Monday, April 30, 2012

Book Review: Cardcaptor Sakura: Master of the Clow Vol. 6

Review:  #190
Title:  Cardcaptor Sakura:  Master of the Clow Vol. 6
Series:  Cardcaptor Sakura:  Master of the Clow - 6th and final volume
Author:  Clamp
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  The whole volume focuses on the relationship between Syaoran and Sakura.  Although I would have preferred it this was the volume that explained what was happening (which was done in the fifth volume) it was excellent.  You would have grown attached to the characters by now, and I found myself sad and happy (not at the same time, obviously) at what was happening.  The ending was sweet, and it was a great (if predictable) ending.  I liked how Sakura waited for Syaoran until he came back.  The whole volume has a sentimental feel to it; I guess that's what made it great.  I liked how we saw Sakura reflecting on Syaoran’s reflection, even though it might have gone a bit too long, it was nice to see her thinking about it and sorting out her feelings.  This is a great end to a great series.
Rating:  7/10

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Toy Review: Transformers AA/HFTD Starscream (Leader)

Review:  #86
Name:  Starscream
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  Autobot Alliance/Hunt for the Decepticons
Year of Release:  2010
Size Class:  Leader (Wave 1)
Variations:  none as of this date


This version of Starscream is based upon his movie incarnation, as such, he transforms into a gunmetal F-22 Raptor fighter jet.  It's not the best looking fighter jet Transformer but it's a really decent attempt and considering what it had to do, it's very impressive.

Starscream features three point landing gear, and they all fold down, featuring actual wheels, so you can roll him along a table if you really wished to.  Starscream is big, and very heavy.  Most panels lock together well.

There's electronics here, pressing upon a button with the Decepticon insignia on it, will activate one of two sounds, first one is a plane engine sound, and the second is "No one can defeat Starscream", while the engine intakes and cockpit light up.

While streamlined in regards to the front section of the plane, Starscream has horrendous undercarriage kibble.  It's extremely thick, and very very obvious.  This is the liberty taken when you've got all of Starscream's robot limbs tucked in there and not sticking out.

The tip of the jet is made from soft plastic, that said, it's still fairly hard and pointy.  The cockpit is a clear amber and there's a transparent set inside too (it's transparent since it lights up).

Starscream is covered with molded detail, from the back you can see the thrusters (and robot kibble underneath that...).  There's bronze pieces here and there, which kinda breaks up the colour scheme and ruins it.

Perhaps most surprisingly (for me anyway), was that two missiles were included.  The plug (in the classic G1 Seeker fashion) underneath the wings, and look okay there, but do seem a bit too small.  Starscream also has intricate 'tattoos' on the topside.

A decent vehicle mode that's held back by all the kibble.  It makes him really big and bulky, when he should be more streamlined.  However, at the time, it was the most accurate F-22 Starscream yet, and it's still a strong vehicle anyway.


Initially daunting, but is actually easier and much more fun than ROTF Optimus.  The engineering is very impressive, especially when there is a sound box and speaker incorporated into the figure.  The whole jet basically breaks apart and then pieces are pegged together in ways that surprise you.  I love how they incorporated a lot of the pieces into vehicle mode, and how they unfold.  One of the most impressive features of the figure, and a major highlight.  While folding the cockpit down or up, you will activate a button, which makes a transformation noise when depressed or let go, it lights up the cockpit and air intakes since they're all linked.  Some joints feel prone to breaking though, and things peg together better than you'd expect, so it takes some much needed force to pull them apart (which may damage the figure itself).  However, this is an excellent transformation, going both ways.


Truly, the robot mode is a masterpiece (literally), and this is the mode where you should display him.  Frankly, the jet mode is just a sideshow for this figure, from just looking at him, you can't believe that he can transform into a convincing jet, it's just simply amazing.

There is a TON of detail, which is just as it should be at this scale.  I really like all the molded detail that you can find on him, particularly his torso.  He is screen accurate, and doesn't have too much kibble (part of the wings and tail fin do fold up onto his back).  And the best thing?  He doesn't have that weird fat diamond torso that plagued the earlier figures.

I guess the worse thing, and it's a minor thing, is that the back juts out, or rather, his hips and legs jut forward, it looks really weird.  It doesn't impact anything, just aesthetically annoying.  Starscream portrays the skinny yet bulky look from the movie really well (as in, thin limbs but bulky torso).

The head sculpt is great, and the best movie Starscream head.  It no longer looks freaky or weirdly proportioned, it looks exactly what it is supposed to look like, detailed and expressed the character well.  We can now start to head off to the gimmicks.  First off is a Mech Alive-esque gimmick, pulling out his cockpit will move the transparent seat inside, and opens Starscream mouth, while lighting up his eyes and cockpit, spitting out one of two phrases.  "No on can defeat Starscream" and "Decepticons will crush the Autobots" will alternate, I like how they used two phrases instead of one, which dulls down the repetitive nature just a notch.

Next are weapons linked to the arms, which is really ingenious and fun.  On the inside of each forearm is a small red trigger, depressing it will flip out, on the outside of the forearm, a weapon (seen in the movie too!). The left arm houses a pair of missiles.

While the right has a small gatling gun.  I find that the colour scheme of Starscream is somewhat bland, but the gunmetal grey used is nice and is more than enough.

Another great gimmick is the inclusion of a missile launcher that Starscream used back in the first movie.  When you fold his hand in, you can plug in an attachment, and by the way it's coloured, it looks just as if Starscream's hand has morphed into the weapon, which is awesome.  You can plug it on either hand.

The two missiles that he came with, you can attach one to it, but it doesn't look that it belongs there, and it's best left unloaded.  Plus, you get two missiles, which is more than you'd need.  That's kinda it for the gimmicks though.  You might think Starscream has problems standing on his two small feet, but he's actually really sturdy and stable.

If you don't want to plug the missile launcher, there is a space to store it on his back, which is nice.

His hands are one of his weak points though.  He doesn't have a wrist swivel, normally this isn't a problem, but he hands are molded in such a way that you can only bend his elbow forwards with his palms facing up into the air, it's somewhat annoying.  Articulation wise, Starscream's articulate, he even has a second shoulder joint so that he can flex his outer body in, amazing.

An impressive figure, and frankly, this is the mode you should buy Starscream for, and display him in.  The detail to robot mode is amazing, and with a heap of unobtrusive gimmicks, versatility and poseability.


Okay, this is an amazing figure (I've used that word so much now...), and one of the best Leader sized toys ever made.  Transforming him is fun, but just looking at that robot mode, and what it can do, it blows you away.  Sure, there are some flaws, honestly, you would not be disappointed by him (unless you really hate the movie aesthetics).  Seriously, get this figure.


Various other reviews can be found here.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Book Review: The Son of Neptune

Review:  #189
Title:  The Son of Neptune
Series:  Heroes of Olympus - 2nd book
Author:  Rick Riordan
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  First off, I’m disappointed in this book, I’m biased by the Percy Jackson series, yet I don’t want to be blinded by it.  There are many elements that I personally don’t really like here, but it was still a decent read.  The plot was too slow, unlike The Lost Hero, where there was a good reason for that (slowly revealing the plan of Hera and the two factions of demigods), Son of Neptune is slow just for the hell of it, and if anything, the plot progresses even slower than The Lost Hero.  The first one fifth of the book, you get a feeling that it seems to be repeating the formula, and it’s starting to get stale, you get a guy who’s lost his memories, a quest that requires them to defeat a giant within a time limit (five days in this case) before an important date, and two companions, who each hold their own secrets.  Sounds exactly like The Lost Hero.  Thankfully, the similarities end there, and it gets a bit better, still not super awesome like you would expect though.  The secrets and back stories of Hazel and Frank takes too long to be told, it was near the end of the book where it’s finally revealed what abilities Frank has!!!  Speaking of his abilities, it feels wrong somehow, like it doesn't suit him as much as Leo’s power or Hazel’s power.  It also felt that while I had turned over hundreds of pages, it felt that the story hadn’t advanced that far, the encounters weren’t interesting.  I had noticed this with The Lost Hero, but it’s even more apparent here.  The encounters with mythological beings have gotten far less interesting and enjoyable to read.  Percy seems to have been downgraded too, he’s not the awesome funny powerful guy that’s loyal to his friends anymore, and I guess once you have defeated Kronos, it’s very hard to top that.  I think I have been used to him being the leader of the group, or close to it, or even when told in first person view, it is much better than the third person approach the author has taken here (it worked well enough for The Lost Hero, but then we didn't have a comparison).  Two giants are defeated in this book, you’d expect Percy would have defeated them, but one of them is by Hazel and Frank.  That defeat was disappointing, but what was even worse was how Percy defeated the second one.  When compared to how Jason defeated Enceladus, Percy’s fight just wasn't as impressive.  Last negative I have is that there are way to many relationships going on here, the one between Hazel and Frank feels like it’s just missing something, so it doesn't work well (Piper’s and Jason’s relationship worked perfectly).  Then there’s Percy with his relationship with Annabeth, she was mentioned just a tiny bit too much, to the point where it’s annoying (and not to mention how there are a few other characters interested in him, like Reyna).  It’s just that there are a lot of elements that while it’s not bad, just doesn't feel quite right.  Yes, and the vital thing that was mission was… an actual prophecy for the quest!!!  There are still good points, the obvious one is how Percy is back, but he seems to have lost his humour.  I really like the explanation on how Percy loses his Achilles Heel, that was perfect.  There are many great one-liners scattered throughout the book, and the appearance of Mars at the Roman Camp was hilarious.  The scope of the plot has gotten much much bigger, and we delve more into the world of Pluto/Hades/Underworld which was excellent.  Nico appears again, and we get to see the results of his constant travelling and realise just how much he really knows.  The author has also pulled up very minor characters from previous books into this one, which is pretty cool (but totally unnecessary), and it even ends with something interesting about Leo.  The ending is supposed to be a cliffhanger, but I’m just not feeling the same pull that The Lost Hero gave me.  I am still looking forward to The Mark of Athena though.  In the end, I may be a bit too harsh, but this is the worse book in the Percy Jackson series and the Heroes of Olympus series so far.  It just seems to have lost the ingenuity of The Lost Hero and the Percy Jackson series.
Rating:  6.5/10

Friday, April 27, 2012

USANA: My View (or Review) on the Business Opportunity

Okay, you have probably scoured the internet for some reviews or thoughts on USANA, and by some off chance, you see the link to this post twenty pages into your search engine, AND you actually thought to yourself, I've read so many others, why don't I go into this tiny "what the hell is this site" post.  Well, I was in the same situation, researching about this opportunity within USANA just a few days before this post, and I will post up my thoughts on this whole scheme from the information I've gathered (i.e. read from the internet).  I will try and give an objective view, with both positives and negatives, and no, unlike the 80% of other 'independent' reviews out there, I will NOT be recommending you to this other plan on how to get easy networking leads etc etc at the end of the post.  Without further rambling, let's go...


Obviously, the first thing to start is check out what USANA actually does, if you haven't already, I recommend you check out the Wikipedia page first, and then the USANA site.  Also, I highly recommend reading what network marketing (or multi-level marketing) is about (as USANA is one of those companies) and probably what a pyramid scheme is.  The latter is interesting, and it'll give you something to think about... not that I'm saying USANA is a pyramid scheme, I mean, they've existed for 20 years, so it's not as if they're illegal or anything.  I'm going to assume you already know the basic stuff coz really, you're not here for that.

My Background (Optional Read)

I think it might be good if I tell you what happened to me, so you can decide whether to believe me or take it with a grain of salt.  I may very well be biased.  Feel free to skip this as it's not super important (as a matter of fact, it probably has zero relevance to you).  Anyway, so what happened was I met up with a friend that I hadn't seen in a while, and I saw a major change in him.  For one thing, he was a very smooth talker (even smoother than before), and he was a whole lot more confident.  What's more, he was spouting these concepts and ideas that even I, doing a business degree, don't really know about.  Stuff like 'residual income', 'assets' and 'networking' (well, I know what the terms meant, just not in the context he was referring to).  I was very interested in what had caused this change for the better (well, he was still as arrogant as ever and had a huge ego), so I asked him, and he said he has his own business and that I can come along to a presentation in three days time (it was held every week).  He also lent me a book, by Robert Kiyosaki.  I won't get into that here, but let me just say, after trudging through the book, I am not a big fan of his writing style.  One thing I found amusing was that all the stuff my friend spouted, was from this book.

I did some quick research on network marketing (just those Wikipedia pages I linked to earlier and a few Google searches) and it sent a huge red flag.  I turned up on the day and lo and behold, what I suspected came true, it was a network marketing company called USANA.  To cut a long story short, I looked at what they had to give me, it was interesting, and I was slightly swayed.  My friend tried to recruit me, and I thought about it, and I rejected it in the end.  Now, I am going to give you some factors and reasons to think about if you are planning to join into this company.

Things You Should Consider

I'm going to launch straight in, first, you must have read or at least have a rudimentary understanding of the compensation plan, since that's what you're going to get paid on.  What's the biggest crux of this plan?  Like with many other similar schemes you have to pay to qualify.  First, you pay a once off membership fee (no problems there), but, and here's the key point, you have to purchase a set amount of their products each month in order to get commission.  Their reason?  "To ensure your success in selling the product, you must use them yourself" or something like that.  To me, that's like saying, sorry mate, you must be a customer to us, you have no choice.  I understand where they are coming from, because this is a very big thing to your success, you MUST believe in the product in order to selling it to prospective customers.  My friend?  He is totally into it, hook, line and sinker.  Now, most people say to themselves, I am getting something that I already need, so it's not a big problem, I'm fine with that, but if you're planning to get into this scheme, please, honestly, think, do you really think you need these vitamin supplements?  If the answer is yes, then that's a really good sign, if the answer is no or you've never taken vitamins before and you're fairly healthy, then you should stop and seriously understand what you are getting yourself into.

Next, your actual commission.  You have to watch out with these network marketing companies whether they emphasis recruiting more people or actually selling the products.  Why?  Because if the emphasis is on recruiting people, then you're in danger of being in a pyramid scheme, they promise exponential growth, sure, it grows fast, yet so fast that it could very well saturate the market in no time and collapse, especially for a company that's been here for 15+ years.  Have a look online and I think it says that the customers are 75%+ distributors, and the rest 'preferred customers'.  This means that an overwhelming majority of customers are in the scheme, to me, that sent a red flag.  However, do note that a lot are only 'distributors' in name, as they are in it for the vitamins they take themselves.

The plan is based upon your network tree, the bigger it is (i.e. the more people under you, or you've recruited, aka 'downline'), and the more they purchase, the bigger your commission, makes sense.  So, in a nutshell, you must be comfortable with selling the product.  If you are like me, with not a big network of friends or potential customers, then I highly suggest you stay away from these type of schemes.  If you don't like selling your friends (which isn't recommended anyway as that's not the way to success in these type of schemes), or doing it cold turkey (i.e. going up to random strangers), then you better have a good way of getting some potential leads, coz your ability to earn a profit depends on that.  This is why they say that you have to believe in the product, because if not, how the hell are you going to convince someone else to join? This is partly where the absurdly high failure rate in this industry comes from (something like 99.7% of people fail in this industry), they are in it for the money.  Seriously, do yourself a favour and at least believe in the product you're trying to sell or just go away.

Then comes to the profit side of things, figures can be very misleading, you go to the presentations and all you hear are the profit potentials.  You hear, do this and then this and then this next step and bam, you can earn up to $2000 per week, WITHOUT work.  Please, that is a major lie, nothing is without work, trust me, if you get up to that point, you have worked pretty hard, and you probably deserve what you're getting.  They make is sound easy by saying that all you need to do is to gain this number of points, the usage of points can be misleading at times, making it look easier than it actually it (I'm not saying it's impossible, just hard to the average person).  Also, do note that the average rate of income is $600 per year, which means that... you'll be making a loss since you have to purchase something like $200 of products every month.  Now, the other stats say if you're full time the average is around $90000 and the average of those who get at least one paycheck per month is around $21000.  You should note that averages can be skewed... if someone earns a huge amount, the average will be pulled up.  A better measure is the median but we are not given them, so, think about this, 2.31% of associates (aka the people in the scheme) earn 72.2% of the company commissions.  That leaves a measly 27% for something like 97% of the other people, so be prepared to be making a loss in your first few years or so.  Some other interesting stats are that 87% of associates don't make a profit, BUT, 67% don't earn any commission (probably the ones who are in it for the products).  I'm not trying to discourage you, but don't think it's easy money, you have to work hard for it.  For your information, my friend is actually doing quite well and I have no doubt that he is very likely to be rising up through the ranks and earning more than me very soon.

Walk into presentations knowing that they will only give you the positives about this plan:  the profit potentials, benefits from taking vitamins, how well they are known etc; same with talking to the people at the presentation, they will only say good positive things.  Do you research afterwards and think it through.  Some of those people can be very persuasive.  If there's one thing you should know, there are always negatives to anything, it's your job to find out what they are.  However, one thing I have noticed is that there are two main groups of people, the first one are that they endorse the products and plan wholeheartedly, and defend it to the end of the earth (sometimes to the point of ridiculousness, that's why some people think of these things similar to cults), they are usually the one who are associates.  The other group disagrees and pushes down on the whole thing, even resorting to defaming (which breaks their credibility), they are usually the ones who haven't joined.  So watch out for that as well.

Lastly, and I only mention this because my friend, reading the supposedly awesome and useful books from Kiyosaki (they're the promotional and motivation items from the company I think), thinks that for some reason, having your own business, that is, a big one, the only way to get wealth, and he looks down and despise working as an employee.  To him, this is supposedly him owning a business, okay, I can see that, kinda.  Maybe in tax or legal terms he is having his own business, but to my eyes, I'm thinking, you are basically 'employed' by the company, and this is the crux, you're selling exclusively their products, there's no variety.  To me, that screams you are a salesperson of that company, you're still effectively only 'working' for that company, promoting their products, consuming their products, selling their products.


I felt like I have been rambling on, and I have unintentionally become more one sided and biased, I apologise, I understand, and acknowledge, a lot of people have succeeded in these programs, but it's something that's not for me.  I'll give you some bullet points on what I think you need to be able to be successful in something like this:
- you must be able to find potential leads everyday (or often enough) in order to have a high number of recruits under you (because honestly, I think you earn more commission if they're an associate as well).  It's called network marketing for a reason, you need a big network to earn
- even if you have a lot of potential leads, you must have the skill to convince and persuade them to join you in your 'business'.  For that, you need to actually believe in the product, which will make it much easier for you to sell.  Also, you must be able to take rejection... no shyness here!
- be prepared to work for it, coz it won't be easy starting off

Some characteristics that indicate you might not be as successful in something like this are:
- you're shy, hate to talk and hate it even more to sell products
- you're only in it for the money, and don't really care or understand the product
- you have a small network of people you know, or you can't find enough potential leads such that you have to resort to 'selling out your friends', which is definitely not the way to go
- you're perfectly happy with what you're doing right now

I guess that's it, many disadvantages BUT, if this is your thing and it sounds great to you, it is a great opportunity that you shouldn't miss.  I mean, if I see my friend a few years from now, earning $3000+ per week while I'm still on a tiny <$1000 pay check, I will probably be jealous.  Would I regret not joining him now?  Probably not, as I know I would have failed miserably, I do not have the talking skills or persuasiveness or belief in the product in order to make me successful.  That's my two cents and I hope you've gained something from reading this post.

On a side note, my friend trying to recruit me really opened my eyes to a whole new area, and I found that all this stuff was really interesting.  Seeing what network marketing is, how it works, and how pyramid schemes are unsustainable.  If only I had this level of interest back in school...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Review: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen: Alliance

Review:  #188
Title:  Transformers:  Revenge of the Fallen:  Alliance
Series:  N/A
Author:  Chris Mowry
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  An okay prequel, I do like how they bothered to fix up some of the mess from the movies.  I found that the first half, with the content about Wreckage, to be confusing and I am not too sure if actually added to the story.  I don’t know if it is because I haven’t read most of the other movie related comics so I don’t now the significance.  It was still nice to see Wreckage in comic form since he has a really good design.  The story is basically what you would have expected, and doesn't run too deep.  I would have loved it if they had gone into more detail in some of the earlier runs in the Autobot and human alliance.  This actually felt like a proper prequel to the second movie, as it leads right up to it.
Rating:  5.5/10

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Toy Review: Transformers PCC Icepick w/ Chainclaw

Review:  #85
Name:  Icepick w/ Chainclaw
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Decepticon
Line:  PowerCore Combiners
Year of Release:  2010
Size Class:  Scout with Minicon (Wave 2)
Variations:  none


Icepick transforms into a snow plow type of vehicle.  It looks good at first glance, but like many of the PowerCore Combiners, there are inevitably, quite a lot of aesthetic flaws.  First off, apart from the plot, cab and treads, the rest of the vehicle is robot bits, they do work at disguising themselves as bits of vehicle but you can still pick it up.  There's small plastic wheels underneath the treads so Icepick rolls fairly well.

There's also the obligatory visible combiner ports, at least their bright baby blue somewhat blends in with the colour scheme, so it doesn't stick out as much.  You can attach Chainclaw (the Minicon partner) as a cannon on top of the vehicle mode.  A bit bulky but it works really well.

I love the silver painted used for the plow, and the paint applications are decent.  As you'd expect, this is a solid vehicle that all clicks and peg into place securely, just that there are some really obvious hinges.


Icepick has a simple transformation, I wouldn't say it is the best, but it's easy so it's fun to convert him between modes.  I find that due to the large reliance on multiple joints, they get loose really fast, and this spoils the figure.  When going into combiner mode, it's not too involving and feels uninspiring as it's basically the same as most other PowerCore Combiners, in that you fold the legs up, and fold in the arms and "tada!" it is done.


Icepick's robot mode looks good, the colour scheme works well and just generally looks like the Decepticon he is supposed to be.  The claws add in a lot of character and I like the use of the vehicle elements.

From the back you can see all the jointing.  The combiner ports are still very visible, but at least you can treat them as jet packs now.   Icepick has long arms, but they are very flexible, having a lot of joints and articulation.

The head is small, and it's only on a swivel.  It's... okay, not the best out there, and still much better than a lot of movie (particularly ROTF and DOTM) heads.  Worse thing about this figure??  Too many joints, and too much potential for floppiness, which is just what Icepick is.  The arms in particular are prone to just dislodging due to the way they are jointed, which makes him very annoying to pose at times.

Let's diverge a bit and focus on the Minicon partner, Chainclaw.  In my opinion, the best PCC Minicon out there, in robot mode, he looks great and had reasonable articulation.  He also features a lot of paint applications so he's not just a mass of transparent blue plastic.

He can transform into a few weapon modes, the first one is the vehicle weapon mode as shown above...

...which is sadly the same as the robot mode weapon, now a shoulder missile launcher.  Ironically, it's on the exact same post as the vehicle mode, you can't help but feel cheated somehow.

However, the only reason he shares two modes is because his proper robot weapon form requires a fist hole of some sort, which Icepick doesn't have due to his claws.  So his gun mode is pretty well done... from some angles, as he's pretty much just Chainclaw lying down facing the sky.  Seriously, all these Minicon modes seem half-baked.

Lastly is the chest armour, which, surprisingly, is decent and one of the better chest armours.  I find that the lack of heelspurs on Icepick make him hard to stand at times, but not a bad little robot in the end.


Now it is time for the more imposing mode, the combined mode.  Borrowing the drones from Bombshock, I find that the combined mode looks really really good.  I had to change the legs a little bit, since in the official configuration it feels like Icepick is squatting.  Anyway, I love the triangular chest, just the wideness, makes him look a lot more menacing and imposing.

It's not all good though as the chest is the arms folded up, resting there, yup, it's not pegged in anywhere, so even just handling him will cause you to reposition the torso again.

One of the highlights of this mode is the head, which is molded in transparent blue, what's so awesome is that it's detailed enough that when you have a light source, the lightpiping is just fantastic.  It fits right into the ice theme.

Icepick has a thin side profile, sometimes hard to keep him balanced and standing upright.

Poseability is what you would expect, but have to watch out for the stability as he's easy to fall over when you attempt poses.  One of the better combined modes in the line.


I like this figure, but he has some stability issues.  The dislodging is really annoying in robot mode, it is just how he was designed, and it's not fun when he gets to the point of flopping around.  Other than that, this set packs a great Minicon, and Icepick himself makes a good combiner torso, I recommend this if you can get him for a cheap price.


You can click on this link to access other Transformers toy reviews.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Ruler of the Realm

Review:  #187
Title:  Ruler of the Realm
Series:  Faerie Wars Chronicles - 3rd book
Author:  Herbie Brennan
Read Before:  no
My Comments:  An excellent book, and one I think that has the most intricate plot in the series.  The way that there were so many things woven into the plot, with red herrings everywhere was totally unexpected and amazing.  A few things I could guess, but mostly, I was kept in the dark, which just shows how the author didn't just tread in old steps.  Once you are about a third into the book, it hooks you right in, I couldn't stop reading, and actually spent an hour continuously reading until nearly the end.  It gets annoying how each chapter ends in a cliffhanger, and then the next chapter skips to another perspective but that’s a deliberate style of the writing, and it works really well.  Henry annoyed me when he first appeared, since he’s as useless as ever, but it makes a huge difference that he is not like other main characters with some sort of awesome power, he is just a normal boy with things happening to him.  As I mentioned, the elaborate plot is the main attraction here, it’s not totally revealed until right at the end on how everything is intertwined.  It’s a bit surprising that this is considered a children’s book (around 7 – 13 I think), when there’s quite a bit of violence and suggestions. All in all, a very worthy book to read, the ending was a bit abrupt, but the best book in the series.
Rating:  7.5/10

Monday, April 23, 2012

Negima! Magister Negi Magi Volume 22

VOL. 22

Note:  this will probably be the last volume I'll read (either that, or I'll keep getting the volumes as I see them and not seeking it out as I have been up til now) since I've completely lost interest in it.  To be honest, the story and art didn't captivate me from the start and I'm surprised I managed to get this far.  It's fast becoming a chore to just read this so I think it's time I give it up (you can tell from my comments in the last few volumes that I have not been very impressed with the chapters at all).

196 – Enter the New Heroes!!

It was pretty interesting, as interesting as it can be when they’re fighting.  Surprisingly, they are unbelievably powerful, which seems unbalanced, because on the one hand, there are people out there that is just 100 times more powerful, yet, here, with apparently one of the top ranking fighters, he and Kotaro just smashes them easily, it feels unreal.  However, this makes for quite an amusing fight and it was a good chapter overall.

197 – Project:  One Stone, Three Birds

Oh no, Negi is starting to think about his faults again.  In this chapter, the simple plan is let out, and I guess they’re hoping it works, certainly it sounds plausible.  Anyway, even Negi admits to the huge wall between him and Fate, the person who fatally wounded him before.  I just wished they’d stop ending the chapters with a head shot of a person smiling evilly, it’s just so overdone.

198 – Life-Threatening Showdown!!

The excitement ramps up a little bit in this chapter, not one, but two mysterious guys, it *must* be good.  The fight was actually quite interesting, as was the mysterious guy attacking Negi, just wished they wouldn't do it randomly.  At least Negi put up a good fight and didn't disappoint.

199 – Ako’s Heart-Pounding Examination Room

I usually like the chapters that star Ako coz I find them really funny, but this one was a bit boring.  The beginning was abrupt; I was reading it and thinking, did I accidentally skip a page or chapter?  There’s a cliffhanger for the ending again though, which is somewhat annoying.

200 – Respective Strengths!

I guess you can call this a somewhat interesting turn of events, in my opinion, it’s actually getting boring again.  We get to find out what’s happened to Asuna and Setsuna though, and they’re good at fending for themselves (which is to be expected).  Although Asuna’s rapid rate of learning is rousing Setsuna’s suspicions.

201 – A New Master/Disciple Combo is Born

A funny chapter, right from the beginning to the end, it was amusing to read.  The plot is still not strong enough, and doesn't compel me to keeping reading.  Rakan is a funny guy though, and I can't wait to see what else he’ll do.  However, I don't like the decision that Negi is going to have another master, I think Eva is enough…

202 – All Negi’s Got

Okay chapter, it was stronger in the beginning but when it got to the point where Jack Rakan started making a chart of powerful magic users based on strength…  Fate is right at the top of the list, and wow, he is really powerful which makes his first enough with Negi (and how Negi, much weaker back then, managed to actually stall him) all the more ridiculous.  The more I read, the more I get skeptical of Negi’s power.

203 – Magical Girl Yue

The ending was stronger this time when it skipped from Yue back to Negi, and it was funny at the training he was receiving from Rakan.  Also Yue’s memory loss might be a problem but I bet that she will learn a lot from that magic school and come back much more powerful than before…

204 – If I Coul Be Stupid…

The training continues as does the humor, Rakan is a funny instructor and his ego doesn't come off as annoying.  All the humor does come off from his stupidity though…


A somewhat boring volume, unlike the previous volume where it lightened up the whole story.  Negi comes around in a full circle again taking on another master with more training.
Blogger Widget