Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Pirate Loop [Abridged] by Simon Guerrier (Audiobook) * * * * *

I listened to the abridged audiobook version of the story.

Martha, that is, Freema Agyeman read it. Like I said before, she does a very good job of reading these audiobooks.

The story is among the most original book stories I've read for Doctor Who. It takes place on a starship called the "Brilliant". It has space pirates, time loops, the good old wibbly-wobbly, so it uses the potential of a Doctor Who story very well. I kept listening to it through the day, as it's full of twists and turns that will keep you wanting to go on with the story.
The story didn't feel incomplete, as with some of the audiobooks. It has a good pace and flow.

There are several characters that I liked in the story. Mrs Wingsworth was a bit annoying at first, but she turned out all right. The space pirates were a bit of a surprise, but I could see the point of their characters.

Overall, I recommend this story for everyone. Maybe even people who just like a good sci-fi story, as it has plenty of that.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wishing Well [Abridged] by Trevor Baxendale (Audiobook) * * *

I listened to the abridged audiobook version of the story.

It was read by Debbie Chazen, who plays Foon Van Hoff in the Christmas special "Voyage of the Damned". It was a nice job, nothing disturbing.

The story takes place in a small English village, and centres around the wishing well in the middle. Strange stories and events surround the old well, and the Doctor decides to investigate with Martha. My problem with the story was that it reminded me too much of several other stories, most noticeably The Art of Destruction and Forever Autumn. They all take place in or near a small village, with something lurking under the ground. There is the old mind control involved, which is such a reoccurring theme, it's getting boring. Seriously, authors, think of something new. So this story gets points deducted for being unoriginal. There are some nice action scenes, but the ending feels abrupt. It may be because of the abridged version, but if it is, then they should have paid attention to that.

The supporting cast are very minor. I didn't care for them. A couple died rather abruptly, and what disturbed me was that the Doctor didn't show his usual concern about it. That could also be just the audiobook.

Overall, it was an okay story. Nothing really special though. I recommend it just for the die-hard fans, and out of the library, or borrowing from a friend.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (JDrama) * * * *

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (Solve the Mystery after Dinner) is a detective drama. I found it similar to Meitante no Okite in that the endings of the episodes are not very satisfying. If you compare them to Western detective stories, then there the perp is always evil, with evil intentions. Here that's not always the case. Actually, I often found myself sad for the killer, wishing they wouldn't have done it, that they found another way. I even cried at the end a few times.

Another reason why it reminded me of Meitante no Okite was that it's also not a completely serious drama. While at times it's moving, you also get moments of hilarity and utter ridiculousness. In a way those things keep it from becoming too serious.

The episodes all follow a pattern, which does characterise detective dramas as a whole in the world. If you just think about Poirot and his customary reveal, then you realise that having a pattern is not that strange after all.

The drama stars Keiko Kitagawa as Reiko Hosho, a rich heiress that decides to become a detective at her local police. She doesn't tell anyone at work that she's actually very rich. She is quite young, a bit stuck up, and a bit petulant, but still a lovable character. Keiko did a great job of portraying a person who is very serious at her job, but still childish at home. While she likes to think of herself as a good detective, she's not very observant in reality. However, at the end of the episode she always seems to understand the world a bit more than she did before.

Sho Sakurai plays Kageyama, Reiko's new butler. So far I've only seen him act in Yamada Tarou Monogatari. His character speciality seems to be the stoic type. Kageyama is the actual detective in the story. As part of his job he follows Reiko everywhere. In some cases this proves to be important, in other cases his hiding methods are only there for the fun of it. His logic and knowledge of the world is what actually closes the cases. He also has a love of mystery novels, that can account for why he's so good at solving crimes. He is blunt, but also sweet, with a sense of pride. His character doesn't seem to change a lot, even though at the end they sort of claim that it did.

Kippei Shiina as Kyoichiro Kazamatsuri is Reiko's boss at the police force. He's the senior detective, and also an heir, but he lets everyone know that. He is the source of most of the comedy in the story, as his detection skills are actually non-existent. He is important, but still a side character.

Overall, the drama was an enjoyable one. During the episodes I again learned some things about Japanese culture, and even some details about the language. I also had fun, but found myself lamenting the endings. I recommend this drama to anyone that doesn't mind characters behaving a bit strangely and over the top sometimes.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wetworld [Abridged] by Mark Michalowski (Audiobook) * * * *

I listened to the audiobook version of this story.

This is the first one that I listened to, and was ready by Martha, that is, Freema Agyeman. I thought her reading style and her voice were very good. She did the parts of the Doctor well, and in character.

The story takes place on an alien planet. It's ironically called "Sunday". The Doctor once said that on Sunday nothing happens, but here many things did. The story wasn't all that fabulous to me. While it was interesting, and not boring at all, it was slightly predictable. Though towards the end I did have a moment of classic; "Now how will they survive this?" It just made me wish that it wouldn't obviously be mind control again. I don't think I gave away anything with that.

The supporting cast are nice. I especially liked Candice, who was one of those people who actively help the Doctor, and are even effective. Kind of made me wish they took her along for the ride.

Overall, it's a fun adventure. While the audiobook is abridged, it doesn't feel to lack anything. Though it is rather short. However, the flow and the pacing are excellent.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Clash of Kings (A Song of Ice and Fire, #2) by George R.R. Martin * * * *

The second establishment of the series didn't disappoint. It was exciting and full of twists and turns.

In the previous book there weren't that many supernatural elements, that are usually part of a fantasy. Towards the end there were more, but most of the characters didn't come across anything especially strange. In this book, those elements become more and more.

What I loved about the book was partly that. The supernatural just popped up, and came about unexpectedly most of the time. There were several mysteries, and story lines that kept me turning the page.

What I didn't like was that sometimes the action started to lag. There are people who like all those little details that some writers, especially those who can't write a book under 600 pages, put into their narratives. However, to me, these were sometimes too many. I remember two instances, where I just couldn't take it anymore, and started to skip a few pages. Probably the most unnecessary part was when Jon Snow was going up the side of a hill in the middle of the night. Every rock he encountered was described in detail. I ended up shouting: "I get it, it's hard, now arrive on the top already!" Really, sometimes you just need to edit.

Overall, we get a good character growth from all the major players. We also meet a few new ones, and that keeps things even more interesting. The action is good, and even though there is a war on, we don't get an overwhelming amount of battle scenes in the book. Those can get a bit boring after a while. The story is still interesting and entertaining. I reached for the third book immediately.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice by Christopher Hitchens * * * * *

Hitchens is always brilliant. Even when I don't agree with him, he's still brilliant. It saddens me to think that he's no longer alive, because I always thought that had we meet, I would have had the pleasure of talking to someone who was my intellectual superior. It's so rare for me to meet such a person.

Now on to the book. It's kind of short, but very precise, and to the point. It really doesn't need to be longer. I never knew much about Mother Teresa, though her policy on contraceptives and abortion greatly troubled me. I have also seen some footage before of her mission in Calcutta, and I have wondered why it's not in better condition, if she gets so much money. This books revealed it all to me, and as I am usually weary of religious charities, it just proved my suspicions. I recommend the book for everyone, not just as reading something on one subject, but also as a great example of why we should go after the truth of things ourselves, and not trust everything we see on TV. Or at least apply our critical thinking to it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3) by Suzanne Collins * * * *

I actually listened to the better half of this book. I was busy with baking and other stuff, so I ended up listening to the audiobook. Therefore, I may not have caught all the details.

This book finally breaks away from the "going to the games" format. I was actually glad for that, as it was getting a bit boring. It's hard to talk about the book without going into spoilers, but if someone read the second one, then it was obvious that there was going to be a war. The war is rather realistic, and unapologetic about it. People die. By the hundreds sometimes. Both sides do things that are cruel. I felt that was a very strong point of this book, that people get hurt, die, and sometimes those you care about.
Towards the end the endgame was done really well. It showed us a glimpse of the world that I'm sure we all wanted to see, without breaking away from the main point of the story.

I kept talking in my previous book reviews for the series about the genre, dystopia. The ending wasn't clear dystopic, but when I thought about it, I could see where it fit into the genre. It made me think about just what it means for the hero to fail. Since while the world at the end wasn't completely bad, it wasn't what Katniss thought it was going to be either. In the end, she really did fail, since she didn't achieve the goal that she set out to do.

Some of the reviews complain that Katniss wasn't the hero, the leader in the end that she could have been. I think those people saw a Katniss they wanted to see, not the Katniss that actually was.
In the beginning, she's a girl, who gets thrown into something horrible. She's not a trained soldier, not a sociopath, or a psychopath, so she's affected. The books take place in less than two years, so by the end, she's still not 18. From the second book, it is apparent that she has PTSD. She has nightmares, flashbacks, everything. She never gets the opportunity to get past it, to recover. She's constantly back in situations that just make it worse. It does get worse, then a bit better, but she never completely recovers. She is not the leader type. She's the hunter, the person who stays in the background, who avoids attention, and doesn't really know how to deal with it. There are trained soldiers who go through this as well, not to mention a girl who didn't have much of an emotional stability to begin with.
What she is, is very human. A regular human girl, barely out of childhood, motherless, fatherless orphan. She tries to do the best she can, protect those she loves, but she barely has any power. Most of us in this situation would probably just want to be with our mothers, and never leave her side. Compared to that, she's amazing.
I think her character is realistic, not a dream we want her to be.

Love at this point is really on the back-burner. Peeta is obviously the one Katniss chose, but getting him is not easy. She took time in realising who she wanted, and that is very real as well.

Overall, I really liked this book. It was a good finish to the journey, and went along the same feel as the previous ones. The ending felt complete. It tied up everything into a neat little bow. I have to admit, I cried a little.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by Suzanne Collins * * * *

The second installation of The Hunger Games trilogy is just as fast paced as the first one. It's the right speed for the young reader of today.

The story picks up a little after the end of the previous book. Some flashback is unavoidable. We learn how Katniss' life changed after becoming a victor, and how she has to face that nothing will ever be the same again. She goes on the tour that was mentioned in the first book, but we don't see a lot of it. I did wish that part wasn't so glossed over. Of course, the threat of President Snow hangs over everything. Without revealing too much, life only gets harder for everyone. I did have a feeling about District 13, and I'm just going to say that it was justified.

Katniss is 17. I have forgotten that, until Collins reminds me. She does develop more as the story progresses, but she is still not an adult at the end. Children that grow up too fast sometimes find it hard to grow up all the way, and she's no different. Though I have to admit, she'll probably never be a calculating and shrewd person that would enhance her chances of survival under the conditions.

Peeta is still a prominent person in the story. I'm sure many people wish that he moved on from Katniss, or Katniss fell for him, but neither seems likely. He remains a very likeable character that you find yourself rooting for. He develops a little as he sees more of reality. In a way, being a baker's son and an artistic person had hid some of the cruelties of life in Panem from his eyes. This growth allows him to use his natural gifts better, as he becomes more aware of them.

I've written in my previous review that the style bothered me. I did overcome it, but that was because I listened to a part of the book as an audiobook. I do get the audiobook as well as the paperback sometimes, as when I'm engrossed in a story, I enjoy listening to it while I do housework. Hearing the story like that changed my perception of the first person present tense. It felt like I was listening to the inner voice of a person. When I went back to the book, the sensation remained.

Overall, the second book didn't disappoint. They say the sequel is not as good as the original, well, this felt just as good. It really wasn't like a sequel, just a continuation of the first, as if they could have been one book. Maybe in the future they'll print all three in one, like Lord of the Rings. Now I'm off to read the final part, that will surely make me cry in the end. This is a dystopia, after all.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Total Recall (2012) * * *

I have to say in advance that besides being a lover of the sci-fi genre, I also happen to love the original version. I thought the plot was very original, and the world interesting. Who can forget the hooker with three breasts?
What disturbed me even before seeing it was that it wasn't 3D. I know I said the same thing about Batman, but in this day and age anything that is sci-fi or action should be in 3D in my opinion. It is what saves cinemas. It was first colour, then widescreen, surround sound, now 3D.

The basics of the story stayed true to the original. It's still about a guy who doesn't know which memory is real or not. There was a hooker with three breasts. However, don't expect him to go to Mars, because he doesn't. The movie is still exciting, still full of action. It is mostly action, very little actual story. That lacked to me. 
The change of planet was a bit odd. I won't be giving too much away when I reveal that it's on Earth because part of that is polluted due to a chemical war. Just a part of Europe and Australia is habitable. Therein lay a few technical problems. For example, we can see that the area around Big Ben is fine, but Piccadilly is covered in a dense yellow fog. Now how come that stays there, and doesn't float over? There is also a lift that goes through the Earth's molten core. I can't imagine anything being so strong as to stand such heat. I think they would have been better sticking to the Earth - Mars thing.
The purpose of sci-fi is not just to satisfy us geeks. Future sci-fi is about showing what comes from the world we live in today. Will we resolve our problems, or make things worse? Here it's obviously worse, but unlike in a dystopia, things get better. Still, let's not have a chemical war, okay?

Collin Farrel did a good job replacing Arnold. He fought, muscles flexed, and he looked good even bloody and dirty, something an action hero must do. He was also sufficiently confused.
Jessica Biel is good at being the female action hero. She can make bloody and dirty hot. I always find it funny that she tends to do these roles when she started out as little Miss Christian in Seventh Heaven. If she intended to erase her clean-cut beginnings, I'm sure she had been successful.
I hope I won't ruin anyone's surprise if I reveal that Kate Beckinsale is a villain, and plays it well. She runs after our heroes, and pulls off the determined and slightly manic look in the eyes well.

Overall, it's a fun action movie. If you saw the original, you won't get many surprises in the story, though the action is different.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sick Building [Abridged] by Paul Magrs (Audiobook) * * *

I listened to this book as an audiobook.

The story is about the Doctor trying to help people on a planet about to be eaten by a sort of space monster. It reminded me of how the Doctor and the monsters are never too far from each other. He genuinely wants to help, but of course, he ends up in a pickle. There are robots, talking wending machines and sunbeds. It's a rather fun story, but there are two things that bothered me about it. One was that in the beginning, when he arrives, the people are already preparing to leave. It may be the audiobook's fault, but it feels kind of strange that he stays. Not un-Doctor like, but clearly he is not wanted. The other thing is the ending, which made me ask; "Why didn't they do that in the first place?" It felt like the author wrote himself into a corner, and used the plan B to get out of it. However, it was such a plan B, that to any reasonable person it would have been plan A.

The story is read by Will Thorp, who plays Toby Zed from "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit". As I noted in my review of Forever Autumn, he does the job really well.

The star of the story is Barbra, the wending machine. I read that she makes appearances in other works by Paul Magrs, so that is probably why she feels like a prominent character.

Overall, a fun story.

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1) by George R.R. Martin * * * * *

I confess, I started the book because of the hype. I also wanted to read a big fantasy series. It also helped that I could get all five books at a discount.

The fact that it's the first part of a series can be felt from the very beginning. The pace is often agonizingly slow. However, every little detail feels important, so even I, who tends to skip a few paragraphs, read every word. The way the story is told is very interesting as well, as it's third person limited. It would limit the scope a lot, if it wasn't told through the eyes of several people. It also shows a lot of planning as the author would have had to pick the main characters well ahead.

The characters are very interesting. They are all grand personalities, not a dull person around. They are, however, not alike. They are different. You may not like them all. They are also not on the same side, which makes things even more interesting. I personally didn't like Sansa, but in the end I could still feel sorry for her. I felt the closest to Dany, as she grew into a fierce woman by the end of the book. I don't want to say more about the characters though, as I don't want to have to put up a spoiler alert. Let me just say that one shouldn't get too attached to anyone.

I wavered between four and five stars, but I ended up with five. It may not be completely perfect, but I found myself reaching for the next part as soon as I closed this one. That to me is a book of five stars.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) * * * *

I was really curious about the final installment of the Batman trilogy. On the one hand, I was interested in how they could end it. If you are familiar with the old movies, then you may know that those were sort of designed to never end. They also got worse and worse. On the other hand, I had been satisfied by the previous movies, and wanted to see the same level of achievement.

When talking about this movie, probably for the rest of history, people will not be able to bypass what happened at a midnight screening in Colorado. The events are tragic, but when looking at the list of injured and dead, something un-understandable jumped out at me. How come there were small children and babies at a midnight screening of an admittedly violent movie? I really have no idea what they were doing there.
Moving on, it did affect my viewing of the movie. I watched it at a mall, in the afternoon. I did have a bit of a bad feeling about watching it in a theatre. When someone stood up, or walked in front of the screen, I couldn't help, but watch the person like a hawk. Nothing happened, of course, it's easy to rationalise that I shouldn't have had that bit of a scare in me, but gut instinct is different.

Now on to the movie itself. It did follow the previous track of the films. The tone was just as dark, the scale of the danger just as large. I do wish they would have done it in 3D, but it was a good movie anyway.
The direction was as good as expected, no silly wobbling of the camera, no weird close-ups. I do wish they would have disguised the fact that they were in New York though. It's been some years since I've seen the previous installment, but as I recall, Gotham wasn't that obviously New York back then. That I found strange. Maybe there had been budget cuts.
The story was as bloody, and as dark as can be expected. However, what surprised me was the slight mystery element, which I dare not speak more of. I did figure most of it out before the end, but not all, and that was a pleasant surprise. The ending was a good closure, and it also made me suspicious of a follow-up movie, or trilogy, with a new central character. It would be nice, since he had only been an overlooked side-kick, who would be interesting enough to be made into a full hero.

Christian Bale was of course a great Batman. I have first noticed him in Equilibrium, where he also played a tortured hero who wears a lot of black. When I first heard he was going to play Batman in the reboot, I knew it was a great choice. He's also known for shaping his body to the role, and he had outdone himself in this case. I could really believe that he had let go of himself so much in the beginning. Now I stop here, because if I go on, I'll have too many spoilers.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played Blake, almost stole the show. His character started out small, but by the end, he was a central character. In a way, it felt more like his movie, than Christopher's. Once it comes out on DVD, it would be an interesting statistic to see who got how many minutes on screen. The most interesting part about Blake, is that he hardly ever interacts with Batman/Bruce, and therefore the story seemed to have two main characters. The ending also suggested that Christopher Nolan has more plans for him.

Anne Hathaway is another personal favourite of mine. I have never known her to not give a top performance in every role, and after the beating the Catwoman character has gone through in the past, she had done an outstanding job of resurrecting her. She also worked very well with Christian, and they had great chemistry. Makes me wish they were put together in something else.

Marion Cotillard was a good addition to the cast. I feel like she's often overlooked, but her character is just as important as Anne's. She seemed sweet and forward, just as she was supposed to. I really liked her, even though my romantic heart wanted more Anne/Christian.

As a huge fan of Torchwood, I almost gave a shout when I saw a familiar face. Burn Gorman, who played Dr. Owen Harper in Torchwood, had a rather small part, but it was nice to see him working. Made me wish they would have made a bigger villain out of him.
Another favourite fandom of mine also had a small guest appearance. Christopher Judge, who played Teal'c in Stargate SG-1, almost killed one of the good guys. I was thinking, "Teal'c stop being the Jaffa, and go back to being one of the good guys."
So it was fun to see these two guys in the big screen. I just wish they got more parts.

Overall, The Dark Knight trilogy went out with a bang. It was a good, fun movie, and the fans of the franchise are pleased with it. The ending closed the story off well, and there is really a sense of closure. I was happy with it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Forever Autumn by Mark Morris (Audiobook) * * * *

I listened to this as an audiobook.

Forever Autumn, as can be seen by the cover, is a Halloween story. I did wish I had kept it to Halloween, but I'm going through the books in publication order, and this was next.
The story itself reflects the mood of Halloween very well. There are cats, bats, a weird tree, fog, all the things that make Halloween a fun time. At times, it was genuinely frightening as well.

Will Thorpe reads the story, who played Toby Zed in "The Impossible Planet"/"The Satan Pit". He does a great job of it, and does justice to the characters.

I recommend reading it for Halloween, and then the atmosphere will be perfect.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) * * * *

I have to confess, I'm a huge fan of superheroes. Let me explain why. I come from a family of readers. My mum could read at the age of five, and she read War and Peace by eight. I went to school at the age of six, but I struggled in the beginning with reading. Then, I got my first comic book. It was black and white, and it had a little-known character called the Phantom, who lived in a rainforest probably somewhere in Africa. He was an environmental superhero, saving animals, punishing polluters. Comic books got me into reading and superheroes, for which I will always be grateful.
My favourite character has always been Spider-Man. On the one hand, because he's human. Superman is great, but he's a Kryptonian, with his own personal body-armour skin. On the other hand, because even though Spider-Man is a scientist, and a photographer, he's still an average guy with money problems. He's not like Bruce Wayne, who gets to live in a big mansion, and has no worries about where his next meal is going to come from. Spider-Man, in spite of the supernatural elements, was always the most real superhero for me.

I try to watch every movie adaptation. I had on VHS an old adaptation, that somehow got lost in time, as I can't even find a reference to it anywhere on the internet. The tape is long lost, but I have vivid memories about how Spidey strapped his camera on the wall and tried to take pictures of himself.

So I was excited about a new movie coming out, and in 3D! So I went the first chance I got.

The 3D is used nicely, though at times I could still see that the people working on it had two dimensions in mind. There were some scenes, where the camera angles could have been used differently to bring out the full 3D effect. I think it's very important for the audience to sometimes feel like they could touch the objects on the screen, but that was very few and far between.

The story was interesting. Now the casual observer may think that it's a retelling of the 2002 story. That is not true. Of course, he gets bitten, turns all spider-like, has a girl he's trying to go after, but that is where the similarities stop. This is an alternate universe as opposed to the previous movies. In this universe, there is a mystery surrounding Peter Parker's parents, which he is going after. I stop here, as I don't want to spoil it. Let's just say that nor the girl, nor the villain are the same.
One story element that the movie did well was the way they brought in the fact that the people often feel Spider-Man as someone close to them. In the previous trilogy this could be seen in the second movie, where the people tried to help him in the metro. There is a similar scene in this movie as well. It's very American, but also uplifting and touching in a slightly cheesy way.

The actors did a good job. Andrew Garfield is a slightly more hip, and more attractive Peter Parker. He is somewhat darker, but more appealing for the female population. Emma Stone is a long favourite of mine, and I was delighted to see her in the movie. I'm really glad she's getting more recognised. Her comic talent is also well brought out in a scene where she tries to hide Spider-Man in her bedroom. It's also nice to see that you don't have to have a squeaky voice to play a lead actress.
The other characters are played by well-established actors and actresses as well, though the story generally concentrates on the two young lovebirds and Dr. Connors played by Rhys Ifans, who you're not sure about even at the end.

Overall, it was a good reboot for the franchise. It's by no means a repeat of the earlier, but it still feels like Spider-Man. Fans like me will love it, and perhaps it may get new converts with the mystery element of the parents' death, and the new love story.

There was definite foreshadowing for the sequel, and I look forward to it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins * * *

I started to read an online version of this before I saw the movie. I didn't like it a lot. Partly, because I'm not a fan of first person, and practically detest present tense. I just don't get why anyone would do that. Though I suppose, in this case the author really wanted to use first person to get us in Katniss' head, and used the present tense to make us wonder if she was just going to die at any moment. It still disturbed me.

Another thing that is a problem with the writing is that it's not all that descriptive. It reads more like a script for a movie, than a novel.

I watched the movie, because everyone was talking about it on Facebook, and I was bored, nothing on TV, and I work in an office above a cinema. So after work one day I just bought a ticket. I didn't know what to expect from it. I'm a fan of dystopias in general, but it has to be done well. I actually wrote a review of the movie.

It has been a while, but I found myself thinking about the story, even after the hype died down on Facebook. I kept wondering what was going to happen, and I also wanted to watch the movie again, which I actually rarely do. So on Saturday I was looking around the small English sci-fi and fantasy section of Alexandra - a big bookstore chain in Hungary -, and just decided to pick it up. I didn't have a book with me, so I read on the bus home. At home, I washed my hair in the tub, and just read. I wanted to make it a few hours, but I ended up reading until bedtime. I finished the book when I next had the opportunity to pick it up a few days later.

I still don't like the present tense, and have a problem with the style, hence the 3 stars. But the story is exciting. The pace is fast enough for the modern reader, and there is very little junk in it. The technical aspects look well-researched. My only problem with the story was that in places it was said that she knew little of the world outside her District, but then she seemed to know a lot on the next page. Maybe it could have been better explained how she got the information she had.

Katniss felt very real to me. She was just the kind of person that I can relate to. Not the hearts and flowers kind of girl, but she would do anything for her family. Her confusion over her feelings towards the two guys in her life was very real as well. I just hate it when in novels girls fall in love at a drop of a hat, as it never happened to me, and I just can't be the only one in the world.

The other characters didn't feel like fillers. The mark of a bad novel, like Twilight, is that you have a host of characters that don't really contribute to the story, they just seem to be there to fawn over the main character. Everyone represented something, and brought an important human aspect to the story.

I've read a review where they said that the killings were pointless. I don't think that. The point was that those people had to die. The cruelty of the world needs to be shown by their deaths. Also, the point of a dystopia is to show the worst of the present society. I think it contrasted the absurdity of reality shows, and the real world struggles of young people really well.

I'm going to go on and read the next book, we'll see what I think of that.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1) by E.L. James *

I first heard about this book from some friends, who didn't like it. Now I'm not the kind of person who rejects or likes a book just because the friends do. I like the Cassandra Clare books, I like the concept in them and find them exciting. Some people I know hate them.
Some friends adore The Hunger Games. I like the story, but the style of writing I have a problem with. Still read them, and wrote reviews.
I hate Twilight. Seriously. I read some of the books, and hated them. I know people who loved them.

So I read stuff from this book. Now English is not my first language, but my fiction has better language than some of the quotes I read. It was also discussed in a group where some people actually do live in a BDSM relationship. For people who love this book, this is NOT BDSM. I've read BDSM written by people who actually live it. I even researched it and online role played it. THIS IS NOT BDSM. A good dom doesn't do these. There are safe words. There is a contract, but it's mainly to limit the DOM, not the sub, and to make clear BOTH parties' expectations. It's supposed to be discussed what everyone feels comfortable with. And you don't go into it a VIRGIN. First you explore regular sex, then you can experiment with other stuff. And you research it. Though, why would I expect a 21-year-old girl who doesn't even have an email address (which I had since I was 15 and I was born in '82) to know how to research something online.
On Tumblr, there is a person reading it and putting quotes up. The virginity loss scene horrified me. It was the most disturbing scene I ever read. My first time was gentler than that and I was in pain for days. IRL, he would have ripped her to shreds, maybe even ending up in a hospital.
Still, when a really funny girl read it on Youtube, I managed to listen to it up to chapter 8. I could only stand it, because she was freaking out over the idiocies in the book as much as I was. It was as terrible as the bits I read.

So people, who love this book, please, at least, don't think BDSM is that. And please, examine, why you want to be in an abusive and controlling relationship, because last time I checked, it's 2012, not some past century where it was okay if your husband beat you up if you burned the supper.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Price of Paradise by Colin Brake (Audiobook) * * * *

I actually like this one, which was a relief, since The Art of Destruction, which I listened to before, wasn't all that good. The story is about a planet, Laylora, where things are going horribly wrong. The deeper meaning of the story is that when a foreign element is introduced into an ecological system, things go haywire most of the time. The plot is a bit predictable, but it is a lot of fun. The action scenes are exciting, and there is a real sense of danger for the Doctor and Rose.

It's read by Shaun Dingwall, who played Pete Tyler in the series. He does do a really good job of it, and has a nice, easy-to-listen-to reading. It is kind of funny to note that this is the last Rose story, and it's told by Rose's father.

Two characters are memorable in the story. One is Rez, the human man who arrived to Laylora on an escape pod. He is forever trying to fit in, and most of the villagers are supportive. His presence and how the others on the planet interact with him is an interesting aspect of the story. To me, what indicated that he was memorable was that I could emotionally connect to him at the end.
Another person I had the same experience with was Professor Petra Shulough. She is not a positive character in the beginning, but I warmed up to her by the end. She also developed in the story, which made her a non-one-dimensional person, which people in Doctor Who books often fall a victim to.

I recommend this story a lot, and it appealed to my environmentalist nature as well.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Art of Destruction by Stephen Cole (Audiobook) * *

I listened to the audiobook version.

This is so far the worst Doctor Who book I read / listened to. I keep forgetting about it too, so apparently my brain is trying to erase the memory. In the beginning, the way animals and all sorts of things were turning into gold and then moving was interesting, but when they were crawling around the caves it got quickly boring, and it couldn't recapture my interest. I wondered if it was just because I listened to it and not read it, but looking through the reviews I saw that other people had similar experiences with it.

I didn't like Don Warrington's reading. For some reason his voice annoyed me, and I felt he couldn't capture the Doctor's way of speaking either. He was more successful with the African characters.

The characters I can't remember at all. I remember that there was a guy and a woman that were running about, but nothing of them was committed into memory.

Overall, I don't recommend this book. It can be given a shot, but it wasn't that good. I also recommend staying away from the audio version. The reading makes it even worse.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments, #3) by Cassandra Clare * * *

I really loved this installment of the series. I can see how originally it must have been meant as a trilogy, like it said on the cover. The ending was really satisfactory and she could have closed it off here.

However, in a way, this addition wasn't as good as the previous two. While I did enjoy it, but some aspects were obvious, and the end dragged. The big fight was hard to follow, and messy.
The best thing about the story was probably getting to know a who city full of Shadowhunters. If they ever make this one into a movie, that is one thing I'd love to see. The sad part of the story was really sad, but it felt unnecessary.

Clary had grown a bit, but not a lot. Wish she had matured a lot more by this point, but she did seem as clueless at times as she did in the first book. There it was understandable. At this point, it should not have been.

Overall, it would have been a satisfying end to the series. I'm reluctant to go on, as I feel it can only go downhill at this point.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, #1) by Cassandra Clare * * * *

I really enjoyed this book. I generally don't like teen books, but this has a style that is easy and fun to read. It also has a colourful world to explore. I've also reviewed the movie, which I didn't like as much as I did the book.
I know there has been some drama with Cassandra Clare, but I don't really get it. I never read her fanfiction, because I only read Drarry, Snarry Harry Potter in the adult category.

The world doesn't have much in the new category. These are all creatures that we've seen before, but I like the way they were put into one world, and how their interactions were built. Some people said the Shadowhunters are like the Slayers in Buffy, but they didn't have such a society, especially since normally there was just one.
As a rule, I don't like romance, but I did like the couple in this. It wasn't too mooning over each other. It is a bit insta-love though. Thankfully, the romance doesn't get realised right away, so we have some UST building up.

Clary Fray I could relate to. Partly because I was raised by a single mother, and I have a similar attachment to my mum, and a need to protect her. She is obviously a Mary Sue, but I don't get why writing yourself into a story is so bad. If people assume characters are totally independent from a writer, people assume wrong.
Jace is a mix of Spike and Draco. Probably why I liked him so much, since those are two of my favourite characters ever. I guess Cassandra agrees with me on that, and that's why she imagined her dream man like him.
The rest of the characters seemed interesting as well. I wanted to get to know them better.

Overall, not as good as the hype. However, I enjoyed the story. It swept me along, and even made me forget I don't like romance. Perhaps it reads a bit like fanfiction, but I read a lot of fanfiction, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012) * * * *

Okay, just got back from The Hunger Games. I rather liked the movie. I'm not going to talk about the actors. No one made glaring mistakes and I haven't read the books, so can't compare. I'm going to discuss the movie style a bit, then the story itself.

The handling of the camera and the general cinematography aspect was rather "fashionable". The shaking during the action and the lots of close-ups are all the rage nowadays. The shaking was a bit overdone. Especially in the beginning. Luckily a bit later it calmed down, because it sometimes makes me nauseous. The close-ups were good, just the right amount at the right moments. Especially because it wasn't 3D. You can't do so many close-ups in 3D nor shake the camera, because the mind can't keep up.

The story was good. I knew to expect a dystopia. As a genre they are usually defined as portraying the worst of all possible worlds. They are also usually critiques of the present society. I could see that very well. I have to constantly change the channel from the various idiotic reality shows that are mostly just porn and a bunch of people pretending so that they can be the most popular. Of course, in The Hunger Games it’s their lives at stake. In dystopias, that is usually the case.

Katniss is the archetypal protagonist of dystopias. She’s the kind of person who is playing along to survive under awful and impossible circumstances. She is generally a good person, someone who doesn’t subscribe to the popular culture. However, the fate of these people is to have their lives changed in a way that they can no longer sit idly by and have to go against the establishment. We could already see that towards the end of the movie and I’m assuming in the following two that is going to be the theme. The only thing I’m wondering about is whether the author followed the genre to the end. The sad thing about dystopias is that the protagonist inevitably fails. The odds are just too great against them. I'm curious to see the story to the end.

Overall, I did enjoy the movie from an intellectual standpoint. I do have to admit that I like dystopias as a whole, so that was my bias.

Later on, I did read the book, in fact, the whole series. The review is also on this site.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Resurrection Casket [Abridged] by Justin Richards (Audiobook) * * *

I've listened to the audiobook version.

The story is sort of interesting. Now the audiobook is abridged, so maybe it's better if I read the whole book, but I had some problems with it. On the one hand I felt that the parts on the planet were very hurried, while the part in space is a lot more detailed. It was also too much running about, and ended up not being all that interesting in the long run. Some elements of the steampunk aspect were nicely used, like when only steam was available or not, but otherwise it seemed a bit forced. The mystery element played out nicely, and the overall story was okay. It just wasn't as exciting as it could have been.

The reading by David Tennant was brilliant as always. Even the way he emulated the steam coming out from the robots was effortless, and sounded genuine.

The original characters didn't make much of an impact on me. Perhaps the ones that I could remember the most were Sally and Jimm. Though that is probably so as they are the two characters most central to the story. As characters, they weren't rounded to me, just plot devices.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Stone Rose by Jacqueline Rayner (Audiobook) * * * * *

I listened to the audiobook version of this. I kind of wished I knew this took place in Ancient Rome, as a few months before listening to this I was actually in Rome.

The story is one of my favourites so far in that it uses time travel. Most of the Doctor Who stories have the Doctor arrive somewhere, and then leave at the end, not really using the Timey-Wimey effect. This story has that, and to me, that makes it more interesting. We don't see as much of Ancient Rome as I would like to, but there is a great scene in the Colosseum. The resolution of the problem is well-thought-out, and I was really curious as to how it would turn out. It was rather a surprise, and I'm not surprised easily.

The story is read out by David Tennant. While I've listened to several stories, I have to say, he is my favourite reader. Of course, he has intimate knowledge of the Doctor, but the was he plays with his voice and the different accents is masterful. Makes me want to seek out more of his audiobooks.