2013 Book Readings

1) Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

2) Shadows & Tall Trees – Volume 4 – edited by Michael Kelly

3) The Twelve by Justin Cronin – partial – finished the last quarter.

My thoughts on the book from 2012:

Only made it 3/4s of the way through this one before I had to return it to the library. I’ll have to reborrow to finish it but with an upcoming Christmas vacation that likely won’t happen till next year.The shifting timeline that occurred in the first book is back this time to even more annoying affect. At least in the first book it was in chronological order. In the second, it jumps back again with characters whose fates we know and don’t care about. The first book left us with a certain group of characters and then when the second picks up with them it is some time after the first book ended. Rather off putting and a momentum killer. 300 pages plus in and it was only then the book felt like it was gathering steam. On the plus side I really do like Cronin’s way with characters.

Completing the book reinforced my previous points. I found the book’s jumbled timeline a real momentum killer but Cronin’s craft with creating characters I care about is such that I was quite emotional during the final few chapters.

If it wasn’t for that, I would not read the third book. And I fear a long revisit into the past in the third book maybe in order to flesh out Zero. Another annoying trend was Cronin taking the story up to moments of conflict that had been well setup only to jump forward and then tell what happened after the fact. Not a fan of that style of story telling.

This series had the scope and potential to become the next big thing Apocolyptic novel but as of this point in the story, this series will not supplant The Stand for me.

Curious as to what the general reception for The Twelve has been and Cronin’s reaction/book sales have been.

For me, The Twelve is definitely a disappointment.”

Completing the book reinforced my previous points. I found the book’s jumbled timeline a real momentum killer but Cronin’s craft with creating characters I care about is such that I was quite emotional during the final few chapters. 


If it wasn’t for that, I would not read the third book. And I fear a long revisit into the past in the third book maybe in order to flesh out Zero. Another annoying trend was Cronin taking the story up to moments of conflict that had been well setup only to jump forward and then tell what happened after the fact. Not a fan of that style of story telling. 


This series had the scope and potential to become the next big thing Apocolyptic novel but as of this point in the story, this series will not supplant The Stand for me. 


Curious as to what the general reception for The Twelve has been and Cronin’s reaction/book sales have been.


For me, The Twelve is definitely a disappointment.”

Advertisements

I Swear By Jupiter’s Cock!

I’ve been reading my first Ramsey Campbell book – Creatures Of The Pool – and after hearing so much praise for him my initial impressions are decidely mixed.  I’m a third of the way into the book and an overwhelming majority of it has been a history and geography lesson of Liverpool.  I’m a big believer in setting but this is going overboard. At this point, very little has been revealed about any of the characters and beyond the story noting how damp everything is, very little of the story itself has yet to be revealed.   I’m probably making a fool of myself at this point with my initial reaction given Campbell’s reputation.  Or maybe I just chose the wrong book to start with.

On the flip side, when I want a fun and quick read I find myself turning to Jim Butcher’s – Dresden Files series.  The book series came to my attention after the short lived TV series. Butcher writes the Dresden books in engagingly dry manner that harkens back to those old hard boiled detective noir style stories and has mixed it with wizardry, magic, and the supernatural.  Harry Dresden is a very sympathetic character who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and never seems to get a break.  Harry has a great sense of humor which leavens up the grist mill of obstacles and tribulations Butcher puts his poor protagonist through.

If the title of this post rings a bell for you then chances are you too are a viewer of the StarZ series – Spartacus.  The show is in its last season and has followed the story of Spartacus’s capture into Roman slavery, his rise in the gladiatorial arena, and the Slave Revolt he has led against the Romans.  In the final season, which is four episodes in, Julius Caesar himself has been summoned to deal with the ever growing rebellion.

Spartacus

After a first season shaky start in the first four episodes – exacerbated by the show’s signature battle scenes that are very reminiscent of the 300 movie’s slomo bloodfests – the series has crafted a complex and intricately plotted story that constantly presents characters with life and death decisions from which very few walk away alive.  The body count is high and favored characters fall with a degree of regularity that tops that of The Walking Dead.  The difference between Spartacus and The Walking Dead is that with Spartacus, character deaths consistently illicit emotional responses from both sides of the spectrum depending on where your character loyalties lie.

This is a very adult show.  Blood, limbs, heads – cloven whole or in half, and gore flow freely.  So does wine and bodily fluids.  Spartacus is an equal opportunity show – full female and male nudity, yes including that of the frontal variety – are often on display in all the possible configurations and gender pairings possible.  These were violent times and Spartacus captures it all whether it be in the arena, on the battleground, or behind closed doors of a master’s estate. 

Further props have to be given to the cast who undergo a rigorous physical regime to maintain and project the musculature of warriors.  These actors, in very physical roles, then must master many weapon types with swords the most common choice.  The physical aspects of the show are then married with modern technology to create battle scenes that, for my money, surpass most things seen on the much more lauded Game of Thrones.  Another show which I enjoy watching.

Spartacus is a great show that deserves far more acclaim than it has garnered to date.  This is a harsh, gritty world where the characters live and die hard. Check it out. Highly recommended.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


On a writing front I put together a piece of micro fiction and sent it off today.  The deadline is mid-March so it was great to get that one under my belt. Especially since it is my first dribble of fiction writing in ages.

…OverComing Mulder and Mayans…

pssst!  Between you and me let’s pretend it hasn’t been ages since I last posted here.

Agreed?

….

Thanks!


What to say?  Well, as with most of us no doubt, the last year has seen a lot of change.  Especially for our family.  Because of the job crunch in Ontario, I ended up taking a job out west.  At first it looked like we were heading to Calgary but then the opportunities our consulting firm had lined up there fell through so it was off to Edmonton instead.  For my family the switch made little difference as they had stayed back in Ontario while I spent six months working in Calgary, getting familiar with the area, and going out with a real estate agent to the various sections of town to scout out a location to move to.

All of that planning went up in smoke when I was reassigned to Edmonton.

What’s that saying again?  Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans or some such thing…

So in mid-February of 2012 I was plopped down into a downtown Edmonton hotel scrambling to understand the needs of a new client and find a place for us to move to ASAP as each day I spent in the hotel ate into our moving budget.

All things have worked out rather well.  I found a little town nestled on the north edge of Edmonton, St. Albert, which is a lovely community that you can drive across in 10 minutes.  It is a scenic place with with a lovely variety of elevations ie not all flat plainsland, and a river that meanders through the centre of town. The educational and recreational facilities are fantastic.  The amount of them available per capita is rather stunning.  Most importantly, our son who just turned 13 but was 12 when we moved loves the Junior High School and his marks have improved dramatically as a reflection of that.  He misses his old friends back east but through the wonders of modern technology keeps in touch with them through his X-Box.

It is quieter out here.  You get out of St. Albert and Edmonton proper and the amount of elbow room one can feel out here – if you have been a long time resident of Southern Ontario – is rather stunning.  The local joke here is that Edmonton is 4 hrs from everywhere – Calgary, the Rockies, and Toronto – by plane.

We survived the forecasted world end of December 22, 2012 – Mulder and Mayans be damned – flew back east for Christmas and a week in Jamaica.  The nice thing when we flew back west was this time we were heading home.  The previous time, especially for my wife and son, the feeling of that flight was one of leaving home. This last trip closed the circle for all of us.

We are home.