Monthly Archives: February 2017

TV Round-Up: 24 Legacy Noon to 4 p.m.

24legacy

The debut of 24: Legacy brings up a (semi)philosophical question.  Is the real-time format or Jack Bauer the star of the show?

Four episodes into the “worst day” of Eric Carter’s life and the answer still isn’t clear.  

It’s easy to forgive certain things Jack Bauer did or to accept them as simply part of the power of Baur because we’ve spent ten days together.  Seeing Carter act with a similar reckless abandon to what Jack used in order to get the job done and damn the consequences doesn’t necessarily feel earned yet.  In the first four hours, Carter has used a large concrete pipe as a shield to take on terrorists, got himself arrested in order to steal $2 million in cash from a police squad and, as hour four ends, is breaking out of CTU in order to try and get a list of potential terrorist cells back. Continue reading

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Audiobook Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down by Jeff Kinney

Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid, #11)Whether it’s believing he’s the subject of a reality TV show like The Truman Show or joining the school band to get invited to a big Halloween bash, Greg Hefley’s trials and tribulations never end. That’s good news to this reader, who despite being too old to be in the targeted demographic for the Wimpy Kid novels continues to enjoy them.

Listening to the audio version of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Double Down, I chuckled and laughed out loud multiple times as Greg continues to grow up. Whether’s it’s conspiring to win a jar full of candy in his school’s annual balloon launch or using the Internet to convince his parents that he’s actually learning to play the French Horn, Greg’s antics never failed to amuse. And despite not having the benefit of the cartoon illustration in the printed version, I found the novel and its narration creating some hilarious moments in my head as I traveled to and from work.

I also discovered that I’ve missed a couple of releases in the series and any now eager to go back and catch up on what I’ve missed.

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TV Round-Up: The Magicians Season One

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For some reason, I missed season one of The Magicians when it aired on SyFy.

OK, I didn’t really miss it so much as tune into the first two episodes, set a season-pass and then had it stack up on the DVR.  And then I promptly deleted all the episodes halfway through the season because there are only so many hours in the day.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when the show showed up on Netflix and I decided to give it another try.

Boy, I’m glad I did.

Based on a trilogy of novels by Lev Grossman, The Magicians follows a group of friends who are studying to become magicians at Brakebill’s School for Magic.   The series is described as “Harry Potter for adults,” but I think that’s doing a great disservice to both series.  The Magicians owes more a debt to the C.S. Lewis Narnia series than it does to Harry Potter, if only because our main character, Quinten Coldwater grew up reading a series of Narnia-like books and has always dreamed of visiting the magical land described there.

Like a lot of shows today, the show has an arc and a seasonal big-bad.  In this case, it’s a threat called the Beast.  A six-fingered magician, the Beast shows up in episode one and is a looming threat over the entire season, bringing our team together to try and stop them in order to prevent their own deaths.

The series unfolds at Brakebill’s with Quinten and his friends studying magic and trying to up their game to take on the Beast.  Meanwhile, Quinten’s life-long friend Julia fails the entrance exam to Brakebill’s and is sent back to the real world.  Unfortunately, the memory wipe used on her doesn’t work and she spends much of season one trying to reconnect with magic and get back into the world that Quinten is exploring.

Continue reading

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Review: Goodbye Days by Jeff Zetner

Goodbye DaysCarter Briggs knows about the power of the written word. Not only can he entertain and touch his three best friends with his stories and jokes but a simple text message to them could have been a factor in the auto collision that took their lives.

Wracked with guilt and hurting from the loss of the fellow members of the Sauce Crew, Carver faces the difficult task of trying to move forward with his life. It doesn’t help that the twin sister of his one his friends and a high-powered judge and father to another friend hold Carver responsible for the death of his friends. And both want to see Carver “pay” for his actions.

Jeff Zetner’s Goodbye Days chronicles Carver’s journey to come to terms with the death of his friends and the impact it has not only on him but those around him. Carter’s witty, self-aware narration is honest, authentic and, at times, utterly raw. Zetner ably captures the conflicting emotions Carver experiences, including several panic attacks that send Carver looking for help beyond what his family and friends can offer. Continue reading

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Review: The Godfather by Mario Puzo

The GodfatherThe book is always better than the movie, right?

Most of the time, yes. But there are those exceptions to the rule where a movie can be better than the source material.

Such is the case with Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. The overall plot of the novel is similar to the classic, epic movie. I’ll even admit that reading the novel helped clarify the identity and role of certain minor characters with the Corleone organization. But this is still one of those cases where the screen version comes out as vastly superior to the original printed version.

I’d even argue that if not for the screen version, The Godfather might have gone out of print a long time ago. Continue reading

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Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

This Is Where It EndsAs the winter semester begins at Opportunity High School, most of the student body is assembled in the auditorium for the principle’s welcome back message. There are a few exceptions to this from the track team preparing to defend their state title winning streak and the two guys trying to break into the principle’s office to get a look at their permanent records.

A few minutes after ten, the doors to the auditorium are bolted shut and the first shots ring out. Former student Tyler has something to say and he’s going to say it to everyone gathered at the business end of several guns and multiple rounds of ammo.

For the next hour, This Is Where It Ends puts readers in and around Opportunity High School, watching events unfold through the eyes of multiple narrators who all ask the same question, “How did this happen here?” As the story unfolds, we find out just what drove Tyler to plan and carry out the attack on his classmates, teachers, and administration as well as feeling the desperation of those in and around the school as they struggle to survive Tyler’s attack.

The opening pages of This Is Where It Ends channel the confusion and terror of a high school shooting incident. But it’s once Tyler settles in and begins to demand that the student body listen to him now that the novel slowly begins to lose its focus. As the possible step stones to this event are slowly uncovered, Tyler more like a comic book villain while the characters around him spend a lot of time wondering if they could have contributed to or stopped this attack somehow. Included in the narration are Tyler’s ex-girlfriend, his sister and the girl he sexually assaulted on prom night. And while these characters offer different insights into who Tyler who then and is now, it never quite gels into something more. There’s also a great deal of teenage angst thrown in along the way that feels a bit out of place at times in the story that’s unfolding.

The novel also isn’t helped because it feels like it’s working too hard to make the adults appear as useless and ineffectual as possible. As the shootings begin, the track team is outside training for the upcoming season. The track coach is less effective at finding a way to address the situation and calm the fears of his team than one of his students (who happens to be Ty’s ex-girlfriend and is a member of the ROTC). I’m not asking that the adults be superheroes that can somehow magically stop the rampage that Ty goes on, but it would be nice to feel as if one or two of them was somehow portrayed as having a bit more sense.

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