Monday, June 14, 2021

52. Fan Fiction


Fan Fiction. Brent Spiner with Jeanne Darst. 2021. [October] 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The second worst part of my job is wearing makeup. The worst part is taking it off. The only thing that will cut through my thick mask at the end of a sixteen hour day is a kerosene-based product called Eliminate.

Premise/plot: Fan Fiction is a premise-driven mystery/thriller by Brent Spiner. The what-if premise of this one is simple: What if Brent Spiner received a HORRIFYING and DISTURBING package in the mail by an obsessed fan? What if following that bloody package, he received dozens and dozens of stalker-y threatening letters? 

How would a fan's obsession (or fans' obsession) impact his personal and professional life? As Brent shares these disturbing messages (and objects) with those closest to him--his fellow cast, security, police, the FBI--his life gets a little bit crazy.

Fan Fiction is fueled by fan or super-fan culture. 

I should also mention it is set in 1991.

My thoughts: I called it a mystery-thriller. The book's description calls it a noir comedy. I had to look up the definition of noir to refresh my memory: "crime fiction featuring hard-boiled cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings." Fan Fiction is NOT your typical comedy. Or perhaps it is if your sense of humor never matured? I found it on the crude side. I honestly can't say I laughed once. It could just be me--I wouldn't be surprised if it was--but what is funny about a person (celebrity or not) receiving death threats? Nor did I find it amusing and laugh-out-loud when Spiner was recalling the fear he grew up in because of his step-father.

I do think the text explores various levels of fan obsession and the blurring of lines of what's appropriate (and healthy) and inappropriate (and SCARY).

For me one of the most thought provoking scenes in the novel is when Brent Spiner attends the funeral of Mrs. Spiner. There is a super-super-super-super obsessed fan who goes to the video rental store often to check out Star Trek videos. It is the same store Brent Spiner uses. She calls herself "Mrs. Spiner" and refers to Brent as HER HUSBAND. When something tragic happens he feels compelled to go to her funeral. Every person in attendance only knows her as Mrs. Spiner. No one knows her actual name or anything about her. She has no family, no friends that know her and are honoring her. (She may have family and friends living, but NO ONE knows her real identity and she's not being buried under her real identity).

I don't regret reading this one even though it was a bit more adult and crude than what I usually read. But it's not going to be topping my best books of the year list. Still I liked it.

If I'd known that 1991 was the year he released an album, I would have appreciated the song quotes a bit more.

Quote:

"But we know that she related to something in us! And we related something in her. And you know that she related to good things inside you! Those things that you brought to your character, whether you want to admit that or not. You know that parts of you resonated with parts of her! So we all actually know a lot about her, because we know a lot about ourselves! And those parts of her that we share, those emotions, they are real! No matter what you think!"

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, June 13, 2021

51. Siege of the Seven Sins


Siege of the Seven Sins. (Seven Sins #2) Emily Colin. 2021. 300 pages (made up page count because publishers are meanies) [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The world is on fire, or I am.

Premise/plot: Siege of the Seven Sins is the sequel to Sword of the Seven Sins. In the first book, Eva and Ari fell madly, deeply in love with each other. Love of any form--even familial--is FORBIDDEN in the Commonwealth. But romantic love is especially frowned upon. Good thing they had a way out, right? Well, their exit from their cruel society didn't exactly go as planned--far from it. In fact, it was one disaster after another. But now that they're finally, finally, finally free from the Commonwealth and the past, they can be together forever, right?

Well, not exactly. And not all obstacles are coming from without. In fact even without the NEW powers-that-be (the ones in rebellion against the Commonwealth) and the Commonwealth (which we explored in the first book), these two are just stubborn and stupid enough to mess up their relationship without another soul interfering.

Eva is exploring her new body--or BODIES--as the case may be. And being around Ari may just be the death of them both...

My thoughts: The first half of the book was PAINFUL. I'll clarify what I mean by painful. Every single Eva chapter was like, I WANT TO BE WITH ARI BUT I CAN'T. And every single Ari chapter was like, I WANT TO BE WITH EVA BUT I CAN'T. And literally all that was going on was whining by both characters about how life was so super unfair and tragic because they couldn't be together together. In the background, there were hints of life going on for everyone else in this world.

The second half of the book improved a good deal. Ari and Eva still really wanted to be together together but couldn't. But. Also action and adventure started taking center stage. By the last few chapters, plenty was happening.

Does stuff happening at the very end of the book make up for all that came before???? Not really.

This might be a case for two books being stretched to make a trilogy. I'm assuming it will be a trilogy and that it won't be longer. Because if the same drama is going to have to go on for each book--Ari and Eva wanting to be together but being held back for reasons--then it's going to get old really fast.

For readers who want 98% romance and 2% dystopian world building, these two books might make a good fit. (I would say the first book it was more fifty-fifty. There was a lot of world building and character development....especially in comparison with the second.) I personally enjoyed book one a great deal more than this second book in the series.

 Quote:

"Let me tell you about wanting, Eva. The world could burn and the moon go dark and I would still want you. When I fight, you're the strength behind the arm that wields my blade. Eva, I love you. And nothing that happens between us--nothing you say to me--is going to make that stop." My voice breaks. "So please. Tell me what I have to do--what I have to say--so I won't lose you." 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, June 07, 2021

50. The Dragon Reborn


The Dragon Reborn. (The Wheel of Time #3) Robert Jordan. 1991. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

The Dragon Reborn is the third book in the Wheel of Time series. It stars many characters whom we met in books one and two. In this one Rand is coming to terms with the Pattern--or beginning to slightly. It's a slow process. And the pattern seems to want him to be THE DRAGON REBORN. Not a false dragon, a fake, someone out looking for glory or adventure, but the true dragon of ancient prophecy. He's not entirely super comfortable with that role. But he's processing everything mainly in his own way in his own time. And doing it off screen, so to speak.

The Dragon Reborn barely features Rand. And I'm not complaining. It does feature three main stories.

One story has Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve working together. They've been assigned the super-super-super-super secret task of hunting the Black Ajah (the DARK, DARK, SUPER-DARK branch of the Aes Sedai). (Elayne and Egwene undergo their super-secret testing to become ACCEPTED into the Aes Sedai. Nynaeve did this in book two.) It will be dangerous. The three know each other to be reliable and good--on the right side--but how can they know who else to trust?

Another story has Perrin, Lan, Loial, and Moiraine questing together. They are following Rand and of course solving more puzzles along the way. Someone else joins this group--for better or worse--and seems determined to find the Horn (not knowing of course that the Horn has not only been found but already blown).

Yet another story has Mat on a journey. In the beginning of this third book he is finally healed (he became deathly ill in book one). The Aes Sedai want him to remain in Tar Valon, but, the girls (Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve) have other plans for him. And this has him gambling and rambling his way cross country. He picks up a buddy too. (Who wants to quest alone???) Thom (the gleeman from book one) joins Mat in his adventures/misadventures.

The reader may suspect that these three stories will come together into one story by the end, and, of course, you'd be right. All the questing groups DO end up in the same place at the same time. The only one whose quest we do not follow is Rand. And as I said I'm not complaining. What little we do hear from him is enough for me.

This one continues to develop the cultures and politics of the fantasy world. In particular we continue to look at the corruption within the Aes Sedai. (Of course corruption is also found in the governing bodies of other countries).

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams. More dreams. One of the big threads of this one are the dreams or NIGHTMARES that all the characters have from cover to cover. Are the dreams prophetic? Do they mean something? Why are so many people sharing the same dream? Do the dreams hold all the clues needed to defeat the enemy?

This was my first time to reread The Dragon Reborn. I am definitely enjoying rereading the series. I hope to get to books I've never yet read in the series. I am liking the world building and the characterizations.

I will say that sometimes it does feel a little creepy to unpack the book and think deeper about what is going on. Rand was fourteen in the first book. (As are Perrin and Mat). Yet it seems that all the adult women in this world Jordan has peopled--no matter their culture/ethnicity--seems to take one look at Rand (or Perrin or Mat) and think YUM. CANDY. The fact that so many grown women want to flirt seductively with a fourteen or fifteen year old is creepy. (I believe in the third book it's been a little under a year since the adventure began? They left in spring and the third book mentions it being winter). It is easy to get distracted by all the other drama--the ultimate showdown between Light and Dark--to forget that these heroes are YOUNG. You can almost recast them in your imagination as being older (say eighteen, nineteen) and begin to think nothing of it. I do wonder why Jordan didn't just make them older to begin with? Like Lord of the Ring, Frodo is in his 30s or 40s. Bilbo Baggins wasn't all that young on his quest either.

But overall I am loving the series. Quite an entertaining read.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

49. The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt. (Wheel of Time #2) Robert Jordan. 1991. 705 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass leaving memories that become legend, then fade to myth, and are long forgot when that Age comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Dhoom. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

The Great Hunt is the second book in the Wheel of Time series. It definitely has a different "feel" than the first book in the series, in my opinion. It stops feeling like flattery--an adoring fan of Tolkien writing his own love song to the epic quest genre--and begins to feel like its own unique story. Or more so. Perhaps each book takes us a step or two further away from being fan fiction to Lord of the Rings. 

So it is titled The Great Hunt. So expect the questing to turns more towards HUNTING. And the mission this go around is to recover and find THE HORN OF VALERE. The horn is legendary and is linked--supposedly--to the "Last Battle." It was stolen--along with a dagger--and the two must be found. The dagger is less legendary perhaps--though equally dark and shadowy--its worth is of great importance to Rand, Mat, and Perrin (our three heroes) because one of their lives depends on the finding of it. (If you've read the first book, you know which of the three it is.)

Our three heroes, Rand, Mat, and Perrin are joined on their quest with some old friends (like Loial whom I love, love, love and adore) and new faces (like Ingtar, Hurin, and Verin). It will prove a daunting journey. 

While half of our characters are out looking for the Horn (and the dagger), our other characters are continuing on with their own life goals. Nynaeve and Egwene travel to Tar Valon and begin their study to become Aes Sedai. They are joined by Min and Elayne. The four form a friendship of sorts. Particularly Min, Elayne, and Egwene. Min has a strong feeling that their fates are all twisted twisted up with Rand's for better or worse.

You might think they have an easier time. What dangers could they possibly face that would endanger their lives--especially compared to the dangers the guys are facing hunting for the Horn. But you'd be wrong. Readers finally, finally get a glimpse of the Aes Sedai in The Great Hunt. (Widening our perspective from just knowing Moiraine). These heroines end up IN VERY GREAT DANGER.

Some of the most intense scenes--in my opinion--involve the human trafficking of young girls and women. Those being targeted are those who can--in varying degrees--channel. And they are being captured, put in bondage, tortured, and shipped out to a foreign country. I'm sure there's a greater scheme at play, but I'm not sure it's out and out stated why the lands--both cities and rural areas--are being searched to find young girls/women to steal. 

There are two other side stories introduced (or further built upon as the case may be). Occasionally the action will turn from our heroes and heroines altogether and shift focus. We spend time with some Children of the Light (the White Cloaks) OR learning more about the Seanchan. I'll be honest, it just feels ODD to suddenly start reading a chapter where you don't know ANY of the characters and how it relates to the greater whole. But by the end it was beginning to make a wee bit of sense. 

The overall 'big picture' of this one is simple: Will Rand step forward and accept the fate the Pattern has written for him or will he run away--far and fast--and try to escape his fate? Will he accept the fact that he is indeed THE DRAGON of legend REBORN.

I have read the first book in the series The Eye of the World three times. This is my first time to reread The Great Hunt. When I read it the first time--for whatever reason--I rated it four stars--really???? I would definitely raise the stars to five upon rereading. 

I do wish it had more Lan.

Quotes:

"You wish everything could be the way it was, sheepherder? Or you wish the girl would go with you instead of to Tar Valon? You think she'll give up becoming an Aes Sedai for a life of wandering? With you? If you put it to her in the right way, she might. Love is an odd thing." Lan sounded suddenly weary. "As odd a thing there is." (8)

Loial was watching them dice, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with a finger thicker than a big man's thumb, his head almost reaching the rafters nearly two spans up. None of the dicers gave him a glance. Ogier were not exactly common in the Borderlands or anywhere else, but they were known and accepted here, and Loial had been in Fal Dara long enough to excite little comment. The Ogier's dark, stiff-collared tunic was buttoned up to his neck and flared below the waist over his high boots, and one of the big pockets bulged and sagged with the weight of something. Books, if Rand knew him. Even watching men gamble, Loial would not be far from a book. (30)

"My mother," she said firmly, "always told me the best way to learn to deal with a man was to learn to ride a mule. She said they have about equal brains most of the time. Sometimes the mule is smarter." (35) (Egwene)

She thinks only of the knowledge, Moiraine thought wonderingly. The culmination of the direst prophecy the world knows, perhaps the end of the world, and she cares about the knowledge. But she is still dangerous for that. (110)

"There is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet." (119) (Lan)

"I never said--" he took a deep breath. "I told you I had nothing to offer for brideprice but widow's clothes. Not a gift any man could give a woman. Not a man who can call himself a man."
"I understand," she said coolly. "In any case, a king does not give gifts to village women. And this village woman would not take them. Have you seen Rand? I need to talk to him. He was to see the Amyrlin. Do you know what she wanted with him?"
His eyes blazed like blue ice in the sun. She stiffened her legs to keep from stepping back, and met him glare for glare.
"The Dark One take Rand al'Thor and the Amyrlin Seat both," he grated, pressing something into her hand. "I will make you a gift and you will take it if I have to chain it around your neck."
She pulled her eyes away from his. He had a stare like a blue-eyed hawk when he was angry. In her hand was a signet ring, heavy gold and worn with age, almost large enough for both her thumbs to fit through. On it, a crane flew above a lance and a crown, all carefully wrought in detail. Her breath caught. The ring of Malkieri kings. Forgetting to glare, she lifted her face. "I cannot take this, Lan."
He shrugged in an offhand way. "It is nothing. Old, and useless, now. But there are those who would know it when they saw it. Show that, and you will have guestright, and help if you need it, from any lord in the Borderlands. Show it to a Warder, and he will give you aid, or carry a message to me. Send it to me, or a message marked with it, and I will come to you, without delay and without fail. this I swear." (135)
Loial grinned, and his ears stood up. He moved his horse closer. "I say things I should not all the time. The Elders always said I spoke an hour before I thought." (146)


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, May 31, 2021

May Reflections


In May I read twenty-seven books. Twenty-two were review copies. One book was borrowed from my mom. One book was won in a contest several years ago. And three were books I bought myself through the years. Four books this month were rereads.

Three books were retellings or adaptations of Jane Eyre! My favorite of the bunch was John Eyre by Mimi Matthews which releases in August 2021.

Books Reviewed At Becky's Book Reviews

40. The Tobacco Girls. Lizzie Lane. 2021 [January] 318 pages. [Source: Review copy]
41. Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville's Famous Conjoined Twins. Sarah Miller. 2021. [April] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
42. The Wife Upstairs. Rachel Hawkins. 2021. [January] 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]
43. Mrs. Rochester's Ghost. Lindsay Marcott. 2021. [August] 398 pages. [Source: Review copy]
44. Isabelle and Alexander. Rebecca Anderson. 2021. [May] 324 pages. [Source: Review copy]
45. Big Apple Diaries. Alyssa Bermudez. 2021. [August] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
46. John Eyre. Mimi Matthews. 2021. [August] 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]
47. Sword of the Seven Sins. (The Seven Sins #1) Emily Colin. 2020. [August] 300 pages. [Source: Review copy]
48. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]

Books Reviewed at Young Readers

47. Baby Island. Carol Ryrie Brink. Illustrated by Helen Sewell. 1937. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
48. Pumpkin Heads. Wendell Minor. 2021. [August] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
49. Board Book: Disney All Aboard! Mickey's Railway. Nichole Mara. Illustrated by Andrew Kolb. 2021. [March] 8 pages. [Source: Review copy]

50. Something Stinks. Jonathan Fenske. 2021. [June] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
51. Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 2006. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy?]
52. Wake Up, Crabby! Jonathan Fenske. (A Crabby Book #3) 2019. [November] 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
53. Moon Camp. Barry Gott. 2021. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
54. A Secret Shared. Patricia MacLachlan. 2021. [September] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
55. Board book: Comparrotives. Janik Coat.  2021. [June] 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]
56. Board book: Colors My First Pop Up. Matthew Reinhart. Art by Ekaterina Trukhan. 2021. [May] 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
57. Five Children and It (Five Children #1) E. Nesbit. 1902. 237 pages. [Source: Bought]
58. Sloth and Smell the Roses. Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle. 2021. [January] 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
59. Pancakes, Pancakes! Eric Carle. 1970. 36 pages. [Source: Bought]

Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

29. Board books: Bible Stories for Little Hearts. Sandra Magsamen. 2019. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
30. Come Back To Me (Waters of Time #1) Jody Hedlund. 2021. [July] 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
31. Go and Do Likewise: The Parables and Wisdom of Jesus. John Hendrix. 2021. [February] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
32. Providence. John Piper. 2021. 752 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

4. NIV Reader's Bible (2011 Translation). God. 2017. 1984 pages. [Source: Won a Contest]

May Totals

May
number of books27
number of pages7391


Yearly Totals

2021 Totals
Books143
Pages39501

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews