Ms Marvel 2014

NaBloPoMo 2016 #14
Media Monday

Comic Review
No Spoilers

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Series: Ms. Marvel 2014
Issues: 1-19

Presenting the international sensation: the all-new Ms. Marvel! Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City – until she’s suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! When Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she also unlocks a secret behind them. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her prove too much to bear? Kamala has no idea, either. But she’s comin’ for you, Jersey! It’s history in the making from acclaimed writer G. Willow Wilson (Air, Cairo) and beloved artist Adrian Alphona (Runaways)!

This is a review for the entire Ms Marvel 2014 run, which is 19 total issues which I read over two days (praise the Lord for hours spent in doctor waiting rooms, I suppose) and yes, that sounds like a lot because it kind of was.

Move over Scarlet Witch, Kamala Khan might be my new second favorite super-her0 (behind Doctor Strange, of course) and she should be yours too. She’s funny, she’s energetic, and she’s just what the world needs. As much as I read, and as much as I try to read diversely, I’ve never had a Pakistani-American Muslim presented as a superhero who’s ready to save the day. (If you’ve seen this kind of character before, please tell me because I need to read it).

Kamala is funny, brave, and very relatable. She struggles to find a balance between her Muslim family and upbringing, the modern world she lives in, and the challenges of being a super hero. There are even a lot of Islamic phrases and terms used by the characters to provide an added layer of believability, but don’t worry about getting lost, whenever those terms are used they make sure to add in a definition.

The supporting characters are just as wonderful and diverse as Kamala, from her immigrant parents, to her hyper-religious brother (who is the kind of devout a Muslim should be, not an extremist which he, being a pacifist, is strongly against), her best friend Nakia, and her best friend and co-conspirator Bruno.

I don’t want to spoil any of the story line for you, but I will say that there are a few cameos from other famous marvel characters, but they never take the spotlight away from Kamala.

If comics are at all your thing, I suspect you’ll really love the new Ms. Marvel!

Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 1

Media Monday
TV Show Review
Contains Spoilers?

This goes on the very long list of things that I was the last person on earth to watch, and I’m kind of ashamed by that.

Of course, its not entirely my fault, I’d never even heard of it until high school, and at that point I wasn’t about to buy all of it to watch. So after my best friend discover that it was available on Amazon Prime video I didn’t have any excuse not to watch it.

I had a hard time getting into it at first. Its entirely possible that I was tool old getting into it, because I kept thinking “well that’s not realistic!” and having a hard time remembering that, as a kid’s show, its not meant to be realistic. Once I managed to convince myself of that, around episode seven or eight, I had much more fun and really started to get into it more.

The Characters

One thing that I had heard about this series was how diverse it was, and I’m forced to agree with that. It was incredible. I really found myself getting into all the characters, even the villains (and I am not the kind of person who is typically interested in villains).

Aang

I really loved Aang, he’s such a sweet character and I feel really bad for him and just want him to succeed. He also has the world’s best pet.

Katara 

She may very well be the best part of the entire show. She’s so no-nonsense and won’t let anything – especially sexism – get in her way. But she’s not just a fighter, there’s a whole other layer to her, and she’s allowed to be weak at times, unlike many ‘fighter girl’ characters.

Sokka

At first I couldn’t stand him because he was just so sexist and annoying,

Zuko

He’s one of the best villains ever written and there were times I found myself cheering for him over the heroes.

Uncle Iroh 

I wouldn’t consider Zuko’s uncle to be a villain by any means, but he’s definitely a complex character and I can’t wait to see how he continues to be developed.

Live Tweets

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Daughters of Ruin

Daughters of RuinDaughters of Ruin by K.D. Castner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Series: N/A (sadly it seems to be a stand alone)

This review contains NO spoilers.

Meet rumor with quiet, treason with cunning, and vicious with vicious.

Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren have lived together since they were children. They are called sisters. They are not. They are called equals. They are not. They are princesses. And they are enemies.

A brutal war ravaged their kingdoms, and Rhea’s father was the victor. As a gesture of peace, King Declan brought the daughters of his rivals to live under his protection—and his ever-watchful eye.

For ten years they have trained together as diplomats and warriors, raised to accept their thrones and unite their kingdoms in peace. But there is no peace among sisters, and all plans shatter when the palace is attacked. As their intended future lies in ashes, Rhea, Cadis, Suki, and Iren must decide where their loyalties lie: to their nations, or to each other.

Alliances shift and the consequences are deadly in this stunning fantasy debut from K. D. Castner.

First off, I just have to say how much better this was than I expected.

I picked it up because it sounded mildly interesting, and like something that I wouldn’t really mind reading a little bit of, not because I thought it was going to be phenomenal (lets be real, the plot sounds kind of weird), but man, did it exceed my expectations.

You never know what’s going to happen next, and you never grow bored. The POV is constantly switching between the four sisters, and there is more than one storyline that is explored as it works its way toward the main climax.

Characters

The characters are one of the strongest parts of this, because they’re all so diverse. Unlike many YA books, each character is allowed to change and grow, instead of just one central character getting all the attention. Everyone has their own motivations, and no character does what you’re expecting them to.

Rhea

I felt as though Rhea was the sister I cared about the most, and that may be because she certainly got more attention from the author (she also seemed to have it pretty rough, more than she got credit for at least) and her POV scenes were usually some of the best.

Cadis

I really liked her. I could see why people hated her (particularly during the Rhea POV scenes) and it almost made her struggles that much more relatable.

Suki

Suki’s scenes are some of the most interestingly written I’ve ever seen in a book. I won’t spoil too much, but she’s completely insane and you can tell that just from her POV. Some other reviewers described it as jarring, but to me it fit perfectly.

Iren

Iren was a character that I always knew was up to something, but in a way that it made me want to keep reading about her. She’s quite incredible, and might be my second favorite of the sisters.

Overall

The worst thing about this book, is that I don’t think theres going to be a sequel. So if cliffhanger endings with no hope of resolution aren’t for you, you may want to put this aside and move onto the next book. However, if that’s your thing, or you just like a good action – adventure book with some fantasy elements, then I highly recommend this.

Spiderman

Media Monday
Movie Review
Contains Spoilers

Until about a month ago, the only Spiderman I had ever seen was The Amazing Spiderman as well as a few assorted episodes of I’m not even sure which television show. Needless to say, I was far from being an ‘expert’ or even a big fan. The idea of a nerdy superhero just appealed to me.

It was a pretty good movie. Predictable, of course, but good. Mary Jane was something new to me (I think she showed up in an episode or two of the Spiderman TV Series that I watched, but that’s the extent of my knowledge) and I absolutely fell in love with her. Honestly. She’s a great character (with a terrible taste in men). Harry annoyed me (so predictable) and my biggest complain – although this isn’t this movie’s fault – is that its almost exactly the plot of The Amazing Spiderman.

Oscorp guy does experiment on himself. Happens to have strange connection to both Peter and his love interest. Peter breaks it off with said love interest because its too “dangerous.” Uncle Ben dies at the beginning; some one else’s dad dies at the end.

Spiderman in a nutshell, ladies and gentlemen.

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The Princess in the Opal Mask

The Princess in the Opal Mask (The Opal Mask, #1)The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Series: Book one of The Opal Mask
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade

There are spoilers, but they are at the bottom and hidden under a read more.

Every Fairy-Tale Ending Has a Price. . .

Orphaned as a child in the crumbling village of Tulan, Elara is determined to learn her true identity, even if it means wielding a dagger. Meanwhile, in Galandria’s royal capital, Princess Wilha stands out as someone to either worship or fear. Though no one knows why the king has always made her conceal her face—including Wilha herself.

When an assassination attempt threatens the peace of neighboring kingdoms, Elara and Wilha are brought face to face . . . with a chance at claiming new identities. However, with dark revelations now surfacing, both girls will need to decide if brighter futures are worth the binding risks.

This is the story of Wilha and Elara, two girls from vastly different social circles who are thrown together seemingly by chance. There’s a lot of drama and political intrigue happening and it never gets too dull.

The point of view changes between Wilha and Elara, and both are equal. There were times that neither one was interesting and times that both had me on the edge of my seat, but never was I completely fed up with one or the other.

One thing I will say about this – that I appreciated as someone who thinks our society values sex far too highly – is that its completely clean. I cannot tell you the last time I read a book that only had one reference to “desire” (I mean, there’s talk about love and marriage, but that’s different).

My biggest complaint with this book is when Wilha describes a half-face mask by saying “it covered my entire face except for my chin, lips, and nose.” It was so grating and such a poor descriptor – if half your face is exposed, it doesn’t cover your “entire face” no ifs, ands, or buts – that I had a hard time trusting many of the descriptions after that. Its a rather petty thing to complain about, but its how I felt nonetheless.

Another annoying thing – although 98% of fantasy books are guilty of this – is the royalty owning too many clothes. Before steam power and cotton it just wasn’t feasible for anyone EVEN THE RICH to own as many clothes as Wilha is seen to have.

Characters

Wilha

I really liked her for the most part. There were times that she was slow to pick up on things or just plain stupid, and she had moments of selfishness, but it all made since. Who wouldn’t make the choices she did if they’d been through everything she has?

Elara

Elara had a problem with listening. She was so caught up in the ‘my life is worse than everyones’ that she failed to see the truth about Wilha. I’m not saying Wilha had it worse, but I am saying they are both very much victims.

Patric

I didn’t really like him either. He’s very judgmental and if he really does care for Wilha as much as he claims he wouldn’t flip out over her being betrothed.

Cordon

He was just plain rude and I didn’t end up liking him. Its nice to see someone who doesn’t feel bound by all their childhood promises (because if we were I would have a very unpleasant maid of honor if I ever get married).

Overall

It was a good book, although it was a total cover buy and sat on my shelf for several years before I read it. I did enjoy it, for the most part, but there were parts that I wasn’t interested in, or things – like the mask and dress issue – that detracted from my enjoyment.

However, if you like fantasy thats a quick, easy read with lots of action and plot I think you’ll like this book. I did enjoy it enough to put the sequel on hold at the library, but not enough to give it a four or a five star review.

Spoilers

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RWBY Volume 1

Media Monday
Webseries Review
No spoilers!

Rooster Teeth is a web-based company that produces a lot of interesting things – (nerd orientated) talk shows, game play throughs, and animated web series to name a few – and my best friend loves it. RWBY is one of her favorite of their shows and she’s been trying to get me to watch it for ages. She’s very proud that she finally managed (by buying us tickets to the Volume 2 in-theater showing (we missed Volume 1 because of school)). So before I could go see Volume 2 I had to see volume 1. Of course, I put it off much longer than I should have (I literally watched half of it the day before the special showing and half of it the day of), but I did watch it and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Rwby is available pretty much anywhere. You can buy it on DVD, blu-ray, or iTunes or watch it on Rooster Teeth’s Website (for free!), Netflix, or Hulu. I personally watched it on Netflix and I think that’s probably the best way, because then you can watch it all as one big ‘movie’ rather than watching it an episode at a time (because most of the episodes are only a few minutes long and I feel if you watched it that way it might get ‘skippy’ and you’d loose some of the continuity. But if you don’t have Netflix or Hulu, hey, its free!

The Plot

The future-fantasy world of Remnant is filled with ravenous monsters, treacherous terrain, and more villains than you can shake a sniper-scythe at. Fortunately, Beacon Academy is training Huntsmen and Huntresses to battle the evils of the world, and Ruby, Weiss, Blake, and Yang are ready for their first day of class.

Okay, so I need to be honest with you, and say, I did not read any summary, synopsis, or review before watching this show, which may have been why I, at times, felt that it was going nowhere (because I had no idea where it was supposed to go!).

The Characters

Ruby Rose

I thought she was the titular character, and I thought her name was Rwby, but no, as it turns out, RWBY is actually the name of her ‘team’ that shows up later, so her name is, in fact, Ruby (or Little Red Riding Ninja).

Yang

Ruby’s sister that I’m very fond of (except for one thing that I talk about down in the ‘animation’ section. She’s funny and protective of her lil sis (but also knows when to take a step back and let Ruby handle it).

Blake

Blake is a lot more than she seems, although, personally, I found it to be a little predictable.

Weiss

Weiss annoys me to no end, but I guess maybe she has some redeeming qualities? I mean, at least she’s cool and fights well. Even when she starts doing good things – like helping Ruby – its for her own good and so she can succeed.

Pyrrha

She’s basically Wonder Woman, actually. She’s got the shield and lack of social skills that WW usually has (if you doubt me, watch DC Super Hero Girls and you will no longer doubt me).

Jaune

He made me think of Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy in that he had no idea what he was doing, but he tried so hard to impress girls (and to help).

Cardin

Cardin doesn’t really become important until later, but he is a big part of the second half of this volume. He’s a pain and definitely my least favorite character.

The Animation

Its video game-style animation, which isn’t really a bad thing. Its pretty and it works for the show, but its not of the highest quality. It is low budget, but considering that its done by an Indie Company – Rooster Teeth – its great and it shows that a lot of care went into the creation.

The costumes are fantastic and I can think of very few things that have better costumes (maybe Pokemon, because thats what these make me think of) and it seems very anime-based. Everyone has big boobs and tiny waists, but thats true on every show, so I can’t count off points for that.

Another thing similar to video games, is that they have ‘aura’ that can be measured by ‘scrolls’ and tell you if you’re healthy or not (like the HP bar in video games). It even falls into ‘the red’ when they get injured.

My biggest complaint – animation wise – is Ruby’s older sister Yang. She’s pretty, yes, very pretty, but the animation on her hair leaves much to be desired. Imagine watching Disney’s Tangled if Rapunzel’s hair was always glowing and that would be what it feels like to watch Yang on-screen.

Overall

I really liked it even more than I thought I would. I knew I would like it, Bailey said I would and she has a pretty good idea of what I like (did I mention she bought me Mulan socks in return for going to this? She clearly knows what I like).

Its an excellent show with everything I like: fantasy, adventure, minimum love stories(unless you count Jaune/Everyone) , no love triangle, and (pardon my french) bad ass girl power. The best way I can sum it up is “if Superheroes were in the Fantasy genre, instead of Sci-fi.”

There are a lot of life lessons to be learned, about friendship and being a leader (some of my favorites are below in the Social Media section),

Social Media

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The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm (Katerina, #1)The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, YA
Series: Katerina Trilioy
Purchase: Book Depository

There are no spoilers in this book review.

St. Petersburg, Russia, 1888. As she attends a whirl of glittering balls, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret: she can raise the dead. No one knows. Not her family. Not the girls at her finishing school. Not the tsar or anyone in her aristocratic circle. Katerina considers her talent a curse, not a gift. But when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue.

An evil presence is growing within Europe’s royal bloodlines—and those aligned with the darkness threaten to topple the tsar. Suddenly Katerina’s strength as a necromancer attracts attention from unwelcome sources . . . including two young men—George Alexandrovich, the tsar’s standoffish middle son, who needs Katerina’s help to safeguard Russia, even if he’s repelled by her secret, and the dashing Prince Danilo, heir to the throne of Montenegro, to whom Katerina feels inexplicably drawn.

The time has come for Katerina to embrace her power, but which side will she choose—and to whom will she give her heart?

This is really an alternate history or historical fantasy. The author simply took Russian legends, myths, and fairytales and said “wait, what if all of these were real? And what if it was set during the Industrial period?” Its the time of Faberge and Tchaikowsky and Tostoy, where Russia is becoming a player on the European scene, and culture flows freely between Moscow and the west.

It was a breath of fresh air, Russian folk lore is so different than the England centric mindset that most books are written in, and it played so well into the changes that were happening. It wasn’t very much earlier that Russia was completely isolated from the outside world.

I think my one complaint is how confusing things could get. I kept forgetting who was related to whom, and what girl went with which family, and how many kinds of “creatures” there were, and who had what power. It was written by someone who seemed to know a lot about what she was writing about, but unfortunately I think sometimes she also forgot that her readers are not as knowledgeable.

There were a couple of cringe worthy moments, some things that just could not have happened that way, and a lot of dumb luck on the characters part, but overall its good. Even the love triangle wasn’t that bad, although, it was a bit predictable (aren’t they all?) and played on the “bad boys as sexy” stereotype.

Characters

Katerina: I’ve seen complaints that she was ‘boring’ and, for the most part, I disagree. She had her moments, and she’s not the strongest main character that was ever written (but she’s a whole lot better than most!)

Pyotr: I’m gonna be real, the only reason I remembered Katerina’s brother’s name was because its one letter away from the name of my favorite X-Man (Piotr Rasputin). He wasn’t very memorable, but he care deeply about his sister.

Alix: There’s a plot twist with her that I won’t spoil, but I’m not suer what I think about it. She didn’t show up as a character after we heard about the twist, so I can’t wait to see where its taken in book two.

Prince Danilo: My opinion of him is that he reminds me of a beetle and not in a good way. I would certainly not describe him as “dashing,” perhaps “slimy” would be more apt.

George Alexandrovich: I have a bit of a love hate relationship with this character. He’s stubborn (in his defense, he cares about his country) and rude to Katerina at times, but then again, he does help her (and then do a complete personality flop and fall madly in love with her).

Overall

Its a good book, and I really did love it. As soon as I finished it, at about 1am mind, I put the next book in the series on hold at the library (thankfully there’s no waiting list).

If you like historical fiction or fantasy – or the animated Anastasia film – I think you’ll really love The Gathering Storm.