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Favorite Reads of 2017!

I set out with a goal of 30 books this year, and managed to read 30. I will admit, I upped my book count because I realized they wouldn’t all be novels. I had a few graphic novels, and some short stories in the mix, as well as a few audio books for my long commutes.

In all I read 16 novels, ten short stories, and four graphic novels.

I’d have to say the Baine Chronicles were my absolute favorite this year. Jasmine Walt spun a fantastic story about a shifter hybrid who gets caught with her magic on display and has to avoid being killed, then ends up rescuing the arch mage. So much allegory for real life in this series. Lots of magic, and mischief. Loved every page and I read the first six books pretty quickly.

Star Nomad by Lindsay Buroker is another favorite. This read very much like Firefly, and Buroker wasn’t afraid to say it up front. That’s what she was going for, and she managed it with flying colors.

Dungeon Crawl by Skyler Grant hit on a second love of mine, LitRPG, which I didn’t even know was a thing until just this month. I’ve been enjoying Sword Art Online, Kilobyte by Piers Anthony, and other movies and books in this genre, but didn’t know it had an actual name until just recently. Dungeon Crawl scratched that itch (so to say) quite nicely, and I’ll be reading more of these types of books this year.

I also read Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker. This is a fantastic book for anyone who wants to make their story telling better. I had to rewrite a lot of chapters because of this book, but my novels are so much better because of that rewrite. Worth it!

Lastly I’m going to say Grizzly Shark is my favorite graphic novel this year. Oh, Heathen and LumberJanes were good, but Grizzly Shark is one of those books that will stick with me for the rest of forever. With sharks swimming through the trees to eat everyone, and irreverent jokes on every page, I loved it. Crass, unapologetic humor that goes out of it’s way to just be itself. Would read again!

Of the other books, there were some good ones, and a few fell short, but nothing really bad. The books I chose just stood out a bit more than the others, either because I loved the series as a whole, it hit that nestalgia button, or it was incredibly memorable (queue the grizzly shark!)

How did your reading challenge go?

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Posted by on December 31, 2017 in Review

 

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Review – The Defenders from Netflix

I loved Jessica Jones, the first season of Dare Devil. I even liked The Iron Fist (even though I thought it wasn’t well choreographed, and didn’t hold up as much as the other three.) Luke Cage I found a bit boring, and I never got into the second season of Dare Devil.

So I thought I’d take a chance on The Defenders. I liked the four characters, so it had to be good, right?

Parts of it were. They had a decent plot going with the conflict escalating between the four super heroes and The Hand. They had Jessica doing her detective work, and Dare Devil trying to stop her from getting too deep. Because I hadn’t seen the second half of Dare Devil season two I kept wondering how Matt got to the point where he stopped fighting. Stopped trying to save his city. But I digress.

While the plot was interesting, and I loved Signorine Weaver as a villain, I thought some of our super hero’s were a bit on the angsty side. “I don’t want to risk my life, but I do, but I don’t” The back and forth wishy washy nature was annoying.

The choreography for fights left something to be desired. My favorite part of Dare Devil was the long hall scene where they are fighting, being thrown in and out of view of the camera. That was awesome. In the Defenders maybe more of it should have been off camera too.

The other character I absolutely couldn’t stand was Misty. She kept getting in the way, but kind of wanted to help them, but kept trying to brow beat them into telling her what they knew. Her character was so poorly written. I think they were trying to show she was stuck in between advancing at work, and helping the people who could actually do something, and it showed up as more indecisiveness.

I ended up liking parts of it, and hating other parts of it. I actually yelled at the screen at one point for a particular character to get the hell out of the way. But the overall plot was an interesting one, and the ending tied up everything nicely. It was the character development, and some of the angstyness of most of the cast that really did not help.

 

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2017 in Review

 

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Review: Witch Hunt by SM Reine

I don’t read a lot of mysteries, but I’ve been wanting to read something by SM Reine for a while. When I saw I could get a couple of her trilogies for free, then purchase the audio book, I knew it was a great chance to do so. I was in between books, so it was perfect timing.

Preternatural Affairs is about Cèsar Hawke, a witch, and his investigations into the darker side of magic. In the world that Reine created magic users are still in the closet. Demons have hidden cities that normal people can’t find unless they are invited in, and witches use herbs, stones, and circles to create some powerful spells.

It’s a rich world. In this first book she doesn’t delve into the magical side that much, most of it is centered around figuring out who killed the girl in his bathtub. But it takes a few spells, and some other magical help to get to the bottom of things.

I loved the fact that this was from the POV of a man. So many urban fantasy novels are from the POV of women right now, and it was nice to get a change. She writes him pretty well, and I loved that he’s a strong personality with a female partner with an equally strong personality. They play off one another well.

All in all, if you like paranormal, and you like mystery, this is a good series. And I fully expect it will just get better.

Also the guy who reads it has a really smooth, sexy voice.

And that’s my five.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2017 in Review

 

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Review: Spectral

netflix-spectral-prostokat Part war movie, part sci-fi ghost story, Spectral was an amazing cross genre movie. A lot of action, a lot of mystery, and a whole lot of “what the heck just happened?” in a good way.

Set in a somewhat futuristic society where troops are trying to protect yet another city from displaced insurgents, a loan engineer finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. Go back home and forget he saw anything, or stay and help figure out what’s killing soldiers and civilians alike. Ghost like apparitions that could be soldiers in invisible camouflage, or….something else.

The main focus of this movie is the battle between the soldiers, and the apparitions, less about the personal interactions. You won’t find a sappy love story, or heart warming coming to know yourself. This is all about the action. And there is a lot of it.

spectralgrenadesThe “ghosts” are grounded in some pseudo science, giving some explanation as to what they are and where they came from. As is the weaponry the soldiers fight with. But the pseudo science is really glossed over, and you can’t take a look at it too closely or you might see just how unrealistic it is. However, some of the visuals they use to get the science across is pretty amazing. Weapons, armor, and techno gizmos are awesome to look at, and a cos-players dream.

Being as this was an action movie, above all else, I had to appreciate some of the military tactics, while scoffing at others. They do make a convincing formation moving into a building. They do not, however, utilize tactics for entering an unknown location. Information is the key, and they didn’t seem to have much before rushing into a building headlong. Plus one of the scientists is so head strong that she takes some stupid risks to prove her point. Bad tactical risks.

I also found it curious how quickly their engineer was able to whip up a bunch of gadgets. The world is about to end and he has time to make enough weaponry to outfit an entire battalion? Hard to suspend your disbelief on that one, but the ending battle was glorious because of it.

For all the pseudo science, I did find the lore of the ghosts to be interesting. I liked how they presented them, and how they stopped them. The visual effects were beautiful, as well. The ghosts had just enough weak points to made the battle scenes more interesting, but were still a formidable foe. It was only the Achilles heel that managed to take them out in the end.

Still, for a military sci-fi movie, it isn’t so overbearingly military that I lost interest, and the paranormal has enough of an interesting angle that it might keep more action junkies happy to the end.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2016 in Review

 

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Review: Web Series

I’ve watched a lot of web series online, and I thought maybe I could share some of my favorites, and tell you what I like about them. Maybe you can find one you enjoy as well. The only part I find fustrating about web series is that they are so short. But the good ones tend to get more than one season.

Sync– This was originally aired as a series, but now is available as a full length movie. A great scifi adventure where a man keeps replicating himself to infiltrate a facility.

Ren: The Girl with the Mark– Beautifully done fantasy series. A young girl, Ren, discovers that the marked ones aren’t as fictional as she thought they were. Such great acting, and good special effects. I really enjoyed it, and can’t wait for the second season.

Dragon Age: Redemption– Loved the video game, and this short web series inspired by the game is well done. A nice addition to the franchise.

JourneyQuest– This is a really funny series. It’s like a few friends did a really great D&D setting, making up their own paths, then recreated their characters. You have the terrible, and cowardly wizard. A bard with way too much courage. A fighter with more brawn then brains. And the companions just trying to keep everyone alive.

Star Trek Continues– Okay, so, I’m a Trekkie. I love almost all of the Star Trek series, including the original series where Kirk ran around with his shirt torn off half the time, and there was a moral to the story in a lot of the episodes, of not blatantly there at least in the background. So imagine my surprise when I found Star Trek Continues which had so much of that old charm of the original series. Some of their episodes are a bit more heavy handed with the morality, but otherwise I love these episodes. They are just as campy, and cheesy as the original.

Dr Puppet– An adorable stop motion series of Dr Who. Nothing more to say.

Neil’s Puppet Dreams– Still cute puppets, and kind of funny, but a little more adult in content. I love Neil Patrick Harris. He’s amazing, and always entertaining. And the set and puppet design for this are fantastic as well. Sad there were only a few episodes.

Convo’s with my 2 year old– As reenacted by the father, and another full grown man. This series has gotten more hilarious as the family has grown, now with their daughter portrayed as one man, and their son portrayed as another. The acting is fantastic, writing hilarious, and production so well done. But please….maybe I can have just one more cookie.

Mortal Kombat Legacy– This ones a bit harder to find on youtube. It is a Machinama series, and the first season seems to be available in various places, but the second season is not. It came out on blueray a while back so…who knows. But! It is a great series that takes off from the Mortal Kombat games/movies and has a fantastic plot. Incredible production value, and pretty good acting.

LARPs Season 1 and Season 2– This is the story of a group of LARPers, and how everything goes totally wrong. But it might work out in the end. Really well done series, fantastic writing, some good actors, and really funny moments.

Space Janitors– A couple of janitors working on the Death Star, and their friends. For janitors they a really do manage to mess things up a lot.

Of course there is also The Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, but they are pretty well known, and you can find them on Netflix, too.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2016 in Review

 

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Review : Arq

​First, the not spoiler review

Netflix original movie, Arq is a fast paced action adventure. I went in knowing nothing about the movie other than it was a Netflix original and sci-fi. When things started going I ended up glued to my seat trying to figure out what was going to happen next. I loved this movie! I hope it gets a sequel because I would love to see more of the world.

The entire movie takes place inside one house. You do get a feel for the world outside the house, but they manage to do a beautiful job of telling a story with this limited set, and only six characters. 

I honestly think I got more enjoyment of the story because I did not know what to expect. I came in blind and was able to take in the pieces as they were given to me, and got more interested the farther down the rabbit hole we went.

Now, for the spoilers

Arq isn’t a new idea. Time looping and sci-fi have gone hand in hand for as long as most of us can remember. I can think of several Star Trek episodes, plus movies like Primer, Looper, and Groundhog Day. All of which deal with people repeating a day, or week, or moment over and over again.

Arq is, however, creative in the way they do it. One person remembers. As they loop more people start to remember, and each new person who remembers causes new complications along the way. The fact that all of this is happening during a home invasion just makes it even better. 

The interaction between the two main characters is fantastic! And the fact that it keeps changing as they keep learning new things about each other through the loops is great. 

The ending was a bit of a OMG moment. I thought “fantastic, let’s go to the next episode, this is great.” That’s when I realized it was a movie, not a series. This would make such an interesting series!

Hoping they make a sequel to this. It really deserves one.

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2016 in Review

 

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Review: Jason Bourne

imagesDon’t you love how they did away with everything except his name? Jason Bourne, because we all know his name and his story. It’s become a part of our culture, and our references. There are so many memes about Bourne that he needs nothing except the name and the face.

But I find the Bourne series interesting in other ways too.

Last week I did a review on Stranger Things. Set in the 80’s, it had a lot of references to things I knew back then. That included one moment in the show when the father tells his wife “Don’t worry, their the government, we can trust them.” (Or something like that.)

On the other hand there is Bourne, and other movies like it, that emphasize that we can’t trust our government. When I was growing up we had The Great American Hero and 007 who fought for the government to stop the bad guys. Now both of them are working against the government, taking a stand against what they think is wrong.

We don’t trust our government like we use to. We don’t expect them to be working for the “greater good”, whatever that is. We do expect many people in government to act in their own self interest. The sad part is, nothing has changed. The same people in government are doing the same things they’ve always done. We just took the blinders off. Things like Snowden and the NSA have made it harder to stick our heads in the sand. Not that we can do anything about it.

So we go to the movies and we watch shows like Jason Bourne or Jack Reacher where a lone man fights against the odds to bring corrupt people in the government to justice. Why? Because we survive off hope. Just like many turned to comics and stories back during WWII for a little hope that the war would someday end.

I will say, Bourne was a great movie. Lots of action, lots of conspiracy and twists and turns trying to figure out who was really at fault. And in the end Jason Bourne only has some of the answers, leaving room for yet another installment. But not enough to feel like it wasn’t a complete movie. It’s some of my favorite kind of escapism.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2016 in Review

 

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