Category Archives: 2013 reads

Recommended Reads: Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth

In the near future, we live in one of five factions. Each group is conditioned to think, act, and behave in a certain way. When we turn sixteen years old, we are given a test that assigns us to one of the factions. We then have the choice of staying in the faction of our family or transferring to one of the other four.

We are introduced to this world through the character of Beatrice Prior. Her test proved that she didn’t exactly belong to any of the factions. It turns out that she is “Divergent” and that this is a scary and pretty much unspeakable thing.

She renames herself Tris and abandons her home faction for a new one. She tries to understand exactly what she is and why.

The writing is fast-paced and brilliant. This is a world that mirrors our own. We have all been conditioned to act and behave in certain ways. This is science fiction at its best. It shines a light on our own reality while delivering a spellbinding story. I simply couldn’t put the book down.

We get a resolution at the end of the book, but I am left wanting to read more about Tris and this dystopian world she seems destined to overthrow. Good thing this is a trilogy. I will be reading the next book, Insurgent, very soon.

I’m adding this title to my Recommended Reads section. You should check it out.

My 2013 Reading Log (Every book I’ve read this year with links to each title)

The Great Gatsby on the Boardwalk

Fan-created cover by Stuart Ward for 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I didn’t see the new feature film of this story that came out last year. I figured I should read the book first. After all, it is a classic.

I have to say that I was not all that impressed with the book. It is told from a relatively insignificant character. We don’t even meet the title character for quite some time. And when we do, there is more mystery of who he is than anything else.

One thing that did interest me about the book was the connections I made with the television series Boardwalk Empire. They are both set in the 1920s and mention some of the same historical events. It was cool to have some visuals in my head from the series as I read the novel.

The novel is pretty much a tragedy and a sad tale but it didn’t really tug on my heart-strings. I have to say that it was a bit of a let down for me.

Boardwalk Empire – Seasons 1 – 3

I just finished watching the first three seasons of the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. It revolves around the exploits of Nucky Thompson, played by Steve Buscemi, and his rise to become the kingpin of the bootlegging industry.

This period piece is set amongst the prohibition era in Atlantic City in the 1920s. It even has a young Al Capone in it. I am not sure how historically accurate the story is but it makes for compelling television.

Just be forewarned that it is an extremely violent show riddled with course language, nudity, and graphic violence. I am surprised that I have stayed with it this long. This is not usually my cup of tea.

My 2013 Reading Log (with links exploring each title in detail)

Darth Vader Unleashed

Star Wars: Darth Vader and The Ghost Prison

This story takes place shortly after the events in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and approximately nineteen years before Episode IV A New Hope. 

Darth Vader is a ruthless villain and is unleashed on the pages here in a way we have never seen before.

The story revolves around an ambitious soldier in the newly formed Galactic Empire. He is in awe of Darth Vader’s power and presence and seeks to become his apprentice. Of course, there is only one way this story could turn out, and it doesn’t disappoint.

My 2013 Reading Log (40 titles and counting)

Star Trek Destiny – A Trilogy by David Mack

Star Trek: Destiny Trilogy by David Mack 

Book 1 – Gods of Night

Book 2 – Mere Mortals

Book 3 – Lost Souls

I consider myself to be an avid reader but if my dad had ever kept a reading log, it would have put mine to shame. He was constantly reading and his place was practically a library.

A few months ago, he showed me these books and said that I would really enjoy them. I was immediately struck by the name of the cover. David Mack is a great writer. He has even written Daredevil comics.

I finished the series just a few days before he passed away. I was hoping that we could talk a bit about it. It was a really nice read that fleshed out the Star Trek universe brilliantly.

The trilogy is set after the events in the last film Star Trek: Nemesis. I was never satisfied with that being the final film in the franchise. I wish this story had been adapted for an eleventh movie. That would have been a perfect ending to the voyages of The Next Generation crew. We so needed one more movie to send them off on a high note.

As I read this book, I could really envision the story unfolding in front of my eyes. It was great. I didn’t realize that I missed this crew so much. Even having Captain Dax was a nice touch.

About two-thirds of the way into Book 3, I was blown away by a particular passage. It wasn’t a plot twist either, it was a reveal that I never saw coming. I had to stop reading and think about it. Suddenly, it became clear. “I should have known,” I said to myself. Of course, that was after I yelled at the book fairly loudly.
I love when a book can do that.

I won’t give away any of the details of this trilogy. If you are a Star Trek fan, you will enjoy it. I’ll leave it at that.

My 2013 Reading Log

This Book is Bigger on the Inside

The adventures of Amy Pond, Rory Williams, and the Eleventh Doctor continue on in a series of original novels.

This book is bigger on the inside, and that’s not just a clever Doctor Who joke. It’s actually a collection of two novels bound creatively in one volume. Each story is 200 pages long and opens up like a regular novel. When you finish one story, you simply flip the book over and begin reading a brand new adventure.

Doctor Who: Heart of Stone by Trevor Baxendale

I wasn’t completely impressed with this story, but I did like how the author managed to get the interactions between Amy, Rory, and The Doctor spot on. I could hear the characters through the dialogue and I laughed at a few moments in the story where I could picture the actors in my head clear as day.

Doctor Who: Death Riders by Justin Richards

This was the best story in this 2-in-1 collection and I really wasn’t expecting it to be. It’s set at a carnival and it could have become cliche and boring, but it didn’t drag. I whipped through the story in one day.

I like how Amy drives the story and how Rory gets to save the day. I love this couple so much. I want to see them risking everything for each other. I am glad that their adventures live on in print. Although I wish I could still see them on the television every week.

Keep Up With Everything I’ve Read This Year

My 2013 Reading Log (with links to each title)

My Name is Memory

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to see all of the ways that the two characters connected throughout the years. The timing or circumstances were never quite right for them to finally come together to live happily ever after. But that notion of fairy-tale love is what keeps the main character going throughout the centuries. That’s right, centuries.

Daniel Gray knows that he is in love with Sophia. He met her briefly in 520 A.D. and he has chased her through all of his subsequent lives. She can’t remember her past lives so it is really hard to connect with her in each new life. That doesn’t stop him from trying though.

In 2009, it seems like he might finally be able to make that connection and be able to have a long and fruitful relationship with Sophia, who now goes by the name of Lucy and has no idea who Daniel is.

This was a nice read, right up until the ending. As the pages ahead of me started to dwindle, I started to get worried that this story wasn’t going to tie up neatly.

When I got to the last page, my fears were realized. I actually swore loudly at the book as I came to the very end. I rarely do that. This wasn’t the end of the story. I needed to know what happened.

I need closure when reading a novel. This one didn’t give that to me.

It seems that this book was originally planned to be a trilogy but even so, the ending should have wrapped up a little but better. And what if a sequel doesn’t actually happen? Then I will be let down by a book that I enjoyed right up to the ending. That’s not cool.

Check out My 2013 ReadsA Complete List of Every Title Have Read This Year

Connected by Books

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler

I’m sure that we’ve all heard of Six Degrees of Separation – the theory that everyone is connected in six or fewer steps. That means you could be connected to me even if we have never met. Perhaps your friend knows my cousin’s neighbour’s barber. That links us in 6 steps:

ME – cousin – neighbour – barber – friend – YOU

This theory has become quite popular over the years. There is even a party game known as Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon where you try to link any actor to Kevin Bacon in less than 6 steps. It’s a fun game and I am often surprised on how so many actors can be linked to Kevin Bacon this way.

The authors of this book propose a new theory they call Three Degrees of Influence, which basically means that we can influence and be influenced by people we don’t know if they are only three degrees removed from us. In other words, our friends’ friends’ friends can have a influence on us and vice versa.

That is an amazing discovery! It sounds like it might be a bit far-fetched though. How can we be influenced by people we don’t even know? The authors share all sorts of examples of where this is the case.

I know that I have been influenced by something I’ve seen on Tumblr or Twitter that was originally posted by my friends’ friends’ friend and it made its way to my dashboard, made me pause, share it myself, and steer me in a certain direction.

It’s interesting to see all the ways we are connected. These connections might not be visible all the times but we are pretty much all connected in some form or another. If we lived our lives with this in mind, perhaps we would be better to each other, friendlier, kinder, and more helpful. That’s a great closing thought.

My Complete List of 2013 Reads

The New Adventures of Jack

I am continuing to blog about every book I read. It’s a lot of fun having this yearly reading log. 

The latest additions to the list are three trade paperbacks from the on-going Jack of Fables series. 

Jack of Fables: Volume 5 – Turning Pages by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Jose Marzan Jr., and Andrew Pepoy.

Story tale characters are immortal even outside of the pages of their books. Jack of Fables has lived a very long time. This issue retells a story from 1883 where Jack is a bit of an outlaw. The Big Bad Wolf is tracking him down to bring him to justice.

Jack of Fables: Volume 6 – The Big Book of War by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Jose Marzan Jr., and Dan Green.

The Bookburner wants to erase all of the storybook characters. He is an evil of such that the Fables have never before faced. It’s a good thing that Jack is elected as battle commander in an epic war, or is it? The comedy is this issue is ramped up and so is the action.

Jack of Fables: Volume 7 – The New Adventures of Jack and Jack by Bill Willingham, Matthew Sturges, Russ Braun, Tony Akins, Jose Marzan Jr., and Andrew Pepoy.

The series takes a strange turn here. It seems that the legendary Jack of Fables, aka Little Jack Horner, Jack B. Nimble, Jack the Giant Slayer, and countless other aliases has a son named after him. And after a tragic turn of events, the son takes over as the main character in this series.

Jack hasn’t always been the most noble character, but I find it hard to believe that his story has come to an end with this volume. Can’t wait to read the next one to see what happens.

Here’s My Complete Reading List of 2013

Transformers Done Right

Transformers Volume 2: International Incident

The art in this trade paperback is absolutely gorgeous. I also love how they keep the original transformer characters looking like I remember them. There is even a nice joke about it thrown in.

It really makes no sense for the constructicons to be green and purple in colour but I wouldn’t want to see them any other way. The above joke makes the story work more effectively while paying homage to the original series and toys.

The comics do Transformers right and I really appreciate that.

Transformers Volume 3: The Revenge of the Decepticons

Megatron is back and he is more powerful than ever. He is actually scary in this book, much more so than he ever was as Galvatron in the second generation of the original cartoon series.

He is clever and cunning as well. I want to read the next issue because it looks like he might be able to pull off a victory. Not that I am routing for him mind you, but it does make for some great storytelling.

More proof that the best Transformer stories are happening in the comics.

My Reading Log for 2013

Nurture Shock: New Thinking About Children

Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

This book makes some interesting points that fly in the face of conventional wisdom.

It makes sense to not fight in front of the children, right?

But of course fighting is inevitable in a relationship. There are going to be disagreements and arguments. How we handle these moments in front of the children can make a huge difference. We need to show them that we have been able to work things out. They cannot just see the argument but need to see a successful resolution as well.

I can honestly say, I never thought of that.

Here is a small excerpt from the book;

“What this means is that a parent who pauses mid-argument to take it upstairs – to spare the children – might be making the situation far worse, especially if they forget to tell their kids, “Hey, we worked it out.”

There is also a really interesting discussion about television. Violent television such as Power Rangers is actually better than watching educational television such as Arthur.

I never would have thought that would be the case, but it makes a lot of sense they way the authors break it down in the book.

I have thought about this a lot. I know that many of the teenager sitcoms are absolutely horrible. The characters are rude and insulting and they are rarely called out for this kind of behaviour.

In educational preschool programs we see the same thing. The majority of episodes spend almost the entire program setting up a conflict. The children watching these shows see all sort of negative behaviour – behaviour the shows are actually trying to discourage.

Here is another excerpt from the book;

“Ninety-six percent of all children’s programming includes verbal insults, and of the 2,628 put-downs identified, only 50 circumstances featured some sort of reprimand or correction — and not once in an educational show. ‘Fully 84 percent of the time there was only laughter or no response at all,’ found Dr. Cynthia Scheibe.”

Much of the content in these shows is dedicated to negative behaviours. The resolution of the conflict happens quickly at the end of the program and the kids don’t often associate that with all of the negative things they have seen. We are all influenced by what we see. That’s why I truly believe children are acting out more these days.