Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Small Favor

Small Favor (The Dresden Files, #10)Small Favor by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've thoroughly enjoyed every installment I've read in this series so far, but this tenth book is the first time I've given one five stars and put it on my "favorites" shelf. As all the disparate plot lines throughout the series start to converge or get wrapped up entirely, the stories, which were always good, have kicked up a notch in the last few books, and this one is a masterpiece. The plot is layered and intense. The confrontations are meaningful, between both enemies and friends. And the character relationships take huge steps that break the status quo completely, and not just for the sake of doing so but in ways that happen naturally, and almost unavoidably. I dread catching up with this series completely because I'll hate waiting so long for the new installments once I get there...

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"The Drop" Review - Written by Jim Herling

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The Herald

The Herald: The Sundering, Book VIThe Herald: The Sundering, Book VI by Ed Greenwood

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've been fairly hard on the last few Greenwood books, as he always seems to over-stuff them with inconsequential characters and too many tangential subplots for my liking. This book is light-years better than the last because he doesn't do that here (with the exception of one subplot involving Mirt and Manshoon that pops up every few chapters and serves no purpose at all other than to remind us that Greenwood really likes those characters). The plot is straightforward: Elminster and co. have to save the world. From who changes a few times a few times a long the way, as does with who. The characters are vibrant, although the dialogue is clunky as always. The action scenes are well-written. Things are a bit too rushed, though, especially at the end, and a deus ex machina can always be tricky, especially when the deus part is literal. But still, it's a good read, and a decent ending to this "Realms-shaking series," even if the whole series ending up being a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. My major gripe with the series as a whole is that just about every book focused on Chosen being taken and whatnot, and while this story mentions that a few times, it doesn't play into it at all. I was hoping the conclusion of the series might see a lot of the Chosen from the series working together, but we just get Greenwood's regular crew. A mild disappointment, but the book itself was enjoyable, regardless.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The 2014 Fall Season

Once again, a new season of television is about to befall us, as networks refuse to get away from this archaic method of scheduling that is only used by literally only five channels out of hundreds out there. But since they still insist on doing it this way, I'm back with my yearly tradition of putting together a chart of what interests me this season, what channel it's on what night, and when it starts.

Also because I have a lot of free time on my hands. And also because I'm getting old and I honestly don't know if I can remember when some of this shit is on without this...

You should obviously click to enlarge...

A couple of thoughts on the schedule, as always. I'm starting out with twenty-one shows, one show less than last year's list. Of the twenty-two I started with last year, eight aren't present this year because of planned finales, cancellations, or me no longer giving a crap. There are six new shows on this year's list waiting to see if they make the cut: Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, Gracepoint, Intruders, and Selfie. The latter two, by the way, have already made the cut; I spoke about them both a little bit here. And yes, for you mathophiles out there, I know the numbers don't add up... the difference is that Glee is a mid-season replacement for its final season this year so it isn't on this list. I expect the new shows to all make the cut, given the subject matter and my predilections, but I guess we never know. The four of them I haven't already spoken about will get reviewed when the time comes.

Until then, let's have a chat! Did I miss anything? What are you guys looking forward to watching? Let's here it!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Monday, September 8, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Razor's Edge

Razor's Edge (Star Wars: Empire and Rebellion, #1)Razor's Edge by Martha Wells

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There was a time when I became excited whenever a new novel set in the Classic Era starring the big three came out; it was fun to see them as I remember them from the trilogy, more inexperienced, relationships rawer, lives unencumbered by everything the Expanded Universe piled on over the years. But that time passed for me, replaced with excitement over EU stories set in the future because, honestly, those books have stakes that a book like Razor's Edge just can't. Characters occasionally die in the future of the EU, even important characters, and in a story set between ANH and ESB, those stakes just aren't there, no matter how hard the author tries. And Wells does try; this is a story where the stakes constantly ratchet higher, with the heroes finding no relief til the end... but again, nothing of consequence could happen. And for me personally, it really doesn't help that this was Leia-centric, because I hate her. SO yes, I didn't enjoy this book, but I'm giving it two stars because I realize my disdain for the circumstances of it might have colored my opinion of the author's story, which was decently crafted and featured an interesting emotional story. But the action scenes were far too quick and simple and, honestly, if you're going to have a mystery about a traitor, don't have one character be hated by everybody else from the very start of the book. It telegraphs it just a touch...

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

Catching Up With a TV Cavalcade!

So it's been three and a half months since I've written a blog about anything other than a movie or book review, and six and a half months since I've written one about television. This has been due to a plethora of reasons: first it was the ridiculous schedule I was working, then it was the distractions of the advancements of my movie-reviewing projects, then it was the ongoing situation of my grandmother still in the hospital, and now it's the fact that if I don't find a job soon I won't need to worry about sticking to a diet because I flat-out won't be able to afford any food (seriously, my financial situation is bad. I need a job. Nowish. So if you know of any, e-mail me. Text Me. Smokescreens. Whatever. You get the point.) But if you think I haven't been watching television in all that time just because I haven't been writing about it, you've gone crazy crackers. I've been watching. And keeping notes. I've got sixteen(!) different subjects from the last six months to hit on.

It's a veritable TV Cavalcade!

But a short cavalcade because, y'know, sixteen topics, I'm obviously not gonna say much about them all, right? So it's like a pellet cavalcade. Or something.

Leave me alone, I'm tired.

Let's start with some replacement shows from last season I never got around to...

I watched the entire season and for the most part I enjoyed it. The cast was solid, and the whole non-zombie living dead people was an interesting mystery... that they did absolutely nothing with except drop some vague hints. I don't like mysteries that go nowhere towards a resolution, that just get worse and worse. I've been burned before, so I'm on the fence about coming back for season two of this one.

I dropped this one as soon as I realized it was the exact same show as Touch but without Kiefer Sutherland. And from the looks of how fast it got canned, I wasn't the only one.

I really wanted to like this CW version of the Lord of the Flies set on a post-apocalyptic Earth. While obviously not breaking any new ground from the description, the pilot was well done and I liked the cast. But when I went back for the second episode, I realized I just didn't care at all, so I dropped it.

Now let's move on to a few events...

I was. Oh holy hell was I ever. And that's why, despite being a season filled with some awesome moments (that fight between the Mountain and the Viper, for example) there was one hands down greatest moment of the season:

Speaking of events, HIMYM ended!

After a final season that was almost good enough to make up for how bad the show had gotten in recent years, we got a finale that undid the entire final season. Wonderful. A whole season takes place at Barney and Robin's wedding, only to have them divorce in the finale so she can end up with Ted because that's what the whole show was about the entire time. Ted and Robin. And the Mother just dies off-screen, an afterthought in a show that teased fans about how for years. Someone should have told the writers that teasing is only fun if there's a release at the end. Otherwise, it's just blue balls. And they, like the HIMYM finale, are awful.

And speaking of awful finales...

Using this picture because LaLa, hookers.

After multiple seasons of how much Sookie hates Bill and wants nothing to do with him and loves other guys, the entire finale is about how she loves him too much to kill him, until she decides she loves herself enough to kill him because he wanted her to have a normal life and not love a vampire. Which she may or may not do anyway, because in a half-assed epilogue she's got a bear full of TruBlood and a new man who's face we never see, so is he a vampire or not? Who knows. But it was a completely boring crapfest of an ending, from start to finish. The only highlights were Pam doing what she does best, and Hoyt being back. There was barely any Lafayette, and that, above anything else, was unacceptable.

Revolution ended too, by the way, but it ended as it lived: with nobody giving a crap except those of us hate-watching the fuck out of it. Good riddance.

Now, how about some premieres and finales all rolled into one?

Boy, was I glad to see that ticking clock back. I always loved 24, and it was awesome having Jack Bauer back and doing his thing again. Yes, the show was formulaic, from the plot twists every third of the season to the inevitable good guy traitor to the reveal of the real big bad, and yes, we saw almost all of it coming. But it was still a fun as hell thrill ride. My only complaint is that, as always, it had one hell of a depressing ending. Damn it, Chloe!

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did. It had vampires, demons, werewolves, Frankensteins
(no, the plural is not a typo), Dorian Gray, a werewolf, and Timothy fucking Dalton all combined in interesting ways. Add that to a whole lot of violence and sex and beautiful women (although I have to admit I'm actually tired of seeing Eva Green naked at this point, bitch can never just keep her kit on anymore) and you've got the recipe of a great show. And I watched it start to finish and it interested me about as much as it also bored me. But I'm still on board for season two, so they must be doing something right.

And now for some decidedly less happy notes.

I watched the first season, and it was alright. And then I read the book and was so annoyed by the changes the show had made that it was fucking dropped before the second season even started. It was awful by comparison, and I wasn't about to suffer through that nonsense.

I might be one of the only people in the world who enjoyed the movie Legion, of which this show is a spin-off, so I was very excited to give the show a try. It's a post-apocalyptic story about a war on Earth between angels for the fate of mankind, the kind of story anyone who knows me will tell you is right up my alley and has been for about twenty years now. Sure, the movie wasn't great, but it had a decent cast, decent acting, and decent special effects. The TV show, sadly, as none of that. The cast sucks and the show was boring as hell. Even Anthony Stewart Head, for whom my love knows no bounds, was awful because they had him using an American accent that was about as much an assault on the senses as anything I can imagine. Plus, it's on the damn SyFy channel. Ugh. I dropped it after one episode.

I tried with this one. I really did. It has a solid cast, an interesting premise, and is a really well-produced show from top to bottom. I gave it four episodes but then I just couldn't do it anymore. It isn't that the mystery wasn't going anywhere; I get that the show was less about the mystery than it was about how people lived after what happened, and as much as not knowing the answers vexes me, I could live with that. The problem was that the show was just too damn depressing! I might give it another chance when it's all over and I can binge watch it, depending on the reviews it gets as a whole season, but for now, I just can't.

But it's not all bad, there's been some TV out there I've been enjoying!

And I ain't the least bit ashamed to admit it, either. Yeah, it's the Disney channel, so it isn't exactly advanced, thought-provoking programming or anything, but it's cute and funny and as a huge Boy Meets World fan, I just love seeing Cory and Topanga again. And the kids are pretty talented as a cast, too. Yes, the plots are often rehashes of old BMW plots, but who cares? Not the point. The only problem is, it needs more original cast cameos! So far all we've gotten is a quick Feeny sighting and an appearance by Minkus, of all people. I need Shawn and Eric and the rest of the Matthews and, above all, more Feeny, dammit. Feeeeeeeny!

This vampire series is weird as fuck, which is no surprise considering the involvement of Guillermo Del Toro. The cast, with the exception of David Bradley and Kevin Durand, is kind of weak, but the story and effects make up for it. I've read the trilogy it's based on and I know it has a fairly unique take on vampires going for it and it goes in some interesting directions, and I'm enjoying watching it play out on the screen. So far, FX is getting it right with this one.

Speaking of weird shows, this one is on top of the list. We're two episodes in and all I can tell you about the plot is that it has something to do with dead people taking over living people's bodies, but I'm not sure how yet and if they're ghosts or what the hell is going on. it's got a superb cast, though, which is no surprise considering it's from the BBC. The acting is topnotch so far and it's got me hooked. And before you ask, yes, there's a Doctor Who connection.

And the mention of Doctor Who brings me right to the last topic in the cavalcade...

Yes, that's Doctor Who's Amelia Pond, the lovely Karen Gillan. The pilot of her new ABC comedy, Selfie, premiered early. It's an update of My Fair Lady, with Karen playing Eliza Dooley, an absolutely absurd character obsessed with just about every form of social media possible and living the kind of life we'd expect that sort of vapid twit to live. After an incident that ruins her image completely, she goes to John Cho's Henry (no last name given yet) to rebrand her and basically make her into a better person. The results are hysterical. Aside from being funny with natural jokes, the show even rhymes a bunch, which I love. And as for the stars, the two of them have great chemistry together, and Gillan in particular is as good as she's been in everything else so far. Cho's straight man act is a great counter to her vapidness. But, no disrespect to Cho, Gillan is the real star here. She's got a great presence, great delivery and timing, and yes, elephant in the room, it doesn't at all hurt that she looks like this:

Selfie is the first show of the new season I've seen and the first one that's definitely added to my watch list. As the new season draws near my TV blogging presence will increase. Coming up possibly as soon as tomorrow will be my annual grid of all the shows I plan on watching, and as new shows premier hopefully I'll have some in-depth posts about what's good and what isn't. Until then...

I dunno, go watch some reruns or something.

I need a catchphrase.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Severed Souls

Severed Souls (Richard and Kahlan, #3)Severed Souls by Terry Goodkind

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Wizard's First Rule is one of my favorite books of all time. It started a ten year love affair between me and the Sword of Truth series. I eagerly gobbled up each new book. I championed the series to other people. I loved everything about Goodkind's writing and his world. SO it breaks my heart to see how his decline has continued. This is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's ridiculously repetitive. There are pages and pages of the same thing over and over again, almost down to identical sentences repeated ad nauseam. It makes the characters seem stupid and insults the readers' intelligence, not to mention being flat-out boring. And speaking of a lack of intelligence, the characters speak with some of the most jilted, cliched dialogue I can imagine. Someone actually says, "From now on we're enemies!" Because that's something people, even fantasy people in a fantasy world, would ever actually say. Not to mention all the repetitive plot points and characters I won't spoil, but absolutely nothing about this book felt fresh, not even the cheap deaths. It took me weeks to read it because it was just such a joyless reading experience. I can only assume from the ending there's still at least one more book coming, and I have to admit I'll read it when it drops because after so long being a part of this I'll need to see how it ends, but after this installment I can't at all say I'm looking forward to it.

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"Sin City: A Dame to Kill For" Review - Written by Jim Herling