Prodigy (Legend Trilogy) by Marie Lu Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

 

June and Day’s journey continues in Marie Lu’s second book in the Legend Trilogy.  They have been on the run ever since the conclusion of the first book.  Day is presumed dead by the public and June is now the Republic’s most wanted traitor.  Desperate, these two seek help from the Patriots, a rebel group determined to crush the Republic.  In return for their help, Day and June agree to assist in the Patriot’s assassination of the new Elector Primo, but when new information is brought to light, Day and June must make a decision that will affect the future events to come.

I really enjoyed how this book continued to delve into the characters’ emotions and make them seem like actual people and not just some emotionless first person point of view book.  June and Day have both dealt with trauma over recent events (Day more than June) and they both have to deal with it in their own way.

June and Day did argue a little more during this book than the previous book, which I thought made the characters all the more realistic.  How many book couples now-a-days have arguments and I mean actual, full-blown-out arguments, especially in the young adult genre?  Not a lot.  I’ve read a lot of “oh they’re just so perfect for one another that they never ever even fight.”  While I suppose there could be people like that out there, I doubt that it’s many people and it makes the characters and story not as relatable.  When June and Day fight, you know what each one of them is thinking and what their motivation is behind it.  A few scenes prior to one of their fights, we see Tess, Day’s childhood friend, planting some ideas in his head that June is going to betray them and choose to go back to the Republic.  Later, when he reunites with June, she’s siding with the Elector Primo and doesn’t want to go through with the assassination attempt anymore.  She has her logical reasons, but Day refuses to listen because everything that Tess had told Day, but he had refused to listen to her comes back to him and the argument ensues.

One problem I had (and I had this problem in the first book too) was that June and Day are the two main point of view protagonists and both of their viewpoints are in first person.  Even though June’s point of view is in black and Day’s view is in a different color, occasionally I still got the two point of views mixed up.  I was able to quickly figure it out if I just read a little further, but that was one of the downfalls for me.

Overall, I thought this book was well done and probably one of the best young adult trilogies I have read in a while and would recommend it to anyone who is interested.

 

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In The Hand of the Goddess by Tamora Pierce Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

Alanna, disguised as a boy named Alan, continues her journey into Knighthood.  Prince Jonathan is her best friend and one of the few people who knows she’s a girl.  She is his squire.  As her relationship with him and George, the Prince of Thieves, grows she must also put a stop to the plot of an evil sorcerer not only bent on Jonathan and his parents’ destruction by her own too.  That sorcerer is none other than Jonathan’s uncle, Duke Roger.

This was the second book in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet and while I loved it as a child, I found myself having a harder time getting into this book presently.  One of my main problems with this book is that I felt it was primarily summary over story.  There were so many time jumps forward that sometimes I felt I didn’t get a full feel for events or developments in character relationships.  I realize that Pierce may have been trying to meet a certain word count, but I felt that if she had made the book longer and actually spent the time exploring the characters, world, and plot, it could have been a much better story.  As a child this series (and anything else Tamora Pierce came up with) was my favorite, but going back over it now, I find that the telling rather than showing style doesn’t appeal to me as much as it did when I was younger.  .

I remember loving the magical cat, Faithful, but now I realize that the reason Pierce may have put him in there was so that Alanna/Alan wouldn’t have been talking to herself whenever she was alone.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing and while I would love to have a magical black cat, I don’t think there was much point in having him there.  When he and Alanna were talking, they were basically discussing what we already knew or discussing how we already knew Alanna felt about certain things or people from the first book.  Granted, there were some funny instances where Alanna was trying to talk with Prince Jonathan, whom she has a growing crush on, and Faithful was teasing her in her head while it was happening.

When I was younger, I remembered being completely immersed in the “Ordeal” chapter, but now I’m sad to say I found myself sort of “underwhelmed.”  That was probably because I felt it was mostly summary rather than showing me what was going on.

Despite this books flaws and some choppy prose, I think my favorite part of it was the conclusion.  I’m not entirely sure why, but maybe it had to do with the fact that she had finally confronted Duke Roger and even though he cheated during their trial by combat duel, she still won with mostly everyone still thinking she was a boy.  She won because she refused to let him live and put her friends in further danger.  And in that particular scene it felt a little less like telling and a little more like showing.

No matter how I feel about this book now, this series is what got me interested in reading as a child and even though I may have outgrown certain aspects of this style, I will always be grateful that it turned me on the path of reading.

 

Back in the Day Movie Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

 

Anthony Rodriquez is a half-Italian, half-Puerto Rican boxer who just won his final boxing match.  The story begins with him talking to a reporter to share his journey that made him who he is today.

While I did like the idea behind this premise, I didn’t feel that the movie did it justice.  This movie alternated between flashbacks and present day.  I suppose the director and producer may have been trying to present the story in a different way, but I think I would have enjoyed the movie more if they had just told the story in chronological order.  I know it would have had a larger effect on me in the end if they had they done so.

We barely know the present day protagonist before the flashbacks start and then almost immediately his “torture” starts.  I personally would have liked to get to know the main characters a little more before they started with all the violence and drama.  I think I would have felt more connected to the characters as a viewer if the writers had set up the character introductions and characterizations better.

I felt that the few bigger names thrown in like Alec Baldwin were mainly to distract us from the sub-par acting and writing.

A fight broke out almost every ten-twenty minutes.  I like to watch fight scenes, but, as a viewer, I also like there to be a point to it—like it would help advance the story forward—but with some of the bar brawls, you could have removed the scene (s) and the story/plot and characters wouldn’t have changed at all.  If a scene doesn’t affect or change the plot/story or characters, then there’s no point in having them in the movie.  Some of those scenes honestly just felt like time wasters.

I think the biggest let down that I had was that in the end of the movie.  Anthony’s best friend was still alive.  After we think he’s dead, Anthony’s motivation to win his next few boxing matches makes sense—for his deceased mother and friend—a vengeance of a sort, but in the last scene of the movie, it turns out that his best friend is alright.  While that’s probably a better conclusion for them as people, it was kind of a letdown for me.  What was Anthony’s motivation to keep winning if he already knew that his friend wasn’t actually dead?  We were shown that his deceased mother had also been his motivation, but Anthony hadn’t started winning until we think his best friend was dead.  The fact that his friend ended up alive I think took away from the final fight scene.  I felt that the way the movie presented it, it was just put in there as shock for shock’s sake.

Overall, I didn’t think this movie was amazing, but if they had edited and worked with it more, refined it, I think it could have been great.

 

Zoolander 2 Movie Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

 

This movie begins by following ex-models Derek Zoolander and Hansel’s downward spirals after the conclusion of the first movie.  They are old news to the world, but they eventually find themselves in the spotlight again.  When Zoolander’s son is kidnaped, he, Hansel, and a new character, Valentina Valencia, team up to get him back and uncover the mystery of who is killing famous popstars.

I’m not entirely sure why there was a sequel made since I didn’t think the first one was amazing, but if you enjoyed the original, you’ll probably like this one as well.

Like the first movie, this one was a little over the top and you may need to watch the first movie again in order to understand certain scenes in this movie, but the audience is shown refreshers of past events in case s/he choose not to rewatch the first movie.

Overall, I felt this movie was weird and awkward.  I know it was on purpose and a lot of the ha-ha scenes were in the movie trailer.  Like I mentioned before, if you liked the first movie, you’ll probably like this one too.  While it did have its funny moments, it was also pretty predictable.

 

Nail Your Story: Add Tension, Build Emotion, and Keep Your Readers Addicted by Monica Leonelle (Audible) Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

I’m impressed.  This book is not only detailed and insightful, but the examples it uses are from books or other works that most people have either read or have at least heard of.  For example, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, etc.  Because this book used examples from fairly recent or popular works, it made the examples and the points Leonelle tried to bring across clearer.

My favorite part of this book was that she also offers a link to a free pdf workbook she created to go along with this book.  I listened to the book first and then went back to go through the forty-six page work-intensive workbook, but I could have done both at the same time.  This great audiobook was definitely worth a credit, or, if you don’t have an audible account, it will definitely be worth your money.

What I appreciated the most was Leonelle didn’t just focus on one aspect of writing, she focused on it all—getting to know your characters more, their motivations, their flaws, the plot and structure of your story better, and it even helped improve your world building.  And it’s just a little over five hours long and yet I received the most help from this book than others I’ve read in the past.  I’m a more visual and kinesthetic learner so this book catered to my learning style better with the free workbook download.

This is probably the best writing audiobook I’ve read/listened to so far.  I’m sure there are other great ones out there, but I would highly recommend this one.

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir Book Review

Review by: dancingonrain.

 

With Laia’s grandparents killed by The Masks and her brother captured for treason, she seeks the assistance of the resistance.  They agree to find and save her brother from certain torture and death if she agrees to go undercover as a slave and spy for them on the deadliest person of the Martial Empire’s greatest military academy.  The Commandant Keris Veturius.

Elias is one of the top Masks (soldiers)-in-training at the academy, but secretly he wants nothing to do with the life.  He wants freedom from the tyranny and training he was forced into at a young age.  He would desert, but he knows what happens to those who do.  Torture until death.

When these two meet, their lives and the fate of the Empire itself will change more than they ever thought possible.

I thought this book, in one word, was amazing!  It is the first in Tahir’s first series and the second book comes out in a few months.  I think it’s catered more to older teenagers rather than the younger ones and it was dark.  Darker than Marie Lu’s Legend and I’m a sucker for those stories.

There were many things I enjoyed about this book, one of which was that all the characters, even most of the minor ones, had a major part to play in the end.  Some books have minor characters there for no real purpose, but everyone eventually played their part, which was nice and fun to see how it unfolded.

Occasionally I wasn’t sure that some of the character’s motivations made sense, but it was never large enough for me to think it was ridiculous.  Sometimes even the characters mentioned that they weren’t sure why they were doing such and such or why they felt a certain way, but they still did.  If the characters were aware that what they were thinking may not be the natural feeling or reaction, then at least they knew their thoughts weren’t the norm.

I would have finished the book in one sitting if I hadn’t had other responsibilities such as work.  If you love fantasy novels, you’ll like this one.  To be honest, I think I enjoyed it more than The Hunger Games.  I’m not saying that trilogy wasn’t good, it was, but I loved An Ember in the Ashes more.  I would highly recommend this book.