Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

I honestly don't have a lot to say about this one. I finally bought the Arkham Asylum 360 game and decided I wanted to read the graphic novel before beating it (I've played through quite a bit of the game at a friend's place so I know a lot of the story for it). I was prepared for the graphic novel to be a bit weird, especially with the art of Dave McKean, but I really wasn't prepared for this. My big problem was that I had a hard time following the story. There were quite a few parts where I wasn't sure what was going on. There were other parts where I couldn't follow the panels (by the end I figured them out but there were a few places where it looked like you could read them in a couple of ways). And I had a hard time reading some of what the Joker said (his speech was written in crazy letters in red ink).
The basic idea is that the inmates of Arkham take over and want Batman. Batman rises to the challenge (mostly going so the inmates will give up their hostages relatively unharmed). But once inside he has to struggle with his own sanity as well as those inside. Running parallel to Batman's story is the story of Arkham, the owner who converted the house into an insane asylum.
There were some cool moments (like Two-Face being weaned off of his coin). I'll probably try rereading it one day (as an attempt to better follow the action). But all in all this definitely wasn't one of my favourites.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Got a Kindle!

I was going to write about this a few days ago but just never really got around to it (and I couldn't decide if I should write about it here or on Shauna's World, but decided here was more appropriate being the book blog). I got a Kindle! My Kindle was a completely unexpected Christmas present from my family. Hilariously, I'd just told my mom that I didn't need one right now because I think it'll be great for travelling (and I have no travelling plans in the near future). I thought it was a bit expensive and was planning on buying one with birthday money (which would also be right after I've graduated with my MA, and so I would be free to travel!) So I was extremely surprised to find one under the tree for me! And to top it off, my brother is giving me a mini-shopping spree as well! So I'm getting a case and several e-books!
The Kindle is absolutely amazing! The screen is totally readable (like in the picture). It saves your place in the books you're reading (so you can read multiple things at once if you want). And it comes equipped with a dictionary so you can look up new words within the book you're currently reading! Oh yeah, and I can buy books (or get free older books) from anywhere I have internet access! There's a bunch of other really cool features as well, but those are the main ones I've used thus far. It's going to be hard to get through all my list books now that I can buy new books whenever I want (and they're delivered within a minute or two)!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


For some reason this graphic novel doesn't have a subtitle of some sort. But after a quick search online I was able to confirm that it IS book 1, which means that the comic series is still ongoing.
The Starcraft graphic novel tells the story of the War Pigs, a band of mercenaries who are reassembled on orders to hunt down and kill Jim Raynor. All of the War Pigs are criminals who were not resocialized, but allowed to retain their independence as a sort of experiment. Unfortunately, along with their independence comes their memories in graphic and sometimes debilitating detail. I found it a bit hard to follow at times (especially when people would start talking about other people who I don't think were mentioned yet but I might have just missed it), but overall it was a good story. I can't wait for the next volume, which will be able to jump into the story without the introductions that were necessary in this one (the War Pigs are, afterall, new characters for the Starcraft universe).

Friday, December 24, 2010

Shades of Twilight

Back when I read Linda Howard's To Die For, I said that I do not really like romance novels but I do like Linda Howard's books. And that still holds true. While I haven't touched a romance in a long time, I was immediately hooked when I started reading Shades of Twilight last night. The story was really interesting and I really liked the characters. Oh, and like Heart of Fire, Shades of Twilight is told from both the man's and the woman's perspective, which I really like.
Shades of Twilight is all about the Davenport family who lices in Arizona. Roanna and Jessie are cousins who lose their parents in a car accident and are taken in by their grandmother Lucinda. Jessie grows up like a princess, popular and beautiful, while Roanna is the clumsy, mischievious one. Roanna is in love with their other cousin, Webb, but he is the heir to the majority of the Davenport fortunes. As expected by everyone, he marries Jessie (although their marriage is far from happy).
But then one night Jessie is murdered and Webb is briefly accused. Everyone in the family except Roanna does not support him, so after the whole business is cleared up he leaves for 10 years because of their betrayal. Nearing the end of her life, Lucinda wants to make amends with Webb and asks Roanna to bring him back.
The years have been hard on Roanna. She always felt like she couldn't do anything right and that no one loved her, especially after Webb betrayed her by leaving. To protect herself she has withdrawn into herself and tries desperately not to feel anything so she will not be hurt. But the only person who can pierce through her armour is Webb, whom she still loves.
Shades of Twilight is the story of two people finding each other even after all of the betrayals and heartaches. It is also the story of the entire Davenport family and what becomes of them, especially after Webb's return brings out someone trying to finish the job that started with Jessie's murder by killing him. While it's not my usual read, I did enjoy it (having powered through over two thirds of it last night).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Marvel Fairy Tales

A few years ago (I think it was right before I started this blog) I read both X-Men Fairy Tales and Spiderman Fairy Tales. I found out Marvel was also writing an Avengers Fairy Tales, so I was really excited, having enjoyed the other two. But Avengers Fairy Tales took years before it was collected into a graphic novel. I finally got it this past June when I was visiting Toronto. I thought I would read it right away, but as you can see it's taken me about six months before I finally did (I attempted to read it a few months back but put it aside in favour of school books).
I'm not a big reader of Marvel comics, so I don't really know who most of the people are, specifically the Avengers (I'm a bit more familiar with Spiderman and X-Men). But that didn't stop me from enjoying this collection. As with the other two volumes, these fairy tales are retold using the Marvel characters. Marvel Fairy Tales has two stories I've read before (one each from the Spiderman and X-Men fairy tales) and then the 4 new Avengers tales: Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, Pinocchio and Alice in Wonderland. All four stories were a lot of fun to read, and I really wish I'd gotten to them sooner!
I was going to say that I have now read all of the Marvel Fairy Tales, but Wikipedia notes that there may be a fourth collection forthcoming starring the Fantastic Four. I'll definitely be keeping my eye out for that one (and will hopefully get to it a bit sooner)!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serenity: the Shepherd's Tale

I was really excited when I found out what the 3rd Serenity graphic novel was going to be. Shepherd Book is an amazing character who has remained shrouded in mystery. And after the events of the movie Serenity, it seemed like that was how he would remain. But then out came Zack Whedon's Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale which promised to shed some light on his mysterious past.
Unfortunately, I was expecting something a bit more from Book. There is nothing really wrong with his back-story here (and there's even a few really cool details), but I was expecting him to be like a crazy-awesome bounty hunter or a special forces operative (spoiler alert: he's neither). So while this is a neat story, especially with the way it is written (every few pages goes back in time a few years in his life), it failed to live up to my admittedly high expectations.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Library Book: Masters of the Universe: The Shard of Darkness

When I saw that there was a Masters of the Universe graphic novel, I had to read it. Unfortunately, right when I started reading it I felt like I was in the middle of the story. I know the basics of He-Man, having watched the show when I was younger. But I've never seen the new show, and even though this is volume 1, this book seems to assume that you've been following that and know what's going on.
The story itself is alright though. Orko finds a shard of an ancient evil crystal and it's up to He-Man to find the rest of the crystal and destroy it. Meanwhile, Evil-Lyn is trying to back-stab Skeletor and needs the shard as part of her master plan.
I thought the art was pretty cool, but that was really the best thing this had going for it. If you're not really up on the origins of He-Man, you'd probably want to give this one a pass.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Library Book: The Arrival

A friend at work recommended The Arrival to me. He told me it was a fast read that was quite good. By "read," he meant "look" because The Arrival is a book told entirely through pictures, not words. It tells the story of a man who emigrates from a land of nightmares to somewhere better, leaving behind his wife and daughter. It is the story of him settling into the new land, which is a fantastical place with strange creatures (like the little white guy on the cover). It is incredibly quick to go through, but it is a nice little story with fantastic artwork. I liked it.

Fable: The Balverine Order

Fable: The Balverine Order was my first non-school book since the summer. I found it at work, but decided to buy it because it comes with a code for a free weapon in Fable 3. As I told a friend, I was hoping the weapon would be awesome (because I've been so busy with school, I still haven't actually redeemed the code so I don't know). As far as I was concerned, the book itself might be an added bonus if it was good.
I was a bit doubtful on that score. The very premise made me laugh. Two guys go off on a search for the rare and illusive balverine. This sounds like a great premise - except that within the Fable games that I have played, when you hit a certain level you can't go about 10 feet within the game without tripping over balverines (I exaggerate - the actual number is probably closer to 50-100 feet). So everytime someone in the book talked about the "rare" balverine, I thought it was really funny.
But hilarity aside, The Balverine Order was really good. This is the story of Thomas and his servant/friend James. Thomas is haunted by the past - when he was younger, his brother was killed by a balverine (which is kind of like a werewolf, but specific to the Fable universe) and he was the only one who saw it; everyone thinks this story is the imagination of a young boy because balverines aren't real (they say it must have been a big wolf that killed Thomas' brother). After years of being called a fool, Thomas' mother's death serves as the catalyst that sends Thomas off on a quest to prove to himself that what he saw was real. He is accompanied by James, his only real friend in the world. Together, they travel through Albion and beyond on their hunt for the illusive creatures.
This was the first book that I'd ever read by Peter David. Before buying it, I did a bit of research and he seemed to come highly recommended. And after finishing The Balverine Order, I am inclined to agree with the recommendations. It's a quick read, but it's filled with excellent characters and grand adventure; I really enjoyed it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

School Book: The Poetic Edda

I was working on a different paper, but was having a lot of trouble with it. So to take a break, I decided to read The Poetic Edda, which conveniently also helps me with school work.
The Poetic Edda was a really interesting read. I'm glad I read The Prose Edda before it though, because Snorri's work really helped me understand a lot of what was going on. I also found that I'm getting familiar with the Norse structures and allusions (kennings in particular. There aren't many in Eddic poetry, but I can pick out some of the more simple ones referring to blood and warriors).
That being said, The Poetic Edda is still a bit confusing. I think a lot of the confusion stems from us just not knowing a lot about their mythology. There were a number of instances where the note for a confusing line might say that the original is confusing or there is debate among scholars.
But overall, I really enjoyed the Poetic Edda, both the first poems about the gods and the later heroic poems (particularly the poems relating to the Volsungs). I think the only poems I wasn't too fond of were the ones concerning Helgi. There were three of these. The first one was alright, but the second was confusing and the third seemed like a confusing copy of the first poem. They were alright, but not as good as the other poems in this collection.