Review: “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card

A review by Brit.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is a very special little boy. At the age of six years old, he is selected to attend “battle school,” an academy for children and pre-teens believed to have innate gifts for strategy and warfare. The planet Earth is at war with a race of aliens nicknamed the “Buggers.” Ender’s the third child in his family, only allowed to be born because his brother Peter was too cruel for battle school and his sister Valentine was too passive. The high-ranking adults of the world think Ender may have the gifts necessary to save the world. In fact, it seems like they’re betting on it.

Once in the battle school, Ender is quickly isolated and pitted against the other students (mostly boys) in the school. The leaders at hand are seeking to make him a leader. He’s a tactical genius who tries to be civil but is ultimately suspicious of anyone who tries to be friendly. Against all odds, Ender gains friends among those the school leaders would deem his subordinates. He grows and develops skills. But he’s soon promoted to higher ranks, reinforcing just how much he is ruled by the adults around him. On the outside, Peter and Valentine are hatching their own plans to help the world… which may or may not involve Ender.

I did my very best to enjoy this book (which I consumed in audiobook format), but all in all the exposition blended in too much with the dialogue. Characters blended together, their speech often sounding the same. The book fell into the unfortunate science fiction stereotype of having too much action and not enough character development for the action to feel meaningful. There were few instances where Ender, his classmates, and siblings actually spoke as if they were the ages they were prescribed. Even genius children still sound like children. I would only recommend this book to those seeking to know more about a science fiction classic. But for someone looking to learn more about science fiction, I would advise them to stay away from Ender’s Game. It will leave you apathetic to Ender and the plight of his world.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “The Legendary Saga” by L.H. Nicole

Review:

A review by Domoni.

The Legendary Saga is an ongoing series by L. H. Nicole that brings King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table into the present time to finish their battle with Mordrid and Morgana.  I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read the first three books in this series.

Legendary: Book One

Aliana is 18 years old and traveling the world for her photography and following her father’s interest in Arthurian Legend. In the two years since her parents died and Aliana discovered she was adopted, she has not stayed in one place for long. But a recurring dream has her seeking out the entrance to Avalon, even if it is just a fairy tale.  When she actually finds her dream image in reality, she stumbles into her destiny. She is The Destined One. Prophecy says she will be the one to awaken King Arthur, reunite the Knights of the Round Table, and help them find Excalibur and their lost relics in order to finally defeat Mordrid and Morgana and save the Realms.

Aliana meets the Lady of the Lake who starts her on her journey and within seven hours she is on her way home with Arthur and Galahad and her guardian, Lord Draggerhorne, her dragon protector. In the parking lot, Lancelot and Percival are waiting for them and fill them in on the reincarnation of most of the knights. The group sets off to find the rest of the knights together in London.

This was an interesting book though there were many things that annoyed me. Aliana was a rather privileged girl, raised with money and a rather pampered lifestyle; her constant victim role bothered me. One moment she was acting like a strong woman, annoyed by the men constantly thinking she was incapable because she was a woman, to acting like a princess who is incapable of anything but being the desired one. From the moment she saved Galahad, a spark of connection has Aliana falling hard for the knight, though she doesn’t realize he is falling for her as well. Nor does she notice how much the golden king admires her. She spends the majority of the first book pouting that the only thing anyone cares about is her fulfilling the prophesy and that she has no other worth. And when the group finally meets up with Mordrid, of course he wants her to be his queen as well.

I enjoyed Aliana learning to use her magic and learning more about her personal demons. Her friendly banter and interaction with Dragg and the knights as well as her best friend Lacy had depth and kept the story moving along.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

Claiming Excalibur: Book Two

Claiming Excalibur by L.H. Nicole

As Aliana and the knights recover from their battle with Mordrid and Morgana, Aliana has another dream. She sees a book her father owned that could point to the location of Excalibur. So Aliana, Dragg, Lacy and the eight knights fly to North Carolina to the home Aliana grew up in to find her father’s book and continue the Destined One’s quest. Aliana fills her other best friend, Dawn, in on the truth about the group of men and Dawn joins the quest to defeat Mordrid and Morgana. Locating the book has the knights traveling to the Isle of the Blessed to locate the sword. Not only do they find Excalibur, but they locate the ruined Camelot.

In this story Aliana and Galahad’s relationship is in full swing. Lacy and Percival are also coupling and it appears Dawn and Wade, the reincarnated Gawain, are also falling for each other. So there is more romance in this book. The addition of another childhood friend does not really serve the story well though. The three girls together are flighty and superficial 18 year olds. Aside from the flirting, Lacy and Dawn’s main roles seem to be to say, you can’t stop me from coming.

Aliana continues to deny that Arthur is interested in her but the tension between the king and his knight mounts. Each appearance of Queen Titania escalates that tension. It seems when she created the spell that saved Arthur, she had plans for the Destined One. We learn that Aliana is a descendant of Titania and so she is half Fae. There also seems to be some sort of magic affecting Galahad that makes him go crazy when Aliana is threatened.

The group locates the sword and returns to the mortal realm. A confrontation between Aliana, Arthur, and Galahad has Aliana running and she ends up captured by Mordrid. He had captured two people she cares for and so to secure their release, she agrees to stay with him and even agrees to a kiss. The kiss adds further confusion to Aliana’s troubled relationship status. Queen Titania appears and saves Aliana from Mordrid and Morgana and sends her on to continue her quest to fulfill the prophecy by finding the lost relics.

I actually liked this story less than the first. There was a lot more superficial content that was rather boring. I was hoping for more depth of characters in the second book but was left wanting.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Relics of Camelot: Book Three

Relics of Camelot by L.H. Nicole

Aliana has been missing for two weeks. The knights finally discover that Queen Titania sent her to the past and to Camelot. So Aliana is in Camelot with her knights, but they do not know her. She has to search out the way to find the Holy Grail and how to get home. The knights, left behind, devise a plan to find Aliana and continue on their quest. They split up, some going to Avalon, some to the Isle of the Blessed. Since Merlin and Lancelot are still banished from those realms, they will seek out Olympus and any further information on the grail.

This story fills in depth to the characters by showing us their past. I enjoyed Morgana’s story especially. Learning more about who the knights were before the spell that froze them was interesting. I still wasn’t thrilled with Aliana’s inability to chose between the men who loved her. Though I do feel as though Aliana is growing as a character, she is still young and entitled with a tendency to play the victim.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

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Review: “The Ghost Chronicles” by Marlo Berliner

A review by Domoni.

I would like to thank the author for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Michael is your average American Teenage Jock. He’s about to graduate from high school and go on to play basketball in college. He has taken on the role of man of the house since his father’s death two years previously. Michael tries to keep his younger brother in line and help his mom keep things running smoothly. He has a steady girlfriend of two years and he thinks he is invincible. He’s not though. Driving over to pick up his girlfriend Melissa, Michael’s Mustang is struck head on by a semi whose driver fell asleep at the wheel. Now Michael is dead but he hasn’t moved on.

This was a difficult story for me to get into. It was slow with not much direction. I didn’t like Michael from the beginning. He was a rather narcissistic character. There’s a scene early on where he’s getting ready to go pick up Melissa. He showers then dresses in his name brand shirt with his name brand cologne telling himself how he could have any girl he wants and how they all want to sleep with him, but he is a great guy because he is being patient with his girlfriend and not pressuring her into sex. Even after he is dead, Michael acts like the rules don’t apply to him and one of his stated regrets is not having sex with Melissa.

While trying to discover why he is still on earth, Michael meets a few other ghosts along the way. Tom is an older man who acts as a mentor to Michael, teaching him about how to travel and protect himself. Sarah is a young female ghost about Michael’s age that he spends time with and evolves into a relationship. Then there is Matt, a ghost that is turning demon, whose job it is to collect Michael and take him to hell. These characters are well defined and I enjoyed their interactions with Michael.

Tom tries to guide Michael and even takes him to meet The Elders. The Elders are like a governing body for spirits and they tell Michael the rules to being a ghost.  One of the main rules is not to fall in love with another ghost; Michael completely ignores this one. His relationship with Sarah develops intensely even though he knows this will keep her from moving on and could destroy them both.  

The author creates a vivid world around the characters but the story lacked a goal. I kept reading and waiting to see what the whole point was supposed to be. The ending was simply infuriating because nothing whatsoever was resolved or explained. It was the most awkward ending I have read in recent memory. Not a cliffhanger or anything resembling closure, it just ended like the book was missing another chapter or five.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Fight Club 2” by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

"Fight Club 2" by Chuck Palahniuk and David Mack

A review by Domoni.

Fight Club 2 picks up 10 years after the original ended. Sebastian, the nameless narrator from the first book, is now married to Marla and they have a son. Living a basic 9 to 5 lifestyle, full of work, family and psychiatric medications, his fight club days are long past. Marla however feels like their love life has gotten a little boring, so she has been switching out some of his meds for placebos. A little bit of Tyler Durden in the night keeps her happy. But crazy slips easily through the cracks. Tyler is back and up to no good.

Many people in the world, not just Marla, were out to bring Tyler back from Sebastian’s subconscious. Tyler Durden is a genetic mental illness that can spread apparently. He is still plotting the end of the world and can control not just Sebastian, but Sebastian and Marla’s son as well. When he kidnaps the boy the parents go separate ways to find him.

Sebastian returns to the club. He infiltrates the group to find out where Tyler is holding his son and what his plans are. Marla goes back to a support group. She connects with a group of kids with Progeria and manipulates them into becoming her own tiny aged army. When the boy is located and Tyler’s plan to create his own sort of Noah’s ark comes out, will they save the planet?

So this sequel is in graphic novel form, which I was excited about. Reading it in the serials will probably be more difficult than the full omnibus edition though, because this book is kind of a mess. I was very let down by the chaos and the poor storyline. The writer injecting himself in such an odd way and addressing his readers dislike of the series was even more odd.

Even discussing the book is difficult as it was all over the place and chaotic to read. I did not enjoy it and doubt I will return for the proposed fight club 3. The last portion of the omnibus edition contains some interesting art and bits from the original as well as conversations about the planning of the books and was somewhat interesting to read through.

The art style was very impressive and my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed the line work and the watercolor dividers. I wish the story had held up as well as the graphics.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “Green Hornet #1: Bully Pulpit” by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

Green Hornet, Bully Pulpit by Mark Waid and Daniel Indro

 A review by Courtney.

This volume came in a Comic Bento Box that I had to order because it was curated by Gail Simone. Gail is one of my favorite comic writers so I had to buy the box. I also wanted to try reading a comic with a male protagonist who has a male bestie to interact with. In the Green Hornet movie, I particularly enjoyed the banter between Green Hornet and Cato and was hoping something similar would be present in the comic as well.

Green Hornet starts off the volume by showing us that his alter ego, Brett Reid, is capable of controlling the city by the newspaper stories he chooses to print. Brett is the publisher of the newspaper the Daily Sentinel, one of the most respected newspapers in the city. Brett is able to alter stories and the way things are running in the city by appearing as the Green Hornet and witnessing the events first hand that he chooses to write about. Brett’s goal is to have Green Hornet appear as a criminal mastermind to the head gangsters of the city so he can maintain control easier. Cato serves as Brett’s trusted bodyguard/chauffeur until Cato believes that Brett is crossing too many of the wrong lines to maintain his control.

I wanted to like this book, I really did, especially when I found out that there were supposed to be pulp fiction-y noir vibes about it. Noir films are some of my favorite and occasionally I would get those vibes from the book during one of Brett’s long internal monologues; it wasn’t often enough to keep my interest. I was also hoping for chummy witty dialogue between Brett and Cato and that was missing as well. I wanted to know more about the relationship between Cato and Brett and I never got it. Occasionally I was drawn into the story, but I never really felt like I cared about any of the characters enough to want to know what would happen to them next.

The art in this book was okay, but nothing amazing. If the book had been in black and white with pops of green color, that could have helped give it the noir feel they were going for; but they didn’t.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Compare and Contrast: “Ella the Slayer”by A.W. Exley

"Ella The Slayer" b A.W. Exley

A review by Domoni. Read Maria’s take here!

In the early 20th century, the flu epidemic tore through England killing many. As the people try to recover from such a huge loss, a new plague comes in to wreak havoc on the people. Those who died are coming home. Much like the pest that many blamed for spreading the flu, their bites  are spreading this new plague. The country is overrun but their morals have many believing that killing these previously dead people will  send their souls into damnation. When Ella kills one, she opens the door to being the one damned soul in her village that can kill the vermin and save everyone else. Until the duke returns to his family lands to lead the war on the undead. Spoilers will appear in this review

I was excited to read this book. A reinterpretation of Cinderella with zombies, it was right up my ally. It was pretty clear within the first couple of chapters this book was like someone took Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and combined it with Ever After: A Cinderella Story.  Ella’s Mother died when she was young. Her father remarries a cruel woman only interested in money. He returns from the war in a near vegetative state leaving the stepmother to relegate Ella to a servants status. When Ella accidentally meets and nearly decapitates the Duke, she hides her real identity from him. Though of course it wouldn’t be much of a story if he didn’t pursue her. Fascinated by a woman willing to battle the undead he begins to attempt to court Ella. They bond over their love of fast cars and the ability to battle the vermin and eventually fall for each other.

Ella’s stepmother is of course scheming to have her eldest foul daughter marry the Duke and Ella must hide her forbidden love from her family. Typical cinderella shenanigans ensue and in the end, of course Ella gets her man. Then they must race to battle the Undead herd and its hive-like queen. After the battle ends, a dirty and resolved Ella returns home to evict her evil stepmother and finds her trying to murder her father. She defends him and in the process infects her stepmother with queen zombie toxic blood. This is where the story really lost me.  In what appears to be an attempt to lead into a sequel she lets her evil infected stepmother leave to go out and munch on random people and none of the soldiers or people who just eradicated the horde stop her.

I wanted to love this book but it had so many similarities to the two stories I mentioned above and quite a few moments that made you question the characters and the author herself that I am not sure it will bring me back for a second book. The first half of the book was great but the second half left me with a lingering disappointment.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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Review: “A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles #4)” By Gena Showalter

"A Mad Zombie Party (White Rabbit Chronicles #4)" By Gena Showalter

 A review by Domoni.

Ali Bell and the slayers put everything into defeating Anima, losing people they loved and constantly facing injury or death. They thought they had finally won, even though that victory cost them more than they thought they could pay. Frosty has lost his way. The formidable slayer doesn’t know how to go on after losing the one thing that meant everything to him.  His friends are all worried but nothing they say or do makes a difference. When Kat comes to him he thinks he may be able to pick up the pieces after all. He would do anything for her, anything for her time and smile. When she tells him to save Camilla Marks, the woman he blames for everything, he has to push through the anger to let go of the pain.

This is the fourth novel in the White Rabbit Chronicles. If you haven’t read them, they are an interesting take on zombies. The first three books focus more on Ali Bell and Cole Holland. Their relationship and Ali’s special abilities are the main focus of the stories.  This book’s focus on Frosty was not what I was expecting.  Frosty is a strong character though, and after his loss I knew that there would be a need to focus on how he dealt with that loss. Though for me, this book felt strange. I really feel like it would have served better as a first story in a secondary series.  In a few ways it felt like it was written by a different author all together, one that was not as familiar with the first three books.

To start with, Ali Bell’s personality was vastly different in this book. It was like she had become Kat. She was more quick on the ball with vain sarcasm. Perhaps this could be attributed to the evolution of the character, but it seems to have happened at some point between books. Only a few months passed between books and suddenly Reeve is filling the role of doctor and scientist in the place of her father, yet these kids haven’t finished high school. Then we bring in Camilla Marks; this is the part that made it hard for me to finish the book. Ali used her ability to remove Camilla’s memories in the third book. Readers have been shown previously how the memories can be recovered, however the author never addresses it. She mentions River banished Camilla for what she did, but never mentions how she has recovered her memories. I really felt like I was reading a confused fanfic. Which made me sad because I loved the three previous books.

My rating: 2/5 stars.

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