New Books & Novel Discoveries (March 2018)

Well, it’s been another month and I’m happy to say I actually wrote the my first Writing Report post before I put another one of these out. It has gotten me writing more frequently, though not for the extended periods I have wanted yet. Some personal and work related matters needed tending to, which made it harder to focus on writing. My deadline is for the end of March, which I may not hit, but I’m planning to get a lot of it done Saturday, with the hope that within the first week of April I will hit my goal of a completed first draft.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/03/28

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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

SkeletonCrewI’m still reading Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, though I have not made much progress on it over the past week. I finished the story “Here There Be Tygers” which was rather short. It was interesting and a little different than what I’m used to from King. It was rather open-ended and nonsensical, but not in a way that was frustrating or baffling. It quite effectively tapped into fears and anxieties one might experience in childhood, through every day people and (possibly) imaginary presences. I started reading “The Monkey” but some personal distractions held be back from finishing it.

Recently Finished

HellboyTheLostArmyI finished The Lost Army by Christopher Golden just before the weekend, which was both disappointing and in other ways exactly what I needed. You can read my full review of the novel here. Having purchased so many Hellboy novels now, since some of them are a little difficult to find at reasonable prices, I’m happy I finally got through one. It was pulpy fun that captured the essence of the character well while also serving as a fun, noncommittal side-story. My only real gripe, which I explain more in my review, is how little character development actually takes place.

Reading Next

RebelJailI still intend to start The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien soon, as well as “Komodo” by Jeff VanderMeer once I set aside some to get through it in a sitting. Other than that, I’ve been thinking more about the mountain of comic book volumes I need to get through that I’ve been severely taking my time with. In particular are the Star Wars comics I’ve let pile up. So, I will likely be reading Rebel Jail next, continuing the adventures of the crew of the Millennium Falcon after the events of Vader Down, which I read at the beginning of last year.

Book Review – The Lost Army by Christopher Golden

Summary

525 B.C. The Persian King Cambyses sent fifty thousand soldiers across the conquered Egyptian desert to take an oasis city not far from where the Libyan border stands today. According to Greek history, a hurricane-force sandstorm struck near the end of their six-hundred-mile trek. The army—all fifty thousand men—vanished without a trace.

1986 A.D. A British archaeological team, sent to the edge of the Great Sand Sea to exhume evidence of the incident, has gone missing. The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense is sending the world’s greatest paranormal investigator, Hellboy, to find the missing team and discover what became of The Lost Army.

HellboyTheLostArmy

The Lost Army by Christopher Golden is the first Hellboy novel, based on the comic book series of the same name. The book includes illustrations by series creator Mike Mignola. While I’ve enjoyed prose Hellboy stories from a couple of anthologies by now, this was my first venture into a full novel about the character. Since this was published in 1997 there have been nine other Hellboy novels and four anthologies. Interestingly, only a handful of this material is considered to be in continuity with the comic book series proper, which understandably takes precedent. This novel, along with other books and stories by Golden, are considered within canon.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/03/21

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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

SkeletonCrewSince last week I’ve started two new books. The first of these was finally Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. The first story was “The Mist,” which is nearly 200 pages long, so I focused a lot of my reading time on getting through that story. Though the ending didn’t pack the punch of the 2007 film, I liked the story a lot. It’s a simple yet effective premise, witnessing the social mores dissolve when people are faced with a crisis. The monsters themselves were wonderfully horrific as well. With this story out of the way the book will take a more supplemental position among my readings now, since no other tale is as long.

HellboyTheLostArmyI also started Hellboy: The Lost Army by Christopher Golden. I wanted to get it read through over the weekend, but focus on “The Mist” hindered that. I’m about a quarter of the way through. I’m enjoying it well enough so far. The writing style reminds evokes the comic book a lot for me. I was a little put off by how much time was spent explaining who all the characters are and what the world is like, but I understand why it’s necessary. It’s weird coming into a novel that is supplementing a comic book, yet must also stand on its own. This novel is balancing that well so far though.

I’m still in the middle of The Lord of the Rings, just taking a short break from it. You can read my review of The Fellowship of the Ring here.

Recently Finished

Nothing this week, unfortunately. March has been a really bad month for me…

Reading Next

KomodoI’m definitely going to start “Komodo” by Jeff VanderMeer soon, it’s just a matter of setting aside the time to read it. Otherwise, I suppose my next read after The Lost Army will be The Two Towers, continuing my goal of reading through The Lord of the Rings. I’m sure I’ll get through some more comic book volumes along the way, but I have so many of those to choose from right now, with none particularly grabbing me, that whim is really going to be the decider on what I read next in that department.

Book Review – The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary

In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, The Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell into the hands of Bilbo Baggins, as told in The Hobbit.

In a sleepy village in the Shire, young Frodo Baggins finds himself faced with an immense task, as his elderly cousin Bilbo entrusts the Ring to his care. Frodo must leave his home and make a perilous journey across Middle-earth to the Cracks of Doom, there to destroy the Ring and foil the Dark Lord in his evil purpose.

TheLordoftheRings

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is a story that is undeniably one of the most influential books in the 20th century, particularly for the Fantasy genre. There are few tales of swords and/or sorcery that do not borrow from it in some way. While many may view it as a trilogy, it was apparently always seen by Tolkien as a singular novel told in three volumes. As it happens, my copy is a singular novel. I considered reviewing it in one go once I’d concluded the tome, but I decided that such an undertaking was needlessly broad. These were not released all at the same time, so surely feedback on previous volumes must have influenced the writing of what followed. Besides, it is widely considered a trilogy anyway, so why not treat it as such? Therefore, this is my review of The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first part of my review of The Lord of the Rings.

Read More »

Writing Report #1

As I promised, here we are with my first writing report, which will be semi-regular posts updating my plans and progress with writing creatively. I thank anyone who is interested in reading these, though I understand that this is less intriguing than my other posts. I want to use these as a way to hold myself more accountable to reaching my writing goals. Even if I don’t always reach them, if posts like these get me writing more often I’ll consider them a success.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/03/14

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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

TheLordoftheRingsTechnically, I am still reading The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. However, last night I finished reading The Fellowship of the Ring and goodness I would like a break. I’m not shelving LOTR entirely, but it is being set aside while I pick up something lighter. The book really picked up for me toward the end of this first volume. The group’s journey through the mines of Moria was a particular high point for me. It struck a good balance between travel, lore, and action. I intend to review The Fellowship of the Ring soon, after I’ve mulled over it a little. This tome will only count as one book on Goodreads for me, but I’ve resolved to do a review in three parts.

Recently Finished

FragmentsOfHorrorOver the weekend I started and finished the horror manga Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito. You can read my full review here. Unfortunately,  I found the book to be disappointing in a lot of ways. Some of the stories were messily executed, and I often found even the better stories to have some glaring flaws. The author himself talks about being rusty after an eight-year hiatus, so hopefully this was only a matter of him getting back into the swing of things. Regardless, I’m pretty confident that’s the lowest point his work will reach for me, so I look forward to diving into his other stuff.

Reading Next

KomodoMy mind has been all over the place with deciding what to read next. I want to start digging into Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, but I think I’m going to try to read all of Hellboy: The Lost Army by Christopher Golden this weekend. It’s only a couple of hundred pages long, and I’d really like to actually start reading these Hellboy novels since I’ve bought so many of them. I also want to read the short story Komodo by Jeff VanderMeer, which I bought a Kindle edition of while looking up the author’s work. It’s only about 30 pages long so I should be able to breeze through that as well.

Comic Book Review – Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito

Summary

A new collection of delightfully macabre tales from a master of horror manga. An old wooden mansion that turns on its inhabitants. A dissection class with a most unusual subject. A funeral where the dead are definitely not laid to rest. Ranging from the terrifying to the comedic, from the erotic to the loathsome, these stories showcase Junji Ito’s long-awaited return to the world of horror.

FragmentsOfHorror

Fragments of Horror by Junji Ito is, according to the afterword, the author’s return to drawing and writing horror after an eight-year hiatus. Going in I had heard the author himself considered the collection a little below par for him, as he had gotten rusty after almost a decade away from the genre. Nevertheless, I’ve really enjoyed Ito’s work that I’ve read thus far, so I was cautiously optimistic going into this book that the stories within would still be of a certain quality that I could enjoy.Read More »

Movie Review – Annihilation (2018)

IMDb Summary

A biologist signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition where the laws of nature don’t apply.

AnnihilationPoster

Annihilation is a science fiction horror film written and directed by Alex Garland, based on the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer. The film stars Natalie Portman as biologist and former soldier Lena. Her Army Special Forces husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) mysteriously returns home after having gone missing during a mission nearly a year before. Soon afterwards he becomes violently ill and slips into a coma. They are taken by government forces to the secretive Area X, which studies a shimmering electromagnetic field that has engulfed a wide area of land after an object from outer-space struck land. Lena finds out that this is where Kane disappeared and joins an expedition team led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), along with paramedic Anya Thorensen (Gina Rodriguez), physicist Josie Radeck (Tessa Thompson), and anthropologist Cass Sheppard (Tuba Novotny), into “the Shimmer” to find answers.Read More »

Movie Review – The Ritual (2017)

IMDb Summary

A group of college friends reunite for a trip to the forest, but encounter a menacing presence in the woods that’s stalking them.

TheRitualPoster

The Ritual is a 2017 horror film directed by David Bruckner and based on a novel of the same name by Adam Nevill. The film stars Rafe Spall, Arsher Ali, Robert James-Collier, and Sam Troughton. Originally released in the UK in October 2017, it was widely released on Netflix on February 9, 2018. Though I knew little about the novel other than a passing awareness, I did pick up on some buzz for this film that got me very curious. A group of friends getting lost while hiking in a spooky forest is hardly a new idea for a horror film, but I’m always up for a familiar premise executed well or uniquely. This was something the film looked like it had the potential to deliver upon.Read More »