Tag Archives: Fantasy

5 Eccentricities I Have as a Reader

As a reader, there are a few quirks I have when it comes to reading (and media/entertainment in general I suppose).

-ArtsyOwl

Trying a little prompt to help get the ball rolling after about a month off (lack of writing motivation, thy name is writer’s block). This was based on a prompt about five things I’m good at. However, an idea came to me. talk about five things that I’ve noticed about myself when it comes to reading and books in general. Mostly, these are things that I do periodically and one is something I’ve noticed because of how frequently I use the library.

1. Fast Reading

Everyone reads at a different pace. Some people may be fast readers, some read a little slower, and others somewhere in between. For me, I would say that in most cases, I am a fast reader. On average, I am able to get through a two to three hundred page book in a day or two. Especially if I’m really into the book and don’t want to set it down. I may be able to attribute this to the fact I always liked to read and/or how I have always been able to get through a couple manga volumes in a day.

I know it might sound like I may rush through a book but I don’t. I am able to get through a book and understand what is going on at the pace I read at. Sometimes, I do have to go back and read a section, but that won’t always be the case and isn’t something I attribute to just my pace (ex. getting distracted).

That’s not to say that I won’t take my time with certain books. Longer books or books that may have more intricate details are books that I will slow down and take my time with. For instance, Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien is a book that I will take my time with due to the story, characters and concepts being things that would need a slower pace. Another example would be a book I am currently working through The Final Strife by Saara El-Arifi. Technically, I started this book a few moths ago, but life happens, I got distracted with other books, and motivation has been on and off. That said, because it is a bigger book and I want to make sure I’m understanding the world, it is a book I wanted to take my time with.

Generally speaking though, I would consider myself a faster reader. And the reason I consider that as something I am good at is because it’s something I’ve grown into. I don’t feel like I am better than others for it, it’s just something I’m good at.

2. Partial Memorization of the Dewey Decimal System

If there is one thing nonfiction sections in libraries are known for, it’s the Dewey Decimal System. This is how the libraries organize where things are located and is primarily used with organizing the nonfiction section. Each section will cover a specific number range (ex. 100-199.999Z, 600-699.99Z, and 900-999.999Z), will cover a specific topic (science, philosophy, languages, etc.), and each topic will have subcategories (animals, poetry, algebra etc.).

The bigger sections that I have memorized are the religion, history and geography, literature, languages, and the general range for science and math (Science has two sections, applied where you’ll find tings like math and astronomy for instance and natural science for things like wildlife). As far as specific topics in these categories, I know what range cooking, pets, mythology, fairytales/folktales, Egyptian history and geology/gemstones fall into.

Of course, I don’t have the whole system memorized, which is were the librarian would be more helpful than me. However, if I am able to help direct someone in the right direction, I will. The fact that I even have some of it memorized is something I feel is good to know. Because if I wanted to find a topic from the ones I remember, or was directing someone to any of those topics, I know where to start looking.

3. Trying Something New Every so Often

While there is nothing wrong with sticking to genres and/or authors you enjoy, I do think trying something new every now and then is a good thing. Like for me, I personally tend to lean towards fantasy, historical fiction, the occasional nonfiction and biography, graphic novels/comics, manga on occasion, and general fiction. Someone else might prefer romance, and the next person might like mysteries and horror. It all depends.

I doubt I am the only one who does, but every now and then I may want to read something new, like a genre I don’t typically read or a single book from a genre that catches my eye. When that happens, I’ll try to find something that interests me, if it hasn’t already crossed my radar. Some I like, some I don’t. For instance, I was never a big fan of westerns, but I ended up watching the 2021 Netflix adaptation of The Power of the Dog by Thomas Savage, enjoyed it, and then read the book, which I also enjoyed. Or Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, an urban fantasy series I tried that has since become my guilty pleasure read. An instance of me trying something new and disliking it would probably have to be P.C. Doherty’s Ancient Egypt Mysteries/Amerotke series. It’s not that the series is necessarily bad per say, I’ve just tried picking the series up two or three times and could not being myself to finish it. The farthest I think I got was book four and it’s a seven book long series.

But yeah, trying new books on occasion is something I feel like I’m good at. I know what I like and am at least willing to try other things. I don’t see it as a requirement for reader and I think it’s perfectly fine if someone wants to stick to what they like. Trying something new every now and then is just something I feel good doing, even if I don’t always enjoy it.

4. Trying to Find That One Good Thing About a Book I Dislike or a Flawed Book. Fiction Specifically.

I’m going to try and avoid using “bad books” because while I do believe there are things that can make a book bad objectively (ex. grammar, story telling, and characterization), objectivity and subjectivity of what makes a book bad may get confusing. So for the sake of discussion, I’m approaching this as books that I disliked that either had good or average reviews, or books that I’ve read and disliked that have generally bad review scores. This is also strictly for fiction as a whole. Nonfiction is a different playing field. Especially since things like accuracy and research is crucial with the topic a nonfiction book is discussing, regardless of whether it’s an informative piece or an opinion based one.

Essentially, when I read a book that I don’t end up enjoying, I try to find at least one good thing about that book. Granted, not every book I dislike will have one good thing, but I do try to find something. Whether it be a concept that had potential, a scene, or a character, if I can find one good thing, I’ll mention it. It may not make the book anymore enjoyable for me, and I may be woefully optimistic, especially if it’s a poorly received book, but it’s a way for me to try to see if there is one good thing in an otherwise unenjoyable story.

Two examples of this are Sun Sister by Lucinda Riley and The Draco by Chuck Austen. In the case of Sun Sister, it was my least favorite book from the Seven Sisters series. I think I rated this a (low) three out of five stars. I didn’t dislike it enough to give it anything lower, but I did think it was the weaker book of the series. For this book, the one good thing I gave to it was that the story was there, even if I thought it could have been better. I could see what they were going for and appreciated the character growth for Electra, though the execution felt a little rushed in some areas and could have used something more in others.

For Chuck Austen’s The Draco, it would be Azazel. This story was for all intensive purposes, bad. Characterization was bad with characters feeling poorly written and/or not in character, it had one or two major plot holes like when it came to how Azazel could get out of the Brimstone Dimension, and the story itself wasn’t that well executed. There’s also the art, though I doubt better art would have helped much, and the reception of Azazel was not that great. That said, I do think that Azazel is the only good concept from this story. I know him being a demon (or the mutant equivalent) doesn’t sit well with some people and the initial plan for Mystique and Destiny is what some would have preferred happening. I don’t think they’re wrong in thinking that. I just think that given what they were able to do in 2004 and not being as bothered by the demon bit, that Azazel isn’t necessarily a bad character in practice nor is his concept as Nightcrawler’s father.

If I can, I will try to find one good thing about a story I didn’t enjoy. Not every book I dislike will, and I wouldn’t want to say that is the case. However, if I do find something good, I will note it.

5. Marry-Go-Round of Reading Interests

I’m the type of person who will get interested in a subject or topic for a while. This can include things like a character, a series, a concept, a location, a theme, and an animal, among other topics. For instance, I recently started getting into Marvel, mainly X-Men, and it’s been one of my bigger interests as of late. And every now and then, they will change. Sometimes it is something new entirely, other times it an already existing interest of mine.

This cycle of interests also works it’s way into what I read. In some ways, it’s weeded into what I read. For instance, the aforementioned X-Men interest. Wanted to read up on Nightcrawler and have been reading quite a few comics with him as well as X-Men and Wolverine comics in general. Alternatively, psychology is an interest of mine and recently I’ve been interested in learning about Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). The reason for it has to do with curiosity and me wanting to learn more/educate myself on it.

That said, not all of my reading interests will align with my other interests. For instance, every now and then I may want to read a specific genre because I’m looking for something new. Sometimes I’ll want to read that genre for the month or throughout the year. An example would be biographies. Most times it’s on someone I know, but every now and then a biography that I might not consider crosses my radar and I decide to read it. This year, I ended up reading five biographies and memoirs in total, with a few on my to read list going into next year.

Conclusion

Those are my five eccentricities I’ve noticed when it comes to reading. Little things that I’ve either noticed I do or have memorized. Do you have any little tricks or habits that you notice when you read? If so, what are they?

Cry Wolf: A Review

Since I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series, and recently reviewed the prequel novella, it’s time for a review of the first book. Cry Wolf is the first book in the series, excluding the Alpha and Omega novella (which is considered a prequel) and the This is my favorite of the series and is the book I have read the most.

Disclaimer

While this story doesn’t go into graphic detail, it does touch on some sensitive subjects. Mainly referenced trauma and violence against Anne while she was in her previous pack.

Synopsis

The story picks up some time after the events of Alpha and Omega. Anne is the mate of Charles, the first and only born were wolf and son of the pack leader Bram, who is trying to get acclimated to the new pack. As she tries to adjust, she and Charles go to a funeral for a pack member, she meets Asil, a downdraught with a drinking habit. Due to Anne being a rare Omega, who’s role is to be a soothing presence in the pack, she .

Positives

I think this book set up the world pretty well. Since it does it’s own thing, away from the Mercy Thompson series, this is something it would have to do to keep it as it’s own separate thing. And I think it does it pretty well. It might feel a bit more contained since it does focus a lot on Anna, Charles, their pack, and the few people they do interact with, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I see this series as really focusing on building the relationship between Anna and Charles alongside their relationship with the pack and how they handle situations that they are needed for.

I also think it sets up a number of characters really well. The dynamic between Anna and Charles is a bit different when compared to Mercy and Adam. Which I think is kind of important since they are the couple readers are following in this series. Individually, Charles

I also think that how they set up why two werewolves cannot have kids and the dangers of trying. That might seem like something that feels a bit like a trope, but I don’t think it’s set up in a way that feels bad. Plus, it also helps further explain why Samuel, Charles’ (half) brother, thought having kids with Mercy, a Coyote shifter, would be potentially safer had they gotten together. Basically, it would be very high risk and the mother would die because of it. They mention this in Alpha and Omega, which devastates Anna, who had always wanted kids even prior to her changing. And again here when explaining how Charles’ mother, who Bran changed in order to save her life, had died giving birth to Charles. So it kind of explores why it’s avoided from two different perspectives.

Negatives

Having read this book as many times that I have, I won’t say it doesn’t have flaws. I’ve narrowed it down to common tropes, some of the characters, and how Asil seems to be the only one with first hand experience with Omegas.

While not always a bad thing, it does have some of the typical tropes you would expect from the genre. Like how urban fantasy a lot of times will focus on vampires, werewolves, witches, and fae. Or how Charles is essentially the enforcer for his father, who is the head, the North American werewolves, which would probably fall into a subcategory of supernatural enforcers. Though, typically, Charles is sent to check in on or handle other werewolf packs as needed as opposed to all of the supernatural creatures. The only time he does is if his father needs him to, but usually it’s to keep the werewolves in line.

I would say this may also hit the Chosen One trope but to a lesser degree. What I mean is that Anna could be considered a “chosen one” type character because she is an Omega, which in universe is a rarity. The only reason I think this is the least offensive of the tropes is because she isn’t made out to be someone that everybody wants because of it. Some members of the pack are interested, but once Charles officially steps up as her one and only, it gets dropped. Plus, the only reason Asil is interested is because his late wife was an Omega as well and Anna reminded him of her.

Now tropes aren’t necessarily bad. I just know that what tropes people are fine with and may find annoying may depend on the person. However, these tropes I don’t think were terrible to the point of being overbearing. Granted, I also don’t read a lot of Urban Fantasy either, so I haven’t really read enough to be that annoyed with it in this series. These are simply tropes that may be common in this genre and I know that can be something that might annoy people.

Going back to Asil for my next criticism, him being the only one with information on Omegas kind of feels odd. On the one hand, from a story perspective, I can get why. He’s a lot more closed off after the death of his wife and is at odds with Charles for a portion of the book. So Charles going to him to make some kind of amends and get help for how to approach Anna makes sense. However, I would like to think that there would have been a record or something about Omegas because he had first hand knowledge. That way, when he dies, there would be some way to access the knowledge he has, should Charles, Bran, or any other werewolf encounter one after he passes. That might not be necessary at this moment, but something I think would be a consideration.

There may be other flaws that I have that I’m not thinking about at the moment. However, these are two that I feel this book has.

Conclusion

I would probably give this book an eight and a half out of ten. Overall, I think this was a solid enough first book in the series. I feel it sets up the world and characters well enough. Though it does fall into some of the tropes Urban Fantasy is known for as well as how they handle Asil and his knowledge on Omegas to some degree. And while not all of the characters or parts of the story land, it’s still a nice little guilty pleasure read for me.

Almost There by Farrah Rochon: A Review

The thirteenth book in the Disney Twisted Tales series, Almost There asks the question: What if Tiana Made a Deal that Changed Everything? A question that this novel looks to answer.

When I first heard that this book was coming out, I was intrigued. Though 2009’s Princess and the Frog didn’t catch my interest when it was initially released, it is one that I have revisited and really enjoy. The art and music were really good and the direction it took the story was interesting. This is also the movie that introduced us to Tiana, Disney’s first black princess. All and all, I would say that The Princess and the Frog was a solid movie and deserves the appreciation and enjoyment it has received in the years since its release.

Almost There is the thirteenth book in the Twisted Tales line and was the one I had the most curiosity for after the last two books. Go the Distance was a nice one and What Once Was Mine wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for when I read it (loved the concept, wasn’t fond of certain decisions). And while I had an inkling for what they might have gone with in terms of twisting the story (Tiana taking the deal), how it was executed was neat.

And having just recently finished the book, I thought it was time to review it. Note: I will try to avoid as many spoilers as possible, but as always, Possible Spoilers Ahead.

Synopsis

The story begins with a few scenes from Tiana’s past. A lot of it being about her father and establishing moments from the movie and built off of it. Readers then jump to the present where Tiana makes a deal with Dr. Facilier that will give her her father back in exchange for an elixir his friends from the other side want her to use.

When she agrees, with one little detail missed, she gets what she had always wanted. Her friends safety, her own restaurant and her father. However, when eerie things begin to change. And when Dr. Facilier comes back a year later to collect and follow upon that missed detail, Tiana finds herself thrown into a world of trouble, and it’s up to her, Charlotte, and Naveen to reverse what the Shadow Man created.

Positives

What I thought was really good about this book had to do with the story, some of the characters, and the setting. It was also interesting to see how it worked off of the established connection Tiana had with her father and their love for cooking. It was also really nice to see these two bonding and how it eventually dealt with Tiana’s love for her father and the grief that comes along with it.

For the story, the direction they went with made sense. I did speculate that Tiana would take the offer Dr. Facilier gave her, but where such an offer would go, I wasn’t sure. That said, it does feel like a logical direction for it to go the way it did, and I think it was executed well for the most part.

As for characters, I did enjoy how this story developed Charlotte a bit more. While Charlotte would be a sort of iconic character in the movie, she only had so many scenes. Here, readers get to see more of her and Tiana’s friendship and Charlotte having some development. Naveen also got a little development too. Like him reflecting on possibly going back to Maldonia after receiving an invitation back, and what that would mean for him. Of course, Tiana got quite a bit of development as the protagonist, which includes how she handles Facilier and the restaurant. As well as how she approaches Naveen now that everyone is back to “normal”.

The setting of the story is also pretty neat too. It still takes place in 1920’s New Orleans which is nice. And while holding onto the music, food, and character the movie had while set in this time period, it does have a moment where it seems to address (if only in an implication sense) about the climate at the time in regards to race. While the movie has that scene with Tiana and the investors at Charlotte’s party with how they present her not getting the building she had her sights set on, Almost There has a scene involving Charlotte and Tiana at a clothing store where one of the workers states Tiana isn’t allowed to shop there (Charlotte does try to defend Tiana in this situation to her best ability while Tiana doesn’t want to start a conflict because of it).

Negatives

As for negatives, while I wouldn’t want to say it feels like it is formulaic, but I suppose the ending could have been a little different. On the one hand, I did like how it was a sort of psyche out. On the other, I kind of saw something a little different (like Facilier “running out of time”). But that’s just me.

One other thing I think they could have done was more scenes with Mama Odie. They do go to see her, but I feel like there could have been more scenes with her. Especially since there was a whole scene with Charlotte being perplexed that everyone but her knew who Mama Odie was. I just felt they could have done more with it.

Conclusion

I would probably give this book a 4.25 out of 5 stars. It’s certainly one of my favorite of the Twisted Tales series and I love how it approached the story. From the characters to how it addressed the plot and setting. I only wish they had done one or two things differently.

The next book in the series is one I heard might be a possibility. That being a Pinocchio set book. The title is When You Wish Upon a Star and is written by Elizabeth Lim, who previously wrote the Mulan Twisted Tale Reflection. When You Wish Upon a Star will focus on the Blue Fairy and asks: What if the Blue Fairy wasn’t Supposed to Help Pinocchio? and is expected to be released on April 4th 2023.

Release Dates, Dragging, and Repetition: Why I Have Some Reading Fatigue With the Mercy Thompson Series

I’ve talked a few times now about Patricia Briggs’ two major series, Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega. I’m also slowly, but surely, working on reviewing the main books of the latter (Outside of Alpha and Omega, I don’t really want to review the other short stories. They’re nice, but not stories I want to review at this time), which may lead me to a third read through of the series (second read through for Wild Sign and probably the fourth for Cry Wolf) since, outside of Cry Wolf, which I’ve read the most, my memory is a little foggy in regards to the others.

Anyways, this isn’t about reviews and rereads. This is about the Mercy Thompson series. I’ve previously gone on record, a.k.a. blogged about, how I prefer the Alpha and Omega series over the Mercy Thompson. However, I haven’t really gone in depth into why. I know I’ve stated how I like Anna as a female lead more than Mercy in terms of personality, how I prefer Charles and Anna’s relationship more than Mercy and Adam’s, and that the length of Alpha and Omega (as it currently stands) doesn’t bother me as much as Mercy Thompson’s. Some of those are more of a preference type thing, but there are a few thing that stop me form enjoying Mercy Thompson more. Nowadays especially, which is unfortunate since I do enjoy Mercy Thompson.

In an attempt to discuss the series, I thought I would take the time to breakdown some of the criticisms I have with the series. As well as why I may feel a bit more fatigued with the series. These will include how the series at times feels like it drags, some repetition, and the release dates.

What I Enjoy About the Mercy Thompson

Before I jump in to my criticisms, I thought I would take a moment to discuss what I consider positives of the series. Because, despite the criticisms I have, and the preference for the other series, I do enjoy this series. Maybe not to the same level as Alpha and Omega, but enough to say that I do genuinely enjoy the series.

One thing I enjoy is the relationship between Mercy, Adam, and Jesse, Adam’s daughter. I like the relationship they were able to build over the years and it’s neat to see how well Jesse and Mercy get along. I know that there are a few tropes with stepparents and stepchildren in media. A few examples include, the evil stepmother trope, the stepparent who tries so much to win their stepchildren affection and/or trust, and the child who dislikes the change that comes with a new stepparent which may sometimes include hating the stepparent.

Mercy and Jesse don’t really seem to fit into any of the previously mentioned tropes. More than anything they appear to enjoy each other’s company with Jesse not too bothered by Mercy getting with Adam. The major conflict that they would have comes with Jesse’s mom. But it’s mostly between Mercy and Christy and how the latter treats everyone around them.

Another thing I enjoy is how Mercy isn’t a werewolf. While she was adopted by Bran Cornick, the head of the North American Wolf pack, Mercy herself was not a werewolf. Rather, a coyote Walker (she can turn into a coyote). So while the series may follow a trope of mostly werewolf and vampire characters, the lead is not one, which is neat. It’s a neat way to give it a somewhat different avenue.

With that out of the way, I’m going to get into what issues I have with the series.

Repetition

When it comes to repetition, it’s not so much that each book feels like the another so much as elements and dialogue. Obviously, each book has it’s own story to tell with it’s own conflicts and resolutions. However, this is an ongoing series with thirteen book as of this post, there are bound to be elements that feel familiar.

For me, aspects that felt repetitive have to do with internal dialogue, perspective, and plot points. Internal dialogue and perspective kind of go hand in hand, but I felt were distinct enough to separate. While some of the world building plot point at times feel repetitive.

In the case of perspective, it has to do with the fact that it is written in the first person (I/we). As such, there may be a limited amount of perspective from the world as far as other characters. That’s not to say that first person is necessarily bad, since I do enjoy first person when don right. However, first person can really go off of what the character knows as opposed to third, which could be a little more flexible in terms of perspective, emotion, and input.

For instance, in book eight, Night Broken, it deals with Adam’s ex-wife, Christy, getting into trouble. She knows that the pack sees Christy differently than she does due to the fact that she was apart of their pack a bit longer (Mercy had left the Bran’s pack as a teen and had been living on her own for years by the time the series started). We also know that she isn’t Christy’s biggest fan in terms of trust and what she did when she was with Adam. Mercy is also aware of how the pack sees her (Mercy) differently. That’s something that does get brought up once or twice in the book. And since we only really get to see her perspective, readers can only get so much as far as what people think about Christy and Mercy. Whereas third person, there would probably be the opportunity to get perspectives from everyone, or a select few characters in a more broader sense. Because of that, Mercy’s perspective may come off as repetitive and limited.

Moving on to internal dialogue, what makes it a bit different from the first person perspective of the series, are things that Mercy herself brings up. Vocally, through her thoughts, and how she experiences the story. One such example is how she refers to Bran and Samuel, Bran’s eldest son. There are a few times where she expresses how and why she that she left his pack, in the broader sense, how she knows certain traits about Bran, and how she perceives Bran. For Samuel, she mentions how they were a couple but separated and reflecting back on it. There are also a few times where she reflects on being on her own, how she felt she was fine not being in a pack prior to joining Adam’s, how she worries about Adam and how she doesn’t always know what he’s thinking. For me, it feels like these topics do come up several times throughout the series, and feels rather repetitive.

My third and final area that feels a bit repetitive is how it reminds the readers about aspects of the world. How vampires don’t really like werewolves, save a few like Stefan, is one such instance. How the fae shouldn’t be taken lightly and always tell the truth is another example. While I get why these aspects are important, it doesn’t need to be as frequently reiterated as it feel like it is.

These aspects to me are what make the series feel repetitive at times. The perspective and internal dialogue reiterate what Mercy knows several times throughout the series. While the reminders of the world and it’s characters is another.

Dragging

When it comes to the series dragging, I’ve narrowed that down to how long it has been running and the stories not always being as engaging. I know series that have long runs can be good, but that doesn’t mean a long running series can feel like it’s dragging on. For example, Naruto. I still have yet to finish the series (What is motivation, am I right?), but I do have a general idea for how this series ends. The manga runs for seventy two volumes or seven hundred chapters. On the one hand, it probably needed that much to get where it wanted to end, so it running that long theoretically could be fine. However, whether or not it felt like it dragged with certain arcs and/or could have ended sooner is a discussion that can be had.

In the case of the Mercy Thompson series, I am not sure how exactly it’s overall story is meant to end, if there is a planned ending at all at this time. It’s still ongoing either way, but if you asked me, “What is the end goal for the series” I couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’ll be with Mercy and Adam settling down and having a child (since a walker and a werewolf having a kid wouldn’t be as fatal as a werewolves having a kid with another werewolf like it was with Charles’ mother). Or maybe it’ll end with Mercy, Adam and Jesse leaving the North American pack. But that’s just speculation on my part.

What makes the series drag for me does have to do with the later books. For me, the later books don’t seem as engaging. I think I started feeling this around book nine or ten. That won’t stop me from reading the series, since I am on, and own, book thirteen. However, I’d be lying if I said that the last few books haven’t been as engaging for me.

If I had to give it a set reason, it probably has to do with the stories themselves. Since it doesn’t have an endgame at this time, it feels like the series is rolling with conflict after conflict in a way that feels like there isn’t much direction overall. That might be just me, but may be why it feels like it drags on.

Release Dates

For my final, and more so external, critique with the series is how frequently the series has been released. Something I have come to realize is just how frequent Mercy Thompson is updated when compared to Alpha and Omega. This is probably a slightly personal one for me, but I do feel it’s one worth mentioning.

Because I am keeping tabs on release dates for both Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega, mostly for the latter, I’ve come to realize a pattern with their release dates. I initially noticed this book five of Alpha and Omega, Burn Bright (though technically since book two, Hunting Grounds, but I realized this when I was waiting for book six, Wild Sign to be released) and really picked up on this trend recently.

I’ve noticed that every three years an Alpha and Omega book will be released and in between those released, two Mercy Thompson books will be released. With short stories sprinkled in as Patricia Briggs chooses. An example of this is when books five and six of Alpha and Omega were released. Burn Bright was released in 2018 and Wild Cards was released in 2021. In between these two books, the Mercy Thompson series saw the release of books eleven and twelve: Storm Cursed in 2019 and Smoke Bitten in 2020.

According to the page on released books on Patricia Briggs’ website (https://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/), there is a timeline for the seventh book of Alpha and Omega and the fourteenth book for the Mercy Thompson series, both of which are untitled at this time. The fourteenth book of Mercy Thompson series, is set to be released sometime next year (2023) and the seventh book of the Alpha and Omega series is set to be released some time in 2024.

Because of how consistently the Mercy Thompson series is released, I do feel that this could be a contribution to why I’m feeling a bit more tired with the series. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with a series having a set release date between books, but getting a book almost yearly feels a little over the top (I’m not even sure how to refer to it’s release cycle to be honestly whereas Alpha and Omega come out with a book triannually). At least for me anyways.

Conclusion

While the Mercy Thompson series is one that I enjoy, I’ve come to notice a few reasons why I’m not as fond of it as I am with the Alpha and Omega series. Some repetition, release dates, and some stories feeling like they were dragging have hindered some of my enjoyment. Regardless, I am still going to continue on with the series, with the thirteenth in my possession currently.

Have you read the Mercy Thompson series? What are your thoughts on it? Are there any critiques you have with the series?

Sandman (2022): A Review

For the first time in a long time, I found myself enjoying a new series. That series being the recently released The Sandman series on Netflix. Going into this series, I was pretty hopeful. And having read the first two volumes, which this season covers, I can honestly say it was a pretty faithful adaptation.

Since this show is still relatively new, I will avoid spoilers as much as possible. But in any case, POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Synopsis

When Morpheus, better known as the Sandman and Dream, is captured in an attempt to resurrect a man’s son, he spends the better part of a century (one hundred and five years to be exact) trapped and without his tools. Upon his release, Morpheus is on a mission to retrieve what was stolen from him and get revenge.

Along the way, he will return to his home in the Dream World, meet Matthew, his new raven companion, and visit Lucifer Morningstar as he retrieves what was once lost. And as the dust settles, he will be reunited with his sister, the ever charming and insightful, Death and learns of someone known as The Vortex, which could prove catastrophic if not approached accordingly.

This first season covers the first two volumes of The Sandman series, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Dollhouse.

Positives

When it comes to positives, I think there are quite a few. The most significant for me being, the story, the characters, the casting, and how it translated as an adaptation.

I also like the darker fantasy tone it had. As someone who enjoys fantasy, it’s always nice to fins a good series, book, or what have you in this genre. And The Sandman does that really well for me.

Its also worth noting that Neil Gaiman, the creator of The Sandman comics. So while I do think they did really well adapting it, it’s neat that Neil Gaiman did have a hand in the production. So I would hope he enjoyed how the show came out.

The Story

As a story, The Sandman is an intriguing one. The idea of the personifications of things like dream, death, desire, despair, delirium, destiny, and destruction living among us is a concept that can certainly create some interesting and philosophical story. And it was.

In general, what I think this season did really well was the approach and set up. It sets up the world and characters well. It knew what it wanted to do with it’s story and setting and did it in a way that I felt was well executed.

As an adaptation of the first two volumes of the comic, I think it did really well. While Neil Gaiman had a hand in it’s production, it was able to, not only tell the story pretty accurately, but have necessary changes and additions that worked.

The Characters

The characters were also interesting. Each one having their own story to tell. There’s Rose, who’s looking to find her brother after they were separated when they were younger, Doctor Destiny (a.k.a. John Dee), who, after escaping an Asylum, wants “everyone to live with their truth” and for a “more honest” world, and Corinthian, who wants to be his own person and prevent Morpheus from stopping him. Though not all of the characters we get to see outside of The Endless, these are just a few examples.

While only four of the seven Endless (the group of entities that Morpheus is apart of) appear in this season, they were all unique and fit what they personify well. Morpheus takes his job as the ruler of dreams very seriously, knowing how it effects the waking world and how destructive the lose of it can be.

Desire, though not appearing as often as Morpheus, makes a great impression and sets up what to expect with their relationship with Morpheus. As well as their twin Despair, who does make a brief appearance. Should a season 2 get green lit, which I’m confident will happen, I feel that these two will get a lot more attention and development.

And then there’s Death, the oldest Endless introduces thus far, and the second eldest over all. She was the one that Alex Burgess was looking to capture when he got Mopheus instead.

Casting

I do believe that the casting choices were great. I know casting can cause debate on initial reveal and sometimes after, but I think that the casting choices were good. Some of my favorites include Mason Alexander Park as Desire, David Thewlis as Doctor Destiny, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, and Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. Tom Sturridge also pulls off Morpheus really well. Not only in appearance, but in voice too. He sounded how I would expect Morpheus to, so I really enjoyed his portrayal.

And of course, there are other casting choices I thought were really well too. Even in voice work like Patton Oswald as Matthew the raven and Mark Hamil as Merv Pumpkinhead.

Overall, I do think that the casting choice was good. It’s also pretty diverse, which I think is pretty cool. I also think it works. For instance, with Desire being very ambiguous as far as their identity (in the comics Desire is often referred to as sibling). So casting Mason Alexander Park (They/Them) in the role, I feel was a good choice. Plus, I really think they bring a real charm to the character, and I can’t wait to see how the character develops from here (Death too, because I really want to see more of her too).

Critiques

I don’t really have that many negatives for this season. However, while I might think this show is really good and a great adaptation, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flawless. That said, my critiques are very minute.

One being that I feel like it could have been an episode or two longer. It might not need it, but I feel like another episode or two would be a nice way to help develop things a little further. That’s not to say I think it’s rushed, which I don’t. I just feel that there could have been an episode that made helps explore Desire a little (without giving too much away), and maybe an episode that explored Rose and Jed Walker past a little more. Again, not exactly necessary, but something. Plus, Desire will probably get more development and screen time in later seasons.

That’s all I can really think of as far as critiques. I suppose upon a rewatch, I might find something else. However, I don’t really have many critiques of the show at this time.

Conclusion

I would give this show a ninety percent. I do think they did a great job adapting the first two volumes of Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic. The casting and characters were great, the story was told really well, and it has an aesthetic that really fits this gothic, horror fantasy. The effects were also really good too. And while it might have one or two flaws in the form of maybe being a little longer, overall, I think this is a really good show and I would recommend it.

Of course, I know it might not be a show for everyone, which is fine. The comic and the Netflix adaptation are a bit dark (I’ve heard that the diner scene was kind of unsettling for one or two people), so I wouldn’t expect it to be for everyone. However, if you are looking for something a little different and/or a dark fantasy, I would recommend it.

With that said, I leave you with the following questions: Have you seen the show yet? If so, what were your thoughts? Are you planning to watch it? Since it’s pretty much a guarantee that a second season will be made, what are some of your hopes going into it? Do you think it will, or should, cover the next two volumes (Dream County and Seasons of Mist)? If you have read the comics, do you think it was a good/faithful adaptation?

My Hopes/Expectations For Netflix’s Sandman Adaptation

What if I told you I only recently got into Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series? Much like Watchmen, Sandman was a series I always know about, but never got into it when I was younger. It wasn’t until I finally started getting into graphic novels/comics and after I was given a recommendation that I checked out both. Watchmen has become one of my favorite comics and I am steadily making my way through Sandman (I’m currently two volumes in and own the first six with plans to get the entire series) and I am enjoying it.

With Netflix’s adaptation coming up fast, I thought I would take a moment to discuss a couple of hopes/expectations I have going into the series. Three to be exact. I plan to watch the series when it’s released, since I am interested in it and it’s one show I am excited to watch. Whether I watch a few episodes a day or binge the entire season in one, we’ll see.

Following the Comic as Closely as Possible, While Still Adding Its Own Flair

When it comes to adaptations, creative liberties are expected and usually fine. Sometimes things get cut or added for the sake of adaptation. And sometimes somethings are tweaked.

For example, Peter Jackson removing the scenes Tom Bombadil when making the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While a case could be made that he should have been left in the movie, since he was where the Hobbits got Bill the horse, I don’t think cutting Tom Bombadil was a bad call. Especially since he didn’t really return after his appearance in Fellowship of the Ring.

Back to Sandman, I do think it should follow along with the comic. Not to a tee perhaps, but still following along as close as possible. It would appear that the first season will follow the first two volumes (Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll House) and is planned to be a faithful adaptation with a few tweaks (ex. the series taking place in 2021 as opposed to 1989 and Morpheus/Dream being imprisoned for 105 years as opposed to 75). And with Neil Gaiman having a hand in this series, I’m sure he will approve of the direction this series takes.

All and all, I am hopeful that this will be a pretty faithful adaptation with tweaks and creative liberties taken as needed.

Good Special Effects When Needed.

Special effects and CGI are things that can be either really good or really bad depending on the execution. For instance, The Mummy Returns is known for its dated CGI, specifically when it came to the Scorpion King, while Lord of the Rings, which used practical and special effects, would be considered a good use of special effects and CGI.

While I may not be trained in using CGI and the like, as a viewer, I do know how bad effects can ruin or diminish the quality of a property. Put it simply, I would hope for good special effects as well as it not being overly used. I know that the series would need special effects given the nature of the series, but that doesn’t mean it needs to rely too heavily on it. So long as it’s presentable and not too heavily relied on, I think that will be okay.

A Good Time Viewing

As odd as it might sound, so long as it’s a fun/enjoyable time. Granted, the series does tackle some grim/dark topics, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. So long as it is done well and in a way that can be enjoyed, that’s all I can ask for.

I know some of it’s topics won’t be for everyone, which is okay. I wouldn’t expect it to be. I would just hope it tackles everything in a good and tactful way.

And even if it is dark, I think that’s something that should be explored. Not every show will have themes and stories that are positive. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be good or positive moments (I do feel like Death will have a few of these), just that it shouldn’t be afraid to tackle some of the darker themes and stories from the comics.

And even though I think this can, and likely will, take a darker tone thematically, that doesn’t mean it won’t have positive or good moments. Shows can mix positive and negative traits. Some shows just might lean on some more than others, with sprinkled in aspects of the other, while other shows balance the two. So long as it is well written, it can be enjoyable.

Conclusion

I know open the floor up to you. Are you excited for The Sandman? Are there any expectations you have for the show? Is there a character, or characters, you can’t wait to see brought to life? Are there any series you’d like to see get adaptation into a televised/animated series?

Sources

Bravely by Maggie Stiefvater: A Review

Off all the Official Disney Princesses, Merida is the one I flip flop the most about in terms of how much I enjoy the character. Usually, I can say that I’ll either be neutral about some (ex. Snow White, and Cinderella), I have some I dislike (ex. Aurora), and a number that I enjoy (ex. Mulan, Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, and Tiana). However, with Merida, she’ll hit one of those three depending on the day.

I like Brave as a movie and it was nice to see a princess in a similar vein to Mulan in terms of skills and marriage not being an essential part of their story. (Side note: Yes, Mulan 2 exists, but the first Mulan movie didn’t have a romantic subplot for her and I didn’t think a second movie was needed. However, we did get a sequel that was flawed, but confirmed the ambiguity of Shang and Mulan’s relationship at the end of the first). Brave also had some really good music. I also found her appearance in the series Once Upon a Time neat, if underused/underdeveloped. What I disliked was elements of the character and the conflict between her and her mother. On the one hand, I get why she would be frustrated, but on the other, it feels off and/or whiney at times in execution. And while I do like the idea of a mother and daughter learning to understand and respect their differences, it was kind of Merida’s fault that her mom turned into a bear. Not intentionally, and I can see how this can be a critique for some. That said, I can excuse it to a degree since it isn’t a bad concept on paper. It’s just the execution that I guess that I have issue with.

That said, most days I am just neutral about the character, though if you asked, I’m not sure where I would put her when ranking the Official Disney Princesses. If you like her, that’s cool, if not, that is also fine.

Anyways, much like a handful of other books I’ve been drawn to, Braverly by Maggie Stiefvater was one I found through my local library. The cover was eye catching and the blurb was what made me want to give it a try. I’ll admit, while I have seen Maggie Stiefvater’s book in passing, I wouldn’t say that they caught my attention. I think with this being an expansion on Brave, which I thought was neat, and the fact I enjoying the Twisted Tales series was a factor in what drew me to this.

As always: Mild Spoilers Ahead. I do try to avoid spoiling as much as possible, but this is a warning for any plot point that may come up in the review.

Synopsis

When an unexpected being of chaos enters the DunBroch home, Merida is given a year to make a change or else her kingdom and family will fall. With the help from the Cailleach, her family, and her friend Lessie, Merida must voyage to the other Kingdoms to make a change, as well as working with her family for this change. It’s a race against time and it’s up to Merida to find a way to protect her loved ones and stop the oncoming destruction.

Positives

The concept itself was a really neat one and I liked how it continued on after Brave. It gave Merida and her family some development that the movie didn’t get to touch on. It was also interesting to see how the triplets have grown since Brave and have developed differing personalities. Each one, though still having some similar appearances on account of being triplets, has their own individuality.

I also enjoyed how this story explored and expanded on the Celtic folklore aspect of Brave through the Cailleach and Feradach. The will-o-wisps from Brave are a part of Scottish folklore (variations of them may appear in Irish folklore as well). Cailleach is a figure who appears in Gaelic/Celtic (ie. Irish, Scottish, etc.) lore who appears as an old lady or hag and is considered and ancestral figure who is associated with weather and winter. While Feradach plays a role of a deity of chaos. I think these add to the world as well as expand on some of Scotland’s lore.

The story itself, if a little basic, is good. It feels like a natural follow up to Brave.

Critiques

Though the characters have kept their evolution from Brave, I do feel like some of the characters could have used a little more development. Some characters felt a little bit more developed than others. And sometimes, it felt like scenes and interactions treaded on a similar issue form the movie.

Out of all the characters, Lessie is the one I feel could have used a bit more development. I would have liked to get a little more background and development on her. She, much like Cailleach and Feradach, was a character introduced in this book and wasn’t in Brave. But unlike the other two characters, I do feel like she could have gotten a little more development. For instance, her marriage. We are given very little about her marriage and husband to be. Readers know she planned to get married, but ultimately called it off. From there, she’s helping out as much as possible with Merida and her quest.

I wasn’t really that thrilled with some of the banter between Merida and her mother. Specifically in one scene that kind of references the movie.

Conclusion

Over all I would give this book an eight out of ten. I loved the atmosphere and incorporation of Scottish lore and it was a nice way to continue Merida’s story after Brave. I do feel that certain scenes were a bit different and some characters got more development, however. If you are looking for a continuation of Brave or want a neat YA fantasy read, I would recommend it.

Alpha and Omega by Patricia Briggs: A Review

What if I told you Urban Fantasy was my guilty pleasure genre? If you’ve read my post on two of Patricia Briggs’ works (https://thelittlelibrarydotorg.wordpress.com/2022/04/17/alpha-and-omega-a-guilty-pleasure-read-and-why-i-prefer-this-series-to-mercy-thompson/) you might not be surprised. If you haven’t, you jus might. When it comes to what I read, books will typically fall into one of several categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Historical Fiction, occasionally Romance and Mystery, Graphic Novels/Comics, Nonfiction, and Autobiographies/Biographies/Memoirs. There may be the occasional exception like the YA books (fiction and nonfiction), classics, and the even less often Western.

Urban Fantasy, which I would consider a subgenre of Fantasy, isn’t a genre I typically read. Maybe it’s the reputation they have (ex. cliché), the genre not appealing to me, or both. Whichever the case may be, Urban Fantasy hasn’t appealed to me.

And while I can’t entirely explain why Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series caught my eye, it did. My curiosity for the series started back in 2018 with the release of the fifth book in the series, Burn Bright, was released. I was working at the library when it was returned, and while the cover art caught my eye, the synopsis pulled me in. But since it was the fifth book (which coincidently happened with I discovered the Seven Sisters series as well), I decided to start from the beginning. That ended up being Cry Wolf, since that is the first book. However, when I realized there was a novella, Alpha and Omega, that kicked off the series, I read it.

Where to Read Alpha and Omega

Because Alpha and Omega is a novella, it doesn’t have it’s own book. Rather, it was included in a couple of compilation book. The first time I read it, I believe it was through On the Prowl which was a collection of short stories and novellas by several authors. However, it’s also in Patricia Briggs’ Shifting Shadows, an omnibus of shorts that collects a good amount of her short stories and novellas for both the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series.

Alpha and Omega is also included in the hardcover copy of Cry Wolf, which is what I own. However where you can get a hard cover copy can be tricky sometimes. This is mostly due to the fact that the hardcover copy is no longer published (the same could be said for the rest of the series, at least in bookstores like Barnes and Noble). That said, you may find it on places like Amazon and eBay, among other online sites. Just know that depending on the site and condition, it can get a little pricey. I believe when I bought it off Amazon, it was anywhere between $40-$60, and was much higher prior to me purchasing it. When I checked recently, there are copies being sold for roughly $65-$70 before shipping costs or tax.

However, even if you can’t get the hardcover copy of Cry Wolf, there are alternative options. So if you’d rather get it else where and save a few bucks, I would recommend Shifting Shadows. It has Alpha and Omega as well as other short stories in the Mercy Thompson Universe (the universe that the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series take place in). That way, if you choose to read either or both series, you have the option to read the tie in short stories as you progress.

The only novels that aren’t included are the graphic novels, Homecoming and Hopcross Jilly (Mercy Thompson), Unappreciated Gifts (Both) which can be found in A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories, Asil and the Not Date (Alpha and Omega) which can be found in Fantastic Hope, and Dating Terrors (Alpha and Omega), which can be found in Heroic Hearts.

Disclaimer

Though it does not go into heavy detail, this novella does mention, it does cover some sensitive topics. Mostly mentions of one or two types of abuse towards Anna.

Synopsis

Onto the actual review. Alpha and Omega, as previously stated, is the prelude to the series. Or Book 0.5 when/if you’re using Goodreads for series order.

When disappearances have been going on involving the werewolf pack in Chicago, “submissive” Anna puts in a call to Bram Cornick, the head of the North American werewolves, with information. He agrees to send out his son Charles to meet up with her and investigate.

When Charles arrives, he finds out an array of things in regards to Leo’s pack. For instance, Leo has been forcing people to Change (become a werewolf), which goes against the law of consent they have when it comes to werewolves, which is how Anna became one. Charles also finds out that Leo is sending away or getting rid of members who don’t submit to the pack, which includes the werewolf that went missing.

However, what perks his curiosity is Anna. Thought to be a submissive, the lowest member of the pack, she had gone through abuse at the hands of the pack Alpha and that she had been “passed around”. Both of which are egregious on their own, especially with how several members of the pack talk to/about her in his presence, but even more so when Charles Brother Wolf (the term to describe their werewolf half), decides that Anna is who he wants to be with.

This leads to Charles’ mission to become one of correcting Leo and his pack as well as a mission to safely extract Anna from them. Ultimately leading to Anna joining Charles’ pack and becoming his partner. As well as finding out that Anna isn’t a submissive, but actually and Omega, a werewolf known for their soothing nature and abilities.

Positives

What I enjoyed about this novella was how it set up the world. Because while it does take place in the Mercy Thompson universe, this story is it’s own thing. This sets up the world enough to give us an idea what to expect with Charles and Anna and where their relationship will go.

It also sets up its universe without feeling too expository. Readers get a general gist of laws, what to do when it comes to Changing non-werewolves, and the dangers of child birth in couples that are both werewolves.

It also doesn’t end with them falling instantly in love like some Urban Fantasies may do. Because while Charles and Anna do end up together, Charles does make his stance clear on wanting to slowly and surely get into a relationship. He did end up revealing that his werewolf side has chosen Anna, but he didn’t want to rush a relationship. And given what she had gone through, I think is a good way to set up how he doesn’t want to treat Anna like her previous pack did and give her respect and space.

Critiques

Of course, as much as I enjoy this series, that doesn’t mean it is without fault. My critiques with this story have to do with accessibility and cliché.

Though a bit out of it’s control, this novella isn’t the easiest to get your hands on. I have seen comments/reviews saying how they didn’t know about it at first or had to go out of there way to read it. And while I would say it is a necessary read to understand how Anna ended up with Charles, I do admit that this should have been marketed a little more frequently. It could be it’s own short, standalone, novel. Yes, this may only clock in at about seventy or so pages, depending on the print of the collection, but I have seen books marketed for adult audiences with a hundred or so pages, so it wouldn’t be that unheard of. Alternatively, it could have been included in the paperback copies. Because while the Mass Market copy’s dimensions are 4.18 x 0.87 x 6.73 inches (according to Amazon) and might not be able to handle the extra pages, the dimensions could be adjusted to do so.

As far as clichés, there are genre typical clichés that you will find in this series (as well as the Mercy Thompson series). Like Charles kind of being the dark and brooding type and Anna being your average everyday girl before becoming a werewolf. The fact that this series, and the Mercy Thompson series, explores creatures like werewolves, vampires, the fae, and the like could also be seen as a cliché as well as Anna being a sort of damsel in distress. None of these hindered the story enough for me to hate this series, but they are there.

The one thing I think this series does differently than some Urban Fantasies, Mercy Thompson included, is how Anna isn’t seen as this overly tough as nails type of leading lady. She’s more soft spoken and introverted, with her previous pack being a big part of the reason why.

Conclusion

Overall, I would probably give Alpha and Omega a seven out of ten. It does fall into some of the typical Urban Fantasy clichés/tropes that are common in the genre and nay be hard to access, but it does have a good set up for what’s to come.

If you choose to read this novella, I would recommend it. It might not be one hundred percent necessary to understand the plot of Cry Wolf onwards, but it does explain some of what the books don’t really address out of statements and conversations. Mostly in regards to Anna’s past pack and how she came to Charles’.