FORERUNNER

13 04 2013

Here we are at yet another entry into our line of reviews here at the press.

I resolved this past month to continue exploring the expanded universes of game settings both popular and otherwise. For the first installment of the year I decided why not dive into one of those more well known universes? One that I myself, as a long time science fiction fan, enjoy terribly.

Halo.

As usual I don’t plan on spoiling you with details. What’s the point in reading a story that someone has already regurgitated to you in home brewed spark note form?

I do however; have no qualms about dropping blurbs right off the books. That’s what they’re there for.

Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting is a young rebellious Forerunner. He is a Manipular, untried–yet to become part of the adult Forerunner society, where vast knowledge and duty waits. He comes from a family of Builders, the Forerunners’ highest and most politically powerful rate. It is the Builders who create the grand technology that facilitates Forerunner dominance over the known universe.  It is the Builders who believe they must shoulder the greatest burden of the Mantle–as shepherds and guardians of all life.

Bornstellar is marked to become a great Builder just like his father.

But this Manipular has other plans. 

He is obsessed with lost treasures of the past. His reckless passion to seek out the marvelous artifacts left behind by the Precursors–long-vanished super beings of unknowable power and intent—forces his father’s hand.

Bornstellar is sent to live among the Miners, where he must come to terms with where his duty truly lies.

But powerful forces are at play.  Forerunner society is at a major crux. Past threats are once again proving relentless. Dire solutions–machines and strategies never before contemplated–are being called up, and fissures in Forerunner power are leading to chaos.

On a Lifeworker’s experimental planet, Bornstellar’s rebellious course crosses the paths of two humans, and the long lifeline of a great military leader, forever changing Bornstellar’s destiny …and the fate of the entire galaxy.

This is a tale of life, death, intergalactic horror, exile, and maturity. It is a story of overwhelming change–and of human origins.  For the Mantle may not lie upon the shoulders of Forerunners forever.  

This is the first I’ve ever read of Greg Bear. My decision to pick this title up was partly due to the Hugo and Nebula credits on the front cover. That’ll sell me a great deal.

I have read other books in the Halo expanded universe and while there are some entertaining tales they are mostly the same sort of book. Military science fiction. Action, heroics, with a focus on the tech and weaponry. A touch less character driven if you know what I mean.

This isn’t to say that’s a terrible thing. Sometimes that is precisely what I want to read. As a fan of the game franchise it’s rewarding getting a glimpse at what else is going on outside the immediate scope of the arcs presented through my Xbox.

Bear comes from an entirely different perspective, writing instead, a character driven tale that sheds light on the foundation of the setting in which we’ve followed Master Chief for all those years.

His style is refreshing to see in the setting. There’s less pew pew in this book for sure. And even though planet killing lasers do enter the scene it isn’t really the tale’s focus.

This is the first time in a while that I’ve read a novel length work written in first person, a point of view I have a difficult time reading but that’s just my personal fourth wall issues. For whatever reason though, I didn’t notice. Maybe it’s Bear’s wordsmithery or maybe I’m getting over it.

Or maybe something even MORE sinister is going on here. It’s impossible to say.

Regardless, Cryptum is the first in a series with a focus on the galaxy long before it was what we know it to be; an intriguing look into the society of a civilization that up until the expanded universe was naught but speculation and old stories.

This is growing to be one of my favorite in the series of expanded novels and I look forward to jumping into the next installment not to mention more of what else Mr. Bear has to offer outside of the Halo universe.





Romanian Writers, Digital Magazines, and Showing Some Love

5 03 2013

Lately I’ve been seeing the name ‘Cristian Mihai‘ popping up on a couple of my posts. The last two bits of short fiction actually.

Can I tell you how exciting that is?

This fellow is really something. If you haven’t clicked that link yet, let me give you some insight.

Mr. Mihai is a young man, old enough to drink in New York but not rent a car. That’s a little strange eh? Anyways, he’s a writer in the professional sense. He’s published several books and short stories on his own and has found success with them. He has recently founded an electronic magazine: irevuo. His blog sports a hefty group of followers and, perhaps most interesting, he lives in Romania.

And why is that so neat?

Romania.

I’m in New York, an ocean and many miles away.

The fact that an author who enjoys far more success than I, who inhabits another continent, can stumble upon some of short bits of writing is incredible.

We live in an age where information travels faster and more accessibly than a flu pandemic.

Oh and apparently, if hitting a like button is any sort of an indicator of actually liking something, he enjoyed some of my work. That makes me smile.

At any rate, there’s a couple links up there. Check out his blog. Buy a book or two or three. Check out his magazine, maybe pledge a few dollars to getting the next issue of the ground.

Mr. Mihai supports indie artist. Show him some love back. Guy deserves it.





Getting Back on Track and the Girl Who Knows How You’ll Die

14 05 2012

With the bloggery!

Sometimes I’d like to complain and say “I don’t have enough time in the day to manage all this crap! There’s this and that and the other thing and this guy over here. Blah. Blah. Blah.”

But come on, the same twenty-four hours. That’s what we get. No one gets more in which to accomplish a dozen different acts of awesome. So let’s not allow that to be an excuse.

I started this post three times before decided to just write it. I mean, sit down and begin. That’s the hardest part. The beginning. And maybe not necessarily the beginning itself, but rather the act of placing but in chair and apply controlled force to the keys.

So this is me. Getting started. Again.

Let’s talk about the girl.

From Amazon.com:

Miriam Black knows when you will die.

Still in her early twenties, she’s foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. But when Miriam hitches a ride with truck driver Louis Darling and shakes his hand, she sees that in thirty days Louis will be gruesomely murdered while he calls her name.

Miriam has given up trying to save people; that only makes their deaths happen. But Louis will die because he met her, and she will be the next victim. No matter what she does she can’t save Louis. But if she wants to stay alive, she’ll have to try.

Enter Chuck Wendig and his new novel,Blackbirds.

The newest book from Mr. Wendig takes us on a dark ride down the highways of America, introducing us to the weird, the terrible, and the occasional professional killer.

I chose this book to review for a couple of reasons. First and foremost this author is awesome. I’ve yet to encounter anything about him that I truly distaste thus I follow his works. Makes sense. Two, the subject matter grabs me like nothing else. I love to read tales that offer new spins on death, dying and what exactly those things mean.

A fair bit of warning to you. This, like much of Wendig’s other works, is not for the easily offended. I say this because you will run across profanity as you progress. In all honesty it doesn’t bother me. I think it rather adds an extra layer of depth to the people we’re reading about. That is to say that it is never wasted. Never forced. It doesn’t pop up where it does not make sense.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s look a little more at it.

At its surface, Blackbirds follows a girl that’s just trying to cope. Keep contact with the outside world to a minimum. Miriam is an oddly endearing character, the depth of which, begins more apparent as the tale unfolds. A sarcastic, young girl with a delightfully twisted sense of humor, Miriam refused to sit back on the page and more often than not I found myself surprised to be giggling in the middle of terrible events.

She was easy to become invested in and the rest of the cast followed suit.

The story itself, the chain of events, the plot of plots, arc of events. Eh. Forgot what I was talking about for a second. Right, the story itself. Twisty, unexpected, full of emotion. Only Wendig could take an idea that might work in and of itself as a book and impose upon it layer after eerie layer of macabre brilliance, elevating the already great, to a position of damn good.

All I can say is, glad there’s a sequel. I’m thirsting for more Miriam over here!





There’s Nothing Harry In This Pot And That’s Okay

17 03 2012

The Woman in Black Poster

Take about your goofy titles.

Listen.

My day of spawning just rolled around recently. It was good. Day out with the Vixen mostly free of children. A rare event around these parts.

We went out to eat. Nothing fancy. Had an atrocious burger at an Appleby. Not our first choice of restaurants but it had been a while and we thought, why not? It is right by the theater after all. Curse your excellent franchise placement! It wasn’t all bad though. Even a poor meal can be a source of entertainment.

But in all seriousness, you can’t cut a burger in half, arrange it end-to-end on a long roll and call it a Philly. I’m throwing a flag on that one.

But the food isn’t the really important part. The big thing was the trip to theater.

I love movies. They’re like books that you watch. There is a writer or team of writers that birth every film into being so there is a kindred sort of artistic spirit there. Storytelling is storytelling after all.

We sawThe Woman In Black. It of course, stars Daniel Radcliffe. Let me drop a brief synopsis here in case you’ve been living under a rock lately.

Courtesy of IMDB: A young lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost of a scorned woman is terrorizing the locals.

Uh. Yeah. That sucker was brief. So how did it stack up?

Great Expectations

 

I’ll start by saying this: The Vixen and I had a bit of a different experience watching this. I came at the story with a fresh, untainted (tee hee!) set of expectations. I was only even dimly aware that prior to being adapted to the screen, this was a novel. And before that a play.

The Vixen on the other hand, did a little more research  then I did (Honestly I watched a trailer and called it good.) and discovered its evolution from written medium to film and consequently purchased and read the novel.

As it turns out each of the three incarnations are noticeably different. She commented at three of four junctures during that there were discrepancies. After discussing it on the car ride home, as we always do, she confessed that these differences did not get in the way of the it being a good film.

What are the differences? Read the book. Watch the movie. Try and pick them out for yourselves dear reader. That’s half the fun.

The Proteins And Tubers Of It All

 

Characters. They were fantastic. This is a horror film but that does not mean that you can’t have a bit of tragic comedy sewn in and boy this film served me a nice helping of it. The couple that the protagonist befriends upon his arrival in town offer up a pointed bit of humor, tragic as it may have ultimately been.

And speaking of the protagonist, Arthur – I liked him. I related to him. And bravo to the actor for not once making me think he should still be waving a wand about while uttering strange bastardizations of the Latin language. Indeed, Mr. Radcliffe can play other roles and perform admirably while doing so.

He wasn’t perfect. In fact he suffered a great torment that made me think a bit of the animated film, UP.My only complaint (small as it is) was the same as it was in both films. I get that something tragic happened to the guy. Yes, I acknowledge that it is very sad. However, I realized it was sad when we were reminded of it ten minutes ago. Life sucks. We get it. More ghosty please.

And that takes me to what this film did very well. I can honestly say this was the most suspenseful movie I’ve watched in sometime. A lot of horror films have an excellent build up to finally revealing that oh-so-frightening ghost/killer/plague/insert-other-terrifying-crap-here. But after the initial reveal, it immediately starts to lose its luster. We know what the horror is and it remains fairly unchanging.

In this case the ghost delivers an excellent opening shock and then keeps coming back for more. After the initial suspense was built, the mostly unseen force maintained a tight grip on it and kept it high. I could have crushed a full can of coke with the tension in the room. I’m thinking the kids who sat in front of us left a bit of fear-urine behind when they exited the theater.

So What’s That Mean?

 

I am officially calling this one a must see. Capable actors, offering up a different spin on an old tale that asserts itself as an excellent contender for the top shelf of my movie rack. This is a film that I will watch again and again. Once it hits DVD. It is on. It is on like an Italian-Plumber-Hating Primate.





Saving The World One Geodesic Icosahedron At A Time

12 03 2012

There’s two words I get nervous writing. Geodesic. Icosahedron. It’s that whole math thing where numbers and I don’t get along. That makes those two a little strange. They are words, which I love. But they’re telling me about numbers, which I hate. Two little, traitorous, nonsensical words that put me on edge. It’s an amalgam of that which I loathe and that which I base a part of my life upon.

But enough of that crap!

Do you know what a Geodesic Icosahedron is? I didn’t either for a long time. It was just some other crazy shape that I almost certainly could not find the area of. Oh and by the way. In case my high school math teachers reads this, I have never once needed to figure out the circumference or area of anything. Mmhmmm.

Here’s what I can tell you about it. It’s a shape that’s familiar to anyone who has ever closed a rift, cyber’d a punk or dungeon’d a dragon. Yup, I’m of course referring to the twenty sided dice. Or more accurately, the twenty faced dice. And Geodesic? Well that’s talking about curves. NO, I mean theEarth’scurves. Really people, get out of the gutter.

Now put that all together and what do you have? A twenty faced, Earthy, curvy, thingy. OR, maybe you get THIS THING.

Has your mind been sufficiently blown yet? No? Well lets break it down a tad more shall we?

I first read about this back in, oh, 2006. I can’t remember how it was that I stumbled upon Globus Cassus but I was just tickled when I did. See, I’m a big fan of Science Fiction and things like this fit the bill perfectly. I love mega engineering. Go nuts for it. Damning entire oceans, dome cities, artificial worlds, the total deconstruction and subsequent reconstruction of the entire planet. These are the foundation for some of the genre.

Arthur C. Clarke, Larry Niven, Issac Asimov. They’ve all included huge constructions in tales at one point or another. I’m pretty sure Niven’s most well received series focuses on the events that unfold on Ringworld. And yes, it is a world. That is a ring. Someone builtit.

Now, Waldvogel isn’t a science fiction author. To my knowledge. He’s just a guy with ideas the size of mythical legume-bearing plants. I’ve read a great deal of criticism to the idea. Namely the lack of sufficiently strong materials to build the darn thing. But hey, that’s today. If computer chip performance doubles every two years, who is to say this may not one day be a realized dream?

It wouldn’t be the first time that sort of thing has happened you know.

Oh, and while we are on the subject maybe you should take a look at a few of these.

Go forth and enrich thyself. And do it, with Science.

Seriously. Go.





Reviewing Blind Sight Part II

7 03 2012

I have to preface my brief thoughts on this book by saying the pair of them worked. They just worked. Not only that, but my reading experience while I made my way through the pages of this angle, was only bolstered by the knowledge I had gained from the first.I felt as though I was constantly saying ah-HA! And that was a lot of fun. Yet at the same time the author manages to make things feel new.

Aniela’s book was a much more magical beast. She had grown up knowing of the existence of powers on the island and that colored not only her interpretation of certain key events with Odette’s story line, but also the way she approached her relationship with Leocardo.

 

Conversely he doesn’t respond well to the ‘supernatural’ things going on around him. Upon first entering their apartment he launches into a scene reminiscent of Mel Gibson in conspiracy theory. I’m surprised his first move isn’t to sink half his money into pad locks for his tapioca pudding.Leocardo isn’t already established on the island. He’s the ‘just got finished talking to Mr. Roarke and Tattoo sort of guy.’ New arrival. And right from the get go, you can see that this fellow is a man of action. It’s reflected well in the overall pacing of the book which moves at a quicker rate then Aniela’s side.

Not a bad thing. After having met Leocardo in Aniela’s perspective, it fits. 100%. And the idea that I had of him, based on other characters interacting with him in the other book, was confirmed. He is painted rather exactly like I imagined.

This book is written in a way that is unique from its sibling novel. The writer most certainly has her own voice and uses it well to relay Leocardo’s side of things. The pacing is spot on and it just oozes tension.

Could you read one of these books and not the other and still be fulfilled? Yes. But why in the world would you? These novels are done in such a manner that they are far more than rehashing the same story from a different perspective. The characters are individual enough and bold enough to make you feel like you might just be reading two entirely different stories.

Do yourself a favor. Don’t pass this up.

PRIZES: Did you enjoy the review? You could win a gift card and I could win one too! Just leave a comment about the review below and you’re entered in the drawing.

Learn more about Blind Sight: A blind girl drawing is abnormal even on the magical island of Edaion where leaves brush themselves into piles in the middle of the night. So when Odette Reyes, a girl blind from birth, begins to experience ominous side effects of the island’s “gift,” her brother Leocardo and best friend Aniela must figure out what the doctors cannot. As an immigrant, Leocardo is not biased by accepted rules of magic and determines that Odette’s drawings are premonitions. Aniela grew up with magic and knows premonitions are impossible. She determines Odette is a medium channeling voiceless spirits.

Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through?

Both books are “volume one” you can read one without the other and still get a complete story, but you won’t see how the characters interpret the same situation differently.

Buy the book! Both volumes are available as an e-book for Kindle (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.) and Nook (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.) Don’t have an e-reader, pick up a PDF on Smashwords (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.)

The paperback special edition will be available in the fall (northern hemisphere).

The authors:

Eliabeth wrote her first mini-series in second grade when the teacher told her she was not old enough to write a chapter book. Regrettably, for fear of turning into a starving artist, Eliabeth played it safe in college and is now a recent William Jewell graduate with a BA in International Business and Japanese. She now returns to what she truly loves, creating worlds for people to escape to and characters for them to fall in love with. Ermisenda began writing Harry Potter fan-fiction at the age of twelve and started developing her own writing at fourteen when she joined play sites and completed her first crime novel at fifteen. Although her favorite genres were crime and fantasy, she reads a bit of everything. Driven by the desire to evoke the kaleidoscope of emotions her favorite authors are able to, she kept writing. Growing up bilingual amongst her Spanish family in Australia, she found a love and deep appreciation for language and the power it wielded. She is now a Psychology major at the University of Newcastle. Together, they write as Ermilia.

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Reviewing Blind Sight

3 03 2012

 

Holy massive graphic Batman!

Yes, yes, yes it is the third of March campers which means I must fulfill the obligations I have to the demons in my basement it’s time to throw another book review your way. I’ve been waiting, for months now with a ready blog post and I’m happy to be getting this thing out there.

I was fortunate enough you see, to get to participate in an advanced reading of a book just released this month, entitled Blind Sight. It’s been a great time reading and getting to know the devoted penmonkeys behind the pages. Waaaaaaayyy at the bottom of tonight’s bloggery is a bit of a blurb about them.

Now the story is split into two volumes. Each volume is essentially the same story but told from the perspective of a different main character. Which makes it a totally different story. Really. There are a few things that I look for when I read a novel that I consider to be mandatory and this book, much like Companion Cube, really came through for me. I’m going to touch on two of the biggest ones.

Casting

The first is character development. I’ll be honest, if this is weak, I’m hard pressed to stick with it. I’ll give it a chance but if I don’t start caring about these people who live in your head then its time for you to find a new psychiatrist. Oh, right. I’m not going to read your book either.

It’s true, the character’s are well enough developed to make it easy for you to invest your time in reading about them. Take Alaya. I look at her and imagine my mother with a higher midichlorian count. Because sometimes I think she wishes she could throw anything nearby at me through SHEER FORCE OF WILL. (If that’s a little obscure, go ahead and google ‘midichlorians’. It’s okay, I’ll wait.)

Back? Alright.

Go too dry on a character and reading the book becomes more like a trudge across the arctic circle wearing nothing but a pair of rubber boots and a speedo. Not something anyone wants to do. I’m reading to enjoy myself. Take a break. I don’t want your story to be work. That makes me cranky.

Even the supporting characters are fleshy enough to avoid the label of partially decomposed (and therefore boring/unneccessary/rubbish) bits of fluff. I care about them too.

The Flashy Bits

It’s about magic. It’s there but not. And THAT is the beauty of it. Explanation…go!

Magic is present in the world. Understood.

It helps to shape the characters and further emphasize major personality traits. Is it any wonder that the most selfless of all the major cast can form shields? What about the most hot-tempered woman in the book? She uses her powers as a weapon essentially. (Want to know what that means? READ THE BOOK)

Magic also serves as an engine of conflict concerning Odette’s plot line. However, at no point did I feel overwhelmed by it. Not once did I find myself saying “Dear Tolkien in Heaven, there’s more magic in this plot than Gandalf’s undergarments. I can’t see the story through all the fireballs!” (Again, if you’ve lived under a rock for the past several decades I invite you to google.)

Coming back to the review. It serves its purpose in helping to define the characters and deliver a fantastic setting that hints rather subtly that things are much different from what they appear. Yes, characters used magic but I was way more concerned with the people and their relationships. The setting is crafted deftly  and presented in a manner well suited to keep me focused on what’s important: The people in the writer’s head.

All in all? It’s a great addition to the realm of Young Adult. Don’t let the category deter you though, it fits on just about any bookshelf.

It’s been a long time since I read a story cover to cover in one sitting. Blind Sight had what it took to spot weld my butt to my chair and keep me locked firmly to the pages. Bravo.

Oh and to the author:

Write more books. I insist.

PRIZES: Did you enjoy the review? You could win a gift card and I could win one too! Just leave a comment about the review below and you’re entered in the drawing.

Learn more about Blind Sight: A blind girl drawing is abnormal even on the magical island of Edaion where leaves brush themselves into piles in the middle of the night. So when Odette Reyes, a girl blind from birth, begins to experience ominous side effects of the island’s “gift,” her brother Leocardo and best friend Aniela must figure out what the doctors cannot. As an immigrant, Leocardo is not biased by accepted rules of magic and determines that Odette’s drawings are premonitions. Aniela grew up with magic and knows premonitions are impossible. She determines Odette is a medium channeling voiceless spirits.

Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through?

Both books are “volume one” you can read one without the other and still get a complete story, but you won’t see how the characters interpret the same situation differently.

Buy the book! Both volumes are available as an e-book for Kindle (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.) and Nook (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.) Don’t have an e-reader, pick up a PDF on Smashwords (Aniela’s vol. / Leocardo’s vol.)

The paperback special edition will be available in the fall (northern hemisphere).

The authors:

Eliabeth wrote her first mini-series in second grade when the teacher told her she was not old enough to write a chapter book. Regrettably, for fear of turning into a starving artist, Eliabeth played it safe in college and is now a recent William Jewell graduate with a BA in International Business and Japanese. She now returns to what she truly loves, creating worlds for people to escape to and characters for them to fall in love with. Ermisenda began writing Harry Potter fan-fiction at the age of twelve and started developing her own writing at fourteen when she joined play sites and completed her first crime novel at fifteen. Although her favorite genres were crime and fantasy, she reads a bit of everything. Driven by the desire to evoke the kaleidoscope of emotions her favorite authors are able to, she kept writing. Growing up bilingual amongst her Spanish family in Australia, she found a love and deep appreciation for language and the power it wielded. She is now a Psychology major at the University of Newcastle. Together, they write as Ermilia.

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My Own Mountain Of Madness

21 12 2011

I found THE book. I hiked to the peaks of Twofoot mountain, deep in the heart of Backwanda Yardusticus. (A harsh land somewhere in upstate New York.) The journey was treacherous.  We established our base camp at thirteen inches, on the flattest ground we could find. After a brief incursion from the native population of fearsome polar-dog-beasts, our food supply was in shambles. One of them made off with my slipper and the youngest of our group had an eye chewed out. Fortunately it was on a stuffed otter. The beasts were unable to differentiate between living and plush flesh. A fact that  probably saved our lives.

We managed to regroup and press on. It was late in the fourteenth day of our quest that we arrived at the top. The Twofoot peak was magnificent. We basked in the warm sun as it greeted our faces, so hidden those past few days by unforgiving clouds and the angry biting of the mountain winds.

We had set off on this journey driven by the promise of a manuscript locked away in a vault within a temple at the very top of the mountain. The pages were rumored to be untouched. The ink was reportedly crafted of diatomaceous earth and the sweat of angels. Virgin words never before looked upon, not even by the author himself, a blind man from the small village of Pleasant Park in the Barony’s of New Jersey.

We arrived just past sundown on the forty-seventh day. We found the temple, an old Mongolian design likely brought over on the backs of war-jaguars turned into beasts of burden after the Franco-Mongol war of 1812. The front door was bashed to pieces and the chest was easy to find, its ancient hiding place having been smashed to bits long ago. Remnants of a great battle lay strewn about the room. Dead men now nothing but frozen bone, pieces of wood covering nearly every inch of the floor. Broken weapons, burned altars. Whatever happened there so long ago…was madness.

I knelt, my companions at my side – the Vixen with a silken cloth unrolled beside her, ready to place the precious parchments upon.

I removed the lid. And there it was.

The paper was yellow and stained with what could only be the Java based holy water the monks who resided here were rumored to drink. The nectar of the great Stag who carried down from the heavens one day, a mighty bean. From it, the Black Ambrosia, The Juice of Divinity was brewed. The preparatory drink altar remained in tact nearby. Marble cylinders marked with strange words.

Cinnamon.

Sugar.

Sweet And Lo.

Tips.

I moved with haste. I grabbed the scrolls and handed them to the Vixen. She wrapped them with quickly and secured them safely into her pack. We rounded up the last two members of our party and we fled from that place. We ran down the mountain side. We didn’t stop until morning.

When finally we arrived to safety at our first camp near the base of the mountain, (Thirteen inches below base) we unraveled the silk and flattened the pages out. Tears filled our eyes, pain our bodies and a mix of indigestion and saliva wallowed up in our throats. We realized why it still remained in the temple. The text was illegible. Entirely unreadable. The Vixen turned to me in tears and said.

“Blind men don’t know how to write.”

So I went to Amazon and bought Ringworld by Larry Niven. I was feeling in the mood for Sci Fi. Oh and, it’s a lot better than that blind guys rubbish.

Thanks all.





Coming of Age In A Dead Place

14 12 2011

I’m going to be honest here, I was a bit dishonest just now. Honestly.

I’m not actually reading The Graveyard Book right now. I’m done with it. Have been for a few months. However, I feel I should help spread the word on this one.

It’s a book about Nobody. Nobody Owens, a young boy who lost his parents when he was just a child barely able to toddle. Yet in the middle of the night, pursued by a knife-wielding mad man, he finds someone to take him in. And it’s not just one someone. They say it takes a village to raise a child but for Nobody Owens it takes a graveyard. He grows up under the watchful eyes  of the supernatural. Ghouls, ghosts and agents of an ancient world order abound in another brilliant tale spun by the imagination of Neil Gaiman.

And he does a phenomenal job. It’s a young adult novel but I loved it nonetheless. The story is well-crafted and offers enough to be enjoyed even by adults. I loved the Silas character – wouldn’t mind reading more of what he does when he’s away from the graveyard. The evolution of Nobody as he grows from a young boy to a, well… less young boy is well done. One of my favorite things about Nobody growing up is seeing him entering school. His contradicting ‘history’ as taught by the teacher was brilliant. He learned it from the ghosts, people who experienced it first hand; the two don’t mesh and that causes problems.

The attention to detail makes me smile.

It flows. The characters make sense even though they don’t receive the same sort of development you might see in a lengthier novel, I’m still giving a flying ferret about what’s going on with them. The graveyard folk are relatable. Even the ghost of the little witch who reminds me…of my mother.

The plot proceeds at an excellent pace. There’s little in the way of chop. And everything was tied together nicely by the books close. The Indigo Man, the ghouls – they were all addressed. The pages make you take pause and think about what it means to be family and how sometimes even our closest ties are not by blood.

I’ve yet to run into anything Gaiman has written that I haven’t enjoyed. The graphic novels (Sandman is bloody brilliant) were fantastic stories and even his short story collections refused to disappoint. And on top of it all he even had a hand in the development of one of the Discworld series of novels penned primarily by Sir Terry Pratchett. (A genius for another date) The graveyard book is a great addition to the library of anybody (or even someone like Nobody) who enjoys a good supernatural read.

SO – go to a bookstore and buy it. Or borrow it from a friend to read and THEN go buy it because you enjoyed it so much. OR download it. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and whatever other sort of digital giant is out there are guaranteed to carry it. Or, or you could uh – wait… I think I ran out of methods of purchase. Let me see, brick and mortar, digital download… Yeah, it’s all there. Point is: buy it.

And while you’re at it, maybe you might want to drop by his blog and see what else Gaiman has cooking. I promise you will not be disappointed.





The Ringleader Needs a Suggestion

12 12 2011

What has two thumbs, a keen sense of fashion sense as it pertains to vests and nothing to read?

This guy!

Too strange? Yeah, I thought so too. And yet for some reason I decided to do it anyways. But hey, its ok because I’m in charge of this little circus. I’m that guy standing on the crate labeled “Toxic Ferrets” in the center ring with a beaten up top hat and dusty, red leather coat. In one hand a diamond tip cane, in the other a giant microphone – old boxing style, hanging from the ceiling.

Now, without further interruptions or postponement, allow me to direct your attention to the far ring to the left of the flaming elephant trolley where you will find my point.

I recently finished the book I was devoting my reading time to and I’m in the market for a new one. Not necessarily a new book mind you but new to me. My reading conquests span a great length of time: Sci Fi from the 60′s, fantasy from the 80′s, literary fiction from the 00′s. It doesn’t matter.

I’ve started a list. The top of it is a book I’ve already been harassed about. The Vixen has nudged me toward The Scarlet Pimpernel on more than one occasion. Though, I’ll be honest, I’m not too keen on checking out a classic right at this point in time.

What else? There is a rather engaging (from what I’ve been told) book that Bert from work turned me on to. It’s what you might call a self-help manual. If you consider formal instruction on the finer points of wielding a tomahawk in close combat self-help. Which I do. Unfortunately, right now, I’m not overly excited about it.

That brings me to my third choice thus far. Ringworld by Larry Niven. I’ve been perusing the internet lately reading about Niven. The “Known Space” series he wrote sounds like something right up my alley. I’m a child of Science Fiction and it doesn’t hurt that the setting for these novels bears a striking resemblance to a game franchise I’m rather fond of.

And as a final offering to the ever bloating to-read list I submit Shotgun Gravy, a novella penned by the most tipsy penmonkey, Chuck Wendig. And yes, I said novella. They are just as delicious as any novel length work. They simply stand on different merits. Learn it, appreciate it and it will treat you well.

Now the problem is making a decision. I don’t like to do that, choices make me sad. It’s why I get the same thing whenever we order Chinese, without fail. Singapore Mei Fun, extra red peppers. What of it?

Anyway, point is, I decided to reach out. I’m up to 22 followers here, yup – 22 people who posses a high enough tolerance to read the electronic ink stains that I drag across the screen on a periodic basis. So drop me a line – what do you think? Any item on that list stand out from the rest? Or is there something not on there that you think I just can’t go without reading?

Plenty of comment space. Do it. I want to hear from you. Seriously, DO IT.