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Friday, May 29, 2015

Heaven's Shadow - David S. Goyer

A strange object makes its way toward earth and eventually orbits there, as if waiting. NASA sends a team to investigate the object, but when they arrive they find they aren't the only ones there to investigate. The Russian-Indian-Brazilian Coalition has sent their own team to discover what secrets the object holds.

Although the environment is hostile toward their technology, they find that it seems to be friendly to them as life forms. As they delve furthers into the object more secrets are revealed through the use of familiar faces that will haunt them for the rest of their days. Can the teams manage to get back to earth to bring the news of their discovery? Or will they perish on this foreign plane?

This well-written sci-fi contained mystery and drama that kept me looking forward to my commute every day. Each of the characters had their own past to wrestle with as they dealt with the danger at hand. I look forward to reading the next books in the series.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Sonic the Hedgehog: The Chase

Sonic and his friends recently came to a reawakening in their new world, which is crumbling right in front of their eyes. While Princess Sally remains in the Sky Patrol to lead with the assisted vision of T-Pup and Omochao, the rest of the Freedom Fighters, Sonic, Tails, and Amy-Rose, Rotor, Bunnie, and Antoine go out to save the citizens of Station Square from the flooding city. The duel memories are causing trouble for everybody, but especially Sonic who is edging closer to madness.

When Dr. Robotnik kidnaps Uncle Chuck and several other scientists, the Freedom Fighters must Chase them down in the secured train. Traps and enemies await them.

In the final section, the new origin stories for each of the characters is revealed.

Sally's is probably the least changed showing her childhood as Princess, her escape from Mobotropolis, and her consequent rise to leadership in Knothole village. Antoine's story reveals how he became fostered at the palace, how his relationships developed, and finally his development into the soldier his father always wanted him to be. Multiple origin stories for Bunnie's half-robot body have run throughout the various Sonic series, one reveals Bunnie to have been captured by Robotnik, while another shows it to be an accident. This version reveals a doctor making a last ditch effort to save her life through the robotification process. Rotor's origin has always remained a mystery, so the addition of his family background and his early tinkering is a welcome addition to his character.

This reboot continues to be enjoyable as it ties in the video game elements along with the comic series own elements. I look forward to each addition when I pick up this series.

Books in the Series:
Sonic the Hedgehog: Countdown to Chaos
Sonic the Hedgehog: Waves of Change
Sonic the Hedgehog: Control

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Invisibles - Grant Morrison

Dane McGowan is your typical rebellious teenager causing trouble in school, as well as out on the street. He thinks he's a tough kid, until he commits a crime that gets him thrown into Harmony House, a rehabilitation center with an excellent record of success. Harmony House is only the beginning of Dane's reeducation. After being rescued by a man who goes by the name of King Mob, he discovers that the world isn't what he thinks it is. Dane, or Jack Frost, learns that there are people out to get him and who are manipulating the very fabric of time and the world. In fact, he discovers he is one of the people, like the other members of the Invisibles who are able to use their abilities to fight these world manipulators. He'll face death, terrifying figures in history, and horrifying monsters.

If the intention of the author was to leave the reader feeling like Dane, completely lost, he achieved his goal. Because it contains the first 12 issues, I figured some of the plots might be wrapped up, but even the ones that were didn't feel resolved. I felt no particular pull toward any of the main characters. The art was decent and expressive when necessary. Although I've had it recommended to me by many people, I don't feel compelled to finish the series with what I've read so far.

Books in the Series:
The Invisibles: Book Two
The Invisibles: Book Three
The Invisibles: Book Four

Friday, May 8, 2015

Montessori From the Start - Paula Polk Lillard, Lynn Lillard Jessen

When my friend told me, he was raising his baby with the Montessori method, I decided to do a little reading into what all it involved.

In 1897, Maria Montessori began her research in children's education. By 1907 she had opened her first classroom using her new techniques. Since then Montessori has been looked to for guidance on raising children from birth to twelve years.

This particular book focuses on the ages of birth to three, the first "plane" or period Montessori used to categorize stages of development. The authors contend that fostering independence, curiosity, and education is the way to raise a healthy and happy child. They encourage a regiment of simplicity, routine, and controlled environment as the best way to achieve these goals.

As with any system, many people object to various techniques or suggestions found in this book. One of the more common criticisms I've seen for this book has been the idea of leaving the baby alone for an extended period of time, when it actually recommends leaving the child to his own devices while merely keeping an eye on him. It also suggests moving from a bassinet straight to a mattress on the floor, instead of a crib. The authors argue that a bed on the floor poses less danger of falling than a crib does and also point out that a plain mattress allows the child more freedom of visual entertainment, as well as movement as she gets older. Another common criticism is the suggestion to wean at the age of 9 months, while the average age to wean around the world ranges from two to four years old. While I myself was surprised to find the suggestion of beginning toilet training at 12 months, a little research revealed that not beginning toilet training before 18 to 25 months is actually a fairly new idea.

Even with these criticism, I found the book had a variety of fantastic ideas. Limiting the amount and types of toys to prevent overstimulation in such an infant seems sound. Giving a toddler a small pitcher and cup to practice pouring while at the table at such an early age just makes sense as it allows him to learn better motor skills. And starting evening walks with a child even at a toddling stage allows her to explore the outside world and exercise her skills. For me this was a worthwhile read, so I could understand the technique and goals my friend has in mind for his child. With this new knowledge, I'm hoping to become an active part in his child's activities and education.

Recommended Reads:
Simplicity Parenting - Kim John Payne, Lisa M. Ross

Friday, May 1, 2015

Golden Son - Pierce Brown

Darrow's life as a downtrodden Red left him with the taste for revenge after his wife was killed for breaking the law. After graduating from the academy as a peerless scarred he became a highly sought prize. While his commission was quickly purchased by Gold, he is unable to keep the same streak of luck he had at the academy. When he fails yet another mission, his commissioner decides to sell him to the next highest bidder.

If Darrow and his allies want to continue their coup, they will need to come up with a new plan quickly before Darrow loses his position. But what sacrifices will they need to make in order to achieve their goal? And will their weaken their bid for power from numbers or will the tightened circle make it stronger?

This second addition to the series is a worthy successor to its predecessor. Darrow continues to grow as a character, as do his relationships with all of the characters around him, including Mustang, the Jackal, and Mars. Violence, anger, and sorrow continue to haunt Darrow as he tries to bring equality to the colors, castes. I excitedly await the next and final installment to this series.

Books in the Series:
Red Rising

Recommended Reads:
The Giver - Lois Lowry
The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card