29 July 2014

Review: The Fearless Defenders, Vol. 1: Doom Maidens

The Fearless Defenders, Vol. 1: Doom Maidens
The Fearless Defenders, Vol. 1: Doom Maidens by Cullen Bunn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Man, I loved this.

Cullen Bunn hit my radar with the flawed but still pretty cool Sixth Gun series, and I saw there was another series he was doing, so I requested it for a shot.

First, I truly had no idea this was a Marvel property, and this being a Marvel Now piece, I went in somewhat skeptical, since I haven't liked much of the Marvel Now comics coming forward. This, however, was great. A crazy ride from start to finish with big bad guys, fun c-list characters, and a schlocky, b-movie feel to the whole proceedings. No one is taking this especially seriously, and that's why it works - it just feels like a fun, crazy ride.

I don't know what to compare this to. It's a lot like the New 52 Suicide Squad in format, but a lot lighter. It's like an Avengers team-up, but with everything being a little more ridiculous. I want this to be a movie so, so much, and maybe we'll get lucky, but, for now? This was exactly what I was looking for and I didn't even know it.

Highly recommended.

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21 July 2014

Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I guess I'm an introvert?

I've had this on my to-read list since the day I heard about it, but only got around to it now. Partially because it's been on perpetual library hold, but more because it's only recently that I realized that I actually appear to hold more introverted traits than the extroverted ones I expected.

So reading this book, which is essentially a love letter to introversion, did a lot in terms of kind of confirming a few things about myself that I already kind of knew or believed, and put them in a good context. That was good.

The bad is that it might lead me to some confirmation bias issues to work out, but that's on me. That the book felt a little long is one that I can't control, though, and keeps it from being an all-star of a nonfiction book.

As it stands, though, a solid read overall and one I'm glad I read and can recommend. Worth the time, intro- or extroverted.

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20 July 2014

Review: Just Like the Movies

Just Like the Movies
Just Like the Movies by Kelly Fiore

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I came away from this book somewhat frustrated. In a lot of ways, it's a really solid YA teen romance read, and the concept behind it is solid. It reminded me quite a bit of a few of the recent reads in this genre that I've read, which was great. My complaint is more about how it never really reaches the concept that it presents in a way I'd expect.

The short answer on this is that the book is about a couple girls who aren't so lucky in the love department and end up trying to woo their crushes using romantic movie tropes. They start a small business, they try it on their own, and it is very much a comedy of errors in some senses.

The story is pretty straightforward on a whole, but the somewhat stuttered efforts to get the hook of the book involved really took away from the rest of the story for me. It had moments that felt like a bad comedy that were offset by other pretty fun scenes. That inconsistency was ultimately what kept me from enjoying this more on a whole. Closer to a 3.5, and good for a lighter read, but that's about it.

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Review: Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who's Lived It

Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who's Lived It
Fantasy Life: The Outrageous, Uplifting, and Heartbreaking World of Fantasy Sports from the Guy Who's Lived It by Matthew Berry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It should be noted, to start, that I'm really, truly bad at fantasy football. My best year, for those who will understand this, was when the best starting QB I could get was Kyle Orton when he was with the Bears. I somehow rode that horse into the finals, no idea why.

Fantasy Life is a book with two agendas. One, it's a memoir of sorts from Matthew Berry, former screenwriter and now full time fantasy guru. The other part is an accounting of some of the truly insane lengths people will go for their fantasy leagues and fantasy sports in general.

Having heard Berry discuss Crocodile Dundee 3 on a podcast before, it was fun to get some insight on his Hollywood career as well as how he is significantly responsible for the rise in popularity of fantasy sports in the United States. He's got a good way of telling his story, and it's a quick, compelling read.

The draw of this book, however, are the really weird stories regarding fantasy leagues he's heard about or witnessed over the years. It makes me glad the leagues I'm in are basically not so serious in comparison to what some people have had to go through for having a better track record than I do. If books about people being insane is something you're into, this will be worth your energy.

Overall, a fun, light read. Well exceeded my expectations overall, and definitely worth a look if you have any interest in fantasy sports. At minimum, you might find a few ways to torture your fellow fantasy owners.

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18 July 2014

Review: The Three

The Three
The Three by Sarah Lotz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

No book I have read recently that I've enjoyed and finished has frustrated me the way The Three has.

The book is sort of a World War Z take on four plane crashes that occur at the same time around the world. There are three child survivors, and it ushers in a weird reaction where some see it as a biblical apocalpyse, others various conspiracy theories, there are questions of immortality, and so on and so forth. Conceptually, the idea is really fascinating and certainly kept me going on this book.

What's frustrating about it? For one, far too many of the characters end up sounding exactly the same, which just doesn't work in a book like this. While there are really fully-formed, distinct characters (most notably the Asian survivor's contingent), the rest feels really similar whether you're in Cape Town or in the Americas. For another, the journalistic angle the narrative takes ultimately leaves a lot more questions than answers, and, while I get that the choice taken here is the point, it really didn't work within the existing narrative. This is not to say all raised questions needed to be answered, but it also means that, when providing a Lost-style story, the end result of leaving some questions unanswered needs to be much more compelling than what was ultimately offered.

This is less a story of survivors than a story of people dealing with a confusing world. I can see why I was drawn to it, and I can see why other people have come to enjoy this. It's just so flawed and so riddled with unforced errors that made me feel like it could have been more that those issues offset what was otherwise a quick and occasionally entertaining read. I can't recommend as much as I'd like to, although you could do worse if you're looking for a sci-fi beach-style read.

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