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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 21:25
The Earl and The Fairy, Volume 01 by Mizue Tani
The Earl and The Fairy, Vol. 01 - Ayuko,Mizue Tani

When I was younger, I used to read manga all the time. In fact, it was the only thing I read for many years of my youth. However, getting older, I have fallen out of the habit of reading manga on a regular basis. It has been a very long time since I've read manga and I've been trying to get back into it. So when my partner came home with the first volume of The Earl and the Fairy she borrowed from work, I decided to give it a read. I have to say it's not a bad read.


I liked the simplistic feel to the story. You can literally just pick it up and fall into the story quite easily. The story is not convoluted to the point you don't understand what the fairies's roles are or how the myths of these fairies are interwoven into the actual plot of the story. And even though not everything is revealed from the get-go, it's not difficult to follow along with the characters.


Speaking of characters, I do feel like they were on the weaker side. The main character, Lydia, falls under a lot of tropes you tend to find in shoujo manga. She's supposed to be "tough" and takes "no nonsense" from the male lead, but she ultimately ends up doing whatever he tells her to do because she's "sweet and naive." The male lead, Edgar, tries to come off as charming and caring but he still manipulates Lydia every chance he gets. Mind you, he DOES acknowledge that what he's doing is wrong, but that still doesn't excuse the behavior. And even though I feel like the characters were not this manga's strongest point, it did leave me feeling that there's room for growth and I do think we shall see that growth in later volumes. I do have hope for that.


Lastly, the art wasn't anything special. It's very typical "cutesy" style with Lydia having pretty flowing hair and big eyes, whilst Edgar is all "broody" and "mysterious" and has darker tones to his outfits. I will say the outfits to the characters are very beautiful. It's not a bad art style, it's just a style I've seen before.


All-in-all, it was a pretty good read. It's harmless fun with interesting lore that, I'm sure will get explored more along with the characters' growth. I really did like what I read and I'm not opposed to reading the next volume. However, I won't go out of my way to read it right away either. If this sounds like your sort of manga, then go right ahead and pick it up. It's a pretty fast, simple read.

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text 2017-02-22 20:48
Reading progress update: I've read 24%.
Red Rising - Pierce Brown

"I do not want to make you a man. Men are so very frail. Men break. Men die. No, I’ve always wished to make a god.”
So why not carve you to be the god of war?”


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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 19:20
Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Bitch Planet Volume 1 - Kelly Sue DeConnick,Robert Wilson IV,Valentine De Landro

Bitch Planet is one of those graphic novels everyone seems to recommend. And I can see why! It's about a group of women who are deemed "disobedient" from the male-dominated government and are sent to a distant prison planet called "Bitch Planet" to be "straightened out." There they have to do what they're told if they hope to survive. But the main group of women we follow are definitely not keen on such a notion. Then, obviously, rebellion ensues.


I first heard of Bitch Planet through BookTube. When I heard so many people talking about how feminist and inclusive it was, I had to give it a read. And I'm so glad I did! The entire first volume is incredible! The art is gorgeous! It's very colorful when it wants to be and gritty when it has to be. I love the character designs the most! All the women have different body shapes, skin color, and sexual orientations. I love the diversity within these pages and the women portrayed therein.


The plot itself is so intriguing. I want to know what our characters are going to do now that they are within this prison. We got to see some background stories for a couple of characters. I love Penny's background story the most. It's tragic, yes, but it helps the reader understand who she is as a person. It helps the reader understand some of the actions she chooses to make. I love her so much. I love ALL the characters so much! Well... except the ones we're supposed to hate... I don't like them as much.


And that's all I'm going to say about it! Read this graphic novel! It's fun, engaging, intersectional feminism, daring, and intriguing! However, this is for a very mature audience. There's violence, nudity, sexual content, and gore. But if you're okay with that sort of content, then I highly recommend you pick up this graphic novel. It's filled with a diverse cast of women trying to make it in a world that refuses to allow women to be themselves. It's a fantastic read.

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