Geek Log – Star Date 4.25.2019

As of this week I have finished the second season of Star Trek Discovery and, while I know I will read some blog post bemoaning over-used tropes and character complaints, I maintain my love of this series.

Michael Burnham’s character continues to engage me, and the resolution with her brother Spock was satisfying to the extreme.

Speaking of Spock… The actors who continue to reprise this role have all done so with great respect to the original – our beloved Leonard Nemoy – and I find myself loving each incarnation. Ethan Peck’s version was everything I needed it to be in this season – though I did prefer the beard.

The surprise for me was how much I loved Christopher Pike. I want very much to follow this character, though I recognize the story will likely not take us via Enterprise again.

I am uncertain where season 3 will take us, but I look forward to finding out.

Book Review – Black Powder War by Naomi Novik

Our family started the Temeraire series on the road trip to New England and we were excited to see where the story went in this third book. Laurence and Temeraire are now staples in our household, to the point that we’ve taken to nicknaming our cats after the dragons.

(Nicknames only, because to me they will always be Pest – for constantly sitting on the back of my chair while I’m typing – and Nuisance – for his equally disruptive behavior while I am writing with pen and paper.)

It is particularly delightful to see my ten-year-old son getting involved in the narrative. He enjoys Temeraire’s confusion with humanity, and more important to this novel, his conversations with Lawrence regarding the treatment of dragons in human society.

There wasn’t as much battle in this one, but the tension is still there. Without spoiling the novel, there was a lot of flying to be done and intrigues that had to be averted as the greater war against Napoleon took a huge step forward.

We’ve already snagged the fourth book and will be starting it soon. If you’re a family that enjoys reading, and particularly reading together, then this is a series I highly recommend. The narrative is beautiful and the characters are memorable.

Plus, dragons.

 

What I learned from King Arthur

Yes, I mean the new movie King Arthur Legend of the Sword. And unlike the critics, I’m going to admit that I loved this movie. My son loved it too, which I find awesome because anything that gets him into King Arthur and the legends of old makes me happy.

So if you’re leaning on critics to tell you whether or not to see this movie, ignore them this time.

Now, the beginning was a little rough. They could have done without the very first tower exploding scene (which happens to be right at the beginning) because we had no idea what that tower was or why it was important, we just saw exploding tower and it just plain felt awkward.

Lesson #1)  Watch your beginning carefully. Just because you know what’s happening doesn’t mean the readers/audience does. I know we abhor too much backstory being thrust at the reader in a novel, but sometimes it is necessary.

Lesson #2)  If you have a vision for your work and it’s a little off-the-beaten-path … just stick to it and trust your readers to give it a chance. Those who do will be rewarded for it. Those who don’t … well, I guess this particular work isn’t meant for them.

I say this because of the music. At first, I was a little taken aback by the soundtrack but as the story moved on it just … fit. In fact, I own that soundtrack now.

Lesson #3) Failure is important but equally important is to emphasize the promise of what will come to pass once the character succeeds.

Without giving too much of a spoiler here, Arthur and Excalibur don’t get along at first. Arthur keeps failing. But with every failure, we see the promise of what this combination is going to become when he finally gets it right.

And when that moment comes in the movie, it is extremely satisfying.

Now … if I were a stringent “legend of King Arthur” person, I imagine I would have guffawed at this movie. They took the very basics of the legend (Arthur, Excalibur, Lady in the Lake) and they tossed out the rest, making it into something new. In an age of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I think we’re more than capable of having a new vision of Arthur.

So … I enjoyed this movie. And my son loved it too. And in the middle of enjoying it, I was able to gain insight into a few things for my own craft. All in all, I’d say it was money well spent.

 

Finders KeepersI enjoyed the wit and the style Colchamro brings to the table in this highly entertaining novel and will be checking out the rest of the series. I should throw out there that this is not a novel suited for younger audiences, but adults who enjoy tongue-in-cheek humor would find it as enjoyable as I did.

I was given this book in return for an honest review and confess that I had no idea what it was about. The plot took me by surprise, and the concepts of Eternity were amusing. The characters are relatable and believable, even if the content splashes around the irreverent side.

OK, so the content dives right into irreverent and kicks around, it was still fun.

Without giving any spoilers, – No spoilers. I hate spoilers. – I can say that the ending was satisfying and the narrative kept me engaged through the entire novel.

I do want to give a strong content warning again. It’s not for the younger audiences and many people with a more stringent Biblical diet would probably not care for it. If none of these things apply to you, then the journey found in Finders Keepers will do exactly what it sets out to do … entertain.

For fans of Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, Tom Robins, Third Rock from the Sun, Groundhog Day, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Harold & Kumar go to White Castle.

 Finders Keepers (Finders Keepers #1) by Russ Colchamiro

 Traversing Europe, New Zealand, and the backbone of Eternity, Finders Keepers is a raunchy, sci-fi backpacking comedy that not only tackles friendship, sex, commitment, and desire, but also God, reincarnation–and what really happened to the dinosaurs!

On a backpacking trip through Europe, Jason Medley and Theo Barnes stumble through hash bars and hangovers; religious zealots and stalkers; food poisoning and thunderstorms; cute girls; overnight trains; fever-pitch hallucinations–and the spectre of adult responsibility!

But when a jar containing the Universe’s DNA falls from Eternity, these new friends find their loyalties put to the test . . . unaware that a motley crew from another realm is chasing them across the globe, with the fate of the Milky Way hanging in the balance.

For fans of Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Christopher Moore, Tom Robins, Third Rock from the Sun, Groundhog Day, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

Finders Keepers is the first book in author Russ Cochamiro’s scifi comedy trilogy.

Check out the Character Illustrations

Goodreads * Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Other Books in the Series:

Genius de Milo (Finders Keepers #2)

Astropalooza (Finders Keepers 3)

About the Author

 Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, Crossline, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

Website * Facebook

Twitter * Instagram

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review – The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

I liked this book so much, I listened to it twice. The first time was just for myself, and the second time I played the audible version for my son in the evenings before bed. Admittedly, the book is about a female magician, but my son liked it just the same.

Without giving spoilers – because I hate giving spoilers in fiction – I can tell you that this book is tightly written. The story follows Ceony Twill as she begins her apprenticeship as a paper magician.

The idea of magic being connected to different materials and crafts was interesting to me, and to my son. It was fun to “watch” as paper was made to do amazing things with magic, and in fact I believe this is what kept my nine-year-old son listening.

The magic system alone kept me fascinated, even if I did find some of the descriptions in the book a little clunky. This happened a couple of times in the book for me, drawing me out of the storyline because the descriptions seemed so odd, but it’s nothing to stop a reader from going on.

As an author, those descriptions are something that I’ve highlighted for further review and I’ll touch on them in a later post. Suffice to say, the book as a whole is excellent, Ceony is a relatable and proactive character that I was able to get behind and root for until the last page.

I’ll be grabbing the next book in this series and highly recommend it.

Book Review – On Writing by Stephen King

Let me start this review off by saying that I do not often read Stephen King. I started The Stand a long time ago but my son was all of three years old at the time and the dead children disturbed me so much I couldn’t move forward with the book.

I’m sure I could read it now, but at the time I wasn’t ready for that sort of reality. I needed to keep my happy bubble of pretend-safety around my little boy. (C’mon, now, as safe as we try to keep our kids we all know there’s only so much we can do.)

While I haven’t read much of his work, I know who Mr. King is and have great respect for him. I’m not sure why it took me so long to pick this book up – it looks like it was written during my senior year of high school – but I’m pleased that I finally did.

This book is freeing.

Yes, he reminds us about some of the mechanics of writing such as the dreaded adverb or adverbial clause, but he only touches on these for a moment. But for the most part, Mr. King’s “memoir of the craft” feels like a commiseration.

He proves that reading and writing are magic. And he invites authors to embrace that magic, reminding us why we enjoy this craft in the first place. I recommend this book to any and all writers out there who haven’t already picked it up. It’s a worthy read.

 

Supernatural Re-Watch

A while ago I started re-watching Supernatural. I started from the beginning and only skipped one episode (Bugs) because I really didn’t like that one. Spiders and me just … no. I suppose if I ever really want to write a horror book I’ll just cram super-spiders in there and let them take over the world, but I digress.

I just finished with Swan Song last night and, due to the way instant video works, watched the most recent episode of the new season via Amazon as well. It’s amazing to see how Sam and Dean have changed in ten years, and how they have stayed the same.

Physically speaking I’d have to say that Sam (Jared Padalecki) has changed more than Dean (Jensen Ackles) but in terms of character motivations and what have you, both have been on a roller-coaster. Of course, they’ve both died a bazillion times and visited Hell or Heaven or Purgatory, not to mention the whole apocalypse thing, so you kind of expect them to be different now.

But as I was watching the show last night (About a Boy, which was wonderful, by the way) I couldn’t help wondering what it was about this show that hooked me. Why do I keep coming back to this story?

Supernatural is currently in its 10th season, which is amazing in and of itself. Shows don’t normally last this long. I’m not supernaturalcomplaining or anything, I love these guys. I love that it’s not the run-of-the-mill drama you find on television these days, rife with broken romances and people trying to find their place in the world.

Sam and Dean know their place. There might have been some question earlier on in the show, but when push comes to shove they’re built to “help people” and “hunt things” and while they might take a break from time to time they always come back to it.

But that’s not why I keep coming back to this show.

I keep coming back to this show because I would love to just hang out with Sam and Dean. They’re regular guys who make me laugh. Castiel and Crowley can come along too, though if you ask me they’re just as attracted to the very “humanness” of these brothers as I am.

What it comes down to is character. Dean’s jokes and Sam’s careful observation, the brokenness of both men from crap they’ve dealt with in the past or are currently dealing with today, it all adds to this complex brotherly relationship that is both common and extraordinary.

And on top of all that we get ghosts and monsters and the occasional apocalypse.

So … yeah. Supernatural is my favorite running show for all the reasons above. I’ll keep watching, and re-watching, for as long as I can. If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to look it up. Currently you can find it on Netflix or you can go the Amazon route.