Should You Read It?-Honorable Mentions Part 10

Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters (Graphic Novel) by Rick Riordan, Attila Futaki, and Tamas Gaspar

Genre: Graphic Novel/Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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When Thalia’s tree protecting the camp is poisoned, Percy finds that he must help the tree to save the camp. When Clarisse goes to the prophet to have gain the quest to save the camp, Percy and Clarisse find that they encounter each other often as they both aim to get the Golden Fleece. Of course, Luke is still a threat, and his goal of reviving Chronos is becoming even more of a reality.

Even better than the first one, this graphic novel adaptation picks up the essence of its original novel counterpart very well. The art, especially the landscapes, is amazing. I was not sure the graphic novels would be too good. The first one was okay, but this one has me ready and eager for the next graphic novel!


The Exile: An Outlander Graphic Novel by Diana Gabaldon and Hoang Ngyen

Genre: Graphic Novel/Historical Fiction

Rating: 3/5

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I was excited to get a graphic novel version of Outlander, and from Jamie’s perspective, nonetheless. While it is meant to be from Jamie’s perspective, we are still given some of Claire’s thoughts. It was interesting to see Jamie’s thoughts and ideas that were unspoken/unheard/unseen in the original novel. This otherwise is the same story of Outlander with some minor twists (such as Geillis Duncan, who has a man after Claire to find if she moved through time too, and perhaps to kill Jamie because of his heritage and threat to Geillis’s son’s legacy to Castle Leoch).

The art is soft but detailed, adding a nice visual reference of the world and characters. The plot did have to be altered somewhat to be a self-contained piece, but this is a wonderful addition to the series and a nice perspective for any Outlander fan.


My Neighbor Totoro (the novel) by Hayao Miyazaki and Tsugiko Kubo

Genre: Adolescent Fiction/Ghibli

Rating: 4/5

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This is the novel adaptation of the original Ghibli film by Miyazaki. It follows the story of 4-year-old Mei and 11-year-old Satsuki who move to the countryside to be closer to their hospitalized mother. When they discover a sacred tree in the forest, the girls find that the forest spirits, among them Totoro, strive to help the girls become more knowing of the world by gifting them with acorns to plant their own forest. When Mei goes missing, Satsuki enlists in Totoro’s help!

When transcribing something from screen to page, the effect is similar to that of page to screen. Some things are taken out that flow well visually in the movie, but would sump the flow of the novel, and the organization is slightly different to help the chapters move along. Of course, it is very different reading a description of something over seeing it with carefully chosen background music, but the description adds a whole new element to experiencing My Neighbor Totoro. Well worth the read for any Ghibli or Totoro fan!


The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis

Genre: Companion/Guidebook/Young Adult Fantasy

Rating: 4/5

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This is an informational companion to Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter novels. It is presented in a similar way to a Dungeons and Dragons book and has chapters and sections for everything in the Shadow World. There are beautiful illustrations by a number of artists, including Cassandra Jean, who does a lot of the special and exclusive art for many of Clare’s works (including the graphic novel adaption of City of Bones). There are also little notations written by Clary, Jace, and occasionally Simon, throughout the text. Some of it is rather comical, such as the section on “Facemelter” demons, the description being “self explanatory.” The two appendixes give interesting information about the vreation of the Shadowhunters as well as some information about The Circle.

Overall, this book was interesting in the extra detailed information on things like Idris, Downworlders, and the Mortal Instruments, as well as various types of demons. While it is a bit of a slow read if you are reading it as an actual book, it is a nice reference to look to when questioning politics and things from the main series, and the images are nice. I wish there were more images (like one for each demon or Downworlder race).


Wolverine: Old Man Logan by Mark Miller and Steve McNiven

Genre: Superhero/Graphic Novel

Rating: 4/5

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This graphic novel was slow at first, but it became interesting very quickly and definitely picked up the pace. When the Hulk’s group seeks money from Logan to protect his family, he heads out to get the money with a limited amount of time. When Hawkeye arrives asking for accompaniment on his journey to deliver a special package, Logan offers to be a driver only, and not to get involved with fighting. Along the way, the duo ends up saving Hawkeye’s daughter and fighting off some mole creatures that have dug out the underparts of many major cities. Hawkeye’s shipment turn out to be something that could revolutionize the power of mutants (in an evil way), and Wolverine’s secret to why he chooses not to fight becomes revealed. When he finally gets the money, he is too late, and goes out to seek revenge against the Hulks.

Of course I picked this up after seeing Logan. I was not sure what to expect, and the beginning was slow, but once Wolverine’s past is revealed, along with the fate of the X-men, as well as the images of his bloody vengeance, it is a vastly visually appealing piece. The art is above average for a Marvel superhero work, and I was actually very impressed by this graphic novel overall.

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander Book 2)-Should You Read It?

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Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance/ Women’s Fiction

Rating: 4/5

This book starts off interesting and ends interesting, but the middle and attempt at buildup are pretty dry. I think that is just a second book thing, because A Clash of Kings also happens to be the second book and the “boring” book in the series. That is this one as well, but there is great promise leading into the next book. There is a lot going on in Dragonfly in Amber, so I will try to address what I can along with the main points.

One of the interesting things we get in contrast to the first novel is the point of view presented. While Outlander was Claire’s view only, we do see a bit from the perspective of Roger Wakefield, the deceased Reverend’s son who met Claire over twenty years ago.

The novel begins in Scotland 1968 after the death of Claire’s husband, Frank. In the previous novel, we were left with a pregnant Claire in France with Jamie. As we read this section that takes place about 20 years after her departure through the stones, we meet Claire’s daughter, Brianna, and we see Claire seeking Roger’s help to find out what happened to the men at the Battle of Culloden. The beginning is interesting because of the future the reader starts off with, leading us to question the events leading up to that point. Of course, the book does come full-circle (some 1000 pages later), and we do get to find out all the in-between goodies.

After Claire finds Jamie’s grave, we are sent back in time to Paris, France 1744. Because Claire is from the future, she knows the Jacobite’s will fail. With this premonition, upon Jamie’s escape from Scotland as a wanted fugitive, the duo (and Murtagh) meet up with Jamie’s cousin in Paris. It turns out his cousin knows some important people who wish to restore the Stuart’s to the Scottish throne, including Bonnie Prince Charlie. Instead of stopping the uprising, Claire and Jamie aim to get enough people on their side to win. Of course Claire, being the ambitious woman that she is, makes plenty of enemies within a short amount of time, including the Comte St. Germain, a highly influential man in Paris.

SPOILERS: All the while, Jamie keeps getting into fights, Jack Randall lived through the stampede, Jack’s brother is in love with Mary Hawkins (Frank’s ancestor who end up married to Jack due to illness of Alex Randall), Jamie goes to prison, Claire miscarries, and Clair has an affair with the King of France to get Jamie out of prison so that they can go back to Scotland to fight in the uprising.

Back to Scotland, 1745, Claire and Jamie spend an abundant amount of time gathering the clans to fight the British. Even with Bonnie Prince Charlie’s troops and the men of the clans, it just is not enough. While the Scots have many minor victories, it all winds down to the Battle of Culloden. In the heat of the moment, Jamie takes Claire back to Craigh na Dun, telling her that he noticed she must be pregnant and she didn’t even notice in all the hustle and bustle of war. And of course, despite their efforts, history cannot be changed.

MORE SPOILERS: As history tells Claire, there were only a few survivors of the battle, and they were all executed. Believing Jamie to be dead all this time, Claire finally tells Brianna who her real father is. Of course, she does not take the news well and she denies anyone being her father except for Frank. When Claire finds out the Geillis has not gone through the stones yet, the trio aims to stop her and save her, but to no avail. We are left with a murder to gain entrance through the stones, and the reveal from Roger that Jamie had in fact escaped execution and could still be alive. We are left with the promise of Claire possibly taking Brianna back in time to meet her father.

Overall the book had some promise. While many people, myself included, have reviewed the part in Paris as “boring,” the rest of the novel is interesting. The hype and buildup of the battle is more adventurous and interesting than the politics of Paris, and the present-day sequences give us the most craving information that makes us want to keep reading. I feel like this will, in fact, be the most boring book in the series, but I feel like Voyager has a great deal of promise. We’ll see!

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Outlander-Should You Read It?

Genre: Romance/Historical Fiction

Rating: 4.5/5

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, a novel written nearly fifteen years ago, has made a huge hit as a television series. The question is, should you read the book? (I will review the later books in the series as well, as I finish them).

First of all, this book took me a very long time to read. I read maybe five books at once, and this one went on longer for me than A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin (which is a huge book that I was reading at the same time as this one). There are a few things that made this book a long read. Before actually reviewing the text, I need to say that the genre is historical fiction/romance, and women’s fiction. So if these are not your genres, I would not suggest even trying this book.

Outlander features twenty-seven year old Claire who is on a sort of second honeymoon with her husband after they found each other in the end of World War II. They decided Scotland would be a great place to visit. In Scotland, Claire finds herself rather interested in a circle of standing stones, Craigh na Dun. Said stones take her back to around 1743 Scotland. If you know your history, this is around the time they are trying restore a Stuart to Scotland’s rule, the Jacobite’s are looking for funding, and the British and Scots are at ends. There is a lot of things that happen in the book: Claire’s husband’s far distant British relative is alive in that time, Claire gets married…again…while she is still married to her husband in 1945, Claire gets tried as a witch with someone else who likewise traveled back in time (from the 1960’s), and there’s lots of injuries and fun things going on.

Here is what makes Outlander a rather hard read (to any general audience): the novel is in first person, so the reader goes through the mind of a twenty-seven year old woman in the various events. This isn’t exactly the issue, but the author has made Claire a character of many words. There is a GREAT AMOUNT of exposition in the novel, things that are there that we may not really need as the reader, things that make the reading tedious, yet interesting. For example, Claire will be picking various herbs because she was a nurse in the war and knows what plants make for good medicines. There will be maybe five pages about what plants they are that she is collecting and what they can be used for. That is a lot of information that really drags out the novel. While interesting, it takes away from the action. Something else that may slow the reader down is the historical element. If the reader is unfamiliar with Scottish/British history, then the political aspects of the novel will feel far too informative.

On the other hand, here’s some of the things that make the novel a great read: it’s a romance, it has a great title, and there’s a lot of action (despite the previously mentioned exposition). The target audience for this novel is quite obviously women over probably twenty years old, and any woman from 20-120 years would enjoy this book. The romance targets that thing in our human nature that we all long for: companionship. Also, the action sequences keep the romance complicated and keeps the reader asking questions, which is a good thing to keep us reading! This novel is NOT necessarily just for women; men can enjoy Outlander too. The action in the novel mostly revolves around the historical events of the time period, which can easily be researched to see if there is a potential reading interest there. Also, the title is rather clever. An outlander is what the Scottish would call the British that may be in their highlands as more of a derogatory term. And Claire is from a completely different time period, putting the term to a whole new level.

The thing that kept me reading the most was, when is she going to tell Jamie she’s from the future? After that reveal is when the novel really seemed to slow down for me. That is what kept me reading. After that reveal, what kept me going (I guess) was the question of, what are they going to do now?

After a great many pages, I finally made it to book two, Dragonfly in Amber, which starts off very differently than Outlander. Back to the question, should you read Outlander? If you are a history buff, romantic, literature major, or avid reader of all books, then I would say yes, this book is for you. If you would not classify yourself as one of the four above listed types of people, then I would say no, you should not read this book. If it’s not your thing, you don’t want to try and read something that will take you five years to finish (heh).