[The review below is an excerpt from the Cartridge Club Book Club forms. Read the full thread at CartridgeClub.org/forum/. While you are there, why no[The review below is an excerpt from the Cartridge Club Book Club forms. Read the full thread at CartridgeClub.org/forum/. While you are there, why not join us for awesome video game discussion in a toxic-free environment]
The second half of this book is so much better than the first half (starting with the Stardew Valley chapter but really picking up with Diablo III). I felt like the second half finally started to get close to the title's promise. The CD Projekt Red (The Witcher III) was a bit of an anomaly, but a welcomed one. A well-funded studio. No corporate pressure (that seemed as intense as the Destiny chapter, anyway...holy crap, working on Destiny must have suuuuuuuuuucked). CD Projekt Red also brought game development into a the realm of politics, which I quite enjoyed.
Overall, I approached this book from the perspective of someone who loves games and dreams of one day making a game (perhaps, better stated, dreams of one day having the skillset and patience necessary to make a game). The book simultaneously explored the horrors and hurdles while also maintaining a sense of hope. It is possible to make a game.
The CD Projekt Red chapter, though lacking the personal pressures of "crunch" and money limitations, felt to me like the most triumphant of all the development stories. They not only had to prove the validity of their game and their studio, but of the entire European game dev industry to a degree. They knew how it important it would be to keep early promises (100 hours of gameplay, dammit!). They new how important storytelling and world building are, and they refused to compromise on it.
This makes me want to give The Witcher III another shot (I gave up after a few hours; the allure of Fallout 4 on my shelf pulled me away)....more
I'm not religious, so reading what could be called a religious book goes against the expected contenClick the image below to watch my video review.
I'm not religious, so reading what could be called a religious book goes against the expected content on this channel (a channel, need I remind you, that sometimes features a character called the Heavenly Feather, which is a, yes, heavenly feather). But this book is different. It's more history than religious. Much is discussed about Jesus the Christ, but what about Jesus the person? Got your attention yet? This is what Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan explores. And it's incredible. Even to a non-religious person like me. The worldly origins of otherworldly belief systems is very interesting to me.
Not exactly a video review, but still an interesting anecdote about Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Click the image above to watch the video at YouTube
HeNot exactly a video review, but still an interesting anecdote about Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.
Click the image above to watch the video at YouTube
Hear the amazing, 100% true(ish) story of how I got my copy of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom signed by the author during an author reading in Kansas City on September 22, 2010. You’ll hear the first-hand account of my bravery in the face of an elderly security guard, the strength of punches needed to take babies down, and why I’m glad Franzen is an author rather than a professional investment broker....more
It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It feels weird, like I’m returning to an abandoned lovClick the image to watch the video book review
It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review. It feels weird, like I’m returning to an abandoned lover, hoping for a warm reception. Please, viewer, take me back!
This time I’m looking at The Colony by Jillian Weise, a novel about a science collective/get-away for people with genetic abnormalities. But this book is less The X-Men and more if Gilmore Girls had predispositions to suicide and strange abilities to grow missing appendages. Trust me, it makes sense....more
Gordon Highland’s Major Inversion is a first-person meta-tale dominated by the seductiv(this review originally appeared at Outsider Writers Collective
Gordon Highland’s Major Inversion is a first-person meta-tale dominated by the seductive and confident Drew Ballard, 80’s tribute and Jazz fusion guitarist by night, commercial jingle scribe and drug enthused security guard by day. Highland writes with a narrative voice so full of wit and humor, it would be wise to read with a cynical cock-blocking fat friend at your side; the hair-metal spandex and verbal dexterity can make a persuasive cocktail.
Cynically sarcastic, though driven once the “pale and thin – bookish” (27) Layla enters the fold, Ballard jokes his way from jingles to a legitimate film score job, and ultimately into Layla pants, eventually shedding his rock-whore stage persona in favor of exclusivity. But despite the promise, Ballard’s upward trend does not last.
Major Inversions incorporates metafictional elements to immerse the reader, beyond even the ability of Ballard’s wit. References to the book itself permeate the text (“I’m getting better at this putting-one-word-in-front-of-another thing…Little periods every now and then to break it up for your short-assed attention span” [76:]) and casual asides jolt the reader into introspection (when discussing his own adoption with a therapist the idea of journaling his experiences opens for the seemingly innocent, “Now there’s a novel idea” [238:]). But the most obvious and unique meta-element is the inclusion of song lyrics, complete with chord progressions, which act as distilled moments of clarity, delivered perhaps in the way Ballard naturally thinks:
During a scene when DEA agents break into Ballard’s home (143): Am Bm7b5 Cmaj7 You can drown all your sorrows B/Eb Eadd9 But they learn to swim
(NOTE: GoodReads's editor doesn't allow the chords to appear directly over their corresponding lyric. Trust me, in the print version the chords appear correctly. Click here for an example.)
With the early introduction of Barron Vaughn, Major Inversions begins its true arc. The cable installer turned roommate, true to his “reptilian” (43) features, integrates his way into Ballard’s residence then life then personal arc in surprising ways. He is the story’s lurking demon, an arresting presence in all his scenes.
Major Inversions, from its “shitty” opening scene, to its final tragicomic pages simply works. You will likely not read a funnier book for quite some time....more
Not exactly a review, but I do mention this book in one of my book vlog videos. Click the image below to watch (opens in YouTube).
SCORCH ATLAS, moreNot exactly a review, but I do mention this book in one of my book vlog videos. Click the image below to watch (opens in YouTube).
SCORCH ATLAS, more than most of Butler's, really has the Brian Evenson dystopia going on. In a completely complimentary. Essentially, take Evenson's DARK PROPERTY and mix it with Cormac McCarthy's THE ROAD, and sprinkle some lush description, and you get SCORCH ATLAS.
Best line (out of so many great ones): "...she hummed in glitches, cuts of hymn he'd never heard..." (pg. 86)...more