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The Guild by Felicia Day


The Guild (The Guild, #1)The Guild by Felicia Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A prequel to the Webseries of the same name by Felicia Day. Reading a graphic novel requires a different technique of appreciation by the reader, which I’m not so used to! It forces you to slow down and really look at each page and panel to absorb the story and recognise the emotions conveyed by the characters drawn on the page.

Here we are introduced to the character of Cyd (Felicia Day) who is struggling with depression and the stresses of the real world. Her boyfriend is a musician, and takes her for granted. Meanwhile, her therapist suggests that she tries to make some new friends. Cyd finds out that there is a computer game where you can literally create yourself from scratch and live a different and fantastical life. Within the game are other players, and these “virtual” friends begin to save Cyd’s life not just in The Game, but in reality. With a Guild of players who are excellent examples of real world personalities, you care about what goes on in their world, both inside and outside The Game.

As a gamer myself (although one who shies away from multiplayer RPGs!), this hits right at home with the reasons why we play. The game world, even though it is full of conflicts and often violence, your achievement are not (always) measured in wealth, but experience points (XP), and when you get knocked down (or even killed) there’s a health potion to make you right again. You can lose yourself in these other worlds for hours and hours.

Within a “massively multiplayer online role playing game” (MMORPG… keep up with the acronyms!) you can truly work on your communication and teamwork when coordinating the efforts of your Guild, to complete the high-level quests. Honestly, there should be real life recognition for online achievements!

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Talon by Julie Kagawa


TalonTalon by Julie Kagawa

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As YA fiction, this was an OK book. Very teen oriented. Less Fantasy, more Angsty!
Ember and Dante are twins, they’re Dragons, but they’re disguised as humans (and can transform back to their true forms). They’re still young, and are training to assimilate and infiltrate the human world undetected. The rules of the Dragon species and government – Talon – are so strict that their training and ultimate placement within the system is unknown to them until they are ready to fulfil their purpose. The structure is supposedly for self-preservation, and the survival of their species. If a dragon disobeys, or leaves Talon, they are the “Rogues”.

The Dragons are mercilessly hunted by the soldiers of the Order of St George (of course), who are as rigidly set to their purpose as those high up in the Talon order. A member of this militia is Garret, also only a teenager, sent to find the dragon hiding out.

In typical “two worlds collide” metaphor (with the rest of the human race there just as the landscape) Ember and Garret enter into a relationship, which heads to its inevitable conclusion when they eventually realise that they are on opposite sides.

There was only a little introduction into the politics and mechanics of the Talon and St George systems, this could benefit from greater world building and context. As the first in a series, it’s possible this is expanded upon later. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a particular character, so the story mostly unfolds through first-person narrative. As the characters are of similar age, and have similar motivations, their voices are not distinct enough to carry the reader through, without constantly checking the chapter heading to remind yourself who the current narrator is.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Parts One and Two: The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production (Harry Potter Officl Playscript)Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two: The Official Playscript of the Original West End Production by John Tiffany

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Through his first few school years placed in Slytherin house at Hogwarts, we follow young Albus Severus Potter, son of Harry and Ginny. Harry Potter is now a Minster of Magic, and has trouble connecting to his son on a personal level. Albus, being the son of such a famous Wizard is unhappy; discontent with who he is and his family’s history. He befriends Scorpius Malfoy, and together they go about (indirectly) proving that a name and school house don’t necessarily dictate who you really are.
Along with the help (and hindrance) from a few other characters, Albus tries to right a wrong in the past which he thinks will help make the future better – the ramifications of which, of course, go way beyond anything he could have imagined.

Ultimately a stand-alone story, which gives some new perspectives on previously seen and read situations, but don’t ultimately affect or interfere with the overall narrative of the Harry Potter books, or movies.

Written, as explained on the cover, as a play script, the action is primarily delivered through dialogue and set directions. The world building in a play script is always bare-bones, in order for the director to utilise their own vision for the production itself.

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Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross


Mr. PeanutMr. Peanut by Adam Ross

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An odd one. I think I liked it, but it was so hard to read in places. By which I mean the subject matter was both infuriating and reflective of reality. Making me feel, I suppose, helpless.
That was probably the point..! Minor SPOILERS in the review below:

Mr Peanut is actually three different, but tangentially related, mysteries. The first is David Pepin, who is accused of killing his wife. He pleads innocent, despite spending a lot of time actually plotting her demise. The two investigators have their own strange and sordid histories, each relating to their marital strife. Hastroll’s wife refuses to leave her bed, possibly due to a form of depression, but refuses to explain her actions. Sheppard’s wife was herself murdered, and there remains a grey area of what actually happened that night.

Told in a non-linear fashion, this narrative is tricky to keep track of. The characters, both victims and perpetrators seem pretty unlike-able! If only people would actually talk straight with one another, the situations might have been easier – or avoided all together. The characters seem to get in a state because their respective other-halves can’t read their minds. Obviously. That old trope of “if you haven’t figured it out already, then I’m not going to tell you” attitude is useless in reality because it just gets you nowhere.

COMMUNICATION! Is very important in a relationship.. that includes friends, and marriage, and well most walks of life. Books do tend to teach you important lessons.  So maybe that was the point!

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Odd Man Out by James Newman


Odd Man OutOdd Man Out by James Newman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quite a disturbing novella. Not a fantastical horror story, but bullying and a hate crime.
SPOILER WARNING…

A group of young boys are sent to a new holiday camp as a test group before the camp itself properly opens to the public. The supervision is relatively lax, and the main owners are drawn away from the camp when one of the boys has a medical emergency, leaving the less experienced teenager in charge. Being left primarily to themselves, the group therefore begin to bicker and argue. Two of the boys knew each other from earlier in their childhood, and one of those is at first clingy, and soon revealed to be gay. What then follows is bullying and taunts, psychological segregation between the “us” and “them”, and inevitably ends with the boys goading each other into performing terrible acts.

The story is book-ended with the grown-up main protagonist, Dennis, being involved with a vote in their local church on whether or not to continue to allow the Boy Scouts to use their facilities after a change in rules that no longer allows exclusion of individuals based on their sexual orientation. Again here, fear leads the way.

It is an extreme example of how group mentality can rapidly descend into hate, far easier than to accept people simply for being different. Fear of the unknown, and all that leads to, seems to win out more often than understanding and acceptance. Before some people have even thought about the big picture, and how our differences enrich our culture more than uniformity, they’ve already made up their minds that “If you’re different from me, I don’t like you”.

As much as recent news items have brought these extreme views into the public eye. It’s worth remembering that more often than not, these are usually smaller groups who shout loudly to get attention. Some of the individuals involved are, like the characters in this story, likely goaded into these actions through peer pressure and may not feel these things for themselves. I’m a firm believer that the majority of people are good at heart, and the views actions of these others do not represent the whole. Take care of one another.

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