Stormtrooper Terry

Stormtrooper Terry

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Side Jobs

Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files (The Dresden Files, #12.5)Side Jobs: Stories From the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having just finished Changes a book or so ago, I dived into this collection of short Dresden-related stories before going back to the main narrative with Ghost Story, since the final story here bridges the gap between the former (or is that Fomor?) and the latter. As with most anthologies, I found it tough to settle on a rating, as not all the stories are of the same quality; the first one in particular is a bit rough. But eventually they all step up and show the same flair for character and action Butcher shows in all his novels, and the last few are just great. It's definitely a recommended read for part of the Dresden Files. It might even be fun to read them along with the novels in the proper chronology. Just make sure you don't read it before Changes!

And an aside... in at least two of the stories here Harry mentions how he hates hats and doesn't wear them but maybe he should start, and I remember him saying that in a book or two as well. So why is he wearing a hat on the cover of every single book??

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Thankful Stormtrooper, 2014 Edition

Getting harder and harder to find ones of these I haven't used before...

Here we are again, another Thanksgiving, another installment of the SSTAS traditional list of thanks. Yes, it needs a catchier name. No, I'm not thankful for your complaints (I'm also not thankful for mass text messages and the endless responses from people I don't know, but I digress). Anyway. This is the yearly post where I make mention of all the things I'm thankful for in my life as a way to show my gratitude and, dare I say it, love.

For the first time, this list will not be headed off by the ambrosia that is Jameson Irish Whiskey. No, the number one thing I'm grateful for this year is the love of my life, Marisa. Everything in my life has been better since she came along, and she's stood by me through some really dark times already in what has been, despite the dark times, the best year of my life because of her. She really is an amazing woman, and I'm happier with her than I ever thought possible. We've taken our relationship to the next level now as we're living together, and everything is just wonderful.

I'm grateful for the love of my grandmother, who I miss beyond words. I'm spending a quiet Thanksgiving alone today for a lot of reasons, but mostly because the idea of going to a party and celebrating without the woman who cooked every Thanksgiving turkey I've ever eaten doesn't feel right just yet. But I'm still immensely thankful for her memory and for her love and for all the things she imparted to me. I'm a better person because of her.

Now I'm thankful for the wonderful libation that is Jameson. Sheesh, that took awhile.

I'm thankful for my family. It's smaller now than it was before, but in some places there's a closeness there that was missing before. Old wounds are healing slowly, and that's always nice.

I'm grateful for my circle of friends, who are always there for me. In some ways it's smaller than it was before, but in other ways it's larger than ever. I love these people, even if I don't see them enough, especially now. It's nice to know with some bonds distance is meaningless.

As always, I'm thankful for writing. The writing of others in all means and mediums that I get to enjoy and my own writing as well. In the last six or seven months I've taken some strides in that regard; I'm still not getting paid for any of it, but it's being seen by more people than ever, and it's already led to another opportunity or two... still unpaid, though. I'd be really thankful if that could change!

That wraps my list up for now. If anyone would like to share what they've been thankful for, I'd love to read it. Let's talk about it and share our gratitude, folks!

God, that was corny. Forget I said that.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TV Roundup: Constantine, The Flash, Gotham, and Gracepoint

Now that the new shows I decided to try out this season have all gotten a good number of episodes under their belt, I figured it's a good time to throw my opinions about them out there (or that's just a rationalization for the laziness that has seen me putting off writing about each show separately for weeks now. Six of one, half dozen of the other, y'know how it goes... and hey, cut me some slack, it's not like I moved to a different state or suffered a death in the family or anything. Oh, wait, that's right...). But first, let's pour one out for the fifth new show I gave a try this year and wrote about already, and the only one that has so far been officially cancelled: Selfie.

How anybody could cancel anything that stars Karen Gillan, my beloved Amelia Pond, is beyond me, especially when the show is actually good, but whatever. Do you, ABC. Do you.

Must... resist urge... to post x-tra large size pic...

Now that that sad yet completely appetizing appetizer is out of the way, let's move on to the shows that brought us here. Or, to paraphrase the great Dusty Rhodes , let's dance with what brung us.

Now I know what you might have heard, but no, Constantine isn't cancelled just yet. Yes, NBC chose not to extend the first season past the initial thirteen-episode order, but that's because they premiered it so late in the season that they only had a chance to air four episodes before the deadline to extend passed. So yes, there was no extension, but that doesn't mean strong ratings won't see it renewed for a second season. And I'm hoping that's the case, because the show is solid. It tells good stories that are dark and supernatural, and are usually very surprising, and does it with a very good cast. Matt Ryan is perfect as John Constantine; he doesn't just look the part, he nails it. His associate Chas is played by the entertaining Charles Halford, who is a perfect straight man to John's con man. The weak link in the cast for me is the "apprentice," Zed, played by Angelica Celaya, who isn't that good. Her delivery is stilted and her emotions are overdone. In the pilot, before casting changes were made, the apprentice part was going to be a character named Liv, played by Lucy Griffiths, who is a better actress and, I can't lie, a personal favorite of mine going back to her days as Maid Marian on a BBC version of Robin Hood a few years ago.

This post is turning out to have more beautiful women in it than I had initially expected...

I'm hoping Constantine does beat the odds and get renewed, because I'm enjoying the hell out of it.

Once you get over the costume (which admittedly looks much better in motion than it does in any promotional stills), it's obvious that the producers of Arrow have created another strong show here. The stories are exciting, the back stories are engaging, and the cast is solid. And this is coming from a guy who generally hates Tom Cavanagh. It took a few episodes to find it's feet, but it certainly has now, and is off and running.

Okay. I hate myself a little for that line.

I've heard the complaints about Gotham. Of course I have. And honestly? Most of them are fair. The show did start out relying too much on foreshadowing. But to be fair, how could it not, given its premise? Also, the mob storyline, which is also the main storyline, is needlessly convoluted, but it gives us the playground that lets Robin Lord Taylor's Penguin shine, which is worth it, because he's one of the three highlights of the show. The other two are Benjamin Mackenzie as James Gordon, who I admittedly had my doubts about but who does a good job as an intense, gritty Gordon; and Donal Logue, who is as perfect as you'd expect as Gordon's corrupt but changing partner, Harvey Bullock. Their dynamic is easily the best part of the show, and it's easily worth ignoring the misadventures of young, emo Bruce Wayne if it means getting to enjoy the pair of them and the burgeoning Penguin.

There's no denying Gracepoint is a well-produced, finely-acted drama, possibly even the best one FOX has produced in years. I knew that right after I watched the first episode. And that isn't because of David Tennant, who I love, or despite Anna Gunn, who I hate. It's just true. It's just that good. I'm sure being adapted from an amazing BBC show helps, and there's the rub, friends: I watched that BBC show. I know what happens. And, unless they go off the rails, I know who the killer is. So in a season when I'm already watching just about twenty shows, why watch one whose central concept is a mystery that I already know the answer to? So I bailed on Gracepoint. When it ends I'll find someone to ask if it's the same killer as the BBC version. If it isn't, I can always go back and watch it fresh then. And if it is, I've lost nothing, and I can always go back and watch it in the off-season anyway. So I guess technically Gracepoint is the only one of the new shows I picked up this season that is getting dropped.

Of course, if things in my new domestic life keep going the way they have been, I'll just end up dropping all these shows for more things on the Food Network anyway.

Friggin' Alton...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Maul: Lockdown

Star Wars: Maul: LockdownStar Wars: Maul: Lockdown by Joe Schreiber

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my last remaining Star Wars EU novel I'm going to read, as I'm not on board with the whole rebooted continuity thing. I was hoping, therefore, to go out with a BANG. What I got was just a bang. This novel about Darth Maul, one of the most criminally underused character in the movies, has an interesting premise: the Zabrak Sith is on a mission for Darth Sidious, locked in a prison space station that doubles as a gladiatorial arena. It features a lot of intrigue, but not nearly as much action as you'd expect given that set-up. The action that's there is good, but I wanted more. Also, I get why the stipulation that Maul couldn't rely on the Force was there, but it made things more boring. The characterization is strong, though, especially of Maul, so it's worth a read for that alone.

View all my reviews

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Changes

Changes (The Dresden Files, #12)Changes by Jim Butcher

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a writer, there are plenty of times when I come up with a story idea and there's a particular scene (or whole story, if it's a series) that I really want to tell, and the idea of all the stuff I'll have to write before I earn that moment, scene, or whole book just kills me. With that in mind, I have to wonder if finally getting to this book in the Dresden Files was like that for Mr. Butcher, because this book is clearly the culmination of so much of what he's done. I mention all this as a review because there's no way to actually talk about anything that happens because of spoilers. What I will say is the story is full of drama and action. It brought tears to my eyes at one point. I read the last 160 or so pages in one sitting because I just couldn't put it down. And I'm so upset right now that I don't already own the next book, because I'm chomping at the bit to see where it goes from here. Such an amazing book. It's worth reading the other eleven installments just to get to this masterpiece.

View all my reviews

"Dumb and Dumber To" Early Review

If you enjoy the type of movie Dumb and Dumber To is (and if you're unfamiliar with the original Dumb and Dumber or the prequel Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd, the titles really tell you all you need to know), then you'll enjoy this movie, and if you don't, then you won't. It's as simple as that. And I know it's a total cop out to say that in a review but I wanted to get it out of the way now because it's totally true.

This movie is everything you expect it to be; there are no surprises (okay, yes, there are, because there are quite a few plot twists, but you know what I mean). Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels play Lloyd and Harry, of course, and the only difference between this performance and the first one other than how markedly older the characters look is that Daniels didn't seem as comfortable this time around. To me it looked very much like he was trying too hard while Carrey, on the other hand, slid right back into his old character like a glove. Even with what seemed like Daniels' discomfort to me, the guys still had great chemistry and their comedic timing is perfect. They have a strong supporting cast behind them as well, with Laurie Holden, Rob Riggle, and Kathleen Turner all doing great jobs. Riggle even does a great job twice, but you'll see what I mean. The weak spot is Rachel Melvin as Penny, the daughter they're looking for in the trailers. Her attempt to be a young female version of Harry and Lloyd is just annoying and overdone, and she's as painful to watch as she is nice to look at.

And if you've heard rumors that Jennifer Lawrence makes a cameo, she does, but unless you know it's coming you might just miss it...

The Farrelly brothers, Bobby and Peter, directed the movie from a screenplay they co-wrote with no less than four other writers (Sean Anders, Mike Cerrone, John Morris, and Bennett Yellin). While the story and script are obviously by no means smart, the jokes work much more often than they don't, and that's what everyone sees a movie like this for anyway. Plus, the plot is actually really good, with some surprising twists.

As I said before, if you enjoy this type of movie, you'll probably be more than happy with Dumb and Dumber To. This generally isn't my type of movie, and I'm still giving it 3 stars out of 5, so that should tell you something.
Dumb and Dumber To opens everywhere this coming Friday, November 14th.

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014 - Lucifer Lockheed: The Devil's Daughter

Just taking the opportunity to actually do Fiction Friday post for a change, as it is easily one f my most neglected labels (which is a fairly major issue, considering the life path I've chosen for myself, but that's neither here nor there). I'm doing NaNoWriMo this year; that's National Novel Writing Month, in case you don't know. The goal is to write a 50,000 word story between November 1st and November 30th, and so far I'm chugging along. Not nearly fast enough to keep up with the needed word count just yet, but still trudging along. I'm posting the very rough prologue of my story here. I'm also adding a word count widget to the blog so my progress will be up there for all to say.

Because I'm still a child and peer pressure is a great motivator, obviously.

Anyway, wish me luck. And here we go with the prologue.

Did you ever wake up and know, just absolutely, no doubt about it know, that it was going to be a good day?

That's how I felt when I woke up that day. In fact, I didn't just know it was going to be a good day. I knew it was going to be a great day.  The red had settled into my hair nicely, the self-dye job from the night before combining with the expensive as hell salon styling to turn my hair from a mousy brown, clumpy mess into luxurious, vibrant curls of fire. I had had my doubts about a box job from CVS, but I couldn't afford a style and a dye from the salon, so I had to hope for the best. And that's what I got. I now had the kind of hair a guy would love to see in his lap... but we'll get to that later, hopefully.

No, fuck hopefully. We'll definitely get to that later. It's going to be a great day.

After the hair came the contacts. I had wanted to go full black, but freaking my parents out so much that they took me to therapy instead of school would seriously ruin the plan, so I went with a sooty shade of brown called "bistre." Not quite black but definitely the darkest brown I could find, and definitely an improvement over my boring old baby blues. Nobody was going to overlook little old common Lucille Fern Lockheed anymore, not with this hair and these eyes.

And of course, the outfit. It took months of saving all the money I could from the pitiful paycheck I got from my part-time job at the fro-yo dump, but I finally had enough to buy the kinds of things my parents would lock me in the basement for even thinking about wearing: short skirts, booty shorts, scandalously low-cut navel-baring shirts, and corsets. Oh, the corsets. Of course, I could never wear that out of the house; I'd have to wear the good little girl clothes mommy and daddy liked me to wear and make like all the other little sluts and change in school. No more fuzzy sweaters and baggy jeans for me, I'm over that shit. Puberty was very good to me when I hit fourteen, and three years later I was finally ready to let the world know it.

Specifically, the boys. One boy, in particular. One boy that would never look twice at Little Lucille Fern, but who won't be able to tear his eyes away from the brand new Lucifer Lockheed. I'll make damn sure he notices me.

I'll make sure they all notice me, and they'll never forget me.

Best. Day. Ever.

Of course, if you're reading this, it's totally possible it wasn't the best day ever, that shit went so wrong or I fucked up beyond the telling of it and I'm dead and you're all gathered here today to laugh your asses off at the dearly departed. Or maybe I'm not dead.

Maybe it's worse.

And before you ask, with the shit I'm dealing with, with what I'm planning to do, there is definitely such a thing as a fate worse than death. And if things go the way I'm planning them to, a whole lot of people are going to learn that. I just won't be one of them.

So maybe you're reading this because I did it all my way and I'm so popular and amazing and loved... or feared... that you need to know all this for the guaranteed blockbuster movie of my life Ben Affleck is directing. Or maybe it's the movie my father is making him direct about how awesome his little girl is; and I'm talking about my real father, not the asshole downstairs who keeps buying the goddamn pink fuzzy sweaters.

After all, getting Daddy's attention is half the reason I'm doing all this.

The other half is that it's just going to be so fucking fun.

Like I said, best day ever.

But first, the corset. The red one with the black trim today, I think. I tried it on last night and it undeniably hurt like a bitch getting it on; my curves aren’t exactly understated, after all, but it made my tits look amazing.  And they say beauty is pain, right? So it’s totally worth it.

Especially when my pain won’t be the only pain it causes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Eleven Doctors, Eleven Stories

Eleven Doctors, Eleven StoriesEleven Doctors, Eleven Stories by Eoin Colfer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I reviewed Neil Gaiman's short story of the Eleventh Doctor found in this book almost a year ago because that was something I just couldn't wait to read, but it took me a lot longer to get around to and then through the whole story. In a surprise twist for an anthology, I actually enjoyed all the stories here. The authors all feel like they "get" the voice of their particular Doctor right, and that goes a long way towards making the stories enjoyable. Aside from that, they're all smart science fiction stories, and that's always a treat as well. This book is a great read for fans of Doctor Who, but it would also be a fun read for just science fiction fans in general.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - The Slow Regard of Silent Things

The Slow Regard of Silent ThingsThe Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like the experimental nature of the story; one character, no dialogue, no real action, just a window into the soul really. And I enjoyed it for what it is, especially because I do love the character of Auri. Plus, Rothfuss has a way with words that is always marvelous to experience. Still, that being said, for what this book is, I can't help but wish he had taken the time he spent writing this and used it on more time writing the next installment in the Kingkiller Chronicle, because waiting for that is killing me.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Goodreads Book Review - Turn Coat

Turn Coat (The Dresden Files, #11)Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been saying almost ad nauseam that Butcher is turning into a better and better writer with each installment in this series, and Turn Coat is no exception. In this eleventh installment he manages to take a character I have reviled ever since his first appearance way back in Storm Front and make me not just care about him but make me actually sad about his overall fate. That's a truly impressive feat. I was also happen to see that, while all the familiar story beats of a Dresden case are here, they're shaken up a bit and are less predictable. As always, Butcher's novels always leave me eager to get started on the next one.

View all my reviews

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"Horns" Review - Written by Jim Herling