Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Demigod Files

So this book was fun, a little addition to the original Percy Jackson series written by Riordan that so many love. It contains three short stories about the demigod's adventures along with some short, funny interviews with the other characters, and to go with it all a few pictures like a map of Camp Half-Blood and character pictures. So it was a short fun read that took me back to the series I love so much for a quick visit.

But it was a little less than I was expecting. The stories were right on par, letting us see a little more into what Percy got up to in between books. But the last one was interrupted with the character pictures and that was a little distracting. The interviews were also humorous but shorter than I was expecting. And when they said they would be showing the contents of campers' trunks so any other demigods would know what to pack, they didn't say it would only be one, which was kind of a let down.

Like I said, I enjoyed it, it was fun. But if you are looking to really get a dose of Percy Jackson, maybe pick this one up along with another one of the books, because this little side trip back into the world of the demigods will not be enough. Still, I hope fans of the series do pick this one up, it's a nice read!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Between Worlds

Finally I got around to reading this second novel in the Cemetery Tours series and my only regret is not getting to it sooner!

After Micheal Sinclair declared to the world that yes, he does in fact see ghosts, his friend Luke Reiner approaches him once more asking to join him on his show Cemetery Tours. This time, his presence is a stipulation one of the home owners has placed on their allowing the tv show to film there. Michael reluctantly agrees after Luke and Kate, Micheal's now girlfriend, team up against him. We join Michael, Luke, and Kate once more on a ghost hunt that gets out of hand as the crew learns more about the ghost haunting a home in Maine.

I loved getting to join the team once more for a wild and humorous ride. Jacqueline has a unique gift in building up the world of Michael Sinclair where he can talk to ghosts, Kate can sense them, and Luke likes to poke them with a stick. The banter between the characters, including Brink, Michael's ghostly roommate, really makes you laugh out loud at least a half dozen times. Also in this one is a tragic love story that focuses around the ghosts the team is trying to find evidence of, and the heartbreak leads to some pretty crazy moments for everyone.

Jacqueline also steps outside her zone and takes us to the stunningly beautiful Maine, describing an incredible home and a quaint town that made me wish I could take a trip up there while reading this one.

Of course I am going to recommend everyone read this second great novel from Smith. Specifically to those that took the chance in reading the first one. This was a great follow up novel and I am looking forward to the third one.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Only Pirate At The Party

June - Books written by celebrities.

This was the perfect book to read shortly after reading Felicia Day's You're Never Weird On The Internet (almost), because it is now my firm belief that if these two women have not met they need to. They are so similar in so many aspects, and maybe that is what drew me further into Stirling's book, well that and the fact that there were so many times when it sounded like it was being narrated by one of my closest friends.

Another good friend of mine told me I had to read this book when she found out what my book club's theme was this month. She is a fan of Stirling and had bought this book on Audible and wanted me to read it. I agreed since I needed a second book for the theme, but now I, too, am a fan of Stirling.

If you don't know who Stirling is, let me give you the quickest of updates. Lindsey Stirling was a contestant on America's Got Talent (don't remember the year) but she didn't make it very far, because even though she has a very unique gift on the violin, she may not be everyone's cup of tea. But Lindsey did not let that stop her (for very long) and now she is a big performer where she tours playing hip hop violin. Yeah, you read that right. If you have never seen her work I think Shadows and Elements are incredible places to start.

This book gives us a very deep insight into Stirling's life, from her first forays into violin to her battle with an eating disorder, and she does it in incredibly funny and moving ways. I highly recommend listening to the book since it is narrated by Stirling herself, because it gives you the chance to hear her words in her voice, which packs quiet a punch. I found it incredibly moving as she spoke of the people closest to her and ached to give her a hug as she spoke of Jason Gaviati, a band member who has since passed.

Stirling is filled with life and hope and passion not only for what she does but for life in general. And getting a chance to listen to her story is something I am grateful for. I am so glad I listened to a friend's recommendation and I am passing it on to all of y'all. Read this book! And check out her videos! Which, by the way, while writing this post I found a new incredible video, so go check out Master of Tides.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Serenity Vol. 2 & 3

Vol 2 - Better Days

Following the example of the first book in the series, this one begins with a letter from one of Serenity's crew members: Adam Baldwin who played Jayne Cobb, the "Hero of Canton." It's nice to see his words, the excitement he had for the show and his characters, and his admiration for Joss Whedon. It's a great way to start a book.

Another day, another crime for the crew of Serenity, and another chance for things to go epically wrong. This chapter in the story focuses around two men hunting down the crew for very different reasons, one to get revenge on Mal and his crew for destroying something he created for a job, and an Alliance Special Ops guy looking to take in a former terrorist. Of course there is action, misunderstanding, chaos, and humor as the crew deals with this new problem.

Again, I loved the story!

Vol. 3 - The Shepherd's Tale

One of the biggest mysteries in the series has been Shepherd Book's past. How is it that the priest is so good at fighting, knows so much about the internal workings of the Alliance, feels such heavy guilt? Well, here is the glimpse into his past that fans have been waiting for. And it is everything I could have asked for and more.

Being a graphic novel, and I suspect it would have been the same if this story had been told in an episode, there is little space for a story to completely unfold, and Book's story goes way back in his life. But using a reverse timeline and focusing on pretty pivotal moments, this chapter gives us a ton of insight on Book! A great addiction to the story in my opinion.

In a change of protocol this chapter is ended with a letter to the reader. Instead of getting words from Chris Samnee, the man who played Book, we instead get Zack Whedon's take on this story line, the man who actually wrote it. And it lends the perfect parting words for this character and his story.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Circle Trilogy

Last month I read Black: The Birth of Evil, a graphic novel by Ted Dekker. Well, I finished the series and here is my follow up with the next two.

Red: The Heroic Rescue

Sticking with what I said about Black, I wasn't thrilled with this one.

While it has an intreguing premise, it just doesn't translate well to the graphic novel format.

This one starts off simultaniously years after the events in the last one and only moments later. Let that mess with your mind. And while you get glimpses of what filled those 15 years in one world, mostly you are just expected to live with the gap. Because the story must move on.

Also, while the Christian God/Elyon correlation was there in the first one, it goes above and beyond in this one with Elyon sacrificing himself, demanding the followers "drown" in his blood (baptism), and then offering a salvation. If the Christ story is not your thing, you'll want to avoid this series.

And yet I was still interested to know how Dekker was going to make ends meet. So on to the next one.

White: The Great Pursuit

Reading this one led me to believe that with each installment, this story got just a little harder to read. The gaps between them in terms of years going by in one reality, coupled with all the story Dekker tried to cram into just three short books, became just too much. And with this last one, my suspension of disbelief was stretched too thin, making it hard for me not to roll my eyes and think "well of course things fell into line for this guy."

With each new event, particularly in this book, things just got harder and harder to "roll with." Of course so-n-so was someone conveniently placed in a position of influence in both worlds. Of course Thomas magically convinced the bad guy to help his cause. Of course everything was just a little too convenient and easy to fix. I was expecting more from Dekker and I just don't think graphic novels are his medium.

All that being said, I still find the concept mildly intriguing and perhaps in the future I will still pick up the novels, read the story in a format that gives Dekker more room to move and tell his story, and hopefully the result will be better.

Until then I can only willingly encourage hardcore Dekker fans to pick up these graphic novels. Sorry. They just weren't my thing.

Friday, June 10, 2016

You're Never Weird On The Internet (almost)

June: Books written by celebrities.

When did I first become aware of Felicia Day? I don't even know. I remember seeing her on Eureka and recognizing her immediately, so I had to have seen Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog by then. I don't know if I saw the episodes of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer before or after I knew her name. But I know for a fact when I saw her on Supernatural I fangirl squealed and did a jumping dance in the middle of the living room because Felicia Day was so cool and on my new favorite show! I didn't get to watch her show The Guild when it first aired but I have since made up for that by watching it multiple times and mentioning it to all my friends. So basically it's like I've always been aware of Felicia Day, even though she has only been an actress since 2001. Maybe it's like Joss Whedon said in his intro: "She's something more than a self-made woman - I sometimes think she's not a human woman, that she willed herself into existence, before willing the world to make a place for this new, unfathomable creation." Felicia Day willed herself into my life, and it has been glorious ever since.

In her memoir Felicia tells the incredible tale of how she grew up home-schooled, managed to start college at age 16, and obtained two Real Degrees while never getting her GED. Than she moved to LA with the feeling that she was just meant to be an actress. And it seemed that anything she wanted to do, she put her mind to, and rocked it.
Only, it didn't keep happening that way.
While most of the world sees Felicia Day as this incredibly bubbly, happy, bright person who is not only beautiful but is also a gamer, which is just awesome, people don't suspect the underlying anxious, over-worked, neurotic that hides behind the games she played until she had pushed most of the world out.

And this is why I love Felicia Day. On top of the fact that I always love her bigger characters, I started to catch glimpses of the real Day sometime after she stared in Eureka and what I saw fascinated me. I'm not a major gamer, but I love to sit and loose myself in some Zelda when I can. I spent most of my teen years behind a computer screen in RPG chatrooms because I could be better than who I was IRL. I am addicted to stories because they are the easiest way for me to loose myself (and reading is something that people will encourage). And with all the convention panels I was getting to watch on YouTube, I started to see someone that I could relate to. And she was awesome!

Reading this book I got a closer look at Felicia Day than I ever had before. She opens her soul for the readers and welcomes them in to follow her journey through not only her childhood and move to LA, but the tough years including the two she spent literally addicted to WoW and then later when depression and anxiety got a hold of her so bad that her health took a turn for the worse. Day does not sugarcoat how hard things got for her, and I love that, because people that go through the same need to see that other have it just as bad. And her making her way out of it and doing something incredible, gives the rest of us real hope.

When I saw that Felicia Day wrote a memoir I got so excited, because she is awesome and I love to read about peoples' lives, how they got to where they are, and what they take from that experience. I got so much more in this book. I got to see hope that even though I am incredibly anxious and what people think of my work terrifies me, I can still put it out there, because I made a think #LookIt.

I really encourage everyone to read this one. It's full of laughter and sweet stories and awkward moments. And then it's full of truth and honesty. For the gamers, the women, the socially awkward creative people. Everyone feeling like maybe their passion is just too weird. Everyone that overthinks things to the point of insomnia. Here is a book written by a woman that gets it. And says that it is ok to be like that, you can make something of it, you just got to try. So give the book a read, and tell me what you think about it!