Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Gift to Remember (A Book Set During Christmas)

Pro: A cozy read
Con: Too long, not really my cup of tea.

The Bottom Line: If you want a Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan-esque type of story, then this could be for you.

I quickly realized, as Christmas was coming up, that there was a slot in the Reading Challenge for a book that takes place during Christmas. So after digging around I decided since I'd never read a Christmas romance book, I'd do that. But then I couldn't decide which I wanted, so I ended picking up two. Surprise.

A Gift to Remember by Melissa Hill sounded cute and fun. Darcy Archer works a bookstore, is a bit of a dreamer, and has a pretty cozy little life - until she runs over some poor guy out walking his dog. When he wakes up, he has amnesia, and Darcy takes it upon herself to help him remember who he is - and the possibility is pretty impressive. Is Darcy right? And moreover - is he Mr. Right?

I liked the premise - let's face it, Darcy sounds like me. And her customers definitely sound like some of the idiot customers we get. And it also reminded me of While You Were Sleeping. After a large chunk of Darcy narration, you suddenly split off into first person with Aidan (the memory loss guy), so you get a chance to try and piece things together along with Darcy. It had it's cute moments (though most of those were dog-related) and the atmosphere was lovely...but ultimately this wasn't the book for me.

It went on for far too long. Darcy spends the vast majority of the book musing about everything. From wondering about Aidan's apartment acroutrements to watching all the storefronts fly by while she rides her bike. For a 405 page book about figuring out who a guy with amnesia is, there's not enough actual meat to make it interesting. Darcy goes and does things for Aidan. Darcy goes home and muses about things. Darcy goes and does other stuff. Darcy eventually sees Aiden for a few pages. Darcy leaves to go do more stuff. I was beginning to get impatient. Because she's busy off doing all sorts of other things for him, there's rarely any interaction between the two. And given how giant the leap was from the end chapter to the epilogue, I was disappointed.

I guess I should have known better as on the book it says, "a novel" which in my brain typically means the book is shelved in fiction rather than romance, so the romance is going to be at a minimum, but I've read other non-romance books with more romance in them. Still, I know that this is the sort of novel that plenty of people love, and though there were other elements involved that made me kind of twitch, but it was a matter of suspending disbelief and moving on. In terms of figuring out who Aiden really is, it's predictable, but only if you're already used to looking at the least common denominator, which after years of R.L. Stine, I am. So the surprise wasn't really a surprise to me at all. Still, points awarded for doing a very good red herring job that I'm sure many other people have and will fall for, and there's no shame in that at all.

For a cozy, read-by-the-fire book with a cup of cocoa an dnothing better to do, go for it. But if you want more kissing and more interaction between your leading lady and gentleman, you may want to look elsewhere.


P.S. Er, can we also stop with the obsession with Jane Austin? Yes, that's Darcy's namesake, and yes, she wishes for that kind of romance too - just like so many other romance characters. There are other people to choose from, you know. Just saying.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 2 (A Graphic Novel x2)

Pro: A very good companion to the video game; well done!
Con: It bugs me when artist styles change mid-way through something.

The Bottom Line: If you need a new graphic novel series to get in on, or if you liked the video game and want to see the starting points, here you go.

Obviously this is the second volume to the Injustice series. Based upon the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game in which Superman is a totalitarian ruler and the goal is to knock him back to earth (so to speak), these graphic novels give you all the back story in great detail on how all that came to be. Made by the people who brought you Mortal Kombat, it was bound to be good.

At this point, Superman and his team are slowly but surely weeding out bad guys who are still (for some reason – stupidity I guess) are being themselves, such as warlords attacking their own people and generally being terrible as they are in the real world. Batman keeps trying to work on contingency plans in the hopes of stopping Superman in his descent into total domination. Personally, I was all for Superman’s design, although I know it will turn out poorly. Superman’s father said it best when he pointed out that Superman was trying not to lose anyone else, and by doing so, would essentially stow away the world into a box to keep it safe.

And we all know how much we humans like being tucked away into boxes without a say in things.

At one point Kaliback decides to make an appearance and attacks all over the world, thinking that because Superman is fighting so hard to bring peace everywhere that he’s not going to fight back properly. Not sure what flawed logic Kaliback is using, but it backfired in every way possible. In fact, it put Superman on a killing spree, which again I supported. Let’s be honest, I don’t know how you’re going to defeat Darkseid’s forces without straight up killing them. I guess I’ve just never been the one to be merciful to enemies who show absolutely zero mercy at any time ever. Guess that’s why I wouldn’t make a good hero. But constant killing probably didn’t do Superman’s psyche any favors. I was with him up until he started killing other heroes.

Now it’s not cool.

I’m interested to see how this story progresses (seeing as I haven’t played the game), although unfortunately my library doesn’t have the Year 2 volumes yet, so I guess I’ll have to wait. Or cheat and find all the cutscenes on YouTube, but even then I’d still probably end up reading the graphic novel. I wonder how many there will be in the end.

My only small peeve is when the artist gets switched up right in the middle and their style is completely different than the people before them. It’s kind of jarring and it took me a moment to realize I hadn’t actually skipped anything – the art style was just different. I realize that when working on graphic novels with a base as huge as DC, this sort of thing is going to happen, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. So really I’ll just have to suck it up and move on. It wasn’t really that it annoyed me a great deal, it just took me aback for a bit.

Otherwise, it’s been fun to read, and a nice change for me since I typically don’t hop into graphic novels very often…or ever.


Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Whoops! I completely forgot to mention this. Last month I reviewed Stephanie Garber's amazing book Caraval for the web blog I curre...