Friday, August 28, 2015

#CBR7 Review #24: Daredevil, vol. 1 by Frank Miller and Klaus Jansen

I have this problem. The problem is that I always want to get into more comic books but never know where to start (bruh, you know people who can probably help you with this). But I saw that this edition of Daredevil said “Volume 1” on it so thought that hey, maybe that would be a good place to start. What I realize is that this was the first run of Frank Miller at the helm for the character (the first half of the volume being predominantly in the drawing, the second half with more of Miller’s writing). From what I understand, many believe that the character of Daredevil really came into his own when Miller began working with him, so at this point of me jumping into the series, Matt Murdock was already established as Daredevil and had some history that required me to fill in some blanks along the way with what I already knew about Daredevil (from the show, other conversations, etc), or to try and come to other conclusions regarding his relationships with certain characters based on the present information given. At the very least, almost all of the issues included in this volume made sure to go over how Matt Murdock gained his abilities and became Daredevil so that we aren’t so out of the loop on that front.

In any case, this first volume of Miller’s work begins with Daredevil appearing in a few issues of The Spectacular Spiderman before jumping into Daredevil on his own. The volume overall largely deals with Daredevil against one of his biggest foes, Bullseye, as well as Kingpin, who is in a stage of returning to America after giving up his life of running the crime lords for some time. We also see the first appearance of Electra, and have some run-ins with The Hulk and other villains. The beginning of the volume seems to be a bit lighter in fare, with the second half becoming more dark, and in my opinion, more interesting.

Overall, it is a good run of issues focused on Daredevil, yet I did feel like I was just jumping into something just for a little stint in the middle. I think I need to either continue to read more in order to get more into it, or to pay more attention with where and when to start a run with an already established character (and particularly one that I already have an idea of in my mind as based on the Netflix show of the character, whoops).

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Monday, August 10, 2015

#CBR7 Review #23: Bitten by Kelly Armstrong

Another one from the pile my friend handed to me when I asked for book recommendations! And a pretty enjoyable read, too, given how much I like werewolves these days (*cough* Teen Wolf). But I once again fall into this problem that I’ve been having lately in regards to protagonists: they just aren’t connecting with me. That is not to say that I like nothing about Elena, the main character in Bitten. But, she just seems to flip flop a bit to the point where I’m not sure if certain things are in fact out of character or if I just don’t truly understand her in some ways and am therefore seeing them as such. That’s my problem, though, and I don’t think everyone would feel the same as me.

Bitten is about a woman named Elena, who is the only female werewolf in the world (special snowflake sirens screech in the distance!! she’s a hot commodity, y’all!). But let’s not get caught up in what initially made me roll my eyes. Elena has been living a pretty decent human life as a wolf without a pack for a while, but gets called back to her old pack life when some violent acts start to occur in the area around where her former pack lives. Elena falls easily back into this life, and there the internal struggle begins as she is faced with decisions regarding human versus werewolf life, and her new boyfriend versus her old werewolf lover, Clay, with whom she has so much history. The violence in the area around her old pack is related to the threat of some outside, pack-less wolves (“mutts” as they are called), which soon begins to threaten the lives of Elena and her wolf family (I mean, that’s basically what a pack is, right?).

I won’t go too much more into details, as it’s always fun when not too much is given away. But the story itself is bloody and intriguing, and the characters all seem to be quite colorful and interesting (if somewhat one-dimensional in the case of a few). All in all, it was enjoyable for a werewolf novel, and I am interested in reading the next in the series. There is just that issue I had with Elena herself throughout the book. Something about her didn’t resonate with me, but that’s okay, as it happens sometimes. Though I did picture her as something of a mix between Ronda Rousey and Natalie Dormer, which certainly helped in coming up with a picture of her in my mind.

At the end of the day, I might pick up another one of these books one day, as Armstrong has a pretty concise yet engaging voice in her writing. It just might not be the first thing on my list to continue with (I just have so many other things now that I need to read and/or continue!).

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

#CBR7 Review #21-22: Introductions to Christian Theology

A joint review of:
- Christian Theology: an Introduction to its Tasks and Traditions by Peter C. Hodgson and Robert H. King, and the companion book of assorted readings, Readings in Christian Theology

I am currently undertaking an introductory course in Christian Theology, as a part of my school program of choice. And I made the mistake of doing it by correspondence after a few course cancellations, scheduling issues, etc. I am way in over my head, and I recognize that.

That being said, I thought that these introductory texts would help me get truly immersed in the subject, but as it is, I find them difficult to read, as I don’t have much of a religious background to understand some of the concepts. It is very in-depth as to a number of the major Christian doctrines and what is essential to the faith, but at times I felt like I needed a dictionary on standby to be truly able to digest the type of language used.

I will say, however, that many of the readings in the accompanying “readings” text are illuminating and helpful in coming to understand some of the different schools of thought present in Christian theology over time. They just often have a style of language that is a little difficult for me to connect with.

So all in all, this isn’t really a topic that I’m well versed on, and perhaps there is a better way to begin getting into Christian Theology than these texts. I’m sorry for continually reviewing my textbooks. I should stop that (even though I do continue to read them all in their entirety).

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Thursday, July 16, 2015

#CBR7 Review #20: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

After reading another Cannonballer’s review of Modern Romance, I decided I had to take a look and see what it’s all about! A look at the modern dating scene from a sociological perspective mixed with personal memories, and coming from the hilarious Aziz Ansari? That sounds like it was made for me! This book was in fact quite interesting, very easy to zip through while on a couple of long car-rides, and had a light and funny voice to it overall.

But there were a couple of things that has made it fall into the 3-star category for me: for one, while the whole thing has a nice overview of facts, issues, and new things to consider in the modern dating scene (largely, technology and changing social culture, etc), I’m not really sure where the whole thing was trying to go. Is it just a research summary? Intended to help people in their dating life? Not sure how helpful it will be for me, I still feel pretty clueless, so I don’t know.

The other issue that I had was that a lot of the information and discussions presented, I honestly felt like I knew (or at least, was aware of) already. A lot of it was discussed in an interpersonal relationships course I took for my psychology degree a few years ago, even though the modern dating world wasn’t even the focus of the class, really. For instance, the new concept of “Emerging Adulthood” and how this affects individual development, culture, marriage, relationships, economics, etc is an important topic in a lot of different fields today. And I know for a fact that I’ve read about the Capilano Suspension Bridge study at least twice in various classes, so some of the things presented were really like refreshers for me. But that’s my own fault, honestly. 

What I did love, however, was how Ansari presented the information in both an informative but fun way. I couldn’t help but giggle at a number of different parts, and I just love his sense of humor. I also learned a lot about differences between certain cultures and trends in these cultures (ie, Japan), so the chapters based on focus groups conducted in different countries were highlights for me. That and any time a text conversation from a straight white boy was presented. Those always crack me up.

But in any case, I did enjoy this book and thought it was an interesting combination of personal tales and sociological research. I have yet to really read anything else like that, so it was reasonably refreshing. But perhaps the various ideas that went into the whole thing just needed a touch more direction to tie it all together and leave it feeling less like a big overview or summary.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

#CBR7 Review #18-19: Tithe and Ironside by Holly Black


I asked my friend for some recommendations of books, and found these two thrust into my hands. Apparently there is actually another book that comes in between them in the series (Valiant), but that it is about other characters whereas Ironside is more like a direct sequel to Tithe. But anyways, that’s a bit of a side note.

I will start this off by saying that as a kid growing up, I love love LOVED anything to do with Faeries and other little magical creatures like that. So I was intrigued, seeing as how I haven’t actually read any young adult novels based around those types of creatures (which is kind of surprising to me). And these two books were pretty interesting to hear all about these faery worlds and creatures and customs, despite the fact that the plot followed that sort of typical YA, “you’re different from everyone else” pattern. What do we call it? The special snowflake thing? Anyways. The only problem was with the main character, Kaye… There was something about her. I wanted to like her, and for all intents and purposes I probably should have. But there was something about her that did not resonate with me.

In any case, Tithe begins with a whimsical, teenage Kaye and her mother, returning to their hometown after drifting from place to place with Kaye’s mother’s band. This experience over the many years has hardened Kaye quite a bit, but as soon as she returns home she can’t help but return to her old ways of looking for faeries and for something magical around her. This leads to some revelations that Kaye may not in fact be human, and she may also be necessary in a plot to help her faery friends from childhood. What of course puts a jam in the works is the presence of a super hunky faery boy named Roiben (look… I know it’s supposed to be like regal or faery-like but that name just isn’t working for me). They way he’s described makes me think of a young King Thranduil, so you know I’m all about that. Kaye’s childhood friend’s older brother, named Cornelius (or “Corny) also ends up involved in the works, and the two friends become a part of some dangerous faery politics between both the light and dark sides of that magical world.



Overall, the story is one that zipped by really quickly, and I did indeed want to know what was going to happen next. Holly Black has a way of writing that is detailed enough, but doesn’t get jammed up and slow down the pace of things. There were some things that I rolled my eyes at, of course, as I tend to do with YA novels that follow specific plot points or have certain things involved in them. I’m talking about the romantic relationship between Roiben and Kaye (it’s not a spoiler, I’m sure you saw that coming) that seemed very stiff and I was like, oh my goodness you guys have known each other for two days: calm down! But that is to be expected, I suppose. (Also the games of riddles asked throughout various parts seemed a little forced, even though that parts in the Hobbit wherein they are asking riddles is one of my favourites. But let’s not get off track here).  

Following some brutal events within the conclusion of the first novel, Ironside then picks up with the aftermath of some new governance in the faery world, and all that that entails, while Kaye comes to terms with what her new life should look like, being that she now knows she is a faery but still wants to somehow be connected to her old life. Corny is also feeling a little out of place, now that he knows about the feary world and is afraid of coming under their spells and control, wanting to be able to protect himself, but feeling incredible human.

But to come to the end of this sprawling nonsense of words: I liked some of the minor characters in the book quite a lot more than the main ones. The plot was also enjoyable and not too complicated, but complicated enough to not get too confusing for me. I enjoyed the inclusion of the faery aspects, because as I said, I was very much into that sort of thing growing up. And in general I did like reading them and got through these books quite quickly. So if you don’t mind something that follows some of the common YA tropes, but twists them in a little bit of a different way, then maybe consider giving this series a try. And perhaps I will read the other book that comes in-between these two one day.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Sunday, May 24, 2015

#CBR7 Review #17: Stardust by Neil Gaiman

A couple of things have reminded me of the movie Stardust lately, which ultimately led to me feeling the need to read the book, of course! Because why wouldn’t I delve into the source material of something I like so much? And I wasn’t disappointed! As always, there is so much more to the story and more detail than you’d see in a different kind of medium, and Neil Gaiman is very creative and always seems to be able to produce some sort of vivid and imaginative world that just somehow makes sense even with all it’s whimsy. Do I sometimes want to say, “You’re not as deep as you think you are, Sir”? Yes, I do. But that doesn’t mean I don’t immensely enjoy his writing and the stories and characters he creates.

On to the tale itself, Stardust follows the adventures of a young man named Tristan, whose birth came about by some peculiar circumstances, involving a magical land beyond the walls of his town (called Wall, of course). As he comes of age, his sights are set on a beautiful young woman, and claims that he would do anything for her, even retrieve a fallen star that crashed down in the land beyond the wall. And so… that’s exactly what he decides to do: to leave his home on an adventure to find a star, which, sure enough, is not a rock like you might imagine, but more like a woman (named Yvaine). But there are a whole host of other things going on in this land as well, involving a quest to become the new lord of the land, and some witches also on the hunt for the star to reclaim their youth.

As I mentioned before, the tale is imaginative and very fun, and you can’t help but become fond of all the different characters (well, except for Yvaine, honestly, there was just something missing from her that I can’t explain which stopped me from really enjoying her, though that doesn’t mean I disliked her by any means). I swept through the novel quite quickly, as it was hard to put down and I always wanted to know where it went next, even if I was already familiar with the overall story after seeing the film a few times. The one thing that I would bemoan, however, is that the end of the novel almost seemed a little anti-climactic, after everything that Tristan and Yvaine went through. Maybe that’s just me, though.

At the end of the day, I very much enjoyed Stardust, and I know that when I was younger I would have totally eaten it up! It’s just very fun and magical. And who doesn’t like something like that?

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

#CBR07 Review #16: Proof That You Can Self-Publish ANYTHING on Amazon

(A review of Gay T-Rex Law Firm: Executive Boner, by Chuck Tingle)

What the hell did I just read??? 
Let’s not get into how I stumbled upon author Chuck Tingle on Amazon, whose stories include those with titles such as: “The Curse of Bigfoot Butt Camp”, “I’m Gay for my Living Billionaire Jet Plane”, “Space Raptor Butt Invasion”, and “Pounded by the Gay Unicorn Football Squad.” All I will say is that curiosity killed this cat… and there was little satisfaction to bring it back.

Seriously, this book took me about five minutes to read, and they were some of the strangest five minutes reading I’ve ever spent. At first you think, “this is ridiculous and hilarious!” as the story begins with Donny, getting hired at Jurassic Law, a law firm with mainly dinosaurs working there, with absolutely no explanation regarding this. Like, okay I guess we are just living in a world with sentient dinosaurs that run successful law firms in New York. I can work with that. But then suddenly things take a sharp turn, and our young, human protagonist is offered a (and I quote): “Contract to run a T-Rex bangbang train on Donny Sullivan’s gay human ass for the sum of ten million dollars even.”

And so, I get to see Donny’s initial reaction of, “I’m not even gay, BRO!” which suddenly turned into, “well, I guess I’m going to have sex with some dinosaurs,” and finally reaching a point of, “wow, I am actually getting pretty worked up with these dinos, let’s get after it!” followed by, well… exactly what you would expect (alright, I may be paraphrasing a bit here, but you get the picture, I’m sure).

I mean… I should have know what I was getting into when I saw the title of this book (I didn't exactly read the description because I am dumb, okay?). But I walked right into it. And it’s not like the writing was good in the slightest; I could have turned around. But I didn’t. At one point I somehow, and for some unknown reason convinced myself that there was a sort of theme or deeper meaning hidden in this story, you know, when the dinosaurs started talking about the greed of humans and what they will agree to do for money… But that was just me trying to make light of the fact that I just read a story about a bunch of dinosaurs running a train on some guy. And not even a well-written one!

So I don’t know what to tell you. But it was free and only took a few minutes to get through. And now I have been requested to do a dramatic live-reading of this ridiculous book at a party this weekend. So I guess that’s happening. I just don’t know how this guy can come up with so many ridiculous ideas for his stories. I’m assuming they are all like this? I don’t know, but I do know that I feel a need to go to Church this Sunday. I just read Dinosaur erotica. What am I even doing?
Oh, and the main T-Rex was named Tyson Rex, because of course he was. 

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Saturday, April 4, 2015

#CBR7 Review #14-15: Adulthood by Evie Bentley & Counselling and the Life Course by LĂ©onie Sugarman

 These are by far two of the shortest books that I have had to read for school in a long time. Hooray! And they were quite straightforward and easy to get through as well. However, this may be due to the fact that I have previously taken a Lifespan Development course before, so a lot of the information I received was nothing new. More like a refresher. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Leonie Sugarman’s book on Counselling and the Life Course presents a number of different theories regarding lifespan and development, though the focus is more on what these implications might mean when counseling a person. An individual’s present placement within their lifespan or their current stage of development can result in a number of different issues that may be more salient for them, or it can influence how certain life events may affect them. For instance, losing a parent during childhood or adolescence will have different implications for a person than if this were to occur during their middle age.

Meanwhile, Evie Bentley’s book largely focuses on adulthood, and the different subsets of stages and ages within. This also includes the somewhat newer theory of there being an “emerging adulthood” between adolescence and adulthood, as in contemporary society a large number of people who are adults remain in a stage of limbo during these early adult years while they go through post-secondary school, still live at home, and generally display characteristics that are a mixture of adult and older adolescent etc. But we all knew that that was a more common things these days, didn’t we? Each subset within adulthood has different issues or intrinsic “conflicts” that will be more common, and Bentley presents these as they may pertain to different ages.

Both books point out that most of the research in their theories (particularly that of Erickson, who is a major voice in the field) focuses on that of male development, and within a Euro-centric context. Social, personal, racial, and economic factors can also influence how a person develops, among other things, as well as how they adapt to changes in their lives. Both authors also make sure to point out that development is extremely variable, even between individuals that appear to be extremely similar in almost all respects. What this means for taking a Lifespan perspective for therapy is that essentially, while people may differ greatly in their development and progress through life, a person’s current life stage may simply provide clues as to what they may be going through or what internal conflicts they may be experiencing at that time.

All in all, these books are informative, though really feel like general surveys of information that you can then get more in-depth with. So they would be good for a bit of an introductory examination of the lifespan or even just the span of adulthood and what may be involved therein in terms of understanding the lifespan perspective of human development.

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

#CBR7 Review #13: Locke & Key, vol. 6 – Alpha & Omega by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

The concluding volume of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s comic series Locke & Key is full of carnage, and I didn’t expect anything different. There is resolution, and yet so many more mysteries left to be explored in this world and with all the magical keys and the history of key house. The only truly bad thing about this book was that it had to end, after everything came to a head and we were left to see where the resulting pieces would end up.

 “Alpha & Omega” takes us to the night of prom for the Locke children, as they plan to have an after-party rave in the caverns by their the Lovecraft house. But Bode, still possessed by the spirit of Luke/”Dodge,” has other ideas for how the night shall end, as he appears to hold all the cards in his little game: with almost all of the magical keys in his possession, and no one aware that he is not in fact Bode anymore, Luke is free to play a game that results in his ultimate quest for a world of select loyal followers and slaves. But there is one hitch in his plan, the unlikely hero of mentally disabled, Rufus, who knows more than he is given credit for.

I knew that things were going to come to a breaking point in this volume, like one final showdown of the Locke’s versus the demon inside their once friend, now family member. And it certainly didn’t disappoint, with expressive language, engaging artwork, and somewhat devastating results. There are so many intriguing characters in this series and some moments of real emotion that I just can’t stop gushing. (Okay, maybe the feelings I had were slighty related to the somewhat disheartened state my heart was already in upon learning of Zayn’s departure from One Direction. Fight me about it). There is one scene in the concluding little section where loose ends are being tied that I can’t fully wrap my head around, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.

In all honesty, I would recommend this series to a lot of people, especially if you like things that are imaginative, full of mystery, and aren’t afraid for things to get pretty dark at times (even within the first part of the first book in this series we experience intense scenes of blood and butchery). They are all unique and I always ended up reading them super quickly due to how enthralled I was. Maybe a re-read will be in order to see if I catch new things that I didn’t the first time around?

[Be sure to visit the Cannonball Read main site!]

A Short Note on Zayn Leaving One Direction

I am saddened to hear about Zayn Malik's decision to leave One Direction at this time, just as it is always saddening to hear about a member of your favourite band leaving, as now it just won't feel quite the same any more.
But the most disheartening thing of all in this situation, is how something that used to make Zayn so happy became something that he just couldn't do anymore. Those boys have been worked so hard over the past (almost) five years, and need a break. I am just happy that Zayn has been able to step back and say that enough is enough, and make the decision to focus on his own well-being. Because how many times have we seen people being pushed too far? He needs to do what is right for him. I wish him all the best, and of course will still love their music as it has made me so happy on so many different occasions.
All my love to Zayn, Louis, Liam, Niall, and Harry, wherever they may be at this time.