7/11/17
SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING
spoiler free

I have gone to see the Spider-man reboot. 
The best word I can think of to describe the movie is 'cute'. That doesn't make it sound very good, but I thought it was fine, as superhero movies go. These sorts of movies are supposed to be amusing, and I was amused. Though I was falling asleep on the way to the theater, the film managed to keep me awake. It's not yet another origin story, which is good. If you enjoy superhero movies as a rule, you should definitely see this one. I liked it more than certain other Marvel movies I could mention. 
Be forewarned, there is a moderate sprinkling of what I believe is called "toilet-humour" in this movie. 


~~~~~~~

Alrighty then. Plot. It was fine. Exactly what you would expect. Kid feels like he could be doing more to help, kid gets in mess, kid feels discouraged, kid figures it out. (Is that a spoiler? I don't think so. Surely you didn't think a Marvel superhero movie was going to end with a dead main character?) 
What made this movie fun to watch was not the story, or the Villains, or the quirky sidekicks, or any of that. It was Tom Holland. From the moment I saw him in Captain America: Civil War, I knew he was going to be a good spidey. For one thing, he actually looks that part of a scrawny fifteen year old. He was 20 while they were filming, and is definitely one of those forever-young looking people. 
See, he looks like a twelve-year-old pretending to be a grown-up. Peter Parker being in awe of Tony Stark is very realistic. I imagine it wasn't hard for a young, inexperienced actor to act slightly nervous in the presence of Robert Downey Jr. Peter is supposed to be 15 in this movie, and it was quite believable. Holland nicely captured the energetic, slightly discoordinated nature of many fifteen year old boys. He even bothered to make his voice higher. And since he did most of his own stunts, his personality didn't disappear as soon as he put the mask on. 
There was one moment in particular that I really liked, I don't think I'm spoiling anything, but I might be, I don't know. Anyway. Peter was trapped under a pile of cement, and upon realizing that he couldn't get out by himself, he started crying (as in tears, not noise) and screaming for help. The reason I like this is that it is easy to forget how young he is. Yes he is a lovely brave superhero, but he is also a fifteen year old kid. In severe pain, and trapped, he freaks out, as anyone would, especially a younger chap. Lovely moment of realistic, human vulnerability. Nice touch, movie. 
   
Now then, other characters. With the exception of Aunt May and Stark, they were all slightly stereotypical movie high school people. The trusty, comedic-relief sidekick. The girl the main character has a crush on. The guy who makes fun of the main character, etc.

Tony Stark was...Tony Stark. Considering that all of the avengers movies and some of the Captain America ones are basically just Iron Man movies, I think Stark is decently well known. He is "mentoring" Peter, in the way that you would expect Tony to mentor: by ignoring him most of the time. And no, he does not at any point say the words "with great power comes great responsibility". Thank goodness. He is actually kind of a horrible role model, if you think about it. I mean....he did recruit a fifteen year old to help him fight incredibly dangerous superheros. Hardly responsible. He is always there enough to scold when Peter gets into scrapes, but not enough to notice beforehand. Not that I'm annoyed by it. It is VERY in keeping with the character of Tony Stark. (I still like you the best, Iron Man).
The villain was...predictable? I can't really talk about him without giving things away. Hmm. Nothing concerning him was in any way surprising to me. He was fine as a villain. Pretty much interchangeable with most other superhero villains. 

Aunt May..... wait, she was in this movie?? 




 The Author

You can find my other reviews at: writeornotwrite.blogspot.com/reviews

6/30/17
THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA
by
Megan Whalen Turner

The Queen of Attolia is the second book in the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. 

Did I say I would review the rest of this series? Yes. Did I say I would do it in a timely fashion..... no. 
I tried to write this without spoilers but I couldn't really think of much to talk about, so beware. I shall be stealing the blurby-whatsit from the back of the book (again).

The short version of this review is that I like this book. It is worth reading on its own, but is much more enjoyable if you have read The Thief



When his small mountainous country goes to war with the powerful nation of Attolia, Eugenides the thief is faced with his greatest challenge. He must steal a man, he must steal a queen, and he must steal peace. 
But his greatest triumph – as well as his greatest loss – can only come if he succeeds in capturing something the Queen of Attolia may have sacrificed long ago. 


Setting

I have already blabbed about how much I like the historical-fantasy-realistic feel of the book, in my review of The Thief. The Queen of Attolia puts you in the middle of a war, which means more details about the placement of cities and fortresses, and the strategic properties thereof. It is all quite interesting, and you can tell that Turner has really thought about where things would be built and why, and what sort of areas would be attacked first etc.. My copy didn't come with a map (I think more recent ones do) but I didn't really feel that I needed one. 

Plot

The plot is satisfyingly (english?) intricate, and well-paced. The military-strategy side of it is very interesting, at least to me. Easy to follow without being simplistic. The power-struggle (sort of) between Eddis, Attolia, and the Mede ambassador (Nahuseresh) was quite clever, and I was nicely confused during the first read. The Eugenides/Attolia thing was....not as good. Gen's side was okay. He found her beautiful, and through watching her realized that she wasn't just a murderous tyrant. But I never really bought her side. She kind of hate/respected him, and cut off his hand. She was cold and unpleasant, though human. All that is okay. I could even see how she could come to like him as a person, but her loving him never made sense to me. Even in the next book (King of Attolia) where you see more of their relationship, it seemed very off to me. It's all very well to laugh about "if I ever betrayed my spouse she would murder me in my sleep" but it doesn't help me like them together. Maybe that's just me. 

Characters

Gen: (stealing my comments from previous book review) I'm very fond of Gen. He is small, grumpy, and sarcastic. Very talented and clever, and kind of annoying (in a good way?). He is very childlike in a lot of ways, but also mature beyond his years. He grows up a lot in this book (not necessarily in the best of ways or under good circumstances) and his genius self really comes out. His plot to steal the queen is amusing. Amusing is probably not the best of words. But I laughed...so.... Clever people amuse me. Gen is very smart, but also young. That really comes out in this book. He is so untouchable, and yet so vulnerable. His love for Attolia is rather adorable, if slightly disturbing. 

Attolia: As a character, I like her. Her coldness, the horrible things she has done, her upbringing. It all fits together and makes sense. Her envy of Eddis's loyal courtiers and loving people. All this I like, but I still do not accept her loving Eugenides. By the next book, it is fine, but I remain unconvinced by her love in The Queen of Attolia. It is so sudden, and so random. Perhaps I balk at a love between two people who have pretty much never spoken to each other. Attolia has never interacted with Gen. She knows basically nothing about him as a person. They have no relationship. At one end of the book, she is severing his hand and sending him back to Eddis, thinking he will probably die from infections and sickness. Then at the other end, she loves him...but nothing really happened between them in that time. 

Nahuseresh: The Mede ambassador, seeking to marry Attolia and gain control over her country. I like him (as a bad guy, not as a person). He ends up failing as a result of pride-induces blindness, but he isn't just portrayed as stupid. On the contrary, he is quite astute, diplomatic, and manipulative. Perfect ambassador material. He is the younger brother of the heir to the Mede empire, which makes him powerful but not powerful enough for his own desire. In this book, his plan is to control first Attolia, then Eddis and Sounis, and make them part of the Mede empire. All very loyal to his emperor, but a big part of his motive is a desire for personal power. If he succeeded, he would rule a decent size country, far enough away from Mede that he wouldn't be completely under his monarch's thumb. 

Objectionable Content

Um. Someone's hand gets chopped off? Is that objectionable? Perhaps for a very young child, that could be disturbing. Oh, there are a few uses of the word 'damn'. That isn't really objectionable, but I believe it is one of those things people expect to be warned about in reviews. 

In Conclusion

While I did not enjoy The Queen of Attolia as much as The Thief, I do like it. It is well written, with good characters and a good storyline. As I mentioned before, it is better read after The Thief, but it does stand on its own just fine. 
 The Author

You can find my other reviews at: writeornotwrite.blogspot.com/reviews

6/13/17
Special Book Darlings

It should be noted that most of the things I post start out with me talking to someone else, and suddenly realizing that I just spouted a blog post at them. Recently, I was talking to a friend, and started to point out particular books of mine, that have some particular sentimental value. And by particular books, I mean the physical copy that I own, not just the text of the book. If you have read some of my other posts, you will be VERY surprised to hear that no copy of LOTR that I own, has any particular sentimental value (aside from being LOTR). Fear not, I am still me, there is a Tolkien book on this list. 
I apologize for the lack of pictures. 
So without further ado, some of my treasures and why they are special. 

LOUISA MAY ALCOTT

Let us start at the very beginning (a very good place to start) with the first book I ever actually owned (not counting some weird picture book someone gave me that I don't have any more). It is a collection of Louisa May Alcott's writing that includes Little Women, Little Men, and a bunch of short stories. Though well read, and missing the dust jacket, this book remains in excellent condition. It also happens to be the first book on my shelf, as a result of Louisa's last name. 


AGATHA CHRISTIE 

Continuing through the shelf, we arrive at Agatha Christie's Death Comes as the End. I think I have mentioned this before, but this is the book that made me want to go write. It is not particularly good, especially in comparison to some of Christie's other works, but for some reason it filled me with a rather overwhelming desire to write a book. I finished it, got a notebook, and wrote the word "Reniseb" in it. The rest is history. I think I was 11 or 12 at the time. Fun fact, I didn't actually own this book when I first read it. But later, it was put with a pile that was being cast out of the house, and I asked if I could keep it. MINE. MY OWN. MY PRECIOUS. 


ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

Next up is a copy of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. My dad used to read aloud to myself and my siblings from this exact copy, when I was quite little. One of my clearest memories of our old house (we moved to my current abode in 2006) is sitting in the living room listening to Treasure Island. For some reason, us kidlets really liked that particular book, as I remember it being read aloud many times. It was also on it's way out to a far away land of books that other people were allowed to touch. Naturally, I rescued it, and it now sits on my bookshelf, safe and sound. The first page informs me that it was a Christmas gift to someone name Ethan in 1994, and later sold for $1.50. Despite that beautiful low price, it is actually a really nice edition, and in excellent condition. 


JRR TOLKIEN

Now we come to something by Tolkien, an inevitable result for any post of mine relating to books (or anything else, really). This is a hardcover copy of The Hobbit, illustrated by Alan Lee. Our family required that LOTR be read before the movie was seen, but did not require that I read The Hobbit, before The Lord of the Rings. I confess, it was not love of LOTR that caused me to pick up the Hobbit from the coffee-table in the living room, all those years ago. I picked it up because it was pretty, and looked interesting. Like a lot of my books, it wasn't mine, but I stole it away. It was sort of a family owned book, that wasn't treated with the proper amount of care (in my opinion), so I spirited it up to my room, and proceeded to read it on repeat for a good long while. 

And now, for a couple of others that don't have much of a story behind them, but are special anyway:

Cheaper by the Dozen: gift from a dear friend who thought I ought to read it, since I want at least a dozen children. 

Pharaoh: Because it's a really good book, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, set in ancient egypt. It's a first edition (there was only ever the one), and I loves it very much. I would put Mara on here, but the copy that I first read isn't in my bookshelf, and this post is about my actual possessions, not just books that are important to me. I also paid too much for Pharaoh, having never read, because I trusted McGraw. I was not disappointed. Worth every penny. (It currently sells for twice what I paid, so I feel better about my purchase. Not that I would ever sell it.)

Mr. Popper's Penguins: It may be childish, but I am very fond of my copy of this (yes, I stole it from an out-going pile of books, hush) I adored this book when I was younger. It was beat up when I first read it, and it is basically falling apart now, but I wuv it. It was also among the first real books I read on my own. When I say "real books" it means that I am not including those weird things specially put together for kids learning how to read. Those are unpleasant and I hate them. I do not care that Bob ran. I can see that, from the picture. Find me something more interesting. (As a young child, I was fond of crawling across pipes, climbing trees, jumping off of top bunks, and cutting all my hair off on a whim. I didn't have patience for reading unless there was something interesting happening.) I maintain that this book about Penguins is still an amusing little read, and I shall definitely be passing it on to my own children. 
 The Author


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