Book Review: The Further Adventures of Xena

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Ever since discovering that there is a book series of Xena: Warrior Princess stories, I have been searching for them in used book stores and buying whatever copies I can find. My latest find was this short story collection, which I was eager to read.

This book contains fifteen different short stories which are spread throughout the Xena series. For the most part I really enjoyed the stories, though admittedly there were one of two which I found less entertaining and more tiresome to read. Even so, I thought this was a great way to add some new stories to the series and allow a multitude of authors to contribute.

It also showed how each author interpreted certain characters. I feel that nearly all of them portrayed Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer’s personalities and attributes properly. There were some where I questioned how much of the series they had watched, because in their stories the characters just didn’t feel right.

One great addition to this collection was a story told from Argo’s perspective. I thought this was a fantastic way to really embrace all the main characters of the series. We all know what Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer are like, their reasons for doing what they do. But there isn’t much know about Agro except that she is Xena’s horse. The story wasn’t overly long, but I felt because it didn’t focus on the main three that it was one of the better stories. Agro was in the other stories, but she wasn’t the main attraction of them. Also, there were two stories in this collection where the authors made Agro a stallion and I was a little annoyed with that, since these authors have claimed to be huge fans of the show, so they should know that Argo is female.

Overall, I felt this was a really great book and added something new to the Xena universe. Fans of the show will surely enjoy this and the other books in the series. I’m looking forward to reading more of these books as I find them.

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Book Review: Sacred Seas

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Sometimes a book catches you by surprise, grabs hold of you and takes you on a beautiful, emotionally charged journey. This is how I felt throughout the entirety of The Sea Monster Memoirs trilogy. Tangled Tides set the foundation for it all, giving us a story about finding oneself, facing challenges head on and getting the love that you deserve. Dangerous Depths took that foundation and shook it hard, testing the characters even more and forming this beautiful tale of sorrow and perseverance. Sacred Seas came along, taking the best of both of those books, and added in new emotion, depth, trials and pushing the characters to their limits, setting us up one hell of a ride.

I do not normally read emotional books, yet Karen’s writing style allows me to enjoy feeling those emotions along with the characters. Getting that pulse of happiness, sorrow, anger, fear, elation, and that everything those characters experience, I experienced and it made me love the characters and the story even more. There is something almost refreshing when a book causes you to pause while reading and reflect on what it must be like to go through such trials and to come out the other side as a stronger person.

Let’s talk characters for a moment. One neat aspect of this trilogy, is that each book has a different set of narrators. While Yara is always one of the narrators, the other two change in each book. I feel like this really helps to showcase different aspects of the story and world, to present a well rounded tale. Having a multitude of perspectives spread throughout three books is surely a challenge to write, and yet Karen has tackled that and done it well. Her writing style has changed since the beginning of the series, and it’s a wonderful thing to see not just the story and characters evolve along the way, but the writer as well.

Then there is the Kraken. He is a force to be reckoned with. Though Yara and the others have had their fair share of obstacles to overcome, he brings a whole new meaning to the word challenge.

One aspect I really enjoy in this book is the character flaws. Of course we want characters to succeed. But not everything can, or should, come with ease. Things that may be obvious to us readers, aren’t always obvious to the characters, and when they do make those bad decisions (I’m looking at you Rownan!) there is bound to be consequences down the line. What they do when faced with those consequences really makes them grow as a character. I am glad to see these flaws included, because it makes the characters more realistic. No one is perfect.

The flow of this book is great. A little slow to start with as things are set into place, but then it picks up and doesn’t slow down. Each chapter pulls you along, diving into the next challenge that the characters must face and propelling you closer to the end. I couldn’t put this book down, since I kept wanting to know what would happen next, how would Yara, Treygan, Rownan and everyone else manage to get past their next major roadblock.

Scared Seas is a gift. Much like Medusa’s agape pearl, this story truly shines throughout. With it’s stellar fast-paced plot, multifaceted story, wonderful character growth, and a healthy dose of magic, myth and finding that delicate balance between love and loss, triumph and tragedy, and light and dark, Sacred Seas is the series ending that we deserve. This series has solidly placed itself in my list of favorites.

Book Review: Erased Volume 2

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

After reading the first volume, I immediately wanted to know what was going to happen next. So I ordered the second volume and waited until it arrived several weeks later. I can’t go into much detail, because I don’t want to spoil the The story picks up right where the previous volume ends.

Once again, I enjoyed watching Satoru try to navigate the past, as well as the present, while trying to solve two different murders. It was interesting to watch him try to piece two different time line together, gathering what clues and evidence he could find along the way, while also avoiding getting too tangled up into either situation. In fact, it’s this double mystery that is one of my favorite aspects of this series. A single mystery would be interesting enough, but toss a second one in and you’ve got quite a story.

I have to say that the art is also growing on me. I wasn’t a huge fan of it with the first volume, but I’m certainly loving it more. I think as the story progresses with each volume, I will come to love it more and more.

I’m really looking forward to the next volume to see exactly what will happen next. So many things are up in the air at the moment and I can only guess at how things will turn out.

Book Review: The Last Olympian

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I almost didn’t read this book. I had pretty much lost interest in this series with the previous book and wondered if I should even bother. But then it started to bother me, knowing that there was just one book left in the series and that if I didn’t read it, it would be forever unfinished. So I sucked it up and read this book.

No surprise here, I didn’t like the book. I had stopped caring about the characters and their problems, I stopped caring about whether they could stop Kronos or not. I just didn’t care.

I will admit, that I am a bit bummed that I didn’t love this series more. It started off strongly but then just got less and less interesting with each progressive book. I guess all books in a series can’t be stellar. Ah well.

But you know what, I read it, so at least I can say I read the entire series. However, now I’m wondering if I should bother with the Heroes of Olympus series or not.

Book Review: Cress

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For some silly reason, it took me a full month to read this book. Mostly it was because I was busy with other things, you know how life gets in the way of a good book, yeah that’s what happened, and then when I did have time to read I would pick up other books (generally short manga’s that I could read in one quick sitting). I wanted to read this book so badly, but everything seemed against me finishing it. Luckily, I did manage to get it done a whopping thirty days after starting it, and I really enjoyed it.

I’m not going to go into much detail with this, but I will cover some key points. First off, I thought Cress was a great character. She had her quirks, some faults and a definite zest for life. There is a lot of character growth for her over the course of this novel and I think the Cress we will see in the next book will be even better. I still hate Thorne. Not as much as I hated him in Scarlet, but I still really, really don’t like his character. He has redeemed himself some through his actions in this book, but ugh I just can’t stand the man.

Like the previous novels, everything has been coming together smoothly, perhaps not for the characters, but in the sense of all the story lines intermingling and joining into one very strong and appealing plot. It’s this aspect alone that has made me enjoy these books so much. I honestly didn’t think I would like this series at all, and didn’t see how these retellings would work in any way, and yet here I am loving these books and looking forward to reading the next one.

Am I the only one that was disappointed that Cress’ hair got cut so early in this book? I get why it happened, but I was hoping to see more Rapunzel-ish action.

Overall, this was a really good book. I only wish I could have read it in more of a one sitting fashion instead of it taking weeks to complete. Even so, I loved it and am really looking forward to finishing off this series, and yikes the end is so close I almost don’t want it to end. If you haven’t read this series yet, I would recommend checking it out, as it has great characters and a wonderful story line.

Book Review: Warcraft: Legends Volume 2

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

If it’s set in the Warcraft/World of Warcraft world, I will read it. A while back I read Volume 1 of the Legends series and enjoyed it enough. So I was eager to read the next one.

Much like the first volume, this one contains four different stories, one of which is a continuation, while the others are one-shot stories. I enjoyed each story in it’s own way, but for some reason, the story involving Trag Highmountain, the continuation story, just didn’t interest me as much as the others. The art for this story was certainly superior to that of the other three stories, yetthe story itself felt a bit flat. I would almost have rather had a different story or the others being longer than this continuation.

One issue I did have, was that there was bit of dialogue that was missing. This was an issue with the first volume as well. I know it was missing because the dialogue bubbles were large and half empty. Artists don’t make dialogue bubbles any larger than needed, so I’m guessing this was a printing issues, but it was annoying. Yes, I could pretty much figure out what that character was saying, but I still felt it took away from the stories as a whole to have missing pieces.

Overall, this was an okay read. I would recommend it to fans of Warcraft and World of Warcraft, and even those who may be new to the series. I will be continuing on with this series at some point and look forward to seeing what new stories I will find within the future volumes.

Book Review: The Huntress And The Sphinx

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was pretty darn hesitant about reading this book. A while ago I read the previous book in the series, The Empty Throne by Ru Emerson, and it was so bad I didn’t think I would enjoy this one at all. Luckily, this book ended up being okay and it was such a relief to not hate this book.

The writing style of this book was definitely an improvement over the previous book. The overall flow of the story and characters were pretty solid. This book certainly felt more like one of the episodes of the TV series, though not quite as good.

Xena and Gabrielle are pretty much the characters we know from the TV series. A few other characters from the series also make minor appearance, or are mentioned, but don’t really play a major role in the story. Atlanta, the other main character of the story, was pretty cocky at the start and I didn’t really care for her until later in the book when her character grows and learns from her actions.

Overall, I liked this book. It was good enough to keep my attention throughout but I still felt it wasn’t as good as it could be and certainly wasn’t as enjoyable as watching the TV series. I’m likely read more of this series at some point, assuming that I find the books, as so far I have only seen them at used book stores. If you enjoyed the Xena TV series then these books may be worth reading just to revisit that world and get a few of new content from it.