WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/17

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

45MasterCharactersI’m currently in the middle of a couple books. The first is 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt, a reference book about writing character archetypes and crafting character journeys throughout a story. One of the protagonists in a story I’ve been formulating for years is a young woman, so I’m especially appreciating Schmidt’s emphasis on the feminine journey and female archetypes. As far as I can tell the masculine journey is given just as much detail, which will definitely be useful as well, but I’m appreciating the former being at the forefront of the book. I feel I have the most to learn in that area.

StarWarsANewDawnI’m also reading A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, a Disney Canon Star Wars novel following Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla, two of the main cast from the animated series Star Wars Rebels. The book serves as a prequel to the series, so I wanted to get reading it out of the way before watching the show. It’s not bad so far — though I’m only a little over 50 pages in — I just don’t care about these characters very much. I might have if I’d watch the show first, but I don’t feel like working backwards with this sphere of Star Wars stories. I enjoy reading about the cyborg villain Count Vidian, who mechanically vocalizes loudly at people to be more efficient. I find him both menacing and comically over-the-top.

Recently Finished

Shortly after my post last week I finished reading Universal Harvester by John Darnielle, which you can read my full review of here. I enjoyed the novel for what it was, there were great things about it, but I couldn’t help coming away from it a little disappointed.

KananTheLastPadawanI also read the two volumes of Star Wars: Kanan by Greg Weisman et al — The Last Padawan and First Blood — a limited comic book series following the Star Wars Rebels character during his time as a Jedi Padawan at the end of the Clone Wars. Again, I’ve no attachment to these characters right now, but I could appreciate the unique perspective on the execution of the Jedi; the character being quite young when he had to flee his betrayers and survive on his own. The volumes were pleasant little pockets of story that expanded the universe a little more. I especially liked the brief emphasis on Separatists who truly believed in their cause and their spite toward those who fought for the former Republic.

Reading Next

ShiverI’m not quite sure what I’ll get to next in terms of novels; I’m pretty occupied with the two books I’m reading already. I definitely want to get to Shiver by Junji Ito though, a manga collection of horror stories. I was able to get a new copy on sale on Boxing Day over the holidays, a find I was really pleased with. I loved Ito’s work in Uzumaki I’m eager to experience more of his one-shot stories firsthand.

Advertisements

Book Review – Universal Harvester by John Darnielle

Summary

Life in a small town takes a dark turn when mysterious footage begins appearing on VHS cassettes at the local Video Hut.

UniversalHarvester

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle is a 2017 mystery/fiction novel set in the late 1990s. The story follows Jeremy, a man in his early twenties who works at his local Video Hut, a dead-end job he finds palatable because it gets him out of the house and makes his daily life predictable. He lives with his father; his mother having died six years previously in a car wreck. His daily monotony is interrupted when he starts to notice a trend of people complaining about “something else” being on the tapes they’ve rented. Troubling, homemade footage not a part of the movie. It’s a premise that I found quite tantalizing, as I’m sure many others have. An effectively simple concept that promises to unsettle, yet you feel drawn in. Despite how this sounds, however, this book is not a horror story.Read More »

Renovations!

Truth be told I’d been wanting to redo the theme of this site for a long time now, the problem was my tendency to procrastinate This was especially the case because my plans had me wanting to do more than just choose a new layout.

As it turns out I was perusing different themes Friday night and accidentally activated one that I didn’t even want to use, which I took as a done deal. My old layout was so stale that even WordPress advised a new one, as it had been “retired,” so with changes happening by accident anyway I decided to get started. I couldn’t just leave it as it was. I guess when you’re hesitant to jump in the pool sometimes it helps to slip and fall in.

The further changes I wanted included reworking the categories going back to day one so that all of my varied non-review posts could be sorted more neatly. Everything now has an organization I’m much happier with. I’ve also used tags to make my reviews accessible from a menu. Lastly, I updated/rewrote some of the pages on the site to freshen things up a bit.

I’m very pleased with the new look, as the old layout was something I settled for when I started and regrettably got too complacent with.  I hope you all enjoy the new look too.

One of my new categories is simply “Blog,” and I want to use it to write more off-the-cuff posts like this, maybe once a week or so. While they will occasionally be talking shop like I am here, I imagine, I’d like to use them to talk about books in ways outside of reviews or the WWW Wednesday posts; new books I’ve acquired, series and authors that have caught my attention, or more reflective/introspective ideas I may have about reading and writing.

A review for Universal Harvester by John Darnielle will be up soon, it has just been delayed by all the time I’ve put into reworking the site. I should have it finished and up either tomorrow or Tuesday. Until then, thank you for reading!

WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/10

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

UniversalHarvesterI’m about three quarters of the way through Universal Harvester by John Darnielle. It’s a lot more of a slow burn than I was expecting, the nature of these strange tapes still left nebulous to the reader at this point. It’s a lot more focused on people’s lives, their roots, processing grief, and trying to figure out their place in the world. It’s amusing to me to think that this novel is essentially an internet “creepypasta” turned into literature, where normally a story like this would be entirely fixated on the the creepy premise, this novel is building out its people and their world carefully. Where this falls in my esteem will ultimately have to do with its payoff.

Recently Finished

Nothing yet, but I expect to have Universal Harvester done any day now.

Reading Next

45MasterCharactersAs a supplemental read I think I’m going to finally start reading 45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt soon. It’s a book I picked up for reference a while ago, but with my growing drive to actually get started on a book I’ve been building up in my head for years now, I want to use more of the tools available to me to help me make it as good as it can be. Other than that, I will probably start Star Wars: A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller as my next novel, as I’ve got a lot of those books that I want to get through this year.

Book Review – Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

Summary

JOIN THE ARMY AND SEE THE UNIVERSE!

In one of Robert Heinlein’s most controversial bestsellers, a recruit of the future goes through the toughest book camp in the Universe—and into battle with the Terran Mobile Infantry against mankind’s most alarming enemy!

StarshipTroopersCover

Starship Troopers is a 1959 military science fiction novel written by Robert A. Heinlein, following Juan “Johnny” Rico through his military career in the Mobile Infantry (M.I.) of the Terran Federation, set against backdrop of an interplanetary war between humanity and a species of intelligent “pseudo-arachnids,” or simply “Bugs.” This is the first Heinlein book I’ve ever read, and the only one I’ve ever been compelled to pick up thus far. He is among other science fiction authors, such as Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke, whom I always remember as important but don’t really go out of my way to read. Admittedly what drew me to this book was my history with the 1997 film adaptation of the same name directed by Paul Verhoeven. Having been released nearly four decades after the book, I wanted to see where it came from.
Read More »

WWW Wednesday – 2018/01/03

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’ve given myself a bit of a break from reading for the first week of January, so I’m not currently in the middle of anything. I just wanted some time to reflect and not worry about getting through anything.

Recently Finished

StarshipTroopersCoverJust in nick of time, on New Year’s Eve, I finished reading Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, making it my final book of 2017. I was surprised with just how much the plot points of this novel were mirrored in the better-known 1997 film, considering how different they are. It takes a significantly different approach to its world and the Bug War. The war itself is rather incidental to the plot, strangely enough. I will have a review of it posted after my brief repose.

HellboyIntoTheSilentSeaI also read Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni, and Dave Stewart. It was an interesting little nautical tale, set during the events of the sixth volume Strange Places. Hellboy finds himself captured on a ship seemingly out of the past, which voyages in search of a serpent that will supposedly grant great knowledge. It was brief story, good but unremarkable compared to other Hellboy tales. I particularly liked the art, which had an especially ghostly quality to it. I’m curious what inspired this book, since it was a full 11 years after Strange Places.

Reading Next

UniversalHarvesterI may not be reading anything at the moment, but I’ve already set my sights on my first novel for 2018, which I plan to start this weekend. It shall be Universal Harvester by John Darnielle, which follows a young man working in a video store in the late 1990s who begins to receive complaints from customers that certain tapes they’ve rented included unsettling footage not part of the movie. I first heard about this book from a Night Vale Presents podcast and I’m eager to finally dig into it.

WWW Wednesday – 2017/12/27

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 want to say that I’m currently reading Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, but the busyness of the holiday season has prevented me from getting a start on it. Now that I’m back home, however, I plan to power through it over the next few days.

Recently Finished

Smoke&MirrorsLast week I finished reading Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman, which you can read my review of here. It was a great collection of dark and beautiful stories, often twists on unrequited love in some way, that had me hooked throughout. I especially liked the stories that played around with the world of H. P. Lovecraft’s weird tales, as well as the numerous retellings of fairy tales.

 

HellboyTheMidnightCircusI also read Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo over the weekend. It was much shorter than a typical comic book trade, but it was an enjoyable little story about a boy running away to see the circus, except it is a young Hellboy and this is no earthly circus. This book is also the story that introduces Hellboy’s sister Gamori, who only appears again in the second volume of Hellboy in Hell.

Reading Next

HellboyIntoTheSilentSeaI still plan to read Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea by Mike Mignola, Gary Gianni, and Dave Stewart, as it is another short Hellboy book. I want to get The Visitor: How and Why He Stayed by Mike Mignola read as well, but it has moved to the bottom of my list of priorities.

With some end of year posts still needing to go up, I haven’t really had the week or so to just take a breather from all of the reading, so I may doing that the first week of January instead. As a result I have no immediate plans for what I’m reading next in the new year.

Book Review – Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Summary

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman’s imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control,” and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.

Smoke&Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman is a collection of “short fiction and illusions,” originally published in 1998. From what I gathered reading it, most if not all of these stories had been published before as part of different collections or anthologies. I’ve been a rather big fan of Gaiman for a number of years now, but admittedly this is the first time I’ve read any of his short fiction outside of comic books. I was interested to see just how much a departure in format would change his style of writing, as I have recently been noticing common trends in his novels. As it turns out, his short fiction varies quite widely in terms of subject matter.Read More »