The Return of Alcatraz

Alcatraz #5: The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

As usual, I loved, loved, love this book. I just find the writing style, the commentary on writing, the delightful internal dialogue and just the straight wackiness of it. And so, so many librarian jokes.

I was really disappointed in the ending though because it didn’t really end. It was just over and the narrator insisted this was the end of the series and I believed it because I’d heard there was only supposed to be 5 books. It just totally failed to wrap up the story and it made me really sad.

But the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was okay. This abrupt, unhappy ending actually kind of worked with the genre bending, commentary on language and tropes. To have such a surprising, unpredictable ending like that, kind of genius and plays into the whole story really well, even if it didn’t make me happy.

Only then I found out there’s going to be a sixth book. So I guess I’ll have to wait and see how it all ends.

Anyway, I still love and recommend the series completely, even if they’re a little abstract for younger readers.

Last movie I watched:

The Santa Clause? I think. It’s a good one I feel.

Last TV show I watched:

Supernatural. This episode isn’t that great, but we’ll see how it goes.


Tiny Newts!

Rise of Herk: Nnewts #2 by Doug Tennapel

This is the second book in a great graphic novel series which is basically about amphibians and reptiles and lizards in space. The main character is a young Nnewt named Herk who, until the first book, has never grown legs. But as it turns out, he was always meant to be a hero.

I really, really enjoyed this book and like this series a lot. There’s a lot of great stuff in there – fun, bright, illustrations, fast paced, good language for early readers and no doubt a popular choice with young readers.

Last movie I watched:

Part of Sleeping Beauty. Not my favourite.

Last TV show I watched:

Supernatural. So bad and yet, so good.

Oh junior novelizations of kids movies

Pokemon 3: Spell of the Unown by Tracey West

Every once in a while I try to read a book I’m not really interested in but is popular with my library patrons, aka children.

If that’s why you picked up this book, go for it! It’s as good a book as any. If you’re looking for a compelling story, I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m sure kids love it, and it’s an easy read so it’s probably a great way to get that reluctant reader into a book,  but as an adult, it has little, if anything to offer.

Last movie I watched:

Cinderella 3.

Last TV show I watched:

Sanctuary. It was a neat show.


Ninja Turtles aren’t as fun as I remember

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: New Animated Adventures: Vol 3 by Justin Eisnger and Alonzo Simon plus 23 other artists

It’s not that the Ninja Turtles aren’t awesome, they are, but this book wasn’t a great example. For  book that’s no more than 150 pages, 8 short stories in there means that the quality of the stories isn’t great. Some of them are cute and fun, and they all do a great job of displaying the Ninja Turtles different personalities, but there’s no time to build a story or a villain or really any readers investment

Having said that, this book really is targeted at young readers. I don’t like dumbed down stories to make them more appealing to kids because kids are smart and shouldn’t be talked down to. But particularly for kids who are having trouble with comprehension reading really short stories is a good way to practice developing that skill.

Final report: As an adult looking for a fun, kid’s graphic novel experience, it kind of failed. But as a story for kids who love Ninja Turtles and could use a little light reading, it’s probably great.

Last movie I watched:

Probably still Victor Frankenstein. As previously mentioned, it didn’t do a lot for me.

Last TV episode I watched:

Touch, which I love in all possible ways. But I wonder why they never say “autism” to describe Jake and whether this is part of a failure to recognize autistic people or not and what an autistic viewer would think.


Just for the funny

My Weird School Daze #5: Officer Spence Makes No Sense by Dan Gutman

This is a super easy novel, maybe 80 pages long that I recommend to parents and kids because it’s short and funny and a good starter novel. And there’s like a million in the series, so it’s a pretty solid recommendation. But until now I haven’t actually read one. It’s not much a commitment really.

The premise is there seems to be a sandwich thief in Ella Mentary School and Officer Spence, the security guard is determined to stop whoever it is, even if it means arresting everyone – all the teachers, the principle, everyone. When will the madness stop?

There was a lot about this book that I expected. Short, lots of pictures, funny, easy reading level, basically a perfect starter novel for a reluctant reader. What I wasn’t expecting was some of the clever language play and literacy jokes that were worked in there as well. As you may have noticed, they attend Ella Mentary School, which is a pretty excellent pun. And there’s more. So many more. The kids aren’t really meant to be characters, just jokes and it works well because they’re hilarious. And you can see the author laughing too, through funny tricks like having a chapter so short it was only one page, that ends with laughing at the teacher who’s making you read one more chapter.

I stand by my recommendation. Great literature it is not, but as a fun easy, transition read it’s basically perfect.

Last movie I watched:
Still About Time. I’m not watching much these days.

Last TV show I watched:

Probably still Love It or List It. Which is unnecessary dramatic.

Biological warfare, ethics and pacifism for the under 13 crowd

Gregor the Overlander: Curse of the Warm Bloods by Suzanne Collins

Fair warning from the start: I am going to spoil this book. Now, in my defense, I did guess the big reveal in the third or forth chapter,so maybe the spoilers aren’t that huge, but you know… just in case.

Gregor is once again summoned to the Underland by his friends there, when a dangerous plague breaks out and starts killing all the warm bloods – humans, rats, bats and mice. However, his mother is unwilling to just let him and Boots, his baby sister, disappear into the darkness again, so she goes with them. Suitably embarrassed to introduce his mother to the people who call him Warrior, Gregor, his Mom and Boots arrive. They learn that Aries, Gregor’s beloved bat was the first known case, that the rats are continuing to suffer in their war against the humans and soon Gregor’s mother comes down with the plague. Guided by a prophecy and a jittery medical doctor, Gregor and Boots lead a quest of all species (human, bat, rat and cockroach) to get the cure – a special flower. But ultimately the quest fails and then they realize – the cure was always with them because the humans had been trying to engineer it the whole time, so they could use the sickness as a biological weapon against the rats. They turn back, and when they arrive home, they learn that the humans have found a cure, Gregor’s mom and Aries will be fine but Gregor’s view of his friends is forever altered. A lot less hopefully then usual, Gregor and Boots go home (their Mom is not well enough to travel), setting up the next book.

Obviously the Hunger Games, Collins much bigger (better) series, has a lot of equally large and grim commentary. This whole series does too, but biological warfare and whether or not it’s ever okay (Gregor votes no, and I think I do too) is a pretty serious concept for a middle school child. Having said that, they probably deserve a story that helps them understand what they’ve seen or likely will see on the news. It also does a good job of breaking down the theory of pacifism through a character who, after being responsible for the death of dozen of rats, including babies, refuses to fight again. Really overall, it’s a good Big Ideas book.

Also Boots, the baby, is well handled and very adorable.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, although I didn’t have a problem putting it down and coming back to it later. But it gave me a lot to think about.

Last movie I watched:

Cloud Atlas. I really liked it but I think I missed something

Last TV episode I watched:

Orphan Black!!!!! Everyone needs this show in their life.



I’m not falling for this “last Percy Jackson”ever stuff. If I wait long enough, they’ll be more

Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Understanding that the spin off series was not as good as the original Percy Jackson, let me just say: that was awesome!

Now, maybe it was just the nostalgia kicking in, but I really missed Percy Jackson andh is beautiful, wonderful internal voice in this one. It was a great book, and it’s hard not to find most of the characters and their chapters very compelling and fun, but I still missed Percy’s compelling and hilarious first person.

The big end of the series finale focused a lot on sacrifice, on each character slowly coming around to the idea that they would lose something on the quest – their lives, their friends, themselves, something. Sometimes a literal sacrifice, like Percy and Annabeth bleeding on the Acropolis or Leo’s plan, and sometimes something a little less tangible. This is pretty interesting, given the cultural significance of sacrifice to the ancient Greeks and Romans.

I also really liked that Nico turned out not to be another gay character who got sentenced to a life of misery and loneliness. There’s not point in writing in LGBTQ characters if they never get to be happy, even for a moment, when all the other characters do.

This is a short blog post, but I’m so hesitant to talk about it because of the spoilers.

I’ll just say, it was great and wait for everyone else to read it and agree.

Last movie I watched:

47 Ronin. Awkward, sexist, racially uncomfortable, weirdly paced, zero character development. I regret nothing

Last TV episode I watched:

Shadowhunters. I’m on the fence about this show. I like it but it’s also pretty bad a lot of the time.