I am … okay

Lorien Legacy: The Power Of Six by Pittacus Lore

I suppose I should say, in defense of this series, I haven’t read the whole series. I saw the movie, and read one of the other books so maybe I’d enjoy this more if I’d done better with the series.

The second thing is that I listened to it, and I really didn’t like the readers. That can make or break an audiobook, and in this case, it broke for me. The reader for Four’s part wasn’t great but he was okay. The reader for Seven drove me nuts! I don’t know why she read all the parts of the Spanish characters with a terrible Spanish accent if all the characters, including the main character, are speaking Spanish?

Overall I felt this book wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t great – the language wasn’t particularly compelling, and while the story moved along at a good pace, the characters lacked any real depth or characterization, the villains lacked complexity and the story was generally predictable. I liked it well enough, but I’m a snob and I guess I was looking for something a little bit more.

On a more positive note, I enjoyed seeing a love triangle with a boy in the center. If there had to be a love triangle, it was nice to see it wasn’t a girl. After all, boys have feelings too.

I’m sure I’d recommend this series to an older child or young adult – it’s a fast read, plot driven and fun. I’m sure I wouldn’t recommend it to adult snobs.

Last movie I watched:

The first half of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. I loved the first one so much it could hardly live up to my expectations, but it’s not bad.

Last TV show I watched:

Legend of Korra. Love it!

Trilogy of six?

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

Still slowly working my way through the Cassandra Clare series. This one really isn’t the strongest. Although I enjoyed the love triangles that Simon was in, or is it a love square? Jace and Clary’s relationship is a little bit less interesting to me. It’s not that happy couples with contrived drama (secret evil possession I guess?) isn’t exciting but a stable couple with compelling plot drama is a little more interesting to me. But I will take it all because of the six minutes of Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood.

But I feel  like this series, which is marked as Book 4 really feels like the start of a second series with the same characters. There’s nothing wrong with that of course, but something about this book is a little off. I got a weird sense that this was meant to be the first book in the series – lay the groundwork, introduce the characters and set up a long term plot.

Only, we already have that stuff, at least as long as you read the first three books. So there’s this weird kind of pacing to the first book, as it tries to lay the ground work for the future plot, establish new characters and keep the old characters interesting. It worked out fine, it’s a good, compelling story about characters the reader probably already knows and loves but I hope by the next book things settling a little and become  a little more plot or character driven.

Last movie I watched:

Apart of X-men Apocalypse. Not going to lie, it’s not that good.  Better than Last Stand but not good.

Last TV show I watched:

This Is Us. Sob.

Cassandra Clare continues

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

While I had read the first book before, I had not read this one! I loved it of course, as I mentioned in a post not too long ago. For the sake of this, rather short post I am going to compare His Mortal Instruments to Harry Potter. I love them both, and I don’t have a favourite and that’s okay.

But let’s look at the similarities.

Both stories centre around a character who has grown up in the regular world, only to discover that they are in fact the children of supernatural beings and there is an entire world they have been unaware of their whole lives. They learn that an enemy everyone thought was dead is not, and is in fact coming after them. They learn that their parents were part of a secret order and together, with a group of friends and a slightly unusual power, even in this magical world, they defeat the big evil.

Of course, they are also very different. Mortal Instruments starts older – the issues it explores are more about identity, love, parent and child relationships, sexuality and the nature of good and bad. They are older, they have a more complex idea good and evil, their struggles with relationships are more about sexuality and expression and parents are really striped of any hero status.

It’s amazing how different those two stories turned out.

Also I could not adore Magnus Bane more. It’s simply not possible.

Last movie I watched:

A piece of Cinderella III. I didn’t love it, but the kid who I was watching it really seemed to enjoy it

Last TV show I watched:

Shadowhunters. I’m getting over it. Just not quite there yet.

Newest Obsession

His Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

This audio book set off a bit of a trend for me actually, a Cassandra Clare trend. After one really bad movie and one better, although not perfect, TV series, plus having read the book before there isn’t much to say other than, this book is great! I love it and I was happy to listen to it again.

Last movie I watched:

Pirates of the Caribbean. You know what? The first one was really fun. I really liked it.  Obviously they went down hill a little later, but they started off strong.

Last TV show I watched:

Friends.

Space Opera + Graphic Novel = wonderful

Saga Volume Four by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples

As I have previously mentioned, I love Saga. It’s an amazing series which I’m getting depressingly close to being caught up on.

The general pitch for the series is two planets have been at war for generations when a soldier from each side fall in love, marry and have a child which should be impossible. Governments across the galaxy are frantic to get their hands on the baby. The series followed the family as they struggle their way through parenting, marriage and being on the run, but also the people who are hunting them.

If you haven’t read it and are going to, stop here with this recommendation: It’s amazing.

After this point there might be spoilers for the last three books.

Volume Four starts with Prince IV’s son being born, while he is off world wasting time on Sextillion (the sex planet), Alana struggling with her newly established acting career, Marko fumbling his way through being the stay at home parent and The Will’s sister The Brand looking for a way to wake him from his coma.

In addition to the beautiful graphics in this book, the complicated characters and intriguing plot there is also a very basic, human story too. What it means to in a relationship, how easy it for every day stresses to come between people who love each other. What being part of a family means, the good and the bad that love can drive you to. What it means to be a parent and have to put someone else’s needs before your own all the time.

Just a heads up – there’s a lot of mature and graphic content of all varieties – violence, sex, drugs  it’s all in there.

The series is amazing though. I really recommend it.

Last movie I watched:

Part of Deadpool. I love it.

Last TV episode I watched:

Smallville. It’s got a lot of evolution as a show. I think it’s a good thing.

 

A brief adventure in adult historical fiction

Three Sisters, Three Queens by Phillipa Gregory

Despite Gregory being a rather prolific writer, and my generally enjoyment of historical fiction, it’s maybe a bit surprising that I haven’t read anything else by Phillipa Gregory, not even the Other Boleyn Girl. But I was in an airport and it was on sale, so there you have it.

I actually really enjoyed it. Many people I talked to said her more recent stuff isn’t as good as the older ones, and who can blame her? She must be running out of Tudor women to give a twist to and write about. But without anything to compare it to, I really liked Three Sisters, Three Queens.

It’s the story of Henry VIII’s older sister Margret, who was married to the King of Scotland as a young teen and acted as regent for her son by him when her husband was killed. The center of the story is the dynamic of Catherine of Aragon, Margret and her younger sister Mary, three Tudor princesses who all marry kings but ultimately lead tragic lives.

What I liked most about the story was Margret’s rather annoying, petty, bratty personality. She saw her whole life as a competition against her sisters. When she is succeeding and they are not, she is smug and filled with false generosity and when they are outdoing her she resents the same behaviour. It sounds like a weird thing to really enjoy about a main character but I really liked the fact that she was filled with personality, even if it was an often dis-likable personality, and not a Mary Sue kind of princess. Also, I was ablw to read her as a very sympathetic character despite this because it seemed to me that someone so young, naive and out of touch with reality should be pitied. She was raised without any real understanding of the world – she was a symbol of Tudor power, but never a person so it’s not surprising that she mishandles every challenge she ever faces. How would she know better?

The most interesting thing about historical fiction of course is never about the history but what interests us know and what that says about who we are. I’m glad I had a bit of a reminder of that.

Last movie I watched:

Valentine’s Day. Not as good as Love Actually.

Last TV episode I watched:

The Musketeers. Such a wonderful, swashbuckling show

7 Evil Ex Boyfriends

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O’Malley

This is another one that I read months ago. I really liked it and understood how it became such a classic. It probably won’t  be my classic, but that’s okay. I support other people’s classics too.

Also, I feel really sorry for Knives the whole time.

Last movie I watched:

Die Hard 2. Not genius but fun!

Last TV show I watched:

The first episode of the Crown. Love it.

A very long hiatus

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

My life has been really busy and I haven’t blogged in ages. You may have noticed. Anyway, this blog post is just in here so I don’t forget I read this book and enjoyed it.

One reason Chamber of Secrets is not my favourite Harry Potter:

The lack of wonderful, supportive and fun adults and other mentor figures and the feeling of inter generational overlap. In this one there’s no grown up person to help Harry and co, even passively. I really enjoy mentor characters and they were all missing from this book.

One reason Chamber of Secrets could be my favourite Harry Potter:

The kids really do solve this one on their own and that’s pretty epic. Most of the other ones they have someone on their side but not for Chamber. These plucky kids do it all their own and that’s unique in the series.

Last movie I watched: Noel. Weird Christmas movie. I don’t feel like I get it.

Last TV episode I watched: Supernatual. Castiel! What’s happened to you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A rerun

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling

These books will always be ones I come back to again and again and again and even if there was anything I could do about it, I wouldn’t.

Instead of a lengthy post though I will just list a few thoughts and go about my day.

  1. Technically I listened to the Sorcerer’s Stone, but I kind of reject that title on principle. I found the number of Americanism in it very jarring.
  2. The world building is amazing. I’d forgotten how much of the story takes place before the plot really picks up and it’s all world building and setting out a few clues for later.
  3. The movies are good, the books are better.

Last movie I watched:

Victor Frankenstien. Skip it.

Last TV show I watched:

Touched. AMAZING. I didn’t expect the season finale to be so small. It’s a good thing, season 2 flowed into it very easily.

So a philosphoy textbook and a sci fi novel meet in a bar, hook up and then, 9 months later… Dune!

Dune: Children of Dune by Frank Herbert

So, as I may have mentioned, I love the TV movie miniseries Children of Dune more than any sane, reasonable person should admit publicly, thus proving any theories you might have been developing about me being a sane, reasonable person completely wrong.

Naturally, given my unhealthy obsession with that particular story, it was just a matter of time before I read the book. I had actually planned on reading the Dune books in order but I accidentally skipped Messiah.

Dune is complicated. I don’t just mean the world building, which is crazy complicated (like Tolkien level of crazy complicated) but like, from a narrative point of view and a readers point view and the authors point of view. It’s just complicated. The story itself is pretty amazing, and so intricately linked to the pages and pages of what is essentially philosophy that even though that much reflection and criticism and ideological banter should make the book miserably slow and cumbersome somehow doesn’t. I can’t really explain why political theory presented through the characters doesn’t bore me, but it doesn’t. Usually didactic texts make me crazy but for whatever reason, I really love it. I’m confused and conflicted by a book that I know shouldn’t be that good but just is.

I’d be interested to know what other people think about this book, if anyone wanted to read and share their thoughts.

Therefore, to flesh out this post a little more, I am going to talk about Irulan because she is one of my favourites in the miniseries. Which is why I was disappointed because in the book she’s pretty much Alia’s parrot almost until the end. Which is annoying and silly. In the movies she made it clear, that despite her rather miserable life, her husband’s children were her only concern and that she would die for them. She was strong, in a different way than Chani or Alia or Ghanima, because she lacked the ability to act, but she devoted all her time and resources to the children anyway, and that kind of sacrifice made her amazing to me. I was sad to learn that Herbert hadn’t treated her the same way.

This is leads me ask a bigger question about who stories belong to. Frank Herbert’s character wasn’t as wonderful as she could be, and in some ways there are traces of a male dominated understanding of the female characters throughout the whole story. She is such a unique and brave character in the books but never quite fulfilled her potential. I’m glad someone made her that way, even if it wasn’t the original author. I will always have my preferred Irulan now, because someone else gave her to me, and now she’s kind of mine too, because I’ve made a choice about how I will see her.

There’s a lot about what it means to be human, what it means to have power and what it means to believe in something greater than yourself in this book. So it’s lacking in what it means to be a woman, but it’s still a pretty powerful text.

Last movie I watched:

About Time. I think I need a support group for that movie. If anyone knows of you, let me know.

Last TV episode I watched:

Once Upon a Time. Which is so epic guys, just so epic.