Review; Crescent Calling

Crescent Calling (The Crescent Witch Chronicles #1)
by Nicole R. Taylor

My Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

Skye Williams is an ordinary woman, living an ordinary life.

Or so she thought.

When she receives news of her estranged mother’s death, she must go to Ireland to claim her inheritance, but when she arrives in the tiny village of Derrydun, she isn’t prepared for what she finds nestled amongst the rolling hills of the Emerald Isle. 

Lumped with a funeral, her mother’s crystal shop, a moody goth girl for an employee, and a crumbling cottage with horrible floral curtains, selling up and getting out sounds like a great plan, but everything and everyone seems determined to keep her from going home.

Skye doesn’t want any part of her mother’s life or the people of Derrydun until she sees the hot Irishman she’s been crushing on turn into a fox.

More absurdly, he tells her her dead mother was a witch who battled evil fairies, there’s magical trees growing in the centre of the village, there’s a parallel universe where the fair folk live, and she’s meant to be the last defense of the magical peoples of Ireland.

Turns out Skye Williams was never an ordinary woman. Not by a long shot.
She’s the last Crescent Witch and has a destiny to fulfil.

Whether she likes it or not.


Witches in Ireland?

I picked up this book as the premise looked interesting, and a story taking place in Ireland would take a change from the usual urban fantasies I read.

Not reading any of the author’s work prior to this, I didn’t have any expectations going in. It was a quick and easy read, but felt underwhelming and I wanted more.

Impressions

The two characters, Skye and Boone, had a few small conflicts but it didn’t feel to hold much weight. Skye came across younger than her age, acting more like an immature teenager rather than the adult she was supposed to be. (Running away from Boone to not let him explain something, cutting people off and refusing to hear a perfectly reasonable explanation that would release tension, etc.) I wish the tension around the conflicts was written in a different way, too, rather than to simply draw it out with delays. In doing this, Skye’s immaturity was emphasized and it was difficult to relate to her because of it.

Be aware of Spoilers below.

The main conflict arcs were… unearned. It felt too easy. An enemy is alerted to Skye’s presence because she was negligent, she figures out she needs a weapon, she uses her new powers (that she doesn’t know how to use and has had no training to use) to find just the weapon she needs, and somehow knows where to go to imbue that weapon. And then defeats the enemy with said weapon. Easy. Fast.

Everything happened in a flurry and there was no real “work” done by the main character. She just… figured it out because she’s a “badass witch” and she could?

The worldbuilding did not pull me in, either. Aside from a few things like names, sayings, and possibly lore, this story could really have taken place anywhere.

And unfortunately, I didn’t care about Skye. Or Boone. If there was a reason to, I missed it completely. Their romance felt forced and I wasn’t at all interested in reading about them being together. But I think that’s related to the issue of my not being able to really care about the two of them.

Overall

This story is likely directed toward much younger readers. They may be able to relate to the characters better. For me, Skye just made too many bad and immature decisions unlike someone her age. (If I recall correctly, mid twenties?)

This is one of the times I wish there was more of a distinction between the types of Young Adult novels out there. It’s a difference in audience, and this book is just intended for a younger one.

I will not be picking up the in the series.

Review; They Called us Enemy

They Called Us Enemy
by George Takei (co-writer),
Justin Eisinger (co-writer),
Steven Scott (co-writer),
Harmony Becker (Artist)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

What is American? Who gets to decide? When the world is against you, what can one person do? To answer these questions, George Takei joins co-writers Justin Eisinger & Steven Scott and artist Harmony Becker for the journey of a lifetime.

Goodreads.com

George Takei’s The Called Us Enemy is a captivating work of art. The story he has to tell is a horrible one, and one of great injustice to a portion of America’s citizens. And it’s one story that is, unfortunately, still relevant today. There are terrible acts going on in America today, right now, and while this is a tale of the country’s history it’s also relevant to the present day.

The art of this book is also spot-on, and Harmony Becker’s attention to detail is admirable. The artistic style works in unison with the story, hitting the high and low points with precision.

I picked it up today, intending to sit down and read a few pages, and finished the book without moving from my spot. This is a book I would recommend to everyone. There are great lessons to learn here, and should be considered required reading.

Review; The Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

The Braindead MegaphoneThe Braindead Megaphone by George Saunders

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads

The breakout book from “the funniest writer in America”—not to mention an official Genius—a trade paperback original and his first nonfiction collection ever.

George Saunders’s first foray into nonfiction is composed of essays on literature, travel, and politics. At the core of this unique collection are Saunders’s travel essays based on his trips to seek out the mysteries of the “Buddha Boy” of Nepal; to attempt to indulge in the extravagant pleasures of Dubai; and to join the exploits of the minutemen at the Mexican border. Saunders expertly navigates the works of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and Esther Forbes, and leads the reader across the rocky political landscape of modern America. Emblazoned with his trademark wit and singular vision, Saunders’s endeavor into the art of the essay is testament to his exceptional range and ability as a writer and thinker.

In an effort to read more work outside of my usual comfort-zone (which consist mainly of science fiction, fantasy, and their sub genres) I have picked up a few collections of essays to peruse. I have mainly read “for fun” recently, and try to pick out books I am likely to enjoy, either based on knowing the author’s work or seeing a review from an author I follow that rates a work favourably. While still hoping to enjoy these essays, it’s definitely outside my usual reads… so I am trying to keep an open mind!

While published in 2007, much of what is here is still relevant today. In particular, the first essay about the “Megaphone Guy” and the simplification of language in media.

Here’s an excerpt from that section:

Last night on the local news I watched a young reporter standing in front of our mall, obviously freezing his ass off. The essence of his report was, Malls Tend to Get Busier at Christmas! Then he reported the local implications of his investigation: (1) This Also True at Our Mall! (2) When Our Mall More Busy, More Cars Present in Parking Lot! (3) The More Cars, the Longer It Takes Shoppers to Park! and (shockingly): (4) Yet People Still Are Shopping, Due to, It Is Christmas!

There’s a fair bit of truth to this which, and I have often found a lack of interest in the news for this reason… When worded this way, though, it’s clear how silly the process really is. I have noticed similar setups on the news, both in American and Canadian television. It’s a good reminder though, for what to avoid in one’s own writing. Wasting time and being unnecessarily repetitive to take up more time, rather than being concise. I would much rather be concise. What was the line from The Simpsons?

From Wikiquote, for the Season 5 episode Bart Gets Famous:

[Marge convinces Bart to perform one more time.]
Bart: You’re right, Mom. I shouldn’t let this bother me. I’m in television now. It’s my job to be repetitive. My job. My job. Repetitiveness is my job. [to Marge] I’m gonna go out there and give the best performance of my life!
Marge: The best performance of your life?
Bart: The best performance of my life!

(I should note that, in conversation, I quote The Simpsons a fair bit.  I grew up watching the show and, as young-me thought was necessary at the time, perfecting a Ralph Wiggum impression. Maybe I should be ashamed of it but, to be honest? I’m not. 😉 )

Anyway! While I found a few of the essays to be interesting, many were not of topics that could not keep my attention for long. I found myself skimming, or skipping some essays outright after a few paragraphs. There were others, though, about storytelling which I found useful and are likely to also appeal to those with similar interest.

Overall, the essays are well-written and the author has a distinct voice in his writing. His work is easy to read and follow and is, oftentimes, humerous as well.

Review; Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Steelheart (Reckoners, #1)Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 

Summary from Goodreads.com

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics. But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.

Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.

He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

Brandon Sanderson quickly became one of my favourite authors with his Mistborn series, so discovering Steelheart on Audible.com was awesome. I hadn’t been keeping up with any upcoming books, and had no context other than the blurb for the book on what was coming in this novel. My expectations were high though, because hey — it’s a new series (at least for me, not paying attention) from Brandon Sanderson — and I was not disappointed.

The way Sanderson builds the world and lays down the rules for magic and abilities is, as always, a strength of his that is put to good use. Understanding how the world works is made easy, and the characters feel real despite their… shall we say Epic… abilities? The main character, David, is an awkward teenager and I’m constantly feeling embarrassment on his behalf. The type of character works for the book, though, and while I found him a bit annoying at first that quickly dissipated and I found his character to be a great choice for this type of story. It didn’t worsen my enjoyment of the book, but I guess I wanted someone more badass rather than awkward and… well, relatable. (I might have been an awkward kid, too, okay? It hits too close!)

Another thing to note is that I listened to the audiobook version of this title, narrated by MacLeod Andrews. I had not heard any of his voice work previously, and was quite impressed with his range and consistency with the characters in the book. I’m glad he’s the choice for the remaining books in the series, and will definitely keep a lookout for more of his work in the future.

Steelheart is fast-paced and concise. I really enjoyed the ending, and what it means for the next book in the series.  I look forward to checking out the next one.

Review; Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen

Adulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah's Scribbles CollectionAdulthood Is a Myth: A Sarah’s Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Summary from Goodreads:

These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

Adulthood Is a Myth presents many fan favorites plus dozens of all-new comics exclusive to this book. Like the work of fellow Millennial authors Allie Brosh, Grace Helbig, and Gemma Correll, Sarah’s frankness on personal issues like body image, self-consciousness, introversion, relationships, and the frequency of bra-washing makes her comics highly relatable and deeply hilarious.

Sarah’s Scribbles comics will always be one of my favourite things to read. They’re incredibly easy to relate to and I feel like most apply to my life. (And, based on the popularity, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case for most people who love the comics.)

The artwork here is well-drawn, highly amusing, and I am nearly always sharing them with friends and family. It’s a strong collection, and a great introduction to Sarah Andersen’s artwork.

For those unfamiliar with her comics, they can be found on a variety of social media. I prefer reading on Sarah’s Instagram, but they can be found on Facebook, too.

Here are a few of my favourites, not necessarily from Adulthood is a Myth.