New Books & Novel Discoveries (April 2018)

It’s been a much lighter month in book shopping, though I couldn’t help a few impulse purchases when the opportunity arose. It’s only really been this year that my financial situation has allowed me to just go out to a book store without worrying too much about buying one or two unplanned. I’ve actually found after some splurging that the compulsion to get more books has simmered down a fair amount, which is probably better in the long run. Buying too many especially feels bad because The Lord of the Rings has taken me so long that I’m finishing books at a slower rate than ever.

Anyway, onto the books!Read More »

TV Series Review – A Series of Unfortunate Events Season Two

IMDb Summary

After the loss of their parents in a mysterious fire, the three Baudelaire children face trials and tribulations attempting to uncover dark family secrets.

SeriesOfUnfortunateEventsS2Baudelaires
Image from IMDb

Picking up precisely where the previous season left off—with the characters remarking that they feel as if they’ve been waiting for a year—season two of A Series of Unfortunate Events continues the misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sonny (Presley Smith) as they try to escape the relentless pursuit of Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) while trying to uncover the mysterious past of their parents. Based on a book series of the same name, this season adapts books five through nine, each book split into two episodes for a total of ten episodes this season.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/04/25

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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

TheLordoftheRingsWhile I’m still technically reading The Lord of the Rings, I’ve finished The Two Towers! You can read my full review here. I invested as much time as I could over the weekend toward finishing it and will be taking another breather before I continue with The Return of the King. The book concluded following Frodo and Sam venturing further into the belly of the beast, which I ended up liking as much as the rest of that book despite my misgivings. What helped was focus being placed more on Sam’s experiences, who makes for a much more flawed yet relatable character than Frodo.

I’ve made no progress on Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. Boo!

TheFirstMenInTheMoonI’ve also started reading The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells, a story of space travel published in 1901. The science is not completely ludicrous, following its own imagined logic based on contemporary understanding, but it is absolutely fanciful at the same time. This is especially the case when you learn the spacecraft was constructed by a handful of guys using a coal furnace. It’s not trying to pass itself off as hard science fiction, though, even by the standards of Wells’ previous work. It’s actually a science romance (not the lovey kind), which I didn’t know until after I started it.

Recently Finished

AliensDeadOrbitI read through Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe late last week, which you can read my full review of here. It didn’t surprise me too much in terms of story; in a lot of ways all Aliens stories are the same, especially if it’s a standalone. Despite this I think it was exceptionally well told, adding its own personal flare to the formula. Stokoe’s art is also really well done, elevating the book from good to great, in my opinion.

Reading Next

CirceI’ve got the next slew of books I want to get through pretty well lined up, but I’m thinking I might read Circe by Madeline Miller, which recently came out, once I’m done with The Return of the King. I haven’t read her debut novel The Song of Achilles yet, but a friend of mine is a big fan of her work and the focus on the character Circe from The Odyssey has got me a lot more interested in this novel.

Book Review – The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien

Summary

Frodo and the Companions of the Ring have been beset by danger during their quest to prevent the Ruling Ring from falling into the hands of the Dark Lord by destroying it in the Cracks of Doom. They have lost the wizard, Gandalf, in the battle with an evil spirit in the Mines of Moria; and at the Falls of Rauros, Boromir, seduced by the power of the Ring, tried to seize it by force. While Frodo and Sam made their escape the rest of the company were attacked by Orcs.

Now they continue their journey alone down the great River Anduin – alone, that is, save for the mysterious creeping figure that follows wherever they go.

TheLordoftheRings

My reading journey toward completing a singular edition of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien continues, having reached another milestone by concluding the second volume The Two Towers. Before I started I was mentally exhausted from The Fellowship of the Ring’s meandering nature, despite my enjoyment of many parts of it. All the same, I was hopeful that the follow-up would gain much needed forward momentum. As a small indicator of how that hope turned out: I finished this volume a lot faster. Without further ado, this is my review of The Two Towers, being the second part of my review of The Lord of the Rings.Read More »

Comic Book Review – Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe

Summary

A Weyland-Yutani crew investigates an unmarked vessel in high orbit containing a team in cryogenic sleep, a ship in ruins, and parasitic monsters waiting to attack.

AliensDeadOrbit

Aliens: Dead Orbit is a newly released trade paperback (April 3, 2018), collecting all four issues of the miniseries of the same name. Story, art, and lettering are by James Stokoe. I’ve been a big Aliens fan for most of my life, so when I first heard buzz about this book over half a year ago I decided to jump on the opportunity to read another good story in the franchise when it became available. While there are a lot of comic books written about the Xenomorph—the fan name for the titular alien creatures featured within—this book is completely standalone. Though some prior experience with the franchise may help with understanding the context of some background details, this could be someone’s first experience with the franchise entirely.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/04/18

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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

TheLordoftheRingsI have concluded “Book Three” of The Lord of the Rings, which is the first half of The Two Towers. This section covers all of the exploits of Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Merry, and Pippin for that volume. I’ve got less than 150 pages left to go of Towers, which I hope to have completed over the next week so I can finally write another book review. “Book Three” did meander on occasion, but ultimately I really liked how much it had going on. I’m imagining following Frodo and Sam will be of a different pace, but since it’s looking like it’ll be a lot shorter than the former portion of the volume I’m hoping a potentially slower pace won’t stop me from finishing it within the next week.

SkeletonCrewI’m still waddling along with Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, having finished a couple more stories since last week: “The Wedding Gig” and “Paranoid: A Chant.” They weren’t bad, though not horror stories in the conventional sense. The former is a prohibition era crime story about a band hired to play at the wedding of a small-time racketeer’s sister, which goes badly. It wasn’t bad, but didn’t really grab me much. The latter was more of a poem about paranoia, with the speaker specifically fixated on conspiracy theory related subject matter. It was a nice short change of pace. Next up is “The Raft” which I’m excited about because it’s the reason I decided to start reading this collection in the first place. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

Recently Finished

Nothing for this week! Boo!

Reading Next

AliensDeadOrbitI’m pretty set on reading The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells now, hopefully in time for next week if I can clean up what I’m currently reading a little. We shall see. I spent the better part of nearly the last two weeks working on a short story for a contest that was due the 15th, so reading fell to the wayside a little. In the meantime, I want to read Aliens: Dead Orbit by James Stokoe, which recently arrived in the mail after I pre-ordered it ages ago. I heard some light buzz about it and that was enough for me to give it a look. Will probably post a comic book review of that once I’m done.

Movie Review – A Quiet Place

IMDb Summary

A family is forced to live in silence while hiding from creatures that hunt by sound.

AQuietPlacePoster

A Quiet Place is a 2018 horror film directed by and starring John Krasinski. He plays Lee Abbott alongside his real-life wife Emily Blunt, who plays Evelyn Abbott. The two are devoted parents who work hard to raise their two children in a world terrorized by blind yet dangerous creatures that hunt with highly acute hearing. I remember seeing trailers for this film long before it came out, and my expectations were actually considerably below the reality of what this movie is. It did look intriguing, but knowing the ways a lot of mainstream horror films get made I was expecting this to be a run-of-the-mill post-apocalyptic survival film with a gimmick. I couldn’t be happier with being dead wrong.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/04/11

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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

TheLordoftheRingsI started reading The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien last week and as I anticipated I’m enjoying it lot more than The Fellowship of the Ring. I’ve already read until the end of the battle of Helm’s Deep. There’s been a lot more forward momentum with the story that has kept me more interested. I’ve also really liked the way the story has jumped between Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursuing orcs and ending up in Rohan and Merry and Pippin escaping their orc captors and meeting the Ents. It mixed things up nicely. I hope I still enjoy it all when I catch back up with Frodo. I’d be a shame if focus on him was the problem I had with the first book.

SkeletonCrewI’ve continued along with Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, though at a slower pace thanks to picking of LOTR again. I may power through it after I conclude The Two Towers, just so it’s not lingering around too long. I’m still disappointed with how few books I’ve finished since March started. The only story I’ve read since last week is “The Jaunt,” which is a fantastic science fiction story about the horrors of teleportation. The payoff was expected but I really enjoyed the build up and the execution was great.

Recently Finished

Shortly after my post last week I finished reading “Komodo” by Jeff VanderMeer, which you can read my full review of here. It’s a rather short work, so I don’t have much more to say about here, other than it was a wonderfully weird ride and I liked the way it started to make sense by the end.

LastFlightOfTheHarbingerI also read Last Flight of the Harbinger by Jason Aaron et al, which is the 4th volume of the new Marvel Comics Star Wars series. I’m becoming a little disappointed with how unfocused these stories have been on the characters themselves over the last couple of books. I suppose that makes sense, though. Luke and company’s most important development takes place in the films, so the most logical place to shift focus to is the adventures they have. I just wish said adventures were more interesting. A special forces group of Stromtroopers called SCAR squadron is featured that offered a unique look at the Imperial perspective, which I did really like, as well as another chapter about Obi-Wan’s days as a hermit on Tatooine.

Reading Next

TheFirstMenInTheMoonI want to reading something short before I begin The Return of the King, so I’ve been thinking either The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells or The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham. I’m in the mood for some older science fiction. It’ll probably be the former of the two; it’s been a while since I read anything by Wells. I only mention both because there’s always a chance I’ll change my mind. I may not even pick either of the two. I’m pretty sure whatever it is it’ll be science fiction though.

Movie Review – Pacific Rim Uprising

Summary from IMDb

As a war between humankind and monstrous sea creatures wages on, a former pilot and a trainee are paired up to drive a seemingly obsolete special weapon in a desperate effort to save the world from the apocalypse.

PacificRimUprisingPoster

Pacific Rim Uprising is a science fiction action film directed by Steven S. DeKnight and starring John Boyega as Jake Pentecost, the son of Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) from the first film. 10 years have passed, with Earth having enjoyed relative peace since the sealing of the breach, an act that stopped the monstrous Kaiju from invading. Through a series of mishaps trying to sell machine parts on the black market—salvaged from Jaegers, the giant robots that humanity used to fight the Kaiju—Jake is forced to rejoin the Pan-Pacific Defense Corps (PPDC) to instruct new recruits as Jaeger pilots. An attack from a powerful rogue Jaeger reveals that times are not as peaceful as they thought and that a plot is brewing to restart the Kaiju invasion once again.Read More »