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Monday, September 29, 2014

Sonic Saga 1: Darkest Storm

The Darkest Storm rolls in when it's announced the Ancient Walkers are fading from existence, the Destructix come to steal the Chaos Emerald, Mammoth Mogul and Ixis Nagus are released from captivity, and Eggman returns with his destructive machines.

Fiona Leaks information on Rouge the Bat before her arrival, and she is joined by some other unexpected arrivals, familiar enemies: Scourge and Sleuth.

Knuckles refuses the Call of Duty to return back to his home Angel Island. A mysterious Chaotix Connection emerges when the newest amusement, a casino opens in Stations Square.

The Ties that Bind Snively to his uncle, Eggman, are stronger than even he expects. And finally Sonic is cursed to repeat the same day over and over in Hedgehog Day.

The Darkest Storm contains intertwined plotlines and characters, which could have been enjoyable; unfortunately, I felt James Fry's cringeworthy illustrations, best described as sketchy and unfinished, detracted greatly from the story.

While the Leak illustrations by Tracy Yardley were much better, the story was only a way to create relationship drama. First between Rouge and Julie-Su over Knuckles and second between Sonic, Scourge, and Tails over Fiona. Both of which are forced and uninteresting.

Call of Duty gives insight into what is going on on Angel Island during Knuckles' and the Chaotix absence and also reveals the tension between Knuckles' and his father.

The Chaotix Connection was an interesting homage to the early issues involving the Chaotix with the inclusion of Renfield T. Rodent and references to poisoned food. While short, I did find it entertaining merely for the references.

Ties that Bind was short with the sole purpose of moving Snively back into ranks with his uncle Eggman. And Hedgehog Day is a story with a bit of humor for the reader.

An okay read, but not something I'd pick up again.

Books in the series:
Sonic Saga 2: Order From Chaos
Sonic Saga 3: Eggman Empire
Sonic Saga 4: House of Cards

Friday, September 26, 2014

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? - Karyl McBride

The majority of parent-child relationship have heartache, but the relationship between a mother with narcissistic traits with her daughter can be extreme. Breaking her book into three parts, McBride shares her story, the story of other women, and ideas on how to heal.

Part 1: "Recognizing the Problem". In the first chapter, McBride presents the nine traits of narcissism along with examples and at the end of the chapter she gives a list of 33 questions concerning how mother and daughter interact to help identify if the mother may be a narcissist or at least have narcissistic traits. The remaining chapters in part one expand on the narcissistic family dynamic using examples from her own clients, and include the behavior or mothers, spouses, and children.

Part 2: "How Narcissistic Mothering Affects Your Entire Life" explains how certain personality traits, relationship patterns, and more are reflections of a woman's experience as a daughter of a narcissist. While the result can be vastly different, a chronic overachiever versus a chronic underachiever, the symptom is apparent. Codependency and toxic relationships that echo the bond between mother and daughter are often apparent.

Part 3: "Ending the Legacy" provides a three step recovery model that provides many options for women to seek healing with or without the cooperation or accessibility of her mother. Many of these techniques are found in other self-help books, but these are tailored to the particular challenges of narcissistic mothers.

By providing actual examples from clients and herself along with features and symptoms, McBride makes the material easy to relate. Although some some readers may find their own experiences were much more violent or extreme, they will still find familiarity with the events described. While many books that focus on "toxic" family members contain the same material, the focus on narcissism will help with the specific problem. This is a comprehensive and accessible read that many women will find helpful.

Recommended Reads:
Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life - Susan Forward
The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling - Jeanne Safer Ph. D.
Broken Toys, Broken Dreams: Understanding and Healing Codependency, Compulsive Behaviors and Family - Terry Kellogg

Monday, September 22, 2014

When the Drummers Were Women - Layne Redmond

Music is well-known to move people and it has been used in matters of religion and worship as far back as is recorded. The oldest known instruments are rhythm instruments, like drums. Redmond notes that many of the goddess statues found around the world are seen holding a disc and suggests that these may have actually been drums. Redmond takes the reader on a journey to following civilization from Sumeria and up into Europe to explore the uses of drums and the sacred place that women once held within religion and society throughout time.

With the title I thought I would be reading more information on how drumming or even at least music related to women throughout cultures and religions; instead, she spends the majority of the book simply talking about religion and how it related to women.

I also had qualms with a particular piece of information Redmond decided to repeat with the bull symbolizing the female reproductive system because they look the same. This is unlikely seeing as ancient cultures did not have the tools to do autopsies to discover that information. It seems more likely that the bull may have simply been a horned cow.

I was originally excited to read this book, thinking I would learn more about music and how it related to women throughout time; instead, I read undetailed and familiar information that I've read in any number of books. Despite it's 200 pages, it was a quick read due to writing style. If you're familiar with religion and women as a topic, this won't present you with any new information. If you are just starting out, however, this is an accessible book.

Recommended Reads:
Goddesses and the Divine Feminine: A Western Religious History - Rosemary Ruether
Priestess, Mother, Sacred Sister - Susan Starr Sered

Friday, September 19, 2014

Silver Shadows - Richelle Mead

Raised as an Alchemist, Sydney was taught that despite the fact that vampires were evil beings, she needed to cover up their activities in order to protect normal human beings from the ongoing war between the Moroi (natural vampires) and Strigoi (undead vampires). When its discovered that she not only has grown to like her charges, the vampires, but has actually fallen in love with one, she is abducted and taken to a "Reeducation Center", where the Alchemists hope to show her the error of her ways.

Adrian, her lover, is well aware Sydney has been spirited away by the Alchemists. Without proof though, Lissa, the current Queen, refuses to send anybody to look for her. Unable to contact Sydney even through dreams as he normally would, he falls deeper into depression and begins self-medicating with alcohol again. When his mother finds out about his brooding, she has no words of comfort; instead, she insists that love isn't real, which brings him even more turmoil.

Trapped in an underground facility with no tools and under constant surveillance, Sydney stands little chance of getting free. If she can just get a hold of somebody on the outside, maybe she can go back into the world. Even if she does, though, she'll be a fugitive.

Readers should be warned of torture scenes that include sensory deprivation, medical intervention, and others. Although the scenes are not too detailed, they are certainly disturbing. I thought the swapping point of view between Sydney and Adrian actually worked well in this particular novel, as it told the reader what was going on inside the facility and what was going on in the Moroi world. The pacing was well-done and it was an enjoyable read overall. Seeing a bit more "magic" being utilized was also interesting. I'm looking forward to the next book.

Books in the Series:
Bloodlines (Book 1)
The Golden Lily
The Indigo Spell

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sonic the Hedgehog: Countdown to Chaos

Side by side with his best buddy Tails, Sonic faces off against a foe he's never encountered before that Tails insists has been defeated once before. That's when Sonic becomes suspicious. When he touches Nicole's console, an advanced AI, his mind suddenly fills with memories, including the ones Tails previously related. When Tails comes in contact with her, he is shocked with the memories revealed to him, the ones that Sonic previously remembered.

Something isn't right and the duo intends to get to the bottom of it. Nicole thinks that if she completes the circuit with each of the Freedom Fighters, she will be able to figure out the mystery behind the mixed up world and the unusual seismic activity.

As each of the Freedom Fighters, Antoine, Rotor, Bunnie, Sally, and Amy-Rose, comes in contact with Nicole the situation becomes apparent, but what can they do to save their collapsing world?

Starting with issue 252, readers find character appearance revamps for Rotor, Sally, Bunnie and Antoine, which keeps to their original basic designs, but changes them so they better match the character design that Sonic, Tails, and Amy-Rose have been following the newest video game designs for years. I think that the updated looks help bring the world together.

I am excited to see the departure from the soap opera drama that has been going on for years and a return to the adventure and character driven plots that I once loved about this comic and the television series. I will be renewing my subscription to this comic after reluctantly departing from it years ago. I hope other readers will enjoy the refreshing changes I unexpectedly found upon reading this collection featuring issues 252-256.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Josef Mengele - John Grabowski

Josef Mengele is a well-known figure of the Nazi occupation of Europe as The Angel of Death, a man who not only sent thousands of people to their deaths, but also conducted horrific experiments on them.

This book details Mengele's life, including his childhood, his experiments in Auschwitz, and his life after fleeing the country as a war criminal. Being a book aimed for juveniles means that the accounts are not too detailed; however, simple descriptions of transplanting eyes and injecting eyes with pigment may be disturbing to the reader.

This is an informative and short read about the man responsible for thousands of deaths and tortures.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Od Magic - Patricia A. McKillip

Brenden Vetch has a special gift that allows him to work with plants of all sorts. He spend days in the woods without uttering a single word, unperturbed by the lack of human contact. One day he has a strange encounter with the wizard Od, who invites him to become the Gardner of her school in the capital city, Kelior.

When he arrives, he finds himself at the center of an unexpected controversy. Invited as a simple gardener to the school, he is not reported to the king, but when the king discovers Brenden has magic, he demands to know why his presence was kept from him. Brenden is not the only one keeping magic from the king, however, which causes even more trouble. It turns out that a traveling entertainer may have magic, too. And, even more disturbing, the king discovers his own daughter has been keeping secrets from him, as well.

This is the second book I read by McKillip, and I feel the same way about this one as a did Bards of the Bone Plain. Even though her books have interesting ideas and settings, the plots and characters are written in such a ponderous way that even upon conclusion I am left feeling unfulfilled.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Parenting Without Borders - Christine Gross-Loh Ph.D

When raising her two children in Japan, Christine found that the Japanese parents had a different way of raising children compared to those in the United States; in fact, she found that Japanese society treated them differently, as well. When she first brings her children to yōchien, kindergarten, she is surprised and appalled by how the children are seemingly allowed to run wild.

She discovers that children as young as 4 and 5 are allowed to do many things on their own without adult supervision, like going to the park or picking up a loaf of bread from the bakery in Japan. When she starts researching, she finds that countries like Germany and Sweden have similar customs. She discovers in some countries, instead of fences there are merely ropes on the ground to mark the boundaries of the school yard.

The lack of supervision and apparent disregard for children bothers her, until she takes the time to speak to members of these areas to learn why they do things the way they do. At first they aren't sure what to make of her questions, but after she explains her own concerns they are able to articulate the reasons. Children in yōchien are largely left to their own devices to teach them to interact and solve their own problems. The use of a rope, instead of a fence, teaches self-restraint and responsibility. What other customs differ from America, the country where she was raised?

While the author lauds the customs of many countries when it comes to raising children, she also notes that these customs come with their own challenges in those societies. In the end, she concludes that a mixture of customs would probably be best. Readers will learn about how societies raise their children when it comes to education, health, sleep, chores, responsibility, and much more along with the reasons why. I enjoyed this insight into different ways of parenting.

Recommended Reading:
Free-Range Kids - Lenore Skenazy
NurtureShock - Po Bronson, Ashley Merryman
Simplicity Parenting - Kim John Payne, Lisa M. Ross

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sonic Universe 5: The Tails Adventure

Collecting issues 17-20 of the Sonic Universe comic series, this graphic novel adapts the events that take place in the "Tails Adventure" for Game Gear.

When Bunnie and Antoine announce they are looking for a secluded place to have their honeymoon, Tails offers his private island hide out as their get away. While the couple is enjoying their romance, Tails is busy up in his workshop with repairs and new projects. But their relaxing vacation is interrupted by the Battle Bird Armada, who have invaded Cocoa Island and aren't pleased with the interlopers.

Bunnie and Antoine get captured, but Bunnie's quick thinking allows her to gain inside information in order to bring down the Armada. Meanwhile one of the members of the Armada takes personal offense to Tails ability to explore the skies. The three Freedom Fighters must somehow manage to take down the entire Armada and their machines.

I have mixed feelings about this collection. I like the art style and coloring, which in the past has been an issue for me with the Archie series. I was amused by the references to previous issues and cartoons, such as the reference to the episode "Hooked on Sonics" about using butter versus margarine. Unfortunately the dialogue is littered with corny one liners and bad puns. I also thought it was weird that even after all Tails has done on his own in the comic series, even if you skip back to the timeline this is supposed to take place in, Tails is treated like a child instead of the full member of the Freedom Fighters he is.

While I enjoyed it, it's not something I would read again.

Related media:
Sonic Select 8: Tails - Southern Crossover
Tails Adventure - Game Gear