126 Followers
53 Following
arrakiswitch

A Reciprocal Love Affair With Books

Jean, 39, lover of sci-fi, horror and fantasy, reader of comic books, conqueror of genre fiction.

Review: Princess Leia by Mark Waid and Terry Dodson

Star Wars: Princess Leia - Terry Dodson, Mark Waid

Okay, so the rating looks low for me, and it is. But it's not a bad comic. I put reading this off for so long, after getting a free copy of the first issue and being underwhelmed. It turned out better than I expected, with a semi-eventful five issue run, but the thing I just can't get over is how out-of-character Leia seems. I don't know if anyone watched the first movie and thought, 'She seems so cold she's not even mourning her planet! Whadda bitch, amirite?!' Apparently, the writer did however. And that was the first thing that put me off.

 

Listen, I hold media involving Leia up to higher standard. Leia meant so much to me, and generations of girls after my own generation. And everyone has their own idea of her. I'm not saying that Han or Luke have been particularly well written in the new canon either, but Leia... whew. I can rack up the crimes against the writers of the comics here, and thinking over that, this comic doesn't seem so bad. But Leia seems too stiff, too regal. If we're supposed to identify with Evaan's disdain... I can only say, WHHAAAA?

 

So, it's a good comic, with a very two-dimensional Leia, that adds a little to movie continuity.

Review: Poe Dameron vol. 1: Black Squadron by Charles Soule and Phil Noto

Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Vol. 1: Black Squadron - Charles Soule, Phil Noto

Enjoyed this utterly, the art is astounding and Soule's work on Star Wars has been consistently enjoyable. The story is action packed, a little on the camp side, giving it a feel of James Bond in space with the nicest hero you're ever gonna meet. But it also left me feeling sort of empty. The characterization is extremely thin, and relies on your knowledge of the actor and their charisma. It makes me think of the Lando comic, also written by Soule, there's almost the same caper sort of feel to it, except that it has none of the depth. I'm going to continue reading, but as someone who lied Poe, and longer for him to have a bigger role in the movies, this doesn't really satisfy, because you don't learn anything more about him than you did in his, like, ten minute screentime in The Force Awakens.

Review: Frost by M.P. Kozlowsky

Frost - M.P. Kozlowsky

Like Stitching Snow, this was the science fiction fairy tale retelling I had been hoping Cinder would be. Funny that the both of them are actually Snow White. Just a point of interest. But, while Stitching Snow has an epic sort of Star Wars feel to it, Frost reminded me of more earthly sci-fi, like I Am Legend. With robots.

 

The setting of post-apocalyptic New York City is the book's strength, the world building and its story. I feel, unfortunately, that the weak point is the characters; not that they're bad, but that they can be bland, especially Frost herself. I'd go so far as to say that she's inconsistent, in that the author doesn't really seem to understand how a truly compassionate person would think and act.

 

I'm usually slightly iffy when a fairy tale retelling plays it so fast and loose with its inspirational material, but I think this book actually strikes the absolutely perfect balance. And it gets extra points for making the Wicked Queen figure male, and a robot questioning and coveting humanity (instead of beauty. Well,the beauty of humanity, if you will.)

 

A quick read, with room for a sequel that I hope this novel is successful enough to warrant!

Review: Darth Vader vol. 4: End of Games

Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vol. 4: End of Games - Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca

Outstanding. This title is constantly surprising me. Considering that this was the last I picked up, and that my interest level hovered somewhere between five and zero, the fact that it's pulled out ahead as my favorite of the new Marvel SW titles is as shocking as it is pleasing! Presenting an Anakin who is within himself introspective and damaged, and effortlessly and emotionally bridging the gap between the original trilogy and the prequels. And this! This not only provided an extremely satisfying conclusion to this story arc, but included some of the best Star wars writing I've read. When Vader's life support gets shut off? Yeah, that was some strong stuff. Loved it!

Happy Holidays, my friends!

*Peeks head in door* Helloo all!

So, much silence lately. Consistent seasonal allergies leading to illness, a stupendous reading slump, and, the most deadly of all, internet connectivity issues, have all conspired to offline. But hopefully most of these issues are at least temporarily fixed and I'll be posting and reading again!

Birthday/Halloween Book Haul, and Spoopy becomes Merry!

 

My birthday was Saturday, and thanks to my sister and my two best friends, I managed a good little book haul!

 

I still need to write up a September/October wrap-up, and I'm due on last review for the bingo, but I'm feeling sick AGAIN and am just trying to take it easy and rest. Bluh.

Review: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, illustrated by Arthur Rackham

The legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving

 

This story was part of the landscape of my childhood. I grew up in New York, on Long Island, but my father was an upstater, and my mother actually lived in Tarrytown itself when she and my grandma first came to this country. As integral to my folk knowledge as songs like "Low Bridge, Everybody Down" were.

 

Though the atmosphere of the book is actually more evocative of winter/Christmas (which is appropriate for ghost stories of the time), every time the leaves changed and the weather got temperamental, it would always feel very Irving-esque. This is heightened by Arthur Rackham's beautiful, complex illustrations, every inch of which contain something to look at. Houses and trees, take on human qualities, unsettling 9 year-old me, who received this book as a present for my birthday, and who had always suspected that empty windows were eyes, and that unseen gazes peeked out from the dying leaves of autumnal trees.

 

Is it scary? It certainly was for me as a child, but as an adult I can appreciate it as the masterful folk tale that all historical ghost stories are and should be.

Libraries are the best. 

Bingo update--THIRD AND FOURTH BINGO!

 

And most likely my last, it's been super fun!

 

YA Horror - The Iron Thorn by Caitlin Kittredge

Grave or Graveyard - Coffin Hill vol. 1: Forest of the Night

Witches - Scarlet Witch: Witches' Road

Read by Candlelight or Flashlight - Sixth Grave on the Edge by Darynda Jones

Diverse Authors Can Be Spooky Fun - Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac 

Creepy Crawlies - John Dies at the End by David Wong

Reads with (BookLikes) Friends - Letters to the Damned by Austin Crawley

Pumpkin - Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night - Batman: Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

Scary Women (Authors) - Fathom by Cherie Priest

Ghost Stories and Haunted Houses: Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

"Fall" Into a Good Book - Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Mayberry

Vampires vs Werewolves - Heart-Beast by Tanith Lee

Free Square - The Vision: Little Worse than a Man by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Takes Place on Halloween - Goosebumps: Werewolf Skin by R.L. Stine

Classic Horror - The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

Set in New England - The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, illustrations by Arthur Rackham (review to come)

 

Whew, this has been amazing! I don't doubt that this was a reading record for me; I am infamously slow as a reader. It was just incredibly inspiring to be able to read and share, and also see what everyone else was up to, as well!

Review: The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux, Manuela Hoelterhoff, Anne Perry

 

Well, that was crappy. Things do happen in this novel, and yet, it somehow manages to be completely anticlimactic. How? Everything important happens "off-screen" to characters Leroux never bothered to even consider that someone would want to read about, despite being the lead characters in the novel. No, instead, let's have chapter upon chapter in first-person from the point of view of a character that's barely been introduced until the last third of the novel when he's narrating! Erik and Christine? PHHHT! Who'd want to read about the main protagonist/antagonist?! The most interesting chapter in the damn thing is when Christine describes being taken underground by the "Angel," and even then, it's waaaaaay after the fact. I suppose Leroux thought he was creating mystery and suspense. It doesn't work. I can't imagine how this was published as a serial, when no chapter left me wanting more.

 

The characters are insufferable. The only one I felt mildly for was Christine, who had to deal with Raoul's bratty behavior, and Erik's homicidal stalking, the managers not really caring that she disappears and suspecting her of orchestrating some of Erik's tricks, Carlotta's loyal audience giving her a hard time every time she sings... I had a basic female empathy for her, even when she was being frustratingly naive. Raoul can go eat a bag of turds for life; Leroux tried to excuse his behavior by telling us it's his inexperience in love. Generally an inexperienced person doesn't accuse the person he loves of being an unfaithful whore every other sentence, as she's trying to confess what happened. Sighs. And Erik... just forget it.

 

All of it is written as an investigation of mysterious events that transpired at the Opera, making it rather a precursor to modern procedurals, but also making it distant and difficult to care about anyone. It's one saving grace is how short it is.

 

So why is my rating so generous? Well... I said 'its one saving grace,' but it has another, and that's that Leroux came up with an idea so fantastical, so lurid and interesting, that a hundred and five years later, it still belongs in our public consciousness. He did it poorly, but it's inspired so many adaptations, so many people to take the bare bones of what he laid out and elaborate on. And that is more than a noteworthy feat.

 

My Modern Library edition also includes an analysis of the text, which discusses such things as antisemitism and Freudian psychology. Which I feel is giving far too much credit. And also an introduction by Anne Perry, which just creeped me the hell out with her rhetoric espousing sympathetic killers.

Reading progress update: I've read 167 out of 256 pages.

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux, Manuela Hoelterhoff, Anne Perry

 

Oh, Christine Daae, it sucks to be you. Like, seriously, every man in her life is a complete douche-canoe. People don't like Raoul in the musical because he's a wet blanket? Oh, book!Christine should be so lucky! He treats her like garbage, essentially calls her a whore, with the excuse that he's "inexperienced" in love. So why doesn't she run off with Erik, one might ask? Well, other than the fact that I've actually never dug this whole romanticism of the Phantom, in the books, he's childish and emotionally blackmailing. At one point, Christine keeps saying that it was as if she were given a "cordial" when he took her underground, and this led me to be certain that he's drugging her also so she's more pliant. The general public hates her because she's daring to be "above herself" by being in love with Raoul, her brother's fighting them, the Opera's in Carlotta's favor... 

 

And the book doesn't even bother itself with her point of view.

 

Sucks to be you.

Reading progress update: I've read 58 out of 256 pages.

The Phantom of the Opera - Gaston Leroux, Manuela Hoelterhoff, Anne Perry

 

So far, kind of meh. I was expecting something with much more Gallic passion and indulgence. But it's more, 'Upon the second occasion that the Opera ghost made himself known, it was a celebration for the retirement of M. X, lest it should be forgotten that he began his career in his twenty-second year and BLAH BLAH BLAH.' I mean, it's still early days, and I JUST got to Raoul and Christine meeting again, so thank goodness! Also, Raoul has a brother, huh. Who dies in a terrible way towards the end--thanks for the spoiler for your own book, Gaston! Sarcasm. But I did not see that one coming, from all the adaptations that I've seen.

 

Also? The introduction by Anne Perry reads as suuuuuper creepy to me, with all of her justifications of the sympathetic murderer, considering her real identity.

Review: Goosebumps: Werewolf Skin by R.L. Stine

By R. L. Stine - Werewolf Skin (Goosebumps, No 60) (1997-10-16) [Paperback] - R.L. Stine

 

A fun, really fast read. Simply but not terribly written, though the characters are all terribly flat and Stine! Uses! Exclamation marks! More than even I do! Everyone's always screaming or crying! Exclamation mark! But I chose to read this one because of the episode of the show, and while the book didn't add anything new, no secret, hidden depth or anything, the story itself is still really cool and original, especially for a werewolf aficionado such as myself.

Reading progress update: I've read 83 out of 126 pages.

By R. L. Stine - Werewolf Skin (Goosebumps, No 60) (1997-10-16) [Paperback] - R.L. Stine

 

So, I missed the Goosebumps craze the first time 'round, I was just a little bit too old. Cough. But I will watch almost any kids show, and I enjoyed the TV series. And in choosing some Halloween reads, I decided to pick up a few Goosebumps books based on which episodes liked. Werewolf Skin is kind of an unexceptional episode, but I really liked the premise, it stood out for me enough that I remembered it all these years later. I am obviously not the intended audience, LOL! But, man, it is VERY simple, isn't it?