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review 2018-06-30 18:31
Too many contrivances hamper this novel's strengths
Three Minute Universe - Barbara Paul

"The galaxy is on fire." With these words, James Kirk summarizes the latest threat the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise is forced to address: an expanding wave of heat that has already annihilated an entire solar system, including the home world of the Zirgosians. Their investigation takes them to the remaining Zirgosian colony, where they find a massive spaceship in orbit controlled by the "Sackers," a species so physically repulsive that sentient beings cannot stand to be in their presence. The crew soon discovers that the Sackers are at the center of the mystery, with a plan that effectively holds the entire universe hostage unless their demands are met.

 

Barbara Paul's novel offers readers what is many respects a textbook Star Trek story: the crew faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge, then proceeds to save the day through a mixture of intuitive psychology and teamwork. It's an interesting tale both for the species she introduces and the unusual combination of Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, and Chekov working to deal with the situation in which they find themselves. Yet too much of the novel comes across as contrived, with the Sacker threat both epically dangerous yet in the end ridiculously easy to resolve. Squaring the difference between these two contrasts might have made for a truly excellent Star Trek novel, but as it is the book's strengths can't quite overcome its flaws.

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text 2018-06-25 09:08
A LIVING UNIVERSE - ALEXIS KARPOUZOS

The intimate sense of self-awareness we experience bubbling up at each moment is rooted in the originating activity of the Universe. We are all of us arising together at the invisible center of the cosmos.” We once thought that we were no bigger than our physical bodies, but now we are discovering that we are deeply connected participants in the continuous co-arising of the entire Universe. Awakening to our larger identity as both unique and inseparably connected with a co- arising Universe transforms feelings of existential separation into experiences of subtle communion as bio-cosmic beings. We are far richer, deeper, more complex, and more alive than we ever thought.

 

To discover this in our direct experience is to enter a new age of exploration and discovery.The Universe is continuously emerging as a fresh creation at every moment. All point to this same, extraordinary insight.

 

The Universe is not static, nor is its continuation assured. Instead, the Universe is like a cosmic hologram that is being continuously upheld and renewed at every instant.14 A universal encouragement found across the world’s wisdom traditions is to live in the ‘NOW.’ This core insight has a clear basis in physics: The present moment is the place of direct connection with the entire Universe as it arises continuously. Each moment is a fresh formation of the Universe, emerging seamlessly and flawlessly.

 

Awakening to our conscious connection with the living Universe naturally expands our scope of concern and compassion—and brightens the prospect of working together to build a sustainable future.

 
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review 2018-06-23 19:02
Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0 by Jason Latour
Spider-Gwen Vol. 1: Most Wanted? - Marvel Comics

Title:  Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume 0

Author: Jason Latour

Artist: Robbi Rodriguez

Genre:  Action / Superheroes / Drama / Crime / Music


Year Published: 2015


Year Read:  11/11/2017

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Series: Spider-Gwen #0

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Some Language and Violence)

 

 

Spider

Introduction: 

Wait a minute…Gwen Stacy is…SPIDER WOMAN!? And who ever heard of a graphic novel having a volume 0? 

Before you get confused about this (as I was), there was an event called “Spider-Verse” that might explain about all this (except that I haven’t read the “Spider-Verse” event yet, so that point might be moot at this time). Anyway, I have been hearing so many good things about the “Spider-Gwen” series that I had to give “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” a shot and I must admit that I actually liked this graphic novel!

What is this story about? 

In this universe, it was Gwen Stacy who was bitten by a radioactive spider and possessed spider powers (not Peter Parker). It turns out that Peter Parker was bullied so much at school that one day he decided to transform himself into the lizard and went on a rampage throughout the city and ended up getting himself killed. Because of this, Gwen harbored a lot of guilt over what happened to Peter since Peter was doing all this to be like Gwen. After this tragic event, J. Jonah Jameson had caused the public to turn against Spider-Gwen by stating that she was responsible for Peter Parker’s death and Gwen ends up being on the run from the law, including from her father Captain Stacy (at least until she tells him who she really is). Now Gwen has to prove to the public that she did not kill Peter Parker and that she is a true hero while also avoiding the people after her including Frank Castle (A.K.A. The Punisher), the Vulture and Matt Murdock himself!

What I loved about this story: 

Jason Latour’s writing: Jason Latour’s writing was quite unique and interesting to read as this universe’s Gwen Stacy is one of the most interesting characters I had ever read! I loved the way that Jason Latour made Gwen Stacy into such a strong female protagonist as Gwen also cracks jokes like Spider-Man, but she can be moody at times due to her guilt over Peter’s death and I loved the way that Jason Latour wrote Gwen’s struggles with trying to cope with Peter’s death as it made Gwen into a truly relatable character. I also loved the fact that Gwen Stacy is involved in a rock band as it adds even more dimension to her character and I just loved the fact that we have a heroine who is into music! I also enjoyed the moments between Gwen and her father, Captain Stacy, as while it was quite intense due to Captain Stacy not wanting his daughter to get in danger, it was nice seeing how much Captain Stacy cares about his daughter and only wants what is best for her. Jason Latour also did an interesting job at giving us a Spider-Man universe where Gwen Stacy is Spider Woman as I never would have thought that Gwen Stacy of all people could become a superheroine. But, this version of Gwen Stacy is so well written that I actually loved the fact that Gwen Stacy makes an interesting Spider Woman!

Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork: Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork was quite creative to look at, especially Spider Gwen’s outfit! I just loved the reddish hues that cover the pages whenever Gwen is performing in her rock band as it makes those moments really stand out. But the best part of Robbi Rodriguez’s artwork is Spider-Gwen’s outfit! I think I have fallen in love with Spider-Gwen’s outfit since it is actually white and pink all over and it makes her look like a savior type being within the pages!

Spider

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

The reason why I gave this book a four-star rating was because I felt that the dialogue was a bit disjointed at times. I was not sure if it was because the dialogue was trying to use street slang to make the characters seem more modern or if it was the writing itself. I often had a difficult time trying to understand what the characters are actually saying due to how the dialogue is being written. Also, if you have not read “Spider-Verse,” chances are you will probably be confused about what is really going on in this book (although this is technically an alternate universe of the “Spider-Man” universe).

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Spider-Gwen: Most Wanted? Volume Zero” is a great graphic novel to read if you want to see a different take on Gwen Stacy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2018-06-23 17:03
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume 1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale - Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa,Francesco Francavilla

Title:  Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume 1  

Author:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa  

Artist:  Francesco Francavilla  

Genre:  Horror / Drama / Zombies / Alternative Universe / Friendship


Year Published: 2014


Year Read:  10/28/2017

Publisher:  Archie Comics

Series: Afterlife with Archie #1

Source:  Purchased

Content Rating:  Ages 15+ (Gory Violence and Some Language)

 

 

 

Afterlife

Introduction: 

Alright, so I will admit that I have not read many Archie Comics where the gang is put into a darker situation that is different from the “wholesale family entertainment” adventures that they are usually in (and this was BEFORE the reboot came along, although the reboot was not as dark as this comic). So, since Halloween is around the corner, I just had to pick this graphic novel up called “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume One” which is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa along with artwork by Francesco Francavilla, where Archie and the Gang end up in a for real zombie apocalypse!

What is this story about? 

The story starts out with Hot Dog, Jughead’s beloved dog, being run over by a car and Jughead ends up going to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, to see if she can help his dog. Unfortunately, Sabrina’s aunts tell Jughead that there is nothing they can do for Hot Dog and that he should let Hot Dog stay dead. But then, Sabrina decided to help out Jughead anyway and she ends up resurrecting Hot Dog. Unfortunately, it turns out that when Sabrina brought Hot Dog back to life, Hot Dog became a zombie dog and he ended up biting Jughead, which turned Jughead into a zombie! So, when Jughead went to the school dance, he ended up affecting most of the school by biting most of the students, with the exception of the main cast, which consisted of Archie, Dilton, Midge, Moose, Reggie, Betty, Veronica and many others. The remaining students ended up going to Mr. Lodge’s mansion in order to protect themselves against the zombies, while also trying to see if there are any survivors from the zombie apocalypse.

What I loved about this story: 

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing: Wow! I never would have thought that I would live to see the day where there would be a graphic novel series that has Archie and the gang getting involved in a zombie apocalypse! Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done a fantastic job at giving the usual sweet natured Archie Comics a darker and scarier tone in this graphic novel and it never felt so out of place to me that the Archie gang in this story are portrayed in a much more mature and cynical way, since they are stuck in a zombie apocalypse and it is appropriate for this type of story. I also loved the way that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa created a different spin for each of the main characters, such as Betty and Veronica being more antagonistic with each other rather than be good friends with a small rivalry with each other, Sabrina and her family being more realistic and intense versions of witches and Nancy and Chuck…well, I will let you find out for yourselves what is going on with Nancy and Chuck in this comic! I really loved the fact that this comic is much more serious and frightening in tone since the gang are facing a zombie apocalypse and I found myself a bit creeped out by some of the moments in this comic, such as the zombified citizens of Riverdale attacking the main protagonists.

Francesco Francavilla’s artwork: Francesco Francavilla’s artwork fits the scary and serious tone of this comic quite perfectly as the zombies in this comic are quite terrifying to look at such as the images of the zombified Hot Dog. I loved the fact that the art style is much more realistic in this comic as it really captures the mature and serious nature of this story. I also loved the way that Francesco Francavilla did the coloring of this book as the colors are mostly in red, black, orange and grey that greatly convey the horror elements of this story.

Afterlife

What made me feel uncomfortable about this story: 

Anyone who does not like language or gory violence might be a bit uncomfortable with some of the gory violence and language in this comic. The language in this comic is not as strong as some of the more mature comics as only the “h” word is uttered in a couple of sentences and as for the gory violence, there are many images of zombies biting into people which is pretty graphic.

Final Thoughts: 

Overall, “Afterlife with Archie: Escape from Riverdale Volume One” is a fantastic graphic novel that anyone who loves both the Archie Comics and zombies will easily enjoy!

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2018-06-16 21:05
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton
Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe - Preston Norton

This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life in Books.

My thoughts are somewhat mixed regarding this book. I really had no trouble reading it and did enjoy the story but it was missing that extra spark that it would have needed to make it great. It was a book that was pretty easy to set aside because I never felt completely invested in the story. There were a lot of issues address in this story and in some ways it felt like nothing went beyond the surface level. I did find the book entertaining and am glad that I decided to pick it up.

Cliff is huge which is one of the reasons that his classmates refer to him as Neanderthal. He leads a rather solitary life and is dealing with the loss of his brother not too long ago. Cliff and Aaron are not friends at the start of this book. Aaron is the popular quarterback so he has very little in common with Cliff . When Aaron has a near death experience, he partners with Cliff to fulfill a to-do list that he received from God. The list is very specific and everything on it is tied to their high school. If they can accomplish all of the tasks, the school will undoubtedly benefit from their efforts.

This book touches on so many issues. I actually think that it would have improved the story if fewer issues were dealt with but in greater detail. Cliff and Aaron are not only dealing with their list but they are also developing relationships including their own friendship. Some of the items on the list sound almost impossible and other will require some investigation before they can even begin.

I liked the characters but I never felt like I completely connected with them. The book is told from Cliff's point of view and I didn't feel like I got to know any of the other key players beyond the surface level. Even during some parts of the book that were more emotional, I found that I was rather unmoved. I think I would have liked this book a lot more if I had been able to develop an emotional connection with any of the characters.

I did enjoy the story and thought that it had a lot of unique aspects. I do think that a lot of readers will enjoy this one a bit more than I did. I wouldn't hesitate to read more from Preston Norton in the future.

I received a digital review copy of this book from Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley.

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