Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Audiobook Wednesdays: The Maze Runner by James Dasner

So, my job changed and I spend about an hour in the car each day. It's not a tough drive (mostly back roads) and I don't mind the drive, but as I spend more time in the car, I figured I should listen to something I love.... which are books!

I never got into audiobooks. I thought it would be hard to follow with my hearing loss, not seeing the words on the page. However, I really liked listening to the audiobook last year with To Kill a Mockingbird with Sissy Spacek with my 9th grade students.  I decided to give it a try with the free trial on Audible.

And I just have to say, audiobooks are really expensive. I had no idea how expensive they were! I just wanted to buy one on itunes (which, yes, I know isn't the best gauge in pricing)  but as I researched other audiobooks sites, they were all pricey! Wow!

I think out of all of them, audible has more bang for your buck (you can choose different memberships with different fees and different credits) and they give you discounts on other audiobooks. After my free trial is over, I'm going to strategize which books to spend my credits on, and which books I will buy. Usually the "older" books are cheaper, and the "newer" books are more expensive, but 1 credit will buy pretty much whatever audiobook it is, no matter the cost. As you all know, I'm always trying to save a buck!

For my first book, which I also want to do a "which is better" review, is The Maze Runner. I was never interested in it before, but since it was free with my trial, I figured, why not? I listened to the book and finished it within the week. I listened to it for 25 minutes to work and back, along with listening to it while I worked out.

Alright, first impressions... Lord of the Flies with a science fiction feel. All boys in the jungle with no way out (and trying to find one) as told through first person point of view.

Yawn. So over the sausage fest. Even though there are more strong female protagonists, I would love to read a book where there are a bunch of women working together. It seems like there are no room for more than 1 female in books such as these, and sometimes even those female protagonists are very hard to identify with. There is lots of diversity in the novel (boys, at least), so I was glad to read boys of color and different backgrounds have their own opinions and places in the book.

The story opens with a boy enclosed in a box. He has no idea who he is or where he is, and suddenly, the box opens to reveal boys looking down at him. He arrives to a sort of forrest and he realizes there are huge walls surrounding their paradise, with a maze on the outside of it. He's confused and scared and his memories have been wiped.

Dasner does a good job of building up the mystery to where the listener wants to know where all of this is going. It's maddening when the boys don't tell him much of what the place is about, and as the reader (listener?) is just as frustrated as he is as he tries to figure out what his place in all of this is.

The boys are trapped inside of a maze and the boys have been trying for 2 years to solve it in order for an exit to open. The Glade is a functioning society and the leaders, Newt and Alby, state that everyone needs to stay busy in order not to lose hope. There are many personalities and characters in the book, and the first person that befriends Thomas (the boy in the box), is Chuck, who was the new boy before him.

After Thomas' arrival, crazy things start happening. Another new person arrives, and it's a girl this time. She's unconscious and she has a note in her hand. She tells them all that it's going to change and that she's the last person to arrive. Everyone is alarmed and suspicion befalls Thomas, who seems to be the catalyst of all the strange occurrences.

There are antagonists in the book, but Dasner purposely misleads you. At first the reader thinks it's Gally, who hates Thomas immediately, and has the stereotypical villain sneer. However, it soon reveals that it's not Gally, but something more sinister and much more inhumane.

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook. It's straightforward and simple, which I think was appropriate for my first ever dip into the world of audiobooks. I'm interested in watching The Maze Runner and doing the comparison.

There is a second novel and movie and I'm not sure if I'll get to it right away. I'm not sure if I liked it that much to spend an audiobook credit on it, or to spend money on the book. If someone has the novel that they want to loan me.... HINT HINT. I'll be happy to read it.

So, if you want to start an audiobook, but do not want something so complicated, this is a good place to start.

Monday, January 25, 2016

D.C Mondays: Supergirl #1 by Green, Johnson, Asrar and Green

Another comic from D.C! What is the world coming too?! I've been starting and restarting this post, deleting and editing how I wanted to conquer the "think piece" of Marvel versus D.C, convincing myself that my opinions are unique in the greater sphere of where both comic corporations are going and that I was going to revolutionize the comic book conversation.

But let's get real. They aren't unique and you just clicked because either a) you know me and you want to make me feel good by saying you read my blog or b) it's a mistake.

(Or C, you're my husband and you bought me the damn comic to read and review in the first place.)

I can write how I think that Marvel's worse movie (Daredevil) is going to be better than Batman v. Superman (WHAT?! COME AT ME, BRO), but it's going to be a real knock down, dirty fight between Agent Carter and D.C's Legends of Tomorrow (I'M EXCITED FOR BOTH, OK?! AGENT CARTER ALWAYS HAS STRONG WOMEN BUT THE WRITERS OF CW ARE GETTING BETTER AT WRITING WOMEN), but who cares? Who really cares about the positioning of these two juggernauts?

Really, it's all about the awesome show that is Supergirl, and the disappointing comic that I just read about her.

Alright, admittedly, I didn't, and still don't know very much about Supergirl. I have rough common knowledge of Superman, and still feel relief that I didn't waste my time every time I hear how frustrating the ending of Smallville was. I really enjoy watching Supergirl. Martian the Manhunter is on it (SPOILERS) and the special effects is fantastic. Calista Flockhart (or really, Ally Mcbeal) is great as Cat Grant and you can see what made Ally Mcbeal a knock out show. It really pales to The Flash and Arrow, and it makes me wonder what could have been if they were picked up by CBS.

Now, back to the comic book and how underwhelmed I am. I really wanted to like it, and hopefully it picks up next issue.

But in the first one, the one where it really needs to grab you? Not much happens.  It opens to Supergirl crashing into a field in middle America, and she's already in her Supergirl outfit... which I can't figure out. Is she wearing a leotard with high boots? Is she wearing a bodysuit? What is her costume all about?

I think wonder about the evolution of female superhero costumes, and I hope that the relaunches really focus on proper attire for women. I mean, Supergirl doesn't have laughable cleavage or high heeled boots, at least.

It's revealed that she thinks she is in a dream when she is attacked by robots. Supergirl slowly realizes that she is not in a dream and freaks out, attacking the robots. She almost has them when Superman shows up to help his cousin.

That's literally it. I spoiled it for you, really. It was a hefty comic, and the rest of the pages are filled with advertisements for network shows like The Flash and Arrow. And look, I get it. Anything to make a buck. Marvel did the same thing with The Avengers. However... did you have to fill the rest up with advertisements? Maybe thrown in a teaser comic? Or just made it be a bit shorter?

Now, back to watching Supergirl.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

I followed Allie's blog back in the day, and was dismayed when she stopped posting. I was then very happy when she came out with the book, but never got around to reading it until now, when my friend Cory lent me it.

I remember a lot of stories from her blogs, with smatterings of new stories. Her blog stories are refined with added notes and a sense of finality to them that was missing from her blog. I laughed out loud several times, and my favorite illustration out of the entire book is when she is describing depression, and there is a picture of Allie with her grey hoodie on, tied up around her face, slumped down on the couch with the biggest mean frown. Seriously, that panel describes much of my life. I could put that picture on a t-shirt if I could.

I have a few favorite stories but the Goose story (with actual video/pictures included) takes the cake. The reference to the urban legend about the serial killer in the backseat and how she sometimes freaks herself out so much that she has to pull over and checks the back seat was a direct flashback to the times I pulled over and checked my own backseat because I freaked myself out. The panels showing the goose peering up into the... viewfinder? rearview mirror? I don't know what it's called, like the serial killer she (we) always envisioned made me laugh out loud.

I also loved the comics with the Helper Dog and Special Dog. The blurbs of the Special Dog thinking in shapes is exactly what I picture when I look at my own cat, Nacho. Beans is nowhere near as mean as Helper Dog, but just as savage. Their thought bubbles is so on the nose in how I think they would talk if they could speak.

Her stories about describing depression and not feeling anything has been lauded by psychologists, therapists and those who have depression everywhere, stating that it is the most accurate way to describe the disorder. As someone who has been depressed, but doesn't suffer from chronic depression, it was a good way to see how someone with depression feels, or doesn't feel, all the time. It allowed me to attempt to see it through their eyes, and try to be more empathetic to my friends that were suffering from it.

Allie Brosh is such talented writer and an illustrator. It takes real talent to intentionally draw so terribly but convey so much. She's hilarious, and her insight is profound in how millennials think and act.

Her blog has not been updated since 2013, and to my knowledge, is not working on a second book. Her fans speculate what happened to her and knowing that she deals with depression, hope that she's OK. I could hum and hah over what happened or what she's doing now, or even presume what she's going through but I have no idea. Like the rest of her fans, however, I hope she's doing well and seeking happiness in whatever she's doing.

I hope she one day writes another book with all new comics and stories. She could make the drying of wet paint seem funny, with her iconic stick figure (with the yellow triangle as her ponytail... so great) is ingenious.

 Go read her blog if you have not done so already. I would also check out her book when you get a chance.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Which is Better? Vampire Academy

I remember when the trailers for this movie came out, and rolling my eyes at it. I wasn't going to pay to see that movie, and it looked dumb anyway! Was it satire? Were they trying to appeal to twilight fans who desperately needed a fix of vampires? How is this movie a thing?

Vampire Academy came and went, and I thought no more of it until it showed up on my Netflix a few weeks ago. I was home alone, after a long day of work, and decided to indulge myself.

And you know? It was really entertaining.  I was sort of surprised it wasn't a bigger hit since there were a few comic book movies that were just as good as this one that did relatively ok at the box office. I googled, as we all do, on our phones when we want to know more about what we are watching, and I realized that it was a book (though the more I googled, the more I remembered that it was a series that I also rolled my eyes at when it came out) and that it was part of a series.

Were they going to make a sequel? I had to know.

Well, unfortunately, it bombed at the box office. The movie was funny, satirical and made exclusively for the teenage girl. AKA, the kiss of death. It's hard enough to market a movie that is satirical (isolating audiences, etc.) but one that was made for the teenage population? The teenage girl population, a part of the female population that the market never takes into consideration anyway? I'm surprised it was made at all.

It was heartbreaking the gofundme that was created to try and make the sequel failed. I hope it becomes a cult classic, like other movies that bombed at the box office,  and a sequel is made in the future, but since the fandom of teenage girls are often pushed to the side in favor of male nerdom, I'm not holding my breath.

So, as for the comparison of the movie and the book? The movie was great and it doesn't take away from the book at all and vice versa. I can see why the changes were made. For example, it's much more dramatic to have the cuts appear on Lissa's arm rather than her hurt herself after she tries to heal an animal or a person.

I also liked how the movie shot from the hip, much like the book, in telling the audience the world in which the book is written in. Within the first 20 minutes, you understand Dhampirs, Moroi, Strigoi and Guardians. You miss the other backstory, like the complicated relationships between Dhampir women and Moroi men along Dimitri's backstory that changes Rose's perception of "blood whores" but there was no way that could be fit into the movie.

There is more excitement and action in the movie with more appearances of Strigoi in the beginning, which was missing in the book. It didn't necessarily take away from the book that it wasn't in there, but it shows the differences of art and the interpretation of the story through different mediums.

However... Richelle Mead... what were you thinking with the title? I think the title, "Vampire Academy" was also the kiss of death when it came to the movie. It's just an awful title, and anyone who didn't know the book (like myself), would immediately write off the movie as some head of corporate who has no idea how to market to youngsters and was desperately trying to recreate the Harry Potter and Twilight craze. It might not have been your choice, but whoever had final say in the series title needs to be chastised severely. It might have been more successful if the title was different.

Anyway, I strongly recommend to go watch the movie if you have a night where you're in the mood for something funny and silly. It's cute, it's all about girl power and female friendship and there are vampires. What's not to like? Grab a glass of wine, watch it, and then go buy the book for some added fun.

Monday, January 18, 2016

DC Mondays: Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Tynioin IV, Williams II, Colwell

Yes, you read that right. My husband handed me the comic book (along with lots of other goodies) and said, 'it's actually really good.'

He and I normally have the same tastes in comic books, so I took that as an endorsement, despite the ridiculous and almost spoof like cover of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the front cover in almost retro illustrations.

We are also almost mostly a Marvel family. It's not by conscious choice that we mostly read Marvel comic books, but the husband buys comics, and they are mostly from Marvel. I was surprised that he bought a few D.C comics (including Supergirl!) and I was excited to read them.

I am a huge fan of TMNT growing up. I loved the TV show and I LOVED the movies. Michelangelo was my absolute favorite (Funny guy? Loves pizza? Of course he was!) and I just loved the camaraderie between the 4 brothers and the guidance from Master Splinter. Shredder terrified me and every week I hoped they would beat him.

Now, do you want to know a sad, but kind of funny story? As you all know, I'm HOH, and always, I have captions on the TV. Now almost all the programs have captions and it's pretty easy to access them. However, growing up, not so much. Splinter and Shredder sound an awful lot alike (at least to someone whose aids were not very strong and couldn't hear the soft sounds of "Sh"), and for a while, I was so confused to why the show named the villain and the father-figure the SAME name with the exception of putting "Master" in front of one of them. I really thought there was something else going on, or there was some psychoanalysis the writers were attempting with a 8 year old.

Anyway, back to the comic.

I really enjoyed it. The combination of Batman, (who, btw, is such a gloomy sad sack character, isn't he? Like, man, get into some therapy, please. You can afford it.) and the Ninja Turtles, just work. The story opens to Ninjas robbing a lab and the Ninja Turtles crash the robbery and saves the lab. One of the workers tells Batman, who thinks that the Turtles are the ones robbing the labs with parts. He predicts the next robbery and plans to go stop them.

The story turns to Killer Croc, who stumbles onto the Ninja Turtles' hideaway. The two get into a confrontation, and it's slowly revealed that the Ninja Turtles are confused to why they are in Gotham City.

It's a great comic, and I'm excited to read more of them. It's silly but well done. I love the pairing and gives Batman some needed mood change.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (or, this was definitely written during the Twilight Craze)

What a stupid name for a novel. What a stupid name for a first book in the beginning of the series, a series that I'm excited about reading. Yes, I know the title is pretty self-explanatory, yes, it is a vampire school and yes, I know it's written for YA, but damn... does it have to be so on the nose? Even Twilight has a semi-alluring name that doesn't really give the entire book away and make you roll your eyes (you probably do anyway because of the content), but whoever thought Vampire Academy was a good title needs a slap or two.

I'm quite sure that's why the movie didn't do so well, but that's for another post.

Vampire Academy is told through the eyes of Rose, who is a dhampir (half-vampire, half-human) and is training to be a guardian for the Moroi, the "good" vampires to defend them against the Strigoi, the "bad" vampires. The story opens with Rose and Lissa on the run from the "Vampire Academy" or rather, the school's guardians. They have been on the run for 2 years, moving around and attending high school across the U.S. Now, the probability that adults, who have superpowers, are unable to find children, is quite low, but I buy into it because within the first 10 pages, they are caught by a dreamboat of a man and bought back to school and the story kicks up.

Vampire Academy is a perfect blend of showing and telling, telling the reader without preamble about the vampire culture and history in the book and Mead shows the rest, revealing the mystery why the girls ran away layer by layer, until it all comes to a head in the last 50 pages of the book. I love how Mead picks her battle, choosing instead to show characters instead of the world of Vampire Academy.

There is also your typical highschool drama with friends, popularity and finding oneself that are recurring themes in a lot of YA novels. It was silly, but with a name of Vampire Academy, the reader should expect it. It's also kind of fun to relive from afar a time where navigating the social sphere is the bane of your existence. It also wrestles with rumors, friendships and loyalty and Mead actually turns the book from a fantasy YA novel into almost a guide for girls starting high school, which, honestly, needs to be more of.

I love the relationship between Lissa and Rose. They are fiercely devoted to each other and even though it's almost easy to slide into resentment (I mean, becoming a Guardian must absolutely blow), both Rose and Lissa shake it off, using their love and friendship for each other to conquer all. Even when they have a falling out, Rose comes to Lissa's rescue and the pair are thick as thieves again by the end of the book. Lissa isn't helpless by any means and the pair rely on each other socially and emotionally.

Finally, I also like how Mead resolves, or puts a period on the blossoming relationship between Dimitri and Rose. There is attraction between the pair, and they even get hot and heavy during one point of the book, but when it is all resolved, Dimitri actually encourages Rose to report him. There is a huge age gap between the two and it's addressed repeatedly in different ways and conclude that Rose and Dimitri will not enter in a forbidden romance, which is a relief. I wonder how it's going to play out in the rest of the books.

One last little tidbit of the book that I was unsure of, but I was glad that Mead went in the direction she did. The idea of "blood whores" or dhampir women who have affairs with Moroi men. They live in different communities, and there is an awful reputation surrounding them due to the fact that Moroi men sleep with dhampir women and then go home to their Moroi wives. When Rose brings it up while training with Dimitri, he casually tells her that he grew up in such a community and the worst part was his dad, a Moroi, coming to visit them. It opens Rose's eyes a bit more to the vampire world and suddenly, the "blood whores" stance isn't so black and white.

I have a lot of other books to read (Star Wars! The Martian! 11.22.63! The 5th Wave! Comics!), so I don't know when I'll be able to read the second book in this series. This year is already amping up to be a busy year in books, so I'm excited!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Something Random: Review of Dove's deodorant Dry Sprays

Alright, let's take a break from our usual scheduled program to do a review of Dove Dry Sprays sent to me by Target and Influenster. It was complimentary, to review and to do what I wanted with it. Hey, it's free, it's something I always wear and use, so why not? My husband took an immediate liking to posting pictures on facebook and reviewing the Men's dry spray, even taking silly pictures and thanking Influenster for thinking of him.

Now, dry sprays are not something new, but they are gaining popularity in the U.S. All of my international friends use dry sprays and it was all I could find when I studied abroad and each time I visited my friends.

I have a love/hate relationship with antiperspirant. I sweat a lot and it's doubly embarrassing for a girl to sweat as much as I do. It seems that nothing I do seems to fix it, (including all the high strength stuff). It's not so much the look of it anymore, but it's more of the uncomfortableness of sweating that much over the course of the day.

I wish I could say Dove Dry Spray fixed it, but I don't think there is a fix for it. However, using a combination of regular antiperspirant and the spray over top of it holds off the sweat a little while longer before it starts, is a little added bonus.

I really like the scent, and it disappears slowly throughout the day, which is also nice. There are some deodorant/antiperspirants that leave a terrible scent behind and it gets even worse when mixed in with your sweat throughout the day. It also blends really well with my lotion and perfume.

Finally, I like how it goes on the skin which is an added bonus for the summer. Some invisible dry solid deodorants leave residue or balls up, which can be embarrassing.

I'll keep using it! Thanks Dove for the sprays!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Which is Better? AKA Jessica Jones and Alias

Wait, AKA Jessica Jones was based off this comic book? Did the script writers read the comic book, toss it to the side and thought, 'no, we can do better?' Or they thought, 'hey, let's take the most uninteresting things about the comic book, toss the rest aside that makes it great, and put other characters in because, well, we're sooo creative and naturally, what we come up with is far more riveting than Alias?' Because that's what the show felt like.

AKA Jessica Jones has been critically acclaimed and raved about, but honestly? I thought it was just OK. Not the worst thing I've ever watched (I'm looking at you Chappie. You abomination.) Now that I've read the beginning of Alias, I've realized that the tone and the mood doesn't transfer over into the show. There are also quite a few terrible things they added, like Ruben and... what was her name? Rylie? Rudder? Rumplestiltskin? and Malcolm, who, let's be honest, had the most thankless character arc ever. Not to mention they rewrote the entire story to where it's almost unrecognizable. There are bits and pieces of the show that I appreciated, and recognised what they were trying to accomplish, but it fell flat. Especially standing next to the comic book.

Even Jessica Jones' hair is different! Which, ok, it's not a big deal. I mean, hair is hair, but did they keep the black hair because it's Krysten Ritter? It would have been interesting to see her have a hair change, but maybe she's butt ugly with red hair... who knows? But it felt to me that black hair was to on the nose with how "dark" the show was.

What I also noticed most about the show was how... cheap it looked. Now, I don't mind low budget movies, and honestly, sometimes creativity can be a wonderful thing that actually adds to it. However, when you notice that even the makeup looks awful in certain lighting (really... there was a defining line between her makeup and her neck, not to mention her skin looked yellow), and your husband points out that the high profile lawyer's office is incredibly bare, and not in a minimalist way, but in a oh-shit-we-have-no-money way, it's a problem. I don't set out to watch a movie to look for makeup flaws and bare settings but it smacked us in the face. It was so low budget that it couldn't even be covered up.

Now, Josh and I have different theories on why it looked so low budget and I think it's a mixture of both of them. I think some of it was intentional, or tried to be. In the comic book, at least in the first volume, she's mostly on the streets, investigating. She's just in tee-shirts and jeans, and only twice does she demonstrate her super powers. It seems like they tried to carry that over to the show. I also think they spent a lot of their money getting Carey Ann Moss, David Tennant, Krysten Ritter and Mike Colter on the show. Josh thinks that most of the budget for the Marvel TV shows were blown with Daredevil, which had a lot of really remarkable shots and stunts and they none left over to shoot Jessica Jones. Man, I hope they are able to film the Luke Cage one (which btw, was one of the best parts about the show).

So, verdict? I haven't read all the comics, so I would have to update as I read them. However, it's a shame that AKA Jessica Jones didn't use much of the story line with Alias, because it would have been neat to see, even if it was just the Rick Jones, sidekick stuff. So far? Read Alias... and I guess see the show if you want to know what everyone else is talking about and you want in on the convo...  but you didn't miss much.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Marvel Mondays: Jessica Jones: Alias 1

To be honest, I was a bit nervous reading the comic book. I saw the show, and I wondered if the book would directly reflect the netflix show (to varying degrees of success). My husband told me that it was a dark comic book series, and he wasn't sure if I would like it or not. However, BAE still bought it for me for Christmas for my blog! Thanks bae! 

I actually really enjoyed it. It was gritty, but I liked the idea of Jessica Jones on the peripheral, abandoning her cape and seeking to try and carve out a normal life. Sure, she's a private investigator, which has her associating with the dredge of society, but it seems like she can hold her own. Her powers are not really played up here, with the exception of her holding her own in a fight (and removing a man's arm from her collar, full strength). There are characters in the comic that are desperate to associate with anyone who has powers, and Jessica falls victim to this several times during the course of the story. 

There are lots of appearances of other, very well known characters in the comics, such as Dare Devil, Captain America and Powerman. I would have liked to see more of their relationship, but I have a feeling there is going to be more of that later on. The story line is political,  with a lot of foreshadowing. It's done very well and it leaves you with the same confusion Jessica feels, but doesn't leave you frustrated that you have no idea what is going on. 

Comic book illustrations and artwork doesn't get a lot of credit, I feel and sometimes, even comic book illustrators don't use their entire toolbox to convey the story at hand or they are refrained from doing so. Gaydos does and his illustrations take on a 90s grunge theme. It's perfect for the atmosphere of the story at hand. He doesn't waste colors either, and reverses light versus dark theme. He uses brighter colors during scenes where she is reflecting on her past as a masked superhero, a time in her life that she would prefer to bury deep, but everyone else glorifies it, wondering why she decided to stop. Gaydos uses darker colors when she is wading through her crisis and detective work, something that she enjoys doing, but everyone else puts down, especially since they deem her worthy of doing more, like becoming a superhero. 

I also love how it's mapped out, and the panels are easy to follow in Alias. My favorite part is when she listens to clients, and artistically, the scene should be very boring. They are sitting at a desk and the client is talking, while Jessica listens. However, the panels go back and forth, depicting the client talking, and Jessica smoking a cigarette, listening but unmoving. Nevertheless, Gaydos conveys that she's on her guard, studying the person, thinking about whether to take the case, or whether it's all bullshit. 

I can't wait to read the rest of the series! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory (Or, a slow burn of a sad story that we've all read before)

So let me explain the title first. I came up with the title as I waded through the book and I remember repeatedly telling my husband that it's just a sad story... one where we know the ending, and most likely, know the big parts of the story.The only difference is that it's through the eyes of another character, not one of the key players. I knew of Margaret Pole and her sad end, but I didn't know backstory or her role during the War of the Roses.

I'm not sure about you all, but I hate reading about characters that are so happy and life is wonderful when the reader knows that it's going to go to hell pretty soon. I'm going to go out on a limb and state that Gregory was laying it on with Katherine of Aragon's happiness, especially since we all know what's going to happy to her. It also happened with Margaret Pole, to a lesser extent, with her rags to riches story, seeking refuge in a nunnery until Katherine of Aragon marries Henry the VIII and is invited back to court. We all know where she ends up and her being elated makes me squirms. I feel like it's a horror movie, where the main character goes into the darken house when you know there is a killer there waiting for them.

Gregory also lays it on pretty thick with the character of Gregory, who eventually betrays Montague and his mother and his entire family. He's the apple of his mother's eye, but bad things only happen to boys that are overindulged and spoiled, which brings me too...

Damn, Henry the VIII. The rise and fall of this vapid, egomaniac of a character is pretty satisfactory, but in his wake is a path of destruction and headless women, not to mention a destruction of a religion in England. He surrounds himself with corruption, but I take issue with Margaret's viewpoint. It's skewed because she's a York Princess and her family is pushed to the side. Need I say that her father was killed because he eagerly tried to overthrow Edward II?

The last 100 pages of the book was also interesting to me because I haven't read anything on Jane Seymour or the aftermath of the fall of Anne Boleyn. I appreciated the last pages or so of the book when King Henry marries Jane Seymour. I feel like I've read a lot of books recently and saw a lot of movies that depicted the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn, but we never hear about the wives after that dangerous affair. It was interesting to read it through the eyes of a powerful bystander and an heir of the Plantagenet line, the oldest royal family in England.

I even enjoyed the beginning of the book when Katherine of Aragon and Author are introduced and they were wedded and living in Ludlow when Author comes down with a mysterious illness. Katherine of Aragon is also another character I haven't read so much about, other than the displaced wife of Henry the VIII. The women are very sympathetic with her, and hate Anne Boleyn, and the reader can see how she isolates herself from everyone at court so when she is put on trial, no one is there to defend her. The act of putting his wife aside leads him into doing crazier and crazier things, with the people of court too afraid of him to advise him otherwise. Again, I feel like this is Margaret's black and white viewpoint because King Richard was definitely flirting with his niece...

Finally, like the other books in the series, there is mention of witchcraft, curses, religion and mythology, and the like, which gives it an interesting flair and spin on the history. I've read a few other books in the series, like The White Queen and The Red Queen which repeatedly mention the above themes and motifs. I'm not sure if it needed such repetition of a curse throughout the book and Margaret's adamant refusal of acknowledging it.

I'll see what other books in this series I can find for a bargain. I have a few more that I need to read, The White Princess and the other book about the rise of the Woodville family, but I'm not paying full price for them!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Marvel Mondays: The All-New, All-Different Avengers #2 by Waid, Kubert and Oback

It could have been written as 1 comic, but I'll give it to Marvel to try and make a buck wherever they can.

The story continues with The Vision showing up and helping Tony Stark bust out of his car-Iron-man. The Warbringer goes to Jersey City, where Nova tracks him and he is dreading meeting Ms. Marvel again more than battling his old foe. Ms. Marvel is concerned about her town and the damage that Nova is causing due to his focusing on the Warbringer.

All the Avengers arrive and meet up with Nova and Ms. Marvel, and Nova does not want to admit that the Warbringer is back due to his first incident of being dropped into the sun. The Warbringer wants immortality, and low and behold, Thor arrives to help the Avengers, or the group that do not want to call themselves the Avengers, take down their new enemy.

It's a great story, but again, I wish it was meatier. It feels even though there are a lot of characters involved, since they are making an "All-new, All-different" Avengers team, but it's just... lacking in action. Spider-man had more action than the new Avengers comic does.

I hope it picks up, and I hope that Josh buys the next month's addition. However, I do have a bone to pick with this headline... it's not completely all new, is it, if Tony Stark and Spiderman is still there, right? Aren't they part of the original Avengers? WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY FOR YOURSELF, MARVEL?

Good read, but don't expect it to be a long one. It goes by quicker than usual.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer (I'm hunkering down for the apocalypse and don't call me crazy)

Guys, I can't even.

When my husband is on board with a YA novel, I know it's relatively good. It was recommended to him by his co-teacher, and of course, I nabbed it after he was finished.

Guys, I can't even....

Not only do I want to recommend it to everyone, no matter their reading interests, ages or even if they are a book reader, I am actually dismayed that it hasn't been made into a movie. Now, realistically, this book wouldn't make a good movie because it's all about survival and the realism of stepping back a century to survive. They would have to either combine the other two books (that I haven't read yet but dropped heavy hints to Josh that I wanted to read them) or just add crazy nerve wrecking action scenes in order for the movie to fly by.

Guys, I can't even!

Now, I just want to read up on camping and survival skills and stockpile food in case of an asteroid hitting the moon and the moon being knocked off orbit closer to the earth and life ending as we know it. Seriously, I'm all for gun control, but you know I'm bribing the guy who knows how to shoot (or honestly, can point the gun... they don't need to shoot) the second the end of the world comes along so I can go to a pharmacy and get all the insulin, all the kinds, and shove them in the cold ground until I need them. I'll probably get other stuff too... you know, antibacterias and z-packs....

I may have gotten off topic here. Besides for the fact that I'm a bit freaked out about the end of the world coming and maybe Josh and I should invest in a wood burning stove and it might not be a bad idea to move out of the city into the rural area so that people won't know we are there... it's a very good novel.

I'm also checking off friends that I would help, who would be useful for survival and those I would definitely pretend I didn't hear them when they come knocking. Eliza... you'll be relieved to know that you are on the list of people that I would help. Family is a very big theme in the books... and alright Lyndsay and Morgan, I guess you can come and stay. Just make sure you pull your weight. I may even find my 6'5" cousins just for protection.

Ok, but seriously. I love the voice of Miranda, and her first person perspective as told through her diary. Sometimes diary novels annoy me, because it still reads like the author trying to communicate everything that is going on, even other perspectives when the character can't know what someone else is thinking. What I also love about the book is that it's unpredictable. I had no idea what was going to happen, and the seemingly simple setup of the end of the world and this family living on the outskirts of town in Pennsylvania threw me a few curve balls.

Like, holy crap. Guys... I can't even.

That's all I have to say. Go out, read the book, read the rest of the series, and probably start stockpiling batteries and a radio.