SERIES REVIEW: William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher

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I’ve never done a series review before! Step back and prepare to be amazed! Okay not really. But I’ll probably do more of them for things like comics or manga or shorter things like this in the future. Anyway. There are three books in this parody series: Verily, a New Hope, The Empire Striketh Back, and The Jedi Doth Return. My aunt got this series for me at our local comic shop and I saved them for some fun summer reading.

Rating: [3/5]

Reading Challenge: A trilogy

Summary: Basically, this series is exactly what it sounds. It is all three Star Wars movies rewritten and adapted into iambic pentameter and put in play format. Doescher uses traditionally Shakespearean methods to retell the story and really plays on themes found throughout all of Shakespeare’s plays.

Likes: My favorite part of the series was how much Doescher used Shakespeare to adapt the stories. He didn’t just put the films in iambic pentameter. He used a chorus to describe action sequences, had certain characters act as fools, and use prose and poetry to indicate character’s class. Plus, there were several famous Shakespearean speeches that he somehow managed to work directly into Star Wars without seeming too forced.

Dislikes: Plays and iambic pentameter in particular are always tough for me to get into, so I had a hard time reading these books more than an act at a time. But that’s not the book’s fault; that’s my brain’s fault. I’m trying to get more into drama/poetry and more into Shakespeare, so hopefully this won’t be a problem for long.

The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer

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When I was a kid, I absolutely loved the Artemis Fowl books. Seriously, I have read them more times than I think I’ve read any other book series. And I love other books that Eoin Colfer has written, so when I picked up The Supernaturalist, I thought I would really enjoy it.

Rating: [2/5]

Summary from Goodreads:

In the future, in a place called Satelite City, fourteen-year-old Cosmo Hill enters the world, unwanted by his parents. He’s sent to the Clarissa Frayne Institute for Parentally Challenged Boys, Freight class. At Clarissa Frayne, the boys are put to work by the state, testing highly dangerous products. At the end of most days, they are covered with burns, bruises, and sores. Cosmo realizes that if he doesn’t escape, he will die at this so-called orphanage. When the moment finally comes, Cosmo seizes his chance and breaks out with the help of the Supernaturalists, a motley crew of kids who all have the same special ability as Cosmo-they can see supernatural Parasites, creatures that feed on the life force of humans. The Supernaturalists patrol the city at night, hunting the Parasites in hopes of saving what’s left of humanity in Satellite City. Or so they think. The Supernaturalist soon find themselves caught in a web far more complicated than they’d imagined, when they discover a horrifying secret that will force them to question everything they believe in. Eoin Colfer has created an eerie and captivating world-part Blade Runner, part futuristic Dickens-replete with non-stop action.

Likes: I liked the characters most of all. Based on what I’ve read, Eoin Colfer always writes really funny, unique characters. The banter between Cosmo,Stefan, Mona, and Ditto made me giggle to myself at times. Plus, Mona was a Latina mechanic, so that was pretty neat.

Dislikes: The lack of worldbuilding. Like, it took place on Earth in future but there was really no explanation as to why things were that why. I get that it’s a sci-fi novel for middle-grade age people, but that doesn’t mean you get to skimp on worldbuilding. I’m thinking of some other middle-grade books like The Giver or Percy Jackson and the Olympians here. Also, the plot was kind of all over the place and difficult to follow at times. Ultimately, the lack of worldbuilding and convoluted plot made it really hard for me to get into.

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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I got this book a couple (a bunch) of months ago for my birthday. Based on everything I’ve seen, I thought I would really enjoy this book. After all, it’s incredibly photogenic, artsy, and a little bit trippy. But ultimately, it kind of fell flat in my opinion.

Rating: [2/5]

Reading Challenge: A popular author’s first book

Goodreads Summary:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography,Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

Likes: Visually, this book is stunning. All of the photographs are incredible, and in some cases, even a little chilling. After all, the fact that all of the photos in the book are authentic, unaltered vintage photographs is pretty impressive. Plus, I really liked the way that the author integrated the photos into the story itself.

Dislikes: Honestly, this book was kind of boring. The story never really grabbed me. Reading it, I felt like I kept waiting for something to happen. Also, the romance in the book was a little creepy and kind of sad, in my opinion.

TL;DR: While the idea of a novel filled with vintage photographs is appealing to me, this one didn’t really work for me in particular.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

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Somehow I never got around to reading this book when I was younger. But a bunch of different people have recommended it to me over the years, and I knew right away it would be the kind of book I would like. I ended up buying it on my birthday and saved it to read over the summer as a reward to myself for finishing school.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book that became a movie

Summary: Jonas is 12 years old, which means that he, along with all the other 12 year olds, will receive his job assignment. However, unlike all the other kids, Jonas isn’t sure what he wants to do or what he would even be good at. He ends up getting assigned to apprentice with the Giver. As he spends more and more time learning about the past with the Giver, he begins to see his society in a whole different way, a way that the others in his town cannot understand.

Likes: I found the world-building of this book to be the most compelling part of it. There wasn’t much of a plot, but the way the author described all the rules and history of the town made it feel like a real place. Additionally, the way that Jonas felt about the rules as he began to study with the Giver was really telling about just how messed up this dystopia really was.

Dislikes: There honestly wasn’t anything I disliked about this book.

TL;DR: This book is amazing and if you like dystopian fiction, you will like this.

Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind

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So, I’ll confess that I actually love the TV show based on this book, Legend of the Seeker. That’s how I found out about Terry Goodkind’s books. I first read Wizard’s First Rule back in high school–before I even had a blog–and I reread it recently because it fit one of the categories on the Popsugar challenge I’ve been doing this year. And my thoughts are pretty much the same.

Rating: [2-3/5]

Reading Challenge: A book based on or turned in to a TV show

Summary: Richard Cypher is a simple wood guide, but his life is turned upside-down when he meets a mysterious woman named Kahlan Amnell. She is from across the boundary, which separates Westland from the Midlands, and, more importantly, magic from normal life. After being named Seeker of Truth by the most powerful wizard in the land, Richard must use his powers to save the Midlands from Darken Rahl, an evil and powerful wizard who abuses his power and the people he rules.

Likes: Probably my favorite thing about this book is the relationship between Richard and Kahlan. They’re full of cuteness and angst and sexual tension. I’ve seen a lot of comments about implausibly their relationship develops, which I can understand, but this hopeless romantic likes it nevertheless. I also really enjoyed the magic and world-building in this book. The different creatures and types of magical beings and powers were really unique and interesting, in my opinion.

Dislikes: One thing that has been hugely problematic for me both times I’ve read this book is the way the author deals with rape and sexual abuse. One of the minor characters is literally a pedophile, and the only point this serves in the book is to characterize him as a villain. Not only is this incredibly disgusting, it’s lazy writing. Second of all, [potential SPOILERS ahead] Richard becomes involved with one of the Mord Sith, a group of women who use pain and bondage to torture and enslave men. Some of this involves sexual encounters. While it’s pretty clear that the author is trying to portray a BDSM-type experience, Richard does not consent to these acts. Which makes it rape.

TL;DR: I basically liked everything in this book, except for the several ways in which the author handled rape, which was disgusting and lazy. That’s why I can’t really decide what to rate it as.

The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis

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I’ve been reading bits and pieces of this book all semester for my history course. Though I assumed we’d read the whole book, we read all but one chapter. That just bugged me, so I sat down and read the last chapter so I could say with good conscience that I’d actually finished it. You can call me a nerd; I know it’s true.

Rating: [2/5]

Reading Challenge: A nonfiction book

Summary: For this book, Gaddis was asked to write a short but comprehensive guide to the Cold War. This book covers everything from the dropping of the bomb in 1945 to the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. He focuses on how ideology shaped the actions of world leaders and impacted world history from a social, economic, and political standpoint.

Likes: This book really does have it all. Going into it, I did not have a good understanding of the Cold War. After reading it, I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about this important part of world history. I think it definitely did a good job of explaining how everything was tied together and how the cycle of fear continued for so long.

Dislikes: Because he focuses so much of ideology, the book is not in chronological order. For me, that was a bit confusing at first since I did not have much of an understanding of the Cold War. However, it shouldn’t be a problem if you are familiar with the topic. Additionally, the prose was a little dry and hard to get through at times.

TL;DR: I would definitely recommend this book to history buffs or anyone who is interested in studying the Cold War or modern history.

Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

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This is probably my favorite Shakespeare play ever. I’ve seen all the film adaptations and I love every single one of them for different reasons. In high school, I even got the chance to act in this play. So I was really excited when I found out we were reading it in my Shakespeare class. Basically, I think it’s hilarious and Benedick and Beatrice are one of my most favorite fictional couples ever.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A classic romance

Summary: After returning home from war, Count Claudio enlists the help of his friends to win the heart of Hero. Once he is engaged to her, Don Pedro plots a distraction to keep the couple entertained while they wait to marry. They will each trick Benedick and Beatrice, sworn nemeses, into falling in love with each other. While they plan to bring this couple together, Don John, the prince’s bastard brother, has his own plot to tear Claudio and Hero apart.

Likes: Benedick and Beatrice. They are so funny and their chemistry is incredible. Plus, Shakespeare strongly hints at the back story of their relationship, which makes their banter all the more interesting.

Dislikes: Claudio’s treatment of Hero during the end of the play is pretty problematic, and the ending seemed kind of abrupt to me.

TL;DR: This is a great play and I would definitely recommend it.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello

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Oddly enough, I had to read this graphic novel for my Mythology class. We were discussing myth in the modern world and so we did a unit on Wonder Woman, reading the first two issues of the original comic book series, watching the pilot of the Lynda Carter TV show, and finally, reading the first volume of the new 52. Needless to say, this has definitely been the most fun school assignment I’ve ever had.

Rating: [4/5]

Reading Challenge: A graphic novel

Summary: Diana is sucked in to a war between the gods when Zola, who’s pregnant with Zeus’s child, shows up in her room one night. In her quest to protect Zola, Diana returns home to Paradise Island, bringing bloodshed right along with her. After discovering the secret to her parentage, Diana must figure out how to keep Zola and the baby safe from Hera and prevent war among the gods.

Likes: I love the character development, especially compared to the other two versions of Wonder Woman I’ve seen. I also really like how Greek mythology plays a larger role. Plus, the art style is absolutely gorgeous.

Dislikes: They switched artists in issues 5 and 6, which made it feel a little weird.

TL;DR: Definitely read this if you like comics and superheros.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

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Okay, I’m going to be really honest here. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded stupid. But then I kept seeing it everywhere and book bloggers whose opinions I respect were all gushing over it and so I started rethinking my opinions. And then it went on sale on Amazon, so I thought, why not? and bought it. I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE EXCITED TO BE WRONG IN MY LIFE.

Rating: [5/5]

Reading Challenge: A book set in the future

Summary: Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing. She’s also a cyborg living with her adoptive mother and two stepsisters. When the prince himself comes to her stand and asks her to fix his android, she can hardly say no. But that same day, plague breaks out in the city and people close to Cinder begin to fall ill. However, Cinder soon discovers that she may hold the key for a cure to this dreaded plague–and with that, she may finally be able to escape the city and find her happily ever after.

Likes: Disabled woman of color as the protagonist. That was literally one of the main reasons why I finally decided to pick up the book. Plus, all those plot twists. Seriously, I am kind of amazed at how much plot the author managed to fit into that book and still have it make sense. Lastly, I really liked how the author adapted the fairy tale and yet still managed to subvert expectations and make the characters and story fresh.

Dislikes: I really did not appreciate the massive cliffhanger at the end of the book, but that’s only because I can’t afford to buy the second one right now! :)

TL;DR: Read this book. All of you. Right now.

Never Look Back by Sabine Bummel

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I received a request from the author to review this book.

Goodreads | Amazon US

Rating: [1/5]

Summary: Jen Butler is an author of self-help books. She met the man of her dreams, Will, at one of her book signings and they began a yearlong relationship. However, Jen wakes up one day and discovers that every trace of Will has disappeared from her life. Thinking that she made the past year of her life up, she is determined to search for him and discover the truth. With the help of her ex-boyfriend, Cameron, she soon finds that Will may not have been who he said he was.

Likes: The book felt like I was reading a Michael Bay movie. Everything just seemed totally blown out of proportion and fantastical. It was full of expensive cars. exotic locales, fine foods, and a lot of sex. So, overall, I enjoyed the over-the-top Hollywood feel of the story.

Dislikes: There were a lot of misspelled words and grammatical errors. It was to the point that sometimes I could not tell what the author was even trying to say. The plot dragged at points and the characters all seemed exactly the same to me. But most of all, I feel the author asked the reader to take too much for granted and many times the situations were so implausible that it was too difficult to suspend my disbelief long enough to really get into the story.

TL;DR: I don’t think I would recommend this book to anyone, quite honestly. I just couldn’t take the story seriously.