Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Stay Fly

I think I'm just in a comics sort of mood. I can't get enough of Captain Marvel and Stay Fly was great. I really enjoy Captain Marvel's personality. She's so brash, but she's fiercely loyal and she loves so strongly. Everything she does seems to be big, I don't know if anyone would accuse her of being subtle. I do, however, wish the story was more coherent. I know that Stay Fly is a collection of individual comic issues, but they usually follow an arc, and this did, it was just a little everywhere. Though, (SPOILER) the Christmas stuff seemed seasonally appropriate and a pleasant surprise.

Like with Higher, Further, Faster, More, I loved the art. The cover is hilarious and definitely not "pretty" like the last volume. Besides the depictions of Captain Marvel, I really liked Rocket. I liked the expressions, the continuity, the color. Kelly Sue DeConnick, David Lopez and the rest of the team did an amazing job bringing Captain Marvel to life. Also, she was put in some interesting situations. The thing with her cat was funny. It was a unique twist that I just didn't see coming.

Also, the more I read of Captain Marvel, the more I love Spider-Woman. She's hilarious and I really enjoy Carol and Jessica's friendship. I wonder what Captain Marvel is like from Spider-Woman's point of view. I was also interested in seeing Tracy again. I wonder how all that is going to end. Stay Flay has definitely kept me hooked and I'm excited to read the next installment of Captain Marvel.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Blast From The Past #7 - Ella Enchanted

I can't believe how old this movie is! It's been 10 years since I watched Ella Enchanted but it's actually 12 years old, first released in 2004. I know the movie isn't critically great and that it's yet another Cinderella retelling, but something about it always charms me. I don't know if it's the singing or how sweet Ella is or how terrible the fairy-godmother's gift is, but every time it comes on television, I watch it, even if it's just for a few minutes. Something about it lightens my mood, and in these current times, I think that's something we all need.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Heir Of Fire

That's how it ends? Some of it surprising, some of it not, and in this situation, I appreciated both. Heir of Fire is the third novel in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. The non-surprising parts kind of had to happen, since this is a book in the middle of a six-book (not including novellas) series.  Many the Mistward/Doranelle events, I think, needed to happen in order to advance Celaena forward in her quest. The events back in Rifthold, with Chaol and Dorian (among others) were where I was more surprised. I am worried about all of them. What's going to happen to them? I know Chaol is not on the path he thought he'd be on. Dorian and Aedion certainly aren't. Celaena, I think, is exactly where she should be.

Rowan and the other residents of Mistward, were an excellent addition to the series. The characters added perspective to the events of Adarlan, because they're across the sea, in another continent, where there is still magic and they are ruled over by a beloved king. Through these characters, the world of Erilea is expanded, there are other kingdoms and other rulers. We are left wondering what role these people will play in Celaena's story. 

Also, what role will the witches eventually play. That storyline, completely separate from Celaena, as these seem to be people she has never met, was full of surprises. Yes, witches and Yellowlegs have been introduced, but the prominence of them in this story is almost a warning.

I don't want to give anything away, but I have to say that while there is a cliffhanger ending and this felt like a "middle" book, it was enjoyable. There was a lot of emotional and skillful learning. There were tense moments. There were times when I wasn't sure who would live and die. There was some fun peppered throughout too. I am excited to read the rest of the series and not sure what will happen next.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


Tigana was epic. That was the first word that came to mind while thinking of what to say about this very long, fantasy adventure. It was epic in scope and breadth. My edition of Tigana is 803 pages, including Guy Gavriel Kay's Afterword. I'm including the Afterword, because it should be read. It is beautifully written and it is about Tigana's lost culture. The way to get rid of a culture and language is to outlaw its name, burn it's books, destroy its art and replace them with that of the conqueror's. Though Brandin uses sorcery to accomplish this, the idea and occurrences of erasing a culture is rooted in history.

Tigana could have easily been two books, if not three. There were “parts” to the book, separations in time. There were breaks that could have easily been conclusions to create a trilogy or duology. Though, how often have we read series that we thought could have been just one big book? There is just so much going on, the stories of the different characters are deep and interweave in incredible ways. There's so much thought put into every chapter. I was excited, and pleasantly surprised, that I won a second book from Goodreads by Guy Gavriel Kay, but its length was definitely daunting.

Though the story and the world were large and complex, it was the characters that kept me wanting to know more. For me, Devin was the star. It was his journey from farm-boy to singer to freedom fighter that got me hooked. I really loved all the characters, but I was always wondering, who is Devin going to end up with, is he going to fight, will he live in the end? Devin's journey was the journey of the reader, thinking one thing, then learning another. Devin and his companions are what grounded the story for me.

I appreciated that Catriana was not your typical girl or damsel. The contrast between her and Alais was interesting, but more so, both of these strong women and the "boy crazy" Svetlana. Catriana had a warrior's heart, wanting to make up for past deeds that weren't her fault. She grew so much throughout the novel, her anger dissipating a bit, or at least it became more fine-tuned. She also found hope, which I don't think she necessarily had in the beginning

I didn't know what to think of Baerd at first. He was quiet, keeping his secrets close. Then we learn so much more. There were no flat characters. Kay keeps us guessing with all of them. By the end, Baerd became one of my favourites, the hope I had for him built throughout the story and makes me wish for only the best for him.

A possible prematurely grey, prince without a throne, Alessan binds the group together. Without him, who knows what would have happened to Baerd? What would Catriana have done with her life? Though I'm pretty sure Devin would have ended up pretty famous anyway. Alessan struggles for what is right. He wants to restore Tigana, but he is also looking at the bigger picture.

The Tyrants were an interesting pair. We meet Alberico first and he's terrible. He's a conqueror in the worst way. He leads through intimidation, fear and money. He tortures for the pleasure of it. He kills to make himself feel better when he's down. No one is loyal to him because of faith or trust, they just want to be on the right side when his sword comes crashing down. If he wasn't a sorcerer, I feel like the people would never have let him win, more than that, his men might never have fought for him.

I thought Brandin would be the same, but he's not. He's a conqueror that we can sympathize with. He knows love and grief. His uncontrollable grief is the crux of this tale. Brandin actually shows that he cares for people. He has depth and a complex web of emotions. How I ended up feeling about him by the end was complex too. I wanted him to be okay, but he was still a brutal conqueror. The difference between him and Alberico was that there were people who were truly loyal to him. He was a king in his own land and his army followed him because of that. He didn't have to pay them the same way Alberico did. He engendered loyalty and trust from many of his people. When he talked about Fionavar, it made me immediately want to read The Fionavar Tapestry, (just like how Children of Earth and Sky made me want to read The Sarantine Mosaic.) Brandin had love in his heart.

Brandin believed that a conqueror could unite the Palm, which is what Alessan wanted, but not by his enemy. It's interesting how their lives paralleled, made even more complex when you think of Dianora. Her story ran parallel to that of Devin's and was equally important. Dianora was probably the most complex character in the entire novel. She loved and hated Brandin, when you read the novel, you can see why. Sometimes I wonder if she told him the truth, if the end would have been different. I wonder if he would have understood what she did and forgiven her.

All these brilliant, amazing characters crossed the Palm, north to south, east to west, on their quest. They mapped the world out for us. They were amazing, complex and had me wanting to know what happened. I wanted to know how they all turned out. Even with a well-written ending, I am still left wondering about what will happen to these characters, especially the three at the very end. I wonder if Kay will ever revisit this world. I hope he does and I hope it's just as deeply intense.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Sun Is Also A Star

Heartbreakingly perfect, The Sun Is Also A Star is simply an amazing novel. It tells the story of Daniel and Natasha and how two people who have never met can find each other and fall in love. Natasha is trying to stay in America, trying not to get deported, and her whole day is supposed to revolve around that. Then there's Daniel. He's supposed to prepare for and have the biggest interview of his whole life. Then they meet.

I really connected with Natasha and Daniel, as I am also a child of immigrants. It can be a difficult balance, trying to stay connected to the culture of your parents and being a part of the culture of the country you live in. Some people want you to be one way, others want you to be another. It's a wonderful thing to find someone who understands. I have friends who were in the same boat growing up, even though our parents were not necessarily from the same countries, we shared similar experiences. There is a struggle that I think maybe all children of immigrants go through, though maybe to different degrees depending on how "different" a parent's home country is. While Natasha is Jamaican and Daniel is Korean-American, they share similar life experiences. I really enjoyed the conversation about "where are you really from", as I have had that question asked many times. There's the food thing too.

Nicola Yoon creates not only complex, beautiful characters, but writes with emotion. The decisions that not only Natasha and Daniel make, but also Irene, Natasha and Daniel's respective parents, Charlie, Attorney Fitzgerald, and even the waitress at the restaurant, are full of heartache. Nothing is taken lightly, they all have deep, serious, inner lives that maybe our two main characters know nothing about. It comes through in the interesting style in which Yoon has structured her novel. I wonder if her first novel, Everything, Everything is written in the same style (a book that I absolutely now have to read). There were also great references to 90's grunge and a quiz that I watched Penny and Sheldon take on The Big Bang Theory, which made me so happy. A great plot, amazing characters and interesting style, I couldn't help but love The Sun Is Also A Star.

*I won The Sun Is Also A Star as an ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. Yay! 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Blast From The Past #6 - A Series Of Unfortunate Events

I can't believe it's been 10 years since I finished A Series of Unfortunate Events. I really loved those books. They were so quirky and unique. I'm just waiting for my children to be old enough so that I can read the series with them. The idea of reading them again makes me happy. I loved them then and I love them now. I am excited that 10 years later there's going to be a Netflix television series based on them, that these books are still popular and loved. Of course it's being released on a "Friday the 13th". I am sure they did that on purpose. It's such an "unfortunate" thing to happen.

I remember being excited for the movie too. I thought A Series of Unfortunate Events was fantastic. I loved the children, and Jim Carrey as Count Olaf was perfect. Meryl Streep was in it! Why did they stop at one? I don't really know. Money and scripts probably. You can only wait so long too, since they were child actors, once they age too much, it's not believable anymore.

Back to my past post... The post I wrote 10 years ago is part love of A Series of Unfortunate Events and part the last books I read in the series. Based on what I said in the post about the "extra stories" my hot/cold relationship with side stories is at least 10 years old. I remember being a bit disappointed about what was learned in The Beatrice Letters and The Unauthorized Autobiography. Some of it was good and they were good stories, but they didn't affect how I viewed the rest of the series or my reading of The End. I remember not wanting The End to be the end of the series. I wanted to know so much more about the Baudelaires. They're still children at the end of the series. What happened when they became adults? I've always wanted to know more. I also wonder if Lemony Snicket's most recent series, All The Wrong Questions eventually relates to A Series of Unfortunate Events. I should finish reading that series too.

So, 10 years ago, I finished reading a fun series. Now, I can look forward to watching (maybe binge-watching) a television show based on those books. 

Netflix series trailer:

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dr. Strange

I love Dr. Strange. It was weird and wonderful. There were serious and dark moments, there were light and funny moments. Dr. Strange is the story of Dr. Stephen Strange, brilliant, egotistical neurosurgeon, who gets into a car accident and forever alters the path of his life. There's so much I could say about Dr. Strange. I thought he was great, Christine Palmer, The Ancient One, Wong, Mordo, all great characters who showed depth, the capacity for change, and the ability to believe. There were surprises, things not shown in the trailers, which I always appreciate and have come to expect from Marvel/Disney. Visually, the movie was amazing. The world creating, the world bending, adding layers, adding the multiverse. I totally love Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams more than I used to. They were so fantastic.

This is a bit difficult, to write about the movie, without giving things away. My favourite parts are all spoilers. But I won't do it. Because that's not me. On Friday morning, I was online and I happened to scroll by a comment on the movie which gave away a part of the after-credits scene. Friday morning! The movie hadn't even been out for 24 hours yet. This person went to a midnight screening and then ruined one of the surprises. Did they give away the plot or say what the surprise was about? No, but it still took something away from me and I'm guessing from anyone else who happened by it. I wasn't even looking for Dr. Strange stuff. So frustrating. "Spoiler Alert" or don't say anything. (Sorry about the rant.)

I supposed I could say that now and then talk about all my favourite parts and the amazing plot, great characters and fantastic effects, but I don't think I will. It would probably end up just me gushing about how much I enjoyed the movie anyway. What I will say (again) is that this was a fantastic Marvel movie and a great way to introduce magic into the MCU.


Thursday, November 03, 2016

Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More

I love Captain Marvel so much. She's just amazing. She fights when she needs to fight, she stands up for people, she cares. Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster, More was a great beginning to this Captain Marvel series. She's done with her illness from the last series and she is moving forward with her life. I definitely love her new apartment and her roommates. I love her new love, but I don't see that necessarily working out. I also love her new ship and the AI that goes with it. Tony Stark definitely builds good stuff. Kelly Sue DeConnick is carrying on Captain Marvel's story with fun and adventure.

I have to say, the art in Higher, Further, Faster, More is fantastic. I love Captain Marvel's expressions. I love all the faces throughout the story and the expressions the artist gives them. David Lopez does a great job. He's the artist for the next Captain Marvel graphic novel too, so I'm looking forward to more of his work. A good artist can really lift a story.

After the seriousness of Captain Marvel's last arc, it was nice to have a fun story. There are aliens, spaceships, fights and explosions.  There are the Guardians of the Galaxy and a few other surprise encounters. I'm excited to see where Carol Danvers goes next.