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Velox's Blog



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The Hobbit Review

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Jan 07 2013 · 214 views
The Hobbit, Movie Review, Review and 1 more...

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So I saw The Hobbit the day after it came out in theaters, and I’ve been meaning to write a review since. This review will contain some slight spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d wait to read this entry until then.
 
I want to start off with saying that the book is fantastic – it’s a perfect kid’s fairy-tale-type-book, but then again, that’s not surprising, considering Tolkien wrote it. However, the movie is not the book – not exactly, anyway. Of course this was completely expected, and I personally didn’t have a problem with it. But if you’re expecting it to be the book line-by-line, you’ll be disappointed. 
 
That said, it is “the movie” – it fits in very nicely with the LOTR movies, and is a great prologue to the trilogy. Half of me wants them to release a “book version” (basically, cut out all the extra scenes, change some of the changes slightly to better fit the book, etc.). I realize this is improbable, but I still think it’d be cool. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, and I’m sure I’ll love the extended edition, too. I just think it’d be awesome to have both; a “book version” and a “movie version.” But yeah, that’s not going to happen. =P Anyway, it's also obviously a lot darker, but that's to be expected -- I wasn't disappointed with that bit. 
 
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins is the absolute perfect choice. He was completely fantastic, and is the perfect, perfect Bilbo (and Watson, for that matter). His whole part was extremely well-done, and I loved every one of his scenes. Ian McKellen, too, did a supurb job. Of course all of the other actors did too, but I thought that they, particularly, did an outstanding job.
 
But of course that list of “outstanding jobs” would not be complete if I didn’t include Andrew Serkis in that list. His performance as Gollum was absolutely amazing, and was one of the best parts about the whole movie. The Riddles scene was very well-done (sure, some slight inconsistencies like there being more light than there should be, but again…this is the movie, so that didn’t really bother me. And the riddles themselves were fantastically done – I’m really hoping all of them are included in the extended edition).
 
Back to the movie itself, the beginning was absolutely fantastic. Yes, I’ve probably said “absolutely fantastic” or some variation of a dozen times already, but I don’t care – because it’s true. The history of the Lonely Mountain was done extremely well, and I loved how you saw Smaug but at the same time…you didn’t (if you saw the movie you’ll understand what I’m saying =P). On that note, everything about Smaug was well-done. Sure, I wish we could’ve seen him in this movie, but at the same time, I think they built him up spectacularly, and I’m sure the second part of the trilogy will be amazing with him.
 
The very beginning narration with Ian Holm and the tie-in to LOTR was also extremely well-done. I really, really enjoyed this, and the first…30 minutes or so all together, with Bilbo and Frodo and later Bilbo the Younger. As implied, I really liked how they tied this movie into Ian Holm telling Frodo about his adventure, the switching to Martin Freeman. And I liked how for the first part with Martin Freeman, some lines were copied directly from the book. I had just read the book a few days before, so it was cool seeing that.
 
The dwarves were over-all well-done. I had some concerns about them at first, but after seeing the movie I was pleased with their performance. I do wish they could’ve had their instruments and their coloured hoods, but their “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates!” song was very well done. Even more so was the Misty Mountains song – that was just simply fantastic, and one of the best parts of the movie. Which, speaking of, the whole soundtrack was extremely well-done. Of course, that was expected with Howard Shore, but still. I can’t wait to buy the Deluxe Version at some point.
 
As for the Azog inclusion…I guess I both liked and disliked that. Obviously it’s not true to the book, but I liked how there was a single antagonistic character for the dwarves and Bilbo. I also thought that Azog was very well-done, himself, and seemed to be a cool character. At the same time, I think they could’ve gone slightly more in-depth with him. Sometimes it seemed like he was placed in simply so there was an “enemy” for the company. The inclusion of the Necromancer, too, was cool, and I definitely look forward to Cumberbatch playing him in future films (who is, of course, a perfect Sherlock as well). And I thought most of Rivendell was well-done. I also liked Radagast for the most part. 
 
The troll scene was obviously different from the book, which I both liked and disliked. The personalities were very well done, but I kind of wish Gandalf would have done his voices trick. At the same time, I understand having to introduce Bilbo as the “hero” early on, since they’re dragging it out to three, three-hour-long movies.
 
I was very pleased with the portrayal of the goblin king. I was interested to see how they would do that, and I think they pulled it off well. His death, however, not so much. In fact, it was rather lame, unfortunately. Which is really too bad, considering I liked the rest of him. Oh well. But on that note, I didn’t like the front porch scene. I really wish they would’ve kept truer to the book here (I liked how there was a crack in the wall, and the ponies disappeared, etc., rather than the movie version). Oh, well.
 
The stone giants, too, was a little over-done. I really liked it, up until the point that they were stuck on the giant’s legs. That just went overboard, and wasn’t necessary. I wish they would’ve kept it off to the distance – have them dodging boulders, sure, but to be actually on a giant was a little much. 
 
And lastly, the ending could’ve been done better. The very, very end was done well, I think, in the sense that it was a good way/place to stop it (I hope that the eagles speak in the second movie, though). But the tree scene was…disappointing. Of course you had to have the dramatic Thorin and Azog (which wasn’t even done all that well, unfortunately). The idea itself wouldn’t’ve been too bad if it were done a little differently, I think. Even Bilbo saving him, I can see how that’d be useful to develop Bilbo’s character. But it just wasn’t executed as well as it could’ve been. And the falling trees and domino effect was even worse. I have to say I was disappointed with that. Oh, well. 
 
This was the first time I had seen a 3D movie, and I think it worked well here. Also the sped-up frames-per-minute was kind of cool. I didn’t really notice it all that much, but coupled with the 3D at times it definitely worked well. I’ve heard some people say that the movie seemed too long, but personally I didn’t think so, and I was happy with the length (in fact, I was surprised it was over all ready when it was – didn’t seem like nearly three hours).
 
Overall, The Hobbit was a great movie, and I’d highly recommend it. Sure, there were other small little problem I had with it (mostly from differences between the movie and book), but overall it was amazing, especially if it’s looked at as a prologue to the movies more than an exact movie-version of the book. Peter Jackson did well, and I look forward to the Extended Edition and the next two movies. 
 
~ Velox


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2012 in Review

Posted by Velox , in BZPower, Other, Life Jan 05 2013 · 210 views

So 2012 was an amazing year. Most probably the best year I’ve had yet. I’ve made some mistakes, I’ve done some stupid things, I haven’t done quite as much writing or reading as I would’ve liked, and there’s been a few other small downtimes, but overall it was amazing. So, let’s break down the categories (I considered separating them like Nuile did, but I figured why not just put them all in one entry…maybe that was a mistake =P): 
 
Writing ~ I’ve made amazing progress with my writing this year. Previously it was rare that I write – a short story, maybe two, a year and otherwise that’s about it. This year that has grown exponentially. Starting in around June, John (55555), Micah (Kakaru), and I, along with many others, started doing nightly “Write-Offs” where we’d write about a theme for 15 minutes and then comment on each other’s works. While we took a long break (like, 5 or 6 months =P), recently John and I have started doing them nightly again, and it’s amazing. They’re not my best writing, but just writing almost every night is something that I truly love and am thankful for.
 
Perhaps my biggest writing achievement this year was 30,000 words for NaNoWriMo (I meant to write an entry on that, but I guess I forgot…). No, I didn’t quite make it to the 50k, but considering how little I had been writing in previous years, and how this is the first year I’ve written (while also juggling the first semester of college), and how I’ve never written a single story longer than 1.5k, this has been a huge step for me. Writing this much in one month about one single story is just awesome. I’m still surprised I was able to do this much, and I look forward to getting the full 50k next year.
 
What I wrote was an espionage and psychological thriller. My old, 2010 short story “Hope” is actually the prologue for it. I definitely had a lot of fun writing and planning this, and I hope to finish it soon, as I’m only about half-way done with it. I’ll probably write another entry sometime just about this and other writing, but since I’m covering a lot in this entry I should probably leave it at that.
 
I’ve also written four poems this year – the first poems I have written since freshman year of high school. While they were for my creative writing class, I’m still fairly pleased with them and look forward to writing more poetry next semester, as I’ll be taken a poetry class (same professor, too, so that’s cool – I really liked him). Additionally, I’ve written several short stories in 2012, two of which are over 2,000 words – longer than any short story I’ve written before 2012 – as well as several over 1,000 words. These are both big steps for me as, again, I really hadn’t been writing much and it was hard for me to write long stories. Now this year I’ve written several. I may do another blog entry some time specifically about my character Detective Calvin Duster and the stories I have planned for him and the stories I have written.
 
But all in all, it’s been a great year writing-wise. I still haven’t written as much as I would have liked, but that’s what 2013 is for, and I’ve written more this year than I have in all other years combined, so for that, I am happy.

In total, let’s see. I’ve written roughly…7? short stories, half of a novel, parts of two different Serials, 4 poems, and over 50 flash fiction pieces. 2011? I didn’t write a single short story, apparently. I must have written something, but nothing that I thought was good enough to post online.  Wow, that’s bad.
 
Reading ~ I’ve written several blog entries on books in 2012, so I don’t think I need to do that again. I’ll just link to my Best Books of 2012 and leave it at that. This is the second year that I’ve read more than a-book-a-week, and I’ve read many great books. I hope to continue my book-a-week streak for 2013 as well.
 
Blogging ~ So this year I started blogging for the first time (off of BZP), mostly for my write-offs. It’s been a great experience and I’ve met some awesome people. I just plan on blogging even more this year.
 
Movies ~ Wow, so 2012 has been a great year for movies. I’ve watched more movies in theatre this year than quite possibly my whole life combined, haha – I don’t go to the theatre often. The Hunger Games was enjoyable, and it’s been fun ranting about it and the book to various people. Seeing the Avengers at BricksCascade with the awesome people there was really fun. Then of course The Dark Knight Rises over summer was completely amazing and one of my favorite movies. I saw The Bourne Legacy with a friend, and enjoyed that. I really like Jeremy Renner, and it wasn’t a bad sequel to the Bourne Trilogy. The last two movies I saw were The Hobbit and Les Miserables, both of which were completely amazing. I hope to write a review of and ramble for both, but for now I’ll just leave it at saying they were amazing.
 
TV Shows ~ I’ve discovered several new TV shows this year. Namely, Castle, The Walking Dead, and Justified. All are amazing shows, and Castle is definitely one of my top 5 all-time favorite shows and is amazing, and Katie and Aimee are awesome for nagging me enough to finally start watching it.
 
Music ~ I’ve found a variety of new music this year. Most importantly, ThePianoGuys. These guys are amazing, and definitely my favorite band/music group. Many thanks to Will (Tolkien) for introducing them to me. Then Katie (Ezorov) has shown me some awesome bands as well, name Eisley, the Hunger Games soundtrack, and Adele’s Skyfall song, among other things. I’ve started listening to more of the Beatles and finally got their #1 Hits CD, and I’ve also started listening to Billy Joel, thanks to Grant-Sud. And lastly, I’ve started listening to soundtracks a lot more this year – Hans Zimmer, Howard Shore, etc., as well as other classical stuff like Handel’s Messiagh, etc. Really amazing stuff. I have of course listened to other things new-to-me this year, be these are all some of my favorite groups and songs, now.
 
Personal Life ~ With the help of the people mentioned below and other things in my life, I think I’ve definitely grown as a person this year, specifically in my Faith and beliefs. I can’t really get into the detail, but suffice to say I am extremely thankful for these people and the circumstances that allowed me to become, in my opinion, a better person. I still have a lot of work to do, and unfortunately I have also failed throughout the year many, and I’m not happy with many things that I have done, but I believe that I have gotten stronger and I hope to this year accomplish some personal, private goals that I was not able to accomplish last year, though I did make progress on them in 2012.
 
People ~ I’ve had some amazing relationships with people this past year. I’ve grown close to many, many people that I hadn’t been previously close with or as close with.
 
First and foremost, while we started talking since BrickCon 2011, Katie (Ezorov) and I didn’t really get super close until 2012. She is one of the most amazing people ever, and the best of friends one can have. Talking to her for literally hours a day is just really, really amazing, and she is a super awesome person. I just can’t put into words accurately how amazing she is and how amazing it is being so close to her.
 
Then there’s John (55555), who I’ve been friends with practically since I joined this site. But it seems like this year we became particularly close. Alike in so many ways, and just easy to talk to, he’s been an amazing friend this year and we’ve told each other practically everything. It’s been fun talking about our various struggles and wishes and people that we like, giving advice to each other and whatnot. He’s always there for me and is like a brother.
 
Micah (Kakaru), too, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot closer to this year, probably because I’ve gone to two conventions with him and talked to him a lot on Skype. Micah, as I’m sure is obvious, is an awesome guy (just ask Rob), always willing to talk and help out with things. I’ve also gotten closer to Jason (xccj), rooming with him at two different conventions and going on mini road trips to Seattle – it’s been really fun, and I love how it doesn’t matter if we disagree on politics or religion, we put those aside and just be friends while respecting each other. And everyone, at BCon and BCascade, I’ve had awesome times with and gotten closer to.
 
I think perhaps the biggest jumps I’ve made this year with people (previously rarely ever talking to them, and now talking to them very often and being good friends) would be Caleb (Cederak), Will (Tolkien), and Nate (GSR). I’ve always respected them a lot as writers (Nate less so, but that’s only because he wasn’t even active until like earlier this year, so I had no idea who he was until he entered those short story contests and then he immediately gained my respect =P). Caleb, especially, I’ve gotten really close to, and he’s helped me out a lot with things. Again I love how I can have practically completely opposite viewpoints on politics and religion with both Caleb and Nate, and we’re still great friends, because we don’t let that get in the way. Aimee (Aderia), too, I didn’t really know until this year, and now we’re great friends (and she’s also my Les Mis buddy that I can yell at about awesome Les Mis things any time I want. We’re also Les Mis t-shirt buddies!). And same with Kraggh – we’ve got a lot in common and we can both appreciate Les Mis for the awesomeness that it is.  
 
Although I went to school with her for 4 years, I didn’t really meet my friend Christina until early 2012. She really helped me become a better person and realize that there are other people out there like me (besides John [55555] =P), and since then I’ve grown so much in my Faith. Katie, too, has helped me immensely with my relationship with God, and she’s another person reminding me that there are people who share my views and beliefs. I’ve become a much better person this year, in terms of my beliefs, I think, mostly due to John, Katie, and Christina, and for that I will be forever grateful.
 
And I could seriously ramble on and on and on about all the amazing relationships I’ve had this year, and keep listing more and more people, but I’ll end with just mentioning the members of the Ambage Skype chats. Especially Nuile, who never gave up his writers club idea, and I’m so glad we were able to create the Ambage and how successful it’s been. Literally everyone there is amazing and are awesome friends, and I couldn’t be more grateful for how they have been so influential on my life.
 
 
 
And, well, that’s about it. I know I’ve probably rambled more than people care, but this was a fun entry to write. Here’s to 2013! *raises glass*
 
~ Velox


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Top Ten Tuesday #5: Books I Resolve To Read In 2013

Posted by Velox , in Top Ten Tuesday Jan 02 2013 · 167 views
Top Ten, #5, Books, Resolutions and 1 more...

(I'll be doing non-Top-Ten-Tuesdays soon hopefully, but for tonight I just wanted to post a quick entry rather than some other longer ones I have planned)

 

Top Ten Books I Resolve To Read In 2013

 
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Unfortunately, I have never read this yet. I've read The Hobbit thrice (at least), and the Children of Hurin once, but never LOTR. I may have read parts of it when I was younger, and I know that I had them read to me as a kid, but I've never read them, myself, all the way through. I'm going to do it this year.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. I loved A Game of Thrones, but unfortunately I had to take a break from A Clash of Kings. They're not light reading, and I wouldn't consider them page-turners. They are, however, fantastic, fantastic books, and if you allow yourself to be captivated with them, they will become, in a sense, page-turners. But that means a lot of free time and little distractions. So once college started, it just became hard to get through ACoK, even though I loved it. So I'll read these during either winter or summer break, hopefully. 
  • The Circle Trilogy ("Quadrilogy"?), by Ted Dekker. Katie (Ezorov) just sent me this for Christmas, and I'm super, super excited to read it. After I finish my Michael Connelly run, I'll most likely read this next. I really can't wait, and she's awesome for getting it for me. 
  • The first Jack Reacher book, by Lee Child. I've been interested in this series for a while, but for some reason I've never read one yet. So I want to start with the first, and eventually read them all. 
  • The Firm, by John Grisham. I've thoroughly enjoyed the two legal-thriller authors I've read (Michael Connelly and Brian Haig), and I hear Grisham is the master, so I've been wanting to read this for a while. 
  • By Order of the Presdient, by W.E.B. Griffin. This one isn't all that important, but I've had this whole series on my shelf for a while now, but I haven't read them so I want to, and I enjoy Griffin's writing. 
  • The Bourne Identity, by Robert Ludlum. Loved the movie, he's the master -- why not?
  • Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. Katie and several others have been telling me I need to read it, and I definitely want to before the movie comes out. 
  • Open Season, by C. J. Box. I've had this sitting on my shelf forever now, and this author was recommended to me by Hugh Hewitt -- who was the first person to recommend Vince Flynn, who is now one of my favorite authors. As such, I assume this will be good, and I've been interested in reading this series for a while.
  • Without Remorse, by Tom Clancy. I've read all of his latest novels (the ones after his nearly-a-decade-break), with the exception of Threat Vector (his latest, which I shall read very soon as it just came out a month ago), but never any of his older novels, with the exception of Patriot Games. I've been wanting to read the whole Jack Ryan series for a while, though.
  • A is for Alibi, by Sue Grafton. I've heard her alphabet series is good, and this has been sitting on my shelf for a while.
  • Have Spacesuit--Will Travel, by Robert A. Heinlein. 55555 sent me this for my birthday this past year, and he talks very highly of it. I've also been interested in reading it for a while, so hope to finally do so this year.
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. I've had this on my shelf for a while and have been really wanting to read it. I've just had other things I've wanted to read first. =P I hope to finally read it this year, though.
  • Holes, by Louis Sachar. Yep. Surprisingly, I've never read this. Or at least not that I can remember. Katie (Ezorov) gave it to me for my birthday, and I've been wanting to read it for a while, so I hope to finally do so soon. 
  • Coup D'Etat, by Ben Coes. I loved his first novel, but I just haven't gotten around to this one yet.
So obviously I went over 10, but that's because I have so many books that I need to read, many of which I already have. Every book on this list is already on my shelf. These are probably the books I want to read most (in no particular order), out of the hundreds I have that I still need to read. For the past two years I've read about 60 books each year, so I'm hoping to continue that with at least a book a week, in order to keep working my way through the hundreds of books on my shelves. I didn't include other books by the same authors on this list, but for most of those I hope to read the whole series. Maybe not this year, but at least the first book, and the rest some time.
 
I'm currently making my way through Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series. I'm more than half way through The Drop, and then all I have left is The Black Box and I'm finally done! In these past 10 days I've read 8 books in this series, haha, so yes, they're very good (unfortunately I am now on vacation, so that will slow down my streak). That would also be why I've been less active. =P Highly recommended, definitely. But so after I finish these, I'll probably read The Circle, by Ted Dekker and then...who knows. That's 4 books, and I never know what I may feel like reading after finishing a book.
 
So what about you guys? Any books you plan on reading in 2013?
 
And with that, I wish all of BZPower a very happy New Years. [Also, Isabelle Allen ("Young Cosette") is the most adorable person ever, and everyone should go see Les Misérables if just for her.] I may or may not make a 2012-wrap-up/2013-resolutions entry, as well as a review of Les Mis and The Hobbit shortly. I always plan on blog entries but never seem to finish them or actually write them. =P
 
~ Velox


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Top Ten Tuesday #4: New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2012

Posted by Velox , in Top Ten Tuesday Dec 22 2012 · 167 views
Top Ten Tuesday, #4, New-to-me and 1 more...

(posting this about a week and a half late, because I had finals last week)
 
Top Ten Favorite New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2012

  • George R. R. Martin. A Game of Thrones. Definitely an amazing book, and I look forward to reading the rest in the series and possible some of Martin's other works.
  • Michael Connelly. His Mickey Haller, Harry Bosch, and Jack McEvoy series. One of my favorite authors already, and I am quickly making my way through all of his books, having started and finished one yesterday, and am over two-thirds done with Lost Light today -- only 7 more books to read in the Harry Bosch series (I have already finished the other two -- besides that, he has a couple standalone novels that I haven't read yet).
  • Markus Zusak. The Book Thief. I've already talked about this enough, I think, but check out my review for more.
  • Patrick Ness. A Monster Calls (read twice). Again, I've already praised this book a lot. An amazing, amazing book.
  • J. K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series. First time reading them, all in less than two weeks. Great series, and I look forward to reading them again sometime, as well as possibly reading her Casual Vacancy, though I know it's quite different.
  • Ted Dekker. Skin. Again as I've mentioned before, great book.
  • Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games trilogy. An enjoyable series, to be sure. I'm not sure if I'll read anything else by her, though.
  • Howard Gordon. Gideon's War. New to me, and new to writing novels, but it wasn't a disappointment. I'll probably read any other books he comes out with. 
And that's about it. There were a few other new-to-me authors I read, but they weren't exactly my favorite, so didn't include them. All of the above authors, however, I enjoyed.
 
~ Velox


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Top Ten Tuesday #3: Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

Posted by Velox , in Top Ten Tuesday, Literature Dec 18 2012 · 158 views

So I know I've already made an entry like this, but I wanted to keep up the Top Ten Tuesdays (even though I missed last week due to finals, unfortunately -- I'll probably post it tomorrow or later this week) anyway. So without further ado...

 

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012

 
(In no particular order, really, because it's hard to choose one over the other in a lot of the cases)
  • A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. I think anything I could say about this I've already said. An amazing book.
  • The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien. Should be self explanatory. It's Tolkien. It's the Hobbit. 
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. See my review for an in-depth reason, but in short: it's an amazing book that I think everyone should read. 
  • Skin, by Ted Dekker. A great thriller that was extremely fun to read. I'm definitely going to be reading more Dekker after this.
  • The Last Man and Kill Shot, by Vince Flynn. Vince Flynn is one of my favorite authors, and these books were nothing short of amazing. I read The Last Man in a single evening after receiving it in the mail. 
  • Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin. I hope this is fairly self-explanatory, but Martin is an incredible author. I'm excited to read the rest of the series. 
  • The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. I can't say enough about this book. I love it so, so much. I'll definitely be re-reading it sometime, and it's one of my favorite books. The first non-fiction book I have ever read for pleasure, too. C. S. Lewis really is an amazing man. 
  • The Mickey Haller series and several books from the Harry Bosch series, by Michael Connelly. Another one of my favorite authors who I only started reading this year. I became hooked instantly, and every single one of his books are amazing. I can't wait to finish the series. 
  • The Harry Potter Series. Read them for the first time this year. Gotta say, I loved them, reading all of them in less than two weeks. I'm definitely going to read them again sometime. 
  • Cold Days, by Jim Butcher. Jim Butcher never disappoints, and I loved how this one was longer than usual. 
So it was hard to choose just ten books (and yes, I cheated by using multiple by the same author =P), and even then were a few other books that I really enjoyed. But I think these are my top ten. 
 
~ Velox


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Meeting Michael Connelly

Posted by Velox , in School, Life, Literature Dec 05 2012 · 214 views
Michael Connelly, Book Signing and 3 more...

So on Sunday I had the honor of meeting one of my favorite authors: Michael Connelly. A master in the mystery genre, Connelly has just published his 25th book (in only 20 years); the 18th book in the LAPD Detective Harry Bosch series. I unfortunately have not yet read all of his books, but I am making my way through, having read 13 books so far (8 of which were Harry Bosch novels). Connelly has also guest-starred in the amazing TV show Castle, which just added to the excitement of meeting him. 

 
Anyway, it was actually extremely fortunate. For my Creative Writing class, I had to go to two readings -- one fiction, and one poetry, and then write a report on them. I was lucky that, the day before these reports were due, Michael Connelly was speaking at a Barnes and Noble near my house. 
 
Unfortunately, I didn't know I was going to be going to the book signing, so I had ordered his new book, The Black Box, online a few days earlier. And it hadn't come yet. So instead I was that one awkward guy with his second-newest book (The Drop) for him to sign (I also had him sign a label that I have now stuck on The Black Box when it arrived earlier today). It wasn't really that awkward, though, and it was extremely awesome being able to meet him and talk to other Connelly fans in line while waiting to meet him.
 
And I have proof!

 
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You can thank my phone for the blurry picture (and of course I wasn't looking at the camera. Oh well). 
 
So I went there, waited in line and heard him speak for ~45 minutes (which was awesome, though slightly hard to hear), then finally got up and had him sign my stuff and take a picture. Later that night I drove up to Santa Monica for a poetry reading (yes, I am a procrastinator, and waited until the day before to go to both readings -- I'm lucky there was even a poetry reading near me that night), and I was actually pleasantly surprised. I wasn't expecting it to be all that good, but it wasn't bad -- author/professor Carol Quinn read from her book Acetylene, and afterward I bought it and had her sign it. I had never heard of her before this, so I'm glad she turned out to be pretty good. 
 

Overall a good day. Two book signings/readings, was able to finish my homework barely in time for my Creative Writing class the next day, and I got to meet one of my favorite authors. 
 
~ Velox


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Top Ten Tuesday #2: Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

Posted by Velox , in Top Ten Tuesday, Literature Dec 04 2012 · 181 views
Top Ten Tuesday, Christmas, Santa and 2 more...

So on a few writing blogs I follow, there's a "Top Ten Tuesday" meme that people do, where each week they give a new theme, and you give your top ten books for that theme. I decided I'd start doing it here. The list is roughly in the order of most- to least-wanted.

 

I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me...

I don't think I need a 9 or 10. =P There's a lot of books I want, to be sure, but most of them are just books that I'd want to get on my own. These books are all (mostly) more expensive or hard to find (and thus more expensive as I'll have to buy them at full price instead of from a used bookstore), so I'd rather get them as gifts then buy them myself. Of course, once I get a job, I'll probably be buying one Collectible Edition book a month at least. =P 
 
~ Velox


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Best Books of 2012

Posted by Velox , in Literature Dec 03 2012 · 214 views
Books, 2012, List, Best Books

Another list from a non-BZP blog I follow, decided I'd jump on the bandwagon and give mine. 
 
Best Books in 2012

  • Best Book You Read in 2012? So this is a hard one. I've read a lot of good books this year, and really, it's impossible for me to choose a favorite. So instead I'll give my top five: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien (not the first time I've read it, but still), A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness (I think my banner and avatar show how much I love the book), The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (I think my blog entry speaks for this book), A Game of Thrones, by George R. R. Martin (I'm sure its reputation proceeds it), and Skin, by Ted Dekker. This is not including series I have read in their entirety (Harry Potter; Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller series), and new books in series that I have read before (Vince Flynn). 
  • Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn't? Hmm, another hard one. Partially I guess you could say this fits for A Clash of Kings, by George R. R. Martin, but it's not entirely true -- with these books, you really have to take the time to enjoy them, and as homework was piling up, I was looking for a page-turner. So in a way I enjoyed it less than I thought it would, but I am putting it aside in order to read it when I have time to focus just on the book. So I guess I'd have to say The Black Ice, by Michael Connelly. I love Connelly, but this book was a little slow for me (the only one that has been like that). And to an extent, A Confederacy of Dunces. I wasn't excited at all for it, but I did think I'd like it more than I did. 
  • Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? I'd have to say A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. When I had first heard about how it's a picture book, I was some-what turned off, thinking it'd be a boring kid's book. Boy was I surprised, haha. Now it is one of my favorite books ever, and extremely highly recommended. 
  • Book you recommended to people most in 2012? Again I'd have to say A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. After I was completely blown away, I started recommending it to everyone. That, and The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, which is a book I think that everyone should read. 
  • Best series you discovered in 2012? I have four. 1. A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin. An amazing series that I can't wait to continue when I have more time to focus on it; 2. the Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling. Nope, I hadn't read it until this year, and then I read them all in less than two weeks. They definitely would've gone on my "best books of 2012 list" (or at least most enjoyable); 3. the Mickey Haller series, by Michael Connelly; and 4. the Harry Bosch series, by Michael Connelly. I love all of these series -- I have finished two of them, and am working my way slowly through the other two (Harry Bosch and ASoIaF).  
  • Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012? I've only read a couple of new authors (as in, newly published, not new to me), but I'd have to say Howard Gordon, author of Gideon's War. It was a pretty enjoyable book, and I look forward to future books he writes. 
  • Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling, as I had never really read young adult fiction before (if you don't count A Monster Calls). Then there's A Game of Thrones, which technically is out of my comfort zone as I don't read much fantasy. But for books that I haven't mentioned yet, I'd say The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins -- I hadn't read young adult fiction before it (I read Harry Potter after), and it wasn't half bad. 
  • Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012? Easy. The Last Man, by Vince Flynn. I just read it on Saturday. It had arrived in the mail that day, a few hours later I started reading it and I couldn't put it down (until I had to, as I had to go somewhere, but when I came back I promptly picked it back up), finishing it at around 1:30 AM. Great, great book. 
  • Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Probably either The Hobbit or A Monster Calls, or both. I plan to start reading both of the yearly. 
  • Most memorable character in 2012? I really don't know. Many. The first one I can think of right now is Mitch Rapp, from The Last Man by Vince Flynn, but I just read that book two days ago, too. Eddard Stark of A Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Conor from A Monster Calls, etc. 
  • Most beautifully written book read in 2012? A Game of Thrones or The Hobbit takes this one. Tolkien's and Martin's writing styles are both extremely beautiful -- truly masterpieces. 
  • Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis. The first non-fiction book that I have really, really enjoyed reading, and an amazing book. I'm actually not quite finished with it yet, but I love it. 
  • Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? A lot? A Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, the Book Thief, anything by Michael Connelly, etc. 
  • Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 1. Many passages from The Four Loves, by C. S. Lewis; 2. “You do not write your life with words, the monster said. You write it with actions. What you think is not important. It is only important what you do.” from A Monster Calls; 3. "I have the answer to your question...I think you're an imbecile. There could be some underlying psychological issues as well but I'd need to spend more time with you, which isn't going to happen. Beyond that, I'm pretty sure you're stupid." ~ Mitch Rapp, from The Last Man, by Vince Flynn (context makes it better); 4. Pretty much anything from The Hobbit; 5. Many things from A Game of Thrones and the Book Thief, etc. 
  • Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? Shortest would be A Monster Calls, I think, at only around 200 pages, of which a lot of those pages are only half-pages (and sometimes there are pages of just pictures). Longest...whichever one of the Harry Potter books is longest. Coming close would be Locked On, by Tom Clancy, though. 
  • Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a huh moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers! A Game of Thrones. People who have read it probably know what I am talking about. 
  • Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)? Not too sure about this one. Perhaps Mitch Rapp and Stan Hurley (Vince Flynn). 
  • Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously? Probably The Last Man, by Vince Flynn.
  • Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else? A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness; and Skin, by Ted Dekker. Both we recommended to me by Katie (Ezorov, on the forums), and unfortunately she had to practically nag me before I read them, but I am extremely glad that I did, as they are now both favorites of mine and are amazing books. 
looking ahead...
 
  • One Book You Didn't Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013? Not sure. 2012 isn't over yet, and I'll probably read Cold Days, by Jim Butcher, by then, which is the main book that I can't wait to read (I'm forcing myself not to in lieu of finals and many essays due this week). Or else the rest of A Song of Ice and Fire and Lord of the Rings. But they're not necessarily my first priority -- they're my first priority of when I'm on a long break and have time to focus on them, though. =P
  • Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013? Untitled, by Vince Flynn and Brian Haig. Vince Flynn is one of my favorite authors, and I love Brian Haig as well -- definitely looking forward to what they come up with. 
  • One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging in 2013? Nothing new, really. I just hope to continue my streak for a third year of reading 52 books in 52 weeks. I also plan to blog/rant more. 
~ Velox
 


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A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Literature Dec 03 2012 · 141 views
Confederacy, Dunces, John Toole and 2 more...

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A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
ISBN: 0802130208
Publisher: Grove Press
Release Date: January 21st 1994
Rating: 2/5
Synopsis: Set in New Orleans, A Confederacy of Dunces outswifts Swift, one of whose essays gives the book its title. As its characters burst into life, they leave the region and literature forever changed by their presences – Ignatius and his mother; Miss Trixie, the octogenarian assistant accountant at Levy Pants; inept, wan Patrolman Mancuso; Darlene, the Bourbon Street stripper with a penchant for poultry; Jones, the jivecat in space-age dark glasses. Satire and farce animate A Confederacy of Dunces; tragic awareness ennobles it.
Review: (Review from [Book Reviewing Site])

 
I’m honestly not sure why this is considered such a great book by some people. The only reason that I finished it is that I had to for one of my college English classes, but otherwise I probably wouldn’t've (and I hate leaving books unfinished, even if they’re not very good). At almost no point in the story does the plot, characters, writing style or setting grip my attention. Ignatius, the main character, is perhaps slightly interesting at first, but it gets to the point where it’s just too ridiculous and frankly boring — it all gets old quick.

As I alluded to above, however, there were some parts toward the beginning where Ignatius was an interesting character. In fact, the book itself had some promise to it, but soon it was apparent that this book would be nothing more than mediocre at best.

This is also supposed to be an extremely funny book — I didn’t feel that. The only thing I felt was that Ignatius (and, every character, really) is just so ridiculous that it’s not believable. It’s not funny any more because you don’t believe that anyone could ever act like that. At least I don’t. While the characters are all distinctly different — something usually that is good — they are different to extremes. Whatever they are, they are that to the very extreme. And it really hurts the book.
 
Furthermore, it just epitomizes a lazy, whiny, and very un-funny main character. You’re not left laughing at Ignatius’ actions. You’re left wanting to slap him (and in a bad way -- not in the "author-did-a-good-job-making-you-hate-him" way, because he's supposed to be funny, even if he's not likable) because of his laziness, stupidity, or just overall annoying habits and mannerisms. Ignatius is not a fun, lovable character. And he’s not a despicable character in the good way, either — as in, some characters you’re meant to hate, they’re meant to annoy you, and if an author pulls that off, it’s a great feat. This, however, is not that either. What you have here is some weird medium where you think you’re supposed to like him and think he’s funny, yet you really hate him at the same time. Additionally, Ignatius is never really well-characterized. At the end of the novel I’m left with only the facts that he’s an extremely lazy, whiny, dependent man who wouldn’t last on his own for more than a week at best. And again, not in some funny or good way, but in a way that is just simply not entertaining at all. It's not just about the character being someone who's not likable, but it's about the fact that it tries too hard at humor, as if it was trying to prove its hilarity. There was almost none.
 
I’ve wrestled with whether or not to give this one star or two. One star doesn’t seem quite fair, as the book isn’t horrible, and the writing is by no means bad (just not all that enjoyable — but then again, not the least-enjoyable thing I’ve read, either). I’m kinda iffy on this whole star system in general — most of my 5 stars would actually be 4.5, because I believe that hardly any book is perfect and worth a perfect score. Yet 4 (or if you double it, 8/10 — a “B” if it were a college paper) is too low. So I ended up giving it a two — I didn’t like it, but it was -okay- (note to BZP members: This site's rating system says "I didn't like it" for one star, and "it was okay" for two stars -- hence my middle-ground).
 
Overall I just simply cannot highly recommend this book. It’s not horrible, no, but I definitely wouldn’t call it great or even good. John Kennedy Toole, while a promising author, took things too far every time. And it’s sad, really, because the idea behind this book could probably be something great, but it was simply taken way too far, exaggerated so much that the story started to lose credibility, leading to the ultimate dissatisfaction I felt with the book.
 
~ Velox


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Top Ten Tuesday #1: Most Anticipated Books of 2013

Posted by Velox , in Top Ten Tuesday, Literature Nov 27 2012 · 231 views
Top Ten Tuesday, Books, 2013

So on a few writing blogs I follow, there's a "Top Ten Tuesday" meme that people do, where each week they give a new theme, and you give your top ten books for that theme. I decided I'd start doing it here. The list is roughly in the order of most- to least-anticipated (with the exception of #10).




Most Anticipated Books of 2013

  • Untitled, by Vince Flynn and Brian Haig. Vince Flynn is, if not my favorite, at least one of my favorite authors. And a new book series, co-authored with Brian Haig (who I am also a fan of)? Count me in.
  • A Dance with Dragons, by George R. R. Martin. While the book itself has already been released, I'm looking forward to the paperback version that will match the other books in the series that I have. I've only read Game of Thrones and part of Clash of Kings, but I immensely enjoyed both, and can't wait to finish them and read ADwD.
  • Unknown Book, by Michael Connelly. Another of my favorite authors. He usually writes at least one book a year, so I'm looking forward to whatever book he writes that comes out in 2013. I'm hoping it's another Mickey Haller book, but I definitely wouldn't mind a Harry Bosch novel, either.
  • Unknown Book, by Jim Butcher. Once again, Butcher usually comes out with a new Dresden Files book every year, which is a completely fantastic series -- I definitely look forward to reading his 2013 book, and his book that was released today, Cold Days, should be arriving by UPS within the next day or two.
  • Unknown Book, by Tom Clancy. As of 2010, Tom Clancy has been publishing a book or two a year, so I assume that this trend will continue. I still have to read his older books (with the exception of Patriot Games), but I've read Dead or Alive, Against All Enemies, and Locked On and really enjoyed them (and just pre-ordered Threat Vector), so I look forward to whatever he comes out with in 2013.
  • Unknown Book, by Brad Thor. Writing a book or two a year, I expect another book to come out in the summer of 2013. I haven't read his latest book, Black List, yet, but I plan to get it shortly.
  • Unknown Book, by Ben Coes. A relatively new author, with only three books to his name, has been publishing a book once a year, and as such I expect that he will do so in 2013. I've only read his first book, unfortunately, but I loved it and I have his second.
  • The Third Bullet, by Stephen Hunter. Unfortunately, this is one of those authors that I really need to catch up on. I've only read one book by him, and part of another, but I greatly enjoy them, and this book sounds like it's going to be great.
  • The Night Ranger, by Alex Berenson. Yet again an author that I really must read more of, having only read one book by him. But I really enjoyed it, and I plan to make my way through his series at some point, and this book sounds interesting.
  • Unknown Book, by Unknown Author. I'm sure there's another (if not more than one) book that I'll be eagerly anticipating during 2013, but I'm not sure what that is yet. =P
Unfortunately, I don't really know of that many books that are coming out in 2013, so I basically just stuck to authors that I really enjoyed reading in the past, and can assume will publish a book in 2013. Numbers 1, 3, and 4 (and to a lesser extent, 5 and 6) are the ones that I anticipate most every year (or have been, for the past couple years, at least). I don't have the broadest taste of books and authors and genres, but I'm slowly making my way there.

Feel free to give your own Top Ten Anticipated Books of 2013, comment on mine, etc. I do not own or take credit for the idea of this list, but unfortunately cannot link to where I got it from, as it is a blog with a commenting system.

~ Velox






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Name || Andrew
Birthdate || July 8, 1994 (age 19)
Gender || Male
Location || Los Angeles, California
Occupation || College Student
Hobbies || Writing, reading, ranting
Religion || Roman Catholic

Political Views || Conservative (generally Republican)

Favorite...
Standalone Book || A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness; The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Authors || Vince Flynn, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, and more

Musical || Les Miserables
Action Trilogy || 
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Fantasy Trilogy || Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films || The Avengers, Serenity, Inception
Drama Films || A Few Good Men, Warrior
Animated Films || Ratatouille, Madagascar
War Films || Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan
Comedy Film || The Princess Bride
Classic TV Shows || Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett; Columbo, with Peter Falk; and The Rockford Files, with James Garner

Ended TV Shows || Firefly, Breaking Bad, Leverage
Current TV Shows ~ Sherlock, Castle, HIMYM, Person of Interest, Doctor Who

Music genres || Classical, Film soundtracks, Musicals, Rock, Alternative
Artists || ThePianoGuys, Rise Against, Switchfoot, the Beatles

Composers || Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, Handel

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