Book Review | Paper and Blood by Kevin Hearne

Kevin Hearne returns to the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles in book two of a spin-off series about an eccentric master of rare magic solving an uncanny mystery in Scotland.

There’s only one Al MacBharrais: Though other Scotsmen may have dramatic mustaches and a taste for fancy cocktails, Al also has a unique talent. He’s a master of ink and sigil magic. In his gifted hands, paper and pen can work wondrous spells.

But Al isn’t quite alone: He is part of a global network of sigil agents who use their powers to protect the world from mischievous gods and strange monsters. So when a fellow agent disappears under sinister circumstances in Australia, Al leaves behind the cozy pubs and cafes of Glasgow and travels to the Dandenong Ranges in Victoria to solve the mystery.

The trail to his colleague begins to pile up with bodies at alarming speed, so Al is grateful his friends have come to help—especially Nadia, his accountant who moonlights as a pit fighter. Together with a whisky-loving hobgoblin known as Buck Foi and the ancient Druid Atticus O’Sullivan, along with his dogs, Oberon and Starbuck, Al and Nadia will face down the wildest wonders Australia—and the supernatural world—can throw at them, and confront a legendary monster not seen in centuries.

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How was it?

It seems like the banter is the main driving force of this story; it works at times, there’s even a few memorable quotes and pearls of wisdom in there but that’s about it. The adventure we go on this time around seemed mysterious and exciting but kind of fell flat in the end. If it weren’t for the innuendos behind some of these jokes, I’d swear this was a so-so middle grade book.

As much as I love re-entering the world of the Iron Druid Chronicles, I don’t remember it being so…underwhelming is not the right word, I guess I’m whelmed. It almost makes me doubt my fond memories of the main series. It’s the same lavish, mystical world building with Al MacBharrais having his own interesting way of using magic – through ink sigils on paper – and yet I’m hardly captivated or excited by what I’m reading. I wasn’t bored at least the book has that going for it but I’m frustrated because the way the inks and sigils work are great, the little backstories on how they’re made is interesting, and Al’s group of friends/employees are awesome – Nadia in particular. There’s also a strong supporting appearances of three, well four characters from the Iron Druid and it didn’t help as much as I thought it would. I still feel like these characters’ potential is not fully realized but I still have hope.

I may have preordered this book before reading Ink & Sigil but I’d still give a shot to the following book in the series, in hopes that the first two were intro and filler episode before a grand finale or a thrilling new entry.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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Jurassic World Dominion | Trailer

  • Writer: Colin Trevorrow (story & screenplay), Emily Carmichael (screenplay), Derek Connolly (story), Michael Crichton (based on characters created by)
  • Director: Colin Trevorrow
  • Stars: Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Laura Dern, Sam Neil, Jeff Goldblum

I didn’t know that I needed to see some Velociraptors chasing people through a city but I’m glad I found that out today. The movie looks amazing and seeing the original cast returning is great.

Jurassic World Dominion will hit theaters on June 10th

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Trailer Reaction | Moon Knight

  • Head Writer: Jeremy Slater
  • Directors: Justin Benson, Mohamed Diab, Aaron Moorhead, George Clooney
  • Stars: Oscar Isaac, Ethan Hawke, Gaspard Ulliel, May Calamawy

Wow, the way his eyes light up, the suit and how it wraps around him is so cool, I love it. The show seems a bit darker, leaning into the horror aspect of the character, which I appreciate but we’ll see if that’s the case during the season. The story looks like it’ll follow one of Marc Spector’s personalities has they try to figure out what happened to them. Since Marc is a veteran who struggles with dissociative identity disorder it should be interesting to see him trying to figure out what’s happening as he’s being chased or hunted down by people he doesn’t know, also while one of his personalities protects him.

Moon Knight premiers on Disney+ on March 30th.

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Book Review: Killing Floor by Lee Child

Ex-military policeman Jack Reacher is a drifter. He’s just passing through Margrave, Georgia, and in less than an hour, he’s arrested for murder. Not much of a welcome. All Jack knows is that he didn’t kill anybody. At least not here. Not lately. But he doesn’t stand a chance of convincing anyone. not in Margrave, Georgia. Not a chance in hell.

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How was it?

My first experience of Jack Reacher was the Tom Cruise Jack Reacher: Never Go Back version back in 2016 and the trailers for the 2012 movie before that. So I was curious about the original book version.

It starts out very slow and methodical, just like how Jack Reacher seems to be. A quiet man who observes, analyzes and acts accordingly. We are taken along on his thought processes and see how he scrutinizes everything around him. It’s quite fascinating if it weren’t for how obvious the bad guys were. Maybe the trailer for that first Cruise Reacher movie spoiled this book for me and that opening scene from the trailer seems to be summing up this story.

Another striking thing about Reacher, he’s not willing or eager to help, at first. He intervenes when he has to and when it serves him. He might be a bit selfish but to me it came off as a guy who just minds his own business. However the reason why he gets involved into the case made sense, yet seemed a bit too coincidental. Too much time had been spent establishing that he didn’t want to get involved so it had to be something big enough for him to join the investigation.

Although there is a small chunk that I zombie read, I’m pretty sure there are some plot holes in this book, an obvious one for me was the big deal that was made of Reacher not carrying any ID but he somehow took a plane and I don’t remember him going to get his ID or nothing. The other thing that really doesn’t make much sense is how Finlay got his job because they needed an idiot for it but there’s someone involved in the scheme at play here that who should’ve known that he’s a competent investigator.

So there are major non-sensical things in this book but it still entertains. It never became a chore to read or boring for me, despite admitting zombie reading some of it. It is a bit cliché for sure but the investigation part of the story was good even thought I would have expected it to be more action driven.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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TV Review: Hawkeye (Season) | References and Emotional Arcs

Since his shadowy appearance in Thor (2011) Jeremy Renner‘s (The Hurt Locker) Clint Barton aka Hawkeye, has become a sometimes mocked but key member of the first six avengers. For some reason that didn’t warrant a solo movie but a series introducing his replacement Kate Bishop, portrayed by Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, Dickinson). I’m not salty about, I like the character and the actrice but I feel the disrespect, am I alone in this? It was even more blatant after seeing the two episode premiere that were focused on Kate. That said the show has a solid cast; Alaqua Cox as Echo is phenomenal, Fra Fee (Les Misérables) as Kazi is striking, Tony Dalton (Better Call Saul) as fun and quirky Jack Duquesnes, and Mia Farmiga (Up In The Air) as Kate’s mother Eleanor. She is great casting but she reads shady to me so that doesn’t help the story, and there’s two more other phenomenal cast members but I won’t spoil it just in case.

Premise: The story is essentially how Clint Barton crossed paths with Kate Bishop while in New York City, and how they must work together to confront enemies from Clint’s past time as Ronin in order for him to get back to his family in time for Christmas.

Review: As I mentioned the show’s main focus is Kate and her introduction, although smart, is a bit slow going because quite a chunk of it is predictable. At the beginning I felt I was reading chapter two while the show was lagging behind. They’ve telegraphed so many plot points early on that waiting for them to come to fruition was a slight annoyance, more so if you became aware of rumors and leaks before hand. Thankfully by the half way mark everything starting rolling

The strength of the show is its casts, their characters and the relationships they have. The Christmas theming and the many references the show has from comics, previous MCU movies, and popular holiday movies is a nice touch – if you like Christmas movies – but the characters’ emotional arc is the meat in all that dressing. From a grief stricken Clint who’s trying to reconnect with his family while dealing with what he did during the blip ; Echo’s relentless fight for vengeance and how she opened her eyes to the bigger truth of her situation; the assassin who refused to believe the truth and how that was resolved, also their relationship with Kate is a delight. As for Kate, her eagerness to be a hero was great, it felt like she wasn’t just hoping to be one someday but worked hard to become one. And as skilled she’s shown to be, there’s still that rookie naiveté and a blind side that could have been annoying but it wasn’t.

In the first few episodes there were elements – LARPers *cough among others – I thought made the show feel a like downgrade and cheap, even for Clint who can kind of only be a street level hero when on his own. But I’ve come to like these elements because they add some levity to the show and sort of work with the theming.

Hawkeye works hard to be a holiday romp and succeeds but the cast elevated what could have been a meh overall story with a lot of action in the finale.

Rating: 7 out of 10.

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Spider-Man: No Way Home | A Soft Reboot, The End of an Era

No Way Home, the third MCU Spider-Man film directed by Jon Watts, sees its returning cast joined by familiar faces like Willem Dafoe, Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Rhys Ifans and Thomas Haden Church, who are not only known characters actor but they’ve all been in a previous Spider-Man movie pre-MCU. It has led many of us to believe that previous Spider-Men, Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire will feature in this movie. Even if they weren’t leaks and rumors pointing that way it would have made sense for them to appear; and yet they’re not the ones I’m most excited to see – *cough* Charlie Cox *cough*. Anyway besides these spidey vilains and spider-men, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Benedict Wong also join Tom Holland, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Jon Favreau, and Marisa Tomei.

Premise: After Peter Parker’s identity as Spider-Man was exposed by Mysterio at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019), his life and reputation are turned upside down. Parker asks Dr. Stephen Strange to help restore his secret identity with magic, but this breaks open the multiverse, allowing supervillains from alternate realities who previously fought alternate versions of Spider-Man to arrive.

Review: Despite all the leaks and rumors – that I’ve seen anyway – there’s still a fair share of surprises in this movie. Even kind of knowing what to expect it was still fun to see it realized, to see the actors in action, but this movie is a bit uneven.

Story-wise you can tell what was locked and loaded, and what was in flux in the script because some of the beats are so sleek and go so well together. For instance most of Holland’s arc, and the villain’s was great. Then you have these awkward moments that kind of work but are still weird and even cringey at times, but there’s so many exciting people in it and exciting moments happening that you can forgive it – I did. It seems I only needed a brick thrown at a window for me to be happy, the rest was extra.

The villains were something else, as a whole they were great and the actors did a fantastic job but Holland, Dafoe, Zendaya, and Tomei did an excellent job -Them and the guy who caught the brick 😉 -, their arcs were the best parts of this movie. Funny how what they worked the hardest to hide didn’t come close to what makes this movie good. Anyway, Holland nailed it here, I went from thinking his Peter Parker was the dumbest and most trusting person ever to appreciate his emotional journey after a particular fight that ended in a building lobby. I also enjoyed the way he looks lovingly at Zendaya’s M.J., who might be the best superhero girlfriend around. As for aunt May, I love how involved she is, and the way they established who she is as a person, what she believes in with just a few scenes.

Awkward moments aside, another thing that I’ve had a hard time with in this movie is how some character’s behaviors are completely different. The difference could be explained away but the contrast compared to what was and some of the others was a bit too jarring. So that and the awkward moments that felt added on are my main problems with the film. In fact, I know when I started to really like this movie, it was when his sixth sense went off in the appartement, from then on I enjoyed the movie more and more even if the problems are peppered throughout. It still had a few weird moments but I can see myself skipping to that part if I’m streaming it.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is high on emotions and fan service – there’s even a Graham Norton Show reference – but mostly marks Peter’s growth as a person – from boy to young man -, redefines and showcases his abilities – notably his strength and Spidey sense. I’m excited to see how it’ll go next.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.

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November readings | Adventures on Land and Sea

Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre(s): Epic, High Fantasy, Adventure
Page count: 814 pages
Published: 15 November 1990

My review | Book | Audiobook

Title: Fable
Series: Fable #1
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre(s): YA, Adventure, Romance, Fantasy
Page count: 357 pages
Published: 1 September 2020

My review | Book | Audiobook

These books are also available on The Book Depository, or you can get them from the links above at no extra cost to you