Archive for category books

Things I’m excited about right now…

So there are a number of little things that I’m excited about to different degrees that I wanted to share with you all.

Season 3 of Glee

I love the first season of Glee. I was hooked from the very first episode…well OK from this moment onward…

And I won’t lie, while I enjoyed season 2, I didn’t enjoy it as much as season 1. There were some truly great episodes of TV in there, but I discovered two things. While I agree with many aspects of their social agenda, they got a little heavy-handed with it in season 2. Secondly, and last night’s season premier drove this point home for me, their song choices can really turn me off to an episode. I’m not as big a fan of their Broadway songs when they do them.

However, I’m still super excited for season 3 of Glee. Last night’s episode hit a lot of great points for me that felt more like season 1, but it still wasn’t a home run. Was it just me or did it seem like half the episode went by before anyone sang anything? I really think it would have been better if they’d found a way to knock our socks off musically in the first 10-15 minutes.

That all said. I’m a Gleek. I’m still willing to give it a chance every week. Not in small part because of…

Lea Michele

Not everyone loves Lea Michele or her character Rachel Berry, but I’ve been a little smitten with her since the first episode. I’ll admit, her character can be a little annoying, but more often than not I just enjoy her antics. I know it’s her last season, and that’s sad. I think the show can go on without her though.

And oh yea…

Heather Morris

I think Heather Morris is the best thing to come out of Glee. Period. I know I put a “.” there, but it deserved extra emphasis. Her character started out as a back ground cheerleader that they brought in mostly to fill some space in the back ground, because she’s sexy and she can dance. But damn if her character Brittany hasn’t become one of my favorites in the whole show. Her wonderfully moronic little one liners are some of my favorite moments in the series. That and it’s just great to watch her move. Especially in those little cheerleader skirts. Sigh.

Jericho Season 3 Graphic Novel

BOOOM!

Did you watch Jericho when it was on TV? No? Well don’t feel too bad. Not many people did, that’s why it got cancelled. Twice.

That’s a rare honor really. The show was pretty much cancelled after season 1, but it’s one of the few fan driven movements to save a show that actually paid off. We got a 2nd season out of CBS (thank Science it wasn’t on FOX).

I really liked the series, and I don’t think it’s cancellation was due to being a bad show. I think it was a tough premise to sell at the time, too close to 9/11 still, it bummed a lot of people out or scared them. Nuclear blasts destroying most major American cities just hit a little close to home. I think if it had been on a network like SyFy or AMC the series might have survived to grow some real legs though. Alas the series ended on a horrible cliff hanger…or so I thought.

It’s one of the few series I’ve been able to introduce my fiancĂ©e to on the sly and have her actually enjoy. She and I don’t always share taste in shows, so I take it as a little challenge to secretly pick something I think she might like when she gives me full control over the TV. I pick something I think will manage to suck her in when she’s not paying attention, with the hope that when the episode ends she looks and me and goes “What happens next?” or “Can we watch another?” Jericho did that to her. Victory!

Anyways, my inspiration to introduce her to the show came from stumbling upon the graphic novel for season 3 of Jericho in a book store not long ago. I hadn’t heard about the series being continued in comic book form, and almost did a little dance in the store when I did. Joss Whedon has used this medium to great success (in my opinion) to continue Buffy, Angel and Firefly in comic book form after their respective series were cancelled. Considering how season 2 ended, I had shoved Jericho into the dark part of my brain where I put TV shows that end with loose ends. I can’t think about them too much without going into some horrible unfulfilled recursive loop. So knowing that I might actually get some resolution is just wonderful.

Tears of the Sun

On that very same trip to the bookstore I discovered S.M. Stirling’s latest book “Tears of the Sun” is out in the Emberverse series. I’m excited about its release, mostly because I’ve read and enjoyed so many of the earlier books in the series that I would feel incomplete if I didn’t read this one. However, I have to say, I was a little bored by the last book “High King of Montival” and so far TotS isn’t shaping up much better. The hero’s in the series are just a little too perfect now. They’ve stopped making mistakes or having flaws, and that’s just disappointing and a little boring. That and S.M. Stirling has developed this horrible habit in his book of having his characters finish sentences and thoughts for one another, over using the phrase “as if he could read’s mind’blah blah blah'” No really, it happens a lot now. He does it especially with characters that are friends or family or close allies to show that the two people really know or understand one another, but he does it all the fucking time and it’s just lazy and stupid. That said, I aggravatingly love the world he’s created for his characters, a world that exists in the rotted out skeleton of our own. I just wish he wasn’t making Mary Sue’s and Larry Stu’s out of every single character, and use the same lame litterary technique to have them all relate to one another. I’ll still read the book. I’ll probably even enjoy parts of it. So there you have it.

Doctor Who
Doctor Who has had an amazing season! It’s almost over now, but hot damn it has been a fun ride. The 11th Doctor Era has really come into its own with a truly distinctive flair of story telling. Not only is the cast and characters totally different, but the visual style and writing is totally unique from earlier seasons. Every episode is an amazing rollercoaster ride. This week’s The God Complex was a masterful work, it certainly didn’t hurt that the story took place in a twisted hotel. With a room to terrify anyone and everyone, but what was in the Doctor’s room!?! What really earned the Doctor a spot in this entry is after this season, I’m dying to see what the finale has to hold for us.

Miscellaneous Game Night
My D&D Game night has moved to Fridays for a variety of scheduling reasons, but several of the table members still had Tuesdays free. So we’re starting a fresh tradition of having a non-D&D miscellaneous game night, where we get together and play nerdy games. The two newest games for our group being “Munchkin” and “Zombies!!”. Both games are original, unique, and totally nerdy. I highly recommend either of them. In fact as I write this, I realize I should probably add a page to this blog for nerdy games I recommend.

Munchkin is a card game great for any D&D player that doesn’t mind poking fun and their own beloved game. It takes the D&D power gaming extremism to ridiculous and hilarious heights. The tag line for the game is “Kill the Monster, Steal the Treasure, Stab Your Buddy in the Back.” and that pretty much describes the game in a nut shell. I picked up the basic set of Munchkin a few weeks ago, and we’ve only played a couple of hands, but at this point I’ve picked up just about every expansion of Munchkin, and might do the same for the spin-off series. It was just that much fun. I know this isn’t a new game. I know it’s been out there for a long time now. But it’s new to our table, and I’m sure there are other groups out there that haven’t ventured into its shallow depths yet. It’s a great game for your D&D table to play at the beginning of the night while you’re waiting for people to arrive, or a great game to play at the end of the night when you’re just looking to wrap things up. We’ve only gotten 3 people playing at once so far, but I’m looking forward to getting a much bigger table. The box says a maximum of 6, but now that I’ve added the expansions to the base set, I don’t see why that needs to hold true.

Zombies!! is another game that’s been out there for a while, but that I’ve just recently discovered and our table already loves. It’s a hybrid card/board game. You’re playing a group of human survivors in a city over run by zombies. You’re on the run, desperately searching for supplies and the elusive helipad where a rescue chopper awaits. The game works off of two very distinct decks of cards, the Map cards which each player draws each turn and lays down. This forms your board for your human survivors to move on and the map of the city you’re stuck in. This way, every time you play the map is randomly generated. I think it fairly represents the desperate sprint through a city for survival, where with all the monsters, horror, and adrenaline you don’t really know where everything is, even though it could be a city you know well. The other deck of cards are special action cards that let you get bonuses of various sorts, and sometimes screw with other players in the race to the helipad. We’ve only played with the basic set so far. I’ve purchased the first expansion, but we haven’t incorporated it yet. To be honest, my only complaint about the game, is they could do a better job of spelling out the rules for us. Even as regular table top gamers, it’s taken some work to really figure out the mechanics of the game so that we know we’re playing right. Often this has required us to go online and check for errata or the game’s FAQ. I guess you could call that the learning curve, and I just wish the rules were a little bit more clear from the get go. Other than that we love the game and I think I’ll probably invest in the other expansions of Zombies and maybe even into the two spin offs, Humans!! and Martians!!.

Anyway, this wraps up this post for the day. I probably could have broken it into several smaller posts, I know there are several disparate topics here, but that’s not really my style to split stuff up. It just makes my search engine results way more confusing for people….

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Book Review – Jim Butcher’s Ghost Story

Die alone....

So I’ve been meaning to write this review for awhile, I kind of a did a little mini review of it when I first started reading, but I’ve been finished for awhile and it’s had time to digest for me. I imagine there will be spoilers, so you have been warned.

Overall score: 8/10 Pentacles

The book was another great Dresden adventure, but I don’t think it will go down in the records as my favorite in the series. But it was hardly a failure. I spent half the book yelling at the pages wishing I was some kind of speed reader because there were so many questions to answer and they were all dragging out so slowly. Harry spent a lot of time alone and isolated from his allies in this book, and that’s not terribly unique, he practically had no allies in Book 1: Storm Front, but at the same time it was frustrating because on top of that he was incorporeal and unable to interact with the world around him. He’s a ghost and in the Dresdenverse only insane ghosts can physically interact with the mortal world, sane ghosts can only interact with certain magically gifted individuals and other spirits or magical creatures. So it was a central challenge of the book for Harry to over come, not being able to just blow shit up, kick down doors, and burn down buildings.

Harry’s Chicago and the rest of the world has also been turned upside down as a direct result of his actions in Changes when he destroyed the Red Court, but also as a result of his absence for the 6 months after his death. Murphy is even more beat up and demoralized since we last saw her, she’s lost her badge and has been forced to ally herself with the king of crime John Marcone and occasionally the White Court of Vampires too. She hasn’t taken up one of the Swords of the Cross yet, but I think that’s coming down the tunnel for her. I also think Michael eldest son, Daniel is bound to end up with his father’s sword here in short order, which I think would be fitting and great to see unfold. I wanted to see more of Michael, which we actually saw zero of him in this book, but we did learn that Maggie (Harry’s daughter) is living with the Carpenters now which made me very happy. It was totally fitting and within character for both Michael, Charity, and Father Forthill that Maggie would be sent to live with them and their secret service detail of guardian Angels when Harry couldn’t take the girl himself. When Molly developed magical abilities, Harry not only took her as an apprentice, he put his life on the line to do so, the Carpenters are the perfect guardians for Maggie.

I didn’t get to see enough of Michael, Thomas or Mouse in this book and that was very frustrating. All of those characters had very legitimate reasons to be absent, and we at least got to see Mouse and Thomas by the end. BTW good on Justine for finally figuring out a loop hole in the whole White Vampire’s weakness to True Love thing. It’s just the sort of thing that could bring Thomas back out of the darkness and onto the side of Good again. I’m really surprise Bob’s nasty dirty mind didn’t think of that solution, a kinky threesome is right up the skull’s alley of thought. I deducted star because I missed these characters so much. Also, not that I missed him, but John Marcone was sure talked about a lot considering he never got any screen time. What the hell is that bastard up to?

Speaking of Bob! Oh. My. Science! It was awesome getting this one chance for Harry to be inside Bob’s skull and see the spirit’s “home” in a sense. We did get to learn lots of awesome little bits about Bob in this book and that was very cool. Also it was very interesting to see Bob and Butters partnered up, Bob being an insane resource into all things magical (and now that he can tap into the EM spectrum and get the internet pretty soon it’ll just be all things period), but Butters being a pure mortal was still able to utilize him, and in some cases in better ways then Harry ever did.

Also, I think it’s awesome that Mort Lindquist has turned out to be much more of a supernatural heavy hitter. I love the idea that while Harry has been out running around Chicago, that Morty could have been running around having his own insane adventures that Harry was never aware of.

In a lot of ways this book was about Harry’s supporting cast, Murphy, Butters, Molly, Billy & the Alphas, becoming the new champions of Chicago’s supernatural world. Which considering Harry really isn’t out of the woods yet, is a good thing. It’s also made some of them into Bad Ass Mo Fo’s. And being inside Molly’s mind and to find out she’s a classic Trekkie at heart….I just wish this was a TV show (done right this time) so we could see what ever sexy actress they cast as Molly running around in classic series mini-skirt uniforms. Sigh. I’m sure my imagination is letting me down somehow…

It was also very gratifying that Kincaid turned out to be the trigger man in the end, as we had all suspected all along, but to have Harry turn out to be the architect of his own murder was just brilliant! I don’t think anyone could have seen that coming. Or at least I didn’t. We all knew that Harry had a record of cheating his way out of deals with the Fey, but this was a masterful stroke. However, I think Mab cheated some how, the Winter Knight is supposed to serve until death. I know that since his body never actually died it doesn’t seem to have qualified, but hells bells she’s a bitch! Even for a faerie!

I actually deducted a star for the ending. Really another…maybe not cliff hanger…but open ended ending? Up until Changes, most of the Dresden books all wrapped up pretty well be the end. There were some story points that stretched from one book to another, but they didn’t make contemplating an entire year until the next book seem an unbearable proposition. Now Harry is off to the Winter Court with Queen Mab, and he’s still the Winter Knight. I know this is Harry’s life and it kind of makes sense, but that’s just gods damn unfair! For Harry and the readers damn it. It was just disappointing to get to another open ended ending of another Dresden book. I accepted it from Changes, although it was very frustrating at the time. It’s going to be a bit souring if this starts happening with every installment. Especially if Jim Butcher get’s in the habit of falling behind on his publishing schedules and making us wait more than a year. He managed to do a 12 month release on his other Dresden Books when he was still writing Codex Alera, I don’t think Ghost Story warranted the extra 4ish month wait time personally.

I haven’t listened to the Audiobook and it may skew my score further one way or another. Although there isn’t much room to go up. But I’ll probably do that next. After I finish the 3rd Game of Thrones audiobook. I also think I’m due for a Hotel Business type post relatively soon.

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Well hello Monday. We meet at last…

Mondays are my Fridays. I think I mentioned that before. Meaning I have the next 2 days off after I finally get off work tonight. Other managers had vacation requests to cover, so I ended up having a 6 day work week this week, and it’s dragging on me a little. Meaning I’m looking forward to my afternoon of video game playing tomorrow even more. And of course, finishing Ghost Story. I breezed through the first 50% over my last weekend, but I just don’t get much of a chance to read during the week. I’ve got about 25% left though, and I’ve stopped shaking with anticipation as I try to read which really speeds up the process. The book hasn’t gotten any less intense, I’ve just settled in for the ride finally.

D&D night is also this Tuesday which since I don’t play weekly anymore, just every other week, I look forward to tremendously. Our gaming group is actually large enough that we had to break into two separate groups on alternating weeks, and over half the time our main DM is the DM for both tables. And he don’t double dip into the writing, he does entirely separate campaigns for both nights, although he does recycle old campaigns periodically. Which is kind of fun even for those of us that haven’t been in the group the whole time and played those games before. It’s kinda cool to know that the campaign he’s running has a history and a past to it, and that the story has been essentially drafted and redrafted multiple times, refining and improving it each time.

The last few days at work have been pretty smooth all things told. After Friday everything just seems like a cakewalk. And today brought unforeseen but possibly very awesome career considerations my way. I don’t want to jinx anything by posting in more detail then that, because it is still in a very speculative and hypothetical sphere, but if nothing else I’m taking what has come up as a tremendous compliment.

I’m most of the way through the audiobook for Clash of Kings, the sequel to Game of Thrones. I’ve enjoyed it over all. The world that Martin has created is just so rich and thorough, and world building is a particular aspect that I’ve always enjoyed when trying to write fantasy, sci-fi, and D&D campaigns myself. However, I feel a little more disconnected from this book then the first, and I’m not entirely sure why. Part of it could certainly be, that I don’t have the TV series playing in the back of my mind as I listen. I don’t think that’s entirely it, the story just seems more disjointed. The author switches character perspective every chapter generally because the story is so vast and taking place in so many different places around the world. The cast of characters has grown, the scope of the story has grown, and as a result much more time goes by between each character’s POV and the continuation of the their part of the story. That process makes it so that I can’t get attached to any particular character and slows down what little action there is. I’m not saying it’s a bad book, but I don’t know if I would have the patience to get through it if I was actually reading each page, and not having it read to me as I drive. And all that said, after the amazing job they did with the first season of the show, I can very much see how this book will translate perfectly into the medium, so long as HBO gives them the budget to produce it as faithfully as the first. I love that the development and continual improvement of CGI has made it possible for such shows to exist. And that HBO can throw boobs around on TV willy-nilly.

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Ghost Story is here!

Warning Spoilers to Ghost Story by Jim Butcher may lay ahead of you in this post!

Harry is back!...kinda

I get a lot of my “reading” done via audiobook these days. It lets me get through so many of the books I want to read during time that would normally be consumed driving in the car. And really a well produced audiobook is quite delightful to consume.

There are books that I do make a point of actually reading however. The top among them being Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books. The most recent of which, Ghost Story, (finally) came out today! I bought it on Amazon and paid for the 2 day shipping because they promised I would have it on release date. And it worked out perfectly.

I was in the midst of playing a new video game (Spider Man Shattered Dimensions) a game which I’ve been thoroughly enjoying since purchasing yesterday. So oddly enough I didn’t dive in immediately. The Dresden books normally come out in April, and despite the massive cliff hanger of Changes I petulantly decided that Harry Dresden could wait a few hours. He’s dead after all.

I also knew that once I started reading I wouldn’t be good for much else today. I’ve been so eager to read this book since the last one that finally having it in my hands is causing me to tremble with anticipation! I’m 48 pages in and finally coming up for air for the first time, and will no doubt dive back in, but I felt a blog post was in order today.

So far, Harry is dead, dead as a door nail. We’ve met good ol Carmichal who died all the way back in Fool Moon, we’ve been Murph’s dad Captain Jack Murphy. And Harry has come back from some weird limbo called by the other ghosts “inbetween” to Chicago as a ghost in order to solve his own murder. The “other side”, the devil, fallen angels, the evil league of evil, who/whatever broke some sort of celestial laws when they capped Harry and so no the cosmic balance gets to swing the other way. Which I’ve already concluded will ultimately bring Harry fully back to the world of the living.

Anyways, things are going to hell in Chicagoland when ghost-Harry arrives at the doorstep of the only man that can help him, good old Mortimer Lindquist. And holy jumping Jesus! Morty has some real awesomeness that the other books haven’t even hinted at. And we can see why the Wardens always give Ectomancers such a hard time, they’re just on the right side of the Laws of Magic away from being Necromancers. Maybe not even on a side, more like right on the actual line.

I love these books. I was scared and a little upset when Harry got shot and fell into Lake Michigan at the end of Changes. Jim Butcher is an amazing author, and despite the fact that his Dresden stories are told from a first person perspective, he does an amazing job of keeping all of his characters separate and distinct individual personalities. Even writing in third person it’s hard to keep characters from running together sometimes, and writing first person has always made it more difficult for me at least.

I also have each book in Audiobook too and have listened to each one multiple times. They’re masterfully performed by James Marsters (used to be Spike on Buffy). However, I commit myself to reading each Dresden book before listening to it in audio format. I know once I listen to it, I won’t go back to read the book. And there’s something delicious about consuming Dresden stories 1 page at a time word by word. I’ll enjoy the audiobook afterwards just as much, but on a different level than I do when reading it.

Anyways, if you haven’t read these books…what the hell are you doing reading this far! I mean, go back and read from book 1, Storm Front. Each book is wonderful and the series just grows more epic with each installation.

 

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