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review 2017-02-23 01:14
What do we have here?
Transformers: Lost Light #3 - James Roberts,Jack Lawrence

This is a little more of a slow burn: even with Whirl fighting his long-lost, supposedly dead nemesis, even with the revelation of Rung's purpose - a revelation that is met with some skepticism given the mass displacement that would have to take place for this to be true, and even with the revelation of what Anode does?   


It's a lot about people talking.   And y'know what?   That's okay.   Despite not as much fisticuffs as I expected, I knew this would be good from page one.   Funny, warm, full of complex relationships, and ones that are constantly shifting, this is still a great read.   The greatest.  


I've just been telling Jessica that I think this is superior to MTMtE.  Saying something is superior to the Robots in Disguise cartoon?   Doesn't mean much: I think most everything, particularly in the Transformers franchise in general, is better than that.   (The Bayverse movies and Retribution not so much.)


Saying that something is better than MTMtE?   That means something.   MTMtE was not only the best Transformers book I've read, but it was one of the best books I've read, bar none.   Yes, including novels.   Yes, including classics.   And obviously, yes, including comics.   The thing is MTMtE doesn't loss any of its gloss: it's still as brilliant as ever.   It's just this is written by Roberts as well, and I believe that he's getting more skilled as a writer - which I quite frankly thought was impossible after reading MTMtE.   Then again, before reading Roberts, I was quite sure that fitting quite as much as he does into any comic less than thirty pages was impossible.   So he defies my expectations every time. 


That being said, yes, please, all this.   I will reread this with anyone who wants to pick this up - but I would suggest reading MTMtE first.   (And yes, I will reread that, too, including Dark Cybertron.)

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review 2017-02-23 00:30
Fascinating look at an alternate universe
Transformers: Lost Light #2 - James Roberts,Jack Lawrence

Not only does some of what happened in More Than Meets the Eye come into play here, but Roberts really digs into the Functionalist universe he's created here.   Not only are things different, but everything is deeply controlled.   It's the kind of control Megatron has always fought against, although even he would admit that turned out poorly: he got corrupted by power, and millions, billions, of beings died.   


It turned into his own craven, and desperate, attempt to not only gain control, but hold onto it in the end.   It also goes a long way to explaining why he's so disgusted by those who cower and kowtow to those in control in this universe.   He wins a fight without fighting, but by strategizing, and wins a lot of respect, while fighting back against those who would hold others under their boot heels.   


And if we only had this?   It would be enough.   But we have things back on Necroworld, where Tailgate is being corrupted by his power, where he's running himself ragged with his new power, and where Cyclonus is worried over his physical and mental well being.  Anode has secrets that have come out, and she's running from Velocity, trying to keep her from knowing what Anode carries on her person.   When Lotty does find out, well, things get worse for Anode, and her lover, Lug. 


Also, there's mention of Drift and Rodimus being conjunx endura.  Drift's vision from issue one comes into play.   Ratchet and Drift butt heads over religion.   


One page of this can be packed with more character development and plot and one-liners than most issues in other series.   This continues to not only impress me but to be one of my favorite series. 


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review 2017-02-22 22:09
Nope, nope, nope!
Transformers Robots in Disguise: The Trials of Optimus Prime - Steve Foxe,John Sazaklis

This wasn't that painful, for a couple reasons.   It was large print, easy to read, and had multiple, large illustrations.   



So when I say 'not painful' I really mean it was quick so it wasn't painful for that long of a time.   The writing isn't horrible, but isn't great.   More than that, the problems lie with the general conceit of this TV series.   


Do you sense a long, fandom related rant?   Because, well, that's what you're going to get.  Before the minion of Prime characters in RiD season two - specifically episode ten, and the revelation of what happened to Soundwave, it was easy enough to imagine this was loosely based on Prime - without being a direct sequel.   With these mentions, however, it's clear that the two shows are more directly connected than I'd been able to believe in the past.  


It's a rude awakening.   Season two, and season three - or two-point-five depending on who you ask - are better than season one, but they don't fix the main problem I have with this series.   And no, it's not that it's made exclusively for children.   My real problem is that believing that 'making it for children' and 'dumbing it down' are the same thing.   This serves children poorly, especially after Prime which dealt with serious issues like PTSD after combat situations, but keeping in mind that it was a show for children.   And while Prime deftly handled these types of situations, ensuring that children wouldn't be fearful, but also keeping adults engaged, they breeched the children-versus-adults gap in cartoons.   It wasn't either or.   It was entertaining for both.   


RiD is more cheerful, which I think fits the attitude of making it solely for children.  Or at least making it solely for children as their target audience.   Then again, Beast Machines - brilliant, the first Transformers franchise targeting adults solely - wasn't quite as cheerful - and didn't get renewed for season two.   Perhaps the less forcefully optimistic Prime was doomed to be cancelled simply due to that nature.   Cheering it up as RiD was a good idea in this case; dumbing it down was not.   


It only makes it more clear that Prime was superior.   Grimlock is now a former Decepticon, stupid, goofy, and clumsy.   Whereas his original counterpart was sulky at having to obey Optimus Prime, this version is loyal as a puppy, eager to prove his worth to Bumblebee, the new Autobot leader on Earth.   They kept his literal teeth, and took away his metaphorical teeth.  He's grown on me, but still isn't as dear to me as the ornery Grimlock, or even better, the more cunning Grimlock in IDW.   (In which it's been postulated that he might be playing dumb so people underestimate him.)


It harkens back to G1: good is good and bad is bad, and they might change sides occasionally in RiD, but it's mostly black and white.   It's flat, it's uninteresting, and it doesn't force children to think, or really reflect the world around them.   It's also coming back for a fourth - or third, depending on who you ask - season.   (The people involved in the show who've said their in the studio for this, though, tend to call it season four.)


Which brings me directly to this book.   It uses a plot Prime has - oh, no, Prime is evil! - except Prime did it more subtly and with far more thought and grace.   The reasons why this was done are different: the narrative is different in each case, the ways this are used are different, but it's similar enough to call immediate attention to the fact that this is a borrowed plot.   More than that, it calls into question why they would do this.   Prime was far superior, and was bound to use this in a more complex, engaging way.   Why call attention to how inferior this show is by making such direct comparisons inevitable? (In my opinion, they did the same thing in the episode I mention earlier: season 2, episode ten, called Portals.   It uses the Shadowzone concept, but with far less warmth, humor, or complexity, and also making Soundwave far less intimidatingly creepy as before.   They dumbed down everything, making me wonder why they would do this in a way that called such immediate and direct comparisons.)


I don't know, but I'd gotten softer on RiD after seasons two and three.   I was willing to read this - buy it even - because I'd figured I'd softened on this whole franchise.   This plot twist made me really angry, though, because why use something that just makes me sigh wistfully and be eager for Prime?   Ugh, ugh, ugh.  


At least they kept that abomination Drift out of this.   Drift, I'm convinced, should be written by these people: 


James Roberts. 


That's it.   James Roberts.   No one else write Drift, alright?   

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review 2017-02-22 20:35
Broke with Fandom Wednesday to finish this!
Black Powder War - Naomi Novik

Given, I only had like fifteen pages and finished early in the day.   Still, if it hadn't been Temeraire, it's doubtful I would have done even that much non-fandom reading.   (And, no, I don't quite consider this fandom because it has books only; I feel fangirl-y about this, but Fandom Wednesday is going to be dedicated to reading that is both fandom related and that is often looked down upon.   Media tie-ins, popular culture studies, and comics.   I may or may not read more comics, and so forth, outside of Fandom Wednesday, but I started this for a couple reasons.   Today is the day new comics come out, and I want to celebrate that as I call Wednesdays the Happiest Day of the Week.   I also want to give myself one day to allow myself to read both comics and media tie-ins, to indulge in the study of popular culture, and to read media tie-ins like The Trials of Optimus Prime which are for young kids, not that well written and I read as pure brain candy.   Keep in mind, some tie-ins are excellent: Rocket and Groot was a brilliant business satire, and some do both nail the characters and have something important to add about our world.   Some do not do this, but I enjoy reading them anyway, and I'm skewing more towards those this Wednesday.)


That first paragraph was just to give you an idea of what Fandom Wednesday means to me; while I'll obviously be a little fluid on this, finishing books I've almost completed, or enjoy that much, I won't be doing it often.   I want this to be a day for me, where I read what I want and what everyone else things won't matter.   It's a whole self-care thing, along with trying to keep my comic pile under wraps.   (If I let too many pile up, it starts to look like a chore getting through them, and makes me feel pressure to do so.   That's where I am now, and it's part of why I'm starting this up.)   Fandom Wednesday is going to be important to me - and I won't be breaking the rules of Fandom Wednesday that often.   


Temeraire calls to me.   I'm allowing it on the first Fandom Wednesday for a couple reasons.  I really want to power through this series before Readercon, I love these characters, and this world, so much that I feel like a Temeraire fangirl, I particularly wanted to power through this book because of the general hopelessness in it and I only had a couple pages left.   I will be dedicating the rest of the day to fandom things.   


This was almost a three-and-a-half or four star book.   It started off much like the other two in a very general sense: the characters were just as well drawn, were in character, and while things were grim during their war against Napoleon Bonaparte, there was always a sense of camaraderie and hopefulness that didn't make this series overwhelmingly hopeless.    Looking at Novik's notes at the back, I understand why this book veered towards hopelessness: she did a lot of research and tried to keep this historically correct.   Brava to her for that.   I also understand what that kind of situation will do the morale of troops, and understand why they were so downcast.   However, it was all overwhelmingly gloomy at times.   I'm glad that Temeraire's crew never really lost their connection, more of a familial one than anything, but it was so depressing, it made me depressed and anxious.   It was painful to read at times, and yet compelling anyway.   The character growth and the plot were all perfect: Novik skillfully weaved everything in and didn't lose sense of the characters to serve the plot, nor did the plot overwhelm the characters.   


This was never going to be rated lower than three-and-a-half stars.   But I wavered between that and something higher at points.   Nothing really changed: the war scenes have been brutal from the beginning.   They are no more or no less so here.   Some war scenes are more brutal, and others less so.   It all depends on what type of battle they're all fighting and how desperate they are, and how uneven the fight is.   Basically, it fits the scene instead of being constrained by a sense of 'a fight should be this brutal or not.'   It's organic, and the problem is that it doesn't get more brutal - it just seems so due to the unevenness and due to how poorly things go in this book.   The loss of morale and the bitterness of some defeats brings everyone low and seems to highlight how awful some of these things truly are.   It gets overwhelming, and I'm not sure how, but Novik manages to balance it with a little optimism most times.  


That being said, I'm not sure it was possible in this book.   And I'm still not happy with how it was in the end.   Still, this is her third book and given how much I love all these books - yes, including Black Powder War - this seems like a minor gripe, especially given that it may have been a catch-22.   Novik did what she could with the history she has, and is aware of this issue.   She mentions it in some of the darkest places in this book, where Laurence recognizes how low morale is.   


It's also saved right at the end: a character is introduced who not only made me laugh, and brought a little lightness into this book, but was also effortlessly charming.   She, in fact, made me feel so much less gloomy about this whole book that she brought the rating way, way up.   It's worth slogging through the worst parts to get to her.  


I almost gave this book a five star rating due to Temeraire and her, in fact.   But the truth is that this did have a weaker spot than the other two books.   I couldn't really rate it quite as highly as them.  I do, however, have high hopes for the next book, which I wasn't really sure about after three-fourths of this book.   Huzzah!

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review 2017-02-22 18:19
Review: "Doctor's Orders" (Groves' Anatomy, #3) by Scarlet Cox
Doctor's Orders - Scarlet Cox

"How had the broad-shouldered doctor turned him from horny jock to tormented tramp in a single visit?"

Maybe by looking like this:



(Sorry, not really much of a review, I know. But the story was silly since it's PWP and I had a damned good time reading it, so it counts. Because I say so.)

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