September 28, 2014

Movie and book tie-ins: Embrace them!

Basically, I love a good tie-in whether it's a film based off of a book or a book that was written based off of a movie. Book tie-ins are a great way to delve further into the characters and learn more details about scenes that are blink-and-you-miss-them. In this post, I'll be looking at both variants.

For starters, let's take a look at Star Trek Into Darkness which was written after the movie of the same name was released. For die-hard Trekkie fans, this is definitely a book that you want to pick up. It was so good that I never wanted it to end. For those who haven't seen the film (or who aren't really into Star Trek at all), this is the story of how one man came into his own when pitted against a ruthless adversary who by all accounts was unbeatable. James Tiberius Kirk is the newly appointed Captain of the USS Enterprise but at this stage he's definitely still wet behind the ears and he makes mistakes which come with very big consequences. At the same time, the reader is introduced to a character with motivations that are not immediately apparent and it is uncertain exactly what type of a person he actually is  (his identity is in question as well). There is conflict, intrigue, heroism, tragedy, and courage on every single page.  Go forth and read it!!

I was feeling a bit introspective after reading Star Trek Into Darkness so I picked up Eat Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. I had watched the film a few years ago and thought it was deeply moving and therefore picked up the book on which it was based. However, at the time I was backlogged with books for school (remember those days, guys?) and it got relegated to my bookshelf. I am so glad that I'm reading it now. I can already tell that I'm going to have to pick up some more of Gilbert's works. Her writing really speaks to me. This is actually her story of how her life transformed through faith in God and in herself. She traveled for a year to immerse herself in three very different cultures in order to discover what it was that she really wanted from life and how she could be happy. This was after a lot of personal tragedy in her life had made her re-evaluate everything and she was basically starting over from scratch. It's not a depressing book though. No, it's actually uplifting in all the best kind of ways. She spent four months in each place where she focused on completely different things. In Italy, it was all about pleasure aka food. In India, she turned her attention to God. In Indonesia, I think you can guess what she focused on. ;-) I'll be updating you guys with my progress soon!

September 22, 2014

Doctor Who Haul Pt 2: The Review

I'm going to try to do this without giving any spoilers which means these will most likely be quite short. Let's get this party started! ::confetti floats through the air::

Doctor Who: Enemies of War by George Mann
The (Great) Time War rages on and entire planets are destroyed in the crossfire. The Time Lord who no longer believes he deserves the moniker 'The Doctor' crash lands on a planet ravaged by the Daleks. He meets a member of the resistance named Cinder and the two of them race against the clock, i.e. the Time Lords (see what I did there?) back on Gallifrey and the Daleks, to stop mass genocide. For those of you who wanted more background on the War Doctor that was introduced in Day of the Doctor then this one is definitely for you.

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker
A quiet English village set in the present day is re-visited by the monsters of WWII. (Yet another book which mentions Alan Turing and his exemplary code-breaking skills by the way.) The Doctor and Clara land in Ringstone but they initially think that they've arrived at the wrong point in time...that is until they see the dead body caught in a giant spider's web. What exactly is going on in this little town that could create larger-than-life insects and arachnids? It might take more than just a bit of cleverness to work this one out (in fact it might take a little bit of time travel). If you're scared of bugs then I would recommend you stay far away from this one. :-D

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss
I have to admit that I found this one rather chilling. I suppose that's because the entire story takes place in a prison that was built on an asteroid far out of reach of any neighboring civilizations. The Doctor is Prisoner 428 and he is definitely causing a ruckus amongst the Guardians and especially with the Governor himself (the Warden). He insists on escaping his cell and wandering wherever he pleases. Even when the Custodians (creepy faceless robots) are dispatched to dissuade him (I'm being delicate here) from breaking the rules, he persists in saying that there is something very wrong inside the prison. Actually there's something very sinister indeed occurring within the walls which keep everyone out...and everyone (and everything) inside.

Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards
An adventure with Jenny, Madame Vastra, and Strax (plus The Doctor & Clara)!! I do have to say that these are absolutely brilliant characters that I'm happy to see in a book adaptation. They have so much versatility and they're so different from one another that it keeps the story moving along at a wonderfully brisk pace. In this book, there are mysterious murders being committed throughout Victorian London and at first they don't seem to be interconnected except for one thing: the victims all visited the Carnival of Curiosities. What does origami, rage, and a man with a silver topped cane have to do with one another? Ah but you'll have to read this one to find out!!

So there you go! I hope that this kind of formatting worked for you. I had a lot of fun immersing myself in the Doctor Who Universe for the last week to read all of these. :-) Next up is another sci-fi adaptation but of a film this time: Star Trek Into Darkness by Alan Dean Foster. If you've ever read a book based off of a film (such as Star War) then you know that a lot of details are fleshed out in the novel which make the entire world seem more tangible and real. I'm hoping for that in this book. I read the adaptation for the first movie in the new universe franchise and it was really good so I have high expectations for this one. Stay tuned for that review!

September 16, 2014

Doctor Who Haul Part 1

I recently acquired 4 of the newest Doctor Who novels (one of which was mentioned in my last post). As per usual, when I get my hands on Doctor Who novels I tend to go on a bit of a binge and so...I'm just going to read all four of these really quickly and review them for you all in one big post.

A quick little blurb on each of them to whet your appetite.

Doctor Who: Enemies of War by George Mann
The War Doctor faces not only the Daleks and their newest weapons but also his own people in his quest to put an end to the Great Time War once and for all. However, he doesn't have to face them completely alone. He has a new companion named Cinder and she's determined to stay by his side no matter what dangers they face. She might change her mind when she sees exactly what the Daleks are creating...

Doctor Who: The Crawling Terror by Mike Tucker
The Doctor (#12) and Clara land in a sleepy little village town called Ringstone in Wiltshire. At first, The Doctor believes the TARDIS made a mistake and landed them at the wrong time in history. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the past has caught up to the present when giant insects and arachnids start terrorizing the villagers and all means of escape are cut off by massive spider webs...

Doctor Who: The Blood Cell by James Goss
When will people learn that there's really no point in trying to keep The Doctor locked in a cell? The most dangerous criminals are sent to a prison housed on an asteroid far removed from all colonized worlds. The Governor starts to suspect there is more than meets the eye regarding this 'Doctor' who keeps trying to escape and he might be right because after his arrival the murders begin...

Doctor Who: Silhouette by Justin Richards
When mysteries which seem to have no connection whatsoever (a locked room murder, a boxer killed by an undertaker, The Carnival of Curiosities, and a rich industrialist) end up being inextricably linked who could possibly put all of the pieces together? This is a case for The Doctor, Clara, Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax! Is anything really what it seems?

Are you guys ready?

September 14, 2014

True freedom is felt in the heart

I discovered from reading The Orphan Master's Son that I know precious little about North Korea. I can say with a fair amount of confidence that I know a whole lot more after having read this book. (Yes, I know it's fictional but a good majority of it is based on the realities of that country and its people.) I have to admit that it was slow going at the beginning. I didn't feel the push to keep going that I usually do when reading something that is really interesting to me. However, this wasn't because the characters lacked depth. I think it stems from what I mentioned at the top of this post: I was completely in the dark about North Korea and found it hard to connect. I have since done some research into the topic on my own and I am blown away by the mastery of Adam Johnson. This is a story of a man without identity. His true self is stripped away again and again by those in power. He is not the master of his own life...and yet...His spirit will not fully submit. For the entirety of this novel, I was waiting for this man's redemption because his suffering was so great and so complete that I felt that it was unfair that he not get his happy ending. I can't say if I was rewarded at the end or not because to do so would rob you of the experience yourself. If you enjoy contemporary historical fiction and/or have an interest in a part of the world that to me has always seemed shrouded in mystery (and really it still is) then this book is for you.

The only thing better than a Star Trek novel is a Doctor Who novel and the next book up for review is one of the latter! I'm going to be reading Doctor Who: Engines of War by George Mann and its main protagonist is THE WAR DOCTOR. (As you may be able to tell from the CAPS, I'm slightly excited.) The story centers around The Great Time War and The Doctor's interactions with the people of the planet, Moldox, who are being rounded up by the Daleks (hiss boo his). I don't want to say anymore because I fear I'll give away something truly important to the story line but I can't wait to review this one for you guys!!

August 31, 2014

Anthropomorphic Bees

Flora 717 is a worker bee and the protagonist of Laline Paull's The Bees. It may sound completely far-fetched to write a story from the perspective of a bee but insanely it worked amazingly well. This author clearly did her entomological research. The story revolves around a sanitation bee born to a hive where she is at the lowest rung of society (in fact, others in her kin have not developed speech and she is marked as an oddity). At every turn, she defies convention and strikes out on her own course. Fraught with class division, religious fanaticism, and sexism The Bees gave me an entirely new insight into bee behavior...and made me crave honey. If you're looking for a book unlike any other then I encourage you to give this one a shot...unless you're terrified of bees in which case you'd best steer clear.

My next book won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction last year: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson. Pak Jun Do is a loyal Korean citizen fighting to stay alive in an ever-changing and violent society. He is a professional kidnapper and eventually the rival of Kim Jong Il. The book purports to be a tale of corruption, violence, and also love. Well, I'm certainly intrigued!

August 27, 2014

Humanity: Tender, raw, and always a surprise

Have you ever been enjoying a book so much that you feel like racing through it just so you can find out what happened to the characters at the end? Conversely, have you ever wanted to linger for an indeterminate amount of time over a narrative because you just didn't want their story to come to its inevitable conclusion? Well, I experienced both of these emotions simultaneously while reading Tom Rachman's The Imperfectionists. Each chapter revolved around a different individual with ties to the newspaper and each chapter heading was a different headline from the paper. At the conclusion of each chapter, a snippet of history regarding the evolution of the paper was inserted which coincided with the information the reader had just learned about an individual from the present day. It's a mystery to me how he wove everything together so effortlessly but I fully appreciated that the pieces of the story were all interconnected to create a cohesive tale about a newspaper with more drama behind the scenes than on its pages. A brilliant read which I highly encourage you to pick up and give a shot.

As I've mentioned before, I have quite a long TRL (To-Read List if you're new here) and I've been steadily trying to knock books off of it. This next one has been on it ever since I heard about its release earlier this year. The Bees, by Laline Paull, is the story of a bee (nope the title wasn't misleading) who defies the conventions of the hive when she challenges the Queen. It is a story of a female heroine of the bee persuasion (I might be chuckling as I write this) who chooses her own path even in the light of fierce opposition. Considering my fascination with insects (and arachnids), it was really a no-brainer that I would read this but I do have to say that I'm incredulous as to how Paull is going to pull this off. We shall soon see!

August 25, 2014

What just happened?

Have you ever been so invested in a story that you were pretty much oblivious to anything else while in its grip? Well, that's exactly what happened to me when I was reading The Rise & Fall of Great Powers. Tom Rachman put some kind of spell on me and when I reached the end I was completely set adrift. In fact, I can't seem to summarize exactly how I feel about the book now that I've finished it. Clearly, I felt it to be a compelling read as I immersed myself in it utterly and totally. However, I can't seem to articulate my feelings now that it's concluded. I guess that makes sense as a large part of this book is the importance of time and how it's all relative (reminds me of a line from Doctor Who but I won't get into that here). I hesitate to put this book into any kind of niche because I think it stands alone and separate unto itself. I can't help a feeling a bit melancholy now that it's done but the knowledge that a) I can return to it anytime I want and b) I have another book by this author waiting to be read keeps me going. :-) If you want a book that will transport you, intrigue you, and baffle you then this is the one for you. READ IT.

As I mentioned in my last post, I picked up both of Rachman's books when I was at the library. His first book, The Imperfectionists, was an international bestseller (not hard seeing why as his second book was mind-blowingly amazing). This book centers on an English-language newspaper that's on its last legs. However, the story seems to be about the individuals working at the news agency who are all living distinct and complicated lives. I AM ALREADY ITCHING TO GET STARTED.

I hope you guys are having a fantastic Monday and I look forward to meeting you back here shortly for more reviews!