New Books & Novel Discoveries (May 2018)

This past month of book shopping has been a little heavier than April thanks to a trip to Toronto, which has used bookstores aplenty. The only disappointing thing was I didn’t find any of the books I was specifically looking for, but there were some good finds and impulse buys nonetheless. I had a harder time remembering all that I purchased before I got started writing this, funnily enough, because most of these I picked up before the 15th, so I haven’t actually purchased any physical books in a few weeks.

In terms of personal writing (instead of putting out another full report) I hit a bit of a block with revising my short horror story. I’ve made some fixes here and there, but there’s a section I want to alter that I’m not sure how to rework into the story to make it less tangential. As a result I’m not sure I can meet some submission deadlines I’ve been keeping in mind.

Anyway, on to the books!Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/30

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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

TheLordoftheRingsOh boy am I getting close to finished with The Lord of the Rings. I’ve got less than 100 pages to go of The Return of the King, which for the most part seems to be epilogue material. The Ring has been destroyed, but surprisingly there seems to be a fair amount of story left before this tale finally wraps up. I honestly can’t wait. I’ll be happy to finally be able to say I’ve read it, and more importantly I will be able to move on to other books without feeling like I’ve got unfinished business.  I have started debating whether or not I should read some of the appendices, which seem to fill in some gaps with actual narrative, rather than textbook-style information. We’ll see what I end up doing.

Recently Finished

ScreamingCitadelSince last week I read through The Screaming Citadel by Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, et al. It’s a Star Wars comic book volume that crosses over the main Star Wars series with the Doctor Aphra series. It took things in a weird direction that was stylistically interesting, but also a little boring in terms of plot. The main threat involved parasitic creatures, which is a well-worn path for science fiction. I enjoyed the dynamic between the unseasoned, plucky Luke Skywalker and the manipulative and self-serving Dr. Aphra. There was a good amount of friction and cooperation between the two that made the crossover feel more worthwhile.

Reading Next

MovingPicturesI’ve mentioned numerous times now that I plan to start Circe by Madeline Miller next, which I will hopefully have begun by next week (fingers crossed). I need to travel again this weekend, which may hinder reading progress. I also really need to continue reading the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett, which I have neglected in 2018 so far. Next up in the series I need to read is Moving Pictures, which I have fortunately had a copy of for a while. It will simply be a matter of picking it up when I’m ready.

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/23

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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 The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien last week, so I’m on my way to finally finishing The Lord of the Rings. This volume especially feels like a direct continuation of a story, rather than a new novel continuing a story. I’m finding this lends the most credence—aside from Tolkien’s own word—to the idea that this story really was meant to be a singular novel and not a trilogy. The War for the Ring continues to ramp up at the onset of this book; I don’t think I’ve even 100 pages in and Gondor is already under siege something fierce. It’ll be interesting to see how all of this story is divided up, since my only previous point of reference is the film.

Recently Finished

SkeletonCrewI finally finished reading Skeleton Crew by Stephen King late last week. You can read my full review here. It ended on a surprisingly somber note with a story called “The Reach” about community, family, and reflecting back on a life long lived. It does feature ghosts that may or may not exist, but as a more kindly presence as the main character reckons with her inevitable passing. I mention things to this effect in the review, but I just really appreciate how great of a storyteller King is regardless of genre. His frightening tales are great, but his core strength is the humanity he gives his characters and this is especially evident when he writes stories that are closer to standard fiction.

AphraI also read Aphra by Kieron Gillen et al, which is the first volume of the Doctor Aphra series of Star Wars comic books. The series is a spin-off of Gillen’s run on Darth Vader from 2015-2016, which first introduced the rogue archaeologist to the Star Wars universe. I absolutely loved this book, reminding me why I got into these new comics in the first place. Aphra is a great new character full of charm and positive energy yet borderline sociopathic and usually out for herself. Despite her moral ambiguity she does have a heart too, though it often conflicts with her self-interests. The story itself goes to weird places with the Force as she helps her blackmailing father track down a lost, ancient citadel created by a subset of Jedi.

Reading Next

CirceI’m still planning to read Circe by Madeline Miller next, which should hopefully be soon. I only have a couple hundred pages left of The Return of the King, so in theory I could finish that rather soon. We shall see though. On the comic book front, I’m probably going to read The Screaming Citadel next, which is a crossover comic book between the flagship Star Wars title and Doctor Aphra. Hopefully it holds up to my experience with Aphra.

Book Review – Skeleton Crew by Stephen King

Summary

From one of the greatest storytellers in modern times comes this classic collection of twenty-two works of fright and wonder unforgettable tales that will take you to where your darkest fears await. Whether it’s a mysterious impenetrable mist camouflaging bizarre, otherworldly terrors that could herald the destruction of humanity or an eerie-looking child s toy that harbors an unimaginable evil or four college students on a deserted lake encountering something that crosses the boundary of sanity or a man suddenly given the omnipotent ability to quite literally edit his own reality the extraordinary narratives found in Skeleton Crew are the enduring and irresistible proof that Stephen King is a true master of the short fiction form.

SkeletonCrew

Skeleton Crew is my first true foray into Stephen King’s works of short fiction. I did read Hearts in Atlantis last year, but that is a cohesive collection of interconnected stories with recurring characters and themes. This collection of stories, originally published in 1985, brings together various short works from his career at the time, many of them previoiusly published on their own in magazines and other publications. Included in this collection is the more famous story “The Mist,” which has been adapted into a film and a TV series. It’s a novella in its own right, making up the first 200 or so pages of the book, followed by two poems and 19 short stories, for a total of 22 pieces of fiction.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/16

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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

SkeletonCrewOh boy…here we are a week later and this looks worse than last week. I’m close to finished with Skeleton Crew by Stephen King—I’ve got less than 100 pages left to go—but I wasn’t able to finish it outright because I visited home for four days over the weekend, during which I didn’t get a chance to get any reading done. I managed to finish the story “Gramma,” which did a great job of legitimately upsetting me though. King really made me care of the kid in the story, left alone at home with his ailing grandmother, and the way things turned out really got to me. Some details were a little too on the nose as the story developed, but the ending paid off well.

Recently Finished

Nothing this week. Going to have to try and turn this around something fierce over the next week, if I can. I’m going to be balancing it with revising some creative writing, so we shall see. Skeleton Crew will at least end up here by then, I can promise you that.

Reading Next

I’m going to start The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien any day now. Other than that, I might read a comic book volume or two. I’m really close to caught-up on my Star Wars graphic novels.

Writing Report #3

It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these, hasn’t it? A little over a month? About time I checked back in with another report. In terms of meeting the goals I did better this time around, though I feel I lightened the load a little. I’ve relaxed a little too much since meeting the goal, so now’s a good time to push myself again.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/09

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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’ve made a lot of progress on Skeleton Crew by Stephen King since last week, though I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to finish it. I’ve really enjoyed most of the last several stories I’ve gotten through in this collection. I’d last left off with “The Raft” which I knew the basic plot of, but really enjoyed finally reading firsthand. It’s a simple yet effective horror scenario with a paranormal element: my favourite. The last batch of stories has really emphasized how varied this collection is, including a science fiction tale of a pair marooned on a strange desert planet, a Word Processor that can change reality, and a young man recounting how he fell in love and went on a killing spree. Some are better written than others, but I’m really enjoying that how this book keeps me on my toes.

Recently Finished

YodasSecretWarSince last week I read through Yoda’s Secret War by Jason Aaron et al, the fifth volume Marvel Comics’ currently ongoing Star Wars series. There’s some general Rebel Alliance mishaps going on with C3P0 having been captured by the Empire, but it really just works as a frame for Luke to read Obi-Wan’s journal, which recounts the tale of a strange experience a great Jedi Master once had. This master, unnamed to Luke, was Yoda. Years before the Clone Wars he answers a strange call in the Force to an uncharted world populated by warring tribes of children. I absolutely love when Star Wars stories do weird things with the Force, and this story certainly goes to some strange places without compromising existing lore. It’s nothing too surreal, but a lot more interesting than random rebel exploits. I wish writers for this franchise would do this sort of thing more often.

Reading Next

Shortly after I finish Skeleton Crew I intend to dive right into The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien, and then I will be done with The Lord of the Rings—probably forever. I’ve waded in these waters too long. Far too long. It needs to be done. It will be done. Other than that you can expect to hear about some more Star Wars comics. I’m on a roll with them and really want to get caught up.

Movie Review – Avengers: Infinity War

IMDb Summary

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

InfinityWarPoster

Avengers: Infinity War, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, is the nineteenth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Not since the lead up to the first Avengers film released in 2012 has an entry in this ambitious cinematic universe been so anticipated. Thanos (Josh Brolin), the villain of this feature, was first teased in a post-credits scene of that film, leaving fans to eagerly anticipate his appearance as a main villain. Most MCU films since have teased, introduced, and/or involved infinity stones since then as well, all in preparation for this massive crossover event. The cast is honestly too expansive to list; nearly every hero makes an appearance to fight this threat on different fronts. I was highly anticipating the film myself, though cautious about how effectively an effective story could be told with such a large cast of characters in play.Read More »

Book Review – The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells

Thanks to the discovery of an anti-gravity metal, Cavorite, two Victorian Englishman decide to tackle the most prestigious goal – space travel. They construct a sphere that will ultimately take them to the moon. On landing, they encounter what seems like an utterly barren landscape but they soon find signs that the planet was once very much alive. Then they hear curious hammering sounds from beneath the surface, and come face to face with the Selenites, a race of insect-like aliens living in a rigidly organized hive society.

TheFirstMenInTheMoon

First published as a complete book in 1901, The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells is the author’s 9th novel in a career of many. While his bibliography is much vaster than I realized, finally reading this book is significant to me because it belongs to a quintet of his books that, as far as I can see, continue to be fairly well-known to this day. The other four are, to a greater extent, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. These are all significant to me personally because it was Wells that first got me into reading outside of what I was familiar with, my late grandparents nurturing this interest by purchasing three of these books for me. The First Men in the Moon is one that I’ve always remembered but never got around to picking up until very recently.Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/05/02

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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

I still have The Lord of the Rings to finish as well as Skeleton Crew by Stephen King, but I’ve not made any progress on either this past week. I’m awful.

Recently Finished

TheFirstMenInTheMoonI did however finish reading The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells. I’ve had a feeling about this book for a while, and as it turns out it just might be my favourite Wells novel. There’s something so quaint about its notions of space travel that lend it a particular charm. Despite this, he also tries to make it as credible as possible based on the science of the time. The characters are also interestingly flawed and it takes a rather critical look at the nature of humanity compared to the aliens they discover upon the Moon, who are not exactly ideal themselves. The amount of depth was surprising for a book I thought would be a more Romantic tale of adventure, danger, and discovery. I will have a review up soon.

Reading Next

YodasSecretWarWhat I plan to read immediately next is a whole lot of Skeleton Crew. While I can pretend I’m starting another book with The Return of the King, I’ve been sitting on this book of short stories for too long and want to get it wrapped up now. Other than that, I intend to read Yoda’s Secret War by Jason Aaron et al, the fifth volume of the Marvel Comics Star Wars series that is currently ongoing. The end of this slump I’ve been in with reading is in sight. I just need to finish the two above novels and momentum can hopefully pick back up again.