Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: Divergent

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Divergent has been reviewed probably a zillion times, so not sure what I can add to it, but here are my thoughts. I really liked this book, it was engaging and fun and a little thought provoking. I saw the movie first so that no doubt colored my perceptions a bit, especially as I visualized certain characters- I thought the movie captured the gist of Tris and Four very well, as well as Eric and Jeanine.

Tris has been raised in a faction that values selflessness above all- her faction along with four others form the basis for society in a future Chicago. Everyone must make a choice when they turn sixteen- they must choose the faction they will spend the rest of their life in. They can choose any faction they wish, or remain in the faction they grew up in- but once they leave, there is no going back. Society helps with this decision by administering aptitude tests, to help each person know where their strengths are, and therefore which faction would be a good fit. Occasionally however, someone tests as Divergent- meaning they don't fit just one faction, but potentially several. Usually it's two, but Tris shows aptitude for three factions.

She is told to speak of this to no one, not even her family. The next day Tris must choose- and she chooses Dauntless, the faction of the brave and the protectors of the city- to the shock of her parents. Tris isn't really prepared for what Dauntless will require of her however, and she begins a brutal initiation process that will test her strength of mind and body. She meets Four, one of the instructors who has secrets of his own- and there is a mutual attraction. Four sees in Tris a mental toughness that he respects, little knowing that they share things in their backgrounds that could bring them together- or tear them apart. As Tris navigates the minefield of dauntless initiation and learns the secrets of her faction, she realizes that not all is right with her society- trouble is brewing and anyone who is Divergent will be targeted as too dangerous to live.

I like the idea of the factions a lot, although I'm curious what happened to the world to bring this about, and also if it's just Chicago that is like this or if there are factions all over. I'm sure this is addressed in the next two books. The different groups, with their own symbols and values, were one of my favorite parts of the book.

Divergent was a good read, entertaining and provacative. It would really be tough for a sixteen year old to make a decision like this, whether to stay with their parents or choose an all new life. When Tris thinks she doesn't know what she believes, I think that's totally understandable at her age. In the real world of course, kids around that age or a little older are already starting to make their own way, to discover what they believe or value- ultimately they have to make their own choices- and in the world of Divergent the choices come a little sooner and are more stark and final. It's not really an option to be an undecided major in this society! I enjoyed that aspect of the story much more than the action- and I look forward to discovering more about this world, and the choices Tris makes.

You can see my movie review of Divergent here.

For those who've seen the movie or read the book- some additional thoughts. There are a few mild spoilers below, so just a heads up on that. Let me know what you thought of the book or the movie- do you think the movie did a good job of bringing the book to life?

I liked Uriah and MArlene and hope they made it through okay. I felt a little guilty for enjoying it when Tris beat the crap out of Molly- but not too guilty. And I thought the romance between Tris and Four was handled pretty well (although I think the movie actually did a better job of that). I'm generally one who likes the book better than the movie, but there were a few things about the movie I actually liked better. I thought the capture the flag sequence in particular was better in the movie, a little more in depth and action packed as they infiltrated the other team.

Thw whole concept of Divergence, while interesting, is a little problematic- what exactly is it about being Divergent that makes them resistant to mind control? How can their brains be THAT different? But I still liked it, and am anxious to see where things go from here.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sunday Post #61 Baby It's Cold Outside



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Yes it's cold outside. Temps dipping into the 40's at night, although the days haven't been too bad... fall is definitely in the air though and I'm loving it. Orchards, pumpkins, cider and donuts... cool nights with a harvest moon, and bonfires. I'm enjoying all of it. 

This was a mixed week but I did finish Divergent, and jumped right into Insurgent. Will I finally find out what's outside the fence? Hopefully. 

So how was your week? 

LAST WEEK: 

Comic of the Week: Catwoman   
Review: Siren A resort town and bodies washing ashore with smiles on their faces... that can't be good. 
Tales From The Spinner Rack: Inhumans #12. Could this be the next big Marvel franchise? Rumor is a movie is in the works... 

THIS WEEK: 

Monday - Review: Divergent 
Review: Insurgent - maybe? 


CURRENTLY READING: 

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)

NEW ARRIVALS: 

Four: A Divergent Story Collection (Divergent, #0.1 - 0.4) Blackbird (Blackbird, #1)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier [Blu-ray] Divergent [Blu-ray]

Four- yeah I got it. I like the character and am curious to see what this adds to the story. 
Blackbird sounds fun...an amnesiac girl on the run. Love the blurb. 

BLOGOSPHERE STUFF: 

Lindsey's Library reviews We Were Liars. A little different take than my thoughts on the book, and a good review. Opinions are all over the map on this one. 

A Great Read reviews Get even by Grethen McNeil. 

Love Oswald or The Backyardigans? Sara at The Hiding Spot interviews Dan Yaccarino, who created or contributed to these and so many more kids' shows. He has a new book coming too. A great interview... and I admit to being a big Oswald fan... 

My Shelf Confessions reviews Blackbird by Carey. I like the sound of this one. 

Of Dragons and Hearts has a nice review up for the Guardians of the galaxy movie. 

Ciao Amalfi has some beautiful aerial video of the Amalfi Coast. 

 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tales from the Spinner Rack

InhumansV112

This week's Tales From The Spinner Rack is Inhumans #12 . The Inhumans were a neat concept- a race of genetically engineered beings, each with a unique power or ability, hiding themselves away from humanity in a city deep in the Himalayas. The series focused on the royal family of the Inhumans- their king Black Bolt, queen Medusa and their various cousins, members of the royal court. The Inhumans were for many years a fairly obscure part of the Marvel landscape, but in the 70's they had their own short lived series, of which this issue is a part.

The Inhumans are in New York City in this issue, and we start off with Medusa scaling the Baxter Building, home of the Fantastic Four, with her hair! She can manipulate objects with her hair, and that includes climbing buildings I guess. Even as a kid I thought that was kinda weird. The Inhumans have a history with the FF and were looking for their help, but the FF aren't home so it's back to square one. They make their way through town and eventually run afoul of the police. When things get out of hand, a nearby Hulk gets involved and of course things go from bad to worse.

The Inhumans and the Hulk soon come to blows, and they soon realize what a handful he can be. Black bolt calls a halt after the battle gets out of hand, and the Hulk leaves, realizing the Inhumans are not his enemies.

This was to be the final issue of the Inhumans series, presumably due to low sales. It was the first issue I ever saw and bought it off the supermarket spinner rack, so I missed the boat on this series, but did go back later to collect the back issues, just to get the whole story. In retrospect this series was hit or miss- some great concepts, marred by a mediocre execution. And let's face it- Marvel had a lot of titles in the 70's, covering a wide range of genres, and a lot of titles just never had time to find their niche or just got lost in the shuffle. This may have been one of those.

There would be other Inhumans series over the years, but they never really went anywhere- they seem to be forever relegated to second string roles. Or maybe not- there has been a resurgence of interest in the Inhumans at Marvel recently, and with rumors of a movie in the works, we may be seeing more of these characters in the future.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: Siren

Siren (Siren, #1)

Siren is the story of Vanessa Sand, who is in the town of Winter Harbor, Maine, for the summer with her family. Every summer she and her sister, Justine, hang out with the Carmichael boys next door- and this year is no exception. Except they're all older now- and things are a little more serious. Vanessa has a thing for Simon, the studious older boy, and Justine hooked up with Caleb last year and looks ready to do so again. But then something happens to change their lives forever.

After a family argument Justine storms off- and turns up dead. The family is of course devastated, and returns to Boston- but Vanessa realizes something is not right with her sister, and that there is more to her death than previously imagined. She returns to Winter Harbor to talk to Caleb, who disappeared after her death- and together with Simon she realizes something is very wrong in Winter Harbor. Bodies start turning up, men washed ashore with smiles on their faces- and not only that, but Winter Harbor is having strange weather as well. Freak storms roll in even as the surrounding areas are clear. What is the connection to Justine's death, and what does Caleb know? As Vanessa and Simon dig deeper into the mysteries of Winter Harbor, they discover a shocking secret- and realize that the deaths are part of a larger pattern that has been going on for many years.

I thought this was a good story, with likeable characters and a fun paranormal mystery. There's a certain amount of tension throughout the book as Vanessa discovers more about the town and its dark secrets. It's no surprise the story involves sirens since that's the name of the book, so the reader knows whats coming- it takes quite a while for Vanessa and Simon to figure it out however, and that'srealistic- I mean who would believe it anyway? I did think a few times that the author pushed the limits of believability when Vanessa was in situations where she could easily have been discovered, and wasn't. A couple of times I was like, really they don't see her or discover her? But that didn't rally ruin my enjoyment of the story, and I did like the suspense throughout.

 The romance is a slow burn, just the way I like 'em- no crazy instalove here. There is a twist towards the end that is addressed, I'm sure, in the next two books, which I have not read. I liked this story but it could have been self contained, I may go read the next two at some point, to see what happens. A solid read, I enjoyed it a lot - recommended if you like stories about mythological creatures or strange happenings in resort towns.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Comic of the Week #7

Cover for Catwoman #72 (1999)

I always liked underwater adventures, and this one looks fun. I haven't read the issue so I can't really say if it's any good or not

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sunday Post #60 Bring on Fall



The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Well we're into September now and autumn is in the air. Bonfires, turning leaves, the crisp autumn air, the moon peeking through the clouds on a cool fall night... it's allpart of the fall season. This is my favorite time of year and I'm starting to plan out what fall- ish events I want to partake in. Frightfall is a definite, and there may be a few others as well. I'm looking forward to autumn this year and all it has to offer.

This week I'm reading Divergent but reading time dried up later in the week- maybe I'll finish this weekend. Then I think it's on to Insurgent - I'm curious what happens next (having seen the movie) so I may read this series all the way through. 

COYER wrapped up this week. I'm still exploring all the great book reviews posted over there. 700 + reviews!  

LAST WEEK: 

Review: We Were Liars - rich kids, a private island- what could go wrong? Some nice comments on this one. 
Review: The Counterfeit Lady - a nice cozy mystery set in Victorian times. 

THIS WEEK: 

Tuesday: Comic of the Week #7 Catwoman edition
Wednesday: Review: Siren- strange happenings off the New England coast, bodies washing ashore with smiles on their faces- what could be happening? Well, you know- the title. 
Friday: Tales From The Spinner Rack: Inhumans 
Review: Divergent (maybe) 

CURRENTLY READING: 

CURRENTLY READING

NEW ARRIVALS/ UPCOMING REVIEWS: 

   Insurgent (Divergent, #2) And Then There Were None

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Other Classic Novels

Divergent [Blu-ray]

BLOGOSPHERE FUN: 

Seasons of Reading is offering the Frightfall readathon again this fall, on Sept. 29th through Oct. 5th. A good way to ring in October! 

Brilliant Books' latest newsletter is out. Check out the latest news and coming books. 

I Wish I Lived I Lived In A Library reviews Death in the Dolomites- a mystery set in the Italian Alps. Sounds like a good one. 

Caroline at The Attic interviews A Bottomless Book Bag

You can check out the COYER wrap up post linky over at Michelle's blog Because Reading Is Better Than Real Life. Check it out to see how everyone did, 

Think the American school lunch system sucks? Check this out to see what French kids eat. Definitely different priorities. Not sure my kids would eat very much of it though... they would have to be retrained! 

The usual cosplay stuff... here and here 

So how was your week? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars

We Were Liars is an interesting book. I saw it popping up on a lot of blogs, and heard about the surprise ending, so I was curious to see what all the excitement was about. It definitely has a surprise ending- and not what I was expecting. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about the book, or the ending. And that's okay.

Cadence is a member of the Sinclair family- they're an old money family in the Northeast, with a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Each of the three daughters has their own place on the island, with the center of activity being the big Victorian house of Harris and Tipper Sinclair, Cady's grandparents. Trust funds, big houses, an easy life... the Sinclair daughters have it all. But of course they're not truly happy. Like everyone else, they have problems in their lives- and when things come to a head one fateful summer on the island, all of their lives will change forever.

Cady is a member of the Liars- a group of fourof the grandkids who do everything together. They're inseparable and even within the foursome there are relationships and stresses. Cady falls in love with Gat, the nephew of an Indian man who her aunt lives with- but not everyone in the family approves of Gat being there, and he knows he doesn't truly belong or see the world the same way as the tall, blond, snobby Sinclairs.

Cady's relationship with Gat is a centerpiece of the story, and plays a central role in the pivotal events of that summer. I've heard it said by other blogs that this book stayed with them after reading it, and I can see that. I'm still thinking about it, and little things I read earlier in the story come back to me and make sense, or take on a new meaning, given the twist. This isn't really a suspenseful read per se, but there is a certain tension throughout as cady tries to get answers to certain questions. And of course, after the twist, everything makes sense.

Did i like this book? Yes, for the most part. It has a lot to say about family and money and what's truly important- and how money can trump a lot of things. I'm not sure how I feel about the big twist. It shakes things up and turns everything upside down, and it definitely would reward a re- read, as so much of the story has a different meaning with the foreknowledge of what's really going on. I would recommend We Were Liars because it's smart, sad, powerful at times, and has a twist that will get you thinking.

Oh, and I liked the mention of Murdick's Fudge on Martha's Vineyard. Love Murdicks!