Friday, August 28, 2015

So I'm now 39...

Earlier this week I celebrated my 39th birthday with some camping and a trip to The Louisiana Purchase, a wonderful little Creole and Cajun restaurant here in Edmonton.

Also I had my second sugary treat since June 1st.  It was a chocolate truffle cake and it was DELICIOUS!

The no sugar thing goes pretty well so far.  Next up for me will be skipping September so I can enjoy both Canadian Thanksgiving and Halloween treats come October.

Anyway, I realized that I had been neglecting my blog this week so wanted to swing by and say HI!

Next up will be a review of Clive Barker's The Scarlet Gospels - which I'm almost finished and am really REALLY enjoying!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Book Review: Console Wars

Every once in a while I find my way to a book that has me looking at my childhood in a slightly different way, and causes me to rethink the things I did and why.

Blake Harris' Console Wars: Sega, Nintendo, and the Battle that Defined a Generation, looks at (roughly) the five year span in the first half the 1990s when SEGA moved from bit player in the video game industry to a massive giant, eventually toppling the stranglehold Nintendo had on the industry at the time.

From 1990-1995 I was pretty much exactly the target audience of the SEGA genesis; aged 14 to 19 and having been raised on the classic Nintendo, a new machine advertising more grown-up games and turning my (then) current system into a baby toy as far as I was concerned, I was definitely jealous of all of my friends who had one and played my way through as many Genesis games as I could get my hands on.

What this book does so ingeniously is to look at the story from the point of view of businessmen and marketers.  At a time when the toy industry was distancing itself from videogame consoles after the collapse of ATARI, Nintendo worked its way into being the defacto video game console in both the East and the West throughout the late 1980s.  Part of what I loved about the book was the context and perspective it gave to the story, expressing that monopolies are not seen as negative in Japan and that much of SEGAs success came from some very savvy marketing ideas, as well as a certain hedgehog.

A fascinating read about the men who created, developed, and marketed one of the toys that defined a generation, Console Wars is well worth the read.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Book Review: From a Whisper to a Scream

Charles de Lint's second horror novel, From a Whisper to a Scream (1992) also happens to be his first novel set in Newford, which, as I'm reading his books in publication order, doesn't mean much to me, but for fans of his Urban Fantasy work, it may be a title which slipped past your radar.

As with Angel of Darkness, the book has some very dark material in; and the fact that it's dedicated to crime writer Andrew Vachss may give you an idea of the direction of that material.

The story focuses on a series of murders, which appear to have been cased by a dead man, and the people attempting to stop it; ranging from the police and journalists, to figures in the community and a runaway girl with a dark past.  I found the book to be compulsively readable, and blazed through it quickly.

Sometimes fiction takes me to very dark places, but within them the light of hope and love can shine very brightly.

A great read.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Book Review: Half the World

Following up his excellent first book in the Shattered Sea series (Half a King, 2014), Joe Abercrombie's Half the World moves the story a few years along and shifts his first protagonist, Yarvi, into a strong supporting character into this novel, which focuses on a female warrior in search of identity and a young soldier in search of himself.

As with the first book, although the novel is set in a fantasy setting, there is very little magic, and honestly it feels a little more on the post-apocalyptic (but very post) style of setting like in Terry Brook's Shannara series.

The novel switches back and forth between it's two protagonists each chapter and like the first book, is filled with action, adventure and some great character building moments which all contribute to another fine coming-of-age story (or, technically two coming-of-age stories).  

Although I didn't find it quite as strong as the first book, I'm definitely reading the final book in the series (Half a War) and will likely check out a few more books by Abercrombie in the next year.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Oldest Daughter is Engaged!

And a pretty fancy ring as well!
Hi All, Although normally I fill this spot with reviews and thought I have on the things I play, read, and watch, I needed to take a quick break today to congratulate my oldest daughter on her engagement!


And just for the record, her fellow asked for my wife and my blessing before he proposed, which we considered both classy and thoughtful.

I'll have a regular review up tomorrow, but was just too excited today to write about anything else!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Book Review: Spiritwalk

A collection of previous released short stories related to characters from his 1984 novel Moonheart: A Romance, Charles de Lint's 1993 book Spiritwalk is pretty fantastic.

Part of what I'm loving working my way through de Lint's fiction is how he ties everything together - this book is not only a sequel, but acknowledges it exists in the same world as both his Jack of Kinrowan character (Jack the Giant Killer, 1987, and Drink Down the Moon, 1990) and his own author character Caitlin Midhir (Yarrow, 1986), and although the shared-world and world-building devices he's used are really fun for readers of his fiction, they aren't even the best part.

What's really great about the stories in Spiritwalk is how he can handle multiple characters through multiple storylines and yet continues to deal with the same themes while never losing their individual voices, from the gruff ex-biker Blue to the mythical Coyote, he creates this amazing world full of characters that breathe and yearn and desire.

Although Spiritwalk may not be for the de Lint first timer (it is a sequel, after all), it was a delight to read and has me quite excited to continue my journey through his stories.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Book Review: Blood Kin

I picked up Steve Rasnic Tem's Blood Kin last month as it won the 2014 Bram Stoker Award for best novel, and I've been reading the winners of that list for years now.

My familiarity with the horror sub-genre of southern gothic is a little light to be fair; I loved Robert R. McCammon's Gone South, William Hjortsberg's Fallen Angel, and (although not a novel) Stan Winston's 1988 film Pumpkinhead all work well to show just how nicely horror can be used in the setting.

Blood Kin is a multi-generational story, taking place both in modern day and in the 1930s, using both a male and a female protagonist, and really focuses on the ideas of the sins of the father being visited upon the sons (or grandsons) and moves deftly between straight horror and dark fantasy elements.

A word to the wise, some of the horrific scenes in the book made me quite uncomfortable (and I read horror monthly, so that's saying something), so it may not be the best thing to read before bed, but I strongly recommend it if your interested in giving it a try.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

My No-Sugar Challenge, Month Two

So here we are at the beginning of my third month without sugar...

And honestly, so far so good.

I took a one-dessert break halfway through July to celebrate my oldest daughter's 23rd Birthday, but aside from that piece of delicious chocolate cake, I've spent the last two months sugar free.

The early days involved headaches and a bizarre sensitivity in my teeth, but since then I've dropped nearly twenty pounds and knowing that I've got another slice of birthday cake coming at the end of this month (I'll be turning 39!) significantly helps to take the edge off of my cravings.

To be fair, I still have a lot of sweet things, I'm eating a lot more fresh fruit for one, and I know I could be better about avoiding hidden sugars, but right now I'm feeling pretty good and see no need to stop.

After all, with the option for one delicious treat a month from now on, I can definitely get pretty fancy in my choices!