Category Archives: Reviews

Starting in early 2012 I decided that I would make a habit of reviewing everything I read and all the movies I watched. On top of that I’ve begun to review other products and sometimes tv shows as well.

These reviews are just my personal thoughts on my entertainment choices. I wouldn’t use them as your sole guide on what to read or watch, but if it helps… great!

Book Review: The King's Sword by C. J. Brightley

At the end of a recent book review I made a comment to the effect that I was getting rather weary of 'grim­dark' fantasy. Well The King's Sword is about as far from 'grim­dark' as you can get. In fact the central char­ac­ters are so consis­tently good and honor­able in their world view the author does run the risk of her story being dismissed as naïve. But, you know, there's really nothing wrong with a story that exem­pli­fies good behavior rather than bad. The story is told entirely from the view­point of Kemen Sendoa, a retired solider, who rescues a teenage boy lost and out in the coun­try­side in deep winter. The boy turns out to be the son of the, now dead, King of Erdemen and thus heir presump­tive. Wait, Don't Tell Me, I've Heard This One Before [amazon template=image&asin=0989191508]It's true that this isn't a partic­u­larly orig­inal concept for a story­line. A prince on the run from a usurper and helped by a griz­zled veteran.

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Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Well this was just plain fun. I had a smile on my face through almost the entire movie. And if you want a TLDR for this review, then fun pretty much sums it all up. Certainly this isn't an intel­lec­tu­ally chal­lenging movie but I think I can safely say that you'll enjoy every moment of it. When Marvel Studios announced they were making a Guardians of the Galaxy movie there was a lot of doubt online (where everyone thinks they are an expert) about the viability of taking a bunch of char­ac­ters that prob­ably wouldn't even be described as D-list and making a movie based on them. Shows what the internet knows. Mix, Match and Magic [amazon template=image&asin=B00N1JQ2UO]If I was to describe Guardians of the Galaxy I'd prob­ably say that it's Star Wars meets The Italian Job with a bit of Dirty Dozen thrown in there as well. There's a lot of familiar imagery and tropes in play with this movie.

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Book Review: The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

This was an enjoy­able book to read but proves to be a remark­ably frus­trating one to review. The Paper Magi­cian is aimed primarily at the Young Adult audi­ence and is set in an alter­nate late Victo­rian era where magic seems to be tightly inte­grated into society. In fact it would appear to have taken the place of science (though that may be an over simpli­fi­ca­tion). You're likely to instinc­tively compare The Paper Magi­cian with Harry Potter because there are some surface simi­lar­i­ties, like refer­ences to a school for magi­cians and the young adult vibe. But, this is a smaller and more inti­mate story. Coming in at a mere 224 pages it is very brief by fantasy stan­dards and though that is not an inher­ently bad thing some of my crit­i­cisms may result from the brevity. A Story About Two Char­ac­ters Meet Ceony Twill, a young and newly grad­u­ated Magi­cian. She wanted to work with metal but instead is forced to appren­tice to a Folder, a paper magician.

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Dragonlance Re-Read: Dragons Of Autumn Twilight — Part 4

The action heats up substan­tially in Dragons of Autumn Twilight as my re-read reaches Xak Tsaroth and chap­ters 13 through 16 and we finally encounter dragons. Not only is there a notice­able increase in action, but Hickman and Weis also manage to increase the emotional payload as well. "I left Gold­moon. I returned to find Chieftain's Daughter" The Story So Far The Heroes of the Lance are camped not far from the ruins of Gold­moon and Riverwind's tribe. They're some­what shell shocked by the death and destruc­tion they have witnessed, but deter­mine that they must push on and attempt to reach Xak Tsaroth by the dead­line. Gold­moon and Riverwind's rela­tion­ship remains rocky but they too remain committed to the journey. A journey which takes them through some partic­u­larly marshy swamps and gives us another glimpse into both the geog­raphy of Krynn and the impact the Cata­clysm had on the land. And always below them and around them was the dark water, where strange eyes watched them hungrily.

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Book Review: The Accidental Alchemist by Gigi Pandian

Urban Fantasy is an extremely popular genre and one that supports quite a range of styles. With The Acci­dental Alchemist Gigi Pandian may have come up with an entirely new sub-genre, or at least one I was not previ­ously familiar with. It is part mystery, part recipe book! I'm exag­ger­ating here, but only slightly. The book is a light-hearted one that certainly belongs in the Urban Fantasy fold, though marking itself apart with an absence of were­wolves, vampires or demons.  There is a gargoyle though. A French one. The central and sole view­point char­acter for the story is Zoe Faust, an immortal alchemist (the acci­dental appel­la­tion is explained in the story) who has just moved to Port­land, Oregon.

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TV Review: Gotham S01E09 — Harvey Dent

It's been a while since I checked into Gotham with a review, but I have been watching it every week. The show is more compelling than I would have predicted from the first episode. Why review this partic­ular episode? Well it is called Harvey Dent. And that should catch the atten­tion of anyone with more than a passing famil­iarity with the Batman mythos. Gotham's biggest strength so far has been its cast of actors.  Whether it's Ben McKenzie as the earnest Jim Gordon, Robin Lord Taylor as a perfectly cast Penguin or Donal Logue as a lovably slovenly Harvey Bullock, this is a cast that makes the most of every­thing they're given. The plots them­selves are rela­tively pedes­trian really, but much like with Batman himself it is the cast of char­ac­ters that enlivens things.

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Book Review: Raven's Shadow Book 2 — Tower Lord by Anthony Ryan

Tower Lord is the second book in the Raven's Shadow fantasy series by Anthony Ryan. Obvi­ously if you haven't read the first book, this isn't the place to start but I'd recom­mend reading it and you can see my review of Blood Song right here. Where's The Tower? [amazon template=image&asin=0425265625]While this is most defi­nitely a contin­u­a­tion of the story that Ryan started in Blood Song, he makes a bold, and risky, choice by changing narra­tive format. In the first book it was all the story of Vaelin Al Sorna as related by Vaelin to a scribe. It's not a literary device I partic­u­larly care for so I was quite happy to see it go away this time round. However, moving from a single view­point char­acter to four is a pretty radical change to pull on you readers. And judging by the online reac­tion some of them really didn't like it.

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