WWW Wednesday – 2018/02/28

www_wednesdays

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

TheLordoftheRingsI’m currently a chapter away from finishing Book One of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (or the first half of The Fellowship of the Ring). My attention has been a little more divided than I’d like, but regardless reading this book is slow-going. I can see why so much of what happens in the beginning of this story didn’t make it into Peter Jackson’s film. So many meals at different peoples’ houses. The story just plods along at its own pace, and while I do like a lot of what I’m reading it also gets tiresome. I’ve also found I’m a lot more prone to being distracted from reading by stray thoughts than usual. The novel is quite rich in lore, though, which I do like for what its worth.

Recently Finished

MansSearchForMeaningI finished reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl over the weekend. I will hopefully have a review written and posted within the next few days. Frankl’s account of his time within concentration camps was harrowing and compelling enough, but the exploration/explanation of logotherapy afterwards gave the whole book an extra punch. It has framed things about life and human psychology in a new way for me that I hope I can apply to my own life when needed. I feel a little awkward at the prospect of reviewing it, as it’s a rather significant text. I hope I can do it justice.

TheVisitorCoverI also finished reading The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed by Mike Mignola et al. It’s a book that answers the question that’s probably crossed the mind of most Hellboy fans: “What’s the deal with that alien guy in Conqueror Worm?” This book quite completely answers that question, as well as a little about his species and where he comes from. The story maintains a respectable amount of mystery on that latter part, however, which I think was for the best. It tells a good, bittersweet story that ties in with the original story he appeared in quite seamlessly.

Reading Next

SkeletonCrewDespite my previous desires to keep my prose reading restricted to The Lord of the Rings, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about starting Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. I’ve gotten a hold of a few of his short story collections lately and it’s high time I at least started one of them. Perhaps it will help with when LOTR makes me a little stir-crazy too. My decision hinges on the average length of each story. I would prefer something that I can pick up and finish a story relatively quickly.

New Books & Novel Discoveries (Feb. 2018)

Well here we are a month later, and honestly I’m a little disappointed in myself for not having written any other blog posts since the last one. I did promise another one of these however, so here we are!

Speaking of my last post, I cannot believe I forgot to mention Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett. Shame on me! It was right there in the photo, at any rate. It’s the next book I need to get to in my read-through of the entire Discworld series; I just hope I can enjoy it in its own right because right now I only see it as a stepping stone to reaching Reaper Man.

I’ll soon start an [ir]regular series of blog posts I’m thinking of calling “Writing Reports.” As I mentioned in the last “New Books etc” I want to start using blogging as a way to hold myself more accountable to fiction writing, since it’s something I have a hard time motivating myself to do. It’ll also be a way to share my thoughts and maybe organize ideas better as they’re laid out before me in writing. So, you can expect that in the near future if you’re interested.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

Movie Review – Black Panther

IMDb Summary

T’Challa, the King of Wakanda, rises to the throne in the isolated, technologically advanced African nation, but his claim is challenged by a vengeful outsider who was a childhood victim of T’Challa’s father’s mistake.

BlackPantherPoster

Black Panther is the eighteenth film released in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), and the second film featuring the character since his first appearance in Captain America: Civil War back in 2016. The film is directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther. Going in I found it interesting to consider it as a follow-up to Civil War in the same way that Spider-Man: Homecoming was; the respective characters both debuted in that film and the events of it directly affect their first feature. Black Panther was in a unique situation, however, as his origin has not been explored in depth on screen before. To many movie-goes he’s a rather new character. Though excited regardless, I was curious to see how they would craft an accessible first film while building off of the character’s first appearance.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/02/21

www_wednesdays

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

MansSearchForMeaningThough I have yet to finish Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, I made a lot more progress on it since last week. I finished reading the entire first section “Experiences in a Concentration Camp,” which was fascinating as a personal account by a victim of those circumstances. More than that, however, it is an examination of the psychology of such a prisoner, how they react to these harsh conditions, and what they cling to in order to persevere (when they can). I should have this finished any day now, it’s just by chance I didn’t wrap up reading it before today.

TheLordoftheRingsI’ve also been reading a fair amount of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m nearly 100 pages into it now, and while that feels like a lot to me without thinking about it, it’s a little scary how much that isn’t. Frodo has yet to even leave the Shire yet (though he, Sam, and Pippin are on their way to Buckland) and it looks like there are some more encounters in store before he finally does. Despite my apprehensions I’m pleased to find I’m liking it so far. The Prologue dragged in some unfortunate ways, but once I got to the story itself I’ve actively enjoyed it. It’s certainly slow paced, but not in a way that I’m having a problem with.

Recently Finished

45MasterCharactersI finally finished reading 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, which you can check out my review for here. It’s given me a lot more focus when it comes to plotting a particular story of mine, as well as a better understanding who my characters are. I haven’t worked out all the kinks yet, but it’s noteworthy that just by reading through it I’ve been able to better form things in my mind. The frameworks for different heroic journeys were a lot more detailed than I expected, but I feel that ultimately the archetypes will be the most valuable. I don’t want to refer back to a laid out structure too much for fear I will adhere to it rigidly.

GodzillaInHellI also finished reading Godzilla in Hell by James Stokoe et al. It was possessed of some surprisingly beautiful and effective visual storytelling, the opening and closing stories especially. The art varied between chapters, but was pretty fantastic throughout as well. The only thing that disappointed me is that the chapters were far too disjointed. It seemed to be different artists/writers interpreting a theme (see title) rather than a collaborative effort to tell a more connected, episodic story.

Reading Next

TheVisitorCoverIt’s hard to say what book I’ll read next, since I’m aiming to really buckle down soon to at the very least finish The Fellowship of the Ring in a timely manner. If I can do that fast enough I’m going to try to finish all three volumes of LOTR without any breaks. I’m definitely going to be reading more comic book volumes as I go along though. I’m thinking I will either finally get through The Visitor by Mike Mignola (I think I’ve listed it here once before), or continue along with some of the new Star Wars volumes that I’ve been neglecting. I haven’t really decided yet.

Book Review – 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Summary

45 Master Characters will make your characters and their stories more compelling, complex and original than ever before.

You’ll explore the most common male and female archetypes–the mythic, cross-cultural models from which all characters originate–and learn how to use them as foundations for your own unique characters. Examples culled from literature, television and film illustrate how memorable and effective these archetypes can be–from “Gladiators” and “Kings” like Rocky Balboa and Captain Ahab to “Amazons” and “Maidens” like Xena and Guinevere.

The mythic journeys of heroes and heroines–the progression of events upon which each archetype’s character arc develops–are also examined. Building such a “journey” into your character’s story will enable you to stop worrying about what happens next and get on with telling your tale.

45MasterCharacters

Like many other books, I’ve been meaning to 45 Master Characters for quite some time. I’ve owned it for a number of years, but my current drive to push my story ideas beyond my thoughts and into words (still slow going) inspired me to finally read it cover to cover. The book largely explores character archetypes, which it defines as the foundation that characters stand upon; a blueprint for the writer to build from that preserves their creative spark. The idea of discovering my characters within this book’s frameworks always seemed like a great way to understand them even more, as well as maybe point out contradictions that I hadn’t noticed to correct flaws in design.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/02/14

www_wednesdays

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

45MasterCharactersDespite my efforts, I still have not finished reading 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, though I have made significant progress since last week. I’ve gotten through all of the male archetypes, which gave me a wealth of further ideas, and I’m nearly finished the section on plotting the feminine journey. One thing that has slowed me down, funnily enough, is the influx of information has had me putting down the book a lot to think about my own characters. So, it’s been great in terms of getting me thinking, but not so much if I want to get through books quickly. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, but I do want to wrap up reading it all the same.

Sadly haven’t made any progress on Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl yet, but it’s rather short so I’m gonna set aside a session or two soon to get through it.

GodzillaInHellI also started reading Godzilla in Hell by James Stokoe et al. I really could have had this finished by now too, but I’ve elected to take my time with it so I could focus on other books and get some writing done. The art direction for this book is really good so far. I’m especially happy that for the most part the book is playing it straight with the premise, instead of tongue-in-cheek. The first issue especially stuck out to me because dialogue and narration were completely absent. It was just this gargantuan, semi-intelligent monster arriving in Hell and scoping out its surroundings. I admire the book’s simplicity so far.

TheLordoftheRingsLastly, I made certain I started The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien this week so that I’m not saying I’ll read it next for a third time in a row. So far I’ve only read the front matter and the Prologue, which have not started things off all that energetically for me. It’s interesting, but Tolkien’s writing is dense and a little dry. The Prologue read a lot more like a history book than a novel. It was good to get a little refresher on some details leading into the story though, for what it’s worth. I’m hoping things will change now that I can properly start The Fellowship of the Ring when I pick it up next.

Recently Finished

Nothing this week, sadly, but I plan to clean out the above heading over the next week to make reading time for LOTR.

Reading Next

I’m honestly not sure what I’ll read next. I have accumulated a number of digital and physical comic book volumes that I need to be getting to, so maybe some of those. I’m thinking that while I am getting through the massive tome above I will use them as supplemental reading material so I don’t lose focus. Now I just have to decide which series I actually want to dive into. There are a number I’ve neglected progress on or need to start and get through. We’ll see!

Movie Review – The Shape of Water

Summary from IMDb

At a top-secret research facility in the 1960s, a lonely janitor forms a unique relationship with an amphibious creature that is being held in captivity.

TheShapeOfWaterPoster

The Shape of Water is a 2017 American fantasy drama directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Sally Hawkins as Elisa Esposito, a mute custodian who communicates through sign language. Her condition is possibly related to the mysterious scars on her neck she has had since infancy. The film apparently drew a lot of inspiration from del Toro’s childhood memories of seeing Creature from the Black Lagoon and wishing the creature’s romantic interest in co-star Julie Adams’s character worked out.

I had been wanting to see this movie for a while. It’s been out since late last year, yet it has only just gotten distribution in my neck of the woods due to a limited release. Perhaps it thanks to all the Oscar buzz the film is now getting that it came out here. Regardless I was grateful to finally be able to watch it. I was drawn in by its openly weird premise and how promising it looked. I didn’t just perceive it as a film about a woman falling in love with a fish-man, but a good film about a woman falling in love with a fish-man. With del Toro at the helm as director, writer, and producer I had a good feeling it wouldn’t disappoint.Read More »

Book Review – Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach

Summary

“What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that’s that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness, persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my laptop?” In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and history soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die.

Spook

Along with my love for horror I’ve always had a (sometimes terrified) fascination with the paranormal. This has felt somewhat contradictory to my secular upbringing, but it’s something that I simply haven’t been able to help. I can’t help but find videos or written accounts of the strange, otherworldly, or unknown alluring. But lately I’ve taken a greater interest in considering accounts of the paranormal more closely. It’s easy enough to be broadly skeptical and give the subject no time of day, but when I hear stories of ectoplasm spilling from a medium’s mouth, communicating with the other side, or children remembering past lives I want a more thorough examination of these incidents that lays all details bare. This is where Spook by Mary Roach comes in, a book that works to scientifically consider various studies of the afterlife to see what, if any, proof has ever truly been found.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Shiver by Junji Ito

Summary

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.

Shiver

Shortly after I finished reading Uzumaki in October (my first experience with Junji Ito’s work) I was excited to learn that a new collection entitled Shiver would be releasing in North America in December. I’d heard a lot about his short stories being particularly good and was eager to get some firsthand experience with them. He’s been a manga artist/writer for a long time, yet as far as I have seen there is only one other book published in English that collects any of them that is also easy and/or inexpensive to get a copy of. Options are limited for now, but this was a great place to start regardless.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/02/07

www_wednesdays

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

I’m still reading 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, but unfortunately I have made no progress since last week. I will be pushing myself to get it finished by next week now, as I feel like I’ve officially lingered on it too long and I haven’t been reading chapters here and there like I want to be with a supplemental read.

MansSearchForMeaningI’ve started reading Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl, the widely published memoir of the author’s time in a concentration camp and his psychological theory known as logotherapy, which asserts that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. This book came to my attention after watching a short biography of Frankl’s life and I picked up a copy last week. It’s an idea that resonates with some existing notions I have already and I’m eager to learn more about this subject.

Recently Finished

ShiverA day after last week’s post I finished reading Shiver by Junji Ito. All in all I liked the collection, though not as much as his longer form stuff. Some of them were just okay, naturally limited in how much they can develop by their length. Certain stories had absolutely captivating ideas, however, and one in particular is easily the most effective example of gross-out horror I have ever seen. It still makes me sick to think about. I will have a review up soon.

SpookI also finished reading Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. I wasn’t as swept away with this book as I wanted to be, though I feel that had more to do with me than Roach’s writing. This book was a fascinating read, but due to its focus on science I had a harder time getting through it quickly and having fun with my time doing so as much as I do fiction. I should have a review of this up soon as well; if I manage my time correctly either Friday or Saturday.

Reading Next

TheLordoftheRingsI don’t know if I’ll regret this decision, but I’ve decided to move forward on starting The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien once I’ve finished up with 45 Master Characters. Specifically this means I will be starting The Fellowship of the Ring, as I expect I will not want to read through all three books as one without some other books to space things out a little. Who knows, though, maybe I’ll love it or enjoy it enough to power through as much as I can in a short amount of time. Either way, I look forward to finally striking the book off my to-read list after so long.