Friday, October 21, 2011

The Avid Reader for September 2011

It’s Not Easy Being Green and Other Things to Consider by Jim Henson, the Muppets, and Friends

I have always been a Jim Henson and the Muppets fan, and so when I was in the American History Museum and saw the ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ book, I just had to get it. It is a ‘Positive Mental Attitude’ book. It has brief sayings from the Muppets, the Muppeteers, and Jim Henson himself, talking about following dreams and building a group of friends and co-workers to build that dream with. The five areas that the book is broken down into are: ‘Listen to Your Heart’; ‘Dynamite Determination’; ‘Together We’ll Nab’; ‘It Starts When We’re Kids’; and ‘A Part of Everything and Everyone.’ The book’s first quote from Jim pretty much sums up the positive message of the book: “I believe that we form our own lives, that we create our own reality, and that everything works out for the best. I know I drive some people crazy with what seems to be ridiculous optimism, but it has always worked out for me.”As a Muppet fan and dreamer, I can truly appreciate the message, and am taking a lot of what the book says to heart. I give ‘It’s Not Easy Being Green’ an A.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9: Millennium: The War of the Prophets by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
Often, the middle piece of a trilogy can be the weakest, and I’m afraid that is true in this particular series, too. It had a very powerful beginning, and you’ll see that I felt that the end was quite strong, but the middle section had a few too many coincidences for me. The main characters of DS9 are flung forward through time and meet a very dark future. The Federation has fallen, the Klingons and humans are nearly extinct, the Romulans are essentially slaves trying to get out from under the thumbs of Cardassians. The ‘coincidences’ had more to do with how the DS9 crew got divided up and who went where. The story did have its moments as the Mirror Universe, as well as Time Travel, were brought into the story, just to add to the confusion. Also, have the Wraiths be divided against each other in the forms of Weyoun and Dukat was very interesting. The storyline did hold together pretty well. B.

The Heroic Age
The Heroic Age was my little gift to myself at the end of the summer program. I was really looking forward to getting it. The Heroic Age was an event where they set up the new Avengers teams and characters, essentially creating a nice new starting place for Marvel. It thought that it was going to be its own self contained story, much like Seige and Secret Invasion. I was wrong. It was the first issue of all the new Avengers comics – Avengers, New Avengers, Secret Avengers, Avengers AcademyHawkeye and Mockingbird, Agents of Atlas, Black Widow, among others. I was very disappointed. I didn’t need the first issue of all those comics. I would have loved to have the compilation and complete plot of any of those comics, but instead I got a tasting of them all, and I didn’t find it satisfying. I give The Heroic Age compilation a D+ because of the lack of complete story. I was very disappointed.

Belgarath the Sorcerer by David Eddings
Belgarath is a 7000 year old sorcerer who was a featured character throughout David Eddings 10 novel series. He was also my favorite character in the whole thing. He was a pragmatist who really didn’t care what anyone else thought, and he was powerful enough to get away with it. This book tells the important pieces of his 7000 or so years of life. It covered his early thieving life, his time as a disciple to Aldur, how he met his wife, how he reacted to her ‘death,’ and what happened when he stole the Orb of Aldur back from the evil god Torak. It filled in a lot of questions, but of course generated more that will be answered in the last book of the series. One important note is that David finally shared credit with his co-writer/wife Leigh in this book. In the forward he said that it was about time since it was the worst kept secret in fantasy writing. I enjoyed the novel, even though it did have several contradictory statements in it, such as finding out about Torak’s three disciples, but in the later series him not knowing about Urvon, one of those three, and how Beldin learned sorcery. Even with its inconsistencies, It is a worthy addition to the Belgariod series. A-.

Star Trek: Deep Space 9: Millennium: book 3: Inferno by Judith and Garfield Reeves-Stevens
In the last of the Deep Space 9 books I read, it all got tied together. These books used so much of what made DS9 the best of the Star Trek series: the Bajoran religious story arc, the Wormhole and the Prophets, the Mirror Universe, time travel. I enjoyed the story. They return to the fall of Terok Nor (DS9) and they find out exactly what happened to the Cardassians and, for some of them, to themselves. They also confirm what happened to the other time travelers Picard, Vash, and Nog. Overall, I enjoyed the book and the series. I give it an A-.

King Javan’s Year by Katherine Kurtz
King Javan’s Year is probably my favorite of Kurtz’s Deryini books. It focuses on the most intelligent and most independent of King Cinhil’s children. The regents, who ruled the land with an iron fist, try to bypass Javan and hand the crown over to his more biddable brother Rhys-Michael, but Rhys-Michael himself and some knights loyal to Javan manage to get Javan installed as king, much to the chagrin of the regents. Throughout the book, Javan’s camp and the regents camp maneuver and try to find legal ways to get rid of the other, and both take steps into the darkness to meet their goals. The difference between the two is that Javan and his people feel bad about the cold blooded murder they needed to commit, and the regents don’t. Even though I knew that Javan could not win – the back of all the Deryni books have a family tree of Javan’s Haldane family, and Javan died one year after he ascended the throne – I rooted for him the entire time. Given a little more luck, he could have been an exceptional king for Gwynned, but he and his entire camp was struck down, and the luckless Rhys-Michael ascended the throne. This book always takes me a little longer to re-read because when something is about to go wrong, I have to put it down for a while because I really get into the characters and I feel bad for them. I give King Javan’s Year an A.


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