The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) – Libba Bray

Diviners-The-Diviners-Libba-Bray

Source: Goodreads

 

Evangeline O’Neill has special powers. She can see important moments in a person’s life just by holding something that belongs to them. This talent, of course, is not accepted in Zenith, Ohio. After a particularly bad evening of illegal drinking, the seventeen-year-old is shipped off to New York City to live with her bachelor uncle, William Fitzgerald, who runs The Museum of Creepy Crawlies, and his mysterious assistant, Jericho. Evie reunites with her childhood friend and the daughter of revolutionists, Mabel, as well as some new friends including Theta, a showgirl, and her brother Henry, a piano player, a thief named Sam, and a numbers runner named Memphis who might just be magical himself. Life can’t be the berries forever though, and before long Evie is called upon to use her powers to help stop a murderer before he raises the antichrist and wipes out all of man kind. Just another summer in 1920s New York, right?

 

I’ve heard about this book on and off since it came out in 2012, and I finally picked it up from the library in August of 2017. Definitely not disappointing! While the writing is easy to follow (except for the 20s slang, which I had to look up) and the chapters are short, the gruesomeness and maturity of the plot and characters’ thoughts definitely put this book squarely in the Young Adult category. If the reading level were a little higher I might even put it in adult, even though over half of the characters are ages 17-19.

If you can’t stand gore in your books, don’t read this. About half of the murders are detailed, and all of the bodies are described once they are discovered. If I was close to stopping my reading more the night and I knew a murder chapter was imminent, I would stop before it so I didn’t have it running around my brain all night long. Not that it really helped, because I still knew it was coming, so my brain usually decided to try and guess how it would go down *facepalm*. In that regard, I’m glad I’ve finished the book. At the same time, I’m sad to let the world go for a while until I get the next book. Bray’s version of 1920s New York City positively shines. I found myself wishing I could visit for the weekend (sans murders) to visit the theatres and clubs she describes in such vibrant detail. The buildings and the city are just as much characters as the human (and not so human) population.

If I were a cry-in-the-corner type of person, my horror-hating-soul would be doing that, because I don’t like being terrified of what’s coming, but I’m a bloody Gryffindor, and we don’t show fear, so I just marched on and kept reading. Overall, I think the horror aspects were very well balanced with the daily life in the 1920s and the mystery parts, which made me quite enjoy myself despite the demons lurking in the shadows.

Definitely pick this up if you have any interest in America’s supernatural history (I’m personally hoping one of the books in this quartet focuses on the witch trials), or if you adore 1920s period fiction, or if you liked Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, because this book is pos-i-tute-ly for you. Also, this cover is magic. I love it.

 

HHC Rating: 5 Stars

 

Other reviews in this series:
Book #2 – Lair of Dreams
Book #3 – Before The Devil Breaks You
Book #4 – Untitled – TBD

Supergirl: Being Super (Supergirl: Being Super #1 – 4) – Mariko Tamaki, Illustrated by Joëlle Jones

Supergirl-Being-Super-Mariko-Tamaki-ILL-Joelle-Jones2
Source: Goodreads

I love Supergirl’s story. It can be told in so many different ways. Kal-El’s elder cousin, stuck in a time warp for half a lifetime, finally arrived. Sometimes Kara and Clark don’t know each other at all, and sometimes she’s been sent to protect him. Kara is warm, loving, curious, and strong as hell.

This version is Kara at her most human. Trying to be herself without exposing her differences. The story hits all the right notes, and the artwork is magnificent (some might even say out of this world, but they are significantly better at wordplay than I). Aside from the obvious, I’d like to take a moment to truly appreciate the diversity in the town of Midvale. Sure, Kara still looks like the quintessential American Cheerleader, but her friends and colleagues have varying appearances. From body type to skin tone to family background, the inhabitants of Midvale flourish, and color the landscape with their personalities and hobbies.

 

I have always enjoyed Supergirl and even attempted to keep up with her story arc when DC launched The New 52 while I was working on my undergraduate degree, despite not being an active graphic novel/comic book consumer. I hadn’t intended to pick up another comic book any time soon, but then I came across this bind-up of four (I honestly can’t even remember where) and suddenly I owned it. I started it and couldn’t put it down. Kara felt real, alive, and ready to make a difference in her world. I sincerely hope Tamaki and Jones continue their collaboration and bring us more stories of Krypton’s last survivor.

 

HHC Rating:  5 Stars.

 

More Books Like This:
Lois Lane – Fallout

Star Trek: The Original Series – “The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”

 

 

 

Star Trek - S1E4 S1E5 - _The Naked Time_ and _The Enemy Within_
Original Image via Wiki Media Commons

 

Welcome the third installment of my Star Trek watch through! You can find other posts in this series linked at the bottom, and the original post – including my watch order – here. I’m still not obsessed, but the show is going pretty well so far. I’m getting to know the characters very slowly, but it’s been interesting to see who will become more prominent as the series goes on.

 

Episode #4 – “The Naked Time”

This episode starts with space suits involving some mix of chicken wire and bubble wrap. So that’s cool. Then we get a strange bio-weapon that at first looks like blood and quickly has all the crew members acting like Lady Macbeth, and losing all of their inhibitions. This episode was full of opportunities for great acting, and everyone did wonderfully. I especially enjoyed O’Reilly’s singing and Irish pride. “You know what his mistake was, sir? Not being born an Irishman.” is just a great line.

Not a lot happens until the very end, when Scotty discovers that O’Reilly has turned the engines off completely and they must attempt starting the engines at full throttle from scratch, which has only ever been done in theory. The resulting implosion, rather than pushing them away from the dying planet they’ve been orbiting, sends them into a time warp. Which basically means they’re moving so fast that time actually runs backward, and when they come out of the time warp, they are three days earlier in time. It was only a moment of time travel, but Spock and Kirk agree that they might want to test that in the future.

The crew wiping their hands on their clothes and basically reenacting the “Out Damn Spot” scene from Macbeth was pretty entertaining, as was an uninhibited Spock, crying over his shame at having feelings. Great acting all-around made up for the lack of forward-moving story in this one.

The only downside to this episode is that the title makes no sense. No one is naked. Only Sulu takes his shirt off. I’m just confused.

 

 

Episode #5 – “The Enemy Within”

The crew of The Enterprise is visiting a planet where the temperature hits -120 (Fahrenheit?) at night, and contains strange magnetic yellow dust. Their inspection of the planet is going well, and they’ve found an animal (read: A puppy in a monster suit) they want to test further, when one of the crew injures themselves in a rockslide and must be sent back to the ship. Upon arrival, the transportation beam nearly burns out, but Scotty fixes it. Captain Kirk beams up soon after and doesn’t look so hot himself. It is only later when they beam up the ‘dog’ that they realize the transporter is malfunctioning and creating duplicates of everything that gets beamed up or down.

After a horrible moment in the life of Yeoman Janice Rand, we find out that Kirk was also duplicated. The rest of the episode is spent trying to catch the duplicate, and once it is determined that they’re not duplicates but halves, figuring out how to put them back together and prevent more people from getting split before the crew remaining on the planet freezes to death.

This episode is basically a montage of William Shatner, with Yeoman Rand, Spock, Scotty, and McCoy thrown in for variety. I can’t say that I loved it, but it was an interesting scenario at least. The previous episode allowed for much more breadth of acting. To be completely honest, this felt like Shatner wanted an episode where his character has a mixed up personality because everyone else got to do it in the previous episode and he felt left out. When in reality all he did to differentiate was to make Kirk-1 really boring and forgetful and Kirk-2 really mean and creepy. Kirk-2 has a terrifying gleam in his eyes that there is only one word for: rapey. And guess what almost happens to Yeoman Rand?

Kirk-2’s need for power and control is completely psychopathic, and while they tried to write off Kirk-1’s lack of decision-making skills on his lack of an evil side, I think it was more along the lines of confirming that Kirk is probably a creep deep down, and only through rigorous practice manages to keep the creep-vibes from showing while he is piloting the ship. As we saw in the previous episode, he wanted to take Yeoman Rand for a walk on the beach and go on a date, etc… but felt tied to the ship like he was married to it and not allowed to look at other women.

So far, the only consistent thing I’m disliking… is Shatner. And I feel kind of bad about that, but I’ve also never been a huge fan of him, so I’m not really all that surprised either.

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

 

Other posts in this watch through:
Star Trek: The Original Series
“The Cage” and “The Man Trap”
“Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
“Mudd’s Women” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (COMING SOON)

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

 

Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline
Source: Goodreads

 

It is 2044 and the world is dying. Rather than confront the global issues at their doorstep, humanity has retreated into the virtual reality universe known as The Oasis. Wade Watts lives in a tower of mobile homes somewhere in Ohio, his only refuge the virtual high school he attends in The Oasis. The sudden death of Oasis creator James Halliday forever alters the lives of Oasis users when it is announced that Halliday has hidden the key to his massive inheritance – and the ownership rights to The Oasis – inside his own game as an easter egg. Now with Halliday’s biggest rivals like IOI closing in, it is up to a few good egg hunters – known as gunters – to reach Halliday’s egg first and keep The Oasis free and accessible to all.

 

I had heard about this book in passing numerous times, and it always popped up on my radar, but I ignored it. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood to read about video games. Maybe I thought I would miss too many of the 80s references, and the book wouldn’t make sense as a result of this inherent failing on my part. Maybe a lot of things.

It surfaced on my radar again three years ago when my sister’s university had to read it as part of their one-book-one-campus initiative. She loved it, but I was in the middle of rereading Harry Potter. It’s been high on my list since then, and I finally picked it up from the library last month.

 

This book is awesome. The 80s references are great, and since I was blessed with a mother who loves science fiction and fantasy, I understood at least eighty-five percent of the references and jokes.

Wade and his cohorts develope well as characters, and IOI makes for an intimidating enemy. The Oasis itself steals the spotlight. Its MMORPG (Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Game) meets space opera structure is as beautiful and thoughtfully created as the book’s plot.

This journey through games, film, and music from one of the most iconic (in my opinion, at least) eras of history is not to be missed. And with a film version of the book hitting theatres next month, there’s no time like the present to pick up a copy. **Just a friendly heads-up that this book does contain some not-safe-for-child-consumption bits, so maybe save this one for the 15+ crowd. I’m assuming they’ll just pull these bits from the film script to get a PG13 for violence rating instead of pushing the edge of R for a pointless m*****b****n scene.**

 

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

Star Trek: The Original Series – “Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

Star Trek - S1E2 P2S1E3 - _Charlie X_ and _Where No Man Has Gone Before_
Original Image via Wiki Media Commons

 

Welcome the second installment of my Star Trek watch through! You can find other posts in this series linked at the bottom, and the original post – including my watch order – here. Without further ado, let’s jump into the episodes.

 

 

Episode #2 – “Charlie X”

The episode starts out with Charlie Evans, a seventeen-year-old from a planet called Thasus, where he was orphaned when the ship he was on crashed. He has strange powers – the transmutation of objects and people – and causes a lot of trouble for the crew of the enterprise as he fumbles his way through his first human interactions since the age of three. He supposedly taught himself to speak by talking to his old ship’s onboard computer, and he becomes irrationally angry whenever anyone doesn’t like him. After making a crew member disappear into thin air in front of Captain Kirk, Charlie and the Captain begin to butt heads, and Charlie attempts to take control of the ship when Kirk tries to derail their course away from Alpha V, where Charlie’s closest relatives live. The natives of the planet Thasus, the Thasians, arrive in very cool glowy green ships to retrieve Charlie, who ran away without their knowledge. In order for the boy to survive on their planet, they had to grant him his powers, but they cannot be taken away, and his having them makes him too dangerous to live amongst humans. Charlie immediately begins pleading with the crew of the Enterprise to let him stay, despite the fact that he’s been trying to murder them for the past few days.

I enjoyed this episode quite a bit, as it felt very true to traditional science fiction. The taking of one element and exploiting it, whether by making it cease to exist or making it the sole reason for something – in this case whether or not people liked Charlie – to me is the essence of science fiction writing. Charlie had all of this power, but none of the wisdom to use it safely. Watching his blunders and antics reminded me of the many children’s books involving the dangers of untrained magic. Training without power may seem silly, but power without training typically means certain death no matter what your age is. The fact that we had this boy at the height of puberty with a ton of power and no training in human interaction lent an idea for a very interesting storyline. Also, I’m pretty sure I’ve had nightmares involving people with powers like these, but that’s probably a story for another day.

Overall it was very well done. The fact that Yeoman Janice, Captain Kirk, and Doctor McCoy all attempted to explain puberty, men/women, and general human interaction to someone without saying any of the words they actually needed to use because those words weren’t allowed on cable in the 60s was cracking me up, but it was also a very good lesson in story writing.

 

Pilot #2 / Episode #3 – “Where No Man Has Gone Before”

This episode was originally produced as a second pilot for the series and actually takes place at an earlier stardate than the first two aired episodes, despite this episode being aired third. As I just looked up, the stardates, while allowing the creators to build a rough timeline, were just an arbitrary mix of numbers that weren’t meant to correspond to a specific year so that viewers couldn’t make snide comments about whether things would exist the way they do on the show at that future date.

The first few things I noticed were Leonard Nimoy’s crazy eyebrows and the simplified detailing on the sleeves of the command shirts. It was much fancier in episode #2. Also, this was Scotty’s first official appearance! Although I’m not all convinced that was James Doohan. After that, the biggest things were the lack of Uhura’s presence and the general treatment of women, which really stuck out when Yeoman Smith clutched Gary Mitchell’s arm as the ship flew through a strange forcefield. Honestly, if you’re part of a space crew whose mission is to explore uncharted areas, why would you be so easily scared of a space-storm/forcefield? Dr. Dehner wasn’t scared at all, but then again nothing scares her throughout the episode, so maybe she’s just made of sterner stuff. Plenty of characters made cameos in the episode, including Sulu, but just about everyone felt flat. Kirk was overemotional in part to compensate for Spock’s decided lack of emotion – which is a huge point of contention in this episode – and it made him come off as whiny. The episode ends with Spock admitting that he was sad about Mitchell’s fate, and Kirk responding that there is hope for him yet.

 

Unlike “Charlie X”, which I enjoyed specifically for the storyline, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” felt like a string of ideas strung together. Like “The Cage”, every action had multiple meanings, and you could see and feel what was contrived for the show itself and what allowances were made for the studio in order to get the show green-lit. It is strange to me that two episodes of the same show could read so differently to me, but there you have it.

I’m really enjoying the special effects! The way they make things disappear and reappear is pretty awesome. Both of these episodes had actors and lighting doing strange things with the characters’ eyes, and entire walls and people disappeared! Having a background in production, I am especially curious as to how they are doing the disappearances specifically. I don’t think it’s green screening, but I also don’t think it’s two pieces of film being merged together somehow. I’ll try to get to the bottom of it for my next post.

I’m still enjoying the series. Every episode feels like it’s own universe, and while I’m only a few episodes in, the cast already feels diverse to me. I can only imagine what people thought of it in the 60s!

Until next time,

Amanda

 

 

Other posts in this watch through:
Star Trek: The Original Series
“The Cage” and “The Man Trap”
“The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
“Mudd’s Women” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (COMING SOON)

Geekerella – Ashley Poston

 

Geekerella-Ashley-Poston
Source: Goodreads

 

 

Danielle Wittimer and her parents had a special bond – their undying love for the too-soon gone TV show Starfield. Now that they’re gone, the show and the convention her father started in honor of it are the only things Elle has left of them. They keep her going while her stepmother and twin stepsisters make her life a living hell.

Darien Freeman grew up torn between worlds. Discovering Starfield and Excelsicon in middle school literally saved his life. Now, the chance to play the lead role of Prince Carmindor in the new film adaption of the cult TV show is more than he can pass up, but will the fans accept a new Carmindor?

Terrified to meet his new fans and foes, Darien reaches out to the Excelsicon founders to try to pull out of his meet-and-greet, only to find a friend instead. As Elle and Darien get to know each other through texts, they begin to understand just how not alone they really are. Will it be enough to save Carmindor and the reboot from disaster? Will it be enough to rescue Elle from her own personal hell?

 

 

I heard about this book last year just before it came out, and I had the chance to hear Ashley Poston speak about it at the Boston Teen Author Festival in September. Geekerella‘s charm comes from its roots in the Cinderella fairytale, tied up in its infusion of sci-fi culture – Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and so many more. The melding together of fairytale and space opera with verge-of-adulthood problems and responsibilities makes for a totally new story that will enchant readers for years to come.

Poston’s love for everything space shines through in her writing and in her speech. Her next space-opera-meets-fairytale will hit shelves in the next year or two, and I personally can’t wait to get my hands on it.

 

HHC Rating: 4.5 Stars

 

Star Trek: The Original Series – “The Cage” and “The Man Trap”

 

Star Trek - P1 S1E1 - _The Cage_ and _The Man Trap_
Original Image via Wiki Media Commons

 

 

Recently I read a book called Geekerella by Ashley Poston. It reminded me just out of the loop I am when it comes to science fiction, and how horrible of a way that would be to go out. So, I’ve decided to change that.  To start with, I’m going to watch all of Star Trek. All. Of. It.

My review of Geekerella will be posted on Tuesday, and then you can find it here.

 

Star Trek had its beginning in the 1960s, when my parents were infants. This never stopped my mother from becoming a fan. With the return of science fiction worlds like Star Trek, Star Wars, Blade Runner, and so many others to both the big and small screens, it’s about time that I took the dive into this particular brave, new world.

I’ve decided to start at the beginning, since that is the most logical place to begin. I’m following the watch order that can be found here on digg, and also reproduced for you below:

  • Star Trek: The Original Series
  • The Animated Series
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
  • The Next Generation Seasons 1-7
  • Star Trek: Generations
  • Deep Space Nine Seasons 1-5
  • Voyager Seasons 1-2
  • Star Trek: First Contact
  • Deep Space Nine Seasons 6-7
  • Star Trek: Insurrection
  • Voyager Seasons 3-7
  • Star Trek: Nemesis
  • Enterprise
  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness
  • Star Trek: Beyond
  • Star Trek: Discovery

I’m going to watch somewhere between 1-3 episodes at a time and then let you know what I think of them. Let us see how long this project takes me. I’m also watching the show via Netflix, so that could have some impact on which episodes are aired when.

Now, I should warn you that I’m not a complete newbie when it comes to Star Trek, but growing up I was too busy reading fairytales to watch more than a few bits of whichever episode was on television, and I’m guessing I don’t get bonus points for understanding references on The Big Bang Theory or for watching the 2009 reboot film and Into Darkness when they came out.

Going into this, I was already aware that there were two pilots, and that the show was ushered into existence by Lucille Ball and her studio, Desilu Productions. (don’t be surprised. I read and I know things.) But what I didn’t know and wasn’t actually prepared for was the sheer amount of differences between the two showings, including an almost complete 180 of the cast.

 

Pilot #1 – “The Cage”

Christopher Pike is fantastic. I really enjoyed Jeffrey Hunter’s acting (he’s also not hard on the eyes). Is it just me, or was Spock mildly human in this episode? He actually seemed worried that Pike had been captured. The whole Adam and Eve shtick was probably a lot less overused in the 60’s, but it still played nicely here. I quite enjoyed the large-brained aliens – maybe they are the precursor to the large-headed green ‘Martians’ we so frequently see today in science fiction? Wonderful use of special effects. I even loved the obviously homemade communicators.

My favorite part of the entire episode was Number One. I know Majel Barrett got the worst of the critics for her performance, but I’m convinced that’s only because she was so ahead of her time. Sure, she ‘tried to fit in with the boys’ by not screaming at Pike that she’s a woman just like Yeoman Colt and instead holds her tongue, but she has a quiet authority that Pike trusts and the crew obeys without question when Pike is taken out of commission and the ship falls under her command. I appreciated how she calmly handled things, and how quickly she came to the correct conclusion about Vina’s origin significantly before Pike did (because she did research). I would have loved to see how the gender-war played out in that cast and in that time period. It very well could have revolutionized the feminist movement, and we might have been where we are now with feminism nearly 50 years earlier. But that’s a much longer discussion. Basically what I’m saying is that in Number One’s quiet yet absolute authority I see traces of the women I look up to today, not the least of them being Wonder Woman.

 

You could say that I really liked this episode. 😉

 

Episode #1 – “The Man Trap”

Compared to “The Cage”, this episode was underwhelming. The effects were still good, the communicators looked more like little flip-phones than homemade junk, and the extended look at the ship was interesting. Unfortunately, the cast felt indifferent. Sure, you have your Captain Kirk (William Shatner), and Spock (Leonard Nimoy), and Sulu (George Takei), and Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), and, of course, Uhura (Nichelle Nichols). Those characters I know from the reboots. I was slightly surprised by how easily they killed off cast – four crew members are killed by the ‘salt vampire’ before it is destroyed.

The scenes between Spock and Uhura show potential, though I was surprised by how openly Uhura flirted with Spock. I guess I just didn’t expect that in the first episode?

Overall it was a decent start, and I look forward to watching more episodes.

 

Until next time,

Amanda

 

 

Other posts in this watch through:
Star Trek: The Original Series
“Charlie X” and “Where No Man Has Gone Before”
“The Naked Time” and “The Enemy Within”
“Mudd’s Women” and “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” (COMING SOON)