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Welcome 2017!

I guess this is my obligatory new year, new me post. There are a lot of things that I’d like to have happen this next year, but I’m not going to get into that much here. I will say that one thing I want to do is write more. I’ve got a book already written that just needs a really good edit, or maybe it was just a test to see if I could really go long. The kids like it, but let’s be honest here. I’m their dad. I could probably write a turd of a book and they’d think it was the coolest thing ever. Until puberty. Then it’ll be the lamest!

So yeah.. getting into the swing of things again. Let’s see…

This Christmas, the girls got gift cards for Target (at their request) and instead of buying toys, they decided they wanted bedroom decor. I guess my girls are growing up. That’s sweet and all, but I liked them being little too. Those shelves were ordered at the same time, but for reasons only known to the postal service they showed up on two different days. I got the first set up yesterday and the last set up today. I think they look pretty good.

Everyone here is a little under the weather so Cynthia gave the kids medicine and we posed for a humorous Happy New Years picture. Cynthia is the only one who was knocked out though. The kids are all in their rooms either playing Xbox or drawing in their journals. I guess there is only so much YouTube that a person can do in a day.

Finally, I decided to give 51st State a solo run through and that was ultimately a failure. It really seems as if the solo mode was tacked on because I’m following the instructions to the letter, because I’m unfamiliar with the game, and it never tells me when the virtual player builds a building, yet I’m told I can raze the virtual player’s buildings and using their open production spots. Am I to assume that any card that they draw is just automatically built?

I watched Rodney Smith’s tutorial over at Watch It Played and while he does a great job as usual, his instructions are for the multi-player game. He only alludes to the solo rules and tells us to find them out on our own. I saw a couple of YouTube videos on the 51st State solo mode. I’ll be checking those out in the morning.

My completely uneducated first impression is that the virtual player seems to gain victory points at an alarmingly fast rate. Almost guaranteed 2 VP a turn, at least, since he’ll buy up a connection card, if any are available, and at this point, I don’t see how there wouldn’t be at least 1. So 2 VP a turn. When it’s a race to 25, that seems like a pretty nice benefit to have. If you, as first player, don’t take a connection yourself, you’re essentially giving the virtual player 4 VP a turn. At least, if I understand the rules right. I’ll post an update.

That said, I really like the look of this game. It’s pretty. It has a really nice gritty, post apocalyptic style that permeates all facets of the game. It’s themed beautifully. I am really looking forward to learning the rules and getting a few solo games under my belt.

So that’s my new years post. I’m hoping that it isn’t the last post you see from me in 2017. Wishing you all a happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous new year!

Review: The Measure of the Magic

The Measure of the Magic
The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’ve read any of Terry Brooks’ books then you know what to expect. Great characters. Great adventures. There will be some humans, some elves. Elfstones or a Bearer of the Black Staff. And mainly that is my problem with the series at this point. It feels like there is very little fresh to discover. This book had a dragon in it, which I believe is a first for Brooks. How that dragon plays into the story is fascinating but otherwise I felt like I knew what to expect. Despite the some of the violence in this book it never felt over the top or graphic, which is good for young readers. The book’s lone love scene was a single paragraph where nothing more than a hand touching bare skin was revealed. Compared to some of the books I’m used to reading these days it feels like I’m reading a Young Adult book as opposed to an adult piece of fantasy.

And really my issue is just that it all feels a little stale. At this point I’d like to discover a new elven magic, or a forgotten race, something. It just feels like no effort is put into developing twists. And despite the fact that there is a lot of death in this book, none of it has any impact. I never cared enough for any character to be punched in the gut by their loss. Most of the characters felt paper thin and unexplored. I never felt like I was invested in the story. In fact toward the end I found myself going thread A will be resolved like this, thread B will be resolved like this, and then the last few paragraphs will probably amount to this. And unfortunately I was right.

Another thing worth mention is this is book two in a duology. It continues where Bearers of the Black Staff left off. And I mean it picks right up. No reminders of what’s going on. No reminders of who’s who. It just picks up like you closed book one and picked up book two. I would prefer a “Previously in Bearers of the Black Staff” introduction.

All of my griping aside, it isn’t a bad book. It’s just that I’ve read everything Shannara related that Brooks has to offer and I feel like I’m getting the same meal fed to me. It’s not a bad meal. It’s satisfying. It just doesn’t wow me like it used to. If you’re a fan of Shannara then you’ll likely enjoy this book too but I don’t think he’s going to win any new hearts with it.

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Review: Full Dark, No Stars

Full Dark, No StarsFull Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were four very creepy or unsettling stories here. Would you expect less from King? Some of them bordered on hard to read due to the graphic nature of the descriptions. King acknowledges this at the end of the book. He explains that this is his way of making sense of a world that seems unexplainable at time. Of the four stories, I say that Good Marriage probably showed the most possibility for a full length book but all were fairly good reads. It’s interesting that King details where he got the ideas for these four stories at the end and some of them you wouldn’t believe how innocently they evolved into visions of horror. Particularly "Big Driver". Before this book I thought I was a fan of King’s. Now I’m wondering if I’m not a fan of his later stuff instead. This material seems more in the vein of the King I heard rumors of before Bag of Bones. King of late seems only a little sick in this head.. this book seems all out demented. -shrugs- It won’t keep me from reading his next book, but I may steer away from his short stories.

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Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

On Writing: A Memoir of the CraftOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

On Writing is a good book for teaching you a little about the art of writing and a little about Mr. King’s preferences for putting words to paper but if you were looking for a tutorial this isn’t it. It’s a nice semi-autobiography, there are a lot of great tales about his childhood, his work writing growing up and even amusing stories about where he was when he sold/wrote his first novels. He talks some of his preferences such as a strong dislike of adverbs and even establishes a rule or two. "If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write."

The book won’t help you write like King. It won’t help you discover some secret formula – there isn’t one, he says – but it will give you insight into how one of the best selling authors of recent time has come to his craft. As a fan of King I liked it because I learned about the man behind the stories. As someone who likes the idea of maybe writing a novel someday it wasn’t terribly helpful.

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