Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Martian


5 Stars

Wow.

Wow. 

Ok. 

I saw the previews for the movie a few weeks ago and thought, 'Hey, that looks cool,' and then I saw an offer to read the book on Blogging for Books and thought I'd go for it.

Best. Decision. Ever.

I love this book. The story is a mixture off Watney's mission logs and communications with NASA as well as chapters written with some great dialogue. It works, and it's wonderful.

The book starts off fast, in the middle of a crisis, and just keeps getting better-or I should say worse-as astronaut Mark Watney fights for his life. 

I would not want to be him.

The technical jargon and math didn't confuse me, or bore me, for a second. You don't have to understand it, just read and realize how intelligent, and strong willed this guy is to try and survive all the hardships he faces. You almost have to laugh about his misfortune, which is exactly what you will be doing as Watney is a pretty funny guy with his smart remarks and screw you attitude, because let's face it, he's the smartest and most qualified person on Mars so screw everyone else.

I'm really not sure what else to say aside from READ THIS BOOK, and then check out the movie, which I am now very excited to see. The Martian is a smart, funny, exciting, and completely out of this world read.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fallen Project





I have a project I'm starting and I'd like everyone to have a chance to be involved.

The project is called #Fallen and is up on HitRECord.org, if you're not a member of tht community, don't worry, people will be participating on Instagram as well.

For those who would like an account on HitRECord, check it out! It's a website to collaborate on projects and get your writing, videos, illustrations, artwork seen an used in projects-you may even get paid for it!

So, what is Fallen?

Fallen as of right now is a collection of photographs and poems with the theme 'Fallen'

I started this project with my photography of fallen leaves and raindrops and I'm looking to expand and get new ideas.

The plan so far is each Monday I will be selecting one photograph to be uploaded to Instagram with a new poem -author an photographers credited- the plan is to use #Fallen and to collect thoughts, opinions, feedback, poems, stories, anything you want to write on the Instagram photo and upload the results to HitRECord for the authors and photographers to see.

The main goal is to have a collection of photos, poems, stories-everything-for a collective gallery of art and ideas.

If you're interested-Follow me on Instagram!

ChasingtheWindPhoto

 I'll always give notice before the new image is posted, and feel free to join in!

Tomorrow will be the first post, let's see how this goes.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Floating City


4 Stars

I'm not incredibly sure what to write about this book so I'll just start typing until I get out what I'm trying to say.

The Floating City is a Shakespearean Fantasy... yeah, that sounds right. The story is a mixture of Shakespeare's greatest tragedy's, to which we all know the ending, all happening within the Floating City that is facing its greatest challenge.

The city is sinking into the deep waters below, being attack by their enemies, the Othmen who continue to send powerful creatures of evil to destroy the council members holding the city afloat. The people are terrified and their council's are falling to doom. The situation seems as hopeless as the Montecchi girl's marriages, two of which have already ended in death.

First, I'll say this book was very well written. It keeps you on your toes and begging for more... but only because you are so confused and want answers. I'm still not sure what the story was really about... Nope, I have no idea what happened in this book.

I chastised myself for about a week thinking perhaps if I were a more intellectual reader, or if maybe I had tried to pay attention when my teachers taught Shakespeare then maybe I would have understood this book... But I'm done blaming myself. It's not me, it's the book.

I was given this book for review by Goodreads, First Reads Giveaways.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Realism Challenge

To start off, this isn't the typical type of book I review on here. This was a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts with a focus on photography, though I've always been jealous of my fellow students showing me up in our drawing classes.


I have so much respect for artists who can see and render every tiny detail, I am sadly not one of them. I thought perhaps this book could give me some insight, help me cheat my way into better drawing skills... What I learned, however, is I still have much to learn.



                          4 Stars


I like this guy from the beginning, he's upfront and honest and knows what he's talking about and no, my professors never had an answer as to what 'the rules' are either. In my opinion there are no rules. Art is what the artist says it is, but also what the viewer says. It exists on multiple levels and planes of thought and the question of 'is that art?' will forever be argued and disagreed upon.


Mark Crilley in The Realism Challenge goes back to the basics of art, bringing artists a cheat sheet, a 'how to' step by step guide on how to produce realistic drawings and illustrations following his own personal techniques. 


When I was attending a Fine Arts program, in our drawing classes we were required to produce details completely in pencil with basic cross hatching that in all honesty is never used in illustrations and in no way looks realistic.


Crilley takes you beyond the classroom basics and propels your skills forward into mixed media techniques that will make your work come to life.


The idea of using black colored pencil for shadows rather than a darker shade of pencil lead is new to me, as well as using watercolor for base coloring techniques.


These techniques are first and foremost Crilley's chosen methods and clearly they work. The Realism Challenge is definitely a challenge, it takes years of practice and trial and error to find what works for you as an artist, this book is simply a good guide to get you going in the right direction.


Throughout the book, Crilley is training you to look closer and notice the subtle and unnoticeable. It's a good technique, once you start noticing the details, they can never be unseen and the challenges he provides are more than enough to keep you busy. There are dozens of surface types and textures covered in the book and if you pay attention to his side notes, there are great tips and lessons to be learned.


I did hope he would get into why he chooses to use watercolor at certain times, to get into more of the technical aspect of his chosen mediums, but I suppose that's something the reader will have to figure out for themselves.


As a guide in hyper realism, The Realism Challenge is a great step by step introduction into realistic drawing. Ultimately, it's up to the artist to practice and perfect, and if you're truly interested in producing more realistic work, The Realism Challenge will help get you there.


As for me, I'll stick to photography.


As a sidenote, I had actually planned on taking the Realism Challenge and producing a realistic drawing to post with my review, but my fractured wrist kind of decided that one for me. When I get around to the challenge I'll see about posting finished products on here.


I was given this book to review by Bloging for Books.

We Have a Winner!

The Armada giveaway ended last night at midnight (sorry if you missed it!) and we have a winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered and I'll have another giveaway coming up of The Floating City! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

ARMADA

WARNING: SPOILERS 
If you have not yet read ARMADA, there are a couple spoilers in this review so proceed at your own risk. To be honest, you'll see these coming from the first few chapters of the book, because, in short, the book is very predictable.

If you're just here for the giveaway, you can skip straight to the bottom of the post for the link and good luck! :)



ARMADA - 3 star Review

Let's go ahead and get the biggest question out of the way here; Does ARMADA stand up to Ready Player One?

No. It does not. 

Let's move past that fact and review ARMADA as it's own, stand alone book. (No, it's not a sequel)

Zack Lightman is obsessed with the father he never had a chance to know. He clings to his fathers treasures, 80's-90's memorabilia ranging from VHS, cassette tapes, and classic gaming equipment to clothing, and wall decor, all packed away by his mother in anticipation of his curiosity for the man who helped create him.

The relationship Cline created between Zack and his mother is great by the way, it's refreshing to read of a mother figure who actually gets along with her child while still actively being a mother rather than befriending him. She is first and foremost an authority figure and looking out for her son and what's best for him. She's a great mom.

Zack's desire to know his father is touching and his insight on what his mother's reaction to having all his father's old belongings in his room shows some maturity on his part. Zack's a good kid, a bit ill tempered at times, but from the beginning we're given a character worth caring about, one we can trust and believe he has what it takes to save the world.

After all, he's spent the last four years of his life unknowingly training in simulated warfare and is listed in the top ten people prepared to save the world from any alien invasion.

Because what else would an alien race do but try to invade and destroy Earth?

And that's the problem. Zack's journey into this War of the Worlds scenario is predictable, even laughable at times. You can see it coming a galaxy away, just like the Europan armada heading for Earth, and at times I felt it as done on purpose, other times it felt like laziness on the part of plot and storyline. 

If the extreme predictability was indeed on purpose, then job well done. As you'll find, if you give this book a read, the characters themselves find it odd the aliens are doing exactly what they expected. Everything is just as, well, as they predicted and I believe we are meant to see the patterns and question what is really going on behind the scenes with these aliens. A 'what aren't they telling us?' kind of approach. Along this line of thinking, the confusion does tie into the ending, and overall makes sense in the end as to why everything happens just as planned, but that doesn't mean that made for a good read. That storyline fell a bit flat and bland.

Now, having said that, I could forgive the aliens for being predictable, they are, after all, just aliens trying to invade Earth, what more could there be to understand of their purpose for doing so, but sadly that was not all that was predictable about ARMADA.

A teenage boy, obsessed with his father and his mysterious death, a son who has spent his entire life watching what his father watched, playing what his father played, wearing what his father wore. What could be more shocking than to bring that father back? But it's not shocking, I figured that out from chapter one. 

And what excuse could his father possibly have for faking his own death? 

Saving the world from aliens.

Because what else do long lost, thought-to-be-dead father's do?

Let's move past that little snafu in plot and be happy for Zack for a bit. His dream came true and they had their sort of touching moment and joined the fight side by side.

A little sweet, kind of touching, a whole lot of predictable.

Now, the book is written in first person, so we're experiencing this all through Zack's point of view. We know what he knows and see what he sees, and for the most part it works, except at times that the author has to stop and explain how another character outside of Zack's small range of view happens to allow him access to video feed to witness an important part of the story or how the cavalry just happens to show up in the nick of time and they decide to quickly explain to Zack how they did it. 

Enough with the backstory and explanations. Some things just don't need to be explained.

Which brings me to the ending. One giant explanation, filling in the blanks of the all mysterious purpose of the global scale attack on Earth by the Europans, which I have to say was not only a bore to read through and a pretty weak excuse, but it also could have been revealed bit by bit from early on when we first learned of this mysterious purpose and had a much better impact as well as actually including the reader in on the discovery. 

Instead, it was talked about and people discussed it, but we're left in the dark with barely a clue as to what it is until the grand (and lengthy) reveal at the end. 

This angered me and I'll tell you why. The information given was not enough to come to the final conclusion on my own, I want a chance to guess, I want that Aha! moment where I think I'm smarter than the author and all his characters combined. I want in on the secret! When I finally was able to discover this big secret, which ultimately caused me more confusion and frustration than was necessary, it wasn't a big enough reveal to be worth the wait. The consequences outweighed the outcome. It was anticlimactic and if I'm not mistaken, there's a hint of a sequel in its final pages...

Overall, ARMADA is a fairly entertaining book. Aside from my few frustrations and the predictable plot, the characters are very well developed and Zack is a great narrator. I did enjoy this read all the way up until the end when it drops off into lengthy explanations and rushes to a close.

So, is ARMADA worth the read? 

Sure! Why not, the majority of it is well written and if you're a gaming geek or nostalgic nerd you'll really get a kick out of it. If you're not willing to hand out the cash for it, borrow it from the library or a friend who actually shares their books (I don't share). 

There were a lot of high points I enjoyed while reading this book and as I said, the characters are fantastic and really well developed. It simply fell short at the end and I'm still suffering from the disappointment.

So, if you'd like to give this book a try, I'll be giving away my copy on my blog. Try it out for yourself and hopefully you'll love it. This is just one persons opinion after all ;)

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Grimly Jane



Warning: *Spoilers Ahead*

Once again I did exactly what I had promised myself I would no longer do. I accepted a self published book for review.

I know there are plenty of wonderful self published books out there, I just seem to have a knack for weeding out the bad ones.

I had high hopes for Grimly Jane, the drawings were charming, dark and a bit sinister, exactly the type of story I was in the mood for. However, it did not live up to my expectations...

Every ten years a child goes missing without a trace. Or so we've been told... Two young girls seek the story of the witch that steals children in the night and are then faced with a completely different sort of tale.

Jane Worthington, due to unfortunate circumstances, finds herself an orphan and is carted away to the Rudorf Home for Foundlings. There she is miss treated for her lack funds to pay for her stay as the other orphans in the home were apparently left with money from their parents until they find a new family. Jane, however, was left with nothing and is therefore resented for the fact because her fees are supposedly coming out of the pocket of her caretaker.

I found the basis of contempt for Jane to be a bit unfounded. She is mistreated from day one for having come to the orphanage poor even though the orphanage receives funds per child from benefactors so her costs are actually paid for in full.

I suppose if it were as the situation in Annie where all the orphans are mistreated because of their caretakers greed over the funds she receives over each child that she keeps for herself I could understand her suffering, but the other children are treated just fine. They're happy even, playing with one another (except Jane because they hate her too...) and optimistically awaiting adoption.

Or even if her story was like in Harry Potter where he is resented for his parents magic that his muggle relatives find almost sinful, but she has no magic powers. She has no reason at all to be disliked except for being just like everyone else, parent-less and living in an orphanage.

After Jane's one friend betrays her she decides to seek revenge, aided by a master of revenge from another world who she signs her life over to in order to gain the power to strike at those that hurt her the most. She is warned not to pursue this line of intrigue, after the contract is signed, but it's already too late. The contract holds an unknown punishment for not completing the task of revenge so even if she wanted to go back, she can't. There is no real fear of the punishment because we have no idea what it is so why not walk away and go live with her uncle who is trying to did her (a fact she's not told until after the contract is signed...)

The thing is, there's no real anger in Jane. She seems more sad and scared before going to the other world and even in the other world she says she's seeking revenge simply because she said she was going to do it. Her threats lack conviction, her excuses lack reasoning. She even says she's only seeking revenge because she said she'd do it and she doesn't want to go back on her word.

Not very heart wrenching and torment induced reasoning.

We're given a bit of a background on her training, but overall the story lacks... Well a story. Yes, she was mistreated at the orphanage, but aside from that nothing really fuels her actions to continue for years aside from an old grudge.

When she returns, she seeks her revenge and her tormentors are punished and she disappears... And with her the rest of the story. The book simply ends without conclusion.

The two girls seeking answers never find them. Are the children taken every ten years? The witch Jane Worthington returned after only four years and no children were taken at her departing...

The ending drops off with the girls having heard their story and heading home and we're all left with questions.

Grimly Jane is a story worthy of more time and editing. There is a lesson in there, one of forgiveness and the consequences of rash decisions, it just needs more time to come together, more editing, and more explanation.

I'm sad to say I can't give this book more than two stars. It simply isn't finished.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Haiku Hiatus

Having spent most of my day writing, reading, or wiping up messes a little boy refuses to stop making, I decided I need a break.

I just finished reading Joe Abercrombie's 2nd Shattered Sea book, Half a World, and I am head over heels for Thorn. It's an exciting read with a strong female character and I feel a need to read it again just to experience her all over again.

I seriously can't wait for the third book, Half a War, that I hope to purchase ASAP.

Abercrombie makes writing look easy. He really does, like child's play easy. He doesn't go in depth with his world and it's politics, you know what your characters face, what they know about life, and that's it. It makes for a fast read and despite the lack of details where I feel a bit jaded, I don't feel I'm really missing out on the story overall.

In short, I recommend reading his books.

As I'd prefer to keep writing and rolling in the word count today, in taking a break from writing my current project to writing this blog post, and maybe writing a bit of a Haiku based on Thorn that's been itching at me all day.

For Thorn Bathu

Death awaits us all
The Last Door swings open wide
Strike the killing blow

Now... Back to work.