WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/31

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

45MasterCharactersProgress has slowed a little on 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, but I have finished reading through all of the female archetypes. It’s certainly been a valuable resource, giving me a lot to think about as well as some new ideas. I will likely ramp up my progress on the book soon so that I’m not taking too long getting through it. The archetypes are interesting, but I especially want to get to plotting character journeys and their differences.

SpookI’m a little over halfway through Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. I had wanted to have the book finished by now, but as it turns out scientific nonfiction isn’t as easy to digest as quickly as fiction for me. Regardless, I’m enjoying the book a lot. At first the sense of humour didn’t really work for me, but I have come to enjoy it as I’ve gotten further along. Roach’s work is quite thorough and really insightful. It’s astounding what science used to take seriously.

ShiverI’ve also been reading Shiver by Junji Ito, collecting nine of the author’s best short stories, as selected by the man himself, spanning his entire career as a manga creator. The art is harrowing as expected, while the stories themselves have a very Tales from the Crypt feeling that I’m enjoying a lot, though not as much as his longer stuff.

Recently Finished

Nothing for this week, though I’ve got a good feeling at least two of the three books above will be included here next week.

Reading Next

TheLordoftheRingsIt’s hard to say what I’ll be getting to next. I definitely want to read Godzilla in Hell soon, which is a conceptually delightful comic book that I came across recently. The title says it all. Hopefully the actual book lives up to how in love I am with the idea. Otherwise, I’m considering starting one of the longer books I added to my physical to-read list for the year. One possibility is The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve had all three books collected into one for many years, but have never touched the series. Maybe I’ll get a start on that finally, since I could put it down guilt free while I’m between “books” within the collection. We’ll see.

New Books & Novel Discoveries (Jan. 2018)

As I said in a previous post, I want to start doing some general blogging about books — writing that isn’t formally reviewing books or sharing what I’ve been reading and plan to read next. I’m frequently acquiring and discovering new books (populating a To-Read list on Goodreads that I suspect will never deplete faster than titles are added) and thought it would be fun to give myself a platform to talk a bit about those.

I’ve also been mentally prepping myself more and more for making creative writing a regular exercise. I need to write stories, my state of mind is just weighing me down significantly. Once such writing gets going, I’d like to use posts like these to hold myself a little more accountable to making progress, as well as sharing some of the progress I’ve made. I’m hopeful I will have a better drive to make good on plans I declare more publicly, rather than something I privately think about doing.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

Book Review – A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller

Summary

Ever since the Jedi were marked for death and forced to flee Coruscant, Kanan Jarrus has devoted himself to staying alive rather than serving the Force. Wandering the galaxy alone, from one anonymous job to another, he avoids trouble—especially with the Empire—at all costs. So when he discovers a deadly conflict brewing between ruthless Imperial forces and desperate revolutionaries, he’s not about to get caught in the crossfire. Then the brutal death of a friend at the Empire’s hands forces the ex-Jedi to make a choice: bow down to fear, or stand up and fight.

But Jarrus won’t be fighting alone. Unlikely allies, including a bomb-throwing radical, a former Imperial surveillance agent, a vengeful security officer, and the mysterious Hera Syndulla—an agent provocateur with motives of her own—team up with Jarrus to challenge the Empire. As a crisis of apocalyptic proportions unfolds on the planet Gorse, they must stand together against one of the Empire’s most fearsome enforcers—for the sake of a world and its people.

StarWarsANewDawn

A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, released September 2, 2014, was the first Star Wars novel published as a part of Disney’s new canon for the franchise. It is also said to be the first narrative product of Lucasfilm Story Group, a division of Lucasfilm Ltd. founded in 2013 with the responsibility of determining all Star Wars Canon. The novel serves as a prequel for the television series Star Wars Rebels, featuring two of the lead characters Kanan and Hera, telling the story of how they first met six years prior to the series.

To be honest, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to reading this book. On my laundry list of new Star Wars novels to read it ranked pretty low in terms of my enthusiasm. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, only I had no meaningful investment in the Rebels series. So, I was not particularly attracted to the idea of diving into its prequel. What I failed to consider, however, was that a novel like this might be precisely what I’ve been looking for.Read More »

Podcast Series Review – Within the Wires Season Two

Summary

The hit audio drama Within the Wires returns with a new story told through found audio from an alternate universe. Season two, “Museum Audio Tours,” tells its story in the guise of ten audio museum guides. Over the course of a decade of worldwide exhibitions, these walkthroughs unravel the complex story of a mysterious disappearance of an artist’s mentor.

WithinTheWiresS2

Within the Wires season two is a fiction podcast produced by Night Vale Presents, written by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, and starring Rima Te Wiata as Roimata Mangakāhia. The first episode of this season released on September 5, 2017, and concluded with episode 10 on January 9, 2018. I may not write about fiction podcasts very often, but I continue to be a big fan of the medium. I love that audio-only storytelling is returning in such a way, distinct from audio books, their creators doing much more with the format to tell their stories.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/24

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

45MasterCharactersI’m still slowly making my way through 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt. I haven’t made as much progress as I wanted to, but I really wanted to get some other things finished instead. I’m still in the midst of female archetypes, a continuously useful section. I’m finding I might have to blend elements from different models together. These archetypes are meant to be a foundation from which you build up characters, so I’m hoping mixing and matching elements that could work together won’t complicate things too much. Regardless, there’s still much for me to work out, so we’ll see.

Recently Finished

StarWarsANewDawnMere minutes before starting to write this post I finished reading A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, the Star Wars novel following Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla from Star Wars Rebels in their first adventure together. Maybe it was because I was pushing myself to get through it a bit too much, but I found it to be much longer than it likely needed to be. At times the drawn out, continual action felt tiresome. Despite this, I think it is one of the best of the new canon novels I have read thus far. My review will probably be up by Friday.

Reading Next

SpookAfter a lot of thought, I’ve decided my next book will by Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. It’s a book I was able to secure a copy of a few months ago after having been on my radar for a little while. It’s a nonfiction, humorous look at ghosts and life after death from a scientific perspective. I’m an atheist (secular humanist if you want to get specific), but I’ve never been able to help a fascination with the paranormal. Taking a look at the subject from this perspective was hard to resist once I’d come across it and I look forward to digging into it over the next week.

WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/17

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

45MasterCharactersI’m currently in the middle of a couple books. The first is 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, a reference book about writing character archetypes and crafting character journeys throughout a story. One of the protagonists in a story I’ve been formulating for years is a young woman, so I’m especially appreciating Schmidt’s emphasis on the feminine journey and female archetypes. As far as I can tell the masculine journey is given just as much detail, which will definitely be useful as well, but I’m appreciating the former being at the forefront of the book. I feel I have the most to learn in that area.

StarWarsANewDawnI’m also reading A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, a Disney Canon Star Wars novel following Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, two of the main cast from the animated series Star Wars Rebels. The book serves as a prequel to the series, so I wanted to get reading it out of the way before watching the show. It’s not bad so far — though I’m only a little over 50 pages in — I just don’t care about these characters very much. I might have if I’d watch the show first, but I don’t feel like working backwards with this sphere of Star Wars stories. I enjoy reading about the cyborg villain Count Vidian, who mechanically vocalizes loudly at people to be more efficient. I find him both menacing and comically over-the-top.

Recently Finished

Shortly after my post last week I finished reading Universal Harvester by John Darnielle, which you can read my full review of here. I enjoyed the novel for what it was, there were great things about it, but I couldn’t help coming away from it a little disappointed.

KananTheLastPadawanI also read the two volumes of Star Wars: Kanan by Greg Weisman et al — The Last Padawan and First Blood — a limited comic book series following the Star Wars Rebels character during his time as a Jedi Padawan at the end of the Clone Wars. Again, I’ve no attachment to these characters right now, but I could appreciate the unique perspective on the execution of the Jedi; the character being quite young when he had to flee his betrayers and survive on his own. The volumes were pleasant little pockets of story that expanded the universe a little more. I especially liked the brief emphasis on Separatists who truly believed in their cause and their spite toward those who fought for the former Republic.

Reading Next

ShiverI’m not quite sure what I’ll get to next in terms of novels; I’m pretty occupied with the two books I’m reading already. I definitely want to get to Shiver by Junji Ito though, a manga collection of horror stories. I was able to get a new copy on sale on Boxing Day over the holidays, a find I was really pleased with. I loved Ito’s work in Uzumaki I’m eager to experience more of his one-shot stories firsthand.

Book Review – Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Summary

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut.

UniversalHarvester

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle is a 2017 mystery/fiction novel set in the late 1990s. The story follows Jeremy, a man in his early twenties who works at his local Video Hut, a dead-end job he finds palatable because it gets him out of the house and makes his daily life predictable. He lives with his father; his mother having died six years previously in a car wreck. His daily monotony is interrupted when he starts to notice a trend of people complaining about “something else” being on the tapes they’ve rented. Troubling, homemade footage not a part of the movie. It’s a premise that I found quite tantalizing, as I’m sure many others have. An effectively simple concept that promises to unsettle, yet you feel drawn in. Despite how this sounds, however, this book is not a horror story.Read More »

Renovations!

Truth be told I’d been wanting to redo the theme of this site for a long time now, the problem was my tendency to procrastinate This was especially the case because my plans had me wanting to do more than just choose a new layout.

As it turns out I was perusing different themes Friday night and accidentally activated one that I didn’t even want to use, which I took as a done deal. My old layout was so stale that even WordPress advised a new one, as it had been “retired,” so with changes happening by accident anyway I decided to get started. I couldn’t just leave it as it was. I guess when you’re hesitant to jump in the pool sometimes it helps to slip and fall in.

The further changes I wanted included reworking the categories going back to day one so that all of my varied non-review posts could be sorted more neatly. Everything now has an organization I’m much happier with. I’ve also used tags to make my reviews accessible from a menu. Lastly, I updated/rewrote some of the pages on the site to freshen things up a bit.

I’m very pleased with the new look, as the old layout was something I settled for when I started and regrettably got too complacent with.  I hope you all enjoy the new look too.

One of my new categories is simply “Blog,” and I want to use it to write more off-the-cuff posts like this, maybe once a week or so. While they will occasionally be talking shop like I am here, I imagine, I’d like to use them to talk about books in ways outside of reviews or the WWW Wednesday posts; new books I’ve acquired, series and authors that have caught my attention, or more reflective/introspective ideas I may have about reading and writing.

A review for Universal Harvester by John Darnielle will be up soon, it has just been delayed by all the time I’ve put into reworking the site. I should have it finished and up either tomorrow or Tuesday. Until then, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/10

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WWW Wednesday is a book meme run by Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

UniversalHarvesterI’m about three quarters of the way through Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. It’s a lot more of a slow burn than I was expecting, the nature of these strange tapes still left nebulous to the reader at this point. It’s a lot more focused on people’s lives, their roots, processing grief, and trying to figure out their place in the world. It’s amusing to me to think that this novel is essentially an internet “creepypasta” turned into literature, where normally a story like this would be entirely fixated on the the creepy premise, this novel is building out its people and their world carefully. Where this falls in my esteem will ultimately have to do with its payoff.

Recently Finished

Nothing yet, but I expect to have Universal Harvester done any day now.

Reading Next

45MasterCharactersAs a supplemental read I think I’m going to finally start reading 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt soon. It’s a book I picked up for reference a while ago, but with my growing drive to actually get started on a book I’ve been building up in my head for years now, I want to use more of the tools available to me to help me make it as good as it can be. Other than that, I will probably start Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller as my next novel, as I’ve got a lot of those books that I want to get through this year.

Book Review – Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Summary

JOIN THE ARMY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE!

In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest book camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy!

StarshipTroopersCover

Starship Troopers is a 1959 military science fiction novel written by Robert A. Heinlein, following Juan “Johnny” Rico through his military career in the Mobile Infantry (M.I.) of the Terran Federation, set against backdrop of an interplanetary war between humanity and a species of intelligent “pseudo-arachnids,” or simply “Bugs.” This is the first Heinlein book I’ve ever read, and the only one I’ve ever been compelled to pick up thus far. He is among other science fiction authors, such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, whom I always remember as important but don’t really go out of my way to read. Admittedly what drew me to this book was my history with the 1997 film adaptation of the same name directed by Paul Verhoeven. Having been released nearly four decades after the book, I wanted to see where it came from.
Read More »