Saturday, March 30, 2013

Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John

Warning: spoilers, sweetie. 

Imagine a really cool image from this episode right here. Are you doing it? Good, because Flickr's being a pain in my tuchus. Thanks for understanding.

Tonight marked the much anticipated return of Doctor Who with 'The Bells of Saint John." And when I say much anticipated, I mean it. I might have done something crazy if it hadn't returned any sooner...

Anyways, I went in ready to find out some more important pieces of the puzzle about Clara/Oswin and to hopefully enjoy another great Who adventure. I regret to say that I was disappointed on both counts, boys and girls. Not only do I feel even more confused about Clara, but I also thought the story a bit like an elephant dart to the face dull. Not that it was terrible, but with Steven Moffat writing it, I was hoping for something a bit less "meh." However, this does not stop me from listing a few of my thoughts:

-The new theme is awesome; I love how it's quite reminiscent of the themes from episodes of classic Who. I know that because I'm just so retro.

-It's official: I like the new TARDIS interior. I was a bit skeptical about it after watching the Christmas Special, but I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy the dark and so very "alien" look to it. Its move away from the more stylish version that we saw before and truly marks the end of the Pond era.

-I was pretty thrilled that the book that the book that the girl in the episode was reading was written by Amelia Wiliams. Less thrilling was Clara's response when the girl told her that she was on chapter ten: "Eleven is the best. You'll cry your eyes out." Eleven is the best. You'll cry your eyes out. It's like Moffat enjoys our sadness. Just kidding, I crossed that out because I know he does. That little sadistic [insert insulting name here].

-How "Run you clever boy and remember" relates to anything at all is driving me crazy! Why can't I be a clever boy girl and figure it out? Gahhhh. You would think that all those times watching and stressing over Moffat's other heart breaker would increase my powers of deduction. Not so.

Well, that's just about all that I have on this one! Hopefully next week I'll have something new for "The Rings of Akhaten."


WAIT WAIT WAIT! Are you guys aware that David Tennant and Billie Piper are coming back for the 50th Anniversary Special?! Seriously, between the options of YES! and YESSSSS!!!, are you super excited?!

Okay. Now I'm really done.

If you guys have anything to add--opinions, theories, anything!--go ahead and leave a comment; I love hearing from fellow Whovians! (:


Review: Fire

Book Review: Fire by Kristin Cashore


Things to know up front...

Recommended to: Graceling fans, YA fans, fantasy fans

Rating: 9.5/10

Setting: The Dells (land adjacent to the Seven Kingdoms from the previous book)

Content:
  • Some sexual content. Not explicit in the least, mostly mentioned as "taking (insert name here) into bed." A couple of characters have children outside of marriage, and most characters are in sexual relationships. Rape is mentioned a few times, but not described. 
  • Quite a bit of violence. The main character is constantly being harmed in some way or another and is even shot in the arm with an arrow at one point. One character has completely lost the use of his legs because someone was sent to crush all of the bones in them. Several characters are stabbed. Monsters are constantly attacking the characters in this story. 
  • Drug use is mentioned as part of a king's downfall, but drugs other than a form of birth control aren't used by any main characters. 
  • Swear words are used sparingly enough that I can't specifically recall them, but I'm sure that they are present. 
  • Overall, there isn't anything too bad. Ages 13+ should be just fine reading it. 
In this prequel to Graceling, we meet Fire--the last of the exquisitely beautiful human monsters--who inspires lust and/or jealousy in nearly every person she meets. Not only does being a monster give her great beauty, but it also gives her the ability to sense and potentially control a person's mind and puts her in constant danger of being attacked by the monster animals in the Dells. These manipulative powers bring Fire to the King's City to help uncover the dangerous secrets of the king's enemies that threaten to bring down all that is good in the Dells.

I must say that I LOVED this book! Fire is much different from Graceling, but it succeeds even so. More a mystery than an action story, this book is concerned less with adventure and more with the underhanded workings of a king's court and the internal struggle of Fire, who--much like Katsa--is terrified of her own power and abusing it as her father did. Despite this difference, there is still enough action and romance to keep any reader interested.

We are given a bit of a different setting in this story, which is free of the Graced, but filled with fascinating and vicious monster animals that often wreak havoc on the kingdom. This confused me for a little bit because I couldn't quite figure out what Fire was or if Gracelings existed in this book, but I adjusted to it eventually and didn't like the story any less for it.

On the other hand, Fire keeps up the work of Graceling by continuing to give us strong characters. As the protagonist, Fire was brilliant, and the secondary characters such as her guards and the royal family manage to come to life and be very distinct. Fire's father--a deceased character--even manages to be one of the most memorable people in this story. While we're speaking of characters, it must be mentioned that this book contains a character from its predecessor that plays a very important role. I loved this inclusion that links the two books together, and one of the most exciting parts of the books was trying to figure out how this character was functioning in the plot.

The writing was, again, very good. I really admire Cashore's style in that it manages to not distract you from the plot, which is the main attraction in these books, but it's not something that you go back and inspect more carefully and go Oh my God--why was this woman allowed to pick up a pen? *cough cough* Twilight. 

The only complaint that I really have about this book is that the love story didn't feel quite right: the two characters didn't meld together quite as well as Katsa and Po from the previous book.

Overall, I would have to say that I found Fire to be even better than it's predecessor and that it's definitely worth your time! 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Review: Graceling

Book Review: Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Things to know up front...

Recommended to: YA fans, fantasy fans, girl power fans

Rating: 9/10

Setting: The Graceling Realm

Content:

  • Some sexual content, but it's described more poetically than graphically. 
  • Lots of fighting and killing: someone is shot through the mouth with an arrow, a character is wounded several times with arrows, the main character regularly beats people up, etc. 
  • No drugs.
  • I don't recall any swear words, but it's possible that there are a few. 
  • Overall, I would say that it's alright for around 13 and up; however, there are a few messages that others may not want to read, which I'll go into later. 
Graceling is a thrilling story of a girl named Katsa who is "Graced" with the skill of killing. As a Graced person, Katsa is under the control of her uncle, King Randa, who uses her to inspire fear in all those that cross him. Independent, fierce, and too powerful for others to be comfortable with, Katsa is mostly an outcast in her society, until she befriends Prince Po. Together they fight to take down an evil force that threatens to take over the entire Seven Kingdoms of the realm. 

First of all, wow. My mind was blown by the creativity and utter originality of this story concept, and I firmly believe that Cashore is an extremely talented writer with a good career ahead of her. Anyone that can so convincingly take you into a world of fantasy and make it feel real clearly has "it." Furthermore, she wrote a story that has just about everything that young adults nowadays are looking for: a strong lead character, romance, and action. The main character--Katsa--was awesomely powerful and seemed very real. 

However, I did have a slight problem with Katsa and a couple of the messages that the author seemed to endorse through this character. From the very first we see Katsa as fiercely independent and unwilling to either marry, have children, or be remotely girly. Now, this didn't particularly bother me because that's just what floats some people's goats. As the story goes on, it becomes clear that Katsa seems to view all of these things as a mark of oppression for women, which is where I felt the doubt start to creep in a little bit, but it was still wasn't anything that made me appreciate the book less. Then Katsa and Po inevitably fall in love and begin their physical relationship, something fell flat. Even though I don't have a problem with sexual independence, it seemed to me that somehow this contradicted with the ideas previously expressed. This is also a message that may make parents wish for their children to avoid this book, since it will seem irresponsible and immoral for Katsa to be unwilling to commit, but completely willing to yield physically and emotionally. 

While we're talking about negatives, I feel I must also mention that the climax of the story was a bit dull; it was awhile before I actually realized that it even was the climax. The resolution seemed to slog through a bit as well, but that could just be because I was still expecting the climax. 

Other than these issues, the book was crazy good. The plot was strong, as were the characters. I really liked Katsa for her strength of body and mind, and her depth. I found the first half of the book to be particularly powerful because she is so at odds with her own existence due to her fears that she is just a monster. My liking wavered a bit because of the aforementioned events, but I still consider her to be wonderfully developed. Po was very well developed, too, and his Grace is sweeeeet. I'm in love. And the villain. Dear Lord, what a wonderful and extremely terrifying villain. Kudos, Kristin, kudos.

Overall, I highly recommend it to all YA fans, unless you have an issue with any of the aforementioned things, but even then, it doesn't hurt to give it a try!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Effects of a Rebellious Appendix

Or: Part of Why I Have Sucked at Posting


So, lately there hasn't been much action here at Read It and Geek: much of it is due to reading Harry Potter over again and nothing else, but this has been further extended due to a very recent removal of a very useless organ from my body. While this has provided me with quite a lot of down time, it seems to have instilled an acute interest in m&ms and "Important Things with Demetri Martin," so it may be a bit longer until I have anything new posted on the 'ole blog. 

I promise that when I do get back on my blogging feet, there will be some new reviews of Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and maybe even some more Harry Potter thoughts that most will opt to skip. Riveting stuff. 

Aaaand, that's all I've got to say! Thanks for understanding! (: