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Sunday, September 10, 2023

Hitchhiker's Guide by Douglas Adams

 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: Douglas Adams (English, 1952-2001)
Originally published: 1979

Page count: 161
Dates read: 8/12/23-8/19/23
2023 book goal progress: 14 out of 23

An extra book for 2023!
Read my other book reviews from 2023 HERE.

Description on back of book:
It’s an ordinary Thursday morning for Arthur Dent . . . until his house gets demolished. The Earth follows shortly after to make way for a new hyperspace express route, and Arthur’s best friend has just announced that he’s an alien. After that, things get much, much worse.

With just a towel, a small yellow fish, and a book, Arthur has to navigate through a very hostile universe in the company of a gang of unreliable aliens. Luckily the fish is quite good at languages. And the book is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy . . . which helpfully has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.

This classic plays havoc with both time and physics, offers up pithy commentary on such things as ballpoint pens, potted plants, and digital watches . . . and, most importantly, reveals the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. Now, if you could only figure out the question. . . .

First sentence:
"Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun."

Favorite quotes:
"The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t."

" 'You know, it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.”
'Why, what did she tell you?'
'I don’t know, I didn’t listen.' "

"He was staring at the instruments with the air of one who is trying to convert Fahrenheit to centigrade in his head while his house is burning down."

"Nothing travels faster than the speed of light with the possible exception of bad news, which obeys its own special laws."

"All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it’s pretty damn complicated in the first place."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 6.3/10 - ⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 8
Atmosphere   - 8
Writing Style - 6
Plot                - 5
Intrigue          - 6
Logic             - 4
Enjoyment     - 7
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

This is a wacky, but hilarious book. You never know what's going to happen next.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Douglas Adams have the last words:

"A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth; wet it for use in hand-to- hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (a mindboggingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you - daft as a bush, but very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitchhiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit, etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitchhiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitchhiker might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is clearly a man to be reckoned with."

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

 The 5th Wave
Author: Rick Yancey (American, 1962- )
Originally published: 2013

Page count: 457
Dates read: 8/21/23-9/2/23
2023 book goal progress: 15 out of 23

July/August Mindful Readers' Family Bookclub 
Read my other book reviews from 2023 HERE.

Description on back of book:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one. Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets a mysterious stranger who may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother.

First sentence:
"Aliens are stupid."

Favorite quotes:
"That sounds crazy. Am I crazy? Have I lost my mind? You can only call someone crazy if there's someone else who's normal. Like good and evil. If everything was good, then nothing would be good. Whoa. That sounds, well... crazy. Crazy: the new normal."

"We were the lucky ones. We'd survived the EMP attack, the obliteration of the coasts, and the plague that wasted everyone we knew and loved. We'd beaten the odds. We'd stared into the face of Death, and Death blinked first. You'd think that would make us feel brave and invincible. It didn't."

"I've decided to trust him, but like somebody once said, you can't force yourself to trust. So you put all your doubts in a little box and bury it deep and then try to forget where you buried it. My problem is that buried box is like a scab I can't stop picking at."

CAWPILE Rating: Overall - 8/10 - ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5
Characters      - 9
Atmosphere   - 7
Writing Style - 9
Plot                - 8
Intrigue          - 9
Logic             - 6
Enjoyment     - 8
What is a CAWPILE Rating?

This was a great book that kept you guessing until the end. It was a blast to come up with different theories and possibilities as I was reading this. I highly suggest it!

Book to movie review:
I went into watching the movie disappointed because I knew so much of the book was going to have to be glossed over. I think if you haven't read the book, it was a good movie. As someone who has read the book, you didn't get to know (and love) the multitude of characters in the book. Some elements of the book were just skipped entirely. It was the characters that really made the book and they didn't get the opportunity to shine through in the movie.

Now I'm off to read another book... but since a review should be more about the author of the book than about the writer of the blog, I will let Rick Yancey have the last words:

"He looked at me and smiled reassuringly and said, "Everything's going to be okay," because that's what I wanted him to say and it's what he wanted to say and that's what you do when the curtain is falling - you give the line that the audience wants to hear."

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Mini-Reviews of Fables

Fables (comics):

Note: If you're just looking for the suggested reading order WITHOUT my mini-reviews, a running character list, and some pictures of the comics themselves, please see my other post - Fables: A Suggested Reading Order.

Description: Fables is a comic book series published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint beginning in 2002. The series deals with various people from fairy tales and folklore – referring to themselves as “Fables” – who have been forced out of their Homelands. The Fables have traveled to our mundane world and formed a clandestine community in New York City known as Fabletown.

Publisher:  Vertigo
Publication Date:  2002-2015+
Genre:  Contemporary/Dark Fantasy
Creators:  Bill Willingham, Lan Medina
Printing Formats:
-Individual issues
-Trade paperbacks with textured matte paper (collects several issues)
-Deluxe hardcovers with smooth glossy paper (collects several issues)
-Compendiums, which collect all of Fables together into 4 books

All are comics with the below exceptions:
-1001 Nights of Snowfall (graphic novel)
-Werewolves of the Heartland (graphic novel)
-A Wolf in the Fold (prose story)
-Pinocchio's Army (prose story)
-Peter and Max (prose novel)

Character List (alphabetically - some may be missing if I missed the reference):
A-C - A-Number-One/King of Hobos, Agent Mulder, Ali Baba and Aladdin, Alice and Hare, Annie Oakley, Autumn Queen/Syksy, Baba Yaga and House, Captain Hook, Cerberus, Cinderella, Barbara Allen, Sasalisk and Minitaur, Beauty and the Beast, Big Bad Wolf/Bigby, Bigfoot/Sasquash, Billy Goat, Bo Peep, Black Caroline, Black Forest Witch/Frau Totenkinder, Black Sheep, Black Knight, Blind Mice, Blue Fairy, Bluebeard, Bogeyman, Boy Blue, Boy Who Cried Wolf, Brer Animals (Bear, Rabbit, Wolf, etc), Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Britomart/Faerie Queen, Chernomer Knight, Cheshire Cat, Chicken (Run, Laundress, Little, etc), Clark Kent/Superman, Colonel Bearskin, Count Aucassin de Beaucaire, Count Dracula, Cow that Jumped Over the Moon, Croesus, Cyclopses and Mermaids

D-J - Daedalus, Dish and Spoon, Don Quixote, Dr. Frankenstein and Monster, Dr. Swineheart, Dorothy and Toto, Dwarves and Gnomes, Dragons and Giants, Dread Pirate Roberts and Princess Buttercup, Ephram, Evil Queen, Evil Stepmother, Fairies and Sprites, Firebird, Flying Carpets, Flying Monkeys, Forsworn Knight/Lancelot, Four Horseman, Friar Tuck and Little John, Frdo, Frog Prince/Ambrose, Frog and Toad, Genies and Ifrits, Geppetto, Gilligan and Skipper, Gingerbreadman, Goblins and Trolls, Golden Goose, Goldilocks and Bears, Gorgons, Guinevere, Hawkeye/Natty Bumbo and Slue Foot Sue, Haint/Devil, Hercule Poirot, Headless Horseman, Huckleberry Finn and Jim, Humpty Dumpty, Grim Reaper/Death, Gulliver, Gunga Din, Hansel and Gretel, Herman von Starkenfaust, Hickory Dickory Mouse, Ichabod Crane, Isengrim, Iskander, Ivan Tsarevich, Jack (all of them) and Jill, Jean Luc Picard, John Henry, Jungle Book Animals (Baghera, Baloo, Kaa, King Louie, Shere Khan)

K-R - Kaidan, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, King Arthur, King Cole, King David and King Solomon, King Midas, King Pellinore, Lady Luck, Lions (Aslan, and Mouse, Mufassa/Simba, Oz, etc), Live Objects (Beauty and the Beast), Lone Ranger and Tonto, Magic Mirror, Maleficent, Mary and Little Lamb, Mary Mary, Max (Where the Wild Things are), Men in Black, Miss Muffet/Mrs. Web, Mogli, Mother Goose, Mother Rigby and Scarecrow, Mrs. Sprat, Munchkins, Nome King, North Wind, Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, Old Mother Hubbard, Old Women Who Lives in a Shoe and Children, Paul Bunyon and Babe, Pecos Bill, Peter Cottontail, Peter Pan and Wendy Darling, Peter Piper, Pied Piper, Pineapple Man, Pinocchio, Prince Charming, Priscilla, Puss in Boots/Fiddler, Queen of Hearts, Ranger Rick, Rapunzel, Ravens and Crows, Red Cross Knight, Red Riding Hood/Red Hood, Reynard the Fox, Rex Libris, Robin Hood and Maid Marian, Rose Red

S-Z - Safiya, Sambo, Santa and Mrs. Claus, Satan/Adversary, Sauron, Scarecrow (Oz), Scheherazade, Sherlock, Sidi Nouman, Sinbad and Hakim, Snow White/Lumi, Snow Queen/House of Sark, Sorcerors and Warlocks, Spring Queen/Kevat, Star Wars (Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Storm Troopers), Sulyman, Summer Queen/Kesa, Swan Princess, Pigs (Three, Babe, etc), Tam Lin, Tarzan, Three Knights (White, Radiant, Dark), Three Men in a Tub (Butcher, Baker, and Candlestick maker), Three Sisters, Thrushbeard, Thumbelina and Tom Thumb, Tin Man, Tooth Fairy, Tortoise and Hare, Trusty John, Twelve Halk Brothers, Waldemar, Walking Cards (Wonderland), Walris and Carpenter, Werewolves and Vampires, Weyland Smith, Wicked John, Wolfrum, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Zombies and Skeletons

LEGEND (for the colored and bolded text below):
Jack of Fables spinoff
Fairest spinoff
Limited Series

Mini-Reviews in the
Suggested Reading Order:
I read most of the series about 10 years ago for the first time.
Now I've read them: 6/29/23-8/21/23 (I plan to pick it up again next summer.)
Fables #1-5: Legends in Exile (2003)
Mini-review: This was a great introduction to the series, centered around a mystery. The main characters include Bigby Wolf, Snow White, and Jack.
Snow White and Bigby are featured in both images below.
Fables #6-10: Animal Farm (2003)
Mini-review: This one, as you can probably guess, is loosely based on Animal Farm by George Orwell. The main characters include Snow White, Rose Red, and Goldilocks. One of the revolutionary complaints was that their leader was a human, even though The Farm was for non-humans. In the end, they still replaced the previous leader with another humanoid, which I didn't like.
"The Farm" and a conversation between Snow White and Reynard the Fox.

A Wolf in the Fold (2003, prose story)
Mini-review: This is a prequel story of how Bigby and Snow White met. I enjoyed the story. Though it was prose, it included some black/white images.

Fables #11-13: Bag O' Bones, A Two-Part Caper (2004)
Mini-review: The first story was about Jack besting Death and the negative consequences that ensued. The other two stories are about how Bigby, Briar Rose, Bluebeard, and others handle a Mundy (a normal person, not of the Fable community) who knows that they are immortal. I think Bluebeard is too big for his breeches and something bad is going to happen because of him.
Jack and his mom; Prince Charming and the Frog Prince

Fables #14-18: Storybook Love, Barleycorn Brides (2004)
Mini-review: These are all cute stories centered around Bigby, Snow White, Bluebeard, Goldilocks, and Prince Charming.
Snow White and Bigby Wolf; Flying Monkey

Fables: The Last Castle (2004)
Mini-review: This is a sad story about the last boat out of the Homelands into the safety of the Mundane world, focusing on Boy Blue and Red Riding Hood.
Red Riding Hood; Robin Hood and Britomart

Fables #22: Cinderella Libertine (2005)
Mini-review: This is a spy story centered around Cinderella and Ichabod Crane. It can be read before or after March of the Wooden Soldiers.

Fables #19-21; #23-27: March of the Wooden Soldiers (2004)
Mini-review: This is a sad story where Fabletown is attacked and the reader learns a little more about the Adversary/Emperor. The main characters include Bigby, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, Boy Blue, Black Forest Witch, and others.
Jack and Wooden Soldiers; Wooden Soldiers and a Mundy Family

Fables #28-33: War Stories, The Long Year/The Mean Season (2005)
Mini-review: The first 2 stories are a war story about Bigby's past. The rest of the stories are about Snow White and her babies. It's always fun to discover new Fable characters.

Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall (2006, graphic novel)
Mini-review: This is a wonderful short story collection that gives us the background stories of some of the Fables including Snow White and Prince Charming, Reynard the Fox, the Frog Prince, Bigby, the Black Forest Witch, King Cole, and others. The Frog Prince is one of my favorite characters!
Bigby as a Baby; The full 3-page story of a Cursed Hare

Fables #34-35: Jack Be Nimble (2006)
Mini-review: Jack runs away with Jill to Hollywood and makes it big - but he's no longer welcome in Fabletown. This is a setup for Jack's own spin-off series.

Fables #36-41: Homelands (2006)
Mini-review: This story is based on Boy Blue's escapades in the Homelands, where it is discovered who The Adversary is. The main characters are Boy Blue, Snow Queen, Gepetto, and others.
Boy Blue fighting a Dragon; Boy Blue as a Bird

Fables #42-45: Arabian Nights and Days (2006)
Mini-review: This is a storyline about Arabian Fables coming to set up an alliance with Fabletown. The main characters include Sinbad, King Cole, Prince Charming, and others. This is a clever and humorous tale.
King Cole, Prince Charming, and Sinbad; Rose Red, Bagheera, and Boy Blue

Fables #46-47: Ballad of Rodney and June (2006)

Mini-review: This story is about Rodney and June, wooden soldiers who fall in love and request to be made into a 'real' man and woman.

Fables #48-51: Wolves (2), Happily Ever After, Big and Small (2006)
Mini-review: Wolves is about Mogli finding Bigby. In Happily Ever After, Bigby goes on a multiple-part secret mission. Big and Small is about a secret mission Cinderella goes on. These are great, heartwarming stories.
Bigby and Cinderella in the Cloud Kingdom

Fables #52-55: Sons of Empire (4) and Mini One-Shots (4) (2007)

Mini-review: This story is about a meeting in The Homelands about how they can destroy Fabletown. The main characters include Snow Queen, Gepetto, Pinocchio, Hansel, and others. I was a little confused about the use of some of the characters in this story. The mini-stories focus on Rapunzel (pictured below), a porky pine (how it's spelled in the comic), Kevin Thorne, and the Three Blind Mice - respectively.

Gepetto and Pinocchio (and Rapunzel); A full 3-page story about Rapunzel

Fables #56-58: Jiminy Christmas, Father and Son (2)

Mini-review: The first story is about Santa and Ambrose (both Fly and the cub). The other two stories are about Bigby, Snow, and the cubs visiting North Wind. They are all cute, though bittersweet, tales.

Snow, Bigby, and cubs decorating a Christmas Tree; Santa and Ambrose (cub)

Fables #59 and #64: Burning Questions, The Birthday Secret (2008)
Mini-review: Burning Questions is a handful of short stories answering some questions that the readers had about various Fable characters (one is pictured below). The Birthday story tells how Snow and Bigby told the cubs their litter consists of 7 instead of 6 cubs.
Besides Fly, who else has asked questions of the magic mirror?

Fables #60-63; #65-69: The Good Prince (2008)
Mini-review: I didn't like how the story first started, but it turned into an incredible story! The timeline is starting to get a little wonky, but that's expected with so many issues. It's my favorite tale, by far, out of all of Fables I've already read. This is a great story about Ambrose/Fly, Lancelot, and many others.
Ambrose killing a Dragon (which represents the Empire); Amrose fighting a Troll

Jack of Fables #1-5: The (Nearly) Great Escape (2007)
Mini-review: We are introduced to many new characters in the first Jack spinoff story where he is imprisoned with a multitude of other Fables. The main characters include Jack (obviously), Goldilocks, Mr. Revise, and others.
Note: Jack #1-16 should be read either directly before or after Fables' The Good Prince.
Jack leaving Fabletown; Wizard of Oz Characters escaping prison
Jack; Jack, Mother Goose, and Wicked John

Jack of Fables #6-11: Jack Frost (2), Jack of Hearts (4) (2007)
Mini-review: Jack Frost is the story about Jack's relationship with the Snow Queen. Jack of Hearts is about how Jack gets married in Vegas, how the Pathetic Fallacy (who goes by Gary and turns inanimate objects into living beings) becomes his sidekick, and how he becomes entangled with Lady Luck. Note: Jack #1-16 should be read either directly before or after Fables' The Good Prince.
Jack's Antics with the Soup Stone; Jack discovers the Snow Queen's castle
Gary and Lawn Flamingos; Jack and Gary at a diner

Jack of Fables #12-16: The Bad Prince (4), Jack O'Lantern (2008)
Mini-review: The Bad Prince tells the antics of Jack, Gary, Wicked John, and Kevin Thorne. Jack O'Lantern is about how Jack sells his soul to the Devil (edit: multiple devils) in order to live longer. Note: Jack #1-16 should be read either directly before or after Fables' The Good Prince.
Both pictures show banter between Jack and Gary

Jack of Fables #17-21: Americana (2008)
Mini-review: This is yet another get-rich-quick scheme by Jack, which also includes Gary, Humpty Dumpty, Paul Bunyan, and others in the land of American tales. It's humorous and there's a lot of... zombies. Note: I may move this story lower in the reading order.
Zombies, Jack, Babe, Raven, Gary, Hilary Page, Humpty Dumpty

Fables #70-72: Kingdom Come, Skullduggery (2) (2008)
Mini-review: The first story focuses on Boy Blue and Rose Red, but there's also a bit with Prince Charming. Beauty is annoying in this tale. The next two-parter is another secret mission completed by Cinderella.
Boy Blue and Stinky the Badger; Cinderella

Fables #73-75: War and Pieces (2008)
Mini-review: This story is about the final war in the Homelands and overcoming the adversary. There are three war fronts: one led by Prince Charming and Sinbad, another by Bigby, and the last one by Briar Rose. At home, Snow White is in charge and Boy Blue is the messenger between them all. This is the end of the major story arc we've followed from the beginning. I wonder if they will start a whole new arc with a new enemy - or if they will go off of the enemies in the Jack Comics.
Flying Carpet powered Blimp attacked by Dragons; Adversary Warriors

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel (2009, prose)
Mini-review: This is a tragic story of how a young man became the hate-filled Pied Piper. His name is actually Max and I think it could be a reference to Where the Wild Things are. Other characters include Peter Piper (who picked a peck of pickled peppers), Bo Peep, and the Black Forest Witch. There was no Peter Pan cross-over, which was a bit of a disappointment to me. Overall, it was a great story with an unexpected ending. Quotes:

"Most of the farmhands were fable animals earning their keep; talking horses, who talked seldom unless they really had something to say, and talking dogs, who chattered constantly, believing that just about anything that was possible to say should be said, just in case it turned out to be important."

"The trouble with witch trials is that once in a great while you actually capture a real one. And then the spectacle never turns out the way you anticipate. Often the one who ends up hanged, or drowned, or burned, isn't the one in the docket."

"A sly smile began to grow upon her lips. It was the sort of smile from which devils and hauntings and deadly secrets are born."

Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love #1-6 (2010)

Jack of Fables #22-27: Gary Goes to Denmark and Turning Pages (2009)

Jack of Fables #28-32: Books of War (2009)

Fables #76-82: The Dark Ages (2009)

The Great Fables Crossover (2010):
Fables #83; Jack of Fables #33; The Literals #1
Fables #84; Jack of Fables #34; The Literals #2
Fables #85; Jack of Fables #35; The Literals #3

Jack of Fables #36-40: New Adventures of Jack and Jack (2010)

Jack of Fables #41-45: Fulminate Blade (2011)

Fables: The Wolf Among Us #1-7 and #8-16 (both 2014) 
Note: A video game (2013) adapted into comic form by Vertigo Comics and later as a print comic. It serves as a prequel to Fables but should be read later in the order rather than at the beginning. (Another game is to be released in 2024.)

Fables #86-93: Witches (2010)

Fables #94-100: Rose Red (2011)

Pinocchio's Army (2011, prose story)

Cinderella: Fables are Forever #1-6 (2012)

Werewolves of the Heartland (2012, graphic novel)

Fables #101-107: Super Team (2011)

THE UNWRITTEN V9 #50-54 (2014) - non-canon crossover

Fairest #1-7: Wide Awake (2012)

Fairest #8-14: Hidden Kingdom (2013)

Fairest #15-20: The Return of the Maharaja (2014)

Fables #108-113: Inherit the Wind (2012)

Fables #114-123: Cubs in Toyland (2013)

Fables #124-129: Snow White (2013)

Fables #130: June Bug (2014)

Fables #131-140: Camelot (2014)

Fairest in all the Land (one-shot, 2013)

Jack of Fables #46-50: The End (2011)

Fairest #21-26: Of Men and Mice (2014)

Fables #141-149: Happily Ever After (2015)

Fairest #27-33: Clamour of Glamour (2015)

Fables #150: Farewell and Extras (2015)

Everafter #1-6: The Pandora Protocol (2017)

Everafter #7-12: The Unsentimental Education (2017)

Fables #151-162: The Black Forest (2023-?)

Batman Vs. Bigby! A Wolf In Gotham #1-6 (2021)