Archive for May, 2014

Made it! I have a cunning plan...

I have a cunning plan…

Reviews by Steve turns one today, and I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed watching it grow and change as the year has progressed. What began as a place to write the occasional book review quickly grew to encompass television, and then movies as well. To celebrate, I’m going to review the past year, as well as make some suggestions as to where the blog might be headed in the next. Thanks for reading!


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 1
Pages: 832 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: November 15, 1990

I originally read Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series beginning in 2002 when I was living in Japan. My friend Mike introduced me to Mr. Jordan’s fantastical world, and I was hooked from the very beginning. At that time, there were nine books out in the series, Jordan having released them at a pace of almost one a year (take that, George RR Martin!). A tenth came out in 2003, and eleventh in 2005. Then, nothing. Jordan got sick, and passed in September of 2007, leaving his series unfinished, and his fans both saddened and disappointed. That was not, however, the end of The Wheel of Time.

My reviews of other books in The Wheel of Time series:

Prequel: New Spring, reviewed May 28, 2014


Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 0
Pages: 400 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
Date: January, 2004

New Spring was originally published as part of an anthology in 1999: Legends: Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg. I came across this volume in a library years ago, but never got around to reading it. A few years after the original version, Robert Jordan decided to flesh out the novella into a full novel as the first of an intended prequel trilogy, and it was republished on its own. This is the version that I’ll be reviewing here. I had the book for several years before starting it; however, recently, I’ve decided to give the entire Wheel of Time series a reread, now that Brandon Sanderson has completed his “collaboration” with the original author, Robert Jordan, who passed away seven years ago leaving the series unfinished. Sanderson has, by all accounts, done a yeoman’s job, in the process writing three new volumes to finish the series. Over the next year or so, I’ll be revisiting the series (and reading four of the volumes for the first time), beginning with this, the only prequel Jordan completed before his untimely death. Click through after the break for my review.

My other reviews in The Wheel of Time series:

Book One: The Eye of the World, reviewed May 29, 2014



Episode: 21 (S01E21)
Airdate: April 22, 2014

This, the penultimate episode of the inaugural season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. sees the team in full scramble mode, as they’ve finally realized the depth and seriousness of their situation, and they seek a way to bring down their enemies for good. With nearly everyone reunited, the team can work together – but will everyone survive the coming climax? Click through to read more after the break.

<<Spoiler Alert: This review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E21 – “Ragtag” – will discuss major plot points and events in the episode, as well as spoilers that apply to events in the recently released movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier; read at your own risk!>>


Valar Morghulis indeed. With only three more episodes to go in this, the fourth season of Game of Thrones, there is much speculation about where, exactly, the endgame will take us prior to the nine and a half month hiatus (I wonder how many babies will be born early next April?). Using the books as a guide, there are some speculations that can be made, some more likely than others. Remember, Benioff and Weiss have consistently shown a willingness to depart from the source material, while remaining in general true to the main themes and overarching story. In the following article, I’ll be taking a look at each of the main factions, and basing my speculations on my knowledge of Martin’s books. If you do not want to know anything about possible future developments, and/or you are waiting to read the books, do not click through to the main body of the article: Here there be spoilers! And to be clear – one of the things I reveal below is the outcome of Tyrion’s Trial by Combat coming up in the next episode of Game of Thrones; if you want this to be a surprise, DO NOT CLICK THROUGH!

<<Spoiler Warning: The following article discusses at length events from the third, fourth, and fifth books of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, in service of speculation on what we might see in the final three episodes of Season 4 of A Game of Thrones. Click through only if you want to read extensive spoilers!>>


Director: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Max Borenstein (screenplay), David Callaham (story)
Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, Bryan Cranston
Release Date: May 16, 2014
Runtime: 2 hrs. 3 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13




Godzilla has seen numerous iterations since its inception in Toho Studio’s 1954 film of the same name. He is usually seen stomping and roaring his way through urban cityscapes (most often Tokyo), sometimes alone, sometimes fighting other monsters, sometimes the good guy, sometimes the bad – but almost always entertaining. This, the latest American reboot of the franchise (the most recent American production was 1998’s uneven outing with Roland Emmerich at the helm), this Godzilla plays with the same old tropes, but presents things in new and sometimes refreshing ways. It does pay homage to its Japanese roots, beginning the main action at a Japanese nuclear power plant, and involving Dr. Ishiro Serizawa [Ken Watanabe], a specialist in prehistoric cryptids (mythical, but possibly real, animals). This is – and isn’t – you father’s Godzilla.

[Mild spoilers below – click through for my full review]


Series: The Walking Dead
Issue: #127
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciller: Charlie Adlard
Cover: Charlie Adlard

Fans of the AMC television series The Walking Dead often complain about the long break between seasons – I know I have – but if you’ve been missing your Rick fix since the end of Season 4, now might just be a good time for you to get a taste of possible things to come. Having just finished a major story arc, TWD creator Robert Kirkman and his fine team of inkers, letterers etc. have moved their characters, old and new, familiar and not, into a new story arc ripe for the joining. If you’ve been wondering what this whole comic book fad thing is, now might be a good time to take the plunge. Click through for my review of this “New Beginning.”

<<Spoiler Alert: This review of The Walking Dead Issue #127 will include spoilers from the current issue, but more importantly, will refer to recent events in the comic book series, and thus should be avoided by those intending to read back issues.>>



Episode: 38
Airdate: June 1, 2014
Directed by: Alex Graves
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), David Benioff (written for television by), D.B. Weiss (written for television by)

NB: Click here to read my review of this episode.

The current one week hiatus (and thus two week wait) for Game of Thrones gives everyone a bit of a breather heading into the final three episodes of the season, the time at which Benioff and Weiss have traditionally given us their best, most frenetic events and scenarios. The ongoing story in King’s Landing is definitely coming to a head in this episode, and things are heating up all over the place, even in the normally cold north. Click through to get my take on what to expect when Game of Thrones returns from its brief hiatus.

<<Spoiler Alert: This preview of Game of Thrones S04E08 – “The Mountain and the Viper” – will discuss major plot points and events suggested by previous episodes and the Promo video; read further at your own risk!>>


Episode: 20 (S01E20)
Airdate: April 29, 2014

Under the category of “better late than never,” I’m getting up my reviews of the two episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I missed reviewing while on my family vacation. These reviews will be abbreviated versions of my normal, longer reviews, with more focus on what we learn, what worked, and what didn’t, as opposed to a complete synopsis with commentary. Click through after the break to get my take on “Nothing Personal,” the twentieth and third-to-last of the opening season.

<<Spoiler Alert: This review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E20 – “Nothing Personal” – will discuss major plot points and events in the episode, as well as spoilers that apply to events in the recently released movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier; read at your own risk!>>


Episode: 37
Airdate: May 18, 2014
Directed by: Alik Sakharov
Written by: George R.R. Martin (“A Song of Ice and Fire” by), David Benioff (creator), D.B. Weiss (creator), David Benioff (written for television by), D.B. Weiss (written for television by)

When I said in my sneak peek of “Mockingbird” earlier this week (read it here) that I suspected Benioff and Weiss would leave us on a cliffhanger, I had no idea how literally they, in fact, would (okay, I had my suspicions due to having read the books, but I didn’t want to give too much away). We got some good solid movement in several storylines tonight, and the next episode, “The Viper and the Mountain,” is setting up to be a nice lead in to the final three episodes of the season – has it really gone so quickly? For now, click through after the break to get my take on tonight’s events, and where they may be leading us in the near future.

Note: Beginning with tonight’s review, I will no longer be doing the complete synopses I have been doing in the past. Please refer to my editorial regarding this decision here for my reasoning, if you’re interested.

<<Spoiler Alert: This article is a review and complete recap of Game of Thrones S04E07 – “Mockingbird” – it will discuss major plot points and events in detail, and may contain strong language based on dialogue from the episode; read further at your own risk!>>