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Friday, October 31, 2014

Sonic Saga 4: House of Cards

After the destruction of Knothole Village, Nicole brings all of the villagers to New Mobotropolis. Even with Nicole's advanced shielding capabilities, the Freedom Fighters and Chaotix discover they will have to defend their Home New Home from Dr. Eggman and his ilk.

New Mobotropolis is about to come down like A House of Cards. Amadeus Prower, Tails' father, leads a revolt against King Alias, Knuckles leaves to return to his troubled homeland, and recent events come to a head between Sonic and Tails between political disagreements and personal betrayals.

After the warning from Dimitri, an ancient echidna scientist, announces Enerjak's return Sonic, Eggman, Scourge, and the Chaotix make Preparations for War.

And in a special bonus story, readers are transported to issue 129, where Sonic first meets Tails' mother and father in space.

Seeing Princess Sally back in the leadership role of the Freedom Fighters and up for action was deeply satisfying to me. And watching the Kingdom of Acorn change from monarchy to something else was interesting. Since Enerjak was the enemy in the original Knuckles' mini-series, I'm curious to see what they do with his return in this new story arc.

Books in the Series:
Sonic Saga 1: Darkest Storm
Sonic Saga 2: Order from Chaos
Sonic Saga 3: Eggman Empire

Monday, October 27, 2014

Nocturnes - Kazuo Ishiguro

A washed up Crooner takes his wife to Italy on a romantic get away. Tony Gardner invites a musician to accompany him on a canal boat where he parks outside and serenades his wife one last time, in an attempt to get her to cancel the divorce. The plight of fame, fortune, and talent is wrapped up in this one short story.

Come Rain or Come Shine Ray thought he would always be best friend with his college friends Charlie and Emily. Every year he comes to visit them, and they normally have a good time. But this time they're both busy and leave him alone in the house, where he manages to get himself into a lot of trouble. This story is supposed to be humorous, but it was so forgettable that I had to go back and skim it to remember this story was even in here.

After failing to join a band after so many auditions, a young guitarist flees to Malvern Hills for retreat. He stays with his sister, where he helps with their cafe to pay for his keep. There he meets a foreign couple, who changes his outlook on his prospects. Both moving and depressing, I enjoyed this piece that tells of the struggle of musicians.

In Nocturne a saxophonist finds himself in the hospital recovering from plastic surgery, where he meets Lindy, the former wife of Tony Gardner in the first story. Despite his misgivings, he ends up getting close to Lindy and going on misadventures in their hotel. I didn't have too many feelings about this one.

When Tibor is approached by an American woman who claims she can improve his playing, he is both insulted and intrigued. These to Cellists get together every day over a period of time. She listens, critiques, and then has him play again. He can feel his skills improving, but then he realizes something amiss. Although she claims to be a virtuoso, she has never played for him. This is a story of discouraged perfectionism many people may be able to relate to.

I liked Crooner, Malvern Hills, and Cellists the most out of this collection of short stories because they tell of the plight of the musician and how difficult it is to breakthrough. As mentioned, Come Rain or Come Shine was completely forgettable and something just wasn't there with Nocturne.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Like Water for Chocolate - Laura Esquivel

Tita, the youngest daughter of the ranch, is doomed to a life of servitude under her mother Mama Elena due to long-standing tradition. When her lover Pedro asks for her hand in marriage, Mama Elena denies his proposal; instead, she offers Rosaura, one of the older daughters. Pedro agrees, leaving Tita heartbroken and betrayed. She will not only have to prepare the wedding feast, she will also have to see Pedro every day when he moves onto the ranch.

Pedro insists he still loves Tita and assures her the only reason he married Rosaura was to stay close to her. Although she believes him, she is constantly tormented seeing him interact with Rosaura, have children, and continue to avoid her in daily interactions.

Dr. John saves her from madness and insists she is her own woman. But more trials await Tita before she can finally be free to live as she pleases.

It took several chapters for me to get into the novel. Tita seemed too obliging and perfect, while Mama Elena seemed unrealistically overbearing. The narration style also makes it difficult for me to get into the story. It's mostly bland, interrupted by recipe instructions, and only occasionally seems to get into Tita's emotions. About half-way through the novel, Tita's emotions come to the surface, making the reading more immersive. The conflict Tita faces is a real threat that so many women face, even today. Tradition or self? Image or desire? Patience or gratification? In the end I found myself relating to Tita in my own way.

Recommended Reads:
The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Flowers for Algernon - Daniel Keyes

Monday, October 20, 2014

House of Darkness, House of Light Vol 2 - Andrea Perron

The Perrons left their life in the city to move into a small town. The farm house their mother Carolyn purchased had enough rooms for the large family, so that each had her own room. The lot was so large they had a river to tramp through, fields to explores, forests to wander, and hills to climb. Everything about the place seemed so perfect, until the strange incidents began happening. Overly high electricity bills, flies coming out of nowhere, strange voices heard, and general discontent that they never had in their previous house.

Andrea, the eldest of the sisters collects the tales of terror and woe experienced at the behest of the strange beings who also inhabit the farmhouse. Included in this volume are further details of the interception of supernatural and demonology experts Ed and Lorraine Warren who worked with them, visited the house, and performed seances and cleansings in an attempt to free them of the dangerous demons.

The first volume largely focused on Carolyn's point of view with sprinkles of experiences from the girls. The second volume largely focuses on the rest of the family's experiences with the haunting. I was looking forward to reading about the experiences with the Warren's; however, I found they weren't detailed enough to be all that interesting. Even though the stories jumped from person to person throughout the book, I felt the author could have done a better job of creating continuity.

Despite the flaws, I enjoyed reading this second volume in a series of true life haunting.

Books in the Series:
House of Darkness, House of Light Volume 1
House of Darkness, House of Light Volume 3

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan

Rand al'Thor has lived all his life in the village of Emond's Field along the Two Rivers as a sheepherder with his father. Although his mother passed away long ago, his father refuses to marry despite Rand's support in the matter.

Instead of having a spring festival, the village falls prey to enemies. An unexpected ally comes in the form of an Aes Sedai, a wielder of magic, who takes Rand and several of his friends away from the village to save them from further attacks.

Moiraine Damodred and her Warder Al'Lan Mandragoran take Rand and his friends on an incredible journey through lands they'd never dreamed of seeing. Followed by enemies every step of the way, they are constantly met with threats and danger.

I recall attempting to read this book back in High School when my friends were into it, but I put it down after the first few chapters. I listened to the audiobook this time and I still felt like quitting at about the same point. The writing is long-winded without being interesting. The characters often wax on with what I think is supposed to be pearls of wisdom, but it's not formulated in a catching way.

While I expect certain tropes to appear in epic fantasy this one were so formulaic I knew exactly what was coming. I was constantly reminded of The Fellowship of the Ring while listening, as the sequence of events followed it so closely. Evil creatures chasing them down, cursed treasure, single-minded possessed follower, lost friends, long abandoned tunnels used as transportation, and the Ogier was nearly an exact copy to the Ents from Tolkien's work.

I understand the appeal of this novel with the popular theme of reincarnation, historic recurrence, and fate; however, I didn't enjoy it.

Books in the Series:
The Great Hunt
The Dragon Reborn
The Shadow Rising

Recommended Reads:
The Lord of the Rings
The Belgariad
Soldier Son

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sonic Saga 3: Eggman Empire

When Antoine proposes to Bunnie, drama inevitably ensues. Though, that's the least of their worries. Dr. Eggman comes at Sonic with his strongest machine yet, built to match Sonic in speed and strength. While Sonic is busy fighting Eggman, Eggman's transporter beam whisks all of the members of Knothole Village to the Egg Grapes, where he'll be able to harness their lives for power.

If Sonic doesn't save his friends, they will be die. But with Knothole Village completely destroyed where will they retreat? With Tails, Knuckles, and Amy-Rose at his side, Sonic hopes to free his friends from Eggman and somehow find a new place to hide.

This also includes mini-stories about the mysterious creatures called Chao from "Sonic Adventure", a story about Rouge the bat selling the Master Emerald, and finally a short containing Blaze as a precursor to the Sonic Universe: Treasure Team Tango Arc.

During the confrontation between Sonic and Eggman I was impressed with how the writers had Eggman taunt Sonic with heartfelt matters, but many of those circumstances wouldn't be known to Sonic's enemy so they were ridiculous in my mind. The reminder of the absurd love 'triangle' between Mina, Fiona, Sally, and Sonic reminded me why I stopped my subscription to the comic almost 50 issues before this one takes place (#173-176). I was dissatisfied with the overall content, but the brief glimpse of Sonic's humanity during the battle was nice.

Book in the Series:
Sonic Saga 1: Darkest Storm
Sonic Saga 2: Order from Chaos
Sonic Saga 5: House of Cards

Friday, October 10, 2014

Sonic Saga 2: Order From Chaos

When Tommy Turtle leaves Knothole, he leaves a path of destruction in his wake. He stole Sonic's guitar, destroyed Tails' latest project, and cleaned Rotor's petri dishes of Nanites. First Bunnie's robotic limbs go haywire and then Sonic's father kidnaps Tails', leading Sonic and the gang to the conclusion that maybe Tommy isn't the one at fault. It only gets worse when they discover that Shadow is being used as a pawn in the plot, as well. If they act smart, maybe Sonic, Shadow, and Tails can bring Order to Chaos.

In two separate mini-stories, Antoine learns the meaning of Courage and Honor when faced with the pending death of his father and Espio's willing to do just about anything for a friend.

With all the Comings and Goings in Knothole lately, Princess Sally, Sonic, and Tails all have a lot of emotions to work through.

I Am is something Shadow doesn't know and he's determined to find out. After recovering the disc containing his past, he brings it back to Knothole, only to discover its damaged. With Nicole's help he may still be able to discover his past.

Knuckles' father warned him that Angel Island was under attack from multiple enemies, but it's only gotten worse since The Enforcers make their move.

Any matters belonging to the Truth of the Heart get Amy-Rose going, but when she finds out Fiona's been cheating on Sonic, she decides to give Fiona a wallop. Only she may not get a chance to fulfill her mission when Fiona's other lover arrives. In a mini-story Amy-Rose goes out to train with Julie-Su in pursuit of discovering if Sonic is Worth the Effort.

Aside from Enforcers the stories in this collection contained emotional matters, including death, betrayal, and love. I felt with more detail hashing they could have been much more effective, but they are good for what they are.

Books in the Series:
Sonic Saga 1: Darkest Storm
Sonic Saga 3: Eggman Empire
Sonic Saga 4: House of Cards

Monday, October 6, 2014

Interlude - Reading with Cats 3

I always read a bit before I go to sleep. Since I didn't have to work the next day I stayed up late reading The Walking Dead on this particular night. According to my cat it was time for bed. In order to illustrate this he dubbed himself my bookmark.

You didn't miss anything. I just forgot to schedule this entry. :)

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Scarecrow of Oz - L. Frank Baum

When a girl named Trot and Cap'n Bill, a man with a wooden leg, get washed overboard, they suddenly find themselves in the fairyland of Oz. Their adventures lead them to meet unusual creatures like Orks, experience size changes, and even save a princess in the kingdom of Jinxland with the help of the Scarecrow.

Children and parents will delight in these simple adventures through the land of Oz with exciting characters and events.

Recommended Reads:
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster