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Score: 5 solid, platinum trophies the size of a Volkswagon

Alright, so perhaps I’m a bit biased when reviewing this book, which you can purchase as a paperback or for Kindle or Nook. I won’t tell you how to buy a used copy, or how to overpay for it, though.

I don’t read romance novels, but this one grabs my attention. It has strong characters, a good plot and pacing, and hot romance action.

The story uses the plot of Jane Eyre, but puts it in a modern setting, and replaces the crazy, secret wife with a secret vampire. Even though it’s a paranormal romance with vampires, the focus isn’t on the vampire stuff, but rather on the developing relationship, and how our leading lady copes with the big reveal.

Readers of this blog can be let in on a secret. Soon after this book was published, some readers started asking about when the second book would be published. Well, I’m pleased to announce that The Vampire’s Wife, Hungry Book II, is being prepared for publication. It should be ready for purchase in about 2 weeks or less. However, you can get ahead by reading the first book now!

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Score: An orange sticker with rainbow stars

These two books are the first attempt by Hasbro to create literature directed at older girls (roughly ages 8+) based on the fourth generation My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. These are chapter books whose only illustrations are what looks like a single clip art picture introducing each chapter. These two books are very light reading, and appropriate for most anyone, although I wouldn’t suggest these books to people who are opposed to advertisements disguised as media.

From what I can tell, the author was brought onto this project because of an existing contract with the publishing house Little Brown & Company. One of the writers for the show, Meghan McCarthy, said in a tweet that she was consulted “for one part of the [Twilight Sparkle book],” and that seems about the only contact Ms. Berrow had with the staff. In the first book, the characters came across as forcing their personality traits into the story – Pinkie Pie and her watch being the most serious offender. Some internet commentators have noted that it “feels rushed,” and I happen to agree.

By the second book, though, the story and characters seemed to be more in their element. It focuses on the MLP:FIM episode “The Cutie Mark Chronicles,” where we learn about Pinkie Pie being “played against type,” as show writer Mitch Larson put it – she grew up on a gray, boring rock farm. Pinkie then uses her extreme will power, again pulled from the MLP:FIM episode “Too Many Pinkie Pies.”

Unfortunately, the Twilight Sparkle book uses one of the plot hooks that seems to have permeated modern stories for children – the Single Point of Failure MacGuffin. For the Barbie Fairytopia films, it was the queen who kept the lights on which kept away the baddies. When will these mythical creatures learn the value of redundant backup systems? Whenever these plots arise, I can’t help but to think of the creatures in trouble as terrible planners, and that they’re getting what they deserve.

On another note, the Twilight Sparkle book explains how Princess Cadence came to be a princess. I wonder if this was the part that Ms. McCarthy consulted on, as it was never brought up in the show. I’m interested to see if it will be referenced or even used in the fourth season of the TV show.

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Score: 16 blue gerbils

The famous book about the Arthurian Legends, written over a long period of time, starting in the 1930s and stretching into the 50s.

The book was not written as a stand-alone story for the legends. Throughout the book, White refers the reader to Morte de Arthur by Malory to read about events that don’t directly concern the central characters of his retelling. Instead, he focuses on the characters themselves, and gives them a deep, rich complexity that explains their choices.

I find it hard to look at the book as a whole, as White divided it into 4 distinct parts, each having its own feel.

The first part, “The Sword in the Stone,” I found the hardest to read. I can excuse White for this, as it was the first part to his epic, and he was still getting his feet wet. Particularly, he has long passages where he describes in detail various parts of the locations as the reader can find it now, in the modern times. It’s almost as if he’s trying to prove to the reader that he did his research. Unfortunately, the depiction of Merlyn doesn’t stand up too well to the test of time. It all has kind of a cartoony, forced humor feel, where you can see how it was ripe for a Disney adaptation.

By the conclusion of the book, though, White shows why the light-hearted beginning was necessary to balance the impending death at the end of the book, where the decisions and failures of the characters leads to the only possible consequence.

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TL;DR: Hits the spot for show fans.
Score: 1 chrome-plated toaster

Lewis Carroll remarked that, “When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly.” And so it came to pass that I read The Elements of Harmony, the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic official guidebook, on the train one day.

My daughter loves the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (MLP: FIM) series, and reads all the books that have come out for it. Now, I don’t consider myself a full-on Brony, but I do enjoy watching the show with her. This particular guidebook does a great job of appealing to both the older fans and younger ones.

The book works as a standard TV show guide book, listing out the major and minor characters, which episodes the minor ones appear in, beautiful color prints, concept art, and an episode guide (seasons 1-3, the only ones released so far).

It’s the small touches that I really appreciate. For instance, the book is named after the book in the show in episode 101. It’s cover is the same as the one in the show, and the first pages (even before the colophon) have the same story and pictures as the book in the show.

For myself, the better parts of the book were the quotes and thoughts by the staff of the show. These come across as really honest, and not made with the target demographic in mind (young girls). For instance, Mitch Larson, a writer for the show, said, “Playing against type is always fun.” I don’t know many adults who would understand this bit of shop lingo.

I also really enjoyed that the only real-world place discussed in the book was Austin, Texas: “Someone was dressed head to toe in this fuzzy costume in 110-degree heat!” Keepin’ Austin Weird.

The worst part of the whole book comes from the quote by Donna Tobin, the senior director of global brand strategy and marketing at Hasbro. She brings home the idea that, in the end, it’s all still a brand, and a successful way to get an old property lots of money for Hasbro.

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Score: 3 bananas

My second Noam Chomsky book. This one contains transcriptions from lectures he gave, from about 1989 to 1994. It covers a wide variety of subjects, from his theory of media, to activism. The book kept an overall focus on the rise of corporate power.

To me, the most interesting parts were his discussions on what Mr. Chomsky idealized as his preferred form of government.

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