Friday, January 29, 2016

Review: Aftermath

Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: September 4th 2015
Format: Hardback, 366 pages
Source: Library
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Journey to The Force Awakens. 
The second Death Star is destroyed. The Emperor and his powerful enforcer, Darth Vader, are rumored to be dead. The Galactic Empire is in chaos. 
Across the galaxy, some systems celebrate, while in others Imperial factions tighten their grip. Optimism and fear reign side by side. 
And while the Rebel Alliance engages the fractured forces of the Empire, a lone Rebel scout uncovers a secret Imperial meeting…

Prior to reading this book I had read a lot of reviews that didn't care for this book. I hadn't listened to the Star Wars Stacks podcast until after I finished reading it, but from listening to their other podcasts I knew that they had not been fans of it. So I really tried to not let all of this color my own perception of this book, but I have to admit I didn't like this one. I even tried to step back and think to myself, "Okay, are you just being salty about how the old EU is now longer canon? Or do you really just not enjoy this particular book?" After finishing this book I discovered it was the latter.

I think this book had the same problem as Millennium Falcon: there was just too much going on. There were way too many characters in this book that I was tempted to write myself a chart just so I could keep them straight. The main story with Noora Wexley, her son Temmin, Sinjir & Jas was pretty easy to follow but I think this book should have really just focused on their story. Instead the author had all these little interludes of scenes that are never really discussed again, and I felt that it was a huge distraction. It really took me out of the story so when I got back to the main plot I kept thinking, "Okay, what was just going on?" 

To me this novel didn't read like a novel, but more like a film script. With all the little interludes and the back and forth between scenes of The New Republic and the crumbling Empire could have been great scenes on film, but I don't think they worked as well on paper. I do admit that seeing more women in the Empire was interesting, but I felt like we didn't really need so many different scenes about what the two forces were doing. I just really strongly feel like the story should have focused on Noora and what her ragtag group was doing to stop the Empire on Akiva. If the book had been more concise and focused on this I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more.

One thing I did really enjoy from this novel was the inclusion of gay characters, and how it's seen as a totally normal thing. Noora's sister has a wife, but it just is what it is and no big deal is made of it. I also enjoyed the scene where Jas gets a offended when Sinjir refuses her advances, but it's not because of her, it's because he doesn't fancy women and she's just like "oh, okay."  I enjoyed these a lot because of course there would be gay people in this universe and I don't think it was something we really saw all the much in the old EU. 

I'm not going to go out of my way to recommend this one to anyone, because I genuinely did not enjoy reading this book. I think it has some redeeming qualities, but it definitely wasn't a book for me. 

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Millennium Falcon

Millennium Falcon
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: October, 21st 2008
Format: E-Book
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Two years have passed since Jacen Solo, seduced by the dark side and reanointed as the brutal Sith Lord Darth Caedus, died at the hands of his twin sister, Jaina, Sword of the Jedi. For a grieving Han and Leia, the shadow of their son’s tragic downfall still looms large. But Jacen’s own bright and loving daughter, Allana, offers a ray of hope for the future as she thrives in her grandparents’ care. And when the eager, inquisitive girl, in whom the Force grows ever stronger, makes a curious discovery aboard her grandfather’s beloved spacecraft–the much-overhauled but ever-dependable Millennium Falcon–the Solo family finds itself at a new turning point, about to set out on an odyssey into uncertain territory, untold adventure, and unexpected rewards.To Han, who knows every bolt, weld, and sensor of the Falcon as if they were parts of himself, the strange device Allana shows him is utterly alien. But its confounding presence–and Allana’s infectious desire to unravel its mystery–are impossible to dismiss. The only answer lies in backtracking into the past on a fact-finding expedition to retrace the people, places, and events in the checkered history of the vessel that’s done everything from making the Kessel Run “in less than twelve parsecs” to helping topple an evil empire.
From the moment the Falcon broke loose from a Corellian assembly line like an untamed creature with a will of its own, it seemed destined to seek out trouble. It wasn’t long before the feisty YT-1300 freighter went from shuttling cargo to smuggling contraband. But it‘s a fateful rendezvous on Coruscant, at the explosive height of the Republic/Separatist uprising, that launches a galaxywide cat-and-mouse game whose newest players are Han, Leia, Allana, and C-3PO. And they’re not alone: Crime lords, galactic pirates, rogue politicians, and fortune hunters alike loom at every turn of the quest–each with his or her own desperate stake in the Millennium Falcon’s most momentous mission. Through the years and across the stars, from the Rim worlds to unknown points beyond, the race will lead them all to a final standoff for a prize some will risk everything to find–and pay any cost to possess.
After listening to The Star Wars Stacks episode on this one, I have to confirm my opinion that this book was just kinda of lacking. Not in characters, no that was the problem. I found that there were too many characters, too many perspectives, and just too much going on that I got lost in what the original plot was.

I did like learning about where the Falcon had been before, but I just don't think the execution in this novel was done well enough. I felt like there was just too much back and forth between so many characters that I didn't really get a feel for who they were. They all fell kind of flat, even characters like Han and Leia, whom we already know. They just didn't seem like the same characters that I have been reading about for years.

I think the main thing that really bothered me about this book was the ending. There is this plot to find some treasure with the help of a hidden clue on the Falcon, but once they find this "treasure" it turns off to be a fake. So if that wasn't enough of a disappointment, the villain in the story that meets our heroes at this moment just turns around and essentially says, "Well that's a bummer, hey do you guys want a ride home?" What the shit is that? And then the book just gives you a last scene with Han teaching Allana how to fly the Falcon. I thought the treasure plot would make this book more interesting, so for the book to just end so anticlimatic made me so annoyed!

I wasn't really a fan of this book, and I think it really came down to the disappointing ending. This is one of those books that I have to say I would not recommend.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Audiobook review: Life After Life

Life after Life
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Release Date: April 2nd, 2013
Format: Audiobook narrated by Fenella Woolgar
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, a baby is born and dies before she can take her first breath.
During a snowstorm in England in 1910, the same baby is born and lives to tell the tale.
What if there were second chances? And third chances? In fact an infinite number of chances to live your life? Would you eventually be able to save the world from its own inevitable destiny? And would you even want to?
Life After Life follows Ursula Todd as she lives through the turbulent events of the last century again and again. With wit and compassion, Kate Atkinson finds warmth even in life's bleakest moments, and shows an extraordinary ability to evoke the past.
I was actually really surprised by this book, I was all for thinking that I wasn't going to like it, but as I started the audiobook I came to really enjoy this one. I will admit that this one is really repetitive, which is a complaint I saw a lot, but that was kind of the whole point of the thing. Ursula keeps on repeating moments in her life, so she can go back and change the things that she wants to undo. While she repeats moments, the different choices she makes alter how her life turns out and where she would be during the events of World War II.

This novel wasn't an easy one to take since a lot of the moments and trials Ursula goes through can get a bit dark. So I think if you have any issues with reading about murder or spousal abuse, just be aware that there are a few instances of that in this novel. Not the entire book, but the first part of the book was a little hard for me to take due events that take place while Ursula is a teen.

I loved the concept of this novel. I loved that this book questions you: Wouldn't you go back and changes things if you could? I think a lot of us would. Since Ursula gets to live over her life she also chooses to do different things, like live in Germany during the height of Hitler's occupation. I think this book really questions our perspectives on history. 

One thing I really liked about this novel was it's mystery. There is the possibility that Ursula's mother may also have this ability based on one scene in this book, but you never really know. I just love that in books. The ability to just let the reader think for themselves. Atkinson is going to write another book but set around Ursula's brother, and I think he may also have this ability, which I am super excited about!

I listened to the audiobook instead of actually reading this monster of a book, but I was glad I did because I really enjoyed the narrator Fenella Woolgar. I had to look her up after a while because I thought I had listened to other books she had narrated, but it turns out she played Agatha Christie in an episode of Doctor Who. I definitely think she had the right accent and narration style for this particular novel. If you are curious about starting to listen to audiobooks, I would definitely recommend this one. 

Happy Reads Everyone!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: Heir To the Empire

Heir To The Empire
Publisher: Darkhorse Comics
Release Date: September, 15th 1996
Format: Comic
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD
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. 
So I read the novel version of this book, a long time ago but since I starting listening to the Star Wars Stacks Podcast, I decided to reread it. So instead of rereading the actual novel, I wanted to see what the graphic novel was like. 

I loved this book as teen and the main reason was probably because of freaking Mara Jade. I mean look at how cool she is!

She's beauty, she's grace, she'll blast you in a face

So yeah I think I have a lot of bias opinions about this graphic novel because I love the cold, calculating ex-imperial and I just want to be her when I grow up. The story in this comic was as awesome as I remembered, but since it was a graphic novel I feel like some things were cut out. I felt like there was more that happened in this novel, so I think due to the nature of graphic novels minor things were cut. I was okay with this since the main plot points were still in here, but it did make me just want to reread the actual book.

The liked the art in this comic, but at times I felt like the faces were too jagged and drawn with too many hard edges. It wasn't a deal breaker, but I preferred the art in By The Emperor's Hand over this one. 

There is one other thing about this comic that annoys me: The Cat Suit. A lot of Mara Jade fans do not like a cat suit, and I have to agree. The cat suit makes zero sense for a practical smuggler. Why would she be trampling around the forest in a full leather onesie? She wouldn't be. For the sake of argument, she does look cool in it, but it seems like her outfit was just designed to make her out to be a sex symbol, and I'm pretty sure I am right.

Besides my own issue with Mara's outfit, I did really enjoy reading this comic, but I think if I ever want to reread this one again I am just going to reread the actual novel. 
Happy Reads Everyone!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Review: The Infinite Sea

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: September, 16th 2014
Format: Hardback, 300 pages
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others’ ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven’t seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.
I was really hoping to have this review done for Sci-Fi November, but life got in the way, so now I'm finally getting to it. I really loved the 5th Wave novel, so I was really excited to read the sequel. Although, I don't think the Infinite Sea falls into the second book syndrome, the book just didn't completely wow me like it's predecessor. It was really good, and I enjoyed it, but I think I just wanted a little bit more. 

The format for this book was a little bit different, so at times I had to stop and think, "Wait, who is the narrator here?" It wasn't too confusing, and I ended up figuring it out, but I kind of wished the beginning of each section was labeled with a character name so we knew who was talking. It's such a minor thing, so I don't think it will bother that many readers that pick up this book.

There was one other minor thing that irked me, and I think this is because of the YA genre. The angst between Cassie and Ben. I did not care for it, at all. I get that there is kind of romance between Cassie and Evan, which is fine, but honestly this book about an alien invasion doesn't need added drama. I feel like they are trying to pose a love triangle here, and I just wish that trend would die. So I really hope that doesn't really happen in the next installment.

There were things I really liked about this novel, and most of that is about the characterization of the new characters. We knew a lot of them just a little bit in the first novel, but in this novel Yancey finally gives characters like Poundcake and Ringer voices. We really got to delve into who they were before and how the waves changed them. We got a lot of Ringer in this novel, and I didn't like her at first but I slowly started to understand who she was and understood her choices. Ringer is a survivor, but she also had a soft heart for kids, and that made me really like her. 

So the first book throws you for a loop with a big mind blowing revelation, and the second book drops an even bigger bomb on you. I ended up closing this book and just wandering around my apartment thinking, "Holy crap! That was amazing! ...the next book doesn't come out until MAY?!? BUT I NEED IT NOW!!" So it's safe to say that I am very impatiently waiting on the final book in this series. 

I would definitely recommend this book if you're not sure if you want to continue on with this series. I think Yancey does a really good job at getting inside your head and I really adore his writing style. I'm looking forward to more books from this guy.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Deanna Listens: How Did This Get Made?

Deanna Listens is a monthly feature on the first Monday of every month (a little late this month!) I created to showcase some of my favorite podcasts. This month I am talking about How Did This Get Made?

How did this get made is probably one of my favorite podcasts. I love the concept so much, so I find this podcast so refreshing. The podcast is hosted by Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas & June Diane Raphael. Their tagline is "Have you ever seen a movie so bad that it’s amazing?" and that is basically all I can really say about this podcast. They cover a lot of terrible movies, and I find it so hilarious. 

I haven't listened to a ton of their recent shows because I haven't seen all the movies they've dissected, and I find it hard to make fun of weird movies that I've never seen. Although, I did make the exception for Jupiter Ascending. I almost might make another exception for the Star Wars Holiday Special. I have never seen it, but I have just heard about how bad it is, so I'm interested to hear what these guys have to say. 

Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
I think my favorite is Sleepaway Camp. If you haven't seen the movie, just don't. I have to say it is the most bat shit crazy movie I have ever seen. The only reason I saw it is because I had a friend in high school who was obsessed with the band CKY and the lead singer ended up marrying the actress who plays Angela in the movie. This movie is so insane, that it took these dudes twenty minutes to just dissect the first two minutes of this insane movie. 

I wouldn't remember trying to listen to this podcast at work, because I think I laugh at little bit too much, but I would definitely check this one out if you are looking for a good laugh.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Review: So, Anyway...

So, Anyway... By John Cleese
Publisher: Crown* 
Release Date: September, 29th 2015
Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Summary Via GoodReads

My Rating: ★

Goodreads ★ Amazon ★ B&N ★ TBD

Candid and brilliantly funny, this is the story of how a tall, shy youth from Weston-super-Mare went on to become a self-confessed legend. En route, John Cleese describes his nerve-racking first public appearance, at St Peter’s Preparatory School at the age of eight and five-sixths; his endlessly peripatetic home life with parents who seemed incapable of staying in any house for longer than six months; his first experiences in the world of work as a teacher who knew nothing about the subjects he was expected to teach; his hamster-owning days at Cambridge; and his first encounter with the man who would be his writing partner for over two decades, Graham Chapman. And so on to his dizzying ascent via scriptwriting for Peter Sellers, David Frost, Marty Feldman and others to the heights of Monty Python.

Punctuated from time to time with John Cleese’s thoughts on topics as diverse as the nature of comedy, the relative merits of cricket and waterskiing, and the importance of knowing the dates of all the kings and queens of England, this is a masterly performance by a former schoolmaster.
I hate to admit it, but this book was not what I expected, and I don't mean that in a good way. Once I finally finished this book I was relieved because it was finally over. Unfortunately, this one was a huge disappointment for me. I think part of the problem was that I thought it was going to talk more about Cleese's days with Mothy Python, and he barely touched on it in this book, so I was really disappointed in it. 

I think the main reason I just could not get into this book was the writing style. It was very dull to me. For the most part Cleese spent a long time talking about his childhood and he kept hinting about his strained relationship with his mother, but I don't feel like he went into much detail about it. I just wanted more about that, and I felt let down. I thought this section of the novel where he talked about his childhood leading up to going to Law school was so boring. I could not get into it, and made me dread reading this book. Seriously, this book took me way too long!

About halfway into the book it started to get more interesting when Cleese starts talking about how he left Law School, and starting doing more acting and writing. That was all interesting, but they way he wrote about it made it sound so boring! I think I just really wanted to get to him talking about Python, and I think there was only two chapters dedicated to it so I was extremely disappointed once I finished this book.

This book is definitely more of autobiography than a memoir, and it just wasn't what I was looking for. It may have been just me, but I just could not get into it, and I wouldn't go out of my way to recommend it. 

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Happy Reads Everyone!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016! I normally don't write a New Year post, but since I've been noticeably absent from the blog, I decided to write something to explain where I've been and what's been going on.

So the short of it is that I kind of went on an unscheduled hiatus. I'm hoping to correct that starting this month. I have a lot of reviews on the back burner that I've never written, so I have my work cut out for me.

So there is a reason that I went dark in December, and mostly it was because of the holidays. I took a vacation the week of Christmas, so I knew I wasn't going to have anything scheduled for that week. The week before I went on vacation was a little nuts at work. One of my coworkers went on maternity leave a little early, and a lot of things got dropped on my desk that doubled my work load, so it was really stressful, at by the time I got home from work I didn't want to do anything. It was pretty much the same this week at work, but I'm hoping things will get back to normal soon.

Luckily, I do have a lot of reviews to write, so I'm hoping I'll be able to schedule a bunch of stuff for next week while I have off today. So I'm not quitting blogging, I just had a lot on my plate this month that has really caused me to go on hiatus.

Happy Reads Everyone!