Jan 042018
 

2017 Reading Challenge - Almost ThereMy 2017 Reading Challenge was, again, 15 books within a calendar year. While Goodreads says I finished all my books, I actually only completed 14. I thought I had completed all 15 books because that is what Goodreads told me. It turns out that a book I started but did not finish still counted as having read it. Granted it was a book I was reading again so perhaps that is why Goodreads counted it. So, without further ado here is …

My 2017 Reading Challenge Book List

If I wrote a review for one of the books I read, you can click on the title of the book to read the review (if it interests you).

My Pick for the 2017 Best Read

I actually read quite a few good books in 2017. I did have a hard time picking a “best read” for the year. This was the year I took my first steps into the world of Harry Dresden, C. Greenwood was really on a roll with a couple new fantasy series but it really came down to two surprising books. I returned to the Star Wars universe again with Shatterpoint and the book was really good, I loved learning more about Mace Windu and Depa Billaba. If you’re a Star Wars fan, and you do not feel jaded by the prequels, I would really recommend this book (check out my review if you’re interested).

I think, in the end, I have to go with Extracted as my 2017 Best Read. This book was a Kindle First and it is extremely captivating. It’s pretty classic Sci Fi with time travel, a future at risk, normal people with latent extraordinary abilities. I will be reading the second book in this series this year and I’m really looking forward to it.

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Jan 022018
 

I rather enjoyed writing a post reviewing 2016 so here we are again, doing a 2017 year in review. Everyone was ready to get 2016 over with because we just lost too many beloved celebrities. While 2017 also took more, it didn’t feel as though it was happening daily (more on this later). Again, I will cover NO political or hot topics, that’s not what I write about here.

Celebrities to Whom We Said ‘Good Bye’

This year it was the music industry that suffered some of the greatest tragic deaths. As a child of the 80s and 90s it was awful to hear about the passing of Tom Petty and Malcolm Young (from AC/DC). Full Moon Fever was the first cassette tape I ever bought for myself which contained Free Fallin’, one of my all time favorite Tom Petty songs. As a Country music fan, I was sad to hear about the passing of Glen Campbell; however I don’t it was as devastating as hearing about the accident that took Troy Gentry. Montgomery Gentry has some of my favorite songs and it just won’t be the same without Troy.

We lost some great names in the Movie and Entertainment industry. The biggest names that probably stand out are Hugh Hefner, Jerry Lewis and Adam West. It was awful to lose the Mayor of Quahog and the old school Batman (and a better one than Ben Affleck). Some of the lesser known, but iconic celebrities we lost this year are John Heard – the father of Home Alone, Stephen Furst – famous for the movie the Dream Team, and Peter Sallis – the voice of Wallace from Wallace and Gromit. We also had to say good-bye to the amazing talents of Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Paxton and Roger Moore (probably my favorite James Bond actor).

2017 Year in Review: Gaming

Blizzard/Activision was the big name in gaming in 2017 with the end of the current World of Warcraft expansion and the release of Destiny 2. The Destiny 2 release was probably one of the most anticipated release of the year. Console players were lucky to meet the guardian’s early while PC gamers had to wait until October. It was quite the obsession for me, until the first DLC came out and asked for another $20 from me. I haven’t played it since that time.

I’ve had a fantastic year in the Warcraft expansion. I think, not only is this the best expansion since Wrath of the Lich King, but I’ve had an awesome time with my new raid team. We have cleared all normal and heroic difficulties in time to receive the “Ahead of the Curve” achievement. We are already working through the final raid on heroic difficulty.

Blizzcon met everyone’s expectations by revealing the next WoW expansion: Battle for Azeroth. I’m not entirely sure the name of the expansion was received well. Many are on the fence about it, including myself. The content of the expansion seems a bit lackluster. I am excited to be visiting Jaina’s homeworld and the Allied Races seems interesting but I feel like it’s lacking more player content. We’ve had garrisons and order halls and then nothing. I feel like there needs to be another evolution of that system. Perhaps more will be revealed as the launch approaches.

2017 Year in Review: Star Wars

I only saw one movie in the theater this year; the only movie worth seeing: The Last Jedi. Since 2017 was the 40th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise I decided to make that a topic instead of movies. Click here to check out my review of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was, at first, alarmed the movie’s audience rating was so low. Then I discover it was just some trolls creating multiple accounts on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to drive down the audience rating. It didn’t work, the movie is still insanely profitable. HAH!

I cannot believe it has been 40 years for the Star Wars movie franchise. Thanks to Disney, J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson it is still going strong. 2017 was a good year for Star Wars fans, like myself. There were quite a lot of promotions going on all year for the anniversary. One promotion that I found very interesting was the Rule the Galaxy Virtual 5K. There is an organization called the Virtual Running Club where you can register and complete a 5K anywhere you want. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a limited edition medal for completing a 40th Anniversary, Star Wars themed 5K (click the image to see a larger view of the medal).

2017 Walk to Mordor

On the note of 5K races and running, I completed the Walk to Mordor challenge, again! I, honestly, do not remember exactly when this year but I want to say it was much sooner than the year prior. My ultimate goal is to be able to complete the second leg of this challenge which adds another 1600 miles. It’s going to be a stretch goal and one, I doubt, I will achieve in 2018. However, if I keep finishing the base challenge earlier than the previous year, I’m sure to get there eventually. Perhaps 2020 will be my target year for completing the extra distance.

I think I am going to end my 2017 wrap-up here. Overall it was a pretty good year and I’m looking forward to what 2018 has in store.

/cheers

minions_icon

I could accomplish so much more if I only had minions!

 

Dec 312017
 

ShatterpointShatterpoint by Matthew Woodring Stover
My rating:
(Click here to check out this review on Goodreads)

Even the strongest of gems have that one spot where they are weakest. The one spot that creates a cascading effect which causes it to shatter. Everything has a shatterpoint, including Jedi. This is Jedi Master Mace Windu’s talent, he can find a person’s shatterpoint. The one thing where they are weakest and thus use it to claim an advantage. He will need this ability when he has to return to his home world of Haruun Kal to find out what has become of his former padawan, Depa Billaba. What he finds when he gets there, is far worse than he expects.

I’ve had this book sitting on my bookshelf for so many years I don’t even remember where or when I bought it. I probably picked it up at a Star Wars Celebration event or Comic-Con. I’ve been saying, for a while, that I need to get back into reading more Star Wars books and this is the book I picked. It turned out to be an excellent pick!

I think it helps to have Samuel L. Jackson in my mind while reading this book. It really gives me a whole new appreciation for Mace Windu. I was really surprised how much I enjoyed this book and found it difficult to put down at times. I’ll admit, it had its slow spots but overall it was pretty good. Whether your opinion of the prequels is vulgar or compassion, I would recommend reading this book.

View all my reviews

diablo3-reading“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
– Dr. Seuss

 

Dec 162017
 

Star Wars The Last Jedi
Star Wars The Last Jedi

Director: Rian Johnson
Starring: Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill

My Rating: 

Simply put, I think The Last Jedi is marvelous! I am really confused as to why audiences are not responding well, but that is typical for the middle movie of a trilogy. I admit that this movie is quite different from any other Star Wars movie. It’s dark, with some light humor (often delivered by Oscar Isaac). It has some pretty intense moments; apparently I was, unknowingly, squeezing my wife’s hand throughout most of the film.

It was so awesome to see Mark Hamill reprise his most iconic role and he was spectacular! Luke’s demeanor is exactly as I expected considering what happened to Ben Solo. Daisy Ridley is still amazing as Rey and Adam Driver’s performance is equally as amazing! We also see new ways in which the Force is used, including a dramatic moment when Leia uses the Force.

Carrie Fisher’s Swan Song

I’ll admit that there were a few scenes that were difficult to watch when Leia was the focus. There is a great moment where Luke and R2 share a nostalgic moment that clearly pays homage to “A New Hope”. It’s also a great tribute to Princess Leia.

The last thing Luke says to Leia, in the movie, is perfect (and eerily fitting). Carrie Fisher’s death was unexpected and sudden but this movie is an unexpected tribute to her. Shortly into the credits a line was added (obviously in post-production) in which the film was dedicated to “our beloved princess”.

Star Wars The Last Jedi Opening Night

The last time I saw a Star Wars movie on Opening Night was Revenge of the Sith. When you have a toddler, arranging the night to be toddler-free often becomes difficult. I was very excited to finally see an opening night release and I was rewarded with a couple collectibles.

The AMC theater we went to were selling limited edition, opening night, metal popcorn tins (see picture). Naturally, I had to buy all three as souvenirs to commemorate the occasion.

I cannot wait to see it again, hopefully before its Blu-ray release. There are also quite a few “theory-inducing” plot twists that I will discuss at a later date. More people need to see it before I talk about those. If you can get to a matinee, that seems to be the best option to avoid large crowds. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.

 

Dec 112017
 

First things first, here is the newest Ready Player One Trailer. Watch It! NOW!

Ok, so now that I have your heart beating wildly, lets consider what we just saw. If you haven’t read the book then SHAME ON YOU! It’s good. You need to go read it before March! I saw some references in there that I was a little skeptical on because this movie is supposed to be an homage to the 80’s. It was not only the inspiration for the “OASIS” but for the book in-and-of-itself. The references to the things I grew up loving is one of the things I love about the book.

Why Is Tracer There??

So, as I said, this book is supposed to be an homage to the 80’s so I was a little confused to see Tracer, from Overwatch. If you missed it, here is a screenshot I grabbed for you:

Tracer in Ready Player One Trailer

Now, I might be wrong, but I don’t think Tracer was around in the 80’s but perhaps this is Ernest Cline paying respect to Blizzard. However, to be fair, The Iron Giant was from the late 90’s and is mentioned in the book. Honestly, I am going to err on the side of caution and say I’m pretty excited for the movie. Far more excited than I was when the first trailer came out; and I know Ernest Cline has been involved with the production of the film. I should “hope” that he will veto anything that doesn’t meet the spirit and nostalgia of the book.

/cheers

film_reel“The screen is a magic medium. It has such power that it can retain interest as it conveys emotions and moods that no other art form can hope to tackle.”
– Stanley Kubrick

 

Dec 102017
 

The Last JediWe are less than a week away from the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. It is time for the obligatory Star Wars movie post about setting expectations for The Last Jedi. In addition to the same expectations I spoke about regarding The Force Awakens, there are a few other factors we should also consider. I do this because even as an avid fan, it’s important to set a reasonable bar before going to see the movie. After all, we don’t want it end up like the Justice League movie.

The Force Awakens Box Office Numbers

If you have forgotten, let me remind you. The Force Awakens demolished the domestic box office numbers after making nearly a billion dollars. It’s the most money any movie has ever made in MPAA history. While I would love to see history repeat itself two years later, let’s be realistic. The Force Awakens was so highly anticipated, and so well done, its unprecedented box office numbers are not surprising. This is probably the biggest obstacle The Last Jedi would need to overcome and I’m not sure it’s going to be possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Rian Johnson will do a great job. I think he has approached this project with the same joy and enthusiasm we have to see it. However, Disney has inundated us with Star Wars. It’s what Disney does and it’s a blessing and a curse. Star Wars is now in our homes is nearly every way imaginable. There is a new movie nearly every year until 2020 so it has become less of a rare treat. This is another tough obstacle that Rian Johnson will need to overcome.

Story/Plot Expectations

I already talked about the theories regarding Luke and his ominous line about the Jedi ending. The trailer left little for us to glean and a lot for us to ponder. Rian Johnson cut together the perfect bits of dialog and juxtaposed the perfect scenes to spark an amazing array of fan theories. Personally I doubt we are going to see Rey going to the dark side to become Kylo Ren’s apprentice. I do believe that this movie will be divided into two acts. Act 1 will be Rey training with Luke in which we will find out just how extraordinarily powerful Rey will become. Act 2 will be the all out war between the Resistance and the First Order.

Will Luke die? I don’t think so. I find it difficult to believe they would kill two major characters in back-to-back movies. Although, what if Luke has already died and he is just the Force incarnate? Let that bake your noodle for a little bit. The trailers do not reveal a lot about the film so anything is possible but that sets up some pretty exciting expectations. I have my tickets for the 15th, how about you?

/MTFBWY

The Force. It calls to you. Just let it in.