TAC: Week #7

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

But first and foremost I must begin with an apology. Thanks to my health and a giant reading slump I haven’t been able to keep up the reading pace I was planning on having, so now I am playing catch up! Yay ._.

What is it about?: Narrated by Jake, this book/episode goes down a route I hadn’t seen coming from the beginning. It starts with Jake experimenting with a new cockroach morph. This doesn’t go optimally and he ends up stuck in a Roach Motel (*) after which he decides that is enough roachventures for the day and demorphs. Upon referring this to his friends this elicits a certain dose of hilarity on his friends, but also worry. Why would he try to practice a morph on his own? Turns out Jake had a plan to infiltrate the cult group Tom (Jake’s brother) is part of, and after a bit of banter, the other kids decide to follow him to do the risky thing together. With much disgust, they aquire a new roach morph and get on with it. The plan doesn’t go perfectly but they discover a piece of crucial information: that the Yeerks are infesting a hospital and they plan to use it to turn the state governor into a Controller. Of course, the idea would be to try and wreck said hospital, but things go down the drain when Jake accidentally falls into a Yeerk pool.

Did I like it?: I really did! This episode took me by surprise, after the last two I wasn’t expecting much but I had forgotten how much more pleasant the storytelling gets when Jake is the one narrating. The pacing was correct, the suspense creeping up more with each step and overall it was an interesting story.

Read only if: If you wanna get the heebie jeebies. And if you couldn’t sleep after watching The Fly. Either version. Yikes.

My rating: It was pretty amazing, being honest. One of the best so far.

(*): From Wikipedia: “Roach Motel is a brand of a roach bait device designed to catch cockroaches. Although the term is the subject of a trademark registration by the insect control brand Black Flag, the phrase roach motel has come to be used as a reference to all traps that use a scent or other form of bait to lure cockroaches into a compartment in which a sticky substance causes them to become trapped.” Oh. Okay.

Coming up next:

TAC: Week #6

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

But first and foremost I must begin with an apology. Thanks to my health and a giant reading slump I haven’t been able to keep up the reading pace I was planning on having, so now I am playing catch up! Yay ._.

What is it about?: After the events of book 4, the Animorphs now confront a new reality: Ax the Andalite is on Earth and he turns out to be a bit harder to hide than they imagined. Narrated by Marco, this book deals with his perspective and his own difficulties in life, we get an insight on who he is and why is he always so reluctant to participate in the others’ adventures, something we had gotten hints of before but now we fully see. After her mother’s disappearance, his father has fallen into a depressive cycle, which has affected Marco deeply and has molded him into someone who uses humor as a coping mechanism and as a way of not having to deal with his psychological turmoil. Now he has the intention of leaving the group to take care of his father, but Ax needs to get back home so he needs everyone’s help, so under the promise to himself that this is going to be the last mission, he finds himself involved in a bigger issue than he’s bargained for.

Did I like it?: Let’s just say that I have some opinions about it. The narrative is not as cohesive as I was hoping, the pacing is rather messy and while it does have its twists and turns the end feels like a cop out.

Read only if: This one is one of those books that one needs absolutely to read because there is a HUGE revelation in it, but the rest… is a hot mess.

My Rating: Could be better for sure.

TAC: Week #5

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

But first and foremost I must begin with an apology. Thanks to my health and a giant reading slump I haven’t been able to keep up the reading pace I was planning on having, so now I am playing catch up! Yay ._.

What is it about?: This episode is narrated by Cassie, the one who appears to know more about animals due to her family history caring for wounded wildlife. In it we are shown that someone on the news had found a piece of debris, the Animorphs immediately reckon that this belongs to an Andalite ship. At the same time, both herself and Tobias begin to experience a sort of vision or dream, which renders them unconscious. The conclusion they come to is that they are receiving some sort of distress signal and they must search for its origin. Things become topsy-turvy, new morphs are acquired and in the end, maybe they find new clues as to what kind of situation they are in. They find both a new friend and a renewed fear of their foe.

Did I like it?: I liked this episode quite a bit. I feel like the fears of Cassie are explored in a realistic manner, the action is not much but one is not in lack of it, and the introduction of a new friend is done in the proper time and manner. Cassie is a curious case for a narrator in my opinion because one does not have the “go get it” attitude that Rachel exudes, Cassie is not a leader and she has shortcomings, as anyone would expect a realistic character to have. However I think the most important part of the book was meeting Ax, and her development was a bit secondary in the grand scheme of things. We’ll see what happens from now on. 

Read only if: Well, I think this one is not skippable under any circumstance. Someone very important showed up. Not much of him is shown yet but, it’s still a milestone of sorts.

My rating: Good. Not the best but good.

Coming up next week (or next time, rather):

This month’s TBR: September 2020

For the end of winter and beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere (no I am not australian), I have a probably very depressing TBR, to be completely honest. But after reading so much classic stuff and elaborated writing styles, sometimes I want to read bloody murder. Or maybe that’s just me! 😀

For the month of September I have the following three books planned:

  • Starship Troopers, by Robert A. Heinlein: I know there is a cult-classic movie based on this book, and a very dear friend of mine is a huge fan of it, so thanks to him this book is in this list. I can’t remember the details, which is going to make my experience reading this even better!
  • The Harvest of Sorrows, by Robert Conquest: If there is something I never get tired of, is history nonfiction. And if there’s something I never get tired of, is thrash metal. How are they related? Harvester of Sorrow by Metallica is (to some debatably) based upon this true story and I am very intrigued about this part of history in this part of the world. This is a true story of tragedy, dehumanization and famine by the Soviet Communist Party upon the collectivized peasants of Ukraine between 1929 and 1932. This is rather appalling, so I have been mentally preparing myself for it for a long time.
  • The Coffin Dancer by Jeffrey Deaver: This is the second book in the Lincoln Rhyme series, the first being The Bone Collector (having been made into a famous movie with Angelina Jolie and Denzel Washington). I have read the first one and I liked it well enough to want to continue with the story. I don’t know if I will ever finish the series, it’s 14 books long (with some short stories added) but for now I will try to go step by step. Looking forward to some investigation and thrilling suspense.

Continuing with The Animorphs Challenge, September brings the following four books from this series: book 5, The Predator; book 6, The Capture; book 7, The Stranger; and the first book in the Megamorphs series, The Andalite’s Gift. More info on this challenge, past books and a full list in this link.

Do you keep track of the book series that you have started? I feel like if I don’t read them within a short span of time I tend to forget that I have ever started it and it’s a mess. I don’t even remember how many unfinished series I have!

Happy h*ckin reading, ladies and gentlefolk~

TAC: Week #4

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

What is it about?: This episode is narrated by Marco (SPOILERS!!!!! who is stuck in a red tail hawk forever because of staying in it for too long) and his point of view. Upon discovering a Yeerk ship, him and the other Animorphs decide to make a plan to potentially take the ship down and undermine their efforts to conquer the Earth completely.

Did I like it?: Yes, but not as much as the others. So far I haven’t encounter a complete dud in my quest for finishing this series, but some episodes are not as action driven as others and I feel like this is one of them. We are very much stuck in Tobias’ head and we see in first person his struggles with the mission at hand and keeping his humanity through his situation. It’s a slower book but not devoid of interest so it really shows a decent amount of character development, which is a positive thing.

Read only if: … you were not spoiled I guess? Even if things do happen I don’t know if what happens is very influencial to the big plot overall, so if you want to skip this one you’d be just fine.

My rating: I think it’s good. But there is better.

Coming up next week:

Roadside Picnic, by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

What is it about?: A roadside picnic is defined in the book as a specific situation in which a group of people have a picnic by the roadside, leaving a noticeable trace of debris and who-knows-what but not noticing the wild life they have affected by this. In this case, the ones having a picnic were aliens, who left a few zones full of a myriad of alien trash and leftovers of their tech and culture. After that event (known as the Visit, albeit a very brief one), the people living in the zones reported explosions, some went blind, others were victims of a plague, and each zone is considered a highly dangerous area where strange and unexplained phenomena happen, causing the rise of the figure of the stalker. Stalkers are brave men who wander into the zones affected by the Visit to scavenge for valuable alien tech and materials, but who knows what are the consequences of these missions? What kind of tech can be found and what is the price a stalker has to pay to survive?

Did I like it?: Yes. Being familiar with both the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and the Metro series (the last one, both in book and videogame formats), I was very much prepared for what I was going to get into. I think this is an interesting piece of science fiction, the characters are interesting, the setting is fascinating and the storytelling is effective to a point in which you don’t even notice. It engrosses the reader within its universe in a tangible, believable way.

Read only if: Personally I think russian science fiction (especially of that time) can be a bit overlooked by the general modern sci-fi readership but it is very worth it. I don’t want to call this book overrated because it is well loved by the genre savvy reader, but I think it deserves a bit more of a presence within the literature conversation of today. That said, I would not consider this book a good start for those unfamiliar with the genre, I’d say to give it a go if you got a few sci-fi classics under your belt. The bleak atmosphere might be a turn off for some but being such a short book (like 200 pages), I think it’s worth to give it a shot nonetheless.

My rating: Now, I liked this book a lot… but it didn’t blow me away. I think it earns it place modestly but with pride among the books I desperately need to buy a physical copy of. I read it through the Archive.org library so I really need to get to it and find a good copy for my shelves.

TAC: Week 3

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

What is it about?: Now that the Animorphs have received their powers and are aware of the invasion, they are set to try and dismantle the alien operation. For that, they must spy on the principal Chapman, a controller closely connected to Visser-Three whose daughter, Melissa, is Rachel’s now estranged friend. What’s the reason behind Melissa’s behavior? Can their friendship be rekindled? Why and how did Chapman become a controller? Mystery here, mystery there, mystery everywhere…

Did I like it?: I really enjoyed this book! There were some dark turns and topics I did not expect but were very welcome. It delves into people’s motivations and psychological aftermaths, as well as it shows a bit of the alien operation never shown before. I was pretty pleased with the narrator, her level of empathy and motivation. It was an interesting and entertaining ride.

Read only if: We are at book 3 of the whole challenge, at this point either you are in it or not, I think. If you are still on board afer this book which is deeper and more “in the feels”, then it’s just a matter of time until the end. Welcome aboard! 😛

My rating: A fun ride as I said, it had no weak moments. A good example of what I expect to find.

Coming up next week:

Fly, on your way, like an eagle~

Ulysses, by James Joyce

Please note: this is just one opinion in the whole internet universe, it matters just as much as anyone else’s. Aka nothing! xD

What is it about?: This book is really hard to define for me, for many reasons. I have read this book and while I can tell that this is a book where one follows the main character down the road on a particular day, how much one can stretch one day through almost 800 pages? My point exactly. The author seems to have some intentions of trying to trick and provoke scholars to analyze it and be clueless about the themes of this book. I have opinions about this but it doesn’t matter. The point is, this is more about the author than abou the plot itself because there is barely no plot. The characters are a vessel for several mindnumbing tirades and language experiments that go as well as a Troom Troom “tutorial”. Also there is a play. Also there is a whole episode that is written like a mathematical text. And a music sheet. And the narrator changes without any clues. And nonsequiturs. And it changes from first to third person. This book is a nightmare.

Did I like it?: Oh FUCK NO. This book would have never been published if it had been written today. It goes well beyond the realm of stream of consciousness and it just goes apeshit and the worst part is that the author expects the reader to care for his characters, which are annoying, morally twisted and, the worst part, boring. Insultingly so. The fact that people seem to believe that this is some sort of genius work is terribly infuriating because the more people keep chanting it, the more the regular reader might question their own intellect (or convince themselves to think what others think). I am not here to say that those who like this book are wrong, everyone is entitled to their own guilty pleasures, but there is something to be said about trying to force others to like what they clearly don’t. Your favorite book is not everyone’s cup of tea, get over it. In this case, this cup of tea is badly written and makes no sense, no matter how smart it makes you feel. The objective truth is that “biscuitfully” is not a word!

Read only if…: Do you value your sanity? If you are super curious still, you can go to archive.org and read it for free. No pain. No tricks. Keep libraries alive.

My rating: It’d be 0 stars but Goodreads doesn’t let me. So one star. I was halfway down reading it and I thought it would be better if I listened to it, becuase I had a hard time reading it with my eyes. Otherwise I would have dropped it. I finished it only for the bgragging rights and I think I have earned it. Bye.

On Writing

The first to get the reference, gets a biscuit…

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

“At some point I am gonna have to write my novel lol”

I told my friend this, and while it wasn’t a completely serious sentence, as soon as I hit enter on Discord, I realized. At some point I am gonna have to. I am gonna have to sit down, “punch down the words” as I like to say, and do it. 

A long long time ago, inspired by a rewatch of one of the Lord of the Rings movies, (I can’t remember which one) I thought of a story. Fantasy has never been one of my strong suits but I do have exceptions and there are pieces of fantasy I genuinely enjoy. So I sat down and tried to write the story I thought of, from the beginning. I had tried many times in the past to write novels in this same manner and, seeing that none had been finished, I decided to scrap that beginning and do something entirely different. For the very first time ever since I started to write, I would write an outline. I was completely aware that many writers use the outline-1st draft- 2nd draft and so on method, but I think that the way I understood outlines was a bit different, then. What I did was to define a number of chapters, I even went down to define the amount of pages (!) each would have, and write down what would happen on each. I understand now that writing doesn’t happen in such a way, looking at it now I realize that it wasn’t me planning but actually me writing everything down so that I wouldn’t forget. Because I did forget. For years. But the outline is there, waiting for me to actually sit down and write the damn novel. 

I guess I thought that at some point I would be a good enough writer to actually do this idea of mine justice. I don’t want it to go to waste. It’d be sad, to be perfectly honest, because I actually put a lot of work in trying to develop the ideas, the plot, the middle part, even the small twist at the end. I want my ideas to become a project and my projects to become a reality, a work that I can enthusiastically share with others at some point. I just hope that this is sooner than later, or else who knows. I don’t want it to become a rock in my shoe. 

But how am I gonna go about it? It sounds incredibly daunting, doesn’t it? As an incentive, the outline is already made. I don’t have to make any decisions yet, I must only concentrate on trying to tell the story with as much fluff as possible, and have fun. First draft is supposed to be the most fun part of writing. I can do research/ decision making by the first edit, I have literally zero reasons to be stressed about it. Just punch down the words as they come to my mind, no second thought, no hard feelings. 

We are here to have fun, not to impress anyone. Time and polish will take care of quality and subplots and themes.

TAC: Week 2

Quick Note: I am following the chronological order instead of the publishing order. For more info about this challenge and a complete list of books please click here.

What is it about?: Now we begin the Animorphs series properly speaking and it starts with a bang. A group of kids is coming back from hanging out at the mall and they decide to cut across a construction site, but to their surprise they are intercepted by a flying saucer! A spaceship commanded by a very strange alien who is about to die, and as a last action of his life he communicate to these kids about the danger the whole planet is in, and gives them the power of morphing into different animals. On their own, these five kids now have no other choice but try to stop the invasion by a race called Yeerks, which are parasitic life forms that control and enslave other living things across the galaxy.

Did I like it?: Well, I didn’t exactly hate it. It very much felt like the introduction to a much greater series, aka exactly what it is. In the beginning I was not very fond of the narration, done in first person by Jake the protagonist, but it tones down the “I am a cool 90s kid” style as it advances so that is pretty nice to discover. The plot does get twisted as it goes and it promises a lot of interesting, dark moments, not being short in action either. I cannot say much about the character development either, and being a contemporary setting there is not much description to be found. In my opinion it was a bit of a mixed bag but very promising for the future so I have hopes.

How would I rate it?: I guess I should be generous and give it three stars. Two and a half feels too cruel. But again, it has so much potential that it makes me want to be kinder and hope things do pick up from now on. It delivered on the entertainment aspect and there is room and time for characters to improve. There is only one way to know!

Read only if: … if you have the will to think of this series in the long term and not expect brilliancy from the first volume. There are 54 volumes. The dream is alive!

Coming up next week:

Intriguing…