Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - The Angel's Game

The Angel's GameThe Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


I was really looking forward to this follow-up prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, a book I really enjoyed that I rated four stars. That said, this book left me feeling really disappointed. The characters are just as strong but the plot, which starts out as a strong, compelling mystery just like in the first book, completely falls apart under the weight of its twists and turns and countless plot holes and completely falls apart before it gets to the ridiculous twist at the end that makes no sense whatsoever. The author leaves so many questions left unanswered... or perhaps they were answered but just made no sense whatsoever... that there is nothing fulfilling about the book at all except how the end makes clear just how much this ties into Shadow of the Wind. That reveal might have saved the book a little, except it was telegraphed halfway through. The first half of the book rates two stars. The rest... well, I'd say read it for yourself, but I don't know if that's a good idea.



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The Recommended Reading Challenge has reached twenty-eight books now, and while I'm happy to say I've enjoyed more of them than I haven't, this one left a bad taste in my mouth that I need to chase down with something yummy. Give me a good book, people!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kneejerking to the 2013 Oscar Nominees

In case you missed it because you live under a rock, the nominees for this year's Academy Awards were announced today, and I, of course, have some reactions. Not predictions, mind you; I haven't actually seen all the movies involved yet so I'm not about to make any predictions... but that doesn't mean I don't have any thoughts! Not many, mind you, because I'm tired and verging on sick, but here we go...


Starting at the top, what the hell is Amour? Seriously, how is there a Best Picture nominee that I haven't even heard of? Also, I'm shocked as hell that Django Unchained got nominated. I've yet to watch it, but it doesn't seem like the kind of movie the Academy would recognize. It must be really, really good. When it comes to Best picture, though, I'm really pulling for Silver Linings Playbook, which would surprise no one at this point.

Best Actor is a hell of a field this year, past winners abound and all, and I'd be really, really surprised if we don't see a repeat. Sorry, Bradley Cooper... you'll just have to settle for being one handsome, charismatic, rich son of a bitch...

Initially, I was surprised as hell that Anne Hathaway didn't get a nod for Best Actress, because she was just amazing in Les Miserables. But as I thought about it, even though she gave arguably the movie's best performance, she was only in it for about 20 minutes, not really Best Actress material. Which is fine with me, because having to choose between her and Jennifer Lawrence for me would be like what I can only imagine it felt like for mothers to have sons on opposing sides of the Civil War.

Holy wow.
But we all know the Academy loves a great story, and with the Best Actress field this year having both the oldest and the youngest actresses to ever get nominated, well, it'll be interesting.

Anne Hathaway being moved from Best Actress to Best Supporting Actress really boned the rest of the ladies in that category though, didn't it?

I got nothing at the moment for Best Supporting Actor. Best I can say is that Alan Arkin was the only thing about Argo I enjoyed.

Speaking of which, the biggest surprise for me is that Ben Affleck didn't get any love for Best Director. I mean, as I said, Argo didn't do much for me, but everyone and their drunken sister loved it, it got a Best Picture nod, and everyone always raves about Affleck as a director, so I'm pretty surprised by this.

Those are the immediate reactions I had when reading the nominations today. If you were looking for predictions, sorry to disappoint you; I'll make it up to you the day of the show, once I've seen all the relevant movies. Til then, if you have any thoughts about the nominations, let's talk about them!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - Snuff

SnuffSnuff by Chuck Palahniuk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


As I said in my review of the last Palahniuk book I read, Haunted, I really hope this guy spends the bulk of his money on therapy, because my man is clearly out of his gourd. That being said, his kind of insanity produces some really, really good books. Like anything you'd expect from him, this book is twisted and compelling (in the way watching trainwrecks are compelling; I was so drawn in by the insanity displayed here that I read the whole book in a day) and, of course, there are twists that keep you guessing everywhere. I thought I had the main twist figured out ahead of time... and I was right, by the way... but then the twists kept coming as the narrative raced to one of the most messed-up conclusions I have ever seen. Seriously, just read the book and see for yourself. I know I've said that about all of Palahniuk's books I've read thus far, but, yeah, do it.



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The friend who gave me this twenty-seventh recommendation in my year-long challenge predicted I'd knock this out in a day, and she was absolutely right' it's a great read. Now, I need something else. Come on, folks, don't be shy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

The 10 Best Geek TV Shows of 2012

Yesterday, my friend Gio (you can find his blog, Words from the Master, here; you should check it out, it's pretty great) posted a link to Topless Robot's Ten Best Geek Shows of 2012. I read the list, and while some of it is okay, I disagreed with most of the shows and pretty much all of the rankings. SO, I decided the only thing to do was post my own version of the list!

10. The Big Bang Theory


Topless Robot not only saw fit to leave this off the list, but they even took a shot at it while talking about Community. I'm sorry, but no show on television embraces geek culture the way this show does while simultaneously giving us enjoyable characters, fun stories, and a whole bunch of laughs every week. Most of the shows on either list are talked about on this show, and when they talk about Doctor Who, they talk about Doctor Who... Inspector Spacetime, my ass.

9. Merlin


Here's a show that gets very little love in the States as it comes from across the pond and isn't its more famous cousin, but it's a high quality show that I've already written about. The fifth and final season is only just starting on SyFy now, but having already seen it all... well, it's a hell of a ride.

8. Arrow


Here's another show I've already written about. In my initial review, I said it had some problems, but if it could fix them, it would be a great show. It's fixed them, and it's pretty great. In fact, it's shaping up to be a much better show than Smallville was; not saying much now, I grant you, but looking back at Smallville's first few seasons, that show was on point... and much like that, Arrow is right on target.

7. Spartacus: Vengeance


Topless Robot completely forgot about this gem of an action series. Maybe their memory doesn't stretch back to Winter 2012? Whatever the reason, leaving off this well-acted, well-plotted, and action-packed period piece pretty much shredded the credibility of their list completely.

6. Doctor Who


My list and Topless Robot's list have had nothing in common so far, and nowhere is that a more glaring error on their part than in their list's lack of the Doctor. Yes, the six episodes we had so far in Series 7 have been uneven... for my money, three were great and three were just alright... but, in the case of those good episodes, when Doctor Who is on top of its game, nothing can touch it.

5. True Blood


I'm the first to admit True Blood felt like it hit it's prime right out of the gate has declined lately, but season 5 really was a return to greatness for the show, especially once it cleared out a few of the weaker side story lines and left the last few episodes to focus on the biggest vampire arc its had in years, the Cult of Lilith, and its big surprise ending that was easily one of the best cliffhangers of the year.

4. The Vampire Diaries


For the first time, the two lists have a show in common. The Vampire Diaries gets a bad rap, I think being compared to Twilight all the time. But honestly, it is much more True Blood than Twilight, except with much more consistent quality. This show never disappoints, and it proved very early on that no character is safe. People die on this show all the time... and nothing says entertainment like never knowing when your favorite character might drop.

3. Fringe


Talk about the little show that could. Fringe escaped cancellation not once but twice, managing to come back for this final season that, like every other season, is only the same in that it's totally different from what came before. Episodes in this mini-season have been truly heart-breaking, edge-of-your-seat stuff. They've been describing this final season as a love letter to the fans, and, if that's the case, well, this is definitely a two-way love affair.

2. The Walking Dead


Everyone's favorite zombie show pulled in at #1 on Topless Robot's list, and yes, season 3 has been that damn good so far, with Michonne, Merle, and The Governor and enough deaths to shake a sword at. But, 2012 also includes the second half of season 2, which, with the exception of the last episode or two, wasn't very good. With that in mind, I couldn't justify giving it the top spot, especially when you consider the show that's left...

1. Game of Thrones


Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister. Do I really need to say anymore? Okay, fine. Arya Stark. Daenerys Targaryen. Dragons. Blackwater. Fucking Joffrey. The defense rests, Your Honor.

Goodreads Book Review - The Fuck-Up

The Fuck UpThe Fuck Up by Arthur Nersesian

My rating: 1 of 5 stars


Have you ever spent an entire book wishing with each turn of the page that the next page would bring about a surprise plot twist in which the protagonist you've been reading about the whole time suddenly dies and the book is now about someone else entirely? No? Then you have no idea of the misery in which I sat while reading this book. I will never understand why someone would choose to write about such a reprehensible character like the nameless star of this book, or why they would think an audience would want to read about the odyssey of horrible things that happen to him through every fault of his own until, in one of the most laughing bad and abrupt endings I've ever read, he's rewarded with a better life than he ever had before. I will admit to laughing out loud once or twice, but not in joy; no, it was just masochistic schadenfreude.



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The twenty-sixth book in the RRC was easily the worst book of the bunch so far, and that's saying something. Someone recommend something really good to help me cleanse my palette? Please? After this abomination, I'm literally begging you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Goodreads Book Review - I Know This Much Is True

I Know This Much Is TrueI Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I have to admit, for the most of the time I spent reading this book, I hated it. I wasn't thrilled with the writing style or the way the plot jumps from time frame to time frame to time frame. I felt like I couldn't connect with any of the characters and because of that, I couldn't care about them, and if I couldn't care about the characters, why bother reading the thing at all? And while I still stand by some of that, a funny thing happened in the last 250 pages or so. Lamb pulled everything together and wrapped it up in a way that made me say, "Okay, this actually wasn't that bad now that I see it all in front of me." I was actually rooting for the main character, Dominick, and was happy to see the way he changed and the way his life wound up, even if I do think one or two aspects were a little too neat of a wrap-up. I also saw a few things that mirrored some of the trends in my life (nothing quite so dramatic as the events of this novel, but, parallels can be drawn, at least) and it gave me a lot to think about... and in the end, isn't that and a bit of entertainment the best we can ask for from a good book?



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Kicking off the new year with this, the twenty-fifth book I've read in my Recommended Reading Challenge. I've got a handful of books left on the list at the moment and still have about three-and-a-half months to go before the Challenge is over, so I could use some more. Share, people!