Tag Archives: genre: adventure

The Alias Men Review

double_vision_alias_menDouble Vision: The Alias Men by F.T. Bradley

HarperCollins, 2014. 978-0062104434

Synopsis: After his last mission, Linc thought his undercover junior agent days were behind him and tons of boring studying ahead of him. But when supersecret government agency Pandora wants your help, you don’t exactly have a choice. Sinister criminal Ethan Melais is on the loose in Tinseltown, and it’s up to Linc to find him. But while he’s on the job, Linc is snagged by a famous director to star in a movie. Add “trying to impress the cute Hollywood starlet Savannah Stone” to Linc’s to-do list and this mission has suddenly become more complicated. As always, Linc’s look-alike agent nemesis, Ben Green, is hot on Linc’s heels, and time is running out. Can Linc nab the thief, charm Savannah, and beat Ben at his own game? – from Amazon.com

Why I picked it up: This trilogy came back up on my radar when I was searching for a good fast-paced mystery at my library.

Why I finished it: This book has everything readers love about spy novels: action, intrigue, mystery, and lots of twists and turns along the way. What Linc thought was going to be an uneventful weekend at the Baker family reunion quickly escalates into an adventure of Hollywood proportions. Recruited to capture a man of many faces while trying out his newly discovered acting skills, Linc is surprised just how many angles a case can take. “Bond Girl” Savannah Stone’s movie history and industry knowledge proves invaluable to Linc in his mission to make it as an actor and uncover clues that will help them uncover the identity of Ethan Melais and retrieve Chaplin’s bowler hat. Alias Men is a thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that will keep readers engaged from page one and fuel their own secret agent adventures here in the real world.

Other related materials: Double Vision by F.T. Bradley; Double Vision: Code Name 711 by F.T. Bradley; Agent Colt Shore: Domino 29 by Axel Avian; Agent Colt Shore: The Games Begin by Axel Avian; Mysterious Messages: A History of Codes and Ciphers by Gary Blackwood; Upon Secrecy by Selene Castrovilla, illustrated by Jeff Crosby and Shirley Ann Jackson; The 39 Clues books; Artemis Fowl books by Eoin Colfer; Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz; Young Bond series by Charlie Higson;  The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman; Spy School books by Stuart Gibbs; Secret Agent Jack Stalwart books by Elizabeth Singer Hunt

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What’s On: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3

series-of-unfortunate-events-s3A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3 starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Usman Ally, Jacqueline Robbins, Joyce Robbins, Matty Cardaropole, John DeSantis, Kitana Turnbull, Allison Williams, Dylan Kingwell, and Lucy Rush

Netflix, 2019.

Synopsis: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire continue to search for answers about the mysterious organization V.F.D, the importance of the missing sugar bowl, and further discover the volatile nature of people as they race Count Olaf to the Last Safe Place.

The worst was saved for last, as the situation of the Baudelaire orphans continues to deteriorate. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny find themselves at numerous crossroads, both literally and figuratively, as they continue to find themselves in increasingly perilous events. Yet, these crossroads bring numerous revelations about the schism of VFD and the sad story that brought our characters to this moment in time. The cast is still as entertaining as ever and the writing is sharp, humorous, and dark while still leaving room for moments of brevity. Harris seems to really embrace his role as Count Olaf in all its ridiculousness and villainy, and his talent and range are on full display. The audience is treated to a large range of stars reprising their roles in this final season and fans of the books will be entertained by both the parallels and the deviations. And while there are some differences in the translation from page to screen, it still has the same dramatic tone and feel of the books that fans have come to fall in love with. Even though the series is at an end, it will be watched and re-watched over and over again.

 

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The End Review

ASOUE_13.pngThe End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Bret Helquist

HarperCollins, 2006. 978-0064410168

Synopsis: If end means “to cease”, then this is where things conclude. If end means “to complete”, then the story of the Baudelaires may indeed carry on. But that is for the reader to decide.

Why I picked it up: This is the end. Or is it?

Why I finished it: I became so invested in the Baudelaire’s story that finishing the series only made sense. I had to know if indeed there would be an end to the misery or if the poor orphans were destined to be miserable. Given what Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have gone through, it seemed somewhat appropriate that the three children once again find themselves once again with Count Olaf, bringing everything somewhat full circle. They seem to have found themselves at last in a safe place when the foursome is shipwrecked on a mysterious island where the orphans are welcomed, and Count Olaf is the outcast. But when the islanders begin to turn on the Baudelaires for rocking the boat and keeping secrets, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny must find a way to save themselves once again. The discoveries that the children make about the island, the inhabitants, and how it ties into their own sad history is an interesting attempt to tie up loose ends, yet it leaves quite a few strings still dangling. Whether the story is truly ended is left for the reader to decide, a notion that Snicket himself fully acknowledges in the final pages. I will say that it is an appropriate conclusion to the series and while it is open-ended, it entices the reader to review and revisit the earlier volumes to further make those last connections.

Other related materials: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 7) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 8) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Caron Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

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The Penultimate Peril Review

asoue_12The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Bret Helquist

HarperCollins, 2005. 978-0064410151

Synopsis: Very little is known about Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:

  • The books have inexplicably sold millions and millions of copies worldwide
  • People in more than 40 countries are consumed by consuming Snicket
  • The movie was as sad as the books, if not more so
  • Like unrefrigerated butter and fungus, the popularity of these books keeps spreading

Even less is known about book the twelfth in this alarming phenomenon. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:

  • In this book, things only get worse
  • Count Olaf is still evil
  • The Baudelaire orphans do not win a contest
  • The title begins with the word ‘The’

Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

  • from amazon.com

Why I picked it up: Will the tables finally be turned or is this just wishful thinking?

Why I finished it: As promised, things do get worse and Count Olaf is still evil, though it is hard to discern if he has truly reached his villainous peak. Several familiar characters from previous books make another appearance in this penultimate novel of the series, some of whom are upsetting to the Baudelaires, others of which they are glad to see again. I thought it was amusing that the Hotel Denouement is categorized like a library and the repeated reference to the lack of catalog even after the revelation of Dewey’s hidden catalog under the lake provides an interesting juxtaposition to the secrets and lies of the V.F.D. As Violet, Klaus, and Sunny observe the guests at the hotel and attempt to determine who is on their side, they come to realize more and more that no matter how well they try to stack the odds in their favor, there will always be someone there to do something evil and underhanded to nullify their efforts.

Other related materials: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 7) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 8) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Caron Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

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The Grim Grotto Review

asoue_11The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Bret Helquist

HarperCollins, 2004. 978-0064410144

Synopsis: Finally reunited, the Baudelaire orphans find themselves getting deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the V.F.D. and the potential importance of the notorious missing sugar bowl. When their journey takes them back to the scene of the first crime committed after the V.F.D. schism, the children find themselves at the behest of a very deadly fungus that will threaten their lives – and if they aren’t careful, the lives of the other volunteers in hiding.

Why I picked it up: The final season of the Netflix series premiered on January 1st!

Why I finished it: This book takes a definite break from the pattern of the earlier books by being largely devoid of any interactions with Count Olaf until toward the end of the story. I found it refreshing to focus a little bit more on the Baudelaires and their interactions with Captain Widdershins and his crew, as well as some new and old friends that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny encounter; though the danger element is significantly heightened when one of the children comes close to dying after exposure to the spores of a poisonous mushroom varietal, Snicket manages to whip up a rather heroic rescue. The humorous asides and breaks in the narrative fell short for me in this book, which is perhaps what Snicket was going for – he states several times that perhaps if he bores us to tears, we will put down the book and opt for different reading material – but there were some inconsistencies in these interludes that detracted from the usual spirit of the breaking of the fourth wall. I really enjoyed the bits about the codes and ciphers that were revisited in this volume and the continued role that the secret messages play as we near the end of the series. Things are inevitably coming to a head, but whether any definite conclusions will be drawn remains to be seen. Fans of the series will delight in hiding themselves away for a day as they devour the pages before jumping off to the next stage of the journey.

Other related materials: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 7) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 8) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Caron Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

 

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The Slippery Slope Review

asoue_10The Slippery Slope (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 10) by Lemony Snicket; Illustrations by Bret Helquist

HarperCollins, 2003. 978-0064410137

Synopsis: Separated from their sister and hopelessly lost in the Mortmain Mountains, Violet and Klaus Baudelaire must continue toward the headquarters of the V.F.D and hope they will run into Count Olaf on the way. While the orphans are successful in finding both the headquarters and their odious former guardian, they also find the survivor of the fire – a person who turns out to be the unlikely ally they need to solve the mystery of the V.F.D.

Why I picked it up: The previous book ended on a literal cliff-hanger.

Why I finished it: The reader gets some more meat in this book as the Baudelaries uncover more pieces of the puzzle and find more answers to the mounting pile of questions about the V.F.D., which stands for (among other things) Volunteer Fire Department – an organization that, once upon a time, fought fires instead of setting them. Then, the mysterious Beatrice stole a sugar bowl belonging to Esmé Squalor and a schism developed between the members. At least, that is my understanding of the prelude to the story of the Baudelaire orphans. Snicket gives the sense that there is a little bit more to it than that, as the children uncover after they reach the V.F.D. headquarters. I have to say that I was a little bit surprised when I found out the identity of the survivor, but in the context of the story, the introduction of this character seems to make the most sense. In addition to a new ally and some new enemies, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny also encounter a couple of familiar faces: the obnoxious Carmelita Spats (The Austere Academy) and Bruce (who took away Uncle Monty’s reptiles in The Reptile Room). There is also an amusing bit in chapter 5, which digresses into a letter to Snicket’s sister that he has hidden in the manuscript of the book. It doesn’t have much to do with the rest of the book, but it was a humorous break in the action. Amid the continued instances of child abuse and dire circumstances, the Baudelaires seem to survive yet another encounter with Count Olaf using their wits and their faith in each other, which is perhaps the more uplifting hallmark of the series. Those readers that have enjoyed the series thus far will be rewarded with more trademark dark humor and another cliffhanger ending that will have them reaching for the next book posthaste.

Other related materials: The Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Reptile Room (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 2) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Wide Window (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 3) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Miserable Mill (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 4) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Austere Academy (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 5) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Ersatz Elevator (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 6) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Vile Village (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 7) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Hostile Hospital (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 8) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Carnivorous Carnival (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 9) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 11) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 12) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist; The Beatrice Letters by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Brett Helquist; Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography by Lemony Snicket; All The Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket; The Composer is Dead by Lemony Snicket; illustrations by Caron Ellis, music by Nathaniel Stookey; The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart, illustrated by Carson Ellis

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Feature Presentation: Peter Rabbit

peter_rabbitPeter Rabbit starring James Corden, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie, Daisy Ridley, Fayssal Bazzi, Domnhall Gleeson, Sia, Colin Moody, Sam Neill, Elizabeth Debicki, Christian Gazal, and Ewen Leslie

Sony Pictures Entertainment/2.0 Entertainment/Animal Logic Entertainment, 2018. Rated PG.

Synopsis: Peter Rabbit (James Corden) his three sisters Flopsy (Margot Robbie), Mopsy (Elizabeth Debicki), and Cotton Tail (Daisy Ridley) and their cousin Benjamin (Colin Moody) enjoy their days harassing old Mr. McGregor (Sam Neill) in his vegetable garden. After old McGregor’s death, his great-nephew (Domnhall Gleeson) inherits the house and seems to share his late uncle’s views about rabbits invading the garden. But when he starts to fall in love with the animal lover next door, Bea (Rose Byrne), his feelings towards Peter and the others begins to change. But is it too late?

I wasn’t quite sure what to think about this movie, but I ended up really enjoying it. The characters are endearing and charming, though sometimes the comedy can get a little crass (likely for the adult audience rather than the kiddies). My only real qualm with the movie is that it is supposed to be based on ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’. While the movie shares some of its source material with the beloved children’s books by Beatrix Potter (namely, the characters and the basic plotline of Peter repeatedly sneaking into the garden), I don’t think it is a true adaptation (The World of Peter Rabbit and Tales of Beatrix Potter more closely follow the books). That said though, I liked the different angle the writers took to make it a little more relatable to modern audiences. There is a running joke about the contrast in Bea’s paintings (her ‘real work’ is abstract at best while her drawings of the local wildlife (a side project) are much more captivating) that seems to hold up over the running time. The extermination methods McGregor uses go a little bit over the top and the ridiculousness just made me bored after a while. The back and forth between the rabbits and McGregor also have moments where the jokes fall a little flat, but for the most part, the exchanges are clever and engaging. The message about learning to understand others and to ask for forgiveness is important to instill in younger and adult viewers alike. It’s a cute family film that will be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

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