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3/02/2017


Superman: Birthright 
Release Date: October 2005
Publisher: DC Comics
Pages: 287
Buy this book: Amazon


Synopsis (from Goodreads): The entire modern day retelling of Superman — from his early days in Smallville with Lana Lang and Lex Luthor, to his first meeting with Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Perry White in Metropolis — is recounted in this lavish hardcover collection by writer Mark Waid and artists Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan! SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT collects the best-selling, critically acclaimed 12-issue maxiseries of the same name and features an introduction by Smallville television producers Al Gough and Miles Millar, plus a sketchbook section showcasing Yu's development work in addition to notes by Waid. Witness the making of a legend, as Clark Kent learns the tough lessons needed to become the World's Greatest Hero! Also watch as Lex Luthor comes to Smallville, befriending Clark. But it's a relationship that may ultimately spell disaster for Metropolis and the Man of Steel.

Now I feel like I should preface this review by saying that I am not a huge comic book fan. That is not to say that I don't enjoy them because I do. But I didn't grow up on them. That being said I think that this was one of the ones I really loved. I thought the way the story was told and the sequential art was beautiful. There were twists and turns in the story, which I appreciated. Overall it was really a great read.

1/26/2017

Ready Player One By Ernest Cline
Release Date: August 17, 2011
Publisher: Crown Publishers
Pages: 374
Buy this book: Amazon


Synopsis (from Goodreads): In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade's devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world's digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator's obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade's going to survive, he'll have to win—and confront the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

Ernest Cline's Ready Player One was an awesome surprise. It came into my life at a time when I hadn't been reading much of anything. As evident from my last post, I haven't been blogging much either. So I was trapped in this cycle of not reading and as a result not blogging. 

Thankfully this novel broke that curse.

Let me start by saying that Ready Player One is incredibly well written. There is such attention to detail and an authenticity and respect for character and setting that it amazed me at how Cline managed it all. This story is also relatable and approachable. Cline keeps his language simple as he weaves story with music, art and culture. 

Moreover, Ready Player One is, at its heart, homage to all we loved about the 80's such as the movies, music and videogames of that seminal era. Even though I was not familiar with a lot of the references in the novel Cline still managed to make me nostalgic for that era the same way his characters did. This is another testament to Cline's talent as a writer. 

Also, the future that Cline paints is built upon an inter-connected alternative cyber reality that is not that far removed from the one we live in now. Cline successfully writes a story that is simultaneously looking backwards and forwards. 

This story was a fun ride and the writing was great. Go and get it as soon as you can (before the movie, that Spielberg is slated to direct, comes out).

10/09/2015

Heir to the Empire (Star Wars: The Thrown Trilogy #1)
Release Date: January 1, 1991
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Pages: 404
Buy this book: Amazon

Synopsis (from Goodreads): It's five years after Return of the Jedi: the Rebel Alliance has destroyed the Death Star, defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and driven out the remnants of the old Imperial Starfleet to a distant corner of the galaxy. Princess Leia and Han Solo are married and expecting Jedi Twins. And Luke Skywalker has become the first in a long-awaited line of Jedi Knights. But thousand of light-years away, the last of the emperor's warlords has taken command of the shattered Imperial Fleet, readied it for war, and pointed it at the fragile heart of the new Republic. For this dark warrior has made two vital discoveries that could destroy everything the courageous men and women of the Rebel Alliance fought so hard to build. The explosive confrontation that results is a towering epic of action, invention, mystery, and spectacle on a galactic scale--in short, a story worthy of the name Star Wars.

I liked this book. A lot. I loved the characters and I felt like they sounded exactly as I remembered them from the movies. Their voices were authentic. I also loved the introduction of Mara Jade into the story. If you read more literature on the characters beyond the movies then you know that Mara Jade becomes and important part of the Star Wars canon. I won't leave any spoilers here but I have to say being introduced to her in Heir to the Empire was satisfying. She was as I imagined and I can't wait to read the second book to see how she is developed.

That being said Timothy Zahn clearly knows about the Star Wars Universe based upon the delicate care he takes with weaving a great story. So excited about finally finishing this one and I cannot wait to start on the second.

10/05/2015

A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness
Release Date: September 27, 2011
Publisher: Walker Books
Pages: 215
Buy this book: Amazon


Synopsis (from Goodreads): The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth.

This novel was short and heartbreakingly sweet. I felt like I was a part of Conor's world and I felt his fear, his pain, his confusion and lack of understanding at the crazy and sometimes unfair world around us. There are so many lessons slowly unraveled and learned in this book that even as I write this review I still feel like I'm understanding new things about the book. This was an enjoyable read despite the weighty subject matter. I would highly recommend this novel.

6/08/2015

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane By Neil Gaiman
Release Date: June 18, 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books
Pages: 181
Buy this bookAmazon


Synopsis (from Goodreads): Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.

Having just finished this book, I am at a loss for words to describe all the emotions I'm feeling.Well let me just start off by saying Gaiman is a master writer and I don't know any other author that can take pen to page, or in this case keyboard to screen, and make you feel every emotion under the sun whilst having you begging for more. I was sad to get to the end of this rather short work (it was only 181 pages).

However, let me say that I LOVED The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I was teary at times, smiling at others, terrified and genuinely touched. This book captures the innocence of childhood, of dreams and the imagination. I honestly don't know how Gaiman does it but I'm glad he does what he does like no other writer out there. His voice is so unique and sweet and different that I'm glad he was a destined to be a writer so that those of us who are in awe of his skill at least get to enjoy his beautiful words. Thanks Mr. Gaiman for introducing us to Lettie Hempstock and letting us escape to her ocean.

Here are some bits and pieces that stuck with me:

"All monsters are scared.
That's why they're monsters."


"I found myself thinking of an ocean running beneath the whole universe, like the dark seawater that laps beneath the wooden boards of an old pier: an ocean that stretches from forever to forever and is still small enough to fit inside a bucket, if you have Old Mrs. Hempstock to help you get it in there, and you ask nicely."


"I saw the world I had walked since my birth and I understood how fragile it was, that the reality I knew was a thin layer of icing on a great dark birthday cake writhing with grubs and nightmares and hunger. I saw the world from above and below. I saw that there were patterns and gates and paths beyond the real. I saw all these things and understood them and they filled me, just as the waters of the ocean filled me. Everything whispered inside me. Everything spoke to everything, and I knew it all."

Adults are content to walk the same way, hundreds of times, or thousands; perhaps it never occurs to adults to step off the paths, to creep beneath rhododendrons, to find the spaces between fences. 

“I’m going to tell you something important. Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world.”

“And did I pass?"
The face of the old woman on my right was unreadable in the gathering dusk. On my left the younger woman said, "You don't pass or fail at a being a person, dear.”

1/19/2015

The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman
Release Date: September 30, 2007
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 312
Genre: Children's Literature 
Buy this bookAmazon

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
 After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.


This book was amazing in every way. The characters, the setting, the atmosphere and overall suspense, all of it was on point and executed to perfection.  Mr. Gaiman had gotten the idea almost twenty years before writing it and needless to say the wait was definitely worth it because what we've been given is an instant classic. The Graveyard Book was endearing, poignant and profound in many ways. Well done. I loved it.

5/27/2014

Shatter Me By Tahereh Mafi
Release Date:
November 15, 2011
Publisher: Harper Teen
Pages: 338
Genre: Young Adult
Buy this book: Amazon

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

I have a curse
I have a gift

I am a monster
I'm more than human

My touch is lethal
My touch is power

I am their weapon
I will fight back

Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don’t fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

First, let me preface this by saying that I tried to read this book twice before succeeding the third time around. The main reason for this was the fact that this novel was riddled with so many smilies and metaphors (some of them not making sense and others ill placed) that it took away from the actual storytelling. I'm not going to go in depth with this review because there really isn't much to go in depth with. The synopsis is essentially dragged out over 300+ pages and the ending leaves a lot to desired (not to mention it was entirely unoriginal). 

I will give the author points for originality and taking risk in narration style but it doesn't work here. I wouldn't recommend this one but I give myself a pat on the back for getting through it though.