than the second book very early on. It is one of those situations where all our favorite characters a divided and you hope something happens to being them together. 

Ok so in the last book I really had a hard time keeping up with the time frame changes. Julia in Fillory versus Julia in the real world gaining her powers. Well this happens in this book too. At the beginning Quentin is invited to a run down bookstore in hopes of a job of the magic variety. Then we find Quentin working as a professor at Brakebills who finds the note offering the Job. So this book flips between time as well. It was so hard to listen to this book at work because of the subtle shift in time every now and then.

Quentin is out to find his way back to Fillory and he will do what ever it takes to get back. While he is trying to get back Elliot is trying to find Quentin so they can save Fillory and we get to see Alice in her powerful and very angry form. I will admit that this book held my interest much more than the previous two. I will still have to admit that I don't think these books were really my taste. I'm glad I read them but also glad I am finished. I give this 3 out of 5 stars. Still love the show and look forward to each new episode. 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

I can remember the first time I saw this movie. I was 9 and my dad found this on VHS at Toys r Us. We bought it and watched it while eating dinner in the living room. I have never read the book until now reading it with my wife and son. I have always loved the original movie with Gene Wilder even over the remake with Johnny Depp. Don't get me wrong the Depp movie is good and a closer adaptation to the book but the original is the best.

Willy Wonka is a recluse and no one has seen him or anyone in his factory for years. There has to be people in the factory though because it keeps churning out the worlds most amazing confections. Out of the blue Wonka announces that he is placing 5 golden tickets into his chocolate bars,. The ones who find it will get a private tour of the factory, a lifetime supply of Chocolate, and a special surprise to the winner. This leads me to our main character Charlie Bucket. This poor boy is exactly that, poor. His mother and father have no money and they take care of their parents who live the four of them in one bed in the middle of the house. Charlie would give anything to visit Wonka's factory but he only gets one chocolate bar a year on his birthday.

Needless to say Charlie finds a ticket and gets to visit the chocolate factory. Inside the Chocolate factory we read about all kinds of wonders and rare candies. We also get to meet the people who help run the factory. Mr. Wonka has a bunch or little people known as Oompa Loompas. Charlie and 4 other children go into the factory and each room has different wonders that some are unable to keep their hands off of.

I do like this book. I never read this until now and I am so glad I did. It was such a joy to read this with my son. I say read with my son because we all traded chapters. We would read at least 3 chapters a night. My son would read one and then my wife and I would read at least 1 each. Sometimes if the chapters were short we would read 2 but for the most part we traded. We all got such a kick out of this and then we watched the original together while my son was sick home from school. This weekend we are going to watch the remake with Johnny Depp. I give this book 4 out of 5 stars and I am so glad we read it. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

The Magician King by Lev Grossman

My wife and I really like the show The Magicians on SyFy and I was curious about checking out the books this show is based off of. The frist book was so different from the show which was nice. I like how shows and books can be different so they are like 2 separate experiences and one doesn't ruin the other. The Walking Dead is like that where the show sticks to the larger story but is different than the comics. With season two fo this show gearing up I decided it was time to move on to the second books. I have got to be honest, these books are not really for me. 

I am not a huge fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy. I love comics and Superheroes and one of my favorite series is the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. I also love the Dresden Files, so I had high hopes to like this trilogy. I just couldn't get into this book. I tried and my mind still wandered. Thankfully my wife had already read this and the third book so I could ask her all the questions I had as they came up. I felt like this book went on and on and I struggled. The ending also left me with a lot more questions than answers and not in a good way. Some questions are good so you are excited to read the next book but this just had me feeling like I missed something when it just wasn't there. 

In this book Quentin got almost everything he wanted and is now one of the kings of Fillory. On a routine errand, because he wanted to get out of the castle and go on a quest, he gets sent back home to our realm. In order to get back to Fillory he has to follow Julia and her trip through the world of Black magic. This book gives us both an account of what is going on in the present, but also Julia's story. How she got to be so powerful when Brakebills turned her down. Now Quentin and Julia have to find their way back to Fillory in order to save the land from loosing magic forever. 

There were some high points to this book that I enjoyed but for the most part I was bored. This is one of those rare cases that I enjoy the television show more than the books. It is very rare but it happens from time to time. At this point I only have one more book in the trilogy to read so I will finish it. Had this been a longer series I would have stopped here. I'm not saying these aren't great books I'm just saying they are not for me. I give this a 2 out of 3 star review. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Nightwing Vol 1: Better than Batman by Tim Seeley

This is the book I have been waiting for. I have been a Nightwing fan since the very beginning of his solo run. Dick Grayson became Nightwing with the blue and yellow suit. These stories were good but I don't feel like Dick really came into the hero he is today until the second run when he changed to the Blue suit which is my absolute favorite. I was bummed when they changed him to a red version of the current suit but the character is who I really like so I moved on.

During New 52 Dick Grayson was captured in a book called Froever Evil and exposed to the world and then "Killed" Of course Batman and Dick found a way to make this fake and give him the ability to live his life. So Dick went off and became a spy for Spiral. I started to read the series about this Grayson, but the story was dull, the character wasn't what I loved and I ended up not finishing the run before Rebirth. I was disappointed and pining for the return of Nightwing. This book is everything I had hoped for and so much more.

I need to thank DC Comics and Netgalley for allowing me to read this for an honest review. It came at a great time. Last weekend I was so sick, I mean I couldn't get out of bed for anything and it was a chore to even hold my iPad. Being stuck in bed I was really happy to have new comics to read to make me feel better when I was like death in a soupy package. In this book we get to see what happened to Dick leading up to where we are now in the story which was great to get that hole filled before it took off. The my favorite pannel in the whole book is not only seeing Dick back in the Nightwing suit but back in the original Blue one.  Goosebumps abounded when I got to this page. The rest of the book flew by out of sheer excitement to be reading one of my favorite characters back as he belonged.

So here is where the story gets weird and I couldn't put this down. Dick is working for the Parliament of Owls. Scott Snyder wrote some of the best Batman story lines I have ever read but Court of Owls is somewhat still going on. The Court of Owls has mostly been destroyed in Gotham but the larger Parliament in Europe is still working to control the world. Dick has begun working for them because they are threatening to kill Damien Wayne if he doesn't. What they don't know is that Dick is planning to take them all down from within the organization. To keep Dick in check the Parliament partners him with Raptor who has a creepy kind of feel to him. He is also brash and violent and tells Dick he is going to have to learn a new way of fighting or he wont survive. Together the Parliament sends them on errands to help build a new home for the members of the Parliament of Owls.

This story was amazing. I am so glad I got this book to read for a review. I was on cloud 9 when I got the approval letter for this one. Batman is my all time favorite Super Hero but Nightwing is a very very close second. I'm beyond excited to see him back and I can't wait for volume 2 to come out so I can read what happens next. The story is amazing and it grabbed me from the very beginning and didn't let go. I give this 5 out of 5 stars. This is a must read for any fan of the Batman series. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Green Lanterns Vol 1: Rage Planet by Sam Humphries

Rage Planet

I really liked this book. There are so many reasons that I personally liked it which probably wont resonate with everyone but this is my review and why I like it. Thank you to Net Galley and DC Comics for allowing me to read this for an honest review and I can't thank you both enough. 

Rebirth has been so much fun to read. The Green Lantern Corps is a group of police officers that protect the entire Universe. The Corp has been destroyed and only a few are left My favorite Green lantern has gone to off to find out what is happening and Earth is left with two rookie Green Lanterns. I am not current on the Green Lantern or Green Lantern Corps so I'm not completely sure of what happened to Kyle, John, or Guy, but Earth now has Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. I read how Simon became a Lantern but this is my first exposure to Jessica and I have to say I love her character. What I love about her is that she isn't your standard Lantern candidate. Hal Jordan is the definition of brave. He is fearless and strong. Jessica is an anxiety mess scared of everything in the world. She has locked herself in her apartment for the last 3 years scared of the outside world and yet she is a Lantern who is supposed to overcome great fear. I am the biggest Batman fan but even I have to admit that I have had day dreams of being chosen by a ring to fly off and save the galaxy, but I am an emotional anxiety wreck. I'd never be a lantern. Until now.

Ok, so the story is all about these two new lanterns having to share a planet to protect as well as share a power battery. We do see Hal Jordan at the beginning subject these two to a test which they fail and they fight back and forth. In order to train them and make them work as a team since Hal can't stick around he merges their batteries and now they can only charge there rings when they are together and summon the battery as a team. This obviously causes some tension and then problems as these two have to figure out how to work things out.

The big story is the Red Lanterns are desperately trying to rebuild themselves. In order to do this they have to raise their hell tower and plant a seed to bring about this Red Dawn. No big shocker, the Hell tower is located here on Earth. The Red Lanterns are going to take over our planet to rebuild their ranks. The tower has already to infect the world with rage causing people to fight and tear each other apart. Now I included the picture below for one reason only. The Hell Tower is just outside St Louis Missouri and in the bottom left panel is the Arch and my hometown pride is shinning through. If this had a St Louis Blues Logo in the background somewhere I would blow this up and frame it.

I really liked this book and I have to say it was a fast read. I was addicted to this book from the moment I picked it up. This review is easily a 5 out of 5 star read and I can't wait to read on and see where these two Lanterns go. I am also really curious about the other 4 Lanterns from Earth so I will be trying to catch up on what I missed before Rebirth.