The blog of the highly opinionated Sgt. Octopus

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172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad

355 pages / April 2012 / Add on Goodreads

172 Hours on the Moon was absolutely the craziest and scariest young adult book I have ever read, at least since 8th grade. It’s really hard to say what exactly I liked about it without spoiling it.

I’m going to shy away from critiquing the language of the book as it was a translation and I feel like there were a few parts that weren’t translated in a way that makes sense in english, however it does not effect the imagery of this novel. Especially the suspense, Johan Harstad definitely knows how to build up suspense. I remember at several points I had been reading the book at night and just couldn’t sleep because of this book.

To give a bit of a comparison for the atmosphere it definitely reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, it had the same sort of 60s sort of creepy foreign vibe to it and was what really made the book for me. There were also some plot choices that reminded me of the movie as well, they’re still each uniquely their own but it would be easy to recommend one to someone who liked the other.

There were some things that kind of disappointed me about this book, however. Namely the organization of the novel was a bit haphazard, I felt like there was a lot of things that just seemed more random than purposeful but at the same time gave off a feeling of having a purpose while reading. By the end of the book it just felt like most of the scarier parts of the build up were just there to scare, not to build up a plot.

However this haphazard type of organization also provided a way to introduce us to multiple characters without having a specific main character. I loved this. It was such a breathe of fresh air, as this sort of narration seems to be getting rare in fiction. It also allowed for the ending to have happened the way it did without it being revealed until the right moment.

Which brings me to my last point, I wish there was more to this novel. It was such an enjoyable story that just seemed way too vague for the amounts of epic it contained. I would have loved to hear more about the horrors they found on the moon.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

372 pages / August 2011 / Add on Goodreads

The amounts of nerd put into this book made it a worthy read for any who enjoy a bit of nerd culture.

Ready Player One is the story of Wade Watts, a young treasure hunter in a virtual world called OASIS, as he searches for the ultimate treasure left behind by the game’s designer.

I picked this book up solely because of Wil Wheaton. Through his appearances on the Guild and Big Bang Theory and this epic game of Dungeons and Dragons I watched on YouTube one time, I have become a big fan of his geeky works. So when I found out he read the audiobook for Ready Player One, I decided I had to listen to it. And I’m honestly glad I did!

Ready Player Oneis not the best book ever written, but it is a highly entertaining one. It is really the plot of the book where it fully shines, though it is not overly original or spectacularly made. Cline seems to have just taken some great elements of stories and meshed them together into one, creating a rather entertaining novel though not really ground breaking.

Despite the horrendous amount of info dumps, I really don’t have much to complain about when it comes to the writing. It was a pretty straight forward prose. In many ways, I’d have to say the info dumping kind of added to the main character, which feels super weird to say because I hate info dumps more than anything. At least Cline had a knack for writing them and it seemed to fit well with a rambling geek of a character who probably could have spent twice as long talking about any of the subjects that were brought up in the info dumps. It really doesn’t create for the most interesting narrative, but it does create a real character and I was rarely ever bored through them.

Another aspect of that saved the info dumps was Wil Wheaton. I don’t think a better voice could have been chosen to read this novel. He made it easy to imagine the novel as a character telling people of his exploits a couple years after the events happened. The audiobook, in a sense, made it feel more like I was listening to an epic autobiography rather than a work of fiction.

This book also had a rather unique way to make a lot of really weird stuff happen without it seeming out of place, after all anything is possible in a virtual world. I think the author did a good job of showing how having a life in the virtual world can really effect who you are irl. He probably could have gone deeper into it, but that really wasn’t what the story was about so it never seemed to have mattered.

It seems to me that a lot of people focus on the 80s pop culture mentioned in the book, when to me that just became an added a dose of realism to the world created. Ready Player One was simply a great adventure of a book, that really just put me in the mood to play wow and classic video games… which in retrospect probably counteracts the message it was trying to give.

Oh well.

Batman (1989)

So I have a confession to make: I haven’t actually seen any of the Batman movies. Yeah, I know! It’s probably a big shocker, especially with the popularity of the Dark Knight. However, I did sit through that one… half asleep the whole time… which, in my defense, was not the fault of the movie but rather my failed attempt at ice skating and how late we waited to turn it on.

Anyways, after seeing the Avengers on Monday, I have gathered a new interest in Comic Book Movies. And so I have decided to give the Batman Movies another try. Seeing as I have never seen this version before and it was directed by one of my favorite creative types, Tim Burton, I figured it was as good of a place to start as any.

I honestly didn’t enjoy it at all. Sure, there were a couple of interesting parts. I loved how they captured the comic book feel and it did seem to have the Tim Burton feel to it, but the script lacked greatly and thus I was disappointed.

Along with the script the acting choices were not the best either. Maybe it’s just me but none of these actors were very good nor could I take them, for lack of a better word, seriously as their characters…

This movie did appeal a bit to my inner bad movie lover, however, which is probably a good thing as I would have given it less stars otherwise. Though I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this version of Batman, I think I’ll just skip along to Batman Returns.

X-Factor: Madrox – Multiple Choice by Peter David

Madrox

Collects Madrox #1-5

Published April 13, 2005
Marvel Comics
ISBN: 0785115005
Add on Goodreads

I went into this comic knowing very little about what I was getting myself into. I knew it was the prequel of sorts to the X-Factor series and that the X-Factor series is one that has been talked about a lot on tumblr. So I gave it a chance.

The main thing that kept me reading this comic was all the fantastically amusing wit and banter. I enjoyed the little bits of humor and the sarcasm of the main character, Jamie Madrox. Especially when he was interacting with his dupes, I loved how they brought out his inter conflicts through the dupes created.

The plot itself isn’t anything to be raving over, however. It’s a simple detective type story filled with mob bosses and a good mystery to keep things rolling. I loved the over all pacing of the story, it revealed everything in good time and closed up rather nicely.

One of the biggest highlights for me was the art, which tends to either drag the book down or carry it to fantastic heights. The art in Madrox was never distracting to the story, but rather acted as a way to enhance it as good comic book art should do. On it’s own I found the art to be beautifully done.

Madrox was definitely one of those types of stories you should pick up if you’re looking for a quick contained read. It has enough adventure and mystery to hold you tight until the end, with a conclusion that wrapped up nicely while making you want to find out more about the characters involved. Needless to say, I will definitely be picking up the rest of the X-Factor series.

four thousand two hundred thirty-seven

Let’s not talk about how I didn’t make it to 50,000 words.

And stopped before I crossed that finish line.

four thousand two hundred thirty-seven.

Instead let us focus on the good things that happened this month:

I started writing for fun again.

I did start reading a bit more than usual.

I got five days with the one I love.

Snuggling, reading, secret kisses.

Admiring the glitter of snow while holding hands.

Coffee is making its way up my drinkable beverages list.

Never mess with Starbucks.

Tumblr has lost its appeal as a procrastination machine.

I have two weeks of school left and

a homework pile that makes NaNoWriMo

look like a spec of dust.

 

Hogwarts, Hogwarts…

Anyone else miss those days when the world seemed so simple?

Harry Potter has always represented that time for me. A time when all I wanted was my own letter to Hogwarts so I could get out of my own Dursley-ish hell. It’s been ages since I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerers’ Stone, it has long passed from the minds of the world, and yet I’m still here.

I’m dealing with barely having enough money to do the things I need to do, much less want to do. A harsh reality. Not knowing where to go or what to do. There’s this sense that I’m alone in the world in ways that I don’t want to be.

My parents don’t care much more than they have to, they have their own problems to deal with as they can barely take care of themselves. My friends have long been disconnect. And my boyfriend is the sweetest soul in the world and I feel bad constantly asking for his help. It’s not fair. Not fair to him. Not fair to me. Not fair to life.

But here’s the problem. No one really seems to like me. I don’t know why. Am I blinded to something that everyone else notices? I just want to know what this wall is between me and the rest of the world. This thing that keeps me isolated from the good parts of this world. The friendships.

I know I need help. And I don’t mean in a I’m in a deep depression sort of help. My mind isn’t the sort to go there. It won’t let me. It’s too afraid. But if life has taught me anything people don’t care to help you unless you have hit rock bottom…

I wrote this a few weeks ago. Things are better now.

Scrivener

I’ve always had an interest in the ways technology has effected writing. I used to write purely by pen and paper. Still do sometimes. However as I got older and started getting well acquainted with this thing called the “Internet”, I soon began to move towards technological means of writing.

I never was happy with it.

Word docs cluttered my hard drive and I could never find anything I was looking for. I’m sure I’ve lost several stories to the abyss. These days have been different. After winning my first NaNoWriMo I used my winners discount to buy Scrivener. And I’ve never gone back.

Scrivener has saved me many a headache when it comes to keeping writing organized. It probably is the main reason why I won that year, as I had been using the trial to keep things organized. But enough with all that, the thing I enjoy doing is reading about how people use Scrivener. It’s really fascinating to me. And so I thought I’d share it with you.

A Writers Notebook Sidebar

I basically use scrivener in two main ways: 1. as a content organizer / writers notebook and 2. as a way to keep all the bits and pieces of a single novel in one place.

The first bit is probably something most writers are familiar with in some form or another. The picture to the right is how I specifically organize it. Basically I keep all my writing bits under the first four; prompts & experiments, reviews and blogs speak for itself. But the notebook is where I keep papers from class, specifically creative writing and any short stories I come up with.

If you notice the elements and resources are pretty similar, but they serve two totally different purposes. Mainly elements is filled with my own ideas and the things I want to explore and expand. Early bits of novels can be found here, this is where they are stored until they’ve grown enough to warrant their own file.

Resources, on the other hand, is where articles I find on the internet go. Things that I found useful on the creation of characters and settings and everything else story related. Also I should mention that this idea was not something I came up with on my own, I repurposed it for myself from several of my fellow writers.

The second purpose of scrivener is a bit harder for me to explain, if only because it’s different for every novel. But generally they’re kept in two big folders, the manuscript folder which just holds the novel however it needs to be written and the Story Bible folder. Which is essentially the Elements folder minus the “Story Idea’s part”.

And that’s really it. I hope you found this useful in some way and you can feel free to add questions about this whole thing in the comments. Perhaps I’ll write another post about Scrivener if there is a need.

Liverpool Street by Neil Gaiman

I found this story on Neil Gaiman‘s blog. It simply captivated me.

Neil Gaiman is one of those authors who I greatly admire because of what I’ve seen on their Tumblr or twitter (and possibly a YouTube video or two) but beyond a novel or two, haven’t actually dived into their work. Honestly, I am ashamed of myself for this because when I listen to or read his stories I am always mesmerized. If only I could have a drop of the talent this guy possesses.

This story you can listen to in its full glory above, but for those who can’t watch the video at the moment here’s a little summary: it’s the story of a young Neil Gaiman as he waits to get picked up by his parents at Liverpool station.

I am always amazed at how people can create creative nonfiction and how they can tell stories about that happened thirty odd years ago with such minuscule and gorgeous detail, when I could barely do that about something that happened today. My creative writing teacher loves this kind of work however, I think it’s mostly because it’s easy to teach to those who are just taking it as a fun elective and she’s in the process of publishing her own novel in the same genre.

Nevertheless, this story is one that I really enjoyed. It was told beautifully. It starts off rather simply with a point that I think becomes rather important as the story progresses, he was only sixteen years old when this happened. He related to his audience very well throughout this, and I think that’s where it connected with me. My parents were the type to be late as well, I’ve even had instances similar to this. Not that my parents have ever gone on impromptu trips to Austria… but you get the point.

And I really need to pick up one of his books…